Wednesday 20 January, by Frank Palmer Team Laverne
Gifted to listener, Lloyd all the way back in 2003, today’s Memory Tape would become the soundtrack to a true odyssey in the history of the family Robinson. We’re not even going to attempt to summarise this monumental voyage, and the importance of Ian’s mixtape initself, so we’ll let Lloyd do the talking…
I'm writing to tell you about the compilation my mate Ian did for me and my family when we went on a sailing trip back in 2003. My mate Ian Light gave me the three-CD collection just before I left with my wife Sam and 2 year old daughter Jess to begin three years living on-board a sailing boat. He called it Family Robinson and each CD had with its own unique artwork. The artwork had been very thoughtfully created and featured pictures of globes and atlases and other such expeditionary paraphernalia. Unfortunately I have since lost the cases but luckily the discs have survived.
Here’s the Mix:
Family Robinson Volume One
I Wanna Make It Wit Chu – Desert Sessions
Drive – R.E.M.
Wild Is the Wind – David Bowie
Heartbeat (tainai kaiki II) – Sakamoto
This Is What She’s Like – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
We the People Who Are Darker Than Blue – Curtis Mayfield
Here I Am (Come and Take Me) – Al Green
Raspberry Beret – Prince
Love Hangover – Diana Ross
Miss You – Rolling Stones
Walk On By – The Stranglers
While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles
There Is a Light That Never Goes Out The Smiths
Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash
Birmingham – Randy Newman
Always on My Mind – Elvis Presley
Hit The Road Jack (Live) – Ray Charles
Family Robinson Volume Two
Sailing – Rod Stewart
Dolphins – Tim Buckley
Song for Bob Dylan – David Bowie
Since I’ve Been Loving You – Led Zeppelin
The Cedar Room – Doves
Race for the Prize – The Flaming Lips
Goddess on a Highway – Mercury Rev
Try Again Today – The Charlatans
History – The Verve
Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power) – Bob Dylan
(I know) I’m Losing You – Rare Earth
I’m Going Home (Move) – Marvin Gaye
The Harder They Come – Jimmy Cliff
Twist & Crawl – The Beat
Family Robinson Volume Three
Days – The Kinks
That’s Entertainment – The Jam
I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From – Kings Of Convenience
Any Day Now – Elbow
Bang Bang – Paul Weller
Venice Queen – Red Hot Chilli Peppers
The Hardest Button to Button – The White Stripes
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1 – The Flaming Lips
The Boy with the Arab Strap – Belle and Sebastian
It’s About Time – The Beach Boys
Wooden Ships – Crosby Stills & Nash
You Make Loving Fun – Fleetwood Mac
This Is the Sea – The Waterboys
Some Misunderstanding – Gene Clark
Perfect Day – Lou Reed
God Only Knows – The Beach Boys
Here’s The Story:
Here’s what we did: we quit our jobs, rented our house out and moved with our CDs to Portugal and took up residence on-board an oldish sailing boat called Wind Charger. She was a hidden gem we'd found whilst holidaying on the Algarve. We spent some time fixing her up and getting her seaworthy again. As well as breathing new life into an old boat we also managed to create a new life and Tom was born in Faro in 2004. Now with a crew of four we embarked on a couple of years sailing and living aboard our boat. Initially we stayed quite local to where we'd started and particularly while our Tom was very small, we took advantage of the beautiful sheltered waters of the river Guadiana. It was in places like Alcoutim and Pomerau that we met other experienced live aboard cruising sailors and we learned from them what we needed to do to our boat to get her ready for a transatlantic crossing – which did seem to be emerging as our ultimate objective. So, with Tom almost ready to start toddling and Wind Charger re-rigged and in pretty good shape we filled her up with food and water and sailed out of the river Guadiana and made passage towards Madeira. This would be our first extended passage and is still probably the roughest we ever had. Five days later and after a 48 hour storm we arrived in Funchal.
