Memory – Age 13

Big fish small pondMoving from being a big fish in a little pond……

I had graduated from primary school, and I was now going to high school. The new high school I went to, drew from all the local smaller primary schools from surrounding districts, making the high school population four (4) to five (5) to six (6) times larger than my year before, in primary school. The mixture of areas that were within this high school catchment area were diverse with a mixture of quite wealthy families, somewhat comfortable middle class families, families from working class backgrounds, and families from housing commission units – from the other side of the tracks.
As I reflect, I realise that Year 1 of high school was a vast melting pot of social and cultural differences, relative to my previous year at primary school.
There were so many people, far older and bigger than me. I recall feeling very overwhelmed. Some of the oldest kids were adults: driving cars, some working, some in relationships with girls; some I heard from my older brother and sister had babies; and some about to be married and move out of their parents homes, by themselves.
I was twelve years old, going on thirteen. My mum told me what to do, and I struggled to even know what I thought. My god, I was in way over my head by being in this big school.
Small fish big pond
Yes, I had moved from being quite a big fish in the little pond of my primary school, on the back of my water fight incident [see Memory – Age 12]; to now feeling at odds in this larger school. I was feeling that I was now very, very small. A very small fish in a very, very big pond, and I recall struggling to want to speak at all.
Drawn from the other primary schools we some of my friends from my Saturday morning rugby football club – guys I had played with for about five (5) years. I got on pretty good with them – I was a reliable player in that club, though I never stood out in terms of being selected for districts as most of them had. But we all hung out in Year 1, as I think we were all feeling a bit overwhelmed in this new big school.

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Contained within this mix of students, was an equally diverse and eclectic range of tastes and influences in musical styles. Even though my musical tastes had broadened quite a lot of the previous three (3) to four (4) years, it seemed to me everyone here at school was very sure of their musical tastes – what they liked, what they didn’t, and what was cool. I recall thinking to my self in this period:
  • what do I like? and why?
  • am I as sure of what I like?
  • why aren’t I as sure as everyone else around me about what I like, and about who I am?
  • why aren’t I as confident in what I believe in, as everyone else seems to be?
  • and perhaps most importantly, why aren’t all of my musical tastes considered so cool?
I recall knowing I was about to have an exponential increase of  influences from all of my new peers’ musical tastes, likely to massively expand what I listened to everyday.  But, I still couldn’t hear my own voice…. This is another in-situated recollection of what I consider to have been a significant event in my life, when I was Age 13.

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(AE 2015a)

My Musical Development

By the time Age 13 rolled around, it had been about two (2) years since I started playing my first guitar [see Memory – 10].  I had experimented a fair bit trying to play others songs as I described in my blog [see Music Practitioner Part 1 – Beginnings].
The music I was listening to, and influenced by, had grown exponentially. I found I was more purposely listening to far broader range of music, possibly mainly due to the significant diversification of music styles found at that time on radio and TV channels, following the burgeoning music business across the continents of North America, the United Kingdom, and Europe that occurred from the mid to late 1960’s. Irrespective of when the music was released, our household filled with contemporary music from about the age of nine (9) onwards, across the airwaves of radio and TV, and then in the form of singles and albums, after my dad returned from overseas with our household’s first serious stereo record system – a Bang and Olufsen system.
By this stage in my life, I was obsessed with music, listening daily to either the radio, records, or myself on the guitar. Some of the music I recall from my in-situation reflection were:
1967 family influence on my musical development (ie: albums that our household had):
  • The Beatles: “Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”
  • Cream: “Disraeli Gears”
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience: “Are you experienced?”
  • Various: European classical orchestral recordings
  • Various: European operatic recordings 
1967 radio, TV and peers’ influence on my musical development:
  • Various: AM radio popular music programs, playing top forty (40) songs such as found on the charts
  • Various: TV programs such as Bandstand, playing top forty (40) songs such as found on the charts
  • http://www.uk-charts.top-source.info/top-100-1967.shtml
  • Various: AM radio European classical orchestral and operatic radio channels

 

1968 family influence on my musical development (ie: albums that our household had):
  • Iron Butterfly: “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”
  • The Beatles: “The Beatles (White Album)”
  • Various: European classical orchestral recordings
  • Various: European operatic recordings
1968 radio, TV and peers’ influence on my musical development:
   The Band: “Music from the Big Pink” (including “I Shall Be Released”)
  • Various: AM radio European classical orchestral and operatic radio channels

 

