Sunday, 29 March 2015

Don't dream it's over. . .

This blog post is a song request from +Shannon Vulu 

Don't dream it's over was written by Neil Finn and released by Crowded House in 1986.  This cover version is by Lolo, the stage name of Lauren Pritchard.  This cover version is interesting.  The rhythm guitar that is distinctive in the introduction of the original has been replaced by a heavy bassline and equally heavier drum accompaniment.  Lolo's introduction actually reminds me of Atomic Kitten's Whole Again.

There is freedom within, there is freedom without
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
There's a battle ahead, many battles are lost
But you'll never see the end of the road
While you're travelling with me

I think about a road ahead with no end in sight.  Is this what it feels like to be on the road to nowhere?  In a rocky road of a relationship, it may seem difficult to see freedom within it and freedom outside it.  Are you willing to trust someone else so implicitly even if it could be detrimental in the end to your own peace of mind?  How will you know when it's time to get off that road?  Will there be signs on the road side to entice you to stop and have a break, give you some indication that entice you to stop, to take a closer look?  Will it help you to avoid the battles to come?  If there is no end of the road because you're travelling with someone, that seems scary to me, because the logical part of my mind says there is an end to everything.

Now I'm towing the car, there's a hole in the roof
My possessions are causing me suspicion but there's no proof
In the paper today tales of war and of waste
But you turn right over to the T.V. page

When people completely ignore what's going on around them, or are oblivious to any problems that are beneath surface, of course questions will begin to surface just as quickly.  How can they not see the signs?  Why do I see things as clear as day but they can't see the wood for the trees?  How obvious should I make it?  When everything seems to be going wrong all around me, how can they not see how they have compounded the issues?  

Now I'm walking again to the beat of the drum
And I'm counting the steps to the door of your heart
Only shadows ahead barely cleaning the roof
Get to know the feeling of liberation and release 

Where there was once a hole in the roof, we now only see shadows dancing overhead.  Are we finally starting to sense feeling the freedom within that we were craving?  Does freedom, that liberation and release that we were craving only come after some pressure points have been relieved?  I think so.  But the release of the pressure points come after much of the battles have been fought.  Who wins those battles?  And is it important for there to be victors in battles?  I only think battles are worth fighting when it is clear what the battles are about.  How can I count the steps to the hearts of those who are closed from hearing the beat of their own heartbeats?  No amount of beats on a drum will pierce their ears if they are unwilling to truly listen to themselves.  So how do we fashion ears for those to hear?

Hey now, hey now
Don't dream it's over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won't win. . . 

I hope that I never dream that things or people worth having are over.
When the world comes in and tries to do what it can, to build a wall, do we want them to build that wall?  Who benefits from that wall being built?  What if there's plot twist and in actual fact, you've been building the wall between us the entire time?  How will the world know who wins if you're the one who wants to be the sole victor?

I hope that when the world comes in, they come, they come, to build a wall between us, that you find some way to go out, to go, to go, to build your own wall, hang a mirror on it and look upon the face of the winner. . .

Friday, 27 March 2015

Part of the plan. . .

I have these moments
All steady and strong
I'm feeling so holy and humble
The next thing I know
I'm all worried and weak
And I feel myself
Starting to crumble

You think about interactions and situations that you are in.  I have been accused of being an over thinker - but that particular skill hasn't failed me yet in life, carefully considering courses of action that I take. fused together with the right amount of risk.  This track part of the plan by Dan Fogelberg reminds me to step back from life sometimes, because you can often be so engrossed and embroiled in the situations, but don't think about how you are actually acting in them.  I analyse motivations and reasons for engagement and movement.  It can be a time consuming process. but a necessary one to understand yourself and seeing what you do from other people's perspectives.  The next step for me - is confronting them head on with my self-assessment.  I could take a couple of pathways - either join them on the accusation bandwagon or give them reassurance that in spite of it all, I will still be there for support.

The meanings get lost
And the teachings get tossed 
And you don't what you're
Going to do next
You wait for the sun
But it never quite comes
Some kind of message comes
Through to you
Some kind of message comes through

Sometimes things can spiral out of control, emotions get high very quickly and rather than escalate and raise the emotional climate to the point of no return - letting go is the easiest option to take.  You can often go through the "I don't know what to do next" phase.  I call this 'taking stock' of the situation.  Why do people act the way they do?  Why am I acting in this way - am I actually acting or reacting?  It can be extremely hard to stay calm in flagrantly toxic conversations - so the best thing is to end them quickly with your dignity intact and walk away.  I don't know about you - but I think words are extremely powerful.  If you're the type of person that doesn't think about what they in arguments and just says what comes to the top of their mind - then we're going to have a problem.  The frustration creeps in when we're trying to get to the bottom of an issue and all we find are accusations, assumptions and excuses.  If we took the time to peel back the issues - we would actually learn more about ourselves and our ways of communicating but more importantly, we can completely real and start the journey of writing the pages of life together, from the same pages and not sounding like completely twisted subplots that try to weave together and create a ridiculous story that makes no sense.  It's the 'making sense' part that's important.  Do you get me?

Your conscience awakes
And you see your mistakes
And you wish someone
Would buy your confessions
The days miss their mark
And the night gets so dark
And some kind of message comes through to you
Some kind of message shoots through. . . 

It can be hard to admit to making mistakes.   There are genuine mistakes that are caused by the innocent 'not knowing' what to do or how to be in a situation.  There are mistakes that are made when risk is involved and decisions need to be made because you need to take a punt and make the call.  Then there are the calculated mistakes that are, but they're not really mistakes - they're more like strategic moves that are clothed as mistakes and actually part of a bigger plan of action that are deigned to cause harm.  Those types of 'mistakes' are usually wrapped up in almost Machiavellian proportions.  Knowing about these 'shades of mistakes' is a necessary part of being able to understand what went wrong and choosing to solve and resolve issues.  Sometimes I think man. . . save the tissues for those issues. . .

And it says to you. . . 

