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Musos' Guide Chats With The Motives


The Motives  play The Music Library in Dublin next month as part of the library’s Emerging Artists series for the Musictown Festival. The alternative rock band from Wexford formed in 2001. Difficult to define and restlessly defying genrefication, Geoff Morrison (vocals, guitar), Joe Bernie (drums, vocals), Allan Kinsella (guitar, vocals, harmonica, keyboards) and Dean Redmond (bass, drums) have been compared to The Divine Comedy, Jonathan Richman and Talking Heads.

After a lengthy wait, The Motives have made their return to the studio and emerged with four typically quirky, charmingly offbeat guitar pop songs on the For The Love Of The Motives EP. The quartet delivered a collection of structurally complex but effortlessly louche tunes with overtones of The Smiths, Frank Zappa, The Cars, Pavement, Whipping Boy and Rollerskate Skinny. The Motives have a singular voice that will appeal to encyclopaedic music nerds and casual listeners equally. We spoke to the band in advance of the Musictown show. It’s their first gig in a library but not the most unusual place they’ve played. “We played on someone's roof last year.  That's about a weird a venue as I can think of”, says Geoff before adding, “I think we were the first band to ever perform on a roof, as far as I know.”

Joe: Kevfest. A really sound Australian guy's birthday party on a residential rooftop on Kevin Street.

Allan: Kevfest was the closet we'll ever get to being The Beatles.

Dean: We actually released one of our EPs in a garden centre.

Musos’ Guide: You’ve a new EP out, how was the recording this time around?

Geoff: We put a lot into it.  There was a lot more synth involved this time round.  I think this one is crafted very well.  It is a labour of love.  We worked with Brendan Carthy again in Orchard Studios and we'd find him very intuitive in regards what we want out of our particular sound. We worked tirelessly with him. We're very happy with the results.

Joe: I love recording, and this time was even better than the last. Mainly because it wasn't the first time we'd worked with Brendan. It's never straight forward with The Motives, given the off-kilter song structures, and I think he thought hard about how to customise the process to suit us best, and as a result it was a more fluid process this time. 

Allan: For me, the recording process is the peak of being a musician/songwriter, so any time in the studio is great. Working with Brendan has been really fruitful before, he gets what we're about and it was a no-brainer to go back to Orchard. You want to do the songs justice and also have room to try new things and I think we accomplished that.

Dean: It doesn't usually take very long to get the bass down when we're in the studio, so for me there's actually a lot of hanging around. Luckily I'm really interested in the recording process and the technical side of things, so yeah it was really fun just hanging out with the lads for a few days.

Musos’ Guide: There was a bit of a gap between that and your last record, was that deliberate or a case of life getting in the way?

Geoff: Money and trying to get everyone together was the crux.  I kinda feel like I'm hoggin' this interview. What do you think Dean and Allan?  

Dean: Yeah, it’s been pretty hectic lately, I'm back to college and working weekends. Joe's been working and doing a master’s in his spare time. Allan has two jobs, and Geoff's working full time as well. It takes a lot of time to get in the practices we need to get the songs to a place where we're happy to record them.

Joe: We'd love to record at least once a year.

Allan: I'd personally live in the recording studio if I could.

Musos’ Guide: Your songs are quite theatrical and ‘break the fourth wall’, does that come naturally?

Joe: I'll let Geoff and Allan completely contradict me if they like, but I think “yes” for Geoff. It's completely natural. He writes what comes to him. With Allan, I think he has started to write like this a lot more having worked with The Motives.

Dean: I can't really take any credit for the songwriting but yeah, that was one of the main reasons I was interested in joining The Motives. The songs and the shows always had and extra element to them that can be really entertaining.

Allan: I think the songs are always self-aware. Writing and singing and playing songs about yourself is sort of absurd as an art form, but there's something cathartic about the process. It's hard not to acknowledge that in the writing or the performance.

Geoff:  Well, I hope it doesn't sound forced. It would come naturally. We're four people who are on the same page most of the time. We would all be big movie buffs and I would definitely agree with Frank Zappa's adage that, “Humour belongs in music”.  We would all be big Ween fans also and they have certainly had an impact on our music and attitude in our latter years.

