Saturday, October 05, 2013

Who really wants a record to change their life?

The Times is running a series about Books That Changed Your Life.

People routinely talk about the Record That Changed My Life.

Or the 200 Movies You Have To See Before You Die.

It's no longer enough to say that you simply like or admire something. You have to suggest that it brought about a change in everything you think and feel. I suppose it's an inevitable feature of a world in which bars of chocolate are routinely describe as "awesome". If you've used all your enthusiasm on things that don't warrant it, how do you begin to describe things that do?

On weekends like this I'm reminded of the words of my erstwhile colleague Paul Du Noyer. Paul doesn't talk a lot. Not when compared to Mark Ellen at least. This subject was once being discussed in The Word office when Paul piped up "who wants a record to change their life? I don't."



  1. If the record changes your life in a positive way, then I'm all for it. I 'bumped into' my future wife on the dance floor of our college Students' Union during 'Judy is a Punk'. We were the only ones that had had the taste and balls to get up. That record changed my life.

  2. Who wants a record to change their life? Any teenager. After that, I don't know.

  3. Anonymous9:03 am

    I s'pose a record could change your life if you're listening to it so intently that you walk in front of a bus.

    Much as I love music, books are more likely to change your mindset in a meaningful way, for better or worse. I guess protest or charity songs might change other people's lives, though.

    Films, less so again, IMO. And while it's vaguely interesting to read Bob Stanley on the song that made him want to DJ, it's irksome to have some page-filling hack inform me that my life is not complete until I've consumed this, that and the other.

    Unless they include things like "sort out your affairs and make a proper will", such bucket lists merely feed the Fear Of Missing Out. As such, they're only worth more than cursory consideration if you can grant the author(s) enough trust to merit your time and forgiveness for the titular hype - because in the end, it's all opinion. As Teenage Fanclub put it, "There are things I want to do, but I don't know if they will be with you."

  4. I find it's the coincidence of music in events in one's life that makes those events memorable. Hearing the music later on brings back the memory, for good or bad. When our son was born, 'Every Breath You Take' by The Police was all over the radio. Although the song is about something else, my presence at my son's birth where breathing and moving were clearly fundamental to what was going on, has somehow made that song special to both me and my wife. When we hear it today, we think of him. The song didn't change our lives, but the event we associate it with did.

    When I moved to the Far East as a young guy (I was 21), I had just bought 'The Kick Inside' by Kate Bush and was playing it incessantly. Since then, I have always associated the first two tracks 'Moving' and 'The Saxophone Song' with Hong Kong, my first point of arrival in Asia. Within two years I had met and married my lovely wife. She hates that album!

  5. Although it's combined with the Top of the Pops appearance, I would say 'Starman' by David Bowie changed lots of lives (or lead them in a certain direction). Not me, Marc Bolan was the one that turned me into the androgynous sex God l am today.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Surely Paul Du Noyer would want a record to change his life if it was for the better?

  8. I once got into a big argument online with someone who said that Star Wars changed his life which I thought was ridiculous so I'm usually skeptical when people make claims like that. But I have to say hearing 'Down In The Tube Station At Midnight' by The Jam when I was 16 did have an effect. It was the first 'punk' record I liked and opened my eyes and ears to so much other stuff as a consequence (music, books, art, films) that I probably wouldn't have gone to art school and got where I am today.

  9. It's clearly a teenage/young person's phenomenon, but it's certainly not a hyperbole in many cases. For instance, I've lost count of the number of musicians/DJs/journalists who have said their lives were changed profoundly on hearing 'Heartbreak Hotel'. And don't forget how 'The Velvet Underground & Nico' inspired a whole wave of people to start their own bands. It's only the old and jaded that would be cynical about such a magical notion.
    And by the way, a chocolate bar - any chocolate bar (apart from Hershey's) - is, by definition, 'awesome'.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.