Music & Memories

Angela who is a lovely friend from the bloggersphere wrote a blog about the soundtrack of her life and suggested that a few of us share our soundtracks through our blogs too.  You can read Angela’s fabulous memories intertwined with music memorable to her here.

Thinking back music has been important throughout my life but alas I have a horrendous memory. I tend to forget names of songs and the bands/singers who sang them, squealing irritatingly when a song I recognise comes on. I then annoy my girls enormously when singing along in the car because a) I can never remember lyrics so make up my own as I go along and b) I’m tone deaf and can’t sing for toffee! However, bearing all this in mind I will endeavour to share the music and memories they stir as I walk you through the journey of my life so far.

I don’t remember much about my primary school years other than dad playing Nana Mouskouri whilst mum played Barbara Dickson and Elaine Paige. Most of my primary years were spent outdoors, riding horses or my bike, ballet and tap on a Saturday, making dens in the woods and playing Pooh sticks in the stream at the bottom of our road. It’s fair to say though, my early years I was horse mad and often found my way to the local riding school to hang around the horses.

Music started to make an impression on me when I went to boarding school (sadly all girls) when I was eleven. The dormitories were long rooms divided into cubicles furnished with ex military furniture comprising of a washstand and drawers along with a hospital style bed. The cubicles all had a window to the outside and partition walls either side which didn’t reach the ceiling meaning you could stand on your bed and look over the partition to chat to your neighbour. The “doorway” to our cubicle was a hospital style curtain in garish colours and lurid patterns. These curtains were the same height as the partition walls but about a foot above the floor. Toilets, showers and baths were off the dormitory and again doors not to the ceiling or floor and showers in a row with shower curtains opposite a bank of sinks. It’s fair to say we had little privacy. I was a “full~boarder” and we were one side of the school, the “half~boarders” lived on the other side and went home at weekends. Then we had the day girls who joined us for weekday lessons.

The full boarding house had a small kitchen where you could make tea and toast, a TV room with benches and beanbags, viwewing was based on the majority rule and usually determined by the older years. However, Top of the Pops was ALWAYS unanimous and the TV room was always packed to the hilt on TOTP nights. We also had a “Rec Room” which had a record player ~ gaining access to this room was nigh on impossible as again usually it was taken over by the older years. Although sometimes we were fortunate enough to gain access and we would spend our time playing what records we had over and over again. Our cubicles were adorned with posters of the pop stars we swooned over ~ mine tended to mostly be David Bowie and Paul Young, although I also recall having a large poster of Leo Sayer and to this day have no idea why.

I was (and still am) a huge fan of David Bowie ~ I have his entire catalogue, each era of his music beautiful and haunting, I have and always will have a deep love and respect for him and his music. The 80’s wasn’t the 80’s without Duran Duran, I remember watching their “Rio” video album over and over, marvelling at the quality of the videos.  Paul Young for his dark good looks and not so much his music. Bananarama were my style icons, loving their music, style and personalities. I tried to combine the look of Bananarama with Madonna but failed somewhat. I remember using eyeliner to draw on a beauty spot whenever I went out out, because I thought it cool and sporting a very curly permed hairstyle.

I was totally in love with Adam Ant, his record Stand and Deliver was the first single I ever purchased, I used to day dream he would come and sweep me off my feet to live happily ever after. I admired Annie Lennox with her commanding voice, presence and beauty. Siouxsie Sioux for her uniqueness, my awe at her bravery at flaunting her hairy armpits, I love “Dear Prudence” and “Happy House” in particular. Then there is Hazel O’Connor, whose voice mesmerised me, I recall specifically loving (and still do) “Will You” and “Eighth Day”. However, one band sticks out most vividly and that is Wham, I loved them to my very core and it is alleged, when I am very addled on the grape, I do a dance routine to “Young Guns” ~ the same routine each time and one I have no recollection of and cannot perform when sober!

Lastly, the other music of my boarding school years was Kate Bush, Babooshka a firm favourite, although I found her a little barking in interviews. Morrissey, not because I liked his music, I find it utterly depressing, but because many of my fellow boarders loved him so would blare his music from their tape recorders in their cubicles. Lastly The Mobiles and “Drowning in Berlin” yet I can’t recall how I was introduced to it or why I like it so much but I do. I also have to give a nod to other music that sticks with me from this era; Echo and the Bunnymen, Michael Jackson (specifically the Thriller Album), Prince (another star I lusted after), Whitney Houston, Cyndi Lauper, Kim Wilde, Soft Cell, Sinead O’Connor and Tears for Fears.

The 80’s also brings vivid memories to mind of Sunday nights listening to the top 40 and recording it, finger on pause button between songs to try and cut out the dj’s talking between the songs. Top loading VCR’s with remote control on a cable. Sellotape to make tapes and video cassettes re~recordable. Perms, plastic jewellery and that fashion wise literally anything goes. I feel hugely lucky to have been a teenager in the 80’s, the fashion, music and lack of technology made for fantastic times and awesome memories.

