No excuse not to pick up your guitar

I’m picking up the guitar again. Hopefully I’ll get past Slightly Muddled Beginner to Slightly More Clued-In Intermediate level. Since all I have is a Yamaha C-60 Suanie helpfully passed along to me when my guitar got sold, I’ve had to get used to the wider neck and slightly softer strings. My folk guitar got taken in a burglary along with my black leather jacket; I’ve never had the heart to replace either.

The Internet’s made it somewhat easier. There are more guitar resources online now – lessons, videos, tabs. I’ve mostly cheated and played most of my songs as slow, fingerpicking versions. Because I suck at strumming so much it’s not funny.

Am having the most problem with barre chords. Just when I get my barres right on the folk, I now have to figure them out on the classical guitar. With a classical guitar, there’s no room for bad form. You need proper finger placement, correct posture and sloppiness is so much more apparent. But the good thing is – I can practise longer on a classical than on a folk because the strings don’t cut into my fingers as much. Despite the calluses I have on my fingers, steel strings still slice into my fingertips to the point the pain just stops me from playing more than 45 minutes at a time.

So the impassioned pain you hear on my Tracy Chapman cover was real pain – from having to replay the song from scratch for the umpteenth time. Once I’m done with season-friendly songs, will put this song of Dave Barnes on my list because it’s one of my favourites from his new album – When A Heart Breaks. The lyrics unfortunately are far too descriptive of what I feel right now so I’ll refrain from dwelling on them too much right now.

Life, for now, I’ve come to fear
You’ve dropped me off and left me here
With nothing here to find my way
But the lights you take as you pull away

No one ever told me
It would come to this
What began with such a promise
Would end with such a twist

I lean into the whisper
But I don’t hear a thing

It’s a tear in the dark
All alone in the car
In pieces, in pieces
It’s the sound of mistake
As I lie here awake
Sleepless, sleepless
This is the sound that made
When a heart breaks

Everybody’s laughing
Maybe that’s just me
Does something unrequited
Mean it will never be

I lean into the whisper
But I don’t hear a thing

It’s a tear in the dark
All alone in the car
In pieces, in pieces
It’s the sound of mistake
As I lie here awake
Sleepless, sleepless
This is the sound that made
When a heart breaks

Please don’t leave me here

Life, for now, I’ve come to fear
You’ve dropped me off and left me here
With nothing here to find my way
But the lights you take as you pull away

Far ahead the brush is moving
There’s others here and good is proving
Nothing’s wrong, it’s in my mind
Nothing’s wrong and I’ll be fine

It’s a tear in the dark
All alone in the car
In pieces, in pieces
It’s the sound of mistake
As I lie here awake
Sleepless, sleepless

Monday Music: Orphans of God

So it’s the end of the year, and I find myself joining some of my favourite people in the world to cheer hearts and souls with song.

It’s given me a chance to share with them, and hopefully other people, Avalon’s song Orphans of God. It helped me get through some of the darkest times last year, with lyrics that have reminded me time and time again that I will always find acceptance in God’s love. One of my struggles over the years is coping with rejection, either perceived or actual.

It’s easy to take things personally and feel not good enough for anything, or anybody. We are born with the innate desire for a love so unconditional that it will look past our failings, craving for the kind of acceptance that embraces everything we are.

When we look for it from other people, we are usually disappointed. Because often even our loved ones look at us through a lens of expectations. “If you loved me, you would…”, “If I was good enough, you would…” I’ve been blessed enough to have had paternal grandparents who loved me with a love so fierce that their passing truly made me realise just how much their love illuminated my childhood. But even from the grave, my grandmother left vestiges of her love, reminders that I am always, always loved. Love never does leave you…you just need to remember that it is there.

“We love because He first loved us.” And I’m relearning that lesson everyday. And I abjure those who read this to believe, and trust in the love that never fails, never judges, never leaves us.

 

Orphans of God ~ Avalon

Who here among us has not been broken?
Who here among us is without grief or pain?
So oft abandoned by our transgressions
If such a thing as grace exists
Then grace was made for lives like this

There are no strangers
There are no outcasts
There are no orphans of God
So many fallen, but hallelujah
There are no orphans of God

Come ye unwanted and find affection
Come all ye weary, come and lay down your head
Come ye unworthy, you are my brother
If such a thing as grace exists
Then grace was made for lives like this

O blessed Father, look down upon us
We are Your children, we need Your love
We run before Your throne of mercy
And seek Your face to rise above

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All over again

I hated Ronan Keating’s version of Iris, and was prepared not to give the album it was on a listen.

Then I heard someone singing the song “All Over Again” from said album and so I Googled it and found the original version (there are at least 4 others Ronan did with different duet partners):

I quite like Kate Rusby’s voice and I enjoyed it the most about the song. The lyrics are crazy cheesy, though, and if I hadn’t loved hearing the person sing it, would probably have ignored it if I’d heard it on the radio.

