Music Appreciation

frozen_ver8_xlgIn December we took Jake & Ellie to the cinema for the first time: we saw Disney’s ‘Frozen’ & they both absolutely loved it!

I was impressed as well. Although it’s a children’s film I thought everything about it was top quality: the voice acting, the animation & visuals, the characterisation, the dialogue, its humour were all outstanding. I also particularly liked the way it dealt with quite heavy themes in a way that was palatable even to 3-year-olds.

Then of course there’s the music. It was excellent – in a Disney context of course –  & unsurprisingly the musical is already being planned & is heading to Broadway, then presumably here as well.

Music plays a major part in my life & it has in Jake & Ellie’s too. I love to play music for & enjoy it with them, & have a collection on my ‘phone of 100s of songs that they like. I knew they’d love the music from ‘Frozen’ so I bought the soundtrack album for them.

I wasn’t wrong! 

We listened to it for the first time in the car on the way back from ‘Monkey Music’ last week: they were ecstatic, especially Ellie! When ‘Let It Go’ came on they were  singing along with utter abandon at the tops of their voices, heads raised, gesticulating wildly, arms waving about as if in a manic West End musical!

At home we played the songs in order; instead of the usual TV or tablet games – which sadly has become the norm in the new house while our unpacking has been delayed – they just sat listening on the sofa. While listening they were talking together & with me about the songs, remembering what happened in the film when a particular song was sung, talking about the characters & the story, enjoying the pictures in the sleeve notes & trying to read the song titles & lyrics there.

The power of Music!

It was wonderful

For more Magic Moments just click the pic:






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Tired, scared, sore, smelly & frozen!


Father, Son

Lately I’ve been listening to the music of Peter Gabriel.

No bad thing: the man’s been making incredible, innovative music for the best part of half a century.

Genius? I think so.

This is one of his newer songs and one I’d not heard until recently.

It’s a grower: the more I played it the more I loved it.

And now I really love it.

I find it, & the video (directed by Gabriel’s daughter), very moving.

If my son, & of course daughter, grow up to feel the same respect & love that this man does for his Dad then my life will have been worth living.

Music Monday: Our Week in Music

I’d mentioned that since moving to Wales we’ve been taking the twins to a pre-Nursery group for 4 days a week. We were anxious about how they would adjust to being away from us for the first time in their lives but we needn’t have been: they love it! One of the things they seem to enjoy the most there is a giant buggy-bus  the host has. It’s more like an old-fashioned stage-coach than a baby buggy. It comfortably seats 4,  & probably 6 at a pinch, they can sit side-by-side or facing each other, it has a fold out table in the middle for snacks & meals, it can be open-top or covered. They love being in it & being driven all around town, & often get very stroppy when it’s time to come out! So here’s to the Magic Bus!

In the same post I wrote about how proud I was that they both are often so loving,  affectionate & sociable, & wondered if it was at least in part due to our putting into practice Attachment Theory; or as I called it, rightly or wrongly, Attachment Parenting. So here’s the stunningly beautiful song that gave the blog post its title:

On Wednesday night I was  looking back at old videos & I came across a gem I hadn’t seen before from May last year when Jallie were only 15 months old, which I posted the next day. They were playing a hilarious game of tug-of-war with a pair of the Mummy’s tights that had been accidentally left there. I had Classic FM on & the background music seemed to provide a great soundtrack to the action. So here’s the tune in full, the high drama of Holst’s ‘Mars, Bringer of War’ from his Planets suite, with images of Mars via NASA:

Then on Friday I made a tongue-in-cheek, last-minute, impassioned – and I suspect ultimately futile – plea for your vote in the MADS blogging awards, highlighting ‘my campaign team’ s policies in action from the last year or so. So of course here’s Alice Cooper: “I wanna be Elected!”

On the weekend we found 2 great new fun places for the twins, & us, to enjoy. Firstly, a really well-designed soft-play area, probably the best we’ve ever seen. They like to play!

Then on Sunday it was Folly Farm, a farm and children’s adventure playground that had just about everything: farm animals, indoor & outdoor zoos, soft play, adventure play, playgrounds, an indoor fairground, even a real digger that Jake & I had a go on. It was terrific, the only problem being that it’s in Pembrokeshire, over an hour away. And that they didn’t have the tiger that their brochures indicate they do, which left a 2-year-old boy feeling very let down.

