Here comes the future and you can’t run from it …


“Start your own revolution and cut out the middle man.” Billy Bragg, Waiting for the Great Leap Forward. Image: Su Leslie 2015.

Reducing my 30-odd year love affair with the music of English singer-songwriter, Billy Bragg to a single song for Sarah’s 30 Days, 30 Songs has proved so difficult that it’s taken until Day 24 for me to stop dithering and make a selection.

The final, upbeat, track from an album of powerfully sad and angry songs. I will always associate this with the one time I’ve seen Billy Bragg play live — at the Auckland Town Hall in about 1989.

Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs. You can see her latest choice here.

Sing forever

I’ve loved the music of Scottish folk band Capercaillie since I first heard their 1991 album Delirium. Singer Karen Matheson has a voice I never tire of listening to, and there are a number of songs I could have chosen for 30 Days, 30 Songs. I’ve picked this, partly because it’s sung in English and I love the lyrics.

You paint me pictures that fade so fast
To try and fool me
You give me words that will never last
But you won’t rule me

I shield my skin from the stinging rain
My eyes I cover
I walk across these privileged fields
To the sound of the clumsy lover

If you think you can hold me down
I beg to differ
If you think you can twist my words
I’ll sing forever

You cannot change a mother’s love for her child
With the ill you bring
You’re sending gifts that nobody wants
With the cool fresh winds of spring


You change your shape and you change your face
So I can’t see you
You travel from a different land
But I can feel you


My friend Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs during June. You can listen to her latest choice here.


So many songs, so little time


Fishing, Papamoa Beach, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie 2019


Cheating a bit for this week’s Six Word Saturday because I think this image works nicely with a song that’s on my 30 Days, 30 Songs list.

In my mind, it belongs to a time when the boy-child was a big fan of SingStar, which we seemed to play constantly for a while.

When we weren’t fishing.

Posting this to Six Word Saturday hosted by Debbie at Travel with Intent, and to Sarah’s 30 Days, 30 Songs challenge, at Art Expedition.

The man who sold the world

This is a song of my childhood; one of those pieces of music that was memorable enough I could sing along to it, but which created no strong emotions or associations.

It wasn’t until I saw Kurt Cobain perform an acoustic version on MTV Unplugged that I really began to appreciate it.

Here’s the original Bowie release from 1971 as a comparison.

My dear friend Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Songs, 30 Days during June. You can see her latest musical choice here.

Sensitive to a smile

I couldn’t do 30 Days, 30 Songs without including Herbs, the legendary Kiwi reggae band. A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about one of my favourite Herbs songs, Sensitive to a Smile.

Reading that post again today, I still feel the same way — just with more urgency now.

The very talented Sarah, at Art Expedition, is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs during the month of June. I think her latest choice is one of the most beautiful versions of one of the most beautiful songs. Please visit to see if you agree.


"Beautiful children have come into my life; Beautiful people, oh young and bright." Dilworth Karaka, Charlie Tumahai, Todd Casella, 'Sensitive to a Smile.' B&W portrait of young boy with cropped spiky hair.Image: Su Leslie, 2002“Beautiful children have come into my life; Beautiful people, oh young and bright.” Dilworth Karaka, Charlie Tumahai, Todd Casella, ‘Sensitive to a Smile.’ Image: Su Leslie, 2002


Herbs is a NZ reggae band that formed in 1979 and is still performing — albeit with a much changed line-up.

Sensitive to a Smile was released in 1987, and I remember it mainly, in a fairly abstract way, as a political song. It wasn’t until the boy-child was born in 1998 that the political became personal.

There comes a time in everyone’s life
No room for mistrust, no room for hate
Open up your heart, don’t look away

When I found myself responsible for that tiny bundle, grown from the love between his father and myself, I realised how invested I had become in wanting a better world, not only for my child, but for all mothers’ children.

The boy-child. Monochrome portrait of a young man with mirror reflection. Image: Su Leslie, 2016“Quality in life that’s…

View original post 49 more words

Our castle and our keep

black and white, two children aged 5 and 3 standing by letterbox outside a typical New Zealand house of the 1960s.

Big sister, little brother. Image: Leslie family archive.

I have two brothers; one two years younger than me, the other eight years.

My relationship with “the baby of the family” is strong, loving and straightforward. With my other brother, it’s more complicated.

As kids we were constant playmates, best friends. We share the same sense of humour and listened to the same music. But my mum was never good at hiding the fact she valued sons more highly than daughters (possibly because she’s the fourth sister of five) and as “The Firstborn Son” my brother was indulged to the point of becoming, for a while, a horrible little brat.

We’re in our fifties now, and the tide of our relationship has ebbed and flowed, washing away all but the bedrock. He’s my brother and I love him.

For a long time, music was a powerful bond between us, and since I am participating in Sarah’s 30 Days, 30 Songs project, I thought I’d sneak a bonus track into today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt | sibling.

In many ways, the best time for us as brother and sister was in the early 1980s, and there are so many songs from that time I could have chosen.

But this one’s fun, and it is about family.

The title of the post comes from the line:

Our house, was our castle and our keep
Our house, in the middle of our street