Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor by Dave Haslam – Music, Manchester and More
I’ve always felt like a music imposter. Even though I’ve loved music since I was very young – and grew up listening to my dad playing guitar and blues music (which I of course whinged about because don’t all kids whinge at their parents?) But I never felt like I was entitled to the music I enjoyed because somebody else introduced me to it or because I wasn’t there at the beginning or because I didn’t see them live or because I didn’t commit to following their music as I got older…
So I was a bit worried that I’d be out of my depth reading this book. But that soon changed. This book is so human. Of course, there is no music without humanity, but us self-perceived music imposters can often believe that music experts are going to turn their noses up at us and lambast us for gatecrashing the VIP party.
How wrong was I. Sure, I can’t claim to know half the bands Dave talks us through as we chart his years in music – from the 70s to the present day (pretty much). But instead of seeing it as a weakness, perhaps I should see it as an opportunity. After all, when the author talks of his excitement at going to clubs and hearing songs he’s never heard or heard of before, being introduced to him by others, it makes you realise that it’s OK to be at the start of that journey. In fact, how many times have we said, I wish I hadn’t binge watched Breaking Bad / Narcos / Whatever – because I’d love to watch it from S1 Ep1 with new and naive eyes. FINALLY, that’s no bad thing – because we’re all grown ups now, not high school music wankers.
Dave’s journey is all about discovery, after all. Discovering new bands and new ideas. Trying out new club nights or live gigs. Moving from the pages of fanzines to the pages of NME – and seeing both the pros and the cons of leaving the grassroots.
But more than anything, the vulnerability is what I loved. Dave Haslam isn’t simply filling his pages name-dropping those who adored him, hung out with him and respected him. In fact, Sonic Youth had no recollection of sleeping on his floor. How many of us have felt that kind of disappointment when we realise that someone or something is more prominent in our minds than we are in theirs? But as Dave says, that’s fandom, isn’t it?
The other thread that runs throughout is mental health (particularly anxiety – something I relate to) and what was perhaps his midlife crisis – which had to be music related. I am still wondering how he feels about his big decision…
Of course, the Hacienda plays a big part in the read (I was either too young or too unadventurous to experience it) and it’s interesting going behind the scenes of the rise and fall of a legendary club. I still look back at some of my staple nights out, mostly in Hull, and wonder how the hell they ended up closing or just transforming into something else completely. But I guess its back to humanity – we all change and grow, and new tastes and desires come to the fore. Just because a group of us adored something at some point in our lives, it doesn’t mean we will always worship it and use it in the same way; it doesn’t mean it isn’t vulnerable to the environmental influences around it (guns and gangs being a part of the Hacienda’s demise) and it doesn’t mean there will ever be another generation who need the exact same ingredients as we did to get a buzz. Anyway, we might crave the buzz of newness ourselves – nostalgia isn’t everything after all.
Winding its way through Thatcherism and terrorism (you could argue both are the same thing) there are some dark moments, and these absolutely need to be explored – they are so much more than a backdrop. But there is so much humour and light in this book and I laughed out loud on numerous occasions. Just wait til you get to the bit about Jeremy Kyle.
Highly recommended, 5 star read.