I was reminded of something recently, after a conversation about those strange people who have no interest in music. To me, almost as scary as those rare no-sense-of-humour folk, thankfully very few and far between.
At my first Open University summer school in 1993 – Blimey! Twenty five years ago this year – we had a music tutorial on the first day. The music side of A102, interdisciplinary foundation arts course, included classical, opera and pop music. An introductory mixture. The piece we had to write about in the exam was The Specials’ Ghost Town, which made me very pleased and proud, being from Coventry.
The tutor went round the group, asking what kinds of music we liked listening to and, it sounds unbelievable but I swear its true, every single one of them said something along the lines of ‘Oh, I like a bit of everything really.’ Words to that effect. I listened to each, saw a pattern forming, and decided there was no way I was following suite. I knew what I liked. I liked Squeeze. They were about to have a new single out at that time.
The person before me was speaking. I’d decided. I would not let Squeeze down by copying what this bunch of sheep were saying. It came to my turn. I said I liked Squeeze, had done since the late seventies and had seen them live several times. I also mentioned Elvis Costello, Kirsty MacColl and Nick Lowe. I knew what I liked and it certainly wasn’t ‘anything really.’
I don’t really believe that most of the other dozen or so students were not lovers of some kind of music. They were just a bit pathetic and herd-following. For once, I wasn’t. Maybe they felt that in front of a tutor they should like classical music – high culture – so didn’t like to say what they really liked. There was a woman in the group, who later in the week revealed her love of a Showaddywaddy concert & talked about how great they were. And why not? I wonder if she wished she mentioned them, after I piped up and declared Squeeze.
The next day I heard the new Squeeze single for the first time. Some Fantastic Place. One of my favourites to this day.
Squeeze in concert in Glasgow, 2018. Still going strong
In 1971 my Dad explained the music charts to me. Little Jimmy Osmond was Top of the Pops with Long Haired Lover from Liverpool so I liked that and he bought it for me. It wasn’t long – a few years – before I was the proud owner of Eton Rifles by The Jam (the first record I bought for myself).
Another important record for me was the first Kate Bush Album, A Kick Inside, 1978. I have a strong memory of sitting on the battered green armchair in my room, the one my Welsh Bampa used to use to watch cricket, following the mysterious, strange, daring and fabulous lyrics on the album cover very carefully. And oh, how I wanted to sing like her! Saxophone Song. Wuthering Heights. Strange Phenomenon. I did try. So hard. Hurt my throat. Now, I think I’d like to be able to sing like Kirsty MacColl. Still ambitious.
And even though I still love Squeeze, I listen to quite a range of music. Some of my favourites at the moment are Zumba tunes for some reason. And thanks to @zevonesque’s #ClassSongOfTheDay I’m listening to a lot of Frank Turner and The Travelling Wilburys and also the occasional new cover version of a usually-new-to-me song, played and sung by @zevonesque himself pops up from youtube on my phone.
I listen to music on my ipod on the way to work and while cycling, on my phone at work, on my laptop while writing – but not editing – and on a CD player with headphones – nice and loud for drowning out noise from downstairs and getting the washing up done – in my own kitchen. That’s quite a large amount of the day when I think about it.
Around five years ago I bought a ukulele, the plan being I could learn to play. Of course! Maybe have lessons at some stage. I tried but, I’m ashamed to say, I gave up. Every time I came back to it, I had to relearn what I’d learnt, or thought I’d learnt, the time before.
But recently I’ve dusted it off, removed the spider’s webs and, in a week, got slightly further than I did last time. Thanks to encouragement from the aforementioned @zevonesque I’m determined to give that ukulele at least half an hour of my attention most days, even though it might be #TheImpossibleUkulele. How I love attempting impossible things.
Watch this space.
Finally … Music : from the truly sublime to the fairly ridiculous. Enjoy!