“A Musical (Stay) Awakening”
The main event of the past week has been the annual 6th Form Stayawake when, on Friday, 130 6th formers plus numerous intrepid members of staff stayed awake for 24 hours in order to raise money for LEPRA, the charity which supports victims of leprosy in the third world. Fulston Manor is already the school in England which has raised more money for this charity than any other and this year’s figure, in excess of £4,000, is another fantastic contribution by all those who took part.
A new addition in 2011 was an all night radio broadcast, devised and delivered by two students, Callum Price-Skinner and Dylan Hudson. With a blend of music, quizzes, interviews, these two kept going from 8.00 p.m. until 6.00 a.m. on Saturday morning, assisted by a rota of staff which began with Miss Caulfeild-Browne and ended with me. Whilst I would like to claim that I had been with them all night honesty dictates that I must confess that, having slept in my own bed, I simply got up a little earlier than usual and arrived at about 5.30 a.m., a paltry effort compared to the contributions of others.
All participating staff were given the opportunity to request music and, when I asked for guidelines, I was told simply to, “pick my favourite song”. Deceptively straight forward as that may sound, particularly for 17 year olds, for someone who has been buying music for 50 years the request is, of course, an impossible one. The first record I bought, in May 1963, was “I Like It” by Gerry and the Pacemakers, the most recent, last month, was “Live at the Red Shack” by Eric Taylor, and in between decades of everything from rock to blues to jazz to folk to classical and back again. Favourite tracks will depend on mood, time of day, time of year, circumstance and a range of other factors, so the challenge of finding the ideal song for 5.50 a.m. on a Saturday morning at the end of a stayawake was beyond me. This being the case, I cheated and managed to get 3 played which, eventually, were more or less randomly chosen.
Pausing to reflect on the dilemma did cause me to question whether music is viewed differently by different generations. There is certainly more of it about; all public spaces seem to be constantly invaded by background sound and people travel, exercise, study and live their lives with ipods set to shuffle and surgically implanted headphones trailing from their ears. I do wonder sometimes whether this omnipresence is causing people to treat music increasingly as ambient noise rather than as something to be focused on and treasured as perhaps the purest of all art forms. Still, my mother regarded the start of “Top of the Pops” as a sign that society was about to come to an end, so I suspect that my views should be treated with similar gravity.
In case you are interested, when it came down to it I retreated from all my strange and obscure choices and decided on two sixties’ classics and one that was at least released during the current century. “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane, “I Want You” by Bob Dylan and “New American Language” by Dan Bern. Let me know if you would like copies to shuffle into your ipod as I suspect that none of them will make the final cut once Mr Matthews has edited the show!