Once and never again?

Do you re-watch the same television shows? Do you have a certain book that you read every year? Have you got those couple of movies that you’ve seen more times than you count? Are your walks to work dominated by the same few albums? Do you consume media and then consume it again?

I hear some people don’t do that. Who are these people, I wonder? I’m a big re-watcher/reader/listener.

But I’ve been trying to work out why. Because, don’t get me wrong, I love discovering new things. I mean, you’ve heard I like books, right? And I’m always taking Netflix show recommendations from my mate and listening to songs my brother sends me on Spotify and watching, what I can only imagine at this point is, the eighty-seventh Rocky movie with my partner. But I also have personal classics that I’m always coming back to. Or thinking about the next time I get to hang out with them. And that’s when I realised it.

Returning to things makes me feel safe.

I think that’s what it comes down to. I like to feel safe. And comfortable. Like I’m among friends. And they’re helping me with my problems. I like to wrap myself in a big warm cocoon of songs I love and words that make me pause and movies that break my heart or make me laugh so hard I cry.

They’re my history. Each little piece of them tells a tiny tale that all weave together to become the whole of me. I remember sitting cramped around our first family computer on uncomfortable chairs with my siblings watching The Day After Tomorrow. I remember the first music video we ever saw was Murder on the Dancefloor by Sophie Ellis-Bextor (squished around that same computer). I remember making our parents sit painfully though our dance routines to the Vengaboys that we were so proud of. I remember hours of car journeys each getting to choose one CD in turn out of our big black case. Sometimes U2 or Blue or S Club 7 or The Kooks. I remember memorising every line from the movie A Cinderella Story because I watched it every day after school on my portable DVD player that I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to get for Christmas. I remember watching High School Musical in 10 minute snippets on Youtube and feeling exhilarated that I’d cheated the system. I remember discovering streaming sites and watching endless hours of Heroes and Prison Break in my room hoping I didn’t accidentally get a virus on my laptop. I remember the reading group me and my friends had in our ICT classes, constantly swapping around Sarah Dessen books. I remember singing every word to The Scene Aesthetic with my friend during our edgy adolescence. I remember watching The Breakfast Club for the first time in my room because a guy had come around to put new carpet down on our stairs and I was stuck upstairs alone whilst my family all watched Neighbours downstairs. I remember watching Neighbours every day after school with my siblings and my mum. I remember watching What Lies Beneath at a Year 6 sleepover and being absolutely terrified. And I remember night after night working bar in uni listening to the same trashy pop songs every night and rolling my eyes but then shouting the words the next Friday when I was there myself, wasted.

Whilst many of these examples are not my favourite things or ‘safe spaces’ it’s still interesting to recollect. So many moments in my life link back to a book or a band or a movie. And I kind of love that. It’s like sensory memories. And I find those really satisfying. People remember what something tasted like or smelt like. But what were you listening to? What were you reading? What melodies were vibrating through your heart and what words were swirling around your head?

I know that on the beautifully silent, early morning summer paper rounds I discovered and fell in love with Snow Patrol’s album A Hundred Million Suns. I know that when I was home for Christmas from my year abroad in America, Brooklyn Nine-Nine kept me company during my long hours of jet lag. They helped me sleep again a few years later when my mum died. I know that my favourite song from last year (Old Friends – Pinegrove) came from a mixed CD my brother made me and we played on loop whilst we (and my boyfriend) hung out and drunk beer and talked about life. I know that Legally Blonde has got me through just about any bad mood I’ve ever had. All the way back to when I bought the DVD with my teenage part-time job wages and dreaming of the day I’d be as excellent as Elle Woods. I know I spent my childhood quoting School of Rock and Mean Girls endlessly with my siblings and feeling so loved. And I know I sat in a Creative Writing class at uni in America reading Autobiography of Red and Dept. of Speculation and Citizen: An American Lyric and We the Animals and realising that writing could be so much more that I had ever realised. And I don’t know, when I revisit these texts and songs it gives me a floating sense of connectedness. At least, I sense of floating that grounds me.

