Close to you & 104 days of summer

So, yesterday I mentioned Choir!Choir!Choir!. Today I saw there is an Australian equivalent called Pub Choir. Due to Corona they have now dubbed themselves Couch Choir and they made this video of 1000 people singing the same song from their homes. A quote: “A few days ago we asked the internet to stop misery scrolling for a moment, and to sing with us! Over 1000 people from 18 countries submitted a video of their performance of “Close To You” (Burt Bacharach) in just TWO DAYS.”

This gives me goosebumps. And what a job to edit it all together into this one video! I’m in awe.

Measures here in The Netherlands have tightened, so even less people out and about and everyone stuck inside like us. My husband works on the couch and for calls goes upstairs to the study…


… I work mostly at our dinner table as the sun streams in there…


Mr Esther junior has been enjoying his time off from his internship and with no classes from school yet to fill things up, he is getting some well-deserved rest and sleeps a lot, besides gaming, watching videos and taking a daily long walk.

Mini-Esther was having an exam week this week (last exam week before her finals in May) and went to school yesterday and this morning to sit for those exams under strict regulations of hygiene and keeping a distance. Just after she got home this morning the Ministry of Education announced that the central final exams in May will be cancelled altogether. Grades will now be determined by average exam scores from during the year. Those grades were always going to be 50% of your final exam score, now those grades will be 100% your final score. Schools have till June to organize how they’ll finish the last round of regular exams. For my daughter this means the rest of her exams this week are cancelled, school will determine how to organize the last 4 or 5 exams still due within the next few weeks. Mini-Esther’s grades are very good, she’ll do fine in the last exams still due so, in effect, this means she has already passed her finals! This takes a lot of pressure off for finals and the girl is very happy!

The Phineas and Ferb theme song now springs to mind with soooo many days off now for the kids with nothing to do:
“There’s 104 days of summer vacation | And school comes along just to end it | So the annual problem for our generation | Is finding a good way to spend it”

Phineas and Ferb is one of the very few kids cartoons I have also enjoyed watching with them over the years. Our kids alas won’t have the amount of freedom outdoors those two cartoon characters had – I hope they don’t get too stir-crazy.

“He knows it’s all worthwhile…”

There is this community thing going on in Toronto where these two guys get a crowd of people together and they sing pop songs together in one huge choir. They are called Choir!Choir!Choir! and on YouTube I have watched some of the covers they have done over the years. Of course now, with social distancing, getting together to sing isn’t possible and apparently they have had to cancel a tour they had planned. As I was checking out some music on YouTube this past weekend I saw that they had organized a social distancing sing-along. It was just the two of them singing, inviting viewers to join them. A little article and background on that here:

I didn’t watch all of the 1 hour 45 minute video, just very short bits and pieces. Instead, I scrolled through their catalogue of videos and found that they had done David Bowie’s Starman two months ago on the occasion of Bowie’s birthday in January. They love Bowie and have done Bowie before (for instance Space Oddity and Heroes) and I of course had to watch Starman as well. It’s one of the tracks off my fave Bowie album Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.


It helps that I really love this song in its own right but looking and listening to this version really moved me somehow. Maybe it was the line “He’s told us not to blow it because he knows it’s all worthwhile…” that did it or just the fact that it sounds awesome when so many people sing a song together that I love, creating a full polyphonous sound.

A beautiful song of hope sent by some ethereal being that tells us that it will all hopefully be worth it in the end. Let’s hope it’s also true in these times of Corona.

If you like choirs, a sense of community in these isolated times and a pick-me-up, check out the Choir!Choir!Choir! YouTube channel for some really nice covers.

#StayAtHome music

It’s just after midnight here, so this qualifies as a Sunday post now.

Mr Esther and I were catching some of the news on German TV and at the end they showed this wonderful clip of the Serbian National Theatre Orchestra playing together via conference call.

