RIP David Bowie

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I awoke to the news that a true British music legend has passed away… RIP David Bowie, you will be sorely missed…

10 Things I Love About My Country #1: Music

I’ve teamed up with the lovely Steve from Steve Says to compile a comparison set of lists about why we love our country. He’s Scottish, I’m English, and even though we are currently both part of the United Kingdom we thought it might be fun to see the differences between the two…

Our first topic in the series is Music.

I’m proud to be English, and I’m proud that England has produced some of the greatest musicians and songwriters of all time. Steve’s list was very patriotic, but I couldn’t stomach listing things like ‘Pomp and Circumstance,’ and ‘Jerusalem’ – they’re brilliant pieces of music and I’m always uplifted when I hear them, but I wanted to branch out a little. My list (that isn’t in any particular order) represents songs that I feel are quintessentially part of English culture and performed by English artists.

1. Bohemian Rhapsody: Queen

This frequently tops music polls as being one of the greatest songs ever written, performed by one of England’s greatest bands, selling 7.5 millions copies worldwide. (Yes, I know that Freddie Mercury was born in Tanzania before anyone points this out…).

2. London Calling: The Clash

Written by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, this song alludes to the the BBC World Service’s station identification: “This is London calling …”, which was used during World War II, often in broadcasts to occupied countries. The song, written during a time of upheaval and unrest throughout English society is a classic.

3. Life On Mars: David Bowie

Ah, Bowie. I love this song. My friends love this song. My family loves this song. Everybody loves this song. Why? Because it’s a great song. I went to the Bowie exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum last year and saw the suit that he wears in the video, which was surpisingly tiny.

4. Paranoid: Black Sabbath

I love the fact that I live in the city where Black Sabbath were formed. Ozzy Osbourne’s house is a tourist attraction, to the point where the front door of the house keeps being stolen by fans. I’ve no idea how it’s possible to steal a door, but the story always makes me smile.

5. Hey Jude: The Beatles

It wouldn’t be a list without The Beatles. No English music list should ever be without The Beatles. My problem was with which song, and for this I had to ask those around me. Hey Jude topped the list of nearly 100 songs that were suggested, possibly because this is the song that Paul McCartney performs during every major event that they drag him out for.

6. You’ll Never Walk Alone: Rodgers and Hammerstein (Gerry and the Pacemakers version)

I’m taking liberties with this one. Yes, it was written by two Americans for the musical ‘Carousel,’ but this song is so intrinsically linked with English culture that I couldn’t leave it out, so I’ve taken the Gerry and the Pacemakers version. It is the main football (yes, football, not all this ‘soccer’ rubbish I’ve had to read about over the last few months) anthem for Liverpool Football Club and is consequently sang in every match by the fans and has been done so since the 1960’s. The song’s title adorns the top of the Shankly Gates, which were unveiled on 2 August 1982 in memory of former manager Bill Shankly.

7. Never Gonna Give You Up: Rick Astley

Lots of you may associate this with the popular internet meme ‘Rik Rolling.’ However, for me, Rick Astley was one of my favourite pop stars in my childhood and early teens. To this day, I can guarantee that during any party and in an English nightclub the DJ will play this song at some point throughout the night. For me, it represents the ‘Stock, Aitkin and Waterman’ era of English pop ie. the time just before shell suits. I had a shell suit.

8. White Cliffs of Dover: Dame Vera Lynn (Robson and Jerome version)

This is a popular Second World War song made famous by Vera Lynn with her 1942 version – one of her best-known recordings. Written in 1941 by Walter Kent with words by Nat Burton and was designed to lift the spirits of the Allies at a time when the Germans had conquered much of Europe and were bombing Britain. It was created about a year after British and German aircraft had been fighting over the cliffs of Dover in the Battle of Britain. And for you non-Brits out there, here’s a bit of trivia. You may recognise the blonde singer, Jerome Flynn, in Game of Thrones. He plays the character Bronn. Yes, my friends, Bronn was a pop star. A pop star.

