Thursday, 29 January 2015

I can't go for that (no can do). . .

This blog post is dedicated to +Hazel Owen 

I've written about Hall and Oates before in a previous blog post (see You make my dreams come true).  I love their music!  This particular song is a great dance track and I vividly remember as a child dancing to this at elementary/primary school discos, even though it was released a few years before my early school days (must've been one of the teacher's favourite tracks, you know the teacher who acts as the dj at those cool discos!).

I've been doing a lot of socialising lately with friends and family.
I feel it's really important that if you're someone like me - who always has her nose buried in books and words, either in hard copy or online, that you need to balance that with face to face connections with friends and family.  I have noted that it is particularly important to have these connections to help you grow, keep you grounded or shows you ways of being around others - whether you can't got for that or can't.

Easy ready willing overtime
When does it stop, where do you dare me to draw the line
You got the body now you want my soul
Don't even think about it say no go

The first thing that grabs me about this song is the music itself.  It's fast, funky and I love the feel of the easy groove.  When I think about this song, I think about how you choose to interact in relationships, irrespective of what type of relationship we're talking about - think, connection between you and someone else.  How much are you willing to invest of yourself?  Have you ever had that kind of control over somebody who seems to 'work' overtime for you, because they want to be around you so much that they you want them to give more than they are willing to give.  Will you try your luck and push for more?  Who stands to gain from that type of relationship regardless of connection?

I can't go for being twice as nice
I can't go for just repeating the same old lines
You got the body now you want my soul
Don't even think about it say no go. . . 

Some days I think that people want so much from me that I'm unwilling and reluctant to give.
So how do I deal with that?
Avoidance is a good start ha!  But I think being prepared to have difficult conversations is a far better and productive way to resolve any residual issues that might have remained over a period of time.  I think the time for being twice as nice is over. I have no further interest in repeating those lines (particularly if those lines don't serve any real purpose) but where there are lines that I have, that are functional but more importantly inspirational - those I will keep.

Now I'll do anything that you want me to
I'll do almost anything that you want me to
But I can't go for that 
No can do

I hope that in your world, you don't do what other people want you to do.
Unless of course you're required to do so because you work for them - but it has to be negotiated between the two of you and it should be something that literates your spirit, rather than burying it.

I hope that whatever challenges I will face in this new year, that I can face it head on.
If people try to impose anything on you, I hope you have the courage and will to tell them
But I can't go for that 
No can do. . . 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Letting go. . .

This blog post is dedicated to me :-)
This is my 250th music blog post xxx

I've written about Maisey Rika in previous blog posts (see Reconnect and Tangaroa Whakamautai). I also included a video clip of Aotearoa by Stan Walker in which she features with Ria Hall and Troy Kingi.  Letting Go is the third track from her brilliant EP released in 2009.

Out having a good time and I'm letting go
Still dropping that beat loud and I'm letting you go
Out having a good time and I'm letting you go

I picked a special song that depicts the current stage of my life.
Letting go of someone can be a difficult process.  Letting go of the past and surging forward can not only be challenging, but daunting and downright scary.  I have learned in a relatively short space of time that you need to let go quickly sometimes, not to avoid the pain, but because it is a necessary part of growing up.  Things and people do not remain in this world.  We must be prepared to let go.

Give inhibitions the corner
This lady's found a new poison
She surrenders life to the music
Giving the eye to the DJ
Take the hint and proceed to play my song
My song, oh

Recently I have had some interesting interactions with live music.  Found in dingy bars and clubs, I have lost myself in the music, so I totally understand how the lady in the song has found a new poison - because surrendering her life to the music means that she is letting go of her inhibitions enough to be able to surrender, to give in, to finally experience the music with abandon.

It's interesting dancing with strangers isn't it.

So I danced with a stranger last Friday night and I definitely let go.

I sat across from him, dancing at the table.  He had just sat down with a couple of friends.
I was in my own world - oblivious to the audience that had just formed.  My friend sat next to me.
Waving my hands in the air, waving them like I just didn't care - he exclaimed - "Right let's go".
He grabbed my arm and dragged me through the throng of people, marching over to the other side.
When we finally hit the dance floor, I forgot he was even there.  A few twirls reminded me he was.
I don't think he was expecting it, but he was pleasantly surprised at how much I let go.
While we were dancing, he asked if I had been to this place before, I replied no.
I don't like talking while dancing.  I will accept lip synching - because you're still lost in the music.

I have had many songs over this journey of writing through music and each song has allowed me the space to think critically about the impact of the song not only in my life, but in the situations of those around me, who for the most part, have inspired the song selections.

And I said, I said
Gone are my days of waiting for you
I'm in love again, I'mma live again, baby
Gone are my days of waiting for you
I'm in love again, I'mma live again
'Cause I need to tell you baby
I've been locked up too long. . .

You can choose to take the lyrics literally - is she singing about a lost love?
Or you can choose to imagine that you are singing to yourself.
You are in love with yourself again - who you are and you are going to finally live life again.

In the music video Maisey is finally moving on with her life leaving her city dwelling, leaving Albert Park (University of Auckland. . . sigh. . . ) and the various city streets that she rides along at the back of the ute.  This is how we ride utes in Samoa - sitting in the back of the truck, with the wind in our hair (but most likely dirt on our faces too, as it can get quite dusty on those beaten tracks and inland roads).  The video clip speaks to me about when you are letting go, where do you find yourself ending up?  Where does letting go take you?  Does it take you to some far off place where you find peace?  Does it take you down those familiar paths, those well travelled roads back home again?

Take the weight off my shoulders
I feel the wind on my face
Everyday I grow older
No longer am I afraid. . . 

I hope that you dance with strangers more often.  If anything it teaches me about letting go more often too.  It teaches me about not being so worried and over thinking things too much.  It teaches me to just feel the music, fall into the music, be lost in the music and become part of the music so that in the end you are the music. . . My song, oh. . .

