Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Memories are made of this - J.P. Bowie

Music and songs have always been a huge part of my life - I was a performer years ago in the UK, touring with many a musical production - some good some better forgotten. But if anything evokes memories of my past life it has to be music. Even before my trips across the boards my sister and I would shirk our Sunday morning duties of dusting and polishing the furniture and sit at the top of the stairs to listen to our favourite songs on the radio.
I could tell you (if you were at all interested) exactly where I was and who I was with when a particular song is played on the radio today. And in my stories, song titles pop up in random places...Cole Porter's In the Still of the Night, Jerome Kerns' Long Ago and Far Away, Gershwin's The Man I Love, have all found their way into my narrative or dialogue - all duly given their credit of course. No plagiarism here!
Now, you would think that listening to music while I write would be the ticket to great inspiration. Unfortunately it has the opposite effect. Why? Because I listen to the music, get caught up in the lyrics, especially if it's Ella Fitzgerald singing them, and I get nothing done 'til the song is ended (but the melody lingers on).
In Britain there was a famous radio show Desert Island Discs that invited celebrities to choose music they would want with them if stranded on a desert island. Some of the choices were interesting - an insight into the person's character perhaps.
Here's my list:

1. Easy to Love, Cole Porter
2. What Kind of Fool Am I? Leslie Bricusse
3. What's it all About, Alfie? Burt Bacharach
4. Someone to Watch Over Me, Gershwin
5. Being Alive, Stephen Sondheim
6. All in Love is Fair, Stevie Wonder
7. Cherish, Kirkman
8. Every Time We Say Goodbye, Cole Porter

I don't really know what that list says about me, maybe that I don't listen to the pop music of today but I don't think I'd be able to tell you where  I was when I first heard Justin Bieber's Baby, Baby. Probably wishing I was anywhere but there at that moment!


  1. Replies
    1. there's a depth of irony to that answer that just begs to be brought to the surface...do tell ;)

  2. I used to work in theatre too, and the productions best forgotten are the ones that stick with me in a so-bad-they're-funny sense. If you wrote a book of hilarious behind-the-scenes theatre stories, I'd buy it.

  3. My musical theatrical experience was limited to three Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in Junior High School, but my whole family was involved in music, and while I was away in college both parents and both brothers were in a regional production of The Music Man. I love all your romantic choices, J.P., but I'm sadly ignorant of most popular music coming later than, say, Simon and Garfunkle (with a few exceptions.) Popular music and sports are my weak points when playing Trivial Pursuit.

  4. I agree, I can't listen to music while I'm writing or I get distracted. Actually, I should have written about what I call "the juke box in my head". There's some odd quirk of my brain structure such that when I see the title of a song I know, it starts "playing" in my mind, and I can't get rid of it.

    So now I'm stuck with:

    What's it all about, Alfie?
    Is it just for the moment we live?
    What's it all about when we sort it out, Alfie?
    Are we meant to take more than we give?
    Or are we meant to be kind?...

    (That's without any trip to the web for reference...)


  5. Excellent, Lisabet - and do you find that sometimes a song just won't let go? - I can be singing the same ditty in the shower for days. Drives Phil mad!!

  6. The ditties that stick tends to be the lamest tunes for me. if I could just tell you how many times I've gone around all day singing... "or would you rather be a fish?"


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