Who is the King of Music?

So I’ve had this ongoing debate with my Dad for the past couple of decades and it inspired me to write this blog. Although we agree on many of the below, there’s one that I don’t think we’ll ever agree one. And that’s OK. That’s the beauty of music.

The King of Pop


This one, you could argue, could be attributed to Buddy Holly or John Lennon but universally, it’s agreed that the King of Pop is Michael Jackson. What he did in his own personal life, proven or unproven, is irrelevant as far as I’m concerned. Music-wise, he was definitely up there so I’m happy to give this to him. Although, a part of me would be happy to attribute this to Elvis.

The King of Ska


Desmond Dekker. There’s no disputing this is there? Part of the first wave of Ska from Jamaica and inspired a whole generation of young Englishmen to start Ska bands. Lots of great music came out of Jamaica at that time but I think Dekker was the best.

The King of Reggae

Bob Marley

Bob Marley. Again, no disputing this. It’s not just universally accepted, it just is. How many people who listen to or play Reggae music wouldn’t offer up Bob Marley as the reason they do? The answer is most likely to be zero. Nobody. And if they claim otherwise, they’re lying.

The King of Jazz


John Coltrane. I’m sure there are plenty of be-bopping, beatniks out there who would be happy to argue with this, citing some obscure jazz musician from the 40s, but I think most people would be happy to give it to Coltrane and I am most people so, there you go. Coltrane it is.

The King of Blues


A lot of people will say B.B. King with this one because it’s probably the only blues musician they’ve heard of but since I’m a fan of the blues and can name and play the music of plenty of better and more influential blues musicians than him, I’m going with Robert Johnson. He’s the King, the Father and the Holy Ghost of Blues in my opinion.

The King of Country

george strait

This one is a little more difficult for me as I’m not really a fan of Country Music.I like the song Private Malone by Andrew Ball, that’s about as far as I’ve gotten with Country Music though. I’ve read that George Strait is considered the King of Country but I would have thought it was Garth Brooks but, as I’ve said, I’m completely ignorant on this one so I’m going to go with George Strait because personally, I could probably listen to a song or 2 from Strait. I couldn’t do the same for Garth. His music is putrid to my ears.

The King of Folk

Pete Seeger on stage 1960

It’s got to be Pete Seeger, right? There are plenty of other amazing folk singers and musicians, like Guthrie, but Seeger has to be the king, surely. Special mention to Dylan too but I think he was late to a party that started long before he was born, not to mention that Dylan abandoned folk for the the seemingly cooler life of an electric blues musician. I’m going with Seeger.

The King of Hip Hop


I’m going to go with Dr Dre or 2Pac. Not really sure why. I’m not a huge fan of the genre , especially these days with 50 Pence and Snoopy G and the likes (I’m joking of course, I know his name is not Snoopy G….it’s Snoopy D) . I think everything that came after these guys was just absolute rubbish so I’m giving it to 2Pac. Don’t be hating on me etc.

The King of Soul

James Brown At Newport Jazz Festival

James Brown. End of. The man used to fine his musicians for making mistakes. It might be a little extreme and I’ve had told him to go f*ck himself if I was in a band with him, but still, he had passion, soul and demanded perfection. The King in my books.

The King of Motown


There’s a lot of talk of Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder for this title but I’m going to go with Marvin Gaye. Probably because I prefer the music that Gaye produced to that of Robinson and Wonder.

The King of Punk


It’s got to be John Mellor A.K.A Joe Strummer. I mean you could argue that Johnny Rotten was the biggest influence on the public, but Strummer was an influence on everyone, from the public to the media and other musicians. He influenced me a little bit, back in my blue hair days. Strummer for me. Pictured here with another Punk great, Shane McGowan of the Nipple Erectors.

The King of Electronica


Honestly, I wouldn’t be totally up on this kind of thing but surely a man who transformed the genre from silly-sounding synth-pop to hard, heavy and engaging electronic music is the man who deserves this title? I’m going with Liam Howlett, the man who IS the Prodigy. And the man I think IS Electronic music.

