Goodbye, Anathema

Tonight, news came that the British band Anathema decided to go on an indefinite hiatus (aka split up) after the challenging year that 2020 was.

I admit it makes me sad. The band and their music mean/meant a lot to me.

I was young, barely 16 years old, when I heard my first Anathema song. It was on the free CD Rom that came with a music magazine; it was called “UP”. The first listen was in passing and without much interest, but then my ears perked up, and I listened again and watched the video. Again. And again. On repeat for days.

Later I learned that it was a promo shot for their upcoming album “Judgement” released in 1999.

Imagine Cathy practically running to her record dealer to buy the entire back catalog, only to find that they only had one album in stock. I had no idea that they had been around for years and that their music had evolved considerably. No one I knew had ever heard of them. I had discovered a gem.

The first album I finally bought was called “Alternative 4”. It had been released in 1998, and the melancholy gripped me right away. But there was more, there were guitar riffs, piano, lyrics…

I was hooked on the music. I didn’t know nor cared about the people making the music. But I cared about the lyrics that touched me right in the feels.

From there on out, Anathema had a song for every feeling; they had lyrics that reflected my emotions. I felt understood; I felt home. And wow, was that a powerful feeling for a young starving mind as mine.

In the year 2000, I visited Paris for the first time, and of course, we had to visit the Virgin Mega Store. It was heaven on earth. I was in paradise. It was where I bought the older Anathema albums. Very different from what I knew by then: still melodic, still meaningful lyrics, but growling, screaming vocals. Not really my cup of tea.

“Sunset of Age” from the album “A Silent Enigma” (1995)

And the band kept releasing fantastic album after fantastic album. Year after year, they released songs and albums that became classics. And even when their record company dropped them, they continued to create and breathe music.

Between the albums “A natural disaster” (2003) and “We’re here because we’re here” (2010), seven almost silent years passed; at least for me, who was not interested in any band drama. In 2008, a compilation with new versions of old songs was released: “Hindsight”

The silent period was a period of change, and the band toured a lot and all over the world. The quality of their playing benefitted of it, definitely.

In 2012, the masterpiece “Weather Systems” was released. I squealed when I noticed that Anathema would tour Luxembourg with this album. For me, they reached their creative peak with this one. Maybe it is also their most commercially accessible album, even if the style is more progressive.

A live album followed. “Universal”. It’s not a perfect album by far, the first minutes are filled with little slips, and the nervousness of the band is palpable. But it is also one of the few live albums that let me feel the energy even though I was not there in Bulgaria.


The sound evolved further. More electronic elements found their way into the music of Anathema. On the album “Distant Satellites” (2014), other new classics can be found. The entire album did not appeal to me, but several songs and their stories caught me off guard too.


“Anathema” is a song for and about the band; at the same time, it is very universal too.
In 2014, I saw the band for the second time. It was at that gig that I planned my memorable trip to Brussels to see Her Name is Calla. So many memories are related to Anathema and their music. They are intensely attached to my life.


And when they release their 2017 album “The Optimist,” they kind of lost me. Maybe I had grown? Maybe too much happened. But I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to see them live again. This time, I went all by myself. I wrote a post about that gig. I was in the middle of a depressive episode; maybe that played an essential part in how I perceived that night too.



In 2014/2015, Daniel Cavanagh, founding member, songwriter/multi-instrumentalist of Anathema, launched a crowdfunding campaign for a solo album. It consisted of cover versions that held memories and meaning for the artist, hence the name “Memory and Meaning”. Of course, I supported one of the people who influenced most of my life. I ordered a handwritten lyric sheet for the song “Everything”.

It is framed and has a special place in my home. A funny one too: it hangs on the wall of my guest bathroom.
As a surprise, the father of my kids ordered a personalised song that was sung just for me. It was “Forgotten Hopes”. And although it is not the best and it sounds as if he was sitting in a tank, I adore the personal dedication and the way Dan said my name. I sent an email to thank him for the note written in red on the lyric sheet, and wouldn’t you know, he replied. I was over the moon. And I also realized that, even though I had adored his mind for almost 20 years by then, he was just as human, as damaged, and fragile as me.

A long post just to say that I am sad today. I can’t imagine a musical world without Anathema in it. And I seriously hope that every member of the band will find happiness, love, (mental) health, hope, and new ways to be creative. I am sure a decision like this was not made lightly and impulsively. And who knows, maybe they will reunite in a couple of years. Every member of the band has music in their veins, and I am convinced that there is more to come.

Thank you, Anathema, for decades of making me feel understood and at home.
I owe a lot to this band. Without them, I would not be a poet; without them, half of my poems would never have been written. Without them, their dedication and passion, I would not be the person I am right now.

Forever grateful,

Cathy


The Anathema vinyl records I own. And of course, I own every CD too.

