My life is lived to an ongoing soundtrack – a playlist of tunes that fit my mood and emotions, or maybe I fit my emotions and mood to the songs. I don’t know. What I do know is from the moment I wake up in the morning until the moment I switch off my laptop in the evening and finally give into my drooping eye lids I listen to music.
Sometimes I am in the mood for track skipping, sometimes I am in the mood for singing, sometimes I am in the mood for contemplating and sometimes, just sometimes I am in the mood for remembering.
It’s all day every day, I can’t drive the car without plugging my phone in first and choosing the right song, I don’t blow dry my hair or plaster on my war paint without the appropriate song in the background.
Hell; I am sitting here writing a blog post with my song of my day on its tenth rendition in my ear.
I wonder when this started? I am trying to remember but the truth is I cannot recall a moment of my life when I have not had music on in the background.
During my teens it was Prince, a stage my parents were not overly thrilled about. My god I loved that man, his lyrics are pure poetry. Poetry in its finest form, set to tunes you can remember, enabling even the most verbally repressed audience to understand every single emotion in a line.
My sister tells the story of the Sunday Lunch I refused to come down too when I was eighteen because I was up in my room with Prince blaring through the ceiling.
“Come down stairs now.”
“Come down stairs now!”
Cue dramatic slamming of bedroom door and the cranking of Purple Rain to its absolute max.
I think now, how will I feel when my daughter comes home and tells me about this great song she heard, or I can hear her playing it through the wall. ‘I Can Never Take the Place of Your Man.’ She’ll say “Mum have you heard this song before?” and I will turn to her a with one of those adult sardonic shrugs and say “Honey I have not just heard it, I’ve bloody lived it.”
Then of course she will look at me like I am a foreign species because there is no way in the world that I could understand a single thing she is experiencing.
But Prince was not the start, not the beginning of me living my life to music.
Maybe it was the summer before, the first year of sixth form; a platonic friend and I were sitting in his dad’s garden. There we were countless empty green Carslberg cans smattering on the lawn and we had raided his dads CD collection until we found ‘But Seriously’ – by Phil Collins. Yes I know it is not cool to say his name any more but back then in 1995 that man was a legend and we sat and listened to ‘Wish it Would Rain Down,’ at least ten times in a row thinking we understood it, but of course we didn’t, not back then anyway.
His neighbours must have hated us.
I don’t think it was the Phil phase and I don’t think it was the Prince either. Something else, something earlier.
Now I remember. I remember sitting in my sister’s Care Bear bedroom in our second house – so I was under seven – and I remember our little tape player we had. I used to steal all mum and dad’s cassettes and hoard them upstairs and spend my time winding forward and back trying to perfect the art of stopping at the beginning of a song (it’s a life skill that you just have to learn). The cassettes were those orange and black BASF ones and they were filled with Abba, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, The Eagles, a real eclectic mix and every single song I listened to had a story to tell, a tale to imprint on my subconscious so that the best part of thirty years later I still remember them in every detail. It’s what I live by and it what I write by, a million emotions all set to music.
So what do I look for in the perfect song, my favourite song? I look for one line, one line which makes perfect sense to me and makes me believe the song.
I only have one favourite song, it has been my favourite since 1996 and it will be probably forever. Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits; the lyrics are so sad and understated and of course it has the one immortal line, the one line that every time I listen to it (daily) my heart gives a little squeeze.
“I can’t do everything but I’d do anything for you
I can’t do anything except be in love with you”
Okay two lines but you get my drift!
So what’s my song today? What’s driving my emotions and my writing today? Well I have to admit is another Train song…I am a bit stuck on them at the moment. Why do I like it…Because it is simple and understated and downright sad…and what’s The Line, the one that makes my heart ache?
“You’re the only thing I’m ever gonna miss
We were made for this”
That sound you can hear? That’s my heart giving it’s little squeeze.