Friday, 30 May 2014

Don't you forget about me. . .

The Breakfast Club (1985), starred Molly Ringwald (the princess) Judd Nelson (the criminal), Emilio Estevez (the athlete), Anthony Michael Hall (the brain) and Ally Sheedy (the basket case).  A story about five high school students who are forced to endure Saturday detention and write an essay about who they think they are.  The movie enjoyed box office success and next year will actually mark 30 years of the movie's release.  The hit song from the movie Don't you forget about me by Simple Minds also enjoyed chart topping success thanks to the release of the film, even though the band weren't the first choice to record the single.  The most popular cover of the song has been Anna Kendrick's rendition in the film Pitch Perfect.  Molly Ringwald also recorded a jazz version of the song as a tribute to John Hughes, the director of The Breakfast Club on her 2013 album.

Won't you come see about me
I'll be alone dancing you know it baby

Tell me your troubles and doubts 
Giving me everything inside and out and
Love's strange so real in the dark
Think of the tender things that we were working on

Slow change may pull us apart

When the light gets into your heart baby

I feel the characters of the movie are reflected in these song lyrics. The trappings of high school life, stuck in your little cliques and not knowing where you fit in, who you belong with and when you are in a social clique, the pressure to remain there and not be strong enough to venture outside of your supposed comfort zone, until you're forced to in a situation like Saturday detention.

Will you stand above me?
Look my way, never love me
Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling
Down, down, down

Will you recognise me?

Call my name or walk on by
Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling
Down, down, down

And then it doesn't even need to be restricted to high school life, it could be your college/university days, your workplace, any other social settings or gatherings that you find yourself in, where you have to play a part, need to conform to the role that you need to play because society expects you to be in that role - life is much easier when you're typecast or stereotyped (methinks the racial micro aggressions rears its head again to some level).  I wonder if you will recognise those moments in your past that developed a defining moment in your character, but have kept buried away in a locked drawer or diary.

Going to take you apart
I'll pull us back together at heart, baby

Even though it seems like it's unrequited love or someone trying to get your attention, and they may come across weak, there is a sense of strength there for someone who is willing to lay their heart out there on the line and let you know how what's in their heart. The times that you may have had in your past, those one-off memories maybe with your own "Breakfast Club", I hope you remember them. They might have helped to define the you that you wanted to be, but don't recognise anymore, because you're busy being who others want you to be.

Don't you forget about me
Don't don't don't don't
Don't you forget about me. . . 

Song request by +Anthony Faitaua

Gonna set your soul on fire. . .

Welcome to the end of New Zealand Music Month for 2014, well, on this blog anyway :-)

Our final letter of the alphabet sits with Zed with their most famous single Renegade Fighter.

Can I walk here beside you, can I speak your name
Can I just be here
Can I speak in anger, can I speak in shame 
Can I just be here

The beginning of each line asks for permission (well it depends on how you look at it, as asking for permission denotes the use of 'may' and we know that you can physically do anything, unless you have physical restrictions, in the context of this song anyway, to walk or speak - in anger or shame) and it at least suggests that you need to give yourself permission to do something you want, to do anything.  The line that speaks the most to me is Can I just be here.  Even though there is no question mark, it seems to me like a question. It makes me think - yes, you're entitled to be here. Even if others wish you weren't, or want avoid you.  What did you do to make then not want you here?

Can I sit in silence, can I speak your name
Can I just be here
Can you find the pieces that I can rearrange
Can I just be here

I think about what pieces need to be arranged. Is someone criticising pieces of your life and wants you to rearrange your choices?  Do they think that they can live your life better than you do?  Why do you need to ask permission or think that you need their permission to live your life the way you want to anyway?  The first line in itself shows how much indecision you have.  But verses tend to do that.  They paint a picture or tell a story about struggles that you come across and make you wonder how the chorus pans out to see if there's any change to the situation. . .

I'm a lover, I'm a winner, I'm a fighter
Gonna set your soul on fire
I'm a lover, I'm a Renegade Fighter
Gonna set your soul on fire
I'm a lover, I'm a sinner, I'm a fighter
Gonna set your soul on fire
I'm a lover, I'm a Renegade Fighter
Gonna set your soul on fire

Live life passionately, set people's souls on fire, even when they don't appreciate what you do and how you do it; if they're astute enough, in time they will come to know you are exactly what they need, when they need you.  Just remember to be true to yourself :-)

Thursday, 29 May 2014

What we need is a great big melting pot. . .

Take a pinch of white man
Wrap him up in black skin 
Add a touch of blue blood
And a little bitty bit of red Indian boy
Oh like a curly Latin kinkies
Oh lordy, lordy, mixed with yellow Chinkees, yeah
You know you lump it all together
And you got a recipe for a get along scene
Oh what a beautiful dream
If it could only come true, you know, you know

The opening verse of this Kiwi classic Melting Pot by When The Cat's Away (WTCA) was originally released by Blue Mink, a British group in 1969.  The WTCA version still includes the original lyrics (which in today's day and age may almost seem cringeworthy), but the sentiment of the world being able to unite together through racial harmony was definitely a sign of the times.  This is especially true when you consider music globally at the end of the 60s (give peace a chance man) and moving into the new disco era.

When The Cat's Away was an all girl group that performed covers in the 1980s, and this release of the Blue Mink hit featured successful female artists in their own right who enjoyed singing together.  Dianne Swann left the group and Sharon O'Neill of Maxine fame joined the group and was also a support act on several occasions.  Debbie Harwood, Kim Willoughby, Margaret Urlich and Annie Crummer rounded up the rest of the members in this female supergroup.

The second verse of the song talks about celebrating all religions, which reminds me of Lennon's Imagine but that released a while later.

What we need is a great big melting pot
Big enough to take the world and all it's got
We've been stirring for a hundred years or more
Turn out coffee coloured people by the score. . .

This is the penultimate song in my NZ Music Month series.  There are no artists or bands for X or Y so the final song will be highlighted tomorrow.  So in all of your dealings with people from different walks of life, different hues of skin, different supreme beings that they worship, some are stronger, more flavourful than others. . . some a bit weaker, less bold. . . while others are sweet in contrast to others who are bitter.  At the end of the day, we're all coffee coloured people.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

You can depend on me . . .

Ma-V-Elle were ahead of their time - they were NZ's answer to Destiny's Child - before Destiny's Child even burst onto the music scene.  I totally admired these three talented songstresses of Pasifika r'n'b/soul - Lavina Williams, Marina Davis and Maybelle Amituana'i - they wrote their own music, did fantastic (let's be honest OUTSTANDING) cover versions of popular songs and performed in the local live music scene before launching their own solo ventures, before reuniting on and off over the years to release new material.

Their song Depend on me speaks to me about the importance of friendship, surrounding yourself with people who aren't there just for the good times, but are there for you at your most vulnerable moments:

When you need a place to cry
I will lend you my shoulder
When there's nowhere else to run
You're welcome to come over
When you need a friend
You know you can always depend on my love, my love

When you're just starting out in a relationship and communication breaks down because something traumatic has happened (or resurfaced from the past), it is words like these above that need to be heard (especially by that angry surly person who is trying to push you away because they're trying to hide their vulnerability and pain from you).  So what do you do in that situation?  What if you don't have anybody that you can depend on?

