Today is my birthday. Somehow I’ve made it to 48, the age Mum was when she died. Today is a day for celebrating, for being happy, and thinking ahead.
If I have a faith, it is in people – past present and future. My funeral won’t be a religious affair, so in place of hymns, there will be music instead. Currently, here’s what will be on offer and why:
1. I Fought The Law
Breakin’ rocks in the hot sun
I fought the law and the law won
This song is carved into the heart of my late teenage years. Mum died just before I turned 19. She not only endured my interest in the punk movement, she encouraged it. The prospect of stomping around Croydon in shiny black ten hole Doctor Martin boots sporting a black Harrington jacket and a bad attitude is what used to get me out of bed on a Saturday morning. That and the fact that my £1 weekly allowance was enough to get the bus to and from town, buy a copy of the Cost of Living EP from Virgin Records, and have change left over for a Mars Bar. Happy days.
2. Rock O My Soul
My soul is weak
Rock my soul
And thou art strong
Rock my soul
Before Elvis and The Beatles, there was Lonnie Donegan. Donegan was born in Glasgow in and began playing in London clubs in the late 1940s. With his simple guitar rhythms, powerful voice and rock solid band he chalked up 24 consecutive top 30 singles. This quote of his speaks volumes to me in terms of making music accessible:
“In England, we were separated from our folk music tradition centuries ago and were imbued with the idea that music was for the upper classes. You had to be very clever to play music. When I came along with the old three chords, people began to think that if I could do it, so could they. It was the reintroduction of the folk music bridge which did that.”
My Dad grew up listening to Lonnie Donegan, and as is the way, so did I. In my teenage years, my interest in Donegan waned in favour of bands like The Clash and The Damned, and when Dad died in early 2012, I rediscovered Lonnie Donegan’s simple power, and humour. Listening to his music has been a significant part of evolving grief into cherished memories.
3. The Garden
The treasure of a life is a measure of love and respect,
The way you live, the gifts that you give
In the fullness of time,
It’s the only return that you expect
Earlier this year I took myself and two very close friends off to the O2 to see Rush on their Clockwork Angels tour. We took the riverboat down to the venue, treated ourselves to seats right down the front, drank beer, spilled beer, and watched the band play. This song was a highlight and since that day it has pencilled, painted, inked and now tattooed itself into me. I love this song because it reminds me of my shortcomings, and of how far I still have to go. I love the idea that life is a garden to nurture and protect.
I have much nurturing to do. I’m off to do some now.
Have a great day.
There are successful bands all over the world with average guitar players, and singers that can hold a note, but every great band seems to have one thing in common. This post is for drummers and percussionists everywhere. To those who keep the rhythm, so the rest of us don’t have to.