My Pop Life #26 : At The River – Groove Armada

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At The River   –   Groove Armada

…if you’re fond of sand dunes and salty air, quaint little villages here and there…

It’s hard to re-create the feeling of 1999 years after it happened – but there was a distinctive atmosphere.   It was millenial.   There was a Y2K bug  which was apparently going to crash the internet, all the clocks and most of the electrical goods.   It was an end-of-the-world feel, simply to do with the numbers, and a frisson of nervous energy was pulsing around everything.   It was exciting to be alive in that very summer, when dance music had taken over the vibe and the mood, and down on the South Coast if you weren’t partying like it was 1999 to Fatboy Slim, Basement Jaxx, The Chemical Brothers and Phats & Small, then dude, you were never going to party or dance ever.   I was 42 and still going to nightclubs – one of the things I like about Brighton is that its legendary tolerance embraces old geezers inside nightclubs.   Nobody cares.   We’d frequent The Escape usually, sometimes The Zap, or maybe someone’s house with a crew that included Patrick Sullivan, Josh, Mark and Keith Davey, Louise Yellowlees, Yarra Mills, Debbie and Soriya, Stompers, Albion fans, plenty others, many of them named Mark, all hands in the air;  most people on a) cocaine b) ecstasy c) weed or d) all of the above.   Not to mention the lager lager lager.   Not my tipple, but back then it probably was.   Of course the bohemia crowd (see My pop life #13) were ever-present and a gang of DFLs were regularly in attendance.   Down From London of course!   The imminent apocalypse made every night party night and every party shimmer with sex.   But it wasn’t all jump around jump around.

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In the summer there were beach barbecues which stretched out til way after the sun had gone down, mini-bonfires in the stones you could sit around until the tide came lapping in and sizzled it out.   And that’s where Groove Armada came in I guess.   This is such a chill-out song, a lazy Sunday Afternoon song,  a greet-the-dawn song and I love every tiny detail about it.   The strange opening sample (blue shoes???) to the lazy drums, the Patti Page song “Old Cape Cod” which contributes all the lyrics and the general summer’s day feel but mostly the spectacular trombone lick which is the cherry on the icing on the cake.

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Tried to find out if it was Ashley Slater (Brighton resident bone man and Freak Power pop star) or Big Jim Patterson (Dexys and Elvis Costello boner) but I’m happy to report that Groove Armada DJ Andy Cato also plays the trombone, and played the phrase himself when they were putting the LP Vertigo together in the Lake District.

All put together this piece of music for me transcends time and place and rises up to somewhere holy and ethereal, untouchable and perfect, and is therefore one of my actual favourites songs of all time and ever forever amen.

We went to Cape Cod again last summer which gave me the excuse to play the song again over and over.  It worked its magic one more golden time.

Short Version :

Full fat creamy Version :

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My Pop Life #25 : There There My Dear – Dexys Midnight Runners

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There There My Dear   –   Dexys Midnight Runners

…you know the only way to change things is to shoot men who arrange things…

In the summer of 1980 I had what remained of my tail firmly between my legs and I was licking my wounds.  The trip to Latin America with brother Paul had foundered in Mexico where I’d contracted hepatitus B and been rushed back to Coppett’s Wood tropical diseases hospital for a couple of weeks.  I was weak as a kitten, couldn’t drink for a year, and had to start thinking about getting a job (over and above my Saturday all-nighter at the Scala coffeebar).  Mumtaz, whom I had left to go on a hitch-hiking year off with Paul, had gracefully welcomed me back into her attic flat in Finsbury Park. I was 23 years old.

