Monday, 18 April 2011

Parental Guidance With Bryan Ferry

Sunday morning – Marcus Belgrave’s ‘Glue Fingers (Part II)’ coming out of the computer speakers, quietly, so as not to wake the neighbours, because I’m considerate like that, and although whilst living at home I used to plague my parents with The Pistols and P-Funk now I’m more thoughtful when, really, it should be the other way ‘round because neighbours plague me with their screaming offsprings, noisy guests, barking dogs, awful music and so on. And all my parents ever plagued me with were requests to get a decent job (or any job at all) not to wear those trousers, or sleep with my girlfriends when they stayed over, help with the garden, etc. They didn’t know, of course, that all that music was in preparation for a great career as a champion blogger and writer of one book about Jazz which earned me approximately £27.
   My parents weren’t the type to buy music. They didn’t buy one record. I would say it’s a generational thing, but LJ’s parents bought music because, well, they were more ‘with it’, and had parties during which they could play their latest Burt Bacharach purchase. The only record I recall my father expressing a liking for was Sandie Shaw’s ‘Puppet On A String’ – he must have got Eurovision fever that year. Mum once told me she liked Bryan Ferry’s ‘Avalon’. I didn’t say ‘But, Mum, you should hear ‘For Your Pleasure’, of course. There would be little point, would there?
   Ferry’s career is such that he no doubt attracted many a cloth-eared fan as he transformed himself from art (pent)house lounge lizard supremo and twisted visionary to plain Pop crooner for Mums, with a pro-hunting protester for a son. I wonder if he’s ashamed, proud or indifferent to what his boy gets up to. Well, Bryan was not exactly Left-leaning as far as I know. His was the politics of the boudoir, strutting peacock-fashion beside the pool decked out in Anthony Price.
   My folks weren’t big on fashion either, as you probably guessed. It was no doubt the sight of my older sister in her tonic skirt and more to the point her male friends in their two-tone suits that influenced my style. The girls would come ‘round and listen to ‘Motown Chartbusters’ on the portable player that we stood on the kitchen table. It was the machine that I sat in front of listening to Roxy Music’s first album, and ‘Ziggy Stardust’ – other-worldly sounds in a down-to-Earth council house – sounds that set me off on a life-long passion.
   Perhaps my father’s conservatism triggered a reaction in me years later that would see me shouting socialist slogans. And, in a strange way, his complete lack of interest in music may have sparked my obsession with it. Reverse psychology or the Reactionary Syndrome may not always work with kids but if I had any, to err on the safe side, the last thing I would do is insist they listen to my kind of music. Saying ‘Look son, forget all that Grim Step and listen to Sun Ra!’ seems unlikely to work.

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