One fine day

little tom001 The boy-child busy at his workbench. Image: Gray-Leslie family archive 2001

 A happy song, from a happy time.

My dear friend Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs for the month of June. You can see her latest post here.

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A simple song

Aged image of Wairere Falls, Whakatane, New Zealand. Image focuses on last two drops where falls enter stream at ground level. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Wairere Falls, Whakatane. Image: Su Leslie 2019

There isn’t really a story to go with my choice of Cavatina for 30 Days, 30 Songs. It is an incredibly beautiful piece of music and I’ve been humming it all day.

Cavatina is a musical term, originally describing a short, simple song. The most famous is composed by Stanley Myers, performed by John Williams and used as the theme for the 1978 film, The Deer Hunter.

As for the waterfall; in my mind it just fits somehow.

The very talented Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs during the month of June. You can see her latest song choice here.

Falling Slowly

Close-up shot of Ovation guitar neck and strings, with bokeh. Image by Su Leslie 2019

“Raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice, you’ll make it now.”Falling Slowly, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, 2007. Image; Su Leslie 2019

Who doesn’t like a good love song? Especially when it belongs to a film as touching and beautifully made as John Carney’s Once.

All of the film’s original music was written and performed by the lead actors Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.

This song, Falling Slowly, won the pair an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2007.

My dear friend Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs for the month of June. You can see her latest post here.

Burning down the house

Portrait of young woman looking into a mirror in a room with flock wallpaper, bamboo blinds and chinese umbrella mounted on the wall. The camera is visible in the shot. Self-portrait, Su Leslie 1985.

“Hold tight, wait till the party’s over …” Self-portrait, Su Leslie, 1985.

 1985. A flat in Grey Lynn. There are six of us; all in our 20s and a mix of students and recently-minted teachers. It’s a sociable flat, into which friends, neighbours and extended family members are welcomed. We eat together most nights and hang out at the weekends; going to movies, concerts, parties, nightclubs. I’m meant to be writing a Master’s thesis, but realise part way through the year that I find the topic monumentally boring. The effort I should make trying to resolve this problem is instead diverted into listening to music and experiments in film-making.

Sometime in that year, “the flat” goes to see the movie Stop Making Sense. We’ve been listening to Talking Heads and the related band Tom Tom Club, and the film doesn’t disappoint.

I love all the songs from that album, so I guess there is no particular significance in my choice of Burning Down the House to share as part of 30 Days, 30 Songs, a challenge devised by Sarah at Art Expedition. You can see her latest song choice here.

So young then

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I enjoy music, but mostly it is like a movie soundtrack — fitted around the essentially visual and verbal story of my life.

Occasionally though, I guess the genre slips, and the normally low-budget indy film I think I’m making out of life briefly becomes a musical.

Troy, by Sinead O’Connor, is the song that plays over a very specific scene where the heroine starts out quietly contemplating the complexities of her life, before making a momentous decision (which she will have reneged on by the time she gets home).

My dear friend Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs for the month of June. You can see her latest post here.

Seven Nation Army

band pre gig b&w Frostbite; getting ready for their first gig. Image: Gray-Leslie family archive, 2008

The boy-child is a talented musician, and for several years played in bands. Co-ordinated through the Auckland School of Rock, the bands gave our pre-teen and others a chance to not only learn how to work together to create music, but opportunities to perform in front of (some quite large) audiences.

The focus was on writing original material, but they also performed covers. One that I particularly liked was The White Stripes song Seven Nation Army. It has a very catchy bass riff (which apparently was actually played on a guitar and digitally lowered an octave). Since the boy-child was at that stage a bass player, the riff was heard a lot around our house.

I found a recording of the kids playing this song, which reminded me just how young they were (my son was about 10 I think).

And here are The White Stripes.

Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs, and it is a great chance to stroll down some musical memory lanes. You can see her latest post here.

Forbidden colours

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David Bowie and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Still from Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence. Image credit: IMDB

Musically, I tend to focus on a song rather than an artist’s body of work. There are a few exceptions; Billy Bragg is one, Ryuichi Sakamoto is another.

I first discovered the Japanese composer, singer, producer and actor through the film Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (1983), which was partly filmed in New Zealand and in which several acquaintances were cast as extras.

Sakamoto starred in the film alongside David Bowie and Tom Conti; and also wrote/performed on the score. The title track is an instrumental, but he also co-wrote (with David Sylvian) and recorded a version with lyrics — titled Forbidden Colours.

Here are both versions of this wonderful piece of music. Which do you prefer?

My dear friend Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs for the month of June. You can see her latest post here.

Teenage Kicks

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‘Teenage Dreams’ Belfast mural dedicated to Derry band The Undertones song ‘ Teenage Kicks’ Image credit: DMc Photography

Some songs burst into your consciousness with an immediacy that is never forgotten. Others slide in when you aren’t looking and take hold so that when you do stop to think about it, it seems they’ve always been there.

For BBC Radio 1 host and all-round music guru, John Peel, Teenage Kicks by the Undertones was definitely in the former camp. Until his death in 2004, he consistently named it as his favourite song ever.

For me, it’s in the latter. It wasn’t until a friend’s band covered it in the mid 1980s that I realised I knew all the words and could sing along.

It’s a brilliant song.

My dear friend Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs for the month of June. You can see her latest post here.

Why not join in — as Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind so brilliantly puts it “casual players welcome.”

Spread your wings

The Big T and I were talking this morning about the holidays we used to have when the boy-child was small. Looking back, they seem frequent and filled with sunshine, and I was reminded of these lyrics from Summertime

… One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But till that morning, there ain’t nothin’ can harm you
With daddy and mammy standin’ by

Summertime’, George Gershwin. From Porgy and Bess

I think we all dream of keeping our children safe, but know in our hearts we must give them space and confidence to take wing.

It’s a wonderful song, and this version by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong is probably my favourite.

Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs for the month of June. You can see her latest post here.

Why not join in — as Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind so brilliantly puts it “casual players welcome.”

Moving on up

Getting the ingredients ready. Image: Su Leslie 2019

It’s curry night at the Zimmerbitch house.

While tonight’s Rendang is a relatively new addition to my repertoire, my love of curries dates from the decade that The Big T and I spent in England — particularly the Berkhamsted years when The Curry Garden was our local (200 metres away) and Birmingham friends introduced us to the balti houses of Sparkhill.

Somehow when I think of that time, I also remember M People and the extraordinary voice of Heather Small. Moving on up is one of my favourite M People songs, and something a bit lighter after a couple of days of darker posts.

Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs for the month of June. You can see her latest post here.

Why not join in — as Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind so brilliantly puts it “casual players welcome.”