Musos’ Guide: There are complex structures in the songs too. What’s your writing process like? Is it particularly arduous?

Geoff:  Slow. The parts develop like a drip. I would say I write about one song every two months. I bring the parts to the lads to practice and we hammer it out about a 1,000 times until it takes some shape or form. The guys in the band are very patient. Joe won't let us play the song until it's ready for the stage.  I'm glad of that. It'd be an absolute shambles live otherwise. It is arduous yes, the best kind though.

Joe: Arduous makes it sound like it's not fun. Which it very much is. But it does take time to finish the songs, and to learn to play them together. Doing the songs justice live requires almost instinctive knowledge of the songs and each other. I won't say individually we can't write or read music, but we don't write out the music, it's much less formal than that. And it can change slightly every time we play it. Geoff's songs deconstruct basic pop song structures in that there is minimal repetition. The musical cues and lyrical shifts play out as he naturally works his way through an idea as opposed to chaining the idea to a verse/chorus/repeat structure. The songs are a challenge but never a chore. We're all self-taught musicians so our attempts to articulate musical instructions are hilariously unhelpful. Which one is a bar? Is that two bits or 4 measures or 6 biscuits? 

Dean: When we get together to practice it's usually to prepare for a gig, so when we actually get down to working on new songs it's a real treat. The lads are always writing away themselves so when we get to it there is often a good backlog of songs to catch up on. With all the changes and the little bits in each song it can take a while to separate out the songs in your head.

Buy For The Love Of The Motives on cdbaby. 

The Motives play The Music Library in the Central Library, ILAC Centre, Henry St, on Saturday April 21 from 2.30 – 4.30 pm. This is an all-ages event. Admission is free and booking is essential. Phone 01-8734333 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to secure your place.


Distorted Truths: Originality, Property And Creativity


Originality means everything and nothing at the same time. On the one hand, the word ‘original’ has a correct meaning. However, to say originality means something is to say what it does not mean is, paradoxically, also the meaning of originality because it tells you “Originality is newness”, “Originality is not the name of an animal” and so forth.

However, the idea that originality is the name of an animal is true, because it is really thought of by me and is truly content in a sentence. In this way, originality, like all other things, means nothing, anything and everything, and not only because people use it ambiguously and arguably care too much or too little about it.

It could even be argued that any use of the word ‘originality’ will vary. This is because it will arise, whether written or thought of in a different context, even if the only way it differs is in terms of a slight difference in time or the space on a page or the angle it is perceived from. The context of anything defines meaning, but meaning partly defines the context because it is part of the context which influences meaning, and so forth. Despite this variation, though, words that are in a way completely different are the same. They are words and reflect reality because they are a real combination of letters and reflect prior creation, even if they are made up and even if they are created unintentionally.

All lyrics and music (hence combined into one as ‘music’) are based on symbols (including letters), musical notes and/or sounds and on those that use them that came before the music. This makes the music unoriginal. However, to be original is to be the first in line: to have created something that, in one way at least, has never been done before.

Even a cover is an original. Even if it is apparently played exactly like the original recording will differ from anything done before because its place in time is different, plus the guitar’s strings will have deadened over time (even if this is only slight) and the tone will differ as a result. Even if the tone arguably varies less and is recorded, it will still be heard in a different context and the song itself will change even if it is supposed to be one repeated or sustained note. Every song changes over time, even if time is altered by the song. This is the case even if it only means that the song is going from the first half-second to another part of the song, and even if in a way the recording does not move through time, capturing instead a past moment. Also, even if nothing seems to have affected the speakers or other parts of the listening environment, they have been affected by things like decay, even if only minutely. Therefore, all sounds are original since they are different from what has happened before

However, a piece of music or album or anything also always stays the same in addition to constantly varying. Even if the music features many different notes, it remains part of reality even if the music ends. Since music, however brief and however often it is listened to, moves forward in time, it is always new because it has never appeared in that exact time before. All music is original even though no music is original.

