Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Carry...carry me boldly.. lift me up slowly....

When I hear the ethereal introduction, I feel a smile start to form on my face.

Will you be there was featured in the movie Free Willy during the closing credits.
It is the ultimate song for when I feel completely drained and in need of some serious musical therapy.  This is my "go-to" song.  It has all of the ingredients of a song that soothes the soul.  The lyrics speak about various vignettes that you can relate to, scenarios of life situations that you might have found yourself in, when you have been broken and you no longer know what else you can do - you have lost hope.

And everyone know when you lose hope - it is the beginning of the end.

The opening verses are sung in a low register and Michael sings without background vocals.
The interlude motif is played between each verse and it is this motif that is a key piece of the entire song.  The verses are structured in a series of questions.  Have you asked yourself these questions in your own life?  Who did you ask?  Who were you seeking assurance and answers from?

But they told me, a man should be faithful
And walk when not able
And fight till the end
But I'm only human. . . 

When you are constantly expected to be the one to fix everybody else's problems around you, while you do your absolute best to not be a nuisance to everyone else - it is a huge achievement indeed.
You can often start to question - how much longer will it be before I no longer need to perform these miraculous acts, that deep down you know, you were born to perform - but are reluctant to do so - accept your destiny.  Choose to live.  

Everyone's taking control of me
Seems that the world's got a role for me
I'm so confused will you show to me
You'll be there for me
And care enough to bear me

When the choir joins the song after this bridge section, we hear the harmonic richness of the song.  Each verse is compounded by the semitone transposition into each new key as the verses progress.
This showcases Michael's vocal ability as well as the musicianship of the band and the choir - to be able to sing and play seamlessly into different keys each time.  It almost feels as if with each harmonic change, that a sense of hope is starting to be rekindled again, it is tentatively starting to take flight again.

You can be forgiven for thinking that this song is like a cry for help, a cry for salvation.
The end of the song always makes me cry without fail.
The need to know that there is "someone" who will be there for you - no matter what you are going through is a basic human need, it is a basic human right - but one we so often take for granted in so-called civilised societies.

In our darkest hour, in my deepest despair
In my trials, in my tribulations
In my violence, in my turbulence
Through my fear and my confessions
Through my joy, and my sorrow

The last part of this earnest prayer almost sounds as if the prayer is answered.
We are finally able to claim the reassurance that we are so desperate to receive.

In the promise of another tomorrow
I'll never let you part
For you're always in my heart. . . 

I will hold you in my heart because you need to be held.

Daughter. . .

The following blog post is a song request by Lynda Miller from Brisbane, Australia.

Loudon Wainwright has enjoyed a long career as a folk singer/songwriter and when he first broke onto the scene, he was even tipped to be the next Bob Dylan of his generation.  He has written many songs about his children.  Daughter reflects on a father's relationship with his daughter.

Everything she says 
She says she wants
Everything she wants
I see she gets

That's my daughter in the water 
everything she owns I bought her
Everything she owns
That's my daughter in the water
everything she knows I taught her
Everything she knows

Every father knows that when he has a little girl - she becomes "Daddy's little girl" just as much as every mother's son becomes a "Mama's boy".   The tenderness that a father shows his daughter is represented in the beginning of this song.  The father's love is clear in this verse, the need to provide everything that his daughter desires - it is a parent's natural instinct to give their children the best of everything in the world.  You can also sense the father's pride in his daughter.

Everything I say
she takes to heart
Everything she takes
she takes apart

That's my daughter in the water

every time she fell I caught her
Every time she fell
That's my daughter in the water
I lost every time I fought her
Yea, I lost every time

For daughters with fathers, there is always scope for fathers to say things that we daughters take to heart.  My own father regularly says things that make me laugh, make me cry, he does things that make me think and wonder why (gee that rhymed!).  The battle of wills as you get older is fun and part of growing up, because you're showing your father that not only are you starting to break in that backbone that you started developing when you first got to university or the school of hard knocks - whichever came first.  Maybe Dad lost those battles with you because it's what fathers do sometimes - to make you feel good about yourself, to teach you how a man should treat you when you meet one that you will compare to your father (or not).

Every time she blinks
she strikes somebody blind
Everything she thinks
blows her tiny mind

Striking somebody blind with your blinking takes some talent.
It means that you would've locked eyes with them then broken that eye contact with a blink, or some physical reaction that causes others to lose sight maybe of themselves - but never you.
It's probably why they tried to lock eyes with you in the first place, to get your attention, to be a part of your world, because now they see what your father has always seen in you.

That's my daughter in the water
who'd have ever thought her?
who'd have ever thought?

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Skinny love. . .

