Music wasn’t a part of my upbringing but it started to seep into my soul without me knowing. We had a record player, orange with a clear lid, and about a dozen vinyl records that were seldom played. It lived in the living room which was a bit of a no go area for me so I never touched it. I sometimes looked at the record sleeves – The Planets by Holst, Westside story – but I couldn’t penetrate deeper than that.
I spent most of my time outside, roaming the estate, getting up to mischief, trying to manoeuvre the brutal teenage politics, but I began to hear talk of bands and new singles; of the Top 10, and Top of the Pops. Friends with tape recorders would sit on the curb and play stolen tracks from the radio and the rest of us would gather round and listen, nodding to the beat.
My best mate liked Showaddywaddy so I liked Showaddywaddy. He learned the lyrics so I learned the lyrics. He bought blue suede shoes but I couldn’t afford them (probably a blessing).
At around 15 years old I was hiding in the cloakrooms during lunch at school with some other kids (it was cold) and one of them pulled a tape recorder out of his blue plastic Adidas bag and pressed play. It was like someone had turned a light on in a dark room, as if colour had just entered the world. The music was hard and heavy, full of energy, and it lit up my world.
The album was Technical Ecstasy by Black Sabbath and it’s not an exaggeration to say it changed my life. From that day I became an explorer looking for sounds that would make me feel like that again. At first it was pilfered snippets that managed to get aired alongside the mediocre; then late nights listening to Tommy Vance’s Friday Rock Show; and finally when I was 16 , and started work, I bought my own record player and spent glorious hours searching through the boxes of vinyl at a scruffy record shop in the next town.
That love, that search, is still in me.
I’m listening to Technical Ecstasy as I write this – 40 plus years older but definitely not 40 plus years wiser – and it still lights me up. I’ve wandered into so many genres and styles, often because of friends, and I still haven’t scratched the surface.
Which is a long winded way of saying this – Art lights people up.
Somewhere out their is a track, a photo, a dance, a sculpture, a whatever, waiting to pounce, to wrap itself around our self, and wanting to remind us of what it means to be a human being; to be our higher selves.