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How I lost my love for music (and how I found it again)

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JG Thirlwell really devoted fan

Nine years had passed. A random tweet of a bunch of lyrics made me smile: I remembered that song. I loved that song. I should track down that album again: NAIL by Foetus.

I figured that, while I was at it, I should see what JG Thirlwell had been up to. Hell, was he even still alive? I found that I’d missed two Foetus albums. I don’t know what possessed me, but I bought them. That wasn’t like me at all – I didn’t just buy albums, especially ones I’d not heard – but here we were. I was three tracks into FLOW when it happened. I felt my pulse quicken, the hairs on my neck stand up and a fluttering in my stomach.

‘Mandelay’ is not easy on the ear like Lady Gaga or whatever the fuck else I was listening to that week. The vocals are downright painful and that riff goes through you like a sledgehammer. He’s banging bits of metal together like some sort of ugly brawl between The Velvet Underground and Neubauten, but it was … essential. As in “essence”. The core stuff of life. It was the most important thing I’d ever heard, and the longer the song went on, the better it got. At the four-minute mark, when the song changes, so did I. Each merciless beat was like an iron lung forcing the life back into me.

In eight minutes and 21 seconds, ‘Mandelay’ had restored all the love I’d ever had for music. I felt thrilled, excited, desperate for more. I felt reinvigorated but thirsty like someone in a desert, crawling on my hands and knees for another drop of music.

My habit became insatiable: I bought almost the entire Foetus back catalogue in a matter of weeks. I had to ration myself to just a few purchases per month or I’d be bankrupt. It didn’t stop with Foetus: I’d trawl through Everett True’s Music That I Like blog looking for tips on my next purchase. I listened to the radio, beachcombed Youtube and even glanced at the NME. I still hated all the bands I’d heard of, but very, very occasionally, I’d hear something and fall in love.

It wasn’t the editor’s fault that I lost touch with music. I’d become lazy and complacent, too reliant on people to send me the good stuff and far too slack to seek it out. There’s more information around than ever before and a daunting array of new releases, which makes it all the harder to sift through it to find the gold, but there is gold. Hunting it down is half the fun – making notes of “best of year” lists and festival line-ups and listening to every band on that bill in case one of them hits home. Clicking through on what-I’m-listening-to Facebook links and other people’s Last.fm playlists. Reading reviews and keeping an eye-out for interesting descriptions. I’m even on a couple of PR agency mailing lists, but I still hate most of what they send me. I still live in hope.

Thirlwell’s got his own blog now, and I like half of what I hear. I come here and to The Quietus and Popshifter, and try to be as open as I used to be closed. My latest purchase was a folk album (Alexander Tucker) and I hate folk, but I love that album with the desperate craving of a starved junkie. I played it nine times on repeat. I’m no fan of rap, but I know every filthy word of that Azealia Banks single. Soundtracks, metal, indie, dance … pass it over and let me cuddle it. I revel in music like a new lover caressing every pore of its skin; I’ve never felt so excited and happy to be alive.

Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul” is the quote I read this week, and I feel rejuvenated and younger than I’ve ever been. I’m three years old again, lying in the back of the car with my eyes closed in absolute bliss.

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