Tuesday, 26 July 2011

If music be the food of love...

     Growing up on a farm you would expect to be a fairly rustic affair but, although my upbringing was reasonably normal in that respect, music was unusually something that was always there in our old farmhouse. My father complained when radio 2 played anything other than opera or musicals; the Beatles and the Beach Boys were long haired youths! My Mum liked John McCormack and Elvis, normal sixties and seventies parents, almost?
My school days, amongst a mixture of boys and boarding school cultures, brought exposure to all sorts of memories and melodies. I discovered a singing voice that my Mum had given me and used it in anger. I also discovered a love of music that my Mum had given me of which, I am happy to say, we now manage to share. But in those late 70’s days, my world of music was just shared between my sister and, to a lesser extent, my older brother. Those days of growing up were a moving musical feast originating from late night radio to word-of-mouth recommendations and treasure-island-like discoveries. I soon learned to see through the glitter and later the spiky-haired punk to sort the musicians from the media hype, to find the real musicians, while Sarah got hooked on smile and hairstyles. I even prided myself that I was a fairly good impresario myself, listening to bands like Queen and Be-Bop-Deluxe long before anyone else had heard of them. But then, in 1979, came along a guru, not much older than me, who opened a whole new tin of beans. My sister hooked up with a young David George and, between us, we found new music in the late 70’s to die for; the Cure, Ramones, new Bowie, things that were different were our everyday. That was what it was about, being different. I revelled in it, we all did.
Then, as life took over, business overtook daily music, kids took place of nights at gigs or screaming headphones. We parted ways, for no other reason than we were too busy getting on with life; I look back and blame myself for that. Socially we just moved on. But here’s the thing, every time we got back together, be it for an evening or week’s holiday, Dave never stopped introducing me to new music. Not just stuff that he knew I might like, but all sorts of stuff. I have never been a lover of jazz, but he nailed me down to listen to Bob James and Herbie Hancock. When I carried on listening to Genesis, it was Dave who made me sit up and see what Peter Gabriel was now doing with African rhythm. All this at a time when I had traded Pink Floyd for Puccini, discovering my own inherent underlying love for opera?
Time passes and sadly that man, my music guru, is no longer with us. The music gods taking him at the tender age of 51 years.  Fortunately, he has impressed his music love on enough people; his three daughters and most definitely myself, to name but a few. Tonight I watched a fabulous documentary on Gabriel followed by Herbie being interviewed by Elvis (the real Elvis, Dave told me when we first met) Costello.
Cheers Big Man, I drink to you tonight. The musical fires are still burning.

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