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Music

Like sand and glue

A young Bob Dylan singing protest songs at a rally in the US.

A young Bob Dylan singing protest songs at a rally in the US.

A little while ago, Bob Dylan was award the Nobel Prize in Literature – the first songwriter ever to receive the award. I found this really interesting for two reasons…

Firstly that some people should question that a songwriter should be given an award for literature.

And secondly – why hasn’t it happened before?

Personally – I am a Dylan fan. I’ve seen him in concert a couple of times. I love his early acoustic roots and songs like Blowing in the Wind – but I am also a fan of his electric side.

He really does know how to write a song! His music might not appeal to everyone. David Bowie got it pretty right when he wrote about ‘a strange young man called Dylan – with a voice like sand and glue.’

Dylan’s rough and scratchy voice might not appeal to the purists or to opera lovers. But sand and glue is exactly what his songs are….. Continue reading

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Creative Grass Roots

Scarlet Kite kicked of the evening with some original music.

Scarlet Kite kicked of the evening with some original music.

This week I spent a lovely evening as a guest of She Voices – a group of women writers based in Richmond, in London.

We gathered at the Tea Box for an evening of music and words with an added layer of cake, tea (and wine) and fellowship.

I was struck by how important evenings like this really are. Continue reading

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It’s a Livin’ Thing

A spectacular light show at the O2 Arena.

A spectacular light show at the O2 Arena.

I fought my way through the crowd at London’s O2 Arena (formerly the Millennium Dome) this week to see a music legend – Jeff Lynne’s ELO.

Wow – what a great gig it was. I was down on the floor and it really was like magic. (OK – no more ELO lyric puns).

The O2 is a huge venue – it seats 20,000 people. That means more than a few of them are a very long way from the stage. Not that it mattered too much… ELO put on a wonderful light show.

Which got me thinking about how the live music experience has changed since I first started seeing some of these acts back in the mists of time. Continue reading

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Metal moshing in pink

It's not the Royal Festival Hall - but without the small venues, there would be no music to fill the large ones.

It’s not the Royal Festival Hall – but without the small venues, there would be no music to fill the large ones.

I’ve just done something I have never done before – and probably never thought I would do… I have joined the mosh pit at a metal gig.

Ok – let set a few things straight. Regular readers of the blog will know I am a big fan of live music – and it’s a rare month that passes without some live music somewhere on my schedule.

It’s usually folk. Or blues or pop. Maybe some good old fashioned rock and roll. But heavy metal? Not likely. Not this romantic novelist!

That’s not to say I am totally without ‘form’ in the world of heavy metal gigs. Continue reading

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We could be heroes

bowieI lost one of my heroes this week – the amazing David Bowie died.

He was 69 and had just released his latest album, Blackstar. I’m listening to it as I write.

Bowie’s music has been with me all my life, since I was living in a tiny room at university, and first heard someone playing Hunky Dory in a room further down the corridor.

Bowie seemed to be speaking directly to me. We were pretty things, driving our Mamas and Papas insane. Continue reading

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An Englishman’s knees

The main tent at the Wickham Folk Festival - welcome shade on a very hot day.

The main tent at the Wickham Folk Festival – welcome shade on a very hot day.

It’s August and the sun is shining (well – occasionally) and that means I am to be found on most weekends camping in a field listening to music with fifteen or twenty thousand of my closest friends.

I always know it’s festival season by the sudden appearance of that strange and rarest of creatures – the Englishman’s knees. Continue reading

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Been there, seen them, got the T-shirt

Lynyrd Skynyrd were totally awesome - Sweet Home Alabama raised the roof.

Lynyrd Skynyrd were totally awesome – Sweet Home Alabama raised the roof.

I was in a fashion scrum this week – struggling in a crowd to get my hands on the latest designs… not, not shoes. T-shirts.

Specifically a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert T-shirt.

The guy in front of me, successful in getting an XX-Large of his chosen design, said to me .. ‘I have the T-shirt for every tour they’ve done… and I’ve been to every tour too.’

Cheers for that man – he totally gets the idea of gig T-shirts.

You must never buy them online. Or at a shop. You must buy them at the gig – it’s a badge of honour.

It says to everyone who sees you wear it – I was there! Continue reading

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The ghost at the crossroads…

One of only three photos known of Robert Johnson - he was a bit of a charmer!

One of only three photos known of Robert Johnson – he was a bit of a charmer!

 

I love a ghost story. And a legend. And music.

So it was inevitable that while in the American south on holidays, I should go in search of the ghost of Robert Johnson.

We found his grave – all three of them .. and the crossroads where he sold his soul to the devil. Three or four of them.

There are many variations on the legend of the musician meeting the devil at the crossroads and as many songs that tell the tale, accompanied by haunting guitar riffs of wild fiddle playing.

The legend didn’t start with Robert Johnson – but for me, it is all about him… Continue reading

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Elvis is in the building…

The King - but when I first saw him, he was a totally  different person.

The King – but when I first saw him, he was a totally different person.

 

I can remember the day Elvis died.

I was a teenager, the most junior reporter at a TV news station in Australia. When the news broke, my boss immediate scheduled the Elvis story as the lead item for that night’s news.

I was confused – the idealistic, university-student me thought news was about politics and world events and ‘important’ things. Not the death of some has-been singer.

Now I have been to Graceland – and I understand a lot more about why Elvis was important.

Continue reading

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The Mighty Mississippi

The sun sets over the river at Natchez - where the paddle steamers used to dock.

The sun sets over the river at Natchez – where the paddle steamers used to dock.

 

Continuing my blogs about my US road trip – I thought I should talk about the cause of the whole venture – the Mississippi River.

At school we were taught that the Mississippi is one of the largest rivers in the world (4th longest I believe). We learned about its role in opening America – in trade and transport and about the plantations worked by slaves along its banks.

But they were just facts and figures.

I fell in love with Ol’ Man River through music and books… and having finally met my love after all these years – I was not disappointed… Continue reading

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