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A change is gonna come. . .

This blog post is dedicated to +Anaru White 

I've had a 'mixed bag' kind of day today.  A bit like a box of chocolates without that glossy piece of paper that tells you exactly what's inside each tempting centre.  There have been pleasant surprises, some shocking surprises and some minor niggles of disappointment that I've quickly brushed off.  You know life is sometimes too short (well, let's face, everyday we're alive we're closer to dying right ha!) so choose to spend life in meaningful ways that will benefit other people.  I mean, this is partly why I write this blog.

I was born in river by the tent
Oh and just like the river I've been running ever since
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

My track of the moment is this classic A change is gonna come by the incomparable Sam Cooke.  I have many fond memories of Sam Cooke songs, but probably the most vivid is seeing +Anaru White sing one at karaoke.  For some people, singing in public is a huge risk, but with the right people, magic can happen.  I play memories like that in my mind like a movie reel, kind of like an archive of special features if you will that I like to watch from time to time to entertain myself.

It's been too hard living but I'm afraid to die
'Cause I don't know what's there beyond the sky
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

I couldn't find a video clip that showed Sam Cooke performing this track, so I've selected a scene from the Malcolm X movie starring Denzel Washington.  The sentiments of the song reflect the climate of the time at its release.  I can't imagine how difficult it would've been to not be able to frequent public places that we take for granted now.  My own people have suffered persecution on some level historically during colonisation and even when they settled into new countries as migrants.  I guess it's the fear of the unknown that makes you do crazy things.  We either operate out of fear or love - so it's hard to love what we don't know, especially if we don't want to take the time to know it, take the time to know people.

Then I go to my brother
And I say, "Brother, help me please"
But he winds up knockin' me
Back down on my knees

There have been many times when I have asked people for help in my lifetime, but have been knocked back, knocked down (thankfully not knocked up!  it's all about direction!!!) and the valuable lessons I have learned from not getting help, has been that if you land on your knees, it's the best position to start praying.  Offload to the universe and pray for a change to come into your life.  But it is super important to make sure that you match up praying with action.  You need to set those small goals to transform that dream into a reality.  So I guess you can say, in this life, I am learning to transform my dreams into realities - not just for me, but for other people too.  It's no fun doing it for yourself, it's way better to share it with others or pay it forward.  Trust me, it will always keep a smile on the dial.

Oh there been times that I thought that I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will . . . 

Life is funny sometimes.  I was in the process of writing this blog post last night and it makes so much more sense since receiving my friend's news.  I'm not saying I'm psychic, I'm just always hopeful that good things happen to good people.  And even when bad things happen to good people - that we have the strength to push through and learn from all of the stickiness that is the bitumen of life.  Do we have the patience to roll it out and painstakingly ensure that it is completely set before we travel on it?  I don't know about you, but it's been a long, a long time coming, but I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will. . . 

Bad Day. , .

Daniel Powter is a Canadian singer-songwriter.  This track Bad Day was the first song released from his self-titled debut album in 2005.  You might be familiar with the song during those horrible montage sequences of the unlucky people who never received golden tickets during American Idol auditions (can't remember exactly what season they used the song).

Where is the moment we needed the most
You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost
They tell me your blue skies fade to grey
They tell me your passion's gone away
And I don't need no carryin' on

If you follow my blog, (specifically the home page section which has all of these beautiful songs that I reflect on) you'll know that I'm a sucker for piano introductions.  This song is no exception.  I think because I am a pianist it naturally draws my ear.  This particular introduction draws me in with the jaunty rhythmic swing that doesn't seem to match the melancholy sentiment of the lyrics.  That kind of juxtaposition is something that I look for often in songs,  I also think that's something I often look for in people, if not in situations, that sense of duality of things that don't match but exist side by side.

You stand in the line just to hit a new low
You're faking a smile with the coffee to go
You tell me your life's been way off line
You're falling to pieces every time
And I don't need no carryin' on

You often go through your life like that don't you.  Humans are creatures of habit and we go about our day, following our usual routine, we try not to let the outside world see or sense our inner discontent and can hopefully hide it by being quiet or not making eye contact.  You're probably that person on the bus or on the train, or standing next to me in an elevator, or sitting next to me in close proximity on a place, that if we accidentally touched, you would pull away.  That's ok.  It's not a sign that you're having a bad day, but it probably stems from something far deeper and something pre-existing that I can't see where you can't see human contact (or I could just totally be reading way too much into this than is necessary).

Sometimes the system goes on the blink
And the whole thing turns wrong
You might not make it back and you know
That you could be well oh that strong
And I'm not wrong. . . 

Sometimes we let one tiny thing that niggles at us when we wake in the morning, or the evening if we're heading to work at whatever time of day, and it sets the tone for the rest of what we would call 'a bad day'.  So how do we counter this?  How do we stop it from snowballing into something that becomes bigger than what it needs to be?  It's as simple as putting things into perspective.

I hope you see that even when you're having a bad day - it doesn't need to be for the entire day.
I have had some friends reach out to me recently and ask me for advice about how to set their own plans into motion, they don't know what to do or how to even make the first steps towards taking action.

All I can say is brush off those setbacks, extricate yourself from the pit of self-pity that you're wallowing and snap out of it.  I'm not trying to sound harsh, but the more that you stay in that state of funk, you're missing out on getting to your desired destination - and to be honest, I can't help you get there.  Only YOU can get to where you need to be, because it's a journey of one, on a self-discovery that is meant for you.

All I can do for you is hope.  So I hope for no more bad days, but I hope that you are able to contain the number of bad days that you have and can move on from them to create better days that you're willing to share with me.  Now those types of days?  That's what I hope to hear about. . .

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Since you've asked. . .

