Sunday, 30 November 2014

Don't give up. . .

Originally by Peter Gabriel, this song has been haunting me for a few weeks now.  I've written about Mr. Gabriel before in a previous blog post (check out 'The book of love').  I like the jazz version of Don't give up by Herbie Hancock featuring John Legend and Pink.  This song features as part of the Imagine Project where Hancock has collaborated with several artists (check out Pink and Seal singing John Lennon's Imagine).  I'm not sure if I've rediscovered my love for Herbie Hancock because we played a lot of Hancock's music in jazz band at high school i.e. Watermelon Man and Chameleon.  

In this proud land we grew up strong
We were wanted all along
I was taught to fight, taught to win
I never thought I could fail

You get taught how to fight, not because someone teaches you how to fight, but because you are placed in situations where you are forced to fights, to stand up for yourself.  If you are taught to fight, you never get taught everything you need to know about tactics, strategies and some power shots - you need to learn by experience.  Often having that experience means that you will need to fail from time to time.  Nobody goes into a fight expecting or wanting to lose.  But if you do lose, then you must be prepared to lose in a way that has minimal damage, to lose in a way that you can contain the pain and reduce the recovery time.

Don't give up
Cos you have friends
Don't give up
You're not beaten yet
Don't give up
I know you can make it good

You might be down for now, but it won't be forever.  I will always be a friend to you, I will always listen to what you have to say, I will always be here for you.  I can't say enough - just acknowledge, accept then advance.  You can't afford to dwell so much on your actions, but think instead about the good that you can do for all.  There will be a lot of people who think you have been beaten and will kick you when you are down.  Just roll away, practise those techniques that we rehearsed to minimise the pain, use those blocks that we used to defer, to deflect and build that resistance.  You know those types of people have no place in your life, so don't focus on them.  Move on and make it good.  Those types of people will always lurk in the shadows and spend their time trying to make your life a misery.  Do not spare those people another thought - they are past the point of help.  They are not constructive - they are destructive.

Rest your head
You worry too much
It's going to be alright
When times get tough
You can fall back on us
Don't give up
Please don't give up

Use this time to rest, to reassess, to think about what you want to do.  How often have you made brash decisions because you thought that expedience is the solution - no it isn't.  Careful decision making is required, careful and deliberate planning is key to your survival.

Don't give up 
You still have us
Don't give up
We don't need much of anything
Don't give up
'cause somewhere there's a place
Where we belong

These are the lessons that I speak to myself in my mind.  These are the lessons that friends ask for advice about.  These are the lessons that I learn from my family.  These are the lessons that teach me how to be in my life and know how to continue to help others, and when to let others go.

Don't give up now
We're proud of who you are
Don't give up
You know it's never been easy
Don't give up
'cause I believe there's a place
There's a place where we belong

I hope that judgemental people are far from your mind.  I hope that you continue to let hope grow within yourself for a very long time, because people will try their best to destroy it until you give up.

So you know the best thing that only you can do?

Don't give up. . . 

Friday, 28 November 2014

If I should fall behind. . .

This blog post is dedicated to +Metitilani Alo who performed a brilliant rendition of this song.

I normally associate Bruce Springsteen with his Born in the U.S.A. album, watching him dance with Courtney Cox while performing Dancing in the dark.  As Bruce matured, I appreciated his more softer songs like I'm on fire and The streets of Philadelphia.  Today's blog post features this lovely collaborative rendition of If I should fall behind.

We said we'd walk together baby come what may
That come the twilight should we lose our way
If as we're walking a hand should slip free
I'll wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me

We swore we'd travel darlin' side by side
We'd help each other stay in stride
But each lover's steps fall so differently
But I'll wait for you
And if I should fall behind
Wait for me

It can be challenging to be in sync with someone, in the right place, in the right time, even when technically you are together, or you may even not be.  Relationships are complicated ventures to undertake and psychologists will tell you how what labels to assign your behaviour and predict those patterns of behaviour.  I find relationships fascinating because feelings are intangible, we can't see them or touch them, but we can definitely feel them, sense how badly or how well things are going - if we know what they mean or not.  The expectation of waiting for each other - the result of promises made - whether formally or informally can only be kept when you honour what those promises mean.

Now everyone dreams of a love lasting and true
But you and I know what this world can do
So let's make our steps clear that the other may see
And I'll wait for you
And if I should fall behind
Wait for me

Lasting love, true love is the stuff of fairytales.  Some people are fortunate enough to have it in their lifetime.  Others have experienced it with others when they weren't supposed to - that one makes me smile, that accidental love.  It kind of borders on that surprising love; it can still be lasting if you want to cultivate it and sustain it.  Surprising love can also be true, can even shake you to the core.  The essence of this verse hopes that there is clear communication to make a way forward, to still be in step with each other, allowing you to catch up even if you do fall behind.

Now there's a beautiful river in the valley ahead
There 'neath the oak's bough soon we will be wed
Should we lose each other in the shadow of the evening trees
I'll wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me
Darlin' I'll wait for you
Should I fall behind
Wait for me

I hope that one day you will no longer fall behind.  That you won't lose each other in the shadow of the evening trees.  I hope that your significant other or the one you long to be with - will wait for you, even if it isn't physically possible in this lifetime, but that they will wait for you in the life beyond. . .

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Don't stop. . .

Fleetwood Mac has produced some of the most memorable music for me.  I've only just noticed lately that the songs I've been posting about recently are all pretty much centred around the time I was born (must be the music I was hearing while in the womb?? lol).

