happy birthday, John

it’s 1.35 am. i can’t sleep.

when i have trouble sleeping i always seem to do one of three things; listen to music, watch friends or write. tonight i am combining two of those. music and writing.

i am currently listening to a mix of The Beatles and John Lennon’s solo work – in case you didn’t know today would have been John’s 77th birthday.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOHN.

for those of you that know me, you’ll know The Beatles are my favourite band, John is was my favourite member. to this day he is my favourite musician/artist/lyricist in the history of the world. to some it is an obvious choice, to others a cliché. to me it is the only choice. laugh if you will. i don’t care.

the best compliment i ever received (or one of them) was from my mum. having read a John biography she concluded that john and i were very similar in personality. she has since repeated that to me, and it still makes me happy to hear.

my love affair with The Beatles began when i was around 10 years old. my mum, a lifelong Beatles fan, insisted on watching a movie called ‘Help’ on the telly one Sunday afternoon. i can’t remember my response to being told this is what we were watching but i remember my reaction when it finished. i was intrigued. this was before the age of smart phones and wi-fi so i couldn’t just hop online and listen to their back catalogue and find out about the band, i remember asking my mum about them, i’d heard their songs my whole life but never really paid that much attention to them, until now. i remember my singing along to their songs in assembly (Nowhere man was a fave of our music teacher, so was Ob-la-di Ob-la-da) with way more enthusiasm.

the older i got the more my taste in music (and men) varied but i always came back to John and The Beatles.

my 21st birthday was not spent in some generic nightclub getting wasted, (not that there is anything wrong with that), it was spent wandering the streets of Liverpool, stomping the same pavements that John once had. we visited the Cavern, we strolled around the Albert Dock, we visited Penny Lane, saw the house George was born in, the registry office that John and Cynthia got married in. i remember being on a tour (so wonderfully titled “magical mystery tour”) and the tour guide/host was firing questions at everyone. who got most of them correct? who was the youngest fan on the bus? me and ME. the tour guide actually turned to  me at one point and said “it should really be you stood here doing this job” day=made.

i couldn’t pin point what it is exactly about John and his music that i love. it’s really a load of little things. there was an honesty to his music that i adore, a vulnerability. he was, in my opinion, very comical but also had a depth to him that was evident in his music and his mind. i admire how he handled his unconventional upbringing, and the tragedy that came to him early in life. he wanted to bring people together. he was wise – i mean, sure, we can’t assume that all these quotes attributed to him are ALL really his, but there’s no smoke without fire, right?

his mind

Some of my favourite John thoughts –

“The basic thing nobody asks is why do people take drugs of any sort? Why do we have these accessories to normal living to live? I mean, is there something wrong with society that’s making us so pressurized, that we cannot live without guarding ourselves against it”
“We all have Hitler in us, but we also have love and peace. So why not give peace a chance for once?”
“We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant…. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.”
“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong”
“I’m not going to change the way I look or the way I feel to conform to anything. I’ve always been a freak. So I’ve been a freak all my life and I have to live with that, you know. I’m one of those people”

i could go on but i won’t. you can read more of his musings on brainy quote or a similar website.

his music

some of my best, and worst, moments are tied to his music. my 25th birthday, driving along the Almalfi Coast in the beautiful Italian sunshine our driver had John’s “(Just like) Starting Over playing. whilst it’s widely accepted that ‘Crippled Inside’ is about everybody’s hypocrisy, for me i use it to laugh at myself when my mental demons are loud and winning, much like they are now; but that’s another post for another day. there are also songs that i hope to attach to memories in the future – one day i hope to have ‘In My Life’ played at my wedding, i hope to sing ‘Beautiful Boy’ to my son.

 

 

 

 

 

it is also the birthday of the person John wrote that song about – his son Sean (who is a TREAT for the eyes).

Happy Birthday, Sean.

Happy Birthday, John.

and thank you.

xoxo

micks

#tb to when I went to NYC with a blanket around my neck and my favourite place in the city was empty except for me, my mum and a busker singing my favourite John songs.

Desert Island Discs

 

Good morrow to you the reader of this post.

I hope this finds you all well. It is 11:26 on a Saturday morning, I have worked 750 hours this week, stood sodden in a field (ok well, Kew Gardens) whilst finally seeing one of my favourite singers live during the biggest downpour of the week – I think I’m still damp. I now have a weekend off – Halle-bloody-lujah!

This weeks post – as given away by the title – is my desert island discs. Some of you will be familiar with the BBC4 radio show, others the podcast version. I do not listen to Radio 4 (shocking, I know) but I have recently discovered the podcast and it may be my new favourite thing; as I write this I am listening to Russell Brand’s episode.

