On Sunday I was overcome by nostalgia. A song was going through my head I had to hear. It was only a simple melody in truth played on a clarinet on a record that is probably around 80 years old.
Benny Goodman’s Countdown album was one of these records that came to our house in an odd way. My father had been visiting his brother and in a true gesture of Ross generosity (we had many flaws but parsimony wasn’t one) my Uncle had given my father a few of his old records. The one I remember best was Countdown. Starting with the big band it worked its way down from through an octet, sextet,quartet, trio until a brilliant climax of vibraphone and piano duet was played at breakneck speed by Lionel Hampton and Teddy Wilson. At the end of each track an audience burst into applause and my young teenage self imagined the spontaneous hysteria visited on Americans hearing hot swing music played with such skill, rhythm and speed. How they cheered.
As I made the lunch on Sunday and listened to Countdown again for the first time in years I recalled how I knew almost everything and nothing by reading record sleeves. The names of the writers, the players and the songs. That song which had been going through my mind? ‘Bach Goes To Town,’ Benny’s own re arrangement of a Bach piece which lent itself perfectly to jazz.
Perhaps it was the fact we didn’t know everything. We couldn’t really research very much and we had no video to see how performers played or where. In reality what we didn’t know we chose to imagine – for my part I tried to visualise these magical live performances, how they played and where they were all taking place. Do I wish I knew more? Perhaps? Am I glad I got hours and hours with just a record, a record player and me..oh yes.
Imagination is often all we have and I’m pretty sure it’s what we all do when we hear music. It’s for that reason I take all responsibility for my own music but leave it to others to sort out the videos.
It’s always been the way I love to listen to music for the first time. In the perfect world it will sit on the passenger seat and I manage to put the CD into the player without knowing which album I’m listening to until – bingo – I’m in love. This week I bring you some beautiful new things and a Mr Murdoch discovery that will melt your heart. Listen out for Joseph, three sisters from Oregon produced by Bright Eyes’ Mike Mogis. We’ll have a gorgeous new song from Heidi Talbot and we’ll play you some of these country rebels who’ve been having their own say on the CMA and its awards.
We’ll also reflect on the fact that the great Buddy Holly would only have been 80 years old this week by reminding you – should you need it – how vital his music was. It’s country music our way and you can join us this coming Tuesday evening from five past nine on BBC Radio Scotland.