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Hear The Tune July 10, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Music.
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When I was younger, there was a time when music was everything. It was the only way to understand what it was I was feeling deep down in my heart, the only way I knew that the strangeness in my head didn’t make me totally, utterly, brutally alone. The singers, song-writers, musicians and producers together shared with me thoughts that I had assumed lived only on my heart, they pinned down emotions so painfully elusive that, until those chords struck through me, I had only caught glimpses of them as shadows down darkened corridors. Ideas so slick and faint that they were no more than intangible traces left on the breeze.

Then, as I grew a few years older, I left the music behind. This bible, this diary, this collection of sounds and emotions were cast aside, not consciously but as the trials and tribulations of life became my obsessive focus. I passed over musical poetry to live life as much as I could, and I battled on throughout without any comfort from my muses and idols. What had been my lifeline before, in many ways my saviour, had become yet more unnecessary hassle. Before I knew it my narcissistic self-focus had left every trace of the music behind, had rendered my world silent. I forgot how to hear the tune, I forgot how to listen.

The past few months, however, have seen a step back to the old way of thinking. First came the fact that I was, again, alone in the world, albeit in a way entirely of my own making. Suddenly I was free to listen to what I wanted, free to feel it, free to have it turned up as loud and all-encompassing as I could want. Then came the discovery that music could still touch me. It could still send me stir crazy with desire, whisper me into paroxysms of grief. It could sing me gently to sleep or charm out the darkest sides of me.

There are still beats to be drummed, melodies to weave. The difference is that now I am hearing the tune again.

Oh Why Oh Why… June 27, 2011

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… Am I not going to Hop Farm festival this weekend?!

I do wish I was there!

Eagles. Death Cab. Ocean Colour Scene. Lou Reed. Newton Faulkner. Young Knives. Hot Chip.

It would have been GOOOOOOOOOD!

Lovely Lyrics May 9, 2011

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But you’re no god. 
You’re no god.

And you will never leave this place, 
And you will always feel alone, 
And you will never feel quite clean 
In this new skin that you have grown 
Until you old and broken bones 
Are laid into their resting place 
Just like the rest of human race. 

Til I fall into my place, 
Just like the rest of human race. 
Til I’m laid into my final resting place, 
Just like the rest of human race who’ve done it. 
Without complaining all the way. 

Song of the day – I’d forgotten just how beautiful Laura Marling’s lyrics could be,. I’m currently re-listening to “Alas I Cannot Swim” at work, and these lyrics always put me neatly back in my place.

Everything’ll Be Alright February 4, 2011

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This song made me happy today. It made me sit, and think, and listen. Everything’ll Be Alright (Will’s Lullaby) by Joshua Radin

Way down in New York town
Thinking about the way she loved me
There’s a hole in my pocket that’s about her size
But I think everything is gonna be alright
I hope everything is gonna be alright

A smiling face is trading the gifts I found at the bar
Well I wish my car could drive to her tonight
Then I’d know everything is gonna be alright
Then I’d know it’ll be alright

The rain in New Orleans forgot to end but the mouths of the people are dry
Then we watch and wait and do nothing but sigh
And hope everything is gonna turn out right
But I don’t know if it’ll be alright

But I look at you
Warm in your dream while your mobile dances above
And I think to myself it’s a beautiful night
And I know everything is gonna be alright
Now I know it’ll be alright

It sings of love February 3, 2011

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Music, Wordy Business.
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Music can, if done well, be a true gateway to the soul. It alone is the thing that can calm me down, get inside my brain and make me realise that things aren’t as bad as they seem, that other people have felt the things that I feel. A head-banging session can get rid of any anger I may have lurking inside me, a soft sultry session with a gentle lullaby can wash away all of my worries and strife.

