“I lost the plot for a while then. And I lost the subplot, the script, the soundtrack, the intermission, my popcorn, the credits and the exit sign” – excerpt from ‘High Fidelity’ by Nick Hornby
Chapter 1: Intro
This is the first of a multi-part thematic series about obsessions, music and obsession with music. Based on my own experiences, I will attempt to explore and rationalize the profound impact of music on our habits, daily routine and life in general. With music being the focal point, each part of the series will be focusing on a different aspect; all-day long visits to record stores, endless queues outside clubs, late night radio listening with the record button on, mixtapes, the digital era emergence and the inevitable changes to the way we perceive, consume and enjoy music.
The series title is a paraphrase of an excerpt from the book High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, featuring also in the eponymous film adaptation a few years later (replace obsession with misery for the original quote). Although the essence of the question is totally different in the book and I am pretty certain Hornby didn’t have electronic music in mind, it has prompted a psychological dilemma that has been bothering me for years. What came first, the music or the obsession? Did I listen to electronic music (and drum & bass in particular) because I was obsessive? Or did I become obsessive because I listened to electronic music?
In order to avoid confusion and misunderstandings, I will be using the term “obsession” onwards in a loose fashion, referring to a controlled passion or a persistent attachment, rather than a clinical state or disorder.
I have been an avid fan of Nick Hornby, having read the majority of his books multiple times and have identified myself with his characters to a great extent. I still consider ‘High Fidelity’ the pinnacle of his writing career (the film adaptation directed by Stephen Frears, although taking place in Chicago and not in London, does justice to the narrative and Cusack portrays Rob Fleming in a captivating way).
However rhetorical or even irrelevant the title question may sound; I haven’t come up with a clear, definite answer. The trigger to this soul-searching has been a re-arrangement of my record and book collection. Should the sorting be alphabetical, chronological or autobiographical; should I sort them by label, genre or artist? Although it seemed like a tedious and routine task, it took me more time to decide on the sorting filter, rather than do the actual sorting. A string of flashbacks came into mind, as I can precisely recall when and where I purchased each one of them. The “why” is a bit blurry and vague in certain cases and that is probably when my obsessions had taken over.
Did I need them all? Actually, let me re-phrase: “Did I need to have them all? Was it the artwork and the logo, was it a collector’s limited edition item, a part of a collection I wouldn’t dare to leave incomplete? Was it a long journey to the store that shouldn’t be futile, so I had to buy something? Was it the convenience of ordering online? Perhaps it simply seemed like a good idea at the time, like leather pants or that last drink. None, any or all of the above; but, let’s start from the beginning …
End of Chapter 1