Music, and all that Jazz

Today, I’ve got music on my mind.  I’m wondering why, or how, certain types of music affect (or, sometimes even effect) whatever you’re doing while you listen. There are types of music which really suit different things – despite, or maybe even because of, the fact that it might not be the ‘best’ music, according to the ever-fluctuating thermometer of ‘cool’.  I find The Darkness’ first album pretty good for doing housework, or walking, for example, because it’s upbeat – but I don’t exactly sit down to listen to it for leisure, or appreciate it as a work of art.  (It also probably says a lot about my house, and the state of my fitness, that I currently have no idea where my copy of this album is).

I’m also the kind of person who finds an album that they love, and who plays it over and over until they find their next music obsession.  I’m fully aware, and fully understanding of the fact, that this sort of listening drives most people round the twist, which is why I try only to do it when I’m on my own.  (I don’t know, however, if my husband would agree with that – I think if I put on Sigur Rós one more time, he might pack his bags.  So, that’s definitely off the menu at home, for the moment at least).  I remember being so enamoured with Neil Young’s ‘On the Beach’ that I practically learned it by heart, and for a four-year period in my early twenties, I listened to Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’ at least once every day, including weekends.  Yes, I’m aware this is weird.  There hasn’t been an album with which I’ve had such an intense love affair for some time, though I am currently enjoying Wallis Bird’s eponymous release, and I’m finding it easy to work while listening to a CD I received from my brother for Christmas last year, which is a collection of John Martyn covers recorded by a variety of different vocalists and musicians.  It’s a restful, reflective album which I love very much.  Every so often though, I have to stick on some Led Zep or something like that, to get the blood moving again.

Music was my first language, and I have my dad to thank for this, more than anyone else.  He began my musical life with John Denver and Kris Kristofferson, and my brother and I were weaned onto Neil Young at the earliest possible age.  This was followed by Procol Harum, Cream, Herman’s Hermits, Manfred Mann, The Animals, and a host of others.  My brother and I were often quizzed as we listened to the radio at home – ‘Who’s that playing, now?’, ‘I’ll give you ten pence if you can tell me who played lead guitar on that song,’ or ‘What were the real names of the Righteous Brothers?’ (I could only ever remember Bill Medley; I could never get the other one).   Dad still does this, even now, and he’s always pleased when we get the answers right; he feels like he has trained us well.  And – he has.  His little music quizzes helped my brother and I to retain information, to think quickly, and to cope well with disappointment – we were never rewarded with the promised ‘ten pence’, to my knowledge!  He also gave us a wonderful grounding in music appreciation, which ranges from Bob Seger and AC/DC to the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, and I know my life has been enriched by this. I’ve made friends through music, I gained my first real appreciation of the arts through being involved in music from an early age and – because my CD cabinet is full of my best friends – I’ve never known a lonely moment.

Thanks, Dad.  I love you.

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