“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl back into my loneliness.” Maya Angelou.
I’m not from a particularly musical family. I remember a lot of excitement when we got a Radiogram* combining a radio, a turntable and speakers in an enormous, polished, wooden cabinet. It was already an old-fashioned thing when it arrived in our house. My mother would occasionally play a Barry Manillo record on it. Apart from that, it mostly gathered dust until I started using it to dance round the room to Siouxsie and the Banshees when everyone was out. My big sister was too busy playing Prog rock records on a much more up to date device in her bedroom to care about what we peasants were doing.
I can’t remember when music became so important to me, but I do identify with the words of Maya Angelou (above). What started as a whim at the age of about 7 or 8, when I started playing the guitar, soon became my refuge and this has lasted a lifetime. During my darkest times, I have not played music. By this I mean I have neither played musical instruments for pleasure or profit nor listened to the recorded music of my many favourite artists. Unlike Maya’s caged bird I could not sing during difficult times, and singing was always my best refuge, my warmest, most welcoming place.
A large part of my recovery has been achieved through getting back in touch with music. It would have been unthinkable to produce Becoming Unbecoming without any musical references. I’ve long been wanting to share my rather eclectic, some would even say random musical taste with you, so here is the start of what I hope will be a long and fruitful relationship. I have begun with a playlist of all the songs that appear in Becoming Unbecoming, with one item on the list that is a sort of decoy. There’s a prize for the first person to spot where this song should have appeared in the book, and a bonus prize if you can guess why it didn’t make the final edit.
The first playlist was so much fun to compile that I have made two more. God’s Own Country and There Be Dragons – titled after the map that appears on Page 21 of the UK edition. Northerners like myself will know about the lighthearted* antagonism between those that live in Yorkshire, and those that live on the wrong side of the Pennines in Greater Manchester. Both sides have produced pretty decent music, it has to be said. I’ve made a playlist of sounds from my own youth. Tracks I used to dance to in nightclubs, songs I would belt out loud in the bath. My taste only. There are many omissions. See what you think, I’m always glad to discuss. You can comment here or find me on twitter or Facebook. Links on the side bar of the homepage.
I plan many more playlists including one for each foreign language edition: Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, Canada, USA, France, Italy, Turkey. Any suggestions for more playlists, or for additions to the ones below, let me know.
Every song that appears in the book, with one red herring.
Gods Own Country
Songs I loved in my youth by musicians from Yorkshire
There Be Dragons
Songs I loved in my youth by musicians from Greater Manchester
Songs I play to feel joyous
Songs I listen to when I’m feeling low
*Radiogram is a portmanteau of radio and gramophone. How quaint!
*It’s not lighthearted at all, it’s deadly serious.