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“Seen quite a bit in my 23 years” sings Kevin Rowland on track 2 of Dexys first LP “Searching For The Young Soul Rebels”, a record which blasted into my ears that summer and blew (almost) everything else out of the water.   It had bags of attitude and swagger, it had a manifesto, but most of all it had soul.   English white kids from Birmingham playing soul.   Legend has it that Kevin Rowland walked into the first rehearsal of Dexys with a box of Stax singles and announced “We’re doing music like this”.   But listening to that 1st LP there’s loads more than Stax influences – there’s Jackie Wilson, Motown, the Bar-Kays, Northern Soul.   Since I’d spent the previous three years cramming a PhD in soul music (to make up for my teenage pop youth) I was ready to play my part as a disciple of Dexys and spread the word – not that they needed me – the NME and the nation were already enamoured.   I’d bought the first single Dance Stance the year before, and helped Geno to get to number one in the spring (B-side: Breaking Down The Walls Of Heartache a cover of Johnny Johnson & The Bandwagon !!).   I think my first Dexys gig was in the National Ballroom in Kilburn, appropriate for their Irish/Celtic roots.   But did I see them support The Specials?  Is that where I discovered them in fact??  Sometimes I simply cannot remember critical details of these formative years.

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They were absolutely brilliant live, real power and passion.   Of course I loved the horn section and spent hours playing along with the album on my ancient alto sax.   I’d always wanted to be in a horn section – playing chords, harmonies with other brass players.   I was particularly fond of “Keep It”.   They actually did manage to do that Stax sound – Booker T & the MGs with the Memphis Horns.    I’m less convinced that Kevin had the vocal chops of the soul greats, but he certainly committed to it heart and soul, and more importantly he sounded like he meant it.

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It’s hard to remember now, how much that mattered in those days, as punk morphed into Two-Tone and battles with the NF, Rock against Racism, and “whose side you were on” felt like your daily bread – those early Thatcher years were full of aggro and passion, maybe it was just me but the times were intense.   Live and onstage Kevin demanded attention and respect.   Watching him sing “Respect” live was an exercise in faith, he would end up writhing on the floor whooping and squealing and I would feel equal amounts of embarrassment and admiration.    He would continue to make a career out of this strange dialectic, even today he stretches what is acceptable in a musical context beyond what is simply cool, out to the edge of reason.    But these were early days when he wanted to be a soul singer.   And he was a white boy, my age.   Christ I wanted to be in that band.   Lyrical interlude : “Holed up in white Harlem, your conscience and you…”   Those early gigs were a riot.   Wilfully antagonistic toward the audience, we were used to it old punks that we were, there was an atmosphere of danger, aggression, risk in the air.  But most gigs in those days felt like that.   The band were tight as anyone I’ve ever seen.    Pete Williams, Al Archer, Big Jimmy Patterson on the trombone.  The Teams That Meet In Caffs.   They were formed with gang membership in mind, a ready-made pop subculture.    That’s just how it used to be.    They would go on to have different line-ups, different instruments and their biggest hit as a bunch of raggle-taggle pseudo- Irish punks with ‘Come On Eileen’ and weddings thereafter would never be the same, but for me the first LP is still an astonishing listen.    Maybe you should welcome the new soul vision.

As a footnote I have to mention that Kevin Rowland moved to Brighton around the same time as us in the late 90s and we spoke on a number of occasions at parties and so on.  He was a gentleman and a scholar, softly-spoken and funny.  He moved to Shoreditch around 2005 “because Brighton was getting too cool”.

My Pop Life #24 : Requiem (Sanctus) – Gabriel Fauré

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Requiem  (Sanctus)  –   Gabriel Fauré

I stopped going to Sunday school when I was 11, after I’d passed the eleven-plus and was readying myself for the bus journey to Lewes Grammar from my tiny Selmeston village home.   Now I had the perfect excuse to cut that out of my schedule.   “Homework”.  The stories were all over-familiar and draped in languid irreproachable moral conclusions, I was tired of their parables and lessons, my brain knew there was something else out there.   I was already an atheist at 11 years old.   No offence to any religious readers of course – my wife is a practicing Catholic.   But I’m still an atheist.   I remember my dad describing himself around this time as an agnostic.   Sounded cool.   But it meant “don’t know”.   Not sure.   I wasn’t an agnostic.   I was sure that God, as taught me in Sunday school and other places, Didn’t Exist.   And I’m still sure about that, which is why I define myself as an atheist.   My wife, in contrast, has faith.   Fair enough.

