A few months ago I went to the doctor because I felt like shit. Shit is the only word I can use, I guess. Although I don’t think it covers it. I told him everything I felt and he said “depression and anxiety.” You can’t even make it sound good. You know, at least if you have a cold your voice gets a bit husky and suddenly people want you to talk more. But anxiety and depression? You might as well say you’ve got something not mentioning. For me, I’m conflicted. Part of me is sort of glad I know what’s wrong with me but the other part wants it gone. I’ve been told it gets better but right now, no part of me sees that. I have more bad days than good.
Last Friday I had 5 panic attacks in under 2 and a bit hours. I’d have much preferred someone to have punched me in the face for 2 hours. It would have hurt less. The aftermath of a panic attack for me is equally as bad as having one. I get a migraine straight away but with a normal migraine, the pain is less tense and the nausea that comes with it I can sort of tame. After a panic attack, the migraine just doesn’t go. It’s a constant stabbing sensation in my head and the feeling of being sick stays. It’s debilitating and exhausting.
The thing with depression and anxiety is that no one sees it. No one can see someone is mentally unwell. They don’t see someone who has to set an alarm half an hour before they need to be up so they actually get up and go to work. They don’t see how everyday small things can set a person off. And that’s okay. Imagine if we could see it. It would be useful but as someone who hates any form of attention, I’d probably be worse. Most days I just want to stay in bed. I don’t want to see or speak to anyone. It used to be passed off by others as me being “difficult” or “unsociable.” I’m neither of these things. Although sometimes you do just want to tell people to piss off don’t you. But I think that’s just human nature.
There are parts of you that feel, “what if no one believes me?” I’m stuck with that constantly. I feel because I can force a smile at times and laugh- maybe I don’t have these things. Maybe it’s not real. It comes and goes. I don’t always feel shit, but I do and I think that’s okay. I’ve learnt to try find a safe space wherever I am. As I live in a stupidly big city, it’s hard to find any form of peace. For me, the gym is my safe space. I used to go because I hated being fat and hated my body. I still do, but now it’s to keep my mind clear as best as I can. Going to gigs used to be my safety net but the last gig I went to, I had a panic attack and had to leave. This was a month ago and since, I’ve missed a handful of gigs because I can’t set my mind free.
Like some, music is my safety net. Certain bands/singers voices and music take away how overbearing and how overwhelming this feeling is. Certain bands have become my safety net, my safe space for when I can’t physically get somewhere.
From the rowdiness of Melvins to the calming sounds of Beach House, certain songs take whatever is happening away. But not all the time. Sometimes it’s just no use- and that’s okay.
I’ve chosen a couple of songs that have been vital in calming me down and being my crutch whenever I’ve needed. The songs that store my sanity but as yet, don’t have the power to keep everything at bay. But that’s fine. I’ve experienced understanding and a lack of understanding through all this. I’ve started CBT and apparently that will work. As someone who has a dislike for things like that, it’s tough. My mind is open. Ironically, I had 2 panic attacks whilst on my way to my first session so that was a great experience. Maybe it will help, maybe it won’t. I don’t know- nobody does. And that’s okay.
Anyway, enough of the self-indulgent bullshit. Have some songs:
In my time, I’ve only properly felt at home in one place. Brussels. On Saturday night I finally saw Patti Smith play with a full band, and it felt like home. The rest is beyond a feeling I can put into words but I’ll try. Not for the interest of others but for my own personal outlet.
Prior to Patti and the band taking to the stage, my stomach was doing somersaults over the PA playing Punk classics from the likes of The Damned and Ramones. The greats were being blasted out in anticipation of the Godmother of it all. As it got closer to the stage time, I started feeling like a child at Christmas. Nothing can top this feeling, nothing ever ever will. I’ve been to many gigs and a few have left an imprint on my mind and in my heart but I knew that this was going to take over from all I had known before. I was entering another world. A world that feels like home.
They walk onto the stage to nothing short of a reception fit for music royalty. Clenching a copy of Horses in her hands, holding it like a trophy. Maybe that’s what it is after all. A trophy to symbolise greatness and how it should be done. Everything from now on will not compare to this. No winning lottery ticket, nothing materialistic or otherwise will top this.
