Beginning of a great adventure

Last updated 11:45 03/08/2011

We have new bookshelves. Trust me; in our house this is very exciting. We've been in the new house for nearly a year. That means we've been waiting for new bookshelves for nearly a year. We had amazing bookshelves in the old place.

So now, after several days of books and records in piles, of tripping over everything; of cats darting in and out worrying more than they usually do, we are able to load the books on the shelves.

In the tidy-up I found the following quote:

"It's no good pretending that any relationship has a future if your record collections disagree violently or if your favorite films wouldn't even speak to each other if they met at a party."

Many of you will know right away that this is from High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. Many of you will have read it or seen the movie, or both. It was a funny quote to find, or at least it was interesting timing rediscovering it as we fought against the beckon of sleep and the fiscal necessity of work, sorting the house, placing all of this stuff on shelves in the spaces of so-called free time (which always seems to move the quickest).

I think that Katy and I have a relationship that works (and I would hope that she agrees with me - a) on that point right there, that it works and b) on the point I'm about to make) because our "record collections disagree violently" and our "favourite films wouldn't even speak to each other if they met at a party".

This is a good thing.

I can tell you all about Richard Thompson's brilliant Dream Attic (to stretch the memory and think as far back as yesterday) but if I lived with someone who felt the same way about that album I think it would be look out! I'd be a little scared.

Katy was more excited that she'd found a picture of a hamster in a canoe. And in this case I'm pleased knowing that (just as she's probably not that pleased, knowing now that you lot know that too).

We thumbed through some books and old pages - I hassled her for being a hoarder. She hassled me for a being a hoarder. She hangs on to stupid old bags and loads of paper. I of course have silly vinyl and dumb DVDs. When it comes down to it - in terms of how we operate, the things we care about (beyond each other), really all we have in common is that we're both of the opposite sex to one another. And it's good that we go about things in our own ways; different ways. (Incidentally, I have series-linked the TV show Hoarders. I watch it and feel very calm and in control.)

Katy really likes music. She has her own music collection she's been building; a breakaway shelf of CDs she's collected over the last couple of years - with some remnants from her earlier CD collections. The ones she didn't give away in exchange for a KFC quarter-pack or whatever the apocryphal story is.

Katy has some great CDs in her collection. She also has Lighthouse Family.

But mostly it's good music - things I like too. Just as, in the larger, wider music collection - I think of it as music for the house, music to share with Katy and with whoever visits, but I guess the reality is it's my music collection (certainly that's been the case ever since the breakaway Katy Kollection turned up) - there is some good music. And there's definitely plenty of music in that collection that Katy likes.

But some of it - probably a great deal of it - is music that I enjoy. And I choose the moment when to play it; I am fairly respectful of Katy's near zero-tolerance for (most) metal, rock and blues. We find so much common ground with music - and we have our favourites we enjoy on our own.

But Katy doesn't - as far as I can tell - think about music all that often.

I do.

I'm (almost) always thinking about music. I'm tweeting what I'm listening to, or what I'd like to be listening to - or will be listening to. I'm writing about it here - and at Off the Tracks where I've started reviewing my own record collection (The Vinyl Countdown). I've got other avenues where I write and talk about music too - some I've had since before Blog on the Tracks and some that have started up since I've been blogging daily. But even before the blog, even before any reviewing, I was thinking about music daily.

I used to keep a diary - for Gen-Y and in particular the younger hipster quotient, that's a  troll-less handwritten blog - where I would detail what I listened to every day. I had a list of new purchases in this diary also. I started writing down quotes about and relating to music too - each week I would have a quote from Jeff Beck or Steve Martin or Frank Zappa to sum up the vibe of the seven days that had just passed. I was 14 years old.

My wife probably did something almost as sad - possibly. If she didn't she has her near-equivalents, from journals and letters through to "novels" written at age 13.

I started to realise - as I placed far too many poetry books on the shelves, as I made sure that my Bukowski got a shelf of its own, just as her Atwood would too - that our favourite albums and books and films never spoke to one another because they never (ever) attended the same parties. There'd be no violent disagreements within our record collections. I sneak a listen to her Laura Marling (and like it a lot) and sometimes she is sprung humming along to Lil' Band O' Gold.

Katy and I are going to be parents soon. And while I don't want my child to listen to The Lighthouse Family I doubt its mother has even thought about whether the child will (at any stage) have to listen to Captain Beefheart. (She probably has worried that its father is already thinking about the playlists that need to be created; the need for Eno; the instruction that must begin; introductions to Fela, to Frampton, to Trini!)

Don't worry - this is not going to become Sprog on the Tracks - at least I hope not. But the setting up of all the books and music and ephemera had me thinking over the weekend and early this week about how I'm pleased I'm not married to some music-nutter. (Now I know that thought can't be something that Katy and I have in common.) The child will need balance, right? And by that I am of course referring to equal doses of power-pop and great soul music. Well, that and the fact that if The Lighthouse Family does waft from the nursery once (or, okay, even twice) then that is okay, right?

