I have never really analysed why I have such promiscuous listening habits... from a very early age I was fascinated by music and have an almost encyclopedic memory for the cluster of early sounds that soundtracked my childhood – theme tunes and songs from old radio shows, my cousin Sandra's rock and roll records, songs sung to me by my mother(in Afrikaans) and my grandfather (old songs from his army days and the only folk song I remember from that time: 'Jim the Carter's Lad.'). Yet my family were not particularly musical. Why I rapidly progressed in my teens to an engagement with the expanded sound-worlds of avant-garde jazz and later western art music I have no idea - maybe it's more fun to retain the mystery. But ongoing musical eclecticism gave me a healthy dislike of purists – in any idiom.
This week I have been busy preparing for a brief solo performance at the occasional club I run – the aptly-named Club Sporadic - and decided to attempt a dj set mixing up a weird collection of tracks – at the same time as stumbling across Pliable's majestic music web blog which led me off into a wild journey in the worlds of classical music – as mentioned in an earlier post. So I spent last night assembling an experimental mix taking in Lee Renaldo's solo work away from Sonic Youth, a load of hip-hop and odd rockish tunes, Groucho Marx singing 'Doctor Hackenbush,' an old recording of the great American piano player James P Johnson and some of my own arcane electronic ramblings – you get the eclectic (should that that read 'messy?') idea... This morning, after I played it all back, I had a quick look at Pliable's blog and noticed his listing for the Proms and some Arvo Part/choral music from last night – which of course can be accessed on here. Which I am listening to now and is absolutely beautiful... (It struck me that even though I don't find this abrupt shift from the profane to the sacred odd, unfortunately others do. Many of the musicians I know are only at home in fairly sharply delineated areas). Another reason to be grateful for the Internet which has rejuvenated radio. The BBC, an organisation that I find to be more and more irritating in other areas, has to be congratulated with its Internet radio presence. And the playback facility is what makes it so flexible. Certain programs that I used to listen to every week I can now catch at times which are convenient for me. Early morning especially I find is a good listening zone. And generally Radio Three – the new music and jazz shows usually and over the last few weeks, the Proms, sporadically.
To ramble on further...
This particular replay from last night's Prom provoked a strange memory – when I was fifteen I sang briefly in the school choir – one of the few experiences from the establishment I reluctantly attended which I recollect with pleasure! This culminated in becoming one of a motley crew taken from local schools to sing in the aggregated choir at the De Montfort Hall in Leicester with the County Youth Orchestra at a memorial concert to a local educational benefactor. Under the baton of Sir Adrian Boult, no less! (We sang 'Let us now praise famous men' if I remember correctly). This then stimulated another memory from a few years later of participating in the Don Partridge Buskers' Concert/Happening whatever at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969. A bizarre experience which merits a longer piece at some future stage – I performed with a banjo player in a duo called African Jack and the Matabele Uprising and also accompanying a male tap-dancer called Jumping Jack who decided to do the show in drag.
I figure that these two events and my obscure involvement with them gives a neat paradigm for musical eclecticism (or whoredom!).
From Boult to Busking.
And some there be who have no memorial... well, maybe not, in the days of the Internet and blogging...
(The photo is of Don Partridge performing in Loughborough Market Place a couple of years back).