Sunday, 26 August 2012

Four songs and a dragon

 Hello my dear readers!

 Today is a Sunday, and I have some things to report. Firstly, I have a writing dragon! Called Griff!

 This may not make a lot of sense to some, so I will explain. In Chris d'Lacey's amazing book The Fire Within, the protagonist, David, becomes a lodger in a house which is full of clay dragons which come to life in the eyes of those who really believe that dragons are real.

 As a present for getting good A-Level results and getting a place in Manchester University, my parents got me a Pennykettle Dragon - one of the real clay dragons that the ones in the book were inspired by.

 My Griff is a writing dragon, which means he has a notepad and pencil and should inspire me when I'm writing! In The Fire Within, Gadzooks, David's writing dragon, inspires him by writing words on his notepad which give David ideas for his stories.

 I am hoping that Griff can inspire me as well. I love writing and dragons, so a writing dragon is perfect for me!

 I named him Griff because I feel it suits him, and because it is Welsh-sounding and starts with G. All dragon names in Chris d'Lacey's books begin with G for some reason, and a lot of them are either Welsh-, German- or Anglo-Saxon-sounding. I think it is because England and Wales have a lot of stories about dragons in their histories, and I'm sure that Germany, with its mountains and forests, has dragon legends as well.

 I would recommend The Fire Within to anybody. It is a wonderful book. It is the first in a series of seven, of which I have read four - and I must say that the first two books are by far the best. However, I feel that the second novel, Icefire, is a lot darker than The Fire Within, so I would bear that in mind if you decide to read it.

 I am very happy with Griff and will never be able to thank my parents enough for finding the lady who makes the Pennykettle Dragons, and for having one made for me... I will be forever grateful. And thank you too to Val Chivers, the "Dragon Lady" who made Griff. She is amazing.

 Second piece of news is that I have found out where I will be staying during my first year of university, which is exciting. I got one of the places I wanted, which is great ♥

 Now for some music - I really wanted to share "Isn't it Midnight?" by Fleetwood Mac, which I discovered just after writing my blog post about Christine McVie a while ago.

 It is so pretty, yet also slightly dark and very mysterious-sounding. Here it is:

 The melody sounds quite familiar to me; I have heard similar in other songs. I don't know who came up with it first but I must say that the familiarity for me adds to the general haunted feeling of the song... It is beautiful and goes perfectly with the magical, mystical-looking album cover that is its YouTube thumbnail above. 

 The painting on the cover, in case you were interested, is Hommage à Henri Rousseau, by Brett-Livingstone Strong. The original painting was hanging in Lindsey Buckingham's house when the album was being recorded. I wish it were hanging in my house! It's beautiful.

 From the album Tango in the Night came several Fleetwood Mac songs I adore: Seven Wonders, Little Lies and Everywhere. I intend to start doing album reviews on this blog, and Tango in the Night may be one of the first albums I turn my attention to!

 Another song I have discovered recently and that I really like is "Days Are Numbers (the Traveller)" by the Alan Parsons Project. 

 Amazingly enough, I discovered this through somebody on YouTube claiming that one of my favourite French songs, Juste Après by Jean-Jacques Goldman, was a rip-off from it. I gave it a listen to see what I thought, and I can honestly say that apart from a vague similarity in the first few chords, there is no resemblance that I can hear. 

 I love Juste Après, and I am really warming to Days Are Numbers as well! It is really gorgeous, especially the harmonies in the chorus. If I ever have a band I want us to record this song, and I want us to do the very best job at it that we possibly can, to try and do justice to this amazing song. It is simply sublime.

 So thank you, YouTube person, for helping me discover this song! Even if it was through making a claim that I don't really agree with. But we all hear what we want to in any piece of music.

 I was shopping recently and heard "Maria" by Blondie on the radio - and I was very happy because I love this song. I think it sounds a bit like a speeded-up version of Someone Like You by Adele - obviously, Maria was out first. But I think I may be the only person who can hear the likeness! And I believe songs can sound very similar without any ripping-off being done.

 I first heard Maria at a friend's birthday party not that long ago, and I couldn't believe I had been missing out on it for so long, when I listen to as much Blondie as I do. On the other hand, it's sort of reassuring to think that there may be loads more great old music out there that I've never heard and have yet to discover.

