I don’t go to hear live music anymore. Very occasionally I will venture out to places like Massey Hall to see something — Robert Plant or Neko Case. Usually it’s very good, but feels very different from the kind of things I did during my salad days. Then nothing could stop me from going to bands once or twice a week. Feeling sick, lousy weather, facing an exam the following week – all these were minor obstacles to overcome. Minor compared to the excitement of discovering a new band or hearing a band I read about or heard on CKLN or CFNY. There were a few of us who would brave the long trek downtown, dressed in our second-hand clothes (no worry about bedbugs then), uncomfortable but cool boots, ready to enter the legendary Horseshoe Tavern, full of smoke and sound so loud that you couldn’t really talk. Or going to Larry’s Hideaway to see The Cramps and completely deaf after, but euphoric at the same time. Hearing the Ramones for the first time. Iggy at the Masonic Temple. Everyone else at the Masonic Temple — Gang of Four, the English Beat, the Cure, Stray Cats, the Teardrop Explodes, the Equators, Bow Wow Wow. And a few masons too. Not everything was great, but everything was exciting. Music so loud that you could hear it pounding it your body. Made everything else bearable.
There was music to study by – Bob Marley, rockabilly (Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran). These days there is music to work by – Glenn Gould and Chet Baker (not together), music to brood by — old Arcade Fire, old Leonard Cohen, old Bob Dylan and music to pick myself up — the Ramones and the Clash. But no more clubbing, no more being uncomfortable for the sake of being happy and carefree.
It’s just movies these days. Books I pick up and start, but cannot finish even if they’re good. Patti Smith’s “M Train” sits in the living room, waiting for me to read the rest of it. I liked the beginning and middle. Peculiar habits of an artist as an old person, it should be subtitled. Note that peculiar habits are more tolerable if one is an artist, worrisome if one is an ordinary person. Sigh.
In a few months, I will enter my sixth decade. Seems to be a dangerous decade.