Endless Time

It’s headfuck central isn’t it?

Everything has grinded to a complete halt. We no longer have any sense of what day it is anymore and we’re only just over a week into this “lockdown”. The handful of pals I have been in contact with are all feeling the same… we’re confused, pissed off, suffering cabin fever. No idea how long this imprisonment is gonna drag on for or what awaits at the end of it as so many have lost their jobs and businesses will be collapsing.

The world has changed.

The media are having a field day shoving endless DEATH and GLOOM at us 24/7 and it’s funny how suddenly Brexit and everything else no longer matters or means anything. There’s a hell of a lot I want to say about all that, but will refrain and simply say I have NOT trusted the mainstream media for over 20 years.

I’m typing and publishing this as a postcard to let everyone know I’m still alive and screaming. I do “look in” on social media to see how everyone is but not engaging there in any public way, just private messaging.

We’re just getting by. Bored. I do keep myself mentally active as there are always projects to be working on and my main focus lately is a project I started back in 2004 called “BRITSINGLES” which in some ways feels like my craziest project of all and one that is impossible to complete but… as we have tons of time to kill I may as well go into a little detail about it.

OK… it all came about because I was curious. All my life I’d been listening to The Beatles, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones etc and what struck me was it was impossible to actually understand how important those records were. John Lennon accused the Stones of copying whatever The Beatles were doing so… just how did the Beatles versus the Stones thing actually pan out? The answer to that was to round up their singles and place them in strict chronological order so one could listen to each record in order of original release. That was an interesting exercise and I began to think “hmm… what about other bands?” It mushroomed from there in record time as thanks to mp3 we can store thousands of files and it’s easy to download stuff, so… I expanded the original concept to document 1956 to 1972 which for me were the most important years in rock/pop history. It fascinated me listening to playlists and hearing how music history evolved with the bigger acts but many lesser known acts were just as important…

Little did I realise what I was getting myself into as EVERY act and record I could get my hands on were game for inclusion. This necessitated much research – 45Cat being a major lifesaver – as I tracked down copies of songs… oh, is there a stereo mix as well? Yeah, we’ll have that… and what about the B sides? Yep. We’ll have those as well. Oh, and these are BRITISH releases only. That elbows out a lot of American releases as otherwise we’d be bogged down with all those extra Beatles singles… nah… keep it simple. Singles as they came out here in Britain. Hence BRITSINGLES.

I then opened it even further up to 1999 as hey, I lived through the 80’s and 90’s and wanted some perspective… which songs came out at certain points in my life? On and on it’s droned since then. It’s become a massive database that I think is useful.

Here’s a random example. This is part of the folder for November 1967…

There’s 195 files in there at present. There is also a VIDEO folder containing 14 files as yes… if there’s contemporary TV footage available, we add that as well. I am VERY thorough and anal as very often, video clips can date from a year or more AFTER the record was released. I aim for those dating as close to 6 months of release date as possible.

I have worked on this in stops and starts for 16 years. It’s a brilliant piece of work, a precious resource of information and music. You tell me what month you were born, and I can tell you what records came out.

As of this moment, this project contains… deep breath…

33,597 files

7,084 artistes

If one played everything back to back 24/7, it would take 71 days, 8 hours, 12 minutes and 31 seconds to listen to. 173 gigabytes. And it keeps on growing. It’s impossible to complete but that’s OK. Everybody who was anybody between 1956 and 1999 is in there somewhere.

Can you begin to imagine how many hours I’ve put into this? Every single file has the record number attached along with month of release. That takes real time to type in all this information, weed out duplicate files, check whether they’re stereo or mono… We’re easily looking at a couple of thousand of hours of work, very probably more.

Maybe I am insane creating something like this. It’s the ultimate SOCIAL ISOLATION project but you know something? THAT’S how IMPORTANT pop/rock music is to me.

So… as you all struggle with self isolation and how to kill this endless time, you now have some idea of what’s keeping me occupied.

Like all of you, the day we regain freedom and sanity can’t come fast enough. When it DOES arrive, I know there’ll be parties and celebrations galore and hopefully I’ll see you at some of them, but I do also expect there to be a massive change in how we relate to one another and it’s hard to tell right now whether that’ll be for the better or worse.

Enough of my prattlings as this is all I have to say for now. Just stay sensible.

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