N00b here in the forum but have really enjoyed my first few weeks, especially the “What’s Spinning” thread.
Got me thinking. As I follow pop, jazz and classical discussion threads I begin to wonder how I became the music lover that I am. What is nature and what is nurture? How much are my interests and tastes pre-programmed and how much have I acquired or developed them along the way? So I thought I would start a thread where we can all nail our colours to the mast and air our laundry, and maybe learn something about how we became the music lovers and audiophiles we are? I’ll start.
Child of the sixties. Born 1966 in the shadow of England’s last world cup win(!). Played the flute in the school orchestra and the piano because that was a requirement to make the team. I have subsequently aspired to play the piano all my life with no signs of success whatsoever. The first album I bought was Genesis’ Duke and my first single was Showaddywaddy’s Dancing Party. My earliest influences were punk (very hip in my dorm) and the all the creative mixtures of reggae, rock and indie that were flourishing at that time (Ramones, Buzzcocks, Stranglers, Clash, Sex Pistols, Police, etc.) Growing up almost next door to the Hope and Anchor pub and seeing bands like Madness play there live from when I was 14 (oops!) maybe didn’t help!
My father (93 y o) was an audiophile, and still is! A hugely catholic taste mostly centering on classical (violin - his first instrument), choral, piano and organ (his second), opera, string quartets, orchestral, and just about anything and everything else. His system when I left for school was a Garrard 301, Ortofon arm and cartridge, a Leek pre/power and huge Lowther PM4-based horn speakers which filled the room with beautiful (even harmonic) sounds. He was also a child of his time and contemporary jazz (Davis, Coltrane, Monk, etc.) were also formative influences for him and for me. When I left for school his record collection exceeded 60,000 albums. It’s fair to say the die was cast.
And yet I HATED everything my father played. When he stood in the middle of the living room on a Sunday morning playing his lastest Solti Wagner disc at full blast and conducting the speakers I ran down the stairs and screamed at him to turn it down/off. So now I kind of get it when the Strutslets do the same
Sometime later in life I started hearing adverts on TV, films etc. where I started hearing classical music and realised I recognised it all. I remember a music lesson at school where the master played a number of well know classical themes (Air on a G String, Trout Quintet, Danse Macabre, BWV 565, Beethoven’s 5th, Eine Kleine, Tannhäuser Overture etc.) and I could name every one. Maybe that’s where my own interest in classical music was born, I slowly realised that as much as I had tried to reject it it was in my blood.
University 1984-1988 and my own taste in music blossomed. In my first week I saw Prefab Sprout live (scarred for life!), and in the following four years I saw just about every band that was active on the UK music scene. I also dived deep into soul (Stax - was it the Levis 501 ads?), reggae (Bob Marley and Jamaican reggae but also Ska, Rock Steady and all its tributaries, as well as the thriving UK scene such as Aswad and Steel Pulse), and all the politically correct tributaries which from which there flowed.
I subsisted through university spending my entire grant on records and stereo equipment (my student flat system was a Rega Planar 3, Mission Cyrus 2, Mordaunt Short MS20s, debt from which it took a long time to recover), to the point that at the end of term I literally could not afford food. Happily many years and many pay cheques later I can only count my blessings and rejoice in all the weekend record fairs I spent vacuuming blue label Stax singles, first pressing Beatles and Kinks albums (got them all - 3 mint sealed Ogdens Nut Gone Flake?) and boxes upon boxes full of curiosities that I would never have discovered today.
Case in point. I have a promotional flyer for one of Prefab Sprout’s first gigs in Newcastle which is signed by every band member. It is literally one of my most precious possessions. As I try to explain to the long suffering Mrs Struts and the Strutslets, many of these artefacts are my horcruxes, they literally contain parts of my soul. It is not just that I am a hoarder, some of these things are so important to me that they are part of me. They are part of my DNA, part of my spirit. Without them part of me dies. Is that wrong?
So here I am. A half lifetime later and now inflicting the same “tyrannical” musical upbringing on my own children. Like me, none of them show any discernible talent at the piano but whatever, I did my best. All three (20, 17, 12) still live at home and I still mercilessly impose Stereophile Class A music reproduction systems in each of their bedrooms. I live in the belief that one day what goes around will come around, as it did for me.
So, these were the forces that formed me. How about you? Bare your souls folks!