Tag Archives: David Bowie

To Live Without My Music…

…would, as the song says, be impossible to do.

Besides writing and reading, the one thing I love to do most in the world is listen to music – and create some of my own, at times, when I feel like dusting off my old guitar and tuning up the vocal cords – and, some time ago, I sat down to make a list of songs I love, and why I love them.

I never got around to sharing it on the blog, for one reason or another (*ahem baby*) but I thought this might be an opportune time to give you all some listening pleasure, as well as an insight into my life – for what better way is there to crowbar open someone’s mind than to have a look at the music which has shaped them? (Well. You could look at the books which have shaped them, but you’re sick of reading about my favourite books, so…)

The Song I Listen to When I Miss Home

Helpless – Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young. This version is a live one, performed by Neil Young and the Band, the night of the Last Waltz. I can’t explain why – as I’m not from Ontario, nor anywhere near it – but this song screams ‘home’ to me. It has, like all of my beloved music, a lot to do with my dad.

The Song Which Means the Most to Me

I hesitate to say ‘favourite song’, because I love so many that I can never truly have a favourite. This one is up there with many others, including Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale, and it will always occupy a central spot in my heart. It’s Who Knows Where the Time Goes? by the irreplaceable, unmistakable Sandy Denny.

The Song Which Sings Freedom

Years ago I worked in a job I didn’t like much. Every day at 1 pm, I would be released for lunch and I had Nick Drake’s album Five Leaves Left in my CD walkman (oh, how cool I was!) This track, Time Has Told Me, was the first one, and I can’t hear its opening notes, even now, without thinking of freedom and a weight lifting off my shoulders.

The Song I Have Listened to Most Often

In my final year in university, one album got me through a very tough time. I lost a lot of friends, I faced tough exams, and I struggled with a lot of personal issues, and I had Jeff Buckley’s Grace on almost permanent repeat. So, any of the songs on that album would do as my ‘most listened’… but the title track, Grace, is the one I like the most. So, here you go.

The Song Which Makes me Yearn to  Sing

I learned to ‘sing’, if you can call it that, by listening to music as a kid. Nicolette Larson, Linda Ronstadt, Crystal Gayle and most of all, the monumental Joni Mitchell shaped my dreams of what being a singer meant. My voice comes nowhere close, but a gal can dream.

The Song Which Reminds me of my baby

I’m never not thinking about my baby, of course. But, even years from now, this song will bring me back to our earliest days and months together, and it’s one I still sing every bedtime. Thank you, Mama Cass, for your voice. You’ve given my baby and me some very beautiful memories.

The Song Which Raises My Neck Hairs

I don’t know if it’s the intro, or the opening vocal, or just… everything, but this song makes something in me thrill. I never tire of listening to it, and I will never stop missing David Bowie. Here’s his Sound and Vision.

And, there you have it. There are ten thousand other songs I could have picked, for ten thousand other reasons, but this selection will do for now. Happy listening…


Absolute Beginners

It’s been emotional.


Fly on, little wing. Image: sjohart Artist unknown

The past week and a bit has seen my baby spend several days in hospital. The care we received – all if us, not just Junior – was impeccable, and a full recovery is imminent,  but still. If I never have to call an ambulance for my tiny child again, it will be too soon.

The picture above is one I took in Baby’s hospital room. The tiny bird reminded me of the child in the cot beneath it in better, healthier days – all wide, sparkling eyes, the mouth barely open in wonder and curiosity – and I found it hugely comforting. As kind as the nurses and doctors were, however, it was exhausting, both practically and emotionally, to maintain a bedside vigil and I was glad to be allowed home again last weekend.

I listened to ‘Lazarus’, a track from David Bowie’s latest album, on one of our trips to or from hospital. How incredible, I thought. Bowie is still a relevant, creative genius.  I loved the track. I resolved to buy the album.

And then news broke of his death.

I haven’t been so broken at a celebrity death before. Not even the loss of Terry Pratchett, who I adored, hurt as much as this. I can’t process the idea that Bowie, the chameleon, the otherworldly, the unspeakably beautiful, is dead. I prefer to think he has returned home. He will never be gone. He is part of the air now, and the night sky.

I don’t have a favourite Bowie track. I love pretty much all of them equally. (The video for ‘Let’s Dance’, however, is dearest to my heart). I wanted to share the video for ‘Absolute Beginners’, though, not only because I think it’s a fabulous song, but mostly because it was in my head a lot as I looked after my sick child.

I absolutely love you, but I’m an absolute beginner.

I am an inexperienced mother, but I hope I’m doing an OK job. ‘Absolute Beginners’ lets me know I probably am. I wish David Bowie knew how much his music and image have meant to me, and how much he has helped me just by existing and creating and showing us all how to turn our lives into art.

I loved him. I will never forget him. And my child will know all about him, in time.

Like I said. It’s been emotional.



It’s not Christmas without a bit of Bing and Bowie:

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a wish for peace, and a new year filled with hope.


I promised yesterday that I’d blog about the weather today, so here goes.  It doesn’t hurt, of course, to have a David Bowie reference (sort of) in the title of this post, either!  Any excuse for the Thin White Duke.  As I write, it’s dull outside, and the trees at the end of our garden are waving, quite pleasingly, in the breeze.  It’s a cool day out there, too – you can feel the teeth of winter starting to tighten over our little part of the world.

And I couldn’t be happier.  I love this time of year.  For a person who doesn’t deal too well with Change (Capital Ch… Ch… Ch…) I am obsessed with the times of year when the seasons begin to melt from one into another.  My favourite time of flux is this one – late summer to autumn to winter.  I spend all year looking forward to those days when you can walk out the door and be kissed with that particular, refreshing, brisk air you only get when winter’s coming, and go for long walks wrapped carefully in your woollens.  I love scrunching through piles of leaves, and not only because it makes me feel like a little girl again (but mainly, that’s the reason).  I love the colours at this time of year – the reds, oranges, yellows and golden-browns speckling the trees like a pointillist painting; the low, honey-coloured sun which seems so much brighter now than it ever did in summer; the particular slate shade of the sky.  I love the feeling that the world is beginning to pull its blanket over its head, ready for its long hibernation.  It makes me feel like everything has a cycle, and so it’s okay for me to sometimes feel tired, or in need of renewal.  Strangely, though, even though I know that nature is preparing for its time of rest, the whole world seems so alive and invigorated, to me, at this time of year.  Perhaps its the chill in the air which gets the blood moving that bit quicker – I don’t know.  I just know I can’t wait for October and November.

The love I have for this time of year might be something to do with the fact that seasonal change is completely outside of my ability to control, but it does feel as if someone is looking after the whole show.  The gradual swing from season to season is going to happen whether I like it or not, and all I can do is sit back and watch it, marvelling at how well organised the whole thing is; it’s like a perfectly controlled orchestra, whose conductor is out of sight.  Change, as manifested in the average human life, is sometimes quick, unexpected – even painful – and it can seem sometimes that no-one, and nothing, has any control over things that happen to people.  I, personally, find changes in my life very frightening, and I hate the feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen, so it soothes me to watch seasons change, knowing that it’s all unfolding just as it should.

I hope you get out in the weather today (well, those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, at least!) and take a wonderful, refreshing breath, and revel in the changes being wrought by the onset of winter.  Whatever you do, enjoy yourself.