Sunday, 15 November 2015

40 About the young idea

With my 1978 Xmas money, I bought my first album. 

At the time, I really loved the Cars, who had a number 3 hit with "My Best Friend's Girl".  Off on a spending spree, I gave my brother my money and asked him to buy me their album.  "What if they don't have it, he asked?"  "Just get me that other one our friend has been bringing round.  I quite like that."

Of course, the Cars album was sold out so he came home with my second choice.  It turned out to be the record that ignited my passion for a band that I still love to listen to. 

I was fanatical about the Jam and especially Paul Weller.  I smoked his brand of cigarette (Rothman's Kingsize, seen on the inside sleeve of the album) and avidly read his favourite author at the time (Alan Sillitoe).  I met Sillitoe at a book reading many years later and he laughed when I told him the story of how I came to find him.

Anyone who saw The Jam live will tell you, they were one hell of an outfit. They looked and sounded amazing and made an incredible amount of noise for a three piece.  But, they were more than that. Paul Weller crafted clever, opinionated, melodic songs that made me feel he was singing to me.  Or young people just like me.  As Paul Simon says - "every generation throws a hero up the pop charts". Weller felt like my punk and new wave hero. And not just mine.  Their star rose pretty quickly and they went from the lower reaches to regular chart toppers in only a few years.  Unfortunately for us fans, they didn't shine for very long.  Some of us were left bereft when Weller called it a day in '82.

Going out on a high was always his intention and, much as almost everyone criticised his decision, he's more than proved himself  with a successful career that takes him right up to today.  I believe, my first ever album, All Mod Cons, is some of his very best work.  

If you asked me the best song that's ever been written, I might tell you it's this. 

Earlier this year, I made a trip to London to see the Jam exhibition, About the Young Idea. Curated by Nikki Weller, Paul's sister and with lots of input from fans, it was sensational and took me right back to the late 70s, where it all began.  

I felt lucky.  Then and now.

I wonder if anything would've changed, had my brother brought the Cars album home...

Thursday, 12 November 2015

41 Mine

Released in October '78, this was the very first record I ever bought.  It felt exciting, buying and listening to my own vinyl, after only having access to my parent's stuff.  And what a start to my collection.  The first copies were pressed in pretty purple vinyl too and I was one of the lucky recipients.

We liked coloured vinyl, my big brother and me. Only a year older than me, he started buying records at roughly the same time.  He quickly became an avid collector. I remember Generation X released a single in four different colours and he bought all four. 

And he was fastidious - or disease level as I call it.  Each of the sleeves were packed away and he stored the singles, in alphabetical order of course, labelled and in cardboard sleeves.  He was a draughtsman to trade so I guess he was as careful, neat and tidy in his professional life too.  

We shared a room, with his record player between our beds.  We would spend hours playing our daft version of "name that tune".  With eyes closed (incase the colour of the vinyl gave it away) we'd have to name the song and the artist from the first few bars - you know how it works.  This was one of our favourite things to do.  Mostly, we'd love the record so much, we'd inevitably end up playing the whole song instead of just the intro.  No wonder hours and hours would pass with us doing nothing other than listening, singing and talking about music.  

Funnily enough, I'm still an absolute shark at name that tune games.  I wonder why......

I've never seen ELO live but I've just found out they're touring next year. It would be rude not to, don't you think.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

42 All the young dudes

Tuesday nights were Youth Club nights.  Fun, frolics and half an hour of dancing at the end of the night.  It was pretty much our favourite time of the week.

And ofcourse, there was plenty of posturing.  Trying to look cool and not too excited to see the boy you fancied that week.  If only those boys we were trying to impress had seen us an hour or two earlier. 

With an empty house, a piano and Neil Sedaka's Greatest Hits, my three best friends and I would clatter away at the piano and sing Sedaka's hits at the very top of our voices.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  Oh, how I loved him.  And whenever I hear this song, it still makes me smile.  And I still love to sing it loudly.

Now that I'm an adult and work with youth workers, I should probably tell them that trying to do "issue based" stuff in a youth club setting is never going to go down well.  Kids are way too interested in being cool. Wasn't it always thus.  And, as it should be. 

Monday, 9 November 2015

43 Tooth Fairy

In 1975, when I was 9, I had to have  an operation to sort a problem with my teeth.  I remember trying hard to be brave but I was pretty nervous. I was going to be in a ward with private rooms, which I'd never seen before.

The week before, Derek Parlane, one of Rangers Football Club's star players, had broken his collarbone.  The nurse couldn't possibly have known I loved him! As she settled me into my room, she asked "Do you know Derek Parlane, the Rangers player?"  Excitedly, I said "Yes, he's my favourite footballer"  "Oh, well you'll be chuffed to know he was the last person to stay in this room, he left yesterday."

And I immediately felt better.  Derek Parlane had become my guardian angel - my tooth fairy.  The operation was a success and I was home a week later, with my ears pierced as a treat for being a very good girl.

This ofcourse had nothing to do with my life in music - or did it?  When I started thinking about my track for today,  as soon as I looked up the video on YouTube, Parlane sprung to my mind.  When I checked it out, the dates match.  The song was released at the end of September and Parlane and I were in hospital in November.   Spooky!

The universe, or perhaps the tooth fairy, is trying to tell me something.  I just don't know what yet.  

They do look rather alike though.....

Sunday, 8 November 2015

44. Let's hear it for the boys

I may have been only 7, but I think Donny and the Osmonds sparked my love of boy bands.  Way back in 1972.

