Monday, 9 March 2009
I have the supreme good fortune to live on a street on which people's cars, for the most part, are purely functional rather than an outward display of financial success, machismo or whatever. As a person whose favoured means of transport are feet and a bicycle I tend to view cars as an irritation rather than objects of desire. I find it especially easy to hate those enormous 4x4s that some wag dubbed the Chelsea tractor because of their utter unsuitability to the urban environment for all but the occupants of said behemoth. They are to the aspirational middle classes what oversized dogs are to council tenants
What on earth has this to do with music? Bear with me – I'm coming to that. But first I must tell you of my 'road to Damascus' change of heart. It came to me in a flash as I cycled past a typical example on my way to town and suddenly my heart softened. I now believe we should all learn to appreciate these monsters of the highway; not for the danger they present to other road users, nor for the emissions they generate and certainly not for the ease with which they plough up grass verges (perhaps in unconscious longing for their spiritual home). No, we should cherish them for the sound they make. Their particular vibration is unique to our age. Unlike that of the humble blackbird or the galloping horse it was unknown a century ago and, I confidently predict, will not be heard a hundred years hence. Only now, in the long history of the planet, can you hear this sound, live and for free, any day of the week on any street in the land. Get it while you can, even if you can't bring yourself to mourn its inevitable passing.