Today I was listening to some of my favourite songs. They are all gentle, these ones, soft tunes that have the ability to possess me, to wipe clean the slate in my mind and reset me back to a happier, calmer place. What I realised, as those tunes washed over me, is that the feeling truly good music arouses in me is actually the closest I have ever come to feeling in love without actually being “In Love”. They can make my breath quicken, goosebumps prickle upon my skin. As the crescendos build and the melody unravel, I actually feel that magical fluttering in the pit of my stomach, that flip-flop feeling that only comes from feeling magic.

These songs? They sing to me of love.

Seth Lakeman November 19, 2010

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Last night saw me at the Seth Lakeman gig, so here is your 5 second warning as to an inevitable collection over-enthusiastic superlatives and swooning metaphors. Oh, and him and his brother definitely kept smiling at Laura and I (and yes, I can here you in the back, muttering about optimistic stalkers and such like…).

Seth Lakeman Kitty Jay

Anyway, the gig was great, the crowd really picked up after a quiet start, and by the end we were all stamping out feet, clapping, and in my case, twitching in a  vague approximation of a dance. My toes kept going numb in my boots, so the twitching wasn’t entirely my fault. The music was great, and actually the support act, Delta Maid, was very talented too. I do admit quite freely, however, to the fact that I tapped my foot throughout her act, whilst waiting in an obsessed groupie way for the man Himself to arrive on the stage.

Of course, he didn’t disappoint. There he was, talented as ever (people, he sings AT THE SAME TIME as playing the violin – I challenge you to tell me that that isn’t just DAMN hot), with those gorgeous muscular arms and sexy voice. Honestly, I spent most of the time perving over him in the most immature way, and I don’t regret it at all! Why he hasn’t realised that I am ripe and ready for the taking though, to be swept of my feet, is simply beyond me!

OK, so this post is (a little) tongue-in-cheek. But honestly, one of my favourite artists, ever!

Little Miss Mopey October 31, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Music.

I used to be told off because I enjoy sad songs. For a while I used to feel bad. Maybe listening to tunes that were deep and hurtful meant that I was a damaged person. Maybe it meant that I had lost my happiness. Maybe it said something disappointing about the me that I was inside.

Recently, however, I have realised that it is important to embrace the darker side of yourself. It is important to be happy with the fact that you can admit your sadness. That you can hear a beautiful piece of music and feel it inside, right down to the very core of you. You can feel to a level that some people only dream of, and you should never be ashamed of that. I have sat, with iTunes winding its way through the deepest, darkest and most beautiful pieces of music that I have ever known, and I am completely aware that they only make me stronger. Their soft, soulful poetry expresses a beauty in the world that I can normally only dream of, as this is one of the best skills to ever have. I can’t explain the things I think and the things I feel, but these artists can, through their chords, elongated notes and carefully crafted words. They see inside of me.

The Prodigal Son (Daughter!) Returns! July 20, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Books, Depression, Life, Chatter & Politics, Music.
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Well, after a week of holidaying and listening to music in the sun in Spain, I am back in the country. I am not sure how I feel about this – a part of me wants to cook and baste myself on a hot Spanish beach for as long as physically possible, but the rest of me is desperately glad to no longer be camping, tired, and grimy. It is, essentially, very nice to be home, especially when you consider that as of tonight I will actually have a home that I can call my own!

Anyway, because I am sure you care desperately about the minor trials and tribulations of my exhaustingly exciting life (hah!), here is a little (read: large and mindbogglingly boring) blow-by-blow account of the ups, and the downs, of this holiday.

We started off last Tuesday morning, getting up at some ungodly hour to pile into the car with bags and tents and enough books to overload even the keenest packhorse. The walk from our transfer to the camp-site once we completed the boring and utterly arduous travelling was the most painful journey I have made – dragging heavy bags through 35 degree Spanish heat in the blazing sun, all the while realising that your sandals are killing your feet. There is then the fun of finding a space big enough for the tents in the site itself, as everyone at the festival has to sleep piled on top of one another, in a chaotic jumble of roughly put up tents, blowing in the breeze thanks to the hard ground refusing to allow them to be pegged down.