Love when you can

Cry when you have to
Be who you must
That's a part of the plan
Await your arrival
With simple survival
And one day we'll all understand
One day we'll all understand
One day we'll all understand. . . 

I hope that I will always be open to receiving messages and what they mean for me.
I hope that I never stop learning how to be the best of me during those dark, transitional times.
I say dark because it's about putting faith in myself and putting out the feelers in the darkness and relying on my sense of touch and sense of direction to know where I'm going, am I going in the right direction?  How will I know when I've reached my destination?  Do I even get me?  

Be who you must
That's a part of the plan.
One day we'll all understand. . . .

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Break my stride. . .

Break my stride is the biggest single of Matthew Wilder's career.  The message behind it is one of not looking back and cutting yourself a break by disassociating from negative influences (in this case a woman) but hey, we all know that it can apply to whoever it takes meaning for in your own life.

Last night I had the strangest dream
I sailed away to China
In a little row boat to find ya
And you said you had to get your laundry cleaned
Didn't want no-one to hold you
What does that mean
And you said

It is natural to not want to be micromanaged or be kept tabs on, particularly in a relationship.  Issues of trust arise and you start to wonder whether there is any faith or love that dwells there.  In a work environment, I believe it comes down to a matter of perception.  It is definitely hard to communicate with people who don't listen, choose not to listen and most likely need their eyes, mouth and kneecaps busted - but that's not the civilised way of dealing with conflict.  Instead, trying for open communication and conflict resolution is key - but of course it needs to be the united desire of the parties involved to want to resolve an issue.  Have you ever been subjected to unfair treatment for something you never provoked?  Call it retaliatory or trying to hide behind the fences that you're scrambling to sit on, but you can only do so much.

You're on a roll and now you pray it lasts
The road behind was rocky
But now you're feeling cocky
You look at me and you see your past
Is that the reason why you're runnin' so fast

There's something that just stabs you sideways when you think about how someone from your past is persistent in trying to be a part of your present.  Everyone knows that your actions of your past have lead you to where you are now, and that the actions of the present will dictate where you will be in the future.  When people try to come back into your life and create some Venn diagrams in your world without your permission - it makes you wonder - why are they there?  What purpose do they serve?  Is there some unfinished business or is this the opportunity to quickly nip this in the bud and make the calls that should've been made some moons ago.

Never let another girl like you, work me over
Never let another girl like you, drag me under
If I meet another girl like you, I will tell her
Never want another girl like you, have to say oh!

I don't think I've ever been the girl in the verse above.  I know I have certainly come across some males who fit the description.  Nobody in their right mind should allow someone to work them over, or drag them over.  The verse almost acts like a series of affirmations about what you want to have happen, like promises that you make to yourself after you've been mistreated, verbally and/or physically abused for so long.  You've allowed them to hurt you so much that you're not even sure whether it's unacceptable to be treated in this way.  

Ain't nothin' gonna break my stride
Nobody gonna slow me down 
Oh-no, I've got to keep on movin' 
Ain't nothin' gonna break my stride
I'm running and I won't touch ground
Oh-no, I've got to keep on movin'

I hope that you don't let anyone deter you from speaking the truth. 
I hope that you don't let anyone talk over you and not even have the courtesy to listen.
I hope that you continue to hit the ground running, even when people try to trip you up and want you to fall on the ground.  Oh-no, I've got to keep on movin'. . . 

It's like that. . .

This blog post is a song request from +Ngatai Walker 

My older brother was a huge fan of Run DMC growing up.  I remember he had all of the gear - the chains, the outfits, the crown, the kicks - he had everything on lock.  My favourite track from them is Walk this way that they collaborated with Aerosmith on.  The sentiments of It's like that resonate for me in another song that is similar in theme - Just the way it is as performed by Bruce Hornsby successfully sampled by 2Pac in his single Changes.  The music video highlights breakdancing, one of the elements of hip hop alongside DJing and MCing.  

Unemployment at a record high
People coming, people going, people born to die
Don't ask me, because I don't know why
But it's like that, and that's the way it is

Do you often get asked some big questions about the way society is heading?  Why things are the way that they are?  Would you have the power to change some of those things in society?  How would you go about making those changes?  The cycle of life is a strange thing in that we are constantly thinking about where we fit in, where we belong and how do we know we've reached where we need to be - I mean who needs us to be there?  Ourselves?  Those around us who need us the most?  Other people that may rely on us but just don't even know it yet?

Bills rise higher every day
We receive much lower pay
I'd rather stay young, go out and play
It's like that, and that's the way it is

The cost of being alive is becoming increasingly expensive.
But in saying this - it doesn't mean that it cheapens our existence because the price of material things that can be associated with our survival are expensive. The basic needs to being able to stay alive should be simple enough to manage - but because of the lack of equity in the world, the lack of access to the basic necessities of life such as shelter, food, clothing and medicine can be fatal.  I never cease to be amazed by the struggle of the human condition - what it means to be human in today's world and how we need to be able to function as people, as a community - whether local or global.  We go about our days focused on our own needs and desires, with little regard for fellow man.  And it's not because we don't care.  A friend of mine said it's because of the "busyness" that we associate ourselves with, that make us lose sight of our priorities, what's important and building our general happiness and well being that we can share with others.  I guess that's the reason why the line I'd rather stay young, go out and play strikes me in this verse.  If life gets too hard, too serious - why not play?  

You should have gone to school
You could've learned a trade
But you laid in the bed
Where the burns have laid
Now all the time you're crying
That you're underpaid
It's like that, and that's the way it is

We have heard often growing up that education is the key to securing a brighter and more successful future.  I'm a total believer of that mantra.  Paying attention in school was easy because my parents expected it of me and those high expectations to be successful and think about raising the profile of the family name was an obligation as well.  It never struck me as being anything weird or out of character, until I met other people who were never ambitious or didn't have the same expectations from family to be successful and be the next leader of the new generation.  I'm not saying that you would always chase a career or job prospects with the higher dollar value - together with that must be the opportunity to do right by your family and do work that would make them proud as well as engaging in work that would benefit other families and not just my own.  So many factors to consider when you take on work.  The underpaid scenario will not be a factor for those who went to school or learned a trade.  