The chorus says it all:
You can depend on me
In all your times of need
I'll be the sun shining on you
Give me some time 
And I'll mend your broken wings
And I'll set you, set you, set you free. . .

Take comfort in knowing that if you don't have people, or a "go to" person that you can depend on - it will not be the end of your world.  You might come to realise that your happiness is not dependent on another person - or people.  You just need to find happiness in YOU first.

You have to take yourself out of your situation and dig a little bit deeper to find that inner strength (substance abuse isn't the answer).  A little faith in yourself, meditation and finding your own "personal triggers" for happiness are the fastest sure-fire ways to snap you out of that funk.

I'm not saying that friends or people aren't important,  They are.
But sometimes I find solace in the solitude too.  And that's a good thing.
It's like when I would go to watch indie films by myself when I first started varsity and my friends thought I was weird.  I just liked the quiet times too.

For me - that's listening to some inspirational music.
Spending some time listening to some really good music mends my broken wings and sets me free.
Every single time.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Samoana. . . ala mai . . .

NZ Music Month has almost ended and I'm up to the letter 'U'.
As I've mentioned in a previous post, it is also Samoan Language Week.
A few weeks ago, the Pacific Music Awards took place in Auckland.
A few years ago, Pacific Underground performed at these awards with their rendition of Samoana.
Tanya Muagututi'a and Pos Mavaega are the masterminds behind this collective of Pasifika artists and musicians who showcase Pasifika heritage, languages and cultures in their work.  Malo lava le tauivi ma le fa'aea nu'u.

O se mea e mitamita ai, o le galulue faatasi o uso ma tuagane ina ia maua se avanoa e fefa'asoaa'i ai le latou taleni ile musika, o le faamatalaina o tala ma fagogo a lo tatou atunu'u o Samoa, ae maise lava o atunu'u uma ole Pasefika, auā le lumana'i manuia ole fanau.  O le vaega lenei sa atoa ai ile tausaga ua mavae, le lua sefulu tausaga talu ona faavaeina.

O le pese lenei, ose pese ta'atele, ae ose pese ua fai ma vi'i o Samoa e fa'ai'u ai fa'apotopotoga taua o fonotaga o aiga, pitonu'u, alalafaga, seia o'o lava i fa'apotopotoga ole atunu'u ma Ekalesia e fia mo so'o se fa'alavelave e auai ai tatou tagata.

Lota nu'u na ou fanau ai
Ua lelei oe ile vasa
Ua e maua mai luga o le tofi aogā

This verse speaks about the beauty of the homeland, the privileged position that Samoans have been given, from the heavens.  One thing that I think that is true for every language, is when the subtleties of the language can be lost in translation - it doesn't quite sound the same, the meaning doesn't seem to be conveyed in its entirety and the way that it sounds - doesn't roll off the tongue as smooth.  (But that's just me . . .).

Samoana (Samoana) ala mai (ala mai)
Fai ai nei (fai ai nei) le faafetai (le faafetai)
I le pule ia maua ai
O lo'u nuu i le vasa e

The chorus displays the call and response device which is a common feature in Samoan choral singing, large group singing, it displays the gender balance quite evenly in this respect.  The women lead the lyrics in the chorus, while the men sing the echo in the parentheses. As a musician - it is the third line that does it for me - during the singing of the word pule, as the first syllable hangs suspended in the air - and depending on who is leading - can vary in the length of this suspension, before it is resolved.

O le avanoa lenei ou te valaau atu ai i Samoa - ia tatou ala mai, fai ai nei le faafetai.
I call to all Samoans to rise, give thanks.  Celebrate your heritage language this week.
But let's be honest - if you are born of an ethnic group - be the best example of that ethnic group, if only to share with others around you, who might not have the opportunity to meet someone like you in their lifetime.  It is something I carry with me in every conversation that I have with someone.  You are not born that ethnicity by accident.  Samoana - ala mai.

O lo'u nuu, i le, vasa e. . .
My country, in the, ocean. . .

Walking in light . . . savali ile malamalama . . .

This week is Samoan language week in New Zealand.  So in honour of this week - my posts will be bilingual.  I've decided to translate parts of what I say from Samoan to English (sadly Google Translate will not help you if you don't speak Samoan because according to Google Translate, Samoan language doesn't exist!) and other parts in Samoan will not be translations, but a continuation of the train of thought (as I think with my bilingual brain!)

A quick solution would be: make friends with people who speak and read gagana Samoa (Samoan language) fluently. One of the first things I learned growing up speaking Samoan (it is my first language, even though I was born in New Zealand) was that I was thrown in the deep end and just learned it from my parents.

1979 was the most successful year for Th' Dudes who were probably New Zealand's first rock supergroup in their heyday - especially with their rockstar attitudes if the news reports and reputation were anything to go by, including a notorious concert cancellation in Wellington because they sound equipment was sub-standard (!) - the support acts still performed.

Th' Dudes are most famous for their epic pub anthem Bliss and hot favourite Be Mine Tonight that featured Dave Dobbyn as lead vocal.  My favourite song is Walking in light purely because I think it has a very Rolling Stones feel to it.

I see things through a different doorway

Ou te mafaufau lava ile laina lenei, o se faamatalaga e faapea - e eseese lava le silasila po'o le va'ai o le tagata i avanoa, i auala e ui ane i ai ae maise lava o faitotoa e taumafai lava nisi e tapuni.
E tatau ona tatou iloa, ose mea lelei o le va'ai eseese, ole silasila mamao, po'o le tofa mamao o manatu lava lenei e mafai ai ona maua ai se tofa manino - ia maua ai ni tonu lelei auā se aga'i i luma ole olaga nei, ose olaga auauna ose tagata.  Ae ole ā le mea e tupu, pe afai e lē atoatoa lou silasila mamao, po o lou tofa mamao?  E tatau ona fai ea ni mata tioata ina ia manino ai lo tatou vaavaai i ni auala ma ni faitotoa eseese?

I'm walking in light
I'm walking in light
I'm walking in light (x2)

Ou te savali ile malamalama
Ou te savali ile malamalama
Ou te savali ile malamalama  (x2)

A faapea o ē savali pea ile pogisa po'o le pouliuli, ia e savali aga'i ile malamalama.
O le malamalama e te mafai ona silasila mamao ma ia iloa atili ai ni faafitauli ma faalavelave faafuase'i o lo'o taumafai nisi e fa'aleaga ai oe ma lou olaga.  Ia 'alo mamao ese mai nei tagata, ma ia e savali ile malamalama, ne'i te'i ua e sulu ma lavea ile pogisa.

Faafetai faapitoa ia +Tahu Paki mole talosaga mai ina ia faia ni tusitusiga ile gagana Samoa :-)

C'mon let's just keep walking in light
O maia, ia tatou savavali pea ile malamalama.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Don't forget your roots my friend . . .

Don't forget your roots my friend 
Don't forget your family, yeah
Don't forget your roots my friend
The ones who made you
The ones who brought you here. . . 

is my favourite song from Six60 as it plays like a mantra in my mind about my roots, thinking about how important knowing who I am and where I come from, my ancestors, my parents, my family, my culture, language and identity (and now multiple identities - depending on the contexts I'm in and the roles I am expected to play or choose to play) all roll into one huge complex ball of confusion (only for those looking from the outside in).

