Monday, 27 April 2020

How My Music Taste Developed (Musical Monday #248)

There has recently been a meme going around where you state the ten albums that greatly influenced your taste in music. I eventually got tagged and wondered why I never get tagged in the ones about books and movies that I could actually answer?

Music has not been that big an influence on my life. That isn’t to say that I don’t love music or that I don’t regularly listen to music. It just wasn’t something I spent much time thinking about as a kid and so actually became a bit of a stigma to me. Maybe because I am not an audio learner, so I find things that only involve my ears to be less engaging than ones that use my eyes, and connected to this I have no sense of rhythm and therefore no innate musical ability myself and have failed to learn any so I just feel a bit distanced from it.

All the same, I thought I would write a blog post about how music has influenced me as a special Musical Monday episode.

Let’s start at the start. My first ‘album’ was a cassette of the soundtrack to The Little Mermaid. In fact, the soundtrack to The Little Mermaid is still probably my favourite soundtrack, or joint with The Producers. There are just no duds in it at all. (Not including the fact that for some insane reason on the CD soundtrack, they included some shite pop covers from Peter Andre and Shaggy). Disney soundtracks were big when I was in Junior School and the kids would always sing the songs for fun in the playground, and this is I guess why I got into musicals.

Part Of Your World from The Little Mermaid
Performed by Jodi Benson
Written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman

(Side note: the only thing I ever remember my parents having in common was that they both liked Les Misérables and so I pretty much grew up knowing those songs by heart and this eventually led to my complete devotion to Philip Quast as the greatest singer ever.)

We had a double CD called ‘The Classic Experience’ at home and I used to listen to this a lot and I absolutely loved classical music as a result. However, I believe the reason that I had such an affinity for classical music in the first place was because of my absolute love of cartoons. Die Fledermaus is a Tom And Jerry cartoon, Light Calvary Overture is a Goofy/Mickey Mouse cartoon, Hungarian Rhapsody is what Daffy and Donald Duck are playing in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and there are many other examples. No wonder that I only like the manic classical pieces, none of that ‘relaxation’ stuff.

from Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl

My tastes in music as a child were the direct result of watching cartoons and movies, so I liked musicals and instrumental pieces. Now considering I grew up in the 90s, pop music did not have many influences in these arenas at the time and so I had no interest in contemporary music which just sounded like dreary noise to me.

So I used to find it really difficult whenever I met a new group of children who would, without exception, ask me what music I was in to. They never asked what books or films or TV I was into, subjects on which I could have talked for hours. No, they went straight to music, of which I only knew enough to know that saying classical music was a weird answer. That’s a shame, because these days I wouldn’t hesitate, especially since film soundtracks are so popular now. But back then that didn’t seem to be an acceptable answer and I knew I hated modern music, so I would flounder and look to the things I did know about, movies, and grab at the only genre I was vaguely aware of, which was Rock ‘n’ Roll because that was what Marty McFly played in the 50s. Ironically, I would detest the actual music that Marty McFly was into. But simply stating a genre wasn’t enough. There were always follow-up questions, I had to know bands, and I didn’t.

from Back To The Future Part II

(Another side note: everyone was expected to have a favourite boy band. I found boy bands to be utterly repulsive, both because the music they made didn’t sound anything like my understanding of what music was (where were the instruments?) and because their entire existence was for sex appeal, which as an asexual child was completely baffling and gross to me. Used to really annoy me how often they would take their shirts off. But all the same, I was supposed to have some kind of allegiance, so I went for the ones who had their own sketch show because that was TV and something I understood. Thus as a tween, my favourite band was PJ and Duncan/Ant and Dec. I did not admire them for their music but I kind of managed to convince myself that I at least enjoyed their funny songs.)

So I decided to do some research and find out what music I actually liked. Having lived in a house with four other people, there were a bunch of records, cassettes and CDs lying around that they had left behind, so I started experimenting. This didn’t go well. But since I already knew I liked classical music, I put on a cassette of The Four Seasons. I thought this was going to be Vivaldi and it turned out to be Frankie Valli’s band. And this is how I got into 60s pop. I rooted out all the other cassettes lying around of 60s pop and spent my late teenage years listening to these on a loop. Those 60s cats really felt my teen angst.

Opus 17 (Don't You Worry 'bout Me) by The Four Seasons
Written by Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell

At university I met The Housemate who lent me various pieces of music that I didn’t appreciate, until I began to listen to the lyrics of Neil Hannon and finding them really witty and coupled with his often use of an orchestral sound, I fell in love with The Divine Comedy.

Something For The Weekend by The Divine Comedy
Written by Neil Hannon

After university, I worked in a theatre for a while and here saw an Elvis tribute act which was so amazing that I actually really got into Elvis Presley music and finally was able to say that I really do like rock ‘n’ roll. It’s not just because of one scene in Back To The Future, although that’s obviously where that like took root (even if all Chuck Berry songs do sound identical). Then one day I saw an advert on the television for a band called The Baseballs whose gimmick was that they played modern music as if it was rock ‘n’ roll and I thought well that’s perfect! If only they had existed when I was a kid; now there’s a boy band I could have got behind.

Hey There Delilah by The Baseballs
Originally written by Tom Higgenson

And that is pretty much how my musical tastes have evolved. (Almost entirely from watching TV.)

Monday, 20 April 2020

Musical Monday #247

Well, here's a thing you shouldn't do at the moment.

Let’s Go Fly A Kite from Mary Poppins
Performed by David Tomlinson and Dick Van Dyke
Written by the Sherman Brothers

Monday, 13 April 2020

Musical Monday #246

In this episode, Martin begins to suspect that his sons are not his biological children (spoiler, turns out they are).

I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major-General and On A Tree By A River (Willow, Tit-Willow) from Frasier, episode Fathers And Sons
Performed by Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce, David Ogden Stiers and John Mahoney 
Written by Arthur Sullivan and W. S. Gilbert

Monday, 6 April 2020

Musical Monday #245

I think it's Monday... right?

He’s A Tramp from Lady And The Tramp
Performed by Peggy Lee
Written by Peggy Lee and Sonny Burke