Posts Tagged ‘Chris Rea’

Music Soothes the Soul and Inspires the Mind.

April 9, 2017

Music Soothes the Soul and Inspires the Mind.

What is your favourite song? Can you name just one? No, probably not – it would have to be a personal top ten, maybe a top twenty. I’d struggle to keep to twenty, wouldn’t you?

On Friday driving home from Tesco’s in the bright Spring sunshine the radio played something cheerful and rhythmic – can’t recall the tune but it made me tap my fingers and wobble my head as I waited for the lights to go green and it reminded me how important music is to most of us. That it soothes and inspires, brightens and saddens, and without it we are lesser beings.

And then my mind jumps to the lunacy of an Education system that doesn’t value music or drama or Art or anything creative; ignoring the fact that Britain, London especially, thrives on culture. There are galleries all over London; the West End is full of tourists and locals going to shows; literary festivals populate the country: music festivals sell out fast wherever they are (Glastonbury) and the O2 and other concert halls remain in constant use.

What sort of madness is it that says Music and the arts don’t matter? How short sighted is it to side-line these subjects in school?

Music is for the soul and the heart – it can make you feel better, it can make you feel worse; it can transport you to different times, different places: a different life. It doesn’t matter if you can’t play or sing, you can enjoy music on your own terms wherever you are.

Art and stories make you think, challenge your views of the world, broaden your understanding and give you beauty – of an image, of words. Images and words are incredibly powerful things.

Stories can tell the truth when no other medium can. Art makes us face who we are. Music makes us feel things and rouses our emotions and makes us feel connected. Is this why the powers that be want to shut down the Arts in schools; why they blissfully ignore the plethora of evidence that shows how important music is for learning, for healing, for being human?

 Plugged in- zoned out!

I like the diversity of all the art forms but Music is the one that lives with me every day – yes, even more than writing, believe it or not! The first thing I do every morning is turn on the radio. In the car there is music – radio or CD (is that terribly old fashioned now?). When I am writing there is music – ah the joy of iTunes and a personalized selection on Youtube. I play certain music for certain pieces of writing – stuff to sooth and block out the extraneous rubbish in my brain, or stuff to cheer me up, or take me to a specific time or place – hello Australian Crawl, Split Enz, The Police!

Music can be devastatingly simple or awesomely complex – the Beatles love you, yeh, yeh, yeh and a simple but devastating hook that infects your brain. And then we have the complexity of Stairway to Heaven and Bohemian Rhapsody – in lyrics and musical movements. We have the grunt of AC-DC’s Highway to Hell (even sung by John Farnham – it’s brilliant, find it on Youtube), the madness of Florence and the Machines’ Dog Days are Over and the joy of John Paul Young’s Love is in the Air. Whenever I hear Christina Anu sing My Island Home I well up and suffer terrible longing pangs for my own island home, thousands of miles away.

John Denver has just come on the radio: back I go to sunny days in Tasmania and to thoughts of my father who loved him (we had a dog named Calypso for the song) and to my step-mother struggling to cope with her estrangement from my father and then his sudden death, and playing John Denver as we had our own farewell ceremony after the funeral.

My mother was musical – she could play the piano and I recall a reasonable singing voice. I was useless, only managing the opening of the First Noel on our piano. But all of my children can play – clarinet, flute, saxophone and cello. My mother’s despair over my lack of musical ability would have been salved by the fact that her grandchildren had all acquired her musical skills, unlike her dullard daughter. I like to think she’d have been enormously proud of them, coming to concerts and soirees all the years they were in school bands and orchestras. There you go, a little musical sadness, that she never saw them play, never saw her musical genes living on.

Chris Rea has a special resonance for my beloved and me. The Macarena will always be the song for my big girl; memories of her teaching the moves to girls in Shanghai when we were there on exchange. My baby girl is Shiny Shiny by Hazee Fantasee; a Romantics CD on constant play when she was young that made her sing along and bubble and smile. My boy is forever Sting’s Fields of Gold from when he was in all sorts of musical ensembles at school and sang this.

And my favourite song of all time? Is there such a beast? Can I choose from Bowie, Queen, Zeppelin, Oz Crawl? Yes: it is the wonderful and obscure Echo Beach by Martha and the Muffins. It has the most marvelous beat and brilliant sax. It is my ring tone and it must be played at my funeral as the fires consume me.

We take music for granted; few of us can play a musical instrument, but like Fran from Black Books, we must be musical because we have hundreds of CDs, or tunes on our various machines: we take music with us wherever we go. It is part of our soul, our being, our lives. Don’t let anyone tell you the Arts don’t matter, that music is pointless. Got to a live performance of any sort and you will be transplanted to another place, deeper feelings, and an appreciation of the wonders of the world. (Images from Private Collection)


Things That Make You Cry

July 14, 2012

Sometimes it’s good to cry, watch a weepy movie and sob your heart out, feel exactly as the movie makers want you to feel, all that emotion pouring out for characters, unreal people in unreal situations.

