I pride myself on having a pretty broad musical acceptance. That doesn’t mean I like everything, but accept the fact that just because a piece or style of music doesn’t provoke an emotional reaction in me, it isn’t bad.
Music is a very personal thing. Not every piece of music is written with the tears of a tormented troubadour. Not every tune is a reflection of the composers need to share with the world an emotional journey. Music is in the ear of the beholder.
I first became aware of music in the late 1960’s. My mother would always have the radio playing in the house. It was there in the background of my life as I grew from innocent toddler to angst ridden teenager. By the time I hit 14 or 15 I had developed my own taste in music, and as was the norm in those days it was not the music I had grown up with, the taste of my parents. In fact it took another 15-20 years before I could truly appreciate the music I had grown up with, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Doris Day and even Val Doonican.
Looking back I can actually remember the first song that capture my imagination, Excerpt from “A Teenage Opera” (also known as “Grocer Jack”) is a 1967 single by Keith West. I would walk around singing this song a the top of my voice. I loved it, even though at 8 years old I had no idea what it was about.
But that song didn’t shape my musical landscape, far from it. ‘In The Year 2525’ by Zager and Evans, is the next mile stone in my musical history. 1969 and I was 10, still had no idea what the song was about, I just knew I liked it.
The same year and another song that I still sing along to whenever I heard: Rolf Harris ‘Two Little Boys’. I knew every word. It was song about me and my younger brother in my mind (although in fact it was written by American composer Theodore Morse and lyricist Edward Madden, in 1902 and became a popular music hall song of the time. It describes the story of two boys who grow up to fight in the American Civil War.) I didn’t know that, neither would I have cared. I was my song.
In 1970 I started to attend ‘The Big School’ and soon discovered peer pressure. Friendships were formed around common interests, be they football teams, hobbies or music. Mine were formed around music. My new found friends would spend the next five years growing into our music as well as growing into our sexuality. Our standing in society was formed because of those we associated ourselves with, and how they were perceived by those outside our group.
Those five years were the most important time of my life as they formed the basis of who I am today. My little group of friends were pretty liberal with our acceptance of other peoples opinions/tastes. We liked what we liked and knew not everybody would have the same views. We were pretty much placed on the rockier side of the music street. Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Wishbone Ash and a whole host bands influenced not only what we listened to, but how we dressed, where we would socialise and what our outlook on life was. (We all wanted to be the next Richie Blackmore by the way)
On leaving the comparative closeted life of school and making our way into the big bad world, some of us got jobs, some went to college and some went travelling. We all suddenly found ourselves forming new friendships outside of our well established group. With these new friendship came new influences. Granted we did all tend to find new friends who fitted the mould we had created at school, but these new friend also brought in new ideals, new music.
Brian, a very good friend who is sadly no longer with us, one day arrived at my home after work clutching a large brown paper bag obviously containing an album. I wasn’t aware of anything new that needed to be added to our collective collection. What had he discovered? Was this the missing link in the history of rock music? Imagine my surprise when he proudly announced he had discovered Bob Marley!!!
Growing up in Manchester, meant I had from an early age be exposed to many different cultures, mostly it must be said from the outside looking in. I had never had any problem accepting racial, religious or cultural diversities from my own. People were people, some were good, some weren’t, you walk your path as you saw fit.
But Bob Marley! I wouldn’t even let Brian place the newly bought platter on my turn table. I still to this day have no idea why I was so against this album. Maybe it was because it had been brought into our little group by outside influences, maybe I simply didn’t understand that Brian was growing and expanding his musical landscape faster than I was. I took nearly 3 months before I listened to the album. Brian took so much flak from “the guys” for his new found musical subversion.
He had led the way, he had opened up our minds that we could listen and enjoy other types of music. We discovered punk through a new found friend to our group who shared our common interests in motor bikes. I personally discovered dance music through a girl who I fancied (and never got anywhere with despite learn all of Earth Wind And Fire’s songs)
At one time I was DJing in a “disco” on a Friday night and a rock club on the Saturday, before working at one of Manchester’s punks night playing reggae in-between the band’s sets. I had a vinyl collection to die for!
Because of that time I now have a pretty eclectic, some would say almost confused, taste in music. All I know is music is a personal thing and to judge somebody’s taste in music by comparing it to your own is nothing short of being a music Nazi.
Music is everywhere today, the social divide between the different genres of music are, in some instances, narrowing. The sub sects of styles are dividing almost on a daily basis. There is nothing wrong with liking more than one style of music. But yet I see it on a daily basis where one person will totally dismiss another as having no musical taste for liking a genre unliked by themselves.
Music is a personal thing. Share what you like but don’t judge others by your own shortfalls. Listen with an open mind. Except people are different, and they can find enjoyment in something you find tuneless. Even Simon Cowell’s production line music for the throw away generation has it’s place, somewhere, in the tolerance of a true music lover.