I suspect everyone knows by now about my love of books – and the way I get palpitations whenever anyone asks for “my favourite”, together with the agonies I go through coming up with a different book every time, after hours of deliberation. But that’s nothing compared with the sheer torture of choosing five music tracks for this feature – I really should have made it easier for myself by just choosing some of the R&B and soul tracks that I’ve always loved. But this is such a wonderful feature Jo – thank you so much for inviting me!
Between you and me, I did fall out of love with reading for a while – in my 20s and 30s, when my social life seemed somehow more important. But I’ve never fallen out of love with music.
Motown, rock, crooners, power ballads, glam rock, New Wave, New Romantics, Brit Pop, acid jazz, trance, garage – you name it, I guarantee it’ll be a phase I’ve passed through, and I’ll be able to lay my hands on a CD that’s still in my collection. My tastes continue to change – I stay up to date by listening to Jo Whiley on Radio 2, but my real comfort zone is perhaps more Trevor Nelson. My current favourites? Christine and the Queens, Janelle Monae maybe? No, I think I really must choose a track from Jack Savoretti…
My passion for music goes back a long way – as indeed, do I. The first record I ever bought was the EP of All My Loving by the Beatles, and I remember playing it – over and over – on my aunts’ gramophone. I was quite late getting my own record player – the first record I bought for that was Edison Lighthouse’s Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes), so forgive me for not choosing that one. I can always remember there being music at home, mainly the radio – coming home from school to my mum, always ironing, listening to Mick Luvzit (“your mad dad with the groovy turntables…”) in the afternoon on Radio Caroline.
A little later on, I vividly remember Sunday evenings with the microphone of my tape recorder against the radio speaker, recording my favourites from the Top 20 show, because Alan Freeman never talked over the songs (a radio cassette player changed my life). School days too – performing the dances to the Supremes and the Elgins in the playground to a friend’s battery record player. And later still there was the music we played constantly in our sixth form study – particularly Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, and all that Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. But I think I must choose a playground dancing song, because I still love it – the Velvelettes’ Needle in a Haystack.
You’ll know how important my family is to me, and I think my next two choices have to be inspired by and dedicated to mum and dad. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I just can’t listen to the music of Chris De Burgh any more because of memories of my dad, and the fact that he never realised his ambition to see him play in Phoenix Park. I know though that some people have an aversion to Lady in Red for quite different reasons. But dad’s favourite song was actually Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton. I always remember him asking for it to be played on hospital radio when he was there on one of his frequent stays – tuning in excitedly, to hear “we don’t have that one – but instead here’s I Shot The Sheriff.” This one’s for you, dad…
Music also features heavily in my life with mum – even more so now that her dementia is worsening. I’ll admit I’m tiring a little of Michael Buble – but, while she might mistake me for her sister, she still remembers every word of every song by Nat King Cole and Matt Munro, and sings along whenever Alexa plays them for her. It has to be Unforgettable really, doesn’t it?
In recent years, I’ve been surprised to discover that I love classical music too – and I regularly go to concerts by the wonderful orchestras who regularly visit Leeds. I’m still learning – I love just about every Russian composer (well, maybe not Shostakovich, eh?), and like whatever I try to be a tune I vaguely recognise. This, I think, might be my favourite ever piece, because it makes me smile and feel emotional all at the same time – from Khachaturian. No, it’s not the theme from The Onedin Line – it’s the waltz from the Masquerade Suite.
And my goodness, I can’t believe I’ve managed to do this without including Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Anita Baker or Mary J Blige…!
Anne Williams is a book blogger and reviewer, at Being Anne (http://beinganne.com). She lives in Wetherby in Yorkshire, and took early retirement five years ago to do everything she enjoys, including reading as many books as she can and indulging herself with exotic holidays. Life changed a little a couple of years ago, when she became carer for her mother, who has dementia: the travel has had to stop for a while, but nothing can come between Anne and the reading. Her blog has won the Best Pal award at the Annual Bloggers’ Bash for three years running.