When I grew up in the 1960s there was an essence of musical revolution in the air, with the flower power movement breaking into new and exciting ventures in the music industry, but as was the case back then, anything that I wanted to listen to when I was a child was considered taboo due to a father who was dominant both with his mouth and with his fists. As a result, I was left to my own secret devices, listening to music that was around at the time, like the children’s television show, The Monkees. It was there that I heard my first really influential song, a song I still sing today to my wife, nearly fifty years on from those days. “I’m A Believer” is one of those songs that stick in the mind of the listener and although it has been covered many different times, most recently in the film Shrek, it remains my earliest recollection of my young musical taste.
As the 1960s gave way to the 1970s, I grew and began to listen to more diverse music, being fabulously obsessed with Slade and the Glam Rock movement in music, hearing Marc Bolan and T-Rex for the first time on Magpie of all places and thinking “Ride a White Swan” was the best thing yet. But that was about to change as I began to run a disco in my local YMCA one evening a week. There I played all sorts from Earth, Wind and Fire to The Sex Pistols. I remember listening to “Pretty Vacant” for the first time and thinking “oh my God, what is this?” I simply could not get over the anger and resentment that surged out of Johnny Rotten and the Pistols. Their anthem “God Save The Queen,” with its next and most famous line, seemed to light a fire under me. Perhaps it was the resentment at being bullied by children at school and then at home by my father that made me so angry, but this was my outlet, my bit of cathartic anger management at the time and this has stayed with me to this day. When I want to let off steam, on go the headphones and I search Youtube for live versions of the classic Pistols tracks.
But as is always the case, the older you get, the more you mature and as I entered the 1980s, I began training, or more precisely, bodybuilding, trying to reshape this slightly overweight form from the age of sixteen into something more aesthetically handsome. I did it for me and for no-one else and there is one track that springs to mind from my days in the gym in the early 1980s. It is “Eye Of The Tiger” by Survivor. The world first heard this when the first Rocky film hit the cinemas and I first heard it whilst bench pressing and it got under my skin so much that it made me use heavier weights and be more aggressive at the bar each time I heard it. In essence, it was the song that allowed me to get so much of the angst out of myself and for that, I can only be thankful to those who sang it.
But, as we mellow and age, more balladic songs come to mind that define me, songs like “Angels” by Robbie Williams, which for me, sums up my beliefs now and that for this person of faith, my belief in such things never wavers, but increases in its tenacity each day. And as the 1990s gave way to the euphemistically termed “naughties” I heard a song that has forever been a song that defines how I feel after a major family breakdown, where the pain and suffering that we endured caused so much “Hurt” that simply recovering from it has taken years. That one track by Johnny Cash, has for me, become a song that I can relate so much to in my life.
There have been so many more musical tracks in my life, but these are the ones that define me. These are the ones that shape me and make me into the person I am today. These are the ones that will remain with me until the day I die and then, when they are saying goodbye to me, there is one last track that needs to be played and that is Glenn Kaiser’s “Most of All.” Look it up on Youtube and you will see what I mean. That will be my final track and it is to be so because it is the one song that sums up my entire life.