I have a bit of a bittersweet relationship with Simply Red. I hated them as a kid. Not so much because of the music - in fact, I always had a huge soft spot for the song Holding Back The Years, especially as the video features nearby Whitby; just down the Yorkshire coast, a familiar childhood holiday destination. It was for two other reasons really.
The first because Mick Hucknall, like me had red hair, and as there weren't too many famous male redheads back then (the other main one in British popular culture at the time being Chris Evans) that connection was always made by other kids at school.
Of course, back then Hucknall himself was mocked for being ginger constantly in the media. This was long before the days of Ed Sheeran and Rupert Grint. Back then you got some serious sledging for having the hair colour. Plus, Simply Red weren't exactly the edgiest of bands, and as I entered teenager-hood myself I was much more into other Manchester bands like Oasis, the Smiths and the Stone Roses. So I was never too impressed when someone made the wise crack "Haha, you want to be Mick Hucknall, don't ya!" just because of the hair colour. It annoyed me to say the least.
The second reason why I pushed back so much was that my mam was a huge fan of the band. Mick Hucknall in particular.
Music is such a personal thing, and if you know someone who likes a particular band or artist it's almost like that artist belongs to them - it's their thing. So it's only natural that as a child you don't want to identify with the music your parents love. You want something that's your own. That helps you create your own identity. So Simply Red was something "that my mam listened to", it wasn't something that I listened to.
However, as we get older it's often the case that we come full circle and find ourselves embracing the music our parents liked. Albeit a little reluctantly at first. We realise how much like our parents we are, and how much their tastes influenced our own, however subtly. The music that filled the house stays with us and hangs in our souls as we grow older.
So I'm quite familiar with the songs of Simply Red, though I never made the effort to become so. It wasn't just my own house as well. I remember the song Fairground playing incessantly around my friend's house when I was about 13, so that too gives me instant recall of late summer (girl-noticing) memories when I hear it. In point of fact, and maybe I'm revealing too much here, I distinctly remember being in that very same house and looking at that very remembered girl - with her bobbled blonde hair, and then looking at myself in the mirror in comparison, and seeing all the freckles covering my face. I was acutely aware that there was a chasm of difference between us in beauty.
I'd never been bothered about how I looked up until that point. The taunts about having red hair annoyed me, but not in any real aesthetic sense. So that was a strange moment of self-awareness. Like some ancient Greek mortal seeing his reflection in a pool of water for the first time, whilst in the presence of some semi-divine nymph.
No doubt I had at least some awareness that red hair and freckles were deemed unattractive before then, but that particular moment was nevertheless quite profound. It's almost like before then I was simply too young to think such an adult thought. Anyway ..you can see what music has done to me. I'm now lost in nostalgia thanks to a single song. So I need to get back to the other song that pricked me to write.
When I got home that night after I'd heard For Your Babies on the radio I searched the song out on YouTube. So it's now in the mix with all the other songs I'm listening to at the moment, along with a number of other Simply Red tracks.
As I listened I realised I'd did Mick Hucknall (and myself and my mam) a huge disservice by never mentioning him on here before. One of the great songwriters of our time, with possibly the reddest hair to boot, and still no mention on here after over ten years. I guess I've been holding back all these years.
(Sorry, that's awful. Anyhow, here's the track. It's a slightly odd title for a track I always think, but it's a truly great song.)
(For Your Babies - Simply Red)