The duet of the bass and the electric guitar soon gives rise to the drums that combine before the first verse kicks in.  The song details the story of two characters - Johnny and Jessie - and the choices they make about their life paths and end up either being shunned by their family or choosing to turn their backs on their histories and pasts.

So he lost what he knows and what all is right
For a broken world and a world of lies. . .

Johnny's experience highlights the desire to make something of your life, to have a sense of purpose and do something worthwhile, but that we must be wary, be careful.  Tread carefully in the sense that mixed with that sense of duty, what is worth fighting for may not be what you thought it was, not be what is worth fighting for as you innocently and naively walk into a battle where others lie in wait to destroy you.

So she lost what she knows and what all is right
For a brand new image and world of lies. . .

Jessie's experiences highlights the need to break free from a mould, to be different and unique, go against the grain, turning your back on all you know, compromising who you are because the 'change' seems to take precedence over who you really are.  I find it strange sometimes that when people run away, to use physical distance to remove themselves from their 'known places' to rediscover who they are, but in the end realise that what they were searching for all along was at home, made them realise and appreciate what they had, but they needed to miss it in order to know how important being at home, in your own home.  A brand new image isn't going to improve who you are - it may change how the world sees you, but until you are happy with your image - then new doesn't mean better.

But the days were numbered, relationships suffered . . .

Repair family relationships if you need to.  Make peace with yourself first if need be.
Whatever difficulties, challenges and adversities you face in your life, remember your roots.
If your roots are a painful place to go, a painful memory to revisit, I hope that whatever new roots you lay down, that you find peace, love and happiness.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

I won't let the paint fade. . .

Hang a picture on the wall of me and you now
So as time passes by, you'll always be around
I won't let it come down
I won't let it come down, come down
I won't let the paint fade   -   Paint Fade by Smashproof featuring Drew Neemia.

I can say that the picture on the wall of you and me, doesn't just hang on the wall, but it also hangs in the recesses of my mind, the quiet place I go to in a room full of noisy people, it hangs in my heart where your smile never fades and replicates the smile on my own face.  

Still working hard at what you told me to do
And at the rate I'm going, I'mma be there soon
And every other week I dream that you alive
Not a day that go by, I don't think of you

You always knew I was a hard worker.  It was one of the things that you admired about me and I knew it made you proud, because after you had left this earth, your family and friends would tell me.
Your friends who I didn't really know, came up to me in the week that I was preparing to say goodbye to you and it was overwhelming to see and hear how much you affected, touched and inspired so many people.  I think about how much you've missed, but I know you know - you were always intuitive like that.  All the things I wanted to share with you, that I thought we would have a physical lifetime to share, but it was not meant to be.

Don't let the paint fade, don't let the paint fade
Don't let the paint fade, don't let the paint fade

You won't have to worry about the paint fading.
I paint your name every time I sign it, so that when time passes I think about how much you would be proud to know how much all of the dreams and plans we had made, have come true.

I'm finding it hard to get some sleep tonight as it marks one year ago today that you slipped away.
It was just your way.  You didn't make a fuss, left in your own time.  You'll never know how much you've taught me.  I will cherish everything you've ever done for me.  If God saw fit to take you because I must walk my path alone, then I will step with no fear.

Hang a picture on the wall of me and you now
So as time passes by, you'll always be around
I won't let it come down
I won't let it come down, come down
I won't let the paint fade

High five God for me, my Love
My Funny Valentine :-)

RIP Loma Junior Semeatu
Sunset - 22nd May 2013, 6:17am, Akl, NZ.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Taku poi poro-titi, taku poi e!

One of the greatest songs in Aotearoa (in my humble opinion) is Poi E by Patea Maori Club.
I was with +Te Mihinga Komene yesterday and singing along to the lyrics while preparing for this blog post.  A businessman at the next table overheard us singing and exclaimed that it is his favourite New Zealand song.  You often come across Poi E at sports tournaments such as the Wellington 7's and even this year's inaugural Auckland 9's, when a try is scored.  It's the song that everyone loves and sings quite boisterously during the chorus.

In recent years, Poi E enjoyed a resurgence with the release of the movie Boy (2010) directed by Taika Waititi and his unique blend of Michael Jackson's Billie Jean and Thriller references.

I have fond memories of this song as I taught it as a set work for my senior music students in Year 13 alongside Pokarekare Ana under the topic Music of the Tangata Whenua.  It also gave the Māori students in my class an opportunity to share their expertise and knowledge of Māori waiata with their  peers - they became the practising ethnomiscologists in this context.  By promoting this way of positive peer culture in the classroom, the Māori students in the class knew that their culture was being valued and they were able to share their personal lived experiences of kapa haka and toi Māori, even delving into taonga puoro.

I also have fond memories of this song as child, being fascinated by the break dancer in his Michael Jackson gloves, if only to see him join his friends in a 'bop line' before doing some more solo breaking.  Having this dancer alongside the female kaea who opened the song with the following lines was also a standout for me:

Te Poi!
Patua Taku Po Patua Kia Rite
Pa Para Patua Taku Poi E!

The story behind Poi E has a wonderful message about Ngoi Pewhairangi, the lyricist, (but also a staunch advocate for te reo Māori) who wanted to write a song for Māori youth to value te reo Māori and their pathways for success. She enlisted the help of Dalvanius Prime who composed the music.  The song is a perfect blend of traditional Māori and contemporary pop music of its time.

It is a timeless classic, it will never age, because the messages in the lyrics stand the test of time - it's about communities valuing who they are, where they come from and their aspirations for success.  At a time when small towns in Aotearoa were trying to survive in tough economic times, pulling together the community through music was one avenue to encourage the youth.

Rere atu taku poi ti ta taha ra
Whakarunga whakararo taku poi e!

I'll abandon it, I'm young . . .

Ruby Frost is better known to New Zealand audiences as a season one judge for X Factor alongside Stan Walker.  She won a music competition and recorded an EP, got a large number of views for a particular song on YouTube (1 millions views to be exact) and even won a songwriting award (as well as being shortlisted for an APRA Silver Scroll Award).

Her song Young serves as a reminder of our misadventures of a misspent youth, you know, those crazy times when you didn't have a care in the world, no responsibility.  Something parents only know too well:

Mother likes my eyes of wonder
She tells me that they wander the whole day through

I'm pretty sure when you recollect the memories spent with your friends, they would read much like the following lyrics:

Burning our youth to be discerning
Kicking rocks and learning ignorance is bliss
Stumble, get lost in our jungle
We don't have to be crumble, we can still be fixed

The resilience of youth can often be something that we lose when we become adults.
We forget to immerse ourselves in a sense of wonder again, because we become jaded very quickly, or have negative experiences that burn us.  Our priorities shift, change and evolve as time goes by and who we interact with and who we choose to surround ourselves with because we can define or confine what holds us in these contexts together.

Who cares what I've done
Who cares the songs I've sung
I'll abandon it, I'm young
Who cares where I'm from
Who cares my clothes are torn
I'll abandon it, I'm young

Abandoning your inhibitions or abandoning the restrictions placed on you by others is the catch-cry of the young.  Any level headed young person will tell you that they will not blame their youth for their follies, but yes chalk it up to life experience.  Abandoning responsibility or abandoning commitment to something or someone, then blaming it on, I'm young - it's what we do - I often wonder how we can fool ourselves into thinking that this is a valid excuse.  Depends on the audience I guess, but also the intent of the individual.

