Rules Are Made To be Broken

Many years ago I made a rule, one I stuck to for far too long.

Before I share that little titbit, first some background information is needed I feel. In 1985 I left home to attend University in Hamilton, an exciting time for anyone as I’m sure most who’ve had the pleasure and benefit will attest to.

Well like all good idiots I had seen many a bad teen flick and thus knew one was meant to join clubs, I so should not try and emulate American teen flicks! Well one day I came across a poster, seeking radio announcers for the Student Radio Station. That sounds like a bit of me I thought, so ripped the poster from the wall (I’ve still got it too, somewhere amongst my clutter) and went to find the station and apply for a role. After some weeks of hassling the station manager I was finally given a slot. I should point out at this point Student Radio in New Zealand was a pale shadow of what it has become. Well the station – Radio Contact 1440 1XC, was soon my primary musical outlet and radio home for many years to come. (not the same but Contact now) My first on air experience was truly horrific, a 30 second overview of what the various buttons did and then live to air I went, I was no natural, that’s for sure, I still aren’t much of a talent compared to most. I did have penchant for playing music that wasn’t considered right for the station, something I hope I still indulge in, at my current outlet. I remember playing a Killing Joke track and getting looks of disgust from the 70’s rock centric station volunteers (no paid professionals back then), hmmmm, Flying Nun Records didn’t cut it either…. I wasn’t alone but it sure felt like it.

Anyways, being a poor student I had limited finances, so buying music was something I had to be very careful about and then as now I have a huge hunger for accumulating and devouring new music, more so than I shall ever be able to afford. So my dilemma back then was how much I needed for beer and fags and how much that left me for music, the rest of my expenses being met by the various govt handouts I enjoyed.

This over a short period led me to my rule.

I couldn’t afford everything, so I had to make decisions. So I decided and this became my rule - I would only purchase music that was released after 1976. This tied into my punk rock ethic and seemed to cover the years I thought were needed without the clutter of the past. Oh to be so sure of myself again.

I stuck to this rule for a while, years in fact, then being a good slave of the NME I slowly discovered new styles and artists that had been around and were influenced prior to my cut off date. I did allow myself one rule change before I dispensed with it altogether, broadening the time zone all the way back to 1973, when Cabaret Voltaire formed – a band I still hold as one of my all time favourites, although favourite isn’t quite the right word. I was basking in a very narrow timeframe, oh the joys.

I stuck with my rule for many years and whilst I did on occasion allow myself to break it, it wasn’t until I discovered the joys of reggae that the folly of my ways started to really hit home. Over time I forfeited the rule but to this day it sticks in my head and whispers to me as I contemplate a new purchase.

My rule has impacted on my musical interests ever since. If there’s an upside to my rule, its perhaps that I tend to look forward not back. I am always looking for the next tiny thing and am always waiting for the next musical force that will push me buttons, blow my mind and budget.

I still crave the next new sound, new style and the unexplored. I’m lucky, as it’s so much easier now than then, as the interweb has opened doors that as a teenager I couldn’t even have dreamt would ever exist.

Knowledge is power they say, for a musical adventurer I can only but nod in agreement. As I’ve rummaged around on my musical journey I have slowly broken down many of my inherent snobberies and closed minded opinions on many a genre and age, I think that has come with age and perhaps wisdom. Not too mention the positive influence so many have had on my ears.

Rules are made to be broken; any good punk can tell you that. To think I took so long to see to error of my ways.

For today - Bob Denver RIP

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