Monday, July 03, 2017

Music Monday ~ From Frankie to Ben, Stan & Billy via Some Country Roads

Continuation of last Monday's theme:

As the 1960s morphed into the early 70s Frankie (Sinatra) ruled, for me - with an occasional side-order of Neil Diamond.

Long playing records (33 and a third rpm), extended play records (45 rpm)persisted and were joined by a new idea - cassette tapes. I liked these - one could, with the right piece of equipment, record one's own stuff, from radio or from life. Cassette tapes were not well received by the music elite, however, and to be sure there were problems. The delicate mini tape would tangle, stretch, break, and cause all manner of frustrations.

As my life found a more stable basis, a permanent home, good employment, I bought what was known as a music centre, it looked something like the one in the photograph. This beauty could play LPs, EPs or cassette tapes, had separate stereo speakers. Ah yes - stereo - the great new "thing". CDs (compact discs), a new record format, began to appear in the stores, and I recall that my music centre was able play these too, one of the first on the market to do so - all very new-fangled! I loved my music center - but lost it, along with everything else we owned in a devastating fire in the mid-1990s.

Anyway....backing up:

During the mid to late 1980s, on our vacation trips from England to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, one evening we wandered by an open air cafe fronting the seashore, where a singer, with guitar and small backing group, was entertaining diners. We leaned on the promenade rail a few yards distant, watching the sea, and listened. I didn't recognise the songs, but I liked the atmosphere, the rhythm, and the voice. He was obviously either English, American or Australian. His accent was London-ish, the songs were American, and his outfit was reminiscent of Crocodile Dundee! We were intrigued. This was the start of a new musical trend for me. Tom Keenan, a Londoner, introduced us to country music that evening, we became fans of the music and friends of "the voice".

Songs of Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Don Williams, Patsy Cline and countless others had me hooked. Classic, intelligent, emotional and sometimes witty lyrics do not deserve the derision they often receive from music snobs. Country music was a whole new vista for me to explore. And I did, despite the fact that, at the time country music, or country and western as it was often called, was a rarity in England at that time. I ordered monthly country music magazines and newspapers, bought home-made "pirate" tapes brought back by travellers, from the USA. I snapped up whatever record imports became available. We relied on our many visits to Tenerife for true, live, sustenance.

Country music carried me through some good times, as well as some very sad and difficult times, during the 1990s, into the new century.

Until I met my husband, aka "anyjazz" in 2004, jazz hadn't figured at all in my music consciousness. He is such a longtime and dedicated jazz fan that it became impossible for me to ignore the genre any longer. He used to tell me that I'd probably been listening to jazz oriented music more than I realised, for jazz takes many forms. This was reassuring!

The first real jazz I found that I could easily relate to: Concierto de Aranjuez played by Miles Davis. Yes, this was good! I was later introduced to Ben Webster's easy to love sexy saxophone, and later still Stan Getz' silky style, also some of Billy Strayhorn's dreamy compositions struck the right notes for me. I haven't moved on far from there, jazz-wise. I dislike strident, "chalk on blackboard" type jazz. I need to recognise a melody - still can't manage without that!

The music scenery has changed yet again in the 21st century. Records, whether LP, EP or CD, and tapes became redundant, obsolete almost, as computers and the internet spread among the great unwashed. Enter new "things" known as i-tunes, mp3s, music downloads, YouTube etc. Yours truly slunk into a corner with her CDs and sulked! I eventually made friends with YouTube, the rest...not yet, not really.

Where I am now: I still enjoy my first musical loves: show tunes, a bit of light opera, and American standards. Country music can still bring a lump to my throat and a nostalgic tear to my eye; Sinatra's appeal: well, of course, that is eternal.


R J Adams said...

Me, and and three friends, (one of whom was a wizard at striking up any melody on a piano) used to sing country and western songs for our beer at local pubs around the university in Liverpool. Mind, it was a long time ago and they were real oldies: Hank Snow, "Little Box of Pine on the Seven Twenty-Nine," and others of similar doubtful ilk, whose titles now escape me. I was about 18 and Hank Snow was still alive then. Boy, I must be old!
I should have waited for Part 2 before leaving my comment on Part 1 last week, but I'll not repeat myself so any reader wishing to be enthralled by my pearls of wisdom will have to head back there. ;-)

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ Oh my! LOL! That would be around the Beatles' era too. They got lucky though, and robably due to not singing Hank Snow songs. ;-)