The King of Disco


I have no interest in Disco music so I’m just going to pick someone randomly and move on. John Travolta???? That’ll do. Couldn’t care less. Next.

The King of Heavy Metal


Live Aid Concert - Wembley Stadium

Either Ozzy Osbourne or Freddie Mercury. Can’t decide. One of those dudes. Both great at what they did but if you twisted my arm, I reckon Mercury had more talent and the fact that he didn’t turn into a zombie and make a show of himself on MTV the way Osbourne did makes Mercury king for me.

The King of Rock & Roll


This is the one that I constantly argue about with my Dad. For years now, we’ve been debating this. He thinks Elvis. I think Elvis was more of a pop/karaoke singer similar to Tom Jones. I don’t think that Elvis played even wrote a decent song. Did he even play that guitar at all? Could he play? No way would I give the title of King of Rock And Roll to someone who nobody knows could play or not. I’m going to go with Chuck Berry. He gave us Johnny B. Goode and shaped the genre for God’s sake!! My Dad won’t listen to reason and there are so many people out there like him. I pick Chuck though because I never sat down as a teenager and learned to play an Elvis song on guitar.

The King of Swing


Benny Goodman? There are plenty who would be happy with that. I’m not. I’d probably go with Frank Sinatra myself.

The King of Rock


There are so many people who could take this title, like Hendrix for instance (even Springsteen would make the final few for me) but I’m going to go with the legend that was Jim Morrison. He was the f*cking man! I like a lot of Rock music but I always find that I listen to The Doors more than any other band, even after 15 years of listening to them.I think Jim Morrison is the epitome of the Rock genre.

As for the King of Music, I don’t think it could ever be narrowed down to just one man and maybe that’s the best way to have it. So many genres and emotions cannot be attributed to just one human being.

I think that’s about it for this blog. I’m sure there are plenty of people who’ll agree or disagree and I think it’s worth a discussion. It’s fuelled great conversation for me and my Dad for years now. Music is such a powerful force and it brings out the best and worst in us. It makes us laugh, cry, dance, shout, fight, sleep and even want to have sex so why shouldn’t we be passionate about it? Next up, the Queens of Music

NOTES: I haven’t acquired the rights to use any of these images so due credit to the photographers is observed. And if said photographers wish to have the image removed, just let me know and I’ll take it down. This blog is not of a commercial nature and no money is being made as a result.

Sitting on the bench

I’ve always wondered why a professional football player at the peak of his career could possibly be happy with warming a bench at their club.

I know it must be tempting for a big fish in a small pond who has been offered a big pond to just go there. But more often than not, they end up being a small fish there and as a result are consigned to warming the bench with the occasional cup game against a lower league team.

It has to be so frustrating for a player.

I know that if my boss came to me tomorrow and said, ‘We’ve signed a new marketing exec who is going to do what your doing instead. You can go sit in a corner and hope they they get injured or fall out of favour with me.’ I’d be so annoyed. I would have to pack my bags and go somewhere else.

Is there no passion in the game anymore? Is the lure of big bucks and a token model girlfriend more important than playing the game you’ve spent all your young life perfecting?

I do think it’s important for a player to develop and get better and better and I do know that going for a bigger team will help that development. Playing with better players will make you better. Fair enough. That’s perfectly fine. But after one season of kicking up clumps of dirt on the sidelines as you watch other players do what you should be doing, you’d have to be mad to stay.

Why not request a transfer and go somewhere else where you know you’ll be valued and cherished by the team and the supporters? It clearly hasn’t worked for you at your new club so leave.

Maybe your new club is giving you an astronomical weekly wage that a smaller club can’t match? Take a pay cut then. Go to a new club and, who knows, it may be everything you always dreamed when you were a kid out kicking a ball in an alleyway behind your local club.

It has to be better than sitting on a bench.

