THE Journey... How I got there.
Where? Well, in this case, 1991. But we start a bit earlier, 1980 in fact...
Assuming their family had a half decent record collection or radio around the house, it's fair to say that a young person's musical discovery starts pretty much as soon as they are able to dance to their favourite tunes.
My earliest memory of having a favourite song was at the age of four when my *Mam walked into the room to discover I had found out how to work the record player and had put on one of her Beatles records. Specifically she walked in to find me dancing to Yellow Submarine. I actively remember that incident and the thrill of putting the the needle down (probably not as gently as i should) on the vinyl.
My Mam being a young lady of the 60s and 70s, there was ample good music for me to discover when rummaging through her vinyl collection when she wasn't around. At the poppier edge of things without been full-on "Hit Parade" and with a penchant for country music, some of her favourites included Neil Diamond, John Denver, Don Williams and Smokie, all of which have ended up being favourites of mine. I even used to play a cover of Don Williams' "She's In Love With A Rodeo Man".
If anything, my Uncle William's record collection was an even bigger treasure trove. A bit like that scene in Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous" when the young lead (also called William) looks under his bed to see the bag of records his sister has left him and starts flicking through them reverentially.
I remember various Bowie records and possibly Tommy by The Who, but I always seemed to end up lingering over the ornate double gatefold 12" of Elton John's Captain Fantastic, which seemed so thrillingly weird at the time.
In-between those two record collections was a small c60 cassette given to me when I was about 8 years old by a friend of the family who had grown up in the 1950s. This one small mix-tape became my musical life for a short but meaningful period. Away from the collections of my Mam and Uncle and the weekly screaming along to Top of the Pops with my sister as we bellowed Yay! or Boo! accordingly as the top ten was read out with accompanying thumbs up or thumbs down, the cassette along with my new and prized walkman felt thrillingly grown up to me and very much "my own" as no one else I knew was listening to this type of music.
The cassette was, of course, full of late 50s and early 60s Rock and Roll. There was no Elvis, Buddy Holly or Bill Haley on there, but it was rammed full of classic tracks Eddie Cochran, Bobby Darin and Jerry Lee Lewis amongst others.
The playlist below is pretty close to that cassette. Though I've probably forgotten to add a few tracks.
Being 3 years older my sister was an enormous influence on my musical tastes too and we grew up through the early 80s both enjoying the new music we discovered. She would occasionally hand me mix-tapes of stuff she found out about whilst the walls of her room were covered in various A-ha and U2 posters with lyrics cut from Smash Hits blu-tacked here and there.
But by the late 80s I noticed a shift in tone. A-ha posters were replaced by a band called The Cure, all large hair and black makeup, while song lyrics may still have been cut from Smash Hits but the songs were called things like Girlfriend in a Coma. Something odd was going here and it was interesting. While I was dabbling with things like Del Amitri and Hothouse Flowers my sister had gone and wandered down a path called Goth.
Though I never followed her all the way down that path beyond the odd Sisters of Mercy or Cult single, it certainly meant we had a new musical landscapes to wander through in our house. But while my Sister meandered off into a Siouxsie and the Banshees shaped future, her last musical gift to me being a Wonder Stuff album (1989's HUP), I was stopped from following her after being hit square in the face by two new music scenes. One from the UK and the other the US.
Next 1991: UK
*Mam: Noun, Informal; "One's Mother"
- Derived from Gaelic and used in some British dialects, especially in the North East of England.
- Akin to Mom, Mum, Mama
- "Mam! I'm hungry!"