COVID-20 — THE SEQUEL

Following the runaway success of COVID-19 — The Album, Viral Records presents a new collection to spin away your blues. Enjoy another story in song titles!

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COVID-20 — THE SEQUEL

 

SIDE ONE

Get closer     —    Linda Ronstadt  (1982)

Hold me tight     —     Beatles  (1963)

Source of infection     —     Van Halen  (1988)

Fever     —     Peggy Lee  (1958)

Turn on the news     —     Hüsker Dü  (1984)

Corona     —    Minutemen  (1984)

Call the doctor     —     JJ Cale (1971)

Quarantine     —     Payfone  (2015)

 

SIDE TWO

Isolation     —     Joy Division  (1980)

All by myself     —     Eric Carmen  (1975)

Only the lonely     —     Roy Orbison  (1961)

Sick as a dog     —     Aerosmith (1976)

Doctor! Doctor!     —     Thompson Twins  (1984)

Take me down to the hospital     —     Replacements  (1983)

I want a new drug     —     Huey Lewis & The News  (1983)

Too late I’m dead     —     Korn  (2005)

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Vinyl Connection says: Enjoy music in private. Wash hands before handling anything. Be kind. Stay at home.

This is a simultaneous post at Lonely Keyboards and Vinyl Connection

COVID-19 — THE ALBUM

Here is a bit of humour I posted at Vinyl Connection. A story in song titles.

Although it is music-centred, it occurred to me that an interest in popular music was not really a prerequisite for engagement. All the songs/titles are actual recordings by the named artist.

It went down well enough that another ‘volume’ is in preparation. You have been warned.

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COVID-19 — THE ALBUM

 

SIDE ONE

Iron Maiden ……………… Virus

Richard Thompson …… Keep Your Distance

The Police ………………… Don’t Stand So Close To Me

The Tubes…………………. Don’t Touch Me There

Nirvana ……………………. Stay Away

Warren Zevon …………. Splendid Isolation

 

SIDE TWO

Vienna Teng …………….. I Don’t Feel So Well

Wishbone Ash …………. Doctor

John Lennon ……………. Isolation

The Beatles ………………. Misery

The Modern Lovers …. Hospital

Bob Dylan ……………….. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

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Vinyl Connection and Lonely Keyboards hope you will wash your hands regularly, stock up on records (and reading matter) and only engage with Side 1 of this album

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Watch out for COVID-20 — THE SEQUEL

In stores soon (though you won’t be able to visit them)

 

 

IN SEARCH OF SPACE

Space. The initial frontier.

Have you sometimes lost sight of your writing? There were times during the past three months when I simply forgot the existence of Lonely Keyboards. Yet as I sit here now I clearly recall the joy of beginning this second blog-that’s-not-always-about-music, and the thrill of engaging with a new audience. As it turned out the audience was not always new; some friends travelled across from Vinyl Connection, revealing different aspects of themselves from the world of music blogging. Often what was shared was more visible, more vulnerable, more human. I cherished those moments. It’s one thing to high-five when someone’s taste in music confirms your own good judgement, but it is quite another to breath deeply into another’s confusion, or struggles with creativity, or experience of grief and loss. 

Not that there has been an absence of writing: the weekly (sometimes twice-weekly) posts at Vinyl Connection keep me tapping away and spinning records most days. My fondness for connected series—currently the birth of progressive music—means I regularly feel impelled by a sense of completion to push out another missive. Sometimes that internal pressure squeezes the enjoyment a little, but I do it anyway. It has become a habit. And habits take up space.

A new writing gig began recently. Paid work. Writing album reviews for an on-line retailer. Someone said, ‘Bruce, that’s your dream job!’. Maybe it is; still too early to tell. But one thing is certain, adding another track of music writing onto the weekly playlist of activities has led to an increase in output. And a corresponding decrease in space.

Little time for reflection, then. 

Reflection. The the space where creativity swirls and ideas puff into existence.

What brought this into focus was happening across a newspaper column by a writer I knew, years ago. I enjoyed the piece (which was about celebrating the moment) and looked her up on social media. In no time an electronic connection snapped ‘on’, we’d exchanged email addresses and I had located her blog. Wondered whether she would find my blog. What’s that about? Establishing credentials? Sending a selfie? Found myself reflecting that Vinyl Connection is mostly straight music writing these days. The river of memoir-music stories may not have run dry, but it has slowed to a trickle. I kind of shrugged to myself. ‘It is what it is’. Then I remembered Lonely Keyboards, recalled the intoxicating (but scary) high after Goodbye Piper was picked up; the steady, inevitable decline of interest as I steadfastly avoided most return-follows, the settling in with a small but engaged readership who seemed interested in the inner experiences of writing and life… 

We reveal different personas in different settings. Both blogs are ‘me’, and neither.

