Category

MUSIC

Category

I’ve been watching and listening to Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ over and over and over recently. 

It was released 4 years ago in 2014. But it’s only this year that I listened to it properly and watched the official video.

Over and over and over.

Perfection.

It’s such a strong melody and structure.

The production is brilliant.

The drumming is interesting and diverse and clever.

Sia’s voice is mesmerising. The perfection and the imperfection.

The dancer in the official video, an 11 year old Maddie mixes up clumsy (apparent) improvisation with  beautifully graceful and skilful moves.

The lyrical story is about the excesses of drinking and drug taking – and the loneliness and desperation this can bring.

The live performances are just as lovely because they mirror the video and allow us to explore precision and imprecision and how important it is to have both in order to make this song special.

And then there’s the weirdness of Sia not facing the camera as she sings and Maddie, aged 11, wearing a full body nude suit.

Perfectly imperfect. 

I don’t like things that are too polished and fixed and predictable.

I find that quite boring.

I like unpredictable, adventurous and exciting things with character and story and meaning. I get hungry for this kind of thing and these kinds of people.

I hope it rubs off.

And that I can create something amazing in 15 minutes of my life some day.*

I’ll keep trying.

*It took Sia 4 minutes to pick the chords and the melody, and 15 minutes to write the lyrics.

One of my first memories of being in a position of power and responsibility was when I worked in Boots the Chemist.

In Derby.

I was 16.

Erasure.

Now this is impressive…

I was allowed to choose whatever tape I wanted, to play in the store.

Over their PA system.

I was a ‘Saturday boy’ and worked on ‘Sound and Vision’.

I could chose any tape in the whole wide world.

As long as it was in the top 30 in the charts of course.

So I did.

For a good while I chose Erasure.

(My gaydar was awful, you know. I didn’t notice any gayness. I’m just as bad these days most of the time).

‘A Little Respect’ is at the foot of this story at the website version. It’s great.

Giggle. 

I am mentioning this to remind me to calm down a bit, about business and about life.

As stakes get higher at Always Wear Red, as we grow a little bit and start to see some good things on the horizon, I can sense that I may get a little more nervous.

And this may make me a little more serious.

If that happens we will lose some of what has gotten us this far.

So I do need to remember to have fun.

Because as well as building a team of world-beaters, I need the young blood too.

The newbies.

The up-and-comers.

Those that will love to get the important day-to-day tasks done. They won’t be choosing the new items to invest in in our collection. Or how many to order. Or whether to accept investment from this person or that person.

That’s my job.

They may do these things the future of course but, for now, I must remember to let them have a giggle.

And to feel the almighty rush of adrenaline that comes from choosing the music in the studio.

Here’s Erasure.

Merry Christmas.

OK you need to pop to 50odd.co.uk for this short story. And you’ll need sound.

Memories.

I heard this tune this week.

For the first time in years. It brought back memories.

But it did take me a few days to work out where I first heard it.

When I remembered, and looked it up, I was hooked (again) on the little film that goes with it.

Which One Are You?

So, when you watch it, what I’d like you to do is to pick.

I’d like you to pick which one is, or was, or maybe still is – you. Let me know in the comments.

This makes me smile. Especially with sound.

PS I’m the guy in the red shirt. But I wish I was as cool as Snoopy.

 

In the image alongside this short story at www.50odd.co.uk, I’d just eaten the best scrambled eggs I’d ever had. This image was taken last Sunday morning. Take a look.

The scrambled eggs were cooked by a genuinely superb chef, Pete, at his house. And I was eating them with new friends.

Scrambled Eggs

As I put my knife and fork down at the end of breakfast, I paused and glanced across the table.

Pete, who I will now introduce, was sat to my left. Pete has led and innovated at numerous restaurants and was also the lead singer in a band called The Toy Dolls. When I met up with Pete in the pub the night before he was with Dave. Dave played guitar in The Kane Gang and Prefab Sprout. I chatted to Dave’s wife about cats.

Also in the photograph are Geoff and Josh, two American guys from a band called Paris Monster. We’d met them for the first time the night before. Geoff and Josh are part way through a world tour. Out of shot are Christian, Paris Monster’s tour manager, Sarah (Pete’s wife) and Lisa and Izobel – my family.

After breakfast, we all played records from Pete’s collection of about 5,000 records, drank coffee and chased dogs.