Today's blog post is a song request for Lynda Miller from Brisbane, Australia

Bon Iver is a band and the brainchild of Justin Vernon.  Skinny love has enjoyed commercial success after initially being available free on iTunes before being picked up by popular TV series such as Chuck and Grey's Anatomy.  It was also covered by Birdy.

Hey there skinny love just last the year
Pour a little salt, we were never here
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer

I haven't heard of love being described as 'skinny' in many love songs before.
It conjures images of love being underfed, even to the point of being malnourished, I mean is it implying that skinny love can't be expected to live for long in the event that it might waste away?
Pouring salt over one's shoulder is meant to bring good luck.  Shaking a circle of salt around you is supposed to ward off vampires (or is that werewolves?) if you are a good witch.  But for the most part, we use salt (albeit too liberally at times) to make bland food taste good.
Does love get so skinny that it forces you to bleed and leave your body emaciated?

Tell my love to wreck it all
Cut out all the ropes and let me fall
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Right in this moment this order's tall

And I told you to be patient 
And I told you to be fine
And I told you to be balanced
And I told you to be kind

I can't help but wonder if the singer is referring to love here as the other person they are in love with, themselves, or the relationship itself.  I mean, it could work on all of these factors of interest.
I can't help but wonder whether there is an accusatory tone in the above lyrics.
The singer lists a paragraph of demands that seem to have not been met.

In the morning I'll be with you
But it will be a different kind
I'll be holding all the tickets
And you'll be owning all the fines

Come on skinny love, what happened here?

Suckle on the hope like lite brassieres
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Sullen load is full, so slow in the spit

Are you prepared for that morning?  The aftermath of the devastation of a relationship dissolving.
The end of a relationship, particularly if it has taken you to hell and back, can be extremely difficult. It can make you realise the nature of your love - what it really was all about - when the one you were in love with keeps penalising you for making it skinny perhaps?  For breaking the rules of the relationship and that's probably what caused love to be skinny in the first place - you didn't nurture it in the way that you promised.  It feels like it's unsaid words that begin to build like a huge load in your mouth and it makes it hard for you to spit it out.

And now your love is wasted
And then who the hell was I?
And I'm breaking at the britches
And at the end of all your lines

Who will love you?

Who will fight?
Who will fall far behind?
Ooh ooh

I guess at the end of the day - we wnnt to have 'healthy' love,
Skinny love is ok, but in this context it implies that there it lacks the nourishment that healthy love would provide.

I hope that if you know that you're getting to a stage where you start to recognise the symptoms of being in 'skinny love', that you stop and take a moment to think.  Is this the kind of love that you signed up for?  Will skinny love make you happy?  Are you prepared to stay in a relationship receiving that skinny love knowing full well that you will always be the one holding the tickets when you are constantly being fined by someone who treats love like they are the authority figures, self-appointed to dish out punishment.

I just hope that you have someone that loves you and fighs for you, and doesn't let you fall far behind.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

We are here . . .

We are here
We are here for all of us
We are here for all of us
It's why we are here, why we are here
Why we are here

It's the age old question - trying to figure out one's purpose in life, your mission.
I have a ManuMission - check it out in the search tool, I think it's one of the earliest posts I wrote.
Living in the world right now, it is very easy to get swept away or to feel completely overwhelmed by the conflicts that seem far removed from our present realities, but it's at our doorstep when social media and our global connectedness ensures that we are more present in each other's realities more than ever before.

I have only heard this song a couple of times, but it's straight forward, clear message far surpasses all of the other material that currently clogs our newsfeeds of female artists with no clear messages of social justice.  I strongly believe that in our own little worlds of influence - we have the power to make a positive difference in our own small way.  This song highlights issues and problems that some of us may never have the misfortune of ever facing.  But in the event that come face to face with it - are we equipped to work together?

Bombs over Baghdad
Tryna get something that we never heard
Let's start with a good dad
So real it's so sad
And while we're burning this incense 
We gon' pray for the innocent
Cause right now it don't make sense
Right now it don't make sense

The juxtaposition of bombs over Baghdad with a good dad brings to mind how our innocence is lost, because I think about the children who are affected by bombing, children with no great father figures in their lives - all the while, trying to make sense of a world that increasingly does not make sense.

Alicia sings about burning incense, synonymous with accompanying ascending prayers.  The final two lines of the verse reflect a feeling of being incensed, that we should be extremely angry about the world we now live in and take affirmative action.

Let's talk about chi-town
Let's talk about Gaza
Let's talk about 
Let's talk about Israel
Right now it is real
Let's talk about
Let's talk about Nigeria, and the mass hysteria

Like all good social justice songs, it is topical, addressing the global issues of the day.
This track does what songs in oral traditions do: it becomes a record, a historical document of the current events at the time.  For years to come, generations will be able to listen to this track again (and any other track of this nature) and reflect on the attitudes and the state of the world at that time.

