A song for every occasion

I have said it for years (and the BBC show Homes Under the Hammer also proves it, see this blurb about that show): every situation can remind you of a song!

I was watching current affairs on TV and came across a programme on a Belgian channel that had a far-right young Dutch politician I really dislike on their panel. I took a peek (shouldn’t have) and they were discussing something he had said a while back. They played a clip of him saying that women are often left-leaning until they meet a right-wing man who tells her how it really is and she always comes around to his way of thinking in the end… Yes, basically saying women can’t think for themselves! There was a woman on the panel who rightfully accused him of using arguments by men who were opposed to suffragettes a hundred years ago… The pit of my stomach exploded in anger at this politician yet again! I quickly changed the channel, really don’t have to listen to that garbage, and looked up a David Bowie song on YouTube that I thought of as soon as the word “suffragette” was uttered…

This came after I was reading about the latest travel ban news coming from the US, about people being banned from crossing borders after all. It made me think of this Chris de Burgh song, where he sings, “Don’t let go, I want to know, that you will wait for me until the day, there’s no borderline, no borderline…”

Before that I was reading about Richard Armitage and Michelle Forbes going to the ballet together…

Ballet tweet

… and a song from A Chorus Line came to mind…

Yes, it was quite an associative half hour!

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5 decades of musical favourites

The latest Mach’ was challenge is to do something with your favourite song or piece of music… That is soooo difficult! Where to start? I have so much music that I love and I have so many, many favourite songs! While thinking this over, I found myself going back to different periods of my life and remembering what songs, artists and albums I liked at different times. As I was born in 1970, it somehow comes naturally to think of music during certain decades: the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, etc. (eek, I’m in my fifth decade now!). So, instead of limiting myself to one song, which I really can not do (sorry, Herba!), I decided to instead recall some absolute favourites in my own personal history.


The 1970s – Childhood 

The first record I remember absolutely adoring was a record of English language nursery rhymes. It was narrated by a man with a deep, melodic voice (is that where my love for deep voices stems from?) and started with a very cheerful “Hello, boys and girls!” This man talked and then constantly broke out into singing nursery rhymes. My poor family had to endure this record endlessly, we only had the one record player in the house… I don’t know who the narrator/singer was but I remember especially liking “Sing a song of sixpence”. A version that comes somewhat close to what I remember is this one I found on YouTube…

Another song I absolutely adored was from my favourite Cinderella movie (with Richard Chamberlain as the prince) called “Protocoligorically correct”…

All the songs in that movie (The Slipper and the Rose) were wonderful, by the way. I blogged about that before here. Take a gander if you like, there’s a very funny one when the prince dances on the graves of his ancestors.

As the 1970s progressed I became obsessed by another song called “Ma Baker” by Boney M., I still quite like it today!

My fave childhood band was ABBA. I lived in Israel as a child where the Hebrew word “abba” means “father” and I always wondered why a band not from Israel would call themselves by a Hebrew name! And why would they want to be called “father”? It was only as I grew older that I realised that ABBA referred to the names of the 4 band members… Anyway, when I got married in 1999, my family performed along to this ABBA song for us at the evening party…

… yelling my husband’s name instead of the word “man”. My mother, in a blonde wig, and a family friend, in a red-haired wig, pretended to be the ABBA ladies; an uncle of my husband’s ‘played keyboard’ on an ironing board and my dad ‘played guitar’ on an old bed warmer. The rest of my family did backing vocals/dancing. It was one of the highlights of my wedding day. 🙂


The 1980s – Teenagerhood

Oh my goodness, the 1980s! That’s when music really started to interest me and I could name about 1000 songs here, still known today, that I loved. We moved to Germany in 1980 (I was 10) and not long after we came, the “Neue Deutsche Welle” hit with German pop songs that also became known internationally. Nena with her “99 Luftaballons” was probably the most famous and I totally loved many of those songs. However, my early 1980s favourites were a bit of a cheesy Italian duo called Al Bano and Romina Power (Romina was the daughter of Hollywood star Tyrone Power, she had moved to Italy to marry an Italian singer). They were very popular in Germany and I especially adored Romina, I wanted to look like her and sound like her… Of course, I could never admit to my friends that I loved them. Wham! and Duran Duran were just getting famous then, and here I was liking this sappy duo…

