Sitting watching TG4 on television this evening, the programme Ardan featured singers and bands you might not hear elsewhere. One group played a number called Stomp. The last time I remember “stomp” in a song title was in 1975, Hamilton Bohannon, an American singer recorded a track called Disco Stomp.
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. While the male of the species might have been into Status Quo and Queen, most females preferred something softer. They like love songs and ballads and, in 1975, they liked disco music. The way to ingratiate oneself 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 I even bought Candi Staton’s ‘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. However, for a while the strategy worked!
If this all sounds unduly cynical and manipulative, then watch our politicians over the next three weeks. They will say all the things that they think you want to hear; they will pretend to like the things you like; they will sing the songs you sing; and if you get taken in by it all, it’s not an evening’s company that you will be giving them, but five years of power in which they will tell you what to do.
Incidentally, when I reached the age of 40, I decided it didn’t matter anymore what people thought, and bought lots of Motown CDs. When talking to a woman who had been thirteen when I had last seen her thirty years previously, she said “Do you know what I remembered about you? How you loved all of those soul tracks”.
Maybe I did, even Hamilton Bohannon.