If you wake up and don't want to smile
If it takes just a little while
Open your eyes and look at the day
You'll see things in a different way

Don't stop shows us that perception is a tricky thing.  It can be something that you are taught to develop.  It can be something that you can be brainwashed to have.  Your perception informs your perspective.  But it's also just as easy to borrow someone else's perspective, agree with someone else's perspective and possibly even be lost and not have perspective at al - because you don't want to smile, you choose to be sullen, sad, cold and detached from your world.  Having an attitude of gratitude is pivotal in seeing things a different.  Gaining some perspective in your life is important to keep things moving forward and on track.

Why not think about times to come
And not about the things that you've done
If your life was bad to you
Just think what tomorrow will do

Everyone makes mistakes in life.  Nobody is perfect. You can often find yourself in situations that you could have easily avoided.  If you are being vilified and have become the victim of schadenfreude, you don't have to play that role.  Let he who hath no sin cast the first stone.  Keep your head up high, take responsibility for your life and make it the best one that can bring joy to others - even when they are trying to create misery in yours.  Hope is one of the biggest themes that I discuss in my blog posts - and it's no wonder that I do.  The world can often be cold, cruel and judgemental.  The only thing that we can often cling to is hope.

All I want is to see you smile
If it takes just a little while
I know you don't believe that it's true
I never meant any harm to you

It may take a while to be coaxed to bring forward that smile on your face again.  Sometimes telling someone the truth about what they've said or done can be a difficult task.  Such disclosure could be misinterpreted as criticism that cuts rather than being constructive - and this is because you choose to fixate on the emotion of the situation rather than addressing what it is that needs to come next to bounce back better than before, to be more resilient.

Don't stop thinking about tomorrow
Don't stop it'll soon be here
It will be here better than before
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone

Ooh don't you look back

Ooh don't you look back
Ooh don't you look back
Ooh don't you look back. . . 

I hope that you look ahead to your future.  Enjoy what makes you happy in your life right now and think about how you can sustain that happiness, that joy and big dreams for tomorrow.  Choosing to dwell in your past - especially a past that has hurt you, continuing to associate with people who have hurt you is unhealthy and unnecessary.  Acknowledge, accept then advance - but don't you look back. . .

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Everybody has a dream. . .

If you read my blog regularly, you will no doubt know that aside from Michael Jackson, the only other person who I've featured quite heavily in my ManuScript is Billy Joel.  Today's track is Everybody has a dream released in 1977 from the album, The Stranger.

Life has thrown me some curveballs in the past few months and if you're anything like me, then music - listening to it, playing it, composing it and writing about it - have been the only things that have kept me sane enough to be functional as a human being around other human beings (they don't call it music therapy for nothing right?).  

While in these days of quiet desperation
As I wander through the world in which I live
I search everywhere for some new inspiration 
But it's more than cold reality can give 
If I need a cause for celebration
Or a comfort I can use to ease my mind
I rely on my imagination
And I dream of an imaginary time

There's nothing wrong with having an imagination.  For most of us, those little daydreams or fantasies when you're working, when you let yourself drift off on a tangent in a parallel universe - helps you to escape the cold reality that you have to live.  It's important to have that time out now and then - to leave a problem or issue for a bit before obsessing over it drives you to the point of insanity and the point of no return (I mean let's face it, if you're the rock in your family, who's going to pull YOU back from the precipice?).

If I believe in all the words I'm singing
And if a word from you can bring a better day
Then all I have is just these games that I've been playing
To keep my hope from crumbling away
So let me lie and let me go on sleeping
And I will lose myself in palaces of sand
And all the fantasies that I will be keeping
Will make the empty hours easier to stand. . .

It is far too easy (and somewhat morbid) to wish that sometimes you want people to leave you alone, let you lie and go on sleeping and never wake up - but we all know that's not the answer.  You must face up to that cold reality that could the consequences of what you've created for yourself (yes, you made that bed now you have to lie in it).  Enter the Sandman while you continue to build your castles in the clouds, to the detriment of you tackling the problem head on.  It's like pulling off a band-aid really fast.  Short, sharp pain before the healing can begin - it's a necessary process.  We must experience to know how we can grow up, build character - and never do those negative things again.

And I know that everybody has a dream
Everybody has a dream
Everybody has a dream
And this is my dream, my own 
Just to be at home, 
And to be all alone with you. . . 

I hope that when you have your dream - that you don't go around ruining those of others.  
Whoever you choose to be alone with - with God, with another supreme being, with a loved one, a trusted friend - I hope that they can support your dream just as much as you support theirs.  

My dream right now (right this second) is enjoying being at home alone right now, writing this blog to you, knowing that as you're reading these words while I'm writing them - that this is my own dream - to share the love I have for music with the world in the peace and quiet, comfort and security of my own home - to yours. 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Lullabye (Goodbye, my angel). . .

This blog post is dedicated to Tagaloa Peter Su'a - the Samoan Piano Man

I'm nervous.
In a few hours I will be in a church conducting one of four hymns in a final rehearsal before the final service to honour, pay tribute to and farewell Tagaloa Peter Su'a.  I had gone to a mass choir rehearsal to sing for him - something I had never had the opportunity to do as our paths never crossed in that sense.  I had admired Peter's piano playing skills from afar.  He was one of the few pianists I knew that had the 'touch' that I liked - light, pristine, intuitive; Peter understood how a piano should be touched - how you could make it cry, laugh or howl with anger simply by the way his forearms, wrists, hands and fingers connected with the keys.

I had known him for years as a child, even though we would never meet formally until I was a young woman later in life. You see, he taught my second cousins how to play the piano. I was learning to play the piano too at the time with another teacher and I remember my cousins challenging me to sightread the lessons that Peter was teaching them.  I knew then that he was a hard task master - not only was the music technically difficult but my cousins would regale me with stories about his high expectations and zero tolerance for non-practice.  Little did I know that I would meet Peter later and get to witness these attributes for myself.

