I used to be obsessed with music, I would always have something playing over the speakers in my room or on my walkman, I hated silence. Songs have played a huge part in my life and so many of them bring back the strongest nostalgia but in recent years I’ve stopped listening to music, I’ve stopped exploring new artists and genres that I love and instead fallen victim to the car radio.
Why? I honestly couldn’t tell you. Just one day, the music died. I think it was when I lost my passion; my passion for life and everything I loved, when I was just getting out of bed because I had to, not because I wanted to. Music was something I had always associated with fun, love and life, not with the drab breathing for the sake of it existence I was experiencing.
It’s weird because during that time in my life I was surrounded by musicians – my other half is a wonderful guitar player and singer, my friends are all absolute music lovers and can talk about the albums of their favourite bands for hours if you let them (honestly, we’ve let them run with the conversation before and three hours later they were still at it…it’s exhausting). Growing up almost every single one of my boyfriends was a muso, either in a band or a truly passionate lover of music.
Myself. I am musically inept. I love listening to it because of the way it makes me feel but I cannot sing, play and instrument or pretend I have any form of rhythm to save my life. I have never had a favourite band who I know inside and out; I am just an true patron of the art.
My love for music started early, as a child I remember my parents always had music on – infact I remember the day my dad bought a stereo with a disc changer…game changer. As a little human my favourite song – and in fact to this day it is still up there with the best – was Back to Life by Soul II Soul, it was the first song I learnt the words to and my parents would always put it on in the car.
When I was in primary school my dad used to do the school run every morning and I loved it because it would be just me and him, in the car, putting the world to right. We would listen to the radio – ah the days of Rick & Daniel – and when he got an MP3 player I would dance and sing along to everything from The Sex Pistols and The Specials to Groove Armada and Duran Duran.
If you haven’t yet worked it out my dad was somewhat of a New Romantic punk in his youth.
One song that will always remind me of car rides with my dad though is Superstylin’ by Groove Armada, for some reason when ever I think of it I just picture him in his Oakley shades with their orange lenses, his shaved head and a shirt – tie and jacket banished to the back seat of the Wrangler.
I always remember trips to the desert, in the car with my mum, Sapna and Beth blasting Spice Girls and singing along – much to the irritation of my dad who didn’t like having music on when we were off-roading because you can’t hear the car properly. You definitely couldn’t hear it over Beth and I yelling along to our favourite girl band for three minutes at a time and only stopping for snacks.
The Spice Girls held a special place in my heart for a number of reasons – Beth and I used to spend hours pretending we were Sporty and Baby Spice, we both had the dolls and we were obsessed with the albums and the movie. Every weekend you’d find us dancing around each other’s bedrooms to the Spice World album making up one ridiculous routine after another. If it wasn’t them it was Aqua, Vengaboys, Cartoons or Britney – my music taste was eclectic, I know.
As I grew up my music collection broadened, I discovered a deep love for hip hop, rap and Euro-trash, I listened to Eminem on repeat until I knew all the words to Curtain Call and Encore, I danced to Sisqo, bopped my head to Warren G, and kept up with A Tribe Called Quest, Jazzy Jeff and Wu-Tang Clan to name a few.
By the time I reached my teens I had developed a deep love for hip hop and r&b, I was obsessed, from the old school hits to the new (and looking on it, quite frankly rubbish) tracks hitting the radio. I loved the power of the music and the skill that it took to write, rap and learn the songs.
I found myself broadening my music taste even further and delving back into the genres my parents had introduced me to as a child, I was listening to ska, punk and rock more and more. I fell in love with No Doubt and Crazytown – I still know all the words to Butterfly – and I’d listen to them turned up loud in my room; enter teen angst.
I joke, I wasn’t a particularly angry teenager, depressed and withdrawn, yes, but I wasn’t that angry. I snuck out the house once in my life and I threw one party my parents didn’t know about (sorry mum – you can’t ground me now), but other than smoking shisha and drinking at parties and thinking I was smarter than they were and they didn’t know – seriously, they always know – I was a pretty well behaved kid, at least compared to some people I know…yes Ruaridh, I’m looking at you.
