“This is not the greatest song in the world, this is just a tribute!” part 1

It has been a long while since my last blog post and so much has happened in this unintentional 10 month hiatus but rather than jump straight into it and pulling a blog hamstring by dumping all my musings from the last little while in one post, I thought I’d ease in with something a little different. Those of you who grew up in the late 90’s/early 00’s will have belted this Tenacious D classic many a time as you tried to copy Jack Blacks “Rig-a-goo-goo’s” word perfect, sadly the focus of this blog is not the content of the song tribute but rather about what it is alluding to… The greatest song in the world.

Over the last 6 months I have been attempting to compile a list of my all time favourite songs so I thought it’d be fun to put these down on paper and say a little bit about why I think they deserve to be called a classic and in some cases I will attempt to justify what may seem like insane choices. Here goes in no particular order;

  1. U2 – With or Withour You / Absolute classic! Simple chord progression with a sweet electric ringing out and the belter at the end, you know the one that goes “Woooooaaahhhhh Wooooooaaahhhh Woooooaaaahhh Oh!” and that’s not even mentioning the intricate lyrics that mean something different every time you listen to them.
  2. Toto – Africa / This one is not your typical classic but hear me out. It’s just so damn good! I challenge you to listen to it without having the intro of “do dodo do do do doooo” stuck in your head for roughly a millennium afterwards.
  3.  Elton John – Your Song / No explanation needed, if you don’t consider this a classic your wrong or deaf… or both.
  4. Tracy Chapman – Fast Car / Solid and beautiful guitar throughout coupled with raw authentic lyrics is a sure fire recipe for a classic.
  5. The Beatles – Let It Be / Lennon/McCartney only produce classics and this is them at their best. Its amazing how they can make something so anthemic sound so personal.
  6. Johnny Cash & June Carter – Jackson / Another non-typical for this type of list but  a classic nonetheless. For me the twangy riff personified classic country as does June’s southern drawl, mix all of that with the powerhouse that is Johnny’s voice and you can see why it can be argued into this list.
  7. Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight / Moody, heavy/crunchy guitar and a signature drum fill… nuff said.
  8. Billy Joel – She’s Always a Woman / One of the most beautiful love songs written. Something just really resonates about the fact that he can see that his SO is flawed greatly but being aware that he is completely blinded to all the imperfections.
  9. John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Roads / Another classic, very few songs paint a picture using lyrics in such a way as this. The vividness of the lyrics and passion of voice almost transports you to West Virginia.
  10. Elvis Presley – Cant Help Falling in Love / Often included in these lists but pegged as a bit of a cliche. When you think about it there is no way this is a cliche as this was one of the first to use all the beautiful phrases and lines that are now so overused.

That’s all for now but don’t worry I’ll be back and working my way to 100 shortly.

 

 

Advertisements

“Every Stop Is Neatly Planned for A Poet & A One Man Band…”

Simon and Garfunkel have to be one of the most prolific and best lyrical voices ever, this is not a light saying even though i am often accused of overusing hyperbolic language. This song is one of my constant repeaters at the moment and one that throughout my life has never seemed overplayed as each time something sounds new or fresh in it.

I love that “Homeward bound” is a real travellers song that is just as much about leaving the comfort of home as it is about returning to that comfort and recently this has been a very prominent feeling in my life as myself and my wife embark on our own journey “with suitcase and guitar in hand”. This has been a season of excitement for new adventures but also the worries that go with that of  what happens when we decide to become homeward bound once again and both of these are topics I want to look at here.

