Shuffling Music


some of my CD collection

I used to buy music, I even worked in music retail (1988 to 1991) selling music. Now, I don’t know when was the last time I actually bought any music, maybe 5 years ago. On my phone, I have 577 songs, all have been downloaded from YouTube. I usually listen on “shuffle” which can make for interesting combinations serendipitously.


the last six tunes shuffled into my ears

I find some of the music I used to like, bores me now (of the few tunes I removed from the device were Magnum and Bow Wow Wow).

I have favourited 19 tunes, these might not be my favourite songs but I just really enjoyed listening them, when they shuffled through.



faves-3he jury is still out!

I wasn’t able to download every tune I wanted from Youtube for technical reasons, also some of the songs on my phone, I have just to see if I will like them like Foo Fighters and Mudhoney (the jury is still out). I also find I’m not too knowledgeable of post 2000 songs, so I’m sure to be missing a lot of good songs from recent times.

Just some musings on music.

A Musical Interlude: Carbon Silicon “The News”

Carbon Silicon are a band I’ve only recently discovered. Their frontman Mick Jones, I know from years back when he played with the Clash. I don’t actually know him personally, but he was a regular customer, when I worked in Our Price Music in Notting Hill Gate (1989-1990). This tune I like because it reminds me a little of the Clash and tunes like “Bank Robber”, it is also about good news, which seems quite subversive when we are constantly bombarded with bad news by various media outlets.

In Memoriam: David Bowie

Shortly after waking this morning, I saw an old school-friend post on Facebook  “David Bowie. RIP”. My first reaction was to ask “is this for real?” I checked the BBC website and it hadn’t broken there at that time. I Googled and saw it had been reported in the Hollywood Reporter.

The deaths of Elvis, John Lennon, Ian Curtis, Freddie Mercury, Kurt Cobain, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and just recently, Lemmy were all sad and shocking but I feel Bowie’s death more keenly.

I never saw David Bowie live. I saw Lemmy three times (once with Motorhead and twice with Hawkwind). At 69, he wasn’t particularly young, close to the three score and ten years of our allotted span. But I still feel in a state of shock.

Only yesterday, I was chatting with another friend on Facebook about Bowie’s new album “Blackstar”, which has only just come out.

The first 12″ Single I bought was “Let’s Dance“. In the mid eighties, when I used to list my favourite songs “Life on Mars” was invariably in the top five, it is such a brilliant song, I don’t have the words to express…here is a link to the video… Life on Mars

Time may change me
But I can’t trace time.

from “Changes”


Ok, I admit it, I enjoyed Eurovision last year, the show, the songs, the banter on Twitter and Facebook. I was disappointed The Linnets (Netherlands) didn’t win, but once the bearded lady got her momentum, nothing was going to stop her. Eurovision 2014.

I intend to watch again this year. Georgia’s entry “Warrior” by former model Nina Sublatti is a little scary and it is difficult to make out the words. I still hope she does well.

I haven’t heard all the songs yet but of those I have heard my favourite is funky Guy Sebastian’s “Tonight Again” from Australia. If Australia win it will be a shock for the geographically challenged. I’ve been teasing people on Youtube who ask why Australia is in Eurovision, by telling them that they won last year….yes I DO know Australia isn’t Austria (one gave us Kylie the other gave us Hitler).

Eurovision is as much about politics as the music, Armenia’s entry is blatantly drawing attention to the “Genocide” with their song “Don’t Deny” (I wonder if Turkish TV will cut to an advert break when that airs) and Russia after the booing in 2014 has a song promoting inclusivity “A Million Voices”.

The UK entry “Still in Love with You”  by Electro Velvet sounds like a song from Chicago great for a party.

The UK doesn’t have enough friends in Europe to score highly, everyone loves Sweden (even Denmark in the voting but not in football) so they’ll probably win.

Other predictions:

…and the winner was Sweden (bookies’favourite)

Joy Division

35 years ago today, 18 May 1980,  Ian Curtis lead singer with Joy Division killed himself. His story is told in the film “Control” directed by Anton Corbijn. A tragic loss to music, but leaving  a legacy of  some wonderfully dark brooding tunes: “Atmosphere”, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, “She’s Lost Control” and “Transmission”…

Lenka “Everything at Once”

I came across this by chance, I teach a student called Lenka, I was looking for quiz questions connected to my students’ names.

This is a quirky song and video with an almost op art backdrop, I really like it.

