Growing up my house was always filled with music.
I have always thought that was the reason that I can alter my mood through tunes. The power in the tunes and lyrics has a special ability to take me to a time and place far removed from whatever situation I am in. This is handy when I am feeling demotivated, exhausted, sad or just have a busy brain. Different tunes for different moods… So many tunes have influenced my life, it was a challenge to bring it round to just ten. I hope you enjoy dancing through the years with me…
Where did it all start though?
Second only to her retelling of the only tantrum I had… when she wouldn’t take me to the dentist… one of my mums favourite stories about me as a child is me dancing around the kitchen to Sister Sledge, Frankie. This has set the tone for my life, and what I lack in talent I make up for in enthusiasm. I never took dance classes, and have yet to master the Macarena, but there is something about rhythm that just gets inside of me and makes me move.
As I grew up I was exposed to all kinds of musical tastes.
My mum, dad and brother were my primary influences. The parents of friends too, an eclectic bunch of musical misfits, and inadvertently my cello teacher who wouldn’t let me play what I wanted! It didn’t seem to matter what music I was exposed to or denied, I would just absorb it and something new would develop within me. I remember one visit to see my brother, who was working in a theatre at the time. I could go and see any of the shows on offer during the week of my visit. Did I want to go and see the one he was working on? No! I went to see an opera. It was my first time, an english one which just blew me away. One of the first tapes that I had bought for myself at the age of about 10 was an opera compilation, but absorbing it live blew me away. I love the way that the singers take you through all of the emotions, often using just their voices. I’ve seen La Boheme a number of times now, and by far my favourite was the Garden Opera Company, and they filled the air and my heart. It is such a cathartic release to fill my soul with opera, in particular I never fail to let the emotions roll out of me when Mimi dies.
The cultured young lady that enjoys opera is at odds with the other me.
I would now describe myself as a frustrated raver, but at the same time as dipping my toes into culture I was also dabbling in party drugs and finding the rave scene. If the opera gave me a space to let the pain bubble out I was embracing a world where I could dance all night, smile until my teeth ground down and hug with a ferocity that left bruises! There are so many DJs that spring to mind, people who I search up on MixCloud when I want to be transported back to that feeling of absolute freedom and unbridled hedonism, but a two hour mix would be a soundtrack all of its own… however there were other tunes, one in particular has stuck with me since my come downs, and this prompt has encouraged me to hunt it down again, as the mix tape is long gone. The speakers on my laptop don’t do it justice, but it has the same effect, and I can see myself throwing shapes on a lazer lit dancefloor.
In my early years I was a member of a drama group and learnt to sing, well… kind of.
I found that while I could sing I only wanted to sing on my terms. This thought process continued for many years, and at my engagement party one of my colleagues produced a karaoke machine. I knew that I didn’t want to sing, and I certainly didn’t want to do a duet with P, some nonsense romantic song… Nope! So I switched off the microphone and stood next to him in front of everyone. I had sung karaoke before, and though it was put on my hard limits list I am now coming round to the idea that I could get up and sing-a-long… perhaps it would tickle that humiliation urge… But it would have to be my own choice, Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit. Not an easy one, but life would be dull if I didn’t push myself.
The first dance at my wedding was quite unexpected.
Well, for everyone except me. We had told the DJ that it wouldn’t be a traditional first dance. We had given him some options to choose from. There was no doubt in my mind that I would be actually enjoying my first dance as a married woman. But the DJ and best man had other ideas. I was in the toilet when the bride was called. I refused to leave the toilet as I heard the sickly sweet tinkling of some smooshy, romantic delight. The best mans wife and one of P’s oldest friends came in to get me and I sent them away with instructions to the DJ. When I heard the tune finish I poked my head out the door, and saw a resigned looking man standing behind the decks. And when I heard the opening beats… that was it… I was over the moon, and I got to “dance” (read: stomp) in my beautiful purple evening gown and skater shoes, with P, and then my brother who had given me away. Perhaps that was my last hurrah?
We moved shortly after we got married.
To a new city, and a place which had a metal club. This hadn’t been my thing, but it made P happy and encouraged him to leave the house. I was introduced to a new style of music through him. I found a love of metallica, and later learned to play Jason Newstead’s pieces proficiently on my bass. But this retired raver was catching onto a different style of metal. One which didn’t feature in Ps world as “quality” music, but one which I completely understood at the time, and which I enjoy dipping into now, a guilty pleasure if you will. Fear factory sound dated now, but they were the key to unlocking the door to metal for me, and metal was going to be a large part of my life for the 12 years of my marriage so it was a good thing I discovered I like it.
It wasn’t the only thing I listened to though, far from it.
The birth of my oldest took me into hospital. It hadn’t been planned that way, but the little bugger wouldn’t get out so I had to be induced. I had a bag of CDs, and in amongst them was my Jurassic five album. I put it on, and while contracting managed to zip off to a gentler place. The midwife hadn’t heard of them, and while I waited on the epidural, high on the endorphins I educated her on different types of Hip-Hop between waves of deeply intense discomfort. As traumatic as the birth and following weeks became I actually loved labouring. I was safe, and in control. Well, until I wasn’t but that is a story for another time.
Along the way P and I had another baby.
While things deteriorated with P my confidence started to grow. Minutely at first. A new job. Bonding with my new baby. Losing weight. Meeting Sir. My self worth snowballed and I became clearer in my thinking. I moved P out, sold our home and built a new life. Started studying, made friends, experienced wonder in many forms. It hasn’t always been easy but I have discovered that anything is possible. With the right mindset I believe it will always be possible to thrive, grow, develop. I was only introduced to Kate Tempest last year, but she puts it much better than I ever could. You just have to hold your own.
So that is the past (a very brief history)
Who knows what the future holds. In these times of uncertainty it is impossible to say. I am looking to those two little men growing up in my care, grateful that after 5 years P and I are finally parenting together. These two boys are an inspiration and make me realise what is important. That life is short, that memories are more important than stuff. So maybe taking a breather from the world during lockdown, and stopping to teach them the fine art of tea making is a wise investment.
And what a legacy to leave the world.
Two young men who are handsome inside and out, that can make a good cup of tea and treat the people in their world with kindness, decency and respect. Everything else, I imagine, could be boxed up and squirrelled away in an “airtight basement room, archived where it probably belongs” as The Bevis Frond says.
The soundtrack of my life:
Have a look at the other posts on Musically Ranting here.