Today I have for you a newly released piece. I saw it on Spotify right when it came out, while I was on a camper trip with my family two weeks ago, and I really fell in love with it immediately. It’s so soothing. I sent it to our Sofi who says she now always listens to it before sleep because she likes it too. 🙂
and mentioned in that post about him also having been part of a Manchester-based band called Lucy Lagoon and that I’d like to share something from them with you in future. And that day has come now.
Lucy Lagoon is a four-piece band made up of four guys studying in Manchester, three of them at the BIMM (British and Irish Modern Music) Institute, and Morgan studying physics at Manchester uni. I was interested in this band since, as you probably know by now if you’re a regular here, my current
peep is Jacob Elwy, Morgan’s brother, and when I have a faza on someone I’m also definitely interested in any music or other creative endeavours that their family members might be making.
And I ended up liking Lucy Lagoon pretty much instantly when I heard their music. They’re an indie band but their music is influenced by a lot of different genres, from reggae to rock to jazz to blues to funk. I just like how the result of this combination sounds.
The members have all quite diverse backgrounds, being from different parts of the UK or outside of it. There’s Morgan Elwy (bass, percussion, vocals) who as you probably know is from north Wales, Joss Barry (guitars and keys) is from Essex, Zak Walker (vocals and guitars) is from Nottinghamshire and Yuri Lindegger (drums and percussion) is from Switzerland, where the band has also toured.
Now that Morgan has graduated from uni and no longer lives in Manchester, he has left the band and I don’t know if someone has replaced him or not, I wonder actually whether this is just something they’re doing only as part of their student life or whether they want to continue with this afterwards as well, it doesn’t seem like they have a huge outreach beyond the local area, and they’ve only released one EP in 2018. Here’s one song from this EP:
Today I thought we’d listen to something classical, or should we say romantic. The piece I want to show you today comes from harpist Laura Silberberg, who does mostly or perhaps even exclusively relaxing music. I’m not extremely familiar with her, I only started listening to her a bit last year. This piece is her interpretation of the famous theme composed by Pyotr Tchaikovsky for the ballet Swan Lake, or Lac des Cygnes in French. This theme will always remind me of a Swan Lake musical box I used to have as a child, which had small looking glasses on each side and a surface in the middle which was supposed to be a lake, with two figurines moving on it. I had a time in my life when I loved sophisticated figurines and collected them so I really liked this.
Earlier this month, I shared one piece from this harpist, called “Aventurine”. Since he’s quite new to me, I recently decided to dive deeper into his music and for today I chose this very soothing piece to share with you. 🙂
Today, let’s listen to another composition by the Irish harper Turlough O’Carolan, played by Lynn Saoirse. I recently shared one that was dedicated to Mrs. MacDermott, and I wrote there that the MacDermott family was very significant in O’Carolan’s life, as they were his patrons with whom he had a really good relationship. Even though there is a / in the title of this piece, which is common with Irish sets, this is only one piece, but simply known under two names. This is because the MacDermot Roe family also used the title of princes of Coolavin, and so naturally the daughter of a Prince of Coolavin was Princess of Coolavin. This is one of the most well-known compositions by O’Carolan.
Let’s listen to yet another, beautiful and cute lullaby today. It was written by a Finn of many talents – Tapio Rautavaara (1915-1979) – who was a successful athlete (javelin thrower and archer) and then (also successful) singer and actor. Some of his songs, from what I know, were quite big hits at the time of his career. While I don’t really feel them musically all that much as they just don’t stand out to me I guess and are totally not my thing, I like the lyrics of some of them, which are often humourous, sometimes a bit ironical and often have a fair bit of wisdom in them, in which they remind me of Cornelis Vreeswijk. Their political views were also very similar from what I know. It is not surprising then, with that similarity, that Cornelis Vreeswijk actually did an album consisting of Rautavaara’s songs that he – Vreeswijk – translated to Swedish. The album is called “En Spjutkastares Visor” (Songs of a Javelin Thrower) and was released in 1980. Among these songs is “Sininen Uni” in Finnish, or “Den Blåa Drömmen” in the Swedish translation, or Blue Dream in English – a lovely lullaby about the Sandman, or Nukkumatti in Finnish, or John Blund in Swedish (blund means close your eyes and is the imperative form of the verb blunda).
Sandman is one of my most favourite folklore characters, next to Jack Frost, selkies, changelings and some others, because I love sleep and dreams and I just really like the concept of the Sandman, so I instantly fell in love with this lullaby when I heard it for the first time and understood well enough (in Vreeswijk’s version).
