Dave Haslam knows his music. He is a groundbreaking DJ, writer and music historian with a bottomless knowledge of his subject based on a lifetime of immersing himself in tunes. He also knows his Manchester. So much so, his first book, Manchester, England could be considered the city’s unofficial biography. The ‘More’ in the title is what really draws you in.
From his home life, “In the space of five or six years, around thirty five foster kids came into our home and our lives for anything between a few days and several months” to his work life, “I devoted space in Debris to my enthusiasms, even the esoteric ones”, Haslam is clearly generous with his time, energies and resources. Maybe it was the loss of his mum at an early age. Maybe it was his sheer bloody mindedness at moving forward in the world. What ever the reason, Haslam’s narrative is the literary equivalent of a brilliant chat with your best mate.
Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor is anecdote rich. By saying that, I don’t mean it is over burdened with stories. On the contrary, by the time you reach the end, you’ll find yourself crying out for more. What you are left with is a deeply satisfying insight into a world that you could only view as a consumer. From Morrissey’s cauliflower cheese, a Dexys Midnight Runners/Diamond ring incident, naked, trouser pulling DJ booth antics and fax machine nicking Mancunians, SYSOMF is as far from a rose tinted view of the world of music as you can get. Haslam hand picks his stories and hand crafts his memoir in such a way that it screams authenticity, warts and all.
This is not a cautionary tale. I suspect if he had the opportunity to do it all over again, it would play out in pretty much exactly the same way. Haslam’s energy, passion and enthusiasms inform everything he does. Even in moments when life does not present golden opportunities, he makes them. His time spent in Paris reads as a warm hug, inspiring people to sometimes take a plunge and throw themselves into something completely new, whatever age or stage of life you are at.
Above all else, Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor is a cultural manifesto. From the early stages of his fanzine Debris, “it set me off into the life I wanted; to consume and to document but also to intervene in culture” through to sharing his experiences with people today, “Be brave, have the imagination, collaborate with good people and put in the work”, Haslam’s experiences are a testament to his desire to be out, explore and be engaged with the world. In a society where we are encouraged to do everything online, chat online, add friends, like pictures and share stories at the touch of a button, it is a timely reminder to get back in touch with your inner hedonist and take risks.
Aside from being an engaging, entertaining and heartfelt read, it is also offers the perfect playlist. There will be music you have listened to and forgotten about, music you would never have thought of listening to and music you will have heard for the first time. All wrapped up in a cultural, political and social thesis.
With Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor, Haslam has taken what Nick Hornby did for relationships and mix tapes in High Fidelity and has filled in the gaps. This is a must read for anyone who understands or needs to understand how the dots are joined between culture, politics and society as well as for those who need a mate to tell you that it’s OK with a few choice words, a couple of cracking stories and a magnificent tune.
Sonic Youth Slept On My Floor is out now.