PS: I know there’s probably the idea that if you go to a big club and don’t play, then your stock has risen and you can go elsewhere at a later date and get a better deal. But at what cost is that? How much of your peak days are you willing to spend watching on from the stands? There’s always a kid coming up behind you with more talent so you’d be better off going for it now, get on the pitch and do what you love.


*Image taken from asoccerplayer.com

Child Soldier

Aoife and Jack were next-door neighbours and best friends. Their parents were friends. Aoife came from a Muslim family. Jack’s family were Christian.

Together, they lived in rural Ireland. Neither family had much by way of income or security. But they had each other and that was keeping them afloat.

Jack and Aoife played games in the street. Aoife, being 2 years younger than he, held him in such high regard. He was fun, he didn’t treat her as an inferior the way other boys did and he always made sure that she was allowed to play football with him and his friends, even though they protested.

When Jack was 12, he was recruited by a cult and brainwashed. He was told that Muslims were the enemy and that they were conspiring to kill him and his family and destroy his country. Jack, being 12, was susceptible to their lies and terrified at the thought that Aoife and her family were plotting to kill him and his parents.

Jack wasn’t seen for a few days. When he returned, he was different. Aoife noticed something was wrong but when she asked him, he told her to go away and leave him alone.

‘I believed that she was the devil,’ he says now.

One night, he crept into Aoife’s bedroom and slit her throat. He then stabbed her mother 6 times in the chest and back and punctured her father’s lungs before burning their house to the ground. Nobody survived.

For that, the cult rewarded him for his bravery and service. He earned the right to carry a rifle and do ’God’s work’. This is what he was told. Since that terrible night, Jack went on to kill 16 more people, 11 of which were just children, his own age or younger. Jack thought that what he was doing was for the good of mankind and believed he was carrying out the will of a God he feared terribly.

When Jack was 15, he escaped the clutches of the cult. At a recruitment drive for more children, he was given the task of getting another child, Steven, just a 10-year-old boy, to kill his own family. That was when Jack knew that the cult were not what they seemed.

‘They told me that it was my job to protect my own family. Why wasn’t it the same for Steven?’ He tells me now as tears roll down his cheeks.

Late at night, Jack woke Steven, who was frightened and confused, having just been kidnapped. He took him by the hand and promised to return him home.

It was a long and terrifying journey and the cult were close behind but eventually. They reached safety. He kept his promise and brought Steven back to his family and was welcomed by Steven’s community. He was a hero to them and they offered him a place to stay and even a job as a carpenter to repay him for his deed. He stayed there for a short time but, while he could have built a new life for himself, all he could think about was the pain he’d caused and the hurt he was feeling. He missed his mother and father. He missed his Aoife. He knew he couldn’t bring her or her parents back but he desperately wanted to put things right.

‘I wanted so badly to go home and be held in my mother’s arms again; to help my dad in the fields. I wanted things to go back to normal. But I knew that couldn’t happen. All I could do was go back and hold my hand up and take responsibility. Anything that happened after that was not up to me but I was ready to be punished for my crimes,’ he says.

His eyes were deep and warm, trustworthy, not the eyes of a killer.

One day, he dropped his tools and headed for home. It was a long, silent journey but when he got there, he was ran out by the community and banished to the far corners of Ireland. Even his own mother, although desperate to welcome him back, was silent and never tried to help him. She looked like a stranger to him then. Nobody loved him now.

‘That was the worst part. Seeing my mother like that; so distant and in so much pain. Her eyes were raw and she aged so rapidly. I caused that,’ he said.

He left the town where he grew up in disgrace for the second time in his life.

Until recently, Jack has worked as a labourer on a farm, far away from home. Nobody knew what he’d done or where he came from because he never spoke during those 2 long and lonely years. He just kept his head down and worked.

Today, Jack has come forward and spoken up about the true horrors of his actions and the sorrow and shame he feels for what he’s done. He wants to go back to school so he can one day set up a foundation to help others who have been through what he has.