I was brought up as a Christian.   Bible stories.   Moses.   Adam and Eve.   Abraham.  Those three in particular I find frankly laughable now.   Less than worthless.   Dangerous nonsense.   The New Testament was always different.   It had revolutionary zeal, disobedience, miracles, betrayal, a hero who died and was reborn.  I treat this is a true story which has been shaped by men.   Since growing up I’ve discovered the Gnostic Gospels with more lines for Mary Magdalene and other women, and come to see St Paul as a problematic figure who rewrote sections of the Bible and divided men by nationality.

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I’ve studied all the main religions over time with the help of Joseph Campbell and his books Hero With A Thousand Faces, The Power Of Myth  and other examinations of comparative religion – they are brilliant works of scholarship and imagination, showing how each culture creates a religious story out of the same basic elements, a tale with choices, wonderful happenings, a hero’s journey, a chosen people and death.  Most religious books also have an “end times” climax right at the end = the Christian one is called Revelations.   It describes the the end of the world   “…people will be gambling, selling and buying each other, cheating, lying and stealing, killing and despoiling the earth.  Then the end will come.”   This is clever because of course it describes the earth exactly as we know it, thus leading to the inevitable conclusion – we’re doomed, we may as well pray for our souls.   It has worked for centuries.   Interesting to note that since the rise of science and in particular Darwin over 150 years ago, other myths have taken over the “end times” scenario – notably ourselves – homosapiens – in the form of war, climaxing in the atom bomb which loomed over my childhood rather like Revelations must have loomed over my ancestors.   Since 1989 and the dismantling of the Soviet Union we have grown to fear first ‘the greenhouse effect’ and now ‘climate change’.   The “We’re Doomed” lobby will always have a scenario, and an audience.

All of which is to say that Sunday for me, as an atheist, is still special.   It used to be a vacant empty day – no shops, no work, a day for “family” and so on & so forth.  But since capitalism needs to survive and we all need to keep buying more shit to keep the charade going, Sunday became just another shopping day, and large temples to spending grew up on our ring roads where people flocked on Sunday to worship their Stuff, to buy it and hoard it.   But for me Sunday morning is for classical music.

I can’t remember when this started but as far away as university I’ve put on a classical record first thing on a Sunday morning.     The record won’t necessarily be religious, although many of my favourite classical pieces are.   Well the church was the main source of income for hundreds of years, so most of Bach, Vivaldi,  Haydn and lots of early music emanate from God and his works.  I’ve never had a problem with this.  Why would I ??   I think the finest piece of music ever written is probably the St Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach.   If you don’t know it, you’re in for a treat, it’s immense, pure, and beautiful.  If you know it, you know exactly what I mean.

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I’ve been listening to Fauré’s Requiem since the 80s – I couldn’t put a date on it, or a reason why I bought it, or who introduced me to it, or any interesting biographical moments or details.   But if I had a magic counter on my musical choices (which I used to fantasise about as a teenager – my own pop charts!) then this piece of music would be in the top 3 Sunday morning selections, I’m very sure about that.    It’s really short, and absolutely stunning, especially, for me,  the Sanctus.   I have been known to chop it back, rewind selector, the same short piece which is just so mysterious and perfect that I can scarcely believe it.   Like that moment in “If…” the Lindsay Anderson film where Malcolm McDowell is listening to Peter Kamau’s African Sanctus and continually lifts the needle back to the haunting infinite opening chords.

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Gabriel Fauré was a 19th century French impressionist composer (my definition) – the Requiem dates from 1890, was revised and finished in 1900 and is composed of seven short pieces (the Sanctus is 3 minutes long).   It’s largely a vocal piece and most of the great singers have tackled it’s refined and subtle beauty.   I don’t have a particular favourite version, but I’m listening to it soothe me (baby) right now.     Long live Sunday mornings.

