Personal Reflection: Growing Up Surrounded By Music

Consider, if you will, this article as a timeline of my lengthy and influential exposure to the realm of music from as far back as I can remember. I can assure you that this is an interesting tale, filled with hymns and alternative music - mostly gleaned from my father’s stash. Both a comedy and a tragedy, I hope that you are enlightened at the very least, and have your own (whether extensive or not) music library expanded at the most.

Let us begin: it all started when I was five, and my father played “Iron Shirt” by Tribal Spectrum to our family. This ended up reducing me and my siblings to swirling cretins spinning around the living room and giggling like the children we were.

When I was six, my dad got rid of his record player because he was convinced we’d break it. From that point onwards, our music exposure was limited, as it was mainly constituted of hymns learned from the Church of England school we were then attending. As such, it was communicated to me through the numerous school assemblies that “He held the whole world in his disconcertingly large hands", and that one should always wonder if that same ambiguous entity was around while one “was cold and naked” and vulnerable. 

My father assures me now that it was rather haunting for him back then, listening to his children vocalize nothing but songs of praise to a God we didn’t really believe in. It was worse at our other schools; other children found it very difficult to believe that we didn’t know anything about JLS or Rihanna.

Remember the McDonald’s toys that used to play tiny little snippets of select popular songs at the time? My friend had one and played it relentlessly. I cannot say that it inspired me to avoid popular music for as long as I have done.

Just before I left primary school, my dad got me into musical comedy. He began this by introducing me to his all-time favourite of this genre: “If I Didn’t Have You” by Tim Minchin I still firmly believe he did this because he didn’t like my teacher. I taught everyone around me who stood still long enough how to recite “the Pope Song” because I didn’t know that eleven-year-olds weren’t supposed to know political satire.

So, my first music tastes, when aged 7 to 10 years old, can be summed up with the following artists: 

  • Celtic Woman

  • Mumford and Sons

  • Bon Iver

  • Tim Minchin

  • Bo Burnam

College was only slightly less dire:

  • Imagine Dragons

  • Einstürzende Neubauten

  • The Kongos

  • Celtic folk music

And now, if you’d like an insight into my current state of mind: 

  • Apostrophe

  • Still the Kongos

  • Primal Scream

So, I recommend that everyone reviews their relationship with music, especially if it has lasted as long as mine; you might find out something about yourself and your tastes or personality, and how they might have changed because of the music you listen or have listened to over the years. I, for example, have learned that being surrounded by choir music has obviously made me love acoustic, soft music that little bit more, but also that I can’t stand the un-ironic religious music genre.

I would also advise you to make a point of asking your parents or your siblings or whatever extended family you have what kind of music they have loved or are into at this particular moment. My dad went into a frenzy pulling out all sorts of CDs for me to listen to. It'll make them happy, and you'll get something new to add to your collection. For example, a good friend of mine has just started up a band in Exeter and they’ve already had a few gigs at the Firehouse. If you’re a fan of alternative music or are just stuck for ideas on a night out, keep your eyes and ears open, and you might learn something new about yourself and the world of music.