This week I have been mostly…

Trying (& failing) to get some sleep. I’m really fecking tired. Once I’ve done all the yoga, watched all the relaxing tv, had baths with bombs, face masked myself into oblivion, finished the housework & whatever book I’m reading & sprayed every calming scent known to man there is just one thing left to do. Lie still in a dark room & turn up the music.

I require only a couple of things from my insomnia tunes; they must be deep enough to flood the room & gentle enough to let me float away. Wonderful by Lianne La Havas complies. Her thick sweet voice coats me in wistfulness. I feel this song’s warmth in my chest. Its steady pace a comforting secondary pulse. The lyrics tempting & bittersweet. This is perfect middle of the night music.

Every now & then I stumble across music from my past and it opens a door to another time. David Gray’s White Ladder is just a such a time capsule. The intro of Please Forgive Me was enough to shoot me back to the year 2000. Despite that being a fairly mixed year for me this song holds only uncomplicated feels. It has connected itself to chilled after parties; the smell of dope & DKNY. To falling asleep in beds shared with a bunch of friends & waking up to 5 girls talking at once. It feels less like lightening & more like friendship running through my veins. I know it’s a love song, but for me it’s an ode to student flats & almost adulthood.

A Star is Born almost killed me. Seriously, I weeped myself raw, but Shallow saved me. Man, it is hard keeping it hardcore. I’m so relieved to have found softer ways. This is one of those songs that rouses every bloody emotion. I seems like I’ve been far from the shallows for a very long time. It feels good to sing it out loud.

Which brings me to my brand new discovery, Yoko Pwno. I heard them play at the last Yellow Sunday & was utterly captivated. A unique & totally bewitching band; they are comprised of violins, drums & techno synth type sounds. They’re hard to quantity, but oh so easy to fall in love with. Currently blasting in my late late playlist is It could always be worse. Mainly because when played at volume it washes over me & allows my mind to drift. Also, though, because that title’s a good reminder not to despair when I find myself still awake a 5am. It can always be worse, but it’s likely to feel better if you stick Yoko Pwno on.

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This week I have been mostly…

Rediscovering old tunes. It started with Hall & Oates; my sister mentioned she had recently realised how good they were, so I had another listen. She was correct & it spiralled from there. I have since found myself in voyage of musical rediscovery & I am loving it.

Since they kicked off this forgotten tune trip, Hall & Oates are the perfect place to start. My mum used to play them in the car all the time when I was a kid. I didn’t dislike the songs then, but I think they just kind of washed over me. I was busy thinking about important 13 year old things & fighting with my siblings. Who has time to pay attention to some old dudes their mum likes? Turns out mum’s old dudes were pretty cool. In particular Rich Girl & Maneater have made my frequently played list. I love that they sound simultaneously upbeat & chilled out. I’ve known plenty of rich kids who could ‘rely on the old man’s money’ & I can totally relate to the song’s portrayal of that type. However, I think what I like best is that I can close my eyes & be transported to another time. I can picture mum’s big hair & remember how safe it felt to drive around with the music up loud.

Mum & girls in beach

Next up was a song I heard a snippet of on a tv show & immediately needed back in my life. Novocaine for the soul by The Eels is another little time machine. It takes me back to the end of high school & navigating my first forays into adulthood. It is a turn it up loud & dance away your problems kind of song. It has to be said that my problems back then were laughably light; I definitely didn’t need any novocaine. The whole Beautiful Freak album has worn well. My problems may have gotten heavier, but blasting The Eels can still help lighten the load.

The wonder of shuffle dug up the gem that is 212. Azealia Banks has since revealed herself as problematic af, but I can’t stop loving this song. This is so not my usual kind of jam, but I can still remember the first time I heard this song. It blew me away. I love everything about it; strong sassy women taking no shit, killer beat & that feel good factor. For some reason this will always be a sunny day song for me. It’s perfect crank it up & get ready to go out music. So glad to have this foul mouthed banger back in my life.