More artists have been singing songs or giving stay-at-home concerts on social media, from Pink to Coldplay to John Legend and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Vulture has a a whole list you can scroll through and pick up whatever you fancy:

This is when the internet and social media are totally cool, I just love this. Happy Sunday listening everyone!

Modified to add that the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra here in The Netherlands has also made a video together playing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”.

This could be a new orchestra trend in the making. 🙂

Is there life on Mars?

Today would have been David Bowie’s 73rd birthday. As I read the news this morning (Iran, inane actions by a US president whose name I don’t even want to mention on my blog anymore and his son, horrible fires in Australia exacerbated by climate change), somehow this Bowie song springs to mind…

This is not the first time I think of this when I look at the news. Of course, if we humans could escape to Mars we’d eff it all up there too with wars and greed and destroying the environment. I know it is something of all ages to worry about the state of the world but my goodness, where is the good I wonder? That’s it, that’s my blog post – just a bit of exasperation on a Wednesday morning.

Balm for my soul

I’ve been a very bad blogger of late, too occupied with other things, just not moved to blog and also not really able to at times.

First off,  Anne with an E still holds me in its claws, I’m completely obsessed and feverishly await the next episode. I even made a new fan video that I put up on my Anne with an E video page (if you do happen to watch, beware of huge spoilers!). This past week gave us these scenes (episode 5 of season 3) that are also in the season 3 trailer (and so much more happened, which I won’t spoil here):

When not obsessing over Anne, I try to get life back on track. The dizziness/vertigo is still bothering me and I am only able to work half days. It is dispiriting to have to deal with this but it is what it is and has been improving slowly and will continue to do so more quickly, I hope. Anyway, I work some from home but I also try going to the office, which I have done twice last week by car. Driving is alright if I don’t have to throw looks over my shoulder too much (so I stick to a single lane as much as possible). Which brings me to the reason for this post.

Recently in the car I have been listening to Nina Simone and I have to say that she has become a balm for my soul this past week. Especially on my way back from work I feel frustrated for not being able to do more and this woman just reaches into my soul with her voice and her songs and calms me down. Nina Simone had a beautiful, warm voice full of feeling and meaning and she sang like she could look straight into your heart. I have liked her for a long time, have used a small part of her great song Sinnerman as the background music in my Richard-Armitage-says-Esther ringtone that I have installed on my phone…

… but I haven’t listened to her very much for a long time, until this past week during my drives to and from work.

I am not really a jazz fan, so the more full on jazzy numbers are less for me. However, she has sung some beautiful, melodic-jazzy songs as well and those are the ones that have been the balm during each 30-40 minute drive. One that has especially struck a chord is this one, “I wish I knew how to be free”:

Not that I don’t feel loved and free, but I think it touches on a longing for things to maybe be more carefree? I do realize I have a good life but every life has it’s cares and worries and so does mine.

Another one I adore is ” My baby just cares for me”. It’s the first song that introduced me to Nina Simone back in 1987 when it was used for a commercial.

It’s such a brilliant song and nowadays when I listen to it, it makes me smile because I associate the lyrics with Mr Esther as he too ‘just cares for me’. 🙂

And I really loved listening to this one this week – “I loves you Porgy” reminds me that I have never seen the musical Porgy and Bess and I need to watch it someday. If you only watch one of the videos I post here, watch this one. Simone’s intensity while she performs here hits you right in the heart:

I also loved listening to Mr Bojangles:

… and Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood:

I used The Look of Love in a fan video for A Place to Call Home and Marta Dusseldorp, the lead actress in that show, even tweeted her approval when I posted it last year.

And then there’s the very moving song “Blackbird”. You can hear Nina Simone’s excellent version here but a cover was sung by wonderful and gorgeous actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw in her excellent movie Beyond the Lights that I want to share here:

There are many more great Nina Simone songs (her version of “Feeling Good” may be my fave version out there) but especially these songs I mentioned have carried me this week. It’s good to be alive in world that, next to all the ugliness out there, also holds these treasures.