Firstly excitement, I have always been easily excited from being allowed to play football on the big field in primary school at lunchtime through to just this last month my excitement for the new Star Wars movie could hardly be contained, however this is often a drop in an often larger ocean of doubt and worry.  Even in those examples just before would quickly change from the elation and excitement to an analytical assessment of what could happen for this euphoric happiness to turn into deflated disappointment, I often find myself in a spiral that goes a little like this “This is AWESOME! The only thing that could change this now would be… Oh what if that does happen, how could that happen, how could I stop that, what are the odds of this happening, I’m gong to do X, Y and Z to make sure it doesn’t happen” and before I know it this analysis has almost robbed me of all the excitement of the moment. A little while back I had to stop myself from doing this as it would have ruined a life long dream, I was finally going to see U2 live which is something I have wanted to do since I was “One” (see what i did there?) and I was absolutely buzzing about it from the minute I bought the ticket to the 12 months after when the morning of the gig eventually arrived but half way through the day this spiral started of, “what if the gig doesn’t take place, what if Bono calls me up on stage and my phone runs out of battery before i can take a photo, what if they only play for an hour, and so on” I could have listed another 100 things but had to realise that this was not one of those times where my Good Will Hunting like brain for things like this was positive, it was more of a hindrance to my happiness and I just had to switch off.

So my way of coping with this when I can is to recognise when it is happening and evaluate if it is a good thing that will improve my happiness or if it is robbing me of it and I need to switch it off.

 

“I Want It All (Yeah! Yeah!) I Want It All, I Want It All … And I Want It Now”

Vocal perfection from Freddie Mercury, Crunching guitars and piercingly high harmonies, this is a quintessentially Queen  classic, you can almost hear the echo of thousands of Wembley attendants belting out this anthem as you sing it alone in the shower… that just made me sound like some sad Bridget Jones character, I have sang it alone in the shower before but not like ‘mascara streaming down my face after my 4th glass of Pinot Grigio’ singing in the shower its more like a manly kind of singing (wow that escalated quickly).  Anyway, the intro and chorus of the song is what has struck a chord with me recently and caused me to think deeper. I have become aware that more and more this has become my very impatient view in life, let me unpack that.

Since a very young age I have always prided myself on being a very laid back patient person but it is only recently that I have realised that there are different types of patience, for example, In previous jobs I have had people screaming in my face and not budged an inch and I have had people who I am helping out with a behaviour issue relapse time and time again but always had the response of “not to worry we can get through this together” but when it comes to patience with what is happening in my life my response isn’t this breezy almost Disney-esque response, it’s not even close!

I have found that Freddie’s words are what tend to normally be my mantra “I WANT IT ALL AND NOW!” which for people who know me well may think that this is a bit out of character for me but let me explain, it is not a selfish Violet from Willy Wonka cry of “I must have everything” as I’m not even a very driven person by nature but more of a waiting for a Pizza to arrive when you haven’t eating anything all day kind of thing like”I just can’t wait, I just want to skip all the steps and have this in my belly already!”

So the question that I am asking myself right now is “Is this giddy harmless excitement or is this an issue of I am struggling to enjoy where I am because all I can focus on where I am right now” Yes I do enjoy the excitement of looking forward to what could become but it is often followed by a sinking sadness of “I’m not there yet” so I am now thinking that this isn’t as helpful as I once thought.

My personal provocation is to, for a trail period of time, try to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. As a side note I have recently noticed that it is often when you reach a goal you miss the journey sometime more that what you got out of it, a lot like the run up to Christmas; Me and my wife will often get the post Christmas blues even before the day is over, usually around 4pm, as although the build up has all been to the day that we are currently experiencing (or the goal, if you like) we are sad as the journey is what will be absent after it being such a prevalent source of excitement for so long.

“I’m sure that I could be a movie star, if I could get out of this place…”

Billy Joel for so long to me was the cheesy guy  who pranced around in the Uptown Girl video and I have wrongly had a misconception of him and his music for so long that I had almost deprived myself of it assuming it was all early 80’s light pop… oh how I was wrong and this song is what pulled me into finding out more about The Piano Man. Piano man in particular is a great example of how music can offer more than just catchy hooks and repetitive rhythms, this perfectly displays an often now underused technique of painting a vivid visual scene with music and lyrics, this song for me actually transports me to the sad lonely hearts bar that he is singing about so much so I can almost go into a coughing fit imagining this smoke filled dive.