Who cares the hearts we've stung
Who cares the webs we've spun
I'll abandon it, I'm young
Though I stumble every rung
I'm on the ladder to see the sun
I'll abandon it, I'm young

By choosing not to care about what we do when we are young, it may impact on what we can enjoy when we are. . . not so young.  When we hear over and over again that teenage mantra - who cares?  The answer to that is - you do.  Or you should care.  Because if you don't start to care about what you're doing, while you're busy abandoning everything and everyone - there will nobody left to care . . . even about you . . .

Monday, 19 May 2014

Ki te aroha. . . e ipo. . .

Loma was a huge fan of Prince Tui Teka.  One of his "go to" songs for karaoke was E Ipo
As I mentioned before, Loma was the king of mimicking people.  He nailed Prince Tui Teka's vibrato and mannerisms and would quite gleefully showcase this on many occasions on karaoke nights.  (I found my karaoke soulmate when I met Loma haha).  In those moments, it was safe to say "you had to be there" to see him in action.

Ki a koe te tau
aku mihi e
Ahakoa haere koe ki hea
maku rā koe e whai atu e
Ko taku aroha
ka ū tonu

It is comforting to know that no matter where I go, I feel Loma around me.
It is a reassuring feeling, especially when I might be stressed out, frustrated or angry about something, I think about what types of things he would say to snap me out of it, his words of encouragement.  He was a master of shrugging his shoulders, because he could put things in perspective and not really worry about something that was beyond his control. But that didn't mean he was complacent as he spoke up when his voice needed to be heard - it just meant he was better at saying "what's the point in worrying about that babe?".

Tena ra e hine
huri mai ra`ki ahau e tau nei
hei, utanga atu
E ipo

There will be times, those quiet and alone times when I miss him the most, and that will never go away. What I do know is that the absence aches a little less and I think about the happy memories that far outweigh the challenges of being on my own.

My love for you is endless
Keep me always in your heart
For you are a special part of me
My never-ending love

Ki te aroha e ipo Loma, ki te aroha e ipo. . .

I'm all I can offer you right now. . .

In OpShop's One Day, the almost sleep-like, dreamy andante opening is unmistakable . . .

Absence make her heart grow fonder
While I'm conquering the last frontier
Lately I've found myself wondering out loud
Wonderin' what I was doin' here

This time last year, I was in Wellington, just like I am tonight.
I received a phone call that would change my life forever.
I rushed home to spend the last few days with Loma before he passed away.

This song resonates deeply with me because I imagine him conquering the last frontier.
We had many conversations about what we were going to do, our purpose in life and what we were going to achieve together.  But on the flipside we also had many conversations about how exciting the future was going to be, only because it was the unknown and the 'not knowing' gave way to dreams and hours of laughter.

One day you'll understand how much you have me
One day you'll realise we have it easy
I can't offer you the future - I don't know it myself
All I can offer you is me
I'm all I can offer you right now

Loma never pretended to be someone else.
When he was at a social gathering, he was in his element.  He was very good at mimicking people; he was a fantastic entertainer and comedian in that sense, and could hold court with the best of them while other times, allowed himself to step into the background to let other people shine.  His humility on some occasions was something I couldn't understand, because he wasn't ambitious.  He didn't have any grand illusions about who he was. He was a supremely gifted and talented musician - he played the bass, the guitar, the piano and he had a beautiful voice - he knew he was gifted and talented, but did not show off.  His laughter was infectious and always made me laugh too,  I miss the sound of that laughter.

The second verse introduces a female harmony to support the lead vocal:
Patience make her heart grow stronger
Reassure her she's where I want to be
Never was the grass ever greener 
I'm about as ready as I'll ever be

Loma passed away peacefully in hospital on Wednesday 22nd May at 6:17am.
Once he accepted that he did not have much time left on earth, he knew he was ready to go.
I'm about as ready as I'll ever be.
The greatest lesson he has taught me is to be fearless - as he was in his last days.

Absence make her heart grow fonder
While I'm conquering the last frontier. . .

Friday, 16 May 2014

For today. . . I remember your smile. . .

If you told me, this time last year
That I would feel like I do now
Well, I wouldn't have believed you
It's not just a question
Of my being alone
The truth is I like my own company best
If the truth is to be known  -  For Today - Netherworld Dancing Toys

Next week will be a difficult week.
Life is bittersweet, because coupled with the overwhelming sense of loss, comes the dawning of opportunities and the 'living' that must continue, even when a little piece of you died with your loved one. I am coming to terms with acknowledging who I was, rediscovering who I am and who I want to be.

I've been replaying the days leading up to Loma's departure.
The things we said to each other, how he sounded on the phone, the plans we had made and the joy of being together. The thing about being together was not what we were doing - it was sufficient, it was complete, just to be together. I remember your smile the most then.

But there's a hole in my well being
So big you could drive a truck right through
I think you should know that you are the one
Who could probably fill it for good

I have changed a lot, changed in some ways, changed a little.
Totally depends on people's perceptions, how they perceive me, sometimes they will ask, sometimes they don't.

So what has changed a lot?  I find myself being more reflective these days, a lot calmer, a lot more tolerant, a lot more patient, a lot more giving. What has changed in some ways? My life journey, the renewal of purpose and staying on track to achieve those goals, the determination and grit is probably a lot steelier than what it was.  What has changed a little? My outlook on life and the tipping of the balance between work and self care.  Some might see that as a huge change, but I sense that it is a subtle shift.

Heading into next week I will continue to celebrate your life Loma.
Everyday, I keep your surname alive, by talking about you in my work and everywhere I go.
For today is all my living days.
I feel you with me always, just how you wanted.

For today. . . I remember your smile.

Nesian style is here . . .

Nesian Mystik burst onto the music scene after success in the Pacifica Beats competition, affiliated to the Smokefree Rockquest in its early days.  They have worked as mentors for the NZ Music Commission music mentors education programme, working with budding musicians by sharing their songwriting skills and insights about the New Zealand music industry.

Nesian Style was their first single release and sparked the beginning of great music to come.
As role models for young Polynesians, Pacific Islanders, Pasifika students who aspired to hone their craft in music making, they certainly made it something worth aspiring to achieve.  I like this particular song because of the lyrics and how the group connects and weaves their interpretation of what it is like to grow up as a Pasifika or a Nesian in Aotearoa.

Well as this saga continues we stand our ground as pioneers
Space cadets on a mission to a Nesian frontier not knowing our next destination

Being conscious of who you are, by acknowledging the journey of your ancestors, can steer you well into being comfortable to stand your own ground as a pioneer.  The group recognises that for them, and for all Nesians, there is a uncertainty and trepidation about their collective futures.  The world that our Pasifika students now find themselves in, it is definitely ok to not know where we are going, because the world is rapidly changing and we must move with the changes, understand, be informed and make decisions that are flexible and open to possibilities - because sometimes things may be beyond the realm of our control.

