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Friday, January 12, 2007

Songs in the key of life

I've now got my dream iPod library. It's taken a long time to compile; transferring songs from CDs and identifying and searching for various tracks, some which were unavailable on iTunes (I got them from Limewire instead).

It's funny how the passing years make you kinder to certain artists and songs you despised in their heyday.

As a teenager, I was passionate for David Bowie, Iggy Pop and new wave music, and despised the pop idols like David Cassidy, David Essex, Donny Osmond, etc. I didn't care much for Tamla Motown, soul, disco or C&W, and loathed heavy metal and heavy rock (still do, as far as the latter are concerned). Yet my dream library has quite a few songs covering most of these artists and genres. And I seem to have a peculiar soft spot for Slade, Wizzard and the Rubettes.

Songs are so evocative. I can listen to a song - for example Peter Frampton's Show Me The Way - and be instantly transported to the Emperor Rosko Radio 1 roadshow on Plymouth Hoe in 1975.

I remember hearing "Dancing Queen" by Abba on the morning we left for a summer caravan holiday in Hayle in 1976. The DJ said he was the first to play it, and I shouted to my mum that it was the new Abba single and it was really different.

"Amateur Hour" by Sparks reminds me of our holiday in Bournemouth two years earlier where we stayed in a hotel for the first time ever. That was the single I bought while we were there.

"My Sharona" by The Knack takes me back to the sausage factory where I had to spend the summer after finishing my A Levels. I'd cheerfully gone to the dole office thinking I'd have an easy time of it, and was sent to Bowyers where quite a few of my schoolfriends were already slaving over the hogs puddings. The radio was always on but it was difficult to hear above the noise of the machinery.

The first concert I saw, when I was 15, was Andy Fairweather-Low (who?) at the Fiesta Suite in Plymouth. He came on quite late so I only saw him sing two songs because I had to catch the last bus. But I have "Reggae Tune" and his biggest hit as a solo artist, "Wide eyed and legless," to remind me of what I missed. (I wasn't wide eyed and legless - I only had my pocket money so I probably had a Britvic Orange and made it last all night).

Jump forward to punk, and I was one of only three people at Plympton Grammar School who liked punk. We would take our punk records to Mr Glyn's record club every Friday, and he would dutifully play Devo, Wire, Iggy Pop and Stiff Little Fingers etc among the Rush, Led Zeppelin and Supertramp that dominated proceedings. We would duly get heckled for our selections.

Occasionally I'd go to Devonport on two buses to the Metro club to see a live gig.The first time I went, it was a bank holiday and on the bus I saw the two other punk admirers. I didn't actually know them then (Dave and Gary), but I remember scampering up to them and asking if I could walk with them to the Metro, as I guessed that's where they were going.

I saw UK Subs (I was nearly flattened against the stage) and X Ray Spex at the Metro to name two. Before the acts, the DJ played a wide variety of music: mostly punk but sometimes a song he particularly liked. "Never Let Her Slip Away" by Andrew Gold was one of them.

Mind you, it's not all oldies on my play list. There's nothing cutting edge but I do have some modern stuff from the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs, John Legend, Amy Winehouse, the Ordinary Boys, Keane, Coldplay.

Some songs remind me of other people. Recently, a shuffle sequence brought me two in a row which brought a lump to my throat: "The folks who live on the hill" by Peggy Lee, much loved by my dad, and "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby, my grandma's favourite Christmas record. I also have a few Andy Williams' tracks. He was one of my mum's favourites back in the 70s.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remmember that bearded chem teacher, but we used to have Archie. Remember Jethro ?



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