But You Don’t Really Care For Music, Do You?


There are songs that you keep for best. Songs you can’t bear to end. Songs that you save for times when you know That Song and only That Song will make everything in the world seem better, just for a moment.

My dad always talked about music that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up but I never knew what he meant until the first time I heard Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah”. From the opening sigh to the final silvery guitar notes, I couldn’t move. The instant it finished, I had to play it again. Every time since then, I’ve been unable to listen to it just once and rarely with entirely dry eyes.

Last night, that song produced a different sort of tears – tears of sheer, bloody frustration. The latest product of Simon Cowell’s Pop Factory has released a cover version. The sort of identikit, soulless, artless cover version that doesn’t even register as song, just a collection of musical kit parts arranged in the least challenging order. I have no idea who the artiste is, she isn’t worth the google. From the 30 seconds I could bear, she’s evidently the sort of singer who sees “emotion” as a box to tick by clenching a fist, closing her eyes and putting more notes in. Nothing but nothing gets my goat more than the unthinking diva who uses Every Bloody Line as a chance to swoop around their vocal range like a vulture at mountain-side plane crash.

Nobody cares how many notes you can sing. Nobody.

Just find that one, perfect note. The note that sounds like your heart is being wrenched apart so that one note can get out and unload every last speck of pain or joy or despair or love that you’ve ever felt to any ear prepared to listen because you had no choice but to set it loose.

Buckley, for the record, had a massive three to four octave vocal range. None of his songs contain the sort of vain histrionics, compulsorily for today’s career diva. He used his notes – picked them with care and love. He used tone and timing and volume. He treated his range as a vast set of colours from which to pick exactly the right shade. He didn’t paint rainbows on every inch of the page.

There’s more to being an artist than learning technique. You have to learn what to do with it.

There’s a campaign to download the Buckley version enough times to stop the travesty being Xmas number one. It might seem petty but it might just make you feel better, just for a moment.

Is There Anything Cooler Than A Ukulele?


Why yes, there is. There’s finding that 2 minutes 38 seconds into a clip of the ukulele orchestra of great britain playing “Shaft” at Cambridge Folk Festival, you can clearly see Me and Red Leader giggling our little heads off.

No autographs.

YouTube is chock full of UOGB (as we afficianados call them) clips. I recommend “Fly Me Off The Handel” and the “You don’t bring me flowers”. Now, I wonder how much a ukulele is … ?

Cursed Working


Sorry for the mucho quieto. Life’s been pretty hectic and likely to get more so. Finally started the glamorous new job and so far so good.

The eight-hours-of-train-travel-on-the-first-bloody-day notwithstanding.

Still it’s a definite improvement. Lots of busy and nerdy and Linux.

Been to loads of gigs lately and I’ve started trying to review them (see up there where is says ‘reviews’) but it’s making me respect, y’know, PROPER reviewers mostly. Might take them down again. Any opinions gratefully ignored.

more soon. honest

Music Be The Food Of … erm …


As as rule, Beloved Sophie and I don’t have arguments. Disagreements, discussions, a battle of wit and wisdom – yes, but not proper shouting matches. The closest we ever come is during DIY sessions or while pontificating about music.

The last such wrangle was over the meaning of a Cat Empire song. While not wishing to go over the details of it, in short I was completely correct and she was very, very wrong.

This week, it got heated fairly late on after 3 bottles of wine. I don’t remember the fine details but Beloved suggested I am “a crap musician” for reasons involving Paul Simon, Josef Mengele and the Bhundu boys.

I am ashamed to admit I had no answer to that.

Oh it’s a jolly holiday with Sophie …


A week in Sunny Scotland with a first experience of sailing and a recap on our drinking skills, with my beloved by my side. What more can a man ask for, short of singing rude songs and a side platter of nostalgia?

Drove up to Dumfries on the Friday afternoon with the traditional stop at Tebay services, now featuring a snazzy and posh Deli/Organic/GorgeousStuff counter. Drove on with the traditional “wooohooooo we’re in Scotland!” when passing the Iron Bridge.

Maw and Paw chuffed to see us, of course. Spent a cheery Friday night nattering to them and being fed to within an inch of our lives.

Shona arrived on Saturday so more nattering before Sophie and I went for a mooch round Dumfries. There was some sort of street theatre going on which was probably very entertaining but I got distracted by the woman in a ringmaster’s outfit and stripy tights “training” another woman in a Lion suit which appeared to be slightly too big for the pert bottom she ended up virtually baring in the High Street. Hence my distraction …

The centre of Dumfries is a bit of a sorry sight. So many boarded up shop fronts and what’s left is mostly charities and cheap tat. I remember it being a lot busier and the shops being more varied. Whether this is a trick of my memory or a sad symptom of the growth in out-of-town shops, I don’t know. There was a market behind the steeple which was quite cool but I did leave town feeling a bit sad.

Saturday night and it’s off to the pub with Tracy and her new man, Jack who turned out to be a semi-pro musician and a top bloke all round. We spent the night discussing guitars, music, songs and generally boring the arse off of the womenfolk. Smoking is banned in Scottish pubs now so as I was with 3 chain smokers, I spent more time than I care to outside in the freezing cold – and I don’t even smoke.

Once we’d out-stayed our welcome in every pub we could find, we headed back to Tracy’s flat where I strategically passed out on the floor. We somehow managed to get lost between her flat and the main road which is quite an impressive feat, but eventually found the taxi and made it back to my parents’ house.

Sunday, as you may imagine, was quiet.

Monday morning, and we said all our goodbyes before heading north. We decided to take the coast road which, to Sophie’s relief, only referred to the part around Largs and not going via Stranraer. On reaching the road approaching Ardrossan, my excitable driver spotted something:-



“what? oh yes, those…SEAGULLS!! I CAN HEAR SEAGULLS!!”


“WOOOWWW!!! Proper ROCKS!!! I’ve never SEEN a ROCK POOL, d’you think there’ll be a rock pool? maybe i can get a bit closer … “


“you’re not even Catholic, smart arse”

“…ofourdeath – i don’t care, it’s worth a try – LORRY! LORRYYYYYYYY!”

” I saw it, I saw it. Calm down. Honestly, what a wendy”

“you mean Jessie. No, wait …”

200 miles and Four of my Nine Lives later, we approached Greenock. Or Gourock. One of the two. I get them confused. Just as we were coming in, my phone goes.

It’s the police.

in Holyhead.

in Wales.

… to be continued

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