Culturally strong from birth but weak upon our native tongues
The product of our ancestor seeds from which we sprung

Language fluency has always been a point of contention for our Pasifika children born in New Zealand.  The language debate has raged for as long as I can remember - language purists would argue that you are less of a Pasifika person because you can't speak your mother tongue whereas culture commentators argue that you don't need fluency in your heritage language as you can still participate in Pasifika activities if you have knowledge and understanding of your Pasifika culture(s).

Regardless of which camp you situate yourself - I feel that I am placed squarely in the middle - as I have friends and family who belong on both ends of the spectrum, but we must emphasise unity.
Having the courage to shift your mindset and acknowledge the diversities of Pasifika cultures - what type of Pasifika person that you are - shows that Nesian style is here.

The saga we maintain combines us wise in memories a noble lesson learnt from our Faatasi family
Elevate the positive this Nesian image must arise. . .

There is no love lost. . .

I first came across The Mint Chicks when they performed for the New Zealand Music Awards in 2007, which was also the year they won Best Album for Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! and a screed of other awards. They have since released a new album F*** the Golden Youth which takes a look at the generational gap between our parents and the young of today, blaming the older generation for not setting things up nicely for us (or future generations).  One major thing that comes to mind when I think about this sense of blaming is the state of tertiary fees.  I remember walking down Queen Street one day with varsity friends and I came across a homeless man with a sign that read: "Those in political power went to university in 1985 and only paid $125 in fees.  Those who went to university in the 1960s didn't pay fees at all".  I remember giving the man some money and walking away thinking, gees, that's not fair. I guess we only know what we know - or we don't know what we don't know.

The Mint Chicks have an amazing drummer Paul Roper, and the way that he plays is one of the major reasons that attracted me to the band.  This song speaks about friendship and it makes me smile and chuckle to myself, as it reminds me of my "high school" mentality - I even wrote my own song at the time called "True Friends" when the friends I had relied on at the time - had let me down.  The sentiments expressed in that song is nowhere near the intensity of this song.

We destroyed the end of something new
Don't know what to do
Besides sniffing glue

The lyrics seem to suggest that sniffing glue is a better alternative or more constructive use of time, after the destruction of the friendship.  To escape the pain or is the numbness much easier to bear after the destruction?  Although, there is acknowledgement of we destroyed something new - rather than pinning it solely on the not-my-friend-anymore figure.  This negative vein of the song continues with the following lyrics:

We decide exactly who we are
Crashing in a car
With our skulls ajar 

If anything the first lines of each of these verses at least tell us something about the story, juxtaposed against the more graphic images of pain. The impending destiny associated with we decide exactly who we are - which could be interpreted that because we decide our nature, disposition, temperament and demeanour, how we think and feel around others, will dictate how we act around them.

I just thought I'd ring to tell you
I'm not taking sides on this one
It's really quite relieving
I know who my real friends are
I just thought I'd ring to tell you
I'm not taking sides on this one
There is no love lost

There is a particular line in the chorus for me which I carry into my adulthood (yes, maturity in attitude with age is the hope) - I know who my real friends are.

There is an old email forward that circulated some years ago about friends being there for reasons and seasons.  To all my seasonal and reasonable friends (yes the reasonable friends tend to stick around longer because they're the ones that can weather all four seasons!), thank you for being in my life - however short or long - it's the time we spend together that is most important.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

I don't know why you make it so hard for yourself. . .

I'm a huge fan of Ladi6.
She's been hailed as New Zealand's answer to Erykah Badu.  She was in an all-female group called Sheelaroc who made it big with their single If I gave you th' mic.  She makes music because she enjoys it and I'm very grateful that she chooses to share it with others.

Looking over her catalogue of hits, my favourite song is Goodday. 
Musically it reminds me of masters like Stevie Wonder with the great keyboard work and David Bowie with the ambient sound.  When the bass drops in the chorus - it is well worth the wait.

The structure of the song is interesting because I interpret the lyrics in distinct sections.

Get up we told you,
You need to move if you want to yo
We can take you there
If not I'll you go
I'll let you show me how to do it if you take me there
Don't move a muscle cos we have got you
Locked into the, the the floor
Before but we can make you want it if you got it c'mon
We have got y'all caught up so take it there oh

I thought about today's budget announcement (it's only been a few hours) and this verse seemed to make it come to life.  I mean the announcement of paid parental leave is great for families.  It's been called the "family friendly budget".  The lines that stuck out for me in connection with this was you need to move if you want to yo and we can make it if you got it.

The second verse speaks about getting yourself out of a situation that you don't want to be in.
How often do we let ourselves get swept up in the chaos of trying to do so much for others, never saying no because we're always saying yes and losing sleep over things that are beyond our control (when we should be sleeping).

It's the chorus that is memorable for me.

I don't know why you make it so hard for yourself

I've been thinking a lot lately about not making things difficult for myself.  I've been thinking about myself for a change - something new that I struggle with, but need to, if I am to do the best for everyone around me.  So I'm taking the advice from the end of this song, so I can have myself a Goodday everyday.

You should be taking it easy, taking it easy, taking it. . .

Monday, 12 May 2014

Poly poly poly politician. . .

Don't be fooled by the simplicity of this song, Politician by Kora.  
There are only two sets of lyrics, with scope for instrumental variations throughout the piece.
I first came into contact with Kora listening to their music when they performed for a New Zealand music awards ceremony. Their music is hard to define (and who needs to define music, apart from the purpose of ensuring people can make connections with their own understandings of music - rather than to judge it).

The word 'politician' stems from the ancient Greek word for city state 'polis'.  So a politician is supposed to be a person who looks out for the needs of the members of a city.
It is election year in Aotearoa and the politicians and their political parties are in overdrive working on their strategies, finding opportunities to refine their party policies and being more connected with the members of their city states.  Another dimension to the word 'polis' is the sense of 'community' that is associated with this term. I have often wondered how in touch some politicians are with their communities - not just the ones who voted them in, but 'potential' voters who could possibly be swayed to vote for them this year.  

Poly poly poly politician
Will you make the right decision
For all of us 
For all of us

The way that 'poly' is spelled above in the lyrics makes me think about the increasing number of Pasifika candidates that are coming to the fore.  As a Pasifika person in Aotearoa, this is great news because it means that we are getting more and more Pasifika people with not only the cultural understanding but the political savvy to navigate pathways of success for Pasifika peoples - to transition their cultural sense of 'communities' to mainstream society for all of us. The devil's advocate would argue - so are you saying that all Pasifika political candidates are great?  The answer is no.  But they aspire to be.  Cultural identity or ethnicity does not define the actions you make or take, but can be part of the equation that informs what you make or take or carry out as an individual for the sake of others.  It is thinking about 'the sake of others' that must remain paramount. 

You can talk the talk
But will you walk the walk
Will you bring us comfort
Will you bring us comfort

What works for Pasifika peoples can work for everyone.  Why do I say this? Because more and more people that I come into contact with - who are non-Pasifika - are seeing the value of understanding that the way Pasifika peoples work and interact with each other - brings social cohesion and can take the momentum of a consensus approach forward.  Where this does not happen - is because there might be individuals who do not want to have social cohesion - but power.

The thing to consider is the hope that whoever you vote for - that they will make the right decision that best represents the interests of the people. 

Can you hear me? Mr. Politician. . .