Goodbye my angel time to close your eyes
And save these questions for another day
I think I know what you've been asking me
I think you know what I've been trying to say
I promised I would never leave you
And you should always know, wherever you may go
No matter where you are, I never will be far away

Goodnight my angel now it's time to sleep
And still so many thing I want to say
Remember all the songs you sang for me
When we went sailing on an emerald bay
And like a boat out on the ocean
The water's dark and deep inside this ancient heart
You'll always be a part of me. . . 

Lullabye (goodbye my angel) is a song by Billy Joel from his 1993 River of Dreams album.  In light of Peter leaving this earth, for me, this song from the original Piano Man resonates deeply.  I imagine that to some extent, Peter will have had a conversation like this with all of his loved ones - with his beautiful daughter, with all of the young people he mentored and taught over the years.

In the clip below, Billy Joel explains a bit of the background that inspired the composition - his daughter.  The thing that I love about this performance when he guest starred on Inside the Actors Studio is what he shows as the hallmark of great musicians - the subtle nuances of modifying from the original slightly.  I loved this about Peter's piano playing - he would always add some other details to the notation that would never be quite the same each time he performed.  I have not heard another pianist who could emulate him, let alone come close.

Goodnight my angel now it's time to dream 
And dream how wonderful your life will be
Someday your child may cry
And if you sing this lullabye
Then in your heart there will always be a part of me. . . 

The instrumentation in the official music video below also draws connections with Peter's love of choral arrangements - of voice parts with the harmonies together with orchestration.  Those who have sung in Peter's choirs will know that he was meticulous and careful with not only the backing track arrangements of his work but the ways in which the intonation and articulation of the music would be expressed.

Someday we'll all be gone
But lullabyes go on and on
They never die
That's how you and I will be. . . 

Thanks for sharing your gift of music with the world.
Those who have learned this gift from you - will ensure that it will never die.

Rest in peace Tagaloa Peter Su'a - Ia manuia lou malaga xx

Thursday, 20 November 2014

And so it goes. . .

I think in your quietest times you will be honest with yourself, at least about your heart, with your heart, about its feelings.  You might confide in one person who knows your deepest and darkest secrets.  Did you entrust them with the key to the sanctuary in your heart?

And so it goes is a beautiful ballad by Billy Joel that seems to focus on a conversation between two people.  Being prepared to let your heart be broken, laying it bare for someone to break, despite your past relationships and the pain that you are recovering from - can signal that you are past the point of breaking again.  Or you might be willing to have it broken again as your heart has already healed.

In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from lovers past
Until a new one comes along

I spoke to you in cautious tones
You answered me with no pretense
And still I feel I said too much
My silence is my self defence

And every time I've held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon I suppose 

But if my silence made you leave
Then that would be my worst mistake
So I will share this room with you
And you can have this heart to break

I almost get the sense that you have given up, you are ready to let go, and despite allowing the other person ample opportunity to damage you again, you are ready to let them go too.

The silence masks the words and the actions that you let simmer beneath the surface.  Why do you hide it?  Well, it's safer isn't it?  What good will come of trying to take the thorns off those roses, you would still bleed, it would still sting and hurt.  Yet you willingly share your room, your sanctuary in your heart, almost as if you are a sucker for punishment or something.  Are you a matyr?  Is this what self-flagellation looks like now?

And this is why my eyes are closed
It's just as well for all I've seen
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows

So I would choose to be with you
That's if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break

Now you've laid your heart very carefully on your sleeve, trying to pin it down though so at least it kind of stays in place and doesn't slip off.  You can't choose to be with the other person anyway - the choice is not yours to make, the choice is out of your hands - so why did you spend time entertaining the thought?  What did you tell the other person?  Even when you close your eyes, eventually you're going to have to open them again.  Why is that person the only one who knows what the sanctuary in your heart looks like?  If you can't claim him or her as your own, are you still prepared to give up your own heart to be broken?  You would still choose to be with them knowing full well that your heart would be broken?

I hope that you take a little more care of that sanctuary in your heart.  Protect it fiercely.  Don't let anybody near it too quickly.  Keep it secret, until you feel safe enough to share it.  Otherwise you should be repeating these words in a mirror:
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows. . . 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The last unicorn. . .

America is well known for their classic hits in a career that spans from the early 70s to the mid 2000s with a release of their greatest hits.  I don't want to mention those hits as I will most likely write some more blog posts about those songs over the coming months.

Today's blog post focuses on a track called The Last Unicorn, the title song of the fantasy film of the same name released in 1982.  I have always remembered this song and never thought to look it up to see who the band was behind the song and I'm pleasantly surprised to find out it is America.  

The movie was based on a novel by Peter S. Beagle who also wrote the screenplay.  It follows the story of the last unicorn who lives in a forest, who embarks on a quest to find the other unicorns after she is told where they might be.  Like all fantasy stories, nothing comes easy and she must endure a perilous journey to be reunited with her own kind.

The YouTube clip below is the opening of the movie but the song itself doesn't actually start until 2:29.  The wistful introduction helps to set the scene of the delicate nature of the magical unicorn.

When the last eagle flies over the last crumbling mountain
And the last lion roars at the last dusty fountain
In the shadow of the forest though she may be old and worn
They will stare unbelieving at the last unicorn

Isn't it always the way, that beautiful creatures are either wanted badly by people, to exploit for their own purposes, to possess and have power over, or to hide away so that they cannot be shared with others.  I wondered as a child what it might be like to be the last unicorn - to be admired and sought after.  The thought of it scared me because I knew that being the last unicorn meant that you were suddenly in more demand, that no matter how hard you would try to escape, people would always be after you, peace would never be yours, and you would need to come across someone or something that would help you to find safety and security.

