Music and Me
First published: Thursday January 12th, 2023
About This Blog
As some of the more astute amongst you may have noticed, I have been updating my Song Title quizzes. I recently discovered Spotify and have been making playlists for each quiz as well as changing a few questions.
For anyone that doesn't know what Spotify is, you can check out it Wikipedia page here, basically it's an audio streaming service.
For the record, I don't have any affiliation with them, apart from the fact they take ten quid out of my bank each month for their Premium Service. Still lots cheaper than buying downloads though
Why Music is Important to Me
Put Simply, it lifts my mood. Picture the scene, I awake a 5 a.m. and head to work, it's cold, raining and dark. I arrive at the depot and the coffee machine is broken. I've started the truck, but the heater is slow to warm up. Anyway, just before heading off into the darkness to deliver my first load, I hit the play button and Shania Twain is blasting out "Man, I Feel Like A Woman", within seconds of her singing about "Men's Shirts, Short Skirts", I'm singing along, badly, and I'm in a better mood already!
I could have put any number of songs in the last bit of text, but that was the actual song that was first this morning, honestly Guv!
"So, whenever life gets you down, Mrs Brown" (First line of The Galaxy Song by Monty Python) just play some music, have a sing to yourself, and things won't seem quite as bad. That's my philosophy anyway, try it, you never know.
How I Discovered Music
Way back in the early 1960's, yeah I know, it's a loooong time ago, my parents would always be listening to the radio, pirate stations in those days in the UK. Unlicensed broadcasts, often from ships based outside territorial waters. Radio Caroline was probably the most famous of these, but there were many stations dotted all around the coast of Britain .
I would listen to Beatles tracks such as "She Loves You" and "Help" amongst many other chart toppers of the time.
My parents also had many vinyl records from the 50's and musical shows. so some days were spent dancing and singing along to "Bare Necessities" from The Jungle Book and "Wand'rin' Star" from Paint Your Wagon.
But then, following an unfortunate accident with a prized Mario Lanza album involving a fallen plate and some toast, I was given a birthday present of my own record player. I was three and completely ecstatic, even though, in hindsight the device was really just a child's toy. But it worked and it came with it's own records.
Amongst the half dozen or so records containing nursery rhymes there was one "real" song. A generic version by an unknown artist of an old folk song first published in 1894, first recorded in 1923 and a hit for various artists over the years including Johnny Cash. The song was "I've Been Working on the Railroad" and I played that disc non-stop, much to the annoyance of my parents.
A year or so later, I was taught how to handle the fragile records properly and was allowed, under supervision, to use the "radiogram". A device that was a record player, a radio and a piece of furniture all in one. I think my mother was sick of hearing, in her words, "That Bloody Song Again".
More Musical Learning
Fast forward a couple of years and my grandparents tried to introduce me to instruments. My grandmother was fairly proficient at playing the accordion, but I never mastered more than a couple of chords on a cheap guitar. I was more interested in listening than creating. They did, however, help me to discover classical music. I was just as likely, at that time, to be listening to Holst's Planet Suites as the latest hit.
Further influences were Jenny, the young mum from across the road that used to sing John Denver's Leaving On A Jet Plane while cleaning the windows on a summer day. Or Stephen, the older kid from next door who played "Crazy Horses" by the Osmonds at full blast when his parents were out.
Glam Rock had arrived...
Slade, Alvin Stardust, Suzi Quatro, The Sweet, I could go on all night just naming bands, but that would just be boring. Suffice to say that I was hooked on the rock guitar sound.
I got my first job, delivering meat on a bicycle for a local butcher, he had the radio on full blast in the back room. This gave me some income, my first wage ? £1.50 and a pound of sausages every week. Now this doesn't sound like much, but for a 13 year old in 1974 it was a fortune. It was enough to buy a vinyl single record each week and have money left for the Youth Club disco on a Tuesday night.
