I’ve been wondering recently about just what kind of music I like. The word ‘eclectic’ comes to mind, which is a good word that’s also a bit too close to ‘eccentric’ for comfort. Eclectic. I’m sticking with that.
When I was a teenager my sister, who is two years younger than me, was always the more up to date in terms of music. She always had the latest albums, she watched Top of the Pops, she knew the up and coming new artists and she didn’t dance like a moose with Parkinson’s Disease.
Ok, so she had a crush on George Michael, who paddles his canoe on the other side of the lake, so to speak, but apart from that she was pretty clued in. Still is.
Then when I was 16 I was given an amazing Christmas present. The odd thing is that it came from my uncle John, who I will one day write about as he had a grudge against me for being born. Long story, but the précis version is that he and his wife had four girls, whereas I was my parents firstborn. He could never work out how my father had given my grandfather that much cherished prize of the first grandson. Yes, my uncle was a total idiot. However he was a total idiot who gave me a copy of “So”, by Peter Gabriel.
That album changed my life. It was like a key turned in a lock and I discovered music that was new and unusual. Hearing that Gabriel was on tour and would be in London I saved up and bought a ticket. It was my first concert and it blew my head clean off my shoulders. By the time I went to college at the age of 18 I owned Gabriel’s other albums, had memorized half his songs and was looking about greedily for more music.
By the time I left college I’d caught up with my sister and was an avowed fan of Talking Heads, U2, Eurythmics, Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians and a lot of… eclectic stuff. Much of it wasn’t cutting edge (although I spotted No Doubt and The Corrs way before my sister did, ha!) but it fitted in with my mind.
When I met Kathleen – that was another life-changing moment, on all kinds of levels. Music was just one of those. Kathleen’s taste in music is huge. It’s also a tad eclectic. Not as weird as mine (I relax to the music that Bear McCreary wrote for the remake of Battlestar Galactica) but still pretty wide.
And she introduced me to the music of Woody and Arlo Guthrie.
Last we went to see Arlo Guthrie in his one and only London appearance on his current tour. Wow. Words fail me. We had an amazing time. The supporting act, a Canadian singer-songwriter duo called Dala, was excellent, but then came Arlo. It was the fifth or sixth time that Kathleen had seen him, but it was my first and damn was he good!
It was just him, a stool, his guitar and his harmonica but he blew us all away.