Irish/Scottish Englishman. I was brought up in the south of England. I spent a number of years in a failing indie-rock band and I'm now a teacher of Philosophy.
I find it really interesting how the place you're brought up in and live in influences your outlook on life and I like learning about different cultures. I love diversity and understanding how other people tick and see things. Having said that, I'm not interested in arguments about which belief system is wrong or right. I'm a Christian but I'd rather spend time with people who are caring and fun than those who follow a particular belief. I guess I'm interested in people with a similar attitude and from a variety of places. I'm married with kids but don't post much about them here because I don't think most people on lj want to hear about how people's kids are getting on. I've made my account friends only now so if you'd like to add me just post a comment on my last post (whatever it was). I'm always interested in adding new people. Shalom!
There's a tv host called Dermot O'Leary in England who recently wrote his autobiography using songs as the focus for different parts of his life.
So if you want to read a more detailed biography, here's my version:
The first record I bought was an Elvis album. I got it when I was 12 years old, which was in 1982. At the time, it seemed that everyone at my school was listening to ska music (mostly the London band Madness) but to me it all sounded second-rate compared with Elvis. I was thinking about why I didn't get into ska music (which I love now) along with everyone else and I think it's something to do with not enjoying school at the time. I was bullied when I first started. We lived on a council estate on the outskirts of London and 80's ska music captured life on an English council estate really well ("Baggy trousers, dirty shirts, pulling hair and eating dirt..."): https://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=Dc3AovUZgvo
Things picked up for my family economically in the mid '80's when I was a teenager. My parents got a mortgage on a house in a decent part of town and not long afterwards my dad put it up as collateral to buy the printing company that he worked for and it did well. It printed record labels. He used to bring home free records from bands like the Thompson Twins, Furniture, Elvis Costello, The Specials. The song that really did it for me at the time though was '1999' by Prince. Again, I'm trying to think what was so appealing about it for me...It was definitely the sound but it was also the hedonistic lyrics...the shiny purple jacket !? (in hindsight I'm not sure why) and the female members of the band who were dressed in next to nothing... After that I bought everything that Prince had produced and loved all of it. Britain was producing some decent synth pop and post punk at the time but it was Prince who I connected with most: https://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=CVLgYb8Wg3U
As a family we went to a Brethren Church. I had a strong belief in God but the church services were really dull and sombre. Then a friend of mine told me about a post-punk band that were Christians and this totally appealed to me. They were called U2. The first song of theirs I heard was called ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and I thought it was brilliant – a Christian band singing about how boring church is. Of course it turned out that the song was about something else. The religious/political divide in Ireland. It was really cleverly done:
It was energetic with well thought through words. Since then I’ve bought everything U2 have produced.
There was a pub in my hometown called The Bear where goths and punks used to drink and between the age of 16 and 19 I went along regularly. Around the same time I started working at a butcher's shop after school each day and one of the guys who worked there was a drummer in a band. He knew that I played the guitar and he asked me to join them. We used to practice every night except Fridays and Saturdays when we went down the Bear. At this point I got into bands like the Cure, the Cult, the Mission,...Lyrically it didn't mean much to me but I loved the energy of those bands especially live: https://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=8I8mWG6HlmU
In 1989 I applied for university. I didn't really know what I wanted to do; I just knew that I wanted to leave my hometown and go to a city. I can't even remember what course I applied for but I was unsuccessful because my school exam results weren't very good. I then got an offer from a university in Birmingham for a new course that was starting called Industrial IT. It was the only offer I had so I took it. At this point I was into a real mixture of music, but as a guitarist, Jimi Hendrix was who I liked most. He sounded magical to me and I also liked his carefree attitude to life. (When he died he owned hardly anything; just a few guitars): https://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=fjwWjx7Cw8I
I got into loads of 'great' artists like John Lennon and Jim Morrison and read stuff like Huxley's 'Doors of Perception' (which describes his experiments with hallucinogenic drugs and inspired the name of Jim Morrison's band). I experimented with drugs myself, trying things like LSD and speed. I formed a band as soon as I got to Birmingham and we played gigs and I failed my second year at university (...twice).
The music to this song is awesome and I rate Oasis as one of the best live bands I've seen. The song continues...
