I was recently invited to appear on a radio show and asked for the six tracks to the soundtrack of my life. Here are my offerings, and the reasons I chose them:
This is the very first song in my memory. My grandfather used to sing to my brothers and I when we were babies, and I in turn sang it to all of my children. Now I get to sing it to my grandchildren – it’s a very special song because it links us all to one very special man in my life – my grandad. I hear his voice whenever I hear rhis play.
The Seekers, Morningtown Ride
I spent a large part of my life in Wales and this track combines the voice of Cerys Matthews, who after a successful Pop career with Catatonia, went back to her Welsh roots and now sings in both Welsh and English. This is a particularly beautiful Welsh Folk song, with a backing by a Welsh Male Voice choir – another of my most favourite sounds. I find no sound quite as stirring to my soul as the rich sound of a Welsh male voice choir.
Cerys Matthews, Calon Lan
This track is one I have listened to on an old 45rpm single, since I was tiny. Days after my 40th birthday, I was privileged to see Danny Williams himself sing it on stage at the West Cliff Theatre in Clacton – he signed my original copy of the single. He said he was shocked to see the vinyl still in existence, let alone in good condition. It is all the more precious as Danny died less than 3 months later of lung cancer.
Danny Williams, Moon River
This track is to remind me of one of the reasons I am a student at the University of Essex right now. Two years ago, one of my bothers died. It was a very pointless death due to drugs and alcohol and I was very angry with him. At his funeral however, we decided that we would conduct the service ourselves and this is the song we played to say goodbye to him. So why did this bring me to Essex – there is nothing like a call to recognise your own mortality to make you sure to get the most of life!
Monty Python/Eric Idle, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
This track is another nod to my grandparents. When my grandad was dying, I spent one of his last nights with him in hospital. He was already comatose by that point and in the middle of the night I found myself repeating things to try to keep talking to him, in some vain attempt to keep him with us. At this point I realised that it wasn’t fair – he needed to go and be with my Granny. I began to sing, just as he had to us all those years ago, to sing to let him know it was okay with me, that we would all be okay, if he chose to go. He passed a short time later. I will always be grateful to my Aunties though, for letting me have that last night with the most special person who loved all of us beyond words.
Don Williams, You’re my Best Friend
And finally…the great Joe Brown plays the West Cliff Theatre every year, and closes his show with the same song, every show he does. I love it, it makes me cry every time and it seems a great way to end any show. This time it ends the soundtrack of my life – for now. But when the time comes, I’d like my family to say goodbye to me this way, because I will be there, in their dreams…
Joe Brown, I’ll See You in my Dreams