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Saturday, 27 February 2016

Single Subject

Yeah yeah I know my last blog was about music but this is important shut up okay right so.

We all have those songs that remind us of people, right? Like there's songs that you pop on and, almost instantly, there's images and memories running riot of times past - good or bad.

What about, though... what about those songs that strongly remind you of just one person? And always will?

There's a lot of songs like that in my head, too. Some of them are easier to talk about than others.

In The Living Years by Mike & The Mechanics will never, ever not make me think about my dad. It was one of his favourite songs. The lyrics depict a somewhat hostile relationship between a father and a son, which lasts all the way to the older man's dying day - the regrets that follow knowing that things were left unsaid, and the younger man looking at his own newborn son and wondering if it will play out the same way.

I think it goes without saying that my father and I had that kind of relationship. Until he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, we didn't see eye-to-eye at all; he didn't know how to treat me, when I was a child. We got on a lot better when I grew into a man, and we weren't living under each other's feet all day.

Goodnight Elisabeth by Counting Crows evokes the memory of an old flame. Their name isn't even Elisabeth. It just...fits. Perfectly. Not in a good or bad way. It's just the way the cards were dealt, and the way life went. Bittersweet, sure, and there's regrets there - but we learn. We live and we learn and that's how we get better.

Tainted Love by Soft Cell will ALWAYS make me think of my buddy Josh from school. There's no way we'd ever hit the pub without listening to this in his house on his Technics sound system at least once. Truth e told I sometimes preferred the pre-gathering to the actual pub trip. As much as I
actually hate the song (I REALLY DO), it always reminds me of good times.

Colorful by Rocco DeLuca was probably written about an ex-girlfriend of mine that I am still on good terms with. It's just true. I mean sure there's some people that it MIGHT be about, some people it MIGHT remind me of, but there's only one that comes to mind literally every time. Drink like it's water, girl.

Short Skirt Long Jacket by Cake reminds me of a good friend of mine from Bradford. The first time we met, she was wearing a short skirt and a long jacket. The song came out later that year, and I played the song over the pone to her (I'd left college at that point). She loved it. Also she always said that she'd love to have fingernails that shine like justice.

Show Me How To Live by Audioslave - my wonderful friend Kristina from Oregon. We were in the car with her mother, and the only radio station we could get along the Wilamette was the local rock station. So her mom spent almost five minutes laughing at the pair of us as we tried to sing along to this...

The Dambusters March by Eric Coates, while evoking the Dambusters themselves, also reminds me of the inimitable Mark Edwards. Medwards as you may know him. If you need to ask why then you clearly don't know him...

Kings & Queens by 30 Seconds To Mars can't help but make me think of my girlfriend. One of the ways in which I discovered she was a keeper was when I went to the cinema with her, before we ever got together. It was to see Despicable Me. (Yes, the first one.) A trailer at the beginning was for some owl cartoon (Legend of the Guardians maybe?) and it featured this song - and the fact that she didn't disown me immediately the moment I jumped up onto the top ot the steps, threw my arms opened and bellowed "We are THE KIIIIIINGS!" ...well, you know. That's a good acid test. Love you baby boo.

Veteran Of The Psychic Wars by Blue Oyster Cult - well this one makes me think of my spirit guide. It seems to be about him. Which is a hard thing to say about a song that paints such a bleak and hard picture...but it is ultimately a song about strength and survival rather than suffering, and I hope he'd see it that way. (Yes, my spirit guide is a guy, not an animal. Yes, I am more of a scientist than a spiritualist. Yes I know. Hush your gums.)

Snuff by Slipknot reminds me of someone very specific. If you know the song then you may understand why I won't go into details. It is a hard song, a hurting song. I doubt the person even knows this is how I feel, or what they would do about it if they did. It's not really something I want to find out, either.

Music makes things easier, for me. It always has. Emotionally speaking I find it difficult to process complexity. It's whyt I always try and approach situations with my logic hat on, at the detriment can imagine. So when I form emotional attachments I suppose it is only understandable that I find music that resonates with that attachment. It makes it easier for me to describe and decode.

Well. There we have it. Far from an exhaustive list, but certainly a good place to start.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

What's John Listening To?

Every now and then I'll do a thing where I tell you the kind of stuff that is popping up on my playlist. Often when penning anything else is a bit of a stretch.

Soooo herein is a list of the songs that are guaranteed non-skip on Spotify at this moment.

Funeral For A Friend - All Hands On Deck (pt1 & 2)
I love this - especially the second half. The progression is beautiful. I just plug this in and lose hours. Wonderful. The album this is from (Tales Don't Tell Themselves) is a concept album and I'm usually a fan of those.

JonTron - Firework
So the original is okay, if a bit saccharine. But bloody hell. JonTron just SLAYS this. Bellows it at full volume! What a bro. I love this, if only for the spirit behind it, the sheer guts required, the... determination.

Styles Of Beyond - Nine Thou (Superstars Remix)
This is a stomper. It gets played a lot during gaming sessions that involve things, well, being stomped, or otherwise trashed or demolished. Really gets the blood pumping.