How We Got Here

This is how we got here:

  1. I left a job that dulled me. That weighed heavy. A job that was keeping me from becoming all I could be.
  2. I started a brand I was happy doing (Always Wear Red – clothing brand) but made no money at all and I worried about (just about) everything.
  3. I wanted to do a ‘Kes’ (Ken Loach, 1969) homage fashion photoshoot so tracked down David Bradley, the guy that played Billy Casper in the film ‘Kes’ 50 years ago and did it. And I hosted an event so people could meet this amazing BAFTA winning actor.
  4. Pete Zulu (Toy Dolls chap) was in the audience that day and took my photo and sent it to me. I met Pete. We became friends.
  5. I wanted to learn about fashion from the best so I somehow ended up with a hero of mine, Howies and Huit Jeans Co-founder David Hieatt and his brilliant wife and Co-founder Claire Hieatt at their house in Wales. That’s where I met a guy called Christian, a fan of a band called Paris Monster.
  6. Christian explained how he had called Paris Monster and asked why there was no UK leg to their world tour in 2018. They said they hadn’t really thought about it. Christian offered to organise it. Paris Monster said yes.
  7. Christian told me there was a Newcastle leg on the UK tour. I said they could all stay at my house if they wanted. Christian said yes.
  8. Last Saturday, Pete Zulu and I went to see Paris Monster in Newcastle. Pete invited us all for breakfast the following day. Then Paris Monster (Geoff and Josh) and Christian (UK tour manager) stayed at my house.
  9. The following morning, Pete made scrambled eggs.

It was a great weekend.

And as I popped my knife and fork down and scanned the room, I wondered how all of this happened.

And it was then I remembered.

I did number 1 on the list above.

 

These days that you and I are living right now – these are The Good Old Days. 

They will be one day. So why not today? Every other time that you’ve referred to moments in time as the good old days, at the time they were happening you weren’t so sure.

As I write this it’s 11.50pm on a night that I should be with my family. I am tired and alone in my little office in the middle of Newcastle.

And it’s cold.

The Good Old Days

I have just asked Alexa to play “Don’t Worry Baby” by The Beach Boys and she’s now playing me a version that the Beach Boys recorded with The London Philharmonic Orchestra.

I didn’t know they’d done that.

Thank you!

Next, I am going to ask her for the entire Grace album by Jeff Buckley. And I will ask her to play ‘Lover You Should Have Come Over’ – twice.

I have an excellent coffee to my right, and Lisa is waiting for me at home. I won’t be home until the early hours because I have to get things done for two key meetings tomorrow.

I am lucky to have these two meetings.

These are The Good Old Days. 

Next week I will be talking to a global brand about a collaboration. I’m a tiny brand. And new. I may mess up the meeting. They may laugh.

These are The Good Old Days, for me to have such opportunities.

And I need to work out how to raise profile for my luxury clothing brand with a non-existent budget. No one will appreciate how amazing we are if I don’t tell them now, will they?

The Good Old Days

Whilst pondering how to grow the business, with so much to learn and so little to spend, I am now listening to Jeff Buckley sing:

“Looking out the door
I see the rain fall upon the funeral mourners
Parading in a wake of sad relations
As their shoes fill up with water.”

I can hear what he is singing and actually fecking SEE what he is singing, as well.

Beautiful.

The Good Old Days

Here’s Mr. Buckley (pop to www.50odd.co.uk to listen if you are reading this in your email).

Welcome to the good old days. I hope you can find the amazing in yours, too.

It’s there – if you look for it.

This story is best read at the 50odd website, not by daily email (as some do).

Two things.

First, I sometimes hold back from giving my absolute all to what I do. Because of being judged. What might people think? About what I look like or sound like. Or what I am doing. What might they read into it?

Is this holding me and other people back from creating the most timelessly beautiful things I can?

Yes. I need to work on this.

Second, I don’t want to die. But I know I will. I don’t know how to express my fear and concern about this.

Hope There’s Someone

This song, by Antony and The Johnsons is timelessly beautiful. And expresses better than anything I’ve ever said, how I feel about dying. It addresses both of my aforementioned issues, in one.

If this is the first time you’ve heard this artist – I hope you love what they do.

Oh I’m scared of the middle place
Between light and nowhere
I don’t want to be the one
Left in there, left in there

A Stunning Hour:

So what did you do today?

One day last week I was with John Miles in the best pub in the North East of England, The Black Horse in East Boldon.

He was telling me about a song he wrote, called Music (was my first love). In the video you can link to from the 50odd website John is playing it to about 150,000 people in (I think) Germany.

He wrote it in 40 minutes. In a hotel room. The guy he normally wrote songs with was in the car outside. That’s bugged him a bit ever since, apparently.

Tina

John was telling me about the first time he met Tina Turner. Before she eventually chose him to be his Director of Music…

Elton

… And how Elton John stormed out of one practice session because Tina asked John to show Elton how to play one of her songs ‘properly’.

Elton John didn’t like that.

Suzanne and Seal

When I met John last week  he was resting for a week or two before buzzing off to play in Europe with Suzanne Vega and Seal and a few others, I think.

Ask 

I was sat listening to such an incredible and friendly and humble and brilliant man for two reasons:

  1. I’ve created a project for my Always Wear Red brand called PIONEERS. It celebrates what I think are the most pioneering people in the North of England. John lives near East Boldon (just outside of Newcastle upon Tyne, England). AWR customers are pioneering you see, confident people or people that value confidence highly, so that’s the connection.
  2. I asked John if we could take his picture.