But sometimes it’s not so unreal and a good cry can be a release, can let you know your alive, and importantly, not alone. We all feel bad and sad sometimes and we need to be free to cry. We should not be afraid of our emotions, of our empathy or sympathy for other, or our own feelings of loss and helplessness. It is one of the markers of humanity. Remember we cry as much in happiness, and it’s good to remember that as well.

Here’s a small selection of things that can make you cry. I’m sure you have your own list.


Dead Poet’s Society – when Ethan Hawke stands on the desk at the end of the film as Robin Williams is leaving is one of THE emotional moments in movie making history.


Gladiator – sorry, but the end when Russell Crowe is dying and on his way to Elysium having beaten Joaquim Phoenix, with that music is a moment for high emotion and tears. If we’re in a Russell Crowe zone, then A Beautiful Mind is also a massive tear jerker. Russ did deserve his Oscar.


Looking for Alibrandi – an Australian film based on the book by Melina Marchetta – when uber-achieving private school boy John Barton kills himself and you see scenes of Sydney to U2’s With or Without You sung hauntingly by Hamish Cowan you have to cry. The sadness is simply too much.


Eight Below – a true story about a team of snow dogs left behind in the Antarctic during one of the worst storms in history. We see the dogs survival attempts and the owner’s desperation to get back to them. Some do get lost along the way, but the ending will see you sobbing your little heart out. Not sure whether it then is one for dog lovers, or one for dog lovers to avoid.



Sophie’s Choice (and the film too). How can you fail to be moved by Sophie’s story – her struggle with sanity but mostly her inability to deal with her choice – which child to save, asked the Nazi soldier. She chose and they took both anyway. No wonder she killed herself in the end. What else could she do? Every mother knows the impossibility of Sophie’s choice, of the impossibility of going on after such an event.


The God Of Small Things – the cruelty of Baby Kochamma will outrage you as she lies and delights in the misfortune of Ammu and her twins Esther and Rahel. This is a book about death and love – death of a child- Sophie Mol, death of Velutha, the untouchable, who is beaten to death on the say-so of Baby Kochamma, acting out of spite and shame. The saddest part for me, other than Velutha’s death is when Ammu dies, alone and ill and so far away from her children.  Not to mention the damage done to Esther, who becomes silent and is sent away, while Rahel drifts into sorrow unable to find meaning in a world without Ammu and especially Esther. The ending is a triumph of love in the midst of overwhelming sadness. I love this book.



Where Do You Go To My Lovely? Peter Sarstedt’s haunting, beautiful melancholic song, that reminds me so much of the two men I love most in the world – my beloved and my boy – both of whom, interestingly, love this song. So, I hear it and I think of them and how much I love them both.


Guitar Man – Bread. A song of many years ago – there are no connected memories but the haunting sadness of the story of the song and the melody is enough to make me teary when I’m feeling sad.


I’ll Stand By You – Pretenders. This is my song for Grace. It was on the radio at the time and it spoke of love, of endurance, of trying to be there. It always makes me cry.

With or Without You – U2 – actually they have a few heart-touching songs, sort of raw and insistent. You’ve been in love, you feel pain, you know what it’s all about. You listen to this song, think of your own life, know the truth and weep.

Love Turns to Lies – Chris Rea – ‘you were going to leave me anyway’. When love falls away, runs out of speed, dies slowly. Not the song to listen to when you’re in the midst of falling out, or uncertain about love. But Chris Rea is good at heart-rending songs – I’d listen to all of Shamrock Diaries again – you’ll feel nostalgic, old, a bit sad about how life was and now is and there will be a tear, a small streak of salt water down your cheek.



Going home brings out the tears – flying into your home city after a prolonged absence is a time for tears. Look out the window onto your patch of earth and you’ll feel the emotion build.

Weddings and funerals – they just do! All those people, all that feeling, all that intensity. What choice do you have?

Becoming a parent – it is one of the most spectacular events of your life – look upon the creature you have created, feel the love, hold it close – you’ll cry, for love, for the joy of this profound moment. You’ll cry in years to come too, hopefully mostly in joy.

So, the list is endless. Create your own – what makes you cry in sadness, in joy? (Images courtesy Google Images)

Writing In Response 4: Songs

April 21, 2012

Writing In Response 4: Songs

Inspiration comes from many places, your life mainly but a good writer is open to ideas from many places. Today’s inspiration is from songs, some you will know, some not. Listen to them again. Listen to the mood, the feeling, the music. See the story in your head – which isn’t necessarily the story in the song.

On the Beach, Chris Rea


Kashmir, Led Zeppelin


High Hopes, Pink Floyd (most of their stuff is a novel in waiting)

Reckless, Australian Crawl (+ the whole of The Boys Light Up – full of stories)


Tea in the Sahara, The Police


Teo Torriatte (Let us Cling Together), Queen


Knights in White Satin, Moody Blues


Wild is the Wind, David Bowie


Sister of Mercy, The Thompson Twins


Rikki, Don’t Lose That Number, Steely Dan


Mori – Origin Spirits of the Past theme song

(Thanks YouTube)