I’ve seen Patti twice in an intimate setting. The first was around a year ago when she played a tiny show in Howarth, after the show I met her and burst into tears. The second time was last Wednesday when she did a talk for The Guardian- an hour and a half of hearing her wisdom tales. Heaven. I’d been waiting and waiting to see her play with a full band. Any time she announced dates there was always something in the way. Nothing was stopping me from seeing her play Horses in full.
She reads the poem on the back of the record, removes her glasses and we all enter the world of Horses together as she rips into Gloria. That one line from a song owns many hearts, and is still regarded as one of the greatest lines of all time. With a gorgeous smirk she sings, “Jesus died for some body’s sins…but not mine!” If any part of a song is going to ring through the venue and out of the mouths of her fans, it was most definitely this one.
It wasn’t just about hearing the life-changing songs on Saturday night, it was her presence on stage that is so rare and so beautiful. Her sense of humour is priceless and just an absolute delight to witness. From her mishap with the zip on her jeans to her silver hair getting everywhere. She interacts with the crowd in a way most try far too hard to do. She’s a treasure, and I wonder after all these years- does she know how wonderful she is?
After playing Horses in full, we are treated to some delights. Hearts broke as she sang her tribute to Amy Winehouse, This Is The Girl. Playing in a venue that was right near where she lived, it just felt right for us all to listen to this beautiful tribute. If only she was still around. She should still be here, we all know that.
The band minus Patti tore into The Roundhouse with their tribute to the greatest band ever from New York (best band of all time) the Velvet Underground. Lenny, Jay, Tony and Jack blasted through Rock & Roll, I’m Waiting For The Man and White Light/White Heat as if the songs were their own and we were at Max’s. I’m no musician but I’ve always regarded Lenny Kaye as being the best guitarist of all time. His performance at The Roundhouse fully justified my thoughts on him, and I really hope the kids in the crowd left wanting to use the guitar as their weapon to inspire others. We need it, desperately.
There is something really empowering about seeing a woman who is close to my mum’s age spitting on the stage and saying “Come on motherfucker!” during Horses. From seeing her do her talks to seeing her on stage, it is like watching a different person but it is still our Patti Smith. The voice of so many, the truth and the reason. She was taught to question everything and in that, she’s made her fans do the same. There is nothing more unsettling than accepting what others tell you. Don’t buy into corporate bullshit and don’t let the government dictate your needs to you. Punk is still alive, and it is a state of mind.
I’m going back and forth between the songs as my mind keeps taking me back to Saturday night. During the breathtaking Elegie, Patti recited the name of the musicians and poets we have lost. Lou Reed, Robert Mapplethorpe and Fred Sonic Smith’s names were all greeted with such a powerful rapture it was like they were in the room. We don’t ever really fully lose someone, we just carry them around with us in different ways.
People Have The Power for me was the highlight because that song holds so much worth and importance. To hear everyone yell the song back at her and for Patti to tell us “Use your voice” was such a dominating factor of the night. The change comes from us- not anyone else. We all play a part in making things better, it isn’t up to just one person.
They end the set with a cover of The Who’s My Generation. It felt like watching a bunch of kids practise in their garage, it was insanely brilliant especially when Patti took off her boots and socks, grabbed her guitar and throttled it until strings snapped. She told us it was her generation’s greatest weapon, and it truly was. It still could be in others, I really hope it is.
The power in this show was something I know I’ll never experience again in any other band or singer I’ll see live. I’ll never get this feeling again. I left feeling as if I need to do something, I still have that feeling. There’s something we all need to do, and trying to figure it out is the toughest part. Everything after is just a ride. Patti and the band are real inspirational figures, and this show 40 years on after they first played here is a testament to everything they have ever done.
The show felt like a huge lion’s roar. A ripple sent through the crowd erupting into a frenzy of people who were ready. Ready for what? Anything. Everything. It doesn’t matter. The crowd was full of people who had been there the first time around and now bringing their kids, people who wanted to feel something, to be part of something truly life changing. I hope it was some lost 15 year old’s first ever show and they left with a fire in their belly and the desire to make their own movement.
