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Have you ever read a great book? You know, the kind of book where it is so thrilling that you can’t put it down? You are taken on a journey and it is exciting! When you have finally finish reading it you are a different person! In terms of Fictional books, for me what makes them great is that the characters are relatable and the narrative is full of wonder and intrigue. Other books you read don’t live up to that same standard and are full of clichés and are a chore to read.
I have decided people are like books. Some people are like great works that you find thrilling and others are like the twlilight series, a life long yawn. Some people can speak so well and put their point across with such eloquence, that it could be compared to great prose found in literature. Some people though use tired old expressions and have no connection with you, simply because their experience of life is the size of a thimble.
Some people are just bland, they have no flair, no style. If these people were a cheese they would be cheddar. If they were a coffee they’d be a flat white. If they were a song they would be yellow by Coldplay. Predictable, boring, and worst of all I resent these people. Here is a non-exhaustive list of my distain
Crime 1: language
I love it when people can use language to perfectly describe their feelings but I hate it when people use tired old expressions or jokes. Someone approaches you at work and says “alright trouble?” I want to stab them through the heart with my biro. All of the below would be followed by a wink:
- Someone says to a pregnant woman “Must be baby brain!”
- Someone is asked if they remember something “I’ve slept since then!”
- A man is unwell “Must be man flu!”
- You explain you have been shopping at Ikea “Hope you left some for the rest of us!”
People stick to these ways of speaking because they have imitated other people. They have emptied their soul out and replaced it with dog shit. When people speak like this aesthetically there are no signs of life. I get so sick and tired of this tired drivel that I sometimes don’t even acknowledge their attempt at humour. For the likes of these boring people though this is a zesty enterprise, exchanging these tedious jokes back and forth and laughing all the way.
Crime 2: Subject matter
Some people can’t take deep or irreverent conversation. You get onto the subject of a popular TV series and they’ve never heard of it. You talk about a famously well known musician and they don’t know them. You asking them for cooking tips and they can’t remember the last time they didn’t heat up a ready meal. You ask them about how to live a life and they take a piss in your soup by trying to justify Christian scripture. You ask them what exciting things they want to do with their lives and they say it’s really hard because of looking after he kids. When you have squeezed a sponge for so long eventually not another drop is going to come out and you have to decide that there is nothing more to get out of this person!
Crime 3: Status
Some people have delusions of grandeur, they think they deserve a higher platform than most people. We all have narcissistic qualities but we dont all act on them. Not everyone is arrogant and obnoxious. Not everyone buys the most expensive sports car and brags about their six figure income. They think that wine is more sophisticated than beer. They think jazz is the only genre worth listening to. There are other people who love their families so much it consumes them. Ever other day they’re round their parents talking about old times, uploading pictures on facebook constantly of a stupid picture with their mum with a caption that reads “Me and my bestie”. These people talk about little Rupert’s first day at secondary school like we give a fuck. They show you a picture of their sons graduation from a degree at Bolton University and you just nod and smile. You look at the parents eyes and they say to you “One day you’ll know this feeling when you have children” Oh wow thanks, it’s so nice to know I can’t be truly content until I can ride off the achievements of my children! Modesty and self depreciating qualities are an endangered species now. Social media has convinced Britain of the American view which is that you are he most important thing in the world and everyone wants to know about you.
Crime 4: Emotional Fragility
How many times have you heard of someone getting upset because the conversation goes somewhere they don’t like. If boundaries were distances some people can circle the earth with the amount of subjects they can explore no matter how dark or frightening. Other people’s boundaries are about 6 feet. Please don’t talk about what upsets me. Well you know what, the world isn’t a bubble trying to protect you. If perhaps you allowed yourself to engage with conversations that scare you, you’d come out the other side being a stronger person. People who have a low tolerance for the horrible I call “Disneyland customers” They believe the world is about singing songs with clocks and candlesticks but refuse to digest the real world. If we’re all scared by the world surely we should pool our resources and share stories talking about what scares us? Instead though these people will block discussion at all costs and if you persist they take this as a personal insult.
