If music be the food of love . . .

How often do you hear people say: “You either loved the Beatles or you loved the Rolling Stones. It had to be one or the other, you couldn’t like both.”?

I’ve heard it over and over again for over 50 years and these days I hear it from people who weren’t born at the time the Beatles went their separate ways.

It is the biggest load of rubbish I have ever heard. You might just as well say you either like Beethoven or you like Mozart because you can’t like both.

Music is music.

I like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. I can get down hard and heavy with Iron Maiden and then sit back to enjoy the mellow tones of Joan Baez.

When I was young the big thing was Mods and Rockers.

If you liked the Beatles then you must have liked the Who and driven a scooter.

If you were down with the Stones then you were a Rocker, wore jeans and a leather jacket and rode a motorbike.

Me?

I liked the Beatles (well they’re from Liverpool aren’t they?); the Rolling Stones; I owned a Lambretta for a while; I wore jeans with a T-shirt or sharp two-piece suits.

I also liked Benny Goodman, Gracie Fields, George Formby, Mozart, Beethoven, Dvořák, Steeleye Span, Cleo Laine and Miles Davis.

Benny Goodman

As you may gather I have an eclectic taste in music.

It’s the same with reading. If I can’t find a book then I will read anything that comes to hand (well NOT the Sun of course).

Music, like books, seem to have been there all my life.

When I was young, in the 50s, my parents had a radiogram and a collection of 78s as well as a piano.

I can remember evenings when I was little I would come downstairs because I had woken up and my mother would be sitting in an armchair by the fire listening to music on the radiogram.

When I was about eight or nine I used to look through the stack of 78s (some were in a rack in the radiogram and others under the window seat).

The names used to fascinate me.

Joe Loss, Deanna Durbin, Enrico Caruso and so many more.

Deanna Durbin

Later they sold the old radiogram and bought a Dansette record player.

This could play 78s, 45s (singles and EPs) and 33⅓ (LPs) so the collection they already had could be played.

It did mean they could also buy new records, the Beatles for instance. Gradually Mum collected a range of singles and EPs including an interesting little four-track by Paddy Roberts called The Ballad of Bethnal Green. I’ve still got it. Look it up on the internet.

My father preferred to make his own music and often of an evening before he went to bed he would sit at the piano and play for a while.

Later I found an old book of Welsh songs with my grandmother’s name inside. Some of the tunes had names written above them such as “Donald’s piece”, “Dorothy’s piece”, “Phyllis’s piece”, and by Dafydd y Garreg Wen “David’s piece”.

Donald, Dorothy and Phyllis were Dad’s brother and sisters and he later told me that his mother had written on the songs which of her children preferred them.

My sister took piano lessons but I showed an interest in the violin and had lessons for about two years.

My grandfather, Harry Lloyd, was a violinist. He took his violin to France with him in 1915 and used to play for the troops as part of a concert ensemble called The Verey Lights.

Before he came to live with us in the mid-60s he had lived in Wrexham and played the violin for the local operatic society.

We used to go over to watch the society perform musicals, Oklahama, South Pacific and more.

It would be late when we drove back and I would lie down on the floor behind the front seats while my brother and sister lay head to toe on the back seat.

I was always asleep in minutes.

As I got older my musical tastes were expanded by people around me.

My brother, four years older than me, took a liking to Bob Dylan and the Walker Brothers; when I was at Roger’s house his older brothers and sisters had a collection 50s and 60s rock ‘n’ roll and country music, hence Johnny Cash and Buddy Holly.

My tastes further expanded in the mid-60s when I used to go to discos such as the one at the Marine Hydro, or The Orbit at the Palace Hotel.

At those times I took a liking to some of the slower numbers when the girls were willing to rest in your arms with their head on your chest.

So much music and so little time to enjoy it all.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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