Friday, 19 March 2010

Week 26 - Up, Up and Away

So, here I am. I'm just a few hours before leaving for, what I consider, impending doom. I really don't believe that flying is this dangerous, but wouldn't it be fun and ever-so delightful if this was the last message to the 'world'*?! *By world, I mean the two or three people who read this!

But, on the other hand, this blog could serve as hope to poor fliers such as myself.

This is the recipe for success, or failure if it all goes a bit Pete Wrong.

First of all: I went to an Italian wine tasting evening. That was great, some beautiful whites and reds. Then there was a quiz where the first prize was a bottle of Italian red. Myself and two friends (Steve and Jim) acted as a team and, bizarrely, won. So, we drunk said bottle.

As I'm setting off from my home at 8.15am and flying at 2.45pm (with 2 hours' drinking time at the airport - Stansted), I decided to partake in a few Italian beers - Peroni. This is all part of my manic masterplan: Get drunk, wake up early - tired, then drink some more at the airport, planning to be so tired and leathered by the time I get on the plane that I won't even notice it's setting off. Perfect!

My back-up plan, however, is the tried and tested method of music.

I have a couple of certain songs that see me through a flight. They are quite unusual, but it seems to work for me. I've been told they are overly morbid, but what the hey!

The first (and newest, in terms of success) is a cracking tune that really inspires me because of a movie scene. Oddly, it's the end of Fight Club. Edward Norton realises he's Tyler Durden (oops, SPOILER alert, maybe a bit too late, mind). He's sat in a tower block, with half of his brain shot out and there's the Pixies' Where Is My Mind playing in the background. If that's not cerebral, and at peace with death, I don't know what is.

Next is one of the best voices in music. Ever. I was tempted to make a whole blog about the most beautiful voices in song. I still may do. However, Hope Sandoval has it tied up. She was the vocalist in the early 90s' band Mazzy Star. There are so many gorgeous songs, but Fade into You is just lovely. I can almost imagine myself falling from a plane and singing this - with a smile on my face! Check out the singing though, how awesome is that?!

Finally, and the only one that is proven to make me happy while the plane is setting off, is this kind of twisted track. By itself, it's very much an old-fashioned spiritual, but made with very modern instruments and vocals. Spiritualized's Lord Let It Rain on Me contains the lyrics 'Lord let it rain on me, let it all come down. I'll sell my soul to let it roll, and I'm about ready now". That pretty much sums up how I wish to be at one with mortality, as does the slow beat at the start.

I'd love to think this helped nervous flyers. For all I know it may put them off to...erm...billy-o. Who knows, I could end up here next week describing something else. Let's hope so, eh? But this is, I hope, an insight into what I'd like to believe is a stream-of-consciousness blog.

Maybe it could be prophetic, or maybe just pathetic. Ah well, we'll see!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Week 25 - The Final Curtain

I'm going on a long-weekend break in a few days and, as I'm a bit of a poor flyer, my mind has turned to mortality. There's a cheery thought, eh?

As such I've been hastily planning my funeral. Well not really, that's a bit too much (hopefully). However, I have come up with a few songs I think would be great to be played at such an event.

I thought I'd got this sown up years ago with Pearl Jam's Alive, Reef's Come Back Brighter and Harold Melvin's If You Don't Know Me by Now. They are quite comical and would probably be better suited to a TV show or film. I certainly think there is a place for rye humour at funerals.

The humour is evident in my first two choices.

First up is a track from a guy who, I've just found out, spent most of his childhood in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, despite being from Maryland, USA. Famous for his lo-fi sound, Bill Callahan is Smog. He's responsible for some great tracks, Cold Blooded Old Times and Let's Move to the Country being two. However, it's from his 2000 album, Dongs of Sevotion, that my first track is from.

Dress Sexy at My Funeral by Smog is a hell-raising plea from beyond the grave from Callahan to his wife. The title gives away pretty much all you need to know, but the lyrics are as good as you'd hope. He instructs the widow to dress provocatively and flirt with the minister, and to speak about their love-making. Towards the end he sings:
"Also tell them about how I gave to charity, and tried to love my fellow man as best I could. But most of all don't forget about the time on the beach."

I love the idea of the next song being chosen by a supposedly grieving widow/widower. It's quite a cheery song as it is, but if you put it in the context of a funeral, it takes on a really twisted meaning.

I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better by the Byrds is the Californian folk/pop/rockers at their best. It's impossible to listen to this without smiling. The chorus takes the title and adds a couple of key words: I'll probably feel a whole lot better, when you're gone.

Finally, a true funeral song. It's brilliant. What's not to like about folk, cricket and a morbid subject such as death?!

Manchester-born singer-songwriter Roy Harper is something of a one-off.
There are few contemporary folk musicians who can claim to have inspired Led Zeppelin - most of their inspiration came from dead American bluesmiths...and Jake Holmes. Harper is also the lead vocalist on Pink Floyd's Have a Cigar. He's also no stranger to humour - Exercising Some Control is a laugh riot about the scrapes a man got up to with his dog, called Some Control.

But his masterpiece is When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease. It's full of cricketing puns about death. It conjures up beautiful imagery of hazy English summer days, with the faint thud of cork on willow. It's also incredibly contemplative and sad, but there's something in the lyrics that, no matter how depressing the underlying message, always leaves me with a slight smile. That's also how funerals should be, I think.