It is my firm and forthright belief that Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, formerly known as Stephen Demetre Georgiou (let’s face it, none of his names made a whole heap of sense) is no terrorist. Anybody who sang that kind of chilled-out peace-loving tree-hugging up-lifting music in his twenties, i.e in that period of his when a young man is most likely to take against the world and pin his name to unworthy causes, has got to be floating several feet above the pavement by the time he reaches his mid fifties. He runs a children’s charity. As I write, he’s in Indonesia helping with the Tsunami disaster relief. Okay, he has got a beard and that is hard for a lot of people to take. Many folks struggle to understand people who wear beards, their customs and culture. And to be fair, some bearded people do become isolated and out of touch with modern shaving products, causing tension between the communities of bearded and bare-chinned people. But we have nothing to fear from them. And there’s no need to arrest a frankly saintly figure going about his own business, travelling with his family. All right? Good. I’m glad that one’s cleared up.
So where was I? Oh yes. I play the guitar and write songs. Mostly about my fish. For example, I love my Fish, Father and Fish and Hard-Headed Fish. Seriously though (well not, very) I have always been heavily into music, writing songs and failing to play any musical instruments particularly well. In my youth I was in a few bands, such as
- The Curly Cucumbers (me and my sister – we argued a lot but produced one song which began with the line “Looking at the colours on the insides of my eyelids; it’s very dark.”)
- IDL (me and two friends who had these initials – we spent an afternoon deciding on the name but then they simultaneously decided the leave the band the following week. Fans were devastated.)
- Out of Order (me and three entirely different friends who discussed our mission with a passion, approved of my album cover design and actually had band practice. We lasted almost six weeks).
I naturally listen to a great deal of music. All sorts really, except for all this easy listening jazz-lite that seems so fashionable of late. It seems that now the only people apart from me buying albums in compact disc format are the over-fifties so it’s all Eva Cassidy, Norah Jones and Jamie Cullum, who has to call his album Twentysomething in order to hammer home the idea that he is the same age of his fan’s children and althoug it’s as dull as ditch-water he is terribly sweet? I really don’t mean to make agist remarks (after already stirring up a hornet’s nest of controversy with my comments about Yusuf Islam) but why is it that the generation who grew up with the Beatles, the Stones, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Bowie are now listening to this pap? I guess it’s for the same reason that the children of the revolution are running the country like some right-wing totalitarian state. Sigh. Hopefully us children of Thatcher, those for whom the biggest musical sensation of our youth was Take That, will have a similar transformation and wind up with liberal humanitarian ideals and some decent taste in music by the time we reach middle age.
Well, see, there I am getting worked up again. Sorry folks, I don’t despise Jamie Cullum or the artists of his fraternity, but just as everyone is entitled to their tastes, I guess each of us is entitled to despair at the tastes of others. So what do I actually listen to?
I have somewhat diverse yet basically rather populist tastes when it comes to classical music. I love anything by Rodrigo (Spanish geezer, classical guitars – his most famous and my most favourite work being Concerto D’Aranjuez), Vaughan Williams (very English, The Lark Ascending is his best piece but most people know his arrangement of Greensleeves), Orff (odd dark choral works, famously Carmina Burana which sounds like the music from The Omen but isn’t) and folks like Bach, Handel and Beethoven which you all know. Then random pieces of music by people I know nothing more of like Pacobel’s Canon for Strings in D Minor and Pucini’s Senza Mamma from an opera called Suor Angelica. I don’t know any more Pacobel or Pucini, but that’s because I’m lazy about classical music (chances are it won’t have moved on too far within six months) and unless I love it enough to sit listening to it, this stuff flows over my head and I find myself thinking about something else entirely.
As for popular music, I will have to compile my All Time Top Ten Personal Pick Of The Pops…. Coming soon on Diary of a Goldfish!!! (but I really ought to do some work before messing about some more with this silly blog).