Posts Tagged 'Pete Doherty'

The Power of Songs to Make Us Cry

What is it about certain songs that touch one so deeply?  With some it’s the lyrics, others have such a beautiful melody, or even just the tenderness in the voice of the singer.  For me, there are a few, just a few, very special songs that I know, whenever I listen to them, will move me.  I’ve never actually shed tears solely from listening to a song, but some bring me very close.

Some songs hold a connection to someone we know, the subject and lyrics may remind us of someone in our family, which means that the song automatically connects to that person in our head.  An example would be Handbags and The Gladrags.  I find this song so incredibly sad, because it makes me think of my own Grandad and the line ‘That your poor old Grandad had to sweat to buy you’ makes me think of all the sacrifices my Grandad has made to give me things I wanted over the years, and how hard he worked to do it.  Some connections are less obvious.  For example, (another Rod Stewart song, sorry) in Maggie May, there is a line; ‘The morning sun when it’s in your face really shows your age.’  The line always makes me think of my Dad, and how he’s ageing but still wants to be young, and the injustice of growing old, hanging on to youth.

Sometimes songs remind one of a time and place, a period in one’s life.  For example, two songs will always remind me of the phone call that told me I’d been accepted into University.  Immediately after I’d put the phone down, I played Last Night and Someday, both by The Strokes, to celebrate, and those two songs will always take me straight back to that moment of elation and pride.  Similarly, a group of songs will always remind of a certain summer that I spent in my flat, shut away behind closed curtains, which I will always think of as the summer when I found myself and learned to write.

I mentioned, at the start of this post, tenderness of voice.  Some songs have an emotional power, for me, because of a quality in the singer’s voice.  Examples of this would be Last of The Ladies, or any song really, by The Courteeners, because of the gentleness and  touching quality of Liam Fray’s voice.  All of their songs are excellent, and almost all of them are beautifully moving, because of his voice.  Similarly, Pete Doherty.  Many of the songs Doherty sings with The Libertines, Babyshambles, or on his own, have a euphoric and celebratory note, and are uplifting.  I happen to think that almost all of them are fantastic music.  Some of them, a small selection, are more sedate and take on a beautifully poetic and almost heart-breaking quality.  An example would be For Lovers, which is Wolfman featuring Pete Doherty.  This song is so sad in the tone, audibly, and incredibly sung.  Last summer I was out walking on my own with the dog and I turned off the path onto the Heath, near where I live.  I was surrounded by a vast expanse of fields on one side and a view over the river and fields full of horses on the other.  As I set off, veering slightly downhill, with the sun setting in a flare of gold and orange and green, over the fields, For Lovers came on my Ipod, and it took my breath away.  The beauty of the moment, and the sound of the song, was magic.

Just over a year ago I went to the funeral of an eighteen-year-old boy, who was a very close friend.  This young man was devoted, in a way you can’t imagine, to music.  He spent any time he had travelling down to London for gigs.  His heroes were Morrissey, Robert Smith, and Pete Doherty.  He’d shook Morrissey’s hand, and was a regular visitor to Pete Doherty’s gigs and flat, and was on friendly terms with him.  There is a video of him playing the guitar while Pete warbles through Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.  The funeral was a very religious, catholic ceremony, and nothing in the service moved me that much.  Aside from feeling undeniably devastated at losing this friend, I didn’t actually cry all the way through the ceremony, until it ended, and I heard the first few notes of Music When The Lights Go Out by The Libertines.  Nothing else in the service had spoken about this person as an eighteen-year-old lad, or even as a human being.  The service talked about God and heaven, but nothing personal.  When this song started playing, I felt suddenly that it was Dale’s funeral.  Since then, the song will always be special to me, even more than it was before.

In the way that smells can take me back to a memory, or a time and place, and make me instantly remember where I was and what I was doing, create a picture in my mind of a specific situation, music takes me instantly back to specific emotions, and recreates that feeling deep inside me, every time I hear it.

Why I’m a Trendsetter


My sister with Pete Doherty, three years after telling me how awful he is.

Okay, so I haven’t actually set any trends, but I’ve noticed a fair list of items, fashions, objects, which I sported to much mockery from family and friends, and which subsequently became ubiquitously popular; from the F.R.I.E.N.D.S pencil-case which I was the first to have and later became the favoured pencil-case of every girl in the year, to the desire to wear skirts over jeans or trousers, which my mother told me made me look ‘a lesbian’ but which, following the Spice Girls girl-power era, became a fashion staple for a couple of years in the mid-nineties.

This isn't me, I'm just illustrating the trend.

I don’t wish to sound like I think I’m some stylish trendsetter, because it couldn’t be further from the truth, but I just find it curious, sort of like when you’re reading a book and the word you’re reading is said aloud in the room or on television, at exactly the moment you read it, it’s a strange peculiarity.

An example is Jack Wills.  Now, I’m not claiming that I invented Jack Wills.  No, that was the ingenious work of Peter Williams and Robert Shaw in Salcombe, Devon, back in 1999.  However, long before I knew anything about Jack Wills or had even heard the name, my family used to call me scruffy and weird for wearing tartan pyjama bottoms and chunky knit jumpers.  I used to love nothing more than coming home from college, or later, work, and settling down on the settee in comfy pyjamas and a jumper, it’s just so cosy.  Now, Jack Wills charges £49 for what they call ‘Loungepants’ but are essentially very well-made, high-quality tartan pyjama bottoms designed to be worn during the day, as loungewear.  When I first discovered Jack Wills, walking into their shop in Chester was like walking into my own mind.  I felt they’d captured every idiosyncratic thought I’d ever had about an outfit, and made it reality.  Does this mean I’m a genius?  I think, more probably, my predisposition for wearing pyjamas in the daytime was shared by a great many other people, mainly students, to be fair, and this was noticed and capitalised on by Jack Wills, who have since made it extremely popular.  Nevertheless, at the time, it felt like they’d stolen my thoughts.