1969 family influence on my musical development (ie: albums that our household had):
  • The Beatles: “Abbey Road”
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival: “Willy and the Poorboys”
  •  Jimmy Little” “I Can’t Stop Loving You”
  • Various: European classical orchestral recordings
  • Various: European operatic recordings
1969 radio, TV and peers’ influence on my musical development:
  • Various: AM radio popular music programs, playing top forty (40) songs such as found on the charts
  • Various: TV programs such as Bandstand, playing top forty (40) songs such as found on the charts
  • http://www.uk-charts.top-source.info/top-100-1969.shtml , specifically:
  • Blind Faith: “Can’t Find My Way Home”
  • Various: AM radio European classical orchestral and operatic radio channels

 

1970 family influence on my musical development (ie: albums that our household had):
  • Cat Stevens: “Tea for the Tillerman”
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival: “Cosmo’s Factory”
  • George Harrison: All Things Must Pass”
  • Various: “Woodstock Live Soundtrack”
  • Various: European classical orchestral recordings
  • Various: European operatic recordings
1970 radio, TV and peers’ influence on my musical development:
  • Various: AM radio popular music programs, playing top forty (40) songs such as found on the charts
  • Various: TV programs such as Bandstand, playing top forty (40) songs such as found on the charts
  • http://www.uk-charts.top-source.info/top-100-1970.shtml , specifically:
  • David Bowie: “The Man Who Sold The World”
  • Various: AM radio European classical orchestral and operatic radio channels

 

1971 family influence on my musical development (ie: albums that our household had):
  • Cat Stevens: “Teaser and The Firecat”
  • George Harrison + various: “The Concert for Bangladesh”
  • Led Zeppelin: “IV”
  • Isaac Hayes: “Theme From Shaft”
  • Neil Diamond: “I Am I Said”
  • Sammy Davis Jr: “The Candy Man”
  • Roberta Flack / Donny Hathaway: “Where is the Love”
  • James Taylor: “You’ve Got a Friend”
  • Bill Withers: “Ain’t No Sunshine”
  • Various: European classical orchestral recordings
  • Various: European operatic recordings
1971 radio, TV and peers’ influence on my musical development:
  • Various: AM radio popular music programs, playing top forty (40) songs such as found on the charts
  • Various: TV programs such as Bandstand, playing top forty (40) songs such as found on the charts
  • http://www.uk-charts.top-source.info/top-100-1971.shtml , specifically:
  • Michael Jackson: “Rockin’ Robin”
  • Rod Stewart: “Maggie May”
  • David Bowie: “Hunky Dory”
  • T-Rex: “Get It On”
  • Various: AM radio European classical orchestral and operatic radio channels

 

1972 family influence on my musical development (ie: albums that our household had):
  • Neil Young “Harvest”
  • David Bowie: “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”
  • Various: Jesus Christ Superstar (Original Australian Cast Recording)
  • Don McLean: “American Pie”
  • Don McLean: “Vincent”
  • Chuck Berry: “My Ding a ling”
  • Various: European classical orchestral recordings
  • Various: European operatic recordings
1972 radio, TV and peers’ influence on my musical development:
  • Various: AM radio popular music programs, playing top forty (40) songs such as found on the charts
  • Various: TV programs such as Bandstand, playing top forty (40) songs such as found on the charts
  • http://www.uk-charts.top-source.info/top-100-1972.shtml , specifically:
  • Elvis Presley” “Burning Love”
  • Alice Cooper: “School’s Out”
  • Jackson Browne: “Doctor My Eyes”
  • Dr Hook: “Sylvia’s Mother”
  • Mott The Hoople: “All The Young Dudes”
  • T-Rex: “Children of the Revolution”
  • Jim Croce: “You Don’t Mess Around With Me”
  • Curtis Mayfield: “Superfly”
  • Steely Dan: “Do It Again”
  • Various: AM radio European classical orchestral and operatic radio channels
1973 family influence on my musical development (ie: albums that our household had):
  • Pink Floyd: “Dark Side of The Moon”
  • Rolling Stones: “Goat’s Head Soup”
  • Elton John: “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”
  • David Bowie: “Aladdin Sane”
  • Paul McCartney: “Red Rose Speedway”
  • Steve Miller Band: “The Joker”
  • Jim Croce: “Life and Times”
  • Al Green: “Call Me”
  • Various: European classical orchestral recordings
  • Various: European operatic recordings
1973 radio, TV and peers’ influence on my musical development:
  • Various: AM radio popular music programs, playing top forty (40) songs such as found on the charts
  • Various: TV programs such as Bandstand, playing top forty (40) songs such as found on the charts
  • http://www.uk-charts.top-source.info/top-100-1973.shtml , specifically:
  • Suzi Quatro: “Can the Can”
  • Doobie Brothers: “Long Train Running”
  • Dobie Gray: “Drift Away”
  • Roberta Flack: “Killing Me Softly”
  • Grad Funk Railroad: “We’re an American Band”
  • 10cc: “Rubber Bulets”
  • Slade: “Cum On Feel The Noise”
  • Ike & Tina Turner: “Nutbush City Limits”
  • George Harrison: “Give Me Love”
  • Jim Croce: “Bad Bad Leroy Brown”
  • The Allman Brothers: “Ramblin’ Man”
  • Various: AM radio European classical orchestral and operatic radio channels

