The gift of music keeps on giving, time after time - Argus Friday 25th September 2015

Posted Friday 25th September 2015   By Ericka Waller

IS MUSIC the greatest gift you can give your children? Gareth Malone OBE, the celebrated choir master and broadcaster, recently cited Bach as the music that every child should listen to, not the Frozen soundtrack. My classical music loving mum would have loved me to listen to Bach, but I was more of a Boney-M kid. One of my earliest memories is the day my grandad gave me his old portable tape-deck. It was covered in plaster from his work as an Artexer, and it only came with one tape, ABBA. I listened to that tape until my dad pleaded with me to change it, passing me Blondie instead. Before long, I was going through my parent’s vinyl collection, picking and choosing my new favourites. Bob Dylan, Dire Straits, Joan Baez, Rolling Stones, Steely Span. My dad and I would sit up for hours listening to his favourites, him telling me how much the record cost at the time, or what car he was driving. He gave me his life story through music, and in doing so, gave me a soundtrack for my own.

When we filled up with fuel, dad used the green-shield stamps to buy 'Now That's What I Call Music!'. My brothers fell in love with 'Star-trekking across the universe by The Firm'.  I begged for Bruce's ‘Dancing in the Dark’.

All my best memories come with music. My first kiss was (in the disabled toilet of the Dacorum Youth Club, with a hunk named Richard) to ‘I'd Do Anything For Love... but I won’t do that’ by Meatloaf, (which I repeated to Richard when he tried to slip in the tongue).

I can't listen to it now without thinking of braces and Wotsit crisps.

My first Cigarette was to 'Tell me more' from Grease after seeing how damn cool Sandy looked smoking. I did not look as cool coughing up my guts, but I got there in the end.

As a teenager, the most romantic thing in the world was when a boy making you a mixed tape, which is how I lost my virginity (at the time I called it ‘my flower’ of course) to a boy name Alex while Hot Chocolate sang 'You sexy Thing' in the background on his ghetto blaster. He'd made a whole playlist, which I remember commenting afterwards, was a bit ambitious.

The latest 'This Is England' series is set in the 90's and reminded me how music defined who you were.  Back then your clothes represented your genre, Mods, Rockers, Ravers, Punks, Goths, and you wore your look with aggressive pride. I remember refusing to acknowledge my friend Joe Soler the day he came to school in his Helter Skelter bomber jacket. I would  not stand with him in the bike sheds until he took it off (named and shamed bro).

It’s sad that in this digital age of music, people can change genre with a fingertip over the shuffle button, and if you speak to someone wearing a Ramones or Run DMC t-shirt, the chances are they bought it from Primark and can only cite 'Best of' as a favourite album.

When was the last time you sat and listened to a whole album from start to finish, rather than a playlist of songs? Indeed, when was the last time you paid for music?

Who remembers going to Woolworths with hard-earned pocket money to buy a new single each week, or taping the charts off the radio, trying and failing to cut out the DJ talking? 

I sold all my tapes and CD’s a while ago and bitterly regretted it. It was my childhood in a box (or twenty) so after eyeing them up for a while, I finally bought a dancette record player last weekend. Now I can spend my weekends scouting car boot sales to put together the ultimate vinyl collection for my kids (and a bit for me).

I love that my seven-year old asks for the Pixes to be played in the car, or The National when she has had a bad day. 

And after a lifetime of listening to him, my Dad and I are off to see Bob Dylan next month at the Royal Albert Hall.  I don’t care if his voice is rubbish live. I just want to be able to stand next to my dad and sing “I wish that for just one time, you could stand inside my shoes” as loud as I can and feel grateful that he shared his passion with me. It was the best present ever.

And finally
A group of seven Brighton students received a letter from their neighbours to inform them that "The frosted glass in the bathroom at the front of your house does not give you much privacy
, especially in th e evening when the light is on. Therefore, we wanted to suggest that you ask the landlord to install a blind for you."  

I know how they feel. My own neighbour of seven years recently confessed to me that when he is in his shower, he can see me, if I am in my shower. Now each time I wash I worry I am doing some sort of sexy dance for him. I wonder what finally made him tell me. Whatever the reason, it’s put me off shaving my legs, which I have to rest on the window ledge to get to, that’s my excuse anyway and I’m sticking to it.