31 August 2010

Chronos and Kairos

I've talked quite a bit about time since I have started blogging. With a blog title such as this one, it stands to reason, I suppose. However, my recent thoughts about time were quite firmly challenged recently by a Facebook post on time management. It made me look at the whole concept in a new light.

The ancient Greeks had two words for time, you see. Chronos (Χρόνος), which was said in Greek mythology to be the personification of time. In modern Greek the word also means 'year'.  However, there is also Kairos (καιρός), which is a Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment). It's like the references to the word 'serendipity' from my earlier blogs...

While chronos refers to chronological or sequential time, kairos signifies a different sort of time, a moment of undetermined period of time in which something special happens. While chronos is quantitative, kairos is qualitative.

Although I strive to be most efficient in time management so far as chronos time is concerned (I am rarely if ever late, taking pains to ensure I don't miss an appointment, always looking to where I need to be next, and so on), I find that I am really bad in dealing with kairos time (the unexpected, the unplanned). It's something I really struggle with.

It's true of course that God's timing is not necessarily man's timing. That's probably because God works more to kairos time...

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (Contemporary English Version)
God makes everything happen at the right time.

28 August 2010

Next Time...

I am very pleased my God is a God of second chances. I was reminded of this when reviewing potential tunes to include in my recent A-Z feature. The following extract from a Gerry Rafferty song spoke to me one morning recently when I was really calling out to Him for a word of encouragement:

"You need direction, yeah you need a name
When you’re standing in the crossroads every highway looks the same
After a while you can recognise the signs
So if you get it wrong you’ll get it right next time (next time)".

2 Peter 3:9 (New International Version)
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

26 August 2010

Z is for Zillions more...

... There are so many more artists that I could name. Another whole month's worth! Performers that make me smile, like Bill Bailey. Those that help you unwind, make you feel so good when you listen to them, like Melanie C. Those that touch you spiritually, like so many Songster pieces I have heard. Many songs can fall into multiple categories!

I'm so pleased to be part of a church that has such a love of the depth of musical expression. Because I often find God is there, even in the chorus of a secular song - in the lyric of a pop record - in the real-life situation that the songwriter has captured in music. He can use these things to touch your heart. Or to make you think. It's one of His greatest gifts to us.

"Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what colour we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same." - John Denver

25 August 2010

Y is for Weird Al Yankovic

"I love Rocky Road"

Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic is an American singer-songwriter who specialises in satire and parody. There are a whole host of works to his name, and he has earned three Grammy Awards and several gold and platinum records. I've been an admirer of his work for a while. Check out 'Bohemian Polka' (a cover of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' by Queen), 'Bob' (in the style of Bob Dylan, but composed entirely of palindromes), 'Yoda' (a parody of 'Lola' by The Kinks, retelling the plot of 'Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back'), and 'Trapped in the Drive-Thru' (a parody of 'Trapped in the Closet' by R. Kelly). The last one is a favourite of my son, who introduced it to me!

24 August 2010

X is for X-Ray Spex

"See the germ free adolescents
Cleanliness is their obsession
Clean their teeth ten times a day
Scrub away scrub away scrub away
The SR way...."

'Germ Free Adolescents' was the title track from the debut album of punk band X-Ray Spex. Lead singer Poly Styrene (Marianne Elliot-Said) grew up in Bromley, Kent, however she had a voice "powerful enough to drill holes through sheet metal". Billboard magazine described her as the "archetype for the modern-day feminist punk".

23 August 2010

W is for Joy Webb

"How great the darkness,
how deep the need!
How vast the problems
of indifference, hate and greed..."

During the early Sixties, The Salvation Army added their contribution to the pop revolution with the launch of The Joystrings. A key member of the group was Joy Webb, an officer who went on to write many great songs for the group and for worship in Army meetings. The Joystrings' most popular hit was 'It's An Open Secret'; 'A Starry Night' is now sung in many schools as a popular Christmas carol; 'Candle Of The Lord' (one of my particular favourites) was recently recorded by The Kings Singers.

22 August 2010

V is for Variety

"Someone show me a way to get outta here,
'cause I constantly pray I'll get outta here
Please, won't somebody say I'll get outta here
Someone gimme my shot or I'll rot here..."

