It’s The Freakiest Show..

My big brother was into the 1970s glam-rock scene, I mean, he had the platforms and everything.. He looked a div, but then what teenage boy didn’t look a div in the 70s?

For what’s it’s worth, I also looked a div – only I didn’t have any choice in the matter.

Anyway, it’s from rooting through his records that I came across the phenomenon that was David Bowie..

Being born in 1970 rendered me too young to appreciate the glam rock scene first time around. However, I didn’t have to wait too long because it made a comeback in the 80s with the likes of Def Leppard, Poison and Kiss – only with less glitter and more hair. Oh. And the flares were replaced by skin-tight, testicle-trapping jeans which of course helped them to reach those high notes..

WHOOOOOOOOO-YEAHHHHHHHHHHHH

Of all the records of the glam rock era, Life on Mars is my favourite.

Bowie labeled Life on Mars, “a sensitive young girl’s reaction to the media” and added, “I think she finds herself disappointed with reality… that although she’s living in the doldrums of reality, she’s being told that there’s a far greater life somewhere, and she’s bitterly disappointed that she doesn’t have access to it.”

I know how she feels..

Reality sucks. You spend nine months in the womb being prepared for your big entry into the world only to reach the age of five when you start school and your world turns phenomenally crap.

Yes, I know how that girl feels..

Life on Mars was released as a single in 1973. I was three years old and still wearing plastic pants. So it’s fair to say that while I no doubt heard it on the radio (or saw it on TOTP) I wasn’t into it until a few years later..

First, I fell in love with Mick Ronson’s orchestral arrangement because, lets face it, it’s EFFING AWESOME! Then came my obsession with the lyrics (also awesome) and all these years later, it STILL does things to me insides..

When it comes to the lyrics, the song is somewhat ambiguous but I identify with Bowie’s description because, like the girl, I am also at odds with reality. I see life as one big freak show.

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man, look at those cavemen go
It’s the freakiest show

Bowie started out ordinary enough, apart from his freaky eye, but Mrs Bowie knew that his image was a bit crap so she turned him into the spiky red awesomeness that was ‘Ziggy Stardust’. He made weird, cool, and all the misfits and weirdos whooped with joy and bought all his records. He was like something out of space – which was kind of the idea. Nobody knew what the fuck he was. Was he male, female or alien?

Bowie wasn’t my dad’s cup of tea, as I imagine was the case with a lot of other parents of the time. Dad’s nervous cough would kick in when Ziggy beamed up via the gogglebox during those early years but he settled down once Dave brought out Lets Dance and ‘that one he did with Jagger’, got the Dad stamp of approval too.

Bowie has been a constant in some form or other since Ziggy. I almost had a coronary when the TV series Life on Mars was screened in 2006. Great plot. The legend what is ‘The Gene Genie’ (Gene Hunt) and a cracking 1970s soundtrack, including Life on Mars which was used a LOT. What’s not to like?

For those of you unfamiliar with Life on Mars.. the plot is is that Sam Tyler has an accident in 2006 and wakes up in 1973 wearing flares and driving a Cortina. The tagline is, Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time? Whatever’s happened, it’s like I’ve landed on a different planet.

I just hope to God I never suffer a head trauma and wake up in 1983 wearing a ra-ra skirt and legwarmers!

So, if I had to choose ONE song to listen to before I die, it would be Life On Mars. I want my life force to ebb away to this song but knowing my luck, it will be Justin Bieber and I will die with my middle finger stuck up in mid-air.

There is something satisfyingly poetic about Mick Ronson’s melodic string arrangements to Life on Mars being the last piece of music I ever hear before I depart this shit-hole planet. I am the girl with the mousey hair, or at least I used to be before I started dyeing the crap out of it, and I very much want this to be my swansong. Family, take note.

Finally, a bit o’ trivia for you..

The string arrangement for Life on Mars was written in a TOILET.

Genius.

Dancing With Myself

 

I have memories of dancing around the living room as a child. Even though I was (and still am) disturbingly uncoordinated – the freedom of movement was liberating. It didn’t matter that I looked like a div because nobody could see me.