And just one for the road. A song that lets my emotions flow…

Song of the day

Ashes Divide – too late

From the album “Keep Telling Myself it’s Alright” (2008, def jam)

One of the calmer songs of this one-man band. Ashes Divide is the side project of A Perfect Circle’s Billy Howerdel.

Some about me:

Age: 37

Zodiac: Aquarius

Favourite show: tie between Santa Clarita Diet and A handmaid’s tale.

Favourite song of the moment: Hostages by the Howl & the Hum

Describe yourself in one word: mindful

What do you say?

I am tired today and my shoulder hurts af. Not sure what I did wrong again, but it hasn’t hurt like this in a long while. I mean, I was never pain-free, but today it feels like I am at a peak. Time for surgery, I guess. No need to stall any longer.

On the up-side. I still feel happy and relaxed. A nice feeling for a change.

source: somewhere on IG

Have a great weekend.

xx

Cathy

song of the day (Thursday)

Felix Räuber – road to chaos

This song was released in July 2020 on Every Motion Records, which is Felix’s own label. He is an artist through and through, an extraordinary vocalist and his interviews show an intelligent man who cares about life and the state of this earth. Felix is probably better known to a broader audience as the singer of the band Polarkreis 18, they had a huge hit single with the song “Allein Allein” in 2007. Definitely an artist to watch. Hearing him live is a treat too. I saw him years ago at a gig with Maximilian Hecker. 36 people with the staff manning the bar… a gem of a gig that I will never forget.

Enjoy your day. xx

song of the day

Nate Maingard – Braver and Stronger (2012)

 

My favourite Nate Maingard song… He is a South-African self-proclaimed troubadour who finances his life through sustainable living and patreon. Interesting guy, but I cannot always agree with his eccentric views. And I don’t have to, because we are all intelligent people who can think for ourselves.

Have a great day…

Keep your eyes open! A surprise is headed your way.

Song for Tuesday night

Pink Floyd – hey you

From the album “The Wall” (1979, Harvest). The song was written by Roger Waters. This one is a bit heavier, melancholic even, yet there is hope too. But I like the lyrics a lot.

Hey you, out there in the cold
Getting lonely, getting old
Can you feel me?
Hey you, standing in the aisles
With itchy feet and fading smiles
Can you feel me?
Hey you, don’t help them to bury the light
Don’t give in without a fight


Hey you out there on your own
Sitting naked by the phone
Would you touch me?
Hey you with you ear against the wall
Waiting for someone to call out
Would you touch me?
Hey you, would you help me to carry the stone?
Open your heart, I’m coming home


But it was only fantasy
The wall was too high
As you can see
No matter how he tried
He could not break free
And the worms ate into his brain


Hey you, out there on the road
Always doing what you’re told
Can you help me?
Hey you, out there beyond the wall
Breaking bottles in the hall
Can you help me?
Hey you, don’t tell me there’s no hope at all
Together we stand, divided we fall

Cathy’s Top 5 Pink Floyd songs:

1. Comfortably Numb (1979, The Wall)

2. Sorrow (1989, A Momentary Lapse of Reason)

3. High Hopes (1994, The Division Bell)

4. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (1975, Wish You Were Here)

5. What Do You Want From Me (1994, The Division Bell)

Many people think that Pink Floyd is challenging to get into. And I agree. Some of their earlier stuff is unbearable – for me. I can’t listen to most of “The Dark Side of the Moon” and I haven’t in a while, maybe it is time to give it another spin. However, “The Division Bell” is one of the albums I listen to all the time. The songs I shared are accessible, or so I think. Most are live versions, which gives it a nice touch. If I ever get a chance to see David Gilmour (guitarist and lead singer of Pink Floyd) in concert, I will make sure to buy tickets. He is 74 years old by now… The chances are slimming down. By the way, David Gilmour discovered Kate Bush and produced her first record.

Have a great night.

xx

song for another sleepless night

REM – leave

From the record “New Adventures in Hi-Fi” (1996, Warner Bros Records), which was the 10th studio album REM released.

Apparently, this is one of the band’s best records; I wouldn’t know. I just know this one song from it, and I adore it. My favourite REM album is “Automatic for the People” (1992). The song is sombre, heavy even, and the lyrics get to me. Once in a while, I tear up when I hear it, because of the way Micheal Stipe sings these lyrics:

(…)

That’s what keeps me
That’s what keeps me
That’s what keeps me down
To leave it, believe it
Leave it all behind

Lift me, lift me
I attain my dream
I lost myself, I lost them
Heartache calling me
I lost myself in sorrow
I lost myself in pain
I lost myself in gravity
Memory, leave, leave, leave

That’s what keeps me
That’s what keeps me
That’s what keeps me down
To leave it, believe it
Leave it all behind

(…)

“Leave” is on the soundtrack of “A Life Less Ordinary” (1997), a movie with Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz. It was written by John Hodge (who wrote the screenplay for Trainspotting) and directed by Danny Boyle (who also directed Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire). I always tend to forget how much I actually like that movie. To me, it is magical. It is funny, tragic, sad… And it has a great soundtrack.