Since you've asked by Judy Collins is not one of the songs that normally springs to mind when you think about this music legend.  You normally associate her with Send in the clowns or Both sides now, both songs that I've heard in many movie soundtracks over the years, played during those montages between scenes or during poignant scenes that required songs to articulate what mere lines in a film couldn't quite encompass.

What I'll give you since you've asked
Is all my time together
Take the rugged sunny days
The warm and rocky weather
Take the roads that I have walked along
Looking for tomorrow's time
Peace of mind. . . 

Is this what the journey to gaining peace of mind looks like?  A trip down many, down various memory lanes that are moments in time where you collected and even created those moments.  Is tomorrow's time the peace of mind that we can't encapsulate in one single moment, but in fact one continuous line of time, putting all of those moments together to create that lifetime of tomorrow's peace of mind?  Personally I think it's quite fascinating to think that peace of mind can be a collection of all of the moments where your mind has been most at ease and you can go and visit that 'happy place' several times a day, particularly when you are faced with challenging and difficult times.

As my life spills into yours
Changing with the hours
Filling up the world with time
Turning time to flowers
I can show you all the songs
That I never sang to one man before

Exactly how I felt when I listened to Souvenir by Billy Joel, it's those feelings of memories being contained in images because they can physically frame the memories for other people to see (if you choose to show them), I've been busy showing people some of the songs of my life.  It has been an uplifting, almost an exhale of breath with this sense of release where I can feel comfortable to share my music with more people than just my immediate 'circle of trust'.  There have been many songs that I have written for more than one person and it is always interesting to hear people's feedback on what they particularly like about a song, what it reminds them of, thus creating a new memory for me associated with a song.

The piano playing in this track sings to me as well.
I think it's because I'm a pianist so I'm naturally drawn to music that shows off the beauty of the piano.  There's something about instrumental introductions, instrumental interludes that add something extra to a piece of music.  The music in this track reminds me of Debussy with its chordal accompaniment and the motifs played in the upper octaves of the piano.

We have seen a million stones lying by the water
You have climbed the hills with me
To the mountain shelter
Taken off the days one by one
Setting them to breathe in the sun

Take the lilies and the lace
From the days of childhood
All the willow winding paths
Leading up and outward
This is what I give
This is what I ask you for
Nothing more. . . 

I imagine that this song is a response to a question that a man must have asked.
Only because you're going to show him all the songs that you've never sung to one before.
It makes me wonder what the question is.
I have a hunch that the question might be What do you want from me?
Because the title of the song suggests that something must be answered in the course of a conversation (or an argument) Since you've asked.

But the perfect answer is found in the last lines of the song:
This is what I give
This is what I ask you for
Nothing more. . . 

I hope that if you are having some troubles in your life, that you find peace of mind.
I hope that someone is able to take you on some journeys through various memory lanes to find peace of mind.  I also hope that peace of mind finds you in tomorrow's time. . .

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Back to life. . . back to reality. . .

Next week I will be back to work. . . again.  I took a week and a half off after only being at work for about a week at the start of the year.  Is there something wrong you might be wondering?  No, nothing.  I just thought it would be a good time to take stock. . . reflect on what I need to do for myself . . . about my priorities and goals for the year which lead me to today's blog post track - Back to life by British group Soul II Soul.  I have talked about them in a previous blog post (see Keep on movin').  

Back to life. . . back to reality
Back to life. . . back to reality
Back to life. . . back to reality
Back to the here and now. . . yeah. . . 

Show me how you decide
What you want from me
Tell me, maybe I could be there for you. . . 

Sometimes you can forget when you're back from holiday that you need to snap out of holiday mode and focus on the tasks at hand.  I've been receiving some multiple reminders just lately about how much focus and concentration that I need (nobody has told me, just something I've realised and resented ha!) but it's all part of your daily learning as you navigate your way through life and making sense of it all.  Whatever "it" is - the purpose of your existence, the meaning of life, why the sky is blue and what makes the grass green (crazy random thoughts like that are uber normal).  The reality soon kicks in about people's expectations of you too - whether you choose to carry on with the status quo, go with how things have always been done or do you forge a new path forward . . . 

However do you want me
However do you need me
However do you want me
However do you need me

Back to life, back to the present time
Back from a fantasy, yes
Tell me, now, take the initiative
I'll leave it in your hands until you're ready

When I think wider, I also think about some situations where you could find yourself living in a fantasy within that situation, maybe because of who you're with and you play certain roles within that situation.  You could find yourself being the person in that situation where you put yourself at risk too many times, disregard everything that you know you wouldn't do and only realise this - when you are in the right frame of mind, or at least aware of what you're doing and what you're doing away from company.  Does this mean then, that you would need to have more conversations with yourself in the mirror, to gain some clarity about how you respond to things now, how you respond to people?  Are your hands even ready to take on board what needs to be done?  Will you take the initiative?

I live at the top of the block
No more room for trouble and fuss
Need change, a positive change
Look, it's me writing on the wall

Back to life, back to the day we have
Let's end this foolish game 
Hear me out, don't let it waste away
Make up your mind so I know where I stand . . . 

I hope that you will find the courage to settle those matters that needed settling from 2014.
As we draw to the end of the first month of 2015, you need to keep asking yourself questions - how will I be better than who I was last year?  How will I do what I want to do?  Where will I want to be?  Why should I be better anyway?

I know that I will be having more difficult conversations with people, but more likely, they will be difficult conversations that I need to have with myself first, if I am to connect better (can it be even more possible? I'm the best at connecting with people!), I need to continue to ask more of the right questions, I need to continue to listen and value people and what they bring to the table.

Need change, a positive change
Look, it's me writing on the wall. . . 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Souvenir. . .

