What I said back then:
I’ll start at the beginning, with the Beatles – Michelle. An odd choice, you might think, but it’s the first piece of popular music I’m conscious of knowing. It wasn’t a new song at the time – this must have been about 1968 – but there was a girl in my infants class called Michelle, and we all sang it. It’s probably also the first piece of French I ever knew, although I can’t reconcile this to the holidays we had in Brittany, when I certainly picked up enough to go across the road and buy the bread every day.
It certainly predates the second Beatles song I was aware of – Yellow Submarine: we all went mad for Yellow Submarine when it came out – my friend Guy had the Dinky toy, I was green. Where are you now, Guy? Where are the rest of them – Garry and Glenn, Debra, Mrs Hutchinson – I should look on Friends Reunited, shouldn’t I? Engayne Infant School, Upminster: it feels like another world now.
What I think now:
Well, I’m happy for this to stand as my first proper musical memory, and I remember it clearly, as opposed to remember remembering it (if you follow me). However, on almost all the material facts, I was either wrong, or things have changed…
I almost certainly don’t remember the Beatles version! Well, of course, what I mean is that the version we all sang back then was the one we were hearing on the radio by the Overlanders. Of course, I do know the Beatles version, but it wasn’t until I tried finding the YouTube links that it occurred to me that what I knew and what I remembered sounded different.
Yellow Submarine still stands, of course, and if I really wanted (and thought really hard about last names), I could probably find my old friends on Facebook now. Engayne School is there, of course, although there’s no separate infants part now.
And is it another world? Probably not as much now as it was then. Now, from where I sit, all of Britain feels like another world. Don’t think I saw that one coming at the time.
I made the effort to buy Beatles music once it was easily available digitally, and as a consequence, Conor (but not so much Cameron) has become a Beatles fan, which is a Good Thing. He is, however, more of an Abbey Road boy than a Rubber Soul one. I’m sure I’ve told him how Michelle is my earliest popular music memory, but I’ve never thought to ask him what his might be…