Of music and memories

We all have that song, those special few notes grouped together which takes us back to a certain time and place, creates in us a feeling totally unique to us. Now – one song, Barcelona – by Freddie Mercury and Monserrat Cabbalé  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASJI6pNGqGo) most probably does the same to all of us, goosebumps in the presence of musical genius, although other songs have more specific references to every individual person. I wonder how many of us have blown speakers listening to this particular song…


I grew up listening to the lovely classical music of Mantovani as well as the Greek songs of kaftan wearing Demis Roussos (who knew that he was part of a group that also included the amazing Vangelis who he teamed up with (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZbbL4LcIlk ) He also sang with Nana Moskouri (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCORdHnStC8)


and Vicky Leandros. He had an amazing voice.

Although I liked this music a lot, it never affected me the way my favourite music did, and I think it is because of my memories associated with the music.

My first real ‘music memories’ to specific songs came from dancing lessons we went to as a family during my high school years (seventies yeah I know that is long ago). I can still smell the aftershave of one of the instructors and see my big white plastic earrings – don’t know why but that sticks in my memory – when hearing Belfast by Boney MSon of my father by Chicory Tip, https://youtu.be/QXbrS3Msgww, Blame it on the Bossa novaBorn to be Alive by Patrick Hernandez, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UaJAnnipkY, Sugar Baby Love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ax1piWZbRm4, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tTTPCH_MaM Rock you baby, Mademoiselle Ninette https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjR3dJTO1tk by The Soulful Dynamics…


  The Sweet with Wig Wam Bamhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRv7EjjwYBI Fox on the run, Mighty Quinn https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qoyWU_EDDU..For your love, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQQj2rQBFvA Let your love flow…I just want to dance. The seventies – what an era.

I guess that is where my dance bug started. The seventies and eighties really hit a note with my soul with its fantastic music. I was hooked. Permanently. If I could live in a certain time it would be the eighties. I don’t care – big hair, shoulder pads, leg warmers, gaudy earrings whatever – bring it on. It was a great time. It was not all good obviously, but we will keep only the good stuff.

Film - Flashdance 1983

I read once that there is an actual town/village somewhere built exclusively for sufferers of Alzheimer’s and their elderly companions. This place has cars, products, buildings, radio programmes and music from the forties and fifties, in order to make them feel at home in that happier time which they remember. Maybe such a town could be built for people like me, an eighties town and we could roller-skate everywhere! Have dances every evening…have big hair and wear stone washed denim and leg warmers…;)

My first kiss ever was during a close dance in 1980, setting : a dark garage of one of my best school friends. I never spoke to the boy and he never acknowledged my existence after. Guess it was not that great. The song was Cry to me by The Staccatos. It is ingrained in my memory though.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lxWQtmmJdE)

cry to me

When I left home at 17 (see a previous Horizons blog) I was very unhappy in myself and the only escape I got was through dance. The specific dancing I mean is the ballroom type, but in an informal setting. When I mention a dance, envision a big semi-dark space crammed with young people two-stepping round and round the room. You usually all went in one direction, clockwise, otherwise too many accidents would happen. Sweat flew all over everyone during fast dances but that was okay.

I really came alive when I could just give myself over to the music and fly free. I was a very unpopular ugly girl but was sought after as a dance partner on the dark dance floor. Guys always said that they loved to dance with me as I was so light in their arms, maybe it was because I was flying, floating on cloud 9. I loved it so much. In later life, although I was a ballroom teacher for a short time, I could never dance at competition level as I never dated or knew someone who was that interested in dancing, everyone was coupled up. My ex-husband could not dance at all. It frustrated me terribly but there were no dance ‘droids’ yet, I would have definitely gotten one if I had the opportunity! Imagine…


Only crying by Keith Marshall and Vienna by Ultravox, two extremely different 1981 songs, define that time. They were played many times at student dances (which I  was allowed to attend very rarely with my older sister as chaperone). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIb1wKavrQE & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DuCIGvsbMA.


only crying

The Village People – can you do YMCA? Oh yes, they featured on many many wonderful dance occasions, if not all. No dance was complete without Village People music. The dance floors were mobbed when the intros started, much like with I will survive by Gloria Gaynor – this link is for the song as featured in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, a great movie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DJC-ECU8IE



Songs like those from Xanadu – the amazing 1980 musical by Olivia Newton John and ELO (who also impressed me with their album Time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svqjijZHQrI&index=6&list=PL766723D6426E2BD2 ), to me are evergreen – but what was it with the eighties and roller-skates though? I even had a little braid with ribbons in my hair for a few years just like she did in the movie…I wanted so much to be her. Or be like her a bit. She was so lovely, could do what she want and go where she wanted. The world opens up for you when you have beauty, the ugly ducklings stay hidden. That sadly was my fate. And I could not roller-skate very well either. Ha.




