…why don’t rabbits play banjos?
No, sorry, that was completely automatic and my fingers did it without the involvement of my higher brain functions. Which aren’t all that high at the best of times to be honest, but you know what I mean.
Anyway, yes, er, where was I?
Oh yes, music.
Observant readers will have noticed in yesterday’s little missive from yours truly that I mentioned a band rehearsal taking place. Moreover, that this band rehearsal was the first time that we had played together for a few months.
The budding detectives amongst you would then probably have thought “Hang on a moment, didn’t he just play a gig the weekend before last? There’s something fishy going on here – first he’s playing a gig, then he says that the band haven’t played together for a few months? I smell a rat! Or possibly a fish?!”
Well, as Holmes would so eloquently put it “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” The only way to square the seemingly impossible circle of my assorted band activities would be to work on the basis that there are, in fact, two completely different bands. And you’d be right. Elsewhere in this very blog I made a passing mention of the fact that I had decided to drag my keyboards out of my music room once again and join another band last summer, having left my previous one a few years ago. It’s a long and complicated story involving a trip to the Zetland estate just outside Richmond to discuss commercial properties and finding a man there with a rather nice Yamaha drum kit in his office. Although the commercial property thing didn’t work out, a few weeks later saw me becoming the fifth member of The Blind Boys of Richmond, a merry band of troubadours who do a pretty good line in good old-fashioned blues and rock ‘n’ roll. Even if I do say so myself.
Last night was a Blind Boys rehearsal and it was the first time that the whole band has met up since we played a gig at The Talbot in Richmond at the end of October last year. In spite of that, we managed to cover about two-thirds of our usual set-list in the space of a couple of hours and most of it was sounding pretty good under the circumstances. We’ve got another couple of rehearsals over the next couple of weeks and then you can catch us live and up close at The Castle (again in Richmond) on Saturday April 21st.
Meanwhile, we need to talk about Scott. Well, not about Scott as such, although he does necessarily come into the musical picture here. Scott and I have been friends for about 12 years or so, having first met when working for the same company in Middlesbrough. Like me, he’s a keen music-fiend, both in terms of listening to all manner of good stuff and also being a musician himself – although, in his case, his main instrument is guitar. (Scott is also the man for whom the surprise birthday party was organised earlier this year – again recounted elsewhere in this blog.)
Anyway, for some time Scott has also been playing in a band and trying to persuade me to drag myself along and join in. It’s slightly trickier in this case, since Scott himself lives rather further afield, as do the other band members, so it’s a bit more of a struggle to get to rehearsals, etc. However, since I was once again thoroughly enjoying the live music scene, it didn’t take all that much arm-twisting before I gave in and signed on as the fifth member of TS Junction (or TSJ for short). Like the Blind Boys, TSJ play a smattering of bluesy and classic rock numbers, however the repertoire then extends further afield, covering all manner of interesting stopping-off points from the seventies through to the noughties. Where else can you find things like “Waterloo Sunset” (The Kinks) alongside “Man on the Moon” (REM) with a side-order of Chili Peppers (Red Hot, of course – “Under the Bridge”) and accompanied by some “Rattlesnakes” (Lloyd Cole). All served by a “Fluorescent Adolescent” (Arctic Monkeys) who is off to attend the “Blitzkrieg Bop” (Ramones) later.
OK, OK, I’m sorry. Enough of the heavily laboured utterly dreadful song-title puns. Suffice to say that it was a TSJ gig the weekend before last over at The Ship Inn in Guisborough (a great pub for live music in general, by the way). And great fun it was too. We’re playing again at The Queen’s Head in Stokesley on April 14th, so if you’re in the area and want to catch a good gig and say “Hi there!” to yours truly, that’s the place to be. (And, funnily enough, I already know that I’m likely to be returning to the Castle Tavern in Richmond to play there once again on June 16th, but this time with TSJ rather than the Blind Boys. So that should thoroughly confuse the regulars.)
