Music in my Life: Part One.
I was recently asked to take part in a local radio programme that sounds uncannily like “Desert Island Discs.” That means that I have to tell my life story and illustrate it with up to ten songs, all in an hour. It’s an interesting challenge. I started with a list of tracks that I might use and it soon exceeded twenty, so I started again by writing a chronology. The trouble with this approach is that it just reads like a list of bands and musicians.. And that’s where I’m at right now.
Let’s see if we can do better and actually come up with a short list, or even a mix-tape. You could try this yourself if your music meant a lot to you as you were growing up. How much have you changed?
It is 1953. Beside the pub in a harsh stone village in the Yorkshire Dales, a toddler wearing home made clothes stands at the top of the steps and sings as loud as he can, both for the sheer joy of it and the benefit of the whole world; “She’ll be cummin round the mountains when she cooms.”
|Gunnerside on Coronation Day, 1953.|
That was me singing the first music I can remember. In that same year there was a Coronation parade through the village, led by a brass band that included my father on a euphonium. The music of the dales was hymns, brass and silver bands, and cowboy music.
Brothers Chris and Arnold Alderson would sing to the short-horn cows as they milked them by hand in the midge ridden byre and the songs would be Jim Reeves and Gene Autry. “A four legged frind, a four legged frind; he’ll never let you down” and “I’ll forgit many things in my lifetime, but my Darlin’ I won’t forgit yew”.
By 1956 we finally had our own house in Southampton where my Dad built a first class gramophone system to play his jazz music on. Mum and Dad had quite a collection of 78s; some jazz and some classical music, but they both shared a love of Louis Armstrong and the dance bands of the 1940s playing foxtrots and quick-steps, and of course the crooners like Nat, Bing and Frankie who my mum would sing along with.
I liked to sing too, so, when the vicar came to my school looking for choristers, I signed up. The choir took an immense amount of time, with two evening rehearsals a week, two services on Sunday (sometimes three) and, on summer Saturdays, weddings. Being in the choir gave me a good fundamental music education and a working knowledge of the vocabulary of King James 1st which was a good grounding . “Nobby” Hume, the choirmaster and organist, was a wonderful old man who introduced me to concerts of choral and orchestral music through the local Philharmonic Society.
Nobby thought I could get a scholarship to Winchester as a chorister, but I loved it at home and we didn't go for it. If I had, where would I be now?
(Next Post; The Sixties.)