Songs are property of their creators, or are they? Can songwriters even have property? Even if we are talking about something more commonly thought of as property, like a house, even this is arguably not their property in that it cannot be theirs. How can they not have it if it is their house or their song, especially if they are only person that has experienced it? It could be said that it is not their house or their song because it is not a part of them. It is not in their brain or the rest of their body. Even though they thought of it, it is sometimes not in their thoughts. Even if the house was always in their thoughts and they were always playing the song wherever they went, they would in a way not be their writer’s at all.

However, it absolutely is the writer’s. This is true even if someone else created it if the writer hears it or even if they do not know about it but someone else does and gives it, even simply in speech or thought, to them, as I am doing in this sentence. Even if something is just a hypothetical statement or imaginary, the fact it is imaginary or part of a hypothetical argument makes it real even though it is non-real.

If a song is something, it is the opposite of that thing at the same time. How can a song be mine and not mine? Because however you define me or the song, the song and I always change in relation to space and time. Even to say it stays the same is to say something is constant, which suggests time passes and therefore it is no longer owned by the songwriter yesterday, nor is it owned by the songwriter of today or tomorrow, because the songwriter and the song are different from each other. Even if time did not pass and context was ignored, even the existence of the idea that anyone can own anything is a reality because it is a real idea which is part of real thoughts. How can someone have something and not have it? Again, the idea’s realness, at least as an idea, makes it real. All ideas, including property, are therefore real and not at all real, as are everything and nothing.

Creativity is (and is not) often unintentional. To do nothing, unintentionally or otherwise, is to create nothing, and therefore create something while in the same act not creating. Everyone is creative: even rocks like those in this sentence create part of a sentence even if they do not exist outside of it. Everyone is also always non-creative in the sense that they are always not creating other things that they otherwise could be creating, such as a lack of creativity or something different.

Creativity and non-creativity are possible at the same time in the same way. The fact they are possible makes neither of them possible, since both possibility and impossibility are possibilities and are therefore both real and non-real. To create property is to not create property. Therefore to never create property is to always create property. 

This may seem irrational, but all ‘irrational’ statements, even ones like “Steven Hawking is a musical instrument” are the opposite of rational and therefore ‘of rational’. Basically, the irrational is rational. Even this article is simultaneously nonsense and complete sense, a waste of time and completely worthwhile, ugly distortion and beautiful truth. Plus, Hawking was an instrument was truth that was music to my ears.


15 Great Songs About Happiness And Good Times - Part Two

9. Stevie Wonder - 'For Once In My Life'

Although some philosophers or psychologists  may criticise Stevie Wonder's idea of happiness, or at least that he sings about here, as being too dependent on that which is outside himself (i.e. "love" and "someone who needs" him) , he has plenty to say about his inner life as well as other people and perhaps other external things, making his conception of the good life far less shallow than those of many, and arguably very substantial. The classic from the film The Pursuit of Happyness [sic.] gives us the golden soundbite, "For once in my life I can go where life leads me" as well as a backdrop of typically grand Motown-grade soul.
10. Nirvana - 'Lithium'

This song's musings on the state of happiness go far beyond the opening lines "I'm so happy cause today I found my friends / They're in my head", but that quotation sets the tone pretty well, at least until the unstable, crashing-through-the-ceiling freakout of a chorus comes in. And lets not forget the lines either side of the refrains, "I'm not gonna crack". Lithium may be the name of a mood-stabilising drug (also sung about by Evanescence) but arguably this song is anything but tranquil. It remains essential listening like so many other tracks from Nevermind and Nirvana's eponymous greatest hits record. 

11. The Velvet Underground - 'We're Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together'

Lou Reed, the man behind 'Perfect Day' and the classic solo album Transformer, would have made his name with Velvet Underground first, had anyone paid significant attention when he was in the band, and the rapid-fire guitar rhythms provide evidence of his guitar prowess even in such a supposed anti-rock outfit that some would argue actually exemplifies that which it ostensibly hated: the spirit of rock 'n' roll. While many of its more blissful numbers are slower, this song which appears on the brilliant three-disc set The Complete Matrix Tapes and elsewhere creates a more frantic, foot-tapping kind of emotional high.