Billy Joel performed this song as the final song for his concert in New York in 1982.  I've probably written more blog posts about him (even more than Michael Jackson) and it might even be somewhat trippy to meet him one day and tell him how much his music has meant to me.

Are you like me when you go to events or just places in general and you collect souvenirs?
Little mementos of something small, most of the time they're things that people would normally not take a second glance or not remember.  It's almost like I play a little game with myself, if it isn't taking pictures with my eyes (I pretend my eyes are camera lenses and I blink really hard like I'm taking photos with my eyes, something I did a lot in my childhood and still do ha!).

A picture postcard
A folded stub
A program of the play
File away your photographs
Of your holiday

Like clockwork at the beginning of each year, I tend to do a big cleanup of my study / workspace (I was going to say spring cleaning, but it's summer in Aotearoa, so it wouldn't make sense) and throw away the souvenirs that I've collected over the years.  I've started taking down photographs that once held pride and place, put away the picture postcards into drawers, found not only programmes of plays but also wedding and funeral programmes.  My recent holiday photographs however, remain housed in my mind,  I realised there are some images that I don't want to share, that I want to keep private to me and my thoughts - not because I don't want to share them, but I am starting to realise that there are some things that I would like to keep sacred to me, and besides, images can't explain the experience of being there.  I can't find the words to articulate the emotions and thoughts I had while being in Samoa over the Christmas break.  So those souvenirs I will keep with me forever.

And your mementos
Will turn to dust
But that's the price you pay
For every year's a souvenir
That slowly fades away
Every year's a souvenir
That slowly fades away. . . 

I hope that you keep your memories that are worth remembering as close to you as possible.
I do start to see each year as a souvenir.  The older you get, the more you start to see each year like a souvenir, taking into account milestones that mark each year, and those milestones colour your perception of whether the year was a good one or a bad one.

I hope that my memory will stay with me forever.
My sense of recall has always been particularly strong, something I inherited from my father who is a prolific orator and can readily recite honorific addresses of all the titles for all of the villages in Samoa.  He sings all the Samoan hymns when you quote the hymn number and he can sing the first line of each hymn.  My father will be a huge help to me when I eventually get around to notating the hymnbook that I plan to write.  It will be a hymnbook of all of the old Samoan tunes that he would have grown up singing in his village of Fasitoouta in Samoa.  My hope is that, at least when I'm gone, I will leave some souvenirs behind for people to enjoy. . .

Monday, 19 January 2015

Walk. . .

This blog post is dedicated to +Tamara Bell 

Today's blog post focuses on Walk by the Foo Fighters.

A million miles away
Your signal in the distance
To whom it may concern
I think I lost my way
Getting good at starting over
Every time that I return. . . 

It's normal to experience the post-holiday blues when you return to work after spending time with loved ones and family.  It might take a while for you to regain your bearings and think about how to start over again.  I'm sure like me, it's trying to muster that inner motivation again to crack on with things that need your attention, people that need your focus . . .

Learning to walk again
I believe I've waited long enough
Where do I begin?
Learning to talk again
Can't you see I've waited long enough
Where do I begin?

The chorus definitely gives that heightened sense of excitement that to me is what good choruses do.
There seems to be mixed emotions here, depends on whether you escalate the scale of the emotions, singing the lyrics more softly, or more loudly as it is done later in the song, but I could probably just boil it down to the rhetorical questions about where to begin your life again.  I don't think I want to be stuck in a traffic jam for longer than I need to.  Sometimes it is just easier to get out of the car and walk away and get to where you need to be, faster, on foot.

Do you remember the days
We built these paper mountains
Then sat and watched them burn
I think I found my place
Can't you feel it growing stronger
Little conquerors. . . 

It almost feels whimsical and carefree here, as if you're reflecting on your past and what was.
Do you want to revisit those seemingly safer places in your past?  Would it help to visit there so that you knew where you needed to be heading.  It might give you some sense of direction that you're waiting to receive.  Once you start to regain some strength, those minor victories and small triumphs will start to accumulate, gain momentum until you push further ahead.

For the very first time
Don't you pay no mind
Set me free again

But why wait for someone to set you free?  Can you set yourself free?  It could be that the very person that you're waiting to set you free was the very same person who imprisoned you in the first place.  That's not only messed up, but more often than not, it's your reality.

You keep alive a moment at a time
But still inside whisper to a riot
To sacrifice but knowing to survive
I'm on my knees, praying for a sign
Forever, whenever
I never wanna die
I never wanna die
I never wanna die
I'm on my knees
I never wanna die
I'm dancing on my grave
And running through the fire. . . 

No Foo Fighters track is complete without the head banging moments that the chorus provides, complete with accented offbeats and drum fills, the power chords from the rhythm guitar, the constant quaver pattern in the bassline and the melodic motifs played by Dave Grohl from time to time.  The signature octave high vocals shows the versatility of his lead vocal, something that some lead vocalists from other bands are not able to achieve. I hope that at some point, particularly at your own breaking point or tipping point, that you're able to scream at the top of your lungs  It pays to scream like nobody's listening. . .

Sunday, 18 January 2015

I know this . . . much is true . . .

Spandau Ballet are one of the key iconic bands from the 80s.  You can't deny that.
Their album True featured the hits True (funnily enough) and GoldI can't watch The Wedding Singer without thinking about this song as the final track at Robbie and Julia's wedding.

This has been one of the songs sitting in my draft folder for a while and I've been meaning to finish writing about it for some time now.  It's funny, you can't seem to write about things or think about what it means to you until situations collide in your life that allow for the words to spill easily onto the page.  Today is that day.  I'm hoping that it transfers quite magically into other areas of my life that require a single-minded focus and absolute concentration.  The challenge lies in being able to maintain my sense of truth and listening to the sounds of my soul.

So true funny how it seems
Always in time, but never in line for dreams
Head over heels when toe to toe
This is the sound of my soul
This is the sound . . . 

