Sitting in Eddie Rocket’s Diner in Limerick last night, there was an irresistible urge to use up the collective supply of 20 cent coins in the juke box. It was Candi Staton’s ‘Young hearts run free’ that caught the eye, it predated the memories of everyone in the restaurant, except me. The single I really would have liked to have been able to play was ‘Disco stomp’ by 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. While the male of the species might have been into Status Quo and Queen, most females preferred something softer. They liked love songs and ballads and, in 1975, they liked disco music. When you are very plain and boring, 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 worked!
For years the records remained hidden away in an attic box. How could someone who had seen AC/DC live 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. 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, Candi Staton and Hamilton Bohannon included (though there is now a copy of every one of Bruce Springsteen’s albums lying close at hand, one must be inclusive!)