One thing I know is that life is short
So listen up homeboy, give this a thought
The next time someone's teaching why don't you get taught?
It's like that (what?) and that's the way it is

I'm always super conscious of learning and the ongoing journey of life long learning.
I always delight in opportunities for further learning - whether formal or informal as there is so much to learn about the world that informs how well you learn about yourself.

I hope that when someone is teaching me that I always feel taught.
I hope that when I'm teaching someone, that they always feel like they are being taught.
But most of all I hope, that where you happen to be in your life, adopt the disposition for learning.
Then tell me if it doesn't totally change your outlook on life.
Even those difficult roads that you need to travel on right now, they are leading you to other, far greater opportunities.

So I hope because for me it's like that, and that's the way it is. . . 

Believe. . .

This blog post is for me really. . . trying to reconcile the fact that everything I do - is for love. . . 

I've written about Sir Elton John in previous blog posts (see I guess that's why they call it the blues and Home again).  I have commented previously on how well his partnership with his lyricist Bernie Taupin has produced some of the most memorable songs of our time.

I believe in love, it's all we got
Love has no boundaries, costs nothing to touch
War makes money, cancer sleeps
Curled up in my father and it means something to me
Churches and dictators, politics and papers
Everything crumbles sooner or later
But love, I believe in love

I don't know about you, but for Pasifika (Pacific Island) families - a lot of what we do is for the love of family.  The fourth line in the above verse resonates quite strongly with me, with the particular reference to my father.  A lot of what I do is to serve him, my family and all the communities I am in.

I have come to realise that everything that I am and do - stems from my familial obligation to serve.  It can be challenging at times, but I fully recognise that as part of my identity - I choose this lifestyle because I believe that it is my destiny to serve in this way.  I can only lead where I serve from love.

I believe in love, it's all we got
Love has no boundaries, no borders to cross
Love is simple, hate breeds
Those who think difference is the child of disease
Father and son make love and guns
Families together kill someone
Without love, I believe in love

The instrumental interlude after this verse allows the listener the time to reflect on the instances where they see love, or where love is absent.  I think what I like most about the song is the fact that ultimately, we get to choose love.  We choose whether we want to love ourselves, love others, love people in general if we want to make a difference in the world - a positive difference.  Even when our world may be consumed by the daily dramas and dilemmas that push us to shut down opportunities for love, kill our own family members (figuratively speaking) while we read newspaper articles that are peppered with stories of family members literally killing each other - those instances are all because love is absent, love isn't there, those are worlds where it is without love.

Without love, I wouldn't believe
In anything that lives and breathes
Without love I'd have no anger
I wouldn't believe in the right to stand here
Without love I wouldn't believe
I couldn't believe in you
And I wouldn't believe in me
Without love

It is interesting to know how love motivates us to act.
Does it spur you to continue with more genuine, good and kind acts of love, or does it spur you to continue with more perverse, twisted and cruel acts of love?  It totally depends on people's definitions of what good love and bad love means and how we perceive them to be in the practices that we engage in.  They say love is simple but it can be quite complex.  How you choose to perpetuate love, whether it will be inclusive and allow people to pass on love to others - whether it will allow you to stand up for yourself and for others, be the voice of reason, be the voice of change, that agent of change who because you love, because you choose to share love for the benefit of others - your expressions of love in the way that you think, talk, act and feel - will ensure that love is in safe hands,  Your hands.

I believe in love
I believe in love
I believe in love

I hope that you believe in love.
If there was anything that was ever worth having in this world that I know was sent to us from another world, another universe, another galaxy, from heaven - it would be love.

These lines, regardless of the repetition and the drone effect given by the strings at the end of the song (which actually gives an eerie effect of a wasteland in my mind, with the dust trying to settle. . .).

Without love I wouldn't believe
I couldn't believe in you
And I wouldn't believe in me
Without love. . . 

So choose love,  Let all your actions speak about love, be ingrained in love.
I'm not saying this in what the cynics would be in a trippy hippy love-the-world kind of way.
I'm saying this in the sense that - if you really want to make sense of your world, your purpose in life and what should be the centre of happiness for you - it's love.

So choose love - because if I imagine a world without love, then I know I'm actually living in hell. . .

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Street Life. . .

This song is dedicated to the hustlers out there who live the street life. . . 

I first became familiar with Street Life when I was the musical director for the school musical Disco Inferno.  It was one of the featured disco hits in the musical and I think we performed it much faster than this original version by Randy Crawford, as it was one of the favourite numbers of the band and the choreography needed that extra attitude that a only faster tempo being driven by the rhythm section, as well as the accentuated syncopation that only the drums could provide.

I play the street life
Because there's no place I can go
Street life
It's the only life I know
Street life 
And there's a thousand parts to play
Until you play your life away

Living the street life has never been more real for most people than it has been in today's day and age.  We can conveniently forget that there are so many people struggling to put food on the table, trying to hustle a buck to pay bills on time.  I definitely think about Haslow's hierachy of needs when I reflect on how for some people - the basic essentials of daily living are hard to come by - even when families are working multiple jobs to sort themselves out.  I'm sick of reading about the ignorance of certain groups of people in the NZ Herald.  Most of the time our national paper posts articles online that are designed to incite and perpetuate the ignorance and racism that I spend every working day of my life trying to quash and banish from schools.  It angers me that it almost feels like this idea of separatism and division is employed everywhere I see to keep us oblivious and in the dark about what is really going on.  There is a secret underworld that we're unaware that is operating.  We don't realise what's happening until it's too late and by the time we've figured out how to play a thousand parts to get up to speed, we play our life away.

