Waking up just now,oh at around 5:30, I realised that the light from the bedroom window had suddenly yielded a bright glow that hasn’t been present for a number of days.This allowed a memory shower to indulge my senses ,directing me to childhood days in Cornwall.You see,I remembered ,like so many would have done,the light expanse that greeted me on June mornings that heralded the onset of another summer’s day .This Summer light ,as I like to term it,always beckoned me outside,drew me to the coast,that Cornish hinterland of my childhood.
From those early times,the outside always meant freedom,exclusive access to the coast as it were.Way yes,during the summer it was busy,as folks took a well deserved holiday from their routines in the big towns and cities of Britain in the late 1960s.Although I lived about 10 miles from the coast,at St Coloumb Road,I didn’t feel that I was ever disadvantaged in that way,because I could easily cycle there,or,if I were flushed with money from my organist job,I could take the “Western National ” bus.Those green buses at that time,with their crunchy gears,their diesel smell and cigarette stunners conveyed me to Newquay through Quintrell Downs and St Columb minor.Always,along the route,I would have a piece of music in my head ,something that I was either learning,or just simmering on my back burner as it were.Quite often,with me,at least,it was the imported American music from Detroit that grabbed my attention.So,I felt a draw for TheJackson 5 at that time,Marvin Gaye,Sam Cooke,Otis Redding,and so many others.Although at the time,I knew nothing really about America,and existed in quite a high level of arrogant ignorance ,I soaked up the emotions of the music,but always in my mind as it were.
As I travelled along the road towards the coast ,this music would permeate and percolate into my inner consciousness so to speak.Maybe at that time,I felt a musical dissonance between American soul music,and the training that I was receiving in the Western classical music tradition.Like reading banned books,so to speak,my love of soul music was kept under raps when around my teacher of Piano and organ,and my love of classical music was hidden from my mates on the council estate where I lived.This dissonance,although not unique,was my experience at that time.
So,light outside of myself,like it does for people now,drew me to get up ,to sample the world,to soak up its rays of hope,it was always accompanied with music inside my head .From the age of say 12,I was fascinated by the music of Stevie Wonder and of his living genius.It seemed to me that he was every much a genius to me as Bach was ,and I often found myself playing a prelude and fugue for his yrs,only to then spend a further 3 or 4 working out the music to “Living for the city” , “Superstition”,”You are the Sunshine of my life”,and so many others.These lyrics affected me ,so to speak,because they defined time and space,and,unlike harmony ,they made me think of those outside myself who might live in circumstances worse than what I felt mine were.
“His sisters black,but she is sure right pretty” ,”Her skirt is short,but never are they dirty”.
“Living just enough,just enough for the city”.
“He’s almost dead from breathing in air pollution”
“This is the bus for New York City”,I would imagine that the driver would say when I got on,when really he said :”Newquay bus station”
Escaping into these dreams through music was ,for me,away of navigating my life as I saw it,and sitting on that tubular shell at that time,allowed me to do just that.
So,that evocative cocktail of light and sounds,but maybe not the summer sounds of the “official chart” were the mental accouterments of my life at that time.
Now,from just opening my eyes this morning,I had the recollection of that time and felt the need to record them in words.Nowadays,it’s the thing to post every minute of our lives on social media ,so to speak,but ,I know that I could cause you all to die of boredom if I were to do that.
However,one memory can trigger off a whole conversation and I tend to like those first impressions of a morning when I first wake up,as they are sometimes more vivid,active and less sterile.
Well,my mind is still replaying Stevie,Marvin and co,and has,over the years,obsessed about Bach Beethoven, Mozart,Chopin and co,and it stills still well with me.
Nowadays,it’s quite cool for a young person to play the keyboard from a not so peachy background,but back then,the conventions of class,background and housing played a massive part in the society that we lived.
Nowadays,young people fight different battles with their privacy,their acceptance within the group so speak,but their choice of music isn’t ,for them,a clandestine pursuit so to speak that they juggle in their life.
Maybe we expect people to conform to a norm that really isn’t there,and our society nowadays is far less judgemental about issues that they were once totally intolerant about.So,as I conclude this muse that has become a tome in many respects,I feel that light and sounds affect us all in so many different ways.Just like artists who were drawn to Cornwall at the beginning of the 20th century,they came to Newlyn and later to Penzance.Their communities then,formed an artistic centre that would draw people from around the world because of “light”.Nowadays,s,artists are still drawn to light,the metaphysical so to speak,just as musicians are drawn to silence and sound to that interplay,that contract with themselves and the elements.They express themselves to get a reaction,wether good or bad,that isn’t the real purpose.
Now,as I woke up this morning,my awareness of the light was,at first,quite dim until I became totally conscious of it.So ,just like art and music,there is always a surface perception of all forms,but we can’t have depths without surfaces ,can’t we?We all know that some music is very much kitch and some art is just glorified wallpaper ,but it’s purpose shouldn’t be adversely judged if it communicates something to evoke a reaction ,as that is where the wellspring will bubble up from.
So,as you go about your day in all its twists and turns that life invariably throws up,I would like to thank you for reading my words as they came to me on my trip down “Nostalgic way”,not quite a vignaitte,more salt and vinegar.