The Saturday Shuffle – Week 11

Another Saturday means another shuffle extravaganza is upon us. Thanks to the magic of technology, I’m actually busy doing something else right now, but here are the five tracks my phone shuffle threw up this week (not literally, of course)…

  1. Grown Ocean – The Fleet Foxes. Another of my favourite bands, the Fleet Foxes are just brilliant. This is the last track from their second album, ‘Helplessness Blues’, and it’s a treat.
  2. The World Tonight – Paul McCartney. Remember when it was the cool thing to mock Mr McCartney for ‘selling out’? Well, the Beatles Anthology thing came along and the next year, we got his ‘Flaming Pie’ album full of groovy tracks like this.
  3. Simple – Nick Harper. More of the magnificent Mr Harper. This is a simple song about simple stuff. It’s a little over-produced (I’m a sucker for his live act), but still a great song.
  4. Across The Universe – The Beatles. Carrying on with yet another brilliant song, this is one of John Lennon’s spiritual tracks written during the Rishikesh stay when they were all seeking a meaning to everything. There is a sub-standard cover version currently doing the rounds on a Samsung advert.
  5. Return To Sender – Elvis Presley. Remember the days when you had to write a letter to people in order to tell them things? Well, this is a song about writing to that special someone, only for the damned letters to come back to you, unopened. Call it unrequited love, or maybe just a crap postman…

And that is the end of that. With the start of the football season now upon us, this is the last shuffle for the time being – my Saturday afternoons will be filled with avoiding football…


The Saturday Shuffle – Week 5

Good Afternoon, everybody! It’s another scorching day in the Shire, and I’m sure you’ve been waiting with baited breath for this next instalment! ‘Will there be more sodding Beatles tracks’, you’re possibly wondering…

  1. One of the 38 – Nick Harper. No, not the character from My Family played by Kris Marshall, this is the son of sixties/seventies folk rock stalwart Roy Harper (who happened to be mates with Led Zeppelin, so you can imagine the upbringing Nick had). He’s a genius with a guitar – if you get the chance, see him live. You’ll be falling over yourselves to thank me. This is a fairly recent song, and enjoyable at that.
  2. Sexy Sadie – The Beatles. It’s the greatest band ever. Again. Allegedly written by John about the Maharishi from their time in India (it was definitely written by John, the allegedly relates to the subject matter). Rumour has it that the spiritual leader tried it on with a lady when he’s supposed to be above all that sort of thing.
  3. Song 2 – Blur. Woo Hoo! Two minutes of dirty, heavy rock from the ‘Blur’ album that was such a massive departure from what went before. Let the head banging commence!
  4. If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next – Manic Street Preachers. A long song title. If my memory serves me correctly (which it sometimes does), this was about the Spanish Civil War. Which is nice.
  5. St Louis Slim – Seasick Steve. A bit of blues to finish off this week’s shuffle. Seasick Steve shot to UK fame off the back of an appearance on Jools Holland’s show and hasn’t looked back since. This is from the ‘Best Of’ album I purchased recently, because, sometimes, you need some Seasick Steve in your life.

And so ends this week’s shuffle. See you next week!!

Song Title Short Story #8

Breathe – Nick Harper

Tom sat on the park bench on the hill overlooking the lake. He knew exactly where he was, yet somehow he felt lost. Bereft. He watched the clouds drift across the late afternoon sky. The sun, starting to begin it’s final dip below the horizon, gave the clouds a golden hue that an artist would be proud of. People passed him by, ignorant of Tom as he sat there with the little plastic bag on the bench next to him.

It was only three hours since he’d left the hospital with the bag containing his mum’s belongings. He was in a total daze, and his autopilot had guided him to this spot. This spot where he’d spent so many hours and days with his mum – talking, laughing, arguing, and forgiving – throughout his life from when he was a small boy right up until the day she told him she was ill. His mobile phone buzzed in his pocket, no doubt it was his girlfriend, Clare, wanting to make sure he was okay – his last communication had been a simple text typed through teary eyes in the hospital car park to say his mum had died. He reached into his pocket and saw his hunch was correct. He answered and let Clare know he was alright and would be home soon. He wasn’t quite ready for a lengthy conversation just yet. He returned the phone to his pocket and sighed deeply, looking out into the distance.