Azealia Banks, 212 video

I first remember hearing Bright Eyes First Day of my Life around the time my Godson was born. The lyrics really hit me because when I looked at this tiny new person I felt like I was getting a fresh start too. I wasn’t in a great place back then & that precious new baby to focus on was a real life line. I’ve thought about this song again when special little people have entered my life & the words still hold true. When I hold a new baby who is dear to me I feel flooded with love & renewed. The arrival of my tiniest nephew brought this one back to me & I’ve been playing it a lot lately. Life is so much richer when you have little ones to cherish.

Meeting muffin for the first time

This week I have been mostly…

Been having too many feelings. It’s been a busy old time on the emotional front. There have been a bunch of triggers that I’m not going to go into, but the result has been a pretty messy me. I’ve done what I always do when I don’t think I can trust what I feel; retreat whilst I decode. I’ve spent a lot of time with myself listening to music that either comforts or acts as a conduit for those emotions. Thus I present, all the tunes that I’ve been hitting repeat on.

Teenage Talk by St Vincent is simultaneously sweet & deep. It’s wistful sound is definitely aided by the harpsichord & the fluid tone of St Vincent’s voice. The song pours over you like tequila smoothly warming your insides. The lyrics capture the both the nostalgic way we view the past & the reality of why our youth is so alluring. As the song says, our teenage years were before we made any terrible mistakes, but our golden days are also probably much more mundane than we remember. I like the hope that realisation brings. Simpler isn’t always better.

I first heard Strangers on Graham Norton, which is probably a sign that I am very old, but the nevertheless I instantly loved it. I just really like the sound of Sigrid’s voice, so I suspect I’ll like anything she releases. The changing tempo of this one is very pleasing. The sort of ‘anti romance propaganda’ of the lyrics paired with heartbeat like bass is incredibly appealing. I’m loving it.

I’m mostly loving this next song because if I close my eyes when I listening it transports me to warm blue waters & floating peacefully. After a few listens of Lana Del Rey’s, Get Free the lyrics sunk in & spoke to me. Being ‘crazy’ can feel like being stuck on a ride that you can’t get off. Even in recovery I often need to remind myself that sometimes I can press stop. I like the imagery of stepping out of the black & into the blue. I also very much enjoy sinking into depths of its instrumentation.

You know sometimes you hear a song & it feels like it was written just for you? That’s how I felt when the first time I listened to Lorde’s Liability. In fact, it took me quite a few plays not to cry. In describing her own very different situation she perfectly summed up how I feel about by interactions with other people. Through a combination of mental illness, physical illness & just being a pretty weird person I have learned to feel that I’m difficult to love. The lyrics of this song sum up my internal thought process perfectly. I’m the kind of person who can be exciting & different. My weirdness seems fun, my crazy a little wild, but the novelty always wears off. In the end the whole package is trouble. I’m too hard & my charm wears off. In short,

‘I’m a liability. A little too much for everyone’

For a long time I was completely convinced that summation was 100% correct. Then as I got stronger I began to believe that maybe it wasn’t true at all. Man, that negative voice in my head is strong, though. So, honestly sometimes I still feel like liability is a spot on description. Sometimes I think it’s only half true. Other times I just can’t decide what’s true at all. Regardless, it’s a beautiful song. Soft piano based sections spelling out sadness. Extended phrases that almost make you run out of breath as you rush to complete them; just like the panic you feel when you realise someone is leaving you. It’s a stunningly painful song. That leaves you hurting in all the right ways.

Snowy trees viewed through a window

The Guillemots are incredibly underrated. Their songs invariably hit all my spots & I don’t feel amazing now is no exception. From the second the song starts the music & lyrics are expertly entwined. The slowly rising chords are the perfect aural interpretation of the lyrical plea for help. The beautiful honesty of just admitting, I do not feel good is refreshing. The combination of wanting to be left alone, but also really needing someone to take your hand and make it ok is too familiar. The surprisingly hopeful note in such a despondent song is again emulated in the introduction of steel dreams to the orchestration. It lifts the song onto another level & has me hitting that repeat button time & again.