Around that time, early to mid 1980s, I also came to love an Irish singer called Chris de Burgh. He had a few hits in Germany from his album called “The Getaway”. He’s a little man with odd bushy eyebrows, but he always seemed sweet, he has a good voice and was a great storyteller. We bought the album and I listened to it constantly, then listened to his back log of songs and absolutely loved them. One of my faves was “Patricia the Stripper”. Not a huge hit, I don’t think, but I still love this song…

Later in the 80s he made “The Lady in Red”, which I think became his biggest hit and is one of my least fave songs of his. In fact, after that I soon stopped listening because I really didn’t like the electronic sappy love songs he started making then. He was always somewhat on the sappy side, but I felt that he had sold out to formulaic love songs later and I didn’t like them. I don’t know whether he has become better in later years, I haven’t listened to anything new of his, but I do still love most of what he did up until about 1984.

In the second half of the 1980s, Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album hit and, boy, did I adore that album! To this day I can still sing along to all the lyrics of every song on that album and I wouldn’t know which one to choose as my favourite. “You Can Call me Al” (I loved that video!) and “Graceland” are the biggest hits everyone knows, so let me just plug “I Know What I Know” here…

And of course, there was U2 with their 1987 “The Joshua Tree” album that I loved.  I will forever associate “With or Without You” with studying for my 1988 final school exams…

This year U2 is doing a “Joshua Tree” commemorative tour but by the time they are in Amsterdam, we will be away on holiday in England…


The 1990s – College and into adulthood

In 1990 I fell in love with Sinead O’Connor’s song (and video) “Nothing Compares 2 U”…

I loved the album it was from (“I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got”) and also bought her first album (“The Lion and The Cobra”) and played those two endlessly. I did lose sight of her after that, though.

For me, the end 1980s and early 1990s were all about David Bowie. Yes, I could’ve also put him on my 80s list, from about 1986/7 onwards, but it was in the early 1990s that he felt like a life-saver for me. I don’t recall exactly how I fell in love with him. I remember loving his “China Girl”  and “Let’s Dance” songs in the early 80s and the love slowly developed from there when I went into his back catalogue a few years later. I loved what I heard there even more than that “Let’s Dance” album. I was devastated when he died in January last year. I wrote a tribute post for him with lots of songs I love in it and the days after that kept on posting more videos in tribute to him on blog here… A song of his that was extremely special to me in the early 1990s was a song from the 1972 album “Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars” called “Rock’n’Roll Suicide”. I was going through some tough times, trying to figure out what I wanted out of life, and Bowie screaming “You’re not alone!” really helped me through that (the images in the following video are from Bowie’s 1976 movie The Man Who Fell To Earth)…

A week before he so unexpectedly passed away I saw the absolutely wonderful David Bowie Is exhibition that was temporarily shown in the north of The Netherlands. On display were also the handwritten lyrics to that song. Seeing that, some 25 years after those difficult early 1990s, brought tears to my eyes… I probably shouldn’t have photographed it but I just had to…

Rock n Roll suicide

I was also absolutely in love with Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” at the time. I can’t tell you how often I would lie down on the floor in my room with my eyes closed and let the music just wash over me, I especially loved the first and third movements…

I kinda lost track of music in the 1990s. I liked many songs, but nothing really stands out for me, except maybe Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” album which I played a lot. Here’s the very famous “Ironic”…


The 2000’s – New mama years

If the 1990s were a bit of a blur regarding music, the 2000s were that even more so! I became a mother for the first time in 2001, and then again in 2003, and music just wasn’t much of a priority (I’ve always been more of a movie girl than a music girl). I listened to whatever was on the radio and there were good things and bad things but nothing I couldn’t do without. I’d have periods where I listened to virtually nothing at all!

