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Memories of David Bowie – We All Have Them

11 Jan


I spent many weekends at my grandmothers house where my uncle also lived at the time. The brother of my then recently deceased mother had
an amazing record collection that I would only recognize as such much later on. Among his collection was the Rolling Stones ‘Sticky Fingers’ with the famous ‘Andy Warhols Factory’ designed zipper cover, the ‘Live and More’ Album by Donna Summer – Grandma wouldn’t allow that one to
be played – she found it too riske for an 11 year olds ears. Then there
was the album ‘Pin Ups’. Released in 1973, the album was David Bowie’s 7th and it was my first encounter with his music. I was fascinated by everything about it. The cover itself was enough to send me into raptures – it’s still exotic and beautiful. The blue background, the portrait of two figures; David Bowie with 60’s model Twiggy- along with the pop art-bauhaus-esque font exquisitely juxtaposed. The photograph had been taken by Twiggy’s manager Justin de Villeneuve for an issue of Paris
Vogue but on Bowie’s request, was used for the ‘Pin Ups’ album cover.

Alone in my Grandmas very 70’s interior dining room I would dress up in my mothers self made skirted dresses, stick ‘Pin Ups’ on the deck and dance for hours in front of the mirror to Bowies cover album – ‘Rosalyn’ was my favorite. I didn’t know the originators of all the work on the
album at the time but with his own spin- and his distinctive voice on these great songs, I belonged to him and his future music belonged to me.

So many people are saddened and now mourn the death of David Bowie, myself very much included. I didn’t know him personally but his music made me feel like I did – he was for me the embodiment of creativity and
I looked up to him. I feel like I’ve lost a friend who throughout my life
was there for me, influenced me and was there through my every high and every low. I’ll sorely miss him.

David Bowie (David Robert Jones) * 8.01.1947 – 10.01.2016

Rest in peace.

Pin Ups
Here Comes The Night
I Wish You Would
See Emily Play
Everything’s Alright
I Can’t Explain
Friday On My Mind
Don’t Bring Me Down
Shapes Of Things
Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere
Where Have All The Good Times Gone
Growin’ Up
Port Of Amsterdam

David Bowie – The Midnight Special 


International Women’s Day

8 Mar

One hundred and three years ago in 1911, the first International Women’s Day was recognised in European countries – Germany, Austria and Denmark among others. In 1975 the UN officially recognised its observance and today it is a national holiday in 27 countries.

This year, (2014) the official global theme is ‘Inspiring Change’. The importance of equality for all women is the focus of this years events – not purely as a fundamental human right (the Charter of the United Nations, signed in San Francisco in 1945, was the first international agreement) but also to enable progress. UN secretary General, Ban Ki-moon states; “The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all.”

“Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth.  Companies with more women leaders perform better.  Peace agreements that include women are more durable.  Parliaments
with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, antidiscrimination and child support.”  Ban Ki-moon

Women in ‘The Industry’
In 1975 Helen Reddy’s number 1 hit song ‘I am Woman’ was claimed by the UN as their theme. But what’s going on for women in the music industry now?

British artist Charlotte Church delivered her infamous Peel Lecture in 2013 debating the status of women in a music industry which is male dominated, and the consequent perception we have on main-stream women artists. She does have a point about Rihanna’s and Miley’s positions as role models to the more impressionable – but although the numbers are few, there are role models – influent, strong women standing firmly on and behind the stage. Women musicians who, by the omnipresence of ‘hits and clicks’ as a means of success, are granted a certain autonomy to do it their way.

This is not to say that sexism and inequality don’t exist, a controversial case from Japan is a good example. The members of the Japanese girl group AKB48 are prohibited by contract of engaging in any romantic or sexual relations. When one of the members of AKB48, 20-year-old Minami Minegishi, shaved her head and made a tearful confession and apology for having a boyfriend on YouTube, it caused a stir. The troupe of 80 plus young women, are a part of a hit churning song and dance group who perform on a daily basis and work in shifts at the groups own theatre. They are patronised to appear virginal and ‘available’ to the male audience. Record producer and AKB48 creator Professor Yasushi Akimoto is behind the record sales of over US$200million.

