This is the penultimate post in the Music That Made Me series. Over the last 41 weeks I’ve written about some of the songs that I associate with particular people, moments in life as well as some that I love simply because they are great tunes, and nothing more.
Amongst those that I’ve mentioned, I’ve said very little about the two most important people in my life; my children. ( I’m sure my girlfriend won’t mind being third in the pecking order - in your role as a parent it’s something that you have to take on).
I sometimes feel a bit sorry for them, living with dad means being constantly exposed to music; the radio is on in our house a lot. However whilst I would probably prefer to listen to 6 Music for most of the day, in the world of a near teenager’s eyes it’s ‘boring’. Therefore the sounds of Chris Moyles, Scott Mills and the like are often heard booming from the numerous radios in our house, because daytime Radio 1 is king.
Someone once said to me that if you go abroad and then come back to the UK and want to quickly tap into what mainstream youth culture is listening to, then expose yourself to Radio 1 for a week and you’ll be up to speed. He was probably right.
It’s very easy as you get older to switch to Radio 2, 6 Music, Radio 4 or the like and before you know it you’ll be grumbling that ‘music isn’t as good as it was in previous decades.’ My kids know who The Beatles are but they probably couldn’t name any of their songs. They don’t mean anything to them. They could however name all of the songs on Ed Sheeran’s album or Rizzle Kicks debut long player. When I asked my eldest daughter (pictured above) what her favourite band was she replied “the sort of things they play on Radio 1.”
As you get older it’s very easy to sneer at today’s pop music. There's a sizeable number of times that I’ve had conversations with people in their twenties, thirties and forties who suggest that ‘pop music is the kind of music that just 14 year old girls buy,’ as if 14 year old girls are not able to be good judges of music. Yet surely good music is what you as an individual relate to emotionally, rather than a list of so-called ‘must have’ songs that have been featured by Pitchfork or that have been agreed by committee as being the best. What’s good to you as an individual isn’t necessarily what’s good to someone else. It’s why in many respects teenagers are actually the best judges of music because many teens have a huge emotional connection to the pop music that fills their lives at that time, far greater than at any other point in their future. It’s why people often say that ‘music isn’t as good as when I was growing up,’ because for a lot of people once parenthood, work and the like take up much of your time, the opportunities for developing those big connections to music lessens.
It’s why I’m really grateful to my children for moaning if I wallow in the middle-class middle-aged smugness of 6 Music for too long (great station that it is). I secretly love the fact that we listen to Radio 1 an awful lot. Because it keeps my love of music fresh, enables me to challenge my own tastes and ideas about what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and stops me ever becoming too snobbish and self righteous about pop music.
It’s why I’ve chosen to include Starry Eyed by Ellie Goulding as a choice in Music That Made Me. It’s not a ‘classic’, indie snobs will laugh at it being ‘pop music for 14 year old girls’, but it’s a song that simply makes me and my children happy. When I’m away from them and hear it, it makes me think of them. Simple pleasures and emotions like that that are as important to our make up as any sort of deep intellectual worthiness. They make us the people we are.