The Song That Started It (Author Bio/Sonographic Sketch #1)

Music and Memories

Now don’t say that I didn’t warn you, dear reader. I said posting was sporadic, didn’t I? And so the only way forward is to find a way to post more regularly so we can build up a bit more of a rapport. Here we have the chance to connect and share stories and opinions with all this modern technology, and so why not start a little series to help you get to know me better?

As a good friend of mine suggested that I might write something about music and I was supposed to be working on some biographical material, I thought why not combine the two? Music and memories are often very strong linchpins in people’s minds, each triggering the other. Songs that were playing at tempestuous moments in life often become firm favourites or emotionally charged.

So here’s a few of mine, starting with the first song that really blew me away.

Ah, no pun intended……

#1: The Song That Started It

As a child my parents had a box of records and a turntable, but we never really listened to it. I remember being fixated with the art in their copy of War of the Worlds but only ever really heard a small fraction of the actual music. Mostly music was listened to in the car on the radio, so usually whatever was being played on BBC Radio 2. I remember Paula Abdul being popular at the time, and the video had that animated wolf in it…..

It wasn’t until I went to school and made a new friend that I encountered someone who was really getting into music. He had an older sister and in his mildly tourettic manner bemused me by going on about breaking his rusty cage (Soundgarden for the uninitiated).

Then he turned up with a copy of Nevermind. We were about 13 at the time.

At this point I hadn’t actually heard any of these songs. Then one Friday I went home and stayed over at his house. We listened to the Radio 1 Rock Show – back when BBC radio actually had a dedicated show that played hard rock and heavy metal. That was where I heard Vote With A Bullet. It was the first song I ever bought, a vinyl 12 inch single that had several remixes on it. I still have it today, lounging somewhere in my record boxes.

So it was that music became a focal point in the friendship we were developing, and it would be the starting point for gigging. It was my friend who gave me my first concert ticket – try not to laugh – Europe at Hammersmith Apollo. Oh yeah! I can say I actually witnessed the Final Countdown live! My next gig would be Napalm Death at the (now sadly no more) Marquee Club, and it would be here that I took my first stage dive and the crowd would promptly part so that I went face first onto the floor. Then a huge, hairy, leather clad mountain of a man picked me up by the scruff of the neck and set me back on my feet with the words “there ya go mate.”

Years later my father would reveal that he had actually worked as part of the broadcasting unit who were at the time filming a Thor concert at the Marquee. He recounted how the stage act including the singer blowing up a hot water bottle like a balloon until it burst.

But I digress, because perhaps the most striking thing about Vote With A Bullet was how this one song would sum up my developing attitudes towards not only politics, but towards authority in general. As a note in the sleeve informed me:

Politics is the control of wealth and power. You are being conditioned to condemn politics as petty and boring, thus granting all the more control to the powers that be. You are either part of the problem or part of the solution.The choice is yours. The following groups are making a difference, & so can you.

Thus followed PO Box addressed to various groups like Amnesty, Greenpeace and Native Nations.

So I started to wear my boots to school and let my hair grow longer. I often came into conflict with certain teachers who didn’t like it. It didn’t fit the image of the school, a joke considering how totally insane half of the teachers were – I’ll never forget the drunken, stuttering chemistry teacher who attempted to say potassium permanganate, to which my friend smartly replied, “that’s easy for you to say.”

Suffice to say that we didn’t learn much.

But music, ah, music had started to get me thinking.

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