music to grow up by

An article by music writers in The Guardian got me thinking.

Did my parents musical passions shape mine?

The first record Mum bought was Tom Jones ‘It’s Not Unusual.’ The reason I remember this clearly is that it had pride of place in a drawer in our sideboard, its pristine blue 45 rpm Decca label shining brightly.

A UK number 1  in early 1965, it wasn’t heard in our house for a few years after that – for the simple reason that we didn’t own a record player. It’s testimony to the excitement generated by Tom among women of all ages that Mum felt she just had to be part of it.

Without a record player, we relied on our trusty valve radio by my parents’ bedside and later a portable in the kitchen for our musical excitement.

It must have been tuned to pop radio because one of the first singles I remembering singing to myself in the school playground was Cat Stevens ‘Matthew and Son.’ Its line about ‘a cup of cold coffee and a piece of cake’ certainly sounded exotic to my ears. I didn’t really know what coffee was – we were a tea household.

Cat Stevens – Matthew and Son

Dad loved TV, but his car radio was always on and tuned to music radio.

Certain acts and certain songs stay in the memory.

Amen Corner’s UK hits from the late 60s – ‘Bend Me Shape Me’ and ‘(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice’ – were particular favourites with Dad singing along with Andy Fairweather Low. Every word, every harmony.

Amen Corner – Bend Me Shape Me

A decade later when punk and new wave were in full swing, he drove me home after a University term, and he was still at it, giving Billy Joel a run for his money through every verse and chorus of the rousing ‘My Life.’

The result is that, thanks to both my parents, I’m proud to say I still have a weakness for melodic, hummable, throw away pop.

How about you?

The Guardian article


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