All The Pretty Horses…

October 31, 2006, 11:24 am
Filed under: Blogging, Listening, Reading

I’ve realised that I’m finding it increasing difficult to write about things I like.

It’s no surprise that ‘positive’ writing is generally harder – I presume that’s taken as a given? – but I seemed totally hamstrung by it these days. I wanted to write a blog piece about The Rockingbirds – how much I love them, how much I feel they missed out on tremendous acclaim and success by being a couple of years too early the ‘alt-country’ thang – but it turned into some kind of wiki-style potted history. Every time I tried to write about how Alan Tyler’s songs make me feel, I just seized up.

So I’ve been thinking about why. It was easy when I was a kid. Even when I was in the more ‘industry’ bits of the ‘industry’, and thus wrote fairly functional reviews, I still had the odd outlet (bigger review pieces, contributions to Lime Lizard etc) to set out my stall in slightly more passionate ways. But now, it just makes me squirm.

I guess it’s about self-consciousness / self-awareness. When you’re younger you’re both happier to look dumb (or unaware that you DO look dumb) and less aware of what your words seem like to others. You can write your purple prose full of absurdly OTT descriptions of the transports of ecstasy that your latest favourite single ever delivers, and you don’t cringe as you do it. As you get older, and you’ve read similar pieces by others and winced at them, perhaps you look at your own writing and clam up.

It’s also, I suspect, a rare talent to write with a ton of enthusiasm and passion about music and not look like an arse. Somebody like Bangs could do it (his review of Astral Weeks is pretty much my benchmark for this kind of writing) but more often than not even he just sounded like a cough-medicine-addled tit.

And that’s why, I guess, you end up with the Mojo / Uncut school of music writing – long on references and analogies and comparisons, but pretty short on joy and excitement. The aforementioned Rockingbirds piece did all that – compared them, contextualised them, boxed them off. It wasn’t a bad piece, really, but you wouldn’t have come away with any real sense of why I love them so much. Which is a shame.

The flipside of this, of course, is that it never seems to get any hard to write damning criticism of things. Even things you don’t detest, exactly. In fact, as you get older and more cynical and you’ve consumed more ‘stuff’, it all serves as further ammunition, till you can spew out all sorts of clever bile about rubbish pop records and pompous indie goons. And for every review of the calibre of the Bangs one mentioned above, I bet I could name 10 brilliant demolition jobs where a writer has reduced some poor sod to a heap of fuck-all. At least, in the writer’s mind, and mine…



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This is the true story of artist, musician, actor, and

published author Richie Dunne (Summer at Seashell Harbor) who

grew up in the fifties back in Brooklyn, New York. Although

he is all of those things, first and foremost he is a

husband, a father and a grandfather. As a young man in his

early twenties, he was now with his even younger wife raising

five children out on Long Island. As these five kids started

getting older and meeting some new “cool” friends, they began

listening to and really loving the rock band, The Grateful

For more details to click here!

Comment by Andy Owens

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