A song from 2001 that sticks out in my memory is one I don’t particularly love myself but it was one my baby son loved at the time! Every time he heard the chorus of this Kylie Minogue song (“La-la-la La-la-la-la-la”) on the radio he’d go all quiet and listen to it in wonder…

I remember loving Katie Melua’s “Piece By Piece” album. Very calm compared to some of the music I have mentioned so far, maybe it’s what I most needed as a new mum. 😉 I already once blogged about the Spider’s Web song from that album. The most famous song from that album is probably “Nine Million Bicyclesbut I have decided to post this song instead. Video is fascinating to watch…

But mostly I think I’ll remember the 2000s for listening to children’s songs, like songs from a Dutch duo called Cowboy Billie Boem who dressed as a Cowboy and an Indian, singing songs like “Toemba Toemba” with the lyrics: “In the forest, Indians live. They don’t know what arrows are and shoot banana’s. Oh, it’s so nice to be an Indian, dancing in the moonshine every evening”. We even saw them live with the kids two or three times!

The kids also liked a Belgian Trio that sang in Flemish/Dutch called K3 (the 3 singers’ names all began with a K). Here a hit of their’s about diversity being cool (“we’re all much more beautiful if we are all together, hand in hand, eye to eye, all the colours of the rainbow”) …


The 2010s – My forties

The 2010s are here and I’ve entered my forties. Again, nothing was really sticking out for me on the music front, although I do enjoy a whole variety of music. Then in 2012, I discovered Muse while watching the first Twilight movie. I really liked what I heard, then went to a concert of theirs in December 2012 in Amsterdam, and the rest is history. The concert completely fanned the flames of Muse adoration and I have been completely hooked since then! The 2010s for me are all about Muse. I haven’t been this enthusiastic about a music act since, well, David Bowie! I listen to them all the friggin’ time and can’t wait for the next time they’ll come to The Netherlands on tour. And now I have to pick a favourite Muse song? Impossible! I’ve already posted links to Muse songs here, here, at the end of this post here and about their latest single here. I even posted about 2Cellos covering their songs here. In all of these links I don’t see a reference to one of their absolute masterpieces “Knights of Cydonia”.  So, that’s the one I’m linking to here 🙂 …

And “Supermassive Black Hole”, the song that attracted me to them in the first place. It was featured in the first Twilight movie, in this scene…

The movie was alright, the song was something else…


So, that’s it, favourite or memorable songs during different times in my life! I’m sure I have forgotten some wonderful favourite music and in a few days I’ll be thinking “oh, I should have also posted this… or that…” But, I’m going with the first things that popped into my head and that’s what you get here. 🙂

Doomsday songs pick-me-up

In the news here on Dutch TV this morning: the party of far right leader Geert Wilders (the PVV – ‘Partij Voor de Vrijheid’ which means ‘Freedom Party’ but there’s nothing free about it, in my view) leads the polls. He’s been leading for a few months now and his lead seems to be lessening but still he is leading! We have a multi-party democracy here in The Netherlands where several parties have to form a coalition in order to have a majority to govern. Thank goodness the center right party VVD (which is the largest party now and comes in 2nd in the polls, also one of the current governing parties) has already said there is a 0% chance they will form a coalition with the far right PVV whose main agenda is islamophobia. Even so, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that such a man as Wilders could end up getting the most votes here in our upcoming election in March! Same trend as in the UK with Brexit and in the US with Trump and it is all truly freaking me out! And this coming Friday super-narcissist Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the next US president despite losing the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.

danger

This feeling of danger and doom has me playing all sorts of doomsday songs in my head…

For instance, the song ‘Land of Confusion’ from the mid 1980s by Genesis… I very well remember the videoclip at the time with ‘Spitting Image’ puppets, when we thought Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were questionable…

Or this R.E.M. song that I have always loved and feels more relevant to me than ever… don’t know if I feel fine about it, though…

‘The End’ by The Doors is depressing…

“Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival sounds more upbeat but the lyrics certainly reference doomsday. The lyrics can be taken both literally and figuratively…

David Bowie’s ‘Five Years’ springs to mind (here elections are held every 5 years…) about a world going to pieces…

I also think of Chris De Burgh’s song “Spanish Train”, which is this story about the Lord and the Devil playing cards to win people’s souls and the devil keeps on winning… I only like early Chris De Burgh, he had interesting stories to tell before he became too sappy with “The Lady in Red” and the like… (Not at all about doomsday but check out “Patricia the Stripper” for a funny story and clever rhymes).

