My Music Mondays

What do you do when you write? What I mean to say is are you engaged in any other activities or are you solely focussed on the words? For me, I sometimes need complete silence. I can’t even take the clicking of the keyboard. Other times I need a song playing in the background, something to ground my ideas and words. Like I said in My Music Picks: Peaky Blinders, if a picture paints a thousand words a lyric evokes a thousand images. When I’m listening to certain songs I can see entire scenes playing out before my eyes. When I reach for them, try to commit them to paper, they vanish. It’s sort of like a musical trance where my stories are made vivid and tangible by music. And as soon as the music stops so do the moving scenes. It’s weird but I can’t be the only one out there who feels this way.

Here are some of the songs I listen to when I write. I don’t always go for these songs because I go based on how I’m feeling at the moment.

Anything Radiohead works for me. This playlist is one of the only playlists I can listen to while studying.

I love Soley’s sound and lyrics. When I first heard Pretty Face I wasn’t feeling it, but like anything good she has grown on me.

I’d love to hear what you listen to for inspiration. We can compile everyone’s personal music picks into an album of creative awesomeness. Leave me a comment with your music picks and I’ll definitely give them a listen. Let me know what you think of mine too.

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Black History Month: Such Strange Fruit

I was in an Introduction to English class and my professor played this video (this is graphic, if you’d rather not watch, the lyrics to the poem written by Abel Meeropol and sung by Billie Holiday are down below).

Abel Meeropol: Strange Fruit

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

We need to reflect on how far we have come with issues of social injustice, but be critical of how far we still need to go. Discussing racism, sexism, and homophobia should not be reserved exclusively to February,  we should be outraged all twelve months of the year. Though lynching may be outlawed, stones, guns, words, gas chambers, atomic bombs, nuclear weapons and words serve the same purpose.

They told me nothing

You took me to your favourite place

To see the tree they cut down ten years before your birth.

Our fingers traced its history

We brushed our hands back in time through centuries

Memories are mapped out by lines we’ll trace;

Ashen faces in cold breeze

Tell me a piece of your history.

Speak in words you’ve picked up

As you walked through life alone

Shrugging off the dust and memory,

You ran out into the night

To see what it means to be free

Of the shackles and the dreams.

Summer evening breeze blew –

They will come for you

Standing on the cliff face

We are the last people.

At the end of the night,

In the cold morning light

They will come

The birds are mocking me, calling out your name

They pull me back.

All of your flaws lie hand in hand deep beneath the ground

Dig them up, leave a path to trace

I see in the shapes of the morning we’ve cast out

I see them sinking in, it crept up on you, crawling underneath your skin.

Oh, I hear you calling, but what is there to gain?

I won’t show my face.

They licked the walls, all that we’ve amassed – stubs, tops, backs, diaries –

Shattered into ash.

Tenderly, they turned to dust all that I adore

Many days fell away with nothing to show,

It’s been cold for years.

Oh, I read the words you used.

They told me nothing.

I wrote this poem using someone else’s words. Not one word was thought up by me. What I did do was take the lyrics from Bastille‘s album Bad Blood and rearrange the words to make this poem. There is at least one line from every song on the album in this poem. I thought it would be cool to reconfigure Bastille’s songs into a poetic narrative poem. Really, I’m just highlighting the creativity and lyricism already present in the songs. I wonder what it would sound like played…

I’m thinking about making this a feature on my blog. You should check out the album. My favourites are:

Daniel In The Den

Oblivion

Things We Lost In The Fire

and Overjoyed (I prefer the a cappella version)

My Music Picks: Peaky Blinders

If a picture paints a thousand words, a lyric evokes a thousand images.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Red Right Hand

The acting and dialogue make the show, but the poetic tunes in Peaky Blinders deserve some credit too. The theme song by Nick Cave &The Bad Seeds – Red Right Hand, is not what I expected the theme song to be. I anticipated a sadder tune, something more reminiscent of the horrors of the war, but I was wrong; this definitely works. Picture Tommy Shelby walking slowly through the streets of Birmingham, cold eyes lifeless and unfocussed, while wild eyes stare in fear from dumpsters, street corners and windows. The images that the lyrics suggest are so forceful that I can’t help but associate them with Tommy in his flat cap, crisp collar and black slicked shoes. Though only the first two minutes or so of the song are used, they are distinct and memorable.

Jack White – Love is Blindness

Not again. We’ve all heard this song used in a trailer, show or movie at some point, and it may seem overused, but that’s a testament to the greatness and versatility of this song. If a picture paints a thousand words, a lyric evokes a thousand images, precisely why this song suits so many different texts. Easily recognizable after the first few notes, the electric, new rock sound compliments the exciting season finale perfectly.

Some Other Great Peaky Blinders Tunes:

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – Martha’s Dream

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Abattoir Blues

The White Stripes – St. James Infirmary Blues

The White Stripes – I Fought Piranhas

The Raconteurs – Blue Veins

Tom Waits – Time

Dan Auerbach – The Prowl

Final Thoughts: I could write a novel on each song, but I won’t, this post would never get published. You need to check out the entire soundtrack, for you will thank me when you do. You’re welcome. Head to BBC, they have all the tracks listed by the episodes they appear in.

What are your favourite tracks from the show? Does it annoy you when you hear different sources using the same tunes? Do you automatically compare the succeeding uses to the first time you heard the tune used in a text?

For the Addicts: The first step to recovery is admiting you have a problem – or not

I am Bernice and I have a problem. I love music, books, writing, art, TV shows and films; they occupy an ungodly amount of my fulltime-university-student-schedule. I, however, feel no need to correct this problem. I rather like spending whole days engrossed in novels or immersed in shows. In fact, I don’t feel like going down the road to recovery, indulging faults is sometimes better than suppressing desires.

To all those out there with similar problems, I propose we start a cyber-support group. We won’t have check-ins or chastisements of relapses – the worse your addiction, the better suited you are to my cause. Meetings will be held every Monday and Thursday, or whenever else we feel the need to do so. No need to feel pressured to commit to weekly sessions, for drop-ins are always welcomed. We won’t ask why you love the books and music you do. All the crazies, normals, eccentrics and problematic are welcome. We’ll be there for each other, when for whatever reason we relapse and decide that the arts aren’t worth it, and that our “problem” is actually a problem.

Here, we will discuss without fears our favourite authors, musicians and directors. Here, we will ensure that after every post, comment, and discussion our chances of successful rehabilitation are diminished. Here, we shall remain hooked on the things that compel us, regardless of however “backwords” they seem.