So there’s our week in music: hope you enjoyed it at least as much as I did!

Music Monday: The Great Gig Meme In The Sky

So MusoDad is a ‘session blogger’ now – brilliant!

He’s started a musicky meme for which the equally terrific slightlysuburbandad has tagged me.

Like him I’m delighted to have been tagged as I love music & spend a lot of my time listening to it, blogging about it & tweeting it. And yes, I do have a “not-so-secret music sock puppet on Twitter”.

The meme is very simple: name your first / worst / best / last / dream gig, and select a song from each act to add to Musodad’s Spotify playlist. And I’m incorporating it into my regular Music Monday post, so I hope nobody minds my sticking some music vids on here as well.

First gig: Split Enz, Christchurch, New Zealand

I’m not entirely sure about this one, but I think my first gig was probably Split Enz in a small indoor venue in my home town of Christchurch, New Zealand. For those who don’t know Split Enz were a NZ art-rock band known for their glitzy outfits & quirky style. I loved them then & still do now. Their main man was Tim Finn, older brother of fellow band-member Neil who went on to form the more well-known Crowded House. The gig was televised & my main memory of it is watching myself leave at the end in my favourite & I thought oh-so-cool shiny brown vinyl jacket. Thankfully there are no photos.

Track added: My Mistake. I’m pretty sure they played it there, & it’s a great, odd little song.

My first big gig was probably the great Mr David Bowie at Christchurch’s QEII Stadium. It remains one of my all-time favourite gigs. At the time major international acts on a world tour would gig in Australia & if we were lucky do a night in Auckland, both of which were out of my young reach. Bowie – & he was huge at the time – was one of the few to venture south to smaller NZ cities & for this he will forever have my love.

Worst gig: Zero 7, Brighton Pavilion Dome Theatre

I struggled with this one. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a gig I would call bad. I adore Zero 7 & their music & they played beautifully here, from what I could hear. And there’s the problem: it was totally spoilt for us by massed ranks of drunken kids who did nothing but shout through the whole thing as if they were down the pub. Zero 7’s music is mostly quiet, slow, chilled, wonderfully relaxing & scintillating beautiful. It’s the very last sort of music that you don’t listen to & shout at your mates over. I really don’t know what the hell they were doing there. I asked the bloke behind me, actually quite politely, if they could be a bit quieter & I heard them plotting to ‘get me’ at the end. We asked to be moved but it was the same in the new seats. A gig my wife & I had been so looking forward to was utterly ruined for us.

Track added: The Space Between, 1 of my all-time favourite songs

Best gig: U2, Wembley Stadium

Yes, I know: U2, Bono, probably loved & hated in equal measure. They just happen to be my all-time favourite band, & I plan a post sometime about how they helped keep me sane in the 90s. I love their passion! So I guess this makes me very uncool – which is good as I’ve never tried to be cool. Apart from wearing haute-couture shiny brown vinyl jackets, obviously.

For me live music will never get better than this, & I will never go to a gig that rivals this one: this was once-in-a-lifetime, a dream come true. It was at the height of their Zooropa / Zoo TV tour, following on from the success of their great album ‘Achtung Baby!’. The opening acts Aztec Camera & PJ Harvey were worth the ticket price alone, & the set was astonishing. Huge, overwhelming light displays synched to the music. Massed banks of screens, many of which were screening live random TV, which Bono used during the show & which allowed a virtual duet with Lou Reed on ‘Satellite of Love’. A massive catwalk for Bono & the boys to prance around on & which was used for the more intimate, acoustic songs. Naomi Campbell guest-starring & filming with a hand-held vidcam linked to 1 of the big screens. A ‘phone call to Salman Rushdie soon after he had received his fatwa, who then answered from within the crowd. Fantastic, overwhelming, a concept gig! But most importantly, of course, the music. U2 are simply the best live act I’ve ever seen, & for me can’t be rivalled. If I had to choose 1 day to take to my grave with me – up until the birth of my twins – this would be it.

Track added: Where the Streets Have No Name. Probably the gig’s highpoint (along with ‘One’), & another of my all-time favourite songs.

