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.

Tuesday Tunes

I’ve recently seen a growing number of bloggers and Facebook friends posting under the banner of ‘Music Monday.’ As is often the case I didn’t quite get my act together to start doing this yesterday so I thought I’d do a little rebranding to suit my tardiness. Anyway, what’s a day, between friends? Somehow, though, I doubt that ‘Tuesday Tunes’ is a remotely original tagline: I haven’t been on Twitter today but I expect I’d find loads on there!

As anyone who has viewed my blog will not take long to realise, music is very important to me, and to countless others. In these strange, scary and unimaginable times in which we find ourselves, music is a common bond between us: if you don’t believe that, just take a look at the videos of Italians joining together in song from their balconies, or the Spanish police roaring to a halt in an empty street during lockdown, and serenading the people who live there. Music can uplift our spirits when we need it most, and I’m going to begin my ‘Tuesday Tunes’ by sharing a couple of songs which I think speak to us at all times, but especially now.

I shared the first of these on my Take It Easy Facebook page a couple of days ago, but think it deserves a much wider audience (hint: new sign ups to the page are always welcome, follow the link in the right hand column). Jackson Browne has been a favourite artist of mine ever since his first album, all the way back in 1972. The track I shared is from his third album (and my favourite of his). It is a song about mankind’s stupidity and arrogance in its belief in its superiority, and how the true spirit of ourselves and nature can rise above that. That sounds pretentious, as I write it, but it is anything but that: couched in one of Jackson’s beautiful tunes, the song has always spoken to me, and is particularly meaningful as a comment on how we need to come together to defeat the Covid-19 virus. Take a listen and you’ll see what I mean – I saw him play this live some years ago, and it was one of those ‘hairs on the back of the neck’ moments. I still get something in my eye every time I hear this:

The second song I want to share today is from an English folk-rock band that I’d guess most of you haven’t heard of before: Merry Hell. They share with Jackson Browne a strong sense of social conscience, and many of their songs are rousing and uplifting calls to our better nature. I believe this one is especially relevant to us all, now more than ever – the band’s albums are great, but this live performance really gives the song its full power:

We do need each other now. Our Prime Minister finally did last night what he should have done weeks ago, and put the country in lockdown to try to prevent the spread of the virus. Yet still this morning there are pictures in the media of people crammed into the carriages of London Underground trains. I doubt that they are all key workers, but the stupidity and arrogance of those who aren’t beggars belief. They, and we, could learn a lesson from these two songs. It is hard not to write a downbeat post in our current times, and this is very much intended to be a positive message, via the medium of music. Take care, be and stay safe, and be uplifted by the beauties of life which will long outlast the crisis. And keep remembering:

We need each other now.