Memories in Music

Last night as I left my local supermarket, a song heard over the shopping mall sound system, though faint and almost undetectable due to the 5pm rush hour traffic,  transported me back to the United Kingdom, January 2002.

I’ve been there ever since!

London, January 2002. I was 23 and embarking on another year abroad. No clear road map, little direction and even less money. Yet I was convinced I would build on the life skills I had mastered in 2001, when aged 22, I had boarded a one way flight to the United Kingdom with my 19-year-old best friend.

London, January 2002. The epitome of cool, I was going clubbing with my friend Ali, the ‘ beautiful person’, whom I had befriended whilst backpacking through Barcelona, Summer 2001. We were venturing to ‘ Fabric’ nightclub, East London. I would be out of my depth, my home town of Wollongong, on the South Coast of NSW, population 400,000 had no prepared me for the drum and base, dupstep, house and techno scene that was London, United Kingdom, population 7 million.

Not one to show my fear, I bedazzled my face with two tiny fake butterfly tattoos and headed out into the night. With Ali by my side, we could do anything!!

16 years ago. A bouncer, a door, an entrance to the unfamilar. Music, drum and base, pulsating through our tiny bodies, exiting through our extremities, finger tips, toes. Unable to fight the compulsion to move, we danced and danced and danced.

Last night, on the streets of Waterloo, I stood with a bag of groceries – olive oil, brown onion, can of chickpeas. But little did people know that a song, barely detected over the shopping mall sound system had transported me some 24,000km to another place, another time.

‘ World of our Own’ by Westlife

 

And as the title of the song suggests, it contains a lifetime of memories, moments in time that are mine, moments that have been enhanced by the smiles, laughter, tears and awkward dance moves of people I treasure most.

Memories in Music, the soundtrack to a life half lived.

A treasure chest to be revisited, over and over again. With new additions to be added as the years progress, as I evolve, change and grow. I can hardly wait!!

We got a little world of our own
I’ll tell you things that no one else knows
I’ll let you in where no one else goes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ode to Kesha

 

Just as my sudden appreciation of John Mayer’s music took me by surprise earlier this year,  my adoration for female vocalist Kesha has floored me. It’s taken all of 10 months to come to terms with why I feel an affinity with her 2017 album ‘ Rainbow’

It was August, 2017, when a best friend from Queensland landed on my doorstep for a girls weekend. With her she brought her unrivalled enthusiasm for coffee, cake, shopping, fancy dinners & music. And Kesha was top of her play list.

Familiar with her early music, I was not a fan. But my besties whole-hearted lip sync rendition early on Saturday morning, complete with rolled up newspaper microphone, of the ballad ‘ Praying’ that streamed via YouTube made time stand still.

Gut wrenching lyrics, calculated and crafted with a clear message – that Kesha, a victim of sexual harassment, refused to be silenced by her perpetrated. She would have the last word.

‘ Cause I can make it on my own,
I don’t need you, I found a strength I’ve never known
I’ll bring fire, I’ll bring rain
When I’m finished they won’t even know your name’

Using her undeniable gift for song, Kesha war cry is a resounding message of hope. From the darkness she has emerged as a women assured of her power, of the don’t fuck with me variety. Reliance in abundance, she has channeled all of her resources into moving forward. Her voice a weapon, disarming and shaming her perpetrated, but in a testament to her character she croons ‘ I hope find your peace, falling on your knees, praying’

Experiences in 2017 were challenging and for me the song ‘ Praying’ became a firm favourite, as I continued to pick myself up and move on from situations that left me feeling depleted. And always there, always encouraging was Kesha’s music.

Confessing this to my Queensland bestie recently ‘ Whatever  gets you through!’ her response.

So thank you Kesha, life is again looking peachy, I see ‘Rainbows’ and I’m ‘ Learning to let Go’.  Thank you for strength of character, for continuing along your path, when it would have been far easier to retreat from the public eye. To remain silent.

No, still steadfast, still bold, your lyrics a reminder that all one must do in trying times, is stay true to themselves and trust that all will be well.

‘ I’m proud of who I am
No more monsters I can breathe again
And you said that I was done, You were wrong and now the best is yet to come ‘

Dedicated to my Queensland Bestie Lauren – Happy Catch Up with A Mate Month 2018 xxx

Ode to John Mayer

I awoke on the 1st of January, 2018 to find myself a John Mayer fan.