I could bang on all day about Billy Joel but alas my point is a little deeper blues licks and imaginative lyrics, sadly I have found the lyrics in the title to be the mantra of may people I have met recently, I am often met with I could do {Blank} if only I {Blank} why is this? More and more as I get older I am no longer met with youthful confidence and in some cases arrogance of “I can do this!” or “I am going to conquer X,Y or Z” instead I am met with a more pessimistic and sometimes self deprecating “Oh I couldn’t do that” or even a sadder “I don’t have {Blank} so I cant do {Blank} which takes the onus off  the person themselves and blames the  hand that they have been dealt, now in some cases I think this is completely legit and life deals you a crappy hand e.g. I’m around 5ft 7” and I will never be able to dunk a basketball no matter what, to quote 2Pac/Bruce Hornsby “that’s just the way it is” that is a completely legitimate time to say “If only i was 6ft8” then I could slam dunk a basketball.

The kind of excuses that I am talking about are ones where you discount yourself on no actual grounds, I speak to people who are friends or colleagues who look at me and say “I would love to travel like you do but I cant…” when I press them with the question of “Why not?” they are often perplexed  firstly that I had the audacity to ask that question and secondly that they don’t really have a better answer that “Just because” often we (myself included) can discount ourselves from being able to do something because we have a little or large fear about something like “travel is expensive what if I don’t pay it back quickly?” or “I don’t know if I’m very good at singing so I just better not sing” or even as silly as “why would I try something new when I might not be any good at it” these are genuine fears that along with the great “legitimate ***not really legitimate ***” excuses that we tell ourselves make us do the same thing of; Wake up, Go to Work, Watch TV, Eat, Sleep and repeat until the clock runs out and nothing else.

My challenge will be, without trying to sound too much like a chavy lower back tattoo, don’t let your excuses dictate what you can be. That is all.

“I Can’t Believe the News Today, I Can’t Close My Eyes and Make it Go Away…”

One of the most powerful songs of the last 40 years in my humble (and slightly U2 biased) opinion, this song mixes a powerful political message with a driven drum beat that drives home the point they are try to get across. The hauntingly beautiful lyrics and hypnotic guitar riff throughout makes this song an easy contender for my top 50 songs of all time but as always its more the message that i want to talk about.

The line quoted in the title is something that I feel has been uttered by almost every TV owning human being, with an ounce of compassion, on the planet at the moment and for the last 2 years certainly. We have been flooded recently with media coverage of terror attacks, hate attacks, virus’, natural disasters and global warming and it is becoming more and more difficult to make it through to the end of the news in the evenings, especially as there’s not even a happy ending with the weather forecast if you live in the UK.  So is it the case that we live in a darker world than ever before? is that the reason that the reason that its difficult to get through a single day without feeling so deflated and at points ashamed to be in a world that can be so cruel and twisted?

Sunday Bloody Sunday was written and performed to bring publicity to injustice and to help bring justice and closure to grieving families, this is something we need now. What I believe we need too is to see, particularly in the media, that the world is not just gun shots and famine but that there is some good in the world, it is not a crime to enjoy the good news. I am not wanting to take away from the horrid situations going on around the world because I am well aware and pray and support in any way that I can but one thing that we need to get our head around is to stop feeding ourselves on negativity and darkness, yes its is good to be aware of these situations but we should also enjoy the good that is in the world, its as if we are being fed a diet of deep fried Cheetos and chicken nuggets solely  which in turn clogs up our compassion arteries and makes us numb to the suffering of the world because we hear it so regularly, we need a more balanced intake of good and bad we need to hear about funny cat videos and see pictures of babies eating lemons to help us stay healthy other wise we are just have high cholesterol and a low vision of what the world could become when there is more good than bad and we see the world as a dark place rather than an amazing collective of diverse individuals with a fee anomalies.

