Thursday, 5 April 2012

Music turns the heart to Pulp

Aside from my father and brother, there are really only two men who have had any significant impact on
who I am. Naturally, one of these is my husband, the other is my first love; let's call him Matt.

Matt and I first met in the summer of 1995 at a surprise party my friends had thrown for me.  I'd escaped to a quiet room in an attempt to hide from all the loved up couples. (I was single and worse still the guy I had a crush on was publicly pursuing one of my friends).

As I recall I was quite upset when Matt came into the room; rejection's pretty tough at the best of times but on your seventeenth birthday it feels like the end of the world!

Luckily Matt was a great listener. He didn't really know anyone at the party having tagged along with his friend who knew one of the other girls. So, we slipped out the back and fled in his car, where we talked and listened to music for hours.

One of the bands we listened to, who I hadn't heard of until that night, was Pulp.

Matt and I quickly became inseperable. He was kind and gentle and so handsome - for the first time in my life I knew what it felt like to be envied - but above all else, he was mine!

This truly was a fairytale romance, but in typical teenage style I had no idea how lucky I was. Matt was my first 'serious' boyfriend and I was terrified of being dumped. I really couldn't understand what someone like him could possibly see in me so I had to get in there first and rather unceremoniously dropped him from.a great height.

I'm not proud of my actions, I know I hurt Matt unnecessarily. Now whenever I hear Pulp it brings back a cavalcade of emotions as I recall the first time I both loved someone and then lost them.

While we were together Matt made  me a mix tape which included Pulp's Common People to this day this remains one of my most cherished posessions.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Ben, the two of us need look no more...

...We both found what we were looking for.
With a friend to call my own, I'll never be alone
And you my friend will see, you've got a friend in me.

This haunting tune with it's sickly sweet lyrics was originally performed by Michael Jackson for the soundtrack to the 1972 thriller of the same name. However, that's not where I first heard it, it of course being before I was born!

My first encounter with this sentimental ballad was an entirely different experience and yet it still struck all the right chords.

Growing up, our house was usually bedlam. My brother and I had hobbies that kept us busy most evenings and often weekends too. However, occasionally (usually on a Saturday evening) we'd all be home together and then we'd settle down for some quality family time in front of the TV. This was back in the day when family entertainment was at it's best with firm favourites like Noel's House Party, Family Fortunes and 3,2,1.  It was on one such evening that I first fell in love with the song Ben.

It was back in 1987 and we were watching Bob Says Opportunity Knocks when a young 9-year-old girl by the name of Toni Warne came on and performed it and stole the show. In fact,  she did this again and again, become the youngest ever three times winner of the programme.  Of course, the song was released as a single and I can still picture her angelic face in her little stripey top, peering at me from the sleeve of the record.

Even now, 25 years later, her rendition of this beautiful track remains my favourite and reminds me how lucky I have been to grow up in the bosom of such a loving, supportive family.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Bon Jovi: The chords of friendship

Growing up I was never what you call popular. I was the scruffy girl in hand me down clothes, dogged by naievity and a distinct lack of style, that nobody wanted to be seen with.

Of course, many people have walked in and out of my life over the years. Some have abandoned me in my hour of need, others have been a pillar of strength, despite facing immense struggles of their own. This incredible yet melancholy song, as featured on the soundtrack of Young Guns II, reminds me of one such person.

Back in September 1993, I made my way to the local sixth form college to embark on the next stage of my education. I don't mind admitting I was terrified! Those few friends I had made at school were taking different subjects and I feared I'd be alone again. I needn't have worried, within minutes of starting my first class I'd met Yvie, a rather strange character with a heart of gold and a peculiar sense of humour.

I should probably tell you that I wasn't a very nice person to know at 16/17. I had a serious chip on my shoulder and thought I deserved more from life than my current lot. I threw away an incredible romance with the only guy who, up until then, ever looked at me like I was the most important person in the world - all because I wanted to be part of the "gang". And I can't tell you how many times I turned my back on Yvie, but whenever I needed a friend she was always there.

It was Yvie that picked up the pieces when an ex boyfriend publicly humilated me, and it was she who stayed with me when I thought I'd reached the end of the road and couldn't take anymore. She became such a huge part of my life and yet somehow after college we lost touch for a while.

