Memories are often evoked through some point of cultural significance or musical pinpoint. Just this weekend, I was asking my Mother about her experiences of being a recently divorced female in the early 1980's. Although this was her period of frugal living and the befriending of the right people to get into nightclubs on the cheap, this was also a period in which she found herself falling in love with the glorious, punchy pop of Rick Astley and the smooth soulful sounds of Alexander O Neil. Similarly, before he met my Mother towards the end of the decade, my Father too enjoyed his life as a single twenty-something in the early 1980s, as the sounds of Frankie Goes To Hollywood and New Order bellowed out of every nightclub in Central London. In short, I was born into a rather musically eclectic family.
It should come as no surprise then, that when I came into the world in the early 1990s, some of my earliest memories are triggered by the musical cue-points I'd hear on a regular basis as I went about my daily routine. Indeed, whilst other children in my primary school class would enjoy the dulcet tones of Enya and Celine Dion in their family cars, my happiest memories involve my Father bribing me with confectionary; so to ensure I would not repeat any of the naughty words I had heard on the variety of Hip-Hop records he loved so much. Suffice to say, the bribes did not work, and my Father had rather a lot of explaining to do after my performances of some of the more explicit album tracks from Jay-Z's earlier work did not go down too well.
I suppose I was lucky enough to be born into a rather dysfunctional family that had culturally aware, educated parents at its helm. After all, although my Mother and Father couldn't make their own relationship work, they at least instilled in me a sense of appreciation for diversity and acceptance of others, that in turn helped me in appreciating my own relationships. What I have noticed in older age however, is that these sentiments of acceptance and equality that were subsequently passed on to me were not inevitabilities of their personalities and upbringings. Indeed, my Grandmother was, and still is to a certain extent, rather traditionalist in her values - I'm sure if she knew of the tales of my Mother running to catch the last train home from Brixton to Bromley in her youth, she wouldn't be all too pleased. Yes, whilst my Mother was supposed to be at her friend's house having a sleepover, she'd in fact be engulfing herself in the emerging reggae movement that South London had to offer in the late 1960s. Her thirst for a good party and good music led to her gaining a cultural education she'd otherwise had never have had.
Similarly, if there is one dominant memory that I have of my Father, it is that of his appreciation for incredible music. His eclectic music taste amounted to a constant varied musical education for me throughout the early years of my life, as he constantly reminded me of the merits of Jimi Hendrix; of Janet Jackson and Blur, and of the traditional South American samba and bossa-nova music that my Granny had enjoyed in her youth growing up in Rio, Brazil. This constant exposure to a whole host of different musical styles allowed me to immerse myself in the cultural products of artists from around the world, and I'm sure that my passion for music would not be what it is today without my Father's musical influence.
Clearly, people either understand the sheer beauty of music or not. After all, although it is highly unlikely that anyone hates all music, there's a clear difference between someone who enjoys having music on in the car or as they exercise, and someone who passionately expands their musical knowledge at any given opportunity that they have. As a host of a student radio show, I get to search the Internet, music blogs and my own record collection in search of sixty minutes of incredible music that I love every week, and over the last few months, I've enjoyed music from both incredibly exciting new artists such as the sublime FKA Twigs and Banks, as well as music from established artists such as Lady GaGa and Metronomy. For me, music is not about what's hot or not; it's about an endless search for a track that evokes some form of positivity from within you. As I build upon my list of favourite artists and records, I'd like to think that I'm continuing to build upon a unique, distinct sense of appreciation for music that was instilled in me by my Father, and by my Grandfather, whose piano I inherited and subsequently learnt to play on. For every track I listen to, and for every new musical genre I discover and fall in love with, I am forever thankful to those people who first exposed me to music; in all its' culturally-significant, happiness-inducing, memory-evoking brilliance.