So there we have it. The Mysterious Case of the Keyboard Player in the Nighttime laid out in minute detail and solved for your delight and delectation. Complete with pictures and hand-drawn illustrations.
(OK, OK, I fibbed about the pictures and stuff.)
…twenty-four little hours. And about 27 bazillion million trillion billion snowflakes and twenty or thirty mile-per-hour winds.
I’m currently finding it hard to believe that, just over 48 hours ago, I was sitting here at home enjoying a beautiful sunset at the end of a day that had included a trip to Acorn Bank, where Glenda and I and our friend Nick had spent a very pleasant few hours wandering around the garden and woodland in rather glorious sunshine. And yet, at around two or three o’clock this afternoon, I opened the door down at the Choc Baroque workshop in Barnard Castle to find that it had started snowing. Not a huge amount, but more than enough. And mostly arriving at a fairly shallow angle thanks to the wind that had been huffing and puffing around the building earlier, knocking small twigs and bits and pieces off the nearby trees.
By the time I left this evening to attend a band rehearsal, the conditions were even worse with heavier snow hurtling through the air and plastering every windward surface with a layer of soft white coldness. The drive down to our drummer’s place was interesting and fun, with snow on the verges and some of it beginning to lie on the road surface itself. Unloading my keyboards and other gear from the car probably looked like something from an Antarctic expedition.
It was a good rehearsal though, with us doing pretty well considering that we hadn’t played together for a few months. And, before I knew it, it was time to call it a night and for me to head home. So it was out into the icy blast of horizontal snow once again, loading everything back up into the car and driving back along the snowy country lanes while trying to work out where I was going – there was so much light from my headlights reflecting back off all the snow in the air that it all got a bit iffy at times. But I made it safe and sound and don’t intend to set foot out of the door again until the morning. At which point I’m pretty much expecting the world outside to look like Narnia and our dear little puss-cat, Trillian, to be standing at the door giving me a highly disgruntled look and asking in no uncertain terms what the merry hoo-hah I think I’m doing allowing weather like this to happen when she wants to go outside and play.
Oh well, at least this week is giving me enough to ramble about. Although I’m sure I could ramble just as well about lovely warm Spring days and more glorious sunshine if I were given the chance.
Here I am again – it’s not an April Fool. Not only have I managed to post two things on this blog less than two or three months apart, but I’ve actually posted twice in two days. I shall now wait for a few minutes to give everyone time to recover from the attack of the vapours that they’re probably experiencing about now.
Meanwhile, at the risk of this blog becoming like some kind of horrendous variant of the bucket list or dead pool, the only thing I have to report today is a long journey down to Ipswich and back in order to attend the funeral of one of my aunts (my Mum’s sister). Although I haven’t seen my aunt and uncle for many years (possibly not since Glenda and I got married if I remember rightly), she was a lovely lady and it was the least that I could do to make the effort to attend today and pay my respects. Particularly since my Mum’s condition ruled out any possibility of her being there herself.
So this morning saw me climbing out of my bed at daft o’clock and hitting the road. The drive down wasn’t too bad, being pretty clear all the way down and, although the weather here at home looked a little grey and overcast, the weather when I got to Ipswich was absolutely glorious. Since I figured that I would probably stop somewhere on the way down to grab a bite of breakfast, Glenda suggested that I didn’t wear my proper shirt, tie and jacket for the drive, but left them hanging in the back of the car and changed into them later. This was a brilliant idea, although it did lead to some slightly odd looks when I sauntered into a Little Chef somewhere on the A14 wearing a pair of dark pinstripe suit trousers along with a sagey-green polo shirt. Taking such precautions did, however, ensure that I didn’t spill any of my breakfast on myself – I can just about guarantee that, had I worn my shirt and tie for the journey, I would then have arrived at the far end in a nicely laundered shirt that had just been covered in tomato, baked beans and/or HP sauce stains.
