A Charmed Life

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…have yourself a merry little christmas, let your heart be light…

sshhh can you hear that… it’s another Christmas jingle, another reason to love this time of year – for the many themed songs. chris3.jpgThe following are my favourite Chrimbo songs and because there are so many that made my shortlist, I have chosen these five solely on how the first few bars make me feel: HAPPY ♥ CHRISTMASSY ♥ NOSTALGIC ♥ COZY ♥ FAMILIAR

Driving Home for Christmas – Chris Rea (1988): Anticipating Christmas. I love Chris Rea’s husky voice, it gives a Father Christmas feel to the song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uey6VktC5ms

Fairytale of New York – The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl (1987): Dancing and drinkingchris4.jpg with friends at Christmas. This song reminds me of ZMFM back in Wellington because come every Christmas they would saturate the airwaves with this song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwHyuraau4Q

chris1.jpgLast Christmas – George Michael (1984): Remaining hopeful at Christmas. I know it is not your usual happy Christmas song but there something about George’s voice and the tune that makes me smile. Its enough to make me forget the actual words of the song. Around the time this song came out was also the time my crush on George Michael was taking hold and it would last a long while (you could say I was in denial for many years). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8gmARGvPlI

Do they know it’s Christmas – Band Aid (1984): Christmas with a consciencehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjQzJAKxTrE Nearly thirty years later this song is still completely relevant today. As I write this, this song has come on the radio.chris2.jpg Doesn’t matter what I am doing, every time I hear this song I will pause to feel the words. I never fail to tear up when Bono’s angelic voice sings ‘well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.‘ I know Christmas is a time to be with loved ones but I also like to remember those who are less fortunate and send a prayer their way. On a lighter note, I love the video as well, a who’s who of 80s Brit pop – a shame David Bowie couldn’t make it. And ignoring the seriousness of the lyrics for a sec, the bells ringing give the song an extra Christmas edge.


Feliz Navidad – José Feliciano (1970) – Be Merry. In contrast to the two previous songs, this is a happy ditty with a very simple sentiment. It makes me want to dance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMtuVP8Mj4o I will finish on this one… party hats on …  human chain at the ready… all together now, lets sing… ‘I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas, I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas, I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart.’




soundtrack of my life: At Last – Etta James

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music1Years ago I tagged along with my then boyfriend and his mates to the Montreux Jazz Festival, there I got to see among others Beth Orton, Radiohead, Flaming Lips, Natalie Cole and Jamiroquai perform. My stand out moment over the few days I was there in Switzerland, was when Natalie Cole sang ‘At Last.’ I had heard it before but I had never listened to the words and hearing it live literally took my breath away, I remember I cried. Since then I have heard it many times most notably the Etta James version and it is quite simply a beautiful love song. Beautiful enough for Barack Obama to have Beyonce sing at his inauguration. Not quite the type of song that makes you get jiggy with it but you can still dance to it nonetheless… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOKd8dsqqQU

soundtrack of my life: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

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When I was younger, after school on Fridays I would watch Solid Gold (American version of TOTP). For a while it was a favourite show, as I was developing my own music tastes and this show was one of the few forums for new music that was available (this being in Wellington, NZ and before pay tv and the internet) AND I fancied myself a Solid Gold dancer, so there I would be prancing around the living room AND better yet if I knew the song, out would come the hairbrush and I would be belting out the song as if I were the artist myself. You have to feel sorry for my loved ones having to suffer through this because I cannot hold a tune. bloghairbrush.jpgIn fact my singing is so bad that when as we got older, my little brother (the musically gifted one out of the two of us) would actually threaten me with physical harm if I didn’t shut up. Didn’t work though, to this day I still sing away if I like a tune wherever I am (it’s like that saying ‘sing, like there’s no one listening’ was written just for me ;-)). Anyway I digress… my ultimate hairbrush song is ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.’ I love the pairing of Marvin and Tammi (they created so many gems then left us way too soon) and I also love the backing music of The Funk Brothers, that Motown sound gets me going every time…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xz-UvQYAmbg

soundtrack of my life: Unfinished Sympathy – Massive Attack

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I was at a club recently and this song came on (thank you djjit) and it blew me away just like it does every time I hear it. There are so many elements to this song that make it a masterpiece that when I decided to write about it, words kept on spilling out of me; moving, harmonious, perfectly crafted, ethereal… the following is my attempt to make sense of why I believe this song is truly magnificent.