Let's talk about our part
Let my heart touch your heart
Let's talk about
Let's talk about living
Had enough of dying
Not what we all about
Let's do more giving
Do more forgiving, yeah
Our souls are brought together so that we can
Love each other sister

The use of the words 'brother' and 'sister' in the song assume that like a tight family unit - we will all get along, embrace our differences yet celebrate our sameness.  It is extremely frustrating to see how much self-involved we can get, making everything about 'me' rather than the 'we' that Alicia sings so passionately about in this song.

I hope that in your corner of the world, that you make your presence felt in the sense that you live your life in a meaningful way that helps your fellow man.  Being considerate, compassionate, respectful and open to listening and learning about each other - is what makes us 'we'.

We are here
We are here for all of us
We are here for all of us
It's why we are here, why we are here
Why we are here. . . 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Love rears its ugly head. . .

This blog post is a song request for Rhys Walker from Brisbane, Auatralia

My earliest memory of Living Colour is watching the release of their single Glamour Boys in 1988 on a New Zealand music show.  Their music is a fusion of styles - jazz, funk, rock, hip hop.  I hear elements of this fusion in bands such as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Hootie and the Blowfish even Counting Crows, right through to solo artists such as Lenny Kravitz and Prince.

Love rears its ugly head gives us a glimpse into a male's perspective of being in a relationship that he has only just realised he may be trapped in.  As a female I can't help but be entertained by his bemusement but at the same time I can sympathise with his inability to be in a mature relationship.  The poor man might only just be realising that his weakness is due to love rearing its ugly head.

I always thought that our relationship was good
You played the role of having sense
I always played the fool
Now something's different
I don't know the reason why
Whenever we separate
I almost want to cry

Oh no, please not that again
Love rears its ugly head

The change or shift in a relationship, especially where love is involved, means that you suddenly become more vulnerable.  You become more vulnerable because you allow yourself to be open to sharing yourself, giving pieces of yourself to someone.

And when I come home late you don't complain or call
so as a consequence I don't go out at all
My friends are frightened
They don't know what's going on
They think you put a spell on me
And now my mind is gone

When you start to forge a life together, discover things about each other, you develop a rhythm and a partnership that seems comfortable and gives you security.  You won't notice the change until it's become so normal as part of your routine until your friends point out that you've changed.

but you never know where love is gonna go

Does anybody really know oh?

Besides, is it ever really a bad thing anyway?  The whole uncertainty of love is probably one of the best things about it.  To me, love will only rear its ugly head because you expect it to be ugly, in fact, you secretly want out of your perfectly satisfactory if not fulfilling love life with your cherished significant other - because you think you're missing out on meeting all those other unattached (or attached, if you're a player and enjoy those games) women.  The thing you need to remember though - there will always be unattached women - it just doesn't mean that you need to be the male to attach yourself to them.

I'm standing at the altar
As they play the wedding march
I'm in a black tuxedo with my collar full of starch
She looks as lovely as she's ever gonna get
I wake up from this nightmare in a pool of sweat

What you gonna do?

What you gonna do when it comes to get you?

I'm not saying that if you're married - you've made your bed and you must lie in it.
I'm totally not saying that.
What I am saying, is that you got married for a reason, if not several reasons, one of those reasons might even be that you loved your woman and you have children together.

Are you prepared to stick by your woman through thick and thin - because the vows you made certainly meant that you would.  If you decide not to be with her anymore, and she's given you no reason to fall out of love with her - at least have the decency to man up and tell her that you want to leave.  If not - love the one you're with.  You might just find that when love rears its head next time, it's not as ugly as you thought it was.  In fact, it's as beautiful as when you first glanced at it.  I mean, that's what made you take that second look right?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

In the ghetto. . .

I grew up in the age of cassette tapes and vinyl records.  Cassette tapes were seen as the latest big thing, although it was soon taken over by the emergence of the compact disc, especially for me from the mid 1990s.

A cassette tape that had frequent air play in our house had the track In the ghetto by Elvis Presley.
I can't really remember what the other songs were on the cassette.  Hazily in my mind's eye I can make out that it was a greatest hits compilation with black lettering.

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago morn
And a poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto (in the ghetto) 
And his mama cries
'Cause if there's one thing that she don't need
Is another little hungry mouth to feed
In the ghetto. . . 

