Saturday, 29 September 2012

A man out of time

It's been a while since I had a bit of a musical theme here, so today we're going to start off with a clip from one of my favourites:

Of course it's Elvis Costello, doing what I think is one of his greatest songs - Man out of Time.

As a writer, it's easy to hold Elvis Costello's songs in high regard - he's definitely one of the cleverest and sharpest wordsmiths around. The reason I particularly enjoy this song is because it really strikes a chord with me. I often feel like I'm a man out of time.

I reckon I feel it most strongly on the tram heading into work. I look around and there are all these people engrossed in their mobile phones. Hammering on their non-existent keyboards and staring at them as if somehow the secrets of the universe are contained on their screens. I don't get it. I don't even own a mobile phone. Does that mean there's something wrong with me - or does it just mean I'm totally not with the times.

It's not just the phone thing either. It's TV and movies and music. I have no interest in being up with the latest in any of these. Modern pop music just sounds like noise to me now - and hey, I used to love to rock out with the best of them (in my own kind of way). These days I sound a lot like my dad. It's a bit frightening.

Sometimes it makes me feel lost. I talk to people and they say, "Have you seen this?" or, "Have you heard this?" or, "Have you got the latest app?" Most of the time, I haven't got a clue what they're talking about.

But other times, it makes me feel like I've got my own place, and I'm not just following the crowd. Maybe it's a snobbish thing - I don't know.

What I do know is that I think I'll just keep on doing my own thing, listening to the music I like, and writing my own kind of stories, regardless of what is currently on the bestseller lists. I've gotten used to being a man out of time, and while it can have its disadvantages, it's mostly pretty good.

Enjoy the music. See you next time. 


  1. When Carrie was in the States last I watched several hours worth of programmes about punk rock which I’d saved up over the previous few months and, of course, Elvis got his mention. I’ve always been a fan of his early stuff—and I agree totally that he is one of the most gifted (and unappreciated) lyricists out there—but after he went through his country and western phase I lost interest in him a bit and really have had no idea what he’s been doing for years but I could say the same for most of the bands from that time who refused to lie down and die quietly after New Wave had run its course. He always reminded me of Woody Allen when he was young; I expect it was the glasses.

    Like you I’m well on my way to feeling lost in time. I do own a mobile phone but not a Smartphone. I rarely use it and have only ever phoned my wife and daughter on it. I have a tablet so I know about apps but 99% of them are of no interest to me. I have a word puzzle I like and a block game—an old man’s Tetris (the blocks don’t fall)—but other than that it’s just basic utilities. Carrie and I always watch the BBC’s technology programme Click on a Saturday morning on which they have a section that deals with new apps and I do seriously wonder about the lives of the kids who download these things. I know if I was thirteen again I’d be as bad as the rest or maybe not; I was never your typical thirteen-year-old.

    I have very broad tastes in music so there’s not much—except opera and rap—that I have no time for but I don’t follow anyone anymore. If Fish (another underrated songwriter) released a new album I’d buy it without feeling the need to hear it first but then he’s an old-fart-getting like me these days too. I always prided myself that I didn’t sound like my dad, that I could talk to my daughter as an equal and I did manage it for longer than most but there are now bands she listens to that I’ve never even heard of; it had to happen. I couldn’t pick Estelle or Adelle or even Lady Gaga from police line-up but I suppose I get points for at least knowing the names.

    I’m still passionate about new music though. In fact I just posted a link on Facebook telling people about my latest discovery, the Portuguese composer Joly Braga Santos. I can still get very excited about a new discovery like this. I mean, knowing as much as I know about classical music, how could I not have run across this man before? Give your ears a treat and have a listen to his Fourth Symphony.