Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Songs That Shaped Our Lives

I think I've figured something out. It's taken me a while. When I heard about the death of Amy Winehouse I was of course saddened, yet also kind of troubled that this girl should overshadow the events unfolding in Norway. Only then It occurred to me that music was the reason. Or to be specific, the role it often plays in both the pivotal and everyday moments in our lives.
Try the following for me; cast your mind to a really important event or season. Now recall the soundtrack of those days. Tunes on the radio, or the one's heard in the pub, or on a journey, or just as background noise. You'll probably have melodies that make those images just a bit more real?
For me  it's a real mixed bag. As an older post-school teenager I recall being spectacularly drunk to the sound of Queen. I don't just mean drunk, I mean pass the bucket, stop this bed spinning drunk.  My musical taste, whilst varied, regresses naturally to the 80's, admittedly a shameful time for fashion, and an era where all kinds of music flourished. I recall Michael Jackson's Man In The Mirror always on the radio as I decorated my way around rural Buckinghamshire with Dad. I recall Prince being massive, and Erasure, and then groups like Del Amitri, Deacon Blue, The Beautiful South. These were the days when I still dreamed of being a writer, before I realized that being good enough doesn't mean you'll get the breaks. Those tunes were the background rhythm to my life, getting inside me and making me feel more vibrant. Changing tact, I recall a remix of Baker Street and Def Leopards "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad" being damn near impossible to listen to when I broke up with my first proper girlfriend, a lovely but complex girl by the name of Alison. She broke my heart. Even now, some twenty years later I can still feel something of the pain, the brute emptiness from when that particular romance fell apart. And then there's stuff from Madonna, tunes like Cherish which remind me of my dearest friend Karen. I could go on but you get the gist. Our lives are an ongoing narrative, and there are seasons during which music may have inspired, engaged, or just plain got under your skin. You remember, I know you do. A disco, a pub, a kiss with someone new. Some songs made you ache whilst others lifted you in ways that mere words never could. Funny how some tracks make you stronger? Capable of convincing you that you do have a place, that you're not some freak of nature , that you're valuable and capable and connected. Perhaps I was too hasty to grumble at how we over inflate the passing of the Amy's of this world. They've walked a bit of our path with us, haven't they? They've kept us going, stirred us up, been the right words at the right time? Perhaps it would be better just to say thank you and goodbye.

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