Emotions and Music (slight return)


A few years ago I wrote a blog on how music could trigger emotions in us and that particular pieces of music were often linked to specific memories. (Emotions and Music). Cristina recently shared a link on Twitter to the original blog and challenged me to add a few more pieces of music. In fairness, my life has changed significantly since I met and started working with Cristina and there have been a lot of highs and a few lows in that time. Welcome to Emotions and Music (slight return). Kudos to anyone who gets the ‘slight return’ reference.


Confession 1

While I still listen to music it’s a far less prominent feature in my life. In part because I seem to have far less time to enjoy it and, my son has moved away, married and is consequently less of an influence on me. Also, when AutoTune arrived I tuned out!

Confession 2

My original blog should have started with a different song but I felt at the time I couldn’t share the reasons behind its inclusion. I had grown up sharing all of my life with an aunt, my mother’s youngest sister, seeing her regularly and always enjoying time with her and her family. We used to call each other often following my mother’s death and she always took a keen interest in everything I did.

One evening, I picked up the phone and it was my uncle on the line. He informed me that my aunt no longer wanted to have contact with me because she’d watched her mother and sister go through kidney disease and didn’t want to see me going through it too. I felt completely let down and abandoned which in turn left me full of bitterness.

In my Advocacy Officer role I see the effect kidney disease can have on patients, their friends and family disappearing from their lives. Looking back in hindsight I understand why my aunt did what she did but can never forgive the fact that she couldn’t explain it to my face. Our relationship remains broken, it will never be repaired.

So, to the song that should have been first in my original selection. When I’m alone in the car, I sing this at the top of my voice!

Having some truly supportive people in my life helps me smooth out the ups and downs of living with kidney disease. My dear wife Audrey has been with me throughout, from the day of diagnosis to date. Always there, always caring, always understanding although not always appreciative of my musical taste. Roxy Music’s ‘The Bogus Man’ being a prime example!

I must mention two other people that have changed my life in recent years, Dr Cristina Vasilica and Professor Paula Ormandy, both of Salford University. They have given me opportunities I thought I’d never experience. They’re constantly supportive, trusting and always inspiring. It’s lovely having people in my life with whom I can talk openly about life’s ups and downs without having to choose my words, without ever being judged. Meeting up with either Paula or Cristina is always fun and energising.

Slight return

Winning at the Big Chip awards in 2018

Slight return, final two songs

I said earlier I don’t get much opportunity to listen to music these days but my final two songs have something in common; they give me a lift! The first is from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and is taken from one of the few music shows that I always make time for, National Public Radio’s (NPR) Tiny Desk Concerts. The song, Can’t Hold Us, isn’t the type of music I’d normally seek out but it’s full of energy and I love the trumpet!

The final song is included for a similar reason, but it’s a totally different genre. Hold On, by Alabama Shakes, features the amazing voice of Brittany Howard. I regularly play this on repeat and never tire of it and I’m still holding on.



One of the joys/perils of working with Cristina is that she constantly challenges me and without those challenges I wouldn’t be where I am today. Not only has she challenged me to update my original blog on music and emotions but she’s also suggested I share a song for where I see my future. For many years my life has, out of necessity, followed a ‘take each day as it comes path’ so choosing a song to represent where I want to be in a few years is probably beyond me. I have however chosen a song that is quite dark and demonstrates that you never know where life will take you despite good intentions and a life plan. The song is called ‘The way that it goes’ by Gillian Welch accompanied on guitar by her partner Dave Rawlings. Dave’s guitar playing is exquisite and the song itself keeps me holding on.

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