When the first breath of winter through the flowers is icing
And you look to the north and a pale moon is rising
And it seems like all is dying and would leave the world to mourn
In the distance hear the laughter of the last unicorn

I'm alive, I'm alive. . . 

The bass guitar kicks in during this verse as with the drums.  The harmonies join in during the third line as it did in the first verse.  The oboe that plays in the interlude before the next verse helps to add to the instrumentation and the overall texture.  In the next verse, the strings build together with the harmonies in the third line when reference is made to the sky.  The words create some beautiful imagery that even though the world around us may be cold and sad, that the magical laughter of the last unicorn can be heard.  Should we take this to mean that even though we may experience some desperate times, heartache, loneliness and sadness, that we must never lose hope or lose sight of the potential for magic to exist in our world?  We just need to find it, just as the last unicorn seeks to be reunited with her kind.

When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning
And the future has passed without even a last desperate warning
Then look into the sky where through the clouds a path is torn
Look and see her how she sparkles, it's the last unicorn

I'm alive, I'm alive. . . 

That oboe melody does remind me of the TV theme for Beauty and the Beast starring Linda Hamilton (of Terminator fame) and Ron Perlman (of Sons of Anarchy fame) where there is an oboe melody there too.

This verse is a reminder for me to not be so involved in the mundane daily grind, but remember to look up and see the bigger picture.  I must remember not to enjoy each moment in all of its glory (even the sad, bad or mad ones) because each moment makes us feel alive.

I hope that when I look up to the sky sometime, that I will see the sparkles that you leave behind . . .

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Being good isn't good enough. . .

This blog post is a song request from Pelema Taulapapa @Pelema5

Barbra Streisand is one of the original diva's as far back in my memory as I can remember.  I watched The way we were opposite Robert Redford the other week. Other movies I've seen her in include Yentl and A Star is born Kris Kristofferson (the man I normally associate with the Blade movies alongside Wesley Snipes).  Barbra has recently released a duets album with some of the music's finest artists, including the late great Elvis Presley.  I associate a lot of Barbra's work with musical theatre.  I love hearing her sing People from Funny Girl and Somewhere (there's a place for us) from West Side Story.  

Being good isn't good enough
Being good won't be good enough
When I fly, I must fly extra high
And I'll need special wings so far to go
From so far below

I often think about the identity journeys of indigenous people or migrant people in diaspora societies who now reside in their adopted countries, descendants of migrants who are born in their adopted countries, including those descendant who are third and fourth generation.  In our adopted countries, even though we are born there, we need to be just as good as the members of the dominant society, yet still maintain our heritage cultures, languages and identities to be just as good within our own society.  Edward James Olmos captured this sentiment best when he played Mr. Quintanilla in Selena starring Jennifer Lopez.  "We've got to be more American than the Americans and more Mexican than the Mexicans."

Having to continually prove ourselves can be a challenging, all-consuming activity - one, quite frankly, that will endure for one's own lifetime.  I know that we would need to fly extra high.  Where do we get these special wings?  Do we make them ourselves?  Can you buy them or do you earn them?  Why are we at the bottom of the heap anyway? Who put us there and why is the distance so much farther to fly?  Will people not accept our goodness?  Do we not measure up?  Why won't our goodness be good enough?  Who says it isn't?

Should I try?
Am I strong enough?
Is there time, have I long enough?
Gotta fly and if I fall
That's the way it's gotta be
There's no other way for me
Being good just won't be good enough
I'll be the best or nothing at all

I will not accept doubt or self-sabotage to be my own undoing.
Falling when we try to fly is just a risk that we must be prepared to take.
My people - the land of navigators - would not have gained anything without venturing out into the unknown, so our future generations must understand this spirit of our people and continue to live the legacy.  At its most extreme - it is definitely all or nothing.  We must try regardless, regardless of who thinks we shall never succeed, that we were born to fail.  I refuse to live out other people's low expectations of me.  I already have extremely high expectations of myself for my people.

Leslie Uggams the original star of the Broadway musical sings Being good isn't good enough and Hallelujah Baby on the Ed Sullivan Show.

I'll try, am I strong enough?
Is there time, have I long enough?
Gotta fly and if I fall
That's the way it's gotta be
There's no other way for me
Being good just won't be good enough
I'll be the best or nothing at all

I hope that wherever you are in your life, that you continue to push, to rage, to be your best, give your best and live your best.  Maybe being good just won't be good enough, because only our best will be. . . 

Living in the moment. . .

I first came across Jason Mraz with his single I'm Yours.  It was a popular song upon its release, the proof of this in my world when senior music students chose to perform it as a solo assessment for NCEA credits.  The thing about a popular song is that you get to know it for how badly it gets performed, so you constantly have to listen to the original artist to get a better sense of the melody and the intonation of the piece (as close as you can get it).

If this life is one act, Why do we lay all these traps
We put them right in our path, When we just wanna be free

I will not waste my days, Making up all kinds of ways
To worry 'bout all the things, That will not happen to me

So I just let go , Of what I know I don't know, And I know I only do this by

Living in the moment, Living my life, Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind, With peace in my heart, With peace in my soul
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home
Living in the moment

Having arguments with people is a fairly commonplace thing to occur in one's life.  I think as I get older, I've become more discerning about selecting the times when I do have arguments - not because I know I can win the argument (where's the fun in that?) but more to do with knowing the right time to have an argument to bring your perspective across.  When those arguments happen online, that's where things are open to interpretation (or misinterpretation) so more explicit words (not expletives) must be used to be clear.  So now I know, as an adult, that I'm all about that clarity.

