Day 6: A song that reminds you of somewhere #30dsc

30 day challenge day 6: A song that reminds you of somewhere

WARNING! This video contains flashing images, swearing and scenes which some people may find disturbing.

Slayer—Raining Blood (live)

One summer (I guess it must have been around 1987; I thought it was 1986 but the album Reign In Blood wasn’t released until October 1986 so I guess it wasn’t) I went on a Scripture Union camp to Whitley Bay, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. We stayed in some kind of holiday accommodation attached to a church there—it might have been the Baptist Church; someone with a better memory will be able to remind me.

Anyway, out shopping in Whitley Bay one afternoon my school friend David bought the latest Slayer album Reign In Blood on 12″ vinyl. Not the kind of album that you would automatically associate with a Christian youth camp, but there you have it. We had slightly different tastes, I guess.

In the evenings, once the younger campers were safely tucked up in their bunk beds the older campers were allowed to stay up late. So we would creep down to the lounge in the basement and crank out Reign In Blood at loud volume.

What an album! 28 minutes of thrash metal. It’s an album that is still regarded by many as the thrash album and one of the most influential metal albums of all time.

To me though, that album reminds me of sitting around with my school friends Kenny, David and Warren, laughing and having fun in a church hall basement in North Tyneside.

Day 5: A song that reminds you of someone #30dsc

30 day challenge day  5: A song that reminds you of someone

Warrior Soul—The Losers

This song reminds me of not just one person but a whole community of people. It reminds me of when I worked with the Shaftesbury Society amongst young homeless people between 1995-1997; not just the homeless folks themselves but the staff too.

Here are the lyrics up to and including the first chorus:

Have you ever wanted
To be someone you’re not
But you look into the world
And you see what you’ve got

There’s nothin’ there
But brains and guts
Finally open the door
And then it shuts

Look to the centre
And I’ll think you’ll find
The people that are gettin’
They are blind

You changed the channel
And there’s nothin’ there
You weren’t born pretty
And it isn’t fair…

Here’s to the losers
The substance abusers
To the rejects
All the imperfects

‘Cause I think we’re beautiful
‘Cause I think we’re beautiful
‘Cause I think we’re beautiful
No matter what anyone says
I think we’re beautiful
The most beautiful in the world

I worked with and alongside so many beautiful people in London. Some died in the struggle (Rebecca and Jake); some ended up in prison; others have gone on to build a more stable life for themselves; many more I’ve lost touch with or whose names I’ve forgotten, but of whom I think frequently.

The paths of our lives crossed for a very short time, but I know for sure that my life was enriched by knowing them (staff and residents alike). They taught me a lot about what’s important in life, they taught me a lot about myself. I laughed and cried with them, they told me about their lives and shared my story with them.

For a good number of staff members that very intense work broke them (emotionally, physically, mentally)—including myself. I remember a particularly uncomfortable 21 days of violence in the hostel I worked in in Bermondsey. I remember a night shift where we had six police officers responding to three separate incidents, and then a fourth incident kicked off while they were still in the building.

Some of us bounced back after a week off of R’n’R. For others it’s been a longer road back to recovery.

But you know, no matter what anyone says: I think we’re beautiful, the most beautiful in the world. And I think that Jesus would tend to agree.

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.

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!