42. Glory Days – Pulp / Glory Days – Bruce Springsteen
53,000 words, 11 months, 300 or so songs, a very loose interpretation of 42 records, and here we are at the end. So what was all that about then ?
On one level it was a set of posts about some records, from Abba to Zevon. Whilst the artists that I did write about were a pretty fair reflection of what I listen to there’s a long list of people and records that somehow didn’t find their way into the list that I could happily make the case for. The Cardigans’ glorious “Long Gone Before Daylight” album is the most glaring omission in terms of records that I love. Bowie never made it. The Manics never made it either: I could find good reasons for “Motown Junk” or “All Surface, No Feeling” or “Your Love Alone” or the entirety of “The Holy Bible”. No Cowboy Junkies. No Smiths. No PJ Harvey. No Kate Bush. Massive Attack. Portishead. Rilo Kiley. Prince. All sorts of people that I adore that never made it. Posts for another time perhaps.
So, if you read any of the posts and discovered some music because of it then I’m glad. To be honest if you read any of it all then I’m glad. Much as I tried not to get too obsessed with the WordPress stats page I really came to hate those double zero days: no visitors, no views. It was all mostly written for my own benefit but, hey, who am I kidding, having an audience makes it all the more gratifying.
As well as the records it was about me. Whilst you may be thinking that I could have wrapped this up in six words – sad man listens to sad music – I have always been a little verbose and chose to ramble on a bit more than that. There was always a risk that this ended up being an extended version of Springsteen’s “Glory Days” – someone past his best reflecting on former glories. That wasn’t the intent but it does give me an excuse to ensure that Bruce gets yet another mention in the 42 and to watch the none-more-80s video:
If it’s not just a collection of boring stories of glory days then what is it ? There’s another song that bears the name “Glory Days”, tucked away on Pulp’s “This Is Hardcore” album. It’s a song that I probably more readily identified with when I was slightly younger – the nods to single room apartments and wasting days in the café by the station are distinctly 20something references – but the spirit of it still rings true.
If it all amounts to nothing these are still our glory days. There it is again. That acknowledgement that there might not be a greater point to all of this but these moments are still what we have. I have bashed myself around the head repeatedly with this fairly simple conclusion, one day if I bash hard enough it may actually sink in. Not entirely seriously, writing the 42 was, in honour of that number, an attempt to work out what it’s all about. The big one. Life, the Universe, everything (rest in peace Douglas). And I think I did. It’s about moments and love and friendship and community.
For me it’s also about writing. If the slightly up-its-own-arse conceit behind writing these posts was about working out the meaning of life via 42 records of personal significance (slightly up-its-own-arse ? disappeared so far up it has emerged from the top of my own head) then actually the real purpose was to write again. Rather than sit and stare forlornly at a blank piece of paper waiting for my novel to disgorge itself this process gave me a route back to writing.
The key lines for me in “Glory Days” (the Pulp one) are the ones about the promise of potential:
Oh and I could be a genius if I just put my mind to it
And I could do anything if only I could get round to it
I hid behind those lines for a long time with respect to actually trying to write something and I won’t hide behind them anymore. I have started again and I won’t be stopping – otherwise it’s Springsteen’s “Glory Days” that becomes the end note to this project and that isn’t what I want. I’ve read all of the entries in the 42 back to myself. Some of it isn’t great and there’s quite a bit I would change but, you know what, some of it isn’t half bad and I’m proud to have seen it through. I’m sure there will be other posts to come about music and possibly some that are about me but I think I will be actively trying to write more fiction now. I may still end up telling my own story but I may use some other characters and other vehicles to do it.
Hope you enjoyed it and got something from it. So long, for now, and thanks for all the fish.