...aim for the ceiling and you'll stay on the floor (Bill Shankly 1913-1981)
I’ve developed an unhealthy grá for quotations. You might have noticed that, for the most part, I try to find some line or citation that relates to whatever post I’m doing. Some funny, some serious, but for the most part ones I think that sum up what I’m trying to say. Maybe it’s a lack of confidence when it comes to writing but I generally think 8 or 10 words of inspiration robbed off someone else often articulates better what 100 words from me fails to say.
I don’t know where the interest came from or how it’s managed to become such an obsession. I certainly didn’t grow up in a house where I was bombarded with the great texts of literary history. I have no older siblings who tried to educate me to the ways of the world through the musings of Darth Vader or kept me awake at night with the rumblings of Bob Dylan reverberating through our thin 1950’s built walls.
I find the people I look up are people who share or shared with the world some great construction of words that carried far more weight when delivered than laid out on paper. Historic figures like JFK or Caesar. My mind is challenged when I read lines like “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it”. Expressions and messages, whether positive, educational or of warning get my brain motoring. What they say about the speaker or more often and more interestingly the society they were addressing.
It’s the same when it comes to sport; I grew up watching Liverpool with my Dad. Not just matches but programmes about the history of the club. I remember as a kid, maybe 8 or 9, seeing an old man with grey hair and a soft but authoritative Scottish accent speaking about what Liverpool meant to him. It was like an address from some deity, a compilation of insights, observations and one-liners that just astounded me. That Christmas I begged my Dad to buy me a book so that I could learn about Bill Shankly – on one hand the greatest football manager the English game has ever seen, on the other the greatest articulator of what it means to be obsessed with your profession.
I was going to do a couple of posts on music a couple of months back and what it means to us individually. I was clearing out my room in my parent’s house and found CDs that I haven’t listened to in years, others I never remember buying and many that I borrowed from various people and have never returned. It’s like going back and looking at what shaped your personality. Again I found myself been influenced or intrigued by people who spoke to me about something that I felt nobody else could understand. I always look the Oasis side against Blur, not because I really loved the music that bit more, instead I think I found in Noel Gallagher a songwriter that wrote about friendship, love and belonging in a way I often felt myself. I find now that the only recordings of their songs I have on my iPod are ones of Noel on his own, a bootleg from The Point and their MTV Unplugged gig, both occasions when Liam was a no show.
Nowadays it’s well and truly Springsteen all the way. I’ve seen him a couple of times over the past 5 years. His recent albums, The Rising, Devils & Dust and Magic really strike me as a fresh take on his subect matter. A different voice and one that I feel I can connect with. I’ve downloaded his back catalogue and again find lines and expressions that really sum up what it is he’s saying in a way I don’t think any other songwriter could. He’s like my Dylan. I'm probably the only person who ponders "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true?" or concur that we live in an age where "heroes are needed, so heroes get made"
I’m really taking to this in a scary way. I find myself sending text messages to myself if I hear something of interest on the radio. I’ve got a little notepad where I jot down lines I’ve read somewhere. A mate of mine unbeknownst of my affliction bought me a book of historical quotations as a piss take for Xmas. I’m loving it, I nearly have it destroyed with notes in margins, post it notes marking sections and brightly highlighted chunks.
As Gary Sheffield once said “I pray that he will seek and receive the help he so desperately needs”