Firstly and maybe this is because I was as far away as I possibly could be but to me this song represented the London music/club scene at the time (and yes I know Massive are not from London but Bristol – London was pretty much same same to a seventeen year old stuck in New Zealand AND it would be years before I discovered the video was shot in LA by an Australian).  I so wanted to be in London at a club dancing to this song but that wouldn’t happen for another ten years (this says much about the timeless quality of the song in that it is still a mainstay in the club scene years after it was first released).

Then there is the song itself: the haunting musical arrangement (the classical alongside the electronic), the soulful voice of Shara Nelson and the poignant lyrics ‘Like a soul without a mind, In a body without a heart, I’m missing every part (you can feel the longing in those words, it is completely relatable) all layer together to make an emotional almost ethereal melody which is unusual to say for a dance song and even more so for an electronic dance song. They got it exactly right. Not only has this song stood the test of time, it is consistently listed on the top ten for the best song of all time by musos and I concur… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWmrfgj0MZI

soundtrack of my life: Everybody In The Place – The Prodigy

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music7I first saw The Prodigy in ’97 at Big Day Out (southern hemisphere’s attempt at a music festival). I remember they weren’t on the main stage so my friend and I had to trek all the way to where they were playing and then push our way to the front so we had very little time to stand around before they came on. And that they did and to this day the energy of that performance blows me away. I wish I could have bottled that energy to bring out on special occasions. Instead I am left with the memory of that epic performance.

At that time I had never experienced anything like it – the entire set they played had me moving and no I was not under any chemical influence – it was purely them at high voltage. I have seen them since and understandably it hasn’t been the same: they have got older, line ups have changed; but in the ’90s maybe early ’00s The Prodigy was it for me. Another reason for me to fall in love with England. This song reminds me of that moment in time in ’97… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY87o9IZXWg just try not moving when you listen to it.

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soundtrack of my life: Soul Power – James Brown

I went to a James Brown tribute night recently and whilst the night bordered on being tacky, what the night did showcase was how amazing James Brown’s body of work really was. It has been hard to pick just one song for this post. I keep listening to his songs, bobbing my head and moving my feet – loving them all. ‘Soul Power‘ captures the essence of the Godfather of Soul but if you have never really got into the man before, I would suggest giving ‘The Payback’, ‘Night Train‘, ‘Sex Machine’ and ‘Make it Funky’ a listen as well, oh hell just download his back catalogue and work your way through it – its so worth it… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4N-NrucQcB8

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soundtrack of my life: Those Magic Changes – Sha Na Na

This soundtrack that I’ve been slowly building on my blog is my trip down memory lane as I reach 40. The songs reflect back to happy moments in my life and that is why I’ve included this song. If you are born in my era I think Grease is a rite of passage… in the same way To Sir with Love was with the era before me and how Fresh Prince of Bel Air was with those after me.  I still remember the first time I saw Grease – at my best friend’s house during school holidays when I was 11 – she had it on video so I got to watch it often after that first viewing and to this day I have never tired of watching it.

I love the soundtrack of Grease – infectious and entertaining tunes – ‘Those Magic Changes’ is one of the less popular gems on it… Got to love a good Doo Wop… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWoyD5gtlWs

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soundtrack of my life: Touch Me When We’re Dancing – The Carpenters

Whenever I hear songs by The Carpenters, it takes me back to when I was younger, there is something so chilled and innocent in their harmonies. Although ‘Touch Me When We’re Dancing’ is actually a remake by them, I love their version, it is a beautiful romantic song. Karen Carpenter – thee with the angelic voice – gone too soon…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_vIhByz9aI


soundtrack of my life: Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac

music5The way I feel towards the Mac is the same sentiment shared by millions of fans so I know I am being completely unoriginal when I say I love, love, love Fleetwood Mac. Their music is an instant feel good factor for me. When I listen to them I can picture their jamming sessions: Mic Fleetwood on the drums, Lindsay Buckingham and John McVie on guitar and the melodic (and unique) voices of Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks – I feel every drum beat and guitar strum with such fervour that it makes me want to move. Hard to pick just one song from them because there are so many Mac gems but Go Your Own Way showcases their music brilliantly. I love Lindsay Buckingham’s guitar work on this version…   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OhwNAB7O5w