I was once told by a friend that you could tell what a person was like by their taste in music. Now then, that seems a bit extreme if you ask me, but I sort of knew what he meant. However, I think that anyone’s musical preferences, for most of us, probably says more about your age than it does about anything else.
The fact is, we mostly love the music from the time that we were teenagers and in our early twenties because generally that was what defined our own particular generation. For instance, the era that probably defined me was the late 1960’s up to the mid 1970’s - not a bad time to be young(ish) and into music except for that whole Glam-Rock thing that I despised.
Interestingly, it is only when you are young and impressionable that you actually get really angry at a musical genre that you disapprove of passionately for some reason. Wars may be raging around the world, starvation is rife in Africa - but nothing would upset you more than watching a ponsy group of ‘New Romantics’ on Top Of The Pops - these things mattered!
While I’m on the subject and going back half a generation, I also couldn’t bear those so-called ‘Supergroups’ with their artistic pretentious and 20 minute guitar riffs and yawn inducing lifestyle messages. For God’s sake it’s supposed to be rock & roll not the second coming.
Anyway, although I was knocking on a bit even then, I was delighted at the arrival of ‘Punk.’ I loved its anarchic gutsiness, it was as if teenagers had reclaimed modern music and given a healthy V sign to all those tired and complacent artistes and their wanky concert albums.
I suppose the only fly in the ointment was the raggedy-arsed punks distressing habit of ‘gobbing’ at their audiences. Indeed, my mother was appalled - “All that swearing and spitting dear…you wouldn’t find Bing Crosby doing that sort of thing.”
Anyway, before I got sidetracked into a minor rant, I was talking about music defining an era more than art or literature can ever do. It is an eternal truth that a snippet from a pop song of your own era can take you to a specific time and place like no other art form.
However, although I may polish a certain image of retrospection when it comes to my own musical taste, I have never found it a problem to enjoy some (if not all!) of the music of today. That is, apart from what I call ‘celebrity’ based, minor soap opera warblers, who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket and any form of designated boy or girl band.
However, before I climb on my musical high-horse in this matter, every musical generation for the past sixty years has produced its fair share of embarrassing dross and I doubt if that will end anytime soon. For instance, I never quite ‘get’ those obsessives who will only listen to one musical form, as if stuck in some sort of time warp where nothing is a good as the music was - “Back in the day.”
Without sounding too pious, it’s probably a good idea to allow your musical tastes to develop. For instance, this can take the form of enjoying classical music and let’s face it - listening to Mozart of a morning on Classic FM is often better than having to endure Chris Evans interrupting every single track he plays with mindless prattle.
Personally, I have in the past tried to grapple with a number of modern musical genres at the other end of the scale - but, it has to be said that the whole confection of young men shouting random thoughts very loudly into a microphone, is alas - still a work in progress. At the other end of the musical scale, you would be surprised just how influential your parents had been in the past.
For instance, my old mum and dads record collection was a modest affair. Indeed they only had half-a-dozen discs (I love that word) they included Mantovani and The Mike Samme Singers, but - they also had old fashioned LP’s featuring Nat King Cole and Billie Holiday - for that fact alone, I will always be grateful to them.
Can I also explain to you the need to be cautious when listening to the music your kids are ‘into’. Never ever, try to connect too enthusiastically with their tastes in music, as they will hate and despise you and think you a prat - not the cool middle-aged parent you hope that they would imagine you to be.
If you are patient in this, a time will come when you positive glow with pleasure at some of the music that they play that may have been influenced by your own tastes. Years ago my daughter picked me up from the airport and was listening to a Marvin Gaye track in the car. I smiled to myself with pleasure; I didn’t say a word though - as she would have switched it off immediately.
Unhappily, there is the undoubted truth that you can turn into your own father/mother when watching a new band on the television. I find myself saying - “What does he think he looks like?” or maybe - “Why don’t they sing properly, I can’t understand a word they’re saying.” Hopefully, nothing really changes, natural talent will always win through in the end, or so we hope!
But please dear Lord just in case, may it please you in all your magnificence and wisdom to send a bolt of lightening to scatter all those performing in next years Eurovision Song Contest.
Amen! Also, while I’m thinking about it, could you deny any country & western singer that kind of ‘wobbly’ voice that I hate so much - apart that is, from that country singer who sometimes wears a cowboy hat and has large breasts, as I quite like her. Thanks in anticipation!