If you can; take yourself back to 1972. I was in my middle to late teens and was quietly metamorphosing from St Mary’s Youth Club in Blackhill to the heady heights of Botto’s; while intermittently discovering the juke boxes in The Britannia and The Masons Arms in Consett, along the way.
It was also the year I discovered Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple.
Some of my friends were two or three years older than me and they were all well into rock music. Before this time, among my LP collection, I possessed Gilbert O’Sullivan’s album ‘Himself’ with two of my favourites, ‘Nothing Rhymed’ and ‘Alone Again Naturally’, which my Auntie Rose was happy to listen to when I borrowed her record player.
I was also a fan of Marc Bolan from T.Rex, who pouted down from his poster on my bedroom wall, while I listened to ‘Ride A White Swan’, ‘Metal Guru’, ‘Get It On’ and ‘Rock On’.
It’s amazing how music can influence our life and induces memories which can make us want to dance, sing, laugh or even cry.
In my household there was a myriad of eclectic tastes; and beside the stereogram in the record rack, there were LP’s by John McCormack, Mario Lanza, Doris Day, Elvis Presley, Carole King’s Tapestry and a couple of Top Of the Pops Hallmark compilations that you bought in Woolworths!
This was all going to change when I purchased Fire and Water by Free; as I’d basically fallen in love with ‘All Right Now’ while dancing round my handbag at the youth club.
There was something about the pulsating rhythm, the riff and the dynamic voice of Paul Rodgers that held its own kind of magic – even now, it entices me to play air guitar and run to the dance floor to strut my stuff when I hear it; yet these days I have to be careful of my arthritic knees and hope the ‘Voltarol’ is still working! – It could only get better when I was introduced to ‘Smoke On The Water’ by Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’.
By now a fully fledged member of Botto’s, I spent Friday and Saturday nights waiting for the heavy spot – at the end of a brilliantly eventful evening – when these legendary songs were played back to back to the delight of the crowd.
There have been recent studies into the powerful effect music has on human behaviour, and among numerous other positives, it allegedly helps boost concentration, reduces stress and anxiety, improves sleep quality and enhances creativity.
A few months ago, just after Christmas I was at The Grey Horse in Consett, which holds an Open Mic Night on Sunday evenings, and I was delighted to hear some of my favourites played live, by people almost half a century my junior. These songs gave me so much joy; taking me back to a time when I first discovered them. I found myself as happy as Larry, chair dancing to ‘Paranoid’ by Black Sabbath.
And though I wasn’t physically able to jump around Botto’s dance floor; in my head I was still eighteen!