With the elections in Aotearoa being the focus for the past few months, one of the major platforms that parties have been talking about (specifically the left-wing parties) has been the issue of child poverty.  In the ghetto highlights particularly for me the reality for some New Zealanders, despite the clean green and Middle Earth image that has been portrayed on the global stage.

People don't you understand 
the child needs a helping hand
or he'll grow to be an angry young man some day
Take a look at you and me
Are we too blind to see?
Do we simply turn our heads
And look the other way?

We have a collective responsibility as a society to truly look within ourselves and think about how we speak to other, how we act towards one another, how we treat one another.  As a former high school teacher, it was my job to continually "build up" students and their self-esteem.  Even if some of those students came from really tough backgrounds in terms of scarcity and not having enough food on the table to eat, warm clothes to wear or adequate housing to live in - as an educator, I was placed in a position of trust.  Those students looked forward to my classes because I was able to provide a safe learning environment and a context of care.  No child would be able to learn and see the best in themselves, if we don't give them a helping hand and gently offer support, not because we pity them, but because we would want to be helped in return.

Well the world turns
and a hungry little boy with a runny nose
plays in the street as the cold wind blows
In the ghetto

And his hunger burns
so he starts to roam the streets at night
and he learns how to steal
and he learns how to fight
In the ghetto

It was always a challenge as a teacher to try to "break through" to those students who were borderline.  They wanted to do well because they knew that you cared about their wellbeing, but their reality was always going to be so different to yours.  The adults in their lives had made poor choices based on desperation and revealing that their circumstances were a by-product of the consequences of those poor choices. I didn't grow up in a rich family, but what we lacked in money, we were definitely wealthy in love, care, faith, hope and respect.  When push comes to shove, did you learn how to steal and fight, just so that you could survive?

Then one night in desperation
The young man breaks away
He buys a gun, steals a car
Tries to run but he don't get far
In the ghetto
And his mama cries

As a crowd gathers 'round an angry young man

face down on the street with a gun in his hand
In the ghetto

It is too easy to assume that we associate the "ghetto" with a slum area where minority groups live.  That's too easy and at its worst (despite the lexical definition) almost akin to racial profiling.
I believe that everybody lives in their own version of the "ghetto".  The last part of this verse angers me because the crowd gathers 'round the angry young man as if he is some kind of spectacle, but were never there for him during his times of need.  Is this what we have become as a society?  That instead of helping each other in times of need, we stand by as onlookers to witness someone's tragedy unfold because we've become desensitised to responding to human need and instead we have become voyeurs of our own making?

As her young man dies 
on a cold and gray Chicago morn
and another little baby child is born
In the ghetto. . . 

I hope that in your "ghetto" you take a long hard look at what you are doing to contribute to it.
I know I can't save the world, I mean some parts of the world don't want to be saved.
But I hope that you will join me in doing your best to be that light, that beacon of hope for someone who needs it most, especially when they stare you right in the face and their eyes plead with you not to film their tragedy and take photos of it, but genuinely reach out and touch their lives in a meaningful, productive and caring way.  Rather than let the cycle repeat, let's think about how we can break it for the better.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

End of the road. . .

This blog post is a song request from Shaylen Padayachey in Brisbane, Australia.

Boyz II Men was one of my favourite r'n'b groups when I was in high school.  In my senior year one of the important jobs that I had as the Music Prefect, was to play the piano as the girls entered the hall for our year level assembly.  One of the things that I would do (primarily to entertain myself more than anything else) was to mix up the classical pieces I was learning at the time for my music assessments with the pop hits of the day.  Boyz II Men was a popular choice.  One of the funniest memories was playing I'll make love to you and having the girls singing the chorus before the deans arrived on stage to address us (probably not one of the better song choices before a serious assembly about exam preparation).

Michael McCary's rich deep bass voice sparks the beginning of End of the road.
This track was one of the ultimate break up songs of 1994 from the group's debut album Cooleyhighharmony.   

Girl, you know we belong together 
I have no time for you to be playing
With my heart like this
You'll be mine forever baby, you just see

His speaking voice was used to great effect in the group's tracks, used to convey even more emotion of the male perspective and if you imagined yourself to be the female (or male - we don't discriminate) on the receiving end of the song, you knew that you were a very special individual indeed.

As part of the movie soundtrack to Eddie Murphy's Boomerang, this song helped to catapult the group to super stardom.  They went on to do collaborations with other established artists such as LL Cool J and Brandy.  But it would be their duet with Mariah Carey for One Sweet Day that would be their ultimate collaboration.

When I can't sleep at night without holding you tight
Girl each time I try, I just break down and cry
Pain in my head oh I'd rather be dead
Spinning around and around

At this point of the song you hear the desperation in Wanya's voice as the melody escalates.
The prechorus is a great way to signal to the audience that the emotions are heightened, starting to peak before the chorus, before we hear the full, rich harmonies in the chorus.  The verses give an opportunity for solos and for each of the singers to showcase their vocal acrobatics.