You never people see
Just who you wanna be
And every night you shine
Just like a superstar
The type of life's that played
A temptin' masquerade
You dress, you walk, you talk
You're who you think you are

When you do get around to mastering those thousand parts that you must play, nobody ever really knows the real you.  Yet you're expected to 'turn it on' or be 'turnt up' every time you're on show just like a superstar.  So why do you do this?  If you're successful in being this chameleon, good for you.  The thing about being a chameleon though is that you need to be quick to adapt to all of the different environments because it will only take the smallest of moments when you're too slow to adapt that you will be exposed.  So being a chameleon takes much practice, honing of your craft in terms of being adaptable and why wouldn't you right?  It's what people have come to praise about you and come to expect.

Street life
You can run away from time
Street life
For a nickel or a dime
Street life
But you better not get old
Street life
Or you're gonna feel the cold

It's an interesting thing to think about.  Sometimes it doesn't matter how hard you work to help others in their times of need and try to do what you can do to not be a burden to others - but trouble and dramas just seem to stick to you like a bad smell, like Pepe Le Pew with his incessant obsession with that poor cat. . .

There's always love for sale
A grown up fairy tale
Prince charming always smiles
Behind a silver spoon
And if you keep it young
Your song is always sung
Your love will pay your way beneath the silver moon. . . 

I hope that when you are busy living your street life, that you don't lose sight of the real you.  It can be very easy to lose yourself in the hype of what people expect you to be, in the hype of what you expect yourself to be, who you think you are.  I think when you get to stage in your life where when you keep persisting in the being the who that you think you are and you're still feeling unhappy - it's time to reconsider how you're playing life in the street.  

How will you keep it young?  
How will you always keep your song sung?
I just hope that you don't keep giving yourself away so much when you're living the street life, that you start to lose who you think you are. . . 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Incredible Hulk (Lonely Man)

This blog post is dedicated to +Anaru White 

Every time I hear this piece of music, I think about the beauty of pain and loss, fear, love and sadness.  The subtlety of the dynamic levels with the gradual decrescendo with the softening of the volume before the accelerando signals a dramatic increase in speed is equally balanced with the gradual slowing down of the tempo at certain points.

In the video clip below, you will see the 1978 series finale with a poignant line uttered by the little boy that David Banner reflects on:

My grandmother, always says, people never die, as long as somebody remembers them. . . 

The theme music in the video clip is entitled Lonely Man.  It is not often that you see different theme songs for the opening and closing credits of a TV show but this show was by no means your average show.

The closing credits of the TV series The Incredible Hulk starring Bill Bixby as David Banner always showed him walking away on to the next town.  It kind of reminded me of The Littlest Hobo  in this sense (see a previous blog post with the same name) except the dog walking from town to town is featured in the opening credits of the show.

Lou Ferrigno played The Hulk and with little acting experience from appearing on Pumping Iron, he was soon a household name featuring in the TV series for the duration of its run.  He was never replaced by another actor because of his physique and he also performed most of his own stunt work.

When I taught music, I often use this theme to illustrate the opening interval of a minor 6th when we were studying major and minor intervals.  The students liked my attempts at a voiceover, the part where the narrator outlines David Banner needing to move around until he finds a cure for his disease.  What I love most about this theme is its melodic simplicity yet the wide intervals in the melodic line contribute to the melodic contour, as different octaves are used.  

The fact that there are no lyrics to reflect on with this theme song, I think, is quite perfect.
There are some pieces of music that words cannot articulate, encapsulate, encompass and express.
The left hand in the piano serves as the accompaniment to the right hand melody.  I have always marvelled at the partnership that occurs when two hands play - one leads while another follows, sometimes they switch positions and one follows while the other leads.  Learning how to play the piano in this way involves intense training, honing your technique with scales and exercises that are designed to build strength in your forearms, dexterity in your fingers and inform how you touch the piano.  The sounds that a well trained pianist makes when they touch a piano is vitally important. 

When you are well versed in the playing of an instrument, you become discerning and your ear is trained to differentiate the nuances in sounds that other pianists make.  You develop a particular preference or taste for musical interpretation.  You know what you like.  You hate what you hate.

I hope that when you need to reflect on the pain, loss, anguish and fear that have plagued the moments of your life, that you think about how beautiful they are because they reveal more about you than you will ever truly appreciate.  This can only be seen by others who believe in you, because you fail to see the potential in yourself.

Just as the flows and ebbs of the tides of the ocean rise and fall with each wave, just as the melody swells and softens with each few bars in this theme song - just know that like the good Maya Angelou says you not be remembered for what you said, but you will be remembered for how you made people feel.

So be happy - even when people think you are the lonely man.
As long as I remember you, you will never die :-)

Charles In Charge. . .

This blog post was prompted by watching a video made by +Michael Lintott 

If you were a fan of 80s TV sitcoms then you were a fan of Charles in charge like me.
Starring Scott Baio and Sandra Kerns (who I found out as a child was the sister of Joanna Kerns the mom from Growing Pains, which confused me cos then I thought that the Seaver kids and the Powells were first cousins ha!).  I followed Scott Baio in reruns of Happy Days where he played Chachi opposite Joanie Cunningham played by Erin Moran, and her older brother Richie Cunningham was played Ron Howard who started off as a child actor opposite Andy Griffith in The Andy Griffiths Show.  His parents Howard and Marion Cunningham played conservative 1950s all-American parents who had a soft spot for the Fonz played by Henry Winkler (who we would discover later with secret glee was behind the production company responsible for bringing us the phenomenon known only as MacGyver).

But back to Charles (who just before we move on, was incidentally also the name of the oldest brother of the Cunningham clan - who we rarely saw on Happy Days).

Willie Aames of Eight is enough fame played the best friend.  Nicole Eggert who played the eldest and popular daughter of the household later earned her stripes as a lifesaver on Baywatch.  Josie Davis who played her more earnest book worm sister Sarah featured in a few mini series in her time. 