Perfection doesn’t exist, something we all tell ourselves but hand on heart, this was the most perfect gig I’ve ever been to. As I head into my 29th year, I hope the dissatisfaction fades and turns into something less worthless. Patti taught me all I needed to know to get through my painful teens and on Saturday night, she spurred me into adulthood with a strong sense of self.
“Sometimes I fantasise When the streets are cold and lonely And the cars they burn below me Don’t these times fill your eyes When the streets are cold and lonely And the cars, they burn below me.”
People will always want to change you. They can be people who are insignificant to you (in the long run) or they can be people who claim to “know” you. They will want to change the way you cut your hair to the way you are. At what age does this stop? Does it ever stop?
Self-acceptance is hard for most people. We all have things we cannot stand about ourselves, and they are usually the things we cannot change. The things we can change, we put off because we know we can deal with it “later.” It is always later isn’t it. Not today, but tomorrow. I’m not criticising those who do this, I do it myself. I probably do it more times than I should. I should wear more colour, but I won’t. I should probably not just wear band t-shirts and jeans, but I know I always will. I’m comfortable in the clothes I wear. The person I am? That’s not for here. People can make you feel utterly terrible about yourself, and something happened a few weeks ago that, with me being too sensitive for my own good- I took it to heart.
I had a job interview a few weeks ago, it was my second one for the same job. I was good enough for a second interview. That’s a positive right? I take my piercings out (I took my lip piercing out for good a month ago so all I have is a nose piercing) and I cover up my tattoos. I wear smart (and clean) clothes to interviews. We live in a world where we pretend things are accepted, but they rarely are. A lot of people still do think those with tattoos and piercings are bad people. Hitler didn’t have his nose pierced. Myra Hindley didn’t have her lip pierced. They are bad people; without piercings. You see my point right?
So I went for my second interview. I thought it was going well, until was asked a question that made me feel so uncomfortable and so small, I just wanted to go home. I was asked, “If I gave you the job- could you change how you look and would you?” I know I’m a sensitive person, and I know I’m not attractive at all- but does it need pointing out in a job interview of all places? Job interviews are terrifying enough, but come on now.
I’ve been trying to work out what made them ask such a question, and I really don’t understand. I didn’t think they could. If you must know, I went against everything I stand for and said yes to their question. I said yes because I really really need a fucking job. I said yes because every day I am sat at home applying for a job is another day of self-loathing. I have friends, if I can call them that, who refer to people as being on Job Seekers as “scum” amongst other things. I’m scum, apparently. To me, scum are those who harm children, those who rape and those who kill. Not people who need help with getting by. I’m aware there are people who play the system, I’m not totally stupid. But everyone has their own struggle- so don’t judge.
I’m sick of being asked “what jobs have you applied for? Maybe you should aim lower.” I’m 27 years old; shouldn’t I have a career by now? I’ll never be paid to write, and I find myself compromising myself when I apply for jobs. I disregard the fact that writing and music make me happy. I lie and lie just to get somewhere. I’m getting nowhere. And I am so tired. I am so fucking tired.
I have no point with this, I really don’t. I don’t want to be a fraud. I can’t keep going back and forth with having a job to being on JSA again. I really can’t.
Of course meeting Patti Smith is probably the greatest moment of my life (there have been others) and if I ever lose my mind, I will fight to cling onto those brief minutes I spent with Patti. I apologised for the battered state my copy of Just Kids was when I handed it to her for her to sign. She replied with, “That’s how it is supposed to be.” I’ve read it more than 10 times. It isn’t just a book; it is some kind of guidance for life. She signed my copy of Auguries Of Innocence looking quite shocked that I had a copy. I nearly gave my copy away to someone a few years ago as a gift; I’m glad I didn’t.
Aged 67, Patti is everything I hope to be when I grow up. I’m 40 years younger than her- by no means do I know enough. I never will. Ever. None of us will. But what I do know, I learnt from Patti. You can be tough but can also have a fragile way with words. Be passionate about SOMETHING and don’t compromise yourself. She taught me more (and still does) than any teacher ever could.
10 years ago my auntie and uncle went to New York. They went to a registry office, and got married. That night they went to Patti’s birthday show. To me, that’s the perfect way to get married, and to celebrate getting married.
Happy Birthday Patti.