For those that don’t know the format here’s what it looks like. Each show there is a new castaway, they choose 8 discs they can take with them to a desert island. They then get to chose one over all others that they would save. It then got me to thinking about what my desert island discs would be – it was really effin hard to choose and ask me next week and I may have changed my mind BUT for now here are mine.

 

Paolo Nutini –Candy

I have long been a fan of Paolo. I remember seeing him in a small venue in Camden back in, maybe, 2009 and I was blown away by two things; the voice and the sweat- I have never seen someone sweat that much!

There are so many memories attached to this song and it reminds me of a time when I was truly happy – I didn’t really realise just how happy I was until I wasn’t anymore but this song always makes me smile and takes me back, at least in my head, to that time.

 

Dizzee Rascal – Fix Up, Look Sharp

 What a bad boy tune. This reminds me of being a teenager at school and whilst I wasn’t particularly enamored with school and I don’t have massively fond memories of that time I have always loved this song and I was at school the first time I heard it. Now it’s my go to song when I need to get motivated, as soon as I hear that first ‘Oiiiiii’ I just smile and think YES SON.

 

Andrea Bocelli – Con Te Partiro

Switching it up a tad from grime to classical… this song is just magic. Andrea’s voice is outstanding. It has such a calming effect on me and I cant help but just close my eyes and appreciate it when I hear it. Big up my dad for bringing Andrea into my life.

 

Passenger – Holes

If you have me on social media you’ll know I saw him live for the first time this week. I was soaked to the bone but standing in the middle of Kew Gardens in my own little Passenger filled bubble was the happiest I’ve been in a long while. Holes is my favourite song of his and so you can imagine my delight when he closed the show with this.

For me, this song is all about human resilience. It reminds me that we all have our shit but you gotta just pick yourself up and carry on. It’s a good reminder to not wallow in self pity. “We’ve got holes in heart, yeah we’ve got holes in our lives. Where we’ve got holes, we’ve got holes but we carry on”

 

Christina Perri – I believe

 For someone who seems to constantly question herself and is always a bit confused by life this is a brilliant, almost theme tune. The lyrics are what speak to me more than anything and it’s my go –to song whenever I’ve felt a bit lost or been lost in the haze of mental illness. Those of you that suffer with Mental Health problems know it can totally strip you of your identity and this song always kind of brings me back and reminds me it’s a phase and to just breathe.

 

Perfume Genius – Can’t Help Falling in Love

Everyone knows this song but not everyone knows this version. One of my favourite things is when people send me new music to listen to and my favourite sarcastic ray of sunshine sent me this a year or so ago. It’s now one of my most played songs. I adore it.

 

Kid Cudi – Pursuit of Happiness

 My theme tune. That’s all you need to know.

 

John Lennon – Just Like Starting Over

Surprised? Of course John made the list, it would be wrong to go to a desert island without him. I struggled to pick a song because I actually have a few of his that I would love to take but this one tops the list.

 

The song I would save above all others is Kid Cudi’s Pursuit of Happiness.

 

Kirsty Young (who hosts) also gives all castaways the Bible, the complete work of Shakespeare and one other book of their choice so my book will be a ‘How to play piano’ book. I am always annoyed that I never bothered to pick up and learn how to play.

I did consider Harry Potter but I don’t think a series of books is allowed and I would just become frustrated with the fact I couldn’t finish the series.

 

My Luxury Item would be a piano to go with my book– how cool would it be to go to a desert island for a while and then come back with a new talent?

 

And that’s it.

 

What would your desert island discs be? Tell me do.

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Christmas Songs: A Top Ten

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… ISN’T IT SO EXCITING???

No prizes for guessing my favourite holiday. There is a reason I have become known as ‘the Christmas fairy’ at work. I fully support the work of Santa and Buddy the Elf and agree wholeheartedly that “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear” .

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Which is kind of handy as music is my thing and that is what this blog is about.
As we all know we celebrate Christmas because of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and what happened to them a couple millennia ago. Christmas = Christ Mass. The date of December 25th is probably not Jesus’ actual birthday – a fact noted by various scholars- but those pesky Romans and Church Elders decided on December 25th somewhere between 340AD and 440AD (thank you Mr. Precious and all those hours of R.E when you taught me things I swore I’d never need to use again. Little did I know…)

Christmas is not really Christmas in the traditional sense anymore. I couldn’t say I know of anyone that actually goes dressed up to church on Christmas day. Rather, the day begins dressed in a onesie (probably from Primark), with stockings and selection boxes for breakfast. Many of the old traditions, old reasons behind celebrating Christmas have been lost in a tide of greed and commercialism. Presents seem to have gone from ‘it’s the thought that counts’ to ‘Did they give me a gift receipt?’; it’s quite sad really. Don’t get me wrong, I play the consumer as much as the next guy, I have a list as long as my arm of people to buy gifts for and start thinking about ideas for gifts in the summer. I’m just as guilty as you.

