My friends Robert has just purchased his first car, it is blue and has two seats. My first car was a racing green Triumph Dolomite and she was beautiful. Until she rusted, when another whole Dolomite was bought to replace the bits on her that were turning that glorious shade of orange. I then gave up both cars as a bad job and bought another Dolomite with slightly less ‘flake’ about it. This one also went to the great garage in the sky and I then got a more modern car which I didn’t fear for when the air outside became damp. But my first car, she was beautiful in a way that no other car since has been. Firsts are important.
I remember my first pair of trainers (bought from a catalogue) and they were Reeboks, my first jeans (Levi), my first ‘designer’ t-shirt (poco loco) and the first time I tried sun dried tomatoes (mana from heaven!). I then pondered if things that aren’t firsts ever have the same sort of impact?
I then remembered a particularly spirited discussion I had with someone. I have been something of a Nirvana fan since my teens (when Kurt Cobain was still breathing) although I never saw them live, which retrospectively was a disappointment. I made the statement that seeing a band live was the most authentic experience that you could have of them. The other person contended that a fan is a fan, irrespective of anything else.
Being a fan in that ‘first wave’ is more authentic experience than what future generations could have. This isn’t to say that supporting any band that is no longer in existence makes you less of a fan (most of what I listen to isn’t exactly ‘current’) but being around at the same time as a particular band does give you a different appreciation. You are living through the rest of what is being offered in the current music scene, along side the current political and social scenes as well. Retrospectively we can all have an appreciation, but it will never be the same experience as living through something. It is a different sort of ‘first’.
Then I think back to my car, and realise how different material things are to experiences that we have. I wasn’t the first person to own the car, didn’t own the car when they were first released and were a common sight, so I guess that I lost out on the camaraderie of that. Which would make my friend right, as I likely loved my car as much as everyone else who owned it. But the experiences that I have had, the bands I have seen live, this will always be a more authentic experience to me than anything second hand can create.
The older I get, the more I value authentic experiences. Maybe this is a mirror. The closer I get to my authentic self, the more I crave this same immediacy elsewhere.
Map Point. What is my definition of authenticity?