There was no warning, I did not see it coming nor could it be explained away.

I thought this fixation might be fleeting, so I kept it to myself for the past 31 days.

To mark the beginning of a new month, I was out early for my morning caffeine fix, riding my bike to the truly hip ‘ Artificer ‘ Speciality coffee bar and Roastery, Surry Hills.

Hipster music of choice played over the airwaves. Cafe patrons, myself included, sipped our coffee whilst tapping feet on the pavement to John Mayer tunes.

There seems no escaping it, its February, I’m calling it, there is a John Mayer movement occurring and I’m wholeheartedly in – hook, line, sinker.

His catalogue of work is extensive, dating back to the late 90’s, and having previously showed no interest I’ve catching up to do – but I’m invested in the ‘ movement’!

And in Mr Mayer, I see parts of myself – parts I refused to acknowledge for a long time.

Formerly a person consumed by inner turmoil, angrily rallying against the nondescript.

A reformed chronic overthinker and  intellectualisor of everything. Paralysed by fear, acting out or not all.

‘My Shadow days are over’ sang Mr Mayer in 2012.

True that John! The sun shines on us both.

A slow, often painful personal awakening , enabling an acceptance of self.

Given the chance I’d ask John to reword his 2006 hit  ‘Waiting on the World to Change’  to ‘ Change starts with me’. Personal change ignites and inspires profound shifts that ripple outward.

But its all about timing, that was then, this is now.

John Mayer version 2018 is purely melodic – achingly beautiful, introspective, poetic music. Continuing to question the human spirit – this time with grace and ease.

Vulnerability, hope, truth, above all love in song form.

Thank you for the music John Mayer.

Your newest forever fan xx

 

In The Blood – 2017, Album ‘ The Search for Everything’

 

How much of my Mother has my mother left in me

How much will my love be insane to some degree

What about this feeling that I’m never good enough

Will it wash out in the water or is it always in the blood

 

How of my Father am I destined to become

Will I dim the lights inside just to satisfy someone

Will I let this woman kill me or do away with jealous love

Will it wash out in the water or is it always in the blood

 

I can feel the love , I can feel the love I need

But it’s never going to come to the way I am

Could I change it if I want it, can I rise above the flood

Will it wash out in the water or is it always in the blood

 

 

Ode to Katy Steele

Sydney Fringe Festival 2017 Delight - Conversation with Katy

Sydney Fringe Festival 2017 Delight – Conversation with Katy

It was my brother who introduced me to the Sleepy Jackson.

My brother was cool. I was not. It was 2005.

It started an appreciation of all things Steele. A musical education indeed.

I discovered Little Birdy on my own. Though the band had long split, their musical catalogue would enthrall and inspire till present day.

There was one stand out instrument that appeared on each album, each track, cementing me as a forever fan. Forget the talent exuded from guitars, drums, percussion instruments – it was THAT voice, Katy’s voice.

I was hooked.

In 2014 I saw Katy Steele perform solo at the Basement, Sydney. The ticket set me back $25.00. That same month I parted with $165.00 to see Katy Perry.

The $25.00 ticket to this day remains one of my musical highlights – the collective spirit that wrapt concert goers that late October evening was priceless. A full choir joined Katy on the stage, and she drew the crowd in with her energy, her passion, her presence and THAT voice.

Fast forward to Sunday just passed, and I’m on the edge of my seat in a small theatre in Newtown.  As part of the Sydney Fringe Festival, 2017 Katy is in conversation with APRA AMCOS, an organisation supporting songwriters, composers and music publishers.

It is an intimate affair, an audience of 30, a videographer, a photographer, an interviewer and Ms Steele.

The interviewer tells the audience Katy is nervous. Katy confirms this – I am taken aback. But this disclosure humanises my idol. I relax into the afternoon.

We are treated to rare glimpse of the struggle of the creative spirit and the critical mind, the beauty of connecting with your craft and the importance of staying true to yourself.

Thank you Katy. I was fence-sitting as to whether to attend this event. For no particular reason. But I am so glad I did.

In that 1 hour conversation on Sunday afternoon, you reminded that sharing ones unique gift, tapping into the essence of individuality, makes the world a better place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Wanna Dance with Somebody

Last night I attended a Middle East Food Festival in Waterloo, complete with camels, hookah pipes and hip hop music. It was out of this world, well, Waterloo anyway.

