It’s an interesting word isn’t it? Nostalgia, the sense of looking back fondly. Then we have the word reminiscence, from an entirely different root, which means virtually the same thing. And very few other languages have words at all to compare with these unless they rob from English. We have an infinitely wonderful language that draws from Latin, Greek, Arabic, German/Dutch, Scandinavian, ancient sub-continental, modern American and so on. Anyway the point is I had a feeling of wistfulness (another lovely synonym) today when I listened to Beautiful South singer Jacqui Abbott on Radio 2 talking abut the Tracks of her Years. She recalled happily (I’ll stop doing similar phrases now) a song which her mum loved and played a lot – And I Love You So – sung originally by Don McLean. It is a haunting little tune for sure
And after all my recent carping about over-claiming yet under-performing politicians, I got to change tack by thinking about my own mum and her favourite songs. Anything by Elvis and early Beatles stuff. My folks never really listened to the radio much – which makes me wonder where I got my love of it from. But there was one record that she would play endlessly on our stereogram, a substantial and highly-polished piece of furniture, almost every time that she had a cleaning/washing day and needed uplifting. It was the soundtrack from the film Carmen Jones starring Dorthy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte, a modern day re-telling of the Bizet opera set in the Deep South during WW2. Quite how she’d come across this movie and took to the music escaped me. There are people in the deepest backwoods in unexplored vallies of The Appalachians who had a closer affinity to operatic culture than my family. But Helen found something in this music that moved her enormously. And of course it became ingrained in my own memories.
Many years later when I had close contacts at the Royal Albert Hall I took her and Bob to a live performance there of Carmen and she adored it, though I’m sure she found the original setting and storyline slightly strange. Nevertheless I can still remember her belting out the words to Dere’s A Cafe On The Corner and Beat Out Dat Rhythm of a Drum like it was yesterday.
If there’s a song that takes you back to a loved one just let me know. Meantime enjoy this; Dat’s Love, another way of saying love and miss you mum…