Seven Decades of Song (5)
My latest series of monthly strolls down memory lane is Seven Decades of Song, reflections on music through the years. So far we have visited the 1950s, the 1960s, the 1970s and the 1980s. This month, we reach the 1990s.
When researching this month’s piece, I noticed two things about the best-selling singles: firstly, I am starting to see songs to which I can’t remember the words; and artists I don’t remember at all. And secondly, many of the more familiar songs came from movies. Whether it’s Bryan Adams with I Do It For You, from Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves; Celine Dion with My Heart Will Go On from Titanic; or Whitney Houston with I Will Always Love You from The Bodyguard, the crossover between cinema and popular music was particularly pronounced at this time.
I worked in Russia during the 1990s, travelling there for two or three weeks at a time. We were helping companies set up their manufacturing facilities, so the drugs were made safely and did more good than harm to the population. And there was always music playing. Whether it was the one Richard Clayderman CD my driver insisted on playing over and over again throughout a five-hour car journey; or the three piece band playing during dinner each night at the hotel. They had a small repertoire and we always knew what we were going to hear every time they performed. But at least they changed the order of the songs, so we were able to make a game out of guessing what would be coming next.
I was getting ready for breakfast in my hotel in St Petersburg on Sunday 31st August 1997, when the news came through of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. And six days later, I was sitting in another hotel, this time in France, with my husband, watching the funeral on television. The week had been fraught with emotion, over-wrought some might say, but no-one could fail to be moved by the sight of the two small princes walking behind the coffin. And although we own a copy of Yellow Brick Road by Elton John, I don’t remember us ever playing Candle in the Wind again. The version he performed in Westminster Abbey was, for me and I suspect for many others, the song of the decade.