This one is for you:
With my questionable views and an awkward tongue,
With my hazy eyes and unsure mind,
I found a tender home in your words.
I found my own silent meaning amongst my raging mind.
My heroine brought it all to life.
With a handshake, my faith was restored.
My “thank you” held more meaning than those simple words could ever hold.
I’ll remain on the outside, at my most comfortable,
Treasuring the brief moment we had.
I got to look into my idol’s eyes,
And they tell us not to idolise.
But you’ve been my constant guide.
I can have my moments of feeling uncomfortable in my skin,
Then I remember all that you’ve taught me.
People DO have the power.
And NOBODY died for my sins.
*I wrote this on the tube to work this morning at half 7..sorry!
I wandered around Soho on Friday afternoon to find a record shop. This record shop has had every single record I’ve ever wished to own. I’ve only ever been in with a friend (she knows the way round and when with another person in a record shop, I do not spend as long in there.) So I wandered around for what seemed forever. I knew I was lost, and I loved every minute of it. I didn’t care that I didn’t know where I was because I knew I’d eventually stumble upon this record shop. I found it eventually. I had to walk up that sex alley to get there. I kept my eyes on the ground for a bit, then realised I was amongst curious tourists who were falling in and out of the shops selling various (and probably questionable) things. I didn’t care, I just wanted to find this record shop.
I walked in and went towards the 7″ singles. For some reason I’ve recently started buying more of these than I have of LPs. Maybe it’s because I now have Psychocandy on record so I no longer seek out looking for much (if I tell myself this then my addiction to buying records will seem less of a problem.) I’ve found a few gems on 7″ from The Walker Brothers to The Shangri-Las. Somehow when you see they are only 50p, you pile the records into your arms like a greedy swine at an all you can eat buffet. I’ll take music over food any day. Even though I’m chubby; I can survive without food but not music.
I must have been in the shop for close to an hour and a half. I realised I had friends to meet. I also realised I forgot the way to Tottenham Court Road station. I went for the fool-proof route: GO THE WAY YOU CAME. Always. If I wasn’t in a hurry, I’d have tried to discover shortcuts and new places to ramble. I was sensible, but the hour and a half I spent in the shop I was anything but. I found Safe As Milk for the extremely pricey £25. I did some maths in my head (never a good sign) and I had about 3 in my hand that came to under £20 but I was desperate for this Captain Beefheart record. I was painfully sensible. I put it back so I could afford to buy my girlfriend and I dinner later on. I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t approve of me buying her dinner and I declined anything for myself as I had bought a record. Being sensible is never fun, but sometimes you must do it.
In the end I bought a 7″ of The Jesus And Mary Chain and also a copy of their third record, Automatic. I’ve not played it yet but I’m sure I’ll be doing so soon. TJAMC have become the most important band in my life. They went from being a dormant love to a dominating passion that is uncontrollable. I don’t wish to control it nor do I ever want to tame my love for music.
Something else also happened on that Friday.
I was sat in a pub with a group of people I really cannot be without or be away from. Turns out that this pain of being away from them is soon to pass as I’m going to FINALLY move to London in about a month. I own nothing and I have nothing so I will want for nothing (except for a job of course.) States of bliss occur in small things. From finding records you’ve been searching for to being in the company of those you love beyond words. Everything felt alright on that Friday. Even when Amy and I got on the tube leaving James behind, only to find we got on the wrong tube and had to pull him off the tube he got on after us so we could get on the right one together. You find happiness in the things and people that matter. Happiness is not going to be found in the form of money. It is in time, in places and in people.
I played Psychocandy on my record player the other day. I stared at the splattered vinyl (the one from Record Store Day) and was just in awe of everything that was happening. The sound was beautiful and the artwork was stunning.
There was no real point in this, but I learnt one thing from typing this up- it is incredibly annoying and a bit difficult to type this when attached to a blood pressure monitoring machine/contraption. More than anything though, it is massively distracting. And with that, I am going to listen to the new Dirty Beaches record(s).
I’m about to write about something I never in a billion years expected to happen. It is something however, I have always dreamt about. There are a handful of musicians I wish I could meet; just to shake hands with the ones who saved me. Who gave me hope and courage. We find strength in strange places. When we find it, we must cling onto it.