I bought a ticket to the world
But now I've come back again
Why do I find it hard to write the next line?
Oh I want the truth to be said . . .

This ticket to the world has been coming steadily in different guises.  They say hindsight is 20/20 but if that's true, there's definitely been a lot of opportunities that have made more sense after the fact.  The reasons why it has been hard for me to write the next line (both figuratively and literally) is that I've been sabotaging myself the entire time.  Try as I might to be in constant denial mode, I can quite comfortably sit back and truly reflect on what has happened (where do I begin) and consider how my truth, my story affects so many other people around me, just as much as their truth and their stories impact me.  I definitely know this much is true.

With a thrill to my head and a pill on my tongue
Dissolve the nerves that have just begun
Listening to Marvin all night long
This is the sound of my soul
This is the sound. . .

We can easily slip into our false sense of securities, our comfort zones, our shelters or the arms of people that freely open them to us without our prompting.  I've been losing myself constantly in music - all different types of music - listening to it, writing my own music, analysing other people's music, analysing my own, listening to feedback about my music.  Being such a music fanatic (freak maybe?) is that when I get into songwriting mode, it is all-consuming and majorly overwhelming.  It eats me up, inside out and it's almost like an incessant, compulsive need to keep writing, almost as if I want to write the desire to create music, out of my system.  I'm not sure if I'm brave enough yet to show anything as personal just yet.  It's still early days. . . even though I've been writing on and off for over 20 years (sigh).

Always slipping from my hands
Sand's a time of its own
Take your seaside arms and write the next line
Oh I want the truth to be known. . .

I hope that you are comfortable with your own truth and your own stories.
As much as it can be painful at times, it can fill you with passion and such intensity that threatens to put everything off balance.  It's at times like this that I remember my high school Classical Studies teacher talking about "all things in moderation, nothing in excess." 

So I guess the question is - how much of your truth are you prepared to share with others?
Would you be able to escape judgement or ridicule, not have the understanding that you're hoping to gain?  Whatever you decide to do, I hope that you know that your truth and your stories, are just as valid, just as valuable and just as important as anybody else's.

I guess it depends on who is willing to listen to your truth and be a part of your stories.

I know this much is true
I know this much is true. . .

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Blackberry molasses. . .

This blog post is dedicated to +Joy Vaele

Blackberry Molasses by Mista was released in 1996.  I hadn't heard much about their music up to this point but really loved this single.  The r'n'b group from Atlanta GA did not release many albums (two I believe) and were not together for a long time.  

Woke up Sunday morning
Gotta little bad news today
They say my life ain't worth living
And time is slowly ticking away

I would hate to get that kind of news.  What could be so bad, that it would mean that you life isn't worth living?  Did you do something that would warrant your life being meaningless, that it would've been better if you weren't alive?  Who would say anything like that anyway?  Does time tick slowly because you're trying to process this bad news and the suggestion that you would be better off dead?
That's a bit extreme I know, but it made me wonder. . . does time tick slowly because time is slowly running out and then the inevitable will happen?

Don't tell me how to live my life
After all that we've been through
Don't wanna live out your hardships
'Cause I've been there myself a time or two

Sometimes we get that sinking feeling when we are destined to pick up the slack of a sibling.
Not that I would condone a Cain and Able scenario to help a situation (murder is not an option).
Why would you take on board other people's hardships?  When someone has a chip on their shoulder and then tries to birth that chip (or tries to land it squarely on your own shoulder - run a mile).

Still life goes on if you just keep holdin' on
So many things to survive won't you realise
There's no such place as paradise
At least in my eyes

Well I disagree with this verse.
At least only about the third line.
There is such a place as paradise.  We're not living it right now, but we can definitely try to make ourselves happy and try to have as much as joy as possible.  I want to be more than a survivor, a victim of circumstance.  From a very young age, I've been sick of being trying to define me and tell me who I am, particularly people who don't me.  Although it would be tiring going through your entire life trying to connect with everyone you ever walked past - to try and convince them who you are, show them who you are and tell them who you are - what would be the purpose of that?  Taken out of context, you would just look like some mad person roaming the streets, like some fanatic person standing on a street corner talking about the 'end of days' and being that street prophet that just also happens to ask for loose change, almost as if you're paying to hear their rambling.  But hey, they have stories too.

Blackberry molasses
One of the things that never change
You gotta keep pushin' on
The sun don't rain all the time
There's gonna be some heartache and pain. . . 

Even though there will be heartache and pain, it is what you choose to do afterwards to heal your heart and ease your pain that will be a testament to your character.  Life will throw some real hard and fast curveballs at you, so you must upskill and know how to anticipate what life throws at you as much as humanly possible (note the emphasis on 'humanly' as only super beings could really anticipate what life lies ahead).

I hope that you keep pushin' on and even when the sun don't rain all the time, that you can dig deep within yourself and find your inner strength.  I hope that you find the paradise that you seek so diligently when you need it.  But live your best life first . . .

Friday, 16 January 2015

I wish. . .

It's the weekend here in Aotearoa.  Well, technically it's Saturday, the beginning of the weekend but every worker in the country knows that the weekend started when they finished work yesterday (unless they're working today because they work weekends so it sucks to be them right now).

I associate weekends with church activities (primarily on Sundays, sometimes on Saturdays) but I mostly associate weekends with good music, spending time with friends, reflecting on the week that was and making plans for the coming week.  One of the songs that I associate with the weekend (thanks in no small part to the many fundraising socials I have had the misfortune or the privilege - hey, it depends on whether I like the hosts or not, let's be real in 2015!) is this lovely track I Wish by Gabrielle. This single was released in 1993 and like most people in my generation, when we attend socials we like to listen to the music of our youth, our glory days (high school days) and associate (shucks that's the most time I've used the word 'associate' in a single paragraph!) this track with memories that we have had, moments with other people.  This song followed me right into university life (complete with more socials!) and even now, it's one that I remember with fond memories.