My next point of conjecture, good people of the jury, is The Libertines.  Now, this point is more personal, but still serves a purpose.  Back when Pete Doherty and Carl Barat actually played together, before they broke up and reformed for a lucrative festival deal, I loved them.  They were the epitome of everything I worshipped about music, and their songs were good, too.  Some years later, when my sister reached that age when teenagers start forming their own opinions about music, I tried, as a big sister, to make suggestions.  I was desperate for her to experience what I had experienced, feel what I felt.  The Libertines had been broken-up for years, their music was never played, not many people ever mentioned them, they’d faded into musical memory.  I wanted to show my sister the wildness of those early gigs, when they’d line people up and tattoo Libertine across their arm.  I wanted her to hear the music that was full of passion, energy and poetry.  She refused.  Still not quite over the break-up of her beloved Busted, but never into McFly, she said the Libertines were junkies, dirty and refused to listen to a single song.  Fast-forward two more years.  My sister began going out with boys who loved the Libertines, and so began listening to their music and very quickly warmed up to them.  Nowadays, she knows more lyrics to their songs than I do, is a personal friend of Pete Doherty, goes to parties at his flat, has been photographed in Elle and Grazia walking down the street with him, has been in a taxi with him, has Libertine across her arm, which was drawn by Pete himself and then tattooed over.

My sister in Grazia with Pete Doherty.

My point is, I begged her to listen to them, and now she’s more of a Libertine than I am.  So, does this mean I started a trend, if only in my sister?  I think so.  I have very similar stories for the films Withnail & I, the film (coincidentally) The Libertine, and Sylvia Plath.  She always resists but concedes in the end.  Also, The Smiths, but I can’t take all the credit for that one.

My sister at Leeds, wearing a Libertines jacket to see the long-awaited reformation.

Libertine

Back in, probably around 1997, I was the first person in my year at school to have a mobile.  To be fair, this is probably less to do with the fact that I’m a perspicacious mogul and more to do with the fact that my Dad was flogging moody phones that topped up £10 every time you turned them off and on again.  Still, I started the trend for mobiles at my school, in one way or another.

So, you see, my point is not that I began trends and influenced people, more that I had a desire to wear, listen to, or do something, which later became very popular.  Back in 1990’s Runcorn, I longed for a vague ‘something’ which I couldn’t define, which involved loving good music, wearing floral dresses, a sort of mixture of 80’s, 70’s, 60’s, something cool, vintage, old-fashioned, and which later developed as a little trend we know as ‘Indie’.  I was indie before I even knew what it was.  Growing up, we wore tracksuits, listened to whatever was number 1 in the chart, bought our cd’s from Asda with the weekly shopping, went to McDonalds, and didn’t really think about anything else.  I had a tingling; an itch which was finally scratched when people started talking about indie.  I’d come home.  Just like, I suppose, all of us.


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Sylvia Plath said; "Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences". My aim in life is to find things and people to love, so that I can write about them. Putting words together is the only thing I can see myself doing. This blog is an outlet, and I hope you enjoy reading it. Please feel free to comment on posts, or contact me by the special e-mail I've set up (vikki.littlemore@live.co.uk) with your thoughts.


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The New Remorse, Oscar Wilde.

The sin was mine; I did not understand.
So now is music prisoned in her cave,
Save where some ebbing desultory wave
Frets with its restless whirls this meagre strand.
And in the withered hollow of this land
Hath Summer dug herself so deep a grave,
That hardly can the leaden willow crave
One silver blossom from keen Winter's hand.

But who is this who cometh by the shore?
(Nay, love, look up and wonder!) Who is this
Who cometh in dyed garments from the South?
It is thy new-found Lord, and he shall kiss
The yet unravished roses of thy mouth,
And I shall weep and worship, as before.

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Music I Love (In no particular order, except that The Smiths are first)

The Smiths,
The Libertines,
The Courteeners,
Nina Simone,
Oasis,
Pete Doherty,
Gossip,
The Kills,
Amy Winehouse,
Arctic Monkeys,
Rod Stewart,
The Doors,
The Rolling Stones,
Etta James,
Babyshambles,
T. Rex,
The Jam,
Morrissey,
Guillemots,
The Kinks,
Jack White,
The Deadweather,
David Bowie,
The Winchesters,
The Cure,
Kaiser Chiefs,
The Kooks,
The Twang,
Kings Of Leon,
Pulp,
Blur,
The Housemartins,
The Ramones,
James,
Robots in Disguise,
The Klaxons,
Kate Nash,
The Raconteurs,
Regina Spektor,
Aretha Franklin,
Stereophonics,
The Contours,
Dirty Pretty Things,
The White Stripes,
New York Dolls,
Yeah Yeah Yeahs,
The Clash,
Style Council,
Velvet Underground,
The Horrors,
The Cribs,
Reverend and The Makers,
The Subways,
The Wombats,
Foals,
Elle S'appelle,
The Troggs,
The Beatles,
Echo and the Bunnymen,
Florence and the Machine.

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

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Will it ever be alright for Blighty to have a Queen Camilla?

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Vikki's bookshelf: read

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
1984
Twilight
Of Mice and Men
Pride and Prejudice
The Hobbit
The Da Vinci Code
Lolita
Tipping the Velvet
Wuthering Heights
The Picture of Dorian Grey and Other Works by Oscar Wilde
Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Irish Peacock & Scarlet Marquess: The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde
The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman
Moab Is My Washpot
The Bell Jar
The Other Boleyn Girl
On the Road
Brideshead Revisited
Revolutionary Road



Vikki Littlemore's favorite books »

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