Friday, 8 June 2012

Music has always been a part of my life right from an early age. As a child I remember Mum playing her old shellac singles featuring the likes of Nellie Lutcher singing ‘My Little Boy.’ Slim Whitman (YUK), Guy Mitchell, Frankie Laine and Lonnie Donnegan. Dad loved Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and especially Glen Miller.
Then there were the family gatherings. Granddad playing mandolin with Nana accompanying him on piano. A Raucous singalong filled with Cockneyesque songs and ballads from Ireland. Somewhere one of my family has a recording of Mum singing ‘If you ever go across the sea to Ireland and you should see the closing of the day.’ I remember it still. Mum had such a lovely smile then, beautiful white teeth with cherry red lips.

I was too young for Rock ‘n Roll, and I mean the real deal not the self-invented, regurgitated, paradoy stuff of the seventies, but I do recall it dimly. Once, on our way back from my Aunt Olives, my Dad’s elder sister of some sixteen years, as my Aunt said goodbye she called out to me: “See you later Aligator.” Like a good Catholic responding from the pew I called back, “In a while crocodile.” I was four, maybe five. Then Mum and I walked along singing “Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket.” That was the Perry Como version and not the cool Dean Martin one.

Mum and Dad always bought me singles even though my pocket money was two and six. (That is two shillings and sixpence). The songs I had bought me and that I liked were “The Runaway Train” and the Oh so English, “Nellie the Elephant.” Years later a punk band took that song and gave it a spectacular make-over.

I remember Elvis and Chuck and The Killer and Little Richard but of course learnt more about them after the event. Those early Rock ‘n Roll songs and their singers were dangerous, really dangerous. Jerry Lee used to pull out a gun and shoot at people. The Mods of the sixties with their fights with Rockers came close but there was no sign of the feral danger of old time Rock 'n Roll again until punk arrived some twenty years later..

The first single I ever bought with my own saved up pocket money was “Return to Sender.” I loved Elvis or at least I thought I did. As I grew older it was Gene Vincent and Jerry Lee Lewis that really did it for me. Elvis was king and to this day sits second only to The Beatles in terms of record sales.
The next single I bought was “Love Me Do.” It was The Beatles who took me and music by the scruff of the neck and led us from the fifties to firmly deliver us in the nineties and beyond. Without them I would not have got into Beethoven, Miles Davis, Zappa or Beefheart. They were to my generation and to music what J.K.Rowling was to my children's generation and literature. They opened the doors to what could be achieved and showed us all how limitless that reach could be.
Neil Young has a method of working out how to categorise a band or musician. The two divisions are: The Beatles or The Stones.
For example: The Who, Led Zepplin, Queen, Blondie, Squeeze, Blur, Radiohead (Beatles) – The Faces, Counting Crows, Bob Dylan, The Pogues, The Clash, The Libertines (Stones.) It is a neat idea. It doesn't mean that Led Zep or Queen have in any way copied or are somehow less worthy than the fabs; what Neil was trying to define was how tight the Beatles sound was and how loose the Stones. This definition of tight and loose can be applied to virtually all acts.

Nowadays, nostalgia to one side, we are spoilt for choice with music. It is all out there for the taking. My tastes have not changed, my knowledge has grown and with it my tastes have expanded. I am more likely now to listen to Elgar or Stravinsky than I used too but I still like the thrust of cutting edge music, of pop and Jazz, of Folk and Americana, of Dub Step and whatever unknown new techo stuff is out there.

Once music gets inside you its melodies and rhythms never fade.

all words and art are copyright © of Russell 'C.J' Duffy.To view my books on Amazon/Kindle go here: -- For another side of CJ go here: sOMeThiNg For tHE wEeKeND, SiR?

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