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. 🙂

Statues in da house

The latest “Mach’ Was” challenge has ‘statues’ as its topic. When I read that, I looked up from my laptop, glanced around my living room, and figured that wouldn’t be a problem…

My mother loves statues and has little statues all over her house, dozens  and dozens of them at least. I guess it is through her that I have come to appreciate them as well and when I take that look around my living room, dining room and back garden (I won’t even mention what can be found upstairs), I see statues in various sizes surrounding me; apparently I have collected quite a few of them myself over the years! Mr. Esther has joined in with contributions as well. We are no deliberate statue collectors but, yes, we do now posess quite a few!

On a little antique desk that also carries our phone, we have these three little ones. I didn’t photograph them on the desk as that corner was just too dark, so I set them in a row on our dining table. I can hold all three easily in one hand.

Statues1

We bought the little head on the left years ago at the prehistoric site of Lascaux in France; it’s a replica of a 23.000 year old figurine called the Venus de Brassempouy! The middle head is something we bought at the famous German Meissen porcelain factory after a tour we did there – pretty much the only thing we could afford. 😉 The cat on the right we bought at the British Museum in London last year after seeing the real deal ancient Egyptian cat in the collection. We have a black cat right here at home and couldn’t resist this small replica which looks just like her!

I also quite like the artist Nikki de Sainte Phalle and her famous colourful voluptuous “Nana” women. Do a google image search combining her name and the word ‘nana’ and you’ll see what I mean. When I was a child living just outside of Jerusalem, we played on this huge monster slide in a residential area in Jerusalem which she had designed. It’s still there, my kids also played on it 8 and a half years ago…

Monster

Anyway, a few years back my younger brother was working in a furniture store and saw this ‘Nana’ woman…

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… it’s made of a thick kind of papier-mâché, he immediately thought I’d love it (and he was right!) and he got it for me.

I also have these two African mothers:

The one on the left I got from my mom once. Alas it fell and the baby’s head broke off in such a way that it could not be repaired. I still love it, though, so I have kept it. The one on the right is my most recent acquisition, I only got it about two weeks ago. My mom recently sold the cottage in the north of The Netherlands that she owns and that statue is from there. While clearing out I immediately claimed it as my own, luckily there were no other takers.

On the windowsill by our dining table we have these two tall and very slim wooden figures…

The left one we bought at an Asia market, it’s an Indonesian statue. I can’t recall where I got the right one, but we’ve had both of them for many years now.

I have a favourite painting that I have yet to see for real. It’s Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss. My parents knew this and got us this little statue, now standing on our piano (that no one plays)…

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We have some more cat statues as well, besides the black cat in the first picture I shared above. And we have a snail! And a Buddhist monk!

The yellow cat on the left I got from my younger sister, it has a suncell battery and when the sun shines it waves its little paw! It’s Asian (I think Thai, maybe Chinese) kitsch and I find it funny! The other cat is something we once got from our neighbours after we took care of their cats while they were away on holiday. The little glass snail I saw at an arts & crafts market once and I just found it cute. The buddhist monk is a gift I got from the kids a few years ago.

Speaking of buddhist monks gifted to me by my kids… I have a whole row of little monks right underneath our TV screen! They were a Mother’s Day gift. 🙂

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My daughter found this following family statue on top of a recycling container about a year ago… We both liked it and gave it a home.

Statues9

We also have a little wooden viking boat with little wooden vikings in them. Bought it in Denmark for the kids when they were little, we still like it and keep it as an ornament now. The figurine on the right is a chess piece we also bought at the British Museum. It’s something my husband fell in love with, a replica of one of the Lewis chessmen from the 12th century, probably originating from Norway.

Speaking of my husband… he loves history, especially Roman and medieval history and is a bit of an expert on heraldry. So, we now have a knight with shield in a corner leading to our hallway, which we also use as a pedestal for the bust of a woman. In our back garden we have two stone lions with coats of arms. One coat of arms is from my family, the other coat of arms, the one on the right, is my husband’s. His family doesn’t have one, so he designed one himself and recently had it registered. 🙂 He also painted all these shields himself.

As this post has now landed in our back garden, let me also share some more statues we have there!

The one on the left, another bust of a woman, we got last year in Poland, it was dead cheap! Yeah, we don’t really buy durable quality, we just get what appeals to us in the moment. The pedestal it’s on was also a leftover from my mother’s cottage that we confiscated. The family statue on the right is one we bought when Mr. Esther and I became parents; it was also our first garden statue. I also love this statue…

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… she’s made of concrete, so nothing special there, but I find her so pretty!