Sometimes if you put yourself into a certain context, that will close a circuit inside you. Lenny Kaye once said, ‘Pick up a guitar and see who you become’. Maybe writers could say, ‘Start a blog and see who you are’. Who you are today, at least. Conduct an assay of your inner mineral deposits via qwerty. Test the quality of the interior air with a canary keyboard. Could be methane, could be gold.

But first you have to make the space, and be in the moment. Maybe even turn off the music for a bit, and listen.

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RECORDS

It is not uncommon to hear the acronym OCD* and my name in close proximity. The remark is invariably linked to the music collection. Its sheer volume. The rituals of care to protect it. The order. The tension between delight, comfort and satisfaction and the almost unbearable millstone it sometimes represents.

I once asked a fellow music-nut about his recorded music holding and he promptly slapped me down. ”Let’s not get into a dick-swinging competition,” he said. No, let’s not. So we’ll leave it at ‘big’. 

Big enough that if I took one LP or CD per day (to keep the doctor away, you understand), I wouldn’t need to visit said physician for a couple of decades. 

I blame affluence and greed. There are the resources to acquire goodies, so goodies are acquired. It’s a shameful admission and one I much prefer to avoid thinking about. Sometimes I hide the indulgence via deflection: a minuscule donation to a worthy cause, support for this or that. Kind of like attempting to hide a used car lot under a handkerchief. There is no deception like self-deception.

clear vinyl hands

The protection of the asset involves several ceremonies. A treating professional’s diagnosis would allow that cleaning secondhand records before playing is a sensible and logical process; sound is improved and condition maintained. But cleaning new records? And what about the brand new inner sleeves? Writing that makes me laugh; I want to tell you about audiophiles who pay big bucks for top-end inner sleeves boasting all kinds of protective virtues. If I compare myself to them, how normal am I? So instead I’ll note that I purchase those (inexpensive, not-at-all lavish or obsessive) inner sleeves by the hundred. Or at least in fifties. Same with outer covers. A transparent square raincoat to shield the corruptible cardboard sleeves and precious vinyl from harm. They are vulnerable; need protection. The shepherd cares for his flock.

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How can I possibly know all these uncountable albums? Put simply, I don’t. A tiny fraction—mostly those of my youth—are very well-known; played into my psyche like ink into a water glass, permanently colouring the way I hear music. 

As the interest in different styles developed, these core albums were like stones in a lake, sending ripples out into previously unknown sonic worlds. Early on I noticed how an album that, on first listen, confounded with its complexity (or simplicity) or repelled with its intensity (or passivity) became, on subsequent listens, a trusted guide in unfamiliar territory.

But this romanticising is disingenuous. If I played every album sufficiently to really get to know it, the listening time would stretch to several lifetimes. Yet I still buy records. And I still listen to each new acquisition at least twice before filing.

Filing. Another source of jests. I’ve written about this at Vinyl Connection, so will not wander down that muddy path again, other than to observe that if you have a great many of something and want to find anything, you need order. The alphabet is very handy in this regard. 

One of the most pleasurable parts of the process is carefully placing the new item, still warm and drowsy from its initial listens, into the correct place on the shelves. There’s a kind of release, an exhalation. And a sense of increasing the heft of the collection with this one-leaf addition. Sometimes I think it’s the weight of the record shelves that prevents me drifting off into space. Vinyl gravity.

Then there’s mastery: knowing stuff others don’t, being a repository of arcane information. 

Custodianship, self-reward, addiction, blog-powering. We’re far from done, but we’re done for now. Anyway, I’m about to second-listen a lovely re-issue of the Dali’s Car album. 

After which I’ll file it between Daddy Cool and Roger Daltry.

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* Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: An anxiety condition characterised by repetitive thoughts or actions. Many people have set habits or know the experience of double-checking the front door; OCD is considered a diagnosis when it significantly interferes with everyday life. More here:

https://www.sane.org/mental-health-and-illness/facts-and-guides/obsessive-compulsive-disorder

Do you collect something? Or perhaps live with a collector? Do share…