On a Good Day is changing

On a Good Day is coming to end. Well, its first phase in at least. When I started this blog, it was intended to be a personal blog about being a dad, a way of preserving of my thoughts and memories of fatherhood. But I love music as well, and so I thought, why not make it a blog about both fatherhood and music.

Problem was, I never really able to crowbar those two subjects together in a way that really worked. I was also constantly torn between blogging just as a hobby, and trying to make the blog ‘successful’ (whatever that means – lots of readers I guess). Eventually I came to realise that trying to make it successful was taking all the enjoyment out of it for me, and that at this point in my life I didn’t have the time or inclination for blogging as anything other than a hobby. I’ve learnt a lot over the last few years though, and now have dozens of others ideas for blogs and websites, some of which may even come to fruition in future years.

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Track of the Day 500 : Bjork – Unravel

For my 500th track of the day, one of my favourite tracks of all time, Unravel by Bjork.

Once you’ve been interested in music for any length of time, you soon come to the conclusion that there are no new love songs. If there’s one subject that his been endlessly dissected, described in every single way, it’s love. But Bjork is unlikely any other artist, endlessly innovative, constitutionally incapable of cliche, and Unravel is unlike any love song I’ve heard.

Musically, Unravel lays a gentle bed of organ washes, saxophone and the softest, most distant electronics. Subtly beautiful in their way, but really all about giving space to the vocal, and the lyrics. And what beautiful lyrics they are. Bjork conjures the ingenious metaphor of love as a ball of yarn, slowly unravelling as the couple are apart and having to be put back together each time they return to each other.

Bjork’s vocal performance is masterful also, more restrained than on some of her other songs, yet still conveying every atom of emotion it is possible for the song to convey. It’s those lyrics though that get me every time, one of those rare songs that continues to stir my heart no matter how many times I hear it. When I am away from my wife and family I think of this song often, and my heart does unravel like that ball of yarn.

The first 483 tracks of the day can only be found on my Tumblr. Everything since can be found here. There’s also a Spotify playlist of every single track of the day (or those available on Spotify at least) below:

Blog – Loftmusic

I was clearing out my loft the other day. Now, as opening lines go, I know that this isn’t exactly “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” or “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”, but hear me out, the story does get (a bit) more interesting than that.

The previous occupants of the house we have just bought had, as it turned out, left quite a lot of stuff behind in the attic. We were hoping to find a priceless Ming vase, or perhaps a suitcase full of unmarked, non-consecutive £20 notes, but we were, more realistically, expecting it to be all the crap they didn’t want but couldn’t be bothered to take to the tip. Indeed, it started out that way. Old Christmas decorations, worn out shoes, stacks of old bills. A box of CDs piqued my interest, but turned out to be mainly old Hed Kandi and Cream compilations.


Things got a bit more interesting from there though, first an old record player and mixer, suggesting at least one DJ in the house. Then we discovered the artworks, mainly in the field of subversive embroidery. For those of you unfamiliar with the genre, as indeed I was, this might consist of, for example, a traditional embroidered flowery scene, but with a slogan such as “29% of London’s schoolchildren carry a knife” stitched across it”. Perhaps strangest of all was the half-dozen ceramic guns.


As we uncovered more and more unusual items, we got a glimpse into the lives of this couple. Any previous opinions we held on them were not formed from much. A viewing of the house while they still lived here, some conversations with the neighbours (who were offering their opinions within moments of us moving in). I had snobbishley dismissed them as a pretty bland couple, but here was evidence of creative, interesting lives.

I should know better of course. People who only know me a little, perhaps in my working, accountancy life, might think me a fairly dull sort (and they could be right, I suppose). They would have no idea that I write, although I do try and crowbar it into conversations where I can, no idea that I spent much of my teens and twenties staying up till the early hours in techno clubs, no idea, in fact about any of the things that make me.

As I looked through the memorabilia of this couples’ life, I felt sad that they’d felt they had to leave this stuff behind. I know though,that they’d just had a baby themselves, so maybe these objects didn’t seem so important any more. I hope that wherever they are, and whoever they truly are, that they are enjoying the lives that I have seen just a glimpse of.

