Smile, smile, smile
Kenny Graham bio
Hi there, pop fans!
Smile, smile, smile
It's all over
I have got the furious needle
Brain Drain
Revive me!
My inheritance

The Devil looks after
Hymn Number Dinky Do
The Expert
Post mortem
Tete a tete
Fine, fine, fine
Fame and fortune
Mars, they're making eyes

I came across my small son sitting in the middle of the floor, descant recorder in hand, tutor on the floor in front of him and sobbing his heart out. He had been told to learn a tune for the recorder class and he was having great difficulty in making it happen.

Now, I encourage both my kids to practise their recorders but I never make them, and I certainly wouldn’t force them to the brink of tears. Nobody had made him practise; he just wanted to. I made him turn it in immediately and go outside to play and then come back again and try once more. This he did and all was well.

I tried to explain to him that music had to be happy. If it wasn’t happy to play and happy to hear, it was obviously no damned good. All my music must be happy, even the sad bits. If you don’t enjoy it, why bother? I only wish that all these people who try to baffle us with intellectual claptrap would consider this thought. If you want an intellectual exercise try Differential Calculus or Space Physics. If you have anything at all to do with music for god’s sake enjoy it. Then maybe audiences will enjoy it, too, instead of sitting there as if they are about to have a tooth pulled.

Seeing Red
Did any of you hear “The Red Flag” sung at the end of the Labour Party Conference? It knocked me right out. What a shambles! Not only was it obvious that they didn’t know the words: there was also a battle as to when the middle section should occur. The beatup piano went one way and the mumbling voices the other.

Couldn’t the Arts Council and the Musicians Union get together to ensure that one year it sounds like “The Red Flag”? Or is it as I suspect? Yes, that must be it. They all feel too self conscious singing it. What they really need is a brand new battle song. May I suggest that the Lennon–MacCartney team be commissioned to write one? I have the title—“The Pale Pink Pennant”! Just let me do the lyrics.

The shout-up
When I was first invited to write a column I jumped at it. I have long been notorious for shooting my mouth off about this, that and the others. Now I could do it without the physical strain of a shout–up, But as soon as I had the virgin sheet of paper threaded into my type-writer I discovered that I was at peace with the world. Not a single hostile thought came to mind.

I wrote QWERT a couple of times and gazed at my brainchild. What on earth was wrong with me? I’ve never been short of anything to say, except for the time I was introduced to Duke Ellington. Then I twigged. Nobody was annoying me. That was it: I needed a stimulus. So off to my local :pub I went to get some.

I have very mixed ‘feelings about pubs. I like what they sell but I’m not over–keen about some of, the people that use them. If you are a doctor,  electrician, builder, or almost any job you can think of, then your free advice will be much sought after. But when they discover that you are a musician, they are not interested in what you have to say; they insist on telling you! “I don’t know anything about music but . . .“---and off they go. They think Russ Conway (or Mrs. Mills) is the best pianist in the world. They adore classical music, “like Eric Robinson plays”; they ignore Sammy Davis Jnr. and opine that Bruce Forsyth is the greatest entertainer that ever happened; they believe true jazz stopped during the 1920s; and then there are those whose musical taste is governed by the latest chart.

And that’s not all. After all this kerfuffle comes their advice to me! Why don’t I write a ‘hit’ tune or a hit musical? Why don’t I indeed! Come to that, I ask myself, why don’t I write a symphony? The eventualities are equally remote.

Though I am a great believer in the right of people to have their own opinions, I don’t feel like talking about music after a full day of juggling with crotchets and quavers. I escape to the pub for some sleeping mixture before going to bed. Once upon a time I would try to explain to them. Being a much older and wiser bird now, I try to hide in my pint pot and give the appropriate shakes and nods for as long as I can before blowing my top and reading the riot act.

Time gentlemen . . . pIease.

Catch ‘em young
I wanted to buy a treble recorder the other day and during my trip around the West End music shops I learned an interesting fact. Recorders of all types are in very short supply. The reason? Schools are buying them up by the dozen. I find this very reassuring. It means that our young are being introduced to the mysteries of music on a scale undreamt of. Surely this will have its effect on music in the future.

I was able to read musical notation before I could decipher the alphabet, so it is difficult for me to understand that a non musician must look at a sheet of music with the same incomprehension that I experience when looking at a page written in Latin. Trying to learn a new language is a formidable task and only the most tenacious beings will succeed. As music is a kind of language. teaching our young people musical notation and terminology when they are young must encourage them to take an interest in some sort of musical participation in later years. One day we may become a truly musical nation.

Copyright © 1967, Kenny Graham. All Rights Reserved