Category Archives: Music

Swing Swing

Emotions, they stir
The sun is gone
The nights are long
And I am left while the tears fall

It sounds like Chinese poetry! But Swing Swing is by The All-American Rejects. There’s a picture of a go-kart on the front of the CD, though I originally thought it was a petrol mower.

I hadn’t heard of it, but it cost next to nothing as the charity shop was trying to get rid of scruffy CDs no one wanted. (The case was scraped at the corners, but both CD and case were in remarkable condition). I had a few minutes to myself, with nobody breathing disapprovingly down my neck, so I could buy whatever I fancied. I wanted new music to try, and here was this CD looking for a new owner.

At first I didn’t like it as it has quite a heavy ‘head-banging’ sound. My musical taste is mostly mellow… UB40, Gabrielle, Johnny Nash and so on, though I like rock as well.

Being unwilling to concede defeat, I played it several times, and there are bits I now enjoy… in particular the track mentioned above.

Swing, swing from the tangles of
My heart is crushed by a former love
Can you help me find a way
To carry on again?

When something like that gets in my head, I’m more likely to write a blog post than if all is quiet, peaceful and normal. My soul hums with sadness, hope and inspiration.

From what I’ve heard, inebriated people become ’emotional’, embarrassing their friends with heart-felt sentiments. I wish to point out that I’m such an occasional drinker I’m almost teetotal, and don’t need to have been drinking anything to do that! All that’s required is that I be under the influence of a song.

All of you out there in the blogging world… I love that you are there. (Hangs adoringly round people’s necks). I don’t post as much as I used to, but there’s that feeling of random connectedness with others. We are not necessarily like-minded, except that we’re prone to sitting down and writing out our thoughts. Some of you, like Rabbit or Christopher Robin, dash off something practical and to the point. Others, like Winnie the Pooh or Tigger, know how to entertain and make people laugh. Then there are the anxious, slightly annoying ones like Piglet. Still others (like me) wait self-pityingly in the rain and ponder gloomy Eeyoreish thoughts.

Well… today we were having an informal family get-together. It seemed bright enough at the beginning, but the day wore on and things weren’t going as well as I hoped. People were subdued, and there were tired silences. I made a self-deprecating joke about the robohoover attacking my TV soundbar, and was told somewhat waspishly that if I wanted to watch the Eurovision, I’d have to do it upstairs anyway… I’m on my own with that.

With ‘Swing Swing’ in my head and my emotions slowly boiling up, our day was already a failure. I received a kindly, disturbing letter which I read somewhere around tea-time. There might be a smidgeon of misjudgement in the missive, but not by much.

Today was someone else’s day and I had to stay pleasant and positive, but the effect the letter had on me was shocking. I shut down quite slowly, peeling off from the others around me, my eyesight gradually blurring. When it came to supper time, I couldn’t face food. My mother had poached egg and toast while I fell asleep.

Perhaps this kind of reaction is a way of escaping for a while. Dozing off helps you ‘find a way to carry on again’. You wake up feeling half-dazed, but your appetite is stealing back.

“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”
~ John Steinbeck

Sometimes falling asleep on the sofa for an hour or two is all it takes. You eat a pan of noodles and check the soundbar is working upstairs. After a period of rest and thought, there will be friends to talk to and things to look up online. Ideas; plans; humour. Rethinking and reorganization.

Something good will come of this. Yes, I’m determined.

– – – – –

The above post was written a few days ago. Eurovision 2017 is over now; political spats, witty one-liners, streakers et al!

Soley Soley

I wrote this post at the end of March 2017 and never published it. I came across it again just recently, and now that that time is a little way behind, I thought “why not? I’ll just clear it off the deck and move on.”

—–

When a song gets into your head and spins around relentlessly, there’s usually a reason why it got there in the first place. Sometimes it’s just a passing word that attracts it, or a phrase, or possibly an experience. A lot of the time you never figure out what that was.

What’s disconcerting is when a song gets in your head and you are not even sure of the words, but when you look them up online, they perfectly suit your mood or circumstances. It’s even stranger when it’s a song you’ve not thought about in a long time.

In my head now is Soley Soley by Middle of the Road, and it’s been there three days and three nights.

I suspect the ‘inspiration’ is that the Hairy Bikers were cooking on TV and mentioned sole in passing! All it takes is one word, and suddenly you have a hoary old song camping in your head.

