Today’s lockdown tracks come from BBC North East weather presenter Jen Bartram. Weather’s gain was music’s loss after the NME failed to grasp the journalistic talent in front of them…
Has music always been part of your story?
Yes, definitely. I’m quite a lot younger than my brother and sister and I remember spending a lot of time sitting in their bedrooms listening to their music. My sister’s room had things I could fiddle with at the same time as listening and I think that’s why I was encouraged to go to my brother’s room instead! Most of my memories are listening to his choices. Funnily enough I’ve ended up with musical taste closer to his. I wonder if that’s why.
So what would they be listening to?
My sister liked more pop acts, cheesy 80s music. I remember A-ha being played a lot, whereas my brother was a bit more punky. He listened to the Jam, the Clash, U2, more guitar-based music. I remember him playing Bruce Springsteen and, of all the tracks I could have picked, the one really clear memory is of me making my brother play Santa Claus is coming to town over and over. I’d have been about 6 or 7 and I loved it. At that age, I think mainly I liked the idea of Santa Claus coming to town!
And what else would you have been up to?
I learned to play the piano as a child but before I could play I’d sit on the piano stool next to my Dad. He was an amazing pianist and could have played professionally. I’d sit and watch as he’d play Mozart. Sometimes I turned it into an ‘interesting’ duet! They’re very happy memories.
Do you play now?
I’d like to, the problem with a piano is getting the space in the house. One day though, definitely. I’d like to have a piano.
And do you remember buying music for the first time?
Oh, yes. As with most people, my tastes before secondary school and after were very different. I liked the Stock Aitken and Waterman stuff – Kylie and Jason. I bought Especially For You on an album but, even now it’s important to note that I bought it on Jason’s album. Not Kylie’s. And then, at secondary school I bought a lot of music that wasn’t the usual stuff all my friends were listening to. I liked being a bit contrary. I remember the first CD I bought was Jamiroquai, Emergency on Planet Earth. I’m not really sure why, I liked the cover, it looked cool with the silhouette on the white background. As I say, mainly because it was different from Take That.
And how about sport? Any musical memories from live sport?
I love sport, live sport. I enjoy athletics, rowing, anything, but football is, of course, the big one. I always enjoy seeing what music TV companies put to the montages they have at the end of events. Those tracks often go on to be the link to really clear memories. The first big football tournament I watched as a fan was Euro 96 and I’ll always remember after we lost to Germany the BBC ran their titles with Walkaway by Cast. I was really into Cast at the time and I remember watching that, devastated.
And how about Sunderland?
For years I always listened to Simply Red and White, Daydream Believer on matchdays. I bought it on cassette and listened for years after Peter Reid had gone. I remember the rumours that they might get on to Top of the Pops if they’d sold a few more copies. That was such a good time.
What do you think the best walk out music is at a football ground?
That’s really difficult. I think it’s got to be something that gets everyone up for the game to come. For me, the best is Palladio by Escala, they play it at Craven Cottage. It’s the way it builds. A really fantastic piece of music.
And how about concerts? Do you get to many gigs?
When I can. My first was Reading festival when I was 13. I went with my bother and saw an early Foo Fighters, Neil Young, Teenage Fan Club. It was a great day. I’ve seen Teenage Fan Club six times now, they’re always good live. And I saw Springsteen at the Stadium of Light. That was incredible because it was him but in my back yard. I was back on the floor in my brother’s bedroom listening as a young girl.
Then I saw a very different sort of gig at the Cluny 2 in Newcastle a few years ago. A band called The Low Anthem. Maybe 50 people. It was a really amazing environment.
My first indoor concert was Oasis at Whitley Bay Ice Rink, I’d have been 13 or 14 and, again, I’ve seen them a few times since but, that night with them playing Champagne Supernova I’ll never forget. I came home from the concert, found an old typewriter and wrote a review. I sent it to the NME! They didn’t publish it but sent me a letter thanking me which I’ve still got.
Is that when you decided to be a journalist?
Maybe, yes. But I never made it as a music journalist, sadly.
What would get you on a dancefloor?
It doesn’t take much to get me up and dancing. I’m a terrible dancer but I enjoy it. It’s such a laugh. I always like dancing to Madness. Baggy Trousers. Not that that’s really dancing. But certainly moving. We played it at our wedding. Not the first dance, I should add.
Ha. That’d be a great first dance. If we could let you out of the lockdown for one day what would you do?
I really miss seeing my friends and family so it’d be somewhere we could all meet up. A nice beer garden in a pub. Ideally down by the river, nice sunny day. It’d become the whole day I suspect with quite a few glasses of wine.
Sounds idyllic. Perhaps see you there. Thanks for talking. Keep well.