World On Fire! It’s Music Monday and it’s hot hot hot!

I LOVE a bit of heat! Yes, there is a double meaning to that. 😉

Let’s get the weather out of the way. This week has been toasty, even when it’s been raining. Since we bought an air conditioning unit a few years ago, this is not a problem when it comes to a good night’s sleep. As for the daytime, bring on the heat! The car is air conditioned, too. Shades on, visor down. When not working, I’ve actually been able to sit in the garden. Sometimes with a beer.

World On Fire album artwork. Bonkers.

World On Fire album artwork. Bonkers.

So, the other kind of hotness…my fave rock musicians Slash, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators have just released their new single ‘World On Fire’. It’s AWESOME! Link is below. Rock fans – give it a listen. Amazing guitar from Slash (duh) and fantastic vocals from Mr Kennedy and his back up singer (and bassist) Todd ‘Dammit’ Kerns. So much talent in this band. No video as yet, but I’m sure there’ll be one soon. In the meantime, feast your ears!
I can’t wait until the full album comes out in September. I also can’t wait to hear this high energy track live. Unfortunately, this won’t happen until December. Oh well, it’ll heat up the chilly Scottish winter.
(Warning to sensitive people: there is a pretty obvious swear towards the end. I love it when Mr Kennedy swears – he’s the nice boy of rock ‘n’ roll, so it always gives me a thrill when he’s bad. And it fits the song. So there.)

Todd, Myles, Slash and Brent. Too much talent and hotness in one band.

Todd, Myles, Slash and Brent. Too much talent and hotness in one band.

Also on the subject of hotness: checking my stats for the last week, you know what people have been searching for? Sexy poems. Well well. As it happens, I have a few of those on here, and some more waiting to be added. Must be something in the air… 😉

Happy St. Patrick’s Day Music Monday!

If this blog post is full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, blame the Guinness. I’m writing this after a couple of pints of the lovely stuff.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! As a fellow Celt, I love the Irish and their beautiful country. I have visited the Emerald Isle, but not nearly enough – must go back soon.

A much younger me on the top floor of The Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

A much younger me on the top floor of The Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

I’m actually typing this the day before, but we’ve had an early celebration in our house, as hubby is working all of St. Paddy’s Day itself. Hence the reason I’ve had some Guinness. I love Guinness – I’m not just drinking it for St. Paddy’s. It’s been my pint of choice since my University days. I used to be able to get through a lot more of it, but never mind… 😉

Great music and musicians of all sorts have come out of Ireland. One of the things I enjoyed when I visited was just wandering into a pub, and finding people playing and singing. Some of you may know that I love folk music as well as being a rock chick. So we’re having a traditional Irish number today (although I first heard this performed by a Scottish singer. Hello, Steve Eaglesham). ‘Star of the County Down’ is an old Irish ballad set near Banbridge in County Down, in Northern Ireland. The words are by Cathal McGarvey (1866–1927) from Ramelton, County Donegal. This song has been widely performed and recorded, but I’ve gone for the version by Van Morrison and The Chieftains.

When I visited Dublin, many years ago, one of the singers in the Temple Bar area asked for requests, so I chose this – and got complimented on my smile by a smooth-talking Irish musician. He was lucky I was still standing, never mind smiling, as I’d had about eight pints of Guinness by then. I’d be in hospital if I had that many now. Ah, the foolishness of youth…

The video is a leetle cheesy (apologies to its maker), but has some good pics from the Emerald Isle. Sláinte! 🙂

What? Writing (and singing) about werewolves??

Pic courtesy of anandala.org

Pic courtesy of anandala.org

The crazy cat lady has taken time off from kitties recently, to write about dogs (cue hissing and spitting from the resident felines). Well, wolves – okay, werewolves, to be precise. And guess what? I’ve got a Music Monday song on werewolves here, too!

Some of you know that the wonderful Mari Wells hosted a month of all things werewolf in February, to celebrate the festival of Lupercalia. She was kind enough to feature a story of mine called The Change. This was originally written for an Open University Creative Writing course assessment. I got a pretty good mark for it, but one thing my tutor asked was ‘What happened next?’ I split the original story into two parts, and have answered my tutor’s question by writing a third part. I’m editing that at the moment, and it should appear on here soon.
Follow the links to read The Change (Part 1) and The Change (Part 2), if you want to. 🙂

The Change is sort of a prequel to More, a serial I started a while back. It wasn’t the story I intended to write for my coursework. There’s a young man who features in the More story, and I was going to write about him. My lead character had other ideas! Anyway, More, and my werewolves, will be an ongoing thing. My head is full of ideas for future stories – must get writing!

So…big howls of love to Mari Wells for featuring me during Werewolf Month. Here’s a mad song to say thank you. I’ve gone for an unofficial video, as it has lots of cool werewolf artwork. Some of the pics are not the best quality, but they give an idea of the different portrayals of werewolves. Yes, it’s Warren Zevon, with ‘Werewolves Of London’. (Rock fact: Mick Fleetwood and John McVie of Fleetwood Mac play drums and bass on this track).

