There is, it appears, no shortage of music. There’s never been a time when I knew so much about pop music and, in reality, know almost nothing at all. Whole lists of albums come out about which I really know nothing. I click on a link and a new world appears with related genres of bands and singers who seem to be popular across the world but who have never registered with me. It’s called getting old, but it’s also something to do with the diversity we enjoy in popular culture. I’m ok with all of that and am happy to find new things all the time.
However there is another side to all of this which none of us needs: the ubiquity of tuned sound. Music has reached too many places and in the wrong way. I spent an interesting time in Beijing last week where Mrs Ross and I visited our youngest daughter who’s studying there. At one point I decided to leave my hotel room to let my daughter enjoy some western luxury – her Hutong accommodation is compact and characterful but a little less than lavish – and I took myself and my book down to the bar. I could have plonked down in the lobby, but I was aware there was a mix tape of Christmas music which would certainly have taken my mind away from the novel. So, to the bar. Half-lit with added Christmas neon seeping in from the front of the building, I could tell I wasn’t their ideal client. He would have been able to read as he’d be on his back-lit iPhone X and, frankly, none of the hip-hop remixes to Bing Crosby festive classics would have offended him as he’d probably be too busy watching something streaming out of his mobile. His phone too would have fitted in well to the ambience of bar noises as tills bleeped, burped and rang out merrily. As far as reading went this was a lost cause. The lift seemed a good option. I could just go up and down the 20 odd floors for 40 mins except I’d have to listen to Michael Bolton get higher and higher with any ‘relief’ only coming from a be-santa’d Mariah Carey. When I say there’s so much music I don’t know, believe me when I tell you there are some things which never leave your head.
It’s not all music of course. Much of it has music within it but there the similarity ends. On my flight home I had rows of young people who seemed able to have their phones making any amount of electronic emissions at 40,000 feet. The pilot had a ring call, the steward had an electronic pre-roll and when ever a short period of turbulence occurred we were alerted by a new burst of notes. I don’t know about you, but when an Airbus starts shoogling around at 700 miles an hour I’m pretty quick to put on my seat-belt without the aid of a theme song.
Silence, here in my own kitchen, on this quiet Tuesday morning, is golden. Tonight on BBC Radio Scotland I’ll attempt to bring you meaningful music with words to match. Songs that can sneak into your life and stay with you for all the right reasons. The best songs. The ones we’ve been playing all year and some great Christmas tracks Mariah and Bolton free.
Music is beautiful and words and music together which make up the songs we love is the greatest thing in the world for me. So listen out for Whitney Rose, Nikki Lane, Sam Outlaw and Marty Stuart. Throw another log on the fire for Ernest Tubb, Johnny Cash and Glen Campbell. It’s two hours I’m looking forward to sharing with you. Once we get through that ghastly new radio Scotland jingle we should be safe from extraneous noise.
Join me this Tuesday on BBC Radio Scotland from five past nine.