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Was Gran a punk rocker?

January 17, 2013

A certain song came on my ipod a couple of days ago, I immediately wanted to post about it, but got stuck. It was unconnected with anything I had been doing or thinking up to that point or afterwards – didn’t seem to weave itself into any thread. There was no adequate context. There was no reason to write about it other than the song itself. However, being an officially versatile blogger I was jiggered if I was going to let that stop me.  And the song? Philip Bailey: Walking on the Chinese Wall.

Usually, those pieces of music which I love most – and that is certainly one of them – quickly conjure up an image of a situation in which I heard them first or most. Bat out of Hell, for example, played on a basic stereo turntable with white speakers, with the door open in my first year room in university halls; or this, from one of the first classical concerts that Mum and Dad took me to, Bach’s Violin Concerto in E. (The link is to the second movement, but it could have been any part of the piece, so lovely this is).

bach violinWhen I was quite young, I occasionally resented the fact that pop music was not much heard in our house. Classical – and above all opera – was what mainly blared or crackled from the record player, until we were deemed old enough to have our own equipment in our own bedrooms. We didn’t miss out – not really – on pop, whereas many of my friends certainly did miss out on classical. I am sure that my familiarity with a relatively tiny amount of it has directly affected my appreciation of and openness to rock, pop, punk and anything else (except Wagner, obviously). Dad might perhaps balk at the thought that his influence in any way led to my appreciation of punk, but he is in some measure certainly to blame – or as I think, to thank.

Even while typing that last sentence I began to smile, remembering as a surreptitiously rebellious 15-year old hopefully putting That’s Life on my Christmas list. Delighted though I was when it duly arrived, even now I am half horrified, half tickled to contemplate my 78 year old Gran going to a record shop and asking for anything by Sham 69. I wonder what Malcolm McClaren would have made of that? Perhaps the idea of Gran as a punk would have appealed to him. Since one of the singles from the album was Hurry up Harry, and that was Grandad’s name, I’ll link to that; and Gran – Kitty – gets a memorial link to Cor Mulder.

And how does that connect to Walking on the Chinese Wall? It doesn’t. Unlike most of my music, that song brings to mind no particular connections. I associate it with no special time or occasion, and can’t even remember buying it. That’s a good thing – sometimes to love music just for the music itself. Cheers, Dad.

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