Gaudy red and silver tinsel is wrapped around the plastic christmas tree, and the nativity scene at its base appears to boast four wise men (including a token ethnic minority), a sheep, a cow, Mary, and an indiscriminate infant, all tastefully laid on a bed of freshly fallen cotton wool.
I can only assume Joseph must have been called out to a carpentry emergency, sadly causing him to miss his share of the gold, frankincense, myrrh, and what appears to be a box of black magic chocolates (borne by the fourth, and altogether more sinister, wise man).
This is Christmas, 1976, and the vision of it is so clear in my mind, even here in the heat of July 2012.
During the blistering hot summer of ’76 there had been a massive relaunch of The Beatles back catalogue of singles from the previous decade. I had been swept up by this, having been too young to have fully appreciated them during their brief recording careers together, and I spent much of the latter part of the year scrimping and saving my pocket money to build up my collection of their albums.
I do not remember what my main Christmas present was that year, but I do remember very well that my most prized was the copy of Rubber Soul that I unwrapped on that December morning.
As my parents bustled around carving the turkey, polishing the best cutlery, and the myriad other things that they seemed to deem necessary for this one day of the year, I sat there on the corner of the sofa, watching the disc spin at its unerring 33 1/3 revolutions per minute, surrounded by the tinsel and baubles, slightly disturbed by the absence of the carpenter and the usurping of his role by a strange oriental candy-bearer, and totally transfixed by the music
“… but I’ve got a driver, and that’s a start …”
I sit here now, thirty-five years, hundreds of miles, and countless memories later, looking at the image of the album cover as the tracks play on my mobile phone
“ … she told me she worked in the morning and started to laugh …”
.. and still, every phrase, every bar, every note, transports me right back there. I can see each detail in total clarity, I can smell the turkey, hear the voices, feel the bite of the winter chill in the air …
Whether it is The Beatles, Mozart, Marilyn Manson, Disturbed ….. it really doesn’t matter .. we all have our different tastes, different cultures, different fashions … but the fact remains that music holds that power to transport us back, to instantly access memories we ought long ago to have lost. The wondrous complexity of the human mind, and the sheer beauty and power of music to unlock and navigate that complexity will never fail to strike me with awe. It’s a kind of magic, a wondrous kind of magic, and it is ours for the casting … whether you create music, study music, debate music or simply listen to music … above all enjoy music, enjoy this amazing magical gift, which brings with it the unique power to unlock the deepest treasures of our minds.
“… I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before … I’ll often stop and think about them …. In my life … I’ll love you more”