Hello fellow bloggers! I trust you are all well, and should that not be the case, I pray for better days to come your way and extend my warmest wishes to you.
Me? Well, I have successfully moved myself from the UK to the other side of the world, and am currently in a (rather shaky) Christchurch, New Zealand, whilst awaiting our move to Melbourne in March. Since I made a promise to myself to complete November’s Writing 101 challenge (I know, I know – that was three months ago!!! But I have a strange OCD for things being in chronological order and I cannot possibly blog about anything else until I complete it!) I am therefore persevering with the challenge, even if everyone else is crying out “That’s such old news Hayley!”
Call it genius (or just plain lazy) but I have decided to combine three prompts into one blog post and kill (three) birds with one stone! (For all you bird lovers out there, I am speaking figuratively here and besides, my aim really isn’t that good. Plus I love birds too!)
Day 15: Compile a playlist of 10 tracks that represent you. (My list will consist of 10 standout tracks from my childhood to the present day. (A difficult task since my music collection is so varied) however, I am sticking to tracks that remind me of certain times and places so as to tie this prompt in with the following prompts…)
Day 16: Mine your own material. Think about the things we leave behind. Tell us about a time you’ve left an object, place, person, or even an idea behind — and had to move on. (I will be meditating on the different eras I have left behind as I have moved though life and music)
Day 17: A map as your Muse. (Music has the ability to transport us to a particular time and place, so I will (attempt) to include maps along my music journey!)
I hope you enjoy my trip down Musical Memory Lane!
Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory.
~ Oscar Wilde ~
My first memories of music are whilst travelling in the back of Mum’s car. A particular song which Mum played almost on repeat, was Jimmy Cliff’s I Can See Clearly. I remember this song, not only for the way we’d sing along to it on our drives, but for the joke we’d tell inspired by it’s lyrics. The joke was about a man who was married to Lorraine, but was having an affair with a woman named Deirdre. The rather untrustworthy (and murderous) man decided to push his wife off of a cliff! Pleased with his efforts and making his way back to Deirdre’s house, he sang “I can see Deirdre now Lorraine has gone!”
Another favourite of Mum’s was Bryan Adams. Whilst most people will remember Mr Adams for Everything I Do, which remained at the Number 1 spot of the UK singles charts for a massive 16 consecutive weeks, I will mostly remember Bryan for Please Forgive Me. For reason’s unknown to me, I am moved to tears each time I listen to this song. When this song was released, my Mum had separated from my Dad. Since she played it so often, I guess part of me feels that she may have been singing this song to him. Although they parted, Mum always remained Dad’s friend and carer, and I know that for Mum, Dad was always ‘the one.’ I know she regrets separating from him for a man she no longer has anything to do with. One thing I do know, is that my Dad loved Mum until the day he died, and that he forgave Mum for moving on. I just wish Mum would forgive herself.
Other favourites of Mum’s were Wet Wet Wet, 10CC, Meatloaf and Cher. We were mostly driving in the car when listening to music with Mum, and so I haven’t included a map for these tracks.
Dad’s taste in music was less Pop inspired and more Rock n Roll, preferring to listen to bands such as Led Zeppelin and Dire Straights, with a few stand out solo artists who were favourites of his. One of my earliest memories of listening to music with Dad was when my eldsest sister and I, who were no more than six and eight at the time, would dance around the living room air-guitaring with him after school whilst Mum was at work. Message In A Bottle by Police particularly stands out as one of our most danced to tracks. Dad would shine the lamp at our feet in a make shift spot light and we’d rock out until Mum returned home and it was time for tea.
Another song from my youth that Dad would regularly sing to us was Purple Rain by Prince. I can’t listen to this song without being cast back to a memory of Dad with his dark shoulder length hair, strumming his imaginary guitar and becoming completely lost in the music. I am, again, moved to tears each time I listen to this song. But I love it for the memories and the emotion it ignites.
The house we lived at when we were rock stars.
Dad and I would be reunited in our shared music tastes later on in life, but in the meantime, it was time for me to discover my own individual taste in music. When I was about eleven, I remember hearing a band from Hull on the radio called The Beautiful South, and promptly asked for their album for Christmas. This was the first tape cassette I owned that wasn’t recorded straight from the radio’s Top 40. I would listen to it again and again until I knew all of their lyrics by heart. Don’t Marry Her was a favourite of mine for the simple fact that it had a swear word in it, which implied there would be some ‘bonking’ going on. At the tender age of eleven, it seemed rather daring to listen to this song with headphones on whilst Mum watched Coronation Street, blissfully unaware of the music content she’d purchased for her daughter. The lewd content of my music, however, did become more apparent when I bought the Marshall Mathers LP and no longer felt the need to wear headphones to hide my rebellious side! For now, however, the suggestive lyrics of The Beautiful South were plentiful enough to make me snigger at what they insinuated, even if I didn’t fully grasp the extent of the meaning just yet. Whilst there are many songs by The Beautiful South that I love, I can only post one here, and so have chosen One Last Love Song on the basis that I’m a hopeless romantic who hopes that the guy gets the girl in the end.