Thanks to Spotify, a couple months ago I also came across a cover version in Finnish sung by Suvi Teräsniska and Arttu Wiskari, which speaks to me more than the original. And I thought that, because Finnish is just as beautiful a language in my opinion as Swedish, and because it’s interesting to hear how the song sounds in its original language, I would share this Finnish version too, and also I just plain like it, unlike the original.
I don’t speak Finnish (yet), so I don’t understand any of the Finnish lyrics, but I tried my best at translating the Swedish translation into English for you. I got Google to translate the Finnish one for me out of curiosity and it doesn’t seem like there are any huge differences between the two language versions, perhaps except for that, according to Google, the Finnish Nukkumatti “devours ice cream” whereas John Blund is better and gives you a sleepy cookie.
So today I thought we’d listen to a lullaby. I love love listening to lullabies, and not just for sleep. They are very comforting and often have either a fair bit of folklore in them or hide something interesting in between the lines about the times when they were sung/written, kind of like this one although in this one I guess it’s not even hidden very deeply at all but rather straightforward.
This lullaby was written by Cornelis Vreeswijk (one of my faza people, if you don’t know yet) for his son, Jack, and recorded on his debut album in 1964, so exactly the year when Jack was born. It reminds me of very old Polish lullabies, which often go something like this in a nutshell: sleep, my little baby, while you have the time for such luxuries, and while you sleep, grow very big and strong and grow very quickly, so you can start working right away, preferably tomorrow, and help your poor old mother or father because that’s how life works and once you’re big and strong you’ll only get to sleep after you die. I suppose it may not be just a Polish phenomenon but simply something I happened to notice with Polish lullabies specifically.
This lullaby is kind of similar to that pattern, and, given that Cornelis had a lot of knowledge of European folklore and various motives in it and used them a lot, I wonder if he knew about that lullabies actually used to be very much like that in the past and whether this similarity was intended. Here, little Jack, who can’t have more than half a year, is already being made aware of how life generally sucks and is all about making money, so he should take his time to sleep now when he has it. I’m not sure how good a strategy that seriously is to convincing your child to sleep, I’d be afraid I’m going to raise a neurotic and a ruminator who won’t sleep at night because of thinking about all the shitty stuff that is awaiting him in the future, but perhaps that’s just me as I’m a neurotic ruminator myself.
Whether this similarity to old lullabies was or was not intended, surely his main inspiration behind it, just like a lot of his other music, were his strongly socialist views, which shows clearly and I guess especially when you know about his leanings in this direction, but also, since it’s a lullaby, here I feel it isn’t as much in-your-face with the socialism as some of his other songs are. I – being anything but socialist – really love it, which I can’t say about all of his works because I simply do not agree with a lot of stuff in them. Whether you are a socialist or not, I guess most of us agree that adulting is shitty and the idea of being a carefree baby who can sleep the time away, be taken care of, have everything he wants and be free (because for Cornelis, from what we can assume from his other lullaby, one is only free when one is asleep) is more appealing, at least to us escapists for sure.
I also really love this song musically. Vreeswijk, while highly regarded in Sweden for his lyricism, language skills, expression and guitar style, is not considered the greatest composer and I totally agree, usually those of his songs who were composed by other people sound better. Yet there are some absolutely mind-blowing exceptions (I’m thinking “Grimasch om Morgonen” for example, which I’ve shared on my blog before) and “Vaggvisa” is one of them, at least to me. It’s just a simple tune and there’s just Cornelis and the guitar, but there’s something very grand about it.
For comparison, I also want to share with you a cover version from the album Cornelis vs Riedel, where there are Cornelis’ poems in Georg Riedel’s jazz arrangements, sung by his daughter Sarah Riedel and Nikolai Dunger, and a few of his already published songs but with new melodies composed by Riedel. Even though I’m not a huge fan of jazz, I really love this album because there’s just so much real feeling in it, so much care put into it and it’s very friendly for a jazz layman like myself. Their version does not have the same lyrics as the one Cornelis originally wrote for Jack, but they are from the film Rännstensungar (Guttersnipes), where Cornelis played Johan Fahlen and sang this lullaby in this shortened and more neutral, less personalised version to Ninni – the main character. – One day I may also share this song sung by Jack himself.