I returned home to indulge in an hour long Whitney Houston tribute evening on youtube. Self curated because the Middle East and Whitney go so well together,

I have declared August 2017 the month of the recycled post. I have written over 400 since  I started Catch Up with A Mate in 2011. Whitney is one of my favourite topics to right about, she is my childhood. I will always love her….

A post from 2013

One year ago, my childhood idol, Whitney Houston passed away.

In the year since her death, much has happened…from the big (a family wedding) to the small (I mastered the wheel pose in yoga). And while I got one with another year of life, one constant during those 365 days was Whitney’s music.

I confess that I did not listen her music every day… but for a good 6 weeks after her passing on Feb 11th, 2012, it was on high rotation…I indulged this guilty pleasure again in late September for my birthday and by pure chance, whilst preparing for my god daughter Mae’s birthday yesterday, she appeared on Video Hits in all her ‘ I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ glory!!

Mae, who was busy helping her Dad blow up balloons for her party stood still from the moment Whitney graced the screen. She was transfixed by her natural beauty, bubbly personality , 80’s hair-do, million dollar smile…and THAT voice.

The VOICE that commands attention: Ms Whitney Houston

The VOICE that commands attention: Ms Whitney Houston

We shared a special moment there and then, when a little girl all of 2 years of age and grown women (who will remain ageless) danced around a suburban lounge room to a timeless classic.

Ms Houston we did you proud, you gained a pint sized fan whilst transporting me back to a time when happiness depended upon one thing: a cassette tape titled ‘Whitney’

Related Posts: Death of My Childhood Idol 2012

Arcade Fire

 

Friendship Fire starter: something that promotes friendship, encourages a catch up or strengthens a bond between two or more people.

It has been a while since I have added to the collections of blog posts I term ‘ friendship fire starters’. But as I watched my niece dance in her car seat to pop music, I silently declared to myself that I would take responsibility for her musical education. And then this story surfaced. But before I get to that, to Ms R, prepare to be wowed by the voice of Whitney, the moves of MJ and the poetry of the Man in Black, Mr Johnny Cash.

My own musical education is questionable. I have written about it before. I have long been a fan of the humble boy band, and when I found myself living in the UK as a  22-year-old, I was in heaven.

The Australian Music scene had always taken itself too seriously for my liking, and whilst I was a fan of the rock, grunge and alternative music, I looked further afield for my pop stars. The UK was a melting pot of awesomeness in that department, think BoyZone, Westlife, a solo Robbie Williams, a solo Ronan Keating.

And then there was the Latin movement that took hold, Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin…. It is fair to say that between the ages of 22 and 24, whilst living abroad, I was lost to Pop.

This rather angered, indeed infuriated a young man I came flat with in Edinburgh. How this Aussie bloke and I remain friends today is a modern mystery. Music was his world. I termed him the ‘ repressed rocker’: he was forever playing an imaginary drum set, curly mop of hair thrashing about, beatbox sound effects released at random.

He was passionate, rather obsessive about music and I admit, I admired him for it.

My taste in music he despised – and he made that very , very clear.

Not one to be deterred – I continued to play BoyZone, Westlife and Enrique at every opportunity.

Fast forward 5 years, and I am back home, living and working in Sydney. I recieved a call, out of the blue from the repressed rocker, he has a spare ticket to a band held in the highest of regard : Arcade Fire.

‘ I’ve never heard of them’ I whimpered down the phone ‘ Are they like Enrique Iglesias or Westlife??’

Silence

‘ Enrique or Westlife?’ I ask again, thinking hadn’t heard me the first time.

‘ Your not coming’

Dial tone – he has hung up on me!!

I am left puzzled – who is this majestic band I have been deemed unworthy of watching? Why has my penchant for pop cost me so dearly? Arcade who?

Hurt and confused I refuse to torture myself. I put in my headphones , resuming the data entry whilst listening to Enrique

And this evening, whilst watching youtube videos I see that Arcade Fire have just released a new album. This band I did go on to discover, in my own time, in 2013, on a holiday in the UK. It was love at first listen. The song ‘ Sprawl II ( Mountains Beyond Mountains’ was my self-declared moving song when packing up my Randwick Flat in 2014. The tune channelled the courage required to  immerse myself in shared living again.

So Mr Repressed Rocker, did you know that Arcade Fire has new material out? Am I finally ahead of the game?

