Are the old patterns in your life running you?
It’s 5.30am and I’m on my way to London. Dawn is streaking the sky but it’ll be two hours yet before the sun rises. Have you ever noticed how we glimpse the light but have to wait for it to really make its presence known? It’s only the middle of October but I’ve scraped thick ice off my windscreen and there’s freezing fog all around me. Morning is never my best time so Gerry Marsden is playing. Somehow he always makes me smile. His version of ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ seems appropriate – and unexpected to say the least if you’re only heard ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’
It’s appropriate that it’s followed by his version of ‘The House of the Rising Sun.’ But Gerry soon gives way to Pete Barton and the Animals blasting out ‘It’s My Life.’ Perfect for keeping me awake. (Check out the original version here, it’s a hoot, so cleaned up for US tv, or was there a time when they really looked like Beatles cones?
This is more how I remember them, see ‘When I was young’
and I couldn’t resist adding this reworked version by Eric Burdon fifty years on Click to watch! Or this one parody by the Beatles
The car knows its own way to the station by now but it’s best to pay attention in case of the unexpected. A bit like life really.
The song changes to ‘House of the Rising Sun’ once more, but sounding so different by Peter Barton with the Animals. Interesting that he was born the year the band formed, but he slotted right in thirty odd years later. I saw his first performance with the band and it was like he’d been there all along. I’m musing on how bands recycle themselves and how a song can come over in so many different ways with a fresh voice. I think I have that one in virtually every version ever recorded, each one bringing something different to the party. But some never to be played again. Appropriate as I’m on my way to a past life workshop in which we’ll be retrieving the best bits of other lives and letting go the rest. These song versions are like the lives we live where we try out different ways of being, slightly changing the plot to see how it pans out. Some work out better than others. But the trick is not to get stuck in the groove.
My musings on bands and their similarity to past lives had started a couple of nights previously. I’d booked for Dennis Locorriere and the Timeless gig. My seat was way up in the gods. I so dislike online booking. I never quite end up where I want to be. Personal contact works so much better. Unfortunately Dr Hook have taken up the horrible new fashion of assault by drumkit. The percussion is so loud it drowns out everything else. Even in the gods the thump hit my heart chakra so hard it felt shattered. I tried to think of it as sound therapy but that really didn’t work. Breaking open the heart? This was taking it to pieces and laying it bare. All the more ironic because Dennis kept talking about the beautiful words of the songs. Not a chance of hearing them – from him. Fortunately a rabid fan was sitting behind me and belted them out. Not quite what I had in mind when I booked. But at least it reminded me that the smaltzy stuff I heard on the radio many years ago was not at all what this quirky band were about. ‘Freakin at the Feaker’s Ball’ made an excellent backdrop for my Halloween greeting.
Then it was the Manfred’s turn. By now you’ll have realised that my musical tastes are almost prehistoric. I’ve been a faithful Paul Jones fan for over fifty years in all his guises. But even the Manfreds have succumbed to assault by drumkit. They were having ‘technical problems’ all through the first half. Had they turned the drumkit down, all could have been well. But no, voices were jacked up and distorted. Instruments lost. ‘I need more volume,’ guest P.P. Arnold screeched. No, it needed a complete rethink. I calculated there was over five hundred years of musical experience on that stage and they kept on doing the same thing and hoping it would turn out differently. Durhh? Let’s hope my annual Blues Band Christmas treat don’t do the same. Fortunately things got a little better in the second half – most of the time. There was an unfortunate drum solo – with two people. But Paul Jone’s amazing blues harmonica playing more than made up for that.
Why am I writing this? Well my musings took me into recognising how often we do the same thing in our lives. Let something that should be running in the background, if at all, override everything else. Let one overpowering theme dominate. We don’t listen to what could be uppermost. To what our soul might be whispering. We just go along with the driving rhythm of our immediate thoughts. To the detriment of our functioning as a human being, let alone following our soul’s purpose which is to evolve not stagnate. Replaying old patterns over and over in the same old way. Or following new fads just because the herd are doing it. Is that really what we need to do? Or should we do it our own unique way? Stopping to take a mindful moment before ploughing on. (Back to ‘It’s My Life’.)
I love live music – and old bands who are after all my generation but still going strong – because it has so much energy. And so often reworks classics into something fresh and surprising. It was a joy to hear Justin Hayward unplugged up close and intimate, even if I did have to travel to Wolverhampton which is just down the road from where I was born. Back to my roots in all senses. I first heard the Moody Blues in a Birmingham pub in 1960something. Denny Laine was the vocalist then so we really are going back into the dark ages.
But to return to Wolverhampton, Mike Dawes, the young guitarist accompanying Justin, was a revelation. His guitar became so many instruments. No drumkit needed when his fingers could supply it. (Check him out on You Tube). So different to John Lodge’s support group a couple of weeks earlier. Great song writers apparently. Excellent guitarists allegedly. But it was impossible to tell. The (older) guy playing drums obliterated them. Fortunately John Lodge had Graham Edge at his back, where he belonged. They understand about balance. It was so good to see his incredible energy and how he thrived on the close proximity of the audience (the Tiv is a tiny theatre). So proud of being a granddad too.
I don’t know what took these two old Moodies out on the road separately. But let’s have more of it. New songs, old favourites presented in a fresh way, new ways of being. Embracing the now. A message I’m off to share with my past life workshop.
Reading this back, I realise that, although my musical loyalties remain with the soundtrack of my youth, one of the joys is also to hear their new songs as well as the reworking of the old. To see how a life long lived has changed them. Justin Hayward, who was a Wild Cat with Marty Wilde when I first saw him, said: ‘I know the sixties happened. I’ve seen the photographs and I was in them, so I was there. But I remember nothing.’ He went on to tell us how he’s gone from life in a two-up, two-down in Swindon (I guess you have to be British to appreciate that one, it’s deemed to be one of the most boring towns in the UK), to a palatial pad in West London and a Riviera penthouse. He’s been a millionaire and lived the rock star lifestyle. But now he’s downsized to a one room apartment and is content with his life. He’s still writing new songs. I’d say that was a life well-lived. A mindful life.
Crystal Mindfulness Watkins Publishing will be released on November 17, 2016.
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