Earlier, I was saying it usually suits your mood, but at times it could be that your mood adjusts to suit the song… you can feel a little dip sometimes as the song kicks in.

In my journal I often make a note of whatever song is bothering me — when I reread an entry years later, I get bothered by it all over again, ha ha. Just a little joke I play on myself.

Lately, I don’t know what the point of the journal is… it’s like information overload. It used to matter, but now I don’t feel like writing in it any more. My old hobbies don’t interest me. Nothing really matters.

I’m in a sleepy mood, though. Perhaps when the weather gets better, so will I.

Talk of Happy Beats

I love listening to my CD collection while working, but some gloomy ballad always comes along and grips me by the throat for days. Lately I was set upon by Sweet Marie (Hothouse Flowers).

Oh, I hope you find your good fortune
I hope you find peace in everything you do
I hope the colours of the rainbow, they colour your clothing
And I hope you’ll find love, true love, I do…

As an antidote, I’ll recount this conversation I had with Mum the other day. We were sitting in our favourite coffee bar writing everything down in a notepad. I don’t hear well, so there would be a lot of repetition and rising frustration without it. The advantage of writing everything down is that I can recall our conversations word for word!

I began with, “Most cheerful song you know?”

“Different songs stick in my head for a while. Right now it’s Malaika — not cheerful.”

“More cheerful than some. It’d be our summer holiday stick-your-head-out-of-the-car-window song.”

“Or Wimoweh!”

But now I was frowning. “For some reason I was confusing it just now with Sugar Sugar.”

“Cheerful,” nodded Mum.

“One I thought of yesterday is Mouldy Old Dough. It would scorn to be thought of as sad!”

“Oh yes! absolutely. What was that one about Bangor?”

“Didn’t we have a luvverly time?”

“Oh yes, that was it.”

“I haven’t heard it for a while… it’s not one anyone still plays.”

“Mr Tambourine Man.”

“Can’t quite remember lyrics. Isn’t it a bit sad?”

“No, I never thought of it as sad.”

Melanie sang it — always sounded sad.”

“Who is Melanie?”

“‘I rode my bicycle past your window last night‘ and ‘What have they done to my song, ma…'”

“Beryl always liked the one from Thingy and the Sundance Kid.”

“Last night I dreamed I had a hammock chair at the end of my house. I’d sit in it with a book and two cats, and crank it up, and it’d go up as high as the second storey. Then one cat started wriggling and I had to crank it down again, and said to him, ‘What did I tell you about not making me have to grab for the controls?'”

All right, that last bit had nothing to do with songs, happy or otherwise, but that’s what was under the conversation.

Not all those songs we mentioned are full of joy, but I thought of a few others to add here:

Saturday Night — Whigfield
Always loved this!

Living It Up — Bert Kaempfert and His Orchestra
Sumptuously fresh and breezy.

12 Bar — UB40
Old favourite — used to study along to this.

Kingston Town — UB40
My favourite UB40 song.

Sunshine — Gabrielle
A happy song that sounds sad. It comes up a lot when I play music, so has a comforting familiarity!

Cheerleader — OMI
620,833,553 views on YouTube! And they weren’t all by me, fancy that.

Mum is often unwell — she’s fine just now, but before our visit to the coffee bar she was under the weather. Seemed amused, though, when I came in from the garden and said, “There’a a red admiral out there, but it’s fluttering around so much I can’t tell if it’s one or many.”

Butterfly (Danyel Gerard)

Butterfly, my butterfly, now I know you must be free
Butterfly, don’t flutter by, stay a little while with me

Mouldy Old Mood Chart

I wrote the following last night, then slept on it. No mind-mapping on this occasion (perhaps it shows). Today the sun is out, news is good and the mood chart heading for lighter values.

I took it into my head to keep a mood chart, for no particular reason, and just now my mood is going up and down like a yo yo. You have no idea the number of different plates we are spinning — each one of us has issues and hopes, ranging from the minuscule (what to do with home-grown chillis) to the mind-blowingly gargantuan (the miraculous Brexit). It’s an interesting time to start the project, but poorly chosen! Writing a blog post when you’re in the depths of despair is never a good idea either.

Half the time I suspect my sole aim in life is keeping myself from thinking too much. Letting your brain get fogged up with useless data or keeping it busy with insignificant projects like mood charts, mind-mapping digital art, databasing your CD collection and writing letters to the world (blog posts)… they’re all just ways of anaesthetizing yourself for a while.