I'm letting myself off the hook, For things I've done
I let my past go past, And now I'm having more fun
I'm letting go of the thoughts, That do not make me strong
And I believe this way, Can feel the same for everyone

Often we can be too hard on ourselves (but there's a fine line between being too soft as well).  Definitely the things in my past are in my past.  I'm having more fun with friends and family, because I understand that it's important to live in the moment.  I understand that I can forgive people. but it doesn't necessarily mean I will forget.  But that's not to say that I will hold a grudge, I guess it just teaches you more about being wary.  Being wary of opening yourself up again to allow the hurt to creep in.  I guess it's good to remember - but don't let it overtake your life and waste more precious moments that can be spent on other things, other people who bring you that unconditional love, peace and joy that you so deserve.

I can't walk through life facing backwards, I have tried, 
More than once to just make sure, And I was denied
The future I've been searching for, I spun around and hurt no more

I hope that you stop looking backwards and turn around.  The pain you felt belongs in the past, along with the people who brought it to you.  I hope that you no longer feel like you cannot look ahead towards your future, that you can't find it.  Enjoy living in the moment.  Particularly when people try to cloud your judgement with emotions, rather than focusing on the content of the argument.  Why include grounds to escalate?   think I will continue to be more selective about the arguments I have with people.  The rule of thumb has worked well for me thus far.  Why fix what 'ain't broke?  Well, I won't be fixing anymore things or people that I didn't break, that's for sure.  Take responsibility for living in your own moments and stop trying to make moments with me. . .

Monday, 17 November 2014

Hero. . .

Today's blog post is dedicated to all my friends who have shown me their inner heroes.

I've talked about Mariah Carey before in a previous blog post - Make it happen.
Today we focus on Hero and the need for us to look inside ourselves to find a hero - rather than looking to others to save us.

There's a hero if you look inside your heart
You don't have to be afraid of what you are
There's an answer if you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know will melt away

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside 
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong 
And you'll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

Do you get annoyed if you're constantly saving people?  Are you always the person that receives those bat signals when friends or family are in dire straits and you're called upon to save the day?  You're probably fed up with trying to solve people's problems, particularly when you spend most of your life making the right choices, trying not to be a burden to others and doing as much as you can to protect others from harm.  You probably spend a lot of your time protecting people from themselves as well, even if they don't know it yet.

It's a long road, when you face the world alone
No one reaches out a hand for you to hold
You can find love, if you search within yourself
And the emptiness you felt will disappear

There's that old adage of people who go looking for love in the wrong places.
We can't go around seeking love from others to validate who we are as people.  We must think about how much we value ourselves, reflect on our own self-worth.  But I guess it's all part of life, part of growing up, part of discovering your mettle, what you're made of, what you're capable of doing (or not doing) and if you do need heroes, you'll realise in time that the strongest hero you needed was inside yourself the entire time.  It reminds me of Dorothy with her ruby red slippers.  All she needed to get home, she had with her the whole time.

Lord knows, dreams are hard to follow
But don't let anyone tear them away
Hold on, there will be tomorrow
In time, you'll find a way

The biggest thing to remember with this one is to try as much as possible to steer well clear from potential dreamkillers - people and situations that threaten to squash your dreams.  I mean, no human in their right mind would associate themselves with individuals or people that stop them from succeeding.  If you are - get yourself out of there.  It's almost like you have to extricate yourself from that toxic situation with the precision of a military operation.

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside 
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong 
And you'll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

I hope that you find your inner hero.  It will take a lot of time, most likely many times of heartache, loss and betrayal before you can celebrate this inner hero.  It might be a good idea stop saving people, even from themselves, but maybe even show your regular damsels in distress, that they need to start doing it for themselves, that you might not necessarily be there to pick them up each time they fall.  We can only do so much for others.  If we can't save ourselves, how can we hope to save others?
For some of us, we have no heroes lie next to us anymore, but we have them within us.

One step closer. . .

One step closer is a track from Linkin Park's debut album Hybrid Theory.  I was only aware of a collaboration they had made with Jay Z but they also have a whole host of other singles that have brought them global success and fame.

I can't take this anymore
Saying everything I've said before
All these words they make no sense
I find bliss in ignorance
Less I hear the less you'll say
You'll find that out anyway

Just like before. . . 

Maybe it's safer not to know, not to say, not to do..... anything.
Even when people accuse you of always wanting to be in control, always wanting to do everything.  Since when did you want to do everything?  Didn't we all have a part to play?  Why did you have to pick up the slack each time?  Why did you have to drop everything to everybody else's everything?  See.... they don't see that part of it do they...... You'll find that out anyway Just like before. . . 

Everything you say to me
Takes me one step closer to the edge
And I'm about to break
I need a little room to breathe
Cause I'm one step closer to the edge
I'm about to break

I think people forget how well you hold yourself together.  That the very reason you choose not to argue every single point is that - you've seen that there was no point in the argument.  You realised very early on in your life that being right - didn't necessarily override working together with others, letting others grow, letting others lead, showing that you can share and be there to support someone.  Often people can mistake your silence for acquiescence and acceptance - but you know better.  It's never about who wins, it was always about - who gets a chance to have a go.  I guess you just weren't expecting to be labelled all the time and called up for it. Others perceive it as weakness, as a sign that you need to "let go" of issues.  But they don't really know.  Sadly they never will now - because you've shut them out.  You've been planning this systematic withdrawal for a while now and didn't even realise it until today. You can break too, you've just had so much practise keeping yourself together - despite the odds that were stacked against you.  I guess you just felt that you couldn't afford to be the needy and desperate individual that clung to others for hope.  You were Hope Personified.