New boy in the neighbourhood
Lives downstairs and it's understood
He's there just to take good care of me
Like he's one of the family

Charles in charge 
of our days and our nights
Charles in charge 
of our wrongs and our rights

And I sing, I want
Charles in charge of me

Who do you want in charge of you?
I bet you're quite happy being in charge of yourself :-)

My favourite things. . .

This blog post is dedicated to +Anthony Faitaua 

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favourite things. . .

Julie Andrews is the governess or nanny I wish that I had growing up.  I'm also not ashamed to say that My favourite things is one of my go-to karaoke songs.  Why you might ask?  Because you wouldn't expect a well-built Samoan woman singing in a flawless English accent with an even more flawless soprano.  This particular track has brought the house down on many occasions not only because it's a firm favourite amongst those of us who were brought up on The Sound of Music (that title of the track itself I often used as a vocal warmup for school productions - the hiiiiiillls are aliiiiiive, in ascending semitones each time!) but because it's Julie Andrews for crying out loud!

Cream coloured ponies and crisp apple strudels
Door bells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favourite things

What are some of your favourite things?  Obviously the list of Fraulein Maria's list of favourite things is heavily influenced by her native Austria.  I can't help but notice that her list of favourite things have a lot to do with nature with the ponies and geese, as well as food with the strudels and schnitzel.

Girls in white dresses with blue satin dresses
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favourite things

Obviously living in Austria, this verse talks alot about winter with all things white.  I can't also help but think that there is some secret reference here to the influence of Hitler's Germany with references to all things white (the Aryan race with blond hair, blue eyes and flawless white skin), although the white winters do eventually melt into springs.  My favourite line is the second line because of the reference to snowflakes and the way that Andrews sings this word in a sing song voice (sung speech) in the repeat.  The lyrics upon repeat experience a modulation, a key change.  Modulation is a great tool that composers like Rogers and Hammerstein use to create tension by raising the key higher for the vocalists to start showing their singing technique.

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply my favourite things
And then I don't feel so bad. . . 

I hope that even when there are some pressure points in your life, that you think about the favourite things that you have going for you in your life, and then you won't feel so bad :-)

Steal away. . .

Continuing in the vein of some really classic 70s dance hits, I came across this lovely tune.  The music video is entertaining in itself as well as the style of dress, but the music steals the scene for me.

This is the only song that I know from Robbie Dupree.  I think I love this song because it has a strong melodic focus on the keyboard, particularly in the way that it enhances the main melody.  Steal Away to me is a fun song that dares to ask the question - why don't we? 

C'mon and hold me
Just like you told me
Then show me
What I want to know. . . 

Why don't we steal away
Why don't we steal away
Into the night
I know it ain't right

Have you had fantasies about just disappearing with someone off somewhere?  The flirtatious nature of the song with its playful lyrics (well depending on your moral standing right, because the lyrics make light of adultery or having an affair) is totally backed by the equally playful instrumental accompaniment.  But I think the thing I love most of all about 70s bands is definitely the backing vocals from the band.  I am totally fascinated by the backing vocals in songs such as this.  It makes me wonder - did all males in the band know to harmonise in this way?  I don't really see it prevalent in any other period apart from this time?  Where have all the good male backing vocalists gone. . .

It does have a Doobie Brothers, Michael McDonald feel to it and it's probably why I love the vibe to this song. I think it reminds me of a time in songwriting where you could talk about love or relationships without being too explicit.  It definitely had all of the romance firmly attached without the vulgarity of some music of today.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not against profanity (I'm only human) but in the case of sexually explicit lyrics that is degrading to woman - that's where I draw the line.

Don't tease me 
Why don't you please me
Then show me 
What you came here for

I caught you glancing my way 
And I know what you're after
(No second chances tonight)

The bridge is prefaced by the instrumental interlude which is used to heighten the climax that is to come, especially when the entire band comes in holding that long note on "whhhhhhhyyyyyy" in chorus - one of the best parts of the songs for me.

I had a quiet chuckle to myself - what if for example, during that verse when he sings, why don't you show me what you came here for - I immediately thought about a conversation I had with +Alex Hotere-Barnes about making different music videos to match the lyrics.  So for this one, being about to steal away and show him what you came here for - could be to steal away for something ridiculous like a game of chess, Monopoly, Jenga, Twister or some other random activity, other than what the song lyrics suggest.  (I mean it's better than refilming Sting's Every breath you take with the premise being a stalker shown with binoculars singing the song and then being shown in different situations with pictures of his victim plastered all over his bedroom walls, but I digress. . . ).

I apologise for that previous paragraph.
It all made total sense in my mind as I was thinking it, but it might come across as loosely connected and not making one ounce of sense at all.

I'm ok with it - leaving it as is :-)

Why don't we steal away
Why don't we steal away
Why don't we steal away
Why don't we steal away. . . 

I hope that you don't take life too seriously.  I hope that you can laugh at yourself from time to time (goodness knows I laugh at myself all the time - it's just not right to laugh at other people if you can't laugh at yourself first).  And if you can't steal away with someone else, someplace else, just steal away with yourself.  There ain't nothing wrong with that. . .

Second time around. . .

This blog post is dedicated to those who are ready for a second time around. . . .

One of my favourite artists from the late 80s was Jody Watley with her single New love.  At the time I didn't realise that she was part of a band called Shalamar, following a successful career as a dancer on Soul Train.  The song Second time around focuses on the notion that you can put your heart on the line again, even after you have lost love.  The first time implied in the song hints at the love leaving them for someone new, but it can also apply to someone who is ready for love again if love has left them permanently i.e. they've lost their loved one forever.

I know you've come a long way baby
But you don't need that heart of stone, no
You proved that you could do it, do it baby
You could make it on your own

But you can't keep runnin' away from love
'Cause the first one let you down no, no, no
And though others try to satisfy you, baby
With me true love can still be found
Love can still be found

I've had some friends ask me about what I write in these blog posts, whether there are some hidden meanings between the lines, whether there is some subtext.  Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn't.  Most of the time I write because it just flows quite nicely and I find myself reading what I write as I type but I don't consciously think about what I'm writing about. . . it just appears as words on the screen.