~Music_staff Blue

(AE 2015b)
The music styles were diverse – eclectic. Each ones’ influence on me ranged from the type of song, the instrumentation, the lyric, the phrasing, the song’s message, the harmony, the melody, and/or the production. I recall all of this music captured my imagination in some way, and drew me in. With every song or album, I would spend hours and hours, listening, and gaining something – learning something – from that particular cultural production.
I did comment in a 2014 blog regarding my playing guitar “I don’t feel I ever arrived at being able to play any of Cat Steven’s songs to my satisfaction” (Page 2014).  Interestingly – with the benefit of hindsight – this comment infers where I was headed as I was entering my next stage of playing guitar. After a couple of years playing music, I was starting to consider my voice as a music practitioner.  I wondered what my voice was: I wasn’t sure i had ever heard my voice. For the first time I recall, I wanted to hear my voice.
Until that point, most the songs I had learnt through the influence of my initial guitar teachers were of a folk or country-based musical style. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I didn’t much like playing other’s songs, especially when they were produced to a commercial standard. I recall that as I played, I would listen to myself, on a guitar in a bedroom playing rhythm. In contrast, when I listened to the original recordings, I would stop and think to myself how they did that. There sounded likes lots of guitars on the recordings, and many voices, many instruments and many layers of other things that my ear could not yet make out what it was. I would slow the records down, by dropping a coin on the album, and listening again, and again, and again, and again….. The recordings sounded so good, as compared with just me in a room with a single guitar, playing the basic rhythm track. I recall getting so frustrated, and thinking poorly of my self.
“can I? could I? could I ever be able to learn to do what they do? could I dare to consider that I could learn to do what they do? ……… Could I possibly?” (Page 2014)
Me being me, thought I should just try to do it my way.  Screw the discipline. I am sick of being told how to do it, how I should be doing it….. I wanted to rebel! I just wanted to have a bash, strum really hard, thrash it, rock it really hard… And so I did. And then I would just stop, and lightly… pluck a few string, listening to the notes that resonated out to the point of silence. Then enjoy that silence, enjoy experience the space between the notes, almost catching my breath, gathering my thoughts, before I would go again; before I would begin the thrashing, the rocking out again…
Mmmmmm…. Reflecting back in-situation now, I can now see parallels between my music practice – my playing – and life within my family. As each year went by, I found I was getting to know my self more, and I was gaining in my self-confidence and my self-opinion. I was beginning to want to stretch out…
I had a guitar [see Memory – Age 10] and I listened and played music, and it was constantly evolving. I found it a new way to speak – to have a voice – and share something to talk to others at school.
I had a dog [see Memory – Age 11]. We were good to each other; we were good for each other. We spoke to each other and watched each other’s backs everyday.  I know she loved me for looking after her; as I did of her, for the same way that she always looked after me.
I recall I had previously tolerated my mother’s control that my mother had over my life. I had for several years prior, tried to accept it, and tried to be better. I had thought I must have been a horrible little boy due to my mother always wanting to control me – always yelling at me, and telling what I should be doing [blog Memory –Age 11].

The Human Ear

(The Jury Expert 2015)