Sunday, 11 May 2014

I need more than just an angel. . .

It is NZ Music month, hence the series of songs that I'm choosing to focus on, hailing from the Land of the Long White Cloud.  It also happens to be the month in which my husband passed away.  It will be a year on the 22nd of May at 6:17am. I had initially wanted to write a blog that helped me to share my ideas with the world - but I've also come to realise that this blog also helps to heal me while I'm in the grieving process and share my passion for music.  This next song helps me to combine the latter  quite effectively.

No way of knowing that things might change
My happy ending looks so far away

When you lose someone, it irreparably changes your life story.
It often reminds me of a horror film when you lose the characters along the way and the protagonist is forced to engage in survival mode if they want to get to an ending - even if that happy ending looks so far away.

Jamie McDell has been hailed as "New Zealand's answer to Taylor Swift", but don't be fooled by her youth. Her songs can stand against the best in the business, as her records have reached gold status in Aotearoa and been featured in the top 40.  Of her catalogue to date, my favourite single is Angel.

I keep my head up looking for a sign
Something to tell me that I will be fine
I am surrounded but I feel so alone
Why do I have to do this on my own

I had a late dinner with a very good friend last night and I talked to her about how grief as I've experienced it - seems to be like a fitness or weight loss plan.  Like society wants you to "lose the grief in 10 easy steps", do some kind of weekend "bootcamp" or complete some kind of obstacle course - going through excruciating pain in the fastest time possible like "Tough mudder".  If you don't commit to the training programme to prepare mentally, physically and spiritually for the event - it will take longer for you to finish the challenge.

So what happens when each day feels like it's longer than the last?

I'm so empty, too heavy
Almost ready to break
And I can't wait much longer
I need more than just an angel

Anybody who has experienced loss will tell you that everybody's journey through it is different.

And I can't wait much longer
I need more than just an angel
And I can't act much stronger
I need more than just an angel
An angel

I hope you find people to surround you that don't make you feel alone.
Find your "thing" that helps to get you through the grieving process - in the event that you do feel alone, even when you're surrounded.  The one thing I don't mind doing on my own is writing these blog posts :-)

I lie awake. . .

Ivy Lies is an all-female rock group and the only band (or artist) in New Zealand that starts with the letter "i". Listening to their music makes me smile (even when the lyrics aren't meant to make people smile) because it serves as a reminder of how special music made by women can sound.  Something about the organic earthiness of it all.  

I'm holding all nightmares
And I'm cradling the pain
But nobody cares enough
To push the pain away

I guess if you let it, when it really comes down to it, you can't really rely on people (sometimes).  That doesn't decisive, but what I mean is that, people can't be tasked with the responsibility of pushing your own pain away - because only you have the power to do that.

Somebody help me
I wanna come back again
I wanna feel whole again
I wanna feel something

The desire to "feel" again is there, but it may hard to find your way back when parts of you have been stripped away never to be retrieved. How do you begin to heal and feel something again? Did you give yourself permission to come back again? Because then you almost have to be careful about what you mean by I wanna feel whole again, I wanna feel something.  It's like people don't expect you to even want to be those things again. But who made them the keepers of your sanctuary (or sanity - depending on how much power you give over. . .).

Oh and you know
Oh and you know
I feel nothing 

I sometimes think about answering people this way, when they ask me - how are you?  How do you feel really? Which is confusing, because what more information can I provide when you add "really" at the end of the question?  Will that addition make me answer more truthfully, the way that you want me to answer, because my answer doesn't satisfy your curiosity? Sometimes in an effort to speak your truth, it may not be what other people want to know or expect to hear from you, so they'll ask you again until you show some cracks or chinks in your armour (way to go - push someone to breaking point).

Sleep, repeat, trace
Bury me, I
Sleep, repeat, trace
Bury me, I

That incessant conveyor belt approach to life, stuck in auto pilot, what kind of life is that? Are you honouring yourself by existing rather than living?  Is that really what you want for yourself?  These are just a couple of things that I think about when I lie awake.

Sensitive to a smile. . .

Herbs were one of the early pioneers of the reggae movement in Aotearoa. I remember listening to their songs as a child, and people have released cover versions of their songs over the years, including two separate covers by Hollie Smith of Sensitive to a smile with the Aotearoa Reggae All Stars releasing their recent version to highlight the issue of child abuse.  Herbs originally released this song in 1987 dedicating it to the people of Ruatoria. The music video won Best Music Video at the New Zealand Music Awards.

There comes a time in everyone's life
No room for mistrust, no room for hate
Open up your heart, don't look away
Quality in life, that's hard to find

The words evoke a sense of responsibility in the human race, for all of us to take action and look out for each other. Being true to each other and creating opportunities for quality in life, tells me that life is meant to be treasured, savoured and lived to its fullest - searching for the highest quality of life through trusting relationships by making meaningful connections.

These are the feelings from our hearts
There's no trade for love or affection
Love for me and love for you

Love can't be bought or sold, you can't trade in it,  You can't negotiate it and try to fit it into some time of plan that works because you want it to work.  It comes with a compromise between you and someone else.  It can come as part of something reciprocal - or unrequited.  What love can look like for me may be different to what love looks like for you.  The bottom line is that the feelings are genuine (whoever they're aimed at) and they can develop or disappear.

So make a stand and hold your ground
And maybe this world will turn around
Peace love and harmony

With anything or anybody worth fighting for, making a position known to show where you stand can be a tension-filled course of action.  It requires courage, stamina, resilience, all-round stickability really.  Holding your ground may prove to be tough, especially if you are holding it on your own (and there are others who should be helping you but choose to leave it to you, to hold, yet again.  It's almost like - oh there you are - I didn't see you there in the corner, oh are you holding your ground again? Wow, isn't that what you did last time?).  No change then.

So what can reverse this state of cynicism and bleak outlook?
The hope that the next generation don't stuff it up - at least, the hope is that they won't make the same mistakes we made - but learn from it.

Beautiful children have come into my life
Beautiful people, oh young and bright
Beautiful children, longing for life,
Worldly people, take away the night.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Maybe tomorrow. . .

This is my favourite Goldenhorse track.  It reminds me of summer, being with friends, road trips and beaches. It also reminds me of The Seekers with its particular charm, although Kirsten Morrell's vocals clearly show her opera influences, her first love that she has returned to.  I was the musical director for a school production of "For Today" which used this song as one of its musical numbers (amongst other Kiwi classics).

I really enjoy this song because its light breezy music match the intent of the lyrics.  The possibility of something new coming around the corner, can fill you with anxiety, but also trepidation and nervous energy.  The title of the song implies that there is hope in what tomorrow brings, even if we don't know what that is.

There's a story I know 
We all leave and let go
There is nothing to hold us

Knowing that at the end of the day, nothing really ever does hold us, but that we allow the confines of our own circumstances (if we choose to let it) dictate what we can and can't do.  Walking away from something or someone and leaving that behind, letting go of something or someone could be the release that you need.

In a moment of time
When the fruit becomes wine
And the thought becomes the memory

I often think about when things are converted from thoughts into memory. As there will definitely be some occasions when thoughts become actions.  I guess it could be about knowing when thoughts should be memories or actions.  Some actions may in turn create bad memories best left forgotten and words best left unsaid.  The only thing that seems to bind it altogether is the passage of time.