People are shit and they will always be toxic to be around. If you are different then I salute you. Read strange books, explore cultures, travel the world, expand your knowledge but most importantly never be afraid to express how you truly feel, whether that is through art or other passions. People deserve to be treated kindly and fairly. Some of the somewhat petty stuff above is a minor footnote on the struggle of life. If people chose to be a prisoner of the above mediocrity then that is their choice, but you don’t have to be a slave like the common man you can be your own person and break the chains!
If you liked this drop me a comment and perhaps I could expand on more personal hatred.
When I was a young boy I was fascinated with dreams and how they can take complete control of us. Although I often had fun telling tales of the places I had explored in my psyche I was still unsettled by them. As a young boy I was easily spooked and just so much as a 10 second clip of a horror film was enough to keep me awake at night and lent itself to nightmares. Some of the imagery in horror films plays on out fight or flight modes and gets the adrenaline running.
I can remember when I was very young I would often sit awake in that darkness completely petrified. When you’re young a lot of basic things don’t make sense and you are constantly trying to make sense of the world. When you are having nightmares as a child you try to make sense of the madness and it is even more upsetting.
I can remember a nightmare where I was on the moon trying to run away from some crazy surgeons with butcher knives. As I ran into the horizon I could see the whole of space and could see the earth glowing in the distance. As I was running away a sea monster larger than the whole planet appeared and swallowed the entire planet I was on. When I awoke from that dream I sat awake for 10 minutes trying to come to terms with what I had witnessed.
The fear of nightmares used to ruin my sleep and it got the better of me. I used to go on this was for quite a long time. One evening I had a revelation. I was stirred from a nightmare like always and instead of staying in bed I stood up and walked to my bedroom window which looked out over the street I lived in. As I glanced out the window I saw the light from a large lorry zoom past and lit up the street. As soon as I saw that I realised that person is working. When I went to sleep I thought the whole world stopped but obviously it doesn’t. I started to think that actually the world is bigger than my nightmares. As I worried in bed people across the world were having the time of their lives, people getting married, holidays, new lives being brought into the world! I had nothing to worry about.
As I grew older I watched horror films, played scary games and I kept testing my limits with horrors. As I have grown older I have learnt to appreciate the thrills of being scared. Life can be very hard and you don’t have to be afraid if you don’t want to. No matter what scares you, you’re much stronger than you think you are!
I have been to lots of open Mics at various setting and locations and I thought it would be good to offer some advice to those considering going.
Finding the courage
The first thing I would say is that Open Mics are not as scary as you might think they are. Normally the scary part is the build up to an open mic but once you’re on stage you soon find the strength to perform. Open Mics are a forgiving environment, and you don’t have to be a pro to be on stage. The crowd will understand if you fluff up a bit or if nerves get the better of you! And let’s face it, what’s the worst that could happen? You make a tit of yourself for 5 minutes, who cares, you can always try again! I often say to myself that if I go up there and I completely fail then that is a good thing because it gives me something constructive to work on. Failing is much better than never trying, as never trying is the ultimate failure. Take a friend or family member who will support you and whatever you’re trying out just have fun with it!
Practice practice practice!
Before you go approach Open Mics be confident with your playing abilities. Practice your songs every day and try to imagine a setlist. Find friends or family to try out songs in front of. If you throw in some covers they might just sing along 😉
Looking at venues
I have played at folk clubs, cafes, pubs, bars, restaurants and creative music centres and they’re all different. I would say for sure first time a bar is good because it will be busy but you can get a little bit lost in the room. I know this sounds bad but if you fluff it’s not going to make you that embarrassed. In pubs the setting can be quite intimate, so a few sing along songs wouldn’t go amiss. In a creative music centre you normally have more freedom and they encourage fresh material. I would recommend going in to the place and checking it out if it’s your first time and making sure you like the vibe and if it’s good book yourself up!
Don’t pick anything that is too much of a challenge to begin with, you’ll thank yourself for some easy ones so you can just enjoy the atmosphere. I try to pick songs that people know that aren’t so obvious, but people don’t mind wonder wall or Bob Dylan, so if that’s your thing knock yourself out! 🙂
Tips for the big night:
1. Get there on time – organisers really appreciate punctuality. If you show up early you also get a better chance of a slot!