Coming back into the house, I also have a number of small statues in my DVD cupboard…

The head on the left I made myself during a workshop with colleagues some 5 or 6 years ago. It’s supposed to look like my one ex-colleague… Of course it hardly looks like her, except for maybe possibly the hair, but for a first attempt at ever doing anything like this, I was quite proud. My daughter subsequently decided she also wanted to make one, so the pink one is hers. On a side note: that baby photo on the right is a picture of my grandmother, taken in 1908!

And last but not least these…

I can’t remember where I got that tiny squirrel. The owl is a beeswax candle that we never had the heart to burn. The angel on the right is a gift from my in-laws.

So, there you have it, Herba and Pö: my house is a hot mess with loads of statues!

Easter Bunny

I have not had any inspiration for the latest Mach’ was Easter Bunny challenge. Easter bunnies have never really been on my radar, not even in my childhood. So, I was going to skip this challenge, but then I saw something on my Twitter timeline and although it’s not much, I figured it’s at least something!

Even before Harry Kennedy (Richard Armitage) became the man of Geraldine Granger’s (Dawn French) heart in The Vicar of Dibley, I used to really enjoy watching the show! And yes… I’ll just share some gifs of them here (nothing to do with Easter, just for my own viewing pleasure…)

Geraldine yells at HarryHarry Geraldine kissHarry leans behind GeraldineHarry Geraldine hand kiss

Well, in the first season of The Vicar of Dibley, way before there was even any thought of Harry, there was an episode about Easter in which Dawn French dressed up as the Easter Bunny! She went out at night to hide Easter eggs around the village and I saw this fun little gif of that on my Twitter timeline. 🙂

Dawn French Easter Bunny.gif

So, there you have it, that’s it from me for this challenge: Dawn French as the Easter Bunny!

Geraldine Easter Bunny

Have a Happy Easter everyone!

Library flash mobs

A little PS to my Mach’ Was libraries post. I was looking at pictures in other library posts that Die Pö has so nicely collected for this challenge and somehow I suddenly thought of this video that I had first seen quite some time ago! It’s a choir flash mob in the public library of Valladolid (Spain), wish I had been sitting there in that library at that time! I absolutely love this:

Apparently there are more library flash mobs out there, like this one in the Manchester Central Library:

And a happy one in one of Harvard’s libraries:

In downtown Seattle library, there’s a STOMP flash mob and they use library books, book carts and bins:

And here’s a heartwarming one, made for the 60th birthday of a librarian in a Long Island library:

And ‘Halleuja’ at Wexford public library, where some singers hid their music in library books:

There are even more to be found on YouTube, just type in ‘flash mob library’ and a whole array awaits you. Aren’t libraries cool? 🙂

Libraries – my refuge and more!

A new Mach’ was challenge, set by Die Pö, asks us to do something with libraries… and that I can not ignore! Libraries have always been important to me. They have been my refuge in the past, I fell in love with stories there, I have found true love through them and I have worked in them.

My earliest library memory is of the school library. I loved reading, I was a voracious reader. I was in elementary school in  Jerusalem and every Friday at the end of the school day “library class” was scheduled. aisjIt was my absolute fave class of the week, I can’t remember how many books you were allowed to take out but I do know I borrowed the maximum amount each week. I remember other kids not liking going and messing around in the library but as soon as I entered the school library my nose was in the shelves and the books and I was lost to the outside world.

When I was 10 we moved to Germany and went to live in a village that didn’t have its own library. I went to German school, learned to speak German quickly but longed, absolutely longed, for English language books and for my old school library. We soon started going to an American Episcopalian church in Frankfurt am Main on Sundays, which was situated close to several US army bases (this picture is of the church we went to)…

church-frankfurt

We made friends there and one man in particular – not quite legally I think – gave us his library card for a nearby American army library. The library was open on Sunday afternoons and every Sunday after church we’d go there for an hour. I loved it there and for me Sundays were not necessarily about going to church but were about going to the library. My most vivid memory was loaning all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books from that library again and again and again… We were able to use the library card for a few years until we were found out. The man who had given us his card tried to put in a good word for us, how we had been model lenders, but no, the card was revoked and I was very depressed about that. We had moved to another, larger, town in the meantime but the library there wasn’t well stocked and certainly not that well stocked in English books. I was library-less for a while and hated that.

Not long after that I was able to win a scholarship for an international school in The Netherlands. I hadn’t been happy in German school and because I had kept up my English through reading (thank you US army library!), writing a diary and also speaking it at home, I was now able to go to this English language international boarding school. At age 16 I was off! The school was situated in a castle, an absolutely beautiful spot, and for the two years I was there I was thankful every day that I could go to such a beautiful school!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Being away from home at 16 and alone at school did take getting used to. I was able to go home to my parents in Germany on holidays and to my aunt in The Netherlands on free weekends but I was miserable for the first 3 months. There was a school library there, which in part became my new refuge, and I loved reading all the English language books I could find there. I also was happy to be speaking English all day and after the initial difficult adjusting period I soon took to my new school life. I loved the independence, I loved the location of the school, I made new friends and I learned to handle many of the over-privileged students there with a certain degree of humour. In the end it turned out to be a very good time I had there!

