I want to hold your hand
Of all the few scattered memories from my childhood, one really stands out. It was a moment when I discovered music. Ok, I am pretty sure I was aware of music before — with songs in school or at the church. Or with some music as white noise from the radio or TV. But there was a moment that I still see very clearly when I became aware of music as something much more than just a sound in the background.
I had to be around 12 years old, spending summer at my grandparents’. One hot July day, I was just doing something in the garden. There was a radio standing on the windowsill just droning with news and talk and the occasional song. Something to fill that space that is difficult to fill when it is quiet. That space between grandparents and a grandson. Where there is some hubbub filling the air, there is no need to talk. Except for “do this” or “don’t do this”.
And then this song comes up. I wasn’t aware of any songs by a title by then. Nor of any bands. No matter how popular. Music was just a utility without any other meaning. There were no records, LPs, EPs, 8 tracks, or whatever at home. No one was listening to music for pleasure. Or maybe I wasn’t simply aware of it. I wasn’t aware of a lot of things as a child. And still I am not aware of a lot of things now, but I digress…
And then suddenly — I experienced the revelation of discovery. I remembered the name of the band and the song title as told by a person on the radio. I started playing with knobs on the radio, trying to find a station where I might hear some other MUSIC. No luck, as I was scolded by a grandfather that he just had a good setup on this frequency for this radio station, and now I ruined it.
I had a radio at home, so I started to experiment. There were very few radio stations in the mid-1980s in Poland. And there was preciously little of the music. And even less of western rock music. But it was there to be found. Mixed in with the static. Some radio stations were only heard at particular hours, and only if I put a radio in a specific place and held the antenna just like so. But it worked, and it was so much sweeter than just getting a percent sound with a push of a button now.
I had no preconceived ideas about music at that age. I didn’t get any knowledge of music and songs and bands from my parents or the school or even my childhood friends. Everything was a discovery to savor and enjoy. I also noticed my neighbor, a guy several years older with longish hair, and the fact that there was some muffled music coming from his room. Music that was quite interesting. I started talking to him, and he started lending me cassettes from his collection. I remember the first one was “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” by Black Sabbath. My young and impressionable mind was blown away.
But there still is always a smile and warm memory of that first time when I became aware of the power of music when I hear “I want to hold your hand” by The Beatles. That was the start of my lifelong journey.