Upbeat Songs for Downbeat Times

I thought it might be fun to write about five upbeat songs that have kept me going this crazy year. Some old, some new and some unexpected surprises in here!

Let’s start with unexpected. I’ve really been enjoying watching the 1989 episodes of the weekly British music pop show Top of the Pops on BBC 4. I guess 1989 was one of those years for me where emotions were out of control – my parents’ divorce followed by the best summer of my childhood having fun in a 5 star swanky hotel in Florida, then my brother starting to lose his mind and finally just finding salvation and hope in pop music. So the music that year on the show seemed to reflect that (the cure “lovesick”, Debbie Gibson “we could be together”, Bros “too much”). In 1989 I kept a diary where every week I would write down the top 10 singles. Anyway this Top of the Pops performance of a Kirsty Maccoll song I haven’t heard probably since 1989. I found myself singing it to get my daughter to sleep at night, and have a chance to reflect and appreciate things lost. Perfect for lockdown

 

Another surprise was this jaw-dropping new Bob Dylan record which appeared suddenly a couple of months ago. I read the 5 star reviews, and finally picked it up in a department store while I was over in Germany. I’ve been playing this most nights, it fits perfectly with a slow burning candle and a glass or two of wine. Good old Bob, still poetic and edgy at 79.

 

I have been looking forward to new music from the Dixie Chicks (now just called the Chicks) since it was announced earlier this year, but I had no idea it was going to be this good. I’ve only heard the two singles so far, and both just knock me out. The protest anger of March March sets the tone perfectly for standing up for truth and freedom in this mad world, but I like “Gaslighter” slightly more maybe because it’s all about a divorce!

 

Another band who finally have a new album out is none other than Bright Eyes. I’ve been obsessed by Conor Obest since I first picked up a 7 inch record in the now sadly-missed Virgin Megastore in Norwich, UK. I don’t think anything he’s done has topped 2016’s “breakdown” album Ruminations, but I’m excited to hear the new Bright Eyes stuff when it’s released later this year. I really like this hpynotic video for this song “Mariana Trench”

 

Finally…hard to choose – but I’m going for Tom Petty, and “You Don’t Know How it
Feels” taken from his best album (wildflowers). It’s just sets the tone for the day. I tend to stick it on first thing when I’m folding laundry. Every morning more laundry. Once done I can escape with the kids for adventures outdoors. That’s how we roll with three crazy wild forest children all under five years old addicted to fun and Tom tells it how it is.

I thought this love would last forever…

8 months ago since I last wrote here, some little poem I scribbled in a cafe in Folkestone of all places…

Anyway, I thought I’d just stop. Stop doing things, but then strangely life got more busy and crazy and insane and beautiful. These days I hardly every have a moment to write a poem, let alone a story. My daily bible reading plan that I started at the start of the year says 19th March. Books and clutter fill the house. Laundry everywhere. No meal plan done so who knows what we’re eating later.  As I write this  my 1 year old son rather hypnotically keeps throwing books off the book shelf, but I’m just going to let him explore his creativity. I wanna smash it up, Sam, smash it up. Tidy up times come, tidy up times go 🙂

Still, it’s all good. It’s life, and as crazy as it is it’s still our little life. I guess it’s too early for Christmas films, but I’ve already started watching them. Channel 5. Always the same story, always everything is broken but then saved by the magic of Christmas. I still believe.

I picked up the new Norah Jones EP which she wrote with a bunch of hipsters like Jeff Tweedy. It’s short but beautiful, perfect for the wintertime drinking hot chocolate and dreaming about a better world. I’ve also got Mark K’s latest, more rambling blah blah blah. I miss Red House Painters. Then I’ve been listening to Larry Norman and the Cure. I’ll put some tracks of those at the end if you feel so inclined to check them out.

I’m reading Kim Gordons “life in a band”. Finally reading it, it’s been gathering dust here for a while barchieut it’s a great snapshot of a time and memories swirling with the intoxication of trying to fit it. Then she goes on about Thurston Moore being an asshole. He probably is though….

I saw this and it’s on my Christmas list. Looks crazy good. 10 Years being married to Bets/Ronnie. Means nothing to most people, but those Archie stories keep me sane sometimes.

It’s all sold out anyway, but I was hoping to go and see this interesting looking play God’s Dice in London. While there I was going to check this out about the awful treatment of the Roma people in Nazi Germany, no point hiding from sad things. Doesn’t work.

Anyway, I guess I better go and tidy up those books now. He seems happy, I just hope my Dostoevsky isn’t ripped up. Cool little discussion on Radio 4 the other morning about Crime and Punishment which you can hear here. That book changed my life, I remember reading that on an airplane back in 2001 whilst the plan was filling with smoke and some crazy guy started screaming…it wasn’t me.

More soon. Here are those vids. Better go tidy up those books, just hoping Dostoevsky hasn’t been ripped up.