Wednesday, 5 August 2009

A beautiful noise: Neil, Steve, Chris and a CD system that’s done its time; and how T saved us

I had to LMAO at this Sunday’s Times review of Steve Hofmeyr’s Songs of Neil Diamond, in which the reviewer wrote about the ‘double awfulness’ of the CD, since it features ‘onse Hof’ (for non-South Africans, a song-writing Boereseun probably best known for his prolific ability to spawn illegitimate children with his fans) and Diamond, ‘whose music I loathe’. (I am, obviously, quoting the review; I LOVE Neil Diamond.)

When I pointed this out to my friend Johann (a man of infinite wisdom – and, like onse Hof, an Afrikaner), he similarly laughed and said, ‘Why buy Steve Hofmeyr doing Neil Diamond? Why not just buy Neil Diamond?’

Quite. It’s not like we’re back in the 1980s when you couldn’t find a Chris de Burgh* album in South Africa if your life depended on it (because it had been, um, banned).

Johann is, incidentally, Very Much Not a fan of Neil Diamond. Recently, however, I happened upon a Neil Diamond CD at his house (makes you wonder…) and played it, and he was so freaked out that he SMSd our mutual friend T to say, ‘Neil Diamond playing in my house! What next?!’ Interestingly, when T went for lunch at Johann’s house the following weekend, she reported back that when she arrived Neil Diamond was playing with no apparent arm-twisting on the part of anyone else there. Really makes you wonder…

Anyway, this is all a very roundabout way to get to my sound system, a Wharfedale, which has given me frankly astonishing service over the last nine years, during which time it’s played practically non-stop. The radio in this house (Kfm) goes on when I get up, which is usually on the dark side of 4am, and doesn’t go off until the house closes down, which can be anything between 8pm and 3am the next day (and, sometimes, not at all). The CD system, pressed into hectic service once or twice a week (and sometimes more often), with careless and frequent CD changes, and a lot of jolting from windmilling arms and berserk bodies, and with no regard at all for the finer nuances of volume control, has similarly done a sterling job.

Recently, however, it hasn’t been happy, and playing 15-year-old CDs that are worn and scratched (and have, in the case of a David Bowie double-CD, actual bites out of them) has proved beyond its failing capabilities. Late at night, when we’ve been out of options, we’ve tried several remedies, including (but not confined to) Maxi’s Magic Spit (making Max the dog lick them), ordinary human spit (usually me, and often after Maxi), Mr Min (definitely doesn’t work), chilling in the freezer (works; and interesting some days later when you’re looking for the ice cream), and vigorous rubbing on various fabrics (seldom successful).

So all hail the remarkable T who, two hours into a recent frustrating stop-go music session punctuated by swearing and licking and freezing and rubbing (and Max looking progressively more annoyed as his tongue was pressed, literally, into service), pulled out a few new CDs: a Kim Wilde (remember her?!), two ABBAs and a Neil Diamond!

My ageing Wharfedale has never been happier, and I’ve put off having it serviced for another week or two, while I have four CDs that actually play. Neil Diamond has been top of the bill.

* Do you have any advice how to prolong the life of abused CDs? Any suggestions very welcome.
* What’s up with Chris de Burgh’s new album of covers, Footsteps? I can’t believe the man who gave us Spanish Train and other stories is cashing in like this. One of his most remarkable talents was to be able to put lovely, original lyrics to pretty music. Not that it’s going to stop me seeing him in concert in November in Cape Town…

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tonypark said...

I wish I'd grown up in a country where Chris de Burgh was banned.

As for Neil, well,,, I was lucky enough to see the man in the flesh, in Sydney.

Every bit as good as on a spittle-coated frozen CD.

My ipod is chock full of Neil.

Ronaldo said...

Simply rub them under warm running water and then dry them with a chamois. This will harmlessly and efficiently get rid of dust and grit. If they're actually scratched because your late-night jolling-buddies have been dancing on them while they were spread all over the floor... Well then you deserve a running fuck-slap! And there's nothing you can do to repair the damage. Furthermore it may be time to face up to the fact that you are a reckless, insensitive CD owner and you ought to consider changing to (abuse-proof) MP3s before someone reports you to the SPCCD.

Yor Nesot said...

I've just started reading blogs. Salmaundi I read about and now I know why it is so popular.

Muriel said...

I knew I could rely on you, Tony, to support my appalling 70/80s music taste.
Ronaldo, thanks for the tip. I shall use it. Maybe.
Yor Nesot, welcome to Salma and for your kind comments. Please drop by again soon!

Muriel said...

Johann recently found a reference to the movie 'What about Bob?' in which Bill Murray plays a character who leaves his wife JUST BECAUSE SHE LIKES NEIL DIAMOND! Probably needless to say, the Bill Murray character is completely loony. You'd have to be to dislike Neil THAT much.