“You Say Goodbye… I Say Hello”

I find it incredibly difficult to believe that it has taken me this long to write an entry based around genius of Lennon and McCartney. Such a fun song but what I want to talk about is the subtle meaning in this that juxtaposes the upbeat tempo and bright chord progression (that line was so pretentious even I wanted to heckle myself, BOOOOOOO!!!!) anyway lets put the pretension aside and dive straight into this entry as I bear my soul and process out loud.

The subtle meaning that I am referring to above is about miscommunication, when one person completely hears the opposite of what is being said. I feel as though I have recently been plagued by miscommunication in the past few months and wanted to share a bit about how I feel, what I feel people can do to avoid and how to look for the best in the midst of painful circumstances that stem from miscommunication.

First things first, why am I even talking about this, in recent months various areas of my life have been going through transitions (that totally sounds like menopause but its not) and as is the case with most transitional periods I have been hurt by miscommunication and this season has been no exception, but why is this? It feels very easy to point out the obvious and just say “oh its just differing styles” or “Oh its just teething issues” but I genuinely believe that the reason so may people are hurt in the transition process is poor communication from both a predecessor and the decessor (logic dictates that this should be the correct term). Miscommunication has always left me feeling undervalued, marginalised and  left out especially in a transitional time as the lies that come along with this are “you’re not worth being informed”, “you are no longer required” and “your time is now over” this all probably stems back to some unresolved childhood issue but I know that I cant be the only one that has these feelings.

So practically, how can this be avoided?

In most cases of miscommunication I am not unhappy with a decision that has been made but the thing that upsets me is that I haven’t been part of the journey, In a church setting this in particular makes me feel like a replaceable cog that’s only use is to do the task at hand, I don’t feel like my opinion is valued or that my feelings are taken into account. As an aside while were on this matter I feel that during transitional periods within churches it is paramount to have the complete spectrum of gifting represented; Apostles (so that the new vision is cast), Prophets (to hear what God is saying in this all), Evangelists (to catch people up in the vision), Pastors (to make sure that no one is left behind in the process) and Teachers (to be able to pave the new way by showing others new ways/processes), the absence of when even one of these is not represented the chance of people being hurt in the process doubles (I haven’t really done any calculations its just for dramatic effect). In this recent situation the process lacked a Pastor and the element of family, and in the process I felt left behind, to quote Lilo and Stitch “Family means no-one gets left behind” I feel that this could easily be a moto for many things in my life but is particularly important in transitional periods. If we all have the mentality of no-one gets left behind we can defiantly minimise the number of casualties taken out but miscommunication,  one thing to think about is that no one has ever been offended by too much communication or being too informed.

While going through this I have learned that there is not just a part to play by the person who has hurt  you through miscommunication but the we too have a part to play as the hurt. As much as it hurts to be left out or miscommunicated the most  important part that we can play is after we have processed and in some cases challenged and spoken to the miscommunicatior is to then choose to believe that their intentions are good and that they do not want you to feel marginalised or hurt in most cases so choose to offer extra grace, you are not going to repair bridges but blowing them up every time a line is thrown your way.

I hope this has been helpful and if it hasn’t or ironically you have misunderstood me in any way at least this has been a very good cathartic exercise for myself.

 

“Ba-De-Ya Say that you rember, Ba-De-Ya Dancing in September…”

This Disco classic from Earth Wind and Fire has caused one of the most annoying cases of earworm (a catchy song or tune that runs continually through someone’s mind) that I have had in a very long time, and on top of it being catchy its also impossible to sound manly singing it,  even Danny Dyer wouldn’t  be able to pull off sounding manly belting this classic out even if he was beating someone up with one hand and chowing down a steak drenched in bourbon with the other.

Ok, so this is a bit of a tenuous link but follow me on the journey as I try and shoe horn this great song into what I want to share about in this post. In September (so good so far) I will be completing some of my life long dreams on a trip to the southern  states of America, more Specifically Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas, we will also be stopping in Arkansas but lesbi-honest no one has ever said “do you know where i’d love to go on holiday?” and answered with Arkansas.

