Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


"What's that you're listening to?"

I pulled the EP record out of its cardboard sleeve, put it on the mono turntable and lowered the needle on to the record.

It hissed and crackled (the needle was worn) and then a piano introduced the song.

In the next room the adults' conversation (God knows what they were talking about) slowly dried up. Someone dropped a tea cup. The parish priest was visiting and they were having afternoon tea.

Let's spend the night together, now I need you more than ever. ... I'll satisfy your every need. Now I know you satisfy me ...

It was 1967. I was ten.

A couple of years later I put an LP album on the turntable. It was a stereo now, a speaker either side connected by wires.

Lay lady lay ... lay across my big brass bed ...

Again, the adults in the next room turned purple, metaphorically. "What are you listening to?" the adults asked me, somewhat superfluously. I didn't answer such a stupid question, I just held up the cover. It had a smiling man holding a guitar with the Nashville skyline in the background.

Another couple of years went by and the Kinks released 'Lola' which was infamous because the BBC had banned it.

I met her in a club down in North Soho
Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry cola

It was fairly innocuous; teenage boys hardly care about the lyrics of a song, whereas adults who are normally stone-deaf will pick a contentious lyric three rooms away. For God's sake, leave me alone, it's just a friggin' song.

The early 1970s arrived and the stereo gathered dust because the household had purchased a small, heavy oblong machine. It was a Sanyo cassette recorder, model 2000G. Suddenly I could record my favourite songs directly off air. I filled dozens of cassettes with them, including voice intros or outros by DJs such as Ken Sparkes, John Scott, Laurie Bennett, Peter Hitchener, John O'Donnell, Bill Rule and many others. I played the tapes so often that, when a song from the past finishes on radio today, I go on to mentally sing what followed it on my old tapes.

You weaken my defences ... with your tender kisses ... guided missile ... bound to explode ...


Martin Kennedy said...

I think I remember that cassette recorder... it had a little horizontal VU meter on top

paul kennedy said...

Yeah it did - I now have a '70s National radio sitting on top of my fridge that has one of those - I live watching it flicker when I tune it in.