Hi there, pop fans!
Hi there, pop fans!
Smile, smile, smile
It's all over
I have got the furious needle
Hi there! Hi there! Hi there, pop fans! Here we go with another pile of platters played by your favouite top–of–the–poppers! POW! WOWIE! UGHHHHH!
What’s it all about, Alfie? The pop pirates have all walked the plank and swum right into the arms of dear old Auntie BBC. Caroline is still about and looks like remaining about until a gunboat is sent in. On the legal side we have BBC 1, 2, 3 and 4. Yippee! Lucky. Some people can’t get BBC 1, owing to living in an area bad for reception. Others can’t get BBC 2 because their sets don’t receive long waves.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Not so long ago, an audition was required before anybody was allowed to ride the air waves. Now? Well, as long as some group of idiots buys your record, you’re in. The youngsters all scream, “We gotta right to have pop . . . we don’t want old fogies telling us what to listen to!” Maybe they have got rights. I’ve no argument against this, nor have I got any gripe against pop music. But what makes the youngsters think that they know what is good? Shouldn’t this apply to school? What right have teachers to teach them what they do? Why not teach them what they want to learn? Let’s go back even further. What right have parents got to teach their children to talk, to count, to beware the perils of the road, electricity, gas, fire, etc.? If the kid wants to set himself on fire let him burn to hell . . . hasn’t the kid got rights? Long live anarchy! To hell with governments! Down with law and order! Everybody do as he likes. We’ve all got rights.
Now we have… POW! …WOW!…The Great Globs … YOWEE! . with…yes, you’ve got it! . . .Frith Street Freak Out!
I have often pondered upon the idea that if I had been born with a few more female chromosomes within my genetic make–up my life in the music business would have been completely different. I’m not suggesting that I want to be ‘one of them’ or anything like that. All I’m trying to say is that as each of US both male and female, have some of this other lot in us: I would have preferred to have been a little less male.
My reasons? Well, you think of it. Here am I, a highly sensitive person, who takes life far more seriously than he appears to—and I have the exterior of an all–in wrestler! Now who’s going to believe that any sensitive creation can come out of me. Try as I will to convince the world that I’m the sentimental fool, the world won’t have it. So . . . on goes my protective armour and I’m happy–go–lucky for the sake of peace.
Oh well. I suppose you can’t have it all ways. But I would have preferred a classical profile, a slender frame and long, tapering fingers. Then I would have looked like a musician and I really do believe that my life would have been different. I have thought of plastic surgery, but it would need a firm like Wimpeys to undertake the contract.
So there you go, I’ll have to remain a soft–centred wrestler and like it.
October was a memorable month. We had two millionaire Beatles telling us on TV that drugs were ‘out’, money and material goods weren’t what they were cracked up to be and transcendental meditation was ‘in’. The demise of the hippies was announced together with the birth of the freebees. Space exploration celebrated its tenth anniversary. My son, Mat, celebrated his tenth birthday.
These four events hold a very special meaning for me and remind me forcibly of the kind of man I was ten years ago.
At roughly the same time that the Russians were putting Sputnik I into orbit. Olwen, my wife, was doing the same for my son. The poor little fellow didn’t get himself born with a silver spoon in his mouth: in fact he was lucky if he got any spoon at all! You see, at this particular time in my life I had opted out. I wanted no part of the rat–race of the music biz and spent most of my time looking at the world through cider–coloured glasses.
It was true that I was my own boss. Nobody, but nobody, told me what to do. The bother was that they didn’t want to pay me any money either. We lived on the bare minimum. Mat’s crib was a wardrobe drawer resting upon my saxophone case to keep him out of draughts. My insistence on opting out, not eating or sleeping, but just hoping I could ponce enough cider to become oblivious of the world, paid off. I contracted tuberculosis; what is worse, I infected my infant son.
Luckily, medicine had advanced as much as space technology, and the scientists had perfected a cure for this disease, so my son and I were given a second chance of living. In my case, it took a year in a hospital bed with plenty of time to ruminate on my predicament.
See the connection? Unlike the Beatles I was skint, but both they and I found ourselves in a position of having time to meditate. Exactly like the hippies/flower–folk/freebees, I wished with all my heart to opt out of this wicked, wicked world.
Ten years after my experience I have come to realise that opting out and meditation are not the answer. I am now an unwilling participant in the rat–race, but nevertheless I am part of it. I can meditate to my heart’s content, but it won’t pay the bills and it won’t change the world.
I want you all to read this space in ten years’ time, November 1977, when I will be able to report what the Beatles and the freebees are up to. See you then.
Charlie ‘Yardbird’ Parker has a lot to answer for. Not only did he make it necessary for jazz musicians to revise their whole concept of harmony; he has also been the perpetrator, albeit inadvertently and posthumously, of an unforgivable sin. He is the man responsible for letting a whole team of musical charlatans on to the scene. Let me explain.
When bebop first screamed on to the musical scene it was greeted with either blatant hostility or calculated indifference. Almost without exception the writers and critics goofed. They slated it. Bebop was a take–on, if not a major conspiracy against society, and Charlie Parker was an arch humbug who should go straight to the wood–shed and learn to play his saxophone.
Well, after a time, when ears had become more used to this strange new sound, learned men had analysed this new music, and Charlie Parker was proclaimed to be a genius. Was everybody’s face red! Crow was eaten by the bucketful, horses were changed in midstream, turtles were turned and vices versa–d until it was impossible to read a word against Charlie P.—even when he didn’t play so good.
This embarrassment was never forgotten. Whenever a new player or group comes on the scene—it doesn’t matter how far out or avant–garde—who is going to be brave enough to shout “Charlatan!”? And that, my son, is the reason you hear so many peculiar noises coming out of Daddy’s hi–fi.
To see musicians sipping half–pints instead of their usual pints, or in some cases, shorts, is a depressing sight. Guys who are usually bubbling over with alcoholic goodwill are to be seen everywhere looking morose and muttering nasty things about the Minister of Transport.
The ones who are hit the most are, of course, the musicians who play large instruments. They have to have transport, and as their livelihood depends on being mobile, a conviction under the new drinking and driving laws would put them out of work.
If you play trumpet, trombone or, better still, violin or piano, you are laughing. Into the bar you go, stoke up to the eyeballs, call a cab just before rigor mortis sets in, and away home you go.
The Minister proclaimed that this was the start of a social revolution. I can well believe her, as far as musicians go, anyway. The chaps who are usually first into the pub after the session are to be seen clear of eye and steady of foot getting coolly into their motors and driving towards home. If that isn’t a revolution (or maybe it should be revelation?), I don’t know what is. And all because of Barbara Castle’s bag–pipes!
Copyright © 1967, Kenny Graham. All Rights Reserved