Spotify Saved my Life, (or a brief love lost)

by | Jul 10, 2019 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

“If music be the food of love, play on,

Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,

The appetite may sicken, and so die.”

-Duke Orsino of Illyria

-Twelfth Night Act 1 Scene 1

Orsino, a man after my own heart, a man in love with being in love.


I have many fond memories of my 34 year marriage, illustrated by hundreds; if not thousands, of photographs. The holidays in South West France with the gorgeous French food, beer and wine. Family teas at venues alternating between the four houses of the family. The many trips to the beautiful Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. Sunday lunches and teas at my Mam’s, where you were cajoled into eating so much that you’d be paralysed for hours, unable to move for fear of throwing up. And the Christmases, oh those periods of festive fear, I mean cheer! This tale, however, is not about those times, those memories will remain precious to me and my immediate family. This recollection is about the years before this period. A time full of youth and music and hope. A time when priorities were different, immediate, gratifying and probably shallow, if one was totally honest. A time given back to me in this dark period in my life by music, the music of my past.

My late wife was not a music lover. She was tone deaf, being out of tune even when she spoke, something that, if she was here she would concur with, bless her. Her favourite singers were Neil Diamond and Russell Watson, need I say more? She would rarely appreciate me playing Led Zeppelin or Steely Dan at full volume on our tiny JVC stereo, the presence of which was testament to the low priority music occupied in the house. Consequently, my love of music, particularly rock of the sixties and seventies was usually satisfied in the car . Gradually the appreciation of my favourite tunes waned and I was restricted to old episodes of Top of the Pops on BBC4. It’s strange how one falls out of love with something, or indeed someone.

Following her sad passing, a huge gulf appeared in my life and I began to experience, what people call the seven stages of grief, some of which I have written about in this blog. During this period of turmoil, I was introduced; by my youngest daughter, to music streaming and downloading. (I have to say at this point that my full vinyl collection was destroyed when the house next door burned down ten years ago). Being able to access memories from decades ago was fascinating. This is my brief story of those times, memories of which have given me much comfort in recent months in the form of music and made me appreciate them all over again.

My streaming version of choice was Spotify and before long it was intuitively reintroducing me to such delights as “Dazed and Confused”, in my opinion, one of the greatest rock tracks ever written. Playing it brought back memories of Knebworth, August 1979, as did “I saw the light” by Todd Rundgren and his band Utopia, who supported Zep over both weekends in that hot summer in Hertfordshire. It was such pursuits that helped me recover from the break up of my first marriage along with a string of crazy women. Every track holds a precious memory from that part of my life. I listen to each one with both appreciation for the music and fondness of the recollection.

My first download was the Eagle’s live acoustic version of Hotel California played on MTV in 1994 and a track on the live “Hell Freezes Over” album. It reminded me of the first time I heard the track on the brand new album of the same name in December 1976, the six month anniversary of my, then, new love. The venue was my cousin David’s house, a stone’s throw, as the crow flies, from my parent’s council house in Fawdon. However it was a world away in every other sense, being a “private house” in the posh end of Gosforth, very near my girlfriend. On the live track, the audience’s reaction to this version and the familiar opening riff, a full 90 seconds into the track was hysteria, as was the response to the acoustic interplay between Felder and Walsh at the end.

Returning to the present time, before long, I had a play list of over 50 tracks and bought a new set of speakers and headphones. The tracks brought both retrospection of past times and enhancement to my current mood. I began to listen to music so frequently that the TV was rarely switched on. My Bluetooth headphones enabled me to walk long distances, my other favourite pastime, whilst enjoying my newly rediscovered pleasure. I re-acquainted myself with tracks of my youth and my previous life, being that short bur eventful journey from Phantom Rider to Husband. Trips to the Mayfair to watch the likes of The Pretenders and The Clash flooded back as well as Osibisa, The Police and Be Bop Deluxe at Newcastle Poly Union. The latter had the best jukebox in Newcastle at the time, holding delights such as Reelin’ in the years by Steely Dan, Suzanne by Leonard Cohen and Steppenwolf’s Born to be Wild

Listening to Can’t Stand Losing You by The Police reminded me of the Friday night discos at the Union and the Lonsdale in Jesmond, dancing to this strange new reggae rock band and the guy with the distinctive voice and yellow and black jumper that gave him his name,”Sting”. Little did my fellow students know but the band that they were all raving about had the front man from the band who played upstairs in the Gosforth Hotel and the Imperial in Jesmond, Last Exit. I never boasted about knowing Mr Sumner or indeed his Dad and brother who, like me, had a milk round at Associated Dairies in Benton; I delivered milk in Forest Hall and Benton during the summer of 1978.

Two years earlier at the age of 17, the long hot summer of 1976, saw my first encounter with love. My ardour was matched by the soaring temperatures as well as the brilliant songs. I’m Not in Love by 10CC (I was), Supertramp’s mesmerising Dreamer and of course,”our song”, Paul McCartney’s Silly Love Songs with his band Wings. A catchy tune with ridiculous words but a fabulous bass line, courtesy of Mr Mc.

“Love doesn’t come in a minute,

Sometimes it doesn’t come at all”

I still have the scars from the dead arm she used to give me for singing along to that second line, love eh?

The late seventies saw the emergence of punk and such classics as the Strangler’s Peaches from the excellent album Rattus Norvegicus. The song had a mispronounced reference to female parts much to our amusement and delight, another song with a super bass line. These tunes accompanied me through three years of marriage which resembled having my head shoved into a washing machine on fast spin. God knows what it was like for her. Party after party, gig after gig took their toll and we were finally thrown out of the wash cycle in 1979 to go our separate ways. Just like Brenda and Eddie in Billy Joel’s “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” Her to “Money (That’s What I Want)” by The Flying Lizards, a truly horrible version of a great song and me to an equally horrible but catchy “Video Killed the Radio Star” by Trevor Horne’s Buggles.

What of love now? I hear you say. Well, now it’s all upstairs, in the head. It’s all about culture and language and books and films and food and bridging the massive gap with quality like The Animal’s House of the Rising Sun or Haruki Murakami’s Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World or a recipe for Koshari. That, today is love for me. Discovering tiny things in common and dissecting them with the utmost precision, bringing different perspectives to the same subject matter. A youthful thirst for knowledge combined with an experienced willingness to share it. Apparently, it’s called emotional maturity. Where will it take us?

Soon, I’ll leave these shores for foreign climes, to return? Who knows.

“The course of true love never did run smooth;
But either it was different in blood”

-Lysander to Hermia

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Scene 1 Act 1

Happy Days…


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