I like to think it is fairly obvious that I am a huge fan of Patti Smith. She means as much to me as Morrissey and as Shirley Manson does, which is a lot- followed by a hell of a lot more. I’ve interviewed bands and I’ve remained somewhat “normal.” By that, I mean I managed to talk like a human rather than a blubbering baby. Since Friday night I have played out in my head what I’ve wanted to write down, then I realised that I simply cannot plan this. It has to come from the heart. It always does, because I honestly have no idea how to write any other way. If the things you do and say do not come from the heart- then don’t say or do them. Simple. Sort of.
I was one of the VERY lucky 125 people to have got a ticket to see Patti Smith and Tony Shanahan (thanks to my lovely girlfriend.) The concert was beautiful, and was held in The Old Schoolrooms- where the Brontës taught. When I was about 4 years old my mum took us all to Haworth to go round the museum and I remember being in awe of everything. When you walk around the village, you cannot help but be taken back by all of the history there. Everything about Haworth is gorgeous, but on Friday night it reached a different level of beauty.
The first song she did was dedicated to her sister Linda, who got Patti into the work of the Brontës. For her 65th birthday, Patti promised her sister that she would take her to Haworth. This alone just cements the idea that Patti is an incredibly caring and gentle human being. She played Dancing Barefoot (yes, I cried.) She played her tribute to Amy Winehouse; This Is The Girl which was nothing short of heartbreaking but comforting. I’ve not managed to listen to Amy’s music since she died, and it’s something which I may never be able to do. It gets frustrating, but This Is The Girl made me feel less silly for still being upset over a death of someone I never met. When she played Because The Night (which was released exactly 35 years to the day on Friday) everyone went a little bit crazy, as they also did to the inspiring People Have The Power. Pissing In A River was an incredible moment too. Everything was just stunning, who knew it was about to get even better.
At the end of the concert my mum saw that Tony Shanahan was on the stage packing up his guitar. She went over to ask if Patti would sign two books I brought with me. My battered copy of Just Kids (I’ve read it more times than I can remember) and a poetry book of hers, Auguries of Innocence. He said to wait, and he was sure she would. So we loitered for a bit. Saw people stand around being interviewed by the BBC, and friends discussing with each other the beauty of what they had just seen. About 10 minutes passed and Tony called out to my mum and I. He beckoned us, said Patti would sign the books. I walked behind my mum and as I type this the same rushing feeling is coming back. This still doesn’t feel real. I felt my body turn to jelly, I thought I was going to be sick. In fact, I was SURE I was going to be sick. I stood at the door, thinking I would just hand the books over and that was it.
I stood next to Patti, and she asked me my name. Her sister, my mum and Tony were the only ones in this small room. A room that held so much history, and was now the room that held the moment my whole life, my world changed. I’m not “cool.” I don’t believe in the idea of it, however if I did- and if I was cool, I just ruined that notion of myself by howling. Some strange noise came out of my mouth. I am comforted by this by being told that Shirley Manson had the same reaction when she met Patti. As I cried, Patti said in her soft voice “Don’t worry, it’s just emotion.” I was completely fine after then. I say “fine” but in my head I had no idea what was going on. I don’t think I still do, but that’s a different story altogether.
I wanted to say so much to her, but I think she’s been told it before by so many. I was sat next to the woman who is responsible for not just saving me, but for also giving me such love for words and music. Her words and music mean more to me than I can say. There’s no way I can actually get the words out. It has changed everything, in ways that go beyond description. They say you should never meet your idols, I stick two fingers up to that idea. As much as I wanted to hug her, I just shook her gentle hands and said thank you to her. But with that thank you, I meant much more. I wasn’t thanking her for just the photo I had taken with her or for her signing my books. I was thanking her for every single song she has ever written, every poem she has ever written. For everything she has done as it changed my life, for the better. I think Friday night changed my life for the better. In the poetry book she signed, it says “Have a beautiful life.” Well, as Patti told me to- I’m going to make sure I do. I have no job, no money- but I have that moment. I have that. I was taken to meet my role model; there’s no greater feeling than that. None at all.
