I first met C. in 1997; we’ve been going out since 1999 and finally got hitched in 2007…. and yet earlier this week I discovered that she had a passion for, and an apparently in-depth knowledge of, early 1960s rock and roll.
How on earth do you miss something like that?
It happened like this: I was idly watching the Mercury Music prize result on the telly the other day when C. came home from a day spent working in London. They were showing the footage of the winner, PJ Harvey, performing “The Words that Maketh Murder” from her fantastic album “Let England Shake”. I was remarking how nice it was to see someone using a zither in this day and age, but C’s attention was caught by something else.
“Oh, she’s singing a line from that song”
“What do you mean”
“You know, Eddie Cochran. And they’re playing the theme from it on the piano too”
“You know, Summertime Blues, I think it is.”
Now, I knew the song, of course, and I have the PJ Harvey album, but I’d completely missed the reference. I fired up YouTube and we had a look, confirming both that it was a line lifted from “Summertime Blues” and that C. knew all the words to the Eddie Cochran classic (and also that Cochran had a brilliant rock voice - Chris Cornell eat your heart out). We then spent a very happy half hour as I fired up the iTunes store and Amazon and proceeded to play snippets from a number of rock n’roll compilations. She’s not so keen on the slower stuff, it seems, but she knew a surprising number of words to a surprising number of other songs. We’re not just talking Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley here either, we’re talking people like The Big Dipper, Frankie Lymon, The Platters, Dion & the Belmonts, Rickie Nelson.. she didn’t know the name of the band, necessarily, but she seemed to know most of the words and was happily jiving away in the living room.
I was amazed. C. doesn’t really listen to all that much music. She likes classical music, which baffles me almost completely, and she’ll occasionally express a liking for a band like the White Stripes, Snow Patrol or the Rolling Stones or something, but she won’t rush out and buy a CD very often and mostly tolerates the stuff that I put on around the house or in the car (although she’s not too keen on Metallica or Iron Maiden on the way in to work of a morning). Now, it seemed, there was a whole genre of music that she loved that had completely passed me by.
Obviously, I then splashed out the grand sum of £5 on a compilation of 111 hits of the era and fired up the playlist when we drove into work the next morning. I’m not entirely sure it’s my cup of tea, but you can’t argue with a bit of Del Shannon now and again, can you?
It's funny how little you can know someone that you thought you knew really well.