Friday, 28 February 2014

Talk About....... Pop Music

On a totally different topic this morning, music of the 60s and early 70s.

I was so lucky. Even though (or maybe because?) I had an older mother, I was never discouraged from listening to music, quite the opposite. My mother had eclectic tastes. We had everything in the house from Tchaikovsky to Burt Bacharach, and then when I started singing along to the Beatles and Rolling Stones as soon as I could talk, I was allowed to buy those too.

The radio was always on (which we called the wireless). I can't find the exact model on Google images, but it looked similar to this:

So, from late 1963 onwards, so I'm told, I sang and danced to whatever came out of that. I cannot say I remember doing it, but I remember it just always being there, always on, always making me happy.

What I do remember, very clearly, was listening to this, while on holiday in the Isle of Wight.

They played a wide variety of music on the radio. I've studied the history of popular music so I know the whole dynamic was different where I was to what those of you in the US experienced. We had essentially 3 types of radio station to listen to music. BBC Radio 3 played classical music. BBC Radio 2 played music for older people, and BBC Radio 1 and Radio Luxembourg played popular music. All of it. Whatever was in the charts. No categories or genres, if it was a hit, they played it. So the range was pretty broad. 

Here's an example of what you would have heard in 1966

Some of it was British, some American, and quite a variety there. 

When people talk about music from that era it's usually either with one of two opinions, either it was fantastic, and they don't make music like that anymore, or it was awful thank goodness music improved. A lot of this is nostalgia of course. I think that when you look back at that time in music history you see some very finely crafted pieces. 

Pop music is neither good nor bad music. Some of it is rubbish, some of it is wonderful. If you dismiss it all just because of its genre I think you're missing out. 

If you can't see, for example the sheer brilliance (and not just in production) in this, then I'm at a loss.

That is a fascinating song, musically. This is not just my opinion, I happen to know it is studied by people taking doctorates in music. And why not? What was Mozart if not the pop star of his day?

No, this aversion to all pop music in one sweeping sour face is just snobbery. You don't have to like it, tastes vary, but you can't dismiss it. 

I am partial to 1966 not just because it was when I really became aware of what was going on musically, but because it's when pop music started to become "authentic". When writing your own songs started to become a big deal. When lyrics were no longer all "boy meets girl". There were, of course, outstandingly good pop songs before that, but the pace really picked up in the latter half of the sixties. 

So, what did I like? I liked what I liked. I always have. I've never been genre-oriented. I like melodic, I like quirky, I like inspiring and uplifting, I like raw drum beats. If it appeals, it appeals. 

I love this:

And I love this:

And I love this:

And I love this:

Because I don't care about genre. I like what I like. 


  1. Beach Boys songs were like concerts and the best one was "Good Vibrations". It just blew me away. And "Age of Aquarius" was a song from the musical "Hair". "Hair" was a play. I saw it. It was awesome. It almost defined the Hippie movement.

  2. Same across the channel. I remember a popular show that played songs by request. At least I think that's how they picked. It was common to find opera fragments followed by Edith Piaf followed by pop.