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The Nearest Neighbours are Ten-Thousand Miles Away - by Juan Pablo Gonzalez

My Personal Marillion Story
Before I get into any Marillion-related stuff, let me tell you something about my country, Colombia. We Colombians are used to misconceptions. We fight them every day, because they hurt us. So whatever your views on Colombia are right now, chances are they are wrong (Somebody spot something Marillion-ish yet?). No, we are not all drug-addicts/dealers. No, we are not uncivilised bums, or uncultured anoraks. And no, we are not thrilled and surrounded by violence. On the contrary, we suffer from it every day when we hear about our soldiers dying because of the senseless war being fought, isolated in our safe cities. We all want it to stop. We all want our country to be peaceful again.

So who am I? I’m the last person you’d expect to become a proud die-hard Marillion (and prog rock) fan. My name is Juan Pablo Gonzalez. I am 15 years old, and studying in a British school. I want to be a musician when I set out on my own, a prog musician. I grew up in a social scene where local music, pop, hip-hop, soft rock and Latin genres are regnant, and yet I owe it to my father that I enjoy Yes, Genesis, Floyd, Van der Graaf, Porcupine Tree, Parsons, Dream Theater and other bands never-heard-of here.

I came across Marillion when I was about two days old. My father, obsessed with preventing me from liking the music he so forcefully loathes, started playing Misplaced Childhood to me when I was awake in my crib. He showed me music until I was three, when he taught me how to work the stereo and set me free with his music catalogue. I immediately (as I do most times), turned to what I knew, and played Holidays In Eden. Delighted, I explored every Marillion record my dad had to date (I think it was every studio album from Script to This Strange Engine, A Singles Collection and Made Again). I spent every afternoon listening to the wonderful music of Hogarth (or Fish), Rothers, Ian, Mark and Pete, and my father started buying more.

In a country where Marillion are all but successful (sadly they are or were in Venezuela, but not here), finding records is an odyssey. The last ever Marillion record to ship to record stores was Anoraknophobia. They shipped about 200 copies of it, and sold less than half. So when Marbles, Somewhere Else, and everything in between came out, I was left out by the industry. I kept being loyal, and knowing that these albums had been released, I refused to acquire them in a way other than buying them. Four years came and went (2004-8), and I was getting tired. I turned to the band themselves, pleading for an alternative to waiting aimlessly. I wanted to buy the records, since I hadn’t been disappointed with anything they’d released recently, and wanted to contribute as much as I could. Surprisingly, I got a reply from none other than Mr. H, which read (I still have it in my Important Messages folder):

Hello Juan Pablo,

Thank you very much for your email. It's good to get mail from Colombia. Thanks for your faith over the years. If you send me your address, I will arrange for a copy of Marbles and Somewhere Else to come to you in the post with my compliments.

Take care of yourself, and send our regards to your family.


Astonished by the very kind, quick, and generous response, I replied with my address and thanked h with the words I could put together to sum up my immeasurable gratefulness. To this day, I haven’t found a way to thank the band and their staff for this gesture, and believe me, I have tried. My Racket Records order email came on the 5th:

Racket Package

Once again, I could not believe it. And when the parcel arrived, I fell (excuse my language) rear-end backwards on the floor (I still keep it).

Opening it proved to be another very joyful experience:

Racket Packet

I emailed the band back thanking them, again with the best words I could find, and even though I received no reply, I know they received my eternal gratitude and loyalty.

So that’s my “Marillion Story”.  It may be nothing to many, but it sure means a lot to me. I mean, Marillion got me into studying music in the first place. If I succeed as a musician, maybe I’ll get to know them in person.

You may be asking, “So you got two records for free and now are an idler?” No, no, no. Never. I discovered the blessing of Racket Records, and with it have extended my Marillion catalogue from a mere number of twelve to the much better number of fifty. It’s not complete, no, but I received a somewhat incomplete “baton”. I joined The Web, this month, and I intend to really contribute with it, and interact with you. So thank you for having me. Thank you from the deepest of my heart. Because with Marillion, I learnt that it’s not about money, or shallow loyalty, but about a better way of life, a community. One family.

First posted on the Web UK website in 2010.

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