Music makes you happy at times; it’s like your own private cocoon of good beats. Then you go away and get ready for bed, and and it turns on you… wails in your head like a Greek chorus of restless ghosts, and your mood gets very blue. Some songs I’ve learned to avoid because they are black holes of melodious depression.

One I conjured up just now is the opposite of that. Somehow it refuses to be turned into anything quite as miserable, though it’s old, therefore dripping with nostalgia… I relate it to places we don’t live in any more, and to family members long since gone. And yet…

Mouldy Old Dough

I will keep it in my head for the rest of the night; it’s a tonic! You can have it when I’m done, but not till then.

Sleep is another good way of passing the time — you forget your cares for a while, even if your dreams introduce you to a distorted group of new ones. The best part is just after you turn off the light, when you curl up in the warm with your arm over Little Witness, feeling nobody can get at you till dawn pries at your blinds.

In the period before you fall asleep, you line up your most pleasant thoughts and count them. “These things I shall do tomorrow… beginning with deleting that mood chart or changing it to something different. Then I’ll re-read my latest blog post and see if it’s improved at all during the night.” Sometimes they do. Other times they turn into twisted heaps of rage and and angst, and the best thing you can do with them is put them out of their misery before anybody else spots them.

One thing that’s pretty bad, though, is if you’re reading old posts in your blog and you discover such a sea-change happened when you weren’t looking, and most of your posts have turned into grotesque, windblown skeletons you would rather not know about. As a result, I either avoid reading anything I’ve written that’s older than six months, or I delete these horrors when I trip over any.

Even while we distract ourselves from looking at life too closely, we distract ourselves from our own past distractions. It’s easy to live only in the moment… just sing Mouldy Old Dough to yourself and fall asleep.

The Rolling iPad Gathers No Moss

My iPad's lock screen

My iPad’s lock screen

I was going upstairs with an armful of stuff when suddenly the bluetooth keyboard and the iPad rushed together down the stairs. I didn’t see the keyboard fall, and it landed off to the side near the letterbox, but as I watched in horror, the iPad cartwheeled merrily from step to step, gathering speed. When the smart cover flew open, the screen flared out briefly, then the iPad smacked against the cupboard at the foot of the stairs… and all went dark.

In the ominous pause, my mother came out of the sitting room and stared at the still figure lying at her feet, some distance from me at the top of the stairs. Giggling in an embarrassed way, I started down.

I’m sure the iPad’s life flashed before its eyes when it was falling, but what flashed before mine was the price of a new one. Fortunately there was no damage — both machines were intact and started working immediately. In fact the lock screen was waiting blandly for me as soon as I lifted the cover.

It’s an old iPad. Yesterday I was trying to update it to iOS 9.3 and it kept telling me it couldn’t verify because I wasn’t online. I found an article explaining that some older mobiles were shutting out their users after updating, so Apple has temporarily withheld the release from all elderly devices.

Ahhhh… OK.

That explains why the red flag suddenly winked out on my Settings icon a couple of days back. I thought that was odd — it was as though someone had been there… I almost felt the wind of his passing. The ‘please update’ nagging boxes kept appearing, though.

Well, it may be an old iPad that has had its share of ‘ups and downs’, but I’m not yet ready to pay the price of a brand new one, whatever way it gets ‘bricked’.

And after all
You’re my wonderwall

—–

Daily Post prompt: price.

Another Barrel of Songs

Bought four more 59p songs from iTunes. In no particular order:

Budapest — George Ezra
Good song… maybe a little croony, but the vocals are clear.

Home Again — Michael Kiwanuka
Didn’t put it on my original list, then wondered what the song in my head was! Had to scrabble through the likeliest of the 50-plus songs on iTunes to find it again, and it was near the end. Typical…

Bad Blood — Ryan Adams
Heard the Taylor Swift version last summer and liked it then. Being older and less into ‘boppy’, this one’s more my style. 🙂

Wonderwall — Ryan Adams
EDIT: Nearly didn’t buy it, but it’s good. Perhaps a little ‘fey’ for me, and by that I mean barely hanging onto the world of the living.

I said earlier that Wonderwall is my favourite of the four, but I was wrong… More and more, it’s Home Again. Tune, voice, lyrics, soul — it stays in my mind for a reason.

EDIT 2: Or then again, I’m swinging back to Wonderwall. I don’t know why I seem to experience the songs differently every time I listen.