Towards the end of the fifth form my boarding school days came to and end after “being asked to leave” ~ which was the polite way of saying “expelled”. Long story short but involved a boy, sneaking out of the school at night and alcohol!

So, I moved home and to a local Grammar School where there were boys. Much of my time was spent  bunking off and partying. I failed all my exams and ended up going to night school later to get them. My late teens were influenced by my boyfriends and the music they introduced me to, Marvin Gaye, Ska, King Kurt and The Meteors. My late teens early twenties were a blur of parties and varied genres of music. Occasionally a random song will play on the radio transporting me back to those amazing days. Pub juke boxes, townie nightclubs with generic music of the day, alternative nights with Indie music and then there were also the two tone & Ska nights. Parties, pub/club culture, teenage rumblings and lots of chain smoking. Great days, fondly remembered, never to be repeated.

Over time my look varied as much as my taste in music…

The early 90’s saw me engaged then married to Dave and training to be a Nurse. Dave was heavily into 50’s rock ‘n’ roll and played in a band called Jesse James and the Outlaws, playing mid/late 50’s Sun Recording Studios music. I remember going with him to his gigs and am ashamed to say the rock ‘n’ roll scene wasn’t for me.

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Jesse James & The Outlaws (Dave at the back as he’s the drummer)
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The hot rod Dave built from scratch at the same time

We spent our time pre~children working and partying in equal measure. Our first holiday together was spent in Clun, here we wound up the locals playing Tammy Wynette “Stand By your Man” on repeat in the pub and doing a dance routine to it which to this day I don’t know why. We crashed the “Firemans Ball”, requested B52’s ~ who we were heavily into and stomped about to Rock Lobster ~ clearing the dance floor and taking it over, it’s fair to say we were slightly imbibed at the time. We watched The Blues Brothers on repeat, dancing around the room in the rented house to the music with the gentle lift of Jack Daniels and a few tokes of roll ups flavored with some of the green stuff. That holiday was awesome, if not slightly bizarre. The local shopkeeper taking the shopping basket from our hands and prancing in front of us waving to various produce and enquiringly asking if we would like coffee, bread, jam? Then as we nodded he would pop the item into our basket ~ it was surreal, the village was like that in League of Gentleman!

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Dancing in rented house in Clun
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Blues Brothers Boogie

Later married with children the music that comes to mind is that of the Tweenies and The Wiggles ~ to this day “fruit salad, yummy yummy” is sung internally whenever I see a fruit salad. Children’s nursery rhymes were sung as nauseum, always joining in with the CBeebies bedtime song before tucking the girls into bed. We even took the girls to two Tweenies live concerts.

As the girls grow older I am influenced by their music which varies enormously and covers all genres. I find myself listening to Pink, Christina Aguilera, Natasha Bedingfield, CeeLo Green, The Skints, Marilyn Manson, Xibit and Macy Gray to name but a few. However if I’m alone in the car I find myself mostly listening to The Beautiful South, My Chemical Romance, Muse or Imelda May.

My girls, all unique & with a wide variety of musical influences and tastes, I am continually discovering new music through them.

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Keisha ~ 1st born
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Tasha ~ 2nd born
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Tara ~ 3rd born

Specific music reminds me of specific people ~ my husband Dave always comes to mind when I hear “Groove is in the heart” by Dee~lite, a song he loves yet quite a strange choice considering the music he usually prefers. The Les Mis and Joseph soundtracks bring a lump to my throat and memories of mum, she loved the West End musicals and would play the soundtracks loudly in her home or car. Dad funnily enough comes to mind whenever I hear “Cock Robin”, he used to recite it in the car on journeys to or from boarding school. He also liked Scottish music and bagpipes, which caused me pain like being stung in the ears by hornets when he put it on. When I think of my sister I hear Crowded House and have to admit to “borrowing” her tapes on the odd occasion. Sadly I have little memory of music regsrding my brother as he went to a boarding school for boys at the age of seven and so after that we only saw each other fleetingly during holidays as after boarding from 7-18 years he moved to Liverpool for Uni. By the time he had finished I had left home and so we are not as close as I am with my sister.

Music continues to figure largely in my life, although as I get older the names of bands and songs are never recollected, the same with lyrics. Car journeys always begin with hooking our phone up to the car stereo system and opening Spotify. As a family we sing together, tunelessly in gay abandon. Music can lift the soul, be a soothing balm or raucous escape. It is a universal language that can bring strangers together and there is no right or wrong. The variety and scope of genre is amazing and I love discovering new bands and sounds through my daughters and their friends. It is a endless journey of discovery, so many gems yet to be unearthed. In short, like life music is a great unforeseen adventure waiting to be lived, felt and heard.

x~X~x

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