2. Watch your food and drink – I usually not to eat any food 3 hours before a performance because some foods can interfere with your singing. I usually only drink water as this helps your throat! Don’t drink alcohol for your nerves it’s not worth it. I’ve seen people go up drunk and struggle through, they make asses of themselves, please don’t do this!
3. Tune your instrument – before you go on stage find a quiet place to tune your instrument so it’s ready to play. Tuning on stage is time wasting a bit but if you get up there and absolutely need to its not the end of the world.
4. Enjoy yourself – remember that not anyone can go up on stage, you’re very brave! Remember to smile and be courteous thanking those who listen.
5. Listen to others – when the show is over, don’t be a dick and just leave. Stick around and enjoy others perform. It’s respectful and you might make some new friends. I make a conscious effort to approach a performer I enjoy after their set and thank them for the performance, this means so much coming from a stranger.
A lot of opportunities come from Open Mics, so enjoy them and play your heart out.
As I write this I am sat in a hairdressers which is completely rammed full of customers. It seems no matter how early I arrive it’s busy. There is something unsettling about having my hair cut. Sometimes you find that hairdresser that I don’t mind talking with, and they can strike up mildly interesting conversation. More often than not I have either met the silent type that just appear dead inside. They have an expression that tells me their punishment has been being reincarnated as a hairdresser to work in this shitty Barbers. Or I get the arrogant loud mouth who tells you their whole fucking story and stop the whole procedure to give you specific details.
When you go to a Barbers run by women they try to style mens hair to what they think men want. You look up at the walls which are littered with examples of styles that a straight man wouldn’t dream of. Magazines are on the table that are insultingly stereotypical. Fishing magazine, classic cars, GQ! Yeah? cause that’s all men summed up isn’t it! We all love fishing. Even if we did like GQ I don’t know how much I would gleam from a 2007 edition with Shea La boeuf on the front cover!
I have experienced an endless search for the perfect hairdressers. I once made the mistake of going to a hairdressers which doubled as an academy. Most of the students looked so bored. My hair was a pain to them. They were just counting down the hours before they got to go out drinking and dance the night away to Calvin bloody Harris or whoever is popular at the moment I don’t care. When the student saw me she insisted on washing my hair and it felt like she burnt my scalp with hot water as she chatted away about gossip to her colleagues. “Mark hasnt called me back yet” she said. Yes, its because youre a fat stupid bitch who cant even manage to wash someones hair properly. I never understood their weird basin sinks that bend your spine out of proportion. I should have been stationed by a stretcher and an Iron Maiden! They give you a towel but there is always water that pisses down my neck and soaks the shit out of my shirt. When I was eventually allowed to have my hair cut which is what I had been waiting for the girl seemed to have less of an idea than I did and was constantly catching my neck with her sharp scissors. Later investigation revealed I had bled from the encounter. I noticed something strange. Normally when your fringe is being cut the barber would use their hand to shield your forehead and eyes from being smothered in hair. This girl instead just scissored away in a scattered fashion. The hair began to coate my eyes and I felt the urge to release my arm from the confines of the straight jacket they put me in and wipe the hair off. I looked at the girl and said politely. “I’m sorry but you were getting hair in my eyes” to which the girl replied “Yer, that happens when you get a hair cut!” I never went there again!
I went to a Turkish Barbers and it was like Scarface. They all told me when I get my hair cut my girlfriend will screw me really well and she’ll love it. He asked me if I would be watching the game tonight and I replied “I would rather take a shit in a hat and wear it for the rest of my life” The sarcasm was lost on him and he looked confused. The haircut at least was completed much quicker following my comment. I did like being shaved with a razor in the Barbers though, felt like I had travelled back in time.
I hate having to stare at my stupid dumb face whilst I have my hair cut. The moment you sit down you are expected to give a list of requirements. Some customers start giving measurements, grades and language that is lost in me. I normally just say “Little bit shorter and need a tidy up” this gets mixed results. I’m always afraid when I say shorter that they’re going to buzz the lot off and I’ll leave looking like Grant Mitchell. Not Ross Kemp the actor that plays Grant Mitchell. The character, when he first appeared in East enders before he became buff.
