Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Waiting for Irma

Despite living very close to Tampa Bay, a friend of mine opted to stay at his home during Hurricane Irma. His wife, son, daughter and one of their dogs, stayed with us for the duration.

Sometime during Irma's approach, he'd sent over a goofy little video he'd just recorded of himself cradling their other dog and dancing to the strains of Julie Andrews singing "The Sound Of Music". It was absurd, and probably a little out of character for him, but it brought the house down, so to speak.

This daffy little clip was our response to him; his daughter, Alexandra getting in on the action with a couple of blanket twirls for good measure. Although it certainly gave us all a laugh, it's not really comically absurd at all, so he bested us in the Pythonesque department. Now, if we'd have had Julie Andrews involved somehow, it might have been a different story.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Fathers, daughters, brothers and neighbours...

As a young, pasty-faced teen, I discovered the Everly Brothers via our kindly neighbour, Pete Morris. Chock full of Elvis, Little Richard, Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly LPs, Pete's abundant record collection quickly betrayed his obsession with 50s American rock 'n roll, and fortunately for me, he was keen to share his wares.

One fateful day, he loaned my dad the Everly Brothers eponymous debut album, and despite the fact that the songs on it had all been recorded before I was even born, the pure sonic attack of their conjoined voices was a complete and utter revelation to me. I suppose it was the first time I became really aware of harmony singing, and I was hooked at first listen.

Looking back, it was a bit of an unlikely discovery for me. I mean, it was the early 70s after all, and being fully immersed in all things glam-rock, my time was spent fixated on Bowie and Bolan rather than Boudleaux and Bryant. At the time, the strains of those two-part bluegrass-inspired harmonies delivered by two quiffed brothers from Kentucky, were probably as alien to me as Ziggy Stardust and Electric Warrior were to my dad's generation. No matter though, hearing those impossibly crystalline voices ringing around our living room just left me wide-eyed, and it sort of re-shaped the way I heard music.

It's strange, I already had a guitar at that point - I couldn't really play it, but it did have lots of glitter glued to its body so I could look cool (daft) lip-syncing away to my T.Rex 45s - but I don't really remember ever trying to sing, prior to instinctively grasping for those Phil Everly harmony parts. Fortunately for me, my dad was quite a handy singer himself, and despite my mother's protestations, he and I would often try and emulate their singing. Some of my fondest memories involve the two of us having a go at "All I Have To Do Is Dream", "Wake Up Little Susie" and Bye-Bye Love" in our old living room. "Hey dad, you be Don and I'll be Phil!" (I'm embellishing; let me have this one, ok?)

Rose-tinted reminiscing notwithstanding, it is telling that the only time I've ever waited around for a post-show glimpse of any of my musical heroes was at an Everly Brothers show here in Florida back in the mid-90s. I'd gone prepared too; a reissued copy of that classic Everlys LP under one arm, and a sharpie in the other, and at the evening's close, I giddily left the venue with it signed by Phil and Don.

The following year, I returned to England for a brief visit, and the highlight of the trip for me just might have been seeing the look on the face of one Mr. Pete Morris when I knocked on his front door and handed him a belated thank-you note in the form of a signed copy of the album that he'd inadvertently schooled me with, some 25 years previous.

So here we are in 2017, and their music sounds as sublime as ever to me and much to my delight, my daughter seems to concur. Having her join me on this past Father's Day for a "Long Time Gone" singalong certainly brought a few of those fuzzy old memories of my dad and I singing together, into sharper focus.

Confession: It honestly didn't strike me until sometime during the writing of that last paragraph, that the album from whence this song came was actually titled, "Songs Our Daddy Taught Us". Given the backstory and the fortuitous Father's Day timing, it's probably way too cloyingly cute to mention it, but it's done now.