Music Monday: Fairytale of New York

Our Christmas decorations are up! Hubby must put them up on 1st December. He can’t wait any longer. He’s a big kid really!

He decorates the outside of the house, while I do the tree and the indoor decorations. We have a real tree for the first time in years. It’s huge! It does look lovely though.

My lovely hubby, and my lovely Christmas tree! Hubby is six feet tall, so you get an idea of the tree size...

My lovely hubby, and my lovely Christmas tree! Hubby is six feet tall, so you get an idea of the tree size…

I also have cinammon-scented pine cones. I’ve been seeing them in the garden centre every Christmas for ages and saying ‘I must get some of those’. Finally, I got some – and between them and the piney scent of the tree, the whole house smells gorgeous.

I know some of you will be saying ‘Bah Humbug! How can you be doing Christmas things already?’ Truth is, I love it. I’ve always loved Christmas, but sadly in the household I grew up in it wasn’t a happy occasion. I’m not going to go into why in this post. Maybe I’ll explain some other time. But I always wanted Christmas to be magical (probably through reading too many books where it was), and ever since I left my childhood home, and especially since being with hubby, I’ve endeavoured to make it that way.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that there’s far too much consumerism and that the goodwill often gets lost. I try not to lose sight of the fact that it’s about love, not how big a tree you have or how many presents you’ve got. (Says the person with the ridiculously big tree). I know Christmas is a difficult time for many. Anyway, that leads me on to…

…Christmas songs. I love them too. The carols, the cheery ones, and of course the cynical ones… My Music Monday choice this week definitely falls into the latter category. Frequently voted the best Christmas song ever, Fairytale of New York, performed by the unlikely pairing of The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, was first released in November 1987. It has been re-released several times since, and re-enters the charts every Christmas.

The song tells an Irish immigrant’s story about Christmases past while sleeping off a binge in a New York City drunk tank. It becomes a back-and-forth between the male and female characters of the story, their youthful hopes crushed by alcoholism and drug addiction, as they reminisce and bicker on Christmas Eve.

Kirsty MacColl’s melodious singing contrasts with the harshness of Shane MacGowan’s voice, and the lyrics are sometimes bittersweet — sometimes purely bitter: ‘Happy Christmas your arse/I pray God it’s our last’. The title, taken from author J.P. Donleavy’s novel A Fairy Tale of New York, was chosen after the song had been written and recorded.

Since Kirsty MacColl’s untimely death in 2000, the song has become even more poignant. It’s been a favourite of mine ever since it was first released. During my University years, a friend and I used to give a rendition of it at pub sing-songs. Not sure how well we did it, but it always went down a treat (possibly because our audience was inebriated). 😉

Here’s Fairytale of New York and the wonderful video that accompanies it. (Look out for an appearance by actor Matt Dillon, as the cop).

Music Monday: Gerry Rafferty – Baker Street

You know those songs that give you goosebumps? For me, Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty is one of those. I can’t remember when I first heard it. It seems as though I’ve been hearing it forever, which is actually kind of true, as it was released when I was 7 years old. I think it made a proper impression on me when I heard it used in a play on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, when I was 18. The melancholy melody and that soaring saxophone still send shivers down my spine every time I hear it.

Pic courtesy of photographersdirect.com

Pic courtesy of photographersdirect.com

So why did I pick this song for Music Monday this week? Because I was thinking about Glasgow, and musicians. (Gerry Rafferty was born in Paisley, on the outskirts of Glasgow). I was going to write about my Alter Bridge gig in that city. However, I’m trying to put together a special video to go with that post, but my video-making skills aren’t quite there yet. By that, I mean I have no video-making skills so long-suffering hubby is having to do it. 😉 My mind then wandered off thinking about bands and musicians from Glasgow – and this guy and this song popped into my head.

Gerry Rafferty was born into a working-class family in Paisley in 1947. He joined the folk-pop group The Humblebums in 1969, along with another of Glasgow’s famous sons, Billy Connolly. That group disbanded in 1971, after which Gerry recorded his first solo album. He then formed the group Stealers Wheel with Joe Egan in 1972, producing several hits, most notably ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’. In 1978, Gerry recorded his second solo album, City to City, which included ‘Baker Street’, his most popular song.

According to his daughter Martha, the whole album was influenced by the book ‘The Outsider’ by Colin Wilson. Wilson, only 24 at the time, wrote the book in The British Library whilst sleeping rough on Hampstead Heath. Its themes are alienation, creativity and the banality of the modern mind-set. Martha says: ‘It was exactly these themes which my Father experienced during frequent trips down to London to deal with the machinations of the music business and it was ‘The Outsider’ which introduced him to the possibility that there was a way out, the means to transcend the ordinary. Hope. ‘Baker Street’ was born directly from these experiences and in that saxophone solo one can hear the soaring, transcendent optimism of the promise of a new life, a new way of living, the discovery that life could, indeed, be ultimately meaningful’. Indeed.

