I am very lucky to have been brought up in a household that values art and music. We always had paintings on the wall often done by family members. We had books of all types to browse and read. We also had music in our house. I remember listening to Elgar, Beethoven, Handel and Tchaikovsky. My dad would play Chris Barber Jazz records whilst my mum listened to Frank Sinatra. My sister introduced me to Fairport Convention, Bob Dylan and Simon Garfunkel amongst many. My late brother in law Chris, bought me two second hand compilation albums from Island records; Nice Enough To Eat and You Can All Join In. These brought Spooky Tooth, Jethro Tull, Blodwyn Pig, King Crimson, Mott the Hoople to my young attention. They also gave me a taste of two of my all time favourite performers, the incomparable John Martyn and the genius that is Nick Drake.
My brother probably had the most profound influence on my musical life. He brought The Who, Yes, Genesis, David Bowie, Steve Hillage and most significantly XTC. I worshipped groups such as Yes and Genesis for their symphonic musical style reminiscent of much of the classical music I loved. I could not have told you what was in the charts for most of my childhood and adolescence. I completely missed punk as there was so much to listen to that wasn’t angry. My musical exposure was expanded into Led Zeppelin, Rush, Camel, Motorhead by fellow troubadours John and Andy (you know who you are). I found Roy Harper, The Rolling Stones and The Doors all on my own.
This however is all ancient history. Music has sat in my head for nearly forty years. It is the soundtrack to my life. It has helped me release pent up anger. It helps me cry when crying is necessary. I have smiled and laughed to Half Man Half Biscuit, tingled to Bob Dylan and Nick Drake and sang heartily to XTC, Mumford and Sons and recently The Shins. It has always been more than just a noise in the background for me as it is to many others. This weekend has seen BBC 6 music celebrate its tenth birthday. This is I firmly believe is the spiritual home of music. It is a broad church allowing many followers to express their tastes openly without fear of mockery or judgement. I was introduced to The Shins, Beth Jeans Houghton, Elbow, The Guillemots, James Walbourne, The Fall, Pete and the Pirates, Primal Scream and dozens of other fabulous artists. The DJ’s range from the intense to the hilarious. Shaun Keaveny the breakfast presenter is the funniest breakfast DJ on radio. Radcliffe and Maconie are the true heart of 6 music. They don’t take themselves seriously ever but showcase music with great reverence. These two particularly enthuse, talk and write about how important to their lives music is. Sundays are a joy through Cerys Matthews, Huey Morgan, Jarvis Cocker, Stuart Maconie and Guy Garvey. Sundays bring 1930’s blues, poetry, electronica, hip hop to my receptive earholes. They were not always receptive back in the distant past. I wanted music and musicians to impress me but now its different. Is it because I am older and less impressionable? I fail to see how people cannot have music in their lives. As you probably guess from reading some my other blogs, life can be hard to deal with. Music lifts my heart, helps me through the day when I need helping. As I write this I am listening to an album ‘Time Without Consequences’ by Alexi Murdoch a British singer based in the US. He is sensational in my opinion and is very much in the vein of the late great John Martyn. I am sure you are listening to something completely different which touches your soul and sets it alive. You may not know it is but trust me, I speak the truth. Anyone who diminishes the importance of music, literature and art is in denial. I accept my fate to love music till I am no longer here to.
So many happy returns to BBC 6 music and just remember, it could have been lost were it not for people who care about music,who love music, wanting to fight for it.