I finished high school and went on to university in the old town of Leiden. I struggled with what I wanted to study. I first majored in psychology, then in English and at the university I naturally made use of Leiden’s big university library.

What I learned most of all during that time was that an academic course just wasn’t for me. It was too theoretical, I needed something more practical. As I was flunking out of uni because I didn’t like it, I also started avoiding the uni library there and I turned to Leiden’s public library, which was well stocked in (non-academic) English language books…

OB Leiden

It also offered me a place to hide away from people, yet again a library had become my refuge. I was in a real funk during those years, no idea what I wanted, where I was going. It was in this library that I started researching what other things I could do with my life, other than becoming a psychologist, an English teacher, a translator or an academic. That gave me the ammunition to talk to my parents and my dad sat down with me and systematically guided me through choices and wishes that I had already been able to prepare. In the end we figured out what I could do for a career: I could become a librarian! I had resisted that idea in the past, my mother was a trained librarian after all and I wanted to be me and not my mother. But librarianship it was and it was a good choice.

The training was very different from what it had been in my mother’s day, especially as we were at the beginning of the digital age; a lot of the training was centered around (digital) information management. It was at that applied sciences uni in Den Haag (situated in these buildings that now aren’t there anymore)…

BDI Den Haag

… where I met a young man who was into archives/museums (whereas I was more into libraries). We did the same course and fell in love and he is now my husband. So, in a way, I owe meeting the love of my life to librarianship!

During my librarianship course I also was able to start my first library job. My dad was General Secretary of an international Jewish-Christian dialogue organization with its head office in Germany and in that office there was a small specialist library. The library specialized on Judaism, Christianity, history relating to both, and Holocaust studies. My mother was the part-time librarian / documentalist there and my older brother (a student of Jewish history) helped out in that library during his vacations. He soon went to the US to continue his studies there and his position became vacant. As I was a librarianship student by then, my dad asked me to follow in my brother’s footsteps. And so during all my vacations I would work in the Martin Buber House library in the town of Heppenheim.

Martin Buber House Heppenheim

My mom ordered the new books and saved them up for me to organize and catalogue when I got there during vacations. I was also the one who suggested setting up a digital catalogue instead of the card catalogue. After I finished college my boyfriend (now my husband) and I were hired by my dad to set up the digital catalogue, get all the books into the system and set up a digital lending system. It was our first job out of uni, the project lasted about 3 months and was a lot of fun to do. I was especially interested in all the Holocaust study books there and read many of them throughout the years (even before I actually worked there).

During my studies I also used the Dutch National Library in Den Haag a lot…

And I did a 4 month internship in Newcastle Upon Tyne (England) in the library of what used to be Newcastle Polytechnic but is now Northumbria University.

Northumbria Uni.jpg

My first library job after we finished that cataloguing job at the Martin Buber House in Germany was at a small library specializing in education in developing countries in The Netherlands. It was situated in the attic of this building…

Nuffic

I couldn’t stay there long (just 6 months) as I was only hired because the regular assistant librarian was on sick leave. That job did lead me to my next job: working in the library of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, specializing in development cooperation subjects.

BuZa

I stayed there for 2.5 years but when they couldn’t offer me a fixed contract, I found another job as head of a graphic design college library…

GLR

I did that job for 6 years and I really enjoyed it! But the library was small and soon everything was running so smoothly, it started to get boring. Also, my kids were small and I wanted to work closer to home. I found a job as head of a secretarial/reception department of an advisory organization in my home town and I did that for many years, leaving the librarianship world behind me. I have now moved on to digital information management (which will also be my new job) in which I can still use many of my skills from my librarianship days, but I am not a librarian anymore now.

As for my use of libraries nowadays… I don’t use them anymore! There was a public library very close to where I live, but it closed 3 or 4 years ago…

bieb

My town now only has one large (admittedly very nice!) central library left and if I want to go there, I really need to go out of my way. So, I don’t go to a library anymore, I don’t even have a membership anymore… I still wish they hadn’t closed down the library close to me. Even though it wasn’t greatly stocked (most notably, the English language section was far too small), I still liked going there… and there was always the possibility of inter-library loans. I have now found other ways to get the much craved information/books I need but I do miss the physical, calming presence of a library.

Libraries have always been and will always be important to me. I like being in them, I like visiting them when I am on vacation (I adore old libraries in castles!) and they will always hold a special place in my heart.