Although we've come to the end of the road
Still I can't let go
It's unnatural, you belong to me, I belong to you
Come to the end of the road
Still I can't let go
It's unnatural, you belong to me, I belong to you

Have you been this person?
Have you seen this person?  Maybe in the mirror?
The one who is unwilling to deal with the reality that the relationship is over?
Denial is one of the brutal stages of a relationship breakup  - it's even more difficult in times of grief.
You have this image in your mind that you are the perfect couple, that you can't believe that your relationship is over because you're just too perfect for each other and there is no reason why you shouldn't be together.

When Michael McCary speaks again in his velvety smoothness later in the song, you realise that even though the woman has cheated on him - he is willing to forgive and stay with her, even when she has left him.  That's either someone who enjoys being a doormat or is willing to forgive their partner's behaviour.  Do you love someone that much to forgive them?

I hope that on some level, when you come to the end of the road in your relationship, that you can make peace with it and carry on, carry on the path of a new road, on new adventures with someone new (or not, you don't need to replace that person with someone new, it might even take you some time to get over the "unnatural" breakup).

I dreamed a dream. . .

This blog post is a song request for my friend Phillip in Brisbane, Australia.

I was very fortunate (many moons ago now) to have seen the Australian production of Les Miserables starring the late Rob Guest as Jean Valjean.  I was in desperate need of contact lenses then and I remember my friends laughing at me because I didn't have programme with me and I had said, "Gee,  Jean sounds an awful lot like Rob Guest!" Um that's because it was Rob Guest.

I saw the production with my old high school jazz band.  It was a reunion dinner of sorts.  This particular musical was full of memories for us, as we also sang a  female choral arrangement of On my own.  I distinctly remember the sopranos would fight over who would get to sing Epponine's solo when the main soprano soloist wasn't at choir rehearsal at any particular occasion.

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

When Fantine begins the song with this opening verse, she paints a picture of innocence lost and how the softness of inviting words and blinded love signalled the beginning of the end.

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high and life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted

Life was full of good times and dreams that seemed to take on a life of their own.
Life always seems to make you happy when you are young, carefree and have no responsibilities to think about in the world.  This song is such a tragic expression of one's faith in life lost, faith in God lost - because you can't fathom why the life that you dreamed could just as easily be taken away from you, snatched from your grasp without warning and without any clue to the desolation that you would end up with.

But the tigers come at night
With the voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
As they turn your dreams to shame

The soft voices reappear again but they cause destruction and wreak havoc, completely devastating the once pure dreams you had.  The complete emptiness signals that life mocked your dreams and never intended you to remain with that naive sense of happiness that deluded innocents feel, because you had not really lived life until you are the at the bottom of the life you dreamed - of love, happiness and laughter.

He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came

And still I dream he'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

The seasons are pivotal in this part of the song as Fantine remembers the love and life shared with him.  Sometimes in life you will only get to live the kind of happiness of fairytales for a fleeting moment, in this case, for a fleeting season.  Remember that self-discovery and awareness that you shared with him, it's that kind of life, love and dreams that only comes with someone that you shared with completely - where you shut the world out if only for that fleeting season.

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed 
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed

The most crushing part of the song is signalled here at the end and it is almost a sign of things to come when Fantine dies alone and leaves the story in a poignant way, as even though her death signals the end of her life, it also signals her departure from the hell that her life had become.

I hope that if you have had some hellish moments like Fantine, that they will soon come to pass.
Don't ever let hell become the life that you live nor let it kill the dream that you dream.

Monday, 8 September 2014

The lady in my life. . .

This song request is for Shaylan Padayachey from Brisbane, Australia.

The Lady in my life by Michael Jackson has been sampled by a number of artists.
The sample I am most familiar with is Hey Lover LL Cool J featuring Boyz II Men, but other hip hop artists have also sampled the introduction to this iconic song - 95 Like That by Tyga and Swang by Trae featuring Big Hawks.  Swang slows the tempo right down whereas Tyga and LL Cool J have sped up their examples.

