I knew I was right

The girls of my tutor group were  trying to choose a song for a spring concert. To my surprise, the first song they considered was Candi Staton’s  Young hearts run free.

‘Ladies’, I said, ‘this song is forty-eight years old’. They looked at me in a bemused way, the age of the song was considered unimportan.

I nearly told them about Disco stomp and Hamilton Bohannon.

Hamilton Bohannon was an important figure in my social education.

At the age of 14, I had caught on early that girls had subtly different tastes from boys.

The male of the species might have been listening to Status Quo or Queen (fifty years later, the latter do command a significant female listenership). However, most females in the 1970s preferred something softer. They liked love songs and ballads and, in 1975, they liked disco music.

When you are very plain and boring and girls were a mystery, the best way to ingratiate yourself with young ladies was to say you liked the same stuff as they liked.

Here was where Hamilton Bohannon and George McCrae and Minnie Riperton and the Three Degrees and Barry White, and others too numerous to mention, came in.

Being able to talk about the songs meant buying the 7″ singles so as to know the words and to be able to say you had the record. While other guys were buying tracks by rock bands, I was looking for Tamla Motown.

In 1976, when it appeared in the charts, I bought Young hearts run free.

By 1979 the ploy no longer worked, one girl I knew was less than impressed by my being able to recall Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I will survive’.

I moved on to The Jam and The Clash and stuff that was considered more serious (and which had strongly political content, to chime with being a student at the LSE). However, for a while, the strategy had worked!

For years the records remained hidden away in an attic box.  How could someone who had seen AC/DC live at The Monsters of Rock Festival in 1981 admit to having a secret copy of the Three Degrees?

When I reached the age of 40, I decided it didn’t matter anymore what people thought, and bought lots more Motown CDs.

Someone I knew in the 1970s once recalled, ‘Do you know what I remembered about you? How you loved all of those soul tracks’.

It doesn’t seem likely that it would work fifty years later

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