Diversion Diary – Lockdown Birthday Mixtape

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In this week’s internet round up, Hannah has a lockdown birthday party for one. Warning: this is almost entirely a bike free zone.

One of the many things I enjoy in my relationship with BK is the sharing of musical discoveries. He’s much better at finding new or unusual things than I am. Somewhere in the distant past he organised some pretty wild punk or alternative rock concerts, and he has a vinyl collection that attests to some loud and niche ear experiences. I will listen to almost anything, though my knowledge tends to bring quieter ‘gals with guitars’ type stuff to our mixtapes. Or at least, to our Spotify playlists.

I also have Spotify playlists that result from musical exchanges with my dad. He is a committed headphone wearer. He likes his music transmitted perfectly into his brain, with no background noise, full immersion in the stereophonic experience, sounds tracking back and forth across the back of the head and making the synapses tingle.

There is enough overlap of tastes between us three to find common ground, and enough difference in our habits of foraging for new sounds that we bring differences to the table.

Even if you don’t go for the full immersion treatment like my dad, music is an incredible sensory experience that goes beyond the ears. I recall Wil putting on a track at Mountain Mayhem that forced me to dance and cry at the same time in the memory of listening to it with my best friend, now deceased. I once played a Rage Against the Machine track thinking my daughter would enjoy the slightly risqué scenario of her mother playing this sweary music, only to find it made her frightened by its anger. There are songs of protest, melodies that remind us of long summers and particular people. Tunes that have got us through tough times, bass lines that have taken our breath away and made our hearts pound to a different beat.

The intense tribal sensation of dancing collectively, closely, pressed up towards the band at the front, arms in the air in a sea of dancers, all seems like a very far flung possibility right now. Time and circumstance mean that dancing is not something BK and I have had chance to do together. I don’t know if he is as agile on the dance floor as he is on a bike, or whether he shuffles like the dad that he is. Maybe, in the privacy of our quarantine weeks, I will find out.

Because yesterday was a lockdown birthday for me (41, heck), and I took the liberty of taking time out from the world, this week’s theme is little more than a mixtape. There’s no bike theme. For the sake of missing live performances and gatherings, I’ve used live recordings in a few instances. But mostly, it’s just a bunch of music. Hopefully some of it stimulates some senses in you, I’d welcome your suggestions in the comments.

Summertime in England

Have yourself a ten minute live performance by Van Morrison. This track is the only song anyone has ever played for me on the radio, and BK owes that DJ for teasing him about his ’squeeze’ in the UK, thereby revealing that my feelings were reciprocated. There’s a lot going on, it’s about three or four songs in one, and it pays off to really pay attention while you’re listening.


This is the tune that made me dance and cry at Mountain Mayhem – before I’d started riding, I should point out. 24 hours of solo ‘racing’ not being terribly conducive to dancing – though pretty good for crying.

Dear Someone

Songs can take on new meanings. This was the ‘first dance’ song when I got married (not to BK). Then, I thought it was about coming home into the arms of the one you love. Now, I wonder if it’s more about going out into the world to find your love. Whatever, I’ve been lucky enough to see Gillian Welch live a couple of times, and her performance with Dave Rawlings at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh is one of the greatest musical experiences I’ve ever had. The acoustics were amazing, and for one track they just unplugged everything and played without amplification. The whole audience held their breaths, sat still, didn’t move, as the music floated gently round them. Magic.

All I Want

My ‘gals with guitars’ musical interests started with Joni Mitchell – definitely my Dad’s influence. River is indelibly associated with my high school years, where I wished to be anywhere except where I was. I could have picked pretty much any of the tracks off the Blue album, but this one is a favourite right now. I can’t sing along, but I try.

All The Stars Collide

This is one for the headphone fans, or people with really good in-car stereos, and it’s come from BK’s influence. It’s one to lie down and absorb, feel the layers tickle your ears.

Crash Worship

I said BK liked loud and niche musical experiences and when I said this week’s diary was a list of music as sensory experiences he offered up this. Who he has seen on a number of occasions – not just once by accident. I guess he’s going to fit right in in Hebden Bridge.


I heard this on the radio the other day and was struck by how the lyrics feel. Once upon a time I studied Linguistics, so there’s a bit of me that likes the phonetics of this. I have absolutely no idea what is being said, but just listen to the sounds roll around the mouth of the speaker.

Strange Fruit

This is an incredible performance of an incredible song. As if the words alone weren’t enough to make your hair stand on end, add in the key, this voice, and the video of this live performance and it’s a powerful combination. This performance is from 1959. And here we are in 2020.

Nina Simone – 7 Songs

And here is Nina Simone in 1965. And here we are in 2020.

And here we are in 2020.

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