A female singer-song writer who I’d heard through a good friend of mine became very influential to me when I was around the age of 16. At the time I was living next door to my previous house on 54 Barleycroft, and now lived at number 56 with my Gran. I wont provide a map since it was only one door along the same street. My Mum and (now two) sisters no longer lived next door and lived about a fifteen minute drive away. Dad lived alone in a one bed apartment in the next town. I had gone to live with my Gran because Mum and I were fighting an awful lot. We were, I guess, just two hot-headed females who desperately wanted to feel loved by one another but didn’t know how. Gran suggested I move in with her, and for that, I was very grateful. But I also felt so lost and lonely and misunderstood. For a young hormonal teenager, being separated from the rest of the family left me feeling like an outcast and I ended up gravitating towards the wrong crowd in a desperate bid to fit in. My sensible friends didn’t get why I didn’t live at home, or why my parents weren’t together, and it was just easier to hang around with ‘friends’ who didn’t ask questions. Who seemed more confused and troubled than I was. I began to date a guy who was older than me and I suspect he was into some dodgy dealings. I began drinking and smoking marijuana, which only heightened my pain and confusion. I felt lonelier than ever. During these times, Tracy Chapman was my comfort. Many a nights I cried myself to sleep to Baby Can I Hold You and I would dream of escaping in my Fast Car. A year later I did escape. Not in a fast car, but in an aeroplane to Spain.
Within a week of moving to Spain, I met a girl named Katie who was also from England. Like me, she had no family there, other than her Scottish boyfriend, Cameron, who she always seemed to have a troubled relationship with. I think she was pleased to have some female company; we’d often go shopping or dancing together, spending long lazy days on the beach. At seventeen and nineteen years of age, we were troubled, yet care free – both trying to find our place in the world, and so found comfort in each others company. Katie and I quickly became friends. So much so, that within three months I’d moved in with her and Cameron, and Cameron’s Dad, to help them (and of course me) with reduced rental cost. However, shortly after I moved in, Katie came to me in tears and told me that she and Cameron had separated – that she’d be moving out. I was, of course, sad to see her leave, I’d never felt comfortable around Cameron and his Dad. Two weeks later, Katie was dead. We found her in her apartment the morning after her nineteenth birthday. I was, of course, completely traumatized by Katie’s death. At seventeen, Katie dying was my first real experience of losing someone. Katie’s death was treated as suspicious, I was scared and frightened and had to give a statement to the police. Still, to this day, we never truly discovered what caused Katie to die. Her boyfriend was sent to prison but was released on bail and returned to Scotland. We never heard more after that despite our inquiries, the Spanish police didn’t want to release any information to us. During this time I found comfort in Puff Daddy’s Missing You. Eventually, I had no choice but to simply move on. But I will always remember Katie for her kind and caring friendship, and for her sweet giggle. Nineteen was far too young for her to leave this world.
There came a period in Spain where I felt a sudden urge to move home for a while. After two years of living on the Costa Del Sol working as a waitress, I felt that I was being wasted. Working in a bar was fun, but I didn’t want to waitress for the rest of my life. I’d dropped out of college to move to Spain, and at the age of nineteen, felt the need to get some further education under my belt. I came home and studied a computing course for four months from November to February. Little did I know at the time that this would be my last Christmas spent with my Dad.
During my brief return home, Dad and I rekindled our shared love of music. Still separated from my Mum, Dad would sleep over at Mum’s place at the weekends so he could spend time with his family. Our favourite bands at the time were Oasis, Travis, Keane, Maroon 5 and Coldplay. Coldplay was an all time favourite of ours and in the past when Dad had come over to visit, we’d regularly fall to sleep listening to their first album, Parachutes – Dad in the bottom bunk, me in the top. So it was natural that we would play this album again when I returned from Spain, along with some of their newer music. It’s hard to choose just one track of Coldplay’s that reminds me of my Dad, but the final song of the Parachutes album, Everything’s Not Lost (which includes a hidden song at the end) seems fitting.
Once I had completed my computing course, I returned to Spain in hope of better employment prospects. Three months later, I received the dreaded phone call with news that my gentle Dad had died. It was, to say the least, the most excrutiating experience of my life, and anyone suffering from the loss of a loved one will empathise greatly. Even today, I still feel that I connect with my Dad through music. Sometimes it’s the only way I can feel close to him. That, and through my writing. One of Dad’s all time favourite artists was Bob Dylan, so it seemed fitting that we would play Bob Dylan at Dad’s funeral. Forever Young is therefore the 9th song in this playlist. I have blogged about Foerever Young previously, and so you can listen to the song and its significance to me here.
“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
— Maya Angelou
The final song in my playlist is One by Shapeshifter. After I lost my Dad I traveled Australia, Thailand and finished up in Christchurch, New Zealand. I moved to New Zealand completely alone, I literally didn’t know a single soul when I arrived there. As much as I fell in love with New Zealand, it was, at times, very lonely. That was, until I bumped into my current partner of almost six years, Mark. Being a lover of Angel Oracle cards and the guidance they bring, they showed me that Mark was my ‘answered prayer’ and my ‘twin flame’ (which basically means soul mate in Angel Card speech!) A song Mark would often play to me, and that we still play today, is One. This song fills me with hope, with courage and reminds me that I am never truly alone.
Thank you for journeying with me through my life in music. Which songs resonate with you and why?