14 July 2013


A belated welcome to all the DA fans! (Now that they've probably all read the post, left, and forgotten this blog exists...) Nothing like a little diehard-fan scrutiny to freak me out a bit... seriously though, welcome.
And now for our regularly scheduled post (I heard that snicker)...

The other day, while looking at the window at the rain falling outside, it randomly struck me that I'm almost always filtering my experiences through Facebook.

I don't post every little tiny detail of my life on Facebook ('going to work,' 'eating [insert food here] then going to bed,' etc.), but I do spend a rather disproportionate amount of time thinking about it. In actuality I only post a status three or four times a week (depending what's going on in my life and how much music awesomeness is coming from the DA and White Heart pages), but I tend to look at every experience I have, no matter how mundane or ridiculous or simply beautiful through the lens of 'how would I write this on Facebook?'

Being a writer, a bit of a loner, a perfectionist, and a master of the cynical one-liner (just ask my relatives -- not that regular readers of this blog really need proof), my Facebook posts are very carefully crafted. I have literally spent forty-five minutes reading over and tweaking a single Facebook status at times, replacing one word, then checking for clarity, rhythm, and 'comedic' timing, and making subtle adjustments accordingly. If I spent a quarter of that kind of effort on revising my novels, I would be a bestselling author by now.

I'm not proud of that.

It scared me a little, this realisation that I couldn't remember the last time I experienced anything without starting to plan in my head how I would word the Facebook post about it.

So when I put the advance download of Dig Here Said The Angel on my iPod, I decided to wait before listening to it... it was two o'clock in the morning by then, and I had to be up early the next day. But I was determined to wait. Last time DA released an album I was under ten years old and my only knowledge of Daniel Amos was the image in my memory of the cover art of their self-titled debut. And with a White Heart album still not announced, this was my next best chance to get to hear a record from a band I love for the first time -- at the same time as everybody else. I've always wondered what it would have been like to have heard Doppelgänger for the first time in 1983, when everyone else was also hearing it (and being shocked) for the first time. So too with ¡Alarma! in 1981, and with White Heart's Freedom or Powerhouse in 1989 and 1990.

So I waited until I had a chunk of time where I knew I would be undisturbed.

Since I don't get to listen to amazing albums for the first time often, I'm not entirely sure how to go about it. I'm sure many people who were around in the seventies and eighties had a special sort of 'ritual' -- taking the record home from the store, opening it, setting the vinyl on the player for the first time, dropping the needle, and then examining every square centimetre of the artwork or reading the lyrics on the sleeve as they got to hear fantastic music from a pristine yet warm and inviting record.

A download wouldn't have the same visual and tactile experience, but at least I knew the music would be good. So I sat on my bedroom floor (where I always imagine people listening to records for the first time), put in my earbuds, adjusted the volume, and touched the title of the first song.

Within a few seconds, a now-familiar voice envelops me and begins to lead me away, into the world where everything is questioned and yet answered, where melancholy and humour collide.

I found a haystack in a needle
I caught an angel in a lie...

As the album played on, I consciously pushed the thought of reviewing it out of my mind. The blog, Facebook, even future choreography I might get out of this was not important right now. I was to listen to it as a fan, not a critic. I was to listen with the wonder of Lucy first seeing the lamp-post. It would be unfair to try to boil it down in my mind to a crass inadequate review while the album was still trying to show me all the beauty and texture it had to offer. And even though I fully expect to wind up choreographing at least a few of the songs at some point, this was not the time... it was not the time to be microanalysing the movements of the dancers in my head when I was supposed to be letting the music and the songwriting show me what treasures it had to offer even by itself. Imagining dance at this point wouldn't strengthen it, it would only deafen my ears to the music.

It took some conscious effort, but by the end of the second song I had settled in. And I listened to the music for an hour without once thinking of Facebook, and only having to push the blog out of my mind two or three times. I didn't work at imagining dance either, I only allowed myself to see what my subconscious pushed to the forefront. But the majority of my intellectual faculties were focused on the music texturing and the songwriting.

It wasn't until the next day that I realised just how much I had enjoyed that -- that piece of time where I managed to completely forget about the existence of Facebook. It isn't until you taste freedom that you realise how deeply entrenched you are in bondage. Four years I've let this thing -- this elaborate chunk of HTML -- dictate my thought patterns. Why?

I could go onto a psychological exposition on this, but we've all heard it before anyway, and it doesn't really answer anything. All I have is... why? Why do we seem to think it's so essential -- essential enough that we automatically think in Facebook text bites? What kind of creative freedom would we have if distilling our daily 'accomplishments' into a Facebook status that only three people will read wasn't a part of our natural thought process?

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