When I was growing up eclectic was a thing that just existed within our household. It was eclectic. It was so eclectic it was before our time. Literally, we grew up listening to music from before our time.
Obviously you have the standards of your parents generation, from Jonny Cash and Elvis, to Stevie Wonder and Ray, Engleburt Humperdinck and Harry Belafonte, Miriam Makeba with Hugh Masekela, Ladysmith BlackMambazo, Paul Simon, Joan Baez, Carol King, The Mavericks, Schubert, Mozart, Chopin, Karl Jenkins, Whitney Houston, Osibisa, King Sunny Ade, Fela, Lagbaja – these were the artists my friends didn’t know from Adam, whose music pumped through our kitchen, out the new speakers that are now broken, and turned my bunk-bed into a self-massaging construction of Ikea wood.
I knew some Destiny’s Child songs, some Britney, I could do the theme song of the Fresh Prince and vaguely mouth to TLC, but if I’m honest, to claim i ‘knew’ Pop, would be assigning myself a new name: a Fraud.
Within that happily eclectic fusion example of my childhood music, was one artist whom I rediscovered today – and she reminded me about the kid inside. Joan Armatrading. In retrospect the first woman I saw and admired who wore her hair naturally, perfected the fro hawk, played the guitar folk-style, had a deep alto-tenor voice, quirky lyrics and melodies, and whom i fell in love with.
Joan and I, after discovering her first, self titled, album whilst ‘polishing’ the shelves – we clicked. We bonded, we shared jokes, feelings, stories. She got me, I got her, we became best friends. At the age of 9 I was at least 40years behind anyone else who knew her name let alone her music.
After trying, as I grew older, to get my mouth and my hips round the Pop and RnB music of my generation, I returned to Spotify and gave my old friend some Love and Affection. We didn’t have to mix any water with the wine, I was no-longer sinking as I turned off the lights. I had travelled so far in the decade since I first met her, but now I had begun to help myself. We’d worked from the bottom to the top, dropped the Pilot who was steering me away from myself, went all the way to America and realised, at last, that everybody has got to know this feeling – the reconnection with your inner self through the music that really sets you on fire. Thank you Joan, it is tomorrow, at last.