As you all will know, I love listening to podcasts. While mostly from the UK, I do subscribe to American and Australian programmes too. One of my favourite programmes is Saturday Live from Radio 4, each week they ask someone to discuss their inheritance tracks; a piece of music they grew up with and a piece they’d pass on. Music is such an odd thing, any sound made requires a chemical reaction to be heard, if you’re at a live show, it will never be heard again in that format, even with recording the event. Like going to the theatre, it’s a unique experience, to be had at that moment only. Music can evoke such amazing memories, whizzing you back to a moment in time instantly, how do you choose two pieces to sum up your life?
I’ve been thinking on this for a while and I’ve finally found the piece to pass on, but the piece I inherited was exceptionally easy. It’s by Handel, played on that clip at The Proms in 2009, (I could do a blog about how much I love The Proms too, but I’ll save that for another day).
One morning I was at home from school ill; I had one year where I spent more time at home than in school, picking up bout after bout of tonsillitis. I can still remember the icky, sticky taste of the pink medicine I was prescribed, this was also where we discovered I was allergic to penicillin and probably explained why I never seemed to get better. Anyway, I digress. One of the children’s TV shows that was on in that era featured music being explained to children; a yellow bouncing ball would hop along the words, or the notes would light up as the music played. I’d love to be able to tell you the name of the show, but it is lost in the mists of time and a penicillin fug.
But this morning I remember clearly. Sitting on our old scratchy brown couch with a blanket tucked round me. The violins started and brought mum in to the front room with me. She said it was her favourite piece of music. The TV program explained why it was written, talked us through the piece and showed how the instruments layered up for the glorious, triumphant sound.
I can’t listen to it without a smile on my face. I walked down the aisle (such as it was) at my first wedding, and despite the fallout from that, it brings me nothing but good memories. For three minutes of music, it is pure joy from start to finish. It was one of the earliest pieces of classical music I could name, and one I will still stop what I am doing and listen to when I hear it in a shop or on the radio.
Words are sadly failing me, I have a huge depth of feelings here, but no words I can find to share them with you. I love the underlying tune, almost a fugue really, the baroque-ness of it, the powdered wigs and beauty spots behind my eyes as people hold hands and dance and bow to each other. It was a piece that instantly spoke to me, before Mum had said she loved it too. I don’t know enough about classical music to pontificate on the subject, I just love listening to it, being challenged by it, hearing something time and again and letting it sink below my skin until it is a part of me.
Walking through the CBD yesterday we were talking about ring tones and how you should never choose your favourite song to be your ring tone on your phone. This isn’t an issue for me, as I was indoctrinated to always have my phone on silent at work, so when it does ring it just buzzes, at the weekend, I’m always surprised to hear it ring. Out of nowhere, the track I’d pass on to Peanut came to me. , Stereophonics, it was written with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman texting back lyrics to the band on their trip Long Way Round from London to New York and (I think) the song is the closing theme tune to the programme. Long Way Round is one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen. Watching the team pull together to finish riding and driving the Road of Bones in Russia gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. I also named my son for Ewan, refusing to budge on the name when we tried to get a family name into the mix.
But this song, where do I start? I found Long Way Round late one night on TV, they were showing the whole series back to back. I was in a dark place, my marriage was imploding and I sat up all night watching the programme. Using their trip to take me out of the life I was living. The music is gentle, the words simple, but the message was clear. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll find my way home.
Home for me since 2006 and I had an Aussie guy put his arms around me in a bear hug, has been simple: it is where he is. We’ve been through some serious shit together, I can tell you. This year has been one of the hardest of our lives, yet in the four months we are into it, we’ve actually accomplished more than we thought possible. Walking through Melbourne yesterday completing Run4Kids on a beautiful autumn day, with our son kicking leaves out the way, I counted my blessings. I looked up through the bare branches of a tree to a blue sky, smelt the leaves, breathed deep as we walked along the Yarra and gloried again in the light towers of the MCG.
Hubs and I walked hand in hand, pushing Peanut along with thousands of other people, talking about everything under the sun, as is our wont to do. We recognised that we were lucky, lots of children with us were being pushed in custom chairs, some walking on artificial limbs, many more only there in memories. The crap we’ve worked through in the past eight years is piecemeal to what others have gone through, but it is our life, our struggles.
For all my foibles, and I have many, there is a good man who loves me, for me. Against a lot of odds, we have built a life together, a life that could be envied, a life that is enjoyed, filled with love and laughter. Yesterday reminded me that you can have a song on repeat and not get tired of it. You can have a song as your ringtone and it still give you a smile when you hear your phone ring. You can have a song in your wedding music that means a lot to both people who are joining their lives together. You can have a song that we used to play to the baby in my pregnant belly before we all went to sleep at night. How can I not pass it on to him?