 I will always associate this song with the film, "The Mirror Crack'd" - the 1980 one with Elizabeth Taylor in it. I find that film rather terrifying, and I also think the answer to the mystery is obvious from very early on - though that might be because the first time I saw the film I saw only the second half... I don't know. 

 I thought it was really easy to put two and two together, and I think that was the fault of the way it was filmed, not the plot. I intend to read the book - I have a copy of it in French, Le Miroir se Brisa. I have read parts of it; I may read it properly soon.

 Anyway, getting back on topic, I associate this song with that film because just after I first discovered the song, I watched the film on telly and listened to the song in the ad breaks, and now there seems to be a link between the two in my subconscious that I fear will never go away. I do like the film, I just find it scary and don't want to be reminded of it when I listen to a song I really love.

 Luckily, Maria also reminds me of the lovely party at which I first heard it, which is a really nice memory to cherish. I love the rhythm and melody of the song, and I love the lyrics, except for the line, "Don't you want to break her." I think - I sincerely hope - it doesn't mean physically breaking her, perhaps it is more in the sense of breaking her spirit; breaking her in because she is like a wild horse. Whichever is true I'm not keen on it. 

 Otherwise, the song is great and I love Debbie Harry's voice. It is, in my opinion, one of the finest songs of the 1990s (it was released in 1999).

 I have been following The X Factor this year; however my real love when it comes to winter television is Strictly Come Dancing, and I can't wait for this year's series to begin. For readers overseas, Strictly Come Dancing is the original UK version of Dancing With the Stars. 

 I really love seeing all the dances but I also love discovering new music which I always seem to do through this show. I love Strictly! It always makes me yearn to be a ballroom and Latin dancer, but I've always had trouble finding local classes. 

 However, all that may change when I move to Manchester in September - I'm sure in a city that size there must be some ballroom and Latin classes available! Maybe even as part as the Uni enrichment. That would really be wonderful.

 I've also been watching Celebrity Big Brother, and I must say that some of the things I have seen this series are truly pathetic. Certain individuals really need to grow up! But Julian Clary is amazing as always. I hope he wins.

 One last song I wanted to share with you is "You Win Again" by the Bee Gees.

 I had heard it before but recently I found out through hearing it on the radio what it was and who sings it. It sounds different to other Bee Gee songs I know, and I really like it. It is, in my opinion, their best song, which is high praise because I really love How Deep is Your Love as well. 

 I can't believe that Barry is the only Bee Gee left now. Rest in peace, Maurice and Robin. Your talent shines on and your music will be appreciated for many years to come.

 The Bee Gees were such a slick, smooth outfit - they always looked good, and their music moved with the times, from disco to pop, whilst remaining timeless. A few days ago I was at a 60s and 70s-themed zumba class, which featured a seven-minute-long Bee Gees medley. It was brilliant and reminded me why I love their music so much.

 You Win Again tends to remind me of my amazing trip to Paris in February 2012; I think this is because it was just after we got back that I discovered this song. I love the beat and the lyrics - mainly. Again, there is stuff about attacking the (I assume) woman the song is aimed at that is obviously a metaphor but that I kind of don't like. 

 Still, You Win Again is, on the whole, a great song. Well done, Bee Gees! You really are amazing. 

 Amazing does seem to be my favourite word, and in the past I've abstained from using it all of the time, trying to alternate with words like wonderful and brilliant, but to be honest I feel that I should be true to myself and if I feel that amazing is the best word for something, I shall call it amazing! So there! Okay, I probably sound a bit childish. But it is very liberating thinking, this is my blog and I can do what I like on it, within reason.

 So, I hope you have enjoyed my long, long blog post, and the songs I have shared with you.

 Thanks for reading!

 ¡Hasta luego!

 Hrrrrr! (That is what the dragons say in The Fire Within.)

 Liz x

Songs: Isn't it Midnight? - Fleetwood Mac - 1988
Days Are Numbers - The Alan Parsons Project - 1985
Maria - Blondie - 1999
You Win Again - Bee Gees - 1987

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