Welcome to the first addition of Song Book of My Teenage Years, we all have songs that when we first heard them brought a tingle to the musical brain cells and stayed with you for the rest of your life. Many lonely teenagers have been comforted during time of broken love by these songs. The beauty of it all is that no two people are the same, song, band preferences differ with every impressionable mind. Each song has a story and that story is unique to each and every listener. In the forthcoming issues we will be hearing from people from all walks of life, each with their own tales to tell.
For my first offering though I have decided to be the guinea pig. Born in 1969 and brought up in the 80’s I have a wealth of choice. Hopefully I have chosen correctly as only god knows how many times I’ve chopped and changed my choices.
The Jam – Town called malice, released on 29th January 1982 and from the album The Gift. Entering the charts at no.1 staying there for 3 weeks.“Stop dreaming of the quiet life…..” I heard it I loved it and therein formed my love of The Jam. The song itself has no special meaning to me, but the hard hitting lyrics convinced me that this was what I wanted to hear, 2 weeks later, the Foxton haircut, the parka and I was a mod. Hitting the community centre discos like I was the daddy!.
Big Country – Fields of Fire, released on 18th February 1983 and from the album The Crossing. Reached no.10 in the charts. What can I say, I first heard this song whilst spending some detention (a common occurrence) at The James Hamilton Academy (The Jimmy). The guitar in this song remains pivotal in what I look for in music today. In your face, brash and uplifting. Being a mod at that time (although no one really knew what that meant) it was frowned upon to like anything else! a sort of genre snobbery you could say a trait I detest to this day. Big Country were innovative and in Adamson had one of the most gifted musicians of my generation. As I write this, images of myself and the lads in a circle jumping and kicking flow through my mind, magical times.
Stiff Little Fingers – Alternative Ulster, released in 1979 and from the album Inflammable Material. I came to this band later than most, I was 10 years old when the song was first released. Coming from a community where Punk was prevalent in most of the older boys life including my brothers. It was inevitable that I was eventually going to be taken in by the guitar rift that introduces us ever so elegantly to this song. Still easily one of the most recognisable intros to any song I know. The vision of the youth at that time jumping around like crazy, but not just punks! don’t be fooled SLF reached a far wider audience. For me, it meant working class rebellion, a sign of the times so to speak. I loved it and still do.
Simple Minds – Waterfront, released in 1983 and from the Sparkle in the rain album, reached no.13 in the charts. A definite definitive moment in my teenage years. With the overwhelming New Romantic scene that arrived in the 80s Simple Minds were the front runners in this genre in my opinion. Whilst remaining faithful to their early material Waterfront brought the band recognition where other songs failed. Burchill’s guitar style entrances the mind. Waterfront’s intro had me turning the volume up in my bedroom and playing air guitar like a legend. Jim Kerr will forever be one of my favourite frontmen in music.
U2 – Bad, released 1st October 1984 and from The Unforgettable Fire album. The defining career making song for U2. The song is about heroin addiction and the blight it had in the Dublin community. U2’s performance of this song at Live Aid in 1985 launched the band on the road to superstardom. Interestingly enough its the live version on the Wide Awake in America EP that tugs at the heartstrings just like the Live Aid performance. I was fortunate that I had discovered U2 much earlier with their early albums War, Boy and of course Under a Blood Red Sky (Live at Red Rocks). Just like any other teenager of that era you would close the room door, put out the light and just listen to that song. Not knowing what it was about was the innocence of youth, but it transported me to a better place and still does.
So there ends my selection for Songbook of My Teenage Years. Writing this column for the first time brought back memories both painful and heart warming. As has always been and always will, ‘Where there is sadness, music is the cure’.