There'll be no darkness tonight
Lady our love will shine (lighting the night)
Just put your trust in my heart and meet me in paradise (now is the time)
Girl, you're every wonder in this world to me
A treasure time won't steal away

The bass guitar in this track has got to be one of the sexiest things I've heard.
I like the way that it helps to keep time, it plays the fill-in notes or passing notes between its main riffs. I like the way the bass plays at different octaves so that you get a sense of its range, when it goes upwards before plunging back down in its depths.  The different techniques used include slapping and it's more prevalent in this next section which acts as a bridge:

Lay back in my tenderness, let's make this a night we won't forget
Girl I need your sweet caress
Reach out to a fantasy, two hearts on a beat of ecstasy
Come to me girl

Nothing beats tenderness in love that makes it memorable.  You'll probably go through your life and have some recollections about nights that you didn't want to forget - ever.  Or it could be the complete opposite - you might have some nights that you would much rather forget.  Let's try to make more memorable nights that last a lifetime (or make it seem like there's no concept of time - timeless even.  Those are the best nights);

And I will keep you warm through the shadows of the night
Let me touch you with my love
I can make you feel so right
And baby through the years even when we're old and gray
I will love you more each day
'Cause you will always be the lady in my life

I also like the way in which the instrumentation is used quite skilfully to build harmonic landscapes behind Michael's singing, especially when you consider how the background vocals in this track are of Michael himself, so a composer/songwriter/music arranger would be thinking about how best to use the instruments at his/her disposal to complement the lead vocals.

Do you have a lady in your life?  That someone that you will spend your lifetime loving with all of your heart and be the only person you need for the duration of your life?
The more you get to know that person, it would dictate whether you grow to love her more each day or even less each day.  I hope that when you grow old and gray, that you will have someone by your side, whoever you choose to love, to bring out the best of your love.

Borrow my heart. . .

This blog post is a song request for my friend Phillip in Brisbane, Australia.

Oh love, love is a feeling that you fear
But if you open up, know I won't let you fall dear
Under the surface we're all just the same
Follow me darling, for you I'll be brave
Oh love, love is a feeling that you fear

Borrow my heart by Taylor Henderson speaks to me about possibilities of the heart.
You are either one of two people in this song 1) the one being sung to or 2) the singer of the song.
If the first verse is anything to go by, I totally agree with the idea that love is a scary thing. There is so much "thinking" about how you define love and who you choose to experience love with (once you decide or confirm that the feelings are in fact love) and that has coloured your perception of love - so you're immersed in the very scary stages of what that journey of love entails.

1) The one being sung to -  you are probably afraid to open up because you've been burned too many times in the past that you're unwilling to entertain the very idea of opening up.  The other extreme could also be that - you have never allowed yourself to open up at all - so you haven't actually had any prior knowledge or experience of being open to love.

2) The singer of the song - it might take you a while to draw him/her out of her his/her shell, to be able to trust you not to let them fall or ridicule them for their lack of experience.  Of course, you could possibly be as tried as they are and

I won't let you go when your world's in the dark 
You can keep borrowing my heart
Even your fear won't keep us apart
You can keep borrowing your heart

How very reassuring to be offered somebody's else heart, so that you reacquaint yourself with the feelings of love again.  This is the love's purpose - to have someone else who will share your life and keep you safe, strong and happy, so that you are never alone, even when your world is in the dark.

Love, when will you lend yourself to me?
Oh if you give it up
I promise I'll return it safely

These lines made me smile because it made me think about the fact that when you want to be able to use your heart, to make it available for it to be borrowed, you need to ensure that there is love in your heart.  This means that you need to borrow love yourself, to fill your heart.  I guess once you finish borrowing love, you can return it so that you're set on your way.

But under the surface we're all just the same
Follow me darling, for you I'll be brave
Oh love, when will you lend yourself to me?

And the smiles continue here when that new someone wants to take you on this journey, but yet they are just as scared as you are.  Does this mean that they are more courageous than you are?  That they are more willing to put themselves out there and be vulnerable because they can be brave for you?  You will find that it will be easier to be brave, to trust your heart to love again, because someone else is being brave for you.  I guess it stems from them making their heart available for you to borrow.  Only people who genuinely have those feelings for you will sacrifice their own hearts for you, just to see you smile and feel love again.

Take your time
I'll be waiting for you

It will be hard to trust again, to love again, especially when you've closed yourself from love and choose to push ever experiencing it again.  I guess when the time comes to experience love again, it will happen when you are ready and it will be exactly what you need.  I wouldn't be too fussed about what that love will look like for you, because you know it is right for you by exactly how you feel.

Take it or leave it, it's yours to decide
Break it or keep it, you're safe
And I won't let you go when your world's in the dark
You can keep borrowing
Borrowing my heart. . . 

Friday, 5 September 2014

Silver lining. . .

Woke up on the wrong side of rock bottom
Throw a lot of pennies in the well
That done run dry 
Light up and smoke 'em if you have 'em
But you just ain't got 'em
Yeah ain't we always looking for a bluer sky

Silver Lining by Kacey Musgraves was released last year. I only happened upon this song by accident and I like its almost melancholic, bittersweet approach to when things don't go your way.  The song deals quite delicately with how to shift your perspective when your best-laid plans go awry.