That being said, I also know that my friends mean well and try to suggest that I should be ready to engage in a new relationship, but it can be challenging.  Actually, I've got that wrong.  It's more acquaintances that ask me really, and I'm ok to answer questions about if I'm ready to move on etc.  I'm not sure myself whether I talk about this a lot on this blog, but it is definitely a topic that rears its head more often that I'd like.  I've put it down simply to the fact that people assume that if you've been married before, that you should always be married or with someone - even if you are a widow or recently divorced or separated.  How hard is it for people to know that it's ok to be alone for a certain time?  I'm sure there are people that think they can offer true love - it's not that I'm closed to the idea of love - it's just a matter of - not right now.  I guess I find other forms of love that are sufficient right now - I don't need to have that intimacy of a marriage that I once had to feel complete.  There are other areas of my life that I can explore.  Don't you think so for yourself? 

(The second time around)
Ooh, the second time around is so much better, baby
(The second time around)
And I'll make it better than the first time around

As cheesy song lyrics from the 1970s goes, this verse is definitely guilty of that description.  The cynical part of me thinks - how will you make it better than the first time around?  How would you know?  Were you around during the first time?  If anything, this song is a fun dance song for me.  I like the instrumentation.  When the introduction hits I always imitate the high pitched 'peow' sound from the synthesiser.  I can also definitely see myself doing the 'bus stop' moves that +Te Mihinga Komene taught us at our work retreat earlier this month.  

You know I really love you
And I paid for my mistakes, yes, I did, girl
The more I try to hide my feelings, baby
The old heart gets in the way 
And love won't let me wait. . . 

I hope that if and when you are ready for your "second time around" that you throw yourself headlong into that love affair, that romance, that relationship that will be the love to end all loves.  I think my love is different now, like it's almost housed in a museum in my mind that I go and visit the rooms now and then to reacquaint myself with the moments of love that I have from my past.  That's ok for me, while I focus on other parts of my life that I've neglected in the past - like my health and wellbeing.

I hope that love doesn't let you wait.
I know that love won't let me wait. . . in fact, I know that love will always be there, waiting for me :-)

Monday, 23 March 2015

Love of the common people . . .

This blog post is dedicated to the common people . . . 

Living on free food tickets
Water in the milk from a hole in the roof
Where the rain come through
What can you do?

Tears from your little sister
Crying 'cause she doesn't have a dress
Without a patch for the party to go
But you know she'll get by

I have written indirectly about Paul Young before as he was a featured soloist on the Feed the world (Do they know it's Christmas) single released by Band Aid.  I loved watching Paul Young on TV music shows of the 80s.  His most memorable hits for me include Everytime you go away and What becomes of the broken hearted?

The government hasn't really been thinking about the "common people" of Aotearoa as of late.  
The state housing situation in Aotearoa is dire, with the government unwilling to make housing affordable for ordinary New Zealanders who are entitled to have housing for their families.  As an educator I have always struggled to think about how to support children of all cultures, ethnic backgrounds and identities in my line of work - notedly when their parents and caregivers are trying to do as much as possible, trying to work as hard as they can to make ends meet and provide their children.  It is hard for children to learn and achieve to their potential when they live in damp homes, with no food to eat and school uniforms that prevent them from even attending school.

It's a good thing you don't have bus fare
It would fall through the hole in your pocket and you'd lose it
In the snow on the ground
You got to walk into town to find a job

Trying' to keep your hands warm
When the hole in your shoe lets the snow come through
And chills you to the bone
Now you'd better go home to where it's warm

In my experience as a teacher, children have opted to stay home and avoid the drama that comes with not having 'enough' when they enter the school gates.  The images that the words in these verses conjure help to illustrate how things worth doing, the basic necessities in life that we can often take for granted, are a constant burden for other people to provide for their families - warmth that provides comfort, a home that provides shelter and a place to rest, a job that provides the economic means to be self-sufficient.  How can our government promise to provide these things and then take them away because profit is more important to line their own private pockets?

Living on a dream ain't easy
But the closer the knit, the tighter the fit
And the chills stay away
Keeping 'em in stride for family pride 

You know that faith is in your foundation
And with a whole lot of love and warm conversation
But don't forget to pray
'Cause making it strong where you belong. . . 

I am a strong believer in having faith in your foundation, whether it be faith in God or another spiritual being that you choose to put your faith in - it is important to ensure that you draw strength from something or someone who will help to steer you through.  In the absence of practical help and assistance that we should come to rely on, it's no wonder that people continue to search for answers from the universe to push them along, to help keep them afloat in these trying times.  Are you strong where you belong?

'Cause she's living in the love of the common people
Smile's from the heart of a family man
Daddy's gonna buy you a dream to cling to
Mamma's gonna love you just as much as she can, and she can. . . 

The chorus of this song reminds me of the children's poem/song Hush little baby, don't say a word because it uses the same reference to the parents, in particular to Papa and what he will buy for his child.  It makes me think about those fathers who may be struggling with trying to buy things for their children.  How can we as a society help our fathers to help their children?

I hope that no matter how far you get in life, that you remember where you come from, where you once belonged.  I hope that you remember that when you were once the common people, that you remember to do things for the love of the common people. . . 

Count on me. . .

This blog post is dedicated to those who need me as much as I need them. . . 

I really love Bruno Mars and his music.  I feel that he has an instinctive natural flair for writing - I love his word painting and how he can make the words cry with the melodies that he attaches to them.

