I am not a fan of silence, as anyone who knows me will agree. If there is silence, I consider it my duty to fill it with chat. Donkeys who are particularly keen on their hind legs tend to keep well away from me. An ex-boyfriend once described me as “The girl who uses too many words” An affectionate reference… I think.
I can, and frequently do, talk to the cat but she’s not a great conversationalist. Plus as our conversations are generally limited to “Are you sleeping?” “Here’s your dinner” “Are you sleeping?” “Stop getting under my feet” “Are you sleeping?” “Stop scratching my sofa” “Are you sleeping?” “Don’t try to eat my tuna sandwich” and “Are you sleeping?”, it gets slightly repetitive after a while.
Now the problem with chat is that if I am at home alone, there is no-one to chat to. I am loathe to fall into the category of someone who talks to herself, all the while recognising that talking to the cat is only marginally more acceptable. However, to prevent it happening, I have the radio on all the time when I am at home. This means that my mouth is occupied by singing instead of talking.
I was pottering around the flat earlier today and a song came on the radio that I hadn’t heard for ages, it was ‘What’s up’ by 4 Non Blondes and in that moment, I was suddenly 14 again. It was the summer of 1993, my sister had purchased the single from Woolworths on tape and boy, was she getting her money’s worth. If memory serves me correctly, she played it over and over again. Admittedly many years have passed and my memory is a little fuzzed up with 20 years worth of life getting in the way but I knew pretty much every word to that song.
It struck me that songs have such a massive impact on your life and the moment you hear a song, you can be completely transported back to another time in your life. Songs can remind you of moments, of events, of people, both good and bad (ooh, look at me getting all deep and philosophical… note to self, must mention cake or vodka or throw in a swear word shortly to bring things back to my usual level).
But, it won’t matter if I don’t hear ‘What’s Up’ for another 20 years, it will still always make me think of my sister, I will remember that it was summer when she bought the song because it was during the six week school holidays and my mum had students. I will remember that she played it really loudly and that when she first bought it, I actually quite liked it until I’d heard it played 28,000 times. That said, I very much liked it when I heard it played today and, unsurprisingly, I did know every single lyric.
I also remember that after the ‘What’s Up’ obsession, she started to get into dance music and the only noise that emanated from her bedroom was the “oom cha, oom cha, oom cha, oom cha” beat from her current favourite dance track which you couldn’t recognise anyway because she had the bass turned up so loud that you could feel the beat rather than just hear it; like you’d swallowed a tiny MC and he was performing a set in your chest.
I on the other hand, had a crush on a boy who was a Guns ‘n’ Roses fan so Guns ‘n’ Roses became my obsession. If the tape case had a ‘Parental Guidance’ or ‘Explicit Lyrics’ sticker over the front of it, all the better. My poor mother had heart stopping base beats coming from one bedroom and “Why don’t you just fuck off?” blaring out of the other bedroom. It’s a wonder that she survived our teenage years.
Talking of my Mum, the song ‘Ruby Tuesday’ always makes me think of her. Around about the same time as the summer that was sponsored by 4 Non Blondes, Rod Stewart had released his version of ‘Ruby Tuesday’ and it was playing on the radio. I was half singing along to it, and innocently talking about it, describing it as a new song. My mum, absolutely outraged that I referred to it as a new song, insisted on playing me both the 1967 Rolling Stones original and the top ten cover version by Melanie Safka from 1970 (both on vinyl, naturally) before making me judge which one was best. Let me tell you, Simon Cowell has nothing on my Mother.
My mum also contributes to the song that reminds me of my Dad; ‘Every time you go away’ by Paul Young. This song features the lyrics “Every time you go away, you take a piece of me with you”. Dad told me that the words were “Every time you go away, you take a piece of MEAT with you” so that’s what I sang for ages. One day, I said to my mum “Mummy, Daddy says that it’s ‘every time you go away, you take a piece of meat with you’, is that right?”. My mum, who is one of the most pragmatic people I know, responded in a slightly exasperated way “Jolene, do you really think that someone would carry around a piece of meat with them? That would just be silly” so that told me. Mind you, even now when I hear the song, I do struggle to sing the correct words.
Johnny Depp once said “Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can’t”, now I’m pretty sure he wasn’t referring to me as a seven year old picturing my dad carrying a lamb chop in one hand and a rasher of bacon in the other every time I headed off to school, when he said this but I think he has a pretty good point. Plus, I like the idea of ending this post with Johnny Depp. Mmmm what about Johnny Depp eating cake and drinking vodka? Fuck yeah.