Good morning everyone, I hope it’s sunny where you are. It’s beautiful here today, which is kind of torture at the same time because I really cannot revise in the sun – I just go to sleep – so I’m sitting at my desk, by my window, looking longingly outside. But hopefully it’ll all be worth it in the end, and I’ll be able to write a stunning answer in my exam on Wednesday. Here’s to hoping.
Anyway, due to the constraints of revision I haven’t finished Oliver Twist yet so I can’t give you a review – although I am really enjoying it so far. But yesterday in I (the 30p sister paper of The Independent) there was a piece where a load of musicians talked about songs that had changed them or were really important to them in some way, so I thought I’d write a little bit about songs that are important to me. Most of theirs seemed to be focused around songs that made them decide to be musicians or first turned them on to music in the first place. Obviously none of my songs are going to be important in that sense, but the more I thought about it the more I thought of songs that have achieved something of an iconic status in my mind. So here, in no particular order, is the soundtrack to my life – enjoy!
“Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers
This is my favourite song in the world, bar none. Nothing can beat it. A lot of my childhood memories are of being in the car, driving out for tea or to the beach or swimming lessons or whatever and my Dad playing some random CD, and I think this is where I first heard this song. Even though it’s so sad, it’s so beautiful, and Bill Withers’ voice is like heaven. It doesn’t matter how many times I hear it, I’ll never get bored.
“Blue Skies” by Noah and the Whale
You know how people say that sometimes something is going on in their lives, and one day they switch on the radio or the CD player and a song comes on that feels like it’s been written just for you at that very moment, like the artist has stepped out of the speaker, sat down beside you and told you something you really needed to hear. Well, this is the only song that has ever done that to me. It was about a year and a half ago. I’d just started my gap year, at a job I was finding it difficult to find my niche in. All my friends bar two had gone off to university and for the most part were having fabulous times. I was starting the long, arduous and unexpectedly traumatic process of applying to university. And I was very freshly single. Life, in short, sucked. I was crying all the time, in that kind of way people do when they aren’t even aware that they’re crying anymore, they just kind of leak from the eyes (to borrow a phrase from an old friend). My sister was keeping watch over me at my other job lest I had some kind of breakdown over the customers. And then one day, for no particular reason, I bought The First Days of Spring album by Noah and the Whale, and was playing it in my room when this song came on. And suddenly, it was like Charlie Fink was whispering in my ear (in a non-creepy way, obviously) and saying that I couldn’t carry on this way. And that it was going to be OK very soon. I wasn’t going to feel this way forever. And so even now, when I hear that song, I want to cry a little bit, but in a good way.
God, that was a bit long, wasn’t it? Sorry about that, but you wouldn’t understand the significance if you didn’t know the story!
“The Lost Chord” by Arthur Sullivan
This is the first song I learned to sing with the choir, Of One Accord, that I was a member of from January of last year until I moved to Leicester in October, and so carries with it not only the satisfaction of knowing that I can sing this song, which is fiendishly difficult for a choir (I couldn’t find a version with a choir singing it on youtube) but also lots of very happy memories of singing with that choir. The musical part of my brain improved so much while I was singing with them – proven by the fact that I passed the aural section of a music exam for the first time, having failed it in the previous 11! And apart from all that, it’s a really great song.
“Allegretto in C Minor” by Beethoven
I include this because this piece is my musical nemesis. I spent about a year learning it when I was in sixth form preparing it for my Grade 7 piano exam, and I think it’s safe to say I developed a kind of musical block against it. Eventually it didn’t seem to matter how much I practiced it, how much I tried, I just couldn’t get it right. My fingers fell over themselves every time. I was playing a Tchaikovsky piece and a random jazzy one as well for that exam, and they were both relatively comfortable, but the Beethoven and my inability to play it how I knew it should be played just hung over them both like a big c-minor-shaped cloud. And in the end, I failed my piano exam. By 3 marks. I started with the Beethoven (God only knows why) and played it so badly that everything else fell apart. I haven’t done a piano exam since. But even so, I still have the book that has the piece in it, and I’m determined that one day I will be able to play it properly!
“Let’s Face The Music and Dance” – played by me!
I played this as a trombone solo accompanied by piano in my last sixth form concert, and I LOVED it. I’ve never been much of a solo performer, but this was such fun to play and I really threw myself into it on the night – and I got a nice big clap at the end! The only time I’ve ever come off stage from playing a solo and thought “Yes! That was bloody good!”
And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. If you lived in my head, that’s what would be playing over the speaker system
Over and Out.
P.S. If you have any songs that changed you, then feel free to share