I read something the other day, a diarist recording her personal Desert Island Discs choices and why, and it made me think what music I would choose... and would I choose it for the memories it evoked, or because I liked it, and the answer was that I would choose for the best possible reason, a combination of the two.
Some of my earliest musical memories are connected with classical music, mainly because my father loved it and his mother sang it professionally, a leading contralto. I saw 'live' music for the first time when I was very young and taken to a recital of Handel's 'MESSIAH' conducted by Sir John Barbarolli, (or BANANALOLLY as I pronouncd it!) and when Nan stood up to sing, I had to stand also and tell everyone it was my Nan!
Iwas in my early teens in the early 60s when the next wave of music made an impression, and the use of the word 'wave' isn't unintentional, since it was the surfin' sound from California, mainly the Beach Boys. I was 15, with a boyfriend who was tall, blonde and tanned, not from surfing (there wasn't a right lot of it about on the Irish Sea) but from working outdoors on a local farm. He used to cycle to meet me from school sometimes, which didn't go down too well with the nuns who asked him to wait around the corner in case it offended parents of other pupils. Radio Caroline North was going strong then, not so well known as it's southern counterpart, which came first, but for us in Lancashire, this was such an exciting time, at last something else instead if FAB208 to listen to under the bedcovers! Also remembered from this era - Dusty Springfield, who I did an impersonation of at a school concert, complete with heavy black eyemakeup and back-combed to within an inch of its life, hair.
When I got to be 16-18 it was Gene Pitney I idolised, and my first boyfriend had a certain look which put me in mind of GP, a rather shy, diffident smile, a bit lopsided it was, cute. (sorry, Fyldecoaster, have I embarrassed you?) Memories of this time, the music aside are thigh length soft suede boots, tartan mini skirts and a purple mini kilt, Biba clothes, Houbigant CHANTILLY perfume, hairy afghan jackets, having a boyfriend with a scooter (not the GP-lookalike) when I fancied the leather-clad rocker down the road, pale lipstick and nail varnish, JACKIE magazine.
Into my twenties, when the perfume tended to be Estee Lauder's YOUTH DEW, or Nina Ricci's L'AIR DU TEMPS, or Revlon's CHARLIE, and the music I most remember from this time was Nillsen's 'WITHOUT YOU'. For me this is a very poignant song, as it was 'our song' for my late husband and I, and each time I hear it now, I am taken back to those few brief years we had together, the laughs we shared, the tears, the joys of our two sons, and then an overwhelming grief. I also remember the music of ELLA FITZGERALD for this my late mother used to sing.. she had a lovely voice, had auditioned for GERALDO back in the late forties, but that was just when she had met my late father and he objected to her having a career of this sort, so she gave it up, but still delighted me with her voice, and at this time, in the early 70's, she was at the happiest she had been in decades. Sadly this was a time when her life was brought to a sudden end, so again, music which has mixed memories for me. The smells associated with her are Boots 4711 cologne and Coty face powder, which I still catch a sniff of in the air, and know she is making a brief visit.
A very dear friend introduced me, in the 80s, to Tamla and Phil Collins, and particularly his music brings back memories of a time when I went a little crazy and carefree, fine if you are single and so on, but not when you are married and with Responsibilities. Lucky for me, my new husband was one of these men who would never try and rein you in, would let you have your freedom secure in the knowledge that wherever you go, you will always come home. That to stop people will only drive them away, and because of his attitude, I never did leave. But at this time my health began to fail also, and one particular film/LP ELECTRIC DREAMS reminds me of my time as a dialysis patient, as this was often being played in our dayroom by another of the patients. Several of them are no longer with us, some younger than me, some older. But the smells associated with this music aren't particularly nice, though one is hot toast spread with Marmite, eaten to bring your salts levels back up during and after dialysis.. or it was in our little dialysis unit anyway, hardly available in NHS units today. Sadly the very dear friend is no longer around either. And I can't hear UPTOWN GIRL by Billy Joel without being transported back to the early 80s, drinking Tia Maria and coke, laughing and joking with a particular male friend who I only discovered later, actually wanted to be more than friends, but who felt he was out of my league, hence the reason for sending me a tape of UPTOWN GIRL.
In the 90s I enjoyed all my favourites from the 80s, along with Bon Jovi as well as Chris Rea (introduced into my life by another dear friend who again, is no longer a part of my life - both of them were male friends, music doesn't seem to have been something I shared with many female friends for some reason.) and Boyzone for the first time.. I am still a fan! As I am of Jason Donovan, and keep your giggles down to a dull roar please!
Then along came IL DIVO, Vittorio Grigolo, spiritual music, natural earth sounds music, New Age stuff, more classical than anything else, music to relax to, music to meditate with. I still listen to Boyzone, and have an occasional sentimental wallow with the CD collection and listen to some of the above favourites from different decades, but I am looking more to be chilled out than anything else these days. Even so, all of these I would have to have on my desert island, music to suit each mood. Though I might just miss out some of the natural sounds, especially ones with whale song.. don't want any uninvited guests landing on my beach do I, looking for a mate or something?