That sense of hope that we need to clutch onto is critical if we are to maintain faith in things getting better for ourselves, our fellow man and the world we live in.  I enjoy the lyrics to this song as they stick quite closely to the theme of clouds and silver linings and that idea that even when we have moments or flashbacks of disasters that shook us to the core - there is a silver lining to every situation.

If you're ever gonna find a silver lining
It's gotta be a cloudy day
It's gotta be a cloudy day
If you want to fill your bottle up with lightening
You're gonna have to stand in the rain
You're gonna have to stand in the rain

If lemonade keeps turning into lemons
And you wear your heart on a ripped unravelled sleeve
Been run through the wringer 
And pushed on to your limit
Say you're just unlucky
But luck ain't what you need

It's at this point when you think that your life has become a wretched series of unfortunate events.  That anything that could go wrong couldn't get any worse, but knowing your run of bad luck, it does, and it consistently will, without fail and will most likely fail in spectacular fashion.

So what do we do when we are so unlucky that even luck isn't able to save us?

'Cause if you're ever find a four leaf clover
You gotta get a little dirt on your hands
You gotta get a little dirt on your hands

If you are going to rise above your run of bad luck, you need to work hard to plan for success.
Wallowing in self-pity and blaming the rest of the world for your problems isn't going to cut it.
Often we can be seduced by the trappings of modern living that we honestly forget what our mission and purpose is in life.  Since when did we become so fixated on having the latest what-have-you, yes I know, that keeping-up-with-the-Joneses has always been a perennial division that separates the haves and the have-nots.

But I actually think there are other categories that aren't even remotely considered like - the wants and the don't-wants.  There are just some things in life that I don't want but society can sometimes pressure you into thinking that you do want it (whatever that thing happens to be).  I mean the whole Facebook Messenger app is a classic example of how what we talk about in seemingly private conversations with friends can be used by Facebook to place more suggestive promotional material by advertisers (nothing is a coincidence anymore, it's more hoodwinked that coincidinked).

And if you wanna find a head that fits your shoulder
You're gonna have to go to the dance
You're gonna have to go to the dance

So take a chance and get yourself out there - if you want.
You might want to be circumspect if you like, but it doesn't hurt to get yourself out there and meet people, have some important conversations and broker some new relationships and partnerships that could eventuate in some common goals being realised.

If you wanna find the honey
You can't be scared of the bees
And if you wanna see the forest
You're gonna have to look past trees

This is the only musically different part in the entire song - the wonderful bridge.
The way in which the guitar is used to emphasise the first beat of every odd bar is filled by the hand clapping for a different timbral effect.

Erase the fear of getting hurt if you want to reach your goal,  But we must not forget to step back and take in the bigger picture if we are to appreciate the landscape.

If you're ever gonna find a silver lining
It's gotta be a cloudy day
It's gotta be a cloudy day
If you want to fill your bottle up with lightening
You're gonna have to stand in the rain
You're gonna have to stand in the rain

I hope that you're prepared for the things to come.
I hope that when you are faced with troubles that you can put them into perspective and know that you are completely capable of handling them.  I'm a firm believer in that we are not dealt anything that we can't handle.  We are meant to learn from the copious challenges and extreme circumstances that we eventually find ourselves in because this whole thing called life is one huge test.

So don't forget to study hard for your test but remember to splash around in those puddles and enjoy getting wet.  Good things, your way, will come.  *My attempt at a Yodaism HA!*

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Resolution. . .

Today's song request is for my friend Phillip in Brisbane, Australia.

I'm giving up
This whole lie, this whole me
Call it out like family
Instead I bide my time, get a ride
Until the rubber leaves the road

You said you don't lie so I made the truth

Seemed like a lie to even you
Control your fear, it's clear
That you do not know where you're going to

Resolution by Matt Corby makes me think about when you start to take stock of your life, like a self-review or a life audit.  You know that point in your life too - when you've finally reached the turning point (like those pivot points in those novel studies you did in high school that the teacher was anxious that you understood, what motivated the protagonist in that point in the story to want to change, what events lead to this point of change?  Is it ok to use the word 'point' repeatedly in quick succession to make a point?).

We all know it takes some rare skills to have the ability to call yourself out, like you do family.
The idea that you can be completely honest with family, let it all hang out and have those difficult conversations because families can do that, they can get raw and just push it to the edge, push situations to the limits until the boundaries are broken and there's no clear way to see when something started and something ended.