And there’s Muse, a lot of Muse, that I am thinking of! Like my go-to song from the time I was going through a downsizing crisis at work and this song helped me release my inner frustration… Naturally, I don’t want to literally shoot some leaders down, but figuratively, yes, I can subscribe to that!

“Hard times are ahead […] your time is now to be heard […] your number has been called”, as sung by Muse in ‘Butterflies and Hurricanes’…

“Time is Running Out” springs to mind, even though it is more personal than the other songs I reference here, but the time is running out feeling is relevant to me…

And then there’s the song ‘Panic Station’: “And this chaos it defies imagination […] you’ve arrived at panic station”

I think of the ‘Psycho’ song, from Muse’s last album, about being part of a war machine…

Or the ultimate protest Muse song ‘Uprising’…

The fact that these songs are out there makes me despair a little less and helps me feel a little better. They tell me: “You’re not alone!”, the same words David Bowie uses in his ‘Rock n Roll Suicide’ song, a song I absolutely love. I still get a thrill at the thought that I have seen the actual lyrics written in Bowie’s own handwriting for myself

There is always hope, right?

#BlueMonday?

We were having dinner this evening and my daughter made a few jokes at the dinner table adding #BlueMonday to everything she said. Someone just finished the guacamole before I could heap on a second helping? Awww, Blue Monday! My son has trouble swallowing because his throat aches (poor boy has the flu)? Awww, Blue Monday! The cats are hungry? Awww, Blue Monday! You get the drift…

So, Blue Monday is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year, usually the 3rd Monday in January, which it is today. It got me thinking: is today really extra depressing?

Well, I won’t mention politics because that really is very depressing. Any time Donald Trump opens his mouth or posts a tweet my political depression and fear for the future deepens. And the populist far right threatens to get more control here too…

marine-le-pen-geert-wilders-frauke-petry-far-right-populist-europe-elections-cartoon

Our local music and arts school did have this ad poster that made me laugh…

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The first time I drove by this I was wondering who on earth was advertising for Donald Trump’s hair piece! As Jane Austen so fittingly said in Pride and Prejudice: “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?”. Little things like this do lighten my political depression a teeny bit.

What is also depressing is that this past week I was reminded that it was a year ago that both my hero David Bowie and Alan Rickman passed away… I was able to pick myself up by listening to Bowie songs and here at our house we have started re-watching the Harry Potter movies. My goodness, Alan Rickman really was such a brilliant Professor Snape!

rickman-bowie

These two men have left a great legacy.

On the personal #BlueMonday front – while I have had several job interviews I haven’t actually landed a steady new job yet. I have done a little bit of freelance work that has paid me very little and I do enjoy volunteer-teaching my small Dutch class every Monday morning (I teach 3 Polish ladies and an Italian man), but I wish for something more permanent with the job situation. Keep at it and keep trying, I guess. Something will turn up… I’m just so sick of applying for jobs… Just hire me already, I’m worth it! (I hope).

Also, today (after the Dutch class I taught) I spent the day helping my sick son get through writing an economics paper that was due today at the end of the day. I really do not enjoy economics, even though I realize that it basically rules the world. In fact, in today’s increasingly populist world, economics seem more important than human rights… and that depresses me too. #BlueMonday.

And Richard Armitage seems to have fallen off (or has possibly skied off) the edge of the earth. All mention of the Miles movie is gone, there are no announcements of new projects, no tweets. After a year of lots of news it feels so quiet all of a sudden. #BlueMonday. Luckily there are photos like this one to look back at (me)…

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And yet, this #BlueMonday I also have very happy things to think of! In 10 days my husband and I will be celebrating 25 years together. We’ll go out for dinner on the date itself and then early March we have booked 3 days away in Brussels for just the two of us. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to that! And speaking of trips – the only positive thing about Brexit for me personally is that, because the pound has dropped in England, it is cheaper for us to go there. So, making use of that, we have just booked a holiday ferry to the UK for this summer! We’ll be going to Yorkshire and surroundings for 3 weeks with our caravan and I will finally finally get to visit Haworth Parsonage where the Brontë sisters lived!

