Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Soundtrack of my life

Thank you to Theresa Young @treezyoung for the tag and the inspiration. I also found it difficult to limit it to just five, and like you, tomorrow the 'five' could easily be completely different. Today, right now though, these five, are my five.

Ian Dury and the Blockheads - Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (listen here) This song came out in 1978, a glorious year of absolute freedom. My first completely frittered paypacket, no responsibilities, no restrictions. It was just music, fun, friends and freedom. I think I saw them at the Roundhouse, but wherever it was, they were superb. The Punk era was amazing. I wore dresses made of bin bags, stapled together just before we went out, my hair was very, very short; white blonde with bright red tips and I had a long side ponytail, in a plait. My skirts were short, my boots were long and my eye make up was distressingly heavy against my alabaster face. This song is full of life, full of appreciation for life, the joy that every life, abled or wonky, can be vibrant, full and glorious. The lyrics are smart, sharp, clever and ironic. The B side 'Clever Bastards' is that rare beast of an equally good track.

Fashion moves on and before long we were mad keen for the Madchester scene. Leaving work on a Friday night, driving to Manchester to dance the night away at the Hacienda, breakfasting in a greasy spoon, sleeping in the car and then doing it all again on a Saturday night. Sundays were for sleeping. This track The Stone Roses, Fools Gold, epitomises the time, the mood, the era of destruction that was happening around us.

It was the end of an era, socially, economically and culturally. England was changing so quickly, the optimism of the 1970's was replaced with strikes, wars, misery, closures and the music was reflective, deep and more anarchic than Punk had been but in very different ways. It was reflective of the sorrow, the end of days that was ripping like a band saw through the English landscape. I was so fortunate to have seen it; before, during and after.

On a lighter note, 'Let There be Love' by Nat King Cole, is another glorious song. A celebration of love for each other, for others and for the world we live in. The lyrics, like all good songs are simple, clear and beautiful.

Let there be you, let there be me
Let there be oysters under the sea
Let there be wind, an occasional rain
Chile con carne, sparkling champagne
Let there be birds to sing in the trees
Someone to bless me whenever I sneeze
Let there be cuckoos, a lark and a dove
But first of all, please let there be love
Let there be cuckoos, a lark and a dove
But first of all, please let there be love
Love, love, let there be love

These songs, loved by my parents pervaded my early years and formed many of my views on life: the  importance of the connectivity in our world, the importance of diversity of species and our need to preserve them, for their individual aesthetic beauty and for the mathematical beauty of the universe. These things shaped my academic development.

Two left .... so, so difficult.

Jonny Lang Lie to Me This came out in 1997. He was fifteen years old, 15!!!! I was a 38 year old mother of two small children, reading for my second degree, teaching full time and feeling a bit knackered. The song is perfect; bluesy, sad, uplifting and played with incredible, mind altering talent. I loved the song for the sound, the message, the lyrics, the sublime sadness of it. But, it made me think that I was lying to myself - I wasn't wonder woman, I did have responsibilities and that I needed to be more organised. The words 'Lie to me, tell me everything is alright', stuck with me. I could lie to myself, or I could develop a career rather than a job. My husband was always away touring and I was the fulcum of the family, the rock. It was a small thing but it inspired me. Isn't that what good music does?

One left ... puts on best Channel 4 announcer voice ....
As a child, we would always go to Cornwall for our holidays. It was my parents favourite place and they now live there during the Summer months, when it is too hot for them to be at their Spanish home. We would get up at 3.30am and sit, in height order tallest to smallest in the back of the Jag. It was a Mk10 - deep bullet grey with red leather interior and a walnut dash. It also had an 8 track stereo and on it, my father would play Frank Sinatra. This song is my favourite for many reasons.  As soon as I hear it, I am taken back to those early starts and dark nights in the car, the promise of breakfast on Dartmoor, the scent of heather and bracken, the anticipation of the sea with ice cream studded with ice crystals, fat Cornish pasties that tasted of sand and summer, the joy of Summer.

In 1966, we were on holiday in Cornwall and England were in the World Cup Final. My father went to St Austell and bought a portable television (my mother was outraged, by the cost not the tv) and he plugged it in to the Jag. Every father on the campsite sat around our television, whilst the women drank tea and gin in the back.

Us children ran wild, far wilder than Swallows and Amazons, we were Lords of all the Flies. We swam, surfed, drowned, climbed, experimented and returned to a campsite of drunken, celebratory and unreasonably good humoured adults, who proffered money for chips and asked for no reasons for lateness.

It was a magical time.

My music is central to me, it inspires, gives hope and soothes my soul. I look forward to reading about your top five choice.

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