Anyway, suitably breakfasted, I spent a couple of minutes standing in the Little Chef car park changing out of my polo shirt and into my proper shirt and tie at the back of the car (no doubt leading to one or two folks thinking “Oh, they must be making another one of those Transporter films – I say, that Jason Statham’s let himself go a bit hasn’t he?”) And onwards to the service, which was very nice and more than a little moving, with a good turnout of my aunt and uncle’s many friends. I did pop back to the house for a short while after the funeral, but couldn’t stay too long since I had another long drive ahead of me. So this afternoon saw me repeating the morning’s travels in reverse – luckily getting a fairly clear run of it again so I was actually home again just before 7 p.m.
Now I’m just hoping that that is the last of the funerals for a while – we’ve had enough of them in the last two years and I think I could do with a break.
And I promise to report something lighter and more fun tomorrow…
Once again, I have been remiss in updating my blog with anything interesting, useful or relevant for a couple of months. Well, actually, I’ve been remiss in updating it with absolutely anything of any kind at all for a couple of months. And all this in spite of the fact that life, as it tends to do, has been moving on and many interesting, not-so-interesting and sundry things have been happening all the while.
So…in an attempt to get the old blogging muscles back into some kind of working order, or at least something closer to working order than the total absence of activity that regular visitors to these parts will by now have taken to be my stock in trade, I am going to attempt a little challenge that I have set myself:
Starting today, I’m going to blog something every day for a week.
Yes, you read that right, don’t faint. I’m going to post something on here every day this coming week, in the hope that I can shock my system into developing a new habit when it comes to aimless Internet ramblings. Or, hopefully and as time goes by, a new habit when it comes to interesting, useful and relevant Internet ramblings. But I’ll settle for the aimless ones in the meantime if that’s all I can manage.
Mind you, in the interest of not wearing out my poor old laptop’s keyboard, each post won’t necessarily be on the grand scale of my usual mammoth, circumlocutory diversions. They may, in fact, be short, pithy and to the point. Possibly even rushed, misspelled and only slightly longer than a good solid Tweet. But they will be here nevertheless and I shall try my hardest to make sure that there’s at least one of ‘em every day.
Watch this space…
(And, OK, yes I admit that the “one a day for a week” challenge wasn’t all my idea. In fact, hardly any of it was my idea at all. Glenda actually suggested it. But I thought it was a really good idea, so I’m running with it…)
Last night, Glenda and I found ourselves driving out into the North York Moors National Park to a little village called Chop Gate. There’s a pub there called The Buck Inn and this was the chosen venue for a surprise birthday party for a good friend of mine called Scott. The whole thing had been organised by his wife, Barbara, and she had managed to keep it all secret from the man himself, even though family and friends were descending upon the place from all directions.
We arrived hot on the heels of the birthday boy and quietly followed him into the function room where the party was being held. Three or four other people were already there and Scott was busy greeting them and being amazed to find them waiting for him, so he didn’t spot us for a couple of minutes. When he did finally register that we were there as well, his jaw dropped even further. Glenda asked him when he actually found out about the surprise party and he replied “Er…just now!”
Over the next half hour or so, more and more people trooped through the door and the expression of joyous amazement on Scott’s face continued to grow. We had all sat down and were just starting to tuck into our evening meals when the evening’s entertainment arrived. This turned out to be a local (well, fairly local) band called We Steal Flyers. Two lads from Northumberland with acoustic guitars, great voices and a huge amount of talent. As well as playing their own material (which is excellent), they also played lots of cover versions of favourite songs and, as the night went on, a rousing sing-song was had by all and the smiles, laughter and applause just got bigger and bigger and louder and louder.
Even though, initially, there were only a few people there whom we really knew (mainly Scott and Barbara and their immediate family, plus one or two other folks from the band that Scott and I both play in) Glenda and I soon settled down to chatting with anyone and everyone and, like everybody else there, had a wonderful, enjoyable and memorable night. More importantly, Scott had a great night which probably does count as memorable, although the constant stream of drinks that everyone was buying for him might have taken a bit of the sharpness off the old memory cells!
