Saturday, 26 May 2018

My Desert Island Discs Part 2 (of 3) - including Lotte Lenya, Wagner...and "Popcorn"!

Family members have been exchanging lists of songs that remind them strongly of specific times and places in their lives - happy and sad. I posted my version here three-and-a-half years ago. Feeling a bit left out, I've come up with an alternative version of that original selection - and (bad luck) there's a third on the way! As with my first go, these are by no means my favourite records - they're just ones I can't hear without instantly recalling a specific place, person or event (sometimes all three). I'll start in the purple-carpeted sitting room of my family's second rented home in Wimbledon, which looks out onto a shared garden and a mysterious, tree-shrouded Le Grand Meaulnes-style domain dotted with classical statues beyond it. I'm about nine, I suppose. I've found this...

...Bobby Darin big-band EP amongst my family's record collection, and, even though it's an example of a musical genre I - already a confirmed rock'n'roll fan - associate with The Billy Cotton Sodding Bandshow, I can't stop playing "Lazy River" on our monster radiogram:
My best friend lives in a small end-of-terrace house overlooking a pub. He's a fellow rocker, and a particular fan of Buddy Holly. I only have to hear the opening bars of "Maybe Baby" and I'm back in his room, listening to it on his Dansette record player, while quite possibly leafing through a DC comic:

Another close friend's house - his family's just moved into a glossy, shiny, clean-edged house on a new estate. Somewhere,  "I Get Around" by The Beach Boys is playing. This is the sound of my early adolescence:
Lying on the carpet in the beautiful, lattice-windowed sitting room of our third rented Wimbledon home, a sliver of an immense neo-Gothic mansion. Top of the the Pops comes on, and "Fire" by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown rages for a couple of ridiculous, exhilarating minutes:

The Graduate was the first film I took a girl to. Leicester Square, 1968. My brother had brought the soundtrack LP back with him from California as a present (plus a really cool, fringed suede cowboy jacket and some pointy-toed cowboy boots), and I was dying to see the movie. I even took her to a proper restaurant afterwards! "Mrs Robinson" by Simon & Garfunkel represents my first tentative steps into adulthood:

"Marrakesh Express" by Crosby, Stills & Nash is (and I apologise for this icky statement) friendship and sunshine - and silly hair:

Christmas, 1970 - me and my girlfriend, pleasantly pissed, are eating bread and pâté and drinking wine in bed at her parents' agreeable, bijou Bayswater mews pied-a-terre. "Mr Big" by Free is on the stereo, and - zut allors! -it feels like we're in an arty French movie:

"Red River Blues" by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee (and the Arts Cinema programme) kept me sane during a rather miserable second term at university:

At the end of my first year at college, I took myself off to Italy for a month (Venice, Florence and Rome).  Footloose, fancy-free, utterly clueless, and extraordinarily happy. "Popcorn" by Hot Butter was everywhere - it still sounds like freedom to me:

Being a member of the Cambridge Union meant you could book its enormous, high-ceilinged music room and either make music or play records. Most classical music doesn't recall a specific time or place for me - but the immolation scene from Götterdämmerung instantly places me back in that cavernous room, with the late evening sunshine streaming through the tall windows, polishing off a bottle of Grand Marnier with friends, and cranking the volume up to its impressive, block-rocking limit, utterly transported - until someone knocks at the door and asks us to turn it down, because the racket is interfering with the debate taking place in the chamber below. The famous Solti version we were listening to that evening isn't on YouTube, but this will do:
It was one of those peripatetic university evenings where you end up in some stranger's room with a gaggle of people you don't really know, and no recollection of how you got there. The walls are  shrouded in moody hangings, the room is studded with exotic artefacts, pretentious bollocks is being talked (by me, probably), the wine has run out, and I'm just summoning up the energy to leave when our host puts on an LP of Die Dreigroschenoper, and I hear the wonderful, mysterious, plaintive "Seeräuber Jenny" ("Pirate Jenny") for the first time:

Just finished university and started my first job, and I'm quaffing beers on a sultry evening in a trendy new American grill in Westbourne Grove, feeling dead trendy, and someone puts on  "Get It On" by T Rex, and life seems absurdly good:
A few years on, I'm attending some noisy, bibulous, work-related celebration in Central London. I seem - miraculously - to have "pulled" the prettiest girl in the room, and "2-4-6-8 Motorway" by the Tom Robinson Band comes on good and loud:

Getting ready to attend an overnight fancy-dress party outside London with a girl I've fancied something rotten for a long time. I've lost a lot of weight recently, and, as I study myself in the mirror, I realise I'm actually looking pretty damned good for a change - who could possibly resist me? I'm no Phil Collins fan, but  "In the Air Tonight" comes on the radio, and it seems apposite:

Was there something in the air that night? Did that party date lead to something long-lasting and meaningful, or just to a single night of unbridled passion? Neither, actually - unless a poisonous two-day champagne hangover can be considered long-lasting and meaningful.

I'll end on that upbeat note, but (I warn you) Part 3 will appear eventually.

1 comment:

  1. Rumour has it you left a chum all alone to finish decorating a possibly haunted house while you gallivanted around Italy.
    While you were reclining on the continental express,flute raised as you rehearsed a Wildean retort for Italian Custom's "anything to declare sir" the following are what should have been whirling around your head:
    Bad Moon Rising.
    Monster Mash.
    Johnny Remember Me.
    Sympathy For The Devil.
    I Put A Spell On You.
    And just for good measure the yet to be recorded Bat Out Of Hell.