Five tracks which sum up my life . . .

This post originally appeared on Jo Lambert’s blog

Since then, I’ve discovered how to insert HTML images from Youtube into a blog post so I’ve updated it. Hope the videos enhance your pleasure of the blog post and that I can remember how to do it next time.

When I was very young, my mother and I went to live with my maternal grandparents and two teenage uncles (Joseph 20 and Tommy 18) who spoiled me rotten and encouraged me to be precocious. NOT that I needed much encouragement. The house was filled with music, my uncles having bought a large radiogram with wages earned working in the local steel mill. They played their 78’s whenever they could, which meant I knew the words to all the latest songs and they taught me how to jive, twist etc. Later, when we moved house to England, my family’s love of popular music continued (via the radio). We listened to Music While You Work, Children’s Favourites, Sing Something Simple, Two Way Family Favourites and ground-breaking Radio Caroline. As a teenager I fell asleep listening to Radio Luxembourg via an earpiece attached to my prized transistor radio. When Radio One was launched in 1967 it was as important to teenagers, like me, as a man walking on the moon two years later.

Little Me. 3 years old . . . and a bunch of trouble

Fast forward to listening to Radio One on the drive home from work, the transition from cassette tapes to CD’s and finally, downloading music on my iPhone. Small wonder music has provided the backing track to all our lives.

Here are five of my favourites – 

(1) The Mammas and Papas

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I only have to hear the opening chords of this song and I am transported back to 1967 when the hippy movement reached Leicester. I had just taken my ‘O’ levels and at the start of the summer holidays my friend Brenda Harris and I bought a bag of budgie bells from the local pet shop (much to the shop keeper’s suspicion). We sewed them on the outside seam of our bellbottom jeans, found a couple of floppy hats and ‘granny clothes’ at jumble sales and put together a ‘hippy kit’. Then we joined all the other wannabes on Victoria Park in search of the much promised Happening, which never materialised. Instead, we ended up in mega trouble for chalking – MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR on a neighbour’s garage door, after which the Summer of Love ended abruptly for us.

(2) Sguaban Arbhair – Sheaves of Corn

I often ‘stumble across’ music and this is how I found Runrig. I was watching TV and saw the group perform at Glasgow Barrowlands and was blown away, When I was a child we would often go to the ‘Barras’ a couple of times a year on shopping expeditions.  That memory, coupled with Runrig’s fusion of folk, Gaelic and rock music tapped into a part of me I’d forgotten existed; my Scottishness. When Runrig came to Leicester I went to see them in concert and bought several CD’s afterwards. There I found the track Sguaban Arbhair – Sheaves of Corn. It tells how the old ways of crofting and living off the land have vanished as young people head for the cities. It’s my go-to song when I want to get into the mood for writing. In Scotch on the Rocks, my heroine Ishabel sings it at a live mike session in the local pub and the hero falls in love with her. When I listen to it, I’m transported to Eilean na Sgairbh, the imaginary Cormorant Island where I set my novel.S

(3) Ship to Shore – Chris de Burgh

Lady in Red (now sadly cliched) brought Chris de Burgh to my attention. And, of course, I had to listen to his back catalogue (first on vinyl and then on CD). I found Ship to Shore and it raised my spirits at a difficult time. My mother had recently died of cancer, I underwent a hysterectomy, we moved house twice in two and a half years and I was acting head at a large primary school of over 350 children. It became an anthem for me, the backdrop to a time when I wanted to get stuck into my writing but was forced to put my dream on hold. The line: how I wish that we could turn the clock back to the time when we were lovers, in the true sense of the meaning, inspired me to go for gold and achieve my dream. In fact, all of the lyrics have a resonance for me. I only have to hear the Morse code ‘pips’ at the beginning of the song and I’m transported back to when I saw Chris de Burgh at the NEC. A time before word processors, the internet, and Amazon made becoming a published author an attainable dream for thousands of indie authors.S

(4) Someone Like You – Adele

I discovered Adele much in the same way as Runrig. A friend had been banging on about her for months and I put my fingers in my ears and refused to listen. Stubborn, see? Then I caught Adele’s concert at the Albert Hall on TV, heard her sing Someone Like You and Don’t You Remember? and was hooked. Something in her lyrics – which come straight from her heart, the key she sang in, and her performance found an answering chord in me. Overall, I’ve had a good life and a very happy marriage. So, I have to dig deep when writing a sad/emotional scenes and Adele takes me there in seconds. So – that evening, once I’d stopped blubbing like a baby in front of the TV, I went straight on to Amazon and ordered ‘21’. It’s remained a favourite ever since.