Right now I am sat next to unwatched children in the Barbers and they’re fucking around restless. They keep hitting me and it’s so annoying. I looked the child in the eye and said “I wish you’d been aborted you little shit”.
Obviously I didn’t really!
It was the 20th May 2017 and after checking in to our hotel in Paddington after a long trip from the South West we had a freshen up and it was time to see Roger. This would have been the second year in a row seeing him, only this time we would be 6 rows from the front of the stage at the Royal Albert Hall!
We took a walk through Hyde Park on the way to the venue and it couldn’t have been more perfect. The sky was blue and there was enough sunshine to see the glory of the Albert memorial opposite. A sign outside with Roger on it confirmed tonight was the night!
Many people crowded at the entrance but then we realised we weren’t entering from Arena F, we needed to walk round to Arena A! The entrance was eerily quiet but we managed to go straight in, oh my gosh this was exciting.
We bought a quick drink and navigated to our seats. The stage was set. A large drum kit at the back accompanied by synths and in the middle a beautiful Yamaha Grand Piano. Rogers acoustic guitars all stood proudly in front of them alongside his keyboard. To the right side of the stage there was a table of numerous brass instruments and gadgets and gizmos. The stage was lit in a calming blue and green shrubbery had been brought in especially as if to create a relaxed feeling.
The Royal Albert Hall seated over 5000 people that night, and the atmosphere was wonderful. The excitement built until they all graced the stage kicking off with “Take the long way home”
All of my friends have no idea who Roger Hodgson is and I have to explain he is the mastermind behind the popular group ‘Supertramp’. Normally a few songs being played from the album ‘Breakfast in America’ confirms to them that they know the group! As much as people should know who Roger is we like the fact that we get it and others don’t. Being in our 20s makes the music more special and sentimental to us.
The night was full of staggering music and a quick glance round the room showed me that the audience was buzzing and having just as much fun as the group on stage. I believe that the group who play with Roger are just as incredible as the man himself and all deserve great admiration for their musical abilities. We found much amusement to learn that some of his Canadian colleagues tried hard to practice some of the lyrics which are required to be sung in a British accent.
I am 29 years old and my girlfriend who is 22 both love Roger and have adored all of his music (yes all! Every album back to back). We don’t just love him because of his music alone. When you see him live he confirms to you what a good hearted man he is. I don’t believe it is possible to create such heartfelt lyrics as Roger does without knowing how to connect with people and he does that with ease.
Roger played some great tracks from In the Eye of the Storm, Breakfast in America, Crime of the Century and an exquisite performance of Fools Overture from ‘Even in the Quietest Moments’ on Grand Piano. There were countless other tracks but he picked some lovely lesser known tracks, well, at least lesser known to most people.
By the moment ‘Dreamer’ kicked in we both immediately stood up from our seats and started clapping and dancing for Roger. The people around us weren’t as quick and for a moment Roger was in direct eye contact. Roger looked directly at us and delivered that wonderful smile and a wink. Having that briefest of connections with Roger was a wonderful moment.
The room was now anything but still. Everyone in the audience felt commanded to stand up and have a dance. Song after song it got better. The happiness was in the air around us and you could feel it right through your soul. Roger made us both intensely happy that night and he deserves great thanks.
A well deserved encore brought more fun including most of the audience taking out their umbrellas and dancing to “Its raining again”. I didn’t want it to end. The bittersweet thing about seeing Roger perform is that it feels very fleeting because he takes you on such a journey through his own life with his wonderful music.
I have learnt that Roger does take requests so if we are lucky enough to see him perform again next year I will request my favourite song “Poor Boy” from the album ‘Crisis what Crisis’. I can imagine his accompanying vocalist doing a superb job of those crazy sounds at the beginning.
The show was now over and we loved every second of it. We stepped outside of the Royal Albert Hall confirmed that Hyde Park was locked for the night. Being unable to find a taxi we decided to “take the long way home” which seemed fitting.
Thanks for the giving us young folks a wonderful night Roger, you move us with your music and for that we are all eternally grateful.
