Quarantined with a record player.

I remember it well: Friday the Thirteenth, March 2020 – they threw me out of the bar. I’m not sure if I should be proud or ashamed to say that’s the first time I’ve ever been ejected from a bar. But I didn’t take it personally as they threw everyone else out, too. They said, “go home and stay there until further notice”. Quarantined ad infinitum?

Mind you, being quarantined with a record player and thousands of records seems better to me than being confined with an awful wife (there used to be an L there, but the Alphabet People stole the L.) For me it’s nothing very new as I’ve been more-or-less stuck at home since the banksters blew up the financial system over a decade ago and left me without a business, family or income. Some millions more will now be joining me in that predicament, as the second wave of financial catastrophe now unravels what was left of our economies.

Here in Spain, we’re a week into this lockdown. Most economic activity has ceased and there’s no end in sight. Are the ‘authorities’ over-reacting, or late to the game? I honestly don’t know. But I do know that the world, as we knew it, has changed. Perhaps forever. Human behaviour is now modified. Our monetary system is disintegrating. The globalised, financialised, just-in-time, money-above-all order is tottering on its arthritic knees. Good riddance, I say.

I lied. I’m not quarantined with a record player; I’m quarantined with three. I’m short food and money, but not records, cassettes or CDs. Priorities, eh? To relieve the boredom, I retrieved an old CD player from under a pile of retired electronic things in order to listen to some CDs I’ve not listened to in years. I now remember why I retired the CD player: CDs sound awful; they skip and jump; they’re second rate. And they taste awful, too.

Record player to the rescue. An escape portal from the silence outside, the anxiety inside and the need to keep oneself occupied. I considered instigating a routine around disc selection – alphabetically, geographically or random? Maybe a good time to service the player? No, leave it alone, now’s not the time for pedantry. For the moment, I’ve concluded that old, established routines are best because they’re comfortable. Why cause oneself any more discomfort than necessary? Unless one is a masochist, in which case I’d recommend back-to-back Schubert’s Trout Quintet (possibly the most horrible music I know) or a long night of Heavy Metal, played backwards through a megaphone.

Rachmaninov is perfect for melancholic moments, Messiaen for those seeking spiritual guidance. Bob Dylan’s lyrics seem to have been written for this time – how weird is that? I’m finding jazz a great comfort: the twisted, lilting, experimental make-do of an age of optimism. Amidst the rigours of enforced quarantine, the revolt that was jazz now poses a new vigour of alternative medicine in the fight against orthodoxy, State Power and bland, corporate music. Good jazz was all about spontaneity – something hard to invoke in times of lockdown and the deprivation of essential human contact.

I will be writing to this blog more frequently now. I need something to do, and you fellows need something to read. I’ll keep you updated. Please feel free to post your comments. We’re all in this shit together now. Take care and happy record player listening.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke.

Simon 21/3/20

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