12. Queen - 'Don't Stop Me Now'

Possibly the greatest ever song that screams the word 'happiness' as loud as the squealings of Brian May's overdrive-laden guitar solo, few vocalists this side of Freddie Mercury could have turned in such a grandiose performance, one arguably as good as the band's earlier masterwork 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. Despite an arguably questionable comparison of the ecstatic lyricist to "an atom bomb", this is still a bona-fide classic. Its overall mood and message shows happiness in two extremes: bursts of power which threaten to overwhelm, and the more sedate but equally blissful up-in-the-heavens kind of joy.   

13. Chic - 'Good Times'

Chic describes its title subject as "a new state of mind" which was arguably the antithesis of the "stress and strife" spoken of in reggae, punk, and metal during that decade and others, trouble to which Chic's lyrics called for an end. The song was sampled liberally for the equally joyous 'Rappers Delight' by hip-hop group The Sugarhill Gang. Quotations like "why hesitate?" and "Don't be a drag, participate!" are a call to action (or, perhaps more accurately the dancefloor), while this is just one track on which lead guitarist Nile Rogers made his name, laying the foundation for his reprised role as funk guitarist extraordinaire on Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky' in 2013.

14. R.E.M. - 'Shiny Happy People'

This R.E.M. hit featuring the B-52s' Kate Pierson on vocals alongside lead singer Michael Stipe and usual backing singer/multi-instrumentalist Mike Mills has been said to be about propaganda. Indeed many posters have featured 'shiny, happy people' and many lines in this song evoke an idea of a nation joined together in harmony where "there's no time to cry" and in which "tomorrow shines". One could say that this is about as happy as it gets lyrically, a view that the musical backing does little to undermine. However, some would say  behind the apparent joy lies a sinister reality. Indeed one can think of several, hardly idyllic societies which have put out propaganda idealising their part of the world with their posters and other media full of imagery like that employed here by R.E.M.

15. James Brown And The Famous Flames - 'I Got You (I Feel Good)'
That which Presley suggested was arguably made more explicit by Brown with his screams and grunts. Also in Brown's arsenal were even better dance moves and much better music that blurred the line between rhythm-and-blues and a new kind of music, funk. Although Brown did not have the nicest upbringing if his biopic Get On Up's portrayal of his early life is anything like reality, he certainly knew how to make a song not just pleasant (like, say, 'Unchained Melody' by The Righteous Brothers) but oozing with pleasures some would call forbidden. Only Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson can legitimately contend for the title often given to James Brown: The Godfather of Soul, and this song is evidence supporting the argument that Brown deserves that song as much as, or more than, those two.


15 Great Songs About Happiness And Good Times - Part One

A brilliant, starlight sky. A loving wife. A new car. Do any of those summarise what happiness means to you? Or do you look inwardly? And how secure, and obtainable, is happiness? Philosophers, self-styled self-help gurus and psychologists have, as Derren Brown's book Happy makes clear, come up with different answers to at least some of these questions over the years. Yet few songs, even amongst the uptempo ones, are truly joyous, blissful, happy. That said, many others give us a view of happiness that isn't exactly straight out the creative department in the TV show Mad Men. In fact, some songs about the subject are anything but happy. Step aboard for a rocky ride of euphoria, anxiety and analysis, amongst many other things. If there's one thing most that study happiness can agree on, it's that experiencing 'good times', or seeking to, can be looked at from many different angles. Here's a sweeping panorama of the grand, anything-but-shallow subject, even if some of the songs about it aren't the most profound ever written: 

1. 'I Feel Fine' - The Beatles

Although it has been said that this George Harrison composition about the joy of having someone love him is the first, at least among number one singles, to feature guitar feedback, it is notable for a far more obvious reason: the amount of pure joy it inspires. That's not to mention excellent guitar work, some of the best among The Beatles' canon. Slices of Sixties euphoria don't get much better than this. While they would later have some rather strange notions about happiness (Lennon described it lyrically as being "...A Warm Gun") and other hits related to such a feeling (like 'Hey Jude') , this song is arguably as straight-forward as Beatles lyrics get while retaining such immense greatness.