Do you have moments like that? Are you an avid re-watcher/reader/listener? Or have you just read all that and thought, ‘what the fuck is she talking about’? Either way, thanks for coming on the journey with me! This is what happens when I start writing about something without a clear idea in mind, haha. But what I was thinking about mainly is returning to things now that we know and love. I think it’s a kind way you can support yourself in 2021. It’s respite from the dystopia we’re living in. It’s a good way to feel content. With that said, I’m off to start season three of Grey’s Anatomy (again). Wbu?

Mind Mischief – Tame Impala

Songs To Cry Your Eyes Out To

I’m actually having a pretty good day today. I’ve had a nice string of them recently. However, on good days I often think about bad days. Not in a way that makes me sad. But in a way that makes me smile. Any bad day you have will eventually lead to a good day. I like to be thankful that I’m experiencing a good day. And whilst I know I’ll have more bad days in the future, I try to push that from my thoughts and just live in the present. Don’t question it. Good days also make me respect the bad days. Because sometimes they are needed. Sometimes we need to completely reset and the only way that happens is by having a truly rubbish day. So I want to focus on that day. Because I think on those days just being by yourself and having a good cry can be really healthy. You should never suppress tears. You also don’t need a reason for crying. People will tell you the opposite but they are wrong. If your body and mind are telling you that you need to cry then do it. If you are able to release something, whatever it is (maybe a bit of stress, some anger from something that’s happened that day, or maybe you just feel like you’re drowning a little less today), then you’re that little step closer to having a good day. And a good day doesn’t have to be the goal, working through the bad days step by step is impressive enough. But having that little inkling of future adventure or warmth or contentment might just push you forward. So to help you on those bad days I’ve compiled a playlist of 100 songs To Cry Your Eyes Out To. Because we all know there’s no better combination of sadness and slow, atmospheric, acoustic music. So close your door, ignore your notifications, lie down and just breathe. Maybe you need to get up and dance when the moment takes you. Maybe you need to thrash your head to get the energy out. Maybe you fall asleep as you listen and feel refreshed when you wake. Whatever it is, these songs are here to help you. I hope you find some new favourites. Personally, the only two songs I might possibly ever need to live are I Shall Cross The River – The Black Atlantic and Human – Of Monsters And Men. They allow me to breathe. I’m sure you have some of your own. I hope this playlist does something for you. Moves something in you. And then who knows, maybe tomorrow will be better.

Songs To Cry Your Eyes Out To Playlist

Hamilton: An American Musical Review

I first heard about Hamilton a few years ago and naïvely assumed I wouldn’t enjoy a rap musical. It was only last year, when my friend came to visit, that I was forced to listen to Yorktown and You’ll Be Back whilst having a giggly catchup. And the result? I fell asleep that night with the soundtrack on my Spotify. I have not turned it off since. For real. My Spotify Wrapped for 2018 was illuminating, to say the least.

Over the past year I have become, what can only be described as, obsessed with this musical. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anything more perfectly written. Every time I listen, I’m again baffled at what I fucking genius Lin-Manuel Miranda is. That guy.

The exact day I first listened to Hamilton is the exact day I started talking to my boyfriend. I convinced him to listen to this soundtrack because my mind was being blown. He told me later that he didn’t really want to listen to it and he only did because I asked him to. The result of that one? Oh, he’s as obsessed as me. So this musical has kind of been there with us the whole way through our relationship. One of my favourite memories from the start of our relationship is driving around the Lakes singing along to Hamilton at the top of our lungs. (We still do that often.) So then at Christmas when he surprised me with tickets to the West End show I have never been so excited. I was completely not expecting it and then immediately wish I’d thought of it myself!

Skip to last weekend and we saw it. We actually saw it.

And it was bloody incredible.

If you absolutely can, get yourself there. We had previously been apprehensive to see it because we are so unbelievably attached to the original Broadway cast. I mean, they’re the ones you listen to on the album. What if these weren’t as good? What if they just didn’t have the same chemistry?

Well fear not.

