Tag Archives: Bonnie Tyler

Disunion (her)

I was aware it was happening but I didn’t know what to do about it. I hesitate to use an analogy from jazz – because I know you don’t like jazz – but there’s sometimes a moment in an extended piece, in an improvisation, when the players realise that they’ve lost the spark of what they were doing. They’re still producing notes, occasionally riffing back on refrains that previously worked, but something has changed and the music has gone stale. I’m finding myself reaching for sequences that have always served me well before. I can be your art loving, free spirited traveller if that’s what you want me to be. I can be your serious talker; setting the world to rights, musing on the impermanence of things, and arguing the toss over the voice over in Bladerunner. I still can’t believe you thought I was serious about that. Give me some credit: nobody thinks it needs the voice over. Maybe if things were different we could have a real discussion about that unicorn dream sequence though. Is that the trouble now ? I used to be all of those things but I used to be funny as well. And I used to be just me. Not a version of me that was for you but just me. In fact, I was never more me than those first few months that I was with you.

So I knew something had shifted. If we’d have been having dates at the beginning like we were having dates now then we’d have never made it this far. There was something there still between us but it wasn’t enough. We were waiting for someone to telegraph a concluding descending scale so that we could clumsily end our improvisation. A cue for the song to finish. There would be no polite applause. Who am I kidding ? Impromptu musical jams might end like that but relationships don’t. It would be more likely that one of us would hurl our instrument to the floor and exit stage right leaving a squall of feedback in our wake, the other left alone on stage blinking in the spotlight. Part of me wishes that one of us would. It’d be better than this drawn out decline.

You’re out again. I think you were meeting up with Mike and Sally and I guess you’ll end up treading your familiar route from The Adelaide into the West End. Recently you’ve been trying to persuade me to come to some 90s night at the Borderline so maybe you’re there. I didn’t really fall for Britpop the first time round so I’m not sure that nostalgia is going to lend it anything emotionally for me this time round. You were babbling about how you’d had a drunken moment of clarity the week before during “Live Forever”. We see things they’ll never see. That’s us, you declared. Me and Mike and Sally. I wasn’t sure which “me” you’d meant. I didn’t see those things that they, apparently, will never see so I wasn’t convinced it was me you meant in your boozey epiphany. But I did remember when we – just me and you – did see things that no-one else saw. When we were so in tune that we could sit in a group, noise and chatter flying about us, and we’d exchange a glance, the slightest look, and each other instantly knew what the other thought.

You’re out and I’m home and I’m mainlining power ballads like some Bridget Jones cliche. I’m a lousy drinker when I’m on my own but I’ve made an effort with a makeshift cosmopolitan. There’s no triple sec so, technically, it’s vodka and cranberry juice but that just seems slightly pitiful. Sitting home alone drinking vodka cranberry is for losers but sitting home alone making cosmoplitans  is a different thing entirely. I’ve even got one of those little umbrellas. I can toast our demise with a degree of class. And various love lorn anthems. I’m giving a full throated if slightly off pitch rendition of “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” when upstairs bang on their floor in irritation and I have my own moment of clarity: I’m through half a bottle of vodka, enough cranberry juice to permanently cure all cystitis in West London, and murdering Bonnie Tyler. I crawl to bed.

You’re not there, not even in traces, the usual faint residual scent of you absent on your pillow. I washed the sheets and now I wished that I hadn’t. I miss you.

 

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These singalong songs will be our scriptures

21. Stay Positive – The Hold Steady

So this is halfway, the 21st record of the 42. Except it’s not really. It’s actually an excuse for me to cheat the initial remit of this blog and repurpose it slightly for the future.

Of all the things that I have chosen to do in the last three or four months this has been one of the most rewarding. Not the easiest – usually in the reading back and painful awareness of my limitations – but rewarding nonetheless. So I’m absolutely committed to finishing the list, chronicling another 21 records that have been important to me so far, but I’ve also found that there have been times that the original premise has been a constraint; there have been things I’ve wanted to write about that just didn’t fit. Or could only fit via an arduous process of shoe horning. I could start a different blog I guess but it seems a shame to waste any accumulated goodwill and traffic (limited though it may be) in starting something again.

So here’s the broadening of the remit. For a while I’d been playing around with the idea of 42 as an important milestone number with half an eye (not an entirely serious eye I’ll grant you) on Douglas Adams’ answer to the life, the universe, and everything in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. I’m not about to claim anything as grandiose as genuinely illuminating the question as to what it’s all about here but I think there is something in that sentiment for me personally – some of the moments captured here have touched on the things that are fundamental for me. I will try to make it less wanky than that sounds.

So that was a long winded way of saying that I’m going to carry on writing this but also write about some other things too. I imagine that music will continue to figure pretty strongly.

