Lord Boothby and Elvis Presley
If music be the food of love - play on.
I was walking near where I live the other day when I came to a bridge over a railway line. Not a regular city to city line but an over ground section of the underground – the tube – if you'll excuse the paradoxical expression; the oxymoron, as they say in America.
It was a Sunday, and as I walked I looked over the wall at the line and could see maybe three or four hundred yards of track and a little dot in the distance which became a tube train as it approached. Nobody about, of course, just greenery and trees, and as the train got closer the driver could obviously see my head – okay kids it's a big head – poking above the parapet so she blew the whistle and gave me a really big wave. I waved back, of course, and carried on my way, but I could see she was in her element and as happy as a frog in a saucer of warm water.
That driver could see the expanse of the track in front of her as she drove through the countryside, and I thought to myself (to who else?) that that is a 'great' job. A lot of us wanted to be train drivers when we were kids but who talked us out of it? Some boring old fart in a grey suit or a woman in sensible shoes.
I know it's not all sweetness and light, as that train would have to go into the inner city through tunnels and crowded platforms just as we do in life; but it's something to think about isn't it? Wouldn't it be great to just leave school at 15 and go in to the job you really want to do.
I left school at 15 but I didn't know what I wanted to do back then apart from ride a motorcycle – and you have to be 16 to do that here.
Okay I did go to college after that but I still had to meet people in those grey suits – the bank managers and the like who would poo poo any innovations, in fact anything new just as a lot of old people do these days (Do Deeze Daze).
When rock'n'roll first became popular and Elvis Presley went on American television, it was thought that it, rock'n'roll, was the work of the devil and a precursor to Armageddon. There was a politician called Robert Boothby – Lord Boothby – who said on the radio, when asked what he thought about jiving, said 'Jiving? Jiving? I don't see many of the soldiers jiving in Cairo and the Suez Canal. Maybe we should send some of these so called jivers over there and see what jiving they would do.” I paraphrase, of course, but jiving and rock'n'roll totally and utterly changed society. It didn't get rid of the men in the grey suits who still control things – and I mean MEN in those suits as they'll never really let women take over. When it was Margaret Thatcher's time to go she went; in that case it was a good thing as I reckon she changed things for the worse – as did Ronald Reagan.
I think Thatcher was the first Prime Minister pushed out since Harold MacMillan in 1963. 1963 was the year of the Great Train Robbery, the assassination of JFK and the Profumo affair which ended up with MacMillan being eased out of office. Not many were pushed out; the one before that was Eden, due to Suez and so was Chamberlain, I suppose.
I worked in an office as a Sales Correspondent when I finished with the motor bikes and when I told the office manager what my plans were he couldn't believe his ears: “The Royal Academy . . . the what?” I told him – even though I never went to RADA as in those days (Doze Daze) it was in another country; London!!!!
He was one of the people who referred to guitars as banjos.
Just think of the connotation of that mistake and think of the Shakespeare plays with the kings, the queens, Cardinals and soldiers and – yes – the fool who plays the lute; or to the office manager back then, a banjo!!
You see no job, career choice or profession is better than another – any other. Someone who works in a factory will think they have a proper worthwhile job – but they could be working for Cadbury's or Rowntrees where the sweets and candy ruin people's teeth. Or even an arms factory?
You've heard the expression that there are only two worthwhile jobs which is a farmer or a poet and the explanations for these jobs being quoted are not always true – feeding the soul and feeding the belly – but the poet is anything in that neck of the woods: playwright, composer, musician and even actors and they are not here to entertain whilst the kings and queens, Cardinals and soldiers do all the important things; that is what they do.
In music there are usually four beats to the bar; the first eight bars is good enough, usually, to give you a gist of the piece and the middle eight in a song – or 'the bridge' – is usually that bit in the middle; the 'F' and the 'G'.
But why four beats and why eight bars.
In fact why 24 hours to the day – 3 times 8 – and not some metric figure?
Do you think, if they could, they (??) would have decimalised the clock?
They kind of tried with the 24 hour clock which people write down but rarely vocalise.
We would listen to music on vinyl records up to about thirty years ago and the beats per minute varied. The records were supposed to spin at 33, 45 or 78 revolutions per minute – but they didn't stick to it all the time.
Rock'n'roll was usually played at around 100 – 120 beats per minute, in fact if you listen to the Carl Perkins version of Blue Suede Shoes you will find it goes from 80 to about 110-120 so that when you listen to it it's easy on your heartbeat. If you listen to a CD, or anything digital, the music is played at a constant digital beat – no metronome used; just a click track, never any chance of slowing down or speeding up as with live music.
What does this do to your heart?
Ask the poet – or the farmer.
And then see your doctor!!