Growing up on the poorer side of the artistic fence, music meant something else to a bewildered working-class kid with feint musical dreams.
It meant being rejected by the town band. It meant not being able to afford music lessons. It meant being forced to play football instead of taking music classes. It meant that if you wanted to learn something outside school, you had to learn it yourself.
When a buddy whispered to me one day in the school canteen that he was getting guitar lessons, he couldn’t have foreseen the life-changing effect those words would have on me. That evening, with a borrowed guitar, my friend showed me a lone D chord.
I saved my teenage pennies and bought a nylon-strung lump of wood for 70 pounds. I hadn’t a clue what to do with it.
I’d fall asleep, slumped over it and forget to eat.
“Play something” my brother would say.
I tried to pack it in, bought an electric instead, stared at it a million times, kissed it, wore the frets down, and generally went nuts. I slept with it, broke it, and sold it. It followed me like a stray dog through everything. If the most beautiful woman in the world passed, I wouldn’t see her because I’d be too busy staring at the guitar.
My parents listened to me struggle with it for several hours every day for two years. The thing had me stumped. Years later, they admitted they thought I’d never be able to play. But like nothing else in my life, I stuck with it to the point of obsession.
I applied the same borderline psychosis to learning how to record music. I bought a cheap 4-track recorder and stared at it with that ever-present bewilderment. After falling out with the band’s singer, I started singing out of necessity. Hundreds of thousands of hours, and many years later, without any formal training, I finished writing, recording, mixing and mastering my own songs.
With no connections or favors, one of those songs was been personally picked by the pop legend & disc jockey that is TOM ROBINSON War Baby, 2, 4, 6, 8 Motorway…), to be played on the world institution that is the BBC.
Now, courtesy of that pop pioneer and the great British Broadcasting Company, that old familiar feeling has been replaced by a new kind of bewilderment.
The body grows old but the child never dies.
(The track ‘Is It True’ starts at 11.29secs on the Feb 23rd show)