Shards, Sweepings, Stealings, Sayings, Secrets

Month: March, 2012


The record charts of the 1960s were full of such good music that I wouldn’t know where to begin if I had to list it all. There always seemed to be a Beatles and Stones single in the Top 10, and everyone would impatiently await the next one. Kids often fell into two groups: the Beatles fans and the Stones fans. (The Beatles were grudgingly accepted by one’s parents, but the Stones were definitely hors des limites.) I myself adored both the Stones and the Beatles equally.

Michelle, ma belle
These are words that go together well
My Michelle

Michelle, ma belle.
Sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble,
Très bien ensemble.

I love you, I love you, I love you.
That’s all I want to say.
Until I find a way
I will say the only words I know that
You’ll understand.

Michelle, ma belle.
Sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble,
Très bien ensemble.

I need to, I need to, I need to,
I need to make you see,
Oh, what you mean to me.
Until I do I’m hoping you will
Know what I mean.

I love you…

I want you, I want you, I want you.
I think you know by now
I’ll get to you somehow.
Until I do I’m telling you so
You’ll understand.

Michelle, ma belle.
Sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble,
Très bien ensemble.

I will say the only words I know that
You’ll understand, my Michelle.


I don’t know that I can live without music. If I did have to exist without it, my world would be a much poorer and drabber place. I like all sorts of music — rock, folk, blues, classical, some jazz — and my musical taste seems to have widened as I’ve got older. My favourite pop music era is the era of my youth: the 1960s and 70s. I completely lost the plot in the 80s when punk gave way to glam, dance, trance, house, electro, techno, Euro disco, hip hop and R & B. (Michael Jackson, Madonna — sorry, no thanks!)

I received my pop/rock music education through radio programmes such as Two-Way Family Favourites, Children’s Favourites, Sounds Of The 70s, John Peel‘s Top Gear, and through radio stations such as the pirates Radio Luxembourg, Radio Caroline and Radio London, and later the BBC’s Radio 1. I remember the first three vinyl 45 rpm singles I bought were, rather embarrassingly, The ArchiesSugar, Sugar, Glenn Campbell‘s Wichita Lineman and Roger Whittaker‘s Durham Town, with The MonkeesI’m A Believer following close behind no doubt. And my first three vinyl 33 rpm LPs — which hopefully gives me a lot more cachet, credibility and cool points — were Emerson, Lake And Palmer by Emerson, Lake And Palmer, Led Zeppelin III by Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan‘s Greatest Hits Volume I. (I remember my sister had James Taylor‘s Sweet Baby James, Carole King‘s Tapestry and John Lennon‘s Imagine — all classic albums with a legendary status today.)

Classical music I scarcely understood at all until I chose Music for ‘O’ Level and properly listened to Debussy‘s Children’s Corner Suite, Haydn‘s Surprise Symphony and Schubert‘s Schöne Müllerin song cycle. It was a revelation. And when Mr Snowley, our music teacher, placed Bach‘s Brandenburg Concerto No 5 on the turntable — well, I was transfixed. But the real moment of epiphany came when I heard the last movement of Brahms‘s First Symphony. The main melody I found so ravishing that I’ve never forgotten the deliciously melting effect it had on me. I wanted more, much more of this. So I joined the school choir and sang tenor then bass in Handel‘s Messiah for several years.

But back to pop music, which is what this series is all about. My last post featured Cat Stevens whose well-crafted, folksy yet quite sophisticated songs were very much in vogue at the time. This post features the pop curiosity Dominique by The Singing Nun, which was a smash hit in 1963 — even outselling Elvis for a while.


Oh very young
What will you leave us this time?
You’re only dancing on this earth
For a short while
And though your dreams may toss
And turn you now
They will vanish away
Like your Daddy’s best jeans
Denim blue fading up to the sky
And though you want him to last
Forever you know he never will
You know he never will
And the patches
Make the goodbye harder still.

Oh very young
What will you leave us this time?
There’ll never be a better chance
To change your mind
And if you want this world
To see a better day
Will you carry the words of love
With you will you ride
The great white bird into heaven?
And though you want to last
Forever you know you never will
You know you never will
And the goodbye
Makes the journey harder still.

Oh very young
What will you leave us this time?
You’re only dancing on this earth
For a short while
Oh very young
What will you leave us this time?

Bright Star

Yesterday I saw for the first time Jane Campion‘s film Bright Star — about the beautiful, tragic love affair between John Keats and Fanny Brawne. I really liked the film; it was very romantic, and quite gorgeous to look at.

Bright Star

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art–
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors–
No–yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever–or else swoon to death.

John Keats (1795-1821)

The Elimination Of Non-Essentials

“The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” Lin-Yu-Tang

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris

I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more I want to declutter. Not just the junk one accumulates in the home — redundant LPs and music cassettes, antique mobile phones, 1980s ornaments which were hideous then and even more hideous now, broken electrical appliances which will never be fixed, clothes which will never be worn again, odd bits of wood and metal and cloth and plastic which were saved as they ‘might come in useful’ but never did, packets of herbs and spices years past their sell-by date — but the junk one accumulates in the mind: all that useless dwelling on what might have been, what could happen in the future, what I should have done, what I ought to do, what my favourite celebrity has for breakfast, what is the meaning of life.

Also, the older I get, the less happy I am about doing things I don’t want to do and tolerating people I don’t want to be with. Why should I waste my time being debilitated by people with negative energy when I could be enjoying the company of people I actually like? This may sound a little selfish, but I do feel I’ve ‘done my time’ putting myself out for those who show precious little appreciation for my pains. Life is what you make it, and sometimes you have to make it fit you rather than futilely trying to mould it for others and partially destroying yourself in the process. I suppose I’m more impatient now than when I was younger — impatient to live life to the full. And I find you can only live life to the full, with freedom and flexibility, if you keep your possessions to the minimum and your thoughts free from negativity and self-destructive doubts, fears, anxieties and regrets. Not always easy at times …

Whitman’s “Religio”

“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and the sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy … argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people … go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families … dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body …”

From Walt Whitman‘s original preface to Leaves Of Grass