I’m not listening

A long time ago I went to stay with an uncle. Like a lot of people on the up then, he had a vastly complicated stereo system that he liked to talk about more than he seemed to play it. When he did it was like nothing I’d ever heard. It wasn’t just the volume and the volume wasn’t just how loud it was. It was a fullness of sound I’d never heard before, certainly not out of the ten year old Bang & Olufsen my father mysteriously turned up with one night when it was brand new.

My uncle’s tastes in music matched his Zappata moustache, his recurve longbow mounted on the wall and his aptitude with explosives. It was what he did for a living, at a quarry. Knowing about grenades and fuses and it has to be said, his mouth, got him into trouble with the police at least once that I know about, but that’s a long and other story. Some readers will see some similarities already.

Best of Bread

He was into Bread. The band. Not The Band. They were totally different. Bread, you know Bread. They did that song, Baby I’m A Want You. You do know it. Come on. Dah da da da daaah da. Da di di di dah da, then the high bit. Everyone knows that one.


Bread. The archetypal West Coast band.
Bread. The archetypal West Coast band.

After my short holiday I went into town, as we called walking into Trowbridge in those days. There were two record shops then, both owned by the same company but in different locations as well as the stall in the market. They didn’t have the album cover I remembered in the racks so I had to order it. I really wanted this music. The snag was (and yes thank-you, I can hear the chorus of you just don’t LISTEN, do you? from here) I couldn’t quite remember the name of the band. It was that one that goes Dah dadada daaah da. You know the one.

Oh, that one. The guy behind the counter did know. He ordered it. It took a week in those days, but when I went in the next Saturday it was there. It was in a different cover, but there it was.

Cream's Disraeli Gears. It's not quite the same thing at all, is it?
Cream’s Disraeli Gears. It’s not quite the same thing at all, is it?


Until I got it home. I was 13. I’d never heard anything like Cream. It changed the way I thought about music. It certainly changed the way I thought about Bread. The Tales of Brave Ulysses wasn’t like anything we’d heard about in English, or Latin, come to that.

Sometimes, just sometimes, things get better when you don’t listen properly. But not often.


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