I love music. I really do. People say that of course, but what they really mean is unquantifiable. Music and you is a relationship no-one else understands.
I was listening to my Mansun albums today. When Mansun were around, I was a big fan. I was a little too young to be a part of it so my fandom didn’t come in tour tickets, disposable kodak photos, badges, t-shirts or single collections. I had some posters but they weren’t official merchandise, they were cut out of magazines I had to travel 16 miles on an irregular bus to buy. I had the cds, eventually, but for some years I had copied tapes which I listened to on my mum’s stereo in the kitchen at an almost meditatively low level late at night when everyone else had gone to bed and I sneaked back down to gorge myself on music until dawn crept over the hill and light flooded the half-painted walls by the pulley and I had to creep back upstairs to sleep for an hour or two before school.
Then one day, I acquired a walkman. And on that day a part of my own psyche broke forth from its juvenile bastille and helped change me into who I later became. I would say walkmans were essential to everyone who was part of my generation, from the 80’s and 90’s, emotional state. When we are children we learn to lie. Its one of the most important parts of our development, a way to protect ourselves by concealing our true intentions. Having a walkman is a similar right of passage, when we can engulf ourselves in our music, we are powerful, we are protected, we are inside ourselves alone with just the music. Like kids with little lies, being able to shut off from the world with your music gives you freedom from a world of rules.
Many casettes made their way into my tapedeck over the years. One was a Blur album and to this day I still site Blur as my favourite band. I’m always happy to listen to them, they remind me of being very young and actively getting interested in the music of ‘my time’.
Mansun is another story.
The way I feel when I hear Mansun is a little unusual. I don’t really like to hear it with other people. It doesn’t remind me of a happy time. It doesn’t really remind me of anything much, bar a few extremely barren moments in my teenage years stuck on motorways in the most depressing landscapes in the UK on the way to holidays with relatives I didn’t really know, where I felt so detached from the world I wasn’t sure if it was still really there beyond the shapeless grey mounds on the horizon or if the journey had melted into a reverse Divine Comedy and we were currently in purgatory.
Mansun doens’t really make me feel relaxed. Mansun is my first twisted love. The kind of dangerous love you should avoid. The obsessive, compulsive kind. The kind you hide from other people because they won’t approve. The kind you can’t stop thinking about. The kind when the other party makes a salacious comment quietly to you in public you feel the hairs rise on the back of your neck and the pangs of white heat run down your back. The kind you feel as guilty about as much as you want it. The kind you don’t want to introduce to anyone else. The kind you ignore friends for. The kind you stay up all night on the edge of your ribs with tension running through your spine to your finger tips, waiting to call.
It was never about the boys in the band, it wasn’t that I fancied any of the fluffy haired musicians. It was purely about the sound.
Listening to Masun was a private relationship. I just loved the songs so much its hurts a bit to listen to them now. Being older and having lost about 70% of all that passion and the sheer hormonal brilliance of my teen years I can listen to them and appreciate them and even recommend them to people. But, its still a bit like introducing an ex and pretending there are no lingering feelings there. Although to be fair I actually have no feelings about my exes. I have more feelings about records than the former paramours in my life, but that’s just the way I’ve always been.
So that for you, was my life with Mansun. When they broke up and the music ended, I more or less stopped listening and let other things in my life take over. I always had them in my shelves, they were with me all the way, but hidden from my day to day life. I thought I had moved on. I thought I was past this but I’m still a little hooked on them.
Maybe, in time we can be friends.
You can never just be friends.
I advise you now to go to your shelves and find that album of yours. Who made you feel that way 10 years ago and still can when they break into a chorus?