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Thank You For The Music

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
Apart from The Billy Cotton Band Show on a Sunday afternoon and Children’s Favourites on a Saturday morning I don’t remember a lot of music being played during my childhood. The radio was always on in the background but to me it just sounded like a lot of boring people talking, and I preferred my little toy record player with Pinky and Perky and Max Bygraves as a blue toothbrush. My dad loved the deep dark tones of Paul Robson and used to attempt (spectacularly unsuccessfully) to imitate his wonderful baritone, whilst my mum was an inveterate hummer and whistler (both of which I’ve inherited), mostly musicals of the time (Some Enchanted Evening, True Love, Porgy and Bess). But as for playing a record, that was a very rare occurrence. My dad, working twelve hours a day, six days a week, certainly hadn’t got time for such things. So it was a big surprise when he arrived home one evening with a Jim Reeves single, sat mom down in the armchair, and requested that she listen. Jim’s smooth voice serenaded mom with ‘You’re the Only Good Thing that Happened to Me,’ while dad put his arm round mum’s shoulders and stared at her fondly. It would have been quite romantic if mom hadn’t leapt up to check the oven and one of us kids hadn’t started whining that surely we came under ‘good things’ too.
It was no wonder music didn’t feature too heavily in my early years, although I did buy my younger brother ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ (‘White Christmas’ on the other side) from Woolworths one Christmas when he was about six. And once my elder brother got into modern bands, I remember quite a lot of late night sofa snogging with my latest boyfriend to the Loving Spoonful’s ‘What a Day for a Daydream.’ On repeat. My real awakening came with the Beatles. Aged eleven, walking around Woolies (obviously my favorite store) one Saturday afternoon, I heard something that sent shivers down my spine. ‘She Loves You’ suddenly blasted out from nowhere, filling the shop with such a raunchy and joyous sound that it made me want to dance down the aisles. When I hear it now, it evokes exactly the same feelings as that day in Woolies, although I fear my aisle dancing days might be over.
Aged about fifteen, my best friend and I had been into London, visiting the first of the little Indian shops, selling incense, candles and tiny brass bells. Haunting eastern music played in the background as we breathed in the exotic aromas. To a teenager in the sixties these shops were magical. Halfway home, we passed by a house with an open window. Scott Mackenzie’s ‘San Fransisco’ wafted out. We stopped in our tracks. I can see us now, my friend and I - both in colourful, floaty dresses, our bags emitting smells of soap and incense, staring at each other with pure joy. ‘I’m having this at my funeral,’ I said We both laughed. Fifty years later it’s still going to be my funeral song - but not for a while yet, I hope.
The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, the Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, the Doors, Jethro Tull, David Bowie - so many singers and bands from that era still give me goosebumps. They say the music from your teenage years is the most influential and evocative and I’m sure that’s true. I can remember exactly where and when, and what I was doing, at the time I first heard those songs - and it wasn’t all snogging on the sofa.
When I first went to Art College I started seeing a lad I wasn’t all that keen on. The only reason I stayed with him (and I’m not proud of this) was because I fancied his friend, Kevin. And one of the reasons I fancied Kevin was because he’d bought a new LP and invited us to come and listen to it. Sitting on the bed between the boyfriend and Kevin I heard the first sweet, lilting notes of Neil Young’s ‘After the Gold Rush,’ and I knew that I either had to get with Kevin or buy the LP. Kevin got a girlfriend, I bought the LP and I still love it nearly fifty years later. It sits on a shelf in our back room, now alongside hundreds more.
Thank You For The Music
Not long after that I was at a Shakin’ Stevens gig at the college, drinking Newcastle Brown and waiting for the star guest to appear when a friend came up and whispered in my ear something that would not only change the course of my life but would also introduce me to far more music than I could ever have dreamt of. That whisper? ‘Dave Reidy fancies you.’ My reply? ‘Oh blimey....’
That night Dave asked me if I’d like to go to a Fairport Convention concert in a month’s time. I remember thinking, ‘He’s expecting us to still be together in four weeks? No way.’ We saw each other every day up to that concert, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Dave gets his fair share of (I think well deserved) flak from me, but I have to give him credit where music’s concerned. He knows more obscure bands and singers than anyone I’ve ever met, and if he says they’re good, then they generally are. His influence on my musical tastes has been immense, from the Bette Midler LP he bought on our first date, through the Incredible String Band - his all time, ALL TIME favorite - and a band we went to see again quite recently - to a newly discovered, ‘Need to Breathe.’
There are too many incidents to mention when our tastes coincided but one that does stick in my mind was a Sunday evening, sitting in the back room, flicking through channels. Dave was in the kitchen, unbeknownst to me, doing exactly the same thing. Suddenly I heard the most unusual and beautiful voice and put down the remote to listen. After a minute, I got up and raced to tell Dave he had to come in. As I ran into the hall Dave burst out of the kitchen.
‘You have to hear this,’ he shouted.
‘Transatlantic Sessions?’ I replied.
‘Yes! Iris - ‘
‘Dement!’ I finished for him.
She had the most rare and haunting voice and I’m happy to say we managed to get to see her live not long after that.
Music has so many associations for me and I realize that most of them stem from my formative years. I could mention so many more musical memories but that will have to wait for blog post part two.
For now, I’m recalling my dad’s funeral, just a few months ago, when, as he had requested, Jim Reeves once again serenaded my mom with dad’s favorite song. Louis Armstrong’s ‘Wonderful World,’ accompanied us out. I looked around. There wasn’t a dry eye.
That’s the power of music.

Thank You For The Music
The Power of Music by Jill Reidy
It’s the happiness at festivals
The sudden leap of joy
as the radio delivers a forgotten tune
The tuneless humming
of a child about her business
It’s Spotify
The whistling of a craftsman
as he sees a finished piece
It’s your heart missing a beat
At the purity of a voice
Your child’s first nativity
The screeching violins
of ten year olds
It’s hymns ringing out in church
Carols in the snow
It’s delicately positioning
the needle above LP
It’s singing in the shower
It’s the secret look
that passes between lovers
and concerts
And at the very end
The power of music
reaches its grand finale
It’s a Wonderful World
A quite wonderful world....
Thanks for reading.... Jill

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