Posts Tagged ‘Stairway to Heaven’

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)


10 Songs About Enigmatic, Compelling (& probably) Dangerous Women

March 10, 2012

Here are some songs about women you might not want to get too close to, or alternatively find more compelling than your common garden gnome chicky babe. Some of us might like to be like some of these women!

These songs will take you right back to special nights with special people – I guarantee it! And some aren’t really about women after all. OMG – they’re all from the 70s – how time warped am I? Enjoy.

Witchy Woman – The Eagles (Don Henley & Bernie Leadon, 1972) Sparks fly from her fingertips, echoed voices in the night, she’s a restless spirit on an endless flight. Very atmospheric, and yes about drugs and dangerous women and what they can do to you. Always think of this song with One of These Nights – Eagles at their best.

Evil Woman – ELO (Jeff Lynn 1975) You made a fool of me… hey woman you got the blues, yes, you ain’t got no-one else to use. Love gone wrong, a broken heart, an evil woman on her way. It was great, as was most everything else ELO did.

Stairway to Heaven – Led Zep (Jimmy Page & Robert Plant, 1971) There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold and she’s buying a stairway to heaven… with a word she can get what she came for. What’s it all about – drugs, magic, mythology? Who knows, but it’s as compelling now as it ever was. You’ve got to wonder about the lady, don’t you?

Rhiannon – Fleetwood Mac (Stevie Nicks, 1975) All your life you’ve never seen a woman taken by the wind, would you stay if she promised you heaven? About a welsh witch sung by the ethereal Stevie Nicks, one of the most loved songs of all time, according to various lists.

Black Magic Woman – Santana (Peter Green, 1968, originally for Fleetwood Mac) Got a black magic woman, she’s got me so blind I can’t see, but she’s a black magic woman, trying to make a devil out of me. Made famous by Santana in 1970, sung by Gregg Rolie. Really a woman to avoid, a woman with too much magic for anyone’s good.

Witch Queen of New Orleans – Redbone (Vegas & Vegas, 1974) I’m gonna tell you a story, strange as it now seems of zombie voodoo and the Witch queen of New Orleans, she lived in a world of magic, possessed by the devils skew … stirred her witches brew. It was the beat and the rhythm that got to you as much as the lyrics. She’ll put a spell on you and I believed it back in the summer of 1974.

Killer Queen – Queen (Freddie Mercury, 1974) She’s a killer queen, gunpowder, gelatine, dynamite with a laserbeam, guaranteed to blow your mid, anytime. She was a hooker wasn’t she, but she sounded more like a spy, something deadly but compelling and simply fabulous music. It was perhaps the song that told us Queen were going to be something to be reckoned with.

Imaginary Lover – Atlanta Rhythm Section (1978) Imaginary lovers never turn you down, when all the others turn you away their around… my imaginary lover, your mine anytime. This was such a smooth song, yes, it’s really about loneliness and a bit of desperation but these guys really had the atmospheric longing down pat. You could see their imaginary lover, feel her just out of touch

Year of the Cat – Al Stewart (Al Stewart & Peter Wood, 1976) On a morning from a Bogart movie in a country where they turn back time you go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre contemplating a crime. She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running like a watercolour in the rain, don’t bother asking for explanations she’ll just tell you that she came in the year of the cat. You’re there, aren’t you, in the song, waiting to see what will happen, knowing she’ll have his heart out in a flash.

Jackie Blue – Ozark Mountain Daredevils (Larry Lee & Steve Cash, 1975 ) You live your life in a free form style, you’ll take an inch but you’d love a mile, there never seems to be quite enough floating round to fill your loving cup, ooh-hoo Jackie Blue, what’s a game girl if you never lose, ask a winner and you’ll probably find, they’ve lost at sometime. She’s enigmatic, elusive and most of all has the right name! Do you know how few songs there are with Jackie in them?? (Images courtesy Google images)