You don't know what you do to me
Sometimes I find you knock me off my feet
Oh how I wish that we could be alone
Oh how I wish to me that you belonged

I often watch you when you're least aware
Even though I know it's really rude to stare
Sometimes I find I just can't help myself
'Cos I want you, want nobody else

Have you ever let yourself get carried away with these types of feelings?  It's a difficult thing to do to try and suppress your feelings for someone, because you don't want them to know how you feel, you can't let them know how you feel or you're embarrassed that maybe they do know how you feel, but both know you can't do anything with it, so it becomes the elephant in the room every time you're together.  I think it would reach 'panic stations' proportions if you were to find yourself alone with that person because as much as you have all of this fantasy feelings swimming around in your head, it's hard to articulate them, to put them into some semblance of coherence that would make sense to you first, before blurting it out.

Watching someone is kind of creepy.
Have you been in situations where you've discovered that someone has been watching you?
That's creepier still.
I guess if you're going to watch someone or you catch someone watching you, there must be some preparation.  You must be prepared with a follow up as a watcher.  What possible reason could you give?  Would you take the romantic approach and say, 'Excuse me for staring, I really admire beauty.  That's why I can't help looking at you. You're so beautiful.' But if you're the watchee, it would depend on your attitude at the time and also how you felt about catching someone watching you. Would you say, 'Are you alright?  Did you want to me ask me something?' or 'What's wrong?  Is there something on my face?'  I've always preferred the non-threatening approach.  There's no need to get angry at the person watching you.  I mean, have you looked at yourself in the mirror?  That's why they're looking at you ;-)

My heart skips a beat whenever you're near
And I just don't know what I'm gonna do

My thoughts revealed I'm showing all the signs
When we're face to face I can't look in your eyes
Sometimes I find I just can't help myself
'Cos I want you, want nobody else

Oh man.  That heart skipping thing.
Have you felt that?  I've probably felt this a couple of times and had mixed emotions.
Either I've really enjoyed that feeling, been annoyed at myself for feeling it or thought what the hell am I doing feeling #*%(^&$(@.  I have to work through the heart skipping thing (sometimes I wonder, would I have a heart condition if it skips too often, must check that out. . .) but I think it's a mind thing.  The person may even be oblivious to the fact that you feel that way about them.  I mean, they wouldn't want to be responsible for potentially killing you by making your heart skip a beat, that's the practical side.  The whimsical side of me says (sigh) fairy dust, magic wands and butterfly kisses are everywhere.  I think you don't need to know what to do on this occasion.  You just need to feel.

This is the worst part.  When you can't look into someone else's eyes because you see something there that you don't want to recognise let alone see.  I hate it when people try to take you somewhere in your mind that you don't want to go.  I've seen it in eyes that try to say it telepathically, accompanied by a secret smile and a rise of the eyebrows.  I've been close to punching people's faces because of that behaviour ha!  I guess it's a question of, well, do you want that person or not?  There can be all the chemistry in the world in that state of stillness, but unless you move, you won't be able to feel the alchemy.

Oh how I wish that you were here
Oh how I wish that you were near
Holding me tight
Spending some time
Wish you were mine. . . 

I hope that wherever you are in the world, that you get to enjoy your weekend when you get to it.
Enjoy your time with friends, loved ones.  Enjoy time by yourself.
I never used to like time by myself, but it has been one of the most difficult, yet rewarding spaces to be in.  Enjoying such feelings alone (rather than entertaining them for real) is a much safer way for me. . .

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Youthful. . .

Anika Moa is a singer songwriter from Aotearoa who achieved early success in her career, with a record deal in the United States.  Her organic approach to songwriting, her brutal honesty in her lyrics and natural tones of her guitar playing all combine to give a unique sonic experience.

I am just a schoolgirl
Living in a fantasy world
Now I'm outspoken. . . 

I walked around for a couple of years
Trying to convince myself
It was a plan, I was to understand it. . . 

When you are considered too young to make opinions or too young to have a voice to make those opinions heard, you can often feel isolated and inferior.  I can't remember how many times I felt that way as a young person growing up.  I often wondered why people didn't see things the way that I saw them, why things took so long to get completed, why we needed to wait around for things to happen.

I was often told to be patient and to wait and that if I wanted action to take place, I needed to be intuitive and connect with others to ensure that we were all on the same page.  I quickly realised that I learned that this was the plan for my growth as an individual - so that I could contribute effectively to a collective - whether this was my family, my community or any group of people that I found myself in.

They say things to me like, 'you're so beautiful'.
They spoke of other things like 'how much do you charge?'

You're youthful 
You can't hide behind that face
You're so youthful 
Sit tight and stare

It can be frustrating when people can't get past your youth.  Growing up, you might often be the youngest person in the group that is relied upon to contribute to vital decision-making that affects a larger group of people.  Those in senior positions might give you an opportunity to speak up and might even advocate for you to be given opportunities to speak and act.

So what can you do?

Even if people try to brush you aside because of your youth, you might need to practise maintaining that poker face and work twice as hard as your senior counterparts to prove that you deserve to have a voice, not because you are young, but because you've earned it through your work.

Silence stalks me, pushes me through
I feel so broken
Turn the lights on a couple of times
to see if you would exchange
I would not know if you turned them off

Maybe I'm allowed
Maybe it's in the book
Maybe I could shut down the walls

9 till 5 I hope it doesn't show
9 till 5 it's not a perfect thing

I hope that you know that you have the right to speak and have a voice.  You will always have indecision swirling around you, making self-doubt very easy to creep in.