9. Wannabe: The Spice Girls

I met The Spice Girls, just before they released ‘Wannabe.’ They were performing at ‘Party in the Park’ in Preston, and I went over afterwards to say hello as they were signing autographs. I didn’t have a pen or anything for them to sign, so I didn’t bother staying around for long and walked away, remarking to my friend that they would be ‘one hit wonders.’ I walked away from The Spice Girls without getting their autographs. When there were five of them. Before they became the biggest girl band of all time. Sh*t.

10. Back For Good: Take That

Before One Direction, there was (and still is) Take That. These down-to-earth English working-class men swept the UK charts in the 1990’s and late 2000’s, turning myself and millions of teenagers into screaming mush. They’re still the biggest selling boy band of all time, they’re still touring to sold out stadiums and they are the perfect representation of how a boy band SHOULD be done. I still can’t get over the fact that there are people out there who haven’t heard of them – they’re as famous as Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Jonny Depp, Robert Downey Jr and George Clooney over here (ooh, now there’s a boy band I’d like to see)…

11: Baggy Trousers: Madness

Like Paul McCartney, Madness are dragged out and shoved on stage during every major event. It’s a great song, and is guaranteed make grown English men start dancing like the chimney sweeps from Mary Poppins every time it is played.

12. Back To Black: Amy Winehouse

I was obsessed with the Black To Black album. What a talent, what a voice, what a loss.

13. Anarchy in the UK: The Sex Pistols

I couldn’t leave out the Sex Pistols. They were crude, rude and basic musicians, but they were brilliant performers and continue to be hugely influential on modern day musicians thirty years later.

14. The National Anthem (performed by Brian May on the top of Buckingham Palace).

During the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002 one of England’s greatest guitarists of all time stood on the roof of it’s most famous palace to play the National Anthem. I still get goosebumps even now. The only thing that would have made it more English would be if Brian was wearing the flag, eating fish and chips and drinking a pint of beer…

I’ve made some almost musically blastphemous emissions from the list – The Who, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Led Zepplin, Oasis, Blur, Radiohead, UB40, Muse, Adele… so please avoid shouting at me… I’d love to hear your thoughts – what songs should be included?

Do you want to join in? Simply link to mine and Steve’s posts and tell us what songs represent your country and nationality!

Stay tuned for the next installment!

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

 

 

The Songs of My Life

Over the last 25 days the ever creative and thoroughly fabulous Twindaddy has created and hosted a song challenge in which he has inspired other bloggers to think about songs that mean different things to them.

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I didn’t participate in the whole event as I couldn’t commit to 25 straight days of blogging, but I have followed the posts that he and his participants have created and they have reminded me of some amazing songs that I had long forgotten about and brought back some happy memories. I wanted to put my two cents (or in my case, pennies) in there and acknowledge the songs that are special to me.

1. Don’t Stop Believing: Journey

This song has followed me everywhere throughout my life – it seems to surface at times when I am in a happy place with people that I care about. I would like to add here that the GLEE version does not count!!!

(Video uploaded by gsbajak4)

2. I Won’t Send Roses (from Mack and Mabel): Jerry Herman

This was my grandfather’s favourite song, and my favourite version of it is sung by Robert Preston. It’s a beautiful piece of music and I remember spending many hours at the weekends listening to it (on vinyl) at his flat. It makes me feel at peace and gives me a beautiful reminder of a wonderful man.

(Video uploaded by bernieb48)

3. When Love and Hate Collide: Def Leppard

This song has helped me through some tough times – the chorus in particular contains some harmonies that I refer to as ‘gut chords’ – they’re so pwerful it is possible to feel them in the gut. I have loved it from the first time that I heard it and it is one of my ‘go to’ songs that I listen to when I am in need of comfort.

(Video uploaded by Def Leppard)

4. Adagio For Strings: Samuel Barber

This was the first classical piece of music that I truly fell in love with and one of my greatest memories is playing this on stage with a large string orchestra. Fabulous.