My Pop Life #23 : Somethin’ Else – Eddie Cochran

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Somethin’ Else   –   Eddie Cochran

..lookee here, what’s all this ?

After a few weeks in LSE Halls Of Residence in Fitzroy St, walking down to the LSE across Bloomsbury most days, I discovered my local cinema – The Other Cinema on Tottenham St, a few hundred yards from my front door.  I worked there tearing tickets for about 2 years, and payment was in free tickets.  The Other Cinema was a collective and included Steven Woolley and Dominique Green amongst its illuminati.  That year I saw Pontecorvo’s Battle Of Algiers, Godard’s Pierrot Le Fou, and most of Fred Wiseman’s incredible output among other delights – but it folded after about 2 years, only for The Scala Cinema to open in its place, run by Steve, with Paul Webster and I think Don McPherson too.  I remember Lee in the projectionists box because he wore black cowboy boots and, like me, played the saxophone.   I ended up working in the coffee bar downstairs on Saturday for the all-nighters, 11pm – 7 am.   For money probably this time.   I served coffee, cake and amphetamines to the hollow-eyed delinquent regulars.  While the Other Cinema was worthy and political, intellectual and left-leaning, The Scala was transgressional and lurid, cheesy and often banned.  They showed films all night that no one else would.   Thundercrack, Pink Flamingos, Salo, Eraserhead, The Wild Ones, The Girl Can’t Help It, Performance were favourites and often shown;  spaghetti westerns, biker films, blaxploitation, arthouse, grindhouse, Russ Meyer, Borowczyk, Laurel & Hardy, Visconti and Fritz Lang reeled out til dawn when the legions of the undead had to face, blinking and reluctant, the cold hard reality of a Sunday morning and a Tottenham Court Road fry-up.

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Monthly poster is from after the Scala moved to King’s Cross in 1982

The audience would be at least as interesting as the film programme.  Saturday nights would be the tribal gathering – film nerds, actors, auteurs, popstars, insomniacs, psycho-billies, anarchists, Chilean refugees, skinheads, the dirty-mac brigade, new romantics, the properly psychotic. …All the animals come out at night – whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets…. sorry got carried away there…. but we had punks, queers, bikers and junkies, and Barry who never told me his last name, lived in a squat on Warren Street and shaved his face within an inch of it’s seven layers of skin.  He’d arrive looking sharkesque with his permanently slicked black hair and über-shaved sharpened face and would drop off a large 1000-pill bag of blues back in the kitchen where no-one was looking four a quid, and I’d sell them from behind the bar.   3 for a quid.    I ate the profits.  I mean everyone was speeding.   Everyone.   I certainly was.  You couldn’t smoke in the cinema, but you could in the all-night cafe.  Everything was underground appropriately enough, a pit of cheerful drunken tribal youth popping in and out of the cinema, to the cafe, hanging on the Space Invaders machine or the jukebox.

Ah the jukebox.  Yes. 

Best one in London.   Everyone knew it.   I’m sure John at the Hope & Anchor would disagree but The Scala jukebox had the most eclectic mix of singles on there from cajun rock to the post-punk Pop Group, Loretta Lynn to James Brown, and – my pop life number 22 – Eddie Cochran all the way from California 1959 and sounding fresher than anything else on the damn jukebox with Somethin’ Else, like a teen reb cross between Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.

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What I’d call a bangin’ tune.   A rockabilly punk shuffle.   A slice of utter youth attitude, never been done better since.  Proof of course is in the Sid Vicious cover, recorded for The Great Rock n’ Roll Swindle in 1978 which doesn’t approach the excitement of the Cochran record, but nevertheless has a certain nihilistic swagger.   Vicious was dead by Feb ’79 of heroin.   Eddie Cochran died in a car crash in Wiltshire on April 16th 1960.    Gene Vincent and girlfriend Sharon Sheely who’d co-written Somethin’ Else survived.   Like his friend Buddy Holly, his recorded output, though slight, casts a huge shadow over all recorded music since.  All you have to do to understand why his influence is so large is to listen to the song.