Experimentation in finding my voice…

Feeling at odds with my self in my new social circle – at my high school – I found I spent more time by my self. In contrast to my primary school, I no longer needed to commute to go to school. Because our house was directly behind the high school, I didn’t need to spend time commuting every day with my peers – I just jumped the back fence, and I was at school. In the afternoon, I just jumped the back fence again, and within two (2) minutes, I was home again.
So with the extra time, I spent submersing my self in music – listening, playing, considering different rhythms, progressions, tones and textures, and experimenting with my musical voice.
  • What did I hear when I listened to a song on a record?
  • What did I hear when I strummed my guitar?
  • How is this song different to that song?
  • what happens if I do this; play like this? play like that?
But so too were my neighbours. Influenced by their peace and love songs, they could apparently hear me experimenting, and let me know the next time we bumped into each, down the adjoining fence.
‘what that you attempting to play?
I wondered who it was?
what was that you were attempting to play?’
….. they enquired in their disapproving, almost smug tone. [Upon reflection, I was particularly surprised at tier response given their apparent influence by the peace and love movement]. I wasn’t a greatly confident person, someone with quite some self-doubt as to whether I could possibly achieve, what I was dreaming to be able to learn to do. My experiments were my way of trying to find my voice, to get to know who I was, and what I believe in. I recall the shame I felt at their questions – their mocking – of me, just trying to be me.
They then advised me,
you need to get some lessons…
mmmmmm………. To say I can recall the sickened feeling within me right now as I am in-situated in this time and place. I feel sadness for my self, who listened, and took on board those comments, from two people who were just that – two people.
I took those comments on board, and I can feel my self shrinking back into the ground. I recall my thoughts to my self:
  • how dare I think that I could have dreamt I could have learnt to play music?
  • how dare I think that I could have found my voice immersing my self in music, as I had aspired to after listening to a number of other troubadours..
  • How dare you Dave for thinking that!
  • HOW DARE you Dave to have dreamt that you could have learnt to do that!!!
I went back inside the house, into my room, and packed up my guitar. I can still hear my self muttering to my self – cursing my self for the day I dared to dream. I took the guitar in its case down to the garage and put it up on the top of the cupboard, at the back – out of sight, out of mind. I vowed I would never touch it again. 
I return back to my room, and I sat in the dark for the longest time – an hour, a day, a week, a month – I don’t recall….. How foolish it was for me to try to play guitar, to dream to write music and create songs …..

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I put down that instrument having listened and taken those comments on board, believing that I had had my attempt to learn to play an instrument, and had it confirmed that yes, I was foolish to dare.
The next blog in this Project 1 series is Memory – Age 14.
References
AE 2015a Music note montage in the universe image courtesy of: Angelic Exorcism (AE) Studio Projects  Accessed 11th March 2015
AE 2015b Music note montage in the universe image courtesy of: Angelic Exorcism (AE) Studio Projects  Accessed 11th March 2015
Beatles, The. 1969. Abbey Road. Apple Records. Vinyl LP.
Beatles, The. 1968. White Album. Apple Records. Vinyl LP.
Beatles, The. 1967. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. Parlophone. Vinyl LP.
Big fish in small pond image courtesy of: The Fish Works  Accessed 19th August, 2016
Bowie, David. 1971. Ziggy stardust and the spiders from mars. RCA Records. Vinyl LP.
Butterfly, Iron. 1968. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Atco.
Darkened House image courtesy of: Darkened house  Accessed 18th June, 2016
Floyd, Pink. 1973. Dark side of the moon. Harvest. Vinyl LP.
Hendrix, Jimi. 1967. Are you experienced? Track Records. Vinyl LP.
Page, David L. 2016. Memory – Age 12 Accessed 19th August, 2016
Page, David L. 2016. Memory – Age 11 Accessed 19th August, 2016
Page, David L. 2016. Memory – Age 10 Accessed 19th August, 2016
Page, David L. 2016. “My First Guitar” ©David L Page 2016
Page, David L. 2014. Music Practitioner Part 1 – Beginnings Accessed 19th August, 2016
Question mark image courtesy of: Cool Text Accessed 27th January, 2016.
Revival, Creedance Clearwater. 1970. Cosmo’s Factory. Fantasy Records.
Revival, Creedance Clearwater. 1969. Willy and the poor boys. Fantasy Records. Vinyl LP.
Stevens, Cat. 1971. Teaser and the firecat. Island Records. Vinyl LP.
Stevens, Cat. 1970. Tea for the tillerman. Island Records. Vinyl LP.
Stones, The Rolling. 1974. Goats Head Soup. Rolling Stones. Vinyl LP.
Small fish in big pond image courtesy of: Dezeen  Accessed 19th August, 2016
Top Forty charts courtesy of: UK Charts Accessed 19th August, 2016
The Jury Expert. 2015. Man listening image courtesy of: The Jury Expert Accessed 2nd February, 2015
Young, Neil. 1971. Harvest. Reprise Records. Vinyl LP.
Zeppelin, Led. 1971. IV. Atlantic Records. Vinyl LP.
– ©David L Page 23/08/1993
– updated ©David L Page 20/09/2016
– updated ©David L Page 17/12/2016
Copyright: No aspect of the content of this blog or blog site is to be reprinted or used within any practice without strict permission directly from David L Page.
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