Variety in this context refers to entertainment made up from a huge range of musical styles and types. I don't necessarily follow one type, preferring to see whether the music moves me personally before adding this to my favourites. 

One aspect that I haven't touched on in this A-Z list so far have been musicals, which is of course a broad genre of its own. Just think about the sheer variety in just this category - there are SF and Fantasy musicals like 'Rocky Horror Show' and 'Little Shop Of Horrors'; Christian musicals like 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and the Salvation Army musicals of John Gowans & John Larsson; popular classics like 'Grease' and 'Hairspray'; even some good stuff from other shows like 'Bye Bye Birdie' or 'A Slice Of Saturday Night'. Some great music here!

21 August 2010

U is for Uprising

"They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be victorious"

"Uprising" is a song by English rock band Muse, and this is one which is currently growing on me. It's actually my son's choice of music; as I introduce him to what I consider to be good music, in turn John shares his favourite songs to me.

Muse are a rock band from Teignmouth, Devon, comprising Matthew Bellamy (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Christopher Wolstenholme (bass guitar, backing vocals, keyboards), and Dominic Howard (drums, percussion, synthesisers), with Morgan Nicholls (keyboards, percussion, bass guitar) joining them on live performances. This song was the first UK single to top an American chart in the 2010s.

20 August 2010

T is for Thompson Twins

"Hold me now
Warm my heart
Stay with me
Let lovin' start"

The Thompson Twins, named after the detectives in Hergé's Tintin comic strip, have seen some extensive changes in lineup over the years. Far from being just a double-act, the group has had as many as seven members, however at their peak there were just three of them - Tom Bailey, Alannah Currie and Joe Leeway. There's so much of their music that I like, but particular favourites are 'We Are Detective', 'Hold Me Now', 'Doctor Doctor', 'The Gap' and 'You Take Me Up'.

19 August 2010

S is for Siouxsie

"Christine - the strawberry girl,
Christine - banana split lady"

Siouxsie and the Banshees were a British band formed in 1976 by vocalist Siouxsie Sioux and bassist Steven Severin. Originally part of the punk movement, the band evolved to embrace gothic and avant-garde genres. Hits include 'Hong Kong Garden', 'Christine', and 'Dear Prudence'.

18 August 2010

R is for Gerry Rafferty

"This city desert makes you feel so cold
It's got so many people but it's got no soul
And it's taken you so long to find out you were wrong
When you thought it held everything."

Gerry Rafferty is a Scottish singer and songwriter, the son of a Scottish mother and an Irish father. Best known for 'Baker Street', a song which is often on my playlist, there are other songs which are worth seeking out, like 'Get It Right Next Time'. He has performed as part of The Humblebums and Stealer's Wheel. Rafferty also co-produced The Proclaimers' first UK hit single, "Letter From America", in 1987 with Hugh Murphy.

17 August 2010

Q is for Queen

"Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality..."

Queen were formed in London in 1971, originally consisting of Freddie Mercury, (lead vocals, piano), Brian May (lead guitar, vocals), John Deacon (bass guitar), and Roger Taylor (drums, vocals). Initially a heavy rock group, they soon developed a popularity which brought them firmly into the mainstream. Best known for the timeless classic "Bohemian Rhapsody", the group produced many other great records, as well as work on soundtrack albums for films such as "Flash Gordon" and "Highlander". The group is guaranteed a prominent place in music history.

16 August 2010

P is for The Proclaimers

"But I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walked 1,000 miles
To fall down at your door"

Formed of identical twin brothers Charlie and Craig Reid, this Scottish group are best known internationally for "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)", sung in their distinctive style. My daughter and I do a pretty mean version of this, too! Other songs in their repertoire include "Letter from America" and "I'm On My Way".

15 August 2010

O is for Sinéad O'Connor

"Since you've been gone I can do whatever I want
I can see whomever I choose
I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
but nothing
I said nothing can take away these blues"

Sinéad rose to fame in the late 1980s as an Irish singer-songwriter and achieved worldwide success in 1990 with a cover of the song "Nothing Compares 2 U". A controversial performer who is outspoken on religion and women's rights (amongst other things), she regularly appears at charity fundraisers.