My day was long and filled with lots of work. 11 hours today. Usually, I work 20 hours in one week… I guess this week; I am making over time. I am reminded of how much I love my work, though. I am doing stuff with the kids, random things, and I am reminded how fun this is and that I really like it, I wouldn’t want to change it, even if I complain a lot. Unfortunately, the many hours I put in last Friday and today are taking a toll on my shoulder. It’s in pain again. I will have to see how much longer I can keep the pace.

Wish me luck for tonight, finding sleep was hard these last days.

Tomorrow is the National Holiday in Luxembourg. When Corona is not paralysing the world, we celebrate our Grand-Duke’s birthday on June 23rd. (Even though his real birthday is in April – 16th, 1955)

Good night…

song of the day

Elen – 5 Meter Mauern

From the record “blind über rot” (Universal Music) which will be released tomorrow – June 19th, 2020. Elen is a young German musician from Germany who started out as a busker. A talent scout found her on the streets and persuaded her to take part in the German version of The Voice. She got as far as the Battles where she was eliminated. From there her career took off.

This song is about someone who has built walls around themselves. There should be a palace, but it became an inescapable prison; no one gets in and no one gets out. She describes the feeling of not being able to be alone for fear of hearing one’s own thoughts too much.

Many people know this, I do too.

I know, listening to music in a foreign language is weird, but for many it is normal. Enjoy… 🙂

That intro though…

Can we take a moment to acknowledge the absolutely brilliant intro to “Money for Nothing” by the band Dire Straits?

The song was on the album “Brothers in Arms” (Warner Bros, 1985). Mark Knopfler had support from Sting to do the vocals of the song.

I grew up hearing this album, and I never gave it much thought. Just like the song that is still on the radio quite a bit. Unfortunately, they rarely play the intro on the radio. It starts with Sting singing in his falsetto “I want my MTV”, in the background Synths hint at the melody of the guitar in quite a Pink Floyd-esque manner. The drums kick in and with that, the famous guitar solo that is repeated throughout the song takes us in.

Now, I know the song has some controversial lyrics and apparently, as I read moments ago, is banned in Canada for the use of the word “faggot” since 2011. Money for Nothing was written in 1985, I won’t make up excuses for it, but we were less educated and less tolerant of diversity back then. At the same time, the song is about guys watching music videos and making snarky comments about what and who they are seeing. The use of the slur shows the jealousy of the men watching TV.

By the way, Money for Nothing was the first song ever played on MTV Europe in 1987.

That intro though… Phew.

Memory lane

Today, I saw that an old post from November 2017 was read a couple of times – today. I am not one who looks at the stats all day long, but I noticed this because it is a special post to me. (That said, I usually take a moment in June to reflect on the first half of the year on the blog… Expect a post about that soon)

I remember that particular post from November very well. I remember exactly when I wrote it and why. I know what happened before and what happened after.

https://wp.me/p2ZT5k-392

It’s quite painful to read all of these words again. They were at the beginning of a dark and depressive phase in my life and I am not completely out of the woods yet. I have been fighting and struggling for three years.

Recently, I discovered that I am actually a mediocre writer at best. I keep repeating the same words and phrases; I keep replaying the same scenes and moments. And my writing became dull. Unimportant. Irrelevant.

There are many many amazing writers out there. There are musicians who write lyrics so powerful that they make the listener tear up.

I am not one of them. Not anymore.

Not anymore.

I am sorry.

I lost my most important muse and stopped listening to the music that makes me feel. It is as if I am overwhelmed all the time, yet numb too. It is as if I am censoring myself and hiding behind the mask of the person I am expected to be.

I am exhausted. I haven’t slept properly in four days. And I can’t do it anymore.

song of the day

Spencer Yenson & the Fever – hold me down

This single was released in 2019 and can be found on Spotify and Soundcloud. The San Diego based musician dropped his first EP “in Fever” in 2017 and is busy ever since.

I first heard this artist on a vinyl compilation. I subscribed to it via Vinyl Moon. Every month, I receive music that is new and fresh to me, pressed on coloured vinyl, and with exciting artwork. It reminds me of the mixtapes we made for friends back in the day. They ship worldwide from the US, and the price is okay too. Every LP comes with a sheet introducing the artists, including the songs’ lyrics.

So far, I received two records. The first one was more electronic; the last one was more indie. I am looking forward to the next release. Usually, the records are shipped on or around the 17th of each month – with the time it takes to arrive at my doorstep, I am almost always a month behind. But that’s okay, really. I like this way of being introduced to new music. It suits me.

Vinyl Moon Volume 056: Hello Real Life

Dead Nature – fire in your soul

From the album “taking my shadow” (2019, dead nature records). This song is my second highlight of the record I mentioned above. Dead Nature is the project of Tarek Musa, a musician from Liverpool. I quite like the upbeat sound of the song. I hope you enjoy it too.