This Golden Touch
Musician: Nat Keen (guitar)
Today I entered Bridgeside Lodge to a scene that warmed my heart and simultaneously affirmed my belief in the transformative power of music and the work that we do here. As I walked through the ground floor corridor I could hear some enthusiastic singing emanating from the dining room, I peeked in to see resident JR glued to his iPad watching footage of himself performing the song he had written with Spitz musician Arthur Lea. The joy this video was bringing him prompted me to suggest another writing session, he excitedly agreed and I rushed off to do my lateral-flow test and grab the guitar. 30 mins later when I returned, I found him in a mid-afternoon stupor, napping, probably dreaming of his next gig. I gently strummed a few chords and he was awake, ready to go, the iron was hot.
I’d not co-written a song with JR before so I suggested that he might like to start with a theme/subject, he thought about it for a while and then said ‘my mother’. We had the theme sorted, I then played in a few different styles in order to perhaps inspire some words from him. We settled on a gentle, reflective strumming style in C major and soon after the words began to flow;
‘Mother, you brought me up,
Mother, this golden touch,
Mother, it’s ok’
We continued this process for about 45 mins, back and forth, new words, new chords and melodies until together, we had managed to carve out what I think is a deeply honest and moving song about his upbringing. JR was keen to get the lyrics printed off as soon as possible and instructed me to go and visit Frede (Bridgeside Lodge administrator) in the office, which I did post-haste.
Now that the writing part was over, he excitedly speculated about Jane’s reaction (Spitz director, Jane Glitre) to his new song ‘I can imagine Jane’s face!’,
I wholeheartedly agreed that she would love it! He then, perhaps dissatisfied with his current writing partner, scoped out the possibility of another session, but this time with Spitz songstress Kat [Eaton], I assured him that I could make that happen!
By this time JR’s song-writing session had attracted a fair bit of interest with staff members and residents alike. JC entered the room looking a bit lost and upset, describing how she felt as though her mind was being lost in this place. I encouraged her to join JR and I and mentioned that she might enjoy listening to the song he had just written. Upon hearing the song, she said ‘I don’t know it, but I like it’, I reminded her that he’d just written it and she exclaimed ‘In that case, wow! That’s excellent’. Now that JC was part of the team and feeling a lot happier, we broke into some Bob Marley songs with JR obviously the star of the show. JC seemed impressed that he knew all of the lyrics and joined in where she could. Bilal, one of the younger carers also felt compelled to join in and after a few songs, I asked him if he’d like to step up and sing something. Imagining the answer would be no, I was pleasantly surprised when he suggested ‘Country Roads’ (which I didn’t know). I played a few chords and asked if he could work with that and off we went, Bridgeside Lodge’s latest musical talent!. I then tried to get more people involved and asked another carer if he’d like to sing something. He said he can’t sing, I said I don’t believe you! He went on to explain that the songs he knows are in Yoruba and that the vocal style in Nigeria is different and that people here don’t seem to like it. Luckily it just so happened that I really like the music of Fela Kuti (a famous Nigerian artist) and broke out into a botched version of ‘Water No Get Enemy’ to his complete surprise!
Next stop, Bridgeside Lodge Band…..’THE LODGERS’? ‘THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOURED DREAM BOATS?’ any suggestions….?