No mixtape this time, just an autobiography.

Iria;10618032 said:
how did you get to be such an audiophile less?

I can?t remember ever getting that question before, but I guess it?s a legitimate one. I?ll try answering it now. Audiophilia of this scale doesn?t just happen, after all.

I have an older brother, named Martin (my parents made damn sure their sons had names an English-speaker could pronounce. Their names are Gerd and Arne). Martin, being over ten years my senior, never got to do most of the things big brothers get to do with little brothers. Once I got old enough to survive a proper beating he was 16, and not all that interested in asserting his dominance over six-year olds anymore. His interests were always so many years ahead of mine that he couldn?t be bothered with teaching me stuff, berating me for not being in the know about anything, or even beat me at computer games. When I was playing ?Stunts? at our old 386, he was using it to practice 3D animation. I still remember that one loop of a pixelated human head sniffing a sausage on a fork before taking a bite perfectly.

But Martin was a rock?n?roller, strictly 80?s style (some of my earliest memories are the sound of Whitesnake?s "Guilty of Love" through the wall of his room), and for every birthday from when I turned seven, he?d give me a single tape (or a CD as I got older and a CD-player), that he deemed good and thought I would enjoy. The first one I got was "Blood Sugar Sex Magic" by Red Hot Chili Peppers, the second one "Out of Time" by R.E.M. Although I didn?t much appreciate the music at the time, the gravity and sincerity of those gifts made a big impression on me back then. Amongst the heaps of other gifts, over sized parcels full of meaningless plastic junk and GameBoy cartridges shopped from a toy catalogue I had marked with x?es to show the clueless adults what I wanted, was always this lone, small cassette tape with ?to Peter from Martin? scrawled on the poorly executed wrapping. Something I knew I hadn?t included on my wishlist but which my brother wanted me to have anyway. The message was loud and clear. This is music. This is important.

My best friend Lars got seriously into music way before most of our little gang did, so he got to decide what we listened to while playing role-playing games or picking on younger kids or pretending to do homework. I?m pretty sure we were the only ten year-olds in Oslo, Norway listening to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Even the scary Pakistani kids weren?t that badass; their weak eurodance about Diablo and Alarma had nothing on Mo?Murda and Mr Ouija. They listened to songs about Cotton Eye Joe; we listened to songs about mass murder and demon-worship. And ?Regulate? by Warren G, of course. I mean, who didn?t?

The point of the paragraph above is that it was during those years of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony blasting out the stereo as we painted our warhammer figures and laughed at the popular kids marked the time when it became apparent to me that pop music is tribal. It was about more than catchy tunes, it was about showing who you were and more importantly, to me anyway, who you weren?t. The fact that ?Under The Bridge? off the old tape my brother had given me half a lifetime ago moved me way more than ?Mo Thug Family Scriptures? didn?t matter. We were the crazy kids from Torshov, we listened to Bone.

My big breakthrough came sometime in junior high, when I finally admitted to myself that I loved ?Out Of Time? and decided to buy the entire R.E.M. back catalogue. The geek in me loved it; listening to how the band evolved from the stripped down US alt rock of the early recordings to the grandiose arrangements of ?Automatic For The People?, how ?Murmur? rocked and how ?Monster? sucked, how Michael Stipe used to have hair. Still, I thought that my love for R.E.M defined me as a person, and embracing my newfound musical indentity, started amassing a huge record collection (for a 15 year-old), and being politely dismissive of anyone who didn?t like ?alternative rock?, a term I didn?t know no-one used any more.

Throughout the bad years (I had bad years. Like ?contemplating suicide while you gain 20 kilos cramming your mouth with milkshake and cookies in self-imposed loneliness?-bad.), the music geekery became my refuge. Listening to the same albums over and over and over made me aware of stuff I?d never even believed could be put into music. I started talking to my few remaining friends about how the R.E.M song ?Maps and Legends? explained how Hip-hop could never be great again if people just keeps copying Dr Dre. I got known as ?the music geek? and lived the part. They wanted a music geek, I gave them one. I bought albums, read up on stuff and began every new encounter with ?What?s your favourite band?? Then came the great night of Radiohead, sometime in the fall of 1999 (holy shit, has it been that long?).

By 1999 the bad years were losing their bad and I was slightly less horrified of the world. I?d recently started listening to an old copy of ?OK Computer? I had had lying around for a couple of years, and even though I found the album kinda boring, I brought it along in my Sony Discman for a night time walk since ?No Surprises? was such a good tune for loneliness. I?d be hard pressed to satisfactory explain what happened to my head that night, but I?ll try, seeing how it was one of the three most important nights of my life:

I walked along the valley near where I live (we have green valleys in the middle of the city in Oslo, it?s pretty awesome), and pushed play. For the first time ever, I realized how good ?Airbag?, the opening track, was. I knew ?Paranoid Android? was coming up right after it so I just let it run its course, and my mind drifted. By the time the crescendo of ?Let Down? came on, I was standing apathetically staring up into a street lamp. I felt naked. The world, me included, filtered through that album, suddenly made perfect sense. Every note, every word and every beat of a drum seemed perfect, and every leaf on a tree, every flicker of the streetlamp and every bright window in the nearby housing complexes seemed like a part of something great, some grand masterpiece of which I was a part. For the first time ever I heard all the things the singer didn?t sing. To steal a phrase from Watchmen: I felt like there was a big invisible thing all around me.

I walked around for hours that night, listening to the album over and over. From then on, I began living off the music, not for it. My collection exploded, my geekiness took off wildly, and with my newfound belief in the good sides of existence, I found that being a music geek was perfectly compatible with a social life and girls and smiling and other stuff I?d forfeited along the way. Hell, it even helped! Later, in University, I got a gig writing for the student paper, wrote some hardnosed reviews, one thing led to another, and today I make most of my pay check writing about pop music in some big-ass national newspaper.

Until further notice, The End.