I was thinking today how that imaginary line of time that is crossed into a new year signifies so much in the mind for so many when really either side of the line is just one minute in the past and one minute into the future and the difference has little bearing on how things go. Except, that the imaginary line has people change their attitude and gives them the impetus to reset, start again, ponder the future. So it works, so it’s a good thing. The bad thing is that we need the line to get the engine restarted. You can begin anything at any time and finding inspiration on say Tuesday, April 9th or Thursday, September 19th might lack the significance that makes you want a new start – unless of course one of those dates is your birthday. New Year’s Resolutions or New Year’s Revolutions, whichever suits you, getting to April the 9th and then September the 19th from January 1st – that’s the problem. Also, is the idea to give up bad habits or instigate good habits? One leads to the other but you can also keep your bad habits and create new good habits so at least you have some balance. For us here, life habits have already changed a lot with a new country in our lives and the future is full of mysterious possibilities in a strange land – you just have to wanna.
Above us is an Airbnb and we saw some people with little wheelie bags arriving today – and as we sit here in the first few hours of 2021 it seems they are here for NYE party time. So far it’s not so bad, just bad music and talking loud. We heard some fireworks out there but this is the year of the muted celebration. It reminds me of my parents, I used to ring them and say Happy New Year, “Is it?”, my dad would say. They didn’t notice it, they didn’t have an imaginary line to cross after decades on the planet, the past morphed into the future and they couldn’t see the join. This year the line may be more defined with the greatest upheaval in living memory, everyone wants it to end but it seems that the year clicking into 21 from 20 isn’t going to change much of anything, even if you are suddenly inspired, stop smoking or decide to climb Mount Everest, I’m not sure if it’s safe even up there or if you are even allowed to visit.
We got up late today as we had those crazy early residency mornings. Stayed in bed till 1 PM and then slowly moved around till it was time to leave the house. We were meeting Phil King at a record store in Porto at 3 PM. Phil played bass with Lush, The Servants, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Felt. He has a Portuguese partner and lives here in Porto. He was about to show us around the local record stores but in truth, we could have picked a better day to do it, it was rainy, it was New Year’s Eve and only one was open, Discos do Baú. We’d only previously talked on Skype, BJM Ricky had put us in touch. The store was owned by Miguel, he was really cool and played us some odd records. I bought a Troggs album (Black Bottom from 1981), Phil drew my attention to it and I liked the sound of it despite the year of release.
I also found an album by Majority One from 1971, great cover art, and a sixties sound despite the later release date. An English band that was called The Majority who unsuccessfully released eight singles in the sixties, moved to France, changed their name, and disbanded after one album and a Top 20 hit in Holland. It was a cool store and Miguel had me sign the first ex-band album.
We trundled off into the weather all three of us armed with umbrellas and spent a coffee’s time talking about music until around 7 PM we parted and headed back home. Olivia had picked up some groceries but we made it to the local store before they closed at 8 PM and stocked up on four days’ worth of food as the world isn’t back till next Monday. We did actually celebrate New Year with Pão de Deus, a filling indulgent vanilla half cake, half bread with a coconut frosting, it was too much, it’s still there, I’ll have another go at it before I hit the sack.
Music today was the first two albums by Scotland’s Stone The Crows – self-titled and Ode To John Law, both released in 1970. Joplinesque Maggie Bell on voice, Alex Harvey’s bro Les on guitar, tragically electrocuted at the Swansea Top Rank in 1972 (he was 27), replaced by Jimmy McCulloch who also played with Thunderclap Newman and McCartney (he died at 26). Bassist James Dewar (died at 59) was an original member before finding fame with Robin Trower, drummer Colin Allen found himself in Focus and played with an impressive list of bands from the sixties onwards. John McGinnis played keys. It’s Proggy Blues and if you haven’t heard the 17-minute I See America on Side 2 of the debut, well then you know what to do, after all, it is a new year, new challenges.