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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Keen

The great leveller

Updated: Jan 13

Musician: Nat Keen (guitar)

My day started by meeting Jane, founder of The Spitz. We chatted about exciting new avenues, projects and collaborations on the horizon whilst reflecting on the ten years since she'd launched the charity. Without going into too much detail, the future is looking bright and full of musical offerings for residents of Bridgeside Lodge, Northwick Park Hospital and other new partnerships currently being formed.

Jane joined me to see 'Big Joe' who was ready for his weekly Friday song-writing session. We decided to hark back to an unfinished gem which had begun life before Christmas but remained raw, unstructured and lacking some lyrical finesse. It turns out that Jane is a dab hand in the field of wordplay, chiming in with some game-changing lyrical suggestions which kept the momentum going.

As well as Jane's input, the musical commotion had attracted E.J to the dining room, a resident with a passion for poetry and folk music. There we were then, the four of us, writing by committee, helping Big Joe to bring his latest creation to life. In a few more weeks it will be time to dig out the recording gear and record the third single of his album!

Song writing has become such a central and profound part of JR's identity in the last year. Through his music he seems able to process difficult emotions and express his feelings with increasing fluency. He often talks about his work with beaming pride and takes pleasure in imagining others hearing his voice. During today's session he recalled a moment a few weeks ago in which Labour MP Emily Thornberry had visited the care home and was treated to a rendition of his moving song 'Mother', which brought her to tears. Through affecting listeners with his heartfelt songs, music becomes a great leveller, re-distributing the power dynamic of our society and allowing this unheard voice to be heard...important stuff!.

Music is friendship, music is life

Music is friendship, it takes away my strife

Every time I sing, I thik about you,

All the friends I've made when we make music,

Music is friendship and it takes away my strife,

When you're feeling stressed,

I can do my best,

I can sing sing sing sing at the top of my voice.

Later on, I shared some beautiful moments with Mr GH and Ms GH, a combination that usually spells fireworks and tension (despite their matching initails!) but today breezed along with harmonious respect and attentiveness. Ms GH had been attracted to mine and Mr GH's weekly Beatles appreciation session, but ended up sitting with us in a state of contemplation and connection to the improvised music we were making. Both seemed utterly invested in the music as it gently ebbed and flowed, and their expressive facial gestures suggested that they were journeying with me through a wide range of emotions. This reminded me of how spoken word has its limits but music has the unique power to transport us through a million places, memories and atmospheres and is accessible to everyone.

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