Tag Archives: Music

Work as a crutch

Some time ago, I wrote a post about how I’d realised that I had been using music a way of hiding my true emotions. I also wrote one about having a strong work ethic, which I attributed to my upbringing.

Maybe I’ve been looking at things wrongly, and the first post holds a clue to the second. Just as music helped me deal with my emotions when I was a teenager and beyond, what if work did the same?

Thinking about it, why would I be so happy doing 80-plus hours a week if not to avoid thinking about things, or to avoid being at home? Why did I spend summers in a different country to my parents? Was it to learn how to be independent and to sample different ways of life, as has been discussed at length at home? Or was it to enable me to deal with (rather, that should be avoid) what I now know are negative influences?

When I was older, and married, I used to put in long weeks, often working 15 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week. When I realised that was physically bad for me (and, to a lesser extent, my relationship) I did something about it. (Admittedly it was my ex who pointed out how that level of work was affecting our marriage and my health.) But was I working ridiculous hours in those days because I was subconsciously unhappy in my relationship?

Is this just a version of the fight or flight response, where throwing yourself into work becomes “flight”? Did I really develop a powerful work ethic through the example my parents set, or did I develop it in order to spend less time at home? As I get older, I’m tending to think it is the latter.

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Week 52 – TBT 2017 – 68 Guns

Well, here we are at the end of 2017, and I’m happy to say I managed to post a TBT every week of the year. I didn’t miss a single week, and I wasn’t late for one either, so I’m pretty pleased with that achievement. You may have noticed that I’ve not repeated a band either, which was another goal / challenge I set myself. I hope you’ve enjoyed the variety.

For the final track of the year I chose The Alarm, for a number of reasons. Foremost among those reasons though is my experience when I met them. This song was bursting into the charts and I was due to see them play in Edinburgh one night. I’d arrived in Edinburgh earlier in the day and was in HMV on Princes Street.

I had a number of records in my hand, including the 12″ single of 68 Guns, when these four short(ish) guys with big hair walked past. Imagine my surprise when I realised it was the band. I bought the records and caught up with them, and they were only too happy to stop for a chat and to sign the cover. I’ve still got it, over 33 years later.

Scroll forward a few hours, and I was at the gig, a couple of rows from the front (I liked being that close, even back then). I was amazed when at some point during the show, one of the band noticed me and they all came over and said hello!

Around a year later, I went to see them again in Edinburgh, in a different venue, and they did the same: came over and said hello when they spotted me loitering near the front. What a great way to make your fans feel special!

Since those heady days, I’ve seen Dave Sharp (guitarist) playing in a blues band, and Mike Peters (lead singer) fronting Big Country in Oxford and also with a different line up of The Alarm supporting The Stranglers in Cambridge. Add to that, Steve Grantley (the drummer for SLF) also played with The Alarm for a while and it’s no wonder I have such affection for them.

All that said, I hope you enjoy the song, and that you all have a very happy and prosperous New Year.

68 Guns – The Alarm

Week 51 – TBT 2017 – Fairytale of New York

I had a tricky decision to make here, because I love Slade’s Merry Christmas, and I wanted to play something festive in the run up to the festive season. This song just edges it over Slade because it makes me very emotional – and I can’t pin down why.

Maybe it’s the fact that Kirsty McColl is no longer with us, having died in an accident at sea. Maybe it’s the sentiments expressed in the song, with a lot of emotion. Most of all I think it’s the vocals, which I think complement each other perfectly. Kirsty McColl had a fantastic voice and it was made for this song I think.

I heard an interview with the song’s producer, Steve Lillywhite, yesterday. He’s produced a number of big acts over the years so I knew his name, but didn’t realise he was married to Kirsty at the time this song was recorded. He suggested Kirsty try singing along as a replacement for Cait O’Riordan who was the bassist / vocalist in The Pogues. When Shane McGowan heard Kirsty’s take, he insisted on re-recording all of his!

Oh, and a bit of pop trivia: although the song mentions “the boys from the NYPD choir”, there is no New York Police Department choir.

The second bit of trivia is pretty well known. The Pogues had to change their name from the original “Pogue Mahon” which is Irish Gaelic for “Kiss my a**e” because the likes of the BBC wouldn’t play any of their music otherwise…

So, as the year draws to a close, enjoy this song and have a wonderful festive season.

Fairytale of New York – The Pogues with Kirsty McColl

Week 50 – TBT 2017 – Overkill

Wow! Who’d have thought we’d get to the middle of December before Motörhead make an appearance on this list?

Without doubt the loudest band I’ve ever seen, and I must confess, when I saw them I only really knew a couple of their songs. I went with my band mates from the first group I played with, 3 Polish lads into thrash metal, for the gig in Oxford. What a night! They just cranked the volume up and up as the gig went on, and it probably took me 3 or 4 days to get my hearing fully back.

This was their final song of the night, hot on the heels of Ace of Spades (which I play with the band I’m in now). I love the sound from the bass drum, which is incessant, thunderous, and drives the whole song forward. Lemmy’s intro on bass just helps the song batter along. It’s an assault on your senses, best listened to very loud with good bass speakers. You know what you’re in for with the first two lines from the song:

Only way to feel the noise

is when it’s good and loud

I couldn’t have put it better myself!

Overkill – Motörhead

Week 49 – TBT 2017 – Fields of Fire

We’ve just had St Andrews Day, so it makes sense that I choose a Scottish (sort of) band for this week’s entry. The reason I say “sort of” is because, although often referred to as Scottish, only Stuart Adamson and Bruce Watson – the guitarists in the band – were Scots. Bassist Tony Butler and drummer Mark Brzezicki were English. Listening to Tony and Mark had a big influence on me wanting to be a drummer or bassist.

I’ve chosen this track because it’s one of my favourites, and because the video shows the incredible energy that surged through the crowd at a Big Country gig. I love the interaction the band members have with each other and the way they feed off the crowd – and vice versa. This was recorded at Glasgow’s Barrowlands Ballroom – The Barras – which regular readers will know I enjoy as a venue. Watch the video, and try to imagine you’re near the front enjoying the show…

Fields of Fire – Big Country

Week 48 – TBT 2017 – Ca Plane Pour Moi

Here’s a question. How cheesy do you like your music? And how cheesy can you possibly make a punk song and its associated video? I think this is the answer!

Although singing in French, Plastic Bertrand is Belgian. The song is well known for it’s catchy ooo-ooo-ooo-ooh vocals. As I don’t speak French I’ve been blissfully unaware of the meaning of the lyrics. Nevertheless, it’s a bright, bouncy song and I hope you enjoy it! I’ve got the 7″ single of this still…

Ca Plane Pour Moi – Plastic Bertrand

Week 47 – TBT 2017 – Cloudbusting

There’s a very haunting quality about Kate Bush’s vocals at the best of times, and it comes through very well on this song. Perhaps not as big a hit as Withering Heights, Babushka or Wow, but I still really like this one.

I hadn’t realised at the time, but part of the video is shot at the Uffington White Horse, probably England’s most famous chalk carving. There are glimpses of Dragon Hill too, where some legends say that St George slew the dragon. It’s actually just down the hill from the horse, and the whole area is a really mystical place to visit.

Cloudbusting – Kate Bush