by Dave Alder
Bulldog’s annual music compilation has become a cherished tradition and an anticipated keepsake for many of our friends and family.
Music is a universal link, it’s the soundtrack of life that wakes the senses and evokes emotions, movement and joy in our souls. Music makes us think, ignites passion and sparks creativity. Music brings people together. It’s symbolic and a marker of time.
This year’s collection was chosen as a representation of each year of life of Bulldog Drummond’s Guvner, Shawn Parr. The soundtrack compilation was guided by elements of his personality, values and passions — just as Bulldog does with countless brands almost every day.
Number 50 with a Bullet
I set out to design a playlist that reflects the distinct aspects of The Guv’s personality to create a musical journey that evokes his distinct brand of Uncommon Sense. To start with his ceremonious arrival on terra firma in 1965, “Watch out World! Things are going to be a bit different from now on!” seamlessly and somewhat obviously translated into The Who’s mighty anthem “My Generation”. A rallying cry for disenfranchised youth, “Why don’t you all f-f-fade away?” expressed anger and frustration at convention and the stiff upper lip values of British post-war culture. As thousands of teens put down their beans on toast to watch Townshend and co. demolish their equipment live on TV, their parents recoiled in horror. “My Generation” had meaning and generated a reaction. It had value. It was Shawn Parr.
After an easy start, it was time to venture into the late ’60s. It would have been easy to choose the Beatles, Stones or Kinks, but it wouldn’t have been right. The Guv is fun and quite witty and Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Were Made for Walking” seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Quality and cheesy with the ripeness of a special age, Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” followed and then we were on a roll. The gentle smut of “Mrs. Robinson” fits many a cheeky Brit and Shawn is no exception, so it was a shoo in.
The ’70s are a fascinating decade. Against a backdrop of political and economic challenges, Vietnam, the global oil crisis and Watergate to name but three, music looked the other way and buried itself in the disposability of disco, glitter and glam. It was the time to be oblivious to the world’s travails, and instead to focus on gyrating one’s bum while pointing at the ceiling in our white wide collared suits. Yup, this is the Guv.
Now this boy has a lust for life. His fun nature, creativity and confidence can transform the dullest meeting room. And he can dance. On several occasions I’ve seen him facilitate world-class icebreaking sessions at blue chip brand HQs. Disco, the conga and the Parr Wiggle have unknowingly been key to their brand positionings. Bring on James Brown, Isaac Hayes, ABBA and the Bee Gees. Wiggle baby wiggle.
Shawn is a dapper chap, just lift up those salmon pants and look at his socks. So the unforgettable visual era of MTV and YouTube had to be included in the mix. From the sweeping, single sided fringe (translation “bangs”) of the Human League’s Phil Oakey to the ratty double-sided locks of Jazzie B’s Soul II Soul, these form over function ’80s artists had to be on the list. They’re artists who made their mark through their hair as much as their music, but they made the list because they represent the individuality of the Guvner.
Despite residing in the U.S. for 22 years, he is very much a Brit at heart. British with a bit of harmless edge never aiming to shock, but always looking to generate a reaction. Perfect to be represented through a wee celebration of ’90s Brit pop icons Blur and Oasis and the 00’s Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand and Miss Amy Winehouse. All of them, slightly spikey but gloriously innovative and refreshing.
And so to the current decade. What within his persona hadn’t been tackled? It had to be his ability to lead, to rouse the troops and inspire. We needed anthems that stick in the head. Marching rhythms to strut the stuff. Irresistible groove tunes with more hooks than a pirate’s convention. So I went big, albeit a fraction predictable as Adele, Gotye, Hozier and Mark Ronson filled the last of the playlist and signed off with a Parr-like punch.
These carefully chosen gems will take you on a journey through the past 50 years. Have a listen and see if you can think back to where you were and what you were doing the first time you heard each song.
Originally posted on the Bulldog Drummond blog.