Sunday, 22 February 2009

Rock of Ages Revisited

IN MY DREAMS I revisit my schooldays, my years in one office I worked in (the first, American International Group), the house I grew up in, a friend's kitchen, many friends and family going back forty, fifty, sixty years (I can say that almost).

My trips back were generally most pleasant until quite recently. I now find myself unable to balance accounts at AIG, unable to puzzle out theorems at Warwick Academy and plodding through the snow at the Medway College of Technology, my mother's house crumbles around me as I wander through it and I can usually see the sky from the living room (looking up through the holes in the ceiling). Much to my relief, I can spend time in my friend's kitchen and still enjoy the company, the food and the atmosphere, but those kitchen dreams are not as frequent as they once were.

Some things, some places, do not figure in my dreams. I have never dreamt of being in therapy, or of any of the connected events to forty years of having my brain washed regularly (and subsequently being unable to do anything with it). I rarely dream of my travels, of living in the desert (which I did, after all, for three years). I do not dream of the dogs I've had over my lifetime. I rarely dream of my sisters and brothers as children, though I am often a child in my dreams.

I do not dream of music or musical groups, dances or radio and television programming featuring music, despite having a musical soundtrack running in my head that has been so loud and so intrusive over the years since it started (when I was about twenty) that I've required medication to control it. One would really expect the madman's music to turn up in the hours one sleeps, but it is in my dream time that I get a break from it and can engage in conversation instead, and hear (oh, dear) voices.

In the 1960s I lived for the radio, the record player, the concerts and live bands at dances. This was before the music truly invaded my being. A night out started in silent anticipation, there were a few hours of loud music, and I could come home and think about the experience logically and recall any (or no) music at will.

However, I do not dream of all this music, of the 1960s, of the Savages, the Fringe, the Silvertones, those Bermuda groups; dances at Warwick Academy, St Paul's, St Mark's, the Guinea Discotheque, the Ace of Clubs; school parties (we had a few pretty wild ones); I do not dream of being on the panel of Jukebox Jury on the radio in Bermuda; I don't dream of wild, drunken, drugged parties on New Year's Eves (or of smoking dope and listening to Jefferson Airplane).

Curiously, my exposure to live music during the past three years has been more frequent, but I've found myself revisiting the groups from back in the day. In the past couple of months I have seen several tribute groups in concert. The Cavern Beatles portrayed the Fab Four in their early years (which were not the years I most preferred, to be honest, apart from "In My life"). I also saw a rather good tribute to Marc Bolan and T-Rex, the 1970s glam-rockers. I'd not liked the music in the 1970s; I had religion in the Seventies, poor me.

And a few nights ago I saw a group celebrating the music of Freddie Mercury and Queen. I kind of missed the 1980s, being rather medicated. What I remember of Queen: I hated Freddie Mercury, he repulsed me, but a few of Queen's songs were excellent. I particularly liked "Radio Ga-Ga" (story of my life, really). I was disappointed to find the tribute featured a singer dressing and acting like Freddie Mercury, and an aged guitarist wearing a bad Brian May wig. (I suppose the real Brian May is aged too, but this bloke on stage at the Alnwick Playhouse was seedy in the extreme). I couldn't really bring myself to look at either of those players, so listened and watched the keyboardist.

The show opened with the theatre being filled with smoke from dry ice, and a light show. Later there were live fireworks, which was a bit off-putting (where is the fire door?) The songs were familiar, but I soon realised that I didn't know the lyrics of a single one of them, not even Radio Ga-Ga (which may explain why it's the story of my life, nobody knows my lyrics…)

There were about 15 of us in our group attending the concert; apart from the staff accompanying us, I think we were all at least a tad tamped down for the evening, don't want to get too excited. The general audience in the Playhouse was over the hill. Not a whole lot of dancing in the aisles, but Zimmer frames were rattled, arthritic joints cracked and hips snapped. I had a sudden thought, borrowed from something Groucho Marx famously said: "I wouldn't want to go to a concert aimed at people like me…"

I'm off to see a tribute to the ska music of the 1980s in March, and a Pink Floyd cover band in May. I'll be under the influence of drugs, of course. Don't want me wandering off. The Village Idiot's night out.

In my dreams I fly? No longer. I just add columns of numbers. It's the economic crisis in my head.

1 comment:

suz said...

oh, AIG. planted squarely and obscenely on the site of one of our most beautiful rental houses, shadow lawn. a poinsiana tree that SHOULD have been worthy of historic preservation.
i shall ne'er forgive them.
i wish i dreamed more about the kewl stuff from my past. i spend way too much time in waitress dreams, or just doing processing stuff. i dream so much and so vividly, there should be more memories and more adventures, dammit!