When I was young, and by young I mean half the age that I am now which means that I must be getting on a bit, I used to like music quite a lot, and by quite a lot I mean that I did nothing else, nothing at all, which is even less than I do now and I know how hard that is to believe.
One of my favourite bands back then was Gene. You may have not heard of Gene, maybe because you had better things to do, maybe because they were just also-runs in the whole mid-90s indie game, maybe because they didn’t have any real hits ever, maybe for other reasons; I’m not hear to judge. In any case, Gene were amazing.
I liked them so much that I bought all the albums of course, but I also bought every single they ever released in every possible format. After their first proper album (which was called Olympian and came out in 1995), Gene also released an album with ‘b-sides and rarities’. B-sides from the singles from the first album. In 1997 and 1999, they released their second and third proper albums (called Drawn To The Deep End and Revelations). During that time, I continued buying all the singles they released, and as my preferred format was the 7-inch vinyl, I accumulated quite a few of those.
By the time I was 20, I had ended up with quite a few Gene 7-inch singles with b-sides not available anywhere else on them.
Meanwhile, at that point (early 2000s) Minidisk was all the rage. Don’t ask me how, I can’t remember, but somehow around that time, I gave my Gene vinyl records to someone and they copied all those rare b-sides onto a single Minidisk, erm, disk. Then I forgot about it.
Over the next couple of years I threw my record player away, because I was moving around too much and it just wasn’t convenient to have anymore, plus I never used it anyway, which means that for the most past of the last decade, I haven’t been able to listen to any vinyl records. (I still have those, I’ve taken them everywhere with me and I’ll never throw them away. They’ve just been on various floors / shelves / cupboards in London / Sydney / LA gathering dust, until I was ready to move again and take them with me).
Maybe three or four years ago today, I also threw away all my Minidisks (maybe 100-200?) along with a broken portable Minidisk player, when I found them tucked away in a cardboard box in a storage space somewhere in West London, where I used to keep a lot of my stuff. I didn’t remember what was on those Minidisks and I didn’t really care at that point.
A couple of weeks ago, I went back to the storage space to get some of my stuff and found an old stereo that I hadn’t seen for years. As I didn’t have a stereo in the bedroom at the house where I’m currently staying, I took it with me. I brought it back home and plugged it in, realizing that the radio doesn’t work anymore because there’s no aerial, the CD player is empty and I have no CDs left, but the Minidisk player had one disk inside, a disk I had forgotten about, left there by accident.
The disk that’s there is the one with the Gene vinyl b-sides.
Over the last few days, what I do in the evening is stay in my bedroom playing forgotten songs by a broken up band, copied onto one obsolete format from another, songs not heard for years, songs that remind me of being 17, remind me of having grown older, not having done anything I ever wanted. And I’m pretty sure that there is not a single person on the planet that’s listening to the same songs, not a single person that remembers them, not a single person that will care about them ever again.