What is it that makes your best friends; your best friends? Is it their sense of humour? Possibly! Is it what you have in common? To an extent! What makes someone your best friend is down to nothing at all except for our belief in the concept of having best friends at all. You may have lots of friends that you meet over the years but only a few will make it into the special “best friends league”. Many people from my observations will either give no thought to this and will just have 500+ friends that they go partying with or they will have a select few individuals that met the passing criteria.
It is my belief that this criteria for finding true friends can fall down to a system I call “The Plus and Minus system”.
How it works – this system might sound a bit Marxist but it is useful to explore as a thought experiment. The concept is that every time you engage with someone they get a score which is hidden, you decide the score and every time they engage further with you the score changes.
If you meet someone for the first time they start at a neutral zero. Every time they do something positive they award points and anything negative you take away points. How you reward or take away points is up to you. Below is a typical system of awarding:
You receive a message on your Facebook wall to say happy birthday (+1)
You receive a card with a preprinted message (+5)
You receive a hand written letter with a message tailored to you (+10)
The scoring system will go on in your own head, and you will remember some of the scores you gave. Alison at work when she always talks nonstop about grandchildren may be firmly in the negatives for a young teen but in the positive for a new mum as they can exchange notes.
If someone is deep in the negatives you must really hate them, but on the flip slide they would probably vote you as negative too so it’s equal scoring both ways. It is not to say that you or they are wrong for being in the negative it is just the way this subjective system works.
Scoring bias – We all know that person who scores someone way up in the dizzy heights for no reason. I have seen people in their 20s talk about their grandparents as “the best people in the world” and flood their Facebook with such claims. You meet them and you don’t understand all the fuss. Sometimes you will score high because you’re looking through rose tinted glasses. This shows that you can score in a warped way that could be later disproved to yourself. When you’re two and your gran bakes you cookies she is 300+ when you taste them again at 30 you realise how dry they are but you still love her for it and it becomes a 25+ instead.
Typical low scorers – If you apply this system you can learn what you value in people the most. If music is your passion; when someone cannot keep up with your conversation (because they don’t know who Paul Simon is) you sigh and mentally mark them down. After a few more attempts you realise that you have sufficiently kept them at their low score, and after possibly hundreds of attempts allowing them to redeem themselves; you realise this person is never going to be close to you. If you apply this system you will notice trends of particular things that award low scores such as people who use the word “Literally” in ever single sentence. You won’t always be right but sometimes just as much as overhearing a phrase will convince you this person is a low scorer before you’ve even spoken to them properly.
Why this system is bad for us – as demonstrated in the last section the scores will change as we change. There may be the intention to keep people deep in negatives for no good reason. Children at school make rash scoring choices, and unfortunately some children will be marked into deep negatives just because they have cheap school shoes.
As adults we are still making unfair sweeping judgements on people. What is important to you is what guides your score but we have to learn how to score in the correct way. Is the person decent? Yer okay you don’t watch gossip girl and your favourite band isn’t Girls Aloud, but does she listen to you and make an effort with other people? Does this girl act in an altruistic and virtuous way?
We must learn to be responsible for our scoring and take more notice of how we cast our votes. Remember that people are trying to be affable with the best qualities they have, even if they aren’t to your taste. We cannot expect people to be instinctively trying to impress us. If you listen to people and try hard to see who they really are you will always find goodness in others and then it won’t be so difficult to give good scores!
I love reading books on philosophy because you are able to read them alongside other books. Unlike fiction where you have to keep a breast of where you are this book you can dip into.
Derren Brown is clearly not only an illusionist and performer he is also a great thinker.
My favourite philosopher is Alain De Botton and it is clear from this book that Derren loves him too from the frequent mentions throughout. If you are familiar with Derren he is down to earth and has the perfect balance of not being too stuffy but also not over simplifying.
The objective of the book seems to try and debunk self help books and to show you that a lot can be learned from reading ancient philosophy instead. He shows us the value of stoicism and useful emotional tips for when we are at our weakest. Derren Brown is incredibly charming in his prose and talks to you like I imagine he would his friends.
With regular nods to Schopenhauer another of my favourites he also shows us how we cannot trust ourselves to always be right about things.