As the tears fell, Patti’s sister, Linda was getting emotional too. It didn’t feel real, it still doesn’t. I keep looking at the photos, the books and my ticket. Every so often it hits me that I actually met Patti Smith, and when it does nothing else seems to matter. Like I said above, we must cling onto the strength we find. This is mine. Forever.
I have no idea if she will ever read this. If she does by some strange stroke of luck, then..well, just thank you. Again. And a massive thank you to Tony Shanahan for making this happen and to Linda Smith for taking the photo of Patti. I won’t re-read this because I will have so much more to add, but I think the photo of Patti and I shows how happy I was to be sat next to her.
I’ve got seven ways of going, seven wheres to be.”
Of course she will never see this. No one will. I don’t write to be known, I write because it is all I know. Five people gave me a love of words and music. One of them has a birthday today. 66 years old today. This is my open letter to Patti Smith.
I have read Just Kids more times than I have read any other book. To me, it isn’t a book. It is a guide for life. It teaches you how to love freely but with caution. How to follow your heart, but keep the one who owns firmly next to you. How to never let go of them, but become the person you want to become. The person you need to become. Your music taught me how to write from the heart and to not let anyone ever sway me. It’s easy to do what others expect of you; but you feel much better when you do what you want to do. The sense of freedom that comes over you is beyond words.
The outcast eventually gets what they want. You taught me that struggling for your art isn’t a bad thing. I know I may never have anything I write published in a book. I know the goals I set for myself in my mind may never ever happen; but the courage to try is there. It is there because of your art. Your words. Your music. You. Self-belief is a thing I may never grasp, but self-doubt keeps me going because when the one thing I want to happen, happens- I will know not to abandon it. I will know how to keep hold of it and let no one take it from me. People are keen to take so much from others because they no longer know how to work for their own and make something for themselves. Society is becoming more closed off and the art of conversation and the intimacy of eye contact is slowly fading. This breaks my heart.
People like you are rare. Rare people like you influence others greatly to follow their heart. It’s all well and good listening to your head, but where does that get you? Nothing good comes from taking the safe option. I’ve fucked up many a time from following my heart, but I don’t believe in regrets. Everything toughens you up, eventually. Words. Words hold more power than anything else in the world. You can say “I love you” so many times, but it only has meaning when you say it with feeling. The actions help too. Art creates love. Through love comes tenderness. I admire you because of your gentle words and your attitude on stage. When you can merge the two so well, you become a person that another can believe in. Don’t stand in their shadows, just use it as a way to carry on.
There is a line from Dancing Barefoot that sums up the first time I heard your music, “Some strange music draws me in.”Truth be told, it wasn’t strange. It was like finding a home. I was young when first heard your words, very young. Your music just stuck with me. I’d see videos of you acting tough on stage wishing I could be as tough as that. I was the opposite. I was gentle and sensitive, like your words. That’s how I’ll always be. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that being as strong as most just isn’t my thing. If I was, I’d never write again. I love words and the feelings they create too much to ever give up on them. To ever not be who I am. For to stop that, I’d be going against all I believe in.
I made an enemy out of myself in my own reflection. Then I listen to your record, Wave and all makes sense again. Frederick is the best love song ever written. I love the innocence within it. The devotion and love within that song is exactly how I feel about the one I love; it’s good to know that she feels the same. These things are rare. Rare things are easier to adore. I will hold onto her.
Guidance is found in strange and familiar places. What we know fades, and we replace it with other things to lead the way. I’ll always stay true to the power of music and words. Rapture takes over when you find something to connect with. For me, Punk was the only genre of music that ever captured my heart. It unleashed the frustrations and any form of love inside me. Who wrote of love better than you, Patti? Nobody. You. Just you, for always. There is no such thing as fear when I listen to your music or read your poetry.
I must go back to Just Kids one more time. I read Just Kids when I feel at a loss, or just need something I cannot put into words. I read it, and hope takes over. I’ve laughed and cried whilst reading Just Kids. I’ve cried from the sadness and from the love within. Everything about this book is everything I want from literature. I’ve watched Dream Of Life more times than I can can recall. I’ve seen fear ruin people, and I’ve seen love make people. I’ll always back the latter. Your words and music; your art have always projected such purity. A way of creation that is lacking now, but it is obvious it is still in some. Face the sins we have apparently made. Make them again and again. And just say you lived.
