In the song Trenchtown Rock, from the 1975 Live! album recorded at a 1975 concent in London by Bob Marley and the Wailers, Bob Marley opens with the following lyrics: One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain, One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain, So hit me with music, hit me with music now…
Friedrich Nietszche once said, “Without music, life would be a mistake” while Louis Armstrong said, “Music is life itself. What would this world be without good music? No matter what kind it is.”
Music. It has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. It always seemed to be playing when I was growing up and it has always played as I have grown older. For most moments in my life, I start with what I am going to play, whether it is sitting down to work, going on a road trip, or climbing into bed to fall asleep. I have sleep playlists for me to fall asleep to, to the chagrin on my missus, and these consist of anything from soul and classical to electronica and gentle drum & bass.
The music that hit me
As a teenager, the walls of my room were covered with pictures of musicians I loved, started with Bob Marley, whose records/LPs dotted my father’s extensive music collection. This is from where my love for music was born, that record collection. Every Sunday, I would have to wake up to wash my father’s car, come rain or shine, summer or winter. Winters, if you know anything about Lesotho’s climate were particularly cold and I used to have to use warm water to keep my hands from totally freezing.
Before I headed out with bucket and soap, I would go through my father’s collection to decide what I was going to listen to while I toiled. Reggae, jazz, soul, rock & roll, classical, high life, disco, etc – every genre was featured and I submerged myself in all. Was today going to be Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Peter Tosh, Bing Crosby, Kori Moraba, Dark City Sisters, Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba, Harry Belafonte, Lou Rawls, Jimmy Cliff, Nat King Cole, Shalamar, Kool & The Gang, George Benson or a random mix. Once decided, I turn the speakers towards the front door, place the needle on the first record and turn the volume way up to ensure that I could hear it from the driveway.
The soundtrack to a life
Music. In the words of Stevie Wonder, “Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it.” Consciously and unconsciously, we create a soundtrack to our lives that can go into the millions for those of us who listen constantly. If you listened to 10 songs a day, in a year, you would have listened to 25,550 individual songs in a year. Many of these songs weave themselves into our experiences, serving as reminders of emotions, moments and memories, as Stevie Wonder said.
I could tell you the songs that represent my first kiss – Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse’s Burnout -, a car accident – Boys II Men’s End Of The Road -, hot Christmases in Maseru – no, not Boney M but Nat King Cole singing O Tannebaum (a favourite of my father’s) – and many other moments and the people who were part of those moments.
A promise made
Over the years, I would play my father the contemporary music of my times taking into consideration what I knew of his tastes, often to no avail. His usual response was “It’s boom-boom music”. I must say that the two albums he eventually fell in love with were Prince’s Diamonds & Pearls and, especially, D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar. As we shifted from records and cassette tapes to CD and then digital, I made a promise to my father to digitise his record collection, also because he did not have a functional record player any more but still wanted to enjoy the music from his life.
And, as the vinyl revival has gripped the world of music lovers, I also wanted to be able to play my much smaller collection in my home.
Sadly, my father passed away just under a year ago so that is a promise I was never able to fulfil in his lifetime but, I can still do so in my lifetime, to honour him and share the music that forms a significant portion of my life’s soundtrack with my children, his grandchildren. But, how to go about it?
Fulfilling the promise with Visa Checkout
Purchasing any type of audio equipment, in this day and age, is a potential minefield particularly because, with vinyl undergoing a resurgence, there is a multitude of options available. Plus, my reality is time is always at a premium because I do not have a standard work life, being involved in multiple projects from a radio show on Kaya FM, editing Afropolitan magazine, building a Project Fable, a content consulting business with a friend, and being a father and husband, etc. To be able to go out to research and purchase what I need has always ended up at the bottom of the to-do list.
Towards end of last year, I partnered with Visa Checkout and, having experienced the advantages of using it, it made sense to explore it again to fulfil this promise made. I did a blog post on it which you can check out HERE but, essentially, VISA Checkout enables you to make online purchases securely, taking out the discomfort many of us feel when having to upload our credit card details to multiple sites. They have partnered with an increasing number of online merchants so you can purchase using Visa Checkout logins – where you have loaded your financial and delivery details. I use it on YuppieChef and Cape Union Mart quite a bit.
Add to this, Visa is also driving a ‘cashless culture’ which has benefits for us as consumers, for merchants and, potentially, our economies. “Initial data from an upcoming Visa study finds if businesses in 100 cities around the world went cashless, they stand to experience net benefits of $312 Billion dollars per year – with New York City businesses alone looking at $6.8 Billion in revenue and save more than 185 million hours in labor by making greater use of digital payments.”
To do this, they have stated that:
- “Globally, Visa is speeding up the implementation of electronic payments by working with governments and central banks.
- Visa is aligning with like-minded brands around the world to help bring our vision to life.
- Visa is using its position as a global leader in innovation and technology to create incentives for merchants to remain competitively connected to their consumers.”
Visa both challenged me and gave me the opportunity to create a ‘music listening lounge’ where I can relieve my musical moments with my father and digitise his collection, crackling and all.
After hours online watching videos on turntables and speakers, consulting audiophiles and reading up the best solutions out there, it took less than 10 minutes for me order an Audio Technica turntable and Klipsch speakers online and a couple of days to receive them.
To sit back with Fela Kuti’s Lady at full blast, remembering my father singing along in the background is as indescribable as how music makes me feel. Promises fulfilled are simply magical.