One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is the love of a good Christmas song. Whether it’s a traditional hymn, or a pop classic, Christmas songs just have that… Je ne sais quoi. Everyone has a favourite Christmas song, or a favourite carol, there are polls every year and countdowns on the telly to find out ‘The Nation’s favourite’. So, because it is now so close to Christmas that even the Scrooges out there can’t deny it’s approach, these are MY top 10 Christmas songs.

Let the countdown begin…drum roll please…

N.B click the song titles to have your ears filled with magical sounds.

 

  1. Queen – A Winter’s Tale

 

This is technically not a Christmas song, it’s really a winter song. I have put this on my list though because it is bloody beautiful. It’s one of the rare songs that, if you close your eyes and listen to the lyrics, you can picture, quite clearly, what Freddie is singing. It makes me forget how much I hate the cold, and appreciate the beauty of the winter months. As Freddie says at the end “ooooh it’s bliss”

 

  1. Christina Perri – Something about December“Lights around the tree, Mama’s whistling..” This song is the most recently released song on my list. I love me some Ceeps and adore this song. She wrote it with her brother and I think you can hear it within the song. It’s that It reminds me of home. It reminds me of family and always makes me think on some of my favourite Christmas memories. It’s like a big hug.

 

  1. The Muppets – Scrooge

 

This song is on here for the craic. The Muppet’s Christmas Carol is one of my mum and I’s favourite Christmas movies. We watch it as much as possibly every year. Singing along to each song, but this one makes us laugh more than the others. It’s the ‘naaahhh’ in the bridge, I think. If you’ve never seen the film you should be ashamed of yourself, ASHAMED.

 

  1. Cliff Richard – Mistletoe and Wine

 

It’s not Christmas without Cliff. This is his best one. That kid that sings at the end in a soprano “Siiiilent night. Hoooly niiight” cracks me up every year. The person who does the best impression I’ve seen so far is Aud at work. I will attempt to get it on camera at some point.

 

  1. Michael Bublé feat. Thalia – Feliz Navidad (Mis Deseos)

 

This is on here for no reason other than it makes me want to dance and move back to Spain/ to Latin America at the same time. A really FUN Christmas song.

 

  1. Britney Spears – My Only Wish (this year)

 

I am not even ashamed. Ever since Baby One More Time was released I have been a Britney fan. I always wanted to be here, even through her shaved head phase I felt for her and just wanted to give her a hug. This song plays at work and is the only song I always want to sing along to without being interrupted. Britney + Christmas = Michaela Fan Girl Heaven.

 

  1. The Carpenters – Merry Christmas, Darling

 

Only Karen Carpenter could deliver this song so well, with a vulnerability that the lyrics require. A reminder that, whilst we are swept up in the buzz of advent and shopping, some people would rather just be reunited with those they love. Especially our servicemen and women; whether you agree with why they are where they are is irrelevant. They are still separated at a time that is all about spending time with loved ones.

 

DUN DUN DUUUUNNN…. The top 3! Are you on the edge of your seat? You bloody should be, it took me ages to decide these.

 

  1. John Lennon and Yoko Ono – Happy Xmas (War is over)I promise this isn’t on the list just because it’s John. The message of this song is beautiful. We all know John and Yoko wanted peace on Earth. All these years later, especially after the recent tragedies in Paris and the East, the song resonates even more. The video is quite hard to watch but it reminds us that Christmas is also a time to be thankful, that, we in the West, largely live in peace-filled countries. It reminds us to take 5 and give something to those less fortunate.

 

 

  1. Traditional – O Holy Night

 

The only hymn to make my top ten (which I’ve just realised) but it’s a goodie; one of my Grandad’s favourites, my Mum’s favourite and one of my favourites. The link is the Carrie Underwood version, but I also enjoy the version from Home Alone that features the choir. A hopeful song, and we know Christmas is the season of perpetual hope (Mrs. McCallister in Home Alone said so).

 

This is it… the big one!!

NUMBER ONE. (I’m not very good at creating suspense so I’ll just tell you)

 

  1. Judy Garland – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.

 

Judy. The legend. A song from one of my all time favourite movies: Meet Me in St. Louis for those that don’t know. I can’t really put into words why I love it so much, I just do. It’s a beaut.

 

Sooooooooo, they are my top 10. What are yours?

 

I’d imagine a lot of you will namecheck Mariah, The Pogues, Wizzard…

 

Let me know!

 

Xoxo