Today’s Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?
As with Day 1, I am using a piece of music to time my free writing. It last just over 14 minutes long, so I need to continue for at least another minute when it ends. It also happens to be:
Song 1: “Telegraph Road” by Dire Straits
Taken from the 1982 album “Love Over Gold”, this is an epic track telling the tale of the birth, growth and demise of a community based around the eponymous road.
It transports me back to 1986 when I had left home for the first time. I’d moved into a bedsit close to the promenade of the seaside town that I grew up in. I was on the opposite side of town to my parents, so we were close and far enough apart. Every morning, I would walk to the station and almost always listened to this song en-route.
From the door of the detatched Victorian house to the train station entrance took almost exactly the same time as Telegraph Road. It starts with a single opening note, then an slow finger picked national steel guitar. As vocals, piano, bass and drums are added, the steady rock beat would pull me into the day ahead. I could also use a combination of lyrics and landmarks to determine whether I was running late or not.
It’s classic AOR, but so well crafted, from Knopfler’s soaring solo, to Alan Clark’s moody piano back-drop and the thoughtful percussion of Pick Withers – why did he have to leave the band?
Whenever I hear it, I am walking the streets in the semi darkness before the dawn. Head down and hands in pockets. I still have a fair journey ahead of me and it’s going to be a long day….
Song 2: “Jerusalem”, words by William Blake, music by Hubert Parry.
From the moment that Miss Crayston thundered out the opening notes on the school grand piano you knew that this was important. It was our school song and performed at every special occasion. First day of term, last day of term, speech day, all were appropriate for us to belt out what is a pretty rousing piece. Just ask an England rugby fan. And for a music semi-snob, emphasising some of the timing nuances in different verses, and seeing who got it wrong was, well, fun.
It may be viewed by some as an anthem to archaic patriotic breast beating in a multi-cultural world, but I cannot help but feeling proud of where I came from when I hear it. It represents the fine schooling and support from my parents in formative years, rolling green hills and valleys, and what I still believe is a good country to be born and/or brought up in. I am not putting England on a pedestal above other nations, but to celebrate diversity you have to recognise differences. You cannot have one without the other. And yes, I am jealous of the relative strength of national identity of our neighbours in Wales and Scotland.
But I’m getting off piste again. This song is standing on a parquet floor, next to best friend Andrea, singing as loud as we could, because we could. It’s a lump in my throat watching the “Last Night Of The Proms”.
Song 3: “Whisky Is The Life Of Man” by Bellowhead
What a raucous rebel rouser. A hymn to the nectar of the Gods. Thoughtful songs are all very well but you have to let your hair down sometimes. I can’t honestly say that this song has any great meaning to me but it never fails to make me smile. Sometimes I will dance too.
I think that the original song is Australian, and it has travelled the globe in several guises, but I first saw this on a Christmas folk music special broadcast by the wonderful BBC in 2009. A pre-requisite for performing in that concert appears to be adorning Victorian dress. As one comment on the You Tube clips puts it “love how many tophats there are in that room”.
Almost four years later I saw Bellowhead live in concert. Oh how we danced that evening. Most concerts I attend are sit down affairs (jazz, classical), but sitting still was not an option in November 2013.
I thoroughly recommend checking out :
and I challenge you not to at least tap your toes a little.
Closing thought. Considering that this is a challenge about music, one of the most important things in my life, I found it incredibly difficult to write.