Sixties Music: A Personal Journey

I remember Little Steven stating in one of his shows that the ‘60s was the last decade in which the most popular music of the time was also the best music being made. Even though I was born thirteen and a half years after the decade was over, I have to admit that I agree with him completely since I am a big fan of music released in that era.

I was introduced to pop music from the flower power era at a very young age because my father was still in love with the music as we were growing up. I still remember this orange cassette tape he owned and played over and over again in his car. I can’t recall each and every song that was on it because it was an eclectic mix, however I used to sing along to “Downtown” and “Raindrops keep falling on my head”.

Getting back to them took me quite a while. One of my brothers always had a soft spot for ‘60s music, especially The Beatles and The Doors, but as a young boy I was quite ambivalent to music. I would listen to anything that came along without giving it too much importance. At thirteen, however, there were two defining moments. First was when I was given three CDs as a present: Help!, Please Please Me (both by the Beatles) and Bridge Over Troubled Water (by Simon & Garfunkel). I didn’t own a CD player but listened to them repeatedly on my computer till they were burned through.

The next was a long-haul flight to New York, having taken no form of entertainment on a plane which had a couple of TVs at the start of each group of seats. The plane, did, however have a selection of music you could tap into by plugging in a set of headphones to the jack on the side of the seat. The channels only had numbers, but I remember hearing Downtown (again) and stopping on that channel. It had ninety minutes of ‘60s pop blasting through on loop, but I spent all the 18 hours of flight time (there and back) stuck to this channel, falling in love with one song: “Where do you go to my Lovely”, by Peter Sarstedt.

Following that trip I was completely in love with ‘60s music and have spent my life going from one band from that era to the next ever since. Some have been pop acts, others have been rock and some folk. Somewhere or other, however, there is always the same connection – they started off in the sixties. In the past two to three years I have listened to quite a few modern bands and electronic acts, but I always feel as if I’m walking back home when I hear something from the ‘60s.

Today, for example, we had around four hours of driving to do and, as we tend to do whenever we rent a car abroad, we stopped at a service station for a coffee and bought a compilation box-set of CDs with music from the ‘60s. Having seen my fair share of them, I am always amazed at how similar these collections can be, given that there is over a decade of music to condense into around 100 songs. But give or take a few you know that you’ll have a core of about 30 – 40 songs present on each and every one of these compilations.

We spent the entire drive oohing and aahing at every new song, singing along to all of them (my father in better tune) and being a general nuisance to my wife, mother and sister sitting in the back seat. Oh the good old days.

(#31 of 366 X 2012 project)

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