My Pop Life #22 : Ladytron – Roxy Music

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Ladytron   –   Roxy Music

You’ve got me girl on the run around, run around got me all around town

June 1973, Lewes Priory 5th form are doing their O Levels – for some reason I’m only doing six – English Literature, English Language, Geography, History, a split course Biology/Chemistry and Latin.  I know.  Latin.  I hated it.  The teacher was a permanently drunk Welshman called Dai Jones and I learned nothing and failed the exam with a 9.  The lowest possible score.  I’d already done French, Art and Maths in the 4th year, and the following year in the Lower Sixth I would take Geology which was my favourite subject of all time.   I very nearly did a degree in Geology because I loved it so, particularly the section-maps going underground to reveal the layered rocks beneath, which you had to draw only from surface evidence – wow that was cool.   I still love those maps.   Had I followed that particular nose I would have been lost to all but the oil companies  I suspect, perhaps the main reason, in the end, that I decided to do Law instead.   But in the 5th year all these considerations were way off.   There was a mini-cultural explosion in mid-June when the LP Roxy Music was released and kids started carrying the distinctive blue and pink cover with Kari-Ann Muller giving us her pin-up flex around the school corridors.

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16-year old boys with pin-up LP covers !  Further examination revealed a music that none of us had even imagined before, let alone heard.   This was a musical box of chocolates with every shape, flavour and colour and we became obsessed, none more so than me.   I couldn’t get enough of this record and played it to death over the summer of ’73, with the result that my younger brother Paul, turning 14, became an even bigger Roxy Music fanatic than me – almost an impossible feat!   Deep inside the carefully-designed sleeve were more delights, pin-ups of the band members who appeared to have beamed down from an outer space glamour convention, the lot “designed” by Anthony Price.

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Well Graham Simpson on bass looks pretty Andy-Williams-normal.  But Andy Mackay became my new saxophone guru although he also played the oboe and could do things that I couldn’t even contemplate on the saxophone, nevertheless I did play along with Ladytron from time to time, a moment that sums up everything about Roxy for me at that time – Mackay’s sax and Phil Manzanera’s electric guitar playing a harmonic riff together while a mental piano plinks and plonks some kind of rhythm around it under an odd electronic bubbling from weirdo Brian Eno (bottom middle in the pic above), making it all sound sci-fi, and still everything, and I mean everything is rooted to the rock-solid rock-steady drums of Paul Thompson (with a tiger on his shoulder above).   And Ferry, above all else, Bryan Ferry’s vocals, mannered, exquisite, English, haunted, pleading, romantic.   I worshipped the man.   This feeling grew over the ensuing three years as further LPs came out, costumes were worn, lyrics were caressed.    But for now all I had to go on was this picture, these strange but compelling gentlemen from the planet Rock which was in this incarnation planet  Roxy.   Some of them were wearing make-up!   They were clearly obsessed with style as much as music.  With glamour more than chasing a hippie dream.  That summer my first eyeshadow was bought, and worn, although not around the council estate where I lived.   I knew that young men were a little sensitive about these matters.

When I listen to the LP today it still has the same effect on me as it did when I was a 16-year old boy.   It thrills me to the core with it’s daring clashes of style, it’s thunderous drumming which anchors every splash of electro-wierdness, the oboe, the guitar, the lyrics about Humphrey Bogart, about World War Two, about Brief Encounter, but above all else a huge confident new sound, rooted in rock’n’roll but re-made, re-modelled for the future.   It became my musical badge of honour and remains my favourite of their LPs.   I have them all of course, and all of Ferry’s solo output and Brian Eno’s.   This LP is a pinnacle of art-rock, and they would never return there.   I’ve seen them live too, and met the man, but that’s for a later conversation.  For now, just listen to those castanets, and the sheer thrill of the beat doubling up for the instrumental drive-by.  Sensational music.