As I have mentioned before, the last year or two has helped me to realise (or perhaps it’s more accurate to say they’ve helped me to remember) just how important family and friends are in all our lives. Last night was a shining example of how true that is. Not only did I attend a thoroughly enjoyable party, but it was made extra special by being a small part of a lovely birthday surprise for a dear friend. And, along the way, I also discovered some fantastic new music. If you have any love of music, particularly acoustic folk/guitar singer-songwriter sort of stuff, then check out We Steal Flyers – they are real musicians with real talent and deserve to be a huge success. And if you happen to hear that they’re playing a gig anywhere near you, then make sure you go to see them – I can pretty much guarantee you’ll have a good time.
Well, here we are in 2012. Just 100 years to go and everyone will be forced to become Rush fans. Or something. (Hey, there’s nothing like kicking off with an obscure joke that only about 4 people might get!)
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes…
Of course, this is traditionally the time when you look back on the year that has passed and try to make some kind of sense of it. Or, at least, try to remember what you can of it and then work out where all the other bits went that you just can’t remember at all.
In my case, 2011 was a very mixed bag. It had an inauspicious start with Glenda and I trying to pick up the pieces after having to wind up our old company at the end of 2010. It was an unpleasant time and the whole process isn’t exactly the easiest thing to live with while it’s all going on, but we got through it and, while there are still one or two things remaining to be sorted out, we have been able to move on and make a fresh start. So that’s a plus.
Another positive that comes out of major changes like that is that it gives you a sharp reminder of what is really important in life. In our case, 2011 was a year in which we tried to find more time for family and friends and spend a little more time away from the office. Not that we really managed that to any great degree (hardly surprising under the circumstances), but we still managed to fit in a little more family time and personal down-time than we did in previous years, so that’s a good start.
Outside work, I also managed to find more time for music. Back in June/July I was persuaded to get the keyboards out and join a band once again – it can be a bit of a pain sometimes lugging all the gear around, but it’s wonderful to play alongside other musicians. In fact, I’ve been enjoying it so much that I have recently signed up with a second band as well. I’ll see you at the O2 Arena or on the Pyramid Stage at Glasto in a few years’ time, OK? (Yeah, well, not entirely likely I grant you, but hey, you might as well aim high, right?)
Of course, 2011 did manage to provide some nasty, spiteful little cuts and bruises along the way. Back in the spring, we said goodbye to one of our delightful kittens, Zaphod, when some careless idiot knocked him down and killed him on the tiny country lane outside our house. I had a long and determined swear about that when it happened. I now hope that the terrifying array of horrible things that I wished on the mystery driver in question haven’t actually come to pass – to be fair, some of them were pretty severe. Although, in my darker moments, I do sometimes wonder whether some of the minor things (such as a plague of really embarrassing personal itching) might still be an appropriate curse for them.
Six months or so after that, a far nastier and more spiteful knock was delivered when my father passed away after a few months in hospital. Coming at the end of a couple of years of ill health, a number of extended hospital stays and two or three previous occasions when the doctors only gave him a couple of days to live, I can’t really say that it came as an immense shock when it happened. But it still counts as the most bloody awful thing to happen in the whole year and I’m still dealing with the paperwork and the general after-effects.
Now, what else happened? Lemme see…?
Oh yeah, I remember. The Arab Spring; various middle-Eastern and North-African leaders overthrown by their people; riots in the UK; the virtual financial collapse of the Eurozone; general Western economic meltdown and occupy Wall St/London. With a side order of the producers of BBC Frozen Planet upsetting people by using some footage of polar bear cubs in a zoo; the UK Government upsetting the public sector workforce and Jeremy Clarkson upsetting just about everybody. Oh, and a Royal Wedding. And probably some other stuff that has slipped my mind.
You know, when I think about it, it isn’t all that surprising that I managed a personal best (worst?) of only blogging twice during the whole year. That’s probably a “1/10, Must try harder” on my blogging report card.
I promise to do better this year (if nothing else I’ll blog three times). And, in the meantime, here’s wishing you all a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2012!
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you.
