Today’s assignment prompt asks that we write about the three most important songs in our life… I don’t really have ‘most important’ songs but if I did narrowing them down to three is always near impossible. I’ve written from this prompt before, I think either draft or privately published, so I’ll dig that out at some point. Three songs I dig right now but am not going to write about today are: Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols, Sorry by Tracy Chapman and Everlong by the Foo Fighters… among so many other favourite choices of listening time (Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, PJHarvey, Rage Against the Machine, Rammstein… and on).
I should maybe try and twist the prompt at some point and use it as suggestion to incorporate into fiction, but my brain’s sluggish so I’m just writing.
Growing up, or rather while very young, I loved to listen to my Dad’s vinyl records especially together with my Dad. I don’t remember my Dad singing along but he had a very singy voice when he spoke. I’m choosing three songs that remind me of my Dad.
The first is Elvis Presley, ‘Teddy Bear’…’I don’t wanna be a tiger, cos tiger’s play too rough…’ etc. My Dad had been what was known as a ‘teddy boy’ in the mid to late fifties / early sixties. He’d served in National Service like most men of his generation will have. I must have watched every Elvis Presley film that ever came on the tellly while still quite young – and most of the old black and white war films too.
Dolly Parton was another of my Dad’s favourites and I loved songs like ‘Applejack’ that have really stuck firm in my memory….’play a song let the whole world sing…’ (Jolene stuck too, but Applejack is a favourite for uplifting upbeat cheeriness). I miss hearing country and western music and should explore online music sometime!
My third choice would have been songs from his Porgy and Bess album, only I know I loved listening but I can’t remember anything but the general enjoyment and intrigue as it seemed very different from anything popular at the time – bearing in mind I’m reflecting on being five, six, seven years old…up to about ten with Porgy and Bess I think. I have a very vivid memory of the album cover and don’t really remember others. Our home town at that point in time was almost 100% white population, there were very, very few ‘ethnic minority’ people – I never saw any in real life until I was quite a bit older. I remember seeing punks in real life aged about seven or eight before I’d ever seen a person of colour – although I’d now say we are all people of colour and punks were especially colourful!
So, not having anything to write about Porgy and Bess, another of my childhood favourites of my Dad’s vinyl, was Boney M, ‘Rivers of Babylon’ again a round the age of ten years old and I sometimes find myself singing it. I don’t tend to sing ‘Brown Girl in the Ring*, tra-la-la-la-la’ because as an adult that song bothers me and also for Japanese walls and living in a colourful area of mixed community – an aspect I enjoy. I’m sure they don’t appreciate my Anarchy in the UK either but they don’t complain and I don’t complain about their occasional bass heavy repetitive reggae and jungle (and having broken away to slurp some hot coffee, ‘show me emotion’ just fell out of my mouth, almost in tune! *BGitR!)
I wonder sometimes about political correctness and how some songs are deemed racially unacceptable and even some that are made by people of same or similar ethnic background/colour that may be judged as offensive for language used relating to ethnicity/race/colour… or other potential offensiveness.
When I set out to write this I was intent on writing about ‘Amazing Grace’ as an all adulthood-time favourite. I’d always found it a quite dreary hymn, the traditional tune contradicting the spirit of the lyrics. After my Dad died twenty years ago, my sister played the guitar and sang ‘Amazing Grace’. We recorded it onto audio cassette to play at his funeral service. My sister’s version, in spite of our sorrow and loss, was an uplifting upbeat version of the traditional tune, slightly faster tempo and no dreary dragginess, more rejoiceful. Whenever I think of Amazing Grace I now hear it to that tune in my mind. I am grateful for that and now I even have a favourite hymn or song of praise! I miss my Dad of course, but he visits me sometimes in dreams and is a firm support in my memories.