So, with these things to look forward to, this #BlueMonday is not quite as blue as it could have been! And for the optimistic #BlueMonday reader out there I’d like to give you the chance to dance along to the ‘Blue Monday’ song by New Order (here in the 1988 remix version). Or it could cheer you up if you are feeling extra blue after all…

And as it’s apparently also Martin Luther King Day, let me leave you with this quote:

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Say my name, say my name…

Who knew that being out of work could be so time consuming? I was just about able to catch up a bit with my own blogging but have had virtually no time to read other blogs!

Applying for jobs takes a lot of time (but is already starting to pay off, I have my first job interview in a week!), as does the admin surrounding the whole joblessness situation. Also catching up with people, going to a funeral (wife of a friend of my dad’s), getting in gear to help my aunt with organizing her 80th birthday at the end of the year and then there’s the health stuff…

dizzy-hypnoI’ve had trouble with dizziness and constant tinnitus (although no hearing loss with that as yet) and was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease a few months back, which is nothing life-threatening but it is annoying. Things had been going so well on that front, I thought I’d just drastically lower my med dosage, so low that I even stopped taking any pills on some days. That was not a good idea. I always have tinnitus, so that didn’t change (you get used to that) but the dizziness returned. Not as bad as before but enough to be annoying and inhibiting… So, I’m upping my meds again but it takes some time for the meds to take real effect again.

Anyway, suffice it to say, that all this wasn’t conductive to finding time to watch the first two Berlin Station episodes, that were made available online for FREE two days ago! But, finally I made it, I just watched them. Even though my house is in a dire state right now and I really need to do something about that, I have chosen to blog about Berlin Station first! Blogging is far more fun than household chores any day…

So, Berlin Station went off to a great start! Truly exciting stuff, with all sorts of inter-mingled plotlines that will hopefully unfold and give us answers in time! I loved the acting too, very good and intense. For me especially Richard Jenkins, Rhys Ifans and Leland Orser stood out next to Richard Armitage. But I’m not going to give an in depth analysis or spoil anthing big here. I just want to point out the shallow things in Berlin Station that gave me HUGE pleasure!

David Bowie! The moment the title music started playing I gave a little shriek! Bowie’s song I’m Afraid of Americans is the title song! I love that song, even blogged about it earlier in the year after Bowie passed away. bowie-americansThen later on in the first episode, when Daniel flirts with Claudia in the bar, in the background another Bowie song is playing: Soul Love from my fave Bowie album Ziggy Stardust. Now this is quality TV. 😉

Richard and cats! So, the man once said he preferred dogs to cats and he probably still does, but Daniel-Richard apparently likes cats! He strokes the cat, smiles and picks it up and even takes it home. Aw! It makes this cat lover’s heart beat faster.

Richard as Daniel Miller goodies – the long stride and the way he moves when he walks fast, the little shake of the head he always does (he tilts his head to the side and then moves it back; for me it’s one of his signature moves),

Richard looking good in nothing but his underwear, daniel-underwearwhite-shirt-Richard, white-shirt-danielRichard’s American accent sounding alright to me (what a relief! I remember feeling his accent was off in Into the Storm), Richard speaking German (once or twice I found it a bit difficult to understand him, but overall he doesn’t sound half bad), Richard with a kid eating ice-cream and the little smiles he gives throughout that encounter,

and of course romantic and flirty Richard who kisses delightfully.

Falafel making was even featured briefly in the second episode. The guy making it sure knew what he was doing. I love falafel! bs-falafel

Love is love. Gay love, black & white love – no issues there, it’s portrayed as normal, which it should be! No convoluted explanations, justifications, it just is what it is.

And best of all: Richard Armitage said my name! He really did, he said ‘Esther’! At the end of the second episode he meets this German agent in a bar and as she leaves he says, “lovely to meet you Esther Krug”. Maybe I can isolate that soundbite (without the ‘Krug’) for a ringtone on my phone? Hmmm, there’s a thought. Here, this is a still of him saying the “s” in Esther. 🙂 daniel-esther

So, yeah, I’ve really got to see more of Berlin Station! It’ll be a while before there’s more, which might be a good thing. It gives me time to start on my household chores – no more excuses to hold me back.