The rest of this post is essentially given over to a number of people who’ve been kind enough to read what I’ve written so far. A few weeks ago I had canvassed opinion on songs that were important to other people with the notion of constructing an alternative 42 compiled from friends and family. Turns out I either don’t have 42 friends or I don’t have 42 friends who were prepared to offer up a song; a mix of the two I suspect. However, I did manage to pull together a list of 21 songs (a couple of people came up with more than one) which seems fitting and, ahem, convenient as this is post number 21. Here’s the records (all with links if you want to hear them):

A Rainy Night In Soho – The Pogues

Remember You’re A Womble – The Wombles

Hocus Pocus – Focus (link is to a live version even more bonkers than the studio recording)

Page One – Lemon Jelly

Best Of You – Foo Fighters

Total Eclipse Of The Heart – Bonnie Tyler

The Stairs – Inxs

Why Worry – Dire Straits

Freakscene – Dinosaur Jr (dreadful video, incredible song)

Days Go By – Keith Urban

Defying Gravity – Idina Menzel / Kristin Chenoweth

Accidently Kelly Street – Frente

Fairytale Of New York – The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl

Verdi Cries – 10,000 Maniacs

Ring Out Solstice Bells – Jethro Tull

You Do Something To Me – Paul Weller

Everything I Own – Ken Boothe

If You’re Going Through Hell – Rodney Atkins

Letter To Me – Brad Paisley

Alive – Pearl Jam

<childhood album, title forgotten> – Rolf Harris

There isn’t a neat and tidy way, thematically, to tie these songs together beyond the fact that what became apparent in hearing different people’s take on the importance of music to them, or the specificity of time and place inherent to them in some of these songs, was that songs can be a powerful anchor in people’s lives. So the headline song on this post – the mighty Hold Steady’s “Stay Positive” – was as close as I could come in wrapping up that sentiment, particularly with respect to the line about “these sing along songs will be our scriptures”. The Hold Steady have never run shy of declaring the redemptive, life affirming power of music – specifically for them rock and roll –  and its capacity to move people in extraordinary ways and this song pretty much sums up their mission statement.

It also, in its opening lines, ties up nicely one of the great things that has come out of the experience of writing many of the posts so far: I got a lot of old friends that are getting back in touch and it’s a pretty good feeling, yeah it feels pretty good. The stats will say that I’ve had something like 1200 views of this blog over the past three or four months. Pretty small beer. But I’ve worked in market research long enough to know that stats lie or, at least, never tell the whole story. I’ve also had extremely kind comments, compliments, suggestions of other songs I might like, virtual conversations about choral pieces, and shared reminiscences. The connections have made the experience far more rewarding for me.

So, that list of 21 records. There were a few new songs here for me – Brad Paisley and Rodney Atkins bringing the country (two kinds of music, y’all), Focus bringing the frankly barking mad yodeling (track reminds me a lot of Muse), and strangely I’d never heard the Jethro Tull song despite being familiar with some of their early stuff. I didn’t know the INXS track either which was a reminder for someone of a concert experience and I can imagine the song as a great opener with its steady build; plenty of time for Michael Hutchence to make his entrance. Not so much now, obviously. We’ve got songs of childhood (or some people winding me up) from The Wombles and Rolf Harris – reminders of a more innocent time. At the time of writing Harris has been charged with twelve counts of indecent assault and, depending on how the trial goes in April, may end up being expunged from the cultural record in much the same way as Gary Glitter has been. There’s Bonnie Tyler’s power ballad par excellence, an impassioned pile-driver from Foo Fighters, the sunshine pop of Frente – very hard to listen to without smiling – and the ambient electronica of Lemon Jelly. There’s Elpheba’s anthem from Wicked about realising your potential and discovering who you are (my daughter’s pick) and Keith Urban’s country rock call to live life to its full (don’t tell my wife but I actually really like this song and Urban is a remarkable guitarist). For pure romance you won’t find many finer songs than “Rainy Night In Soho” (or, indeed, the differently romantic “Fairytale Of New York”) and you won’t find many finer songs, full stop, than “Verdi Cries” – in mine and a friend’s ever shifting list of the top 5 songs ever written this was always (only half jokingly) the only ever fixed point. There are songs attached to unhappy memories from Ken Boothe and Dire Straits, and songs attached to great memories from Pearl Jam and Paul Weller.

There’s probably only one song that I might have picked for my own list, much as I like many of the selected songs. Dinosaur Jr’s “Freakscene” is one of a handful of songs from the US alt invasion of the late 80s and early 90s that I strongly associate with a club in Bristol that a group of us frequented. Happy times and one to revisit in a future post – either with that song or one of its brethren. God I love that song though.

The stories attached to all of these songs aren’t mine to tell but a sincere thank you to those who shared them and when no story was forthcoming I had fun imagining the significance of the song. A virtual group hug would be in order if that was, you know, the sort of thing I do. As it’s not I’ll leave you with the rallying “we gotta stay positive” chorus from The Hold Steady. It’s no bad way to start the year, particularly if you’ve just had a year like mine.