14 August 2010

N is for Nena

"99 Knights of the air
Ride super-high-tech jet fighters
Everyone's a superhero.
Everyone's a Captain Kirk."

German-born Gabriele Susanne Kerner acquired her nickname "Nena" (which means "baby girl" in Spanish) at the age of 3 during a holiday in Spain. Their band (of the same name) was formed with Nena on vocals, Rolf Brendel (drums), Carlo Karges (guitar), Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen (keyboard) and Jürgen Dehmel (bass). They rose to international fame in 1984 with the New Wave song "99 Luftballons", re-recorded in English as "99 Red Balloons".

13 August 2010

M is for Madness

"One step beyond..."

Another London based group with a distinctive, predominently tongue-in-cheek style. Madness are a pop/ska band from Camden Town, who came to fame at the time of the late-1970s 2 Tone ska revival. Their light-hearted songs transferred well on to video, however the band also tackled quite a few controversial issues in their lyrics.

12 August 2010

L is for Lily Allen

"I want to be rich and I want lots of money
I don't care about clever, I don't care about funny"

Of all the current artists that receive airplay on the radio, it's Lily Allen's music that I am most often drawn. I am quite taken by her unique style of singing. The daughter of actor-comedian Keith Allen and film producer  Alison Owen, Lily has earned her own place in history, learning her craft through both singing and by learning a variety of different instruments.

Her works seem to capture something special, real life conveyed in song, however be warned - she's very up front and pulls no punches. My personal favourite is "The Fear", which is the tale of a young girl who is coming to realise that the allure of wealth and fame still leaves her empty. Also check out "22",  “Smile” and “Alfie”.

11 August 2010

K is for Karen Carpenter

"Why do birds suddenly appear?
Everytime you are near
Just like me they long to be
Close to you"

Karen Carpenter (1950 –1983) was a singer who topped the charts with her brother Richard as The Carpenters. Karen's talent as a drummer was great, however it would be her vocal talent that would make her world-famous. Richard was a child prodigy on the piano, however his sister just wasn't interested when she was growing up. Eventually taking up percussion and working with Richard, it was her distinctive vocal range which brought her out from behind the drum kit. There were very few alto singers in popular music, and Karen had a wide vocal range that spanned about three octaves. Karen's lower range (her "basement" as she called it) was her greatest strength.

10 August 2010

J is for Jake Thackray

"She will never stop talking to me; she is one of those women who will never use three or four words when a couple of thousand will easily do!"

I must admit to a fondness for aspects of folk music, and the songs and wit of Jake Thackray makes his works part of my collection. Based on a French 'chansonnier' style of folk singing combined with a clipped Yorkshire delivery, his songs (all self-penned) can often bring a smile to my face. Sometimes satirical, sometimes sentimental, sometimes outrageous (be warned!), his works are difficult to categorise.

9 August 2010

I is for Ian Dury

"Summer, Buddy Holly, the working folly
Good golly Miss Molly and boats
Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet
Jump back in the alley and nanny goats"

Ian initially rose to fame as founder and lead singer of The Blockheads, who were amongst the most popular London-based groups from the New Wave era in the UK. Here was a working-class hero who was struck with polio at the age of seven, winning through to form The Blockheads in the late Seventies. The group saw great success with hits like 'What a Waste' 'Reasons To Be Cheerful' and 'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick'. Ian's obituary in The Guardian read: "one of few true originals of the English music scene".

8 August 2010

H is for Happiness and Harmony

"Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
And looks to that alone;
Laughs at impossibilities,
And cries it shall be done."

The title of this entry refers of course to the little blue Salvation Army songbook supplement, produced by the Army during the Eighties when I first started attending. This is listed here to represent the variety of Christian worship music that I listen to, both traditional SA and modern stuff. Personal favourites include worship music played on the piano, so the works of Richard Phillips are in my collection.