Anyone who follows Glenda’s blog will know that we have not had a very good couple of weeks. I was with my Dad when he died last Monday, passing quietly and relatively peacefully from this world after a last week at home, following on from months in hospital and a couple of years of poor health and repeated lengthy hospital admissions. Up until the last few days of his life, we still didn’t know for certain what would happen – he had been so ill at various times in the past, with various doctors and consultants not expecting him to pull through right up until the point where he confounded them all by doing just that. So we weren’t going to assume anything about what would happen until it actually happened.
However, all of those previous times were in a hospital bed with continuing medical care, assessment and intervention. This time, the doctors didn’t think that there was anything else that they could do, which is why they gave him the option of spending his last days at home and, I think, why he made the choice that he did. There’s a part of me that can’t help but wonder whether he might have pulled through yet again if they had transferred him back onto a medical ward, rather than sending him home under a palliative care regime. But I also know how hard he was finding it coping with his poor health over the last couple of years and it was looking like there really wasn’t anything that could be done to fix the problems. Under the circumstances, going home and calling it a day might well have been the kindest option that could have been offered. It’s certainly a choice I would want to be offered myself if I am ever unfortunate enough to find myself in a similar predicament.
Anyway, today was the funeral. Although I’m not particularly a religious man myself, my Mum and Dad are both more traditional in their outlook and Mum wanted a church service. So this afternoon saw us paying our respects and celebrating my Dad’s life at St John’s Church in Kirk Merrington. The vicar who delivered the service was a great guy and the service itself was a perfect mixture of the religious, the celebratory and the moving. We couldn’t have asked for better.
We also couldn’t have asked for a better turnout and, although I didn’t have the chance to speak to anyone before we headed off to the crematorium at the end of the service, I would just like to take the chance here to say a heartfelt public “Thank You” to all of the family, friends and neighbours who joined us in church today, including several of the old Graphicus team as well as a number of the carers who currently take care of my Mum and who also helped to look after Dad during his last few days. Thanks also to all of the folks I know who would have liked to have been there, but for one reason or another couldn’t make it today. I’d be hard pressed to even begin remembering everyone’s name, but if you’re reading this, you all know who you are. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
As for the quote at the top of this blog entry, it’s a Gaelic blessing that the vicar said over the coffin, just before the final committal at the crematorium. Glenda and I have never heard it before, but we were both struck by how nice it is and by how much my Dad would have liked it. It was a perfect choice for both the man and the circumstances, so perhaps it represents the first glimmer of a new light at the end of this rather dark tunnel that we have been travelling. It’s time to move on, remember all the good times and be grateful for having known a wonderful man who made the world a better place in his own sweet way.
Rest in Peace Dad, you’ve earned it.
If you happen to be a bit bored one afternoon and want an entertaining way to occupy half an hour or so, I’ve got a brilliant new game. It’s called “Ring-a-ring-a-telephones” and it goes like this.
First you will need a telephone.
Next, you need something like an old, unwanted insurance policy from a major high street bank. An old mortgage protection policy works well and it helps if the high street bank has a name that sounds like Batvest (which is, of course, what Batman wears in the cold weather).
The object of this particular variant of the game is to cancel the policy when you can’t find the original paperwork – but you do know that the premium is being paid monthly by direct debit.
During the preparation stage of the game (the “Call to Play”), you cancel the direct debit and wait for the high street bank to notice. When they do, they will write to you asking if there is a problem and sending you some new direct debit forms (just in case). They will also put a contact telephone number at the top of the letter if you want to contact them to discuss things.
This completes the formalities (kind of like all the religious stuff and salt-throwing at the start of a Sumo bout) and, at this point, the game proper begins! Your objective is to speak to the right person to cancel the policy. Their objective is to make the process take as long as possible – or even make it impossible if they can.
It’s kind of hard to explain all the rules, so an example game probably works best. This was one of the early round UK championship matches that took place this afternoon.
First move was mine: I rang the contact number on the letter. Which connected me to their home and household insurance office. I explained what I was trying to do and gave them the policy number. They couldn’t find the policy and, when I said that it was a mortgage protection policy, they said they were the wrong people to contact. But the nice man gave me the correct number (just in case I got lost in the system) and then transferred me to the right people.
