The music of our lives

When I was younger I wasn’t really interested in music, I couldn’t see the point. Much better to have an story tape to listen to on long car journeys. I used to love long car rides as I got Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows, Treasure Island or some Paddington Bear. My disinterest in music probably wasn’t helped by my parents taste in music either. My dad tended to listen to Nana Mouskouri, The Carpenters, the New Seekers and Simon & Garfunkel. Simon and Garfunkel are excellent, so in that he had great taste but when you’re under 5 you wouldn’t appreciate it. My mum was a huge Cliff Richard fan. Nuff said there.

Since I was born in 1975 and can clearly remember the first  two albums I bought, I know that I was 14 before I started showing an interest in music. I still have the tape copies of Tranvision Vamps’ Velveteen and the Fine Young Cannibals Raw and the Cooked somewhere.

It wasn’t really until I got to university I started listening to music properly and became a ferocious devourer of all sorts of stuff. Like most lads I went through my heavy metal phase, but I listened to folk, country, 70’s heavy rock, 50’s rock and roll, ambient dance, prog rock, 60’s pop and rock, the list was almost endless. Ironically I tended to steer clear of contemporary stuff like Oasis (derivative) and the whole Britpop thing as I’d become a bit of a musical snob- why listen to bands inspired by 70’s stuff when you can listen to the original music yourself? I’m not so up myself now thankfully.

The thing that strikes as odd now days is if you ask people what they like musically, all you’ll get as a reply is, “oh lots of stuff,” or “this and that.” it’s like people are evasive about what they listen to or embarrassed to admit to it. If that’s you, it’s okay to like Meat Loaf, it doesn’t matter.

If I had to give a list of my all time top spine tingling tunes (because a great song should do just that, it should bring you out in goosebumps), it would look something like this:

  1. The Who – Baba O’riley. The driving arrhythmical synth coupled with Roger Daltrey’s voice almost shouting the lyrics are sublime. Never fails to get the blood pounding.
  2. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here. Considering the Floyd are better known for their complicated orchestrated proggy stuff, this acoustic track off the eponymously named albums is wistful, sad but beautiful at the same time.
  3. Terrorvision – Alice, What’s the matter? This was new when I bought the album! It’s under 3 minutes of the most frenetic infection pop-rock you’ll ever hear. It’s brilliant.
  4. the Flaming Lips Do You Realize? Completely and utterly out of this world. And lovely to boot.
  5. Peter Gabriel – Solsbury Hill. This is a classic from the ex-Genesis front man better known for Sledgehammer but once you’ve watched this video, you’ll indelibly link him with small childrens bicycles forever.
I could go on and increase the list to 10, 20, 30 or 40 songs. It’s that easy because there is so much great music out there.

What made me think about this though was our kids reaction to music. Unlike me, they both absolutely love it. The Boy has been dancing around to music since before he can walk. He spent his formative months going to sleep with Cat Stevens greatest hits playing gently in the background, he was (accidentally) born to Megadeth’s Symphony or Destruction: music is in his bones. Fifi is the same, even if at the moment her dancing involves rotating on the spot waving her hands around until she’s so dizzy she falls over. They jammy little so and so’s have a 14 year head start on me, and for that I’m quite jealous.