I was at college during the 80s. It was a fantastic era for music. There were so many genres. Every band was trying to sound different to each another. Nowadays, it almost sounds as if everyone is trying to be the same.
The music cassette tape was becoming the more popular format as vinyl sales started to dip. One of the first cassettes that I bought was an tape called Do you Do by Freddie White. I don’t know who introduced me to Freddie but he in turn introduced me to classic songs from Tom Waits, Randy Newman and others. His deep vocal chords and crisp interpretations were cutting a dash on the local music scene at that time.
Students were poor in the 80s. We didn’t have our own money because part-time jobs were hard to find. A vinyl record or cassette was usually something you saved for or received as a present. It was a prized possession.
I shared a house with some of the greatest ‘yahoos’ in western Europe. We all sowed our wild oats over a four-year period. Our partying was non-stop. One of the yahoos approached me meekly one night as I dug deep into my revision notes. I knew by him that he had committed some sort of crime. He advised me that he had a confession to make – ‘I let your Freddie White tape fall into the deep fat fryer!
It was a horrifying thought. I didn’t seek an explanation. It was bizarre admission but he handed me the cassette coated in greasy oil. That was the end of Freddie White. Poor students would never buy the same cassette a second time unless they won money. What this blatant act of irresponsibility meant was that I would never hear Freddie White sing to me again. In fact, he seemed to disappear from the planet anyway. Years later my research uncovered that he had travelled to America and then Australia.
On Friday I attended a very special event. I always love ‘live’ music and I bought myself a ticket for Freddie White in the Hawk’s Well. I saw it advertised a few weeks ago and knew I’d have to go. I simply couldn’t miss a precious reunion. It was emotional. It had been a long time since I heard him. Exactly 37 years!!
He was exceptionally good. His hair may have receded (so has mine). He may prefer sitting to standing (so do I). But the people that joined me in the audience on this special night – remembered him so fondly. You could hear the toes tapping and people humming under their masks. Freddie is back living in Ireland and his songs still engage minds and reach deeply into hearts.
Today, I called into a vinyl fair in Sligo. I flicked through hundreds of LPs hoping to find one or two to add to my collection. And guess what? Guess what I stumbled upon? Yes – Freddie White’s Do You Do in vinyl. In perfect condition. Because of its size it is less likely to fall into a deep fat fryer. I am now playing it and singing along. Music is pure magic. It can bring us back in time but also touch our hearts in the ‘now’. It’s great to have Freddie White belting his songs out again. Never let the music die. Check him out. He’s doing a tour and you won’t be disappointed.