What I expect you’ll say is that they are no longer cool, and that you have moved on.

What I want you to say is that you like their new music.

Most importantly what I need to say is thank you for introducing me to this exquisite music by default all those years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

Life Lessons, Thanks Leonard

At the start of 2017 I boldly declared I was done with life lessons after being dealt yet another setback.

Five months later I realise I could not have been more wrong. Opportunities for learning are ever-present and we can choose our response – what a luxury!

We either solider on, push through and stay true to tried and tested behaviours and thought patterns.

Or we stop in our tracks, we pause, we reflect, we ponder. And when we do get going again, we do so with new insight and purpose.

The late Leonard Cohen wrote ‘ There is a crack in everything, that is how the light gets in’

Lately, the ground beneath my feet has been unsteady, yet I remained committed to the familiar routine, not willing to acknowledge its short comings.

And then a moment of clarity – the light flooded in and I saw clearly what I had to do.

The old ways of being loosened its grip, and in its place, the immersion of a women, self-assured : with an over-supply of the tools needed to solve the problem that had been  troubling her all along.

A personal epiphany, one I will not shy away from, rather start the process of integrating  lessons learnt into aspects of my being.

I am thankful for yet another opportunity for personal growth. I am forced to eat humble pie : I was wrong, I am not done with life lessons!!

 

 

 

Ode to Olly Alexander

Well, nothing’s gonna hurt me with my eyes shut

I can see through them
I can see through them
I am drawing pictures I’m evading
I will not use them
I will not use them
Again

 

Vocalist Olly Alexander, of the British electronica trio, Years and Years, has described his song ‘ Eyes Shut’  as “a personal torch song.”

“It came out of a very depressing time. I didn’t intend for it to be on the album, but we started doing it live with just me on the piano and people seem to respond to it.”

I respond to this song. It is musical perfection for me, compliments the life stage I find myself entering.

Over the last 6 months, I have attended events of significance. The passing of time marked by a school reunion, a milestone birthday.

At both events, I found myself in tears. Sobbing on the way home from one celebration, public display of emotions at another.

I was never one to show emotion. I kept so much in for so long. But I welcome this change.

Everything used to hurt as I strained to keep my eyes open, fearful that night terrors would be more painful than  the reality of drawn out days.

It was a Saturday night’s milestone birthday  I ‘ think’ I heard through the laughter, tears and general revelry, the voice of an angel, Olly Alexander.

What I think I heard, lead me to return to the band Years and Years music yesterday at work.

This continued at home, song after song warmed up the winter chills that cloaked Sydney.

‘Cause I wanna be bigger than life
For you
For you

‘Cause I wanna be bigger than life
For you
For you

Yet on Saturday night, as this splendid voice pierced the party atmosphere, my tears flowed.

Upon reflection, familiar faces at school reunions and milestone birthdays  have a tendency to bring the past cascading back. Such events remind me of the heaviness I carried around for decades that consumed my ability to see with clarity the possibilities in front of me.

Nights such as school reunions and milestone birthdays also help to reinforce that whilst confronting the past has and will continue to be painful, I am travelling in a new direction.

The tears will continue to flow – I can’t stop them – and I don’t want too.

But eyes shut, eyes open – I have arrived in the here and now.

Would Justin Timberlake’s Brittany Spears break-up inspired number ‘ Cry me a River’ have been a more appropriate song to pen these self revelations too?

No, Olly Alexander and his Years & Years comrades are just what I needed to delve a little deeper into the never-ending process of self discovery.

Voice of an angel, thank you xxx

32 hour Party People

Having returned home for the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend, over a red wine at Headlands Hotel, Austinmner with the parentals, the subject for another nostalgic post took hold.

The discussion was around music, and my extensive collection of ticket stubs from late 90’s, early 2000’s concerts. I think I made the comment that ‘It wasn’t always fun and games back then’….

It was December 98. Main characters assembled : Kate S, Jess, C- Ron and movie extra Chris Hopkins. We were attending UK electronic music act ‘The Prodigy” at Selina’s, Coogee Bay Hotel. We were overly excited, ill-equipped, naive, from Wollongong.

The gig was EPIC. Like nothing we had ever experienced. The gig was a mosh pit from start to finish and I feared for my life on many occasions. The big beat music exhausted everyone, sweat dripped from the roof, body heat reached fever pitched. It was a life affirming.