So this is what is on my mind at the moment, life goals but more than that dreams, as in the things that we long for and occupy out minds when we are doing the menial tasks of hanging the washing out or…. actually that’s really the only job I do at home that I don’t like to do. Myself and my wife have always been intentional at following our dreams passionately and I thought that this was common for most people, but as I have been chatting to more and more people about my dream of travelling America and going to Nashville to play country music and My Wife’s dreams of starting a business, I have been met more and more with disbelief and  wonderment that we are doing things we have a passion for and not just chatting/wishing/daydreaming about it.

So I guess what this has left me wondering is why? Why are people not pursuing what gives them life or what they have always dreamt of doing? I am willing to bet the for 9/10 the answer is fear, the reason I am so sure of this is because this is how I feel right before I commit to pursuing a dream. Sometimes when it comes to the pursuit of what we desire we need to just plough straight through, charging down any fears with the knowledge that even if it doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to at least you know you have given one of your dreams a go which is better than staying in a constant day dream state wondering “what if?”

Let’s break it down into one of my favourite ways by comparing this to great movies; What if Luke didn’t follow his dream to become a Jedi, he would still be farming moisture on Tatooine (Geekiest sentence I have ever written), What if Atticus Finch had given up his dream of racial equality in the justice system, it just would have been a book/movie about someone who goes to work everyday comes home and repeats this for the rest of his life (sound familiar?). My challenge is lets choose to be more like the Luke Skywalkers and Atticus Finches and not ones who are wondering what if.

“You can’t always get what you want… But if you try some times, you might find you get what you need”

This is an absolute classic and one of those songs that everyone has heard and if they havent you shout “YOU HAVENT?!?!” and immediately stop what your doing and load it up on Youtube to show them while feeling the crushing panic of “Oh no! have I over sold this song?” or “if they don’t like it I’m going to look like a fool” sets in. Its catchy and edgy at the same time… I love it!

The message that I want to talk about attached to this song may seem like a tedious link at points  but bear with me as this is something very relevant to what life looks like for me at the moment and I know that I cant be the only one.

I have been taking stock recently and thinking that I am very happy with where I am with life but I am not where I thought I would be by this point in my life.

By the age of 23 I thought that I would be married (check), have travelled to most continents (check) and have a rich social life (check) but there are a few things, that in comparison seem minor  but are the big obstruction to my complete contentment. Don’t get me wrong I love my life but there are a few things that I keep coming back to and thinking “this would just be the icing on the cake”  things like I thought that I would have qualified or be working in a job that I love (for me this would be counselling), I would love to have a plan for moving to The United States (this has been a dream of mine forever) and I thought that I would be more involved in Church leadership.

These things while I know in my head are all minor wants, I cant seem to get them out of my head and in some cases are clouding the joy of the amazing things that I do have in my life. I would love to take on the meaning of this song and know that I wont always get what I want but be content that I have all I need but it is difficult.

As a driven person how do you see past the uncompleted goals and celebrate the complete, even as an optimist I find this difficult.

I have had numerous encouragements from close friends since sharing this feeling in a group setting and been given some great material on how to work through this, but I think the things that I have learned through this is “Don’t minimise your goals” as a Christian when you do this you are limiting Gods power to your understanding and that is not good at all because it means firstly, you are not reliant on God you are only trusting in your own strength and secondly, if we all did this the Eiffel Tower would be 2 stories high, Leicester FC would not be atop the Premier League and we would live in a world without pigs in blankets (that’s not a world I want to live in).

The second thing that I have learned through this experience is “Celebrate what you do have regularly” doing this has helped me see the bigger picture that my life is 99% amazing don’t let the 1% of annoyance, uncompleted goals, etc rob of enjoying the 99%.

This is something that I am having to make a choice in daily and sometimes I get it right and choose to see that I have everything I need and be thankful for that but there are still days where I love mope so much that I could be melted down into a bar of mope.

The important thing in this message thought is that you have the choice daily, it is not always your circumstances that dictate how you feel.

