30 Day Music Challenge: Day Nine

Day Nine: A Song That You Can Dance To

A song that I can dance to? Well, I will dance to almost anything – whether anyone would say that I can dance is questionable. My problem with dancing is much like my problem with music in general – I’m terribly enthusiastic but utterly lacking in skill! I’ve taken dancing classes a few times – both Welsh folk dancing and ballroom don’t you know – but never really got very far. I can normally feign a reasonable waltz providing my partner doesn’t mind getting trodden on. I can also generally pull off a carefully structured dance routine – I was a dab hand at the dance to Saturday Night by Whigfield back in the day and I can still just about do the Macarena although I get a touch flustered when I’m at the front. 

Luckily for me the clubs and gigs I normally frequent rarely call for a foxtrot or a rendition of Tragedy so I usually get away with it – there’s nothing much that a bit of hip-wiggling, foot shuffling and, if all else fails, some jumping about won’t fix. Also, huge doses of over-enthusiasm tend to carry me through – I love to dance and ultimately I don’t care that I’m not very good! There are a few songs however that will always get me on the dancefloor – Build Me Up Buttercup by the Foundations is a long standing favourite as is Sweet Child O’Mine by Guns’n’Roses (to which I do a mean air guitar routine). 

There is, however, one song that I will always, always, always dance to – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers. This song reminds me almost exclusively of brilliant nights out – including 2am ceilidhs in Durham, girly nights out in Wrexham, wonderful weddings and last year’s utterly bonkers work Christmas party in Reflex. So, if you are ever out with me and this song comes on – well, you know what to expect!

“When I come home(When I come home), well I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who comes back home to you
And if I grow-old,(When I grow-old) well I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who’s growing old with you

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles
To fall down at your door

da da da (da da da)
da da da (da da da)”


30 Day Music Challenge: Day Five

I was doing so well and then a weekend got in the way, a fantastic weekend but not one involving much writing… I’m suspecting that this whole thing will probably take me a bit longer than 30 days but I doubt it matters that much.

Day Five: A Song That Reminds You of Someone

Thankfully today’s song was much easier to choose than last Friday’s… We all associate songs with people don’t we – my friend Louise used to get people calling her from clubs at 3am because they were playing “her” song (9 to 5 by Dolly Parton) but over the past couple of months there has been one person on my mind more than most.

Sadly, on Valentine’s Day this year my wonderful Nana passed away at the age of 92. Despite the fact that I have spoken or written those words at least a hundred times in the past two weeks it still doesn’t seem real – she was the absolute heart of our family and I don’t think I can express in words just how much we will all miss her. My childhood was defined by the time I spent with her – Holt, the village in which she lived, is as much home to me as where my parents live. My love for history certainly can be traced to Nana talking to me about the Romans, the Civil War and all the other facets of the history of a tiny village right on the English-Welsh border. When I went to university she wrote to me all the way through my first term, enclosing essentials like stamps and money for chocolate along with fervent wishes that I both keep warm and have fun.

Her legacy is far more however than my childhood memories – she bequeathed to all of us the knowledge of what it means to live life to the full. She went to university and had a long career as a teacher as well as looking after a husband and three children long before modern dilemmas about women “having it all”. Family, however, was a vitally important part of her life as were her many friends, some of them acquaintances of over 80 years standing. On the day of her funeral the sun shone and the church was packed with people which was a more than fitting tribute to how wonderful a person she was. She was an intelligent, warm and inspirational woman with a wickedly dry sense of humour and a deep interest in everything happening in the world right until the very end of her life. I can’t tell you how proud I am to be Dorothy Leyland’s granddaughter, I only know that if I’m half the woman she was I’ll count myself lucky.

One of my abiding childhood memories is going to church with Nana and listening to her singing in the choir – and my mum tells me that their house was always full of music when she was growing up. The song that always makes me think of Nana however is Dance the Night Away by the Mavericks. You see, when she was in her 80s she took up line dancing – along with lace-making, German and a hundred other pastimes – we used to joke that her social life was more active than any of ours! When my brother got married in 1998 Nana refused to go to bed until she’d danced to The Mavericks and ever since I’ve always smiled and thought of her whenever I heard Dance the Night Away.