It was about four years before I saw her again, but she was just the same and it was like we'd never been apart.

Unfortunately, Yvie suffered from Marfan Syndrome and became quite ill, needing a life saving operation to replace her aorta with an artificial tube. Every minute of every day she was in hospital I prayed she'd pull through and every time I made the journey to see her this song was playing in my car. I'd usually arrive at the cardiac ward with my mascara taking over the role of my blusher and looking like I'd lost a fight with the world's largest onion.

Eventually, Yvie did recover and returned home, but she was much weaker than before.

We both got on with our lives and kept in touch, though physical meetings became rare. Nonetheless, every time I hear this song I think of her, perhaps more so now than ever before. You see Yvie died in 2002, suddenly. I hadn't spoken to her properly in an age and I certainly never expected to turn around one day and find she'd gone; I completely went to pieces. It was a huge wake up call, there were so many things I wanted to share with her and never got the chance. I took our friendship for granted and she changed my life forever.

Even now there isn't a day goes by I don't think of her and when I hear Dyin' Ain't Much of a Livin a tear always comes to my eye. I only hope that when my time comes someone will remember me with such fondness and affection.

Goodnight, God Bless Yvie until we meet again x

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Madonna: When the world was a simpler place...

As I write this post I am aware that I set out to explore the soundtrack of my life and as such the logical place to begin would be back in 1978 (the year I was born). However, I am also mindful that thoughts and emotions are spontaneous and fluid and  cannot necessarily be shaped into a convenient chronological list.

Perhaps it is better therefore to consider this as a box of forgotten treasures in which every item you uncover reinvents a specific place in time.

Just the other day my iPod and I were on a mission to deliver information from my workplace to local residents. As I wandered from house to house carefully ensuring each envelope made it through the letter box and dropped on to the mat beyond, I found myself singing along to Papa Don't Preach and was instantly transported back to 1988 and one of our last family holidays in Bournemouth.

For those of you who don't know Papa Don't Preach is one of Madonna's best known hits. It was released in 1986 and was the second single from her True Blue album, which is where I first stumbled upon it.

I wasn't a huge Madge fan back then, in fact I'm still not really, I just listen to those tracks I like. However, being an impressionable young girl and Madonna being considered a bit riske at the time, every girl wanted to be like her and my mum was none too pleased with my choice in music.

Still, Papa Don't Preach reminds me of a more simple innocent time in my life, when my biggest concern was not to be caught wearing my glasses in front of my friends. It represents the first time I was able to venture out on my own, something that's vitually unheard of these days, and conjures up great memories of building sand castles on the beach, strolling down the prom eating fish and chips and quietly being woken up by my brother to watch the fire brigade tackle a blaze in the hotel next door as my parents slept soundly across the room for what felt like an age.

However, as I said earlier, this was one of our last family holidays and so my memories bare a slight sadness, but we had a brilliant time and it's great to revisit that place in history from time to time.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Allow me to introduce you to my best friend, my iPod...

In 2003, my boyfriend (who would later become my husband) returned from a working trip to the USA with a small silver box that he said would change the future of music.

Of course, being the sceptic I am I completely ignored his claims and despite his constant praise of the tiny device and the increasing frequency with which I spied these little gadgets, I refused to buy into the industry hysteria. Instant access to millions of tracks dating back years and the death of the high street record shop, what a joke!

Fast forward a few years and I have to confess I did succumb to the digital music revolution, the inclusion of video proving too greater a lure for my fickle heart to resist.

These days my iPod and I are inseparable, we go everywhere and do everything together. I'd rather sacrifice my right arm than my iPod and that's because it's not just a music and video player or a portable internet device. My iPod contains the soundtrack to my life, every piece of music that has touched, moved or inspired me (and the memories which these songs conjure up) lives within it, but more than that; my iPod is part of my future.

Every time I listen to a track, wherever I am in the world, I'm not only remembering the first time I heard that song or the way it made me feel, but I'm creating a new memory of whatever I'm doing at that time, thereby creating more memories to be recalled in the future.