Thing is, I am profoundly affected by music. Sounds wanky? Fair enough. However, it is a scientific fact that humans are hardwired to respond to music. Music is important. I mean, can you imagine films without soundtracks? Imagine Renton legging it down the street in Trainspotting without Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life. Or how about Jaws without the ‘duuun dun duuun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun’? Of course not. Films would be shit without music.

Life would be shit without music.

The Notorious G.O.D once said, ‘Yo knuckle-dragging peeps, 55,000 years from now your ancestors will be stressed off their tits and up to their eyeballs in something called ‘debt’ but they will have Coldplay and Radiohead.

Music was always playing in our house so many of my memories are evoked by songs. For instance, when I hear Ella Fitzgerald, I see Mum standing in the kitchen – pinny on – preparing Sunday dinner and it’s like she’s still with me somehow..

Mum ~ Circa 1975

As a teenager I went to a disco on Wednesday and Sunday nights.

YOU?!

Yes. ME!

Discos are usually avoided like the plague by the socially and sensory challenged. However, it was one of those situations where being social was a necessary evil if I wanted to experience music at a volume that would give my parents coronaries. You get this, right?

The routine was that I’d wake up on Wednesday morning (dry heaving) and I’d talk myself out of going. Then I’d get home from school – play my music – and it would give me a confidence injection. So I’d spend three hours faffing with my hair and troweling the make-up on and in the end I would look as far removed from me as I could be. Think actress and stage, rather than girl and disco..

Discos also meant BOYS.

I educated myself on how to be a girl and do boy/girl stuff because I was interested in boys, I just knew I couldn’t be myself or they would leg it faster than their Adidas trainers could carry them.

My research came in the form of teen magazines but the stories annoyed me because they were all ‘Wendy stared dreamily at Lee but he didn’t know she even existed. How could she get him to notice her?’. After a few pages of cringeworthy crap, Wendy gets a makeover at her mate’s house and Lee suddenly acknowledges her existence by snogging her in a graffiti filled bus stop which smells like a urinal. The end.

All this seemed ridiculous to me but apparently this was what was expected of girls if they wanted to attract boys? I did manage to attract a few boys because I remember kissing a random teenage lad to The Power of Love – Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s version. I don’t even think I knew his name before I started attacking his tonsils. Another lad (WHO WORE WHITE SLIP-ON SHOES FFS) bought me a Coke and I snogged him as a way of thanks. Snogging didn’t involve talking, you see. I understand that other female Aspies might identify with this?

Music was a drug to me and I needed my weekly fix of this ‘sound experience’. That’s an experience of sound – not Scouse lingo.

I was a disco junkie.

Sort of.

Because it wasn’t about the socialising. Nor did I need alcohol (not that they served it anyway being an under 18s disco) because I got my high from the bass sound which vibrated in my body. The anomaly is that loud noise usually affects me adversely. I cover my ears if a police car goes past. Loud music though? TURN IT UP!

Perhaps it’s no surprise that I have to wear a hearing aid now?

Anyway, combined with the lights (which fascinated me) I’d have been in heaven if it wasn’t for the other humans. My perfect disco? Just me, the music and lights. You can bugger the DJ right off too. I’ll pick my own tunes. Maybe that’s what my heaven will be? My own personal discotheque and yes, I AM old enough to remember the word, ‘discotheque’.

Spear of Destiny’s Liberator (Indie Rock) was played with full strobe light effects and I’d stand there with my mouth hanging open as if a UFO had just landed in the middle of the dance floor. Another anomaly is that, normally, lights affect me – especially fluorescent – but I LOVED THE STROBE! Couldn’t cope with it now (migraines) but in those days it just hyped me up with a similar effect as when you used to give kids E numbers..

The other thing about Liberator was that on hearing the intro, people would literally skid onto the dance floor and start jumping up and down like lunatics. You didn’t dance to Liberator. You shrugged your shoulders aggressively or swung your handbag round your head like a lasso. Plus, being in close proximity to other people meant you were always bumping into someone, like when I bumped into an older girl and demolished her glass of Coke. WHOOPS! Her mates helpfully inquired whether or not she was going to kick my face in?

