Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I am nine

Here are some of the things that happened when I was nine (give or take a couple of months either way), and which I remember. (I'm using the BBC site rather than Wikipedia, which doesn't seem to have much British news from that far back.)

Apollo 11 (I remember watching the landing)
The introduction of the 50p coin (I remember ten-bob notes, anyway)
Apollo 12 (I watched that too; I thought this was what life was going to be like)
The first jumbo jets
Apollo 13 (whoa, bad news)
The World Cup
Ted Heath winning an election (vaguely)

And, er, that's it. I have no memory of (among other things) Chappaquiddick, the murder of Sharon Tate, the Chicago Eight, the Piazza Fontana bomb, Ian Smith declaring UDI or the PFLP hijacking four airliners and blowing them up. (Quite a year, really.)

The first political event I remember? Probably the Aberfan disaster, when I was six. World events didn't really impinge, although I do remember answering a question at school about plagues by suggesting that you could have a plague of gorillas; there seemed to have been a lot on the news about gorillas recently. My first poem, written at the age of eight on a prescribed theme of 'sunset', was about refugees from a 'bloody war' 'far away' (who didn't get much joy out of the aforementioned sunset). I was taken to see the headmistress on the strength of it; these days they'd probably call Social Services.

It's probably not surprising that my musical memories of 1969-70 are a lot clearer. But I mean, a lot clearer. I remember

Thunderclap Newman, "Something In The Air"
(I thought this was wonderful)
Zager & Evans, "In The Year 2525"
Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Bad Moon Rising"
Bobby Gentry, "I'll Never Fall In Love Again"
the Archies, "Sugar Sugar"
Rolf Harris, "Two Little Boys"
(I hated this with a passion)
Edison Lighthouse , "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)"
(as with the Thunderclap Newman, I thought this was v. meaningful and moving)
Lee Marvin, "Wanderin' Star"
(I hated this too)
Simon & Garfunkel, "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
Dana, "All Kinds Of Everything"
(and I wasn't too keen on this one)
Norman Greenbaum, "Spirit In The Sky"
England World Cup Squad, "Back Home"
Christie, "Yellow River"
(a friend at school was born in Hong Kong; this song was the bane of his life)
Mungo Jerry, "In The Summertime"
(this was absolutely the best thing ever)

In other words, I've got distinct and in some cases vivid memories of just about every number one single in the period. I could even say I remember

Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg, "Je T'Aime... Moi Non Plus"

inasmuch as I clearly remember watching Top of the Pops the week it was Number One. (At least, I remember the studio audience dancing for three minutes in silence in a darkened studio, but I think memory must be exaggerating slightly.)

Pop music goes back earlier than politics, too. The earliest pop music I remember would have to be the Honeycombs' "Have I the right"; it was number one the week I turned four (two years before Aberfan). And it still sounds wonderful.

Then there was

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, "Tears Of A Clown"

It's just outside the period - after Elvis singing the ghastly "The wonder of you", which followed "In the summertime" - but the memory's too vivid to pass by. Not so much the song (fabulous though it is) as the accompanying performance by Pan's People. I can't remember the details, but I know I fell in love with one of the People there and then. (The pretty one, you know.)

But by then I was ten, which is quite another story.

No more toys for grown-up boys
When I am ten I'll remember when
I was nine and had a wonderful time
I'll look back nostalgically...

5 Comments:

Blogger Paul Anderson said...

Phil - Like you I rememember the tunes from when I was nine (I'm six months older than you I guess). But do you remember the reviews we both wrote for Tribune on the 20th anniversary of the events of May 1968 mocking the nostalgia of the past-it 68ers ... who were then in their mid-forties?

14/9/06 23:40  
Blogger Phil said...

Ugh. That's just too depressing.

Come on, all together: "Because the rev-o-lution's here, and you know it's right..."

15/9/06 00:30  
Blogger amanda said...

hi Phil
Only just caught up with this. Do you remember Martin Luther King's death, ditto Kennedy's and Jan Palach also? How old were you then?
Do you remember John Mayall the blues alone:I'm sure I played that as well as Nashville Skyline and Strictly Personal

Amanda

17/9/06 23:03  
Blogger Phil said...

Hi Amanda!

I don't remember MLK or RFK; I remember Palach, but I think what I'm remembering is actually a play about him I saw at school years later. (Or maybe the play revived earlier memories.)

Music, again, is a lot clearer - I've got vivid memories of all those albums. Nashville Skyline put me off Dylan for years (and put me off Johnny Cash pretty much for life). The blues alone was very cool in a rather forbidding and grown-up sort of way - which is pretty much what I still think of John Mayall. That Beefheart album was just weird - I remember you saying once you found it quite funny (ha-ha), but as far as I could see it was just funny (peculiar, not to say mildly disturbing).

By heck, it's not easy having cool and trendy older siblings sometimes...

18/9/06 22:28  
Anonymous Amanda said...

Just as well I didn't buy Self Portrait then. I struggled with that actually (When dogs run free....)
But I do remember my singles: Cream: White Room and Badge: and the Band: the Weight and I shall be Released. Cheery little numbers. I remember playing them in a gloomy adolescent way fairly endlessly.
The very best thing about Strictly Personal was how much Dad hated it. After that, I couldn't possibly admit that I found it hard going....I did get to like some of it though.

18/9/06 23:17  

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