Thursday, 20 March 2014

WordPress Daily Prompt: Papa Loves Mambo

What sort of music was played in your house when you were growing up? What effect, (if any) did it have on your musical tastes?

Grooving in Elsace

This is not in our house when I was growing up, this is Mr. Swiss on the right on the drums,  jamming in a casual session with two fellow musicians. In our house is now mostly the sound of jazz, bebop, mainstream etc. etc. to be heard from the iPod, radio (radio Swissjazz) and any other music source. Now and again I can squeeze some of my music in (mostly Paolo Conte), although I can also be happy with the sound of silence or birds chirping outside.

The talk is of when you were growing up. I was growing up? I thought I was born a golden oldie, but is seems there was a time when I could move my limbs without problems and my hair was brown without any 51 shades of grey. I grew up quite well, so well, that the school class photo was mainly planned around me in the middle as I was the third tallest in the class.

I was growing up at a time when radio was still the big thing. Record players and stereo equipment was then not something that every household could afford, I do not doubt that my dad would have listened to Fats Waller, Glen Miller and any honky tonk piano player that existed in the forties. However, all we had was a radio and dad was at work, so I was subjected to my mother’s taste in music during the day. Unfortunately mum did not really have a taste, as long as she could sing along with it, she was happy. The BBC Light programme was not exactly the be all and end all in the world of music. I remember one programme called “Music While You Work” and the music was really made for the factory workers. All workshops and factories had a radio somewhere in the corner and it was a happy go lucky mixture of nice singalong music, all strung together for an hour every morning to keep people happy and contented whilst working. Mum would listen while she was cleaning and cooking.

This condition only prevailed for two weeks and then we had two weeks silence with no music or noise during the day. There was a reason for this. Dad was a factory worker, producing wheel hubs for the Ford Motor Company in Dagenham, London and his job meant two weeks working nights and two weeks working days. When he was living a normal daily working life, mum could let the radio run during the day. Luckily I could escape to school in between, leaving her to the music choice.

During the two weeks night work, when dad became a factory vampire, working from evening until morning, the radio was silenced during the day. We were living in a monastery/convent. I was not allowed to play the piano, and radios were banned. Dad was sleeping in his coffin bed recovering from the night’s work. He would arrive home in the early morning, eat breakfast and disappear until the evening. The bedroom would be darkened by special thick black curtains to ensure he could sleep and noise was forbidden. Unfortunately mum could not stop the heavy duty lorries/trucks travelling on the road near bye, which might wake dad from his recovery sleep. She became very annoyed and she would often curse over their noise. Another cause of indignation were the children playing in the street. We lived in a square with houses on both sides which caused the noise to multiply with its echoes.

In the evening dad would arise from his daily sleep and the radio would be switched on in time for another musical mixture. I was again allowed to play piano and talk. Mum would serve dad’s dinner and he would afterwards depart for another night of work. As he was not a vampire, he did not dress in a black cloak and fly out of the window, he walked along the road until he reached the underground/subway where he took the train to meet his other colleagues who were working in the dark hours.

There are certain memories that are engraved from the childhood days, not of happy go lucky jazz music which my dad would have loved to hear. He was probably listening to “Music While You Work” in the factory.

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1 comment:

  1. This prompt make me think. I think I only really discovered music as a teenager, in the early 1970's. Thing is, I grew up in my grandparent's house in the 60's with my mom, and her four brothers and sisters. I KNOW there was music around me at that time, but I just don't recall it impinging on me at the time. There was a 'radiogram' in the living room (combination radio and record-player) and a selection of LP records. I don't recall the radio being on very much. Television was the main form of entertainment and news. The record-player only seemed to get used at party times, such as a family birthday. I recall the records being such things as Johnny Cash, Trini Lopez and a few others. I know my mom had a collection of Mario Lanza records, but I don't recall her ever playing them. The only time I remember hearing a radio was when I visited my paternal grandparents on a Sunday. They would always have the radio on, and I think on a Sunday it was a show called 'Family Favourites'. Years later, in the late 70's, or maybe late 80's, my grandmother was having a clear out and asked my if I wanted any of the records in the house. When I looked, to my surprise there was a fair collection of 60's pop 45rpm singles, which had belonged to one of my aunts. I'd never seen them or heard them play in my childhood, and yet my grandmother said they'd always been in the house.