Letter from Korea, October 2011
Suwon, South Korea
There are probably two moments in my life which I regard as life defining. Of all the moments which made a difference, the two most important really changed who I was and where I was going in my life. If I could be astute I could claim that they gave me a greater sense of purpose, allowing me to understand who I am more. One of these moments was coming to Korea. The other was the first time I heard The Stone Roses play.
This week I have had what single thread was holding me to Korea yanked free with the announcement that The Stone Roses will reform and play a number of gigs. There is probably little chance that I could get a ticket for any of the gigs, even if I was in Ireland, but that’s beside the point as I can’t even try because I am in Korea.
It took me a moment for me to realise how important hearing The Stone Roses was for me. I suppose when you take some things for granted you can never expect to appreciate them. I first heard The Stone Roses when I was around fourteen, I think. I was far too young to have ever gone to one of their concerts when they were together and I didn’t even realise the significance of the fact that they had broken up when I had first heard them. All I knew when I heard them was that I really, really like them.
Before this my own musical memories are a little blurred, but clear enough to know that I really was taking a trip down an awkward path. When I entered secondary school I proceeded to scrape SEPULTURA into the wall in full view of all my classmates. I had just left Dunboyne primary school and it was the done thing to mutilate your desk with your favourite band, football club, or whatever else floated your boat. When we were finishing up our teacher at the time, a Ms. Martin, apparently started going off the rails when she saw and heard about the full extent of the damage to the classroom’s desks. So when I entered Castleknock, I figured to write Sepultura on the walls of my religion class was pretty cool.
Around this time bands like Oasis and Blur were starting to become quite popular. To be honest, I thought Oasis were alright – nobody my age listened to Blur – but they didn’t really do it for me. After primary school I stopped listening to heavy metal and kind of listened to whatever was on, although I was kind of wondering why I wasn’t listening to music.
Then one day my friend Dec turned around and mentioned The Stone Roses to me. I had no answers and wasn’t over enthused. I’d plenty of experience of being told that such and such a band were the best things since…well since… anyway, I agreed to allow him to make me a tape.
A few days later a tape with a scribbled down tracklist appeared in my hand. I can’t remember where I listened to it the first time or when I did; was it at home or on a walkman in school that day? What I do recall is the feeling that as soon as the introduction to Mersey Paradise I couldn’t feel a weight being lifted from my shoulders.
I remember reading Stoned by Anderew Loog Oldham a few years later and he described the moment he stepped into a club and saw The Rolling Stones playing for the first time, and he just knew that this band were going to be something and he had to have something of it. Well, I also knew that The Stone Roses were something and I just had to have them as part of my life.
In Korea there will be no The Stone Roses gigs, nor has there been even a whisper of their reforming. I heard about this news through the internet, much as I pick up all of my news from Ireland, or the UK as the case is now. Sure, a lot of news passes over me, but something like this is unavoidable. I could keep my mouth shut and just accept the fact that The Stone Roses are back, but this is something I had considered a complete write-off. Now to be so far away from one of the defining factors in my life is disheartening.
From The Stone Roses I started to look away from all that I knew before. I kind of opened my mind up a little and began to accept that the world is full of wonderful new things to discover. Perhaps that was an inspiration for choosing to come to Korea almost ten years later.
When you are young you can’t expect to recognise these moments later in your life. There could possibly be more important moments in my life that I’m forgetting about. For a long time I had considered coming to Korea as that moment which defined me as the person I am today. I thought I was selling myself short a little but then when I thought back on my life I was pretty sure that not enough happened to cause me to think otherwise.
Music has always been a part of my life. I’ve always been too lazy to learn how to play, but music always plays a deep role in my happiness. I may not play an instrument but music allows me to play with my own thoughts, to forget, to smile, and to look at everything in a different way.
The pleasure that music gives me is hard to match. It ranks above even writing and reading, which is saying something. If I hadn’t of heard of The Stone Roses this may not be the case today and I can’t imagine the person I would be, neither do I want to.
So, from Korea – the place where other life defining moment came from – I struggle to read the news without wondering, why am I here when what made me is there? Why do I try so hard to achieve so much in a place so far from where all that I want is?
I think it’s time to stop this world I’m living in and get off.