Paint it black, soma and light music.

I like music, honest. At the moment, as I write this, I’m listening to the Stones, ‘Paint it Black.’ But I like it in its place, in my ears, not in my head.

This morning I was walking along lane when a cyclist came the other way. I heard him before I saw him because I could hear the music from his earphones.

When he got up to me he stopped, took the earphones out of his ears (without switching the music off) and asked for directions. I explained where he was and the route he had to follow to get to where he wanted to be. He thanked me; put the earphones back into his ears and pedalled off, trailing music behind him.

Funny old world isn’t it. One fine day last year I got the train round to Silecroft and walked up Black Combe. It was a really pleasant morning, the bird song was amazing, and I could stop and see the buzzards spiralling below me.

And at the same time, hammering down the path toward me would come the runners, all with their earphones in, music turned up, oblivious to it all. I mean, why leave the gym?

For some people, music seems to be like soma. They take it and the world disappears and they no longer have to think.


For others, the need to be ‘connected’, to be wired in and constantly in touch almost seems like some sad foreshadowing of netrunner.

netted in

Look, just turn off, tune out and jack out. Try the real world for a while. If you’ve got to the stage where you can no longer face the echoing emptiness between your ears, then I’ve got a solution. Read something and let that fill it.

Now there’s nothing wrong with music. I’ve got Sinéad O’Connor singing ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ at the moment. But for me music is more often the white noise I play to ensure that I’m not interrupted when I’m writing. On the other hand music can inspire. I found a video of ‘Paint it Black’ on you tube. The music is backing for a compilation of clips from Vietnam War news footage. As I watched it I was taken back to the days when I used to cycle home from school to watch the retaking of Hue and the crossing of the Perfumed River. As Noel Coward said, ‘Strange how potent cheap music is’.


There again, where would we be without music?


As a reviewer commented “Another great set of stories as told by jobbing poet Tallis Steelyard. Fights abound and artists and poets are not the least amongst the fighters. I love these stories and sometimes think if someone were to drop me anywhere in Port Naain I could find my way, well, not home, but at least to Tallis and Shena’s barge. Jim Webster always gives us humour, wit and a wisdom he wears lightly. People like him should be running the country.”

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4 thoughts on “Paint it black, soma and light music.

  1. The Opening Sentence August 31, 2015 at 8:32 am Reply

    I managed to escape the crowds around Aira Force by heading up Gowbarrow. As I reached the top I could hear music and thought ‘what kind of selfish idiot plays music like that in a place like this?’ Then I recognised the singer and realised it was my own phone ringing.

    • jwebster2 August 31, 2015 at 8:43 am Reply

      I can honestly say that I get phone calls on my mobile so rarely I don’t know my own ring tone 😉

  2. M T McGuire August 31, 2015 at 4:57 pm Reply

    I used to love music commuting when there wasn’t room to hold out a book in front of me. But I used to listen and see pictures. I can’t begin to fathoms how someone could ride a bike and listen to music at the same time and feel safe because I need to hear. I don’t quite get how anyone would want to ride a bike without being able to hear as well as look for other road users. Then again, I’ve been knocked off a bike… I love the soma poster.



    • jwebster2 August 31, 2015 at 5:05 pm Reply

      Yes when I’m on a bike I want every sense I have available for dealing with other road users. Wearing earphones sounds a bit like Zaphod’s Peril sensitive sunglasses
      But yes the Soma poster rather tickled me as well

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