All our worries were completely unfounded. Of course there are differences. Some lines are sung differently and some words are emphasised in a different way. It would be completely unreasonable to not allow for such change. But as a whole, this show was amazing. Completely true to its Broadway original. If you closed your eyes there was several characters that you could not have heard the difference in.

George Washington was the absolute star for me. His voice was so deep and commanding and perfect. Dom Hartley-Harris is everything Christopher Jackson made the character and more. He really is the general of that show. Lafayette/Jefferson was another highlight. Daveed Diggs is my favourite from the original cast so I was really nervous. But Jason Pennycooke brought so much sass and humour to this role that I was easily won over. My other favourite of the night was Eliza. Rachelle Ann Go was perfect. The way she sang Burn you could really feel the pain in Eliza’s storyline. For a small woman she can certainly demand the attention of a room. She was captivating. You could have heard a penny drop at the end Stay Alive – Reprise. I was definitely holding my breath. Eliza is just such a heartwarmingly good person.

I think it goes without saying that both Burr and Hamilton were also epically cast. Such great chemistry as a pair; Dear Theodosia was performed beautifully.

Top Songs: Right Hand Man, Wait For It, Helpless, Satisfied, Non-Stop, Cabinet Battle #1, The Room Where It Happened, One Last Time, I Know Him, Burn, Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.

You know, so all of them. But no, the songs were incredible and seeing the choreography only enhanced them. The amount of steps and combinations that ensemble remembers is impressive.

So yeah, we had a bloody excellent time. We drank some beers, bought some merch, and danced our way through the show. We’re only gutted it’s over now. If you haven’t already listened to Hamilton I seriously implore you to. Hairspray has been my favourite musical for over fifteen years but last year Hamilton knocked this off the top. You will not regret it.

The ENTIRE Hamilton Soundtrack – Duh

Summer in the City

Proof that Liverpool is the best city, I’ve got the next few weekends sorted for you.

Brazilica

14th July

Starting in 2008 as part of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture celebrations, Brazilica is a parade that celebrates Brazilian music and culture as well as the magic of carnival. The parade sucks in around 30,000 visitors each year; this is probably due to the intoxicating atmosphere. There’s so much going on between drumming bands, samba dancers, colourful costumes and intricate floats. The parade begins on Abercromby Street and will wind down through the city and end in Williamson Square. The event will also host live Brazilian/Afro Latin music on a stage at the waterfront. It’s not to be missed! The event is free. http://brazilicafestival.co.uk

Liverpool International Music Festival (LIMF)

@ Sefton Park, 21-22nd July

As always this is one of Liverpool’s biggest events of the year and you should be there. The two day festival showcases music from many countries and cultures to celebrate the vibrant history and diversity of our city. This year LIMF has named their theme ‘Co-Exist and Connection’ which seems like an excellent idea to explore this year given the current world political climate. It’s also a great way for Liverpool to celebrate it’s ten year anniversary of Capital of Culture. Artists include Basement Jaxx (DJ set), DJ Jazzy Jeff and Jax Jones. Tickets start at £5 and under 11s go for free. http://www.limfestival.com

Liverpool Pride

28-29th July

Pride is always guaranteed to be an excellent weekend. As it’s still quite a new event in Liverpool, the event continues to blossom an get bigger and better each year. Ran by an entirely volunteer-led charity Pride aims to combat homophobia and transphobia in Liverpool and across the world. Their website states their core values to be FREE, INCLUSIVE, VISIBLE. So whether you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community of just an enthusiatic ally, this weekend is not to be missed. Whether you want to be in the colourful parade through our streets or celebrate from the side of the road it’s up to you. The march will start at Liverpool Central Library and twist though the city to end on Tithebarn Street where a main stage will be set up full of excellent performers including, Atomic Kitten and Sophie Ellis-Bextor. This year Pride will also be hosting events on the Sunday that are more casual, family-friendly. Sunday is about learning, experiencing and making a difference. This event is free. https://liverpoolpride.co.uk

There’s just something magical about the summer, don’t you think?

T-shirt Weather – Circa Waves