This is a highly personal story. I’m writing it because I wanted to write something. Because it gives me a way to give myself a purpose outside from merely working again. Because it makes me understand myself better. Because I love music, and probably always will.

End ridiculously emotional tone and get on with it.
About a year and a half ago, I stopped reading FT/IL*/Tangents and all those other bits and pieces on the internet about music and things that I really liked and enjoyed reading. I think, in a way, they kept something going in me after I realised the NME was shit (and I’m not old enough to have read anything other than Sutherland issues – everyone else thinks they had it bad when he took over, look at it now, for God’s sake). Some kind of lifeline to something that I cared about, whatever. Why? Paranoia, probably. A vague sense of dissatisfaction. I didn’t particularly feel comfortable using IL*, even though most people were just names on a screen to me. I’d glance through occasionally, and then leave, feeling left out. It was getting too cliquey.

For me, I get the feeling, this was an immensely bad thing. I’ve never really spoken about music to people – very often this was because I didn’t have anyone to speak to it about, anyone who actually gave a toss – although some people did give a toss. Some I couldn’t bring myself to talk to, because they were the popular people at school and their suddenly being into something I’d previously reserved for myself so I could feel special seemed a little odd (sorry for the hackneyed angst here but fuck it, it’s true). Other people were, in fact, my friends but seemed to be embroiled in the local scene which I couldn’t cope with because it involved meeting new people and having to socialise which is a difficult thing for me sometimes. I just couldn’t go full throttle for something I wanted because I was too scared about it – I did used to meet people sometimes and get on OK, and then see them walking down the street the next week and go and hide from them. So the internet, you see, and FT in particular was the only contact I had with people who liked what I liked, and was perfect because there was no social awkwardness involved.

Imagine you’ve spent a not inconsiderable proportion of your young life listening, reading about and (sometimes) discussing music. Imagine now that you don’t do that anymore. You don’t realise at first, but this is a slightly terrible situation to find yourself in.

Then other factors of your life exacerbate the problem. For about five months before you start university, you find yourself actually settling down into a steady, nine to five, dead end job. You even start thinking about starting a pension there and then, because it’s never too early, you know? Your music-loving friends have gone away to university already and it’s just you. You don’t really realise it, but, for you, things get worse.

I actually started forgetting that I liked listening to music. There were hundreds of CDs on my bedroom shelves that I could be listening to, the sheer mass almost commanding me to. And I didn’t. Not very often. My zeal to go out and find new stuff to listen to was dented, although partly, I suspect, this was due to a long-dawning realisation that being the indie boy I was and always trying to be vaguely obscurantist was a bad thing. I think I can say with certainty that it was a happy moment when this dawned on me. But then I didn’t even want to listen to anything at all much of the time.

I thought of the title of this piece before I started writing it. In a way it fits what I’m writing about, in a way it doesn’t. I don’t think I ever hated music, I just became immensely apathetic about it all. Apathy breeds lethargy in my experience, so there we go. I was becoming apathetic and lethargic without, at first, really realising it.

But then I did realise. I started realising that I did want new, exciting music to listen to, but lethargy meant I didn’t really steal myself to do anything about it. I did, however, think that going to university might solve this problem, might make things better. People there would be interesting and garrulous and make me want to care again.

People didn’t. People didn’t come and approach me and talk to me about stuff I liked. That’s not really the way the world works, is it? Oddly, though, I didn’t really mind. I had a few good friends and was doing stuff. I tried writing reviews for the union magazine, which was nice because I got free CDs, and met a couple of interesting people once a week for maybe a quarter of an hour, but it really wasn’t working in terms of making me care again. I also spent a lot of time working, and when I took a break, and tried to listen to something, I just didn’t want to.

Oh, and to be fair, I thought most other people liked complete wank. I do, I suppose, have to be perfectly truthful.

But anyway, some things, I think, have to change. Even if you don’t particularly try to make them change, they will. I’ve been searching around for some kind of point to make throughout this article, and I think I’ve just found it: People become obsessive about music because they love it. Ultimately, this is something that probably never leaves you. Things become somewhat stale from time to time, but then pick up again. I’m experiencing something of a return to form music-wise recently. I went into Rough Trade yesterday and really, really, really enjoyed just flicking through the racks and finding a few records I quite wanted to hear. The joy of music is that it can be spontaneous. By wanting to stop being apathetic I made my situation worse because it was too much a concerted attempt not to be. Sometimes something just clicks and things are great again.

To sum up:
People love music, this never stops, but don’t try too hard.

written by Bill Carruthers