So don't you worry

You'll be my resolution
Characters of no illusion
You'll be my resolution

One month down and it's in sight
Oh, I'm guaranteed to lose my mind
It's dangerous to speak and sigh
You might not know what I'm trying to hide

+Togi Lemanu and I ran into our friend+Te Mihinga Komene today.  She shared with us that she had voted early - by casting an "advance vote".  We decided that yes it is one month down and the New Zealand elections are in sight and rather than lose our minds on Election Day #decision14, thankfully the rules had changed so that we could vote early.

So from the cradle to the quarter age
Oh, I bought the book but I didn't flip the page
Oh, readiness is near, we steer
As far away from the coming days

I have thought about the rising tide of denial, betrayal, resignations and indignations.
We have watched the pantomime that is pre-election mania - what political parties have been trying to hide or not been successful in hiding and even in some sections of society - citizens would quite happily give some politicians a good hiding.

So don't you worry
You'll be my resolution
Characters of no illusion
You'll be my resolution
Characters of no illusion
You'll be my resolution

What will be your resolution?  Will it be that catalyst that prompts you to change the course of your own destiny?  Will it the end goal, the outcome that you are striving to achieve, leading to the success that you crave?  How will you know that you're on the right track to get there?  Will there be some measures that you are going to put into place to ensure that you can monitor your progress, that if you err on the side of the divine, that you are able to quickly withdraw and make some adjustments?

Turn around, put it down and see

That this is really the place to be
I'm not you, nor you me
But we're both moving steady. . . 

I guess regardless of what direction we're heading in - might be heading forward, might be heading backwards, might be pushing yourself to some pitstops on the side, might be upside down or you might be hovering on the spot.  Whatever you do - figure out what movement it is and keep it steady.
Make what you will of your own resolution.  Resolve yourself to a solution.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Fly me to the moon. . .

This blog post is a song request for Edmond Chan in Brisbane, Australia.

When I think about Frank Sinatra it's not hard to remember all of the classic movies that he starred in.
As one of the members of the classy Rat Pack with Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, Buddy Greco and the loveable Sammy Davis. Jr. - he was the epitome of cool, Mr. Swing.  He was the kind of guy that men wanted to be and women wanted to be with (cliche line I know, I couldn't help myself!).

This particular live performance in 1964 is a fantastic example of what jazz music is all about, that swing groove, the opportunity to hear some fantastic dialogue between the vocals and the band and the opportunity for Sinatra to showcase his vocal range through improvisation.

Fly me to the moon
And let me play up there with those stars
Let me see what life is like
On Jupiter and Mars

In other words, hold my hand
In other words, darling, kiss me

When I think about these lyrics, I think about how when you love someone deeply or the way that you love them gives you an intoxicating feeling, like it takes you out of this world (hence the reference to life on Jupiter and Mars).

The moon is often associated with love, an object that is also normally associated with a woman in historical references thanks to Greek and Roman mythology.  Notions of romance are have littered the literary pages of our favourite novels, short stories and print media with references to the moon.

Fill my heart with song
let me swing forever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore

In other words, please be true
In other words, I love you

The reference to swing signals the musical style that was synonymous with Sinatra.
These lyrics make me smile because it makes me think about that level of duplicity that we play with potential partners - we have all of the fantastical imagery (yes I know fantastical isn't a word, I'm in one of those neologism moods today) in our minds and when push comes to shove - we can't articulate how we feel.  Is the effect that the moon has on us?  It makes us tongue-twisted, cross-eyed, it gives us two left feet (which is probably good for people who are left-handed because they are most likely more adept at having two left feet than the average right handed person).

(Instrumental interlude)

The instrumental interlude is an opportunity for listeners, the audience, to appreciate the musicianship of the band, to marvel at the arrangement of the score, how the different instruments interplay with each other.

In this live performance, it is obvious that you get a sense of how much of an entertainer Sinatra was, interacting with the band and connecting with the audience.

So are you going to tell someone how you feel about them?  I came across a rerun of "My Best Friend's Wedding" and Sinatra immediately sprung to mind again.  Julia Roberts' character gifts The way you look tonight to Dermot Mulroney's character to be used as the wedding waltz until the newlywed couple find their own song.  The misadventures of Julia's character in the film, paint a picture of all of the crazy things, knee-jerk reactions that we might have in an effort to hide how we feel.  I guess it depends on you feeling the fear of rejection and doing it anyway.

Fill my heart with song
let me swing forever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore

In other words, 
In other words, 
I love you

I hope that you live a life without regrets and have the courage to tell someone that you love them.
It doesn't matter if they don't reciprocate - it's better to tell them how you feel than risk going through the rest of your life, not knowing for sure.  I hope you find those "other words" soon.