He’s wearing vice-like headphones that could crush his skull. What does he do?
Scenario 1: Musician. He looks the part. Patched jacket, scattered hair, vague hint of eye make-up. It’s all very well put together. I imagine he's listening to some dub-garage band from the Middle East that I couldn’t find on iTunes or the latest Chillout Sessions compilation. I bet he sees the music in layers. Pulling songs apart on a screen in the front of his mind, like in the Minority Report. Separating the drums from the bass; then the kick from snare; analysing the inconsistency in the snare sound; then moving to a bird's eye view of the skin being hit; freezing frame, ignoring all other sounds. Just looping the sound of the snare being hit. The skin is an old one he deduces. Why would they use an old skin for recording? His mind runs wild: couldn't afford a new one? No, that’s not it. The drummer had an affinity with this skin, his 'recording skin'? Probably not that, either. The sound engineer was an idiot? Possibly. Or, and by far the most pleasing thought, was that, given the entire band including the singer were recorded live to tape in a bunker in 1983, they'd never imagined anyone would hear this take. Our Musician-man pictures them setting up for band practice, the bass player insisting they mic everything up and record a few demos, only to discover the demos were good enough to be a low-fi release.
Scenario 2: He was a guy that used “Fuck My Life” in conversation. Ends sentences with “that is all”. Drinks cleanskin Merlot. Sneaks a flask into gigs. Pays out on local bands. Never dances. Never makes music. Complains about not having money, but despises the idea of working in retail, hospitality, or worse, a desk job. Believes he’s a ‘free-spirit’, but lives at home. The worst type of person you can be seated next to a house party.
He picks a booger from his nose and eats it. Pulls off his headphones and I can hear ‘Yellow’ by Coldplay. Answers his phone and smiles for 30 seconds. And I realise I’m the idiot. I’m the one headed to work in an office from 9am-7pm, wearing overalls, clutching Creativity by its nub. Eating a cos lettuce salad for lunch. Photos I’ve taken on my iPhone printed out and blu-tacked to my office wall. Still at my desk at 5:30pm, writing this blog, and listening to Snow Patrol through vice-like headphones that could crush my skull.