30-07-2020

I have to say that I worry about me sometimes and for all sorts of reasons. But at the moment what is causing concern is what music I’m listening to in my garden after dinner. Rather embarrassingly, I have rediscovered an ancient Sony CD Player that I’d forgotten I actually owned and this evening from my terrace, I’ve been playing for the benefit of my scattered rural neighbours, music as diverse as Glenn Miller ‘Hits & Rarities’ and some fairly limp so called modern classics featuring, amongst others The Lighthouse Family and Dido…whatever happened to her I wonder? I know that musically I have never actually been ‘cutting edge’ ever - but, I like what I like: so swivel on that Mr or Ms Cool and Groovy. Can you actually believe that I wrote - “Cool and Groovy” there? No matter; I like to think that I am part of the new ‘retro’ movement, that eschews some young lad with a baseball cap on backwards shouting nonsense into a microphone and then claiming he’s a victim of some sort of ‘ism’. But, what do I know?

FOR me, all types of music are perceived as good - or, not very good, according to your own tastes. Also, there is this undeniable, yet wonderful feeling that if you open your ears all sorts of music will make you happy at some time. What you thought was ‘brill’ at 14 years of age, doesn’t always carry-through into your twenties and certainly not beyond. But, confusingly it sometimes will to the exclusion of all other influences. Not many people, at a guess - will have the same fixed musical ideals as they had in their teen years - that undeniable and optimum period of social and artistic influence. Nevertheless, at a certain time of life when a person isn’t particularly influenced by what is ‘current’ a person may well go back and beyond to a time or place that was once of no interest to them. Hopefully, our tastes in all aspects of the arts change and develop as we get older and sometimes we can even surprise ourselves as to what we enjoy.

Like most other people with grown-up children, I can remember being mocked for my musical tastes when they were extremely unpleasant teenage terrorists. “Oh God dad, what is that?” they would complain when I listened to some of ‘my’ music, teasing me about it being both risible and deeply uncool. This sort of thing would have my daughter denying that I was in fact her father when she was a deeply annoying teenager. However, as I have learnt, if you are patient you will eventually gain a sweet revenge on your ghastly kids. A couple of years ago, my then married daughter with a couple of kids picked me up from Bristol airport. As we chatted, I noticed that she had a Marvin Gaye tape playing on a loop - hey, I said nothing, as if I had mentioned that he was seriously good she would have switched it off immediately. I wonder at what time in your life when you can happily tell your parents that their taste in music wasn’t that bad after all? By the way, for the first-dance at her wedding, she chose Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay together’ - I couldn’t have been happier, because I used to play it at home when she was a kid. Aaahhh!

Nevertheless, I feel it necessary to warn over-eager modern parents NOT to pretend that they actually like the grim music that is now fashionable for young people, who alas, have absolutely no taste in music at all. Do not - Repeat - Do not, pretend to like their music. You know you don’t - they know you don’t - so tell them that it is both crap and deeply sexist/misogamist (even if it isn’t) all at the same time, otherwise they will despise you for being both silly and stupid. Have you ever come across an adult who actually likes sweary ‘gangsta’ stuff? No, you haven’t, and I’m mildly embarrassed that anyone of a certain age should feel the need to pretend that they do. Nevertheless, I have been mildly surprised that I have taken to singing along to some of the more tuneful hymns on those God squad programmes on a Sunday evening. As I was in my full manly baritone mode the other Sunday evening, I was asked by a woman I know, if I could “keep the noise down” - naturally enough, I upped the decibel level at once.

Music is a funny yet wonderful phenomenon. I can’t pretend that I know all about it - and who does anyway? Yet, to live life that includes all sorts of music influences is a wonderful thing. Twenty years ago, I had never properly listened to classical music in my life - but it was my son who introduced me to classical music and in return I gave him a few ideas of artistes he should perhaps listen to. Can you imagine what it would be like if you only listened to the same music as you did when you were a teenager? I have come a long way from describing me listening to the sounds of Glenn Miller in my garden, to maybe opening your mind to other musical genres. Hey, I used to believe that I wasn’t fond of folk music - why? I don’t really know. Something to do with nasally voices and a hand over an earhole; but - I suspect that isn’t really the case anymore. I like the idea of jazz, particularly modern jazz, as it is clearly perceived to be both cool and unintelligible and I can click my fingers with the best of ‘em. Country music? Lots of elongated vowels and women with large breasts wearing tight plaid shirts. I could get to really like country music.

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