Morton Harket and the Soundtrack To Your First Love ...
- Created: Saturday, 11 April 2015 13:23
- Written by Tim Bairstow
If you are a certain age (and even if you are not) you are welcome to this gratuitous photograph of probably the sexiest thing to grace the 1980's pop scene ... the sublime Morton Harket! It's become rather fashionable to snigger and pull faces at bands like 'A-ha', hasn't it? That is what the early part of the Twenty First Century will be known for: sniggering, smirking and sneering at almost anyone and anything that doesn't live up to an achingly sophisticated norm. Just when did we start being held prisoner by a gang of cognoscenti who take themselves and everything else in life so damned seriously such that there's almost a feeling that these days most of us have not the love that dare not speak its name but the 'taste' that dares not speak it's name. How many contemporary performers have a vocal range that effortlessly through five octaves like Harket's? There, that's that off my chest ... but why, aesthetics apart, have I shared this my favourite photo from the 80's pop scene?
There's a soundtrack to most of what I write. I tend to think in pictures, scenes and actually also in tunes. My partner (a professional musician) tells me that I have the best musical ear he's ever come across despite the fact that I don't read music and I can't play a note even on a penny whistle. He means my weird ability to capture tunes in my head, store them and re-play them. We recently (to my delight) found the 1982 adaptation of Stan Barstow's 'A Kind of Loving' on DVD. As I brought it to the machine I was singing away to myself. Having not seen the programme for 33 years, apparently I was singing the theme and note perfect to boot. Well ... it's a strange gift but mine own!
It's no surprise, then, that music is powerfully evocative to me. I use it a lot in my writing, hoping that others will find such tunes powerfully evocative too. In "A Nightingale in the Sycamore" I used Carly Simon's "Stuff That Dreams Are made Of" and it really isn't Christmas until you've heard "Last Christmas" by Wham as Jonathan and Mark found out in "What Do You Want For Christmas?"
It's pretty common, though, isn't it? I mean, how often have you heard a song on the radio and paused, suddenly catapulted back to the time, the event or the person with which you subconsciously associate the tune ... songs are like a personal little time machine aren't they? We all have 'em: those songs or tunes that link us right back in to the time when we first heard them, a time when (if you're old enough) such tunes formed the backdrop to our lives almost wherever we went when they were in the charts and lived on for years in pubs and clubs. Novels, like good TV or cinema, should have a soundscape - an author can hint at it, maybe, but the rest is up to the reader.
"A Nightingale in the Sycamore" is essentially about first love ... the power of it, the sheen of it, the depth of it and the endurance of it if only in the memory. It's one of the biggest things that ever happens to us and the soundscape to the time is therefore one of the most potent. As you will have gathered, all that stuff was happening to me nearly thirty years ago so my soundscape is a bit 'dated' in this respect but ... youngsters will have their own and many of them are now re-visiting the stuff from the 80's and 90's in much the same way as we did the 60's.
I mean, the essence of that time is summed up for me in the main theme from "St Elmo's Fire". I had the record (yes, vinyl) of the soundtrack and virtually wore out the main theme. It still makes me feel positive, excited, as if anything and everything is possible ... even love!
Then there was T'Pau and the glorious "China in Your Hand" which was Number One when I met him ... ah, 80's disco ... first term at University ... first lots of things such as the very special resonance that Wham's "Careless Whisper" has for me. I don't mean the school discos when it first came out (shudder!) but rather the reason for its special place in the pantheon of my special tunes that it earned for reasons that I'm not going in to detail about here ... my Mum does sometimes read this (Hi, Mum!)
We all have them ... loads of them, those songs and tunes that form the soundscape to the novel of our own lives. Kick back for a bit, pour a drink and go raid You Tube or something. Relax, think back and start searching out some of your special songs. It's a recipe for a very appealing nostalgia fest and the perfect thing to do when you've just finished a really good book!
Maybe this one?