(Bits Of) My Life In Music

Music is an extraordinary thing. It’s been a part of my life forever, or at least the forever I can remember. I grew up on family gatherings where everyone sang, played or did both. Great Uncle George on the ukulele belting out George Formby numbers well into his eighties. Dad strumming out House Of The Rising Sun and Streets Of London at home and at thrown together local parties with friends on the estate we grew up on. Mum playing piano when we were small and organ when we were bigger. My brother playing drums, me playing guitar and a host of other instruments in between – glockenspiel, recorder, violin.

Before we got married, T and I shared a house with two brothers and my own brother. The house had one TV which you had to climb about four flights of stairs to get to and musical instruments on every floor. The four of us guys were all in a band and our house was constantly filled with musicians. Parties and gatherings were all about music. I remember one extraordinary singer-songwriter with the most incredible voice who used to frequent the place – makes sense really as she’s now my sister-in-law.

Over the last several years my playing days have been numbered but I’m doing my best to turn that around. My kids are already starting to love music and I figure I need to be better at stuff than they are until they are at least eight or nine. Rhys in particular has eclectic tastes. His playlist of requested songs at present is:-

New York Minute by Don Henley

Hooks In You by Marillion (AKA the rock and roll song)

All I Have To Do Is Dream by the Everly Brothers

The Sky’s The Limit by Nik Kershaw (AKA the forest song)

Lightning Bolt by Jake Bugg (AKA the guitar song)

He also seems quite keen on Foo Fighters, Rush and Iron Maiden but don’t tell his mum…

About a year ago I bought some Sonos wireless speakers and signed up to a music streaming service (Deezer as it happens). I was listening almost exclusively to talk radio, was hardly listening to my music back catalogue – no new music at all – and figured this would be a way to rekindle my enthusiasm for music.

For once I was right.

I have probably listened to more new music over the last year than I have at any period in my life. I now listen to more hours of music a day than I have in perhaps fifteen years.

My life is much better because of it. OK my guitar playing is still painfully more sucky than it should be but we can work on that.

Trust me, I hear you when you shout, whisper and think Sure Nik that’s really interesting but what’s this blog post all about?

I hear you, and I will tell you.

Earlier on during the washing up (how very rock and roll) I searched through the four hundred squibillion or so songs that Deezer serves up and decided to listen to the Guns N Roses classic Appetite For Destruction.

Wow.

I’d somehow forgotten how brilliant an album it is. I’d also forgotten how many memories it would bring back in glorious goose-bumped technicolour.

Life was different back then. Song names mattered. Band members mattered. There was no I’ll just Google that to create some kind of faux rock credentials. You either knew that Slash was really called Saul Hudson and was born in Stoke or you didn’t.

So I thought I’d give myself a little test and propose some albums that made a huge difference to my life and see what springs to mind. Including the names of the band members. I’ll start with Guns N Roses.

Please note. I will make mistakes. I will screw up the spelling of names. But who cares.

1. Appetite For Destruction by Guns N Roses.

Band members? W Axl Rose, Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagen, Steven Adler

Highlights? The whole groove of Mr Brownstone. The opening insanity of Welcome To The Jungle.

Key memory? Learning to play Sweet Child O Mine and Paradise City with some assistance form my childhood guitar guru Matthew Harris

Have I seen them live? No. Bugger.

2. Operation: Mindcrime by Queensryche

Band Members? Geoff Tate, Chris de Garmo, Michael Wilton, Scott Rockenfield (how can you not be in a band with that name), Eddie Jackson. Honorable mention to Pamela Moore.

Highlights? Everything. It’s genius from start to finish…but I’d say the one minute of guitar magic of Waiting for 22 and learning the riff of I Don’t Believe In Love

Key memory? Sitting in the sixth form common room playing it endlessly

Have I seen them live? Oh yes. And they played Mindcrime in its entirety.

3. The Real Thing by Faith No More

Band Members? Mike Patton, Jim Martin, Roddy Bottum, Bill Gould, Mike “Puffy” Bordin

Highlights? They are the greatest rock band in the history of the world. There are no lowlights. However…the title track still blows my mind.

Key memory? Being on a geography field trip to Dol-Y-Gaer and being with Paul Jones when he bought it on vinyl proclaiming “I’ve heard this is awesome.”

Have I seen them live? Best gig ever. Cardiff Uni before they became famous. Second best gig ever. Seeing them in Birmingham where they started the gig with a series of exercises like star jumps and press ups.

4. Hysteria by Def Leppard

Band Members? Joe Elliott, Phil Collen, Steve Clark, Rick Savage, Rick Allen

Highlights? The only album I’ve worn out entirely on vinyl.

Key memory? Wandering the streets of my home village with Neil Nelly Matthews with this pumping out of a dodgy ghettoblaster.

Have I seen them live? No. Eish.

5. Powerslave by Iron Maiden

Band Members? Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Adrian Smith, Nicko McBrain, Dave Murray

Highlights? Any album that can start with Aces High and Two Minutes to Midnight isn’t going to go far wrong.

Key memory? Managing to recreate the band logo on a blank sheet of paper (trust me, for a man who stuffs up stick-men that’s some achievement)

Have I seen them live? No…but guess who’s got tickets for a bucket list tick in Cape Town next May 🙂

6. Permanent Vacation by Aerosmith

Band Members? Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer

Highlights? This album is perfect. That is all.

