Sounds of the 20th Century

Jeremy Vine - Sounds of the 20th Century - Jane Reynolds' weekly blogThis show is SO good it’s getting its own post this week.

I listened to 1976 while I was at work ironing on Wednesday and was literally overwhelmed at hearing Elton John & Kiki Dee’s Don’t go breaking my heart and Joan Armatrading’s Love and Affection. Tears of happiness/regret and nostalgia rolled down my cheeks as the memories and emotions of the Seventeen-year-old me struck like a tidal wave.

Hearing Jeremy Vine say, “For the next hour … it’s 19xx” (with the gong and the slow beat of the bass drum in the background), will have the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end, and then you’re straight in to a fast-moving hour of music, news, current affairs and showbiz clips with NO narration, just a glorious snapshot of a year of your life.

Abba - Sounds of the 20th Century - Jane Reynolds' weekly blogJeremy Thorpe resigned over an alleged homosexual affair; Jimmy Carter ran for the US Presidency; Sylvester Stallone starred in Rocky; the Bee Gees’ You Should be Dancing and Abba’s Dancing Queen were chart-toppers (ooh, didn’t boys wear their trousers tight in those days?)! ‘Nostalgia’s not what it used to be’, they joke. Well it is here.

I defy anyone not to be moved to tears by this programme. I guess it’s best starting to listen (for optimum initial effect), from the year when you were Seventeen, as that was probably the year when you first really became aware of the world around you.

 The year when you felt as if you knew it all; anything was possible; when you were most excited by this wonderful thing called ‘life’ and a year when you could never conceive that you would ever turn into the cynical old misery you are today!

The work that must have gone into compiling these programmes (every year from 1951-2000), is mind-boggling, and – to me – it’s the best thing that has ever been on the Radio as it cannot fail to be of interest to any person alive today. Every one of us hits ‘That Year’ when it suddenly becomes relevant to us.

It’s on the BBC iPlayer but – unbelievably – is not available as a podcast, so you only have seven days to listen to each show. I presume they’ll either make them available to download at some point (or even sell them), but if you do nothing else this week, just promise me you’ll listen (or at least from the first year that’s ‘relevant’ to you).

This week (w/c 31st October), it’s 1981.

(Sounds of the 20th Century Radio 2 10.00 pm every Thursday, and available on BBC iPlayer)


Comments are closed.