Women in Radio
Back in Europe, we can listen to women between the hours of 7pm and 7am (on 7th – 8th March) on BBC Radio 1. The station will be hosting its tribute to International Women’s Day (IWD) which is a obviously a very good thing, but as Jane Martinson (The Guardian) puts it; “Were they not allowed out during the day?”

Statistics given by Sound Women and Creative Skillset show that:

  • 1 in 5 solo voices on the radio is female
  • That figure is 1 in 8 during peak-time breakfast and drive hours
  • In co-hosted show, you are nearly 10 times as likely to hear 2+ male presenters as you are to hear 2+ female presenters
  • Solo women are more likely to be on air at weekends than during the week.

Finishing off my rant with a musical tone I leave you with today’s playlist for International Women. Some of the links will have to be checked out directly over YouTube. Enjoy!

1. Beth Ditto: Open Heart Surgery

2. Gaby Moreno: Ave Que Emigra

3. Dessa: Fighting Fish

4. Courtney Barnett: Anonymous Club

5. Lilly Allen: Hard Out Here

6. Angel Olsen: Forgiven/Forgotten

7. Julia Weldon: You Never Know

8. Annie Lennox, Eurythmics: Sweet Dreams

9. Beyoncé: Run The World (Girls)

10. Helen Reddy: I Am Woman


International Mother Language

23 Feb

Friday (21.2.14) saw the 14th year observance of ‘International Mother Language‘. UNESCO announced in 1999 that a day should be observed worldwide with focus on linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The United Nations Assembly also recognised this day and deemed 2008 the ‘International Year of Languages‘.

Awareness stems from the demonstrations of 1952, when students from Dhaka University, Jagannath University and the Dhaka Medical College all demonstrated in the capital Dhaka (in the present day Bangladesh) for the recognition of their mother tongue, Bengali, to be one of the two national languages of then Pakistan. The students were shot and killed by police near the capitals’ High Court.

The A, B, C Of It

‘Mother language’, is taken verbatim from the romance languages and is more commonly known by the terms ‘mother tongue’ or ‘native tongue’. In linguistics however it is known as an ancestral language or ‘protolanguage’ of which there is no documentation but from which modern languages have evolved.
As someone who lives in a country where communicating in a second language is not quite second nature, it’s a welcome occasion – I often find speaking in a second language difficult and I can find myself in some pretty hot water from time to time with misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Perhaps many a battle could be quelled if we took more time and interest in understanding at least the ‘A,B,C’ of one another’s mother tongue.

Here are three personal favourites, sung in Spanish, Arabic and French. 

1.The first from the Nomadic artist Lhasa De Sela with Por Eso Me Quedo (That’s Why I’m Staying). Lhasa died way too early, at the age of 37 of breast cancer in 2010. 

2. Yasmine Hamdan with Khalas (All right-then)
Born in Beirut in 1976, the stunning Hamdan travelled – due to the Civil War, between Beirut, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Greece together with her family, she sings in Arabic, is an accomplished artist and actor, she also appears cameo in Jim Jarmusch’ film; Only Lovers Left Alive singing ‘Hal’ with her bandSoapkills‘. Amazing!

3. Les Rita Mitsouko with Y’a De L’Haine (There Is Hate)
Catherine Ringer and Frédéric Chichin formed the band in 1980 and remained a duo until Chichin died due to cancer in 2007, aged 53. The french couple were adept in melting different music styles from Jazz to Hip Hop to form an innovative style of their own.

The Feast Of Valentine

14 Feb

Today is the day of red roses on demand, cheap and nasty cuddly toys with red glittery hearts, with sentiments of love stuck to them with cheap glue are sold by the bucket – I’m no cynic, but this short prelude’s a bit more interesting.

Saint Valentine

He is the Patron Saint of ; 1. betrothed couples, 2. against fainting, 3. bee keepers, 4.happy marriages, 5. love and not to forget plague and epilepsy – it’s all in there.
The feast of St. Valentine on 14th February was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I. But who exactly was Valentine. There are many legends and twists to history  but I’m going with the Nuremberg Chronicle  (Die Schedelsche Weltchronik) issue about the Roman Priest who was imprisoned for secretly marrying young people in the christian church. The emperor of the time – Claudius I, banned young people getting married – unmarried soldiers fought much better than married ones – as they worried too much about dying and leaving wife and child to suffer- hence not giving their all to Claudius’ need on the battle field.

