Seven Decades of Song (7)
This month we come to the end of Seven Decades of Song, reflections on music through the years. So far we have covered the 1950s, the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s, the 1990s and the 2000s, and we have revisited some key moments in song, some personal to me, some part of the shared zeitgeist.
This final decade is, of course, less than eight years old. But for me, it’s already brought some big changes. I’ve given up the day job; exchanging airports, hotel rooms, factories in Russia or sub-Saharan Africa for an office in my garden in a quiet Devon town. I ‘ve finally turned my hobby of writing into a full-time job—or at least as full-time as I want it to be. I love being old enough and brave enough to wake up in the morning and think, just occasionally, I’m not going to work today; I’m going to read a book, go for a walk, or just chat with friends.
My days of listening to pop music on the radio are pretty much over, apart from an occasional foray into Radio 2 and of course, Radio Devon while driving to the gym at 6.30 in the morning. If I need music while I’m working, I reach for my iPod and put my classical tracks on shuffle. The live music gigs we go to occasionally are more likely to feature names and faces from the sixties and seventies. But my husband buys many CDs by new artists he’s met via Jools Holland’s programme, so I’m not living in a complete time bubble.
For many of us in UK, one of the defining moments of this decade will always be the Olympics and Paralympics in London in 2012. Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony was just the right balance of national pride and showcased talent; I impressed my husband, and even myself, by recognising Dizzee Rascal without being prompted. And, of course, we won lots of medals.
But for my musical reference, I’m returning to the pop charts and the best-selling single of the decade so far. It comes from the soundtrack of a popular film; and has won all sorts of accolades. It’s been number 1 in more than twenty countries, including hitting the top of the UK charts on three occasions. It’s the most downloaded song of all time and the ninth highest selling record. And for me, Happy by Pharrell Williams proves that pop music is still alive and kicking more than sixty years after it was first invented!