You might be familiar with the entrenched British radio stalwart entitled: “Desert Island Discs” in which prominent folk from various fields are interviewed on the hypothetical pretence that they are going to be marooned on a desert island.
On this island they are permitted 8 songs (usually music), 1 book and a single luxury item; and this is to do them till eternity isn’t eternal anymore on this desert island.
A charming concept and a wonderful way in which to see more into a person as they unveil themselves via the vital songs in of their life.
A tremendous way to sum up a lifetime, but a hard task when summing up the Earth.
What songs could sum up the Earth and all its previous? Are we stuck with 8 songs to detail our planet’s past? Do the dinosaurs get any sway in our say?
It’s probably worth explaining why I’m bringing the planet into this.
I can remember being told that one day all life in the entire universe was going to end, but not before our sun gave up the galactic ghost and Earth went bang.
I was very young and slightly shaken (almost crapped myself) until it was explained to me that the Earth was not due to explode in a whirl of mountains and continents and pets until millions of years after my own comfortable bed-bound death.
Though quelled, I still held the knowledge that all this was temporary and that there was going to be a final day.
And so, from those young days to this, I have pondered at times about which things would be a good way to kick off the final day; activities and playlists, guest lists and buffet items.
And then, as my understanding of probable alien life came into being, I realised the need to broadcast our best and brightest to the cosmos; for a whole host of reasons including but not limited to: scaring the sweet shit out of Johnny Alien and ensuring they heard the lovely melodies of tales about getting-the-girl, being-so-glad and telling-all-the-world.
And I’ve been narrowing it down.
Yes, it’s another series from me, and whilst a new one comes, please don’t assume the others are dead. Perpetually IN is not quite out of vogue, Matters That Matter still matters and Brief…Therefore Witty still has some epigrams to launch before lunch, although it has become increasingly clear as to my answer in that famed personality quiz question: “Do you find it easier to start new projects or finish up the details that’ve been passed on to you?”
Never pass things on to me.
Especially a trumpet (I hate it when a person plays a brass instrument and holds eye-contact with me. Gives me the willies. Woodwind doesn’t seem to bother me though).
Especially when you’ve just blown it at a group of post-conch-blowing Mauri in the 1600’s.
Onto the rocket goes:
Having viewed much of the world with a fairly sturdy stomach, it was not till I watched true Maori of New Zealand perform the Haka, barely a few feet from my face, with as much intensity as a human can muster and hopefully as much as an alien can bare to stand.
The tattooed face isn’t really an important factor in this, because we’re talking about a wielding of the face that is such a tradition that I truly believe that it has become a genetic blessing on the traditional Maori people.
The bulging eyes, the enormity of the limbs of the ilk that might not grace the cover of GQ but would certainly cause a fellow to quiver in recognition that this is a matter of dashing brains upon the beach, and the tongue that whips with every sincerely meant gasping inhalation of the imminence of battle in which you simply can’t wait to take part.
The slapping/clawing of the legs and chest, the slight and delicate motions between in which genuine respect is given to some hairy sun-stealing deity, the waving of weaponry and the warrior’s deep-shrieking vernacular of a people that have no issue with your puny European musket because we’re used to hunting giant 12-foot Moa birds with huge glowing green rock-clubs, so beware me as I blow my conch (put the trumpet down).
There is something so utterly awe-inspiring about the Maori Haka that I truly believe it is amongst the best of what our species has to offer, and we must look at things in terms of an entire species from now on, otherwise the aliens won’t take our rocket seriously.
I can easily believe the Haka can make you fearless. For how can an expression such as that pictured (just look at the picture…) have any concern over so fleeting a complication as a Martian death-ray?
It is, however, crucial that this Haka be performed only by Maori. Even if they’re 1/24th Maori; that’ll do just dandy too, but it’s not going to be a European guy doing it.
I’ve seen the Kiwi rugby team with their Haka, and the Maori contingent is all of what I have expressed above, but the tall blonde guys joining in too – it just doesn’t work for me. I don’t believe their Haka. It seems too ‘awfully-hope-this-isn’t-too-much-of-an-inconvenience-if-score-a-try-awfully-very-much-sorry-thanks-sorry’. I’m sure they could do a marvellous Scandinavian/Viking battle cry, standing all moody whilst the rain runs from the battle-axe, plus I’ve never seen an Asian or African guy do the Haka, but I’m going to have to choose a Maori guy (and girl, sure) for the Haka here.
I’m not saying European guys shouldn’t do it, I’m just saying it’s not getting onto my rocket.
I’m trying to make inter-galactic friends here.
There is also that message of the Haka, which is the indomitable threat of an ultimate victory expressed via the eyes and lashing tongue in the Haka, but written here it is:
“The worst thing you can be is shit. And I’m going to defeat you in battle, kill you hence, I’m going to eat you, and I’m going to turn you into shit. I will turn you into shit. And I’m keeping your boat.”
A powerful message we can all relate to, especially since I’m in favour of eating some people. Not all people, but explicitly people who continue walking towards our planet once having seen the Haka (because we’d better eat them; they must be insane to keep marching after seeing that).
You might now be starting to see how Desert Island Discs and my rocket deviate from one another.
Next up, onto the rocket goes:
‘Mamma Mia’, by Abba.
Perhaps this is the battle cry the Scandinavians could be doing whilst the Haka’s happening next door?
Of course I’m referring to the single song, not the entire musical. Not the musical at all in fact, but undoubtedly that glorious piece of lyricised human condition known as ‘Mamma Mia’.
