Firstly, I must say a big thank you to Planet Mondo for keeping the ‘ol bloggin seat nice and warm in my absence -- top work fella! If you havn't already checked out his blogs, do yourself a favour and pop over now!
Since my last eye test discovered my cataracts now really did require action, I have been on the waiting list for surgery, I had also put myself down for any last-minute cancellations…. and last-minute it turned out to be! I got a call at 1pm saying if I could get to the hospital by 2pm they would do me, and by 2:30pm I was on the slab!
Although not exactly looking forward to someone poking around in my eye with a scalpel whilst I was still awake, I was actually quite keen to have this operation. However, recovery has not been as straightforward as I had hoped, and led to me being 'signed off' for a couple of weeks after the procedure. It's amazing how little is left when you're down to one peeper and are told to "rest your eye". All the obvious things to do are out of bounds, no PC, no TV, no reading, no driving… It didn't take long to realise that the radio is pretty dire during the daytime (unless you like five hour phone-ins to discuss a football game that lasted 90 minutes!). But my trusty favourite hobby was there to stop me going completely crazy, and I spent my time doing little else but listening to music.
Although I always seem to be playing music anyway, this was a particularly concentrated two-week session, as there was little else to distract me (part of my recuperation required me not to bend down, so even changing dirty nappies was out the window!). It also meant I got to rediscover some gems I’d temporarily forgotten about… although this was not always planned. A large music collection combined with bad eyesight effectively turns the whole process into the largest iPod shuffle button in the world, as albums you thought you'd picked, turn out to be completely different!
It was during my enforced CD-athon that I started thinking about the musical journeys and discoveries you take in life -- how one artist leads to another like a musical family tree. Let me give you an example:
In 1977 I got into Bowie after hearing the single Breaking Glass. It opened the floodgates for me, and I started buying up everything I could. As I started reading more about the man, his work and his influences, I came across more and more names that I felt the need to investigate, such as Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground, Mott the Hoople etc. Iggy was an instant hit with me and unsurprisingly, led me back to the Stooges. In turn the Stooges were responsible for me discovering the MC5 and the New York Dolls, who in turn of course led me to Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers…. the list goes on and on. If you're really into music, I guess these links are continually expanding subconsciously, but it wasn't until now that I really started to notice it -- as a Bowie session geared me up for a play of Lou Reed’s Transformer, which in turn had me diggin out The Velvet Underground.
Inevitably these links will lead you to a few dead ends on the way (I could have probably done without the Dana Gillespie and Anthony Newley albums via my Bowie trail!), but it’s an organic process that on the whole works well and enriches your collection.
In the old days -- BC (before computers), you had to work bloody hard to establish these links, reading biographies, interviews, magazine articles etc. Today it couldn't be easier to sniff em out -- particularly with that fatal "customers who bought this item also bought…." tactic used by Amazon and others, guaranteed to keep the serious music buyer permanently broke.
Being a typical anal kinda guy, I started thinking a bit more about other musical family trees in my life, there are plenty of them. The below is a good example, which starts in my early teens when I discovered Soft Cell and Depeche Mode. The list is almost certainly not complete (I tried not to think about it too long!), but it shows just how wide and diverse the links can go (note -- there are some dead ends here too!).
Anyone else got an interesting 'family tree' to share?