‘I’M GOING TO KNOCK YOU OUT, COW!’, the girl informed me (aggressively) before flicking me the V sign.

She was probably all frosted lipstick and no action but I wasn’t in the mood to find out, so I legged it to the toilets as fast as my 6″ sling-backs would allow me..

At the end of the night, saliva would be swapped along with phone numbers. The lights would go on and the bouncers would start herding us towards the exits. To me, it was always a massive anti-climax to see the room devoid of it’s magic because the reality was that the dance floor was strewn with broken glass and fag-ends and it looked crap. It was like going to bed with Sean Bean and waking up with Worzel Gummidge. 😦

Once I got married and had children – going to a disco became a rarity. As life put more pressures on me, I became more and more unable to cope with social situations of any kind, let alone discos. I couldn’t recreate those years where the music would override my issues, so I stopped going. Once I was on my own, I would draw the curtains, put a record on and dance, or at least, my interpretation of dancing. Why do you think I drew the curtains?

I don’t remember exactly when I stopped dancing. I just know that I did. And now my bones are buggered so throwing myself around the living room is no longer an option. Not with my arthritis, dears. However, music is (and always will be) in my soul and the day I am no longer moved by it will be the day that I go to that great disco in the sky where the music never ends and God is a DJ.

That’s a reference to a song, by the way.

Until then, as Shannon once said, “Let the music play”.

“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!” ~ Dumbledore ~ Harry Potter & The Philosophers Stone

 

 

 

 

 

Songs That Make You Go WTF?!

I LOVE music. Without music, where would we be? But occasionally I hear a song and think to myself, ‘What the actual eff were you thinking when you wrote this?’

He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss) – The Crystals – 1962

“He couldn’t stand to hear me say
 That I’d been with someone new,
 And when I told him I had been untrue
 He hit me
 And it felt like a kiss
 He hit me
 And I knew he loved me”

It’s hard to believe that this was co written by a woman, let alone a woman who has allegedly suffered repeated domestic abuse. Carole King, what were you thinking?!

Every Breath You Take – The Police – 1983

“Every single day
 Every word you say
 Every game you play
 Every night you stay
 I’ll be watching you”

A popular song reaching the top of the charts. People have this played at their wedding as ‘their song’. Romantic, eh? You can just imagine the newlyweds taking to the dance floor with their family and friends looking on, dabbing their eyes with hankies. Aww.

Er, THE SONG IS ABOUT STALKING!

“I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn’t realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother surveillance and control”. ~ Sting

Baby It’s Cold Outside – Tom Jones & Cerys Matthews 1999

My mother will start to worry (beautiful what’s your hurry?)
My father will be pacing the floor (listen to the fireplace roar)
So really I’d better scurry (beautiful please don’t hurry)
But maybe just a half a drink more (put some records on while I pour)

The neighbors might think (baby, it’s bad out there)
Say what’s in this drink? Rohypnol by the sounds of it! (no cabs to be had out there)
I wish I knew how (your eyes are like starlight now)
To break this spell (I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell)
I ought to say, no, no, no sir (mind if I move in closer?)

The song was written in 1944 by Frank Loesser and there have been numerous versions. I listed Tom Jones’ version, simply because it’s the one I’m the most familiar with. To be fair, when you put these lyrics in the context of the era they were written in (1944) you understand that in those days it wasn’t the done thing to spend the night with a boyfriend or fiance. Also, the reference to ‘what’s in this drink’ was a saying of the era to blame one’s actions on alcohol. However, the song morphs into territory of the creepy kind when viewed by today’s standards, no?

Tap Turns On The Water – CCS – 1971

“Peak through the bathroom door (Did you ever, did you ever)
 See your sister in the raw (Did you ever, did you ever)”

One of the most disturbing songs of my childhood.

Missy Elliott – Work It – 2002

“Take my thong off and my ass go boom!”

Me too, Missy. Me too..

Miley Cyrus – I Forgive Yiew – 2015

“How dare you bring another chick in our bed
You’re lucky I’m doing my yoga, or you might be dead”

Namaste, Motherf**ker!

