The beginning of this year has been a nightmare.
In a literal sense, last night I dreamt of my sister drowning and me dying saving her.
Yes, it is a nightmare. It begun with my Dad dying.
In many ways, he taught that a few men can be true friends.
But, I have had no time to grieve as I had to do the medical.
Had no time to grieve as I remembered the sadistic ways johns and date-rapes had me from aged 14 to 27. I didn’t just remember.
I felt it in every cell that they infected. I felt it in all the sickness my body.
Trauma may fade, may be livable with. But sometimes it like staring into an abyss.
I just hope I don’t let the abyss stare back at me – and grab me by the throat.
I just about coping.
One thing, I have done is sort out my music.
My largest amount of music is jazz.
Jazz comes from both side of my family, but mainly connects me to the American side of my family.
I have a deep love of be-bop which connects with my Dad’s spirit. I have Lester Young and other great sax players. I love Lionel Hampton.
Like many jazz fans, I have many Blue Note albums. It the clean and simple sound that bring the art of jazz.
I also love old-fashioned jazz, especially boogie-woogie piano.
I love big band, especially Count Basie, who is a crossover from big band into be-bop.
When I listen to Duke Ellington, I have a few good memories of my Mum inventing a modern dance piece based on her memories of WW2, using his wonderful sounds.
Jazz has always the back-beat of my life.
Louis Armstrong give me joy when all hope seems to disappear as a child. As a teenager, I fall for be-bop for not only there a sound that reach into my heart, but a reminder that I still had a brain.
Jazz has been a protector, when nothing else was working.
I am so into real R’n’B, that is the classic Chicago sound from the 50’s onwards.
I go for the pure rawness of yelling human voice, I need the harmonica to force out my emotions.
And the guitar playing. Christ, if Jeannie was to grant one wish, even I was to die after, I would want to make a guitar talk, screams and want to play a guitar as the great Blues stars.
When I listen to the Nelville Brothers singing “Abide With Me”, it can make remind the human voice can be beyond just listening. That sound reaches deep to the places where grief has try to run away to.
In that sound, I get the courage to face the unbearable.
Gospel and R’n’B is more than music to me, it give a route to remember I am not worthless.
Some of my favourite R’n’B players are Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Leadbelly, Bo Diddley, Etta James, Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker.
I spend a lot of time listening to R’n’B on the radio, where I well into the 60’s British Blues scene, especially Alexis Corner and Alan Price.
R’nB is not afraid to be messy music, to speak about the mess that is life.
And R’n’B give me that sex is not just about fear and torture. That sex can be fun and take you away from the moment.
As a youth in the 70’s, I was taught country was crap. It was fake, it was painted women singing stupid songs to back their abusive men. It was men in designer cowboy gear singing of truck-drivers and dying children.
These “cowboys” would never get dirt on their clothes. If they started ordinary, that was lost in the lights of Nashville.
But as I left behind the 70’s, I begun to see Country was just the folk music of the poor whites in America. I saw it was connected with the Blues.
I listen to bluegrass, Tex-Mex and Cajun, and found music I could love.
I went back before the 70’s, found Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Bill Monroe & his Bluegrass Boys and Johnny Cash. I found a music that spoke to me.
Spoke of loneliness, spoke of finding joy when nothing going right.
Then I look to find country of now, and I relaxed into it.
I found Gillian Welsh, Alison Krauss and Steve Earle. Them and others made country alive again.
Like many country fans, I see the 70’s as a bad time, all that producer lead music – not focus on the artist or writer.
But then, I will always have a soft spot for Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton.
POP & CLASSICAL
I like mainly 60’s pop, as long it not the late 60’s with all that pretentious druggie music. I will always like 80’s pop, as long as it is pure pop and not pretending to be art.
I place classical with pop coz I have limted space – also Mozart was the pop of his time.
I have Stravinsky – I need “The Rites of Spring” as my love for ballet music need to be fed. I was brought with how ballet conflicts the ugliness of human nature – it not just about beauty. As I hear the savage music of Stravinsky, I know that the arts must face that humans are cruel for power.
Also, my grandmother was trained by Ballet Russe techniques, so it’s music connects me to her spirit
ROCK ‘n’ ROLL
50’s music was a love I got for myself, not through my family or reacting to others.
I may of got when I retreated to a rockabilly pub after too much violence as a teenager. There was a jukebox with raw 50’s music. I heard Sun Records, and fall in love with the sound.
I heard Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran, and I had found a home.
It help that many films had the 50’s sound – hay, “Christine” may not be a masterpiece, but as the killer car go on a rampage, I love up-beat 50’s hits speaking for Christine.
And “Crybaby” directed by John Waters is a fun use of rockabilly.
I use the fastest rockabilly to dance round the house.
Next to jazz, soul is the heartbeat of my life, through there very little modern soul that I can enjoy, maybe only Mary J Blige.
Soul of the 60’s is and was a rescuer for me. It allow to scream, to dance, to cry, to know ther must be more.
Motown give me joy, Phil Spector made me know pop could be art, Atlantic connected to the blues and Stax, my favourite, brought in blues, country and jazz to soul making a sound that made my memories.
I came to love Northern Soul, I seek for rare soul. I needed a music from the heart, that was not afraid to say politics on occasions.
I love Curtis Mayfield, Little Antony & The Imperials, Dobie Grey, Lavern Baker, Booker T & the MGs, Evelyn Thomas, The Exciters, Jimmy Radcliffe, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Aretha Frankin, Eddie Floyd, Fontella Bass, Mary Wells, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Carla Thomas, Dusty Spingfield, Supremes, Four Tops, Sly & The Family Stone, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Bar-Kays, Sam Cooke and Ruth Brown.
The sound of soul is the sound of my life continuing.
I hear a soul record, and I can believe in hope.
Yes, my life is hard at the moment. But with music, I see a way forward.
Sometimes small things make big changes.