‘I want to help others now. I’m going to set up a foundation and call it Aoife.’

His new mission is a real one with no lies or hurt and that mission to make sure that no children have to go through what he has been through ever again.

NOTES: This is a fictional story about a child soldier in Ireland. Although I have seen no evidence of this happening in Ireland, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen all over the world. The stories of Child Soldiers like Jack in my story are very real and sometimes a lot more terrifying. You only have to look at the Rwandan genocide to know that this happens in the world. Does the setting change change people’s attitude towards it? It shouldn’t.

(Image taken from addictinginfo.org.)

Is Hoarding A Human Condition?

I’ve discussed this topic many times with my friends and most recently my house mate. One thing I have in common with my house mate in particular is the notion of collecting things.

I’ll admit, we’re quite nerdy and play a fair bit of video games. We’re also both into music too. I’m a huge fan of film and have done quite a fair bit of reading in my time. My point is that both of us have had a big collection of CDs and games in the past. It was only last year that I sold all of my old games and consoles and he did the same. We both became really conscious of holding onto these things.

When it came down to it, I’d decided that I was never going to play those games, listen those CDs, read those books or watch those films again. Sure I have Netflix and Spotify now. He agreed and pretty much followed suit.

But it didn’t stop it. I then went and built a PC and am now looking into building a guitar. And worst of all, I’ve recently discovered PC gaming and now the amount of games I’ve bought on Steam (most of which I’ll never play) is getting dangerously high.

Have I just replaced the boxes and shelves of CDs, games, books and DVDs with digital content? It’s the same with Spotify and Netflix. Are they just places where I keep all the things I want to watch and listen to? It certainly seems that way. And while the digital games, movies and music provide me with the same principal of hoarding, there isn’t anything physical and that leaves a gap. So have I started building PCs and guitars to offset that? Am I going to have a collection of these soon too?

What is it? Why can’t I stop collecting things? I know for sure that it isn’t just me because my housemate is doing the exact same thing except he’s moved into building a record collection.

I think it might be a human thing. Some sort of instinct from a time when we had to hunt for food and store it because we might not find any more. But I do know that the concept of hoarding these things is absolutely ridiculous, I can’t seem to stop doing it. Anyone any thoughts on this?

Let me know before I go insane.

The Academy isn’t racist. Society is.

Just my thoughts on recent issues around the Oscars and the lack of ethnic diversity in the nominations.

I’ve seen some people call out that the Academy are to blame for not including more diversity. The Academy are a lot of things but the notion that they are excluding people because of their skin colour is absolutely nonsense. The whole point of the Academy awards is to recognise outstanding talent and commitment in the motion picture arts. If you display this talent, you will get your reward. They are not an award ceremony for recognition for the colour of your skin.

Should a person be awarded an Oscar based on their skin colour? Of course not. This is just as racist as not giving someone an Oscar based on their skin colour. It should always and only be about recognition for your talents in the motion picture arts. To be honest, this is across the board. Any award ceremony that’s supposed to recognise talent should be based on artistic merit and not any other factors.

The real issue actually lies with society and the industry as a whole. For so long now, the industry has favoured white actors for lead roles because it has always represented the larger demographic. The majority of people in the US are white Americans and therefore they have an affiliation to white American actors so will go to the cinema as they are being represented. This is why white Americans are favoured in lead rolls. It will generate more income at the box office. The black and ethnic communities are not a big draw at the box office and so can’t get into contention for good lead roles which means young black American’s are not being represented.

How can this be changed? It can be changed and it’s very difficult. It takes time though and unless black Americans start procreating in astronomical numbers right now and become the dominant demographic.

But black and white Americans can work together. Right now. All Americans, not matter what faith, skin colour, ancestry or social class.

It’s up to all Americans to stand up now and get more involved. Open their minds and eyes. Demand more from the films they spend their money to see at the cinema. Try to get a deeper understanding of the lives and times of those who have had different lives to you. Fight for better opportunities for not just their children but all children to get into a position to pursue a career as an actor or a doctor or whatever they want to be.

