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  • Writer's pictureJohn Carlow


There was a point when it used to concern me about what people thought of my taste in music. Its a feeling that doesn't necessarily stop when you leave the halls of public education. I carefully fronted music that was accepted and hid music I liked but I didn't think would be approved of by others. Then a few years back I decided to just drop the filter. It simply didn't matter to me anymore. Maybe its age...There's that whole " Ten years have got behind you " ...running and guns stuff that maybe opened my eyes. With the all consuming blanket social media has thrown over perception, how you represent yourself now has an infinite platform. Consider that life is simply better and easier because being yourself should be all that matters. Nowadays I'll be listening to Maiden, Cramps or AK 47 and next to any number of arena rock bands from the 70s. Few weeks back it was opera rock fusion and Grapes of Wrath. I have a place for all of them.

Along the same lines..a long ways back I concerned myself about what others would say if I got a tattoo. Worse yet, if it was a tat that people didn't approve of. Again, I finally dropped the filter and now I have six with more coming. It's a liberating feeling. Hopefully you are all appreciated for who you are and not what you listen to, watch or participate in.

Way back in grade seven , we had a music appreciation day of sorts. You were allowed to bring a record in and play a song. I wanted to stand out , yet have it be something I actually liked. My older brother had been playing something in the basement unlike anything I'd ever heard. It was a sharp turn in the road , but I ended up bringing Sabbath into Oaklands Elementary music class. I've liked that Paranoid album ever since. Innocence of youth perhaps, but then the filters went back on for years. Fast forward to music photography. I shoot a lot of different types of bands. I had no clue as to who I should be shooting over another artist/ band, or what my guidelines should be to accepted as successful. I became really confused by that but the eventually it came to me that my images were better if it was someone I liked or was motivated by for any number of reasons. Unless assigned..I gravitate to what makes me curious or that I'm really intrigued by. Sometimes I'll shoot a band whose music I don't necessarily like but as a photographer I'm drawn to their live presence and energy. I'll even go back and see them for that very reason.

I think same applies to what you know and what you don't have a clue about. Ive been guilty of saying I knew of an artist or band just to be included and then got caught on it. If I don't know something , I'll just say so now and hope it doesn't matter to whomever is involved. Truth is just simply easier to follow. Gives me the freedom to educate myself and speak about stuff I actually know something about. How great is it that timeless music simply waits with open arms for anyone to embrace ? Some of my favourite albums are ones that were popular 40 years ago and I'm just discovering them. It took me forever to come around to The Stooges...early Neil Young, The Damned, early Beach Boys and others. Learning never stops.

Cool....not cool. Fit or don't. Doesn't matter. At the end of the day you only answer to the reflection in the mirror.

Parting thought comes courtesy of Alan Cross ( love his show ). One of my favourite bands ever is The Ramones. One of Alan's shows was on how artists have intentionally (or not ) had songs that were born ( in part at least ) from someone else's work. One such story was about how " Blitzkrieg Bop" was inspired in part , by the Bay City Rollers and " Saturday Night ". The Ramones. Go figure. I have owned a few Rollers albums.. There was a time when I wouldn't have admitted that. But... hell I even saw them in concert once. ( that night will be a post of its own )

I like my reflection.


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