Thursday, 12 March 2015

Music : The Power to Transform

Dedicated to Tony Fenton.  Music Man.  RIP

Being a busy gal, my main 'me' time is driving.  Alone.  Sans children.  Doors locked.  Heating on.  I've solved the problems of the world and have had (seldom, but wonderful) work retailed brain waves while driving.  So productive is my drive time, that I think that my employers should send me off on a long drive at least once a week.   From Broadford in North West Kildare (trying to stay within the Kildare boundary and not hit any 'Welcome to Offaly' signs) and Castledermot in South Kildare.  Who knows what revelations I would come up with ?

The other thing I love about 'childless' driving is that I can listen to what I want on the radio.  Given my job and responsibility to promote music, I do have the odd listen in to Lyric FM.  I do enjoy classical music, but I prefer to watch a live performance.  (That's my story and I'm sticking to it).  Truth is, I'm a chart music kinda gal.  Always have been.  It is the stuff of my childhood.

On Thursday nights, I pushed the Lego over to one side of the sitting room floor to dance along to 'Top of the Pops'.  Sometimes you missed a bit of Lego and stood on a piece in your socks.  Ouch.  Keith Chegwin and Mike Read, with dodgy jumpers and even dodger mullet haircuts.  I remember the hype leading up to the release of Madonna's 'Like a Prayer' video.  Madonna kissing a black Jesus.  My lasting impression of it when I seen it is that I wished that I could carry off Madonna's blonde look and that Jesus was a fine thing.   

The release of Michael Jackson's thriller had similar hype.  Wow, what a video.  It scared the bejaysus out of me at the time.  All these years later, my little boy needs reassurance that the zombies 'aren't real'.  I try to reassure him, while also looking under my adult bed for monsters.

'Take Hart', the 1980's  BBC art programme for children was a weekly treat for me.  The programme featured a gallery of children's art.  I was always envious of the work and wishes that mine was included - despite the fact that I never sent anything in.  While the artwork was displayed, 'Cavatina', the classical guitar piece by Stanley Myers, played in the background.  It was only years later that I realised that the music was from a film, the theme tune from The Deer Hunter.  I have had to check myself when talking to classical music people not to describe the tune as 'Take Hart' music.  

I heard 'The Power of Love', by Frankie Goes to Hollywood recently.  It brought me back to New Year's Day in Niall and Ailbhe Carolan's sitting room in Kingscourt.  I was ten.  Their older brother's were talking about how brilliant the song was.  I didn't fully appreciate it's brilliance at the time, but remember thinking if older cousins said it, then it must be true. 

Similarly, I heard 'Frankie' a 1985 tune by Sister Sledge a few weeks ago.  I had a flashback to a chip shop in Kingscourt.  Just myself and my Dad.  The most delicious taste in the whole world.  My Dad had taken some last minute notion to watch some boxing matches in town.  Until then, I doubt I knew that either chips or boxing existed in Kingscourt.   'Frankie … do you remember me ...' on the radio.  Sweaty boys from the boxing.  I was out of my depth and felt a little scared.  

Between 1984 and 1987, MT-USA came on our screens.  It featured Vincent Hanley, moustached and wearing a heavy winter coat, walking about New York City, interviewing celebrities and introducing music videos.  Amazing stuff, like Dire Staits animated video for 'Money for Nothing'.  Other worldly stuff.   

Although I'm partial to a bit of Dolly Parton, I'm not a fan of Irish country and western music.  Occasionally though, I flick between radio stations in the car and find myself listening to songs I didn't mean to listen to, like Bridie Gallagher's 'A Mothers Love is A Blessing', with lyrics like 'For you'll never miss a mother's love 'til she's buried beneath the clay'.  Bridie, we don't need reminding !!  

On the other hand, Patsy Cline's ''Tra La La La Triangle' reminded me of my late aunt Olive, who died in her early thirties.  Way too young.  When I hear the tune, I can see her on a stage, at a family event, singing the song,  dressed in a blue dress, with matching tights.  Her long blonde hair.  She looked like a superstar to me.  

I'm not remotely religious, but a good choral version of the 'Our Father' gets me every time.  It brings me back to Sundays in Kingscourt church.  The cool air.  The tiled floor.  The scent of the carved timber.  The other worldly stained glass windows.   My Father singing.  I asked him why he didn't join the choir.  He should have.   Similarly, children singing 'Away in A Manger', or any Christmas carol for that matter.  Pass the tissues please … 

Studying Art and Design in Galway Institute of Technology brought lots of new musical experiences.  Scooby Doo on the TV.  TV turned upside down.  Pink Floyd on the stereo.  Watching the pitter patter of Scoobies paws.  Joyrider supporting Therapy? in The Point Depot on New Years Eve.  Skunk Anansie in Paris.  Enjoying being a groupie and feeling like you were somebody, but at the same time, thinking that everyone was far cooler than me.  

Moving swiftly forward.  Everyone needs a Break Up Song.  Mine was Nickelback's 2009 tune 'This Is How You Remind Me'.  The Summer That Love Broke Down.  When I left my flat in Dublin and moved back to my parents house with my tail firmly between my legs.  I commuted to my job in Newbridge, coming home to Irish Mammy Dinners to help with the healing.  That was Ryan Tubridy's heyday on 2FM, when he was fresh and new.  Song of the week, Nickelback giving it loads, while I cried in my car on the way to work.  

These days, my two seven year olds largely dictate the car airwaves.  Thankfully we have some similar likes.  We are partial to a little Ellie Goulding and love her new tune,  (aside from what anyone thinks of Fifty Shades of Grey and no, I didn't discuss that with the children !).  We drove to my parents in Meath last weekend and played John Legend's 'All of Me', blaring, on repeat.  Will the children look back on these days and remember their Mam belting out a tune, without a note in her head ?  Maybe give them a warm fuzzy feeling ? I hope so.

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