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Rob Stokes Going for a song

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 21, 2014

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I've reached a point where the children are no longer impressed by my fund of anecdotes and stories. "Yes, dad," they say, "you've told us that one", as I begin to relate the fact that a mild-mannered and thoughtful work colleague cannot bear actor Martin Freeman.

The trouble is I can't stop myself. And I am at my worst when music is playing.

I will regale them with some piece of trivia that they will have heard a dozen times before. When Bob Dylan wrote this, why David Bowie did that, who was playing keyboards on such and such a track. My youngest son, who is now 16, now not only interrupts me but completes the story.

"Yes Dad, we know this is Rick Wakeman playing piano when he was a music student," as Life on Mars comes on. "And this one's about the Spanish civil war," he will say before I have had a chance to comment on The Clash's Spanish Bombs. This is usually followed by him shaking his head in comic disbelief.

It's all good-natured stuff and goes with the banter that accompanies any mealtime with teenagers.

My eldest son, when he is back from university, has taken to saying thing like: "How on earth do you remember all these things?"

Maybe it is the sign of an underspent youth or simply possessing a mind that really is only any good for trivia.

Somehow these things have seeped into my subconscious and it takes only a note or two of a well-known song to bring them to the surface. And once they come to mind I have to speak.

I wonder if my children will later in life remember a single one of these facts that I spout on a regular basis. In the years to come will they hear a song that will prompt a thought somewhere in the deep recesses of their memories? And will they say something like, "Dad used to have a story about this song but I can't remember what it was. Mind you he had a story for lots of songs."

Hopefully it will make them smile at the thought because the one thing my stories do, or at least the repetition of them does, is to make them laugh.

What I do hope is that they have as many good associations with songs as I do. Because so often they are a trigger for nostalgia. Surely one of the most potent human emotions.

I read Nick Hornby's book 31 Songs a few years ago. For every one he has a story, each told far more eloquently than I could ever achieve. But he makes the point that for him songs more than classical music or jazz are the most important things. They are three or four minutes of brilliance and once you come to love a song you wonder what life was like without it.

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