Music for Dementia

By Bill Drummond


“Recorded Music was a major force in my life.

It pushed and shoved and shaped me.

This pushing, shoving and shaping started with Elvis at the picture house as a child in Newton Stewart.
But it was not until I was turning 13 in a town called Corby, did it begin to have its full impact.

It is still the Recorded Music that I heard at that age that has had the longest and deepest impact on my life.

It has nothing to do with any sort of objective judgement of this Recorded Music.

It had everything to do with my mind being that of a 13 year old in 1966.

As I turned 50 in and the year was 2003, I became aware that Recorded Music not only had little hold over my emotions, it was also losing its power to affect society, its cultural significance was passing on. It was not only weighed down by its own history, it was being superseded by other ways of communicating in a far more one to one way. Like all other forms of music in previous centuries, Recorded Music was becoming part of a history of a fading century. Recorded Music, whatever the genre it embraced, was the music of the 20th Century, be that music Jazz, Rock, Reggae, Soul etc etc. All of these diverse genres, whatever their history and the genius of individual artists, the music of the 20th Century existed primarily to be consumed in the recorded form, thus existed to be bought, sold and used to hold listener attention between the advertising breaks on commercial radio.

Putting aside the somewhat cynical overview of that last couple of sentences, for me Recorded Music was the greatest art form of the 20th Century. Recorded Music towered above Film and the Paper Back Novel, and far outstripping anything that could be hung in a gallery or collected by a wealthy art collector. Recorded Music was a democratic art form.

For me to attempt to pick my ten favourite pieces of Recorded Music would not only be difficult, it would almost be a lie, as actively listening to Recorded Music no longer plays an active part of my life. That said I still like to hear Recorded Music by accident. As in when walking down a street and I hear some Turkish pop music coming out of a passing shop or car, or maybe when…

Anyway, I know that it was at that age of turning 13 in 1966, and my teenage hormones were kicking in, that recorded music had its biggest and most lasting impact. Thus what I have decided to do is track down, via Google and find out what the Top Twenty was on my 13th birthday in 1966. Once that is done, choose ten records from that chart. As yet I have not checked to see if there were ten records in that weeks Top Twenty, that had a powerful impact on me, but I am very certain there were and are. Not that I think they will have been the greatest records of all time but…

I also know that my own memory is beginning to waver and slide. That I cannot remember what film I saw on television last week, that I too have begun that journey into dementia and all it holds.

So bear with me while I type into Google “UK Top Twenty 29 April 1966″

Two Minutes later.

And this is what I have picked from the Top Twenty on my 13th Birthday and their chart position of that week.”

1: You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me – Dusty Springfield
2: Pretty Flamingo – Manfred Mann
3: Somebody Help Me – Spencer Davis Group
4: Bang Bang – Cher
9: I Put A Spell On You – Alan Price Set
11: Substitute – The Who
12: Homeward Bound – Simon & Garfunkel
13: Sloop John B – The Beach Boys
14: The Sun Ain’t Going To Shine Anymore – The Walker Brothers
20: Dedicated Follower Of Fashion – The Kinks

I recommend that if you are caring for or sharing with or just chatting to someone who’s memory is beginning to fail them and they are not particularly engaging with what is culturally happening at the moment, track down the Top Twenty on their 13th birthday and get them to chose ten of the tracks and play them back together on You Tube or whatever.

And then discuss.”

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