My Pop Life #21 : That’s The Way Of The World – Earth Wind & Fire

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That’s The Way Of The World   –   Earth Wind & Fire

..Don’t hesitate – ’cause the world seems cold
Stay young at heart ’cause you’re never never never old at heart…

September 1976, I’m back from my gap-year trip round the United States with Simon, and I’m in my first week at LSE – The London School of Economics – where I’d signed up for a degree in Law.   There was a student bar downstairs in Carr-Saunders Hall on Fitzroy Street W1, and we gathered there to meet the other first years. One chap – Derek Sherwin – had been at Priory with me, and he introduced me to Norman Wilson from Barnsley and Lewis McLeod from Glasgow.    Football was the first point of contact with lads.   Derek and I were Brighton & Hove Albion fans, Norman was Sheffield Wednesday til he died, and Lewis was Rangers.   “Oh” I said, “Does that mean you’re a Protestant then?”   Lewis paused for effect, then in the thickest accent I’d ever heard intoned :  “I think that’s a very naive question actually”.   So everything was fine after that.  As we played darts I noticed a dark-eyed woman across the bar.   Like a vision of something.   She noticed me staring at her, but instead of looking away in embarrassment I maintained my stare right into her big brown eyes.  Electricity !   At some point in the ensuing days we introduced ourselves and became an item.   Mumtaz was from Pakistan and had just finished her degree, I was just starting mine, but she was working at the halls of residence for spare cash.   She became my second ever proper girlfriend.   We would be together from that time, on and off, for nine years.   At that point Mumtaz lived in William Goodenough House on Mecklenburgh Square WC1, which is enough syllables to keep anyone entertained.   Deepest Bloomsbury, just behind Russell Square, and kind of on the way from where I lived (right underneath the Post Office Tower) to the LSE which is on The Aldwych, just beneath Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

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Mumtaz had a number of LPs which I’d never heard before.  I’d like to pay tribute to three of them here : Fulfillingness First Finale by Stevie Wonder (amazing), Holland by The Beach Boys (fantastic) and That’s The Way Of The World by Earth Wind and Fire, which is stunning.  It was their first LP,  has quite incredible vocals, an amazing feel, and embodies the word “soul”.   I’d never even heard of the band.   The LP came out in 1975 while I was in the 6th form in Sussex but it hadn’t dented my periphery, now it was part of the soundtrack to my second great love affair.   The opening song “Shining Star” is irresistible uptempo affirmation : “you’re a shining star, no matter who you are” and then comes track two, the title track, slow burn, laid-back groove, incredible vocals : “Hearts afire create loves desire takes you high and higher to the world you belong…” and an almost spoken word section, gospel-flecked, soft, reaching up and out to a pleading harmonic shape which is one of the peak moments in soul music for me.   Wonderful music.

At some point that winter I told Simon – now in his first year at Cambridge – about Earth Wind & Fire, because Simon had been my bullshit detector and music guru at school.  Not 100% – there were bands I loved that he really didn’t (Gentle Giant!) – but on the whole I respected his taste – he had an older sister Deborah, who was going out with a guy who played the drums properly – Andrew Rankin – and so Simon’s musical filter was more shall we say ‘refined’ than mine.  “Nah” he said “they’re not anything much”.  I disagreed.  I was right.  Sometimes I am!

Or in this case, Mumtaz was right.   She had great music.   She was born in Aden, schooled in Murree in the Himalayan foothills and her parents lived in Karachi.   They didn’t know about me for years.   She’d come to England to get a degree, and was now doing the Legal Exams and studying to be a solicitor.  We were a secret for quite a long time, snuck away in William Goodenough House in Mecklenburgh Square WC1.

My Pop Life #20 : Everything Must Change – Oleta Adams

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Everything Must Change   –   Oleta Adams

…the young become the old and mysteries do unfold
cause that the way of time nothing and no one goes unchanged…

Jenny – my wife – absolutely loved this first LP from Oleta Adams with the hit single “Get Here (If You Can)” and the dancefloor groove “The Rhythm Of Life”.  Very good.   This was the classic song hidden in the depths of the LP, written by Bernard Ighner.   Covered by many others.   The early 90s.     Not kids anymore, getting on with being grown-up.  Jenny and I decided to get married in 1990, and a giant discussion emerged which would last for several years.   I exaggerate only slightly.  The big questions were when? and where?

