Soundtrack to my life – the early years

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What were your musical influences as a child? Music has always been there providing a soundtrack to my life in some form or other. On reflection my tastes are quite diverse but I have had periods of obsession that have gone on sometimes for a decade or so. Yikes. So where did my tastes evolve from and what are my earliest musical memories? Let me take you back to the early days in the 1970s.

Don’t try to change what you can’t control

Some musical influences you simply inherit. I’d like to thank my parents for an introduction to the softer, folksier side of the music of the 1960s. Although we have some photos of them looking quite hipster my parents preferred the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Simon and Garfunkel to the edgier sounds of the Stones, Jimi Hendrix or The Doors. So the memories I have as a child are to the sounds of these tunes.


This is not a criticism. In fact I’m here to tell you that among other things a thorough knowledge of the Beatles back catalogue is very useful if you are ever required to sing at a government inspection of your Vietnamese homestay accommodation. Anyway, I’ve always loved the Beatles and have been playing them non stop since the back catalogue become available on Spotify. I have so many memories attached to their tunes but my favourite is I remember shopping for Christmas trees with my dad one year when he played the Beatles Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da over and over again.

Anthems and ballads

I’m really quite fond of a rousing anthem. They are my favourite types of tune. I’m guessing this harks back to those days we had Neil Diamond blasting out from all 28 speakers Dad had expertly wired up around the house. OK there weren’t that many but you get the idea. I defy anyone not to get enthusiastic about ‘Sweet Caroline‘ and its rousing intro to the chorus..

Hands, Touching hands, Reaching out, Touching me, Touching you!!

Similarly Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ gets your vocal chords itching but somehow it is a bit more subtle. Both tunes were on regular repeat in our house.

When the mood required something a little more soft and soothing we were introduced to the acoustic ballads of Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel. Usually they would have a strong pacifist theme – thanks mum!

We got both kinds. We got Country and Western

Apart from the folk and pop rock influences, my brothers and I also got a nice education in country music. To this day I can belt out the words to Kenny Roger’s ‘The Gambler‘ and ‘Jolene‘ by Dolly Parton. Say what you like about Dolly and her fuchsia flared jumpsuit (!) the emotion and quality of her voice in this song are amazing.

Music for children of the 70s

Growing up in Australia in the 1970s everyone had the same kids songs, much like the Wiggles a few generations later. We children of the 70s grew up on Bettina and John from Playschool, Patsy Biscoe’s epic 50 nursery rhyme compilation and of course Peter, Paul and Mary’s whimsical (or was it drug addled?) tune about Puff the Magic Dragon and his mate Little Jackie Paper. I know a lot of people get emotional about that song but I really love the lyrics and melody that is almost a lullaby.

My experience is an anglo-saxon middle class one. My husband comes from an Italian immigrant background and while he formed some strong musical preferences as a teenager, the sounds of his early years were from contemporary Italian singers and traditional songs from his father’s accordion.

Now we have children I wonder what influences they will take from us? Anyway, they love Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da and American Pie for now.. tra la la la life goes on!

I made a playlist on Spotify of these tunes if you are in the mood to reminisce. It’s been a hoot singing along.

Stay tuned for the next instalment in this series of posts all about music from our family holiday road trips.. And here’s the post I did after David Bowie died to kick things off.

Can you remember your earliest musical memories and do you ever wonder what really happened in the land called Honah Lee? Drop me a line and let me know.

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Soundtrack to my life - musical influences - the early years

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