Before I talk about my musical experiences (not many) I would like to tell you about my mothers childhood. Peggy was born in Chapeltown, Leeds, of a single young woman, my granny. Around 1930, that would be enough to frighten anyone, to say the least. But my granny, Frances Annie Foggin, was tougher than that. Although she couldn’t afford to feed mum, she didn’t abandon her, but lodged her in Barnardos in Leeds, which still cost granny money. A few years later, granny had moved to Rotherham, and then Bramley. And then Annie married. However, all was not well. Mum moved to join the family (her step father had children of his own) but was treated badly by her step father. She and her mum were beaten by him, mostly after he came home drunk on Fridays. In spite of that, or because of it, mum grew up loving completely her own mum and loved the country side around Bramley at that time. Eventually, mum married her ‘boy next door’, Andrew Walter Stevenson. It lasted only a few years. A family rift (his) resulted in mum loosing all her furniture and virtually her home. When I was born, we all (mum, my older brother and me) spent time in the poor (work) house, not able to support ourselves but still together. Fast forward again, Peggy married William Jones, a steam train driver. A kind man, sadly he suffered a ‘mental’ disorder and had to be looked after by his sister, Aunty Gertrude. But I now had 3 more brothers. And soon after, lost another father. So, you can see, Peggy had it rough. She has never lost her zest for life, in spite of marrying Frank and loosing him to emphysema 10 yrs. later. Those 10 yrs. we’re the happiest years of her married life.
Now, music. I can sum this up two words: no talent. Maybe because I am left handed (I avoided the wrapped knuckles), or my teacher thought I was stupid, or even not interested, eventually I was thrown out of the class. Since I had no ‘voice’ either, I was unsuitable for further study. Little did Mr. Crabtree know, he gave me an enormous love for classical and folk music. Let me give you a few names: Borodin, Vaughan Williams, Butterworth, and collectors of folk music throughout the 19th and 20th centuries whose names I can’t remember.
In 1962, my world changed, musically speaking. I was going home after my evening paper round and heard a melody coming out of the youth club. I stood, mesmerised. The tune ? Telstar, by the Tornados. Nothing has seemed to sum up the early 60’s promise of better things than this. It was composed by a genius, who, like AllanTuring before him, was labeled ‘queer’. And sadly, like Turing, killed himself after a distinguished career in writing for and managing my favourite pop group. I did not know this at the time, but when I did, I was devastated. My hero, dead!
Later that decade came a host of pop groups. My favourites were: The Shadows, Sounds Orchestral, The Beatles (of course), The Beach boys, The Byrds and a few tens of performers more.
Meanwhile, after leaving school and college, I was hooked by Folk Music. Steeleye Span, the Corries, Ewan Mc Coll and Peggy Seeger to name but a few. It’s a funny thing about lovers of folk, you may see them with their hand(s) cupped over their ears! This is, you see, so that the listener doesn’t miss a note. Folk can easily send you into a rapture. It’s the vibrations that synchronise with your particular frequency that grabs you. Harmony plus a little discord. And, of course, the words or lyrics. Most songs are basically ballads, about love, death, self sacrifice, joy and work.
In 1958 to 1964, the BBC produced a series of documentaries on Radio 2, featuring a number of Ewan Mc Coll’s radio ballads. One of them, the Big Hewer, if I remember correctly, had the words: ‘When I was born I was nearly six foot tall, go down. The very next day I learned a way to haul, go down. Five steel ribs and an iron backbone, Teeth that can cut through rock and black stone….’ You just can’t top that. It fully describes the life of the miner back then.
On the Isle of Lewis, where I lived, in a caravan (another tale !), I was fortunate to see live, the Corries, made up of Roy Williamson and Ronnie Browne, who both sing and play an amazing number of instruments. The atmosphere there was incredible, especially when they sang ‘Flower of Scotland’. Very sadly, another hero of mine died. Roy died, 54 yrs. old, in 1990.
Now, I would say my musical tastes are diverse. In this age of great upheaval, one song in particular gives me hope for the future: ‘Coming to Love’. You can catch it here: http://youtu.be/SnHLHyP08Z8 If you like it, I would appreciate it if you could share.
Coming to love, leads on to coming to the end of this post. Hope you enjoyed sharing it with me. Bye for now.
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