You are what you listen to. PART ONE.

Hands up who loves music? I mean really LOVES music? Me me me! Now, I’m not musically inclined myself in any way, shape or form in the fact that I don’t play an instrument. I’ll admit I was pretty handy on a keyboard at school but playing never really grasped me in the way that it does a true musician, so I wasn’t compelled to keep it up. Listening to music though, that has taken up a large percentage of my free “down time” in the last few years. Recorded TV programmes are eating up the memory on my SKY + box and I end up deleting a whole series of a show I used to love as I just don’t watch much television anymore. I’m going to throw it out there and say, I actually wouldn’t miss it if I didn’t have one. On those beautiful and rare occasions when I am home alone, I much prefer to pump up the volume on one of my favourite CDs, or dust off the vinyl in preference to channel surfing and watching rubbish. Music speaks to me.

I have this talent of really listening to the words of a song and making it relevant to certain people and situations in my life. Once that link is made, it remains, and that song will forever remind me of that person or time. I guess in a way, we all do that. Couples often refer to “our song”, this being the song that they most likely chose to be there first dance at their wedding. Words that spill out into the atmosphere telling their very own love story. A song that contains a phrase that they perhaps use themselves and can relate to on a much more personal level. At work last year we had a conversation about who would play us in a movie of our lives. At the same time I was compiling the soundtrack in my head, knowing exactly which songs would mark which point in my journey.
Growing up, my parents bought me my first “music system”. Double tape deck, radio and a record player on top. At the time this was probably top of the range. My sister and I would sit listening to the Radio One top 40 charts with our finger hovering over the record button on the tape deck to catch our favourite songs. No apologies to be made here, but I was once a young teenage girl, and I have no shame in admitting that boy bands and “pop” ruled my life. Most old school friends of mine will have vivid memories of me being a Bros fan, a Brosette as we liked to be called. My love for music went a lot deeper than they ever knew. As children we are judged. If I’m honest, I think I was actually teased quite a bit. However, I liked what I liked and didn’t care. It wasn’t just the attraction of the blue eyed, blond haired twins from Lewisham (although, ladies, have you seen Matt Goss at the age of 47? Wow), but I loved the uncomplicated lyrics of their songs, particularly their later stuff after the third member left and strangely when their popularity had well and truly had its day. Their music matured but their fans refused to grow up with them. Then, enter Take That. I was 14, ok! I’ll admit with this one that the manufactured bubble gum pop boyband had two plus points for me in the early days, namely Mark Owen and Jason Orange. Even I can’t fool you that the lyrics of “Do What U Like” resonated with me on any kind of deep level, or that the controversial video containing footage of their naked bums being covered in jelly and mopped by a hot woman sent out a profound message of any sort. They didn’t. They were fun and they looked good. Billions of girls agreed with me. In 1991, very very early days for the band, think leather cod pieces and barely there string vests, I was lucky enough to meet them. All five autographs were gained and I was walking on air. As the group grew in popularity, they were allowed to grow in musical ways too, but unlike Bros, this time the fans grew with them. Gary Barlow unleashed his song writing talents onto the smitten teenage female population and we all fell in love again. This time, the songs were meaning something. “A Million Love Songs” won an Ivor Novello award. Gary wrote it at the age of just 15. He is now a six times Ivor Novello award winner and was appointed an OBE in 2012 for services to music and charity. Take That are now an established “man band” and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen them. They are 100% the best show men I’ve ever seen. Back in the early days, I have vivid memories of them performing a Beatles medley which involved walking along a suspended platform into the crowd. Just last year, on the “These Days” tour, they flew above the audience in a flying car. I’ll always be a Take That fan. Oh, and I’ll always be a huge fan of The Beatles, you can thank my Dad for that one.