 90 songs of my Nineties youth : Blur – Parklife

For a primer on what the (admittedly fairly self-explanatory) series 90 songs of my Nineties Youth is all about see here. This week, Blur with Parklife

The Song

Parklife was a long way from being Blur’s first hit, the likes of There’s No Other Way, Chemical World and Girls and Boys had followed previously. Parklife though seemed to mark the moment they became massive and established themselves as one of Britpop’s big two bands.

Blur had long peddled in a very English form of character driven, storytelling pop, following in the footsteps of the likes of The Kinks, The Jam, even Madness. Parklife was very much in that vein, consisting of little more than a spectacularly simple ,catchy riff and a spectacularly simple, catchy chorus, surrounding actor Phil Daniels narrating a rambling tale of pigeons, dustmen and gut-lords.

Does it still sound good today?

Kind of. It always had the whiff of a novelty song about it, and that has grown stronger over time. I still like it, but I can also see why someone might find it massively annoying. It’s certainly far from Blur’s best song, even from the Parklife album.

What Happened Next?

Blur became embroiled in an increasingly tedious, part manufactured, part heartfelt rivalry which led to Country House, Blur’s first single from the following album The Great Escape, becoming their biggest seller despite being possibly their worst single (it beat off Oasis’s Roll With It, also terrible). The Great Escape was well regarded at the time, but not so much now, and led to various radical changes of direction from Blur. Fifth album Blur embraced the sound of US bands like Pavement. 13 took on gospel and electronic influences. Think Tank, by which time guitarist Graham Coxon had left the band, featured more electronica and world music.

Following Think Tank, the band went on indefinite hiatus, freeing the members up for other projects. Damon Albarn has pursued various musical projects, including the massively successful Gorillaz, as well as writing operas and musicals. Graham Coxon has put out 8 solo albums. Alex James wrote an autobiography and made cheese. Dave Rowntree retrained as a solicitor and stood as a political candidate. However the band had never truly split and played occasional live shows from 2009 onwards as well as a couple of new songs (including the wonderful Under The Westway) in 2012, before finally getting round to releasing a new, pretty decent, album, Magic Whip in 2015. I think Blur will be remembered well by musical history, and they’re certainly one of the only Britpop bands still putting out good music in the 2010s.

 

90 songs of my Nineties Youth : Sleeper – Inbetweener

For a primer on what the (admittedly fairly self-explanatory) series 90 songs of my Nineties Youth is all about see here. This week, Sleeper with Inbetweener.

The Song

After a couple of minor successes with the slightly edgier Swallow and Delicious from their debut album Smart, Inbetweener was Sleeper’s first big pop hit, and one of the most memorable songs of the Britpop era. A musically jaunty, lyrically sharp tale of a half-hearted relationship, its’ success was also helped by the Dale Winton featuring, supermarket set video.

Does it still sound good today?

Mixed. Lyrically it’s great, and Louise Wener remains one of Britpop’s more underrated lyricists. Musically, however it sounds very generic of the indie music of the time, and therefore rather dated. When I was first discovering music in the 1990s, I never thought that my music would sound so identifiably Nineties, because, to me, that was just how music was supposed to sound. Some songs are good enough to transcend the particular sound of their era, but I’m not sure Inbetweener is.

What Happened Next?

Louise Wener’s way with words meant she got plenty of coverage in the music press, but frustratingly was never taken as seriously as a songwriter as her male contemporaries. Meanwhile, the other members of the band became known generically as Sleeperblokes, a term for ignored male members of bands fronted by charismatic, attractive women. Either NME or Melody Maker ran a feature to determine which band had the ultimate Sleeperblokes, which in a shock result Sleeper didn’t actually win.

Sleeper’s second album The It Girl was as successful as their first, if not more so, with hits like What Do I Do Now and Sale of The Century, but by the time of their third album Pleased To Meet You the band’s creative and personal relationships had started to fall apart, and they split soon after. Members of the band moved into music related areas such as music teaching and artist management. Wener wrote several novels and an excellent autobiography on her time in the band. A reunion does not appear to be imminent