A thing that began as a post about Julian Casablancas but ended up a rather intense mini-essay about music and getting older and stuffs

Pop Heaven / Pop Hell



I remember, when I was about fifteen, suddenly arriving at the terrifying realisation that all the good music that was ever going to be written, that ever *could* be written, had been. That was it. Music was over. How, after human beings existing for so long, and with so many great songs having been created, could people keep on producing amazing music?

With a boundless pessimism people who know me in real life will recognise all too well, I settled on the answer: they couldn’t.

Yes, I probably spent a bit too much time in my head as a youngster.

But it’s a notion that resurfaces with me quite regularly, which is a bit of an issue when you’ve got a music blog you’re trying to keep going.

You know, you get the tube to work and rather than go through the hassle of elbowing people in the chin so you can extricate your headphones from your bag, you stare at a Columbus Insurance ad on the wall of the carriage. I mean, it’s only another fifteen minutes before you reach your destination – it’s quite nice just to unfocus the old pupils and space out for a while. It’s the rush hour equivalent of loosening the belt, and it’s far less indecent.

But then you remember times when, not too many years before, you’d get public transport, look at people not listening to music or reading a book – people who were just staring at nothing – and you’d think: “how can they do that?” How can they spend this precious time, when they could be listening to anything they want, reading anything they want, just staring at a cartoon dog holding a pair of skiis?

And you realise that now you’re one of those people, and you blame it on the fact that since there’s so much music out there being flung at/offered to you – in countless emails from PR folk, by music blogs and aggregators, by friends, by the radio, by Twitter, by Spotify – you can’t listen to it all. You can’t do it justice. And so to avoid the heinous mistake of wasting precious time investigating something you might not enjoy, you listen to none of it.

You open 2% of the emails, listen to 2% of the streams, follow up 2% of the recommendations… and if you don’t hear something you like in those miniscule percentiles, that’s it. Your faith in the ability of music to take you out of your world for even four minutes at a time, to transform your mood, is vanquished. All the decent stuff has been produced already. Music’s dead.

THANK FUCK, then, for the days when, remarkably, something makes it through these seemingly insurmountable barriers and reminds you, you bloody dolt, that music will never die. And that, in the same way humans will keep improving technology and medicine and all that boring crap, they will also keep writing beautiful, affecting, unexplainably poignant songs which revive your faith in what – excusez le pretentiousness here pour un second – is pretty much the greatest artform we have. Not that my jaw will ever fail to clench if I hear people refer to it as such.

And *then* you think: how odd to be so passionate about something and have such little faith in it, even after all these years.

I would like to dedicate this self-indulgent brainweep to Julian Casablancas’s “Out Of The Blue”, from his debut solo album Phrazes For The Young, because sadly – or gladly – I literally don’t have the words to say how much and in how many ways I currently love the living shit out of it.

Buy Julian Casablancas MP3s, including “Out Of The Blue”, at 7Digital.com


  1. Swine says:

    It’s an amazing album but the track Glass is REALLY doing it for me at the moment. Must’ve played it twenty times yesterday.

    Whole album is riddled with hidden depths, it’s no wonder the Girls Aloud-obsessed broadsheets didn’t get it.

  2. Katie Lee says:

    Nice bit of bloggage, well done Stubert.

    I go through little waves of “there’s no music left in the world” feelings and you’re right that it’s always great when something finally gets through to your jaded brain and reminds you that there are plenty more notes in the sea.

  3. CJ says:

    This is pretty much my life you’ve described. Right up to the Casablancas bit.

    What a sad, sad tale…

    Must shun Eastenders and embrace Spotify.fm.space.

  4. Nick Bryan says:

    I had this feeling the other day, scrolling through all the music available thinking “Why don’t I want to listen to any of this?”
    Which, now I have Spotify etc, can be kinda worrying. I think I ended up listening to Radiohead in the end, will have to give Casablancas another shot.

  5. Niall says:

    Nice blog Stu.

    I’m stealing “brainweep”


  6. [...] years away from what you’ll find on his splendid album of last year, Phrazes For The Young. Listen to¬† “Out Of The Blue” for further [...]

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