Hundred Reasons - I'll Find You
Just listen to it. It absolutely rocks. The vocals just sink into your skull. The guitar gets into your soul and makes you feel alive. Pulls on bits of you that have lain dormant for so very, very long. It's my favourite Hundred Reasons song.

Salt-N-Pepa - Shoop
Go and see Deadpool. Right now.

Mutemath - Typical
This was recommended to me by a good friend of mine, and it has rapidly come to be my favourite song by the band. It just sits very well with me as a package. It's a tidy song, great in concept, and makes me sway.

Rat Boy - Move
This is another one that I got introduced to by someone else. Almost accidentally. They left their youtube list playing in my living room. Catchy as balls. I'm sure you will agree.

So what are YOU guys listening to right now?

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Heaven Knows He's Miserable Now


It's quite a word, isn't it? Summons up a lot of imagery. More often than not I hear it used in the perjorative sense, a dismissive term applied to something with emotional content, or someone expressing something considered too sensitive. It's a symptom of societal pressure to never wear your heart on your sleeve - nobody wants to know, it's awkward, don't be so emo about it.

I asked a bunch of folks on Facebook - what's the last song you heard that you'd describe as emo?

There were some joke answers of course. I'd expect nothing less from my friends. (My personal favourites were Elmo's Song from Sesame Street and Rod Hull & Emu.) Then the serious answers came out, things like Linkin Park, early Fall Out Boy, bits of Evanescence, so on.

What I was waiting to hear, never came out - but then, perhaps my definition of emo is a bit different.

Folks, the most emo song I have heared in recent times is Hotline Bling.

Let's take a look at some of the lyrics:

Ever since I left the city, you 
Got a reputation for yourself now
Everybody knows and I feel left out
Girl you got me down, you got me stressed out
Cause ever since I left the city, you
Started wearing less and goin' out more
Glasses of champagne out on the dance floor
Hangin' with some girls I've never seen before basically Drake...left. And now this girl that apparently used to message him is having fun and living her own life, and he feels she shouldn't be or that he has the right to stop her or...something?

I mean that's just sad. Like at least Simple Plan and their ilk are talking about being actually hurt. This guy is whining because a girl he had some kind of relationship with actually has friends that he doesn't know? ...really?

I mean this is bordering on creepy control-abuse territory.

Fact is though, seems like this girl left him in the dust, and so he's whining to himself. He's so sad that he's forgotten how to dance - an artist usually so filled with swagger and confidence, a man who deliberately tries to surround himself with beautiful women as symbols of his success, reduced to whining about his ex having a life.

THAT is pathetic.

So shout-out to my pimply rock gods who are sad because a girl left them but don't dance like an idiot to demonstrate their chagrin.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

There's Your Hoverboard

So I did a blog a while ago about technologies and changes that I can't understand not currently existing. You can find that right here.

Well, I've been thinking about it - and I have my theories.

Technological advances happen in a concertina fashion. You can see it during and after wars.  Sometimes there's fallow years - or more precisely, I should say, there's fallow years in perceivable, publically shared technology. Telephone technology, for example, or cars.

Fact of the matter is, people find it difficult to accept technology. They find it hard to adapt when the pace of change goes down certain routes. Like once everyone has a mobile phone, most things that involve that phone become a lot easier to accept - but that jump to mobile phones in the first place took a long time and a lot of ridicule. Remember the pictures of the high finance guys from the late eighties with the ridiculous shoulder pads and the phones the size of kettles?

Car technology? Much the same. We've used the same engines for decades. They're obsolete already. Have been for a while. Talk about a new car with an internal combustion engine that has seventy quadrillion miles per gallon? Raised eyebrows but possible. Talk about a car powered by a li-ion battery? Huuuh, not sure about that...

The human appreciation for advancement, and its ability to accept it, is unfortunately directly tied into how things develop. Science requires funds, funds come from governments and businesses, and those things ultimately have to care a great deal what people think.

It's an example I often give - the difference between concept cars and the cars people actually buy. Those of us who care look at concept cars and go Ooooh...then people go out and actually buy cars, and those cars barely change, year after year.

If there's a big change - people can't deal with it. If the company doesn't like taking the big loss to the nose, then the change won't be repeated. That's the nature of risk - see, now it's no longer a scientific advancement, it's a risk.

People don't get on with big change. They need things to be comfortable. Look at GM food. We've been genetically modifying food since we started planting it - but because that process took centuries, it's cool, whereas directly toying with the genetic code of something isn't. Nuclear technology still makes people very uncomfortable, and folks still seem to have difficulties with renewable energy sources.

More than anything, public opinion shapes where our research goes - and 98% of people don't skate, haven't skated and don't take interest in skating.

There's your hoverboard.

Nevermind the fact that most people have a computer in their pocket with a highly sensitive touchscreen control mechanism, hugely high-definition graphics, a processor speed undreamed of thirty years ago, that can also make phone calls and act as its own modem.

We mostly use them to send each other smiling poos anyway.