Stand together and fight together. Any man’s fight against social injustice and discrimination is every man’s fight against social injustice and discrimination. Only then will a more diverse movie going experience be available for nomination at the Academy Awards.

*Note on the text*

I’ve spoken about black and white American’s because of the context of hollywood and the Academy. This is the same issue in my home country, Ireland. The UK. Australia. Everywhere. People are tribal minded and will protect and stand up for their own tribe, or the one they feel they belong to. In my opinion, I am a human being and all human beings are my tribe. In fact, I am a living creature and all living creatures are my tribe. I couldn’t give a toss what skin colour you are or what soil you were born on. I feel if you get the ball rolling on this mentality then the future will be a bright one for everyone.

Working for a Charity Changed My Life

For the past 8 years of my life, I’ve worked for an overseas aid and development organisation. Next month, I will be leaving that organisation and moving on. I might stay in the sector or I might do something completely different but one thing I’m sure of is that it has changed my life in so many ways.

Before I started working in this sector, my knowledge of poverty and injustice was pretty much non-existent. Sure enough I knew that people where starving and being mistreated (My mother was always one to remind me that children were starving in Africa or that millions of Chinese babies would be delighted to swap roles with me) but I had no idea of the scale of these horrors or the scale of the efforts by the millions of aid workers across the world to end these nightmares.

It was overwhelming and on more than one occasion I’ve gone home on a Friday saying I’ve had enough only to spend the entire weekend convincing myself to go back. Some of the things you are exposed to when working for an organisation like this can make you question everything. They can break your heart, your mind and your spirit. They can make you lose your hope or whatever faith you have.

But these things can also force you to confront the reality of life for the majority of the population of the world. And make you stand up and speak up for those who cannot stand or speak up for themselves. And that’s what working for an organisation like this has done for me. It’s made me an advocate. It’s made me a more compassionate, empathetic and sympathetic human. It’s made me human.

It isn’t all heartbreak though. Seeing a community come together to help themselves out of poverty or rebuild their lives after a disaster or a parent standing up against her cultural traditions so that her little girl can go to school and be somebody. These are the positives. These are the things that have made it bitter sweet. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled harder  in my life than I have when seeing people in dire circumstances light up their own lives and fight for their own futures. But the same thing can be said for crying. I’ve cried many times at the things I’ve seen. It’s part and parcel of the work. But it changes you. It makes you stronger, builds character, gives you principles and values that no other work can give you.

So I’ll leave you with this. Do it for a couple of years. Just walk into your local charity or go overseas and see it for yourself. Immerse yourself in it. You’ll laugh hard, you’ll cry harder but you’ll experience life. The good and the bad.

Thanks for reading.


Credit: Image taken from Oxfam. I can say categorically that I don’t work for them but I do appreciate the work they do. I haven’t sought permission for the use of this image so I hope it’s OK. If not, I’ll happily take it down.

What it Means to be Human

You are not born Human. Humanity is not something you inherit just because you happen to exist. It’s something you have to earn. Something you have to qualify for. Your deeds and actions towards other living beings are what give you the right to call yourself Human. Your respect for the ground you walk on, the air you breath, the sky you sleep under, the life you share with all other lives and the water you drink, all come in to play.

You have the gift of choosing, thinking, observing, learning and creating. You have the gift of love, compassion, empathy and sympathy. It’s choosing to use these gifts for the good of all that makes you a human being. These are the gifts that separate us from every other life form on earth.

Choosing to ignore or exploit these gifts makes you less than human. It makes you less than animals. Less than trees, water, sky and rock.

Your actions when you are at your worst and most desperate define you, not your actions when you are comfortable and at peace.