I was on the fast train to swoonsville, via a row of perfect white teeth and jumpsuits and an emotional rendition of Puppy Love.

Gosh, I loved him.  We all did.  But, isn't that the point...?

45. Saturday night's for dancing.

It's Saturday - an excuse for dancing, as if I needed one.

My mum and dad's chums all had kids roughly the same age so many weekends were spent in someone's bedroom, jacked up on fizzy pop and sweeties, playing all kinds of daft games, while the adults partied in the lounge (or living room as we called it then.)

I liked it best when the party was in our house. My dad would wheel the telly into our room and our entertainment was complete. Ofcourse, I always had one ear on what was happening amongst the adults. As the music and voices got louder, I would be intoxicated by the sounds from the main event.

My love of the heady mix of music and dancing was born on these nights. And these are two of the very best from the party playlist.  It would appear I'm fond of a bit of male falsetto.

46. Growing up with U2

I first saw U2 34 years ago, in October 1981. I was 16 and it was one of my first live music experiences.  I was there with my gig buddies - my big brother and two others. It was in a small venue in Glasgow called Tiffany's ballroom.

All four of us were buzzing on the way home. We knew we'd seen something very special. What we didn't realise at the time was that Bono et al. would grow up to be the best band in the world. And not for nothing.  With great recorded output and a live show that I'd describe as peerless, they deserve to be at the very top of the musical tree.

They're back in Glasgow, as part of their 5 or 6 yearly world tour and for the first time in over 30 years, I missed the rush for tickets.   My chums don't come around that often and I feel sad that I won't see them.  Genuinely sad.  It's hard to explain,  but we've grown together, U2 and me.  Our journey has been different, but probably also very similar in large parts. And we've got history.  Over 30 years of history. 

Ofcourse, now I can experience them whenever I want, thanks to the miracle of the internet.  I've always believed Bono and U2 are way ahead of the curve, merging music and technology in really innovative ways.  But all the while, staying true to their roots as a first class rock band.  Their current outing is called the Experience World Tour.  Ofcourse it is....  And even although I missed out on a ticket, I can still be part of the experience.  Say what you want about them giving their last album away for free.  I thought it was a masterstroke and very much in keeping with who they are.  Generous, talented and innovative.  

Few bands divide opinion like U2 and it seems to be pretty unfashionable to love them. But a squillion people can't be wrong. And I've never cared much for fashion anyway.

All hail King Bono and his band of brothers.

47. Now I understand

Hands up if you know all of the words to American Pie? That'll be half of everybody who's 50, or thereabouts. As a 7 year old, I had no idea what 'drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry' meant, but I happily belted it out anyway.

From 1971, this album was a big favourite in our house.
But this is the song I really loved. And still do. Thoughtful, tuneful and sung quite beautifully live.

Van Gogh's work looks really interesting up close. There are a few in Kelvingrove Art Gallery, near where I live in Glasgow. Aren't we lucky, those who can experience this for free.

The older I get, the more interested I become in artists' views of the world.

Soothed beneath the artist's loving hand.
Now I understand....

48. A ride home with gentleman Jim

When I was a wee girl, my Granda had a Reliant Regal. It was the three wheeled predecessor to the Reliant Robin, made famous by Rodney and Del Boy Trotter, with a moulded fiberglass seat in the back. My Granda put cushions in for our comfort, but, pre seat belts and individual seats, it was a fun, white knuckle ride home.

It also had an 8 track cassette player and nothing but a Jim Reeves cassette. Just as well my big brother and me absolutely loved Jim Reeves.

We'd sit in the back, sliding from side to side with sheer glee, shouting "Bimbo granda, play Bimbo" "Bimbo granda, please, please, please!"

This is one of my favourite songs. Ever.

And ofcourse, gentleman Jim had the voice of an angel.  If someone sang this to me, I'm pretty sure I'd fall in love with him on the spot.

49. When I'm weary

Some of my earliest musical memories were made sitting at the foot of my mum and dad's radiogram, leafing through and playing their records. Little did I know how well they were teaching me and how much they would influence my future listening habits.
I loved the Simon and Garfunkel Greatest Hits album, always smiling because Paul Simon, with his long hair, reminded me of my dad. Pretty much every song is a classic and I can't listen to them without remembering him. We played this beautiful, haunting song at his funeral and it was a very moving and fitting tribute.
It did and still does, comfort me greatly.

50. Making me dance, sing and everything

I'm sure others will share this experience.  It feels like Rod Stewart is such a big part of my consciousness, whenever I hear his music, scores of memories come flooding back. I've no doubt, growing up in a musical household has been a defining feature in who I've become.  But more of that over the next 50 days.

Sounding as fresh now as it did in the early 70s, this is a masterpiece. And, oh my giddy aunt, Rod Stewart is cool as hell.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

My Life in Music

On December 21st 2015, I'll celebrate my 50th birthday.  One of my chums had the terrific idea of posting her top 50 songs, one each day, as she counted down to her 50th birthday earlier this year.  
I could never choose a top 50.  I think I'd even struggle to choose a top squillion.  But it is a great idea.  So I'm taking the opportunity to chart my life so far - a blistering soundtrack that instantly connects me to a life well lived, filled with happy, happy memories.

I'll be making 50 posts between now and then.  Sometimes just one song.  Sometimes an A side and a B side.  Sometimes a few tracks from an album.  Sometimes an artist.  Sometimes a genre.  But every time, something that's a significant  part of my life in music. 

I hope you tune in and enjoy the ride.