So can I do it? Fall all over again? I don’t know anymore. And the lyrics from Falling Slowly just play over in my head: “I don’t know you, but I want you all the more for that.” But right now, I’m just happy being happy.

Turn down the light, turn up the radio.
There’s a fire in your eyes, and its keeping me warm
Hold on to me like it was yesterday,
When we both felt our spirits collide

I remember the moment, being struck down by lightning
Since the first time I saw your face, and you smiled
Come and lay down with me
Fill the space that’s between us
Feel the magic that keeps love alive
This time, can be like the first time
Close your eyes and soon we’ll be there
No man could ever guess what you’re feeling
Turn a spark to a flame,
Make a wish, close your eyes, won’t you start all over again.

Just like the first time that you touched my skin,
All over again
I tasted heaven take me there again,
All over again
Your smile
Your touch,
Your taste,
It turns me on and on and on,
That I fall in love with you,
All over again

Come and step through the stars,
Take a ride though the universe.
As long as we’re here, lets take this whole thing in

What I’m trying to say,
Is that you are so beautiful
Let me say it, all over again.
‘Cos this time can be like the first time,
Close your eyes, but you’ll soon will be there
No man could ever guess what he’s feeling,
Turn a spark to a flame,
Make a wish, close your eyes, won’t you start all over again.
[Repeat chorus]
Your smile,
Your touch,
Your taste,
It turns me on and on and on.
That I fall in love with you,
I keep falling in love, with you.
All over again
All over again
All over again.

If A Song Could Get Me You – Marit Larsen

I confess – I tend to judge songs by their titles. And Marit Larsen’s new single, If A Song Could Get Me You, was too cute-sounding to resist.

But then I caught her homemade video for the song, which she shot in a subway station.

It’s so cute my blood sugar levels rose.

Strangely appropriate though, because I have a massive crush on someone which is, of course, plainly ridiculous. Because I’m pretty sure it’s one-sided. It’s probably just a side-effect of too much mental chemistry.

But crushes can be mad fun so long as they don’t border on psychotic obsession. Instead, I’ve gotten plenty of ideas for songs and have figured out what I’m going to do in 2009 career-wise as well as my gameplan for 2010. So though my mad attraction is unrequited, I’m still inspired in good ways. (Yes, Sivin, that’s a good thing)

I could try with a waltz
I could try rock’n’roll
I could try with the blues
If a song would do

I could sing it high or low
When I let you go, you know
I thought it was for the best
Now it is so obvious

So here it is, here it goes
I could try it rock’n’roll
A change-your-life-forever-tune
If a song could get me you

I could make it high or low
Sing it on the radio
If that is what I need to do
If a song could get me you

I could run for miles and miles
I’d take off and I’d start flying
I could cross land and sea
If you’d just believe me

I should not have hurt you so
This old house is not a home
Without you here there’s no use
I’ve got no time left to lose

So here it is, here it goes
I could try it rock’n’roll
A change-your-life-forever-tune
If a song could get me you

I could make it high or low
Sing it on the radio
If that is what I need to do
If a song could get me you
If a song could get me through
I’d sing my way right back to you

Tell me how to make it right
Tell me now, I’ll start tonight
I know I could make it last
I swear to you that if I knew
What I was getting myself into
I wouldn’t answer to my fears
I’d never leave you standing there

Just look at me

If you’d only see me
I would prove my love for you
I could swallow half the moon
Just tell me where, tell me when
I will have you back again

So here it is, here it goes
I could try it rock’n’roll
A change-your-life-forever-tune
If a song could get me you
I could make it high or low
Sing it on the radio
If that is what I need to do
If a song could get me you

So here it is, here it goes
I could try it rock’n’roll
A change-your-life-forever-tune
If a song could get me you
I could make it high or low
Sing it on the radio
If that is what I need to do
If a song could get me you

Monday Music: Take A Message – Remy Shand

This guy seems to have disappeared completely, which is rather a shame because he was doing blue-eyed soul way before everyone knew Robin Thicke’s name.

Have a shipload of new stuff to listen to. Indie stuff like Smog, The Microphones as well as Heather Nova’s Siren.
I have no idea who these people are.
For familiar yet new territory, have appropriated Seal’s covers album, Soul and his supposedly awesome live album Seal:Live in Paris.
Added classics like Chaka Khan’s I Feel For You and Annie Lennox’s Walking on Broken Glass.
Guilty pleasure of the week: Boyzone’s Better.  Plenty of music to keep me company in what looks to be an interminable itinerary at the AMD Shanghai launch, where I predict the reps will attempt to pretend Barcelona never happened.

Monday Morning: James Morrison – You Give Me Something

Stumbled on James Morrison’s new album Songs for You, Truths for Me. I confess to a weakness for blue-eyed soul and now I half-regret not seeing him play at Live Out Loud last year.

