Musical memories

I was thinking about how songs bring back very specific memories. In particular, I was listening to Burning Spear’s Marcus Garvey album at work today and it brought back strong memories of when I was a student living in Clapham and we (that is my housemates and me) used to hang around on the Common in that long hot, dry Summer of 1976, getting slowly wasted in the heat and then we would grab a kebab from the Shalimar takeaway on Clapham Common North Side before heading off to the pub for the evening.

That got me drifting off to ever earlier memories. One that really sticks out was when I was still at school, I was 17 at the time, and we used to go to the London Hospital Tavern on Friday evenings, all glammed up. The music there was a mixture of proggy stuff like Nektar (yes, I was and still am a fan), SAHB, Bowie, Mott etc plus all the standards like Zep, Free, Hawkwind. I am remembering sparkly glitter on my cheeks, silver eyeshadow, cheesecloth blouses, bias cut satin panelled skirts and suede boots with platform soles now. The SAHB song The Faith Healer is a major memory aid here.

Anyone got other ancient evocative musical memories.

30 thoughts on “Musical memories

  1. I heard My Generation just yesterday, and it reminded me of a corporate ad I was in a few years back. I checked on youtube, and there it was! I’m a youtube sensation! Sort of. So that’s me and Goneforeign, so far. Is anybody else on youtube, that they know of?

  2. well, are you going to post a link, Ejaydee? Are you an actor? I’m still waiting for Snadfrod to post a link to the We Will Rock You video he’s in with an audience full of 7-yr-olds.

  3. No I’m not posting, not my proudest moment, I just think I look a bit ridiculous, and not an actor either. Although it would be cool to be one maybe. Well a successful one. I’m just not comfortable in front of the camera. Funny you mention We Will Rock you because the same brand used that song too. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but nothing to show off either.

  4. Actually I forgot to add, the memory wasn’t the ad, but my girlfriend at the time, the casting, that summer in Paris.

  5. Well…seeing Dylan at the Albert Hall on his ‘electric’ tour…we knew the second set was going to be quite different and the anticipation was almost suffocating. People started booing when the Band came on, and someone called out ‘Why don’t you join the Rolling Stones?’ (not quite as shocking as ‘Judas!’ I suppose, but hey, I wasn’t at that one). Lots of people walked out. Not me though: I loved it.

  6. Funnily enough, a song that evokes musical memories for me is the Jimi Hendrix song Remember. I listened to it incessantly when I was in college. I lived in this freezing attic room, and it all comes back when I hear that song. And from a few years later probably James Brown’s Try Me, which I played over and over again. I lived with a bunch of guys, and they left me a 15 minute message on my answering with various James Brownisms. Ah, the good old days.Isn’t everyone on youTube these days, whether they know it or not?

  7. Did you play that message again and again or did you have it on tape or vynil or cd or 8-track or MiniDisc, or whatever?

  8. I was surprised by the memories that last Saturday’s gig by Twelfth Night bought back. TN recorded their best album, “Fact and Fiction” in 1981, and played it in it’s entirety that night. So much of that album, especially Geoff Mann’s lyrics, evoke those times; the early 80s recession, and the ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation.That era may have produced some memorable music, but they were grim times to live through.

  9. ejaydee, I DID play it over & over. And it was one of those old-fashioned answering machines that took actual cassette tapes. I wonder if I still have it in the attic in my pile of unmarked cassettes. I’d love to hear it again.Just got back from Malcolm’s spring concert. Talk about musical memories. It’s so strange being a parent, because things you’d never imagine could be genuinely moving and very very funny can sneak up and just kill you. They sang a song from the Wiz, which I’ve never seen, but I’ve got to try to find a copy. Mr. Steenbeck said the wing-ed monkeys are on Roller skates!!

  10. That makes it a better story!What instrument does Malcolm play? Both my nieces play the violin, but my 5 year-old nephew is supposed to start the drums soon, apparently his tiny blue guitar didn’t work out. His name is Cassiel by the way, which may be Old testamental too.

  11. He was just singing this year, but it’s very funny, all the kids kind of stand there frozen and scared, but he really moves to the music. Every parent probably thought that about their kid. I was eyeing the instruments in the band for next year, and I think he should go for trumpet or sax or drums, or clarinet. Although there was a boy playing the flute, which I thought was kind of cool, cause that’s usually such a girl thing. I guess you can’t go wrong. I asked him once if he wanted to play guitar, bass or drums or be the good-looking lead singer with no discernable musical talent, and he said drums. So…

  12. Whenever I hear Free’s ‘Wishing Well’, I’m transported back to 1972, the year I joined Thames Poly to do my degree. The Poly bar was an extremely dingy basement. It opened at 10 in the morning to serve ‘breakfast’ and closed at 10.30 at night with last orders. The Bar Steward lived in our flat, so we had regular barman jobs and 24 hour access, should an occasion necessitate it. The juke box was the primary source of entertainment, and I don’t recall the records ever being changed the whole 4 yers I spent there. I must have heard the likes of ‘You’re So Vain’, Part of the Union’ and my beloved ‘Wishing Well’ thousands of times. I recently bought a Free compilation which includes the track, and so now, whenever I get nostalgic for those heady Poly days, I slip it on, turn up the volume and break out in goose-pimples.

