September Update

Much to report, but I’m going to start by sending a huge thank you to Rick, Fi, Ian and Rose for their brilliant 5th birthday guest posts – and an equally huge thank you to everyone who read those posts and responded on Twitter, Facebook and in the comments here. A fantastic way to celebrate five years of Another Kind Of Mind!

If you missed any of the birthday posts, you can find all four of them here:

Guest Post: Music just isn’t that important these days…

Guest Post: Why do we love music?

Guest Post: Music or Lyrics?

Guest Post: Mental Illness – Stigma and Why We Choose To Stay Silent

I have lots planned for the next few months, including more in my World War One series of posts, a bit of the usual general randomness you’ve all come to expect round these parts, some dramatic and destructive 17th century history, and my recommendations for building a library of books about music.

And, on the subject of music, I have also been busy adding loads of new Debut Albums Top 50s to the List of Lists over at the Top Fifty Albums Lists blog. Please get in touch with me if you too have compiled a Debut Albums list and haven’t sent it my way yet!

As well as all this, my offline life is about to get busier again and I may not be around quite as much in the near future – I’ll be beginning a part-time MA course with the Open University in October (but don’t worry, it won’t stop me blogging…!).

Thank you again for all your recent input and responses – and here’s to another five years of Another Kind Of Mind.

claire x

PS: Despite the fact it’s only September (how did that happen anyway?), I’ll soon be turning my mind to my now-traditional Christmas posts. I’m not sure yet as to which seasonal topics I’ll be covering this year, so if you have any bright ideas or suggestions, please get in touch – it would be great to crowdsource a few Christmassy posts for this festive season!

Guest Post: Mental Illness – Stigma and Why We Choose To Stay Silent

With today’s final birthday guest post, we’re changing tack a little. When I asked Rose to write something about the stigma associated with mental illness, I thought it would be an interesting insight into a subject that is close to both our hearts – but with the recent suicide of the comedian Robin Williams and the public and media response to this tragic event, the topic has taken on a whole new significance. This is an honest and thoughtful post, and I freely admit that I strongly identify with a lot of what is said here. I am sure that this post will also strike a chord with others.

Rose blogs at the excellent roseversusblackdog about her experiences of and ongoing recovery from mental health issues. Even if you have no personal experience of mental illness (and especially if you do), her blog is definitely a recommended read.

August 11th 2014 – I woke up at 3am suffering from an anxiety attack and decided to have a quick browse on Twitter to distract myself. One tweet caught my eye – I saw the words “Robin Williams dead at 63 – Suspected Suicide”.

Tweet after tweet. Overwhelming sadness.

“Get help!” “Tell someone” “You can get better”.

Understandable messages from concerned well-wishers some who were probably worried about their own friends and family.

I also thought a lot about the exhortations to “speak up” and “tell someone”.

I would like to explain why this is such courageous act and why given the possible consequences, we should have understanding and compassion for people who wish to stay silent.

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Guest Post: Music or Lyrics?

For today’s birthday guest post, musician and blogger Ian Lipthorpe has decided to examine a subject I am sure many of us will have an opinion on – when you listen to a song, what is more important, the music or the lyrics? And why? I have to admit I go with both, depending on the song, but you may disagree with me – or with Ian. Have your say in the comments below!

If you’d like to read more, Ian blogs about music over at Harmony Corruption. He also curated the unofficial Manic Street Preachers Top 50 site New Chart Riot and you can hear some of his music (under the name Beneath Utopia) on Soundcloud.

In the world of modern music the majority of songs we listen to contain lyrics in one form or another. So it got me thinking, how much importance do we put on lyrics in songs compared to the music? Do we listen to the music first and the lyrics second, if at all? Do the lyrics make a difference as to how much we like a song? Does anyone like a song because of the lyrics but aren’t especially keen on the music?

There are obviously varying degrees of all of the above, but the subject does intrigue me. You see, I’m a music man through and through. I know the lyrics, I sing the lyrics, but to paraphrase Nirvana on ‘In Bloom’, I don’t necessarily think about what it means. Even stranger, you might think, given my well-known Manics tendencies. That doesn’t mean I don’t have the capacity to read them and understand what they mean, I just generally don’t bother (shame on you, you cry!).

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Guest Post: Why do we love music?

Thank you very much to Fi for this thought-provoking birthday guest post on a subject that many of us probably haven’t ever contemplated much – but perhaps we should. Can you trace where your love of or taste in music comes from? Why is music important to you? How has your taste in music changed over time? Plenty of food for thought here, please feel free to share your opinions and views in the comments!

If you’d like to read more, Fi also blogs over at Music vs. The World, where she reviews new and unsigned music, and compiles excellent and eclectic Twitter-sourced themed playlists.

Why are we drawn to music? We hear a song, we either like or dislike it, and we make a choice to make it a part of our collection or never listen to it again. That’s it, right? Well, I don’t think it’s quite as simple as that. We just don’t tend to stop and think about it all that often.

SCIENCE

There is, of course, a well-studied science behind people and reactions to sounds – we know that many parts of the brain are activated when listening to music. The temporal lobe recognises and processes sound frequencies, and analyses information from music – pitch, speed and volume. The cerebrum recalls lyrics and stimulates memories associated with certain songs. The cerebellum affects movement, which can be rhythmic in response to music. The limbic system is the part of the brain that produces the emotional reaction to music.

I have a question. If it’s all down to science, why doesn’t everyone like the same kind of music? Why are some people completely averse to the same sounds that another group of people can’t get enough of?

