Recently my writing group was given an exercise entitled My Inheritance Track, based on a concept which ran from 2008 to 2011 on BBC Radio Four’s show Saturday Live, where guests chose a significant, cherished piece of music or song they’d inherited and then shared a song they’d want to pass on to future generations. Our creative writing task was to focus on the first part and write about a song we felt we had inherited. Here’s what I wrote.
My inheritance Track
The record player sat in the centre of our veneered wood chip seventies shelving solution which took up one entire wall of our sitting room.
My early years were before the days of portable music or headphones (at least, we didn’t have such devices) and so it was from the sitting room that any recorded musical sound waves made their way into my life.
Three or four songs come to mind which I would consider inherited but I’ll select Duke Ellington’s Don’t Get Around Much Anymore. My strongest memories of this song are not, however, from any vinyl spun on the record player but from my dad’s own regular performances around the house.
He still does this.
My dad’s fingers become drumsticks upon any kitchen appliance or desk or door or other improvised surface. The melodies themselves are usually expressed as a trumpet or a saxophone. A double bass may also feature. Mimes are included.
Traffic lights provide an opportunity for a quick musical interlude at the steering wheel. Actually, I can’t think of a situation where my dad might not burst into a musical rendition of any particular favourite song of his.
One happy memory of Don’t Get Around Much Anymore involves me sitting with my dad at a beachside bar in Mombassa, Kenya, enjoying a Tusker beer when a jazz band appeared behind us and kicked off with that familiar refrain, courtesy of a saxophone. This time it wasn’t coming from my dad. We both laughed in celebration of hearing something so familiar. It was as though they had played it just for us.
So, anyway, I was at my sister’s, busy thinking I should post this little article, and, as though reading my mind, my dad began clicking through a few backing tracks he now owns on his Macbook and burst into a rendition of Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, this time singing the lyrics but complete with instrumental accompaniments (and mimes). I asked him to go back to the start of the song and I captured the video on my Nexus 4 phone. Here it is below (apologies for shaky footage).