I don't have to pack up my Dr. Dre 2001 double-LP for a while yet, do I? What age/stage is acceptable for the baby to start hearing the Sammy Hagar-era Van Halen albums? Is it
wrong to integrate Van Hagar and the Diamond Dave material? I mean aren't they both perfectly acceptable as totally natural milk sources?

Yes, there have been jokes made already that he or she will grow up to show no interest at all in music. Or even worse (well, it's essentially the same thing) become a fan of Hollie Smith!

Right now the battle is over names. First names will be fine; I think it's going to be much harder to find the right surname. Want to give the kid a fighting chance, right?

So yeah, I know I don't often tell you much about my life, beyond what I'm listening to - or what I have had the blatant displeasure of having to listen to - but there you go: something different today.

Our books on the shelves are starting to look really good together; better than they ever have before. There's even a David Sedaris book filled with animal stories so I reckon that'll be good for reading to the wee one. And I'm sure in those early months I might even find a second and third time to play Lou Reed's meditation album. And, come to think of it, his Metal Machine Music. I did listen to his Beginning of a Great Adventure for the first time in a while the other day. And I smiled. Just a bit.

Blog on the Tracks will return to regular programming tomorrow.

Keep up with Blog on the Tracks on Facebook and follow on Twitter.

And follow Off the Tracks to read 'The Vinyl Countdown' - an album-by-album review of my record collection.

49 comments
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Danny   #1   11:58 am Aug 03 2011

Congratulations. One tip for you (and trust me, everyone will be giving you tips on child rearing from now on!) is to keep your listening habits the same as they are now. By that i mean, if baby is going to bed, don't suddenly make the house a silent zone. If you start doing that, they will never get used to sleeping with music going in the other room. Keep your habits the same. The issue I had was once my children could comprehend lyrics, having bad language suddenly come forth. Sometimes I would forget that the odd swear word was coming up. It didn't bother me too much, but my wife was horrified that I would let the kids hear Eminem, or whatever else. As it turns out, they have grown up (well, only 10 and 12 now) to only swear at appropriate times, not like some of their friends who think it is "Cool" to curse whenever possible. I figure if I swear occasionally, I can't punish them for doing it.

Kazza   #2   12:02 pm Aug 03 2011

That's great news, Simon. Congratulations on your impending dad-hood.

RM   #3   12:04 pm Aug 03 2011

My three your old daughter's favourite song = Eleanor Rigby, she sings along with most of Revolver actually

Blair   #4   12:22 pm Aug 03 2011

Congrats, i skim read but hey, i'd play my kid heavy metal and soul music at the same time just to show what a confused world looks like and the opposing force of making choices and whether to kill or not, then say, drink tea.

H   #5   12:25 pm Aug 03 2011

Congrats Simon!

I don't have any kids of my own (yet) but my 3 year old nephew knows all the words to This Is Happening by LCD Soundsystem. It doesn't have to be all Wiggles and Dora the Explorer.

m.s.p   #6   12:27 pm Aug 03 2011

Congratulations to you and Katy!

Wow, man...it's just as well you never sleep anyway...

Lisa   #7   12:29 pm Aug 03 2011

Love the shelves! and not a washed out Deniro look-alike in sight. I would be worried if your future child wasn't raised on your ( i mean the both of you) musics. I do look forward to the day though you get told 'you listen to old people music dad'. As for last names, just say no to hyphenation.

Nick Braae   #8   12:33 pm Aug 03 2011

Nice blog and congratulations...all I want to say is your opening quote from Nick Hornby reminded me of Robert Christgau. I was reading his collection of Consumer Guide Ratings of all his 1970s albums (a very large book worth!) and after explaining his rating system concluded: "This is obviously a very personal approach and you'd probably be well-advised to adjust my grades according to our differences of taste...[But] if you find yourself valuing many of my C plusses and rejecting a lot of my As, maybe we'd better not have lunch." Maybe you've proved the Dean wrong too Simon!

Darryl   #9   12:34 pm Aug 03 2011

Congratulations Simon. Believe me nothing will be the same again. Your whole world view is about to change.

I agree with #1 Danny. I didn't change my music habits when my daughter was born and she subsequently had no issues with noise at night. Even to the point that my band could rehearse in the next room with acoustic/electric guitars, electric bass and electronic drums at a level that matched our fairly powerful Mezzo-soprano vocalist. You can't predict what your kids will like either. My daughter is mad for the first album from The Darkness and her fav song ever is Van's "Baby Please Don't Go". Weird taste for an eight year old I would have thought.

(not regular posting) Don   #10   12:36 pm Aug 03 2011

Congratulations! The only maxim I follow re. young kids and music is make sure you educate them on the basics when they're young. They'll be sure to go off sideways at some stage and declare the brilliance of the latest tween sensation. It will break your heart. But if there's a solid bedrock of Ramones and Stones and The Clean and Hank Williams and Henrix and Robert Johnson, or whatever, it'll be there forever.


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