30 Hours – Kanye West – 2016

“My ex said she gave me the best years of her life
Seen a recent picture of her and I guess she was right”

You’d be under the patio if you were my ex, Kanye. Here’s hoping you age horribly.

Burn Bitch Burn – Kiss -1984

“Oh babe, I wanna put my log in your fireplace.”

One of the finest rock ballads of all time. GET YOUR FAG LIGHTERS UP IN THE AIR!

Figure You Out – Nickleback – 2003

“I love your pants around your feet… You’re like my favourite damn disease.”

Chlamydia or gonorrhea, Chad?

Come On Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runners – 1982

“You in that dress, My thoughts I confess,
Verge on dirty,
Oh, come on Eileen”

Every time we shout, ‘Come on Eileen’, we are urging the poor girl to give into Kevin Rowland’s constant badgering to have it off. Also, Eileen does NOT wear a dress in the video. She wears a fetching pair of dungarees – possibly to keep Kev’s thoughts from verging on the ‘dirty’. Incidentally, ‘Eileen’ was played by Máire Fahey, sister of Siobhan Fahey from Bananarama. Consider yourselves enlightened, peeps. Too loo rye aye?

Kim – Eminem – 2000

A hate/love song penned about his wife, Kim, cheating on him. Seemingly you can put the fantasy of killing your wife into song lyrics and it be perfectly acceptable? Not only that. A follow up song where you take your DAUGHTER with you to dispose of her mother’s body in the lake? Er, Mr Policemen, hello?

“You really f**ked me Kim
 You really did a number on me
 Never knew me cheating on you would come back to haunt me
 But we was kids then Kim, I was only eighteen
 That was years ago”

So, let me get this straight. He cheated on her FIRST but it’s OK because he was only eighteen and in any case, it was years ago, so it doesn’t count?

Here’s the thing, Marshall. 18 is the age when the United States (and the rest of the world) considers young people capable of accepting responsibility for their actions. I vote that Kim writes her own song where she sticks YOU in the boot of a car (naked) and drives YOU to a remote location where it’s only inhabitant is a grizzly bear with a penchant for nuts.

The popularity of this song makes me fear for humanity.

Miley Cyrus (again) BB Talk – 2015

“Look, I like when you send me, you know, the queen emoji, but when I send back the monkey, you know, the ones with the hands over the eyes? That means that shit’s just getting a little too weird for me.”

SMILEY

Puff Daddy feat. Mase – Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down -1997

“Young, black and famous – with money hanging out the anus.”

Makes a change from hemorrhoids, Puff.

Michael Bolton – Can I Touch You There? -1995

“Can I touch you there?”

No.

Destiny’s Child – Bills Bills Bills – 1999

“Can you pay my bills? Can you pay my telephone bills? Can you pay my automo’ bills? Then maybe we can chill. I don’t think you do, so you and me are through.”

So much for the ‘Independent Woman’, eh girls?

Sing it with me now..

“All the women, who are independent
Throw your hands up at me
All the honeys, who making money
Throw your hands up at me”

Coming soon: Songs That Make You Go WTF. Side B

One Love

Two weeks ago, a suicide bomber targeted the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. He chose to detonate his bomb as people were leaving the arena. 22 people were killed, many of whom were young. 116 people were injured. Manchester mourned its dead and the rest of the world mourned with them.

My heart ached with sadness that a human being could deliberately set out to do this. That he could stand next to people throughout those hours just waiting for his moment to devastate lives. It’s beyond comprehension..

I know I should avoid the news. It affects me long after it’s no longer ‘news’. It sends my anxiety spiralling and is bad for my health but sometimes I get caught up in things and I got caught up in this.

Whatever life has thrown at me.. music has been there to comfort me in a way that nobody ever can because music speaks where words fail. Having gone to concerts myself, I understand the feeling of euphoria that comes with seeing your idols perform live and I take comfort in the knowledge that those kids got themselves some happy in their last hours on this earth. That means something to me.

As a parent, my heart broke. So many lives cut short and for what? Ariana Grande was also in my thoughts. Most artists live for what they do and making people feel good is a huge part of why they do it. They want people to leave their concerts feeling happy with memories that will last a lifetime. Imagine being Ariana, knowing that children died in the worst way after seeing her perform? That must have been incredibly hard to cope with. Lets not forget that she is only 23 years old herself.