Pick yourself up a copy and tell me what you thought!
There is strong evidence that Alcohol contributes to a large number of illnesses such as Cancer, Heart disease, Obesity, Strokes, dementia (the list goes on). Back in the 80s there was limited evidence for this but in 2016 they discovered how damaging Alcohol is and changed Alcohol guidelines completely.
How it’s killing you
Now the Alcohol guidelines state that if you must drink alcohol then this would mean 14 units for men and women over the course of 3 days or more, this is the equivalent of a bottle and a half of wine over the course of a week. The guidelines state that this guidance is in place only if you must drink alcohol, it is truly recommended that you consume no alcohol to completely make yourself risk free.
Many drinkers will cling to the belief that Alcohol (specifically red wine) is good for you, but this is largely a myth. In red wine, there are ‘flavanoids’ which are found in grapes that in chemistry are known to target pathogens and free radicals in the blood stream helping with disease and possible cancer prevention. The issue is that the amounts of this chemical in alcohol is so minimal that the effect is therefore minimal. You can find flavanoids in many other plant based foods that have no risks of consumption at all. It feels like this is a poor excuse for drinkers to skirt around this issues alcohol contributes to.
Many can see alcohol as a confidence tonic that they drink because it lowers inhibitions. I was one of the crowd that would partake in drinking games and going out partying and it always felt like the drunkenness was just a temporary feeling before nausea and light headedness kicked in. People will drink so much making themselves ill and tell themselves they need to do this to have a good time? I am of the belief that your company makes you have a good time or the places you visit contribute to a good time but alcohol is peripheral. My partner is significantly younger than me and we were socialising with her friends and she kept being asked “Have you drank enough yet, cause you don’t seem drunk enough?”. The friend then accusingly pointed at a glass of lemonade my partner was drinking and said “What is that?” My partner had to lie and told her it was a vodka and lemonade and then the friend settled down. This bizarre conversation shows how many people associate alcohol with a good time.
Friend of the Alcoholic
Taking the physically destructive nature of alcohol out of this for a moment, alcohol can damage people socially. There are countless examples of people turning into monsters when they’re drunk and lashing out at people. When they are in the dizzy heights of their alcoholic binge they are usually so drunk that they can’t remember what they said or did. If I pissed in the street and got taken away by the police whilst it was all being recorded by a local news team and aired on television I would be mortified. Many people would laugh at this behaviour and even applaud it. How many times have you heard someone say in a proud way “I got so pissed last night” and the person being told laughs. They instinctively laugh even before a story has been told? This only seems to work with intoxicating yourself, no one would ever say “Oh mate, I got so stuffed last night, I ate a whole tray of lasagne”.
People laugh but the moment you regularly drink for pleasure at what point do you stop being a regular party goer and start being labelled as an Alcoholic. You might find this view extreme, but every Alcoholic has to have gone through the same journey. I have read that one of the main drives for alcoholism is to try and find the perfect party again, usually the party found in ones youth. Unfortunately for the drinker they are waiting for this party but it never comes, and although they will tell themselves they are having fun they are destroying their lives.
Pain over Pleasure
I guess for many they will overlook the pain brought on by alcohol and decide that it is worth all of it, because it has convinced them that Alcohol is responsible for their good time. I am willing to accept that people enjoy alcohol and would never insist someone wouldn’t drink it. But in the same breath I would never insist they DO drink either! Just because you have delusions that your opiate are the keys to finding happiness doesn’t mean you get to dictate to me whether I want to inject myself with the same poisons.
I associate the urge to get pissed with youthful mentality. For many people hey cling to this youthful behaviour and confuse drunkenness with raw happiness that would have been achieved even without having the Alcohol in their system! I know people who are outraged by my remarks on alcohol. To them alcohol is their safety blanket their tonic that allows them to be silly, and have something to blame when their levels of self esteem return to their normal crushing lows. If you try hard enough you can build confidence and be the life of the party without touching a drop of alcohol.
