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!

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.

My … brings all the boys to the yard

In 2003 Kelis had a hit single with the song “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard”. To be honest, I had to look up who sang it and when, I’ve just heard it on the electric radiogram once or twice.

But I got to wondering this week about how Kelis (whoever she is) came up with the lyrics.

Did she know from the start of the writing process, for example, that it was always going to be a milkshake that was most attractive to the boys, to lure them to her garden.

Milkshake? Why milkshake in particular?

Was there a point in the development of that single that the lyrics went something like:

My yoghurt cream cheese brings a boy to the yard.

Dairy preparey

Maybe to prepare for the writing of that song Kelis popped her shoes and coat on and travelled down to her local supermarket and made a list of all the diary products that she could possibly include and wrote them in her lyrics ideas notebook.

I imagine that since she’s American it’s unlikely that she walked to the shops, she probably drove to the store in her enormous gas-guzzling SUV or station wagon.

She probably had fun doing that. It’s always fun doing research-related taxonomy exercises. I imagine that her initial list might have looked something like:

  • butter
  • cheese
  • cream
  • crème fraîche (technically in the cream category but I like writing French characters)
  • curd
  • milk
  • yoghurt

My crème fraîche brings one or two adolescents to the playground.

She might also have listed cheese by brand. Or type. She might also have sub-categorised the cheeses into, for example, soft and hard cheeses. Cottage cheese would have been on the list, for sure.

My curd brings all the boys to the yard.


Perhaps by this point she’d decided that it was definitely boys that she wished to attract and multiple ones at that. And that rather than her garden it was to the yard that she’d lure them. Perhaps the yard has better protection from the sun. Maybe that’s where the barbeque was.

As it turns out that might have been a bit of a waste of time, as we all know she steered away from the whole cheese end of dairy towards fruit syrup infused milk products. However, she may use those ideas in another song. Sometime in the future. Maybe.

Maybe there will be a whole album of dairy-related songs. It might just be an EP.


Maybe every day she’d put out a different diary product in her yard each day and just sit and watch. Like feeding the birds. But blokes. Waiting to see which would attract them.

If it was a warm day then it’s likely that the butter would have melted. That’s not attractive.

Cream goes off too, pretty quickly in the sun. Kelis’s lawyers maybe had a thing to say about their health and safety concerns on this matter.

Perhaps she got lucky. Perhaps the milkshake was made with UHT milk. That stuff keeps for … like ages.

But luck or no, it helped her write a truly classic and deeply meaningful song, that I think has probably touched the lives of millions.

It’s a truly beautiful thing.