John Davies is a senior corporate partner at leading commercial law firm Thrings. As a TBE columnist, John regularly addresses a topical news or business-related issue. This time John discusses how music can divide and conquer.
It’s funny how much of an effect music can have on your life.
It can manipulate your mind. It can change your mood. It can calm you down, hype you up, make you smile and make you cry. It also has physical powers causing you to involuntarily move, tap your feet, nod your head and give you goose bumps.
But to my recent horror I’ve discovered that it can also carbon date you and even turn you into another person – in this case my father. What do I mean? Simply hop into my Tardis.
We’ve jumped back in time. It’s 1982, I’m 11 years old and I’m sat in a blue Austin Princess. For you young ’uns, the Princess is a weird-shaped car, a bit like an awkward wedge with a mousey nose up front and a large rear end. It also has a vinyl roof (why?!) I can only assume the designers at British Leyland drew it as a joke, missed a meeting and before you could say “decline of the British car industry” the thing was in production.
Anyway, I digress. I’m on my way to Cardiff with my dad and I’ve persuaded him to stop the ‘Best of Country Music’ cassette (featuring Slim Whitman, Don Williams, Dolly and Johnny) and tune in to Radio 1 on 275-285 medium wave. We’re listening to Mike Read’s breakfast show and Mike spins a new 45rpm release from Duran Duran. It’s called “Hungry Like the Wolf.”
I’m hooked. A fantastic start to the song with guitar and synth going wild, before Simon Le Bon delivers “Dark in the city night is a wire, steam in the subway earth is afire, Do do do do do do do dodo dododo dodo”.
My dad looks horrified. Still, he loves me very much so on we listen until Mr Le Bon hits the chorus and the lyrics, which I think are genius, annoy my dad so much that he almost rear-ends a red Datsun Cherry at the traffic lights. Le Bon sings “Smell like I sound I’m lost in the crowd, and I’m hungry like the wolf”. OK looking back my dad might have had a point – I too have no idea what “smell like I sound” means – but it caused him to utter “This new music is rubbish. It all sounds the same. It’s just noise”. Back in the Tardis if you will.
It’s last weekend and I’m in the car with my 12-year-old son. We’re listening to a playlist on my iPod. We’ve had some corkers: The Smiths, Foo Fighters, R.E.M., Pixies and, of course, the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
While I am belting out these classics, line by line with my heroes, my son is looking singularly unimpressed. He turns to me and asks if we can put the radio on, specifically Radio 1. I love my son and oblige, albeit a little disappointed that he’s not fully appreciating the top notch tunes we’ve been listening to. Radio 1 it is, piped into the car via DAB. In the days of the Austin Princess, a DAB was a sherbet packet with a red lolly dipper.
Song number one comes on. Don’t know who sings it. Don’t really care either – because it’s drivel. Song number two comes on. Don’t know who sings it. Don’t really care either because it too is drivel. As song number three gets going, I turn to my son and say: “This new music is rubbish. It all sounds the same. It’s just noise!”
As soon as I’ve said it it’s like being slapped in the face with a wet haddock. Boom! I’m back in 1982 but I’m no longer in the passenger seat. I’m driving the car and I’ve turned into my dad. I said it would never happen. I’m sure I promised myself I’d never be stuck in the equivalent of the country music world, but here I am. It’s happened and I can’t help it. New music is largely rubbish. Fact.
And do you know what? Yes I’m old. Yes I’m obviously stuck in my ways. And yes my son thinks it’s both ridiculous and hilarious. But I don’t care. And do you know why I don’t care? Because ‘there is a light that never goes out’ on my old school music and I for one ‘don’t look back in anger.’
There is one final thing I’ll share with you. Having spent hours in the car with my dad during the 1970s and 1980s, I’m proud to admit there’s nothing wrong with a bit of good ’ole country music.
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