Tuesday Tunes 5: Kindness, Caring, Support

One of the biggest news stories here in the UK this past week – apart from the government’s continued dissembling over what is and isn’t happening in their Covid-19 response (usually the latter) – has been the one about Captain Tom Moore. Captain Tom is a WW2 veteran who turns 100 on 30 April, and had set himself the challenge of doing 100 laps of his garden to raise £1,000 for NHS Charities, as a way of thanking the service for the care it had provided him – particularly after he broke his hip. The story was picked up by tv and the press and resulted in an incredible outpouring of love and donations for this wonderful man. The last time I looked the total donated was over £27m! Tom was also invited to perform a duet – via the means of technology – with Michael Ball, the stage actor and singer. The song reached no.1 within two days of being released, raising yet more cash for charity.

Of course, this is a remarkable story, but it got me thinking about how many other acts of kindness and charity were being performed in these pandemic days. Very few even reach the headlines at all, let alone to the degree that Tom has achieved, but I believe they are all worthy of celebration in their own right. So, for that reason, my theme this week for my two Tuesday Tunes is: kindness, caring and support.

Both of the tunes are by English artists, one of whom has toured internationally, although I don’t think the other has. I make no apologies for sharing songs by people of whom you may not have heard: that for me is one of the joys of music, finding new things to enjoy. The first is from the better known of the two acts: Frank Turner is a singer/songwriter with a very loyal following, who has been making great albums for nearly 15 years. This song is the title track from his 2018 album Be More Kind. It is one of his gentler songs, and I think we should all heed its message, both now and when ‘normal’ returns:

The song was written as a response to world developments in 2016/7, notably the election of Trump and the UK Brexit vote, but it had a much wider relevance than just those two countries. Two years on, with the pandemic affecting so many countries, the message is even more strong and pertinent. I think it is a beautiful song.

My second song for this week is by an English folk/rock band who also, like Frank, have a loyal following but unlike him are probably little known beyond our shores. In their current guise, Merry Hell have been around for about 10 years, though they derive from an earlier band: The Tansads. Both bands have a strong social conscience that underlines their songs, which are also typified by some insanely catchy choruses. They have recently released a new video, made during lockdown, in support of our NHS, called Beyond The Call. As it is new I thought about sharing it in this post but, as our NHS is very much a UK national treasure, I chose instead to go with this one from 2016, as I think its message is of much wider relevance. The song is unashamedly political, but much of the response from governments to the pandemic has been political, hasn’t it? I don’t think I’m stretching it too far by saying that ‘We Need Each Other Now‘ is a message that needs to transcend politics:

I have always believed that human beings are innately kind and considerate, and this (perhaps naïve) faith is reinforced every day by what I see and hear in the news and on social media, particularly in the local context. I am unable to get out much, apart from hospital and clinic visits, so I rely on delivery services for groceries. Should these fail, however, I have a neighbour who has volunteered help if I need it, there are several local voluntary organisations providing support for people in my situation, and my daughters (who both live 20 miles away) have also offered to shop for me. That is what I have in mind when I talk about kindness, caring and support. I hope I’m not being too optimistic in thinking that the spirit that we see in current circumstances will survive longer than the virus.

I thought I’d finish today with a little bonus. I have always intended these posts to be brief, with just two songs each week, but I feel that an extra one is called for this week: I can’t imagine how Michael Ball would ever feature in one of my posts otherwise. Here is the video for that chart topper I mentioned earlier, featuring Captain Tom Moore, Michael Ball and the NHS Voices Of Care Choir:

Not a dry eye in the house!

Take care, of yourself and others. Be safe, stay well. See you next Tuesday.

Something For The Weekend, Sir?

It’s the weekend! (in case you hadn’t noticed – no need to thank me, it’s all part of the service!) As it’s a time for most of us to relax and recharge the batteries after the trials and tribulations of the working week, I thought I’d try to do nothing more today than entertain you. As I mentioned earlier in the week, music has always played an important role in my life and I’ve chosen a few songs for you that I hope will lighten your weekend.

The first is by an English singer/songwriter who may be unfamiliar to many: Frank Turner. I love the rough edge to his music, the feeling of spontaneity he gives you. This is from his most recent album, Tape Deck Heart, and it has a killer chorus! Apt title for a Saturday morning, too!

In a rather different vein, and to prove that I’m down with the kids (yeah, right!) here’s the new one, currently ‘riding high in the charts,’ (ahem!) from my guilty pleasure, Taylor Swift. I don’t know why, I just enjoy her music so much! Another catchy chorus too:

Another band that I love, both for their original music and their cover versions, is Walk Off The Earth. Here’s their newest video, released 4 days ago and already over 800,000 YouTube views:

Recognise it? The first of their videos that I ever saw has become an internet staple now, with over 161m views. You’ve probably seen it before but I think it’s worth another look, as it’s simply stunning:

Fancy another? This is a song and video that just defies anyone to watch it and not feel happier afterwards. Thank you, The Lumineers!:

I had planned to finish with that one but can’t resist sharing just one more. For those outside the UK, who won’t have seen these before, the department store John Lewis has built up a ‘tradition’ over the past few years of Christmas adverts that share the magic of that special day. This year’s launched a couple of days ago, and already has 6.5m views on YouTube. It is beautiful:

The music, by the way, is Tom Odell covering John Lennon’s Real Life.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this musical interlude. Have a great weekend!