A couple of days of beaching and basting ourselves in the sun followed, as we had arranged to arrive a few days before the festival proper began. Thankfully Ben and I got our much needed talk out of the way very early on, which was without a doubt a vital component of the trip. After all, imagine the awkwardness of going on holiday with your ex-boyfriend and his siblings – it could have been a nightmare. Originally I was going to spend the whole holiday alone, but then they let me stay with them, and once we had had a long overdue heart to heart a lot of the awkwardness was out of the way. It was a passionate tear-filled conversation, on both sides, but I felt that by the end I could hug him and call him my friend, which means there is hope for us continuing to get along with one another.

The camping itself was an interesting experience. The tent was red-hot come 10am, meaning we had to clear off to the beach or the packed patch of grass outside our local supermarket merely to be able to stay alive. I also didn’t have a sleeping bag (it is in storage along with the rest of my life!), so was lying on folded up towels and blankets that meant I woke repeatedly throughout the night with a numb arm, cramp in my back, or a disconcertingly numb bum! I am relatively certain I spent most of the week covered not only in my legendary blisters (I am still hobbling now, my poor feet are crippled!), but in a fine coating of sand, sweat and dust. And maybe a couple of crushed ants. Sexy!

Of the festival itself, a few bands stood out. Kasabian, disappointingly, were a bit of a let down, as were The Prodigy. In fact, The Prodigy were one of the biggest let downs ever, as I had been steadily ramping myself up and up for an awesome experience. The reality, unfortunately, was a crowd of aggressive and intimidating people, and a madman with a mike shouting clever and witty cynicisms such as “Can I hear my Spanish people?!” all the way through over and over. The only conclusion we could draw was that he had lost his sight and his hearing – we were all expecting him to start introducing “Can I taste my party people?!” in just to mix it up with some other senses! Other than that, I had wildly enjoyable experiences at The Specials (who were absurdly brilliantly awesome), Ilegales (A Spanish band who were utterly catchy and whom I plan to buy some CDs of), and Gorillaz (although Damon Albarn looks a lot like snooker player Steven Hendry…). I am still a bit gutted that I passed up Hot Chip for Mumford & Sons, as I have wanted to see Hot Chip live for ages!

The night with Gorillaz, who I loved, was an interesting one. I, once again, showcased my incredible ability to be devastatingly lonely when surrounded by large quantities of people. The vast quantities of exceptionally tasty and cheap Sangria no doubt had something with it, but I spent a lot of the night feeling isolated and just desperately wanting to go home. There is nothing quite like sobbing quietly to yourself at a festival crammed with twenty thousand people! I couldn’t tell you why it hit me so hard, and I was fine the next morning (thank god for sweating out hangovers in the tent), but I was probably just a bit exhausted and the strangeness of the whole situation hit me. I am glad I recovered for Gorillaz, but kind of wish that I hadn’t got so accidentally drunk in the afternoon heat. It was an odd night, and a bit of an anticlimax. Still, we all know that my brain leaves a little to be desired a lot of the time, and I suppose to have only really had a couple of freakouts in past couple of months is pretty good going considering how stressful life has been! Still, I am incredibly glad to be back home, and to be clean again!

Books read:

  • Graham Greene: Our Man In Havana. Good god I love modern literature! A surreal book, no doubt, but thoroughly enjoyable and definitely an “entertainment” to be read again and again – it is full of layers.
  • Ernest Hemingway: Old Man and the Sea. American literature at its best again.This is poignant, sad, and leaves you feeling kind of adrift. Beautiful though, but very different to For Whom the Bell Tolls.
  • Oscar Wilde: The Importance of being Ernest. What need I say? Hilarious!
  • Stieg Larsson: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. Utterly absorbing. I love this girl, her dark life, the detaile crime writing. And this is as a reader who actively dislikes a lot of crime writing.
  • Jeffrey Eugenides: The Virgin Suicides. American Literature again, I could just devour this genre! I was incredibly impressed with this one – utterly honest and fascinating, plus uneasily funny in many places.

