FEATURE: End the Silence: The Song That Defines Your Childhood



End the Silence:


 PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images 

The Song That Defines Your Childhood


THERE are few campaigns…


PHOTO CREDITHope and Homes for Children

that allows one to donate to a great charity and share their early memories of music! Hope and Homes for Children want people to participate in their End the Silence campaign. Orphanages are there, you’d think, to protect children but it seems, around the world, they are a place of mistreatment and neglect. There are many growing up in environments that are hostile, cold and cruel. It is happening all over the world and it has been said as many as thirty-seven in every one-hundred children in orphanages are subject to sexual abuse.  A lot of the worst cases of abuse occur in developing nations but there is no excuse for the terrible conditions and violent scenes that are almost common practice in these orphanages. Children who grow up here are much more likely to commit suicide and take to prostitution – their lives are a lot more fragile and uncertain than you could possibly imagine. I would urge people to look at the charity’s website and discover the events and fundraisers they are doing to help stem the problem. You cannot shut down all orphanages – and put children into loving homes – but the aim is to rehome and protect as many children as possible. This all brings me to the point of this piece. The charity is asking, before you donate, to name the song you grew up to; the songs that have scored your childhood – the musical memories that stand out from the rest.


PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Many who grow up in orphanages would not have access to music but the objective is to get people thinking about their childhood and that piece of music that takes you back to a great time. Before I provide my thoughts; the Telegraph asked a series of musicians the one song they would select. They provided a rundown and assessment of Hope and Homes for Children’s aims and campaign:

Hope and Homes for Children aims to create the world’s largest online musical memory collection, and raise £1.5 million by Christmas, allowing them to transform the lives of 120,000 children across Rwanda and Uganda who are confined to orphanages. Some of the biggest stars today are helping launch the campaign by revealing their own most precious musical memories.

So what song would you choose? End The Silence would like you to share your memories, along with a donation, for a very good cause. The UK government is committed to doubling every pound donated before Dec 27. For me, the question throws me back to being a small boy listening to my father singing Sunrise Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof. A song of experience, ageing and melancholy that, I think, gave me some strange intimation of the hugeness of the life ahead of me, while binding me in the enduring love of my family. If I close my eyes, I can still hear him singing it.”


IN THIS PHOTO: Paloma Faith/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Paloma Faith picked her song: Why (1988) by Tracy Chapman:

The memories I get from this track are of road-trips with my mum and my stepdad. We would always have that album in the car and that track was particularly poignant for me because my mum – who’s a caring, compassionate, empathetic person – used to like songs with a political tinge; she was quite involved in politics. It asked lots of questions about why things are happening, actually still relevant today, as human beings tend to make the same mistakes over and over again. The song reminds me of being quite small, laying back on the back seat and really wanting to know all the words off by heart.”

Sir Elton John picked Doris Day’s The Deadwood Stage as his choice:

I had to have a tooth out at my local dentist and in those days they either just pulled it out straight or you could have a bit of gas so the only way I was going to do it was if my mum bought that record for me after. So I had my tooth out, by gas, and we got on the bus to Norwood Hills and the hole was pouring blood and we went into the record store and we bought The Deadwood Stage. And I clutched it, I loved it so much, I couldn’t wait to get home and I played it and I played it and I played it and I played it.”



It is impossible to choose the one song that defines childhood – because there are so many that have played their part – but the 1990s was when I was going through school and discovering some of the finest music ever made. I have fond memories of early-1990s Dance and the chart music of the time; some fantastic Pop and brilliant artists from past years. I was exposed to my parents’ tastes but was spending my formative years in the best decade of music. The one song that springs to mind is, oddly, Breathe by The Prodigy. This song often found its way – in a non-yobbish way – being projected from the speakers of my mate’s house where I grew up. The year would have been 1997 – when the band’s album, The Fat of the Land, was released; I would go round his (Stefan’s) house after school/at the weekends where we would take advantage of the quiet afternoons and play football. When the weather was less clement; we would play with a tennis ball in his house – we would do that in the evenings when Match of the Day was on, too. It is strange how a certain song can draw all those events and experiences together: Breathe has that effect and brings my mind to a distinct time and place. I was a kid whose ears were always open to music; every genre and sound around was fair game to me.


PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

To me, the song is the soundtrack to those warm days where the windows were open and the sun was out. I would walk to Stefan’s house – mine was about a minute’s walk from his – and I would pass his dog (Bruno) and up the stairs. In his bedroom was an impressive stereo system with some seriously meaty speakers! Jamiroquai was also played a lot so I was getting Trance/Acid-House bliss-outs with diamond-toed jive and dance. The football-scoring disco was a really happy memory at a time when things were pretty good. The football set-up was a field that backed out from the house. Sometimes we would use the goalposts at our middle-school (just over the road) but there was the perfect spot just outside Stefan’s house. When the music was played from the window – not too loud as to irk neighbours – we would play and take turns shooting. Often; we would set two goalposts or a couple of jumpers laid down at one end of the field. Neighbour kids would join in and, sometimes, we would get a nice five-a-side going and, before you know it, that song took on new intensity and meaning! The energy and frantic scuff of the track was the perfect propulsive anthem for the most spirited and fevered football. We would waste hours kicking back and forth and playing until it got dark.


PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Of course; there were other songs from that album (such as Firestarter) that got into the mind but Breathe seemed to take on the mantle of influencer and standout. It is a song I listen to and flood back to that time. The mind projects the conversations and games that were played; the idle larks and easy-going vibe. The guy I have mentioned, whose house/music supplied the soundtrack, lives near the house I have mentioned – although he is married with children right now. I have driven past the house a number of times and see children playing football on the same field – some twenty years after I was there! It is humbling seeing the same scenes playing out; the fact the houses have barely changed – and not succumbed to endless gentrification and redevelopment – means there is a preservation and purity that remains in the area. School was an interesting time and I have taken many happy memories from it. Music played a huge role and helped me cope with hard situations; scored those anxious moments and the celebratory times – such as opening my G.C.S.E. envelope and seeing what results I achieved! It was that mid-high-school period (1997) that saw me step out of the infantile boots of school and prepare my mind for a transition into adulthood. I was reluctant to relinquish the comfy grip of childhood and all the scary changes of the next stage of life. Breathe is that strange but beautiful reminder of how things were: the mere scent of the song provides escapism and a lot of pleasure.


PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

It is strange how music does that and why certain songs attach themselves to the brain in such a passionate and permanent way. As I said; there are other songs that accompany other times and, when I hear them now, bring back all the smells, sounds and sensations from the time. It is emotional thinking there are children who will never hear music: the only sounds they will hear are screaming and their own crying. I guess we take music for granted and do not really spend time thinking how valuable and precious it is. So long as you donate to Hope and Homes for Children; take a few moments to think about the one song that represents your childhood. It does not have to be a song that soundtracks a hard time or a passage of happiness. It can be a piece of music that brings back memories or made you connect with the world in a new way. An ear-blaring piece of Big-Beat music might not seem like the obvious connection to a carefree and fun time where energy was burned and happy thoughts wafted into the air. Regardless, mind; what I have found is writing about that song has drawn me back to a period in my life that was very formative and memorable. Have a think about the song - use the hashtag #EndTheSilence on Twitter if you post your choice online - you would select (donating as you go) and help…


PHOTO CREDIT: Shutterstock

END the silence.