  13. I think that pretty much every lunchtime throughout sixth form at school, me and a bunch of friends would go to one guy’s house to have our lunch. Whilst there just about everyu day, without fail, we’d listen to the first Ben Folds Five album. It was a really, really happy, stupid, funny time and it always comes back to me when I hear ‘Underground’.A lot of phases of my life are soundtracked by different albums, to be honest, but then that is one thing that I love about being the kind of person who gets obsessed about certain artists or albums or songs. They always find a way to fit. Now, steenbeck, a couple of things: first of all, cheers for the Deerhoof pointer on the quiz thread. I, like you, have checked them out and can appreciate them, understand them, but can’t really love them. Maybe they need time, but either way, the drummer kicks ass.And as for the 5ive video, well this is it:…but thankfully all I can do is assure you that my friend and I are there, pretty much in the middle of the stalls, towering over all of those around us. Jack, my buddy, once told me that he found us in there, but I’m happy to take him at his word on that one.And as for being on youtube, I’ve checked and, thankfully, I don’t seem to be on there. Which is lucky really, cos time was that I WAS an actor…

  14. Both ‘Love you More’ by the Buzzcocks and ‘Identity’ by X-ray Spex remind me of being stuck in Kirkantilloch in Scotland with nothing to do for a miserable wet summer. John Peel was my only friend, plus a Scottish DJ called ‘Tiger Tim’ who could occasionally be relied upon to play something decent. Everytime I hear either I am back in 1978, in a green nylon T-shirt kicking a plastic ball against a garage wall. It’s quite extraordinary.Great SAHB clip. I thought cheesecloth was cool until 1979. I was the only cheesecloth-wearing punk in the village.

  15. Oh, I like the beatboxing flautist. THere’s room for that in a grade school band concert.Unfortunately the 5ive video was not available in my country. Clearly, America’s not ready.

  16. ‘You’re So Vain’, Part of the Union’Gosh, part of the soundtrack to my teenage years!I like this thread. Other songs that bring back the first half of the 70s for me are;Nutbush City LimitsPapa was a Rollin’ StoneRebel RebelDrive In SaturdayLucky ManBad Motor ScooterToo Rollin’ StonedBaba O’ReillySilver MachineAll gems.

  17. Aaah, carolebristol, you’ve inadvertantly set off a memory for me with the first song in that last list of yours – ‘Nutbush City Limits’.Back in ’92 I was travelling around USA and, being in West Tennessee with a hire car, I decided to go looking for Nutbush. I found it on a map, on Highway 17, just like in the song and set off. As I drove along I suddenly found myself on Highway No. 18 and thought,’That’s funny I must have missed it, but I haven’t been through any towns. All there was was that bunch of about 10 farm buildings and a gas station……..Oh!’Incicentally, [stream of consciousness alert], when, a couple of days later, I was about to hand back the hire car in Memphis, I had a minor traffic altercation (lost a wing mirror) right outside Sun Studios where Elvis and Johhny Cash cut their first tracks!

  18. You obviously had a better first half of the 70’s than I did. For me it was all Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep and Rubber Bullets. I didn’t hear any of those songs until later. Baba O’Reilly reminds me of an 8 track my mate had with ‘The Story of the Who’ on it. Still regularly makes my top ten.

  19. Nutbush City Limits and Silver Machine were also on the juke box. Our Poly Bar was under the main hall which hosted gigs. Most gigs were aimed at enticing the local community in, who were predominantly speed freak (blues, not sulphate), metal lovers. Two memorable nights included Stray, where the drummer managed to vomit and pass out several times, and Judas Priest, who had a smoke bomb finale designed for a much bigger venue. When the bombs went off, and the smoke poured down into the bar, we all thought the IRA had struck. As the Woolwich Barracks were only half a mile up the road, the idea wasn’t so fanciful. At the time, we lived in a flat overlooking the barracks, only a couple of hundred yards along from The King’s Head, a squadie pub that was targetted by the IRA. They chucked a bomb in through the window whilst standing at a red light. There were several fatalities.

  20. VERY delayed reaction. I’m on youTube. Don’t know what made me think of it. I guess I liked seeing pictures of Mara, and the video is mostly about how funny Isaac is. I put it up when my mom got a new computer that was finally capable of showing youTube clips. And now I should probably take it down…

  21. Hehe, that was a really cute moment, except the end which looked a bit painful. Mine is on my youtube page too and it’s the evian ad in my favourites.

  22. Wow, you’re in a real ad! I had a friend in college that was in a swatch ad and she was quite a celebrity because of it. Did your girlfriend direct it?

  23. Nah, it was a classic story of me accompanying my girlfriend and ending up being cast instead of her, it seemed I had caught the director’s eye. Of course my girlfriend was insanely jealous, funnily enough, much later she ended being in a real ad, in which people recognised her and everything. This ad was only for internal use, so few people have seen it.And since I don’t see why we should be alone in this, the Actionettes have a youtube channel, and I think I spotted Maddy in a few of the clips.

  24. You were discovered in Paris–isn’t there an Audrey Hepburn movie about that? It sounds very glamorous.The actionettes are amazing! How much fun would that be? Do you think Maddy’s the one with cool glasses who is always singing along to the music?

  25. Sadly that was the end of my career, 6 years ago. After that, it was a quick descent to busking with my accordeon, a monkey in a small hat and miniature cymbals, and acat that just sat on a pillow as my only companions.I want to be an Actionette. Are there Actioneers? I think New Guru is the one with the glasses. You can see her quite well in the first video on the channel, and also in the one where you see them practice. New Guru’s got moves! I actually think that’s really cool.

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