Music….the great universal language, or so they say. However you’d be forgiven for thinking it was more of a master warmonger at times in our office where, as a small team of 10, our musical tastes (and most importantly, which digital radio channel to pick on a daily basis – it just better not be Absolute (shite) Radio or anything with adverts) are wider and more eclectic than the varieties of Terry’s chocolate orange on offer at Christmas time (by the way, don’t mess with an original, there’s absolutely no need).
When it comes to my own long back-story with music, I can tell you the very first song I remember singing that wasn’t the obligatory school hymns or, even worse, Sunday School songs…and it was ‘Save all your Kisses for Me’ by the Brotherhood of Man. The UK’s 1976 Eurovision Song Contest winning entry, belted out with great gusto and probably not a lot of lyrical accuracy by my small 5 year-old self on the playing fields of infant school. That image is so clear it’s almost like it was yesterday. Funny how music, along with smell and taste, can take you right back to people and places you associate with a particular tune. The most convincing way I can find (other than Google) to identify the year a song was released is to think of the person, place or experience I associate with it – this is usually fairly accurate to within approximately 5 years and is quite a useful talent for pub quizzes or trivia but not a lot else.
brush with the classics
I think everyone must have gone through the obligatory school recorder playing in the 1970’s (there’s an instrument which ought to be made illegal), and for me this early musical interest led onto flute lessons as soon as my fingers had grown big enough to stretch into the note patterns, roughly aged 9.Then on to various school and country orchestras, wind bands and at one point, a kind of jazz trio which consisted of me, a cool friend who played the sax, and an extremely unreliable and slightly bonkers pianist with mad hair. I spent a vast amount of my formative years with my flute case precariously strapped to the back of my bike by elasticated ropes, racing along pavements and clattering over kerbs. In all weathers. The last known encounter with a musical instrument however was in my first year at Uni, when I realised that those darned smart-arsed students on the Music degree courses were a hell of lot more talented, so I immediately and abruptly downed my tools and took up serious gig- going instead.
Genres and the 1990’s
Listening tastes for me in the late 1980’s at a northern University were heavily coloured by the all-encompassing Manchester scene at the time – Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and the like. Great time to be living this iconic scene, but it was slightly lost on me at the time. This, along with the intense rock/ goth vibe was a little bit of an eye opener for a soft southerner who was more into funk, soul and acid house. I was pretty much on my own with that one.
I’ve always had pretty eclectic musical tastes, from classical, through funk, soul, disco, house, pop, garage, indie and whatever other sub-genre I may have missed. I do however draw the line at Queen and I don’t know why this feels slightly like treason, but there you go. I’m not a mainstream fan either (top 40-yuk), and have never watched a single ep. of X-Factor. Why the hell would anyone do that? For a 40-something I don’t suppose I ‘ought’ to be listening to BBC6 Music (well maybe that’s ok), Hard House (loving Knife Party), EDM or Garage…but give me an earful of Disciples, Disclosure, Pendulum, Faithless, Chemical Brothers, Massive Attack or Hot Chip and I’m all yours. Plus I’ve told the kids I want ‘Insomnia’ played full blast at my funeral. I’m not kidding.
output format and the digital world of streaming
The one thing that does make me think I’ve been on the planet a pretty long time now is the way we listen to music and how that’s changed over the years. Back when I was small, the parents had a pretty amazing ‘stereophonic music centre’ which was MASSIVE (to my small eyes) and took up most of the lounge. It was (for its time), pretty barn-storming with a turntable, double cassette deck, radio tuner and output level monitors to boot. The wood veneer was just the icing on the cake. I wasn’t allowed anywhere near it.
Through my teens the world moved from vinyl and cassette into the clean sounding tones of CD. My friend Andrea blew my mind with a copy of Dire Straits album ‘Love over Gold’ in 1982 which was so crystal clear compared with the vinyl you could hear the milk bottle breaking in the background on one of the tracks (you couldn’t on the vinyl which I took to be hard evidence of the quality of CD recordings). Nowadays things are even more scary with digital downloading and streaming. We’ve all become so used to MP3 compressed music on the move, in the car, on our phones, we’ve forgotten what great quality recording on a decent ‘separates’ system sounds like. I might dig out my old NAD amp and MISSION speakers. Blow the kids’ ears off.
Whether you’re pitch-perfect or tone deaf, there’s something comfortingly brilliant about music in all its amazing forms. Just please, if you are tone-deaf, don’t attempt to hum along to the office radio. You might just get a slap around the chops. (just kidding…)
Originally posted 2016-12-13 21:18:13.