Today’s lockdown tracks are picked by the Evening Chronicle’s James Hunter. A farming, publican journalist who witnessed one of the Premier Leagues most memorable moments at very close range.
What are your musical memories as a child?
I didn’t listen to much music in the house but, to be honest, I wasn’t in the house much as a child. I grew up in the Yorkshire countryside and was helping out on a farm from about 7 years old. I say helping out, at 7 I think you’re mainly getting in the way! In the tractors the radio was always on, so I’d listen to Radio 1 constantly. Big acts with the massive DJs of the time. DLT and Simon Bates introducing Madness, The Specials, Human League. But then, in the holidays I used to stay with my Dad who ran a pub in Norfolk. He was in charge of the tunes in the pub, so it’d be a range from Jazz to Motown. So, depending where I was it was anything from Blondie to Billie Holiday. I think that’s stuck with me throughout my life. I still listen to quite a wide range of music and know what I like and what I don’t like.
Was your Dad’s pub one of those country pubs where everyone knows everyone else?
Yes, definitely. It was twelve miles from Norwich and almost everyone from the village and nearby villages used to go. As I got a bit older, I used to help him out and, for a couple of weeks each summer, I would run it for him so he could have a holiday. It was always during the close season so I had a bit of time to help him out.
Do you remember buying music for the first time?
Yes. It was a trip to HMV or Woolworths back then. I bought The Queen Is Dead by The Smiths and U2’s The Joshua Tree when I was quite young. I remember my first single purchase very clearly. It was Blue Monday by New Order. A fantastic song that still appears on the radio and TV a lot. A classic!
Did you support a team in your youth?
Not really, I watched my two local teams with Bradford when I was in Yorkshire and Norwich when I was at my Dad’s but never really developed an allegiance. My Dad managed to get me a ticket to see Norwich play Sunderland in the cup semi-final at Hillsborough. That was a great day. I say ‘see’, my ticket was restricted view and one of the upper tier supports was right in front of me. When I go to Hillsborough now I can still pick out exactly where I sat that day.
What is on in the car for a match day?
It tends to be radio 5 on the way to games unless it’s a long away trip in which case I tend to put Absolute 80s on for Craig John’s benefit. He’s a child of the 90s so the car is a good opportunity to educate him.
Do you get to many concerts?
I used to go to an awful lot of concerts because, when I started on the Chronicle, I was on the music page and so I was sent all the promo CDs and also got to see the artists performing in and around the North East. I remember the person from Creation records saying that Oasis were worth listening to because they were the next big thing. Of course, everyone is the next big thing when you’re sending out promos so they went on the pile with everyone else! I saw Pulp, REM, The Cure, Deacon Blue, Aerosmith, loads of great bands. Mind you I saw some ropey concerts too for work! The first big concert I went to was INXS at Wembley. I’d have been about 14 or 15. And I’m a huge Springsteen fan. I’ve seen him a few times. Once at the San Siro. It was 2016 and he was incredible. I remember Racing in the Street. If I listen to that now I’m back there in Milan, amazing night.
Were all of those work concerts in Newcastle?
No, I worked in Yorkshire before that and went to quite a few gigs there. I covered sport sometimes and once, I was covering the guy who looked after Leeds United for the paper. I only did it for a week or so but what a week. My first game was at Old Trafford and it was the game when Ferguson said that Leeds had given them a good game and he hoped they’d give Newcastle the same a few days later. Then the next game was the Newcastle game. I was standing waiting for the player interviews when Keegan started his Sky interview just a few feet away. That was a hell of a week to have been around Leeds United!
What do you think is the best ground for walk out music?
I think Merseyside have got it covered. Obviously, there’s You’ll Never Walk Alone and, I’ve always liked the Z cars theme at Everton but, I love that Tranmere come out to the Rockford Files. A great track and it reminds me of my youth watching James Garner.
What would get you on the dance floor?
Absolutely nothing. Really, I’ve never been a dancer. Even when I’m three sheets to the wind I tend to avoid it and my friends and family would tell you it’s for the best!
If we could let you out for a day from lockdown, I’m guessing you’re not heading to a disco then?
No! But I know exactly where I’d go. It’d be to the Dales. I’ve always been an outside kind of guy and to be unable to travel to Swaledale and walk in green fields, open spaces, I’ve really missed it.
Well hopefully it won’t be too long until we can all get back out and about. Thanks for chatting and keep well.