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Guest Post: Music just isn’t that important these days…

Regular readers will know that I’m celebrating Another Kind Of Mind’s fifth birthday at the moment by hearing from a number of my favourite bloggers and tweeters. Today’s birthday guest post comes from Rick J Leach, who is the author of Turn Left At The Womble: How a 48 year old Dad survived his first time at Glastonbury and Totally Shuffled: A Year of Listening to Music on a Broken iPod. He also blogs about music over at Turn Left At The Womble and is ever interesting on Twitter. He’s chosen to write about a subject that is very close to this old music geek’s heart (in fact, I may well write a reply post to this at some point). What do you think? Do you agree with him? Feel free to comment…

Is it just me?

Am I getting too old?

Is there something (not) going on?

Music just doesn’t seem significant these days.

I am writing this from the perspective of a 50 year-old music fan and as someone for whom music has played (and still continues to play) a significant part in my life since I was probably 10 or 11 years old. I can’t imagine life without music. I can’t imagine not listening to any and all genres of music and not being excited about what may be coming up, just around the corner. (Although more of that in a bit).

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Happy 5th Birthday, Another Kind Of Mind!

Happy Birthday!

I can’t believe it’s now five years since I started Another Kind Of Mind on WordPress! As The Bangles sang in their classic 1986 single ‘Manic Monday’, “time it goes so fast…”

Here’s a few stats from over the last five years:

More than 340 posts

Almost 700 comments

Over 700 social media shares

Nearly 62,000 total views

And visitors from almost every country on Earth!

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading, commenting, liking, sharing and reblogging. I appreciate every single one of you – I’d be talking to myself without all my wonderful readers!

To celebrate this momentous anniversary, over the next few days I’ll be publishing a selection of guest posts from some of my favourite bloggers and tweeters. I hope you enjoy hearing from them….

World War One: Isaac Rosenberg – Poet and Painter

Isaac RosenbergAsk anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with 20th century literature about the poets and poetry of the First World War, and I can guarantee that the names ‘Rupert Brooke’, ‘Wilfred Owen’ and ‘Siegfried Sassoon’ will be mentioned at some point. All three are rightly-reknowned poets (especially Owen), but they weren’t the only ones to be creatively inspired by their war experiences. In today’s World War One post, I’ll be looking at the life and death of another Great War poet – one who came from a very different background, and whose work is still perhaps not as well-known as it should be.

Born in Bristol on 25th November 1890, Isaac Rosenberg was the eldest son of a family of Jewish immigrants who had originally come over from Eastern Europe. When young Isaac was seven years old, his family moved to the East End of London in search of work. Settling on Cable Street, in the heart of the area’s large working-class Jewish community, the Rosenbergs found it difficult to make ends meet and Isaac, although intelligent and artistically talented, was forced to leave school at 14 in order to earn some money for the family.

He was apprenticed to an engraver, a job he apparently hated, but he was already beginning to write poetry and also started attending evening classes in art at Birkbeck College. He lost his job in 1911, but a lucky chance meeting led to his artistic talent being recognised by a patron, who agreed to fund his studies at the prestigious Slade School of Art. At the Slade, he studied alongside a number of young artists who went on to be very successful (and who also later reflected the impact of the war in their work), including Stanley Spencer and Mark Gertler.

Moving in the well-connected circles associated with this creatively charged atmosphere obviously had an impact on Isaac, as he was able to get a small book of his poetry privately published in 1912. A year later, he met Edward Marsh, the editor of the influential Georgian Poetry volumes and one of the most important people on the British poetry scene at the time. This meeting seems to have been very positive as the two men corresponded right up until Rosenberg’s death.

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World War One: The Army Cyclist Corps

Gravestone of Private W. Samworth, Army Cyclist Corps, Isleworth CemeteryOne sunny spring afternoon earlier this year, I found myself wandering round Isleworth Cemetery. This is a fascinating and peaceful place, opened in the 1880s when the graveyard at the nearby All Saints Church became full and was closed to new burials. Among the many memorials at Isleworth is one to a member of the well-known local Pears family (the soap manufacturers), who died in the Titanic disaster of 1912.

There are also a number of memorial stones relating to the two World Wars here. These headstones are easily identifiable, all conforming to the simple and elegant design laid down by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in 1917. Each lists the deceased serviceman’s name, rank, age, unit and date of death, along with his regimental badge, a religious symbol and a brief inscription often chosen by the family.

As you can see from the photograph (left), William Samworth’s headstone is no different in that respect. But it was the nature of some of the details on there that really struck me. The first and most important thing was his unit. Despite having studied both World Wars in great detail, I had never encountered the Army Cyclist Corps before. I admit I was intrigued by the concept, and determined to find out more about the ACC – and about Private Samworth too…

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Top 50 Best Ever Debut Albums: The Full List

Regular readers will know of my involvement in compiling Top 50 music lists – indeed, I’ve posted my complete 1970s and 1990s albums lists here in the past. For more information on the Top 50 Albums Lists project and more details of my Debut Albums choices, visit the Top 50s blog. You can also find a wide selection of other Top 50s from various different music fans over on the List of Lists.

50) The Charlatans – Some Friendly (1990)

49) The Verve – A Storm In Heaven (1993)

48) Chemical Brothers – Exit Planet Dust (1995)

47) Super Furry Animals – Fuzzy Logic (1996)

46) Elliott Smith – Roman Candle (1994)

45) Gram Parsons – GP (1973)

44) Daft Punk – Homework (1997)

43) The Postal Service – Give Up (2003)

42) Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols (1977)

41) Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine – 101 Damnations (1990)

40) The Prodigy – Experience (1992)

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