Below is my attempt at translating the lyrics (the original ones), very literally of course, just to give you an idea what this is about. I’ve always found that metaphor here about working hard as the cat very amusing, ’cause since which time do cats work hard. 😀 I don’t think this is a legit Swedish idiom, never heard of it, and I doubt it especially that it’s “the cat”, so it looks like he means some specific cat. I wonder why is that, perhaps just for the sake of rhyming? As for the factory thing in the lyrics, among quite a few things that Cornelis did before becoming a singer and poet, he did work in a factory for a while.
And for today, I chose a song from my other faza peep, Gwilym Bowen Rhys, from his album Detholiad O Hen Faledi I (A Selection of Welsh Ballads I). This is the first song on it, and one of a few quite hilarious ones on this album. It was written by the satirical poet and pamphleteer John Jones (1766-1821) better known under his bardic name Jac Glan-y-Gors, called so after his birth place, Glanygors in Denbighshire, and set to a traditional melody. It refers to the situation that happened in Wales after the Welsh act of union, when English became the official language of the country, but most people only spoke Welsh. The song takes place in 18th century when the linguistic situation is still the same. It tells the story of a rural Welsh court where people can’t really communicate effectively due to that barier, which the judge finds quite frustrating, and the whole thing is really comical.
Time for a song from Jacob Elwy, who, as you probably know if you’ve been here for a while, is my current faza peep! 🙂 This song is actually a very interesting poem, written by RS Thomas, a Welsh anglican priest, and first performed by Rhydian Meilir, with whom Jacob has collaborated a fair bit so far and who has wrote lyrics for many of his solo songs. In Jacob’s version, we can still hear Rhydian Meilir in the chorus.
Aberdaron is a village on the Llyn Peninsula in Gwynedd, Wales, apparently a very beautiful one. And who is the queen of Aberdaron? Her name was Cissie Morris, but she was known as Auntie Sis in her local community and the congregation and chapel she attended. She died in February 2015 at the age of 88. From what I can understand from the song and what I have read, her life sounds very difficult. She was married to John Morris who was head teacher of the local school, and who died in 1977 trying to save one of his pupils – David Alun – who was caught by a rising tide. Neither of them survived. She also lost his son and grandson in some cruel way, but despite that she was very kind. Sadly, I don’t understand the entire song, even the written lyrics, so I wasn’t able to translate it.
Salt. Don’t know how weird it is in general, but I don’t know people who would do that. I don’t do it as often now, but I really used to a lot when I was a kid. I could just get a salt cellar, put the salt on my hand and eat it, without anything else. Or, what I suppose is a bit more common, when I’d finish some crisps, or chips, or something else salted, I would not only lick my fingers from all the salt but also eat the salt that was left. My Mum says it’s directly linked to the fact that my blood pressure has always been low, but I dunno, I just like salt. As a kid I had a salt lamp in my room and I liked to lick it sometimes, and salt figurines/statues as well. Now I also have a salt lamp in my room but I don’t lick it. 😀 One time when my uncle was on holidays by the Dead Sea he got me a whole box of the salt crystals so I had a supply for a really long time and absolutely loved it. I was in a salt cave a couple of times, which is a fabulous experience and so very relaxing, and I had a hard time not to eat any of that salt, I probably would if not the emetophobia. 😀 Sometimes I would also eat monosodium glutamate, I don’t know what it’s popular name in English is, in Poland it’s sold as Vegeta, I absolutely love the umami taste. And me and my brother often ate dry pasta. I can eat olives on their own, which some people find weird. I do think they’re much better with something else, but I do eat them on their own sometimes anyways. I guess olives are generally not hugely popular with people so that’s why eating them on their own is even more weird for many, but for me they’re one of my most favourite healthy foods.
I couldn’t decide on just one version, as I really like both, so you can compare the two. This song was the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1996 for Ireland, and was composed and written by Brendan Graham who already wrote some other song for Eurovision a few years earlier. Prior to taking part in Eurovision, Eimear Quinn was one of the members and soloists of the amazing choral ensemble Anuna.
Celtic Woman first released this song in 2007, with Lisa Kelly as the vocalist, and now this is one of the songs they perform quite frequently.
While, like I said I like both versions, I slightly gravitate towards the latter. Not sure why, perhaps just because that’s the one I heard first and I have a strong sentiment for Celtic Woman and Lisa Kelly as well.
A lot of things, I’m sure. Some I can think of right now:
When my Mum asks me if I’m still alive (she does that a lot and I always wonder what sort of question that is so I always answer that no, I died before she was alive), scrambled eggs, going to an amusement park, cigs, sex, bananas, diving, bungee jumping, going to the tropics, teaching people’s kids English, babysitting, another feet/legs surgery.