I drink alcohol but only when I have to. I never drink at home and rarely drink when I go out. The only time I ask for alcohol is when I feel in the company of people who would judge me if I wasn’t drinking booze. I can sometimes lie and say the coke is actually a JD and Coke but this is my issue. Holding a glass of beer is a social prop that in this mad world is strangely accepted more than holding a glass of water.
A cliché expression is that a healthy body suggests a healthy mind. As we know health of someone cannot just be judged on appearance alone. Eat lots of fruit and veg, regular exercise, plenty of fresh air, and lots of kind and generous deeds to others. Altruistic behaviour doesn’t just have to be demonstrated through a round of drinks.
Björk is an acquired taste, and her music is very concept driven. I think that Björk has a perfect balance on how music is typically sold to us and how Art is presented to us. When you look at her album covers for example (which are a footnote compared to her overall achievements) every cover tells a story. Björk wanted her ‘debut album’ to personify her as a vulnerable girl coming into the dangerous industry of music, ‘Post’ was supposed to represent her break into fame with this girl being lost in the sea of fame where it is almost nauseating. Then you look at covers like ‘Homogenic’ where Björk no longer represents a person anymore but more a work of art herself almost as if to hint that her work and that fame she once craved is as John Updike once wrote “Like a mask that eats into the face”.
I was always aware of Björk when I was growing up but she was never a main focus for me because I was too young to be able to explore her art. Out of curiosity I bought her ‘Greatest hits’ which of course is actually more of a fan driven selection of must hear tracks. I was blown away by how much differing emotion there was! It was like an adventure not just of emotions, but the fun of trying to understand and deconstruct what Björk is trying to teach us. This album instantly inspired me to seek out the seperate albums which in their own right have so much to offer.
Björk is like no musician I have ever heard before, she has a style about her that has been widely borrowed from but has never been matched. You could make the assumption that Lady Gaga was inspired by Björk simply based on how she dresses up provocatively but musically the styles are very different. I also find Björk very unsettling and I think she played on this ideal at some points.
Björk is not afraid to be sexual in her performances, she pokes fun at the concept in some works and lovingly uplifts it in others. Björk herself has a very childlike persona, Thom Yorke of radiohead loves Björk and when describimg her he said “her voice is very sexual but at the same time childish, she has a lot of power in her voice but you’re not afraid that it will do damage” her screeches are very much like a misbehaved child but she sometimes gets to points where she is just making noises and using her voice like an instrument, the sound she produces is beautiful.
Björk seems to be in control of her creative freedoms which is refreshing too. A notable point is that “Oh so quiet” has been one of her largest hits but this is a cover of a 50s song and the music video directed by Spike Jonze was a homage to old musicals. This song does stand out like a sore thumb on the album, but to me this feels like Björk showing us she can add something to any genre no matter how detached it is from her regular stomping grounds. Björk isn’t after fame, she is after creating something worthwhile, which is why this track felt more like an attention grabber!
Björk seems to breathe life into genres that she touches. Take the Sugarcubes for example, which were the band that she originally started in as a young adult, (if you don’t count when she was a child star producing traditional asian songs). The Sugarcubes were full of angst and punk style ‘fuck you’ lyrics. The band are very tongue in cheek and are great fun to explore but one song on that album “Birthday” became a gigantic hit in the UK when John Peel brought it to the radios as an imported track. Bjork shows off her incredibly vocal dynamics in this song and has impeccable accuracy when it comes to hitting ranges. Dance, electronica, hip hop, house, jazz, jungle, trip hop, they have all been inspired by her and she has dipped her toe into a variety of genres. Björk seems to forge new genres and blurs the lines between them, this is possibly down to the avant garte underground music in which she takes root. Björk is clearly not afraid to experiment, and this is what makes her music exciting.
Björk carries with her a great sense of humour and I particular love her appreciation of animator John K and particular 90s cartoon Ren and Stimpy. Björk had John K animate one of her music videos ‘I miss you’ which is very strange but great fun.
One of the rather sad things about Björk is that to date I have never met anyone who has listened to her music! I have tried to show her to people but they never have the urge to explore her music like I do. As much as it’s a shame it is a pleasure that I have had the chance to experience the beauty she brings to her work.
If you have any interesting points or would like to share favourite songs and what they mean to you please let me know.