I find the answers aren't so clear
Wish I could find a way to disappear
All these thoughts they make no sense
I find bliss in ignorance
Nothing seems to go away
Over and over again

It's a dreadful cycle isn't it.  The swirling emotions in your mind are barely heard above the din of your soundtrack of your life that plays particularly loud, every time you are pushed into a corner.  Even if you did disappear - where would you go?  They would always find a way to bring you back.  They need you too much, even when they don't like to admit it.  Could you really find bliss in ignorance?  Are you really better off not knowing.... anything?  You've talked yourself through different scenarios in so much detail - hoping to know if you could've changed what was said, changed what you did - but you know what?  It doesn't really matter.  It's definitely a cycle of history repeating.  It's the way you've always been.  It's the way they've always been.  Nothing seems to go away Over and over again. . .                                                                                                                                                        j
Shut up when I'm talking to you
Shut up, shut up, shut up
Shut up when I'm talking to you
Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up. . . 

I hope that eventually one day, your voice will be heard and people will be prepared to listen.
That whoever you're talking to, will stop talking long enough to hear you.
When it's hard enough to get to that point because you can't stand talking to them - at least let them know this too.   Maybe it's time that they listened to you?  But we all know that in order for other people to hear you - you have to be prepared to share how you really feel about a situation (or multiple situations depending on the layers!).  But before you are prepared to share how you really feel - the other people need to be sure not to interject either or make comparisons.  It's all about you for a change.  How many times have you let things slide?  No more ..... ok?  You've let things slide enough times already to show that you are now exactly "where you begin so shut up when I'm talking to you. . . 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

A song for you. . .

This is my 200th music blog post and to celebrate, I thought that I would select one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite all-time groups.  Today's blog post focuses on brother/sister duo of The Carpenters (Richard and Karen) and the title track of their fourth album A Song for You.  Everyone knows the tragic story of Karen's battle with anorexia nervosa.  Other artists have covered this classic ballad - and the most notable favourite for me would be Donny Hathaway.  

The Carpenters enjoyed critical acclaim and success during their heyday.  This track was written by Leon Russell.  Richard wrote most of their early hits, while Karen was able to be drawn out from behind her drum kit to sing at the front of the stage where she belonged.  A voice that was honey, silky smooth, the sound that I imagine to be the seasonal soundtrack that transitions Spring into Summer.

I've been so many places in my life and time
I've sung a lot of songs and made some bad rhyme
I've acted out my love in stages
With ten thousand people watching
But we're alone now and I'm singing this song for you

I'm pretty sure you can remember the many places you've been - where you've actively sought out to be there, you've been lead there by others or happened upon there purely by chance - or maybe it's the universe's grand design.  For whatever reason - there have been a lot of songs that have been associated with those places that reflect and represent those stages of love that you learned how to love in - or fall out of love to - even those places where you might have sung songs to someone special, to that significant audience of one.  This for me is always more nerve-wracking for me than singing in front of a hall full of people - that singular person who is the only audience.  It almost feels like there's nobody to hide in front of that person when you perform solo and alone - exposing yourself in your purest sense - with your voice, emotions and an accompanying instrument (if you can play one, to provide extra cover to hide behind!).

I know your image of me is what I hope to be
I've treated you unkindly but darlin' can't you see
There's no one more important to me
Darlin' can't you please see through me
Cause we're alone now and I'm singing this song for you

The ups and downs of a platonic friendship or a relationship is dependent on how you treat each other - so if you do mistreat that person, they can either come back for more because they refuse to give up on you or they will back to smack your head against the wall and tell you they won't stand to be treated in that way.  Would you expect someone to see through you?  That they know you so well that they can see right through you, can see inside the very depths of you that nobody else is willing to peel or dig beneath.  That other person always thinks the best of you - can see you true potential and the best in you, even when you refuse to see it for yourself.  If that person is important to you - treat them better.  There will come a time when you need them the most, but because you've established a pattern of pushing them away or not appreciating what they do for you - they might not necessarily be there.

You taught me precious secrets of the truth withholding nothing
You came out in front and I was hiding
But now I'm so much better and if my words don't come together
Listen to the melody cause my love is in there hiding

There have been rare times in public when I have been unable to speak or not trusted myself to speak because I knew I couldn't hold myself together.  One of those times was at my late husband's burial service.  I couldn't say anything so I relied on the melodies that I sang whilst playing the guitar and the melodies that I played on the piano.  I couldn't trust my voice to convey the love that I felt for him so I used songs to convey this more confidently, in a performance that I knew would make him proud, to play tribute to him without stopping, without stumbling through but ensuring that I could stop only when the songs were over, and not because I couldn't go on.

I love you in a place where there's no space or time
I love you for in my life you are a friend of mine
And when my life is over, remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singing this song for you

There will be moments in your life where you have loved many and loved hard.
There will be special moments that you shared with each of these people that will be frozen in time and that you should hold dear.  I hope that you will continue to hold these memories of loved ones in a place where space and time cannot age them, cannot mar them, cannot diminish their impact in your life.  I hope you remember the times I sang to you and know that for those brief moments of time we were alone and I was singing this song for you. . . 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

But, honestly. . .

Today's blog post is a song request from +Tamara Bell 

Today's track But, honestly focuses again on another classic by the Foo Fighters.  There are several layers for me in this song.  The lyrics suggest for me multiple contexts in layers of conversation:
1) an internal dialogue with myself
2) a conversation between the me of my past and myself now
3) a conversation that a significant person is having with me or
4) witnessing this conversation between two other people. . .

Where are you off to with that head of yours?

