Hey Jude…

…was first released 50 years ago last Sunday. 26 August 1968 to be precise.

Did you know?

  • When the band started the take they ended up using, Ringo was in the bathroom. McCartney heard him tiptoeing in behind him, and when the drum fill came in bang on time on the 50 sec mark, McCartney knew this was going to be the take.
  • The piano McCartney plays on Hey Jude is the same one that Freddie Mercury played on Bohemian Rhapsody, and Rick Wakeman played on Life on Mars.
  • If you listen closely at 2:56 (on the audio track), you can hear McCartney utter the words ‘Woah, f***ing hell’. The take was so good they decided to use it anyway and just placed this outburst as low as possible in the final mix.

It’s a song of consolation, of friendship, of joy. Possibly the last time that The Beatles as a band felt these emotions together.

If you need any of that in your day today – have a look at the video the band released of the song. It reminds you that behind the stories, the songs, the personalities, the Beatles were a band like any other band. Check out the jam at the very start. Or later on when you can see Paul giving John his cues (2:46), George expressionless throughout, but then getting caught up in the joyous nature of the singalong outro (5:49) and Ringo happy out at the back keeping it all going (many times throughout).

It reminds you of the power of music, of song. It’s good for you.

Back to school

“It’s that time of the year again’.

‘Can you believe another year has passed?’

‘I can’t believe how big they’re getting!’

IMG_1740.JPG

These and many other similar lines are popular conversation starters at this time of the year. Uttered between parents, colleagues, friends and family members up and down the country and indeed all over the world.

They can create a sense of life slipping away, of the years going by too fast. They can remind us of unfulfilled dreams and ambitions, unrealised ideas and wishes. But only if you let them.

The thing is – it is that time of the year again. Another year has passed. Time moves on and there is no stopping it.

So do something. This is the second best time of year to start anew, to make some decisions that will help you live your life in the way you want to. A year well lived is made up of weeks, days, moments well lived. And we can all do it better.

In 365 days the schools will reopen after the summer again. And how you will feel then is decided by the actions you take now.

 

Feeding time

Feeding time at any animal trough is chaotic. Creatures jostling for position, wolfing down their food as fast as possible before someone else gets it, or it’s all gone.

IMG_1733.jpg

When we can help it, we don’t eat like this. Research and advances in biological science have shown us the value that can be got from eating slowly and digesting properly.

Food for the brain is the same. If you feed yourself in an environment full of distractions, or where you’re under pressure to feed as quickly as possible, your brain is not going to get as much out of the food as it should. Equally, if you don’t give yourself time to digest it, think about it, reflect upon it, your brain won’t process the new learnings to the best of its ability.

It’s worth thinking about the way you feed your brain every so often. And not just about what you’re feeding it, but also how. Take your time.

My art gallery experience

The National Gallery of Ireland is a beautiful building, inside and out. I was there for the first time recently, and I had my usual experience in an art gallery.

IMG_1703.JPG

I enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere. I marvelled at the beauty of the rooms. This time even the lift was artistic. But what was on the walls – the main attraction – did nothing for me.

A good friend of mine who is really into his visual art is amazed by this – I think it’s particularly because I am a musician, a creative person – but I am yet to find a painting or drawing that really interests me, let alone one that moves me.

This puzzles me too. I sometimes even feel guilty about it. But it also reassures me.

Because when I look at it from another side – from the view of someone creating something, someone who wants to interest and move people – I think of my experience with visual art and I remember that some, in fact most people won’t be into what I create.

And that’s fine. No need to try and convert them – I know from my many trips to art galleries that that isn’t likely to work.

But as you can see from the picture above there was a good crowd in the gallery, and I’m guessing that unlike me, most of them were there because they were interested in what was on the walls.

Find more of those people.

When you disagree with something…

An article by the name of ‘The Tragic Decline of Musical Literacy (and Quality)’ caught my eye last week.

It made a lot of points with which I agreed, but overall I came away with a slightly uneasy feeling about it.

I was going to write a blog picking apart the bits I didn’t like, but instead I’d like to thank the author for writing it and recommend you all read it here.

IMG_1693

Why?

Well firstly as I said I think it makes some good points. And secondly, reading something with which you disagree causes you to think. Why do I disagree with this? What do I believe instead? And if Mr. Jon Henschen didn’t go to the effort to write what he believes, I wouldn’t have taken the time to answer these questions for myself.

Today’s world is full of choice. If you don’t like something, no need to get upset by it or feel you have to disprove it. Instead, learn what you can from it, and move on. If you want something you like, keep looking for it, or (even better) create it.

Swings and Roundabouts

Movement on a swing is all about momentum. If you get the right push and move your legs in the right way it can keep you going for a long time.

Movement at a roundabout is all about speed. Get your speed right and you can make the most of the gaps that appear in the traffic. Too fast or too slow and there’ll be a collision.

If you get the right pushes, carefully manage your momentum and speed through life, you can do great things. If you lose control of any one factor though you will crash.

Look after yourself.

The Warriors Run

There are probably many versions of this story, but here’s the one I heard.

Almost 40 years ago, two friends sat in Sonny Bree’s pub in the coastal village of Strandhill, looking out the back window at the famous Sligo mountain and landmark of Knocknarea. They were trying to figure out the fastest way to the top.

IMG_1676

A German couple and their son were sitting nearby and overheard the conversation. The boy was 17 years old and in good shape. He told them not to worry, that he’d make it up in half an hour and they could track his route from their seat. He did, they did, and an idea was born.

Today, my brother, sister and I, along with some of our closest friends will take part in the 34th Annual Warriors Run. So will over 1000 others. The route starts on the beachfront in Strandhill, travels up Knocknarea, and finishes back where it started. It’s one of the highlights on the calendar in our part of the world for athletes, families and local businesses alike.

Many a plan has been hatched on barstools around the world, but only a tiny percentage of them ever see the light of day. It’s an even smaller number that are still around nearly 4 decades later.

The thing is, 1000 people didn’t run the race the first time. In fact the first race only went to the top of Knocknarea and didn’t come back down. Then, the race was part of an exisitng festival but now is the headline event of its own weekend-long festival.

You don’t have to start big. You just have to start.