Mary Hopkin sang “Those Were The Days” in 1968 when I was in infants’ school. I saw her on television and fell in love. Even though I was only 6 years old I understood from the song that one day I would grow up and eventually age and die; my friend and I had found a dead sparrow in the fields where we played and had a talk with the teacher at school about why it was important that nothing lived forever (we don’t want to be up to our ears in sparrows, do we girls? What would they all eat?), so I suppose it was the right song at the right time.
These three songs are ones I want played at my funeral. Of necessity this means I am choosing songs liable to induce tears and wailing and gnashing of teeth, because what is the point of holding a funeral if people can’t let the pain out? They will feel better for it.
The songs come from my childhood – if I am not tired of them yet I am unlikely to change my mind now. Some of these new-fangled songs from the last couple of decades just haven’t been around long enough to gauge for staying power.
I hope you will not mind my melancholy turn this evening. Things are a bit like that at the moment.
I fell in love with this song when I was little; I saw Mary Hopkin singing it on television and somehow it seemed like the saddest thing in the world. I think it was my first realisation of the fragility and transience of life, that we do actually all grow old and die and sometimes we have regrets. It was pretty powerful stuff for a seven year old. The song makes me feel the same way as the early analogy of life as a sparrow flying from the storm outside into the light and warmth of the crowded hall and then back into the darkness and cold. It isn’t comforting except in its shared humanity and recognition of our precious passing days.
This is another one of those songs from childhood. I used to sing it to myself when going to sleep. Unlike Mary’s song, it was comforting. If I am going into the last sleep, then this is the song to take me there.
Nevertheless, along with comfort in the face of the inevitable I want to wave two fingers in the face of oblivion, hence ending with my last song…
There’s something about listening to sixties music on a hot sunny day that puts me right back to my childhood, It’s a good feeling – warm and safe and exciting, full of possibilities. I’m not sure if that is what it felt like to be young or whether it’s something to do with memory of a time and place. I find the music fresh and confident in a way that is different from later music, even that of the seventies when I was a teenager.
I want to listen to music that is new and original now, but it all feels derivative to me. Sorry, young folks. I am in curmudgeonly mode tonight. Bring me something to match Mick Jagger, John Fogarty, Roger Daltry, Janis Joplin, and all the rest, yes, even Lennon and McCartney!
Is this what music from every childhood sounds like?