I thought this is kind of strange that I never shared anything on here from this great British singer before, despite I really like her music and have had for years. This is probably one of her more popular songs, if not the most popular one, and one of my absolute favourites by hers.
Alcohol advertising. I feel like it is, or at least might be, doing a fair bit of harm. For example to addicts who are trying to quit, but seeing ads in the media or wherever else makes it more difficult. It’s also kind of normalising drinking, for lack of a better word, I’m not sure how to put it. I mean, everything’s for people, in moderate amounts and when you’re responsible etc. and no extreme is good, but I think when you see a lot of such ads, at some point you get the message that, actually, there’s nothing wrong with drinking, it’s just fun and cool, and you don’t see the other side of it. Here in Poland, the only alcohol that can be advertised is beer, and, as in the rest of the world, I suppose, it’s often advertised in connection with sports events, and football clubs are often sponsored by beer producers. So you can see footballers advertising beer or generally see beer being associated with football games, which long-term can surely influence people to believe that there’s no problem with beer being unhealthy, if even footballers drink it, even if they only advertise it. Then of course there’s the problem with minors who can see the TV ads even if there is a regulation of them not being aired before some hour (I honestly don’t know if there’s any limit in terms of time of the day for beer ads here, I’m ignorant when it comes to all things TV, all things beer and all things football). It familiarises kids with alcohol from a young age and as they are particularly impressionable I think they must quickly get the idea that alcohol is cool if they see those sort of ads a lot, they’re basically sucked down into the whole drinking culture thing before they can even make a fully conscious and willful decision and hence then a lot of people considering it very strange when someone doesn’t drink at all, for whatever reason. And, what always strikes me is, if we advertise alcohol, why won’t we also legalise cannabis where it’s not legal and advertise it on TV? Not that I’d somehow really want it to be the case, but it’s kind of illogical how even the word cannabis makes a lot of people panic, or even CBD, when alcohol has way worse side effects and long-term effects, and being high on it seems to affect people’s behaviour more negatively than weed, yet people have no problem with it and even alcoholism seems so “normal” for some.
And here’s yet another song by Danú that I want to share with you, my most favourite one of theirs. I fell in love with it the very first time I heard it, even though I had no idea what it was about. I love Muireann nic Amhlaoibh’s expressivity. I’ve found the translation of the lyrics on Song of the Isles, the website of David Wood.
If animals could talk, which one would be the most annoying?
I guess something like parrots and other animals which are talkative anyways, they’d probably have even more to say if they’d be able to talk like humans very well, but I somehow doubt they’d have a lot of interesting or original things to say. Otherwise ducks, geese and the like, all those animals who are really noisy and not particularly pleasant-sounding. Or the small dog breeds, who, again, often make a lot of noise which is often already annoying even though they don’t speak human.
I always want Misha to be able to talk, even at least for five minutes so I can ask him if he’s happy or if there’s something he really wants that is realistically doable or if there’s anything he’d like me to know, but my Mum claims he’d be super annoying if he could talk, and just as now he’s very non-vocal, if he could talk he’d probably wouldn’t shut up for a minute. I don’t really see why his personality would be supposed to change at the same time as well. Still, perhaps it would be annoying regardless how much he’d talk, because Mum also says that in her opinion he’d only talk about food and how hungry he is or that he wants out, which is more realistic than the personality change because that’s already more or less everything he talks about when he does make any sounds, and it can get old.
Danú is an Irish Celtic music band whose music I really like. In 2004, they won the Best Traditional Group award at BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (for the second time, making them the only group who has ever won that award more than once). That same year, this song I want to share with you now, County Down, won in the Best Song category as well. This song was originally written and performed by Tommy Sands, whose other song – There Were Roses – is also on my blog in the interpretation of Cara Dillon. – Sands himself, by the way, is from County Down. The group’s vocalist at the time – Muireann nic Amhlaoibh – is also a solo singer and takes part in some other music projects. I first heard about her because of her collabs with the Scottish singer Julie Fowlis whom I really really love. Muireann nic Amhlaoibh also is a known radio and TV personality in Ireland, from what I’ve heard, and has appeared in BBC Alba (Scottish TV).
Danú is the name of an ancient Irish triple goddess, also known as Dana, Anu, Ana etc. or simply as the Great Mother of Ireland, being the mother of the Irish gods (called Tuatha Dé Danann (people of Danu)). She is a goddess of things like fertility, prosperity, the land, water, knowledge and wisdom.
What is your biggest non-academic, non work-related accomplishment?
