Music is the girl I love: lyrics from a much-loved Gentleman’s Dub Club song that I resonate with wholeheartedly. Music and I have had a lifelong relationship, friendship, companionship — and this is surely the case for almost everyone. It’s rare to find someone who prefers not to ever listen to music, who doesn’t enjoy music in one way or another, whatever the genre or style. This column is about just that: the fact that music makes the people, makes us sing, dance, feel, think, cry, laugh…
In each instalment of this column, I will either cover a deepdive into a theme relating to or genre of music, or an artist spotlight of musicians that I believe are worth thinking about. Music makes the people, but the people are who make music, and we mustn’t forget about them. There is a circularity in the relationship between music, ourselves and the people around us. Music gives us all the feelings; these feelings are instilled in the music by people.
In each column I’ll specially select a ‘Song of the Week’, which may or may not relate to the topic we talk about, as well a playlist which definitely will relate to our topic of conversation in this column, which you can (and should) put on whilst reading it.
Song of the Week 1: ‘Music’ by Madonna
If music is the girl I love, this is the song I had my first ever romance with. As a kid, with just me and my mum at home, we’d start every morning before school with a boogie. My mum’s amazing taste is definitely the reason I have fallen in love with music, as she raised me to really value music’s joy-bringing power. She effectively has a shrine to David Bowie in our living room and I was even given my middle name after The Indigo Girls. So yes, it logically follows that as a child I’d start the day with a song and a dance – and no nursery rhymes either, no no. My mum wouldn’t let me watch TV on school mornings, but in the hours before school she had me listening to Madonna, Corinne Bailey Ray, Jimmy Cliff and Joss Stone, at the ripe young age of four.
I’ve chosen ‘Music’ as my first Song of the Week as it is to this song that I owe this column’s title to. In the song Madonna sings the lyric “music/ makes the people/ come together”; there is a pause before the line “come together”, and when I was conjuring up a title for this column, that really stood out. “Music makes the people” just sounded perfect to me: of course, people make music, but music also makes us – it shapes us and helps us form connections. I felt this was particularly a perfect lyric for my own piece as it comes from the song I connected to the most in my childhood, so here is a little bit of background on my childhood music. Also, just FYI: I’m not at all qualified to talk about music through anything but my extreme passion for listening to it.
Listen to the playlist, I hope you like it. Most of these songs don’t merit much explanation, they are just good, and they remind me of my childhood in music. Also, although I’ve picked my one song of the week, it feels absolutely necessary for me to give out some honourable mentions.
Special Shout Outs
I still listen to a lot of Bowie but the songs in this playlist are absolutely the ones I associate most with my childhood; ‘Let’s Dance’ of course doesn’t need much introduction, and I suppose the simplicity of ‘Sound and Vision’, not least shown through its bassline, was easy for me as a child to digest — when you are a child it’s the simple sensory things that engage you, like sound, and vision.
Joss Stone’s album ‘Mind, Body & Soul’ is a car album – growing up we were in the car often, visiting family around the country, and this CD lived in my mum’s car collection (and still does). We still both love to belt out the lyrics to ‘Don’t Cha Wanna Ride’ when we’re in the car together, but neither of us can truly embody Stone’s soulful voice.
‘If You Could Love Me’ is probably one of my favourite Edwyn Collins songs. Upbeat, with Collin’s iconic voice paired with the beautiful range of instruments, this is a perfect song. The track features on his album ‘Gorgeous George’, his second album after suffering a devastating stroke. Collins deserves a lot more of our time, which in a later instalment he will get.
The final song on the playlist, ‘I Try’, by Macy Gray, is a truly lovely song with quite a funny story behind it. When I was really young I used to ask my mum to play “the goggles song”, which she was very confused about for a while, until she eventually realised I’d misheard the lyrics of this Macy Gray track. Where it says “my world crumbles when you are not there”, I’d thought the lyric was “I wear goggles when you are not there”. I can still hear ‘goggles’; you should listen out for it.
‘Music’ – Madonna
Yet the song that transports me back to this period of time the most is ‘Music’ by Madonna. When I hear it I’m 3 feet tall and in a primary school uniform again, dancing barefoot on the carpet. This may have been the first song I ever loved, though I did have a few other favourites growing up (linked in the playlist). As a little four-year-old in my primary school pinafore, I’d dance with my Mum to this electronic-disco-funk track, which just embodies Y2K. The music pulses in with a heavy but clean electronic beat, the distorted voice of Madonna opening the track calling for the DJ to put a record on. This song encapsulates that random childlike passion I felt, loving the sounds the music made, and the way it made me feel, unable to articulate it. What’s beautiful is that music still makes me feel this way, I still get starry-eyed (and eared?) about it. I hope that this playlist of “my nursery rhymes” can help to provide a background to this column and why I’m writing it. These are truly the songs I felt as a child. They are the soundtrack to my early life, and the songs that I believe ignited my passion and interest in music.