If I ever get tough, I’ll hold you responsible. If I ever lose my way, I have your art.
Every word you have written, spoken and sung has influenced this 26-year-old from the middle of nowhere- heading nowhere, aiming for somewhere with no possessions. Dream of life in the hope the dreams become life. Real life.
I wish to thank you for all you’ve done for music and literature. I wish to thank you for creating something that this lost soul found a home in.
All the love in the world.
Happy Birthday Patti.
“What is it that calls to us? Why must we pray screaming? Why must not death be redefined? We shut our eyes we stretch out our arms And whirl on a pane of glass An afixiation a fix on anything the line of life the limb of a tree.”
I know age isn’t important. I know it’s not a big deal, but when your 26th birthday is creeping up on you; you cannot help but think “what the hell have I done with my life?!” I know this will pass soon, and on my actual birthday I probably won’t even pay any attention to how old I am. I don’t look my age at all. I look like I probably should be in school. Youthful skin. Maybe that’s my Italian genes coming through. Or maybe it’s because I nap a lot. I have no idea. The key is to moisturise. Always. In the morning and before you go to bed. Look after your skin, and you too can look as if you should pay child’s fare on the bus. Skin tips from a scruffy bint. Enjoy.
Last year when I turned 25 I think I had a brief moment of “oh fuck I’m nearly 30 what have I done with my life?!” And I think it is going to happen again. I don’t know why because no part of me does things in the hopes of getting approval of anyone. I don’t wish for that ever. If that was the case; I’d just be like everyone else. I don’t make an effort to not be like anyone else. This is how I turned out. Whether or not its a good thing, well that’s undecided. Maybe as I get older I may tolerate myself a bit more. Maybe I’ll stop being cruel towards myself. However, if I get in first; it won’t matter so much when someone else does. But there are things others say/ do that probably hurt a bit more than if I was to pick up on it about myself. But, it isn’t worth the time. Not much is. Time. Time. Time. Ages us all, aches us all. Us.
I maintain an element of silliness to make sure I don’t age too much mentally. If I see someone trip up in the street (providing they are not bleeding to death or a pensioner) I’ll probably find it funny. I think most are like that. When you take everything too seriously, it all loses meaning. And we’re all trying to find meaning. Maybe we’ll never know. Maybe we do know, but still want to keep looking. The answers can come from looking outside or from your own reflection. Just depends on how deep you want to get.
So, as I approach 26 I do wonder if I’ve done anything of worth. I just don’t know. I really don’t. My life pretty much revolves around music and I guess I hold interviewing Warpaint as the best thing I’ve ever done. I’ve met and spoken to some of my heroes; and they say you should never do that. But I know of many who have done so, and it being a pleasant experience. I fully endorse meeting those who have changed you and saved you. Sure it’s mainly to do with music for me, but there’s about 2 people who I class as friends that have also done this. So maybe interviewing Warpaint may only be the best thing I’ll ever do. I have no idea. Or maybe it was that time about a year ago when I showed Shirley Manson a piece I wrote about Bleed Like Me on her Facebook page, and she read it. Then told me it made her cry. How many people can say they’ve made their role model/idol cry? I’m still trying to work out if I’m proud of that or not. I’m not sure. I feel bad about it, but I’m glad she saw it.
This seems far too self-indulgent and no doubt I will dislike myself for writing this down. But it is better than a drunken outburst on a pavement with friends moaning about how I’ve done nothing with my life isn’t it. Some things you need to spare others from ever seeing.
It’s just an age. It means nothing. Those kinds of things do not define who we are. I’ve also finished watching all of The Wire again for the third time. Still kind of wish Jimmy McNulty was my best friend or something. And I’m going to always be pissed that they killed Bodie and Omar. That wasn’t right.
Anyway, have some songs; if you’ve got this far. Here’s to the bands/singers over the past (nearly) 26 years that have been my crutch and saviours.
