Week 30 – TBT 2017 – Mrs Robinson

It’s not lost on me that I seem to like cover versions of classic songs, and this is no different. The Simon and Garfunkel version is brilliant, and very of its time, whereas this version by The Lemonheads (what a great band name by the way) is marginally better I think. 

The difference – as if you’ve not guessed – is the bassline. It’s got a really nice hook which was played on guitar on the original but just sounds great here. I’m guessing that it’s played with a pick (plectrum) rather than with fingers.

Watching the video triggered a couple of thoughts:

  1. At one point, Dustin Hoffman is wearing shades and driving a red convertible. Is it just me, or was it a combo that Tom Cruise was seen in during Rainman, which also starred … Dustin Hoffman?
  2. Towards the end, in the church scene, I could almost hear Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) shouting “Cassandra” – guess I’ve watched Wayne’s World 2 too often, as this song was on the soundtrack.

I’ve wanted to play this in a band for a long time, and hopefully one day I’ll get my wish…

Lemonheads – Mrs Robinson

Advertisements

Why are so many music stars taking their own life?


Another week has gone by, and another music icon has taken his own life. Chester Bennington, lead singer with Linkin Park, hanged himself on what would have been his good friend Chris Cornell’s birthday. Cornell hanged himself in May of this year, and Bennington sang at his funeral. Both of them had gigs coming up in the next few days. 

As part of my TBT posts this year I included a track from Audioslave, one of Cornell’s bands, in January. Linkin Park featured last month, and at the time I was unaware that the two singers were friends.

It’s hard to imagine what circumstances can have led two supremely talented and adored people to have felt that suicide was their only option, their only way to stop the feelings they had at that time. Dee and I have discussed it a lot since the news came out, as she felt a real connection with Linkin Park. We’re still no closer to having the answer, and I guess we’ll never know. 

They join a long list of stars who have died before they’ve got old, who have either deliberately or accidentally taken their own lives. At what point will society stop to wonder why that might be, why these individuals have felt so lost and so alone that death becomes their only real answer? I think society needs start asking those questions sooner rather than later. 

If you’re in the UK and are having suicidal thoughts, please contact The Samaritans using the contact details below. If you’re elsewhere, please reach out and talk to someone, find those people who are there to help.

Week 29 – TBT 2017 – Feuer Frei

I had to include this track at some point this year. I don’t speak German and haven’t looked up the lyrics, but I love the way the vocals scan, I love the intro (turn it up before you start) and the air raid siren running through the song is awesome! 

The track earns bonus points for being used in the film XXX starring Vin Diesel, which ends up in Prague, one of my favourite cities. Apparently Dee and I had a long chat about the fact this was on the soundtrack when we watched the film some months back, but I’d forgotten that. 

I’ve not listened to much Rammstein, but this track is perfect for blowing the cobwebs away! 

Rammstein – Feuer Frei

Week 28 – TBT 2017 – Sweet Child O’ Mine


I guess it was fairly inevitable that this should end up on here at some point this year. It’s a massive rock classic, an iconic track. The bass intro alone (you can ignore Slash doing his guitar stuff, the true melody is in that bass line – but maybe I’m biased!) makes it worthy of inclusion.  

The reason I’ve shared it this week is quite fun I think.  The band I’m in were auditioning a new singer this week, and she’d prepared some songs, which we played and all was good. We then started talking about other numbers and she mentioned that she liked singing this one, so we said “OK, let’s give it a go”. 

What I hadn’t appreciated was that it’s been around 2 years since the band last played it.  What the band hadn’t appreciated was it’s probably twice that since I played it last. I’ve only ever played it twice in gigs, about 5 years apart, and only rehearsed it with any band a handful of times.  

To cut a long story short, I skipped the intro because I couldn’t remember it, but what ensued was a fantastic jam. We all got really into it, played it pretty well considering, and our potential new recruit did it real justice as its not an easy song to sing well. 

Guns ‘n’ Roses – Sweet Child o’ Mine

Week 27 – TBT 2017 – Channel Z

I mentioned earlier this year that I love the vocals on songs by the B52s, and this is a brilliant example of them.  It’s not just the harmonies, but also the lyrics themselves that I like.  The words and topics on their songs always seem to me to be “out there”, not quite what you’d call “normal”. In this example, who would have thought to use an umbrella to protect themselves from space dust falling from the sky?  And where’s my umbrella anyway?

Their big breakthrough number the UK was Rock Lobster, and I pretty much got on board with their music then. Songs like Strobe Light and June Bug are just a load of fun, and of course Love Shack is now a classic.  I’m glad to include something a little less well known here.  

B52s – Channel Z

Presenting … presentations

I was recently fortunate enough to present to a room full of fellow professionals at an event in Europe. I’d known for several months that I’d be doing so, and for me it was a big deal. It was the first time I’d had the opportunity, and there was the potential to be presenting to well over 100 people – but I wouldn’t know the real figure till I got started. 

The room I was due to present in…

I was determined that I wasn’t going to blow it.  

I’m guessing that most of you have, like me, sat through your fair share of presentations. I’m also guessing that many of those have been dire, where the presenter spent most of the time droning on in a monotone, reading verbatim from every slide, and every slide was covered in dense text with occasional bullet points.  

I’m guessing that the number of presentations which has given you a lightbulb moment, an “aha” moment, some kind of inspiration and which have left you feeling energised and enthusiastic is few and far between.  

For my talk, I was determined that I wasn’t going to produce a dire presentation, and that I would do my best to be inspirational and have the attendees enthused by my presentation.  I was also aware that the topic – retraining existing staff to work in cyber security – had the potential to be very dull indeed.  

Regular readers of my blog will know that I really like TED talks, that I watch or listen to a lot of them, so I thought I’d try to produce my own version.  I therefore did a lot of background reading, with emphasis on how to prepare and deliver TED-worthy presentations (yes, there are a lot of books out there which cover that topic). 

I learned that even before starting on my slides, I should work out what messages I wanted to convey, what the key points were. I should work on having a killer opening, one which engaged and intrigued the audience from the outset, one which grabbed their attention. 

I also learned that when it comes to slides, words = bad, pictures or images = good. After all, you want people to be focussed on what you’re saying, not on reading what’s on the slide. If you’re reading off the slide, why are you there? The attendees could simply be sent the slide deck and read that for themselves. Slides are an aide memoire, nothing more.

And I learned that your body gives a lot away when you’re talking. Moving around, shuffling from one foot to the next, fidgeting with your hands, jingling keys, says “so” or “um” a lot, all those sort of things detract from the message you’re hoping to convey, and reduce the perception that you’re an expert in the topic.    

I practiced what I was going to say – many times. I wrote out my introduction and honed that, many times.  I recorded clips of me presenting so I could see what bad habits I had – and tried not to do them. I ran through the slides over and over, reducing them to no more than 5 or 6 words on each.  All of this helped boost my confidence and reduce my nerves.  Unfortunately for Dee she also had to hear it several times, and her feedback was invaluable. 

Did it work?  Yes, I think it did.  Of the 60 or so people who came along, less than half left feedback, but on the whole the presentation was well received. For my first attempt at a big event like that, I was really pleased with the feedback.  

Will I take the same approach in future? Absolutely, if time permits.  I think the attendees benefited and I think I benefited from the process.  

The days of wordy slides and boring presenters should be at an end.  Make sure you’re not stuck in the past with them.