Wandered back in to iTunes and found another: Learn to Fly (Foo Fighters). I don’t fancy linking to the video (!) but I love that kind of song.

Barrel of Hit Songs

“Those are the first three digital tracks I ever bought and so far seem to be the last.”

I spoke too soon! Got curious and had a snoop round the iTunes UK store today, which was my undoing. Found an orange cache of Hit Songs for 59p each, and had to try them all. A few I had already, like Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison, but most I didn’t recognize.

Bought the following:

(1) Can’t Sleep Love (Pentatonix)
(2) Love is Easy (McFly)
(3) Payphone (Maroon 5 feat. Wiz Khalifa)
(4) Shower (Becky G)
(5) Rude (MAGIC!)

I’ve only heard them a few times each so far, but the best is possibly the Pentatonix. Possibly, I said…

Payphone reminds me of caffeinated sweets — you want more but never quite slake your thirst.
Rude is my style of song! Much of my collection is reggae.

Anyway, with ‘new’ hits for me to listen to, life feels different.

Today
I’m laughing the clouds away
I hear what the flowers say
And drink every drop of rain
And I see
Places that I have been
In ways that I’ve never seen…

[from Love is Easy]

Can’t Hold On But We Try

image

Looking around the blogosphere put me in the mood for a rambling type of post. I was going to say someone in particular inspired me, someone I’ve known for a while, but it crossed my mind they might not enjoy having attention drawn to them as a ‘rambler’… thanks for nothing, they’d say! Now, if I said “I was inspired by the beauty and and intelligence of this blog,” that would be something else, though they might still suspect me of wanting something.

I could have looked at the long list of Daily Prompts for a blog idea, but who wants to do that all the time? It keeps me ticking over, and I’m grateful, but a blog is a blog and sometimes we want our own ideas. It’s my blog and I’ll ramble if I want to.

The other day I bought digital tracks for the first time in my life.

(1) The Pachelbel Canon (James Galway; Glen Spreen)
(2) Sunface (Tanita Tikarum)
(3) Goodbye My Friend (Linda Ronstadt)

I usually get CDs but they are becoming harder to find. Some are too expensive.

I had trouble tracking down the right version of the Pachelbel Canon. Even if it bears the magic name ‘James Galway’ it’s not guaranteed to be the version I’m thinking of. A while ago I bought a CD which I thought had the James Galway / Glen Spreen version. The Peerless 2×2 version of Canon D sounded more like James Galway than the James Galway version did! Turns out there’s an older version of the CD with the Glen Spreen version, but it changed to something else in the newer version.

End result: turning to iTunes in desperation and clicking the ’99p’ button. Having clicked on one, I threw caution to the howling winds and bought more.

Sunface I just love. I have that album on vinyl (Everybody’s Angel). I have my old hi-fi in the room but the speakers aren’t working, so I was missing the song. It’s the same with Goodbye My Friend, which was on the album Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind.

Those are the first three digital tracks I ever bought and so far seem to be the last. I still prefer CDs if I can get them. Although… I’m going to have to get Rockelbel’s Canon (on CD). Poor cellists… lol.

Life’s so fragile and love’s so pure
We can’t hold on but we try
We watch how quickly it disappears
And we never know why

[verse from Goodbye My Friend]

In Our Lighter Moments

Just like Ms Jolly Blogger (my jolly tagger!) I used to enjoy these games — they gave me something to write about! This one was a lot of fun, and I kept two of her questions for others to answer. I decided not to tag anyone, but people can answer if they would like to.

The game of Blog Tag works like this: Once you are tagged, you must follow these simple rules:

1. You must post the rules. (These are THE RULES.)
2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post.
3. Create eight new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
4. Tag eight people with a link to your post.
5. Let them know they’ve been tagged.

**Here are the questions by my tagger:**

1. If you could be any character from a movie, who would it be and why?

Scary things happen to characters, even in happy movies, so I don’t know who I would opt to be. It’s also hard to imagine being someone other than myself… I would bring something completely different to the movie and would probably ruin the plot. 😀

I found myself thinking I would quite like to be the mother in Mamma Mia!… living in bright sunshine with happy, cheerful friends. I have old flames that my movie daughter could invite, including a song-writing guitar player with long hair. And I like Abba!

2. What do you miss most about being a kid?

That one’s easy… all of my family being there. 🙂 Proper Christmases with six people at the table.

