Our listening habits have remained the same for many years. Our DAB Digital Radio is set to BBC Radio 2 most of the time. Occasionally it will be retuned to Radio 4 for “Desert Island Discs” or to 5 Live Sports Extra for some cricket commentary, but we return it to Preset 2 immediately afterwards.
Much of Radio 2’s programming consists of old hits. Every Saturday afternoon “Pick of the Pops” features the charts from two previous years. As their names suggest, Johnny Walker’s “Sounds of the 70s” and Tony Blackburn’s “Sounds of the 60s” consist of songs released in specific decades from the 20th century. Even the regular daily programmes, like Zoe Ball’s Breakfast Show and Ken Bruce’s mid-morning show, feature a lot of classic recordings. We listen to a lot of old songs.
For me, these old recordings will typically recall the time in my life when they were released. “Young Hearts Run Free” will always evoke the summer of 1976 no matter how many times I hear it. For my children, hearing this and other classic recordings will evoke different things. My daughter has watched most episodes of “Glee” on Netflix, and watches her favourite clips on her phone. My son has seen every episode of “Strictly Come Dancing” since 2013, most of them live but otherwise within 24 hours of broadcast. He has also gone back through “Strictly” history and seen hundreds of clips available on YouTube and the BBC website.
All of this means that most days (and sometimes several times a day), when certain songs are played on the radio, my son will tell us who danced to them, and when, in the relevant episode(s) of “Strictly”. My daughter will recall which series of “Glee” the songs were featured in, and who sang them. I will tell them how the song performed in the UK and US charts.
There are songs on most episodes of “Pick of the Pops” that prompt these musical memories. Last autumn, “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin was a good example. My son told us that Simon Webbe and Kristina Rihanoff danced the Rumba to it in the 2014 series of “Strictly”. My daughter reminded us that Quinn and Santana sang it as a duet at the Prom in Series 3 of “Glee”, and Quinn, who had been wheelchair-bound after the accident … surprised everyone by standing up. And I recounted its chart success: it made #1 in the UK and US in 1986, the year it was featured as the Love Theme from “Top Gun”, the year’s biggest grossing movie. Mind you, Paul Gambaccini told us that as well, but he didn’t give us any information about how it was used in “Glee” or “Strictly Come Dancing”. We need the detailed knowledge acquired by our children for that.