After being caught for his shenanigans, Valentine was imprisoned by Claudius and tortured – he managed to heal a blind girl while all this was going on until his debated time of death (between 269 – 273). Another story pertains to Valentine being the  former bishop of Terni and while under house arrest of Judge Asterius – they began talking about faith and Valentine managed to heal Asterius’ blind daughter – like in the roman priest story. Valentine the Bishop of Terni came also to a sticky end in a similar way of that of Valentine the roman priest story.

‘Courtly Love’ – not Courtney Love

Valetines Day is alleged to have been in a more romantic association since the high middle ages  with the term “courtly love” – it was first popularized 1883 in the writing of Bruno Paulin Gaston Paris – who studied roman philology. Only in higher circles of society did ‘the idolizer’ accept the independence of his mistress (normally beig married to someone else) and tried to make himself worthy of her by acting bravely and honorably and by doing whatever deeds she might desire, subjecting himself to a series of ordeals to prove to her his love and commitment. Sexual satisfaction, Paris said, may not have been a goal or even end result, but the love was not entirely  platonic either. Hmm.
The term “courtly love” was taken on and widely accepted. In 1936  C.S Lewis wrote The Allegory of Love cemented “courtly love” was a “love of higher specialized sort” whose characteristics are humility and courtesy.

Enough said. Heres the weekend playlist devoted to love – starting with who other than Donna Summer with  Love To Love. Enjoy!

Outcast – Happy Valentines Day

The Bee Gees – Inside Out covered by Feist
Glen Hansard – Lover don’t Leave Me Waiting
Burt Baccarach/Herb Alpert –  This Guys In Love With You
Nick Cave –  Babe You Turn Me On
Joan Armatrading – Love And Affection
Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On
Neil Young – When You Dance You Can Really Love
Neko Case – This Tornado Loves You
John Martyn – Couldn’t love you more
Cher’s cover of Shirley Bassey’s – The Way of Love
Tom Tom Club – Genius of Love

World Food Day

16 Oct

For WFD it has to be none other than The Isley Brothers with their socially concious song  Harvest For The World. Released by the brothers as a single from same named album in 1976.
And UB40’s Food For Thought – the epic first single release for British Reggae- and socially tuned-in band in 1980. The song was a double A single with the song ‘King’- about the late Martin Luther King.

The Isley Bros.




The occasion is organised by The Food and Agriculture Organisation to be on the same day the Organsation was founded in 1945.

The objectives of World Food Day are to:

  • encourage attention to agricultural food production and to stimulate national, bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental efforts to this end;
  • encourage economic and technical cooperation among developing countries;
  • encourage the participation of rural people, particularly women and the least privileged categories, in decisions and activities influencing their living conditions;
  • heighten public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world;
  • promote the transfer of technologies to the developing world; and
  • strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty and draw attention to achievements in food and agricultural development.


International Day of Rural Women

15 Oct

We’re kicking off  todays events with a little Respect from Aretha Franklin.

The UN designated today as International Day of Rural Women (IDRW), which is very much linked in certain respects to the International Women’s Day held each year in March. The Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has this to say about the vision of the UNs project.

“Empowering rural women is crucial for ending hunger and poverty. By denying women rights and opportunities, we deny their children and societies a better future. This is why the United Nations recently launched a programme to empower rural women and enhance food security.” 

The IDRW isn’t alone a human rights issue. Women in the western world today have – to degree, equal rights and protection purely because of feminist ideology. Recordings as far back as the Béquines – a small society of celibate laywomen, opposed to male subjection of women, attempted to live in their own communities and support themselves by their collective work  during the 13th century.

In many parts of the third and fourth world regions, the most basic human rights for women – namely, to exist without fear of being killed by men, are still having to be fought for by those indigenous women. These women play the most important roles in the economy of their country, providing for their children, their education and their society in farming the land and finding irrigation solutions. And they constantly come up against violence, abuse, inequality either through default of their religion or indifference to their rights to equality in patriarchal societies.

Film Tip

The French/Afghan writer and film maker Atiq Rahimi wrote and directed the film The Patience Stone (2012) set during the Afghan war about a young woman’s burden of sexism and inequality. The film doesn’t handle or provide a solution but it posters the problems women have in surviving in their environment in this region of the world.


