I love music. I really, really love music and wonder how I would live without it. I realise that sounds a bit dramatic but it came to me this morning as I was driving to work with Vampire Weekend’s ‘Cousins’ followed closely by Kasabian’s ‘Fire’ blaring out of the speakers that life would be very colourless without it. It is a release, a comfort and there are certain songs that ‘send me’. Music brings back memories, history, lost loves, sticky situations, never to be repeated experiences and near misses.
As a girl brought up in Ireland I was subject to some of the best and worst of music, most of which I didn’t appreciate until I was much older. I saw Thin Lizzy at 15, U2 had to wait until my 40th birthday (thankfully they were still around) and I have seen any number of traditional Irish bands in my later years. The worst song ever, ‘Drop Kick me Jesus Through The Goalposts of Life’ was number one in Ireland for God knows how long and was a favourite of a local band of which the bread van driver was the lead singer wearing a very bad, black and obvious toupee that he kept for his singing engagements only… happy days! We saw so much live music as teenagers, most of it local, and a live band was de rigueur on a Saturday night at the local club (imaginatively called Clouseaus for reasons which escape me).
My teenage radio years were filled with New Romantics and I must confess that I donned a frilly shirt on more than one occasion as I and the rest of my schoolmates swooned over Simon Le Bon et al and it seemed that my musical taste was doomed. And then came the revolution. From two different sources came the influences that would shape my musical taste for the rest of my life. On one hand I had my younger brother who was heavily into heavy metal and we air guitared to Iron Maiden and AC/DC and on the other was my friend Mary Rose’s brother who introduced me to Frank Zappa and Neil Young. Throw into the mix a summer in Canada at 16 seeing Queen in concert and the discovery of The Doors, a summer with a pen friend in France with The Alan Parsons Project and The Eagles and a boyfriend at 18 who was a huge traditional Irish music fan with a touch of Ricky Lee Jones thrown in for good measure and you have some idea of the eclectic breadth of my musical taste. And nothing has changed.
This is me and my good friend Alex at the Isle of Wight Festival last summer of which I have blogged in the past so I won’t go on about it again here. But it is fantastic and I have seen variously Bowie, REM, Paolo, The Stones, Snowpatrol,Coldplay and any number of other fantastic bands and singers. It gives me a yearly chance to revisit my inner teenager and to destroy my liver and I absolutely love it. My greatest thrill last year was to finally see Neil Young after a lifetime of being a fan. I know that he isn’t to everyone’s taste but he writes some of the most beautiful lyrics and I could listen to him forever (well actually it seems like I have been). Over the years I have done stadiums (Springsteen, Dire Straits, Eagles, AC/DC (my brother took me for my 24th birthday), Coldplay, Robbie Williams and U2) and smaller venues like the Albert Hall (Clapton, Van Morrison and a very controversial Christy Moore), festivals and pubs and they have all been fab. We even had Simply Red last summer at Osborne House and Mr and Mrs Folly and TG and I danced the night away. It doesn’t matter where or when, if it’s live I’m there.
My great love of music, my need for it all day every day and it’s importance in my life was brought sharply into focus last year when I embarked on a relationship with someone who just didn’t get it. The music thing that is. He has no tv, no radio and his favourite singer is Enya ( I know that taste is purely subjective and who am I to comment but…). The festival was a bit of a mystery to him and he just couldn’t understand why I got so worked up about songs and lyrics. When I played my favourite tune of the moment, Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This’ (one of those songs that send me) he said ‘What IS this noise’? Noise? Noise??? That was the final nail in a rapidly filling coffin. I realise as I get older that I can’t be with someone who doesn’t ‘get’ music, I just can’t. It takes all the joy out of life.
Luckily I have a boss who played drums in a band and so we have the radio on in the office from 8 in the morning and at 10.30 or thereabouts we have the Pop Master challenge (yes we are sad muppets) and he drums on his drawing tablet at difficult moments to marshall his thoughts. My nearly 17 year old son is a huge music aficionado, plays drums and has inherited his mother’s eclectic taste and you never know what will be drifting out from under the bedroom door – sometimes it’s the Doors, sometimes Queen, the Arctic Monkeys or more recently Vampire Weekend. I think that it wonderful to open your mind to all kinds of musical experience and I get him to put what he thinks I might like, or what is good at the moment onto my iPod and he rarely gets it wrong. I do ask him from time to time if he’s embarrassed that his Mum goes to the festival and is listening to what he is listening to but he says that no, he thinks it’s cool. So that’s alright then. I shall carry on listening, being sent and enjoying what is one of the great pleasures in my life. All day. Every day.