22 going on 50

If you are indeed a loyal reader who regularly checks back, then you will have noticed that my name has changed on the title. No longer does it say ‘Chris J. Barker’, but C. James Barker. And the reason for this is simple. Since arriving here at Bangor for University, my friends see me as someone with ‘James May-like’ tendencies. The type of fella who would organize his tools, spend time planning and executing procedures, and who’s idea of an epic Saturday is a country stroll. And I don’t deny it, actually I’m quite proud of it, so I embraced the change.

My reason in writing today is to commence a series of posts telling you a bit about what I do, and what makes it so good, and today we’re going to start with music.

This evening, I was driving back across Wales with some friends. Usually, I don’t make a resounded effort to dictate the music. When I do have something I want to play, I usually put it on, see peoples reactions, and then let it play a few tracks before letting someone else DJ. But not tonight. With thoughts of ABBA rolling around in my head after playing Rockband there was nothing for it, but to lay the law down and take command of the iPod.

Fortunately I wasn’t alone. I observe that many of my American friends also have a similarly varied and delightful taste of music to myself, and one such friend was in the car tonight. And so we sailed along the 40 minute journey with only the occasional quip coming from those in the back.

My critics usually argue that my music is ‘not cool’, that it’s the stuff that our parents listen too, and therefore must be rubbish, but that’s just not true.

A companion on my mission once said that ‘about 80% of the best music in the world has already been written’, and he’s right. You’ll notice the paths that popular music has taken over the years. Back in the 1930’s you had Cab Calloway and Frank Sinatra, singing to very traditional musical instrumentals. By the 1960’s, blues was coming our way. The Beetles helped rock music was emerge, which developed through in to the 70’s, giving us Pink Floyd, Queen, Meatloaf, Billy Idol and so forth. The 80’s introduced to us the idea of computer synthesized music, the Phil Collins, The Human League and MC Hammer.

But these days, the music that’s popular, I think I could only like if I was taking drugs. Which is probably why so many people do so when they go out partying. The music feels dark and heavy, with every track resembling the last. This drum and base, this dub-step, the party music of today is just boring. When I listen to music, I listen to it because I want to be happy. I want to enjoy the picture that it’s painting in my mind. I love music that has a feel-good factor to it. I like variety, I want something new with every track. And the golden oldies do that for me. They let my mind sail away, they remind me of happy memories, they make happy memories, they feel warm and joyful. Put simply: they make life a fun.

So that’s the reason why I do mostly listen to music that was likely first released on vinyl record. Because I don’t need to be doped up to enjoy it.

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