We lived on Archway Road at that point, the middle section which runs from suicide bridge up to the tube station and Jackson’s Lane.  London N6.   Since Jenny’s family are Catholics, and mine are do-what-you-want, we arranged a meeting with the priest at St Josephs on Highgate Hill, a large and rather formidable catholic church perched next to Waterlow Park, where we could hold some kind of reception.  Father Patrick, a white-haired kindly Irishman spoke to us about the arrangement.  We book the church for one year later – June 1991 would be ideal.  We’ll have to do some evening classes ‘in marriage’, which we’re quite happy to do, and we’ll be expected to attend Mass on a Sunday morning about once a month.  Or Jenny will at least.   It all seems jovial and easy and we shake on it and walk up to Highgate Village for a celebratory drink.  There are some nice pubs in Highgate, notably The Flask, but for some reason we walked back down Jacksons Lane to The Black Lion on the upper reaches of Archway Road near the woods.   We had a few, and had a fight, about what I simply cannot remember but it was a serious fight because the following day we walked round to the church and asked to cancel the wedding.

Luckily we hadn’t announced the date, or got any cards printed up or booked the hall/cake/car/band.  So the wedding was off then.   We weren’t off, but the wedding was.   We were secretly relieved, and disappointed at the same time.   But underneath all the bickering and hesitation, we clearly agreed on one crucial thing – the wedding mattered, and it had to be right.   For entirely different reasons I’m sure.   My reasons?  Both of my parents had, at that point, been married three times – each – and I’d attended the various ceremonies with Paul & Andrew and Rebecca.   There’s one particularly grim photograph of us boys at the Brighton Registry Office marriage of our Dad (whom we called ‘John Brown’ after the divorce from my mum) to Lynne Brewer, his girlfriend and former pupil.   Andrew (10) has a fringe and a smile rather plastered onto his face, Paul and I have groovy teardrop collar shirts – I guess it’s 1974 – and truly miserable glum faces.   That was my dad’s 2nd wedding.   His third, to wonderful Beryl, was a happier affair, and lasts to this day I’m happy to witness.   My mum’s three marriages were a) to my dad, b) to JD (Rebecca’s dad), and c) to Alan which worked for a while, but only for a while.   So marriage for the younger me was a bit of a joke to be honest.   Fraught with issues to say the least.   The fight in the pub was a sign that I wasn’t ready to be married – perhaps, as I’d always claimed, I didn’t really want to be married.   That’s how I grew up, all my 20s “I’m never getting married”.   Beware of what you say in your 20s.   You may be mistaken.   I sure was.   But neither of us were ready to get married in 1990 – even in a year’s time.  When we cancelled the wedding we didn’t cancel each other.   We got closer, eventually.   But these moments of certainty are so fleeting, the moments of doubt so pervasive.  That’s partly what marriage is, a pegging out of cloth in the wind, pinning down one area of doubt at least, making a shelter in the woods that will be there at the end of day.

Things were changing – aren’t things always changing ?  Mandela is released from prison, Poll Tax riots in Trafalgar Square, the Soviet Union melting like a globally-warmed iceberg, Saddam invades Kuwait.   And at some point that autumn I am offered the role of Aaron – ’85’ –  in Alien 3 by David Fincher.   I’ll save that for another song, but it meant that we could afford to get married – at some point in the future.   When we were ready…

As for Oleta Adams, she was “discovered” by Kurt Smith and Roland Orzabal and invited to join Tears For Fears as singer and pianist, and she appears on the Seeds Of Love LP.  Her own debut Circle Of One, from where Everything Must Change comes, was released a year later.  I’ll confess that we didn’t keep up with Ms Adams who has released six further LPs, but she still performs from time to time with TFF to sing Woman In Chains.

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