If you ever find yourself stuck in the middle of the sea
I'll sail the world to find you
If you ever find yourself lost in the dark and you can't see
I'll be the light to guide you

You can count on me like 1, 2, 3

I'll be there
And you know it
I can count on you like 4, 3, 2
You'll be there
Cause that's what friends are supposed to do oh yeah
Oooooh, oooooh yeah, yeah 

It's nice to find some decent friendship songs that let people know that they can rely on you as much as you can rely on them.  You could be fooled for thinking that it's extremely easy and straight forward to be able to rely on people, but as we all know - actions speak louder than words.  It's simple enough to make promises and make people think that you are reliable and can be counted on - but there will be those times when you won't call out for help, but people, if they know you well enough, will be able intuitively pick up on the fact that you need them.  Friends know when to give space and when to rush in where angels fear to tread.  It's that sense of loyalty that you expect above all else.  I guess at the end of the day - are you willing to stand up and defend your friends at your own expense because it was the right thing to do?  

If you're tossin' and you're turnin'
And you just can't sleep
I'll sing a song beside you
And if you ever forget how much you really mean to me
Everyday I will remind you

You'll always have my shoulder when you cry

I'll never let go, never say goodbye
You know. . . 

Have you ever had some moments in your life when your friends have been there for you in a way where they have "ridden through a storm" for you?  (It's the past participle of 'to ride', I checked ha!). I remember one incident vividly where a group of friends staged an intervention because I had really lost the plot at that time.  It was perhaps the only time that has ever happened to me (the intervention), and it was actually a stormy night too, so it was double the impact you know, but one incident I will never forget.  Having them come and see me during that time showed me how much they were willing to show me how much I meant to them (still mean to them).  Intervention aside, there was the stealth situation which required some delicate work from a couple of other friends.  I'm grateful for those two specific gestures and use those as exemplars or the pinnacles of friendship with my friends.  Nothing like historical precedents to set the bar high for all other contexts of friendship to follow.

I hope that my friends know that I will be there for them in a heartbeat.  I have had some instances where my friends have said that they were just about to text, Voxer or call me - it's like we're on the same wavelength and can sense when we need each other - for whatever reason.  Sometimes you don't even need to have a reason other than, you know when someone wants you to be there for them, to lend an ear to listen or to extend your arms to embrace them in a well timed hug or growl them off when they need to see or hear sense.

Find out what we're made of
When we are called to help our friends in need. . . 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Cough Syrup. . .

This blog post is for people who need to understand that life is too short. . . 

I don't know about you, but I've been thinking a lot about taking "medicine" for what ails me,  The medicine I use loosely in terms of finding things or people or situations where being immersed in that medicine starts to put you on the pathway to healing, it makes you feel better and then better able to function in your world.  Young the Giant sings today's track Cough syrup.  

Life's too short to even care at all, oh
I'm losing my mind losing my mind losing control, oh oh
These fishes in the sea they're staring at me oh oh
Oh oh oh oh 
A wet world aches for the beat of a drum

I'm starting to realise that there are no longer many constants in life.
I never dreamed as a young girl that I would get married when I was older, I know this because I didn't have the fantasies of the white weddings that my peers had growing up.  I wasn't that boy crazy in comparison to other girls my age at my all-girls high school, and I think this was largely due to the strict upbringing that I had from my parents, so I learned never to hope or wish for things that were not attainable.  My attitude has since shifted in this respect.  I also never dreamed that I would be a widow at such a young age compared to my contemporaries who are still married or getting engaged or getting married.  I'm still a work in progress in this respect, but I will always have the private grieving time because that's normal and I'm ok with that,

If I could find a way to see this straight
I'd run away
To some fortune that I, I should have found by now

I'm waiting for this cough syrup to come down, come down

It is easy to think that when we were younger, we had our life mapped out in milestones or at least we had a fair idea of where we should be at certain touchstones in our lives.  We started to realise that this was a learned behaviour from when we were children, they were ways of living that we inherited from our parents about how we were able to measure our success if we reached those yardsticks sooner, rather than later.  The older we grew, we quickly realised that things and circumstances changed as quickly as we changed our minds about what to wear to impress a first date.

Life's too short to even care at all oh, oh
I'm coming up now, coming up now out of the blue, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
These zombies in the park they're looking for my heart 
A dark world aches for a splash of the sun, oh, oh

I know now that I don't need to let any zombies come near me and try to tell me how to feel, who to associate with and how to "be" in the world.  These zombies are remnants from my past that haven't learned to move on with their own lives and I'm getting better at sweeping these entities back to the rocks that they crawled out from under.  I know now that if I continue to be the light in whatever context I find myself in, that I am ready to shine for others who might also need some sunlight in their worlds.  Why would you want to be anything else for others who are in need of some vitamin A and D?
And so I run now to the things they said could restore me

Restore life the way it should be
I'm waiting for this cough syrup to come down

I hope that whatever medicine you choose to take, that they act like vitamins and keep you happy and healthy.  I hope that you find some restoration in your life, when you go to actually rebuild the "you" that you once were, that you come back even stronger and better than you've ever been, because you deserve it.  I hope that the cough syrup you take tastes good.  There's no point in swallowing that yucky Vick's Formula 44 anymore when there is a whole range of other flavours to choose from that better suit your mood.

One more spoon of cough syrup now, whoa. . . 

Numb. . .

I've written about Linkin Park before in a previous blog post (see One step closer).  I've always loved this particular song as it always felt like an ultimate thrash song to me, a track that you blasted in your house at the top level of your sound system and danced around your lounge, head banging and dancing wildly to (a great way to release some pent up emotions or lose that tense energy that continues to build).  I also felt that Numb is a great track to blast out to your parents or someone else in your life who puts so much pressure on you and this is the exact song you need to let them know how they are making you feel.

I'm tired of being what you want me to be
Feeling so faithless, lost beneath the surface
Don't know what you're expecting of me
Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes
(Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow)
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
(Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow)

Why do people do that?  Continually put you under so much pressure that you feel that nothing you do is right?  That every step that you take, even if you were to retract it and place it in another direction would still be deemed wrong.  It wouldn't actually matter where you decided to go, it's just that other people feel like they have all of the control over you and can make decisions for you, especially when it comes down to how you live your life and what you should be doing.  Why is it that people feel that they can make those life changing decisions for you without your consent?  Do you often wonder how you can break free from the hold they have over you? Would it be as simple as stepping back and making sure that you make some preparations to escape without letting them know?  I've often read about people who were considered missing, actually report missing by their loved ones, only to be found 20 years later in another state, in another country living a new life away from those that sought to oppress them.