The next morning we awoke from our temporary resting place at the YHA Sydney city , and rallied the strength to do it all again. Our next musical adventure was to be Homebake, an all Australian outdoor music concert in Hyde Park.

We were overly excited, ill-equipped, naive, from Wollongong. Having underestimated the energy zapping nature of the gig the night before, we had little in reserves for an all day outdoor festival.

And it rained. Homebake became Mudbake. I recall very little of the festival other than Jess had a plastic water bottle, filled with vodka, that she had offered to C- R0n who was thirsty? He took a large gulp, eyes widening as he did – and not one to waste, the alcohol was swallowed – followed by anger, silent treatment and Jess’s laughter.

We packed it in early – the rain, the mud, our depleted energy levels, the Prodigy drum and bass from the night before outclassing the more conservative Aussie music scene that day.

We boarded a city rail train at Central and accepted our fate – the long train ride South.

Some 20 minutes into the journey, in our carriage full of festival misfits, coming down from chemical highs, the train came to a sudden halt.

Jolted out of my slumber, I recall thinking the train had run over a bike, collided with a metal object on the tracks.

Time passes and we de not move. We look out the window of our carriage to see men in forensic uniforms walking up and down the train tracks.

I am not longer sure who forms part of this movie of memories – Kate S, Jess are surely with me, C- Ron and Chris Hopkins, are they in the other carriage?I remember seeing the men in what appeared to be white space suits thinking – is this really happening, has our train really collided with a human being on Saturday night at Allawah Train station?

It was 1am before us Gong girls and boys get home.

The next morning, or was it a few days later, I read in the paper that our train had indeed hit a person, and that he remained unidentified, the John Doe of Allawah train station.

Fast forward to last night and it is some 19 years after Kate S, Jess, C-Ron and Chris Hopkins had been 32 hour party people. I did on online search to see if the John Doe Allawah case had ever solved.

The search revealed nothing.

Sometime when I think of all the adventures I had in my youth I almost have to pinch myself and ask ‘Did that really happen’?’

When an internet search does not verify my version of the truth I am left wondering….

But I will always have the music….

 

 

 

 

 

Run DMC – It’s Like That

Over conversation in Camperdown Memorial Park with my favourite Brazilian Australian family, I took a trip down memory lane.

My friend was eating a late lunch, fueling himself for an evening concert at the Sydney Opera House, part of Vivid 2017 Musical line up. This friend, possessing a vinyl collection so extensive it suggests he was born in the wrong musical decade, was attending the Avalanches concert. Aussie Hip Hop Royalty – the Australian ‘ Beastie Boys’.

Those who know me know my questionable taste in music, but at the mention of the Avalanches, for a brief millisecond, I was able to draw from my lapsed appreciation of true talent.

‘ Oh, I saw the Avalanches back in 1997, at Woonona Bulli RSL club. They had just released the hit ‘ Since I left you’

‘ Wow!!’ remarks my friend ‘ That would have been the perfect time to see them!!’

I have not checked in with my friend to enquire how the band, some 20 years later, were received by fans old and new. Rather, I have spent time reminiscing about my late teens and early 20’s, when attending music concerts consumed entire pay cheques.

Today I looked over ticket stubs from the late 90’s and early 2000’s – Blur, Portishead, Moby, Faithless, Ben Folds Five, Veruca Salt, Pulp, Alanis ( x 3),Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day to name a few.

And then the questionable – Ricky Martin, Human Nature, Enrique Iglesias.

Oh, and don’t get me started on Australian bands – The Whitlams, Crowded House ( adopted from New Zealand) Powderfinger, Silverchair, Regurgitator…..

But the search was undertaken with a particular ticket stub in mind – Run DMC,  the American Hip Hop group that hailed from Queens, NYC, had played at Waves NightClub Towradgi Beach. I was certain of it – I had been there, but some 19 years after the event – it seems implausible.

Ticket stub found, Run DMC played in Towradgi, greater Wollongong City, June 12th, 1998. I was 19 years old and wearing a woollen jumper and high heals. To say I was ill prepared an understatement. In need of a musical education and about to witness a live concert by the globes most influential hip-hop act. In Wollongong.

Next time I see my Brazilian Australian friend, I want to ask how the Avalanche concert was. I want to chat to him about that night in June, 1997, when I wore a woollen jumper and high heals to the Run DMC concert. I know we can both have a good laugh about that…and then some!!

 

 

 

 

 

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