Like many, my prime musical influence growing up was my father. To this day, no matter how a topic starts, it eventually winds down to a discussion about a song or a band. While initially I listened exclusively to those timeless bands from his generation (The Who, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Neil Young and many others), I’ve since moved on to the exploration of new music – the bands that drew in the influence of my dad’s generation, shaped it, added their own experience, and came up with music unique to the now. My father has remained true to the bands of his day. While I often speak of the bands I now enjoy, his connection to the music of his time is strong. It carries with it a bag of memories, connecting him to earlier days.
But, occasionally, I come across a band whose sound seems to span multiple generations. I’ll hear the song and imagine that rather than pressing play on a SoundCloud app on my mobile, it’s my father touching the needle of his record player to the vinyl for the first time. The first few revolutions of the record and the sound fills the air. Instantly, you know you’re listening to a thing of greatness.
This was my experience the first time I played ‘Fifth Avenue’ by The 86’d. At the time, the recommendation came by way of a friend on Twitter, geographically an ocean away. The band had just a few plays of their track, and just a few followers on Twitter. Always open to listen, always open to find that sense of music love, I clicked play.
The first few seconds ticked by with a playful guitar melody with a buried vintage vibe. It was the moment when a smile immediately wipes across my face. You can’t help it – or at the very least, I can’t help it. It’s the moment when a song instantly connects to you. After fifteen seconds, that playful melody takes shape and the sound becomes fuller. That classic 60s vibe shines through brilliantly.
I’m a dreamer. No other way to put it. When I hear a song I often find my mind wandering with the music. Less than a half minute into Fifth Avenue, my mind was already wandering. It made its way to a black and white photo of my dad with his friends. Head down, shy smile, a look of coolness that epitomised a generation. I could only imagine stepping into that photo with this song on vinyl. It would have lit the room up.
The vocals began at the twenty-five second mark. Much like the introductory melodies and chords, there was an inherent vibe from earlier days. I repeat this, and I hope the reader does not perceive it as reproduction of an influence. This is not the case in the least. The feeling is reminiscent, yet the sound is fresh. In the vocals there is a sense of happiness that interacts with the more playful guitar melody. It just makes you feel good. There is no more eloquent way to put it. I makes you happy to be there, in the now, enjoying the song.
My mind continued to wander back to that old photo. It was taken at a time when my dad was transitioning from his more free days of youth to being a responsible adult. Having been through this time in my life, I know how music attaches itself to those days. So, in my head I now had a different vision. I imagined that look I often see on my father’s face when we are driving and a certain song comes on the radio. He is reminded of some unspoken memory and lost in it for a moment. There is a longing in his eyes for a time long gone, but a peace and happiness that the memory of it is still so fresh. In my head, I imagined driving along, and ‘Fifth Avenue’ by The 86’d being played on the radio, and that thoughtful, nostalgic look passing over my father’s face. It is rare for me to have such vivid imagery from just a single song, but in this case, the elements are all there.
In Fifth Avenue, The 86’d have laid the elements of a song that will last. It is a song with an infectious melody you simply cannot (and do not want to) get out of your head. You’ll find yourself singing it at random moments. The guitar melodies will play through your head and make you smile. It is the type of song that after hearing it for the first time you wonder how on earth the band came up with it. It just seems to work.
The song ended after that first play and in my head the needle rose from the record player. The imagery still fresh in my head I imagined my dad commenting to his mate who had brought over the record how cool a tune it was, just as I, in 2013, was now sending a tweet to my friend an ocean away to comment very much the same.
Time has changed. The media on which music is played has changed. Its accessibility, volume and diversity has changed. But, fundamentally and deep down, the power of music remains. It connects. I’ve since played Fifth Avenue, and its companion, Lucille, for my father. The 86’d now hold the distinction of being the only new band he has taken a shine to. Its the quality of the music, its the vibe, its just music doing its job. It has connected. It has connected me with a band I routinely play when my mood might be down and I need a pick-up. It has connected my father with music produced in my generation. It has taken evolving and ever changing elements of life and drawn a line between them. This is an accomplishment, and one for which I am grateful to The 86’d.
I started writing articles for AMBY after being influenced to tell a story. It was a story of personal experience rather than review. It was my intention to communicate to the reader how strongly a song or band has affected me, in the hopes that they will explore the sounds and try to discover for themselves why it is so special.
This will be my final article in my adventure with music connections. In part, I feel I’ve satisfied my objective. But this is largely just my own justification I think for throwing in the towel. Moreover, it’s simply a matter of the commitments of life removing the available time to devote to these bands. They deserve proper attention and care, and this is a role I no longer feel I am capable of fulfilling.
So, cheers and many thanks. It has been great. The biggest thanks go to Alicia and Yaz Atout. They gave me the opportunity to have a blank canvas to write about the bands who inspire me. It has been a rewarding experience and one I’m forever grateful for.
I remain a solid supporter of new music, as you can always see in my tweets! But, for now at least, I’m taking the time to just enjoy the music. Many thanks for reading, many thanks for giving the bands a listen, and cheers!
Michael Dakin //