Can't you see that you're smothering me
Holding too tightly, afraid to lose control?
'Cause everything that you thought I would be
Has fallen apart right in front of you
(Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow)
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
(Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow)
And every second I waste is more than I can take

When people feel like they have some type of ownership of your life (I guess that celebrities would probably feel this more keenly than everybody else, because the public view them as public property). it can take you nerves of steel and for you to dig as deep as possible to find ways to disappear, to loosen that grip somehow.  Who will you enlist to help you in your quest for freedom?  Would potential supporters even believe your stories?  Because you have let everything fall apart around you, how will you hope to push on and rise above it all?  Who will empower you to make these changes?  The only thing rising seems to be the blood pressure that threatens to bring on a heart attack with every second that you feel is wasted.

And I know
I may end up failing too
But I know
You were just like me with someone disappointed in you. . . 

That generational level of disappointment, I think parents can often forget how much they had also been at some points, been a disappointment to their own parents.  I guess it comes down to how we manage this as adults and learn how to not necessarily make it easier for the generation, but at least let our children know that even though we have high expectations, that they can still fully come to us with their problems and know that we will be supportive of their issues, and know exactly how to find support for them, until we can come around with seeing things from their perspective.

I've become so numb, I can't feel you there
Become so tired, so much more aware
I'm becoming this, all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you

I hope that we start living our lives not blaming our parents for our problems,  I don't believe that the poor decision making that our parents have done to be the root cause of how we choose to live our lives.  (Sorry therapists - I'm not prepared to do that).  But what I am prepared to do, is to learn from my parents by standing tall, choosing to be like them with the best that they have to offer me - which is a great understanding of my heritage language and culture to inform the diverse identities that I hold in this world - because this is what makes me a functional human being in the greater world at large and able to understand the many societies that I find myself operating in.

I hope that I continue to "be" in the world.
That's all I want to do. . . 

I don't see it your way. . .

I've written about Christopher Cross before in previous blog posts (see Ride like the wind and Sailing).  I don't see it your way is an offering from The Secret Ladder, released last year.  I've always been attracted to the lyrics of his songs.  He has an easy way about him with the flow of his music.  The soprano saxophone that features in this song helps to add some textural layers, especially as a counter melody in between the main melody and it also provides harmonic accompaniment in the prechorus sections of the songs with its longer notes.

Call it discussion
Call it debate
Call it two fools shouting at the night
Toxic with anger
Right from the gate
As each of us pretend we know what's right
We can't repair it, it's way too late
Now our hearts are only in this fight

It is always a strain constantly arguing with someone.  It can be draining when you have to always argue with them because this is the only mode they can engage in.  Don't get me wrong, I love to have a great discussion or debate - but it seems like an argument is the only format that certain people can engage in - because they don't know how to have a decent discussion or debate without resorting to making things personal.  I hate those types of people.  How do you deal with them?  The easiest solution when there is no solution in sight or if a relationship is not worth salvaging - is to just walk away.  I have often had to prepare myself with this on occasion, and as challenging as it may have seemed at the time because extrication seemed impossible much like how a surgeon meticulously plans delicate surgery which involves multiple methods and techniques, in quick succession, I felt that I have had to operate (excuse the pun!) in this manner as well.

Love and kindness is the rule
But my darling I'm no fool

I never said you were a fool.  I think I've done as much as I can in terms of helping you.  I don't think you're worth the time and energy anymore.  It isn't fair to me and the way that I am as a person.  The imbalance of how we are lends me to the conclusion that you aren't a person who allows me to "be" anymore.  I can't help the way I am (it's never really been a problem for most people) but if I need to suppress who I really am, if I need to stop shining (as you call it) because you're lack lustre - how is that my fault?  People who know me best, know full well that I do my best all the time because that's just how I'm built.  I run my own race, I battle my own demons - I think you should divert the mirror your way and take a long hard look at yourself.  I'm not responsible for your inadequacies, no matter how much you try to push it on me.

I don't see it your way
I don't see it your way
I don't see it your way
I don't see it your way
Say I'm a typical male
Say I'm an old cliche
But I don't see it your way
I don't see it your way
I'd like to think I'm trying
But I don't hear what you say
Cause I don't see it your way
I don't see it your way

If I were to say you're a typical male and an old cliche - that would be an insult to the other males in the world who have got themselves together and also an insult to the old cliches that actually do resonate and mean something to people - to act as a reminder about how cliches can sometimes synthesise certain situations in life when we least expect them to (or we are at a loss for words and cliches can explain what we fail to articulate).  You think you're trying, that you're doing.  What exactly you're trying to do, what you think you are actually doing - I fail to see that.  What you say and what you do don't exactly match up.

You slap me with silence
I make a scene
We'll see who hits the wall before we're through 
Judge me so harshly, you seem so mean
And saying this of course I'm judging you. . . 

I don't think I'll be slapping you with silence anymore.  You wouldn't be able to handle it.  So instead I will keep talking to you, but it doesn't mean that I trust you.  The way that you behave has shown me that you are not a person who is worthy of my trust anymore and that's a good thing.  It's ecstatically great for me because it's forcing me to face what I was reluctant to see - that even when I can do good for others and be as supportive as possible - that they can misconstrue this and make it about how inadequate they feel about themselves, rather than seeing me for what I am - just a friend.

I hope that you can manage to deal with your own demons.  In recent times you have been a demon for me, gnawing at my thoughts at night keeping me awake and dreading spending time with those nearest and dearest to me with your judgemental decisions.   Good luck with the rest of your life.  I sincerely mean that, even if you don't believe me.  When I say we can agree to disagree, but you even hate that - because for you there ain't no shades of grey. . .