He had no idea what to do. His mum had always been there for him through good times and bad. She’d comforted him every time he got his heart broken by women, and given him the thumbs up every time he brought the next girlfriend home to meet her. She’d been at every exhibition opening night, watching her son proudly showing his art, beaming with pride from the sidelines where she preferred to be. Blushing every time Tom thanked her in his speeches. In the absence of his dad, she had been two parents rolled into one – with the patience of a saint through his awkward teens. He remembered the bollocking she gave him when he came home with a tattoo on his chest, and the times she’d waited up for him on his drunken nights out with his mates. Never angry at his level of inebriation, just glad to have her son back safely.

But all that was gone now. All he was left with was the memories. A gentle breeze rustled the bag. Tom instinctively moved his hand to hold the bag, for fear that the wind might snatch away his mum’s belongings, and with them the last memories of her, even though he had a whole flat full of her things to sort through. He sat there and just for a moment, thought he could hear his mother calling his name. He blinked away what he assumed were tears, but it was raining. He stood up and walked home.

300 Days of Beer – Day 73

Day 73 – 27th April 2015

300BeersMore beer drinking is in order tonight after an evening off. I had a most enjoyable evening in Shrewsbury watching the great Nick Harper in action, and managed to get a couple of ales in – sadly I had already crossed them off the 300 Days of Beer list. But anyway, on to this evening’s delight, it’s ‘Ducking Stool’ from the Mayfields Brewery in Leominster. For more on what they can offer, why not head over to



The Live Fantastic!

You will all know that I love my music. More often than not you will find me listening to a CD, or the radio, or music stored on my fancy all-singing-all-dancing  mobile phone. The collection of CD’s in our house is extensive to say the least, ranging from Air to Paul Weller, with the odd embarrassing offering such as Dido, or Jools Holland (apparently). But what I really enjoy is a good live show. I’ve been to a few in my time, and for me, you can’t beat the experience. To hear the songs you love played before your very eyes as you stand or sit there is quite a feeling I’m sure you’ll agree.

Anyone can make a record in a studio, and make it sound good with production and studio trickery, but it takes real skill to then play those songs in front of a live audience, without the safety of constant re-takes if they get it wrong. Aside from playing the songs, they then have to engage with the audience and make it an enjoyable show for the people that have paid to see them.

Of all the gigs I’ve been to in my time, a few stand out for different reasons.

Firstly, there’s the time I saw Paul McCartney live at the docks in Liverpool. Two hours or so of some of the best music ever made performed by a member of the greatest band of all time. And I was there.

Then there’s the time I went with Marisa to see the Fleet Foxes at the Wolverhampton Civic. It was our first music gig that we went to together, and the performance was amazing as they recreated their enchanting melodies perfectly and charmed the audience in the process.

I’ve been to see Cast a total of four times, twice in their prime, and then twice more after their reformation. In fact I saw them twice in one year – April 2012 with Marisa and Dale, and then again in December 2012, this time just Dale and I. Which brings me on to my next gig memory…nick harper

In April this year, I took Marisa to Wolverhampton to see my new obsession, The Hummingbirds. I’d first seen them at the Cast gig when they were the support act, and I was blown away then, and that was just a half hour set. This time, they were playing for much longer. To hear all the songs I’ve grown to like played live pretty much as they were recorded, right down to the mind blowing vocal harmonies, was pretty damned special.

And most recently, just this week, we trekked all the way to Stockport to see the legend that is Nick Harper. I’ve seen him twice before and have been totally gobsmacked by what he can do with his guitar. He was recommended to me in the first place by my friend Doug, and boy am I (and Marisa) glad he did! Seriously folks, you have to see this guy live!