The uncool and the lonely trade nauseating stories about how hard it is; how leaving the house is a chore. How standing up rids them of energy, sitting down zones them out. Some kind of feeling takes them over. The find some kind of identity in the songs that cause others to feel as if their ears are bleeding. They feel like something full of shame. Full of shame, drained of devotion. How you seen it happen? A haunting glare is in their eyes. Maybe you’ve been this person. Maybe you’re getting there. There is always one person you fight to not be anything like that. Their traits make you feel ill. The things they’ve said and done are placed inside of you; you’ve let it go but it doesn’t let you go. It is frustrating because you are someone who doesn’t have a tight grip. But this thing…this THING has got a grip on you. You could call it a death grip, but you know it won’t be the end of you. For you know you’ll rise above it.
I mean, it is fairly easy to get sucked into something you despise, and turning your back on it also exhausts you. Self-exclusion is a sign of strength, but others don’t see it that way. But why should you care how others see it? Do what you want, always.
It is draining stopping yourself being like someone you cannot allow yourself to be. Sometimes someone says, “You’ve got their eyes” or “I’ve seen that look before from….” That shit crushes you, but you carry on. The only person who can stop you from doing anything or being anything is yourself I guess. Comments can put your self-belief in the ground. You seem to caress the bad and shun the bad. Why is that? Because the shit people say about us, that ruins us- is easier to believe. You’ll pull yourself above it at some point. Patience gets you further than anything else. As you get older, you learn that more than before.
Eternal youth starts inside. The lines on your face and the heaviness in your eyes are stories. Tell them how you want, but tell it from the heart.
Music that makes me feel like my insides are being ripped out and that makes me feel like my ears are bleeding is pretty much my favourite. I don’t mean I want to hear some fool scream like a person possessed so I can’t understand what on earth they are saying; I mean music that is so loud and passionate it makes you believe. It’s brutal force drives you to make something of your own. Whether it be making your own noise or writing the most emotional and moving poem possible.
Music can make you feel better about being the only person in your world. Music can drown out the rats and make you see what matters. Music can provide what a person can’t. If I can love music like this, I can love a person right? Anyone can. Fear and loathing in my body. My mind is aging fast and my body has no clue. I’ve too much patience, and too much time. A wealth of ideas that are useless. And a heart that’s unsure of its purpose. I find answers in songs that release frustration, longing, desire, confusion and love. I realised I wasn’t alone when I first heard Morrissey. I realised it was okay to enjoy “dark” things thanks to The Jesus And Mary Chain. I found out how to be vulnerable from Patti Smith. I learnt how to keep hold of fear but not let it rule me thanks to Garbage. I learnt how to be gentle from Beach House. I found freedom in Warpaint. Music makes me who I am. I know I should be the one who makes me who I am, but it isn’t always the case.
I found a home in Punk and Garage Rock. I found two types of music that just summed everything up. Punk let out the fury, Garage Rock saved my soul. I’ve done a tribute to my love for Garage Rock before, but it’s the turn of Punk. I know EVERYONE has their own opinion on it. No one is right, no is wrong. I prefer the American Punk scene because it means more to me. It had more heart; it wasn’t about the appearance. It was the music that spoke volumes. The voices behind it just created something so powerful, and life-changing. From Iggy to Ramones and all in-between there was a voice for all. Ramones are EASILY in my top 5 favourite bands of all time, so it truly pisses me off when I see people wearing a Ramones shirt and they cannot name a song by them- let alone a band member. If you don’t dig the band then don’t wear the shirt. Simple as.
For me, Punk was a sheer escape. If you saw where I grew up you’d fully understand why I needed to mentally escape as often as possible. I still do. More than ever. Music is truly my life, it’s all I know. Punk kept the fury alive, I’m waiting to turn it into something I can be proud of. However, I have yet to do something I am proud of. Maybe one day it’ll happen. Or on my deathbed I’ll say, “I made this amazing cup of tea once…” As I reminisce about this cup of tea, I croak it. Typically. Anyway.
Punk has my heart. It owns every part of me. It is everything and so much more. It went beyond being a genre of music. A state of mind, a way of life and a way of being. They say it is dead. Well, the true essence of it is and we’ll never see a movement like it ever again. That’s why I treasure it so much.
These are the Punk songs that mean more to me than I can put into words. These are the songs that provided a safety net but unleashed all I felt because my words weren’t good enough. They never will be, but that’s fine.