What music reminds you of a happy time?

Big Country “One great thing” taken from The Seer(1986)

What music, no matter when you play it or whatever mood you are in, always transports you back to a happy time or happy moment in your life?

I found myself pondering this last week when I listened to The Seer (1986) by Big Country.

I must have spent hours staring at this album cover and pouring over the sleeve notes.

It’s 1986 and I’m at my friend James’s house.

“You’ve got to listen to this,” said James reaching for his new 12″ album.

The needle came down on the vinyl and we listened to the anticipatory crackles and pops as it wound its way to the opening track.

This time we run
This time we hide
This time we draw on all the fire we have inside.
We need some time
To find a place
Where I can wipe away the madness from your face.

Lyrics from “Look away” by Big Country

We sat in almost silence for the next 50 minutes and 30 seconds as this Celtic rock washed over us. It was heavy, it was delicate, it was rousing and beautifully sweet in equal measure.

This was one of those moments of simple contentedness and the simplicity of sitting in the presence of a best friend.

If I remember correctly, James was made homeless that year—or maybe the next. He moved into the spare room of someone from church. This was one of the first albums we listened to on my first visit to his new home.

This album always reminds me of our friendship. The closeness we had. Both the fun and the laughter during these formative teenage years and the moments of sitting in silence with one another listening to music—Big Country, Sting, Jean Michel-Jarre, Guns n’ Roses—letting the music and lyrics change our view of the world.

I know the weary can rise again
I know it all from the words you send

Lyrics from “Remembrance Day” by Big Country

I’ve not seen James in many years—he eventually moved to live in Sweden—but this album reminds me of him every time I play it.

Robot AM radio

robot-am-radio

I used to have a bright yellow one of these AM radios which I found on The Old Robots.

His (or her, I never thought to ask) eyes lit up when people spoke or music played, as I listened to Radio Luxembourg beneath my bed sheets late into the night.

And thus began my love of radio. Now sometimes my eyes light up when people speak or music is played.

Surfing giant waves in Portugal

When I was a boy, growing up in Selkirk in the Scottish Borders (about 40 miles from the sea), I was given a Hang Ten t-shirt from my American cousin Charlotte in California. She grew up in Hawai’i and told me the significance of the name:

Hanging Ten is a surfing maneuver and is considered one of the most impressive and iconic stunts one can perform with a surfboard. Hanging ten is when the surfer positions the surfboard in such a way that the back of it is covered by the wave and the wave rider is free to walk to the front of the board and hang all ten toes over the nose of the board.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Perhaps in an ideal world I would then say that wearing my green and white striped Hang Ten t-shirt, as an eight year old, inspired me to learn to surf and I became one of Scotland’s finest surfers ever.

But it’s not. And I didn’t.

But isn’t that video just incredible, and beautiful and terrifying.

The Singing Ringing Tree (1959)

In a conversation with a work colleague, Andy, the other week we got talking about our memories of childhood TV.

One of my favourite shows was Rubovia, a Gordon Murray production before the glory days of the Trumptonshire stories. One of Andy’s was The Singing Ringing Tree.

While I had recollections of the name, the images of the show didn’t come readily to mind. That was until I looked it up on YouTube.

And I have to admit, as a children’s TV show it had everything:

  • a princess
  • a man in a scary-looking, poorly-constructed bear suit
  • a dwarf who can freeze waterfalls
  • a weird, giant fish
  • a woman beating ice with a shoe
  • and a terrible English translation

It certainly puts Pokémon in its rightful place in the history of children’s TV! You’d never find Pikachu beating ice with any form of ladies’ footwear. I think that stands as a testimony to itself.

And they say that it was in the 60s that they started taking drugs!!! Proof, perhaps, that some were dabbling at the end of the previous decade.