When lockdown began earlier in 2020 and eating in restaurants and drinking in pubs became forgotten pleasures, my thoughts – like many others’ – turned to the past.
I found comfort in music; particularly the music of my youth. So I began to consider how the music of a childhood mostly spent traveling might have influenced the wide range of music I love today.
My parents didn’t own a single record and I had no older brothers or sisters whose record collections I could raid. So I was self-taught.
For my once-a-week taste of pop music, and an England I didn’t really know, I was largely dependent Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart’s radio show Family Favourites every Sunday lunchtime on British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS).
I bought my first record, by Mary Hopkin, in 1968 when I was 10 years old. By then I had been sent to boarding school in England, where we would occasionally hear music from a tinny transistor radio that someone had smuggled in.
By 13, when I moved to another boarding school, I had my own tiny radio, which I would listen to beneath my pillow, hoping not to be overheard by a prefect who could confiscate it for the rest of term.
By 1970 I was avidly following the pop charts. On rare occasions, such as family holidays in Cornwall, I might catch Top of the Pops and see the people who sang those songs for the first time.
As coronavirus began to grip the country, and we all retreated to the comfort of our familiar surroundings, I began to reminisce about those times. And I decided to delve deep into my memory to find the songs that first found their way into my heart – for better or worse.
Some still sound great, some less so; some might even have been better left unrevived. But they were all part of my life and it’s been fun finding out more about the people who made them – because when you’re a kid you’re not interested in that – and remembering about who I was when I heard them.
I hope anyone who reads and listens will enjoy that trip down memory lane. It’s what made me who I am.