Category

MUSIC

Category

The last live act I saw was George Michael.

It was his Symphonica tour in (I think) 2012.

It was the most perfect live performance I’ve ever seen.

He opened with a song that I’d heard before, ‘Through’ – but it didn’t resonate with me until I heard it live.

It was sublime.

And I am privileged to have seen and heard him.

Here are the lyrics.

And a link to the live performance, opening the show, is below.

Is that enough?
I think it’s over
See, everything has changed
And all this hatred may just make me strong enough
To walk away
They may chase me to the ends of the earth
But I’ve got you babe
And they may strip me of the things that I’ve worked for
But I’ve had my say
So hear me now
I’ve enough of these chains
I know they’re of my making
No one else to blame for where I stand today
I’ve no memory of truth
But suddenly the audience is so cruel
So God, hey God you know why I’m through
Through
I guess it’s tough, I guess I’m older
And everything must change
But all this cruelty and money instead of love
People, have we no shame?
They may chase me to the ends of the earth
But I’ve got you babe
And they may take away the things that I’ve worked for
But you’ll pull me through
It’s so clear to me now
I’ve enough of these chains
Life is there for the taking
What kind of fool would remain in this cheap gilded cage
I’ve no memory of truth
But suddenly the audience is so cruel
Oh God, I’m sorry
I think I’m through
I think I’m through
I think I’m, I know I’m

I used to drum in a band in Derby when I was in my teens.

I had a few lessons. I was OK.

I played live a few times and liked being in a band.

That’s why I started to play the drums, by the way. Because I wanted to be in a band.

My confidence wouldn’t let me play any other instrument at that time though.

I had to be at the back.

Newcastle.

I came to Newcastle to study and I still wanted to be in a band. And like everyone else arriving at the same time, I had the opportunity to reinvent myself. So I could have done it in any way I liked.

But there was a lot going on. New people, new city, new influences. So much to experience and do.

I wanted to get back into music but it didn’t happen until I left Polytechnic three years later.

If I am honest, it was because I integrated at Polytechnic quite well (I tried hard to fit in; I wanted to belong) and being in a band would have been too risky.

I’d have been judged.

Work. 

But in a world of work, after I’d left studying, everything shifted.

Work was steady. A bit dull. So I was ready to go again. I had room to create.

This time as a singer.

Frontman.

Oddly, I didn’t want to be a frontman. I just wanted to see what it was like to be a frontman. I wanted to see what it felt like.

I could sing. A bit. And as history has proven that that’s enough for Chris Martin, I was right to have a go.

And I was OK!

Much better than a lot of the kids around at the time.

I enjoyed it. For a bit.

I didn’t push things.

But I enjoyed the view.

Business. 

I had jobs through my twenties.

At thirty I started my first proper business.

I was now the frontman in business. And that’s never changed since.

2019.

I am writing this because in 2019 I am going to explore more what being a frontman in business really means.

I personify Always Wear Red. In the same way that a singer personifies their band.

But am I enigmatic enough?

Cool enough?

Memorable enough?

Brave enough?

Am I playing the role properly for this creative thing that I have built?

Not as well as I should, is the answer.

Frontmen and women have ‘something about them’.

Next year I am going to explore what my ‘something’ is.

I just hope I am more Paul Hewson than Darius Campbell.

Is it just me, or is this the first year that the John Lewis advert has flared brightly then just kinda died?

I’ve not really thought much about it at all.

Have you?

The John Lewis gals and guys will be around a table already pondering the 2019 advert of course.

Budgets tend to be between £5 million and £10 million from memory. Plus media spend of tens of millions more (paying for the spaces to put the advert).

So they have quite a bit to think about.

Tired. 

But maybe we’re just a bit tired of these annual spend-fests?

I think they’re just a bit crass now.

Self indulgent.

Thoughtless.

There this year just because they were there last year.

And I don’t just think I am saying this because I worked in advertising… I just think we all know what advertising is now.

And it’s not that nice really.

It’s boring.

It’s just getting us to buy things.

And so much of it is lazy and regurgitated.

Are brands actually trying to make us love them? To help us to understand why they are different and better? To build relationships with us? To look for win:wins?

Or just trying to dazzle us for a few seconds with me-too messaging.

I think it’s the latter.

Please, please, please. 

Anyhow, in my own self-indulgent moment, here is the music from the 2011 John Lewis advert.

The last advert I actually liked.

It didn’t help me to understand why John Lewis should be my store of choice.

But it did remind me that Morrissey is a genius.

Laura Pergolizzi (born March 18, 1981) is an American singer and songwriter who performs under the stage name LP.

She has released four albums and one EP.

She has written songs for Cher, Rihanna, Leona Lewis and Christina Aguilera.

Shortlist.

I am currently working on a short list of people that influence how I work, design, create and ‘am’.

LP is one of them.

Because she is so untypical of anyone and anything.

I see her as a pure, creative force. Just being who she is. And her music is really brilliant.

Please watch and listen to this live performance.

What do you think?

Flag Day was the first single released by The Housemartins. One of my favourite bands.

It was released in 1985 when I was 17 and it reached number 124 in the charts.

33 years ago.

It’s a beautiful song.

And a sad song.

Because the theme – who has all the money – hasn’t changed for the better.

It’s changed for the worse.

Have a listen.

Too many Florence Nightingales
Not enough Robin Hoods
Too many halos not enough heroes
Coming up with the goods
So you though you’d like to change the world
Decided to stage a jumble sale
For the poor, for the poor
It’s a waste of time if you know what they mean
Try shaking a box in front of the Queen
‘Cause her purse is fat and bursting at the seams
It’s a waste of time if you know what they mean
Too many hands in too many pockets
Not enough hands on hearts
Too many ready to call it a day
Before the day starts
So you thought you’d like to see them healed
Got blue Peter to stage an appeal
For the poor, for the poor
It’s a waste of time if you know what they mean
Try shaking a box in front of the Queen
‘Cause her purse is fat and bursting at the seams
It’s a waste of time if you know what they mean
Flag Day, Flag Day, Flag Day
IMAGE: Housemartins – WOMAD July 1986. Photo by Martin Whitehead.
Video at www.50odd.co.uk.

 

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.