The Nostalgia of Music
Like a lot of people are, I was brought up with my parents record collection. I can’t help but reflect just how much it has shaped and influenced what I enjoy and look for in music. But possibly even stronger, it reinforces memories and moments of early years that sometimes feel like grasping wisps of smoke without a musical trigger.
I remember as a teenager utterly rejecting the music I was brought up on and needing to find my own personal outlet. If it was guitar driven Rock, that my parents didn’t like, then it was my bag. Typical teenager ‘ELO’s not cool Dad’ or ‘Beethoven’s boring Mum’. Oh how little I knew! Just for a little context I had no interest, or at least a strong desire, to become a musician until I was 16 and got my first guitar. My musical upbringing was a form of guerrilla muso conditioning that I never agreed to… Neither have my kids OH HOW THE TABLES HAVE TURNED.
The Beautiful South very much IS my childhood. It seemed to be at the peripheral of nearly every family moment. Gatherings at holidays, singing along with family, car journeys on the way to said gatherings. Oddly the strongest memory it gives me is alongside a game, I can only speculate why this is but I think I have figured it out. ‘Carry On Up The Charts’ was on fierce rotation in our house, and I must have played the Lucas Arts game ‘Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis’ for HOURS. So it only stands to reason that this game reminds me of that album, and that album reminds me of the game. Whenever I played this game you can bet that it was very likely that this album was playing!
The song I have picked from the album has a stunning vocal on it from Brianna Corrigan.
Classical music doesn’t in particular hold many ‘visual’ memories for me, something like déjà vu is probably a closer explanation to how it makes me feel. ‘I’ve been here before…’. My mum is a classical pianist and as a kid she would play for leisure, I think more so when me and my brother were very little. The only real childhood memory I have is that the piano was a lot higher than me and my mum sat at it… My mum’s repertoire had become Beethoven pieces and some songbooks like Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals (no hope… no hope at all). When I was 18 my Mum gave me her piano for my birthday, I’d been playing on it quite a bit and slowly working my fingers away from guitar muscle memory to this new unfamiliar territory! This was a special gesture, not just because a piano is a cool thing, but because it was the piano that she was taught on so it has history under its lid. I have no idea how many people have played it, learned on it, but I do know it still feels alive. And one day, I will play this on it… but not as well as my mum does.
Thriller by Michael Jackson is the only LP that I remember constantly putting on in our living room, and nearly always jumping straight to Beat It. The first time I heard it I don’t think I knew what Rock Guitar was, the solo blew my mind. Finding out years later when I was in my guitar god worship phase that it was Eddie Van Halen was an awesome moment ‘NOOO WAYYYYY’. I used to dance about like an idiot to this, still makes me move like an idiot too be fair. I’m grooving badly like only a Dad can whilst typing this up. I digress… this album is full of influential motifs, sounds and classic songwriting. You can’t help but be influenced by Jacko if you heard him!
Probably the most fun memories are Meat Loaf related ones. The four of us in our car, singing at the top of our lungs Wayne’s World style. The songs written by Jim Steinman were designed to be screamed and shouted out badly, and it still felt good. Musical Theatre at its best… The way Meat Loaf properly came into my life was when my uncle left to go and live in the US for a few years, he needed somewhere to put his CD player so naturally my parents said ‘We would LOVE to look after it for you’. I remember looking through this big plastic box full of these little cases (we had an LP player at the time) and found this very RED album, with a motorbike flying through some kind of grim setting with the words BAT OUT OF HELL written in gothic style script at the top. I was sold… I put it in the CD Player, turned the speakers up very loud and right at the beginning those first two power chords and my musical life had been changed. (Seriously WHAT is that piano at the beginning… have you ever actually seen anyone play it?.. no.. me neither..)
So what’s the point of this? Well it’s really an acknowledgement of what has led me here and what pushes me to play music. I am tapping into my childhood, playing music that used to mystify me as a kid that I know ‘sort of’ understand. All of the things above are part of what I play each time I pick up my guitar or sit at the piano, it’s all in the subconscious. But the nostalgia? It’s when you play a sequence of notes, and your brain goes ‘ahhh yes, now play this note’. Every musician is different in what they look / strive for and my personal aspiration is to make myself feel that mystery that captivated me at a young age.