There have far too many tragedies around the world that have suppressed the voices of people who want to speak out.  Just because we don't agree with the opinions of others, it doesn't mean they're wrong and we're right - it just means that we have different beliefs.  Can't we respect our difference of opinion?  As long we don't harm others in the process, blatantly killing them so that our beliefs are upheld - that is where we need to draw the line. . .

Best day of my life. . .

American Authors have talked about Best day of my life being an escape from reality, because the world is a crazy place and you sometimes need to create your own 'best day' of your life.

The beginning of a new year heralds thoughts of resolutions, plans and dreams that are waiting to be fulfilled.  Have you started your list of resolutions?  People's lists might look the same, you might even look at tackling the resolutions that you didn't manage to address last year or you might be one of those people who don't really believe the hype or pay attention to such trival things as New Year's resolutions.

I had a dream so big and loud
I jumped so high I touched the clouds
Wo-o-o-o-o-oh (x2)
I stretched my hands out to the sky
We danced with monsters through the night
Wo-o-o-o-o-oh (x2)

I'm never gonna look back
Whoa, I'm never gonna give it up
No, please don't wake me now. . . 

This year I think I'm not going to look back.
I'm not interested in continuing to do things that are negative or hold me back.  Life is too short to maintain old habits that are detrimental to your progress as an individual, particularly if you are an individual who has some great scope to help others in their own life pathways.

Something happened to me over the Christmas break.
I rediscovered a passion for Music that I hadn't engaged in wholeheartedly for quite some time.
Since I've acknowledged and accepted that this is something that I can no longer suppress - its has added greater value to my outlook on life and where I see how it can contribute to the joy of others.

What am I referring to?  Songwriting.

I howled at the moon with friends
And then the sun came crashing in
Wo-o-o-o-o-oh (x2)
But all the possibilities
No limits just epiphanies

I hear it calling outside my window

I feel it in my soul (soul)
The stars were burning so bright
The sun was out til' midnight
I say we lose control (control)

I can't stress how important it is to surround yourself with great friends who you can howl at the moon with.  I'm actually relishing having more epiphanies this year.  It's only been a couple of weeks but there are almost daily epiphanies that scream "eureka" in my mind when I'm connecting with people or reading through material that relate to my work or is of interest to me.

I think I will be spending more time making new friends and being e en more open to new relationships and friendships.  I'm not saying that I'm in a hurry to get married.  In fact, quite the opposite.  I'm saying that i'm going to have the best day of my life, everyday.  Even if that also means that I might have to consort with some frenemies, that's fine.  I will see that as being necessary to continue to build my character!  Even when you come across some challenging moments and times - just remember that there's always a solution.  There are always practical measures that you can take, processes to follow, discussions to be done to get to those solutions.

I hope that you have the best day of your life today.
I actually hope that you set yourself up to have the best day of your life. . .  for the rest of your life. . .

It's my life. . .

This blog post is dedicated to +Anaru White 

As a child of the 80s, I grew up in the epic rock era - the time of big hair and hairspray, tight lycra pants and ripped t-shirts, heavy eye makeup and shoulder pads.  Bon Jovi were quite influential in the late 80s and by the time I started high school, they were well established as a leading rock band with the distinctive vocals of Jon Bon Jovi.  Today's post focuses on the track It's my life.

This ain't a song for the broken hearted
No silent prayer for the faith departed
And I ain't gonna be just a face in the crowd
You're gonna hear my voice when I shout it out loud

It's my life
It's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just wanna live while I'm alive

You could be forgiven for thinking that the opening introduction reminds you of a Backstreet Boys type of introduction (because I thought that too), particularly with the first two beats.  This accented pattern is peppered throughout the verses.  The chorus does what a good rock song does - it allows the listener to escape by singing at the top of their lungs, giving it an anthemic feel.

It's a very telling thing, to just be able to live how you want.
I'm spending more time these days listening to others around me.  In my early university days, I was quite green but I had a natural ability to listen to people's problems and offer solutions.  I kind of felt like I was Madame Trashy from Fraggle Rock when Gobo and his pals would visit Trashy to get some advice about a problem.  I can still hear the catchcry "The Trashy has spoken".

(It's my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said "I did it my way"
I just wanna live while I'm alive
It's my life

This is for the ones who stood their ground
For Tommy and Gina who never backed down
Tomorrow's getting harder, make no mistake
Luck ain't even lucky, you gotta make your own breaks

There are a couple of references here.  Firstly paying homage to Frank Sinatra with his classic My Way.  The second verse mentions Tommy and Gina who featured in Bon Jovi's other smash hit Livin' on a prayer.  The two references make me think about forging your own pathway forward, despite what everyone thinks about you and projects onto you (heck, they're entitled to their opinions, but it doesn't affect how you live your life).

In the past few weeks I have seen and heard people talk about being victims of their circumstances, blaming their historical socio-economic status for how things have turned out in their adult lives.  Granted, I'm not disregarding innocent children who have experienced the toughest situations beyond their control, I'm just talking about adults now who refuse to do things for themselves, to better the current circumstances - squarely laying the blame at other people's doorsteps, rather than looking in the mirror and seriously considering - how did I  get here?  Am I happy with where I am?  If not - how do I change my situation?  The first step is always the hardest, but you can't move forward without taking . . . a step, without. . . being strong enough to lay down your problems and burdens at other people's doorsteps.

You better stand tall
When they're calling you out
Don't bend, don't break
Baby don't back down. . . 

I hope that you live your life the way that you want.
I guess if you're not doing any harm to others, then it can't be bad right?
Inner strength, inner peace - those things come from you - within you.
Unless you are willing to make some decisions and face some realities about what you want out of your own life and making plans to get there - then you can't really live your life.

I just wanna live while I'm alive
It's my life. . .

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

I can't make you love me . . .