“Here comes my happiness again
Right back to where it should have been
‘Cause now she’s gone and I am free
And she can’t do a thing to me

I just wanna dance the night away
With senoritas who can sway
Right now tomorrow’s lookin’ bright
Just like the sunny mornin’ light”

30 Day Music Challenge: Day Three

Well I’m racing through these aren’t I?! Day three already… Today’s question is particularly appropriate at the moment because despite grief, illness and the fact that it still isn’t spring I am actually very happy at the moment.

Day Three: A Song That Makes You Happy
In light of my simmering euphoria it’s difficult to find a song that doesn’t make me happy. However there are a few things which are guaranteed to put a smile on my face and the song I’ve chosen manages to combine both of them! Firstly, as anyone who has ever had the misfortune to be dragged to Reflex by me will know, I have a very soft spot for cheesy 80’s music. Spandau Ballet, Wham!, Europe, Journey – just name the song and I can guarantee I’ll have screamed and dragged an innocent victim onto the dancefloor as soon as it came on. In fact one of the reasons I love Glee so much is that cover of Don’t Stop Believing…

The other genre of music that makes me bounce up and down with joy however is Ska. I knew next to nothing about ska until I went to uni, I think the only ska band I’d ever heard of was Madness and I didn’t even know they were a ska band. However, Durham SU used to put on an alternative club night every term which was pretty much the only time you were likely to hear any kind of rock music in a club in Durham. The first time I went I was desperately trying to look cool and was sort of shuffling away to the music trying to work out if I’d put enough eyeliner on when my friend Katie started bouncing up and down to a song I’d never heard before. I think it was Kicking Pigeons by [spunge] but I couldn’t swear to that. Anyway that was when I discovered ska and also when I realised that having fun was far more important than looking cool.

Fast-forward seven years (really??) and, whilst I have learnt that not all ska is happy smily music – I live in Coventry these days and so appreciate the grim industrial wasteland invoked by Ghost Town – I still adore a bit of ska-based silliness. I saw Reel Big Fish last Sunday and it was such a fantastic gig – Kerry and I danced like mad things all night! On the basis of that alone I could probably pick any RBF song and go to my happy place but this was their last encore, it was brilliant and, as I said, I’m a true child of the 80’s. So here you go – Take on Me by Reel Big Fish! Happy, happy, happy!

“We’re talking away
I don’t know what
I’m to say I’ll say it anyway
Today’s another day to find you
Shying away
I’ll be coming for your love, OK?
Take on me, take me on”

30 Day Music Challenge – Day One!

One of my New Years’ resolutions was to blog more frequently which, given that it’s now March, is somewhat laughable. The last two months have, however, been high on life-related trauma and low on time to do things like blog, exercise or sit down. I’m going shamelessly plagarise the 30 Day Music Challenge idea from Andy, Nuala and Ness as it seems like a good way of getting into the habit…

Day One: Your Favourite Song
I avoid answering this question all the time. In fact I have spent DAYS thinking about this question and I’m still not convinced I know the answer. I’m quite faddy so the song I’m listening to at the moment tends to be my favourite. However there are some songs which stand out, the ones that get me through the happiest and saddest times in my life as well as the ones that get me out of bed and into work every morning. The song I’ve chosen – because I have for once managed to make a decision – could actually fit into a lot of the categories on this list. It makes me happy but it’s also made me cry. I know all the words, I’ve danced to it a million times and  it reminds me both of people and places I’ve loved. It’s also a song I’ve loved since I was little and had no idea who The Cure were or what the song was about, I just liked the chorus! Over the past couple of weeks I’ve thought about and listened to this song more than I have in years so choosing it seems particularly appropriate.

My favourite song is of course Friday I’m in Love. It’s a song which seems to run through the fabric of my life and even at the times in my life when hearing it made me sad it’s always been a song I loved. At the moment just hearing the opening bars makes me want to dance like a crazy person so, of all the songs that I love, this is officially the one I love the most.

“I don’t care if Monday’s blue
Tuesday’s grey and Wednesday too
Thursday I don’t care about you
It’s Friday I’m in love”