Reclaim your life from social media

Let’s cut to the chase. The problem with social media is that You know way too much about way too many people. You have access to their every moment. But not their real moments. Only the moments they want to share with you or anyone who’ll listen. And their stupidity angers you. Before that. You just lived your own life. Minded your own business and the only people’s lives you had access to, where those who were standing next to you. And that made you closer. Social media pushes you further away. But there’s a solution. And it’s so unbelievably simple, you’re going to smack yourself for not thinking of it all by yourself. It goes like this…. 

Stand up. Go outside. This works better if it’s night time, for the sake of this, it’s night time. Now. Let the cold night breeze jostle your hair. Let the cool grass tickle your feet and grip the blades with your toes and really feel it. Let the sound of nighttime, ring in your ears. Those ghostly sounds of the day fading away. Let the palid light of the moon and stars twinkle in your eyes. Take a deep breath and Let the smell of the damp, dewy night air tickle your brain and take you back to a simpler time, when you were a child and only knew those who you saw every day, and spent your time in the garden, getting used to the world.

Now. Open your eyes. And ask yourself if you really care what your neighbour’s cousin thinks of Simon Cowell, what your Ex-colleague had for breakfast or what Kanye West will name his next turd.

If the answer is yes. Repeat the above indefinitely until the answer is no. If the answer is no. Smile and congratulations. You have your life back.

Sunny Daze

Why is it that whenever the sun is shining, I lose all productivity at work. It’s not like I’m working outdoors and enjoying it, so why does it matter what the weather outside is like? Be it rain, hail or shine, the office stays the same. It’s just a little brighter. But it makes such a difference. It’s such a distraction. Then again it’s also deceptive. It looks so inviting, like a hot summers day. Blue sky, no clouds but in reality it’s absolutely freezing outside.

So why do I have that summer feeling on a cold day in March? My stupid, irresponsible brain, that’s why! It’s like a magpie. Getting distracted by nice shiny things.

What day is it? I hate when this happens

So you wake up in the morning, the sun is shining through the blinds. You’ve slept well, you feel great and best of all, it’s Thursday and the weekend is so close you can smell fresh air. To top it all off, yesterday was the most fun you’ve ever had at work. That Simon fellow is a real laugh.

You have yourself a lovely cup of tea (coffee if you’re American or trying to be American) and you leave the house. But something isn’t right. Something seems too good to be true. You can’t quite tell but there’s definitely something. You almost feel like you’ve won something or you’ve been given something. You’re waaaaay too perky. Something is wrong.

You jump on the bus (if you’re poor like me) or get in your car (if you are a super rich, mega earner) and sit down. You take out your phone to see if anyone loves you (they don’t) and then you see it. It’s like someone grabbing you from behind and dragging you back in time a full day. You blink rapidly, shake your head and you rub your eyes ferociously but it’s still there, burned onto the inside of your eyelids.

It’s only Wednesday….

This sends you into a whole cycle of confusion, denial, self-doubt and depression. What’s happening? You feel ill all of a sudden. It feels like there’s a little tiny man in your stomach punching you from the inside out. Surely it can’t be. No way. It’s not. You remember Wednesday so clearly. You had that hilarious chat with Simon from Accounts Receivable about reforestation in Africa. He made a joke about how it was up to you, that it wasn’t his deciduous. You both laughed your asses off and then that surly bitch Sara in IT gave you a weird look. Surely that happened? Of course it did. It still makes you smile.

Then you remember that just after the conversation Simon turned into a Velociraptor and started kicking babies out of the top story window of a skyscraper in Dubai. Wait, what? Really? Oh…..

That was a dream. F to the M to the L.

This sends you into a pit of despair. Now you have to relive Wednesday all over again. And it just won’t be the same. You’ll have to force the deforestation joke with Simon but he won’t know to respond with a pun. In fact, Simon f*cking hates you. He’ll probably threaten you with his wrist-watch like last time you tried to talk to him. That’s much less interesting than turning into a velociraptor and kicking babies out of windows and no where near as hilarious.

You cry.

And so it is. You feel robbed of a day of your life. A wonderful day. Now you must suffer.  Get back to work and remember, nobody wants to hear puns about trees. Nobody!