(4) Downbound Train – Bruce Springsteen

In the 90’s we went to America, travelling from Washington DC to Memphis, thru Iowa and up to Door County. We stayed with my former teaching student and when we caught the plane back to the UK, she gave me Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA. In return, I promised that I would write a romance set in Wisconsin, bringing together everything we’d experienced over five magical weeks. Once home, I played the album while preparing for returning to school after the long holiday. However, influenced by Jilly Cooper, Helen Fielding et al I put notes for my ‘American novel’ to one side and started writing a rom com instead: Tall, Dark and Kilted. But I never forgot my promise and recently returned to the MS, re-writing and publishing it as Take Me, I’m Yours, dedicating it to Dee Paulsen and her family. Apart from the anthemic Born in the USA, my favourite track is Downbound Train. Every time I play it, I’m back in Dee’s Aunt Bev’s house in Memphis sweltering in 100 degrees in the shade as we rush from air-conditioned house to air-conditioned car. Now I know that I don’t have a pioneering bone in my body and would never convincingly play the part of a woman having a baby in the back of a wagon.

If you would like to read an extract, download or share about Take Me, I’m Yours, click here


Which five tracks would YOU choose?

About Lizzie Lamb

I write contemporary women's fiction mostly based in Scotland with hot heroes, feisty heroines and always a happy ending. Along with three other authors - Adrienne Vaughan, June Kearns and Margaret Cullingford - I formed the New Romantics Press under which our books are published. I have published six books since 2012, the latest being Harper's Highland Fling. I am currently working on #7 which I hope to publish in 2022. In the meantime, do check out my Amazon page: and click 'FOLLOW' to keep up to date with me and my news.

Posted on March 24, 2019, in Lizzie's Scribbles. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. 1. Suppers Ready – Genesis. I’ve been an atheist for 50 years and know with my addictive personality drugs are a really bad idea. So the first song would be about drugs and god (or God).
    2. One – U2. Son no 1 was in hospital and I walked up and down the corridors holding him and humming this to calm him (he now has a PhD and can think me under the table).
    3. Still Fighting It – Ben Folds. Bad times with daughter no 1 (two of each if you’re wondering) and I played this song late one night and the line ‘and I picked you up and everything changed’ made me realise my plan of action was wrong. She’s still a pita but from that moment I decided to fight from her corner.
    4. Steam – Peter Gabriel. I cannot play it. It was released not long after my father died and has the line ‘the quick and the dead’. Hit a chord as he had became the latter.
    5. Whatever is my favourite at the moment. Odds on my wife will come in, raise an eyebrow and say ‘What the … are you listening to now, so loud?’. I’ll get all offended and then think, yep, actually she’s right.
    Tomorrow all may change, by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It was an interesting challenge. Thank you for making me concentrate my feelings for a few minutes. If you had extended the pick to ten,
        6. would have been ‘Fear of a Blank Planet’ by Porcupine Tree which is an awful mix of a pounding tune with quite upsetting lyrics (not profane, but shining a light onto teenage mental problems).
        7 would be ‘See You later Alligator’ or another 50s hit that my mum thought was safe on top of the wardrobe until I managed to get up there and kneel on the fragile things – oops.
        8 would be Lola (Kinks) which reminds me of my dad singing his own made up and bizarre lyrics to the hits of the day
        9. Hi Ho Silver Lining – Jeff Beck – where my mate Russell stopped someone stabbing the very drunk me (!) and
        10. Whatever was being played at an AC/DC concert in 1979 or 1980. The week before we had gone to see ex-Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan in a small club. The ex-guitarist Ritchie Blackmore came on stage unannounced. The crowd surged (one does not know how frightening that is until you are in the midst). I ended up right next to the stack of speakers, Russ (my guardian re the stabbing) got turned around and spent the rest of the concert sitting on the low stage looking up the singers nose!). I remember walking down Charing Cross Road afterwards in shock. Cut forward to AC/DC. Because of the proximity to the Marquee speaker stack, my left ear, when presented with loud noises just gave up and recognised sounds only as a squeal. In the Hammersmith Odeon, I could stand up (with the rest of the crowd), watch the band but not hear or sit down and hear – but not see.
        I hit upon the idea of placing left hand over left ear.
        The climax of the concert was when the singer and guitarist disappeared from the stage and later reappeared at the back of the auditorium with the singer shoulder carrying the guitarist (look up the number of time that went wrong!).
        I swear that as he came down the aisle, Bon Scott saw me with my hand up and was most confused by this guy standing like a folk singer!
        All the best

        Liked by 1 person

      • More great memories Chris, thanks for sharing.


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