I’m living in this movie…is it…moving me?

First there was music and then, all of a sudden, it became a quest for identity. First a song was just a song, couple of verses, a refrain, maybe a bridge, over and gone in just over three minutes, then it all got much more serious. During my teenage years, for almost a decade, I can track and trace my personal development on the basis of the music I listened to. It wasn’t just something that happened. I needed it. It was the only way I could articulate and understand who I was and what I wanted to be. I’ve struggled for a long time with my initial rejection of Led Zeppelin. I got Physical Graffiti from the local library, but it didn’t do anything, all I heard was pretty standard, blues based rock. Now I get it; Led Zeppelin wasn’t part of my teenage development path.

However, it is a simplification to just look at music as a travel companion. I didn’t select (or reject) music because it felt good, because it made me feel good, because there was some sort of overlay between me and the music. No, it was much more an attempt to show what I didn’t dare to talk about, much more a demonstration of a self not yet there. It was a beacon I used for navigation, a point on the horizon I wanted to travel to.

I didn’t travel very far.

I stared at maps, hoping my closest friends would understand who I wanted to be. I adopted Roxy Music, David Bowie, The Cure and Joy Division to show how sensitive, maybe even feminine I was. I tried out writing. All to no avail. I was not born to be an artist. Not good enough, not convinced enough, not (stubbornly) persistent enough. But then there was Howard Devoto, the singer of Magazine. He wasn’t just weird, and creepy, but most of all a brilliant observer who used his outsider status to maximum effect.

I would never be good enough to write a line as iconic as ‘I’m living in this movie but it doesn’t move me’ (Boredom, The Buzzcocks, 1977), but observing the crazy world around me and commenting on it, that…I could do.

All of a sudden the direction of travel was clear.