The Songs of Me (Part 2)

Last week I blogged Six Songs of Me which was my response to the Guardian’s Six Songs of Life project.  I had intended to have a go at answering Janet Davis’ set of questions, but ran out of time. Louise Brown has risen to the challenge this week and posted her selection.

I normally struggle to write one post each week, I’ve already written one for this week, but I thought I’d try and blast out a second post in time to meet the midday Thursday deadline. I’ll probably have to revisit it at the weekend to add in links and stuff.

Here goes:

1. What song do you remember best from college/university?

Imagine by John Lennon was what I thought of immediately. It was played a lot for ages after he was shot and killed. I immediately thought of him in a white suit seated at a grand piano, with Yoko Ono in the background.

Around the same time Paul McCartney produced Mull of Kintyre. It seemed to sit at the top of the charts for much of the time I was in sixth form. I guess every era has songs which for some reason catch in the nation’s consciousness and hang around for ages – remember the Birdy Dance?

1a) What song brings back memories of homework?

My dad was in the Army and was often posted overseas. As a result I spent a chunk of my school years at boarding school. It was a good school, but strict, and music wasn’t allowed whilst doing homework (or ‘prep’ as it was called). Headphones were the size of house bricks so it wasn’t possible to listen to listen to music even surreptitiously.

If I have to pick something, I’ll therefore go for Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel:

2. What song best evokes your experience of a study or work trip?

I studied French at ‘A’ level and to be honest it wasn’t a great subject choice for me. I think at that point I hadn’t ‘clicked’ that it was anything more than an academic subject and as a result I was struggling. In an attempt to get me through, during the school holidays, I was packed off on a language trip  to a French college in Besançon.

I had a fabulous time. There was a brilliant mix of people from the UK, Spain, and Germany on the same trip.  It wasn’t an exchange-type trip and, rather than staying with students’ own families, hosts were paid. Three of us stayed in the same house – the other two were from Spain and Germany, and I ended up learning more Spanish and German than I did French. Our host was a formidable lady we nicknamed ‘Madame Vache’. She had a delightful family, but she was very strict we didn’t really get to mix. It’s the only time I’ve ever eaten macaroni with chicken, and the same food was reheated day after day.

Anyway, I associate the trip with great fun, excellent friendships and lots of chatting in  bars and cafes, frequently in several languages simultaneously. I was a bit surprised to find that the French listened to Captain Sensible, and Happy Talk was often playing in the background.

3. Which song is most likely to bring a tear to your eye (or to make you weep copiously)?

Living years by Mike and the Mechanics use to make me well-up even before my dad died, and I often used to call home after I’d listened to it.

My dad was a soldier all his working life, and I thought he was indestructible. In his mid-forties he was posted to Plymouth, attached to the Royal Marines. He didn’t feel it was right to command Royal Marines without earning their respect, and he therefore insisted he did the ‘Commando Course’. As far as I know, he’s the oldest man to have earned the coveted ‘Green Beret’.

Cancer took him over ten years ago, and it came as a great shock to everyone who knew him. It’s only recently I’ve been able to listen to this song again.


4. What is the best song to kickstart your most creative thinking?

I love the song ‘God Shuffled His Feet’ by the Crash Test Dummies. It make me think, has some gentle humour, and a nice melody.


5. Which song helps you work when you really need to concentrate?

Strangely, it’s darker, moody music like Spin, spin sugar by the Sneaker Pimps that help me concentrate. I have a play list for that purpose and most of the songs are of that ilk – I don’t know why


6. When you’re angry, on which song do you want to turn up the volume?

I don’t get very angry very often. I’ve found it rarely achieves anything useful.

I think there are different causes of anger, and my song choice probably depends on what’s behind the anger. If it’s anger based on frustration – for example when encountering obstacles or archaic processes – then I’ll probably choose something by a Heavy Metal band like AC/DC or Black Sabbath.

I like songs which convey the message ‘well, I’m going to do it anyway’

NOTE: just because I like the song, I have no intention of becoming a rock and roll singer. I don’t necessarily ‘just do it anyway’, either (having learned, and re-learned the hard way).

Other favourites include: ‘Mars the Bringer of War’ from Holst’s The Planets, and ‘Paranoid’ by Black Sabbath

7. Which song sums up the person you would like to be?

I’ve run out of time to finish my selection, so I’ll just finish with Mannish Boy – Muddy Waters (haha, if only…)

By Mark Braggins

Walking, usually with my two ex-racing greyhounds. Interested in lots of stuff. Work: Business Development and Research at Drawnalism


  1. Just listened to these selections while reading your reasons. Quite moving, great choices. This song selection lark has been quite a reflective process. Janet has something to answer for.

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