Last gig: Faithless, Birmingham NIA

Still the only gig I’ve gone to since becoming a Dad, & a fantastic one, one of the best. Faithless are one of my favourite bands, & I had heard they were terrific live. So when I saw that they were gigging in nearby Birmingham I knew I had to try & go see them, even though the twins were only 9 months old. I did, & I wasn’t disappointed – they were fantastic. I did a rather gushy, slightly drunken review of the gig on my other blog, including scratchy live audio of most of it. I really should try to get out more!

Track added: Insomnia, 1 of their great dance anthems &, for me, the gig’s highlight

Dream gig: Pink Floyd

For this I mostly thought of regrets: gigs I should have gone to, or at least tried to get to, & didn’t: Dylan in 2010,  Led Zep when they reformed for the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert, Massive Attack when they gigged in Brighton & I somehow didn’t know about it. But the one that really got away & is still achievable, although sadly with a different drummer, is Pink Floyd, musical heroes since my youth. There’s never been anyone like the Floyd & never will be, another of the great live acts.

Track added: The Great Gig in the Sky. Well it had to be really, eh Musodad? The electrifying ‘song without words’, the last track of side one (yes, I had the vinyl LP!) of  ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’.

This is the bit where I’m supposed to tag a few people to do the meme, but to be honest I wouldn’t know where to start – except I’m going to see if I can once again tempt the terrific Daddacool to break his meme ban! So whoever is reading this then consider yourself tagged, OK?

Music Monday: Money

It’s been Budget week this week, so the Music Monday theme is of course: Money!

‘Music Monday’ is where I pick a theme based on current events either in the news or in my life, or failing that by clicking on ‘Random article’ in Wikipedia. I then pick a few songs based around that theme, with varying degrees of relevance, & post them here. 

So to start: maybe… a song about Money? OK then:

Team9: The Money Song 

Next up, you could say that this great 2010 R&B track sums up the Western economy of recent years in 1 phrase; maybe that’s partly why it was such a big worldwide hit:

Aloe Blacc: I Need a Dollar

Also: I’m pretty sure I used to work with the guy playing bass in this clip! At the time he was playing bass in a Brighton band called Alaska. He was a cool guy (pun intended). But he really was.

Meanwhile back in the ’80s Donna Summer was highlighting the hard life of single Mums working in low-paying long-hours jobs, where life is just 1 big struggle, sadly still relevant today:

Donna Summer: She Works Hard for the Money

And her solution? Join a Flashmob? OK, right. Moving on…

I have to shoehorn this next clip in here, not just because it’s on theme but really because it’s just utterly brilliant, an excerpt from the TV series “Extras”, featuring ‘This Woman’s Work’ by Kate Bush

That never fails to move me: so sad & so hauntingly beautiful; not to mention really well acted.

So, solutions? Well here’s a possible solution to personal overspending, from USA rockers Les Savy Fav:

Les Savy Fav: Scotchguard the Credit Card

And finally, a slightly more radical economic measure from the ever-lively Steven Tyler & co.:

Aerosmith: Eat the Rich

You never know: that one may already be pencilled into Ed Balls’ proposed first Budget…

Music Monday: When ‘Barry’ Met ‘Davey’

It’s Music Monday!

Two of the main news stories this week have been Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to the USA to meet President Barack Obama, & the continuing controversy in both countries over the legalisation of same-sex marriages.

Two different stories.

Or are they? Well the two men do seem to have been getting on rather well!

So take it away the Reverend Al Green: 

Here in the UK & it seems across the pond as well the gay marriage debate has greatly polarised opinion; largely liberal & humanist vs traditionalist & religious. Almost like “when two tribes go to war”:

One side says “it’s only fair”, the other says:

‘Meanwhile back on the basketball court’ there are a number of people –  mostly, I believe,  from amongst the right-wing ‘Tea Party’ movement – who are convinced that their President wasn’t actually even:

while in “America is Not the World”  Morrissey sang of his adopted home: “where the President is never black, female or gay, and until that day, you’ve got nothing to say to me”. I wonder if he’s listening now?