‘Just take my hand & stop the moonlight fading

Just take my hand & lead me up the stairs

Just take my hand & make me feel amazing,

‘Cos I don’t feel amazing now…’

This week I have been mostly…

admiring my hair. Yup, that’s right, I’ve been loving myself again. I’m a proud ginger & this week I have been enjoying some tunes that celebrate my flame haired sisters. 

  
I’m obviously not a big fan of stereotypes, but in the case of my hair colour, most of them fit. I am your classic cliche of a redhead and I love it. 

I came to Bruce Springsteen late. I was too young & in any case my tastes diverged from his most famous stuff. The Ghost of Tom Joad was his first work that caught my attention. From there I listened to random pieces & found myself agreeing with some of his politics. In short, Bruce grew on me, but he didn’t win my heart until I heard Redheaded Woman. I love the down & dirty lyrics. His theory that red heads are more sexually charged is actually backed by science. It’s a rollicking tune and Bruce’s delivery is so believable. I can personally attest to the fact that redheads get the job (dirty or otherwise) done & I’m certainSpringsteen can too. 

For my next pick I’m going all hipster & demanding you listen to the original.  Valerie by The Zutons was an immediate favourite for me. I actually adored their entire debut album. My affection for this song has grown as numerous people have told me that it reminds them of me. I think the lyrics 

‘I miss your ginger hair & the way you like to dress’

are the culprits. I am well known for my sometimes unusual style. It pleases me that friends appreciate both my weird clothes & my ginger mane. I know Amy WInehouse’s version has become the standard of this song, but I’ll always love The Zutons best. 

Neil Young’s Cinnamon Girl is probably the original manic pixie dream girl, but without the negative connotations. He claims to have just seen a girl in the street, adored how she looked & wrote this gorgeous fantasy. The lyrics don’t specifically say that she has red hair, but I like to think that cinnamon refers to her spicy locks. I’ve always been a hippie chick, so Neil Young is so up my street. I’m a complete sucker for this hazy, lazy trip of a song. Wouldn’t it be perfect to inspire a dream like this. 

Caroline England is new to me. I stumbled upon Ginger & knew I was going to like this artist. The song is another celebration of scarlett ladies, but this one has edge. England hints at some of the crap gingers sometimes have to put up with. However, she doesn’t wallow, her message is I’m awesome & you can suck it. Which, I can relate to. The unusual texture in her voice adds a unique sound to the track. It’s an instant classic. 

This week I have been mostly…

recovering from surprise surgery. So, what do you listen to keep calm when the dr in a&e says ‘we’re going to operate right away’?

  
First stop was a little John Lennon introspection via The Beatles with Across the universe. This song has always held a calming magic for me. I completely identify with the notion of words ‘possessing & caressesing’ . In times of crisis I often turn to words, be it writing, reading or soothing lyrics. Naturally I got a bit scared when the dr’s started making rapid decisions & letting Lennon’s words drift over me really helped. 

You can always rely on Massive Attack for an epic chill out tune. My favourite take a deep breath song of theirs is Teardrop. I love the repetitive, grounding percussion that runs throughout. Repitition is mirrored in the lyrics which further offers a steadying hand. The rest of the musical arrangement feels like being emerged in a hot bath. 

Suzanne by Leonard Cohen was the next call up for operation no panic attack. Cohen’s steadfast vocals slowly unraveling a story captures my thoughts & prevents them from wandering into worry. The imagery of the river in the song also lulls me into a gentle place. Suzanne allows me let my breath ebb & flow like a peaceful stream. 

Hysteria averted & procedure complete I woke up feeling in need of a boost. Being stuck in a hospital bed, music once again came to my rescue. 

  
In search of a defiant sounds, I of course turned to Robyn. Dancing on my own  has long been my just do you jam. When confronted with yet another hospital room, you need a little mental boogie. The song isn’t actually particularly upbeat, but I like the concept of just saying ‘fuck it’ & rocking the dance floor all by myself. 

What better way to convince yourself that your emergency procedure was no big deal than singing along to Bobby mcferrin? Any reggae style tune has a sunny bounce, but come one, ‘don’t worry, be happy’ is right there in the lyrics. I have been telling myself everything was ok with the aid of this song since I was kid. It still works.