Three of the things that being a musician has taught me

Photo by Vi Vi on Unsplash

It’s been a hectic and stressful day, and finally, I am home. It is time to relax a little before going to bed. I put my feet up, have a glass of wine, and unwind. Without thinking, I pick up my guitar and strum and finger-pick a few notes and chords. No particular song or pre-decided chord progression, just a soothing distraction to take my mind away from the hustle and bustle of the day that is now drawing to a close. And it works. …


A life in six songs

Photo by Marek Okon on Unsplash

I was born in 1961 just one year after the Silver Beatles became the Beatles and, the rest, they say, is history.

I have listened to and enjoyed music in each of the seven decades I have lived through, music that has been the soundtrack of my life. In a kind of homage to the long-running BBC Radio program “Desert Island Discs”, I have tried to pick just one tune from each decade I have experienced. I will distill a whole ten years into a single song, a song that reflects what those times meant to me.

Everyone’s choices will…


Having an older sibling was the biggest influence on my taste in music

Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

I think I have an eclectic taste in music. I listen to, and enjoy, an immense variety from the haunting, sublime purity of The Sixteen performing Allegri’s Miserere to the simple, toe-tapping twelve-bar blues of Status Quo. Not being a musical snob, I find great pleasure in nearly all of it, from Abba to Zeppelin.

There are some critical exceptions, sounds that feel like a cheese grater along the brain. Discord’s that unfortunately just jar, and make me rush for the off switch. However I won’t dwell on those, there is too much that is just excellent. …


Why labels matter when telling history

Image Charles Ball, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

I am a product of my culture. No matter how independent, critical, and questioning my reading of history is, I cannot help but be influenced by my education and socialisation. The “truths” they taught me at school and the “facts” I glean from television and news constantly need to be interrogated and viewed from a multitude of perspectives.

History, it would seem, depends on who is telling the story. The version which often holds the greatest currency is the version as recounted by the victors. The terms we use and the labels we give to events and protagonists from the…


Everything is slowly returning to normal

Autumn Walk. Photo by Author

Six weeks since my operation and I am feeling more normal, whatever normal means. The other day was beautiful and warm, unseasonably so for mid-October: it could easily have been the end of August and so we travel a little further for me to take my daily walk. Leaving my wife at the cathedral in Wells, Somerset, I put on my old faithful walking boots, a light backpack with a couple of drinks inside, and go for a proper walk across fields and country lanes.

Following a pre-planned route of just over four miles at a nice comfortable pace that…


A Glastonbury Legend

Glastonbury Tor; Photo by Author

William Blake’s poem “And did those feet in ancient time” better known today as the hymn “Jerusalem” draws on an ancient myth about Joseph of Arimathea, who was reputedly the great uncle of Jesus. It is a legend which tells of Jesus visiting ancient Britain.

Blake himself may not have believed that Jesus came to the British Isles, and the poem possibly refers to his aspiration of a new Jerusalem in England’s “green and pleasant land”. This was his outcry against the destruction of a rural idyl by the “dark Satanic mills” of the industrial revolution. Perhaps an early awareness…


Not every great musician is also a wonderful human being

Ian McNabb, Photo by John Kidd CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Back in the eighties, Ian McNabb, succeeded commercially with his band the Icicle Works and since the nineties has released many solo projects with varying degrees of success. I count some of his early albums such as “Truth and Beauty” and “Head Like a Rock” amongst my all-time best-loved music. Simple but effective melodies carrying meaningful and sometimes quite profound lyrics. An artist who could articulate thoughts and ideas in a way that I, as a songwriter, wished I had written.

A few years ago, I went to see him perform a solo concert. It was at a small music…


A little further down the road to recovery

Before I went for surgery, I researched what I should anticipate. I like to know what’s coming and be prepared. Knowing I would wake up in the recovery room with an intravenous drip and a catheter, I was ready for pain and sickness and I was well aware it would be a long road to get back to normal.

Snakes and ladders. Photo by Jacqui Brown CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

I remember seeing two diagrams illustrating the process of recovery. One was how it was imagined: a graph with an X-axis of time and a Y-axis for improvement. A perfect straight diagonal line was the imaginary recovery; each new day along…


A nineteenth-century symbol of power and privilege

Penrhyn Castle. Photo by bvi4092 CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

There are over six hundred castles in Wales, and as Wales is such a small country, it means there are more castles per square mile than anywhere in the world. Not all the castles in Wales date from the medieval period. Some castles, rather than being built by the English to protect their conquests, were much later additions. Castles built as statements of wealth and privilege.

One such castle is Penrhyn in North Wales. Thomas Hopper designed it between 1822 and 1837, expanding and incorporating elements of an existing fortified manor house. It was built for its owner George Hay…


If you have never been, then give it a go!

Photo by The Nigmatic on Unsplash

I miss live music. When this is all over, and I am optimistic enough to say when and not if, I am eagerly anticipating the pleasure of hearing melodies not mediated through my iPad or computer monitor. Not that I am not appreciative of the innovative use of technology to stream music or to have the opportunity to participate in an online performance challenge. However, the virtual can never be the same as the atmosphere and ambiance of a real, in the flesh event. …

Dave Eldergill MA

Dave Eldergill is an author, visual artist and songwriter. www.DaveEldergill.org

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