Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Inheritance tracks

Every Saturday morning at about 9.50am, the BBC’s ‘sensible’ channel, Radio Four, broadcasts a short feature called ‘Inheritance Tracks. Each week a person of fame, intelligence, notoriety or illustriousness selects two pieces of music: the first is a recording which has been part of their lives for as long as they can remember, and the second, a track which they would like to pass on to future generations. Although I have myself broadcast on the radio in the past, I’m not of sufficient prominence to be invited to contribute to this delightful weekly diversion, so I thought I’d set up my stall here! May I present to you the Inheritance Tracks of.... ME!

Click on the arrow and I'll tell you about them - just like on the radio!


Track One

I can still picture the scene. My parents, my brothers and me sitting around a table eating Sunday lunch whilst listening to a radio programme called Two Way Family Favourites. The British Forces Posted Overseas would be sent messages by their loved ones at home, and played a record which brought them closer together. I can’t remember many of those old recordings, but a song by Red Foley somehow lodged itself in my mind.

It was about a dog called Old Shep, and was spun regularly on Family Favourites. As a teenager I played the guitar and sang a bit, in fact a friend and I used to perform in pubs and even on the stage whenever we were given the opportunity, and Old Shep was always the climax to our act. We even won a talent contest performing it once, even though a song about a dog being shot was hardly appropriate at a fund raising event in aid of a dogs home. I’m told that Elvis Presley also performed it in a talent contest in 1941 when he was 10 years old, but he only came 5th! Still, he had the last laugh because a few years later he recorded it and it was huge hit.

Not a year has passed since my teenage days when I haven’t sung it. I’ve trotted it out at parties, pubs and holiday hotels all over the world. In fact I sang it to my travelling companions in the Foreign Correspondents Club in Cambodia just a few months ago!

‘Old Shep he has gone where the good doggies go, no more with old shep will I roam’. I’m leaving strict instructions that it’s not to be played at my funeral. You know why? ‘Cos I’ve never really liked it!

Red Foley, Old Shep

Track two

I’m not sure that my kids and their kids will be particularly made up with the piece of music I’m going to hand down to them. I can hear them saying ‘oh no, not more church music’. But John Tavener’s beautiful setting of William Blake’s poem The Lamb somehow sums up my life. Not the words, lovely as they are, but the sound.

I remember so clearly the first time I heard it. I was spending a few days at a music festival in Winchester, and I managed to get into the cathedral one afternoon when the choir were practicing for the evening’s performance. I had the place pretty well to myself. I can see myself now, sitting on the stone steps just yards away from the choir. There was total silence. Then suddenly this most wonderful sound began to waft over me. It was unaccompanied, soft and gentle. It was if was being sung for me. I’d never experienced a feeling like it, and I’ve never again to this day.

It’s a simple piece, probably the simplest he’s written to date. As I said just now, the sound of the piece relates to me. I’m not sure how to explain what I mean, but I’ll have a go. My life has been one of ups and downs, highs and lows. Discord and harmony, and that’s where Tavener’s music comes in. Parts of it are sung using chords which shouldn’t work, yet their discord has a harmony all of its own. You see, I believe that when things went wrong for me it was meant to be, even the bad times weren’t truly bad, just a little out of tune. And as a result I experienced highs which I otherwise would have missed out on. I wouldn’t be enjoying the wonderful Iife I am now.

In The Lamb, crooked and wonky verses are separated by some of the most beautiful soothing harmonies I’ve ever heard, and that really is the story of my life.

John Tavener, The Lamb

I'm now throwing down the gauntlet! I'd love to hear what your inheritance tracks are. Missy, KBSteve (but can I trust him to take it seriously?) Lucy, Marja, Giggles, Mona, Gautami and  all of my blogging friends out there, why not tell us which track you inherited and which one you'd pass down, and tell us why.


  1. Right, I'm off to browse.

  2. This is a wonderful idea. Steve is always serious...what on earth do you mean :)

  3. Ole Shep? Didn't they put him down.
    The lamb? Ahh yes to the slaughter!

  4. Oh I would love to hear you sing that song Keith. When are you swimming over.
    What a wonderful idea although I have to slepp on this first. Lots of love from NZ

  5. posted mine Pff was a hard one

  6. thank you for the sweet comment on my blog!:) I love the pictures in your Glorious Goodwood 2010 post! The hats, dresses and everything's very British =) I would love to visit Britain one day...
    Ever since I arrived into US, the first thing I heard from the locals was, "Your English is very British than American..its very British." lol. What could I say? Our country had been under British influence for a long, long time.. so we have adapted a lot of "Britishness" =p I like it!!

  7. this was so beautiful Keith! thanks so much for handing it down to me too! I am going to need a bit of time, but I would love to give it a go!
    OMG this OLD shep song! HOW Sad! I've never heard it before! Did u grow up in the old wild west Keith?? haha
    "i can't do no more for him Jim?!!" OH MY!!! haha
    (haven't forgotten your cookies!!!)

  8. Keith lovely piece of yourself you've shared! Such an eclectic selection of music to your liking...interesting choices. Loved the stories behind them!

    Hugs Giggles
    I'll give it a whirl!

  9. Mine is up Mr. Keith! Thanks for this wonderful opportunity to reminisce!
    hugs! (if you read it at least I will have ONE comment, since I have few readers left!!) xox



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