When the attack happened, I’d never heard of Ariana. I love my music but I am out of touch with what’s in the charts. To look at her, you’d think a decent gust of wind would pick her up and carry her off but last night she proved just what she’d made of as just TWO weeks after the attack she came back to Manchester to play a benefit concert for the 50,000 people with anybody who could prove they were at the original concert getting free tickets.

I watched it via live stream on Twitter. I was an emotional wreck watching it this way. I can only imagine how emotionally charged the atmosphere was at Old Trafford. It wasn’t your average concert, you see. It was special. It was about musicians and people coming together and sticking the Vs up to the terrorists. It took guts to be there. Ariana would have been forgiven if she’d have disappeared off the radar for a while. Not this lady. Not only did she come back, she also brought people with her.

The likes of Katy Perry (who I thought was Annie Lennox until I shoved my specs on), Little Mix and Miley Cyrus may not be my cup of tea but they all showed courage last night, especially as London had been attacked the day before. Even though I don’t connect with their particular style of music, I enjoyed watching the faces of those who do. The infinity you feel to someone who speaks to you via music is something I can definitely identify with.

The highlights for me were Robbie Williams, Coldplay and most of all, Liam Gallagher –  Mr Rock and Roll star himself – who flew in from Germany to support his city. The music changed to a distinct ‘rock like feel’ and my first thought was, ‘OMG, Oasis?’ Just as I was about to reach for my Beta-Blockers, Liam strolled on stage wearing his orange cagoule. No Noel, but we got to see Chris Martin perform with him on Live Forever which I thought was kind of cool given that Liam once compared him with a geography teacher but I guess even rock and roll stars grow up, eh?

Tweet of the night had to be this by Dean Lane about LG.

Daughter: Who’s that in the big coat, daddy?

Dad: That’s an absolute fucking legend, sweetie.

There’s been a lot of flack for Noel about him not reuniting with his brother for this concert. Personally, I feel it wasn’t the right time for an Oasis reunion. Why? Because they are one of the biggest and most iconic rock bands, ever. For Liam and Noel to share the same stage again would have overshadowed everything else. It was Ariana’s night, not theirs. It was right that a concert in support of Manchester should have Mancunian artists on the set list. Chris Martin, singing part of James’ ‘Sit Down’ wasn’t lost on me as James are a Manchester band. Take That were formed in Manchester..

Seeing Ariana sing with the Parrs Wood school choir gave me proper panda eyes. She held a girls hand and when she started to lose her composure, Ariana held her closely. Not a dry in the place. It was an act of love from one human to another but the night was all about love. People connected by a love of music and a determination that no arseholes will dictate their lives for them. The point of terrorism is to strike fear into people, divide them, and to stop them from living their lives. The One Love concert was proof that they have failed to accomplish it. Manchester’s response to terrorism was to sing it’s heart out.

What Ariana accomplished is nothing short of amazing. Any concert takes time and planning but when it involves numerous artists it’s a huge undertaking but she pulled it together in a week. Ariana has my utmost respect. Respect for how she’s found the courage to come back after what must have been a tremendously traumatic time for her, but also her ability to stay vertical in her eight inch heels- an amazing feat in itself.

Her song, ‘One Last Time’ is beautiful in it’s own right but after May 22nd the lyrics took on a different meaning as it was one of the last songs (if not THE last song) those kids ever heard before they went ‘home’.

So one last time
I need to be the one who takes you home
One more time
I promise after that, I’ll let you go

A good thing happened in Manchester yesterday. In the space of two weeks we’ve seen humanity at its worst with the bomber and at its very best in the aftermath. Music has united us in the way that only music can and from my little corner of the world, I was part of it.

Blessings to Ariana and everybody who took part in the One Love concert, including the policeman who was filmed skipping with some children. You Sir, are a legend. This is what the world needs to combat the evil. Love will beat evil, every time.

I’ll leave the last word with Liam, the voice of my generation and one of Manchester’s own.