“My Mama Don’t Like You & She Likes Everyone…”

It has been a while since I last wrote something but really felt like I would love to write something based around this song. Lyrically this song is really self explanatory yet poetic in a very Ed Sheeran way, but the real thing that this song made me want to write about is change. This song is the first time I have ever uttered the words “wow, Justin Bieber is actually really good!” at first a little bit of myself died inside, but as I began to think about it the reason that I liked this song and now Bieber is because of the amount of change that has happened to his music, that is really what I want to talk about CHANGE!

I am a self confessed change-o-phob, I not only hate change but am genuinely scared of it. When I think about change I can get heart palpitations, clammy hands and worst of all a sweaty back (no one likes a sweaty back!) I have viewed change from every angle, “I hate it and I’m not gonna do it!”, “I’m gonna dig my heels” and “You can’t make me!!!” but I have never looked at it from the angle it being a good thing. Just look at Bieber he made a change and now I like him *side note: I am not saying that for me to like you you must fundamentally change everything about you, just Bieber* his change has resulted in acclaim, respect and good music.

This has got me thinking with all the change that is currently going on around me what will be the positives that come out of these changes? this has never been something I have thought to ask I always usually go to the negative immediately, thinking that my life will come crashing down as a result of any change leaving me broke, homeless and bald (3 of my biggest worries.)

As in most of my articles I pose a question to myself and hope that maybe its useful to others this one is “what will be the positives of the change I am facing now? what difference, for the better, will there be in 1, 6 or 12 weeks?” for me I can choose to see this next season as a time of uncertainty and doubt or I can choose to view the change positively and  see it as a time of adventure and faith.

 

“Shut Up and Dance With Me…”

This song has definitely been my summer song, It has been on repeat on my IPod and stuck in my head an almost annoying amount. Such a catchy hook but like all of my blog entries I’m wanting to talk about how this song makes me feel and what it makes me think.

The catchy hook of this song is “Shut Up and Dance with Me”, How could I possibly glean any sort of wisdom from this unimaginative (but extremely catchy) pop lyric, listening to this I thought to myself how often do I just shut up and have fun with something? I don’t know about you but I have a massive tendency to over analyse every situation from the sensible “is it right to buy a house in this current economical climate?” to the almost crazy “what really are the benefits of going for 3 ply rather than 2 ply toilet paper?” If it can be thought about obsessively from all angles I will do just that and if it cannot it makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable, like when people pronounce the word  “Chorizo” as “Choritso” (even as I wrote this line I wanted to punch myself for sounding so middle class).

So In this weird tension of feeling over analytical but want to “Shut up and Dance (Or have fun)” how do I satisfy both wants? I think what has been really good for me recently is not having a reason for everything I do, sometimes the reason you do things should just be because “What the hey, its fun so lets do it!” I have recently been in a season of flat out work and after work commitments and I have loved what I have been doing but cant help think it has been a little unbalanced so Me and my Wife have decided just to start doing things for the fun of it. We play car hide and seek, not to wear in our new tires on the car but just because its a good laugh, sometimes we all just need to stop taking ourselves so seriously and have some fun. Sometimes we can be so focused on an end goal that we forget to enjoy the journey, we go to bed at 10pm because of work the next day, we turn down social events because we have a report to write and while I think that those things are extremely important but if this is the most regular thing that you are doing or saying where is the fun going to come from in your life. I am not saying go around partying 24/7 and never worry about work, education or money but what I am saying is enjoy what you have now and don’t just be chasing a carrot all the time.

I am in the process of starting up a Martial Arts Fitness class and it is something that I have wanted to do ever since I got my black belt back in 2009 but I have always put it off because I have thought “what if it doesn’t make any money” and other thoughts of that nature but I recently stopped and thought “I don’t have to do this for money, I can do it because its something that will be fun and I will enjoy” I wonder how many dreams I have postponed because of thinking like that.

Even in the Book of John Jesus said that he has come so that we can have life to the full, how full are you living your life at the moment?

My challenge is to try something new that you want to do just for the fun of it, don’t worry about what you will look like or what other will think but just “Shut Up and (Fill in the blank)”