Sunday, 18 March 2012

Songs For My Daughter

Music is important to me.  The daughter of a professional rhythm and blues drummer father and tap dancer mother, I grew up in a home where there was a track for every occasion. 

There was Rod Stewart for the good times.  In particular, Maggie May would often herald the start of a dinner party, followed by Hot Legs when it all went ‘Mexico’ half way through, then Mandolin Wind for the Blue Nun come down and After Eights. 

Then there was Dolly Parton for the sad times.  ‘I will always love you’ was my mum’s anthem, for what we later dubbed her ‘brandy and sobraine’ years.  I always knew we were in for a difficult night if the strains of ‘Jolene’ could be heard thumping through the soft top of her MG Midget when she picked me up from school.

"Repeat after me: Springsteen, good, Bieber, bad" 
Now having my own child - a blank C45 tape on which to make a musical impression - is both an immensely exciting and terrifying responsibility.

What if I mess it up?  What if she turns into a ‘Belieber’ (one who worships at the flick fringe of Justin Bieber) and decides to plant her musical roots in soulless popville forever?      

It is also a task from which I have excluded my other half.  

An exceptional talent and creative force in so many ways, sadly, he is hooked on ‘pub jukebox BritPop’ made specifically during the period September 1995 to April 1996. (I laughed, then realised that this was true – Matt)

In my mind, student union anthems by Blur, Oasis (Wonderwall is the only exception) and, one hit wonder, Space, doth not a child of music make. 

To cement my thoughts on my musical mission, I have short-listed five of my seminal songs below.  

Kate Bush – what can I say, I love the Bush.  Everything from her contemporary dance, leaping about in a leotard ‘Wuthering Heights’ years, through to her beguiling, if a little cuckoo, 2011 Director’s Cut album. 

Whilst I regard every Kate Bush track as an absolute treasure, the ballad ‘A Coral Room’ from Ariel is my ultimate cache. A song about her late mother, the killer line ‘put your hands over the side of the boat, what do you feel?’ puts me on the tears every time.

Jeff Buckley – Lilac Wine.   A heady song about a lilac tree, lilac wine made from the lilac tree and lamenting a lost love (probably after drinking too much lilac wine), this is music to fall in love to. 

And then kiss someone else too. 

Then drink too much lilac wine to. 

Then play outside the window of the person you originally fell in love with to. 

Ah, quite simply, a beautiful, cyclical song about beautiful cyclical love.   Apply sparingly.

Fleetwood Mac – You Make Loving Fun.  Taken from the Mac’s 1977 album Rumours, for me, this song is an unrivaled, for your driving pleasure, giddy up, belter.     

Sung by the gorgeous Christine McVie (although my true girl crush is Stevie Nicks) this is for life’s, ‘spank me on the bottom and call me Shirley’, good times.   

Peter Sarstedt – Where Do You Go to My Lovely.  A jiggly, sexist ode to a flighty woman (you wouldn't trust her to come back with your change from the bar) this song is musical gold. 

With lyrics such as, “he sent you a you a racehorse for Christmas/And you keep it just for fun, for a laugh ha-ha-ha” this song will bring a hefty splodge of ‘je ne sais quoi?’ to any damp, cold Tuesday.

Ben Folds –  Late.  I was a skeptical, rolly-eyed, latecomer to the party that is Ben Folds’ music. 

But having found him, I’m not going anywhere.  In fact, when he's dishing out the nibbles, I’m going to raid his wardrobe and sleep in his clothes. 

Taken from his 2005 album Songs for Silverman, this song is Ben’s tribute to singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, who died of a self-inflicted knife wound.  

Cheery? No.  A wonderful affirmation that when your chips are down, music will get you through? Absolutely.     

What songs do you play your children?