All of your sorrow
Maybe tomorrow
Will fade away in the air

The sorrows of today may fade in time, into the air.  But I guess this comes back to the beginning of the song when Kirsten sings about the story she knows about people - how we all leave and let go, there is nothing to hold us.  Those that go on before us, whether they wanted to or not, all left us and let go, and there is nothing to hold them to us except for those thoughts they shared, becoming memories.

Feel inside (and stuff like that). . .

Flight of the Conchords will probably never know, but their music has been a source of great entertainment for my past music students, especially when it comes to their unique brand of humour wrapped up in their songs.  It is difficult to find a particular favourite in their repertoire of hits as there are so many great songs such as Albi the racist dragon, Business time, The Rhymenocerous vs. the Hiphopaopotamus, Jenny, The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room to name a few.

It is their charity single for Cure Kids NZ - Feel inside (and stuff like that) - which is a prime example of what I love most about writing songs.  Bret and Jemaine interviewed young children to collect lyrics to create the song.  Student voice is an absolutely critical tool in the construction of this song, as the duo retained the lyrics verbatim to create a song that is not only catchy but for a fantastic cause.

Some of the greatest names in NZ Music formed together to record this single as Flight of the Conchords and Friends.  When the children were asked to find words that rhymed with 'hospital', their answers were definitely creative.  Brooke Fraser sings this results of this:

There are children who are so unwell
They have to live their lives in hospitals,
They're feeling lospital,

When two little boys were asked how much money should be raised to help sick children in hospital, they replied with:

We need a million and a hundred
Ten and twenty one dollars

This song serves to remind me that creating music has a purpose - to raise awareness of an issue or to tell a story, to entertain people and celebrate the art of making music.

There must be something that we can do
To stop these kids from doing spews

As a teacher we can often forget to affirm the innocence of our children, in terms of valuing their voices and perspectives, that great ideas come from allowing opportunities for exploration and being free to feel inside.

I hope that you don't forget to feel inside (and stuff like that) as the world will be a better place with you in it, with you contributing your humanity in positive ways, especially for the future of children - in whatever capacity you may come into contact with them - as children and students need positive role models to help facilitate their gifts into talents.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

'Cause I see the light surrounding you . . .

My first impression of this band of brothers from Feilding is that they are seriously talented.
They are now based in Melbourne but I was aware of them on the music scene as teens involved in Smokefree Rockquest, where they were the National Final winners in 2010.  This song Light surrounding you was also featured as a promotional jingle for TV One.  I thought it was a very clever way to show our country's unity as one with their lights all over Aotearoa.

The opening of the song with the piano introduction reminds me of times as a child playing old pianos.  It's that particular ringing tonal quality of the keys when you play them. This is nicely complemented later on with the guitar-driven interludes after the chorus, before the bridge.

But the feeling is returning 
Those time has made us change

These lines above speak to me about a renewal or a rekindling of things past.
It's almost like you probably didn't look properly the first time around and your vision is much clearer now. You maybe didn't realise the potential of someone and now you're thinking, 'Wow, he/she is someone special.'  I'm sure you have had times where you have revisited and revised your original impressions or come to a different conclusion. They say hindsight is 20/20 but I think it's more than that. You gain the clarity in having an informed perspective, when you can consider other perspective, and put yourself in other people's shoes.

'Cause I've been there before
And I've seen it all
And I believe in you

The realisation that you have connections that you hadn't seen before but now you have a resurgence of belief and trust in that person's ability (even when they seem to doubt it themselves).  Sometimes when we recognise the potential in others, we tend to think about how we can reflect on our own potential - and whether others can help to support and mentor us in letting others see our own light.

'Cause I see the light surrounding you
So don't be afraid of something new

I have often said that I don't have any regrets in my life.  Even those bad, sad and tragic moments/events in my life have helped to shape the person I am.  It is all about my ManuMission and thinking about how I can help others - and allowing myself to be helped in return.  I wouldn't presume to know the answers to life and the solutions to all of the world's problems - I never said I could offer that.  But what I can offer is an insight from my own perspective that I think other people are interested in knowing about, because I don't mind freely sharing that about myself.  If people approached me in person - they would be getting the same messages that I post online :-)

So the moral of the story: Be a light bringer - not a light dimmer.  If I can help to touch other people in so many ways to embrace their own light that surrounds them - that would definitely set me on the rigth path to completing my life's work, my ManuMission.

So don't be afraid of what you're turning into and I won't be afraid of letting other people see my own light that surrounds me too.

Keep it that way girl . . .

I have various memories of Loyal by Dave Dobbyn.
As a child I remember watching the music video, following Dave sing his way up the stairs, through the house, as he meanders through while the hustle and bustle around him with the painters, the real estate agent and his partner packing away the last of their belongings.

At the beginning of the song, you hear the unmistakable opening refrain which echoes throughout the song, especially between the chorus and the next verse.  As with all great songs, the layering of texture the bassline kicks in after the first chorus, while the drums pick up in the 2nd verse.
I love the way the lyrics weave themselves in this song.  I'm sure we have all experienced the sentiments in the first verse:
I can't remember the last time I thanked you
Keeping my distance unintentionally
Too close for comfort, just ain't close enough
If I could have more time we could brainstorm

It's those indecisive moments that you have to think really hard about what the correct choices are, so you need to be mindful of what to do, because you are keenly conscious of the consequences of your actions.  It reminds me of those Pick-A-Path Pathfinder books I read as a child.  The hard thing in life though, is that it is hard to go back and have some "do-overs" - that you must live with the consequences of your actions and learn how to live with it,

And I love you tender but we must walk away
Keeping you on my greeting card file
And if it were different, but you know it ain't?
Let's get it on with it love

Those were the times when you had to give someone up because maybe the timing was wrong or things weren't meant to be.  I think it's important to remember that it's ok to think about and cherish those times as being worth remembering.  I've always maintained that you need you spend your life "making memories with people worth remembering", so that when you are old and grey, you can play your personal home movies in your mind.  Something I've been starting to do - collecting movies from my memories and curating them in the mind.

And we are loyal - haven't you known me long enough girl?
If I could see your heart right now,
Maybe there'd be a change or two.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

I will never fade away on you . . .

Che Fu is a man of my generation.  A local boy made good, from a musical legacy that boasts social justice as the "norms" even when it wasn't normal to be socially active and proactive.  He attended Western Springs College, was in the group Supergroove where he first came to public recognition after success in high school music competitions before releasing albums in his own right, as well as a successful collaboration with DLT on the single Chains.  I remember seeing Che perform at Womad one year when it was in Aotea Centre (many moons ago, I know).

I'm still thinking when we used to chill 
And reason till the morning sun
We'd talk of places never seen before
Who would think you'd be the one to go
Out there, over, mountains, oceans, highways, byways. . . 