"It's a crazy situation but all I need is cigarettes and alcohol"...
It's not a philosophy that I've really subscribed to although in my early 20's it's pretty much how I was living. Then, out of the blue I got a phone-call from my Dad, and weirdly enough, I kind of knew what he was going to say before he said it - my cousin (who was about a year older than me) had died. It was suicide. He had thrown himself in front of a train. This had a big impact on me. For about a week I just felt totally stunned and then it got me thinking about things like death and after that I tried looking for answers...
After my cousin's death I read the Bible, and in particular a song called 'The Song of Songs' (the greatest song in other words). It was written about 3000 years ago by King Solomon who was believed to be a really wise man as well as an extremely wealthy one. The Song of Songs is a sort of epic opera which describes the relationship between a king (interpreted as symbolizing God) and a maiden (symbolizing people). It contains a line that was stolen by the classic '80's hit 'Kiss Me' by Stephen Tintin Duffy - "kiss me with your mouth, your love is better than wine", and it describes an intimate relationship between the King and the woman. Solomon wrote another book in the Bible which describes his search for satisfaction, despite having untold wealth and wisdom, and he concludes that knowing the creator is the most fulfilling experience possible. It got me thinking...
...after being inspired by the Bible I thought it made sense to find a church and that's where I met my wife. I was 24 years old, she was 22. I noticed her straight away. I saw her at the front of the church and noticed her eyes. She was the daughter of Irish immigrants with 4 big Irish brothers. She was training to be an Art teacher. I told her I was interested in art and asked her if she could show me round some galleries in the city and after that we carried on seeing each other every day for 2 years before we decided to get married. We walked down the aisle to 'Roll With It' by Oasis, and the band I was playing in at the time played the music for the hymns in the wedding service. We had our honeymoon in Devon (for £68) and then we rented a flat in a cheap part of Birmingham. We didn't have any furniture apart from a mattress, a cd player and a guitar amp to play it through..😃 This song by Mike Scott (of the Waterboys) I think is beautiful. 'She is so Beautiful': https://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=4PLhT0WIgwU
She is so beautiful light-filled, loving and wise, laughter dancing in her eyes All my road is before me and I never did plan on a wife yet she's the most beautiful soul I ever have met in this life
I also started helping out with the youth group at our church and someone suggested becoming a school teacher. It was something that had never crossed my mind before but the more I thought about it the more it seemed to make sense. So I did the training and became a teacher of Religion and Philosophy at a local state school. My wife and I had 3 kids in the space of 5 years. This song from Mike Scott is one of the songs I was listening to at the time:
I set my shoulder to a brand new groove Building the city of light Something wonderful on the move Building the city of light
I'm laying roots, planting seeds Building the city of light Grateful to give whatever it needs Building the city of light
I'm using my head, using my heart Getting the balance right I've got the horse before the cart Building the city of light
I'm using bricks and sticks and stones Building the city of light And sweat and soul and blood and bones Building the city of light
I'm using my brains, using my balls Keeping the goal in sight Feeling at heart a part of it all Building the city of light
After the birth of our third kid my wife suffered from severe depression. She had unresolved issues from her childhood that were exacerbated by the birth of our daughter and the death of her dad. She started self-harming regularly and said she felt such a darkness within her that it was unbearable. She got to the point where she went to see a doctor. She was prescribed antidepressants and had nasty allergic skin reactions to three different types before she was eventually given one which didn't have such negative side effects. She also had group therapy which she found really difficult. She tried to commit suicide three times (the last two times were in the space of one week).
She then started seeing a Christian therapist who was also a fully trained psychologist. She gave up taking any medication and also discovered she was pregnant. After two years seeing this therapist and a lot of prayer with the therapist she finally felt healed.
This song from one of my favourite bands - Dissident Prophet is called 'Broken'. It's written from the point of view of God:
You have been broken I have seen the damage that the world has done You've been through hell And all your dreams have come to nothing one by one But now the tide has turned I've changed the things you never knew could change And I will set you free And you will walk with me
And if you feel like crying, cry, cry And I will cry with you And if you feel like laughing, laugh with me And if you feel like dancing, dance, dance And I will dance with you And if you feel like resting, rest with me.