7 August 2010

G is for Peter Gabriel

"Don't give up
'cos you have friends
Don't give up
You're not beaten yet
Don't give up
I know you can make it good"

Peter Gabriel first came to fame as the lead singer and flautist of Genesis, but I first discovered his work when he developed his own solo career, singing with the aforementioned Kate Bush. Just check out 'Games Without Frontiers' and 'Don't Give Up' for their memorable work together. And then there's other classics, like 'Sledgehammer', 'Biko' and 'Solsbury Hill'.

6 August 2010

F is for Flanders and Swann

"... and it all makes work for the working man to do..."

The comic songs of Michael Flanders (1922–1975) and Donald Swann (1923–1994) are classics of their genre.

The duo started performing together on stage in the 1950s, with Flanders' witty lyrics and comic monologues, accompanied by Swann on the piano. As Flanders suffered from poliomyelitis, both men were seated for their shows: Swann behind his piano; Flanders in a wheelchair. Most will recall 'The Hippopotamus Song' and 'I'm A Gnu', but there's many more gems in their repertoire. Worth a look!

5 August 2010

E is for Enya

"Let me sail, let me sail, let the Orinoco Flow
Let me reach, let me beach on the shores of Tripoli"

Eithne Patricia Ní Bhraonáin, often known as Enya Brennan, is an Irish vocalist with a remarkable musical talent. Enya's work first became known to me through the song "Orinoco Flow", a song with particular significance to my wife and I through our early married life.

Enya's family are of course the founders of the group Clannad, whose haunting melodies we recall from the TV series 'Robin of Sherwood'. The group consists of her sister Moya Brennan and her brother Ciarán Brennan, with their twin uncles Noel and Pádraig Duggan. Enya herself was a member of Clannad at one time, as was her brother Pól Brennan (who co-wrote "The Theme from Harry's Game" with Ciarán).

4 August 2010

D is for Deborah Harry

"Ooh baby, I hear how you spend night-time:
Wrapped like candy in a pure blue neon glow.
Fade away and radiate..."

Deborah Harry is perhaps best known as an early punk icon, the lead singer of 'Blondie'. With her bleach-blonde hair, Debbie (as she was known then) soon earned her place in rock history as an Eighties rock icon. Building upon that, Deborah has since become an established singer–songwriter, performing as a solo artist, and as part of 'The Jazz Passengers'. She has also become an actress with over 30 film roles and several TV appearances to her credit.

3 August 2010

C is for Captain Of Her Heart

"Too long ago, too long apart, she couldn't wait another day for
the captain of her heart."

"The Captain of Her Heart" was a single for a Swiss group called Double in the last Eighties. A beautiful and rather moody song that captured the public's attention for a while, it was popular around the time I started going out with Christine.

This was also the song that Chris and I chose for our first dance together at our wedding.

2 August 2010

B is for Kate Bush

"I must admit, just when I think I'm king, I just begin."

Kate Bush is probably the first musician that ever influenced me in a positive way. Only three years older than me, her unique musical style quickly grabbed my interest in my late teenage years, however it was the quality of her writing and depth of her lyrics that kept me following.

Kate's musical works tackle a number of sensitive and taboo subjects. Favourites include a poignant waltz about a mother mourning the death of her son, killed in active service ("Army Dreamers"); an energetic song about self-confidence and our search for knowledge ("Sat In Your Lap"); a ballad for the Indigenous Australians ("The Dreaming"); incest and subsequent pregnancy ("The Kick Inside"); and the teachings of Jesus and Gurdjieff ("Them Heavy People").

1 August 2010

A is for Adam Ant

"Have you ever had a ride in a light blue car?
Have you ever stopped to think
Who's the slave and who's the master?"

I'm sure I'm not alone when I acknowledge the influence of music in my life during my teens and twenties. My musical tastes have always been rather eclectic, including the music from a young art student called Stuart Goddard.

The rise in popularity of Adam and the Ants has been well documented, from their transition from a late Seventies punk band to a group of post-punk chart-toppers in the early Eighties. Their style was original with a distinctive double-drum sound, combined with the use of flamboyant styles from history in advertising and promotional videos. It caught my attention as the sound was so different from other music at that time. The fact that a lot of young ladies followed the group at the time was also an important factor!