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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World War One: 100 Years On

One hundred years ago today, Britain declared war on Germany – and thus began this country’s involvement in the First World War. This, what was assumed to be ‘the war to end all wars’, soon became a ‘total war'; a conflict that killed millions of soldiers and civilians and left millions more permenantly physically or mentally scarred. Even more people worldwide, but particularly from countries across Europe, lost family, friends, lovers and homes as a result of the fighting and destruction. A whole generation was virtually wiped out by what was quite simply industrial warfare.

World War One was unquestionably one of the most significant events of the 20th century. The fact that historians are still debating its exact causes one hundred years later says a great deal about its impact on our society and others  – and the fact that we are all still paying the price of this conflict (in the Middle East, for example) shows how its effects have echoed down the decades since the Armistice in 1918. It is, therefore, important to remember.

So, to commemorate this important anniversary, I’ll be publishing a number of new posts on the subject of some of the lesser known or more unusual aspects of the conflict from the British perspective. Much will be written by others about military leaders and famous battles (and there is nothing wrong with that), but I prefer to focus mainly on the war on the Home Front and the people who lived through that, with particular reference to events in London. I have some fascinating and enlightening stories to tell about the experiences of this city at war – my small tribute to the men and women who served in numerous capacities, whether they survived or died, during the four years of this terrible conflict.

Watch out for the first of these new posts later this week and more to come over the next couple of months.

July Update

Hello everyone, I really hope it’s not too hot and sticky where you are right now (it’s absolutely sweltering here…)

Some very exciting news for you – next month, Another Kind Of Mind will be a whole FIVE YEARS OLD! I’m still slightly astonished by that, to be totally honest with you. To celebrate this milestone, I’ll be publishing a series of brand new and exclusive guest posts from some of my favourite bloggers and tweeters (hopefully!), so watch out for those (incidentally, if you’d like to send birthday cake and champagne, please do… *winks*).

As ever, watch out for more of the usual randomness you’ve all come to expect from this blog over the coming months, and I’ve got a number of special posts planned to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One in August.

I also curate the Top Fifty Albums Lists blog and I’ve started updating the List of Lists there with some of your Best Ever Debut Albums lists (and will posting my own list very soon – I’m still battling with it, this one has not been easy!). If you’d like to submit your Top 50 too, please do – you can find out how here.

If you’d like to get in touch with me, you can always leave a comment here or tweet me. Also, if you’re interested in photography and street art, you can find loads of my pics on my Flickr page, which is regularly updated with new stuff (you can see some of the latest images at the bottom of this page). You can also find Another Kind Of Mind over at Tumblr, plus I’m on GoodReads too. Feel free to follow!

Now, who’s going to go get me an ice lolly…?

claire x

RIP Tommy Ramone

Aw, damn. That’s the end of an era then – no more Ramones. Tommy Ramone, the last remaining original member and founder of the first generation punk legends has left the building, aged only 62 (some reports say 65). Admittedly, that’s a fairly good innings for a Ramone – of the classic, original line-up, vocalist Joey died in 2001 aged only 49, with bassist Dee Dee dying the following year at the age of 50 and guitarist Johnny following in 2004 at 55.

Born Erdélyi Tamás in Budapest, Tommy Ramone moved with his family to New York in the mid-1950s, where he met the three young men who were to become Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee Ramone. Originally the band’s manager, he ended up as their drummer because, as Dee Dee later put it, “nobody else wanted to”. Never the world’s most technical or complex drummer (which, quite frankly, didn’t matter one bit), Tommy provided a solid backbeat to the band’s first three classic albums, Ramones (1976), Leave Home (1977) and Rocket To Russia (1977), as well as handling co-production duties.

He left the band in 1978, ostensibly worn out after constant touring but really because the tensions within the band had become too much for him, although he continued in a management and production role with the band for some time after. He continued to play music and produce various bands until he was diagnosed with bile duct cancer. He died yesterday, at home in Queens, New York – and the classic line-up of the Ramones was finally reunited in rock ‘n’roll heaven….

The Ramones were one of those bands who had an enduring and powerful influence above and beyond their (lack of) commercial success. Never big sellers in their native America (their self-titled debut only went gold earlier this year!), but that debut album had a huge and lasting pivotal impact on the early British punk scene before being picked up by cult American bands such as Social Distortion, Bad Brains, Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys, Ministry and Bad Religion. They’ve been cited as an influence by everyone from Evan Dando, Dave Grohl and Eddie Vedder to Green Day, Lemmy and Kirk Hammett – and the list goes on and on and on.

It’s easy to hear why they were (and still are) just so damn influential – particularly on those legendary first three albums. Their deceptively simple yet distintive and immediate sound is impossible to resist – or to replicate, although many have tried. It’s that unlikely and irresitable melding of 70s rock, 50s rock ‘n’ roll, girl groups, surf music, bubblegum pop, and classic protopunk bands like The Stooges and The New York Dolls that made them so utterly wonderful. For me, they were unique, one of the definitive punk bands with a sound and an attitude that still makes me smile every time I hear them. It is genuinely sad that they are all gone now – this really is the end of a great musical era.

RIP Tommy, Joey, Dee Dee and Johnny.

Gabba gabba hey!

The Common Cormorant…

The Common Cormorant...
The common cormorant or shag
Lays eggs inside a paper bag
The reason you will see no doubt
It is to keep the lightning out
But what these unobservant birds
Have never noticed is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.

Christopher Isherwood

Yes, this silly little ditty (one of the first poems I learned by heart as a child) is apparently* by the very same Christopher Isherwood who wrote Mr Norris Changes Trains (1935) and Goodbye To Berlin (1938) – the novels that were later adapted into the play I Am A Camera (1951) and the 1966 stage musical and cult 1972 film Cabaret. I was irresistably reminded of Isherwood’s nonsense poem when I encountered this beautiful cormorant stretching out his wings in the July sunshine as I walked by the Thames in Richmond last week. Incidentally, you might like to know that cormorants and shags (no sniggering at the back there!) are, although of the same avian family, two totally different types of bird – and there were no bears (with or without buns) to be seen anywhere, rather disappointingly…

*There is some debate over whether the poem is actually by Isherwood at all, but it is certainly widely attributed to him on most poetry websites and in pre-internet poetry collections (of the physical book kind) dating back over a number of decades that I have either personally seen or own.