2. 'Happy Is A Yuppie Word' - Switchfoot

In stark contrast to the previous song, this one starts with the phrase "Everything dies". Apparently inspired by the 'speculative wisdom' of Ecclesiastes and perhaps other pessimistic literature, Switchfoot still manage to inspire with their view of happiness with such lines as "Blessed is the man who's lost it all", which recalls Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, while remaining grounded in a soberly realistic mindset. The same singer Jon Foreman who reminds us that "Nothing is sound" is also so daring in his positivity as to claim "Nothing in the world can fail me now". It might not be the greatest song by Switchfoot, but it is far from one-dimension in its views of happiness.
3. 'Dusty' - Soundgarden

On this arguably cheerful, out-of-character 1996 song by the usually gloomy Seattle band Soundgarden, the apparently joyful lyrics are countered by quite-heavy backing as well as a bluesy feel on the guitars and indulgence in typically abnormal timings, much of which suggests an undercurrent of comedowns, chaos, confusion and similar unhappy happenings. In this way one finds similarities with AllMusic's take on Ice Cube's 'It Was A Good Day', a hip-hop track which they said showed "a quiet sense of violent anxiety", thought perhaps the word "quiet" does not apply to 'Dusty' so much. The lyric about things "turning back around" in this Soundgarden classic shows that happiness can be based on a brighter future as well as good times simply found in the here-and-now, something also shown in the yearning 'Boot Camp' from the same album, Down On The Upside.

4. 'High' - James Blunt

An early single from singer-songwriter and ex-military serviceman James Blunt, 'High' is about being at the top of the emotional spectrum, but also confronts worries about the future, while the line "Sometimes it's hard to believe you believe me" hints that perhaps he feels his happiness is undeserved or an event that could easily have not happened. Such a mixture of moods explicit or implied is interesting: even a few minutes' worth of songwriting here does not show a kind of bliss unrestrained or detached from everything else, even if it is truly blissful at times. The opening phrase about the "dawn" links Blunt's emotional heights to a common cause of such feeling, beauty, which is also the subject of his hit, "You're Beautiful" that's also present on the Back To Bedlam album.        

5. 'From Can To Can't' - Corey Taylor, Grohl, Nielsen, Reeder

Featuring Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters star Dave Grohl on both the opening guitar and drums, this track from the Sound City Players' album also features Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick (guitar) and Kyuss' Scott Reeder (bass) backing Stone Sour and Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor on singing duties. "All these people - tragic little people - they're smiling and they don't know what for" sings Taylor in one of the clearest denouncements of happiness on an album as popular as this, right after a line about "Burning my cathedrals [a great source of happiness for some] 'cause I don't pray anymore". Feel good hit? Maybe not. Leave that to Grohl's co-collaborators Queens Of The Stone Age ... 

6. 'Palo Alto' - Radiohead

One of the few feel-good tracks in the Radiohead catalogue if read at face value, one might suggest given the pessimism of other works by Thom Yorke and company such as 'Planet Telex' and 'Let Down', that such good cheer is a mere veneer behind which they criticise or sneer at the corporate West and Silicon Valley. Appropriately forward looking, in terms of its effects, for a song about "the city of the future", it is also arguably overly simple. However, it still sounds great thanks to the majesty of Radiohead's array of skills, one that makes even songs that are relatively poor compared to, say, 'Karma Police' an enjoyable trip out. While this may be a throwaway by their usual standards, in another band's hands it could be considered their best work. This shows how out-of-place happier material can seem with certain bands, and also its hit-making potentially if used by certain other acts on the sunnier sides of the spectrum.

7. 'Just Looking' - Stereophonics

One of the sadder songs about happiness, this one is clearly about consumerism, a common source of happiness, or at least a quick attempt at it, in the modern capitalist world. More accurately, it's about "not buying" but "just looking" because it "keeps me smiling". Full of self-doubt ("There's things I think I want / Do I want the dreams: the ones we're forced to see?") and using individual anxieties to critique a much larger system, such analysis, shot through with emotion and complete with a pop/rock chorus, reinforces the claim that Kelly Jones and his fellow Stereophonics are a band for the working class, especially those that like to rock out.
8. 'Family Portrait' - Pink

A common theme in music is how things are not as they might seem, and such is the main trope of 'Family Portrait' in which a family are said to "look pretty happy"  but surrounding verses give the impression that reality is anything but picture-perfect. Although arguably too direct in its moralizing, the song was nonetheless a hit, sitting (un)comfortably alongside the likes of 'Just Like A Pill'. While dysfunctional, unhappy families are appeared in other tracks, few have been this good at balancing commercial value with seemingly unusual (in the context of hit records) but, in actuality, bluntly realistic imagery.