That was it.

I suppose I’m writing this because, if ever you find yourself stuck having shitty days, there is something you can do about it.

If you want to that is.

Make better ones.

The question I am about to pose… I wonder if you have ever asked yourself this?

It is definitely something you’ll have a view on.

I also think that you may come up with an immediate answer, and then have a battle with yourself about whether your gut-response is in fact right for you.

You’ll probably do that scrunched-up-face thing as you think.

My question is:

What song has the best opening lines?

Please comment on this below if you don’t mind. I am interested. It’s not necessarily the best song you know. And it’s very personal to you.

The words will hook you in every time though. And make you feel something.

For me it’s Kinky Afro, the Happy Mondays 1990 tune:

Son, I’m 30
I only went with your mother cos she’s dirty
And I don’t have a decent bone in me
What you get is just what you see yeah

I was 22 in October 1990 when it was released. I’d recently graduated. It always makes me smile.

It makes me think of my birth city – Manchester – and all the madness I didn’t see because I left when I was 13. I missed, and was probably a bit young for, the Hacienda days.  The drugs and the crazy times.

I wish I had seen it all. I may be a bit cooler if I had. But then again as I am quite an obsessive guy I may never have recovered.

Swagger

I like the swagger and the confidence of the lyric. Or my interpretation of the lyric.

I like that he’s speaking his mind too. Cheeky and raw. Unmeasured.

Apparently the song was conceived on the back of two weeks of smoking opium. I tend to stick to freshly ground coffee for my highs these days. It is, I hope, marginally safer.

Anyhow. Let me know yours please. And why.

PS For the real music geeks out there, you could argue that the first line of this song is, ‘You go spooky in a band’ – because that’s what Shaun Ryder says quietly at the beginning. Either way. It’s all very cool.

Listen here (visit www.50odd.co.uk if you are reading this in your email):

Image: Paul Husband

I was quite annoyed at Thom Yorke this morning. 

I had a beautiful little phrase in my head when I woke up at 5am. A phrase that made me feel calm and happy. (It’s quite a judgemental little phrase by the way, but it made me feel brilliant and not at all oppressed).

This phrase made me feel good about myself. About my creativity, ambition and sense of adventure.

This four word phrase also reminded me that being ‘wrong’ in many people’s eyes is all part of the game we are playing. We should embrace this second point wholeheartedly.

In fact, if we are palatable to everyone we are definitely, definitely doing something terribly wrong.

Thom Yorke

Anyhow, the phrase is:

Dreamers. They Never Learn.

There is probably a proper name for something like this. A thing that was designed to be an insult but ends up being a compliment.

What is it that we are supposed to learn, exactly? That life is not for dreaming? That’s like saying life is not for living. Living is dreaming.

Every time I read it I can see the kind of person that says this. And the kind of person it is said to.

Thank feck I am the latter.

Oh, and the reason I am annoyed at Thom Yorke is because it’s not my phrase, it’s his. The beautiful song and video from which the lyric comes (it’s the first line) is called Daydreaming.

If you are reading this in your email, go to 50odd.co.uk to watch and listen. If you’re at 50odd.co.uk already, it’s below.

The same things mean different things as time passes.

Terence Trent D’Arby was, to me, a daunting man when he released is first album ‘Hardline’ on the 13th of July 1987.

It was two weeks before my 19th birthday and whilst I was managing skinniness, a mullet and an awkwardness that left me dumb, wide eyed, dry-mouthed and tomato-red when a girl asked me the time (no mobiles back then) – he had it made.

Terence Trent D’Arby was tall, statuesque, dark skinned, beautiful, didn’t give a shit, had an amazing voice, wrote music, played instruments, danced, had brave hair and (this was just too much) was a former boxer.

He was clearly just out to steal everyone’s girlfriend. He was so impressive that I was determined not to be impressed by him. So I didn’t buy his album. (Although 1 million other people did. In 3 days).

I hoped that he’d just go away. And eventually, as happens with almost all of these people, he did.

Hello again

Terence Trent D’Arby came back into my life four years ago when the great George Michael covered one of his songs on his Symphonica tour. I went to see George Michael. He was amazing and I really didn’t want him to ‘just go away’.

But a year later, he did.

“Let Her Down Easy” was written by Terence Trent D’Arby for his 1993 album, Symphony or Damn. It reached 18 in the UK charts. It pretty much passed me by in 1993.

Terence Trent D’Arby was an awful threat when I was 18 and I knew very little. Now I am 50 (and still know very little) I do know what it feels like to have a daughter and I do appreciate Terence Trent D’Arby as the obvious talent he is.

As this 1993 song is a song that Terence Trent D’Arby wrote as a message to his daughter’s first boyfriend, it has – now that I am older – not passed me by. If you have daughters, you’ll know what I mean.

The same things mean different things as time passes.

Let Her Down Easy. Terence Trent D’Arby. 1993.

Let Her Down Easy. George Michael. 2014.