The Youth Club, now sadly gone, (it burnt down about 15 years ago and hasn't been replaced), opened my eyes to different genres of music. Although by now Glam Rock had morphed into heavier rock by the likes of Thin Lizzy, Status Quo and Motorhead, I was secretly enjoying the delights of disco and Northern Soul. I say secretly because most kids then had a peer group they belonged to, and to show interest in other music invited ridicule. Wrong I know, but that's how it was.
I was now old enough to be trusted to go to concerts with friends, and living in a town with a major rail connections to the whole of the UK mainland meant getting around the country to see bands was relatively easy. I'm sure my parents had a few sleepless nights waiting for me to come home from far away concerts. I saw Yes in Edinburgh, Rainbow in London, and Genesis in Dublin. That one took a whole three day weekend and was my first trip out of the country.
Working at Last
When I left school and started working, £63 first proper weekly wage, I could indulge in more recorded music and live concerts. By this time I was driving my first car, a dark red Nissan Sunny if you're interested.
My appreciation of other genres of music blossomed at this time and I found I liked most types, from folk to country to rock to soul to ....well you get the idea, anything really.
I went from the radio to cassettes, then CDs, downloads from Limewire (Remember that platform ? Definitely like playing Russian Roulette, but with the gun pointed at your computer !) and now streaming. Who knows what the future may bring, thinking of a song and it automatically playing in your head, but in surround sound and the band as holograms playing next to you? Scary thought !
I'm just going to list some genres of music and my favourite song in that style. Nothing to intensive like my favourite grunge-garage fusion, if that's even a thing, probably is, there seems to be everything else. Anyways, here's the list....
Rock Ballad - Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
Heavy Rock - Whole Lotta Rosie by AC/DC
Punk - Another Girl, Another Planet by The Only Ones
Country - Amarillo By Morning by George Strait
Northern Soul - Ghost In My House by R. Dean Taylor
Disco - Black Is Black by Belle Epoque
Classical - Toccata by Sky
Opera - Nessun Dorma by Pavarotti
Novelty - Amish Paradise by Weird Al Yankovich
Folk - Rhythm Of My Heart by Runrig
TV Theme - Maybe Tomorrow by Terry Bush (Theme to The Littlest Hobo)
50's - I Believe by Frankie Laine
60's - Ferry Cross The Mersey by Gerry and the Pacemakers
70's - Way Down by Elvis Presley
80's - Enola Gay by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD for short)
That will do for now I think. Oh, wait.... just to set the record (pun intended) straight, the first ever song I bought with my own money was Ernie(The Fastest Milkman in the West) by Benny Hill
Some Notes about the Quizzes
Firstly, the quiz series can be found HERE, I will be adding more to the list over the coming weeks, months, years, whatever.
I will try to make at least fifteen answers in each quiz, although this may include some rather obscure tracks from little known artists. There will hopefully be a mixture of genres giving the quiz and accompanying Spotify Playlist an interesting element. Hopefully I can open some of you younger folks ears to music from my generation and beyond. Maybe you'll like them, maybe you won't.
On that note, some of the songs may have been performed by multiple artists at different times, in this case I have used the version that I like the most. Shameless I know, but I am using the playlists myself for my entertainment, so I make no apologies for not including music I don't like. To be honest, that isn't much. but I'm not really a fan of modern rap music with lots of explicit content or manufactured pop muzak that just repeats one or two lines throughout the song. I prefer at least a couple of verses and a chorus, call me old fashioned if you like, I really don't care!
So that's it for this blog, it just remains for me to ask you, dear reader, for a favour. If you can think of some more themes for song quizzes I would be much appreciated. Although try not to too specific, I would struggle to find enough songs on a subject such as "Songs about Minas Gerais", (Sorry MG, just thinking ahead to the comments) although I am planning to make one for each continent, starting with South America just for you MG!
Please leave your suggestions in the comments. Thanks.
If you want, you can listen to a PLAYLIST have made with all the artists and songs mentioned in this blog. I'm glad I didn't mention Single Ladies by Beyonce, truly awful song.... oh wait, damn!
If you want to be notified of new quizzes then go to my PROFILE and subscribe, "costs nowt" as my gran used to say.