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Their Musical Education

Before I had children music was a very big part of my life; I had two very big influencers as far as my music taste was concerned. My stepfather had an enormous record collection, which moved in when he did and from then on I was educated in the likes of Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, The Who (Baba O’Riley is a great running track, just saying) a few randoms like Emerson, Lake & Palmer and some early Fleetwood Mac, Jethro Tull and an enormous dose of Bruce Springsteen. Like all music nerds I got into the very early stuff and uncovered, with his help, some amazing stuff that I still love today. Every now and then I take a trip down memory lane and sink into it all again.

This is a video of Neil Young singing Stringman, one of my favourites, the words are beautiful if a little sad.

My first gig was Pink Floyd at the London Xcel, flying pigs, flying beds and a light show that took my breath away. My mum, Rob and I had incredible seats and I thought that all concerts would be like that one. But then I had my first experience of the Shepherd’s Bush Empire seeing Patti Smith and then the Forum and various other London venues and realised that being up close and personal was pretty incredible too.

This is Pink Floyd ‘Wish you were Here’. Always reminds me of my mum. Love it.

There was a period of about 5 years between home and moving to London when I disappeared into the dance music and illegal ‘raves’ of the early 90′s. It was all so new and the music was loud, big bass lines and extraordinary sampling. I hadn’t heard anything like it and I loved it. Those were good years.

Then when I moved into my flat in Clapham, my cousin came too, and the dance music subsided for the next phase of my musical education. He’s the second huge influence on my music taste. And my love of Neil Young extended further into the hippies of the 60′s and 70′s with Joni Mitchell, Stevie Winwood (in Traffic, not his later solo stuff, I have nothing particularly against ‘Valerie’ but the 80′s were not kind to music) Crosbie, Stills and Nash, Buffalo Springfield, Rotary Connection and many many others. Sharing my little damp flat in Clapham with him were some of the best years of my life.

This is Traffic with John Barleycorn Must Die. My cousin and I first heard this on a cycling trip in Wales (we were going to find the Black Hill made famous by the book of that name by Bruce Chatwin) with my Dad when we were about 15. It’s spooky and the words are fascinating.

Memories of Saturday and Sunday mornings as he emerged from his tiny room, hangover music on throughout the flat (he rigged up speakers, no Sonos on those days), stale cigarette smoke, ashtrays overflowing, wine glasses, beer cans, Rizlas, the usual detritus of a weekend as a 20 something with nothing but our jobs to worry about. I’m immeasurably glad that we shared that flat, Lucy would come over most Friday’s and various of my cousin’s friends and if we weren’t going to one of the many bars in that part of town we’d stay in and just have a laugh. Life was incredibly simple, I don’t know why I made it so hard. And I have many diaries to testify that I did make it hard.

But it was all played out to an incredible soundtrack. I was very much into my music but like every passion I had a few questionable moments, like when my cousin threw out my Mark Owen CD. I think I was drunk, recently dumped or just hallucinating when I bought that. Why oh why? I’m very grateful he got rid of it. I’m the sort of person who’ll hear a great song and then buy the whole album. I used to own an enormous amount of CDs, of which I’d listen to one track. Many artists were one hit wonders, one great song but the rest of the album I wasn’t bothered about, Cast All Change being one, I listened to Walkaway to the point where my cousin threatened it with the same destiny as Mark Owen. But other’s like Mercury Rev turned out to be beautiful albums. I spent a lot of money of music then. I probably spend even more now, it’s so incredibly easy to buy.

So now I have my girls I want them to appreciate some of the music I like, music that moves me. I have had some success. Tilly’s favourite band of all time is The Black Keys, Eliza could happily listen to King Charles on a loop, they both love Johnny Cash and are becoming little rockers with Bruce Springsteen’s back catalogue (Badlands is great for kids). Recently they’ve appreciated Jake Bugg, The Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men. All good stuff for their musical education. I’m doing pretty well. We only have the occasional Nursery Rhyme in the car and we have Peter and The Wolf on long journeys, that has a charm all of it’s own.

This is Of Monsters And Men singing King and Lionheart live. One of the comments on another live version of this song said “This song and the Lord of the Rings should get married”. Nice.

At some point in the weekend we always have a bit of dancing. I put some music on so I can get supper ready, or make a cup of tea. The modern miracle called itunes means I can create numerous playlists and I have one called Eliza and Tilly Dancing Songs (because that is what it is). It has a bit of Will.I.Am, a bit of One Direction (it may be the Mark Owen/Take That fan in me but I like a bit of One Direction, Crispin and Robert, I am sorry, what can I say, you did your best). It has the obligatory Gangnham Style of course. Recently I added Edward Sharpe and the Metallic Zeros “Home” (that’s the video below). It’s a great get up a dance song and I thought they’d like it.

So after a couple of hours dancing, dressing up, singing and all manner of other things I wasn’t in the room to witness (but there is definitely new glitter on the sofa and water on the floor), Eliza asked if I’d change the music.

“Oh but don’t you like this?” It was One Direction.

“Yes, but I’m bored of it.” Success!

“Ok, how about this..” I played “Home” she smiled but quickly turned up her lip.

“No Mummy, I’m not really in that sort of mood, I want a really dancey song.”

“Ok, how about this..” I played Groove Armada Superstylin’, I defy anyone not to dance to that.

“No.” Blimey, this was bad.

“What I really want Mummy…”


“Is Barbie Girl.” Oh Jesus. Really? After all my hard work, all my concessions to bloody Ganghnam bloody Style and One Direction and Will.I.Am (who I quite like actually, I”m not a music snob), she wants Aqua, from what the late 90′s? It’s not even current. She wants a shit song from before she was even born.

So I did what all good mothers would have done. I bought it for 99p from itunes and went and poured a large glass of wine and started writing this. I may not live such a carefree life these days, but there’s always wine and there’s always the memories.

*This was not easy to write. Ever tried talking about your favourite music? Nightmare. Within seconds of hitting Publish I’ll be thinking of others I should have mentioned. It’s a lose/lose type of post. Fun to reminisce though.*


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