Albums that changed my life July 5, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Inspiration, Music.
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I’m feeling a little like writing lists at the moment – it is about the best state of mental acuity that I can reach when I am this inexplicably knackered! So, with no further ado, here are the albums that for various reasons have changed my life!

1. Robbie Williams – Sing while you’re winning

My first ever album, and the reason that nowadays I still have a deep-rooted affection for this man. It was the first music I chose for myself, and I still love the surprisingly competent poetry in some of the lyrics. Plus, it makes me want to dance and sing, and that can’t be bad!

2. Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

What an album! This wasn’t a life-changing experience psychologically, but musically this was the album that established all of my music tastes. It makes me feel faintly dizzy and weak at the knees, it must be true love! Champagne Supernova is still probably my favourite song of all time!

3. Bell X1 – Music in Mouth

I actually attribute a certain amount of responsibility to this album for saving my life. I honestly think that without this music my life could have turned out a lot worse, and when I was at the lowest it pulled me back up. Melodramatic, much?! Still, as far as life changing goes, I think life saving is pretty bloody good going!

4. Pendulum – Hold Your Colour

Do I actually need to say anything about this one?! Musically life changing, awesome to listen to, and associated with so many memories! Toast when so ill I could barely stand… Aberdeen in an underground club… them playing really BADLY at my Grad Ball.

5. Panic! At the disco – A fever you can’t sweat out

The relationship may not have lasted, but this album will always be the thing that made me meet a man I would otherwise have never had the honour to know. It is so much more than just music, and always will be. Not sure about listening to it too often now though, which is a shame as I do really like the songs too!

6. The Killers – Hot Fuss

Oh my, what an album. Singing this wildly in the Sugarhouse at uni, crying to Mr Brightside because it reminds me so instantly and so strongly of Katie and Rachel and how painfully we missed them once they went back to the US after their year over here. This is, without a doubt, my university album.

7. Spice Girls – Spice

I challenge any girls in primary school in the late 90’s to have not been influenced by this album. Even if they hated it, it will be deeply embedded in their subconscious, no-one had any choice. This taught me that as a girl I can do whatever the hell I want to. Essentially, it gave me the attitude I have today!

8. Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Californication/By the Way

Musically, two of the best albums ever made. Ever. Beautiful, exquisite, amazing beats and insane lyrics. These will forever be what my dad and I used to listen to in the car. Awesome. Just awesome!

There are probably more that I have forgotten, and other ones that only just didn’t make the list so that I didn’t have to go on for ever and ever, and bore you all witless. You know – U2 (All that you can’t leave behind), RATM (The battle of Los Angeles), The Feeling (12 stops and home), Muse (Absolution), Regina Spektor (Soviet Kitsch), The Streets (A grand don’t come for free), Gorillaz (Demon Days)… and so much more that just isn’t coming to mind right now!

A little cheery music May 7, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Music.
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Isn’t it amazing what a difference a little cheery music can make? Despite the fact that a) I was up until some ungodly hour of the morning watching the thoroughly depressing election results roll in, b)  that I was grumpy and depressed all day and c) I was absolutely knackered and featuring a temper more commonly seen on a troll, the music in Tony’s car on the way home perked me right up. There we were, roaring along in a miniature 1 litre Lupo, with 80s soft rock blasting out of the window on a wing and a prayer.

In the 10 or so minutes from work to the station where we were dropped off, my mood went from grumpy pants right through to slightly insane rocking out in the back seat. It was great! And sure, so air guitar and air violin may not technically be cool – but I don’t give a flying rat’s ass (as my oh-so-verbose mother would say!).

If you need a  soundtrack to your weekend, why not start it off with More than a Feeling, by Boston? It got me off on a good footing!