There’s this thing been doing the rounds lately on the Data R Us website (trading as Facebook). Like the chain mail letters of old, people are being encouraged to pass a message on to a bunch of friends who will, in turn, pass it on to a bunch of their friends who will, in turn, pass it on to their friends. And so it goes on.
There are a couple of differences though: no one has tried to claim it’s all part of a world record attempt and consequently there have, thus far, been no announcements on Blue Peter warning children not to partake in this scam.
Also, this time round, there’s a musical element. Participants post the following message to their profile:
“Ten all time favourite albums. What really made an impact and is still on your rotation list, even if only now and then. Post the cover, no need to explain then nominate a person each day to do the same.”
Naturally enough, when invited to participate, I set to work with a series of post-it notes, white board diagrams and a Rymans full of lever arch folders, trying to whittle down all of my favourite records into one, easy to digest list of ten.
Anyone who loves music as much as I do will know how difficult this is.
There’s a line in High Fidelity where our hero, Rob, is asked for his favourite top five records. His response: “In a club? At home? Listen, I’ll tell you what. Why don’t I just make you a tape.”
It really is just not that simple to ask a music obsessive what his or her favourite record is. You might as well ask a chef for their favourite grain of rice; a builder for a favourite brick.
I exaggerate. But only ever so slightly.
For those of us with more CDs than sense, a library of good music is absolutely essential. For all our love of lists and charts and the like, reducing all your favourites down to a paltry ten is almost a form of blasphemy.
So, despite the apparent frivolity – the throw away meme-ery of it all – this latest Facebook fad requires a fair bit of thought and dedication.
But it can be done.
And then, being as you are sharing your selections on a public platform, there’s also the nagging demon on your shoulder whispering “what will other people think?”. This is, after all, the 21st century equivalent of 70s kid marching around with LP sleeves under their arms at school and parties.
There are, of course, THE GREATEST ALBUMS IN THE WORLD OF ALL TIME. And we can all reel these off easily – with room for a tiny bit of variation: Revolver, Pet Sounds, Dark Side of the Moon, Led Zeppelin IV, The Queen is Dead, London Calling, give or take OK Computer as you see fit.
You know. That kind of thing.
But this thing is slightly different. This is about your favourite records. And deep down, you know that at least some of your favourites would never ever, ever, ever appear on a greatest list – even if that list was extended to several thousand places.
You know full well that the Annie soundtrack doesn’t really cut the mustard in any proper critical sense. But then, you appeared in the chorus for the play in your school’s annual Christmas production and somehow, it’s always stuck with you.
And so you end up with a juggling act: trying to present a list that veers away from the obvious choices (“So you’re telling me that your favourite albums are actually identical to that list published in Mojo last month – which is actually just a rehash of the one that appeared in Q a year ago? Have you actually got no imagination at all?”) but doesn’t end up being too embarrassingly honest (“Hmm – I see you’ve got a Nickleback record on there; this might be the right opportunity for me to re-evaluate our friendship – and my appreciation for you as a human being in general”).
Such are the quandaries of a life on social media – or presenting yourself to the world in general. But then music is such a subjective thing anyway. Those whose music we love have gone to the effort to put their hearts (and hopefully not just their desire for cash) on their sleeves, so the least we can do is be upfront about it and acknowledge our love of Daphne and Celeste every once in a while.
Over the next few posts I’ll be wading through the ten favourites I posted. At the time, I strictly adhered to the “no need to explain” mantra. But here, things are a bit different and I’ll be explaining till the cows, sheep and various other farm animals come home.