Rarely do I find myself indulging in reflection, over-rated I’ve always thought and quite possibly dangerous. But, the other day I was listening to one of the word in your ear podcasts from a while back and the opening “what music was in the house when you were young” question set me off on a rare journey of indulgent reflection and reminiscence.
My answer to the question (which I will never be asked in its original context, just like the one about the desert island..) was that neither of my parents really seemed to like music that much. The albums that I recall being in the house were three Carpenters album (A song for you, now and then and close to you), an Alan Price album – between today and yesterday – the one with Jarrow song on it and a few MFB classical albums. These were all chosen by my mother. As to Dad, well strangely i recall 1,000 volts of holt but never remember him listening to it and that frankly is it. No sign of Elton john or even the Beatles despite them selling a few records in those days.. (2% of all records sold in 1973 or whatever Elton managed…) Easy now to rationalise the Carpenters as the Sade/Adele of their generation – coffee table music for “People Who Don’t Like Music” (bit harsh but you get the gist). Otherwise nothing at all…. Once my brother and I discovered music it was different and aside from his difficult Jazz Funk period we tend to have similar taste although he has a significant weakness for the overly fey jangly guitar bands (Lilac time, Belle and Sebastian i’m looking at you…). We have a running competition to see who can deny the merit of an album for the longest, i was winning for years having taken about 12 to acknowledge The Nightfly but recently he’s taken a possibly unassailable lead by accepting Greetings from Asbury Park New Jersey as a work of early genius (although he is still wrong about the best track)
So why is it that I have spent the intervening 45 odd years accumulating and obsessing over music in a way that neither of them ever did. I think i just got grabbed by the whole thing, the initial pop thrill (I’m still a sucker for a big drum sound thanks mainly to the Glitterband and their erstwhile leader or more relevantly i suspect thanks to Mike Leander) and from there through the tail end of prog to new wave and my personal golden era (77-83 since you ask) before life took over and the search for new music began to tail off dramatically. The battle goes on and I still try to find interesting new stuff but as has been remarked on in many places its hard to get past the “it sounds like…or a cross between …”
So, whats my legacy when my kids find themselves in a similar situation? Well they are in for a spot of bother. A range of thousands to choose from, yes some favourites which they are fed up of listening to in the car – Jordan the comeback, Sign of the times, exodus, songs in the key of life but otherwise a pretty wide palette to choose from and thus strangely less focus for reminscence. I must confess to being quietly proud of this. Music has taken me to places emotionally and has helped me get through tough times, whether its just listening to something to change my mood or to wallow in indulgent reminiscence, its been in the foreground of my life and remains there (for me music is not background). I’d still rather sit in a pub and talk absolute bollocks about music than any other topic, I’m judgmental about others with regard to music in way i would never presume in any other aspect of their life and I already know what songs I’d like at my funeral (although that changes about once a week….)
As for Mum and Dad, I miss Mum terribly and continue to wish i could say the same for Dad but that’s a story for another day or probably never.
Please excuse the indulgence.
(You can perhaps see why i don’t allow myself to do this very often)