I love Bonnie Raitt.  She is a living legend.  I love her music, I love the tone of her voice, the way she interprets lyrics, particularly in the dynamics of her voice.  One song that encapsulates the pain and heartache with such depth is her classic I can't make you love me.  It has been covered by so many other artists - Adele, Stan Walker, even Bruce Hornsby who plays the piano for her in this live performance included below.  I have also included Fatai's cover of this song as her arrangements are beautiful.

Turn down the lights
Turn down the bed
Turn down these voices inside my head
Lay down with me
Tell me no lies
Just hold me close
Don't patronize
Don't patronize me. . . 

The song opens with the subtle brush of the drums, the keyboard, the bass, the piano before her distinctive vocals caress the verse.  There's something about hearing the sadness and defeat in her voice.  When I first heard this song I was quite young and inexperienced in the world of love.  Over the years as I've heard the song, on the radio, in shopping malls, wherever I happen to be, I have found it is one of the few songs that sits quite sadly in my soul.  I find beauty in this sadness and hearing it is almost like helping to mourn for the love that will never be, the love that will now cease to exist because love has died.

I can't make you love me if you don't
You can't make your heart feel something it won't
Here in the dark in these final hours
I will lay down my heart and I feel the power
But you won't, no you won't
'Cause I can't make you love me 
If you don't. . .

I think that would be one of the most painful experiences to ever go through, emotionally speaking.
It's like when you're in bed someone pulls the curtains open early one morning, jolting you out of your slumber and the light comes screaming in through the windows and hits you in the eyes before you've had time to focus on your surroundings, trying to make sense of what you see in front of you.  Once that initial shock wears off and you gain your bearings, you get to this stage.  The acceptance, albeit reluctant acceptance, complete with the laying down of your own heart.  What power do you have left in your heart when it's broken?

Fatai's rendition of the song is also beautiful.

I'll close my eyes then I won't see
The love you don't feel when you're holding me
Morning will come and I'll do what's right
Just give me till then to give up this fight
And I will give up this fight. . . 

It can be the hardest thing in the world to acknowledge and accept when your relationship breaks down.  It can be difficult to make plans to leave a relationship, aside from the emotional upheaval but also the physical daily upheaval where life as you know it will change completely.  You will be on a new path that you haven't been on before.  If you are a long-term relationship type of person, this may be a completely devastating avenue to explore and venture down.

I hope that at the end of the day, you will love yourself enough to value and treasure your own happiness.  If it means giving up on the fight to stay because the feelings are no longer reciprocated, we must learn defeat in this way.  Everyone must experience heartbreak at least once in their life to know how important love is, to understand how much they need to love themselves first and foremost because there will be times when nobody will love you the way you want.

Despite all of that - just have hope.
If you can't someone love you, love yourself more :-)

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Beside you. . .

This blog post is dedicated to Masalo Tanuvasa Selesele 

I'm not very familiar with Marianas Trench.  I only like two particular songs that they've released. The thing that hooks me into this band is the lyrics and the ways in which they express their lyrics.
Beside you to me symbolises one of the beautiful moments in a friendship where even when you don't talk to a friend in a very long time, you can pick up where you left off.  It doesn't necessarily need to portray the hetero scenario in the video clip.  It can just be a moment where you have a conversation with your long time friend and you don't need to say anything - you just listen.

When your tears are spent on your last pretense
And your tired eyes refuse to close and sleep in your defense
When it's in your spine like you've walked for miles
And the only thing you want is to be still for a while. . . 

There have been many times when I've wanted to be still for a while.
When I've felt like the world I was in was going too fast and I wanted to step off, try to slow the pace down and think much more clearly about what I was doing (or wasn't).  Have you ever tried to go to sleep but you couldn't?  Your mind is just so overactive either through senseless worry that didn't make sense, I mean it was nonsense and it was just you making things bigger than they actually are (something you learned as a child because that's how everyone thought of problems - let's make them big so everyone can see them and have some running commentary on that too).

If your heart wears thin I will hold you up
And I will hide you when it gets too much
I'll be right beside you
I'll be right beside you

This is probably the best use of timpani in a contemporary track that I've seen.  I love the cellos in the second verse.  It's a clever way of using texture and tone to paint the music.  The chorus is traditionally the epic part of the song that everyone remembers and sings all the time - it's the hook - it's the part that we could most likely harmonise quite quickly because it is meant to be remembered.
When your heart wears thin, I will do more than hold you up.  I will try to encourage your heart to be thick again, to beat much more strongly on its own so that the thick texture can return and you can stand tall and no longer feel the need to hide when it gets too much.  Who says the world gets too much for us?  Let's shift our thinking.  Let us be too much for the world.  We can be larger than life - larger than the world.  I'll be right beside you on that one.

When you're overwhelmed and and you've lost your breath 
When the space between the things you know is blurry nonetheless
When you try to speak but you make no sound
And the words you want are out of reach but they've never been so loud. . . 

It can be hard to speak up and have a voice when you're unaccustomed to using your voice.
I use my voice to speak, to laugh, to call out to people, to sing, to make all sorts of sounds at all sorts of pitches (within physical capabilities of course).  Those loud sounds that you can hear, those loud words that you can hear but can't see or touch - until you learn to speak up and use your voice, that's all that will remain.  Loud sounds that ring in your ears and make you think that you're going crazy.

Trust in me, trust in me
Don't pull away
Trust in me, trust in me
I'm just trying to keep this together
Because I could do worse and you could do better. . . 

I hope that you trust in me, because I definitely trust in you.
I mean, I've come to the point where I can trust myself. And I'm not just saying that because I'm biased that I'm talking about myself.  But like you said, because you know me and because you know that I can make changes, I can be successful and I could do better - then why not, let's do better together?  We don't have time for doing worse anymore.  We've got more positive and uplifting experiences to take care of within our daily lives.  It's time for us to not just keep this together - but also celebrate each other together.

I will stay
Nobody will break you. . .