SUNDAY #94 – Bowie

I was alone in my living room back in Essex when I first heard the news David Bowie had died. My Dad & Brother left early for work, so when  I switched on the TV and saw the headline on BBC news, I felt cold.

My head was lead-heavy all day. I couldn’t concentrate properly at work, so I listened to Lauren Laverne’s special broadcast on BBC Radio 6 about the icon and tried not to cry. I thought about my Mum, who has loved him most of her life. As a teenager, she ran off to Milton Keynes with her friend to see him live, then got stranded and had to sleep at the train station. There’s not many people who are worth that kind of effort.

I’d only just got in to Bowie (even though friends had been recommending him to me for years) and I felt like my efforts to finally understand and love him had blossomed too soon. For months after the news, I’d get tearful when I got pissed up and heard ‘Let’s Dance’ playing out in a club or a bar. I felt silly for having such a strong reaction to the death of someone I’d never met, and who’s music I’d only been listening to for two years.

When someone like Bowie has such life-affirming appeal, it’s hard not to attach yourself to his ideas and his art. He has a song for every occasion, every emotion, every moment; even those gin-soaked few seconds in night clubs when you lose yourself and realise you still miss him.

Fortunately, his diverse and extensive discography means there’s always plenty of tracks to listen to, dance to, and be comforted by. Here are my favourites…

Lady Grinning Soul
The opening piano gives me goosebumps every time. I still pirouette around my room regularly to this. Aladdin Sane is probably my favourite Bowie album.

I’m Afraid Of Americans
An apt title and a belting chorus. The video shows Bowie being pursued by Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, who helped him remix the track.

Rebel Rebel
The red hair, the red trousers…got me (and my Mother) in a whirl.

Let’s Dance
Still makes me tremble like a flower.

Heroes
I defy anyone to not feel better after listening to this. I played it after I handed in my final Open University assignment and felt infinite.

Life On Mars
Still hooked on this piece of cinematic, sweeping, blue-eyeshadow wearing glory.

Advertisements

SUNDAY #90 – Only

I said I wouldn’t talk about Glandular Fever any more (#getoveritKate), but when I returned to the office in July after a month off sick, one of my senior managers asked how my recovery was going. Physically, I’d completely recovered, but when he asked “How about mentally?” I decided to tell the truth and say “Not all that great”.

Post-fever, I naively expected to pick up where I’d left off and go back to my old self. Instead, I spent weeks feeling like I was sat behind glass, separate from situations I would normally be engaged in. If I managed to experience a drop of emotion, it was overwhelming, and it often brought on a panic so severe that I’d feel paralysed by it. Weirdly, I hid these panics exceptionally well, so I imagine anyone who’s reading this who knows me in person will be surprised to hear I almost wept at my desk (and on the tube) on a daily basis.

I didn’t tell many people I felt this way. My sisters knew, I told a few close friends, and I wrote pages of notes in my diary about it when I couldn’t sleep at night (despite being fucking exhausted). I read the entries back recently, and it made me sad that I felt such a strong and strange need to keep my feelings a secret. That’s madder than anything I was feeling at the time.

What gave eventually gave me comfort and some perspective was that my senior had been through the exact same thing when he contracted Glandular Fever years ago. He told me that for months after his initial diagnosis and recovery, he would burst in to tears for no reason, and couldn’t regulate his emotions. Even on the worst days when I’d come back to the flat after work, wrecked internally by nerves and paranoia; the comfort in knowing I hadn’t “gone wrong” (as I put it to my flatmate Kelly) and that this state was only temporary, was immense. That’s why I’ve written about it here. It’s important to tell people if you’re struggling.

Do you know what else helps? Music. Endless amounts of it. Even when you don’t want to dance to it, cry to it, or feel to it – music is always there to distract and eventually, to motivate you back in to health. We all need something to lean on when we feel weak; and Nine Inch Nails’ desolate, raging, brutally honest lyrics have been medicine to my ears on the most toxic days. I’m also grateful to my older brother for not being mad at me for ignoring his suggestion to listen to them five years ago.

Whether you’re feeling low due to poor physical health, or just generally out of sorts; put on a record, whack your little diary out, and write until you don’t make sense anymore. Read it back when you’re feeling better, and cut yourself some slack. Life can punch you right in the tits sometimes, but if you tell someone how you feel (or write a blog about it), you’ll be surprised at just how much relief it can bring.

I can’t wait to show you what the spoils of shaking off Glandular Fever look like for me. Keep your eyes peeled for more news, and listen to this vital tune in the meantime.

SUNDAY #89 – Dead Souls

If you don’t agree that ‘Dead Souls’ is one of Joy Division’s finest musical offerings, then we’ll have to cease contact immediately. The ominous guitar riffs, brooding bass lines, and angry anthemic lyrics make my soul feel anything but dead when I hear the opening drum beat.

I don’t own a copy of Still, the compilation album the track is featured on, and it’s not the first place I heard it either. I was (and still am) obsessed with the film The Crow, and ‘Dead Souls’ is covered on the film’s official soundtrack by Nine Inch Nails (aka Trent Reznor). I thought Reznor had penned the track himself, and it wasn’t until I watched Control – Anton Corbijn’s 2007 biopic about Ian Curtis – that I realised my mistake.

Whilst Joy Division’s rendition of ‘Dead Souls’ is incredible, I still regularly listen to Nine Inch Nails’ version because it resurrects the feelings of sheer escapism I experienced the first time I watched The Crow. Whichever way you manipulate it, ‘Dead Souls’ sounds great; and there are two more cover versions of the track I can’t get out of my head either.

The first is a cover by one of my favourite new bands, Manchester post-punks PINS. They featured ‘Dead Souls’ on their recent EP Bad Thing because it sat comfortably with the record’s theme of bad dreams and nightmares, and I think the girls’ echoing vocals are as haunting and foreboding at Curtis’.

The final cover comes from soon to be industrial icon Hate Vessel (aka my older brother Joe). It’s probably not cool or good for his reputation for me to talk about him on this blog, but fuck it. He’s covered ‘Dead Souls’ and he’s done a blinding job. I only have this live video that’s on Facebook, but I think you’ll get the gist