Some interesting metaphors the “wanna” is not good English but the rest could make for a useful lesson:

As sly as a fox, as strong as an ox As fast as a hare, as brave as a bear As free as a bird, as neat as a word As quiet as a mouse, as big as a house All I wanna be, all I wanna be, oh All I wanna be is everything As mean as a wolf, as sharp as a tooth As deep as a bite, as dark as the night As sweet as a song, as right as a wrong As long as a road, as ugly as a toad As pretty as a picture hanging from a fixture Strong like a family, strong as I wanna be Bright as day, as light as play As hard as nails, as grand as a whale All I wanna be, oh, all I wanna be, oh All I wanna be is everything, everything at once Everything at once, oh, everything at once As warm as the sun, as silly as fun As cool as a tree, as scary as the sea As hot as fire, cold as ice Sweet as sugar and everything nice As old as time, as straight as a line As royal as a queen, as buzzed as a bee As stealth as a tiger, smooth as a glider Pure as a melody, pure as I wanna be All I wanna be, oh, all I wanna be, oh All I wanna be is everything, everything at once.

Music video by Lenka performing Everything At Once. (C) 2012 Sony Music Entertainment

A Musical Interlude: The Rolling Stones “Paint it Black”

Many Georgians, who discover I come from England tell me “You must like the Beatles, then.” The Beatles are okay but I love the Rolling Stones.

My favourite track is “Paint it Black”, the signature sitar riff is played by the late Brian Jones. The Rolling Stones combined blues with rock and roll and were hugely influential. The Rolling Stones remarkably celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2012.

Top of the Pops *

*this post is not about the BBC TV programme, it just seemed a fitting title.

I’m not a great follower of chart music. In the late eighties I worked in music retail (Our Price Music in London: Queensway, Notting Hill, Wandsworth and London Wall branches), at the time, I was well aware of the fluctuations of the charts. That awareness was curtailed when I moved to France in 1991, France is not exactly a pop paradise. Recently, however, teaching English I have a student interested in learning English through listening to the top hits. We look regularly at the Billboard top 10 hits and for the past two months, two songs have dominated those charts:

The first, “All About that Bass” by Meghan Trainor

and the second is “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

Both songs are very catchy, I find them running through my head often when I am on the metro or walking around town. They also both have pleasingly positive messages.

Week of 15 November 2014 (Billboard Chart)

  1. Shake It Off               Taylor Swift         11 weeks on chart Previous week :2
  2. All About That Bass  Meghan Trainor   17 weeks on chart Previous week :1
  3. Habits (Stay High)       Tove Lo                23 weeks on chart Previous week :3
  4. Animals                      Maroon 5              11 weeks on chart Previous week :5

Meghan Trainor (a relative newcomer to the pop scene aged 20), who  it’s pretty clear,  ain’t no size two, her song basically is about not worrying about your size, You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along.

The song shows an awareness of the Photoshop manipulation of fashion images.

I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
C’mon now, make it stop

It is an empowering song about embracing your natural body size, it is Meghan Trainor’s first big hit.

The video is quite slick shot on a set resplendent in pastel colours, if an old English sheepdog were added to the mix, you could be forgiven for thinking it were a Dulux advert.

Taylor Swift, at 24, a veteran of the music scene,  looks a bit more like a stick figure silicone Barbie doll.

Her new album “1989” was the fastest selling album on the week of its release (selling 1.287 million copies)  since Eminem released the “Eminem Show”  way back in 2002.

“Shake it Off” is a song about ignoring criticism. She sings: I stay out too late
Got nothing in my brain
That’s what people say, (then she looks to the camera and nods with a sarcastic “mmm-mmm”)

…and continues the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate 

The message of the song seems to be that you have to not only live your life in spite of people who don’t understand you — you have to have more fun than they do. Shaking off the criticism.

Both songs are highly catchy, almost insanely catchy, both singers look knowingly at the camera and there is some of the seemingly obligatory booty shaking, what I believe is known as “twerking”, in both video clips.

Music for Juggling

I learnt to juggle in 1999, I found the best background music for juggling was something fast with a repetitive beat, the dance music of Sash and similar acts worked well for juggling.

Me juggling

Me juggling

I can juggle three, and I’m trying to move up to four, five would require an enormous amount of practice….

Here is my playlist (10 tunes):

  1. Sash- Adelante
  2. Sash – Ecuador
  3. Darude – Sandstorm
  4. Ian Van Dahl – Castles in the Sky
  5. Faithless – Insomnia
  6. Sash – Encore un Fois
  7. Tina Cousins – Mysterious Times
  8. Darude – Feel the Beat
  9. Fragma – Toca’s Miracle
  10. Alice Deejay – Better off Alone