Crickey it’s a corker.
A tale known by those who have loved, lost, and rekindled, lost, loved some more, and therein having actually done loving properly; it is a shame of our childish species for which we are very happy to indulge in this equal to the many times we like to put that record on and get all excited at that opening piano staccato that is in imitation of a tick-tocking clock that only tick and tocks onwards and past you whilst you’re still standing there – very much so still fallen for that person and very much so still hopeless to do anything about it.
Mamma Mia – here we go again, a mantra for those about to whirl about in a familiar romance once more, as well as those about to put ‘Mamma Mia’ on again.
Here we go again.
Lyrically, it sums up the side of that human condition that the poets try to nail and the scholars try only to avoid, whilst musically it is simply very fucking-on-the-nose as a song everyone likes.
It could always simply be that I’m a tad of a nostalgic romantic at heart and this is sheer indulgence on behalf of myself, but I don’t see how that would matter either way as it’s my rocket and you’re all my species (I’m fairly possessive) and this is the way we’re doing it.
I just adore that moment of hushedness, in which the staccato returns and the humble “Mamma Mia, here I go again, my-my how could I resist ya” – in which the hushedness represents that intimate chat with oneself in which you’re too stupefied by love that you’re unable to answer your own internal monologue. And the culmination, the CULMINATION that …..CULMINATES to the point of saying simply: “I should not have let you go”.
I feel that “Awww” is a splendid way of summing this song up, and in doing so, goes a great length in summing us up also.
The human species: “Awww” and (Haka-induced) “Arrrggghhh!”
That’s what goes onto my rocket.
It’s got to be vinyl.
Because we don’t need the Earth as much as we once so crucially depended on it.
I was very intellectually viewing a Vice video recently, in which the news was studied that Jack White (once a White Stripe) has purchased a vinyl record factory in Detroit, wherein he has a workforce devoted to bringing back about the tradition of music being heavier in the hand.
Throughout the interview, White gave his reasons for this endeavour, citing the enormous sales of vinyl in the UK and how music audiences have tired of the “invisibility” of music.
White also mentioned that folk liked moving mechanical parts to their music; which is nice.
I can see the appreciation of vinyl being a visible pleasure, for it was the same when I first purchased my first cd; Blood Sugar Sex Magic by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The album art system is lost, with the purchased song now having the visible identity of a postage-stamp sized irrelevance in the corner of your screen.
Whilst one could claim that this gives the audience no illusions other than the sheer product of music itself; album art was and can be tremendous.
With Warhol and The Velvet Underground having the audacity to bend minds with a banana, the ludicrously luscious lips (even the tongue is still swaggering) of the Rolling Stones and world starting Big Bang of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (by the Beatles; a local Liverpool based group); these album covers gave an added appropriate kick in the teeth to authority and kick in the arses to those young folk whose attention had yet to be garnered.
Memorable to the mind, and our first contact with the album; the cover art mattered and it still can as it gives the artist another dimension the express and the audience an added bud to with which to taste.
The theme of dimensions plays again when regarding the idea of making music “heavier in the hand”.
The song you’ve downloaded from ITunes, is THE song. You’ve got it and so do your companions.
With the vinyl album, just as it was for me when I bought my first cd; what you hold in your hand is now YOURS.
That’s YOUR Appetite for Destruction. That’s MY Are You Experienced.
Of course, one’s chums had it too, only theirs was theirs, whilst yours was yours.
The album would be clenched to the strangling point of anticipation whilst you listened for the first time, studied diligently and blindly stared at as it revolved in ones hands as you felt what the songs gave you to feel or found a feeling within you.
I can tell because it’s in my hand. Yours is in yours.
As well as this, there is the factor of also listening to this music, should you care to.
“Crisp”, “clear”, “acute”, “sharp”, “sterile”, “cutting” – All words describing why you should purchase the latest model of audio technology.
“Cold” is another and is, for me, the definition of digital sound in so far as a pleasure.
It has a place, of course, with Metal and certain Dance and Techno tunes, but people are drifting towards the future of vinyl for the welcoming, wistful “warmth” that it breathes.
A pleasing, deep groove of a song comes from the speaker of a turntable. The familiarity of sound that resonates like that of ones father coming home from work whilst your mother was reading and you were really rather busy in the womb.
The sound of ‘next door underwater’ has, in my thoughts, a direct link to our first hearings from within mum’s tum; a resonance from before you were born.
That’s quite a selling point.
Why choose vinyl?
Because of this, that, and the other; especially those last three.
It’s also tall and wide and round and it spins, all highly pleasing attributes to most physical things and a record is no exception.
The flaw in the proud procession along the groove of vinyl’s victory parade over digital music is that leads to the inevitable and irreversible end of the Earth.
It is a physical thing, and physical things take up space about the planet.
They require a great deal of energy to create and distribute, both of which cause ice shelves to melt as quickly as teenage hearts to a sweet pop melody.
A vinyl record can be found lodged in the corpse of a once highly determined and regrettably dense seagull or tortoise, who took to biting and swallowing once the young chap on the brow of the boat impressed everyone immensely by demonstrating just how well a vinyl record could fly with the correction application of “spin”.
Sharpened well, a vinyl record could be the weapon of choice; whilst the digitally downloaded song is notably omitted from current editions of Cluedo as a method of murder.
And so the Earth will close for business and eternity; awash in seas of plastic discs and enormous and quality album art.
It’s a good thing Mars has all but invited us to call in soon.
I’ll pack in advance I think…must remember to bring my IPod.