(Video uploaded by Miles Romanus)

5. Over the Rainbow: Eva Cassidy

Lying on a balcony in the hot sunshine in Malia, staring at a blue sky while this song played on the CD player in the background is potentially one of the most truly wonderful moments of my life so far. A stunning voice from a woman whose talents were taken away from us far too soon.

(Video uploaded by JohnWhite67)

6. Bring It On Home To Me: Sam Cooke

I adore this song. This is a song I will listen to in the bath to help me relax. Fabulous.

(Video uploaded by strictlyOldies)

7. Always: Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi are my favourite band. I’ve seen them five times in concert all over the UK and love most of their songs. However, this song has always spoken to me and it is also on my ‘bath’ list, as well as being a song I regularly do at karaoke.

(Video uploaded by BonJoviVEVO)

8. Seasons of Love (from RENT): Jonathan Larson

This was a song that my college choir sang. We all love this song, the harmonies are great and it has stuck with all of us over the years – my friend even had a choir sing it at her wedding. Some of my happiest times.

(Video uploaded by BroadwayWorldSongs)

9. I Can’t Help Myself: The Four Tops

This was a song that I grew up with – my mother is a huge motown and soul fan and so a large amount of my ‘pick me up’ playlist consists of songs like this from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I love this song in particular and it reminds me of my mother teaching me how to dance to this in our living room as a child.

(Video uploaded by bol2funk)

10. The Blower’s Daughter: Damien Rice

A stunning, beautiful song. The reason why I have included this particular song is because I feel this passion and intensity that the song evokes.

(Video uploaded by Damien Rice)

I could go on and on – I’ve stopped at ten so you wouldn’t fall asleep, but these are songs that best represent me, my personality and my life.

Congratulations Twindaddy on a fantastic challenge, and thank you for keeping me entertained!

What songs best represent you guys?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

 

I Won’t Send Roses

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Banksy

I won’t send roses or hold the door

I won’t remember which dress you wore

My heart is too much in control

The lack of romance in my soul

Will turn you gray, kid, so stay away, kid

 

Forget my shoulder when you’re in need

Forgetting birthdays is guaranteed

And should I love you, you would be the last to know

I won’t send roses and roses suit you so

 

My pace is frantic, my temper’s cross

With words romantic, I’m at a loss

I’d be the first one to agree

That I’m preoccupied with me

And it’s inbred, kid, so keep your head, kid

 

In me you’ll find things like guts and nerve

But not the kind of things that you deserve

And so while there’s a fighting chance, just turn and go

I won’t send roses and roses suit you so

 

Taken from Mack and Mabel, written by Jerry Herman

An Evening With Bon Jovi

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Yesterday I was lucky enough to see Bon Jovi perform at Villa Park in Birmingham.

I’ve followed the band for years. In 1995 I saw them in Cardiff (with Thunder and Van Halen as support acts), in 2003 it was Wolverhampton, 2007 was in Coventry, 2011 was at Hyde Park in London (along with 80,000 others) and 2013 was in Birmingham. My friend AS and I try and go every time they come to the UK and I’m never disappointed. I can almost predict the running order of the concerts now – I know what songs will be at the beginning and as the encore, and I love watching the sun set throughout the evening. The atmosphere always changes and seems so much more exciting in the dark.

Last night’s performance was marred a little by the absence of Ritchie Sambora, who appears to have left the band, but the atmosphere was still fantastic. As always, the weather was glorious, which for some reason it always is whenever I go to their concerts.

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I enjoyed their newer material – they could perform ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ as far as i’m concerned and it would still be amazing, but i always prefer the classics. I loved ‘Dry County’, ‘Bad Medicine’, ‘Keep The Faith’ and others, but for me the highlight was when it had just gone dark, they performed ‘Bed Of Roses’. It was a warm, clear night and the crowd were singing along. I experienced one of those ‘moments’ where everything was just perfect.

Fabulous.

What about you? Do you see your favourite artists in concert?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog