Daily Question ~ Time Travel

Woodstock

 

What event in history do you wish you could have witnessed, and why?

This is such a great prompt. It’s hard to decide what to choose, though, as there are so many things I would like to have seen. Woodstock, for example. I would love to have been at Woodstock, with flowers in my hair and love in my bones. In fact, I would have loved to live through the 60s, in general. The hope that was contained in that one decade. Antibiotics were the new wonder drug. People started to believe they could live for ever. The pill became available, making love much freer. Medical possibilities were endless. Music filled the air with the sound of happiness. The Beatles, I would love to have seen The Beatles. Peace and love. I could have been a hippy.

When I think about it, most of the things I would like to have witnessed are music related. I’ve always thought it must have been an electric time when dance halls first filled with the sounds of Bill Haley and rock ‘n’ roll. Until he arrived in the UK, easy listening was as exciting as music got. Elvis. Oh my wow. I can only imagine the thrill of seeing him gyrate up close and personal.

Aside from music, I would love to have been part of the Bloomsbury Press. To discuss writing with the likes of Virginia Woolf would have been incredible. A little scary, I imagine, but so interesting. 

None of these are big events in history. Rather, they are times in history. If I’m more specific, I would love to go back to the early 1800s, just for a few days. Not because of any big event that took place then, but because I would like to witness the poker game in which my 3 x Great Grandfather lost the family farm and all his employees. I would love to have seen the conversation with his wife when he gave her the bad news!

 

A Childhood Memory

The mental health writing group I’m part of gave the prompt to write about a childhood memory. I tried to keep it happy. It was hard.

 

childhood-memories1

 

Should be simple, right? But, as of right now, I have no idea what I’m going to write about. I’m hoping something will come to me as I type. You see, this prompt (or, a similar one, at least) came up a couple of months ago in something else, and I discovered I don’t have memories from childhood. Except for the nightmares I have pretty much every night and the flashbacks every day. But I’m not going to write about any of those. I want to write about something normal.

And so, I struggle. It’s the strangest thing. I try to think about my childhood, and it’s like the part of my brain which holds the files for that part of my life is locked. Or, maybe it’s been thrown away. I’m not sure.

Okay. I’ve made myself a coffee and had a hard think about this, and I have something. Something that, actually, makes me really happy when I think about it.

I know I’ve mentioned a few times how important music and dance was to my Dad’s family. They were all singers and dancers, and I inherited the love for both. Today, music is the thing that links me back to Dad the most strongly. It’s the thing that can break me, but it’s also the thing that makes me feel loved.

So, this isn’t one specific memory of one specific event. Every Saturday night, we used to go visit my Auntie Beryl; Mum’s favourite sister. The car journey was about twenty-five minutes, and those whole twenty-five minutes were always packed with song and laughter and happiness. Dad usually let me choose the cassette tape (yes, I’m that old!) to play. Now, this is where I hold my hands up and say, “My taste in music is not cool. My taste in music is eclectic.” I guess, at the age when I used to go to Auntie Beryl’s with Mum and Dad (once I was thirteen, I opted to stay home alone and invite friends over) a lot of my musical taste was based on Dad’s tastes. I have to admit, I still like that music. I’m talking music from the 60’s, 70’s, country music. There were two cassettes I chose most often: one was a Beatles compilation and the other was a 60s compilation. On the Beatles album, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ was mine and Dad’s favourite. We always (and I mean every time we listened) discussed how sad the song is. It felt like it was really important. It connected Dad and me with a fine lasso. The song from the 60’s album that caught me was ‘Those Were The Days’ by Mary Hopkin. Again, we discussed the meaning every week. Dad would talk about how I should’t waste my youth because it would be gone far too quickly, and you can never get it back. He always had this wistfulness in his voice. It’s weird how I understood that; even when I was only, like, six or seven. I already felt like I’d wasted too much time feeling unhappy, and I was terrified that life would only get worse from there. I feel so sad when I hear that song today because my youth has gone. I did waste it.

Ahh, nuts! I meant to keep it happy. Despite what I’ve written above, we did sing along to all the cool songs. Like ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia.’ That was one of our favourites. I still love it today. Those car journeys were special, bonding time. What I wouldn’t give to be in the car, singing along to Johnny Cash and Dusty Springfield.

Right, now I’ve started to write about a memory, I’m going to continue. Once we got to Auntie Beryl’s, I always had a great time. Mostly, because I was away from home, and away from my grandfather and my bedroom. My two cousins, who are both older than me, used to play with me. They had a huge garden with lots of places to hide and build dens. I loved going there. But the crowning glory for me was the dart board they had in their hallway. I loved playing darts every week. I don’t know why because it’s not exactly an exciting game, but I always looked forward to it. And then, there was the ice cream. Every week, Auntie Beryl gave us a Pzazz ice cream. I don’t think they sell them any more, but they were delicious.

On the way home, Dad would start by singing his own, local songs that he and his family used to sing in pubs and clubs. They were, mostly, really depressing, and I remember feeling sad when he sang them. But they were beautiful, too, and his voice was rich and lovely. He sang some funny, slightly rude, songs too, and I remember Mum tapping his arm more than once and telling him to stop.

It may not sound like much, but these moments are among the happiest of my life. Yeah. So, there is my memory.

Lyrics Mean So Much

Through the month of February, I’ve been taking part in a mental health writing challenge. Every day, we have a different question to answer or topic to discuss. I thought I would share today’s with you because it relates to some of my favourite music.

Write about a favourite book quote, movie quote, or lyric that relates to mental illness.

Just one? Nope. Can’t do it. Too many song lyrics come to mind, and then Holly Golightly saying, “The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible … Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s.”

The mean reds. Depression. This part of the movie always makes the hairs on the back of my arm stand up. This point, where we really see how vulnerable this young woman is, mesmerises me every time I see it. She knows something about how it feels to be in my head. I know this sounds over-dramatic (bearing in mind I was a teenager the first time I saw ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’), but I felt like life had shifted over the course of the film. Something changed, and it’s never been the same since.

So, that’s my movie quote. I’ll move over to song lyrics. As I said above, lots of them are flooding my thoughts. The first is the entire song ‘Checkout Blues’ by Eels. These are the full lyrics. I want to share them all with you.

I’ve got something
Maybe I should tell you
I may check out
At any given time
Things won’t get better
Until they get much worse
Is the curse stronger than me
Or am I stronger than the curse
Everyone is scared of me
And I’m scared of me too
Never know just what I’m gonna do
Heads up, kittens
Everything is bad
The sky is dark now
But it’s the best dark I ever had
Hang on to a little thing
And let it guide the way
Bring it with you to
Another day
I’ve got something
Maybe I should tell you
I’m hanging on here
And I’m really gonna try
Things won’t get better
Until they get much worse
Am I stronger than the curse

I love how the song deals with suicidal ideations which are such a huge part of depression for many people. I remember hearing the lines, “Is the curse stronger than me, or am I stronger than the curse?” and thinking, yeah. I thought about that question over and over, and if I’m honest, I still don’t know the answer. Who knows what could happen in the wrong circumstances at the wrong time. The lines, “Everyone is scared of me, and I’m scared of me too,” resonate big time with me. I mean, people aren’t scared of me because I’m scary, but when I’m really ill, they’re scared of what I might do. As am I. So, yeah. This song. Just . . . this song.

Another song that pretty much breaks my heart every time I hear it is ‘Irvine’ by Kelly Clarkson. She says she wrote it on a bathroom floor at a gig in Irvine, CA. She had reached the limit of what she could take and wrote this as a kind of prayer to God, feeling he was the only person who could help her. Here are the lyrics:

Are you there?
Are you watching me?
As I lie here on this floor
They say you feel what I do
They say you’re here every moment
Will you stay?
Stay ’till the darkness leaves
Stay here with me
I know you’re busy, I know I’m just one
But you might be the only one who sees me
The only one to save me

Why is it so hard?
Why can’t you just take me?
I don’t have much to go
Before I fade completely

Can you feel how cold I am?
Do you cry as I do?
Are you lonely up there all by yourself?
Like I have felt all my life
The only one to save mine

How are you so strong?
What’s it like to feel so free?
Your heart is really something
Your love, a complete mystery to me

Are you there watching me?
As I lie here on this floor
Do you cry, do you cry with me?
Cry with me tonight

Are you there?
Are you watching me?

When I first heard this song, it was not long after Dad died. So, although, the song is clearly about God, I always thought about Dad when I heard it. I pictured him looking down and begged him to come and take me, over and over. He never answered. I can really relate to the feeling of being slumped on the floor, with nothing around you feeling real, but everything feeling painful. It’s a wonderful description of the despair we feel when depressed. The lines, “I don’t have much to go before I fade completely,” bring a lump to my throat. That point where you no longer care what happens to you as caring takes too much energy. It’s so sad. Also, the lines, “Are you lonely up there all by yourself, like I have felt all my life.” Yep. I totally get that. The whole song is haunting. Her voice sounds like she’s pleading for help. It’s just beautiful.

One more song that deals with the subject of depression. ‘Weather Channel’ by Sheryl Crow. There are actually a few of Sheryl’s songs I could have linked. She has suffered depression previously, and she has managed to focus her experiences into a lot of songs. I chose this one because it’s another that I listened to and knew straight away we shared some of the same feelings. I listened to the album this song comes from a lot at a very dark time in my life. I love the image of the black dog growling at her to “get to running.” She knows depression is coming for her again. The way she pleads, “Can you make it better for me, Can you make me see the light of day?” is heartbreaking. I remember listening to this in my car, tears streaking my cheeks, and thinking, Please, make it better for me. I couldn’t listen to this song without crying for a long time.

Sunny morning
You can hear it
Siren’s warning
There is weather on both sides
And I know it’s coming
Just like before
There’s a black dog
That scratches my door
He’s been growling my name saying
You better get to running
Can you make it better for me
Can you make me see the light of day
Because I got no one
Who will bring me a
Big umbrella
So I’m watching the weather channel
And waiting for the storm
It’s just sugar
Just a pill to make me happy
I know it may not fix the hinges
But at least the door has stopped it’s creaking
I got friends
They’re waiting for me to comb out my hair
Come outside and join the human race
But I don’t feel so human
Can you make it better for me
Can you make me see the light of day
Because I got lab coats
Who will bring me a panacea
While I’m watching the weather channel
Waiting for the storm
You won’t want me
Hanging around the birthday pony
Even though it’s just a game
You know we are the same
But you’re the better faker

 

 

There are (probably) hundreds more songs I could mention on this topic. I’m definitely drawn to songs with lyrics I can relate to. But, for now, these will have to do.

Karen

This poem is one I wrote when I was about seventeen/eighteen. I haven’t read it for a long time, but I set my iPod to random shuffle this morning, and Karen Carpenter’s beautiful voice came through my headphones, singing ‘Rainy Days & Mondays.’ It sent me on a trip along memory lane, and I dug out this old poem. (I realise admitting to this makes me sound like I had a really dull childhood. But it wasn’t. Honest!)

 

karen-carpenter-drumming--735x413

 

Karen

 

She pauses beside the curtain,
hiding from the sea of adoring fans,
heart in her chest, she reflects its rhythm,
“I can I can I can.”
Her brother is at the piano,
already playing out the tune which heralds
her entrance
she sighs; this was never her plan,
but her painted-on-smile
looks authentic to those expecting so much from her.
Her cue is the music,
steps bouncing with energy
follow its course, but the
lights—oh, the lights—
are blinding, scrutinising every inch of her
grotesque body . . .
the one the critics called chubby.
The piano grows insistent, and she opens her mouth
to lull the audience with
her rich voice, seeped in pain;
she assures the crowd
they have only just begun,
and in that moment, there is no one else in the
whole auditorium,
it’s her and the music;
the way it used to be
before they were famous,
in the time when it was her brother who held all the talent
and she, merely the drummer,
tapping out rhythms on pots and pans,
in awe of the revered sibling.

I regret being born too late to see her perform live;
by the time I was old enough to understand that voice,
she had already suffered too much
at the hands of those who should have
protected her, put her first.
When I see her waif-like figure,
tiny in the middle of the stage,
I can only imagine how
terrifying
that must have been
for one so utterly aware of herself,
for one who never believed in herself.
In the beginning, her dark eyes sparkled,
as she sat behind her beloved drums,
jamming with her brother and his friends,
but the business decision came to
push her centre stage;
people wanted to see the girl with the golden voice,
so her fate was sealed
because success was paramount,
and she, the pawn who could achieve it.
In her last years, the sparkle vacated her eyes,
but the music—faultless—never ceased to flow,
it was the one thing keeping her alive,
but also the beast that slashed at her heels,
and on a cold February morning,
her bag-of-bones body shivered into its last deep sleep.
Found by her mother,
the whole world became darker,
but she rests now, finally she rests,
albeit, in agonising peace.

Impromptu Contest

My prompt for today was to write a piece of flash fiction containing as many names of US sitcoms from the 80s and 90s as possible. Quite a task! Very enjoyable. So, I’m going to share with you my writing. It occurred to me I could make a little contest out of this.

The contest is to read it and reply to this post with how many titles you think I’ve included.

You have until midday GMT tomorrow (so, 24 hours from now), and the person who guesses right (or nearest to right) gets to feature a poem or piece of their writing on my blog. How does that sound?

If lots of people guess correctly, I’ll feature all of you. It will be wonderful to be able to share some of the talented people I’ve met through blogging.

So. Here is my story:

The Memory Chest

treasure-pirate-chest

 

Emptying my mother’s house is harder than I anticipated. This intricate little box incites butterflies to float and dance in my stomach. The box, which is shaped like a pirate’s chest, is a deep plum purple and decorated with tiny green rhinestones and cut-out silver spoons. Mum was obsessed with spoons. I have already taken five complete sets to charity shops. I kept her favourite for myself. On top of the chest, Mum has written “Small Wonder”, her nickname given to me following my miraculous, if somewhat arduous, fifteen hour birth. It is a perfect title for the snippets of life I find inside. I lift the lid to a plethora of old photographs, newspaper cuttings, and letters.

The photographs are bound together with a length of purple lace so dark it reminds me of aubergines. I smile without trying when I see the first picture. It is taken at our old house, 227, Benson Road. Three girls, as yet untainted by the traumas of adulthood, smile awkwardly at the camera. On the reverse, Mum has written “Roseanne, Kate & Allie”, 1989. My smile falters when I look at the background scene. I see the looming figure of Mr Belvedere, our creepy next door neighbour. I could never understand how he made a living out of driving a taxi. He smelt of mildew and feet and was always watching us from his garden. One time, I ran straight into him when I was late for the school bus. I got to see his (not so) lazy eye study me carefully. It was too close for comfort. I was happy when we moved to our new house on Alf Tyler Street. Our new neighbours, The Jeffersons, were much less intimidating and, as far as I know, they never once smelled of feet.

I dig deeper into the chest and find my mother has lovingly documented every stage of my growing pains; all my happy days. There is a newspaper cutting, which evokes the fondest feelings inside of me. The picture is of my two friends and me. This time, we are smiling with all the confidence our new-found adulthood and sexuality has brought. The heading reads, “Three’s Company For This Homegrown All Girl Group” and underneath, the article continues, “The Golden Girls of Tucson land their first top ten hit.” Not just our first, but our only hit. I read the whole article, which gushes huge helpings of praise onto Saved By The Bell, a decidedly average song which, somehow, made it to Number 6 on the Billboard Chart. Mum almost burst from her pride in me. It was a magical time, a different world to the one I inhabit now.

Today, I am married … with children. Three children, they are my world and I am a full time mother to them. My life is still full of cheers. My full house of loved ones is more rewarding than all the bright lights and fame in the world.

Even so, I think I’ll keep this treasure trove of memories. When they are old enough, I will show it to my children. Maybe I’ll create my own box and fill it with my new beautiful family ties.

Perfect

Just a quickie post today. I’m sharing my Soundtrack song, which is ‘Perfect’ by Alanis Morrisette.

 

This song is taken from the 1995 album ‘Jagged Little Pill.’ Which is my favourite album of all time, and I could have shared any of the songs from it today. This one, though, always brings a lump to my throat.

The album reached me at a time when I really needed to know that women are allowed to get angry about the way they’ve been treated. I needed strong female figures who weren’t perfect, subservient doormats, and this album gave me that in spades. I loved (and still do love) Alanis Morrisette’s balls. I love her honesty and her uniqueness. The only other artist I can ever compare her to is Bob Dylan. I know, I know. Nobody ever gets that analogy. But, they are both incredible musicians who write songs that are “wordy” and honest. Both of them have slightly unusual voices, both of them appear fearless in expressing their views. Both of them, I love.

I chose this song because it’s one of those that the moment I heard it, I felt it could have been written about me. Every inch of it seemed to be talking about my relationship with my Dad. The line that really gets to me is where she (almost) screams, “Why are you crying?” God, the amount of times I heard that as a kid. This song understood me, and I understood it. I discovered it at just the right time: a time when I had the chance to get away. A chance for a clean break. Of course, the best laid plans, and all that jazz . . .

Just

This is my song for the Soundtrack of My Life today. It’s a little (okay, a lot) more depressing than my previous picks, but that’s how it goes, right? I really recommend watching the video to the end. It’s fascinating.

 

JUST by RADIOHEAD

 

 

I have been a fan of Radiohead ever since I first heard Thom Yorke wailing his way through ‘Creep.’ I bought the album ‘Pablo Honey’ and loved it. So, when the album this song was taken from came out, I bought it straight away. ‘The Bends’ came out in 1995, and to this day it’s one of my all-time favourites.

I could have chosen any song from this album because they are all fantastic. This one isn’t my favourite (that would be the title hit, ‘The Bends’) but the video for this song is brilliant. I love the mystery. I love the way the viewer is hooked into the man’s story. It’s clever and it’s different. The question, at the end, of what the man says, is a great way to end it. I’ve wondered for twenty years what it is! I’ve come to the conclusion now, though, that putting so much thought into it is kinda the point the band are making: people overthink everything because there has to be some kind of deep meaning. But, in the end, they’re wasting their lives. They will probably never get the answers they crave.

When I first listened to this album, I was at a low point in my life (one of the many!). I had been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder for the first time (although I’d been depressed forever) and this whole album spoke to me. I connected to Thom Yorke’s haunting voice and I managed to make every song a little bit about my own situation. It gave me comfort. I listened to this album non-stop, along with the Manic Street Preachers’ ‘Everything Must Go,’ which I also connected really strongly to. These two albums were like friends, in a way. They understood me. They didn’t judge me. They had been where I was. They got me through some tough times. But, that’s always how it had been for me. Music and writing kept me alive when everything else failed. The chorus is the part I related to the most:

You do it to yourself, you do
And that’s what really hurts
Is you do it to yourself, just you
You and no-one else
You do it to yourself
You do it to yourself

I can’t leave this post without saying I love the guitars in this! Apparently, Thom Yorke once said ‘Just’ became a competition between him and Johnny Greenwood to see who could fit the most chords into the song. The result: sublimity.

Walking On Sunshine

I have a tale to tell, and this time it’s filled with shame. But, also, it zings with happiness. So, why not share, eh?

WALKING ON SUNSHINE by KATRINA & THE WAVES

 

Ohh, Sunshine! This song is so 1980s, so uncool, so everything I feel I shouldn’t like. But I do. Because, in addition to all these things, it’s also fun, its also happy. It’s . . . well . . . sunshine.

The moment I hear the intro to this song, I’m happy. So, so happy. It takes me back to a time when I must have been about 16 or 17 (although it was released mid-eighties, so I would have been nine or ten). Mum was in hospital. I was home from school. It must have been school holidays. Dad always came home from work at lunch time for his main meal. He had done it since he was born, and refused to entertain the possibility of changing things up a little and eating at night. Anyway, on this particular day, I was cooking our food. I had my Sony Walkman tucked into the waist band of the long, multi-coloured, tye-dye (with fringe!) skirt. I should probably point out I was just coming out of my Goth phase and entering my hippy phase. I was so cool. Really. I wore the headphones on my head.

I like to dance as I cook, but I always try to keep it low-key, because people tend to find it a little strange when they happen upon me without warning. But, when ‘Walking On Sunshine’ began to play on this day in (let’s say) 1991, something within me broke loose. I danced frantically; jumping and kicking my heels mid-air, spinning, singing at the top of my voice. An unfamiliar feeling of happiness for no particular reason washed over me. I really let go and danced like the craziest of crazy ladies. It came to the end of the song before I saw my elderly neighbour and Dad stood in the kitchen doorway. I’ll never forget the look of puzzlement on my neighbour’s face. I think she thought she’d entered the Twilight Zone, or something. Dad just laughed. I think the scarlet colour my face turned and look of shame in my eyes really amused him. I was so embarrassed. So very embarrassed.

The story doesn’t end there. I told my two best friends about this when I next saw them. They thought it was hilarious and spent the next few years begging me (with no success) to show them my ‘Sunshine Dance.’ Choosing to retain a little dignity, I always refused. Until, that is, the three of us and another friend called Mary went on holiday to Dawlish Warren, a beautiful seaside town in Devon. One night, we decided to stay in and have a few drinks. Well, a few turned into a few more, and so on. We played tunes on the CD Player. Shell made sure ‘Walking On Sunshine’ was one of those songs. Without hesitation, I performed my routine. All four of us laughed for, what felt like, hours. It was probably only about half an hour or so. We laughed so much we cried. Our stomachs hurt by the time we finished.

I’ve never repeated the dance since, despite Shell and Nina’s attempts to make me. But the song remains a special one for us. It reminds me of happiness, just for happiness’s sake. It reminds me of a time I thought I could turn my life around. There was so much promise. I have said (perhaps, a little morbidly) I would like this song played at my funeral because I know it would make Nina and Shell smile. So that’s why I chose this song for today.

A Design For Life

I’m still soundtracking, so here is my choice for today:

A DESIGN FOR LIFE by MANIC STREET PREACHERS

 

For today’s song, I’m sharing another of my all-time favourites. This time, it’s from 1996, and it brings me pure happiness. Manic Streep Preachers come second only to The Carpenters, when we’re talking favourite bands (that’s quite an odd mix, isn’t it?). They are a Welsh trio, but they didn’t start out that way. Their fourth member—and very much the original soul of the band—was a guy called Richey Edwards. He suffered depression, anorexia, self harm. He wrote the most heartbreaking and intense lyrics. On 1st February, 1995, he disappeared. Two weeks later, his car was found in a service station near to a “popular” suicide spot on the Severn Bridge, which has led many people to believe he committed suicide. No body was ever found, although a few potential sightings of him have been reported in the following years. Personally, I’m not sure what I believe. I doubt we’ll ever know.

But, back to the song. I love the tune! The guitar playing is awesome. James Dean Bradfield’s voice is sublime. The lyrics are so clever, and they spoke to me so much as a twenty year old in search of meaning. The first time I heard that first line—”Libraries gave us power”—I was in! A lot of the Manics’ songs have class at the heart of them, and this one is no different. They are political and intelligent and make you think about their words. I love how, on the surface, Nicky Wire’s lyrics are saying the working classes drink and spend money they don’t have. Taking it on face value, you could be forgiven for thinking he’s being critical of the working class. But he isn’t. It’s where he’s from, after all. He is digging at the middle classes who still view the working class as inferior, as being proles. He’s angry that people from the working class are getting better jobs and better opportunities to work their way up, yet the middle class still look down at them. I would say that really hasn’t changed so much.

My main memory of this song, and the reason I say it is a purely happy song, is of my silver mini (name: K.C.; after Karen Carpenter) and my two best friends. We all loved this song, and often played it on a loop when out in my car. We all banged out the tune with our hands and sang at the tops of our voices. I know, that sounds really lame. But, it was 1995. They were simpler times *Laugh*. What I’m saying is, this song takes me back to K.C., Nina, and Shell. We laughed so much at our crazed drum playing. It was a time of pure happiness.

This song is more pop-y than most of the Manics’ songs. For something a little more punk (and still political because I, apparently, seem to like that) check out ‘The Masses Against The Classes.’ In fact, I’ll link that one too. It’s another of my favourites.

 

Going To A Town

Going To A Town by Rufus Wainwright

 

This is my second song choice for the Soundtrack of my Life activity.

I’m skipping forward a few years today. This song was released in 2007, and it just happens to be my favourite song of all time. That said, I was a little unsure about including it because it’s very political and has some slightly unsavoury religious undertones. But, it is also incredibly relevant to the political climate of today. Seriously, it could have been written about the current administration in the US. But it wasn’t. Rufus Wainwright wrote it at the end of the last Bush government. When asked what it is about, he says he was sick of the current government administration, and he felt America had lost a huge part of its soul.

The “town that has already been burned down,” to which he refers throughout the song, is Berlin. He actually went to Berlin to stay some time while he wrote the album from which this song is taken (‘Release The Stars.’) His theory was that places that have already experienced great loss—such as Berlin—reach a point where a single spark of change kicks off the rebuilding of a greater future. Let’s hope he’s right about that.

But, enough of the politics. That’s not the reason I love this song. I love it because it takes me back to a precious moment between my Dad and me. From the first, lonesome piano note, I am in a car, driving Dad to the hospital. He has cancer, and we know it’s rapidly catching up with him. I took him to every appointment he had. I was there for the highs and lows, and although they break my heart constantly, they are also times I cherish because I was there to share everything with him. Mum is disabled and stayed at home for most of his appointments (it was pretty hard trying to push two people in wheelchairs at once!).

So, this song. One day, on our way to the hospital, this song came on the radio (I even remember the exact piece of road). First the piano sounded, then the bass drum kicked in as Rufus started to sing, and Dad and I both reached for the volume button at exactly the same time. We didn’t speak for the duration of the song. When it finished, I stole a quick glance at him, but we were both speechless. It touched us both.

The way this song makes me feel now is nostalgic, sad, hollow, but connected to Dad. It is my favourite song. I love how it builds and builds, and the final crescendo at the end is mind-blowing. Even without the emotional connection, I would still adore it. It’s cleverly arranged (by Rufus), and the string section is brilliant. I love every part of it.