Interesting reading, feeds and short films about the various projects with women in rural regions of the world on the UN website:

Click to access learning_2.pdf

European Day of Languages

26 Sep

On This Day: 26.9.13, and since 2001 – EDL has been jointly organised by the European Council and European Union. The rules: “To alert the public to the importance of language learning, and diversify the range of languages learned, in order to increase multilingualism and intercultural understanding. To promote the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe and encourage lifelong language learning in and out of school”.
People, of all ages are encouraged to take up a language, or take special pride in their existing language skills and an emphasis on learning a language other than English.

The beautiful Francois Hardy with Le temps de l’amour. Although there are no lyrics, the title of the equally beautiful Hable Con Ella written by Alberto Iglesias speaks for itself (Talk To Her, from spanish filmmaker; Pedro Amaldova ).  An apt finish for EDL with 80’s German band; Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle (FSK) with I Wish I Could Sprechen Sie Deutsch. 

aimer, disfrutar, viel Spass!




Track of The Day: AAAARR!

19 Sep

Nope. I jest ye not folks. International Talk Like a Pirate Day is upon us; Two japesters; John Baur (aka “Ol’ Chumbucket“)  and Mark Summers (“Cap’n Slappy“) invented the ITLAP day in 1995 after one them shrieked AAAARR!  after hurting himself during a game of racquetball  – the hilarity didn’t stop there no sir. After establishing the date they then sent a letter to the American syndicated humour columnist – Dave Barry, and the parody’s since gone viral. So getting in the spirit of  things, here aaaarr two shots at redemption: Nelson Riddle – Love Song from the film Mutiny on the Bounty and Mekons with (Sometimes I Feel Like) Fletcher Christian. Enjoy!



Track of the Day for International Day of Democracy

15 Sep

The UN General Assembly, in a resolution (in 2007)  encouraged Governments to strengthen national programmes devoted to the promotion and ‘consolidation of democracy‘, and also decided that 15 September of each year should be observed as the International Day of Democracy.


The Clash released Bankrobber (1980). The song is about a father – a bankrobber who “never hurt nobody” and concentrates on the the theme of the drudgery of many working class jobs.

In Memory Of Amy Winehouse Playlist

14 Sep

1. Amy Winehouse, Stronger Than Me
2. The Specials, Monkey Man
3. The Skatalites, Simmer Down
4. Sarah Vaughan, Whatever Lola Wants
5. The Shangri-Las, You Can Never Go Home Anymore
6. Aretha Franklin, Say A Little Prayer For You

Amy Winehouse was born this day 14.9.83. Her clever, cohesive style of jazz and hip-hop surfaced the stormy seas of the music industry in 2003 with her brilliant debut: Frank 2003; depicting the age-old themes of unrequited love, drama and blues with her sometime scathing wit and zeitgeist rhetoric.

Her fans may have left her financially secure but her candid demise also left critics and fault Finders also in pocket –  if not financially then with high moral critique of her and her music. Geoff Barrow of Portishead and Beak fame dissed Winehouse for having a fake voice and penned her ‘Whiney Shitehouse‘ (Electronic Beats, September 2012), after also saying in the same interview “I’m a lot more interested in making my own work than listening to someone else’s“.  Another critic writer; Roberto Alvarez-Galloso– reviewer and sports writer, wrote for in 2008: “Amy Winehouse and her music deserve to be banned“- he goes on to say “Her music should be placed in the trash can for the expletives, negative vibrations, and culture of death that are present“. ( Way-d-go Roberto. Sadly I didn’t find anything written under his name about multi million dollar ‘artists’ who rap about blowing people’s brains out, or just as tasteful; abusing, hating or killing women. 

So wether or not the life that Amy Winehouse led only exacerbated her addictions. Or that her voice may have been stolen from another era, or influenced by the likes of Billy Holiday – what was it Oscar Wilde said: “Talent borrows, Genius Steals”.

Today, on what would have been her 30th Birthday, the Amy Winehouse Foundation will be celebrating and raising funds in support and education of young people with drug and alcohol addiction.

‘Stronger Than Me’ is just one of the great songs from ‘Frank’, Winehouse’ debut Album.







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