After Funchal we headed south to the Canaries. We did some cruising round the islands for a bit before landing in Santa Cruz on Tenerife where we spent some time making preparations for our crossing and meeting lots of other crews doing the same thing. We seemed to gravitate to other sailing families of whom there did seem to be quite a few. We became quite a close group and formed a loosely organised rally called 'Tobago A-Go-Go' for which to be entered you simply had to be going to Tobago. This was a very sociable period with many parties at which varied nationalities would get together and share in each other’s terror/excitement about the prospect of an ocean crossing on a little boat. The topics for discussion at these impromptu gatherings were rarely anything other than boat related. Thankfully if you found yourself at one of these gatherings, and you weren't a sailor, you would have found some comfort in Ian's music, which was always playing.
Eventually we left Santa Cruz and headed south for the Cape Verdes. After a brief stop here we set off across the Atlantic. Sixteen days later we arrived in Pirate’s Bay at Charlotteville in the north of Tobago. We had Christmas at sea where miraculously Santa Claus still managed to find us. Still Ian's mix was on repeat. It might seem sad but I guess it was more than just the music - it was a connection to our great mate. It always reminded us of him, and by association, of home. It was a comfort which from time to time was absolutely essential. I'd even go so far as to say that it pulled us through on a number of occasions. From Tobago we cruised in company with an Austrian family up through the islands as far as Martinique. The three CDs were hardly ever off the stereo. The tunes became the soundtrack to our time on board Wind Charger. Luckily the boat was equipped with a decent stereo and music could be patched through from the interior out to the cockpit so we could be sailing along with the music with us on deck.
By the time the hurricane season became a pressing issue I think we were all pretty knackered. We'd done some quite hard sailing and I think both us and Wind Charger were ready for a break. So with the hurricane season fast approaching and after some quite exhausting voyages we decide to head to the safety of Trinidad and haul Wind Charger out of the water for the summer. We realised that Jess was now ready to start school so common sense got the better of us and we decided to head home and revert to a slightly more conventional way of life. For a couple of years we left Wind Charger in Trinidad until in 2008 I went with my Dad to collect her. After an exhausting long haul journey back to Trinidad I climbed onboard a very dusty Wind Charger, connected up the batteries and immediately put on Family Robinson volume one. Me and my Dad spent six weeks in Trinidad getting Wind Charger seaworthy again and then four weeks sailing back to Poole and Ian's mix was always playing.
So 10 years on and we're settled into life in the suburbs of Sutton Coldfield. I'd say that Ian's mix is as important as ever because it takes us back. Back to a brilliant time of adventure and not knowing what day it was and looking out of a little port hole and seeing the ocean rushing past. Hearing the sound of a sailing boat surging down a wave with the wind in its sails and all the creaking and straining that goes with that, and having great music playing is an unforgettable experience. The original CDs had only one track on each so the whole compilation was just one track and you couldn't fast forward or skip anything, which was great as it forced you to listen to everything, every time. As a consequence tracks that you might not have 'got' initially grew on you until everything was your absolute favourite.
A bit about Ian...
Or DJ Lighty as he’s affectionately known sometimes. He’s always on the decks at parties and he seems to know everybody’s favourite tune. He’ll be shouting round the room all night to everybody, “this one’s for you”. He’s introduced me to so much great music over the years and I know he’s done the same for countless other people. We’ve been mates since the nineties and have been to many festivals and gigs and parties, initially in a gang of mates and now still doing it but with quite a few kids in tow. We do our own little festival and DJ Lighty is still bringing us all the best tunes. I wanted to big him up a bit as he’s had a rough few years having lost two of his best mates to cancer. Firstly Ian was very close to Jonny Brookes of the Charlatans and together they started Onebeat Records and were champions of new musical talent in the West Midlands. And last year his best mate from school, Gary was taken by pancreatic cancer. Ian has kept going and is raising money at events and running fun runs for cancer charities. He’s kept Onebeat Festival going too which is a showcase for new talent in Birmingham. Jon said of Ian that it was his integrity which made him so special and I have to agree. He is a man of great integrity and I wanted to say thank you to him because he’s an inspiration.