Che Fu's Fade Away makes me think about why friendship is important.
Apart from having a partner in your life, or other family members, who else can you rely on to pick you up when you fall, celebrate your good times with you, make you mad but still have their back when someone else says anything about them - but your sisters from another mister or your brothers from another mother

The best support you can give your friends is - well, an ear really.
And a shoulder :-)

There is potential to be envious of your friends when they succeed, because it forces you to think about and reflect on what you've done in your life.  Real friendship stems from being able to fight about those things, bring all that ugliness to the surface - in front of each other - and still remain friends - in fact, it actually strengthens the friendships and the bonds.  If you lose the friendship over that - you weren't really friends in the first place, and possibly need to revisit the definition of what friendship means.  We need to remember that real friends are supportive of you wherever you are in your life.  We all go down different pathways and can sometimes think that we might have missed the boat because we didn't follow what our friends did.  Things happen for a reason, and it is those experiences that help to shape the person you are today.  So. . no regrets.  You can't regret growth!

With you, tag team, us two, straight through
That's why I stay strong to you

This blog post is dedicated to my 'Fade Away' friends Mana Napara and Rachel Vaipa - my high school friends who even though we don't see each other often, as much as we like - we will always be there for each other, supporting each other through this thing called life.  Always "staying strong to you".  This post also makes special mention of Sera Thompson - you know why girl! :-)

Monday, 5 May 2014

It's just me getting stronger. . .

What better way to talk about NZ Music Month than to try to articulate this in the A-Z of NZ artists and groups who I love and adore.  I've already posted about Brooke Fraser so just to rewind it back to 'A' I will look at the dynamic duo of Adeaze, otherwise known as Nainz and Vii Tupa'i from Mangere in South Auckland.

Knowing these guys through my late husband has been a funny experience. When I hear their music now, it reminds me of him being cheeky and mocking Nainz at their mutual family gatherings.  It was great to see Nainz at the Pasifika Festival in March a few months ago, continuing to make music and an impact in young people's lives through their ministry of music.

Adeaze has produced a string of hits in Aotearoa with their smooth, seemingly effortless harmonies, backed by their equally masterful guitar accompaniment.  Of their songs, my favourite is Getting stronger their duet with Aaradhna (who I talked about in a previous post with her single Wake Up).

The first bridge talks about the ability to be strong because you have someone to help make you strong and that the memories made together, despite all the past difficulties will keep your love strong:
I know it gets hard sometimes but remember that I'm only human
And the things that I face are the same things that you can help me to overcome

Life is about all the meaningful things that we get to share with each other
So leave the past behind in each other we'll find our love is strong again

These sentiments almost seem to contradict what is explored in the chorus, but for me personally, the chorus is probably the most compelling part of the song, as it explains how one can get stronger:
I don't want nobody else
I don't need somebody else to tell me about love
I am strong on my own

There is a tendency for people to get judgemental, to pass judgement on others (without first taking the speck out of their own eyes). I'm as guilty as the next person!  But the best part of being human I guess, is that even through our human follies and foibles, as long as we remain earnest, sincere and genuine in being the best of who you are, so that you can give your best to others - that's the main thing.  When people start to make comments about what you should be doing, what kind of life, love, pain, sorrow, joy, excitement you should have - if others try to define this for you - you run the risk of giving away your strength, because you let others' definition (or dictatorship really!) of how you should be, shape who you are.  How can you respond to that?

But if you think you can tell me 
Why the things I'm doing is going wrong
It's just me getting stronger

Deciphering Me. . .

In honour of New Zealand Music Month, I've decided to spend all of May featuring my favourite Kiwi songs.  I've decided to write about it starting from today as it's the first day back for Term 2 for high schools and starting from today, there will be huge publicity promoting New Zealand music - so it's time to play my part and celebrate the music from the country of my birth.

As a music teacher, Brooke Fraser featured prominently in the junior music programme.  At the time she released her What to do with daylight album, all of my junior students were huge fans of her work.  The junior students would try to sing Arithmetic while the senior students would sing and play Scarlet.  

In the past few months, I have been catching up with good friends who I haven't seen in a long time, don't see often, but when I do see them, I feel a sense of comfort.  The song Deciphering Me springs to mind in these moments.  There is a definite sense of feeling 'at home' with someone, with people, especially when you go through difficult times, challenging times that test your resolve as a human being.  It's definitely in those times, that you need to surround yourself with people who will love you no matter what, and just sit with you in silence.  Even when you might be distracted by other things during your meeting, but your friend is wanting to make sure that you are ok.

Friend, it's getting late
We should be going
We've been sat here for hours beneath these flickering neons for hours
While I am cracking their code, you are deciphering me
For I am a mystery, I am a locked room in a tall tower

Sometimes when you sit with your friend, you might need their insight to help you get through your difficult and challenging times - even if you might not expect them to help you or not, whether you want to them to help you or not.  It's almost like your friend can see into you, see who you are, how you are, when you've started to lose sight of who you are, or you have forgotten the best parts of you that you might have let slip by along the way.

Your telescope eyes see everything clearly
My vision is blurred but I know what I heard echoing all around
While I am tuning you in, you are deciphering me
Not such a mystery, not such a faint and a far away sound

In those moments of loss, it's nice to know that there are friends who are able to call us back home, to call us back to remember the good parts of who we are if we lose our way.  It's those people that we trust and have to value being in our lives that help us through our difficult and challenging times.
What else is there that needs deciphering with friends like these?

Oh can you see the gravity falling, calling us home?
Oh, did you see the stars colliding, shining just to show we belong?
We belong

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Sisters are doin' it for themselves . . .

Originally released by The Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin, this song has also been covered by The Pointer Sisters.  Tina Turner was not available at the time of recording to feature on the song, so the Queen of Soul was approached and she accepted the request.  Lucky for us, we get to enjoy the vocal stylings of Ms Aretha in this record.  Out of all of the cover versions that exist of this song (and there are some international renditions as well), this recording by Aretha and Annie is the most commercially successful.  But this isn't the only song they have collaborated on.  They both performed Chain of fools for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Sisters are doin' it for themselves is every woman's anthem.
The feminist's answer to every chauvinistic claim that we are stepping out from behind men to claim our places as leaders in our own right.

Now there was a time when they used to say
That behind "every great man"
There had to be a "great woman"
But in these times of change you know
That it's no longer true
We're coming out of the kitchen 
'Cause there's something we forgot to say to you (and we say)

You're probably thinking, ok she's a raving feminist now.  I think I'm more of a - human rights and social justice-conscious person (although people would peg me as supporting cultural or feminist causes).  But that's not to say that I don't support those causes either - because I do.  I guess I'm not ok with labels and being locked into a box of someone else's design, especially if they are people who don't know me, or are limited by their own experiences in coming across people like me. . .

Now this is a song to celebrate
The conscious liberation of the female state
Mothers - daughters, and their daughters too
Woman to woman
We're singing with you

It's Mother's Day coming up and as much as we celebrate the warm fuzzies that having a mother or being a mother is, you can't deny the strength of a woman who is expected to be anything and everything for her entire family.  As well as sparing a thought for your own mother or series of mothers in your families (the aunts, grandmothers, sisters-in-law, cousins), think about all of the other mothers that you come into contact with on a daily basis in your job, who may act like mother figures to you because you've lost your own mother or even mothers you don't know on the street.

The inferior sex got a new exterior
We got doctors, lawyers, politicians too
Everybody take a look around
Can you see - can you see - can you see
There's a woman right next to you.

Celebrate the women in your life - they do so much more than you pay them credit for.
Happy Mother's Day to you and yours, and to everyone who misses their mother :-)