I then spoke to a nice lady in their legal office. I gave the policy number again and was told that, once again, they couldn’t find it and that I had been put through to the wrong office. The nice lady gave me the correct number and, rather than letting her transfer me directly, I decided to play a wild card and say that I’d give them a call myself. So I hung up and tried the new number. Which turned out to be an alternative number for the home insurance office. Drat! Thwarted! Not even half-time and they were at least a couple of points up on me.
Still, I’ve played this game before. I called a time out and consulted with one of my seconds, Mr Google. I returned to the game with their general insurance customer service number in my grasp, aiming for an end-run around all their defences.
I spoke to another nice man who said that I would need to be put through to their mortgage services department and that he would transfer me straight away. I assumed that he was a fresh young player and didn’t really know the tactics and strategy of the game. After waiting a couple of minutes and listening to more music, I found myself connected to…the telephone banking system! Drat again!! Not only had I been left all wrong-footed and in the wrong place, but there wasn’t even an option to speak to a normal customer service rep any more. Maybe that fresh young player was older and wilier than I thought, eh?
For a moment, while listening to the music and double-checking the options I was being given, I thought I might be looking at a defeat in this match. But…I decided to risk everything on the old “press a bunch of keys they’re not expecting” gambit and see if their system had left a little gap through which I could reach another one of their defensive players. Now, I’ll admit that there’s still some debate as to whether this kind of thing is a legal move in the game, but it hasn’t been formally banned yet, so I thought I’d try it as a last ditch tactic. The referee didn’t disallow it and it worked! I found myself talking to another customer service rep. This time, I declined his kind offer to put me through and once again asked for the number so I could make the call myself.
By this stage, the match was well past half-time and I still didn’t have a point on the board. It was looking pretty poor. But you can’t give up – sometimes it gets darkest just before the dawn and all that. So I returned to the fray and rang the new number. Success! Or so I thought. The nice chap at the other end of the phone said that he was indeed part of the mortgage services office. Quickly, I explained the situation. Equally quickly, he countered by saying that his wasn’t the correct office. Foiled again! But, as ever, he offered to give me the correct number.
It’s at times like this that the psychology of the game – perhaps even a little gamesmanship – comes to the fore. I tried to rattle him by listing the chain of numbers, fake passes and slippery dodges I’d already got past in the match. It didn’t seem to phase him, although he did try to be extra reassuring when he gave me the new number – I think he knew that he was going to have to pass this one in more-or-less the right direction to avoid being accused of a foul. S0, playing the equally-polite card, I thanked him and went on my way. I had the feeling that I was getting close to a winning run here, but you can never be sure.
I tried the new number. The automated system said all the right things – it sounded like I’d finally found the right area of the pitch – and, what’s more, there were only two options to choose from! Result! I chose the appropriate one and went for it at full tilt. A few seconds more of music and then…nothing! Just a constant beep tone – the line had dropped!! So close and I missed the final shot. As the best sportsmen will tell you, at times like that, you’re gutted. Sick as a parrot. You had the chance and you fluffed it. But you pick yourself back up and you take another shot.
The phone rang. The system answered and gave me the same options. At this point, a novice might have tried the other option, just in case, but I thought that the dropped line was just a feint and, if I just tried the same move, I might get through. So I went straight for the same manoeuvre again. A few seconds passed, more music and then…yes, another player! A nice lady who was very efficient and knew that there was no way she could save the match at this point. Nobly and with good grace, she cancelled the policy and I left the field of play with the traditional “opponent’s total score plus ten points” bonus for making my goal. The crowd, as is usual at this point, went wild.
It was a close-run thing though. What a game!
…honest!! Just very, very, very, very, very busy.