My Giant Steps: A Journey Featuring Mental Illness And Recovery (With Music And Words)

Reflections From A Recovering Mental Patient

I proudly present to you this playlist: a musical collage, personal but relevant to many, accompanied by commentary and clickable links. I hope it will help you and maybe inspire you – as well as promoting great music, of course!

(Note: I'm not a fan of trigger warnings but feel free to skip parts of this if you find some of the music or commentary challenging.)

No title sums up many of the problems of the modern era quite like that of the playlist’s opener, ‘Virtual Insanity’, especially given the emergence of stranger-than-fiction videos like this. Meanwhile, despite being written in the Eighties and enjoying a single release in 2003, ‘Bad Day’ by R.E.M. remains relevant. Lines like “Please don’t take a picture” and “Save my own ass, screw these guys” are reminiscent of unstable, illiberal and self-centred politics in post-Brexit Britain and contemporary America, both of which hark back to another era despite an uncertain future. Sadly, I was certainly not the only one suffering from a low mood and anxiety this year.

While the songs referred to above may be, despite their social and political commentary, personal works of art that are personally affecting to audiences, it could be argued that the following two pieces of music go even deeper. Michael Kiwanuka’s ‘Worry Walks Beside Me’ speaks on not just anxiety but hopelessness to amazing effect. The title of ‘Voices’ by Alice In Chains could simply be about negative self-talk, something common if not universal. However, the track might speak about stranger phenomena, such as  some of my symptoms which are apparently psychotic and, in the past, meant I stayed in hospital several times. Regardless of the words exact meaning(s), they, alongside those of Linkin Park’s ‘By Myself’, reflect well some of my own thoughts as well as those of many other people, surely.

The beautiful Lou Reed composition ‘Candy Says’, performed by his band The Velvet Underground, speaks on “endless revisions” and dislike, or even hatred, for one’s “body and all that it requires”, speaking in these ways to a shallow and perfectionist age full of both narcissism and self-hatred, achieving such relevance despite being written in the Sixties. Next on the playlist  are ‘Given Up’ and ‘Breaking the Habit’ by Linkin Park, as well as ‘Slip Out the Back’ from the album The Rising Tied by Fort Minor (a side-project of Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda). Those songs are – like, one might argue, ‘Candy Says’ – the epitome of despairing lyricism. My own suicidal feelings of the past, which were unjustifiable but somehow convincing at the time, are seemingly reflected in the songs mentioned in this paragraph, although thankfully I feel much better now.

The 2017 song ‘One More Light’ by Linkin Park was performed, hauntingly, shortly after Chris Cornell’s death and not long before that of Linkin Park’s own Chester Bennington, to whom tributes were paid at a music-packed ceremony in September. The title track from the band’s most recent album speaks on the devastating effect of a death on those who knew the deceased and is, despite its sadness, life-affirming as well as being death-conscious.

Helplessness Blues’ by Fleet Foxes seems to be about existential crises or the like and the struggle to define one’s identity in the world. The song’s questions and uncertainty, with those of John Lennon’s ‘How?’ speak to the trouble many mentally ill people, including myself, have after a period of illness or a breakdown, and the consequent scepticism and anxiety. That latter track by Lennon also helps, alongside Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ‘Soul to Squeeze’, to demonstrate how difficult recovery can be for the mentally ill.

One of the more optimistic songs on this list, R.E.M.’s ‘Uberlin’ splits the day into different steps to complete. This is similar to the way in which one might split a journey on the Berlin U-Bahn transport system, which is referenced in the song, into stops at different stations. Breaking days or challenges down in order to tackle them piece by piece is a good method for the mentally ill (or anyone) to use, and so could be telling oneself, “I will make it through the night” as Michael Stipe sings here.