Even Sir Cliff Richard…he was on rollers too for Wired for Sound.

F R David‘s song Words, 1982 – oh my word. The quintessential last song for all of our informal dances. When I hear it today, I am instantly transported back to 1982 and an all-through-the-night-dance marathon. I remember that I was so elated after, dead tired but on a natural high by morning. Oh, to be young again.


Avalon by Brian Ferry & Roxy Music was another of those compulsory songs at any dance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpA_5a0miWk. We did not have to dance so fast and could be more graceful.


I have never been a real Elvis fan even though I like some of his music, but my first love was an Elvis freak. He always sang this specific song to me and I never ‘got it’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89MihWd6zKk, Teddybear…it brings back so many feelings now…feelings of loss, of confusion, but also of raindrops on an apartment window…and heartbreak when our paths split.



Laura Branagan and Gloria (the disco ball era!)…bring back memories of frenzied, energetic dancing followed by a close dance every now and then to let us rest…Dan Hill and Sometimes when we touch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IATz8ZVTALo or I wanna kiss you all over by Exilehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5N1PupGHQnc were songs used for rest, but really, we never thought of anything more. We just danced. It was really all quite innocent and fun. Nobody needed gyms then, we got plenty of exercise on the dance floors.



Hazell Dean‘s amazing song They say it’s gonna rain – from 1984, it just transports me by time capsule to a crowded, sweaty dance floor in an underground parking lot in the early eighties. I am still crazy about it today and can’t listen to it without dancing around by myself. Sad but true. Still without a droid.


Modern Talking, all their songs are incredible, it takes me back to their concert I attended at Sun City – year 1988. I had just finished studying, qualified and worked at an international airport as Horticulturist. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nl30Q86svg). I went with an old friend and a blind date who resembled Freddie Mercury. We got up to no good, it was my first encounter with ‘Durban Gold’.



Silver Dream Machine and Winters Tale by David Essex, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2TCJ1o6z30. Gerry Rafferty and his amazing Baker Street, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-Yi762sQTo&list=RDx-Yi762sQTo, great songs.



The musical  Dirty Dancing…who can forget…if you can’t dance you could never love this movie as much. You actually feel the dance moves if you do. Patrick Swayze was an excellent dancer, you just wanted to move with him.


Grease, Irene Cara and Fame, Jennifer Beals in Flashdance, who can forget…


We all wore legwarmers trying to be like her. Staying Alive, Saturday Night Fever John Travolta and the fabulous Bee Gees…disco disco disco fever! Oh what fun.


Then the magic of Meatloaf – reminds me of an old boyfriend who also loved his music…Long drives out in the country and beautiful scenery always accompanied it. He insisted that Meatloaf was best enjoyed lying between two speakers at top volume, and closing your eyes to immerse yourself in the music. A miracle that we are not both deaf.


A very significant other sang this Paul Simon & Ladysmith Black Mambazo song to me, he was also the one for interest sake who called me Ugly Duckling, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-I_T3XvzPaM, Diamonds on the soles of her shoes. It was not like that with us at all, he was the rich one and me the poor girl – with no diamonds on any shoes or anywhere for that matter. I always thought that I was not good enough for him and it eventually was proven to be true.


Here comes the sun reminds me of a beach holiday a long time ago…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muFOeZSIC2U.

Chris de Burgh, whose concert I attended in 1996 on the date exactly one year before my daughter was born – his song Spanish Train which was banned in South Africa when I was young (1975). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXkhiIFCgAo. His Spaceman came travelling was one of the songs I sang in a very short tenure in a church youth band, although the words were changed a bit and I still find myself singing them. Habit.


I have to inlude You are my Sunshine, my daughter’s song after I bought her a teddy in 2000 at Monkeyland, who sang that when you squeezed his hand. She still has him seventeen years later. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1moWxHdTkT0


All music by Bread reminds me of a certain man…(an illicit romance) with whom I shared this tape (yes!)…much later during the late nineties (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrsKJ0KUyJw ). I think that I will share my full tape collection with you one day. The ones I could not bear to let go…I don’t have a tape player anymore but am unable to throw them away. I still have the memories though.


Lastly, there are three songs which remind me of a twenty two year friendship which abruptly came to an end last year. Once again an incidence of me not being good enough for someone. Maybe I should befriend nicer people.

  1. Who the fuck is Alice, by Smokie,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zw08Py5nz1w,


2. Coco Jambo by Mr President which we listened to and sang along with on our way to a short holiday back in late 1996 when I was pregnant – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izy8iafKJ8s



3. Summer Nights by Olivia Newton John and John Travolta…which we used to sing Karaoke to in the good years. Hilarious).


Shit happens, right? But music will always remind us of good times. At the end of my two fiction books I mention more special music.

I hope you listen to them and can enjoy it as much as I do.




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