All the Love

An old lady dies of Multiple sclerosis in her late eighties. The funeral has an attendance of about forty people. The eldest daughter sits with her immediate family at the other side of the pub at the after party, as she is too disgusted to speak to most of her relatives who have not seen the lady in years and have attended the funeral as a formality. 

A man in his late twenties receives a phone call from his father, who he has not spoken to in years after an argument. The father reveals he has terminal cancer and has about six months to live. They cannot remember what the argument was about.

A son of an elderly mother only contacts her when he is in need of anything or only when it is a special occasion such as Christmas.

‘Only tragedy allows the release of love and grief, never normally seen’ – Kate Bush, All the Love, The Dreaming (1982)

Kate Bush really made an astute observation in the above lyric. The more I think about those words, the more I realise that it is entirely common for friends, family, relatives just drift away in time, and not see each other for years, or at least interact with them in a way that involves love.

The above three scenarios are all things I have observed from a close outer perspective and I have seen the anguish and regret that has been involved in all of them. It has taught me such a strong lesson to not let tragedy dictate the love you should express for those around you, because when tragedy strikes, it is almost always too late.

I am a graduate twenty-something with the blessing of still having a lot of my close but elder relatives around. As I have moved closer to my family, I am making sure that I spend time with all of them as best as I can.

I will re-iterate something, someone said to me with the most urgent conviction…it truly has stayed with me since.

Cherish them

Why singing and improvising go hand in hand.

I have spent the last 8 months embarking on a jazz album. I’ll be the first to admit, I am by no means a straight out jazzer, I walked out of a college open day for a four year jazz course concluding that there was simply too much rock and roll in me. (Which is probably why I ended up in the art rock world!)

The elusive element about jazz is that it is a language of it’s own within the musical world, something where freedom and chaos reigns hand in hand with knowledge and sophistication. The one thing I’ve discovered over the course of playing solos over jazz standards or anything for that matter is how inherently powerful singing is and how it can improve your improvisation.

Especially from a guitarist’s point of view; the guitar is a wonderfully convenient instrument when it comes to shape and scales but the negative factor of that is that the mechanical process of playing the instrument can leave the player in a state disregard for the other essential two points of the triangle, the theoretical and the musical. I’ve lost count of how many times I have seen players who’s improvisation has been dictated by their fingers…myself included!

The beautiful thing about singing is that it comes straight from your heart and mind, without any preconceptions: it is immediate. I’ve linked a track that I have played on below and I think out of the entire selection of jazz recordings it is my strongest because I sang every phrase that I played before playing it. It takes a lot of practice but it’s worth it. So if any guitarists out there feel like they are caught stuck in making a fine solo, besides doing the practice, try singing, you may well surprise yourself!