And I’ve just noticed that, in a few days, it will be about six months since I last put electronic pen to bloggy Internet paper and wrote anything here. Six months!? I could have given birth to a Howler Monkey in that time. Or a Giant Panda. Or possibly even a Pale-Throated Three-Toed Sloth. Well, always assuming that I was one of the aforementioned beasties. And that I happened to be female of course. And also, for the sake of completeness, that I then managed to get myself pregnant just after writing my last blog post. (Also assuming that the gestation periods that I found by looking them up on the Intertubes are correct. And, indeed, that the critters in question would have been able to write a blog post, which I doubt – I haven’t told them any of my passwords for a start.)
Anyhoo…where was I?
Yes, I’m still here and will be trying to post some more things soon. Probably just the usual randomized ramblings, but hey, if you’ve been here before, you know what to expect, right?
And I have, at least, been saying something somewhere – I’ve been sticking my nose in on the Graphicus Blog lately ‘cos Graphicus is having a bit of fun with a pre-VAT increase sale and we’re doing all kinds of deals on the usual range of artsy-craftsy goodies that we sell.
And, on that note, I’d better be disappearing into the night again. Or into the day anyway – got lots of stuff that I’m supposed to be doing and I won’t get my afternoon cuppa if I don’t behave…
If you’ve been following my Twitter feed, you will have noticed that I’ve just been watching “Queens of Country” on BBC2. It was a really interesting documentary about half a dozen of the most famous female Country and Western singers: Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Bobbie Gentry, Tammy Wynette, Tanya Tucker and (needless to say) Dolly Parton.
Although the programme was only an hour long, so each artist only got about ten minutes or so of airtime, it was a fascinating potted history of each of them, with contributions from various family members, record label executives, other musicians and assorted media types – not to mention Tanya Tucker herself in her part of the show. Overall, I reckon it was a pretty worthwhile way for the Beeb to spend some of the licence-payers’ money.
Of course, you could say that I’m a bit biased when I say that. Not only do I thoroughly enjoy a good documentary, I am also a complete, total and utter music-nut! I have a lifelong fascination for all things musical – whether that be the music itself, the performers, the history, the instruments, the recording technology, etc. The list of musical genres that I enjoy has grown with me over the years, so that my small CD collection would probably induce fits in anyone who is a dedicated fan of a single style.
From classical to blues to rock ‘n’ roll to prog rock to heavy metal to reggae to ska/two-tone to punk to rap to electronica to ambient to dance and umpteen other musical main roads and side-streets, I pretty much like the lot. Fancy a bit of Bach, Mozart or Prokofiev? It’s in the rack somewhere. Want to blow your mind with a bit of prog-rock excess from Genesis? Or your eardrums with some modern industrial metal in the form of Rammstein? Yep, they’re in there too. Or perhaps you’re in the mood for something a bit lighter or more poppy? No problem – there’s all sorts, from the Monkees to Madonna, Buddy Holly to David Bowie.
If you pick half a dozen random CDs off those shelves, you might end up with Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath and ELO alongside Eminem, Kate Bush and Gorillaz. Or Green Day, Howlin’ Wolf and Franz Ferdinand alongside REM, Pink Floyd and Mendelssohn. And I find all of them absolutely wonderful. Uplifting expressions of the composer’s and the musician’s art. Great stuff!
Which brings me to the confession part (just in case you thought I’d forgotten the title of this post). You see, along with all of those assorted types of music, I also do have some fondness for…
…yes, I’ve got to say it, Country and Western.
I like folk music too.
Now, for those of you who don’t know, in modern-day band and musician circles those two admissions can be tantamount to saying that you have all the mental capacity of a small radish and can be easily distracted by bright colours. Or that you have a predilection for running around the local ringroad with no clothes on and your nether regions daubed in woad while waving a bunch of dahlias over your head and shouting “I’m the King of the Fairy-Folk!”
But I don’t really care. There’s good music to be found everywhere – even if it’s in the rebel-yelling, boot-scooting American chintz of the Grand Ole Opry or the sea-soaked shanties and rural morality tales of the folk club.
All of which means, of course, that that documentary I’ve been watching was even more of a treat. If it’s repeated and you’ve got an hour to spare, I heartily recommend it.