Gerry continued to make music until 2009, but he suffered from alcoholism all his life, and died of liver failure in 2011, aged 63. He left a legacy of great songs, and I think through this one he’ll live forever. So let that sax solo chase the Monday blues away. Enjoy!

Let the craziness commence!

Hello and goodbye! No, not forever, just for a week! Tomorrow is the start of my October holiday. Gigs, friends, shows, funfairs, ballrooms, cups of tea, pints of beer, too many calories…you get the idea.

As you all must know by now (unless you’ve been going la-la-la over my last few posts, and I wouldn’t blame you), I’m off to see awesome band Alter Bridge in concert on Monday AND Tuesday. They will be ably supported by other excellent bands Halestorm and Shinedown. So during the day for the first two days I will be standing in a queue, wearing lots of layers and drinking lots of coffee. In the evenings, I will be getting crushed against a barrier, singing screaming my head off and loving it. Some of you will be mystified by why this could be thought fun, but for me it is, honestly!

Then I’m off to Blackpool for a few days. Once more I will try and drag long-suffering hubby onto the Pepsi-Max Rollercoaster. He always wriggles out of it somehow. 😉 Blackpool, for those overseas readers who don’t know, is the quintessential British seaside town. It’s glitzy, it’s tacky, it’s chilly (at least at this time of year) and it’s fun. The reason we visit in October is for the Illuminations. The town is lit up by millions of bulbs, including the Tower (smaller version of the Eiffel Tower) and the Promenade (which is six miles long). This Lights Festival was founded in 1879 and runs from September to November.

Blackpool Illuminations

Blackpool Illuminations

Blackpool has three piers, which together with the town have theatres, fortune tellers, and all kinds of other attractions. There is also the Pleasure Beach, one of the most visited amusement parks in the world. It’s home to the massive rollercoaster I keep trying to get hubby to ride on. I think I like Blackpool so much because it reminds of my childhood. We were a seaside holiday sort of family. We didn’t go abroad for various reasons, so resorts like Blackpool were where I spent my summers. I won’t be paddling in the sea at this time of year, though!

When I get back, Halloween will be almost here! That’s an important day in our neighbourhood. More on that next time. On the day itself, Jennifer M Zeiger will be guesting on my blog, talking about scary anthology Midnight Abyss, which is published on Halloween. I’ve read a few of the stories from this new book and they’re great. Looking forward to chatting with Jennifer, and reading Midnight Abyss whilst lying in wait for trick-or-treaters!

Well, I better sign off and start packing lots of woolly jumpers for my queueing and my seaside break. I can’t go without leaving you with an early Music Monday: one more song from Alter Bridge. This is a real crowd pleaser. From their Live at Wembley DVD, here’s ‘Rise Today’.

See you all in a week!

Music Monday: Shinedown

Next stop on the Rocktober countdown: Shinedown. I confess I got to know this band quite late, considering it’s ten years since they released their first album. I’d been hearing them on rock radio stations for years, but only started to pay proper attention when they released their third album, The Sound of Madness, in 2008. Their fourth album, Amaryllis, is one of those perfect, not-a-bad-song-on-it albums for me. I can happily drive around for hours listening to it.

Pic courtesy of maytherockbewithyou.com. L-R: Zach, Barry, Eric, Brent

Pic courtesy of maytherockbewithyou.com.
L-R: Zach, Barry, Eric, Brent

Shinedown formed in 2001. Of the original line-up, Brent Smith (vocals) and Barry Kerch (drums) remain, their current line-up featuring Eric Bass (bass) and Zach Myers (guitar). Don’t they do a good job of looking scary in this photo? 😉

Shinedown, along with Halestorm, are supporting the wonderful Alter Bridge on their UK tour – now only one week until I see them all! Yay! Lots of interconnections between these bands: many years ago in 2006, Shinedown played their first overseas concert in London supporting Alter Bridge. In 2010, Shinedown released a deluxe edition of their album The Sound of Madness, featuring the song ‘Breaking Inside’, with guest vocals from Lzzy Hale – great song. Wonder if they’ll sing it together on the tour? Halestorm’s ‘deluxe version’ of ‘Here’s To Us’ features both Brent from Shinedown and Myles from AB on guest vocals.

I think this line-up of bands for a gig is pretty near perfect. Each is a headline act in their own right, so it’s an icing-on-the-cake, cherry-on-top situation to see them altogether. I would also like to say here, that the ticket price is the same as it would be for one band of that calibre. I commend whoever resisted the chance to charge silly money for this tour – because they could have.

My video for this week is ‘Unity’ from Shinedown’s latest album Amaryllis. Shinedown’s music can be quite dark (same as Halestorm and AB – you detecting a pattern here?), but this track is really uplifting. Great concert footage, starting with one of those little mantras that bands chant, to get psyched up to go on stage. They all have them!

Enjoy!