I was unfortunately and personally reminded of a trend today: the demise of the independent record shop. I’m not ignorant of what’s been happening: as an independent musician, these were the only places that would stock my albums; as a music lover with growing purchase power as I left my teens, I knew these were the places that carried the music I wanted to hear and where my dollars would go farther in support of that music; and as a moderate Nick Hornby fan, I felt a twinge of hipster duty to eschew the big retailers.

As music sales have increasingly moved online (tardily following “file sharing” or “piracy” – take yer pick), I participated cautiously. I still preferred CDs, for my own enjoyment and increasingly for the ease of my young children finding something and putting it on, and when we lived in Canada, where CDs are generally cheaper and where there was a great indy shop just around the corner, it was easy. Moving here was more of a challenge, but it coincided with studenthood and its accompanying penury and parenthood and its accompanying fuddyduddyism. Continue reading

With One Hand Waving Free

Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free

Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

-Bob Dylan, “Mr Tambourine Man”

My wife bought a tambourine the other day. It is a prop to help her with a Sunday School lesson: she’s working through Moses and the Exodus, and she wanted to include Moses’s sister Miriam singing and playing her tambourine after the Israelites cross the Red Sea in their providential escape from Pharaoh’s army. This, she will freely admit, is largely to

Statue of Boudicca by Thomas Thornycroft near Westminster pier.

Picture (cc) Kit36

please our daughter, who as a musical wee blighter has latched on to Miriam as a hero of the same order as Boudicca.

Tambourines are loud, obnoxious, and infectious. As a doctoral researcher in the last few months of my PhD writing, I could wish for Bob Dylan’s tambourine man to play a song for me, and I could lose myself as Bob describes. But, as the man said elsewhere, “we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate.”

Continue reading