How My Music Helps Me Relax: 5 Songs

I’ve been thinking about some of the things I do to relax. Not just relaxing my bones or my body, but relaxing my mind – de-stressing my overactive brain. I don’t have a particularly stressful job, but I do stress about work anyway. I’ve always been that way. I’m not a big fan of responsibility. I think I inherited that characteristic from my Dad.

One thing I love to do, to unwind, is to listen to music

I am a little ashamed to say I am addicted to Amazon. My socialist leanings mean that every time I use Amazon there’s a voice in my head shouting, you bloody hypocrite! I have no defence other than to say I am a walking contradiction. And by that, I mean I try to be a "good" person but I often fail. I tell myself it’s the trying that’s important. And if I give up trying, then what?

Back to the music. Amazon and music go hand in hand in my house. It’s almost the only medium we use, although Teresa, (my wife) has the radio on much of the day. She likes BBC Radio 2. Whereas I’m not so keen. So, music is important to us – but our tastes often differ. Not all of the time. We both like Elton John, for example. But then I like Bob Dylan and Teresa likes Amy Winehouse.

Songs to ease my mind

I remember a few years ago – I think it was 2014 – the novelist, Nick Hornby, wrote "31 Songs" a book made up of a list of songs that Hornby has loved over his lifetime. I’m not going to list 31 songs here, although I could, but I thought I might list five songs I often listen too when I need to ease my mind. I’ll add links too, in case you might like to have a listen to my choices. It would also be great if you were to list your top five – or top three – or even your top, one! I'd love to hear them. And maybe a bit about why you love them.

Here goes. In no particular order, and subject to change according to my mood, what time of day it is and what time of year it is:

  • Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen (1975): I was 17 when this song was released in the UK. I was a catering student at Thanet Technical College, training to be a chef. I never did make it, and within the year I was out of the college (I was asked to leave), because of my low attendance. Who knew I’d hate food theory as much as I did? So, rather than learn about the science of the potato, I decided I’d spend my days in a cafe on Northdown Road with my mates Cliff and Barry. Pelosis had a jukebox (remember those?) and we three would sit and drink coffee and play songs until our money ran out – which didn’t take too long. The first time we ever heard Bohemian Rhapsody was in that café and it blew us away. There had never been a single like it. 46 years down the road and I can still remember most of the words. Just.
  • As – Stevie Wonder (1976): Possibly my favourite song of all time. The 7 minute 8 second version on Wonder’s double-album ‘Songs in the Key of Life’ is Stevie Wonder at his very best. I know George Michael – a great singer in his own right – made his own version of ‘As’ but to me that was an act of sacrilege. Only one person could sing that song, that was Stevie. I reckon I’d like this one played at my funeral. Which I am hoping, what with advancements in medical science, won’t be for another 100 years.
  • Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison (1967): I’ve only just discovered – this very minute - that this song is older than my previous two choices. I love it because it’s mellow and because it reminds me of my wife, who has beautiful brown eyes. However, my love for her was put to the ultimate test twenty years ago when The Osmonds toured the UK and we got tickets to see them in the Birmingham NEC Arena.

    I went along to keep her company, but on the way there we happened upon a much smaller venue outside of which was a billboard proclaiming – "One night only – Van Morrison!" I never went in, of course. Instead, I went and watched The Osmonds with my wife and 2000 women, many of whom wore pink frilly cowboy hats and chanted "We want the Osmonds" over and over and over and over again. As it turned out, The Osmonds were surprisingly good. Not in the same league as Van Morrison but then, no greater love doth a man have for his woman than to give Van Morrison a miss for the bloody Osmonds.

  • The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia – Laurel and Hardy ‘Way Out West’ (1937): I’ve loved this song for as long as I can remember. Oliver Hardy has a great voice, and the moment he bops Stanley over the head with the mallet and Stan’s voice goes up through the roof, is just too wonderful for words. There’s also one of my favourite dance scenes in this film, but I’m going to save that for another time.
  • Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right – Bob Dylan (1962): This is a new song for me, even though it’s almost as old as I am. But I just love it. I can’t stop playing it at the moment. It makes my heart ache every time I listen to it. Something about my past, maybe. Something about the girls I have loved. I’m not sure. Whatever it is, I love it. I didn’t much care for Dylan in my youth. He was an acquired taste. Like olives, or Guinness or opera.

Talking of opera – I’m going to add one more track

I know it’s cheating but I love a bit of opera. Not all of it. A lot of it just sounds too screechy. But "Tosca" by Verdi, is a favourite. In Vissi D’Art (I lived for my art) Tosca is blackmailed by the evil Scarpia who is torturing Tosca’s lover in the room next door. Scarpia promises Tosca he will release her lover if she tells him of the whereabouts of a man he is hunting, and who will surely die if captured. I've chosen Angela Gheorgiu's playing Floria Tosca because, well, because I’m a bit in love with Angela. Anyway, I hope you like it.

Well, there we are. Five (six) songs that I play to help me relax, or just to help me smile – as with the Laurel and Hardy song. There are a million and one other songs that could take their place, it’s a precarious existence for any song in my top five list. It never knows when its time might be up.

I’d love to know what songs you listen to – and please add links so I can have a listen.

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