Wednesday, 19 July 2017

A Song for My Dad.....Daddy Take Me Fishing

We were out in the countryside with friends one day a few years ago. I can't now remember where we'd been, but on the way home I realised that we would soon be passing close to a place I used to go to with my father when I was a child. Dad enjoyed fishing - coarse fishing, that is fishing for freshwater fish that are not game fish... roach, dace, tench, perch.... and he would take any chance to go fishing in the summer to lakes and particularly on the River Severn. I realised that day that we would be going past Atcham, a hamlet on the Severn... it had been one of Dad's favourite fishing spots, and I used to love to go along. I learned the names of the fish that he caught, but most of all I loved to just potter and play along the river bank, looking at the flowers, the dragonflies and the butterflies, enjoying the sun and the air and the country sounds.

I wanted to see it again - to see that riverbank by the old stone bridge, for the first time in fifty years. Long-Suffering-Husband and our friends waited for me in the local hostelry while I walked across the bridge and down to the riverside. I walked along the river bank, saw what had changed, what had stayed the same. It was a very profound and unsettling experience that I was not prepared for. Although the grass had grown very long on that riverside meadow, and the bushes at the edge of the bank were larger, seeming not to have been cut back recently, that riverbank and the views around it seemed at the same time to be unchanged, it was like being taken back in an instant to my childhood - it was as if, if I had turned round suddenly I could have seen my Dad sitting by the river, quietly watching his float, waiting for a bite. It actually literally took my breath away. When I rejoined the others I couldn't speak, could hardly breathe, and I admit the tears flowed. Dad was gone too young, in his fifties, a victim of cancer. When he died I was still in my teens.

How precious those simple days of childhood were.

Last autumn I started to write a song in tribute to Dad, and to those special times together. I left it unfinished until a couple of months ago, when I managed to complete it.

The plan for yesterday was to go to this month's meeting of the Stourbridge Branch of the GFS, the George Formby Society. The weather was gorgeous so we decided to take another trip to the Severn before going from there straight to the meeting. So we went to Arley, a real quiet beauty spot on the river between Bewdley and Bridgnorth, and another one of Dad's favoured fishing places. It was heavenly... no traffic noise, just the sound of splashing of the shallow waters over the stones in the river, breeze in the trees, birds calling, and the quiet chatter of some people fishing just the other side of some bushes on the riverbank. We sat there quietly, drinking in the tranquillity for about half an hour. I said to LHS, "I think I'll sing my fishing song at the meeting tonight...."

And I did. First time I've sung it for an audience - I think they liked it!

So here it is, my song for Dad... video'd just after I finished writing it.

Thanks for dropping in! Do drop in again!

(You might notice that this is on a new YouTube channel that I've started just for my own songs. There's only a few on there right now, I'll be adding more of my songs as time goes on....)

Monday, 10 July 2017

The joy of sound, the joy of silence

Beethoven's 7th Symphony. Have you ever listened to it? It's very dramatic, a stunning piece of work... Beethoven himself described it as "one of my best works".... but he wrote it in 1811-1812 at a time when he had become almost completely deaf. Makes you think, doesn't it... the composer could hear what he wanted in his mind, and was able to translate it onto a written score, although he could never hear it for real... certainly it brings home just how much we value our hearing. About a year ago I lost my sense of smell, which also severely affects the ability to taste. I do just count myself lucky that it wasn't my hearing or my sight that has gone AWOL! Playing and listening to music is so very important to me.

I also value silence... real silence. My (Long Suffering) Husband has to have noise around him most of the time. He will have music playing in his work room, a radio on in the kitchen, and the TV may well be on in the living room. I can live with this... well, most of the time! He also enjoys the radio on during the night, something I can't tolerate so he has to use earphones. His need for sound is different from mine. And sometimes when I'm home alone, like right now, I enjoy the peace of having no radio, no deliberate noise, just the silence, peace and quiet. But it's the yin and yang, the black and white, the contrast, the fulfilment of different needs at the time.

On a holiday to Tunisia some years ago, we went on a wonderful three day trip south to the Sahara. We saw some amazing sights on the road south... a Roman coliseum, (El Jem) oases, miles and miles and miles of olive plantations, and shimmering, endless multi-coloured salt flats... but the thing that probably made the greatest impression on me was the utter silence of the Saharan dunes. I remember sitting there at the top of a dune, the other trippers around me, and each one of us was in total awe as we gazed at the landscape of the dunes, and listened to the sound of silence.

No sound. nothing, not at all... no traffic in the distance, no birds... not even, that day, a breath of wind.

And no one spoke, for several minutes. It would have been a sort of desecration.

The introduction of sound into silence, and vice versa, is a hugely important and effective part of musical composition and performance. Dynamics, variety in the volume of the music, is directly related to this, and it's something that I know I don't pay enough attention to as a player. But today I vow that I will, in future.

So that's my thought for the day. Sound and silence. Now I'm going to make myself a coffee before LSH comes home and switches on the radio! Silence is sometimes golden. Just sometimes... but I do recommend Beethoven's 7th if you've never heard it! To think that we can hear it, where he never could...

Thanks for joining me for a few minutes. I appreciate it. I won't be gone too long....