Time Won’t Wait’ by Jamiroquai is also encouraging, although it is worth noting that, despite the helpfulness of being reminded that “you just can’t stop the clock”, Jamiroquai’s call to action should probably be tempered with sometimes following the example set by the singer of ‘Soul To Squeeze’: sometimes you “gotta take it slow” in order to find “peace of mind”. Likewise, I would not always apply R.E.M.’s lyric “Enjoy yourself with no regrets” to every situation, but the general message in ‘Supernatural Superserious’ (a title which could have sometimes been my nickname in the past) is welcome. It reminds the listener that “Everybody here comes from somewhere that they would just as soon forget or disguise”, but that we should enjoy ourselves anyway, especially since it is often true that “fantasies are wrapped up in travesties”.

Moving on, John Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps’, the only instrumental in this playlist, arguably represents my recovery process, since it takes a great deal of skill to accomplish amid high tempos that resemble the chaos of life, as well as requiring assistance from others: even Coltrane could not play every instrument simultaneously. Audioslave’s ‘Nothing Left to Say But Goodbye’ and Linkin Park’s ‘What I’ve Done’ are also about giant steps, ones striding away from old habits, with a highlight being Bennington’s line, “As I clean this slate with the hands of uncertainty”, indicating that recovery or redemption is often a rocky road. That said, the sound of Chris Cornell of Audioslave shouting repeatedly on ‘What You Are’ the words, “Now I’m free…”, though probably in the context of ending a relationship with a person, can still be seen as very encouraging for those struggling to leave certain harmful symptoms or habits behind, even when one considers the “uncertainty” mentioned earlier.

Another great source of inspiration for me is ‘Walk’ by Foo Fighters, which is metaphorically about “learning to walk again” and “talk again”, things I have had to do in a way because of struggles with something that might be selective mutism or perhaps a condition similar to it. R.E.M’s ‘Every Day Is Yours to Win’ is another excellent, optimistic song which comes with the realistic qualifier, “It’s not all cherry pie”. ‘Iridescent’ by Linkin Park concludes the playlist, offering even more advice for those for whom “failure’s all… [they’ve] known”. The band’s wisdom is, “Remember all the sadness and frustration and let it go”. I guess that a benefit to making playlists or commentary like I have here is that completing such a project allows you to do just that.

If you have been affected by any of the themes spoken about in this article, it might help to speak to the charity Samaritans, either by a UK- or Ireland-based phone or by contacting them from anywhere via email. They have often helped me by listening.


The Outsiders: 12 Rappers Who Collaborated Memorably With Rock Artists

Ever since Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C. hooked up for a different take on the rock band's  ‘Walk This Way’ in 1986, there have, as recently as the 2017 unleashing of U2’s songs with Kendrick Lamar, been many marriages of rock and rap. Subgenres such as metal were irreversibly altered by such fusion that progressed through the Nineties and onwards, with many surprises and fruitful collaborations along the way. Some didn’t just push the envelope -- they tore it apart. Jump aboard with reckless disregard for boundaries. This is an eclectic brew containing major and influential players from the two titanic genres. As the rap-metal crew Limp Bizkit once declared, Results May Vary.


One of the godfathers of the beat-backed wordsmith’s game, Queensbridge emcee Rakim rose to prominence in a duo with his DJ, Eric B., back in 1987 with the excellent album Paid In Full, where his words adorned bare-bones instrumentals with impressive flows. Such ability is showcased on the weighty ‘Guilty All the Same’, a metallic track from Linkin Park’s self-produced, rough-around-the-edges LP The Hunting Party, during which Rakim declares, ”I’m still me.”

Q-Tip and KRS-One

One of the most laidback songs referenced herein, ‘The Outsiders’ (from 2004’s Around The Sun album) sees the coming together of two hugely influential standard-bearers for their respective genres: rock band R.E.M. and A Tribe Called Quest’s main man Q-Tip, both of whom had mixed up genres in their music prior to joining forces. Tip had Korn (who also collaborated with Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst) on his album Amplified. As early as 1991, Tip’s pioneering peer K.R.S. One (Boogie Down Productions’ emcee and the subject of a song by the reggae/rock group Sublime) opened Out of Time’s ‘Radio Song’ with R.E.M.


