Times Like These

By Scott Arlow

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how important some simple things are. Like cheese on toast. Or Rice Krispies. Or music.
Today, the stars have aligned in such a way as to remind me how important music is to our everyday lives.

Image from Crofton parish, lyrics Foo Fighters

I was talking to my favourite aunty this afternoon. A once in a blue moon call just to see how she’s doing. Her husband, my Uncle Jim, passed away a few months ago. Like many on my mum’s side of the family, Jim was a musician. He played in the Sally Army band, his local orchestra… everywhere and anywhere he could play, he would. As a child, I almost never saw him without an instrument case. Uncle Jim was 93 when he passed away and, as far as I can tell, had been playing brass since he was a lad.

Aunt Shona mentioned that he regularly played with a friend. She recounted him playing a duet in a cathedral and sang me the tune. “Gershwin – Summertime” I said. His friends eyesight began to fade and last year, she gave up playing the piano as she could no longer read the music. Jim stopped playing too. “He seemed to fade a bit” said Shona. Then she told me that during the summer, an old pupil of his came to visit. They had a lovely Socially Distanced picnic in the garden and Jim had the opportunity to discuss music with his former pupil. And he found a second wind.

Later in the afternoon, I was skipping through YouTube and came across the old video where 1000 Italian musicians gathered in a field to perform Learn To Fly by the Foo Fighters. A huge group of people performing one song with such passion and pleasure was amazing. And all for one reason – to ask the Foos to play in Italy. That video was quickly followed by the Foos charity song from the start of the Covid Lockdown Thirty world class performers gathered, via the magic of the interweb, to sing Times Like These.

It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you learn to love again”

Words that hundreds of thousands around the world have sung but now meant something new. Something… important.

During Lockdown, I wasn’t listening to much music. Like many thousands of others, the wife has been working from home since March and I’d been trying to keep the noise down.
As I was going to weekly nurse appointments, I’d listen to music in the car but that was about it. On one occasion, I sat in the car for an extra 20mins when I got home, just to finish the album. We bought a second Alexa-thingy and I was able to listen to music in the bath. Almost immediately I realised that I’d missed it without realising it wasn’t there. Singing and dancing are now firmly back on the agenda. And both our moods have improved dramatically (you may have seen my wife’s dancing videos on Bookface?)

That’s what music does. It feeds our souls. It lifts our spirits. It breaks our hearts and it mends them too. It sings to us when we can’t find the words. Take away the music and we stop being ourselves. We stop being Human.

I’ll let ABBA sum it up for me

Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing
Who can live without it? I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me

“I look forward to the day that we’ll all be back in a muddy field again, singing our hearts out together”
Dave Grohl, April 2020

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