Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Changing Face of Music

Music has always been an important part of my life. It is central to many of my experiences and at the core of my memory bank. It is difficult for me to make a withdrawal from said bank without hearing a snippet from “The Soundtrack of my Life”.

Today is Sunday, and thirty-odd years ago the whole day would have been planned around making sure I was in the bath for the all-important “Top Ten”. My younger brother and sister would have their baths before me. House rules. My sister would go first and then my brother would follow. They would use the same bath water. I was allowed fresh water. If you could see the state my brother would get into at the weekend you would understand why.
My brother, fully aware of my plans, would stay in the bath as long as possible. At that age his sole mission was to do nothing more than to make my life a misery. Only a yelled threat of punishment from mum would drag him from the waters.
Eventually, and usually with seconds to spare, I would close the bathroom door on the world and settle down into a bath more bubbles than water. Water levels were parentally controlled and letting the taps run a little longer was not worth the penalty. I was in my late teens before we had the luxury of a shower.
Full of anticipation at the upcoming countdown, my cassette recorder was strategically placed beside the bath so that I could press record on all ten songs without having to stretch too far. With ease I would cut out the cheesy ramblings of Tony Blackburn et al and over the following seven days play the well-worn cassette non-stop.

How things have changed.
There’s no waiting anymore. No anticipation. The kids of today have instant access to an infinitesimal amount of music with the touch of a fingertip. And yes, it’s a good thing. My own kids introduce me to a variety of weird and wonderful songs that would never make the mainstream. Not for a lack of talent that’s for sure, as those they listen to are the real artists of today, but more for a lack of supposed commercial appeal. Image is as important, if not more so, as talent these days.

At least YouTube and other on-line platforms give these non-commercial artists a platform. Here’s one of my favourites:

Last night I went to watch my son’s band play at a local pub. They were anxious about the gig as they were supporting a heavy metal band and felt their indie tunes would be met with a stony wall of hostility from the baying crowd of rockers. They launched into their eight-song set, only one of which was a cover, with gusto. With each song, those at the back of the dimly-lit venue moved forward, heads bobbing with appreciation. By the end there were people up dancing to songs they’d never heard before. 

For me, the joy was in seeing how much fun my son and his two bandmates were having on the stage. Even though they announced with disgust afterwards that it was the worst they’d ever played. 

The short poem I have written today was inspired by an article I read online yesterday. If you’re interested to read it, here is the link:

Artist vs Celebrity
I just want to play
To make music
I don’t want
A life in the spotlight
I crave
Meaning in the words
I don’t need
To sell a million records
But I need
To write a song that moves you
I don’t have
An agenda
I have

(Now read from bottom to top)

Thank you for reading,



Christo said...

Well-recalled, Fiona.
I do not have "the pleasure"of brothers or sisters, and we did not have a "bathroom" at all in our terraced house until I had graduated, and Blackpool Council made grants available to have internal plumbing works completed - the kitchen and boiled pans of water were necessary for ablutions.
Like you I recall the importance I attached to being able to hear pop music on the limited number of radio shows committed to "our" favourites - if you missed them, that was it for the week, except for the poor reception from Radio Luxembourg if I was allowed to "stay up" beyond 8.00 pm - what a welcome we gave to "pirste radio", especially when Radio Caroline sailed up the Irish Sea to anchor close tomThe Isle of Man.
Glad your lad is enjoying himself "in a band" - an essential "rite of passage" for any teenager.