3. What’s the best present you’ve ever received? Given?

Received? A pink mouse. 🙂

Given? For the sake of conversation (though I doubt if it’s true), a Mozart bear who plays Eine kleine Nachtmusik.

4. Name your favourite book.

Ah, that would depend on my mood! Light option: the Moomin books by Tove Jansson. Heavier option: Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian.

5. It’s your last meal ever.  What are you eating?

Rich pea and ham soup, followed by hot BBQ chicken with soft white crusty bread, followed by a good quality chocolate sundae with whipped cream. A nice sweet white wine along with the main meal. And then coffee, with a square of good Scottish tablet. Make that the whole packet of tablet, if it has to be my last…

6. What song(s) would you include in the Soundtrack of Your Life?

Eleven songs, placed in approximate chronological order of my life events. 🙂

Wimoweh (The Lion Sleeps Tonight / Mbube) I still love this video!
Isn’t it Amazing (Hothouse Flowers)
Dreaming (OMD)
Same Old Scene (Roxy Music)
Heart on My Sleeve (Gallagher and Lyle)
The Sound of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel)
This Land is Mine (Dido)
Dream a Lie (UB40)
New World in the Morning (Roger Whittaker)
Going Home (Runrig)
She’s Leaving (OMD).

Notes on my choices:

(a) My sister and I were brought up on Wimoweh!

(b) People interpret The Sound of Silence in different ways. I believe Paul Simon himself suggested that it was just a bit of teenage angst about the young being ignored by society. That’s what I read into it myself, though I feel it can speak for many others who aren’t teenagers.

7. What last experience did you have that made you a stronger person?

Books are nothing new, but the Kindle itself might count as a recent experience, or discovery? It helps me tap into the world of books without filling our rooms from floor to ceiling. Books of all kinds have gone a long way to making me what I am, good or bad. 🙂

8.  Favourite season of the year and why?

Summer… I’m a hot weather chick. 🙂 I was born in a hot weather country… I don’t like being cold, and I don’t like it when it’s dark and wet. Though sometimes I’m in the mood for the first signs of spring, violent storms, golden leaves and Halloween, Christmas, pine trees, snow… and Moomin dreams.

**Now here are my questions for the Tagees:**

1. If you could be any character from a movie, who would it be and why?
2. What do you like best about your hobbies?
3. Do you feel that reading other blogs changes or shapes your attitude to life?
4. What is your favourite cake?
5. If you ever had to leave your current continent and live in another, where would you go?
6. What was your first ever favourite song?
7. Do you have any bad habits that you don’t regret?
8.  What song(s) would you include in the Soundtrack of Your Life?

Musical Distortions

I’m sorry if I seem vague at the moment — I’m not spending much time in the blogging world these days. But I know I’ll be back, as this is a kind of home.

I was listening to a Neil Diamond CD I imported to iTunes, and really enjoyed it for a couple of days, then suddenly couldn’t make it out. Songs I knew and loved for years sounded of nothing.

I realised that both hearing aids were sounding a little distorted, though still working. Actually one sounds just a little distorted; the other was really bad.

I’ve been trying to dry them out (though I did nothing foolish like leaving them in a steamy bathroom) but have had no joy so far. Switched to an older hearing aid (a spare). Played ‘Castles in the Air’ (Don McLean) and ‘Catch the Wind’ (Donovan), as I know them quite well… but I wouldn’t have known what they were if I couldn’t see their titles.

Then I switched to the other computer (just in case it was the first computer that was distorted, and not my aids!) and could just about hear Mamma Mia… but all of the twiddly bits were gone. You get the crashing piano chords and the voices when they are low (just about), but you can’t make out any of the higher bits.

I immediately switched back to the first computer and played Mamma Mia there (it should be better as it has a small set of speakers with amplifier)… and it did in fact sound better; I could make out a brassy quality where the high bits are meant to be.

But it brings home to me how much of my enjoyment of music these days seems to rely on my remembering how the songs go. If I can’t quite remember / equate it to what’s coming out of the speakers, then it’s just a wall of sound. My chances of getting to know a brand new song are low.

Have turned off iTunes (again)… am annoyed at the thought I have to go back to the clinic and sit in a beastly waiting room just to keep these hearing aids working. You think “what’s the point?” It’s like striving to keep something that was never really mine anyway. I should just give up; lead a quiet life (except for those songs that still play in my head!)