Day 4: A song that makes you sad #30dsc

30 day song challenge day 4: A song that makes you sad

Peter Gabriel—Father, Son

(I wanted to embed the official video but wasn’t able to; you can watch it on YouTube.)

I love this song but it always brings tears to my eyes when I listen to it.

It was written by Peter Gabriel about his father Ralph while on a weekend-long yoga trip. These are the lyrics:

Father, son
Locked as one
In this empty room
Spine against spine
Yours against mine
Till the warmth comes through

Remember the breakwaters down by the waves
I first found my courage
Knowing daddy could save
I could hold back the tide
With my dad by my side

Dogs, plows and bows
We move through each pose
Struggling in our seperate ways
Mantras and hymns
Unfolding limbs
Looking for release through the pain

And the yogi’s eyes are open
Looking up above
He too is dreaming of his daddy’s love
With his dad by his side
Got his dad by his side

Can you recall
How you took me to school
We couldn’t talk much at all
It’s been so many years
And now these tears
Guess I’m still a child

Out on the moors
We take a pause
See how far we have come
You’re moving quite slow
How far can we go
Father and son

With my dad by my side
With my dad by my side
Got my dad by my side
With me

What makes me sad is when I listen to this song is simply that I couldn’t enjoy a longer relationship with my own dad. He died when he was 52 years old, having had a triple sub-arachnoid brain haemorrhage at the age of 38.

I hope that I can have long and meaningful relationships with my three sons.

Day 3: A song that makes you happy #30dsc

30 day song challenge day 3: A song that makes you happy

Queen—Spread Your Wings

Another song that’s more representative of something rather than it being particularly specific. Queen was the first band that I really got into. And I really got into them. My teenage bedroom was covered from floor to ceiling (and in place including the ceiling) with Queen posters, calendars and pages cut out of magazines.

What I particularly love about this song is that it’s not one of Queen’s really famous songs, like Bicycle Race or Bohemian Rhapsody. Spread Your Wings was released as a single in 1978, the second single promoting their News of the World album, after We Are The Champions got to number 2 in the UK.  This single did rather less well climbing to ‘only’ number 34.

Anyway, Queen reminds me of growing up, and like many adolescent boys I found comfort and inspiration in their music and lyrics. I hadn’t thought about this when I chose the song for the “30 day song challenge” but this song reminds me of sitting in my bedroom wondering what my life would hold for me. The song’s chorus:

Spread your wings and fly away
Fly away, far away
Spread your little wings and fly away
Fly away, far away
Pull yourself together
‘Cos you know you should do better
That’s because you’re a free man

There have been a number of times during my life since that I’ve said something similar to myself. It reminds me of something someone said to me when I got ordained: dream dreams bigger than what you see in front of you.

Not in Comic Sans MS you can’t!


This afternoon yet another pre-Scottish Election leaflet dropped through my letterbox. It was this one (above) from the Scottish National Party entitled Fife Independent with the strap-line “Together we can make Scotland better.”

As I tweeted at the time:

SNP newsletter through the door just now. Strapline says “Together we can make Scotland better”. Not in Comic Sans you can’t! #election

I’m a firm believer that the typeface that you select for a publication helps set the tone of what you have to say.

As Alex W. White says in The Elements of Graphic Design “choosing a typeface that matches the content is important. Words are symbols of emotions and ideas that manipulate the reader” (Ibid. p. 105). He encourages the reader to “listen to type”.

The Ban Comic Sans website says much the same thing:

Like the tone of a spoken voice, the characteristics of a typeface convey meaning. The design of the typeface is, in itself, its voice. Often this voice speaks louder than the text itself. Thus when designing a “Do Not Enter” sign the use of a heavy-stroked, attention-commanding font such as Impact or Arial Black is appropriate. Typesetting such a message in Comic Sans would be ludicrous.

The history of Comic Sans MS is fascinating (if you like that sort of thing) and in many ways it is a very well-designed font, modelled on the typography used in American comic books. But that is the context in which it makes most sense to use Comic Sans MS: comic books not party political newsletters.

Because no matter how good your arguments may be, Scottish National Party, I simply cannot take you seriously if you print it in Comic Sans. That is just down-right lazy.

Day 2: Your least favourite song #30dsc

30 day song challenge day 2: Your least favourite song

Iron Maiden—The Angel and the Gambler

I’m sure there are plenty of songs that I can’t stand, I just can’t remember what they are; which is probably a good thing.

They probably have accordions in them.

With the advent of digital radio, MP3s and online music streaming services like Spotify I now get the chance to listen to what I want pretty much when I want to. I remember the first week that I moved from listening to BBC Radio 1 all the time to a randomized playlist of MP3s on my own PC. About an hour in I remember thinking to myself “Wow! I’ve liked every song they’ve played on this radio station!” And then I remembered…

Anyway, I thought I’d restrict myself to my least favourite song of the songs that I own, or at least something that is representative of it. Sadly, it’s from those stalwarts of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) Iron Maiden.

The Blaze Bayley-era of Iron Maiden is by far my least favourite. I have nothing against the guy, I just didn’t like his voice, certainly compared with Paul di’Anno and Bruce ‘Human Air Raid Siren’ Dickinson.

Largely because of his voice I just didn’t connect with the songs on the two studio albums Bayley recorded with Maiden: The X Factor (1995) and Virtual XI (1998). Firstly, I just couldn’t hear past the vocals, and secondly, I just found the music to be largely unimaginative and same-y.  Sorry guys!

Day 1: Your favourite song #30dsc

Last month I noticed that some folks were blogging and—if indeed this is a verb—Facebooking a 30 day song challenge: 30 days, 30 songs, 30 different reasons.

I decided that after Lent was over I’d give it a go, so why not start on the first day of a new month?

30 day song challenge day 1: Your favourite song

Opeth—Reverie/Harlequin Forest

My favourite song? Now that’s a difficult one. It depends on the time of day, on my mood, on what else is going on. So I decided to employ some science and called on my charts to give me a clue.

Whenever I listen to music on my PC or laptop my MP3 player faithfully informs what I’ve just played. Surely my favourite track would also be the one that I’ve played most often. It would appear not.

My most played track, tells me, is “Mouth for War” by Pantera, my second most played track is “Ghost of Perdition” by Opeth.

But that got me thinking: I know what my favourite track is. It is currently joint 39th on my chart, a song also by Opeth, from their 2005 album Ghost Reveries called “Reverie/Harlequin Forest”.

This song has everything in it that I love about music: loud-quiet, soft-heavy, melodic-noise, clean vocals-death metal grunts and the most fabulous outro to any song that I’ve heard. I love this song.