Key memory? Clocking Bubble Bobble on a ZX Spectrum with a combination of my brother and Shane Griffiths.

Bonus memory? My brother proclaiming that “he’s not sure he really likes it”. This is the same man who has since seen Aerosmith about five times, is a member of the fan club and owns tracks even Aerosmith don’t.

Have I seen them live? Yep. Twice. They rock.

There is so much I should say about each of these albums and so many more I could list (Rsuh – Grace Under Pressure, Live – Throwing Copper and Metallica – Master of Puppets immediately spring to mind) but I’ve probably already bored you to death.

I think I may have come through the let’s name all the band members test unscathed but please send in any corrections…

If anyone needs me I’ll be belting out rock tunes as loud as a sleeping house allows and hoping my kids will do the same one day.

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15 thoughts on “(Bits Of) My Life In Music

  1. Nice blog post. New York Minute by Don Henley is a great song! That’s actually even before my time so I’m impress Rhys likes it! I like Aerosmith, Maiden, Metallica (a lot of friends are BIG Metallica fans – I too, I guess – so I listen to a lot of Metallica), GnR too. I also like a few songs of Faith No More. I have a weird fondness of Lynyrd Skynyrd, which I shouldn’t have given they wave the confederate flag at their concerts, but there’s something so alluring about songs like Tuesday’s Gone and Free Bird. “Traaaain roll on….” Sets me up perfectly. Great opening line to that song.

    You’re not particularly fond of U2? I’m a huge U2 fan. Maybe they’re too mainstream for you. House of the Rising sun is a great song to play at family gatherings. Everyone knows the lyrics, standard chords and everyone loves the song. My family is more for folk songs though. So more Dylan and Simon&Garfunkel than classic rock or 80s rock. I could talk about music for hours! Sorry for the lengthy and not really point-driven post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don Henley is a new one for Rhys – I had it on a mix CD and he appears to have fallen in love with it!

      I love Lynyrd Skynyrd (their music at least). I will tell you a story one day about what happens when three friends drink at an age they shouldn’t be drinking and start listening to Freebird. It’s epic.

      I’m not a huge U2 fan but don’t dislike them. Simon and Garfunkel are absolute legends. I’m also a big Neil Diamond and Status Quo fan thanks to my mum!

      Talk about music for as long as you like – you’ll never hear me complain 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah yes, it makes me feel a bit old does this!!! I grew up in Liverpool in the sixties, I’m all about Beatles, Everly Brothers, Manfred Mann and so on – I have always been a country and western fan as well, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Dr Hook and the Medicine Show – I think a lot of that is about the lyrics as much as anything. See you didn’t want to know any of that but once you start talking about music you bring out the reminiscences in people. I think music is essential to life I really do – when you consider that it is part of every country’s culture, every religion and has been around I guess since Og started tapping his after dinner thigh bone on the side of the cave (drove his wife mad that did ).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nothing but quality in your musical selections Diane and that’s EXACTLY the kind of stuff I wanted to know! I love hearing about why music matters to people and the kind of music that provokes a memory or response. I’d happily listen to any of the artists you mentioned. Funnily enough my dad and my uncle used to do covers at clubs for a while as The Eveleigh Brothers rather than the Everlys 🙂

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  3. Operation Mindcrime was my favourite album ever when I was a teenager. I still love it. My kids like to ask for “the bird song”, which is a Jo Bonamassa song (Jockey full of bourbon) with the lyrics “Hey little bird, fly away home, Your house is on fire, your children alone”. They also love Babooshka by Kate Bush. And the soundtrack from Shrek. It makes my heart swell with pride that they love music too.
    I would be lost without my music!
    ps “new york minute” is probably my all time favourite song, but then again I’ve had a huge crush on Don Henley since forever xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s amazing the songs that kids pick up on and have no idea of the lyrics or the meaning! Bit like lots of Americans using Born In The USA as a triumphant celebration of all things American…!

      I know exactly what you mean about heart filling with pride when your kids love music – got a great video clip of Rhys dancing around with a guitar to the Marillion track yesterday that I must send you 🙂

      My life is certainly a lot better with music in it.

      Oh…and given our similarities it doesn’t surprise my NYM could be your favourite of all time. I can however neither confirm or deny that I’ve ever had a crush on Don Henley lol xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post. You’ll never let me live that down eh?! Ha ha. Let’s not forget to mention that I briefly played in an Aerosmith tribute band…… which briefly made me never want to listen to them again!! Thankfully I saw the light and am back to being an aero-nerd once more 🙂 Music is just the most powerful thing, even people who aren’t necessarily huge music fans cannot deny that hearing a snippet of something can instantly transport them back to a childhood memory or good feeling, or indeed a sad feeling. Either way, the trigger is immensely powerful. And there is a lot of research into the healing powers of music too which I can definitely get to. Sorry to end on such a pretentious cliche but it truly is a universal language which connects people in a very unique way. OK, I’m off to work on my flam-tap! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nothing to live down fella – it’s just a great story 🙂 And I think your sentiments about music are spot on and are opinions I share.

      Hope you guys are having a great holiday – and as the saying goes “When in Rome work on your flam-tap on a rubber pad in your hotel”

      🙂

      Like

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