It was around year nine that I truly discovered my inner punk rocker. I met a boy (isn’t that always how it starts) and he introduced me to all the angry, screamy men of punk and I knew I’d found my people. (It did also help that him and a bunch of my friends were in a punk band and I got roped into helping organise gigs, package CDs and take photos).
During the next three or four years I delved deeper into the work of anarchy as it were, I discovered more and more ska and I surrounded my self with black and white checkered everything, band tees and enough musicians to keep me happy.
There will always be one day from that part of my life that I will remember more than anything though, it’s not watching the Sparkplugs skank up Ardesh’s back garden or the mosh pits in MyChild’s living room; it’s an afternoon at Scott’s house.
Is parents were away, or out, or something and we went to his place in the Trade Centre Apartments. We got our hands on some vodka and whisky – King Roberts, god help us all – and we proceeded to get silly. I remember sitting on the sofa talking to the girls only to look up and see the boys (Chris, shirtless as always) come skanking down the hallway to something I had never heard before…someone was singing about date rape.
What. The. Hell.
That was the day I discovered Sublime.
The song is weirdly happy and makes you want to get up and dance, until you listen to the words and you take a minute to contemplate the right thing to do.
Spoiler: we danced.
We had many afternoons and evenings like that over the years, from gigs in back gardens and skate parks to parties in pools and body shots in changing rooms; there were laughs, fights, make outs and break ups, and every single one of them has a song. We were all obsessed with music, we loved it, surrounded ourselves with it – even alienated ourselves to some degree as the other people in school found us all a bit odd.
We sat at the end of the pool, away from everyone else – us punks and the metal heads along with the other “weirdos” from our year and the one below us, it was awesome – I think we had more fun than anyone else during lunchtime!
I remember in Sixth Form I worked on recreating the music video for Marilyn Manson’s Saint for my A2 Media Studies Coursework. The final product got me an A* and I killed myself over it but to this day I cannot listen to the song without cringing.
It wasn’t until many years later however, that I discovered why I got so many weird looks that year and why people stopped trying to invite me to parties I’d never go to…they were scared of me. Not just me, my friends too, but apparently we were scary because we died our hair, listened to weird music and went to gigs rather than clubs – they thought we were going to kill them; how I wish I could make this up.
None of it bothered me, how could it? I didn’t find out until two years after I graduated. I just find it amusing, (mostly because we were far from scary looking, I mean really…)
My foray into university life may have been short lived but it came with a whole lot of memories. From freshers week: a 14 day blur of nightclubs, bars and way too much sambuca, to nights spent head banging in Po Na Na’s until we were ready to collapse.
From nights at the Hobgoblin to adventures around the South West we had so much fun just being silly, enjoying our freedom and figuring out who we wanted to be when our parents weren’t there to tell us no.
After a year I came back home, university wasn’t for me and I was struggling to keep my head above water. I moved back to Dubai, I got a job and I ventured out into the adult world of Dubai.
It was on one of those adventures that I met Ruaridh, my other half. We met in Rock Bottom – yes really, but more on that another time – and we became inseparable. He’s a musician so a lot of our early relationship revolved around music, he’d play guitar for me (which he still does), we’d sing and dance around the living room and we would party into the early hours any night of the week.
Since then we have made so many memories together, we have been on somewhat of a rollercoaster journey over the last six years but one thing that’s never changed is how silly we can be. Whether it’s driving home after and open mic night at 3am listening to Get Back by Ludacris, learning the ridiculous dance moves to favourites like Gangnam Style or Waka Waka or singing along to our amazingly talented friends on road trips through the mountains with our pup.
Music has such a special place in all of our lives, it has defined decades, moved nations and inspired some of the most amazing art ever created.
I’m always curious what songs people connect with and why, so what song is special to you?