Is there somewhere you should be
Was it something that I said the time I held you down 
and told you it's not you it's only me

How often have you said that to somebody?  "It's not you, it's only me."  Maybe you've said it to someone else.  Strangely, you might have said that to yourself in a mirror.  You could've been quite happily, quite merrily on your way, going about your business and then you're stopped in your tracks. possibly forced to confront something (even yourself) when you least expect to.

Don't take what I don't need 
(Give me back my peace of mind)
Don't say what I don't need
(Give me back my precious mind)
No way you'll silence me you'll see

I think that peace of mind is an extremely important thing to possess, to hold, cultivate and treasure.  It can be easy for us to lose our peace of mind, when someone or something tries to take hold of it and mess with it.  You need to speak up or resist if your peace of mind gets tampered with.  People or situations will try to rob you of things, opportunities that should naturally sit with you for a time, let it percolate until it is ready to pour.  Often we can get subsumed into something without realising it.

What you up to now your mirror's gone
Is there someone you should be?
Did you think I was just fooling 'round with you?

But, honestly
But, honestly
But, honestly

I've talked about honesty before in a previous post - Billy Joel's Honesty.  There are degrees of honesty that we choose to reveal to others, if not to ourselves.  Half truths and part truths, white lies and full blown lies - everyone has their own tolerance or temperance for how honest we can be.  I almost see the phrase 'but, honestly' in this song as a heavy sigh, a pause, a point to stop and reflect for a minute, particularly the way in which Grohl sustains the last syllable of 'honestly', as if he is reluctant to let the sound end but it dies of natural causes as it sinks at the end of the breath.

And tonight I thank the stars
As I count my lucky stars
For everything you've given me

And all the wants I gave to you
Something borrowed, something blue
If you want them back
I'll give it to you

Give it to you

I don't want one thing that I give to you. . . 

It's more than finders keepers, it goes beyond that - it's actually more along the lines of when you give something, you don't want it returned. It must serve its purpose in the act of giving and fulfil its true intention.  So if you no longer want the things that you give to others, will this restore the peace of mind that has been taken away as well?  If you want them back, I'll give it to you.  But, honestly. . . 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Perfect. . .

Fairground Attraction released this single, Perfect in 1988 as the second track on The First of a Million Kisses.  The band was classified as folk and soft rock with this single being their most famous and most successful.  They won song of the year for Perfect and album of the year in 1989 at the Brit Awards.  Their success was short lived when members of the band argued and soon disbanded after the release of their follow up album and a live tour in Japan - the only country outside of Europe where they had a huge fan base.

Don't want half hearted love affairs
I need someone who really cares
Life is too short to play silly games
I've promised myself I won't do that again

I guess everyone has been there at least once, if not a couple of times.  Dizzying failed relationships or the 'finally gathering the nerve to admit defeat' that the carousel of love you've been on is finally slowing down (or it doesn't for that matter, but you quickly get off the ride before you start retching or get thrown off; whichever comes first).

It's got to be perfect
It's got to be perfect
Too many people take second best
Well I won't take anything less
It's got to be yeah perfect

I used to smile during conversations with girlfriends when they would bemoan their relationships and how they weren't enjoying them, nit picking with a fine tooth comb the 10 things they hated about their partner.  I used to smile because I would think - there is definitely a desire for perfection.  High standards.  Usually at the beginning of a relationship people go through that honeymoon period where everything is peachy, rosy and other soft pastel colours smelled fruity, because the world was love and love was the world.  Soon the wheels on the wagon start to loosen a bit and the ride isn't as smooth as it was and soon things start to stagnate, soon it's coming to a crawl, the ride has ended and you're on a road to nowhere.  Do we need to strike that precarious balance where we don't settle - but that we also need to have our handy dandy notebook close by so that we can make a list of the qualities we expect in a soulmate?  Can we demand perfection in others when we aren't.... that perfect either?

Young hearts are foolish
They make such mistakes
They're much too eager to give their love away
Well I have been foolish too many times
Now I'm determined, I'm gonna get it right

I think about relationships being in several phases, much like the several stages of grief.
In relation to this track - I think about the "got it right back then", "get it right... now" and "get it right".  "Got it right - back then" is about how our past experiences teach us - how well we thought we dealt with relationships and how we let love treat us, how we treated love, was it even love?
"Get it right ..... now" can be two-fold - the impatience that comes with the desire to be in a relationship - and going with the first person that walks past or makes eye contact, or even a reluctance to be in a relationship, but suddenly you're in one. You don't know what you agreed to exactly, but you're in one now.  "Get it right" for me talks about giving yourself enough time (patience and getting to a state of readiness) to commit again - right person, right time, right circumstances, the planets align, everything's fine,

It's got to be perfect
It's got to be perfect
Too many people take second best
Well I won't take anything less
It's got to be yeah perfect

I hope that even if you're not in a relationship, you have no desire to be in one, you're in one but you're having problems, you're the cause of a relationship breakdown and take responsibility or you're even the cause of a relationship breakdown that isn't even yours (!) - that you don't put yourself second best.  I don't think that we need to strive for a perfect partner, but rather, that we can hold ourselves to a perfection that brings us happiness in ourselves - even when we are quite perfectly imperfect.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Times like these. . .

This blog post is a band request from +Tamara Bell 

Today's blog post focuses on the track Times like these by the Foo Fighters.  The opening introduction serves as a great way to familiarise yourself with the sounds that will follow with the rest of the song, particularly from a musical ear - the dissonant riff played by the rhythm guitar that serves as an interlude between lines of the verses and at the end of the chorus before each new verse.