Well, I think that would be my language learning achievements, especially when it comes to English and Welsh, as with Swedish I had a tutor for a long time so you could say it was kinda academic, but with English and Welsh I’ve been doing it mostly by myself. I did of course have English throughout my formal education, but, as I said many times before, I don’t feel like I learned anything more than just the basics this way, and anything else I wanted to achieve, I had to take care of myself, and only reached fluency in my last years of schooling when I had plenty of time to work on my English as I first had a year of individual education and then did schoolwork part-time and mostly from home. With Welsh, even though I don’t feel fluent yet at all, it feels like even more of an accomplishment because, even though I’m not fluent, I sort of doubted I could achieve even the level I’m at now, given the limited resources and their frequently limited accessibility and/or availability where I live.
Hi to all you lovely people after a bit of a break! 🙂
I was on a trip to Masuria with my family, hence there were no posts from me for a while. Among all the amazing harpists I love whose music I’ve introduced to you on here, never before have I shared anything from Nadia Birkenstock, so now is the time. Nadia Birkenstock is a Celtic harpist as well as singer from Germany, but known in Celtic music circles around the world. I’ve been aware of her music for many years but only recently started listening to her music a lot more. She learned to play harp at a young age but received formal training later in the US, from, among others, the American Celtic harpist Kim Robertson, whose one piece I’ve shared on this blog as well. She plays a lot of traditional Celtic music but also composes her own material.
This particular tune is a traditional one. Last year I have already shared with you a tune called
and said how I think it’s very depressing and wondered why such title. Then months later I decided to broaden my knowledge about Turlough O’Carolan a bit. I always found him very interesting but decided I really want to get to know him a bit better than just the basics. What I learned has interested me further and now I’m looking for some books about his life and also music. Over that period of time, I finally learned why such a depressing title of Celia Briar’s tune, as it is the name of the last composition of O’Carolan, that he played shortly before his death. He could feel that his life was about to end, and thus decided to go to the home one of his patrons, the one with whom he had a very close relationship – Mrs. McDermott Roe – and played this song while there. That was where he later died, surrounded by friends.
An extremely interesting question I have for you guys today…
What’s the longest time you have gone without pooping?
Can’t say how long exactly, I guess it could be about a week or so. Generally I don’t have a lot of poo problems in normal life circumstances, which I’m extremely grateful for ’cause only when I do sometimes I see how uncomfortable they must be for people who deal with some major issues of this nature chronically or regularly. But what definitely sets them off for me is a lot of stress and change. I mean mostly change of location for some significant amount of time, more than just a couple of hours, especially if it’s just a temporary change but involves sleeping there etc. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone with this, I guess in a way it makes sense because pooping is obviously a very private thing and it feels normal that you may not feel comfortable doing it everywhere even if it’s only on the subconscious level. My Mum is the same if not worse, but the reason why it’s worse for her is probably that she does actually have digestive issues and hates public toilets more than I do. Once I get used to that new place, I can poop normally again, but more often I just either have to help myself with something that works for constipation or wait until I can go home and then the problem solves itself. I have the same thing with social gatherings that are long and involve eating, and I guess that’s less common and definitely to do with my social anxiety. I generally am not a fan of eating out or eating with a lot of people like huge family meals, there are many reasons for that. I totally don’t get why people always need to eat during such gatherings, and if they really have to, why so much and almost all the time, and particularly as it seems when it’s mostly middle-aged people. 😀 Let’s say it’s someone’s birthday and they decided on such a stiff family party with sitting at the table, talking about nothing and LOTS of food, mostly cakes and the like. Or, more realistically, their family decided for them because they came uninvited but luckily the person in question was prepared for such a possibility. 😀 So, you’re sitting on your butt for two hours at least, continuously eating all those carbs, and, if you’re like me, feeling anxious/stressed/uncomfortable, or a bit tense at least. Perfect recipe for a shit problem. If it’s a bit more dynamic you can perhaps go out for a while or something, you can go to the loo but if you’re like me it won’t change anything ’cause it’s someone else’s loo. 😀 So this is one of many reasons why I generally eat very little in social situations, especially lengthy ones.
So yeah, I think on average the longest for me must have been around a week, when going somewhere for holidays or school trips or the like. After about a week I’m usually adjusted enough that things get better, or physiology takes the upper hand over my brain. 😀 Now I can also take the advantage of the fact that these days I always travel with my Mum and that she has been more aware of her own various digestive problems including constipation over the last couple years, which means she always takes a whole bag of things that help her when travelling or staying away from home, so we always have something helpful at hand.