You Give Me Something was his first single off the album Undiscovered. There’s his distinct voice, the hooky melodies and how his songs don’t sound overproduced. And of course, what I adore most – emo titles such as Nothing Ever Hurt Like You.

So here’s You Give Me Something. Yep, James has definitely given me two albums to savour for the week.

No, I’m not interested

Listening to old school R&B. Toni Braxton’s He Wasn’t Man Enough for Me is a favourite. I love the beat and at the same time, the cattiness of it is delicious.

Sadly the song also hits a bit too close for me. Too many times I get insecure women accusing/waging war thinking I want their men.

And I never thought I’d be able to say to a woman “I’ve already had your man” with absolute sincerity. But yeah, now I can.

The cattiest line:

Well, I think it’s time you know the truth

I think he’s just the man for you.”

Ouch.

My rule is – if he loves me, he wouldn’t swap me for someone else. So you take my man (happened), you keep him and good riddance.

They always come back, the sodding dimwits.

Truly overjoyed

November’s starting out amazingly – what with a glorious NaNo kickoff meetup as well as Barack Obama’s monumental win in the US presidential elections.

I just feel happy today and as an expression of joy, here’s Regine Velasquez’s lovely cover of Stevie Wonder’s Overjoyed.

Joy. Something so rare in these dark days.

"Overjoyed"
Over time, I’ve been building my castle of love
Just for two, though you never knew you were my reason
I’ve gone much too far for you now to say
That I’ve got to throw my castle away
Over dreams, I have picked out a perfect come true
Though you never knew it was of you I’ve been dreaming
The sandman has come from too far away
For you to say come back some other day
And though you don’t believe that they do
They do come true
For did my dreams
Come true when I looked at you
And maybe too, if you would believe
You too might be
Overjoyed, over loved, over me
Over hearts, I have painfully turned every stone
Just to find, I had found what I’ve searched to discover
I’ve come much too far for me now to find
The love that I’ve sought can never be mine
And though you don’t believe that they do
They do come true
For did my dreams
Come true when I looked at you
And maybe too, if you would believe
You too might be
Overjoyed, over loved, over me
And though the odds say improbable
What do they know
For in romance
All true love needs is a chance
And maybe with a chance you will find
You too like I
Overjoyed, over loved, over you, over you

Monday Music: Leave by Glen Hansard

This song is more appropriate in light of certain recent events than I’d like. But it’s still the best song I know to describe particularly acrimonious splits.
When I’ve reached my limits, I have a tendency to just sever ties and walk away. It’s easier than trying to mend hurts or breaks.

But sometimes there is no fixing things. You say things that just spill out at the wrong time, to the wrong person and there’s no going back. No do overs. No resets.
But by itself, it’s still a beautiful song with its sparseness, its simplicity. “Leave,” he sings. Because you can’t bear to be near the person, you just want the person out of your sphere so you can attempt to rebuild, regroup and recover.

The best cover I’ve found is this rather slow and sweet rendition which starts off so quietly before the control breaks, and it just becomes an anguished, strangled cry.

The original by Glen:

I can’t wait forever is all that you said

Before you stood up

And you won’t disappoint me

I can do that myself

But I’m glad that you’ve come

Now if you don’t mind

Leave, leave,

And free yourself at the same time

Leave, leave,

I don’t understand, you’ve already gone

And I hope you feel better

Now that it’s out

What took you so long

And the truth has a habit

Of falling out of your mouth

But now that it’s come
If you don’t mind

Leave, leave,

And please yourself at the same time

Leave, leave,
Let go of my hand

You said what you have to now

Leave, leave,
Let go of my hand

You said what you came to now

Leave, leave,
Leave, leave,

Let go of my hand

You said what you have to now

Leave, leave…

If they love you, they’ll stay…and shield you

I don’t know how my friends stand me when I’m such a love junkie. Always falling in some mire, oblivious to my own misery the way a moth would ignore its burning wings just to creep closer to the flame.

But despite my propensity for trouble, and my penchant for a lack of self-regard, they do try very hard to keep my body and mind safe and sane. That’s why I’m tickled to listen to Dave Barnes’s Stay Away. It’s about a man warning a known heartbreaker to stay away from his friend. And I’ve been on the side where you see someone going somewhere you know is really bad. A friend’s responsibility is to warn loved ones from harm and even if the warnings are ignored, to then stay around to pick up the pieces.

She hangs up the phone and she
Lays wide awake
Holding onto the heart you, again will break
It’s not that she’s innocent
And she’s not been defiled
Yes she picks up the phone, well
It’s you who dialed
And I know she tells you to stay
But please, stay away
Stay away
Stay away
I know this is heavy
I know I seem mad
But you’re the one who laughs and runs while
She’s standing sad
We both know where this is going from your history
She again will fall in love
You again will leave.
And I know she’s telling you to stay
But please, stay away
Stay away
Stay away
She wears her heart on her sleeve
Yeah she’s crying her eyes out to me
Heaven or hell she will go through
Depends on you
Depends on you