I guess ultimately not only the PM & the President but also allies, friends & couples everywhere & of every kind often conclude that:

But I couldn’t finish a music post about the USA & relationships with anything but this; beautifully evocative, both musically & lyrically, it’s a 4-minute masterpiece:

“Kathy, I’m lost” I said, ‘though I knew she was sleeping
“I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why…”
Counting the cars on the New Jersey turnpike
They’ve all gone to look for America

Music Monday: Birthday

One of the things you lovely people out there in the blogosphere & the twitterverse may have noticed is that something I sometimes eloquently articulate upon bang on about with insightful  profundity monotonous regularity is music, my love of it, how I listen to it a lot, how my iPod Touch is now up to (just a sec…) 8,735 tracks so far, & how I should have been a singer in a rock’n’roll band. I even have a twitter account specifically for tweeting what I’m playing on my iPod, via YouTube. At least I don’t drunkenly tweet random lyrics late at night anymore as much as I used to…

So it makes sense for me to feature music in my blog. With the sad demise of Musodad’s blog I feel moved to blatantly take advantage try to pick up where he left off & do a post where I put up a few songs that have recently taken my fancy for one reason or another & write some words about them.

And… some may also have heard me mention that it’s Jallie’s 2nd Birthday today (yay!). So that gives me an obvious theme then for my first, & possibly last:

Warning: may contain traces of soppiness. I’ll try to add a little sarcasm & some bad jokes where appropriate.

Altered Images: Happy Birthday

An obvious place to start: it was either this or the Bjork-lead Sugarcubes’ “Birthday”. Altered Images’ lead singer was the scrumptious Clare Grogan: not only Gregory’s Girl, the object of Dave Lister‘s unrequited love (& the true Kochanski), but also the scourge of Craggy Island & Father Ted when she turned up there to tell him & the boys a thing or 2. So I’ll take her over Bjork any day! Also: Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” is a bit rubbish. And I don’t care if it’s about Martin Luther King.

U2: Two Hearts (Beat As One)

Say what you like about U2 & Bono, & most of us do, this is just a great rock song; from the pre-Joshua Tree “War” album. You know what I think of now when I hear this? Jake & Ellie inside their Mummy, entwined together, separate yet one, apart but together now & always, like two hearts that beat as one.

There ya go: soppiness, with rock’n’roll!

Steve Miller Band: The Joker

This was Jake’s early theme song. Yes, we give our children theme songs: doesn’t everyone? From a very early age he’s exhibited a terrific sense of humour, getting & making jokes long before we’d have thought a young child would. OK, some of the lyrics aren’t appropriate: if I find he’s a smoker or a midnight toker I may have to have words. And I don’t know what the “pompitous of love” is but I’m pretty sure I disapprove. But it’s a good song.

Elton John: Tiny Dancer

I adore this song: Elton John at his very best. It’s almost worth watching the film “Almost Famous”, about the ’70s music scene, just for the Tiny Dancer sequence. Shows the ’70s wasn’t just prog, punk & disco!

My Tiny Dancer, of course, is Ellie. This was my early theme song for her. She’s loved to dance virtually since she could stand, & has been much better at it than her Dad for at least that time. She’s always sung beautifully too.

I also used to jig her about to this, substituting in “Ellie!” & lifting her high up in the air at the appropriate moment. She loved it! Then she’d usually throw up all over me. Happy Days.

Bob Dylan: Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)

Jake’s current theme song: “Come on the juice, come on the cake: you’ll not see nothin’ like the mighty Jake”.  He has a great sense of humour; it’s sometimes a mystery where he gets it from…

Donovan: Mellow Yellow

Ellie’s current theme song: “They call her ‘Ellie-belly’ “…

I’m starting to think that the quality of the songs we choose for our children may be on the wane…

Beyoncé: Halo

From the ridiculous to…

Beyoncé: a bona-fide Superstar, supremely talented, ravishingly beautiful, jaw-droppingly sexy: you name it, she’s got it. And this song is just epic, beautiful & moving. Her music was playing in the operating theatre during their birth, & I’m pretty sure ‘Halo’ was playing as they were delivered into the world. I even gave it its own little post.

I can’t now listen to this already beautiful song without being profoundly moved. It’s Their Song. It always takes me back to those mad, magical moments when they came into the world & into our lives. They were so wanted for so long, & it took so many tears & trials before they finally became a part of us. When they did ‘it was like we’d been awakened’: “Baby, I can see your halo: you know you’re my saving grace”.

Happy Birthday, Jake & Ellie. We love you.

I warned you that there might be soppiness! I can’t think of any sarcasm or bad jokes at this point, sorry. Maybe next week…