happy new year anyone and everyone who follows the blog (or facebook or twitter where posts also flow)!
i actually really love new year - it's a time to reflect and look back. in our house for several years now we have had a meal at some point over the new year season with friends and/or family that contains bitter/sweet and discussed the year's bitter and sweet moments and then shared hopes and dreams for the year ahead. last night's bitter/sweet was kicked off with an amaretto sour which was a new take on bitter sweet and we had a fabulous evening with friends. overall the balance of the year for all of us was more sweet than bitter.
highlights for me were definitely an 8 day silent retreat, massive attack at manchester international festival, holidays, a visit to s korea, seeing the tour de france last stage on the champs d'elysees, and i simply love the work i do training pioneers, and it was year of wonderful music largely thanks to mary anne hobbs, gilles petersen and craig charles on bbc 6music - i think i listened to pretty much every show of theirs through the year thanks to the wonders of iplayer.
i am really looking forward to the year ahead - i start a new job today officially as mission education director at cms, which will be continuing much of what i do already but developing it wider and helping lead cms. before christmas it was announced that there will be a couple of other new director posts advertised in the new year so i will be part of quite a new team.
and i can't wait for joel and kat's wedding later this year - wow!
one of the sweet things of the year for me and mike was mary anne hobbs - this was the cause of quite a bit of banter last night round the table and jen even tweeted mary anne hobbs about it who was kind enough to reply! but at the risk of more banter here's what i love:
it's all about the music - mary anne hobbs is passionate about music. her passion is infectious, she's always enthusiastic, full of gratitude and love for musicians and listeners. you get a sense of her passion in this TEDx talk where she tells some of her story of pursuing her own love of music. i love music - it's been so much a part of the landscape of my life capturing feelings, moods, moments, longings. i have listened to music, written music, recorded music. there's just something about it - music is soulful, inspirational, healing even. i was thinking about gil scott heron's track lady day and john coltrane which opens with these words that capture how music can do that
Ever feel kinda down and out, you don't know just what to do--
Livin' all of your days in darkness let the sun shine through--
Ever feel that somehow, somewhere, you've lost your way--
And if you don't get help quick you won't make it through the day--
Could you call on Lady Day,
Could you call on John Coltrane
Now ‘cause they'll
They'll wash your troubles
Your troubles your troubles
Your troubles away!
then it's not just any music that is played - but the kind of music i love. of course this is about shared taste which is so subjective. but i had forgotten before mary anne started her breakfast show at the start of 2013 that it is possible to have music you like on radio that is not in the middle of the night. what is that kind of music? some music critics talk about the unpopular popular and that describes it pretty well. where else will you hear burial on a breakfast show, jon hopkins, kate tempest or erik b and rakim?!
it's also a delightful blend of the old and the new that gets played. she knows her archives and is able to pull out and play lots of great tunes spanning hip hop, electronic, experimental, alternative, soul and so on. she's a very similar age to me so i recognise and inhabit the tradition, but alongside that she is always dropping something surpising and new - it's very unusual to have a week where i don't scribble down a tune to follow up. this year for example she has introduced me to the likes of vondelpark, archie pelago, george ezra and loves to remind us that she was the first to play james blake on radio! this quest for the new and discovering how people are breaking open the tradition in creative ways is delightful - and it actually cuts across 6music as a whole - gilles petersen is a master at this as well. she has a wonderful imagination and looks at the world with fresh eyes and see new possibilities with a great openness. i train pioneers who are starting new things and mary anne is definitely a pioneer.
and lastly she likes to get below the surface. her series of epiphanies are interviews with a whole range of musicians and people involved in the arts and the wider cultural space. of course some are better than others but she loves to mine and probe what they are thinking and dreaming in the production of culture. after the manchester massive attack gig it was so interesting to hear her interviews with robert del naja and adam curtis where her question 'are we really free?' provoked the thought about being stuck in our own yesterday.
so happy new year everyone and especially mary anne hobbs and everyone at 6music who have made me fall in love with music all over again (not that i fell out of love with it)!