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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Keen

Don't forget your head

Musician: Nat Keen (guitar, vocals)

I often start these blogs talking about Big Joe and his songwriting, this is partly because he's often the first person I encounter as I enter the building. But mainly because of his relationship with music and the obvious benefit it brings him is so easy to wax lyrical about.

Earlier in the day I'd been informed that he was booked in to see a specialist about beginning a course of sessions aimed at enhancing his mobility - very exciting news! Co-incidentally in the last few months we'd all noticed his enthusiasm about performing his songs relate to an increase in expressive arm movements, it is clear that his natural-performer self can't be contained by a physical disability. After we'd chatted about the benefits of improved mobility, we both decided that the next song could have movement as its theme, with the dance moves written into the lyrics...

"Move your arms,

Move your legs,

Move your feet,

Don't forget your head'

I saw Ms SR next, she was in her room, a space where she'd expressed preferring to enjoy music. Over the last months I'd really come to appreciate her love of lyrics, she focusses on the narrative within a song, savouring each sentence and often we'll chat about our interpretation of the meaning after it has finished. I sang through some folk songs and then shifted over to Joni Mitchell (an expert wordsmith). Joni wrote this song, “Both Sides Now” at the tender age of 23 which is quite astounding considering the emotional depth and maturity embedded in the words.

"Tears and fears and feeling proud,

To say, 'I love you' right out loud.

Dreams and schemes and circus crowds,

I've looked at life that way.

But now old friends they're acting strange,

They shake their heads, they say I've changed.

Well something's lost, but something's gained in living every day”

As we wrapped up the session SR turned to me and said 'I really love music so much, thank you for coming to see me". I asked if she'd like me to turn the TV back on but she said “I'd prefer to sit and think about the words”

I had my first encounter with a relatively new resident today, Ms JA. She was sat watching the world go by when she noticed me and my guitar, I knelt down to meet her and quickly understood that music was very important to her. As I began to play, I could hear 'I really like this' and 'nice music'. I continued by playing 'A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square' which has proved to be very popular at Bridgeside Lodge. The melody and lyrics seem to conjure up a sense of long lost innocence, romance and melancholy that resonates with those of a certain generation. Also, from my perspective it's a great song for encouraging musical participation as the last cadence and lyric line offers a perfect gap that calls out to be filled by the listener....

"The streets of town were paved with stars

It was such a romantic affair

And as we kissed and said goodnight

[all together now...]

A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square"

After we'd finished the song, she looked at me and said 'I love it, and you love it, I can tell’.

I finished the day with P who seemed to be in a reflective headspace. After several songs I played what I will stick my nose out and say is one of his new favourites, "Blue Ridge Mountain Blues”. This one seemed to engage him and I could see his eyes brighten and his lips begin to mouth the lyrics to the song.

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