Reviewing the situation with Lena Davis
Lena has been a music producer, writer and Personal Manager; a photographer and journalist and, over thirty years ago, got together with Caroline Scattergood to create the Caring & Sharing Trust to bring music, hope and love into the lives of people with learning disabilities and their families from throughout Northamptonshire.
The sentiments set out in “Sound System – The Political Power of Music” (by Dave Randall, published by Pluto Press £11.50) are that music is important to the very structure of our being. Well, obviously, this is partially true. How else would we get our toes tapping, our hips waggling and our fingers snapping? Without music there would be no dancing, singing or people banging on the walls beseeching us to “keep that racket down!”
Just imagine, if you can through the tears, how bleak a world would be without the opportunity for Simon Cowell to set out each year on his endless and doomed quest to find a lasting star. There would be little chance for such luminaries as Justin Bieber and Michael Jackson to make friends with reluctant primates. There would be no soundtrack to the Nazi’s strutting and the rest of us would be left silently – left leg in and right leg out.
Now Dave is not the only author to trumpet (ha ha!) the importance of music. My pal Martin Aston recently published his huge volume “Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache – How Music Came Out” (publisher Constable £25.00). Whilst Dave Randall often likes to look at music from the viewpoint of left-wing politics, Martin’s whole volume looks at music from a Gay point of view.
Now, as one of my ancestors might have put it “music shmusic”. In other words, what’s all the fuss about? Well, from a strictly philosophical point of view, absolutely nothing should be concluded from just one point of view. Not even this last sentence!
Speaking personally, music has charted the course of my life. It couldn’t have been more important. From my very earliest days, when I was knee-high to a very short grasshopper, I was asked to represent a Skiffle group called “The Worried Men”. The lead singer went on to become Adam Faith. My next protégé went to number one with “Tell Laura I Love Her” and my future was sealed. After years of producing, writing and touring with every form of music and many stars I eventually used music to enliven the days of people with learning disabilities. So music has certainly been good to me. Hopefully I’ve returned the favour.
However, I make no inflated claims on behalf of music regarding politics or the freedom to be gay. Music and, indeed, the arts in general are an important part of our lives – even if some of us do not always recognise the impact. Even if we never enter an art gallery we remember the images from advertising, our childhood book illustrations, and virtually every aspect of photography. And this is without even touching on the cinema and its impact. Then there is poetry which touches us from long remembered Kipling, through all kinds of birthday and other cards to our own shy attempts. Then comes the enormous impact of theatre even if it’s limited to the grand old English art of pantomime. We could go on and on but possibly the biggest impact is architecture. The buildings from our own history right up to today plus the mythical buildings of soap operas etc.
So, do I recommend you go out and spend your hard earned money on these books? Yes, I do. Dave Randall is passionate about politics and also a superb writer. Read it and then use your own set of beliefs to come to your own conclusions. Martin Aston is also passionate about the impact of the gay culture and gay people on music. Once again, this is a great read and I am quite proud that Martin has mentioned me once or twice.
Throughout history gay people have had an incredible impact on all forms of the arts. However, non-gay people can match them for impact. From reading both these books I have been struck by one amazing fact. The impact Jewish people have had on music. Of course, I already knew that most of the writers of musicals were Jews and that popular music from the outset and right through Rock and Roll was also Jewish led. However, I only realised from Dave Randall that Billie Holiday’s marvellous “Strange Fruit” was also written by a Jew. Perhaps there is a book to be written on this subject. If I turn out to be the one to produce this volume I shall welcome the opinions of both Dave and Martin!