This dissonance symbolises to me the idea of the conflicts and obstacles that we face in our daily life that define "times like these", but more importantly it may also act as a mirror to hold up to yourself to reveal how you act during "times like these" separated only by the bass slide between the motif.
The downward bass line takes us further into the depths of this dissonance as reflected in the verses to follow.

I am a one way motorway
I'm the road that drives away
then follows you back home
I am a street light shining
I'm a white light blinding bright
burning off and on

Do you often feel hell bent on holding on for dear life? At least when you're trying to come to grips (literally and figuratively), trying to make sense of your life?  For me being a light symbolises that you have become more self aware, more in tune with what it is that you are meant to be doing, especially if you are tasked with guiding or leading people. or the devising of concepts, making progress or forging a way forward for new things that haven't even existed yet.  This is the time when you are burning off and on - at your most blinding as a white light. I listened to +Karl Maton yesterday talk about knowledge blindness in LCT or Legitimation Code Theory.  I definitely recommend that if you are not familiar with the theory and the field at large - just do a google search or check it out on Twitter @LCTheory.  You will not be disappointed.

It's times like these you learn to live again
It's times like these you give and give again
It's times like these you learn to love again
It's times like these time and time again

I think it's important that if you feel some disruption in your life, irrespective of the context, that you reflect on why it happened and how you can learn from it.  It might be a steep learning curve that might take some time for you to scale or it might be a quick jolt to the system, when you feel that defibrillator shock you back to life. It could be the difference that distinguishes and clarifies your thinking about the "knowers and knowledge" according to Maton.

I'm a new day rising
I'm a brand new sky 
to hang the stars up tonight
I am a little divided
do I stay or run away
and leave it all behind

The musical interlude after this verse features imitation between the instruments that continue to highlight this dissonant motif.  The final chorus however shows the heightened awareness as enacted by the double octave.

The idea of rebirth, of realisation, of the beginning of understanding and becoming a knower of knowledge can be overwhelming.  You may come across knowledge that you didn't want to uncover - but have a responsibility to reveal to better inform others.  Only you will know the answers to the question of staying or running away.  I guess for me the big question would be - will the world be a better place for it?

It's times like these you learn to live again
It's time like these you give and give again
It's times like these you learn to love again
It's times like these time and time again

I hope you take those opportunities (when you have those disruptions in your thinking) to reflect on what the significance is for you going forward - when you examine your own "times like this."  I think once you get to a point when you stop learning about how to be the best version of yourself, when you think you have nothing else left to learn in this world - about others, about staying connected, about how you can contribute to society and make sense of the world, particularly so that you can make sense of yourself (isn't that what we're really trying to figure out at the end of it all - who we are, where we're from, why we're  here - our purpose in life - how do we get there.

Anything that you can contribute to improve the human condition.
But take the speck out of our own eyes I guess before we start gazing into those of others. . .

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Live your life. . . .

I first came across Mika with his single Grace Kelly.  I was definitely impressed with his vocal style, but more importantly his vocal range.  The amount of fun he exudes in that video was quite appealing, even if the song lyrics suggest an identity crisis that eventually gets resolved.  If anything, Mika's music teaches me about being who I am, being happy in my own skin and not being worried about other people's opinions about me.  Today's blog post is Live your life.  Celebrate who you are and don't be afraid to enjoy your successes.  You make everyone happy by being around them, so keep smiling.

You've got the whole world in your pocket
But you just don't know
Everybody's smilin' at you everywhere you go
It's like you've got that secret
That everybody else wants to know

You would be forgiven if you thought the opening verse reminds you of George Michael's Faith because it has a similar chord progression and feel about it.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to know that you have the whole world in your pocket?
You're probably wandering around going about your business and don't even realise that you do. People will start asking questions soon enough about what it is that you're doing - they'll notice some type of glow that you haven't realised is there because you're just busy 'being you'.  Some people will make genuine heartfelt comments about the change in you, others will be secretly envious, while others will most likely gossip about you and gees, if they hate you that much, they might resort to some more sinister means of showing exactly how they feel about you having 'that secret'.

Anywhere you are is just like home to you
From the beaches in Manila
Down to Katmandu
Yeah you've got that secret
That everybody else wants to know
But you won't ever let it go oh

I take this verse to mean that you are comfortable wherever you are.  You're quite comfortable being in a noisy social setting, being in a mass crowd at a concert, being in a library enjoying some quiet time reading some articles or alone on a plane full of strangers watching the clouds pass by your window seat.  I think if you hold the secret to your happiness, it's up to you to reveal it if you like.  It's pretty hard to try and explain to people how to be happy or how to live your life, because only you control how you live your life and how you live within it.

We take a whole room full of strangers
And we make them friends
We do it all around the world
Just so it never ends
It don't matter where we're coming from or going to
You're the only one who turns a grey sky blue
And everybody needs a friend like you

Something people have commented on that has made me smile is my ability to get on with other people from all walks of life, regardless of ethnic background, socio-economic status.  I'm smiling to myself as I write this as there really is no difference between people and other people or your people.  We're all people.  The Spanish component of the song is translated again into English during the course of the song.  I remember one occasion in my early days of university when all of my groups of friends got together for a party for me and the tension in the air was palpable.  It was obvious that they would've been more comfortable in their separate groups, but it showed me early on that I embraced diversity and also showed me how much I loved connecting with people.

Everybody wanna hold your hand
Everybody wanna shine that bright
Everybody wanna say they can
Everybody wanna live your life
Everybody wanna talk like you
Only wanna do the things you do
'Cause they always gonna turn out right
Everybody wanna live your life

I hope that you enjoy living your life.
A lot of people will tell you how lucky you are.
But you know the secret to your happiness, to your success.
So just enjoy it and live your life :-)