The man they call Marshall Mathers (A.K.A. Slim Shady) possessed at the turn of the century much crossover appeal to fans of rock and rap. Consequently there beckoned a remix of ‘The Way I Am’ featuring fellow offender of the masses, Marilyn Manson, as well as a performance of the hit ‘Stan’ at the Grammy Awards with the Seventies rocker and evergreen songwriter, Sir Elton John. Later, Eminem created The Marshall Mathers LP2 with celebrated rock and rap producer, genre-blender Rick Rubin who worked with Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith on the ‘Walk This Way’ remake and acquainted Public Enemy and their producers with the music of thrash outfit Slayer.

Chuck D and B-Real

The lyrical talisman for Public Enemy, Chuck D, has also appeared alongside members of Rage Against The Machine, three of whom who also form the instrumental backbone of Audioslave. Chuck was heard with them not only in the Nineties, but additionally as part of another group, Prophets Of Rage, also featuring B-Real. The latter emcee’s group Cypress Hill have collaborated with several rock artists including Prophets Of Rage guitarist Tom Morello, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda and System Of A Down’s Daron Malakian, all of whom are on the 2010 LP Rise Up.

Method Man and RZA

A strange, Portishead-esque remix of Texas’ pop/rock hit ‘Say What You Want’— produced by Wu-Tang’s wizardly beatmaker and rapper, the RZA (AKA Prince Rakeem), and featuring Method Man’s vocals — can be found on Texas’ Greatest Hits. That song stands in stark contrast to the skull-bashing takes on classic Wu – featuring such rock royalty as Tom Morello, Chad Smith, Incubus and System Of A Down – that are showcased on the compilation Loud Rocks (alongside heavy interpretations of hip-hop tracks including Mobb Deep’s ‘Survival Of The Fittest’ and Big Pun’s ‘Still Not A Player’).

Kanye West

Having worked, as a rapper, with Chris Martin on a single from Graduation, ‘Homecoming’, West has also collaborated with Paul McCartney (on ‘The Only One’ and ‘FourFive Seconds’, the latter with Rihanna as well). In addition to collaborating with 30 Seconds To Mars, singing on ‘Hurricane 2.0’, West has also joined forces with Mr. Hudson and Bon Iver, two acts that arguably played a kind of ‘soft rock’ earlier in their respective careers.


“I told Jay[-Z] I did a song with Coldplay. Next thing I know, he got a song with Coldplay,” says Kanye West on 2007’s ‘Big Brother’. In fact, eventually Jay remixed one song by the pop/rock band, with results showcased on ‘Lost+’, after crafting a new composition with the British quartet’s frontman Chris Martin entitled ‘Beach Chair’. However, these adventures were not Jay-Hova’s first foray into rock circles. In 2004 he appeared on the Collision Course mashup project with Linkin Park, an excursion that yielded ‘Numb/Encore’ amongst other tracks.


Pop/rock band OneRepublic, fronted by the great songwriter Ryan Tedder, got their big break as a collective thanks to the massive exposure given to Timbaland’s remix of their song ‘Apologize’. But OneRepublic were not the only rock band to work with Timbaland. On the same album from which their debut smash was taken appeared a shedload of guest stars, amongst them Fall Out Boy, The Hives, Elton John. The producer would go on to work with the frontman of both Soundgarden and Audioslave, the late Chris Cornell, as well as The Fray.

Wyclef Jean

Jean could well be a contender for the title, Most Eclectic Hip-Hopper Prior to Kendrick Lamar. As a member of the Fugees, he takes the lead on a cover of ‘No Woman, No Cry’, its live version by Bob Marley And The Wailers’ being as much a contender for greatest ever soft rock song as it is a reggae classic. Surely the most unexpected element in hip-hop history, Kenny Rogers, the country and rock artist, appears on Jean’s The Ecleftic album singing a sample from ‘The Gambler’.

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