Behind my boy band obsession though, bubbled an unassuming indie girl. A side that my fellow students knew nothing or little about. In the same year that Take That formed, a band called Shed Seven hit the music scene. Shed Seven are an Indie Rock band from York and were one of the groups which contributed to the Britpop music scene that evolved during the 1990s. They never received the degree of mainstream success achieved by bands such as Oasis and Blur, but in my eyes, were heads and shoulders above the rest. Before even listening to their lyrics, I was transfixed with their grungy, heavy guitar sound and the wailing vocals of the legend that is Rick Witter. Between the years of 1993 and 1995 I attended Art college and Shed Seven, together with The Bluetones, wrote songs that became the sound track to my life. In 1996 it was announced that Shed Seven were coming to play at a venue in my home town. My sister and I got tickets that same day. Nov 1996. We got to the front row. We got squashed, we got covered in spilt beer, the sweat from the brow of Rick Witter fell onto us. And I fell in love with live music. Rick, in my opinion, is the only vocalist I’ve heard that sounds even better live than on a recorded track. Gary Barlow sounds exactly the same live, which is a feat in itself, but Rick…. every single word is sung with the emotion behind the lyric. He feels the music, and he puts everything into it. Last year, I got to see them again. Now all in their 40s, the energy is not lost, and the classics I loved back in the 1990s still hold their own now. I have never forgotten one beautifully penned lyric by this group. Under estimated in their time but still kings of indie and lyrics to me.
The Bluetones are another lyrically wonderful indie band. I fell in love with the dulcet tones of front man Mark Morriss the first time I heard Slight Return. Most indie bands weren’t renowned for their strong vocals, most, like Rick to some degree, although that guy can hold a note, would verge on screaming or shouting, or, in the case of Liam Gallagher, sing at an almost “can’t be bothered” pitch and hold it well throughout the song. Marks voice is nothing short of beautiful. For me, hearing such a great voice singing words that I could relate to, was just heavenly. The lyrics to their songs read almost like poetry, but turn into personal anthems the minute you team them with the music and Marks voice. I have seen The Bluetones live several times, and I’ve seen a couple of Mark’s solo gigs. His vocals are flawless. I can’t help but wonder how they know about my life in order to be able to sing about it so well. I have the entire back catalogue of both bands on my iPod, and they are by far the most listened to bands on there. No other bands or artists had come close to these two. Ed Sheeran released the album “X” which is definitely in my list of favourite albums, but I listen to it every now and then. Taylor Swift (yes my music taste is vast) is probably everyone’s choice of artist to listen to when going through a breakup, or missing someone… the words to ” Wildest Dreams” will always remind me of saying goodbye to the musician alley cat. However, try as they might with their catchy lyrics and memorable hooks, no one could make me run out and buy all their albums and listen to them on random almost daily like my two indie loves. Until May 2015, and that’ll be revealed in part two of this musical blog.
I have met both Rick and Mark and I can quite honestly say, I’ve been star struck. I’ve heard you should never meet your idols because the reality doesn’t match what you imagined.
Thankfully that wasn’t the case for me.

Run a mile
‘cos all the while
You’re cramping my style
Bleeding me dry
Grab a hold
To steady your soul
And test if they’re real
All the spotlights you shone to help me
Find needles in the hay
Let them lift away
‘cos I’ve got high hopes
I believe
In the roots that keep me complete
And I’ve got high hopes
All I need
Is your hands to steady my feet steady my feet

Some words will cut you
Like the sharpest blade
I don’t love you anymore
I don’t love you anymore
Nothing is different
But something has changed
I don’t love you anymore
I don’t love you anymore
As I speak these words
I cant believe what I’m saying
I don’t love you anymore
I don’t love you anymore
I keep my thoughts in little boxes
Labelled A-Z

Some words can break the skin
And let the daylight in
I don’t love you anymore
I don’t love you anymore
Your once charming foibles
Now drive me up the wall
I don’t love you anymore
I don’t love you anymore
I keep my thoughts in little boxes
Boxes underneath the bed
Under the bed with your photograph
And the image is fading

Time has flown
You’re all alone
You’ve always known
Its never going nowhere
Act your age
Turn the page
Leave the stage
It’s time to move on
And me and you
How high we fly
We always knew
Its never going nowhere


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