The road from Hurstbridge to St Andrews, summer, 2000
I’m not one of those parents who has ever had specific goals for his kids. I hope they are brave in their explorations of love, enjoy outstanding health, and find success however they define it, but beyond these generic ideals I’ve never harboured specific ambitions for their future…with one exception, perhaps. Since before they were born I had hoped that they would find some of the joy I have found in music.
All ambition begins somewhere, and reckon I know the moment when my (then) four year old son Tenzin first got turned on to music. It wasn’t the day he was born when I slipped out of the maternity ward to buy him his first gift, a CD of gentle orchestral vignettes titled Classic Sleepies. And it certainly wasn’t all those times he regularly and repetitively toddler-binged on various Wiggles’ opuses. I think his musical ears were first opened the day we picked up a couple of hitchhikers on the way to St Andrews Market.
A young woman and her daughter were thumbing a ride on the 9km section of road between the end of the train line and the market. The woman had long dark hair, sandals, bright coloured t-shirt and wore a flowing cotton skirt. Her daughter, not much younger than my son, was dressed just like her mum. I don’t remember the mother’s name, but her daughter was called Asha. After we dropped them at the market I turned to Tenzin and said,
“I know a song about someone called Asha.”
“OK. Play it for me.”
I pulled off the road and spun the wheel of my iPod. I dialled up Cornershop singing Brimful of Asha. Tenzin listened intently and then said, “Play that again, Dad.”
I did. And did so at least half dozen other times that day, whenever he requested the ‘Asha song’ again. He got to singing along too, phonically approximating the lyrics which, with dashes of native Hindi and obscure references to Bollywood, make little sense without some sociological knowledge of Indian culture. No matter that he didn’t know that Asha Bhosle is perhaps India’s most famous movie soundtrack singer, or that he was soon to garner smiles and raised eyebrows from his teachers when he sang out the song’s tagline Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow during snack time at kinder.
Later that day I dug out the CD that carried Tenzin’s first favourite song so he could listen to it at home. It was a cover mount, Brit-pop flavoured CD from Q Magazine, a compilation titled All the Best Music from the Summer Festivals ’98. We started playing this and he was soon requesting repeats of tracks like the funky Bombin’ the L by Fun Lovin’ Criminals and the blistering Song 2 by Blur. With a focussed fascination found in few other than pre-schoolers, this four year old pressed ‘repeat’ repeatedly on what was to become the soundtrack for him, and the whole family, for many months. Whenever I hear the propulsive guitar strums that open the Cornershop track, I’m always taken back to a little boy, bobbing up and down on his trampoline and shouting, “Play it again Dad”.
And I got my wish. Both my kids love music. My daughter Mika has a rich, soulful singing voice that sends tingles down my back whenever I hear her intone a tune. She also has a fascination for radio surfing and top 40 pop. Tenzin is now a top flight DJ who plays in clubs and produces amazing, intricate, minimal dance music on his laptop.
To quote the tail of Brimful of Asha, in my children’s world there has been, and continues to be, much singing and dancing and singing and dancing and singing and dancing…
© Stephen Andrew. 15 Stereo Stories by Stephen Andrew