One-dimensional encounters with three-dimensional people

Published 20, Jun, 2011

Bob Leahy talks about how well we really know each other - or not - and what our musical choices say about us. And he wants to know what’s your favourite song?

One-dimensional encounters with three-dimensional people

Like a broken record (remember records?) I’m returning to a theme I’ve often touched on here. That theme is how well we know each other – particularly those of us who do “stuff” in the HIV community or perhaps read each other’s blogs – and conversely, how we are often complete strangers. True, we know each other’s place in the HIV universe. We know each other as people living with HIV, or sometimes as one who work with them/us. But no matter how many times and how often we assert that we are more than our relationship with HIV, HIV does in fact define many of our relationships, when you really come to think about it.

Getting beyond the label of our relationship with HIV can be very hard indeed.

Blogging helps. I know little details of many private lives from words that slip out in blogs.; you may know a little about me from that same source. You may know, for instance, that I have three dogs and a partner of thirty years standing. But who even knows their names? Who knows what else is going on in my life? Who knows what makes me tick? Who knows what I’m afraid of in the dark?

Today I want to play a game. I want you to name your favourite song of all time, followed by your LEAST favourite song. Why? I’m thinking that our relationship with music - what we like, what we don’t like and all the nuances in between - is very telling.

How did this new-found curiosity come about? Driving home from Toronto last week, I was listening to Randy Bachman on CBC Radio. Now Randy Bachman is a bit of a legend here in Canada; he was with the Guess Who, playing lead guitar. Today, he has a radio show with his wife, responding to readers’ letters and playing their requests. The theme this week was – you guessed it – naming your most favourite and least favourite songs.

Now one of the things people probably don’t know about me is I’ve had a lifelong engagement with music. I’m not sure I qualify as a musicologist, but I’ve been fascinated by the development of pop music since I was a kid and have a pretty encyclopaedic knowledge of same. Today, I’m no consumer but still follow the twists and turns of the music business, who’s hot and who’s not. So the invitation to name my most favourite and least favourite songs was a challenge I didn’t take lightly.

xbobpeople 2

Listeners’ choices were fascinating. Two favourites that recurred were, predictably, Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven and Hotel California from the Eagles. River Deep, Mountain High from Tina Turner (Ike never played on that recording session) was also in there somewhere, and deservedly so. Phil Spector may have been a murderer but his wall of sound was impeccable.

Listeners’ least favourite choices were even more fascinating. By far the most frequently recurring was She’s Having My Baby, dredged up by (I hate to admit he's frm Canada too) Paul Anka. But others that got the raspberry more than once were, if I remember, Honey By Bobby Goldsboro, Muskrat Love by Captain and Tennille (truly horrible), Feelings by – well, I hardly want to go there. Missing in action – I’m not sure why – were clunkers from Tony Orlando and Dawn like Tie a Yellow Ribbon and Knock Three Times.


Try listening to the some of those all-time baddies, by the way. Really listening. They may make your ears ache, but before long you’ll be appreciating all the good things in life so much more!

Anyway, I’m going to share my best song of all time.  It’s Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir from 1975. I had been smitten by this band since hearing their first single Communications Breakdown in 1968 and the following year seeing them live at London’s Royal Albert Hall because me and my mates worshiped the ground they walked on. Kashmir is, ironically, one of the least typical Zeppelin songs but also the one which awed me the most. It still does.

The least favourite? I’ve already named it. It's Knock Three Times by Tony Orlando and Dawn. If there is anything more excruciating out there than this, I have yet to hear it.


What do these song choices tell about me – which was really the launching point for this whole post? Well, I may have ended up as a pin-striped banker, later to become a country bumpkin, but before that I was immersed in the London music scene, going as a teen to clubs like the Marquee on Wardour Street, later going to concert after concert, and festivals like the famous Isle of Wight one in 1970.   Hendrix, The Who, Chicago, The Doors, The Moody Blues, Jethro Tull and many more shared the bill. I wasn’t a hippie but moved in hippie circles.

Anyway, musical choices DO tell us quite a bit about people, no?

Tell me yours. What’s your favourite song of all time. And what’s your least favourite.

Don't be shy.  Leave a comment.  Why?  I just want to get to know you better!