British influence on music in the 1960’s

British music, particularly rock n roll bands, has had a significant presence in musical history. The emergence of bands such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who and The Animals drove the success of British musicians in the 1960s. This culminated in the ‘British Invasion’ in the mid 60s when many bands became successful in the US. Recording artists such as The Beatles, The British artists experienced great success in their tours of America as people flocked to their live performances in droves. They were richly rewarded for their efforts. British bands and solo artists, such as Tom Jones, shaped the music scene around the world and influenced other later artists.

The mid to late 60s was a turbulent time in history in terms of world events and social upheaval. The younger generation wanted to experience freedom from rigid parental expectations and carve out their own path in life and break away from the older generation’s ways. The musical tastes reflected this and saw the emergence of other British bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath who pioneered an edgier style of rock in the vein of hard rock and heavy metal. It is fair to say that the evolution of rock music throughout the 60s drove the emergence of younger artists in the 70s and beyond, such as Queen and Judas Priest and Australian artists such as AC/DC. The Brits showed the world they could produce very good quality musicians, not just great comedy!

It’s not all about the mainstream!

I am an unashamed devotee of Christian music – both praise and worship and contemporary Christian music (CCM). It is a natural extension of my strong faith in God through Christ. I have been into this music since 2007, when I changed churches.

I believe there is a place for CCM in the mainstream, or “secular”, music industry and charts. Anyone who hears the heart of God in music will be impacted, no matter what their beliefs or world views. It’s apparent that the distinction between CCM and “the mainstream” is becoming increasingly blurred and not limited by boundaries.

My favourite CCM band is Newsboys. Here is a sample song, “We believe” https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WjZ01FcK0yk

When I was on a Contiki tour in 2011, I met a guy and during a conversation he told me he likes to listen to CCM despite being a non-Christian. This warmed my heart and I was encouraged by his openness to God and spiritual awareness and development. My point is that CCM has a far reaching effect and anyone can listen to it and connect with the recording artist. Music is music after all, no matter what you sing about or what message you wish to convey.

Modern music vs the Classic bands

There has been some good quality music produced in recent years. However, in my opinion it is on the whole not as good as rock and pop music from bygone eras. I should qualify this by saying there are some decent bands who play gigs and never make it to the top 40. I have seen a few lesser known bands live.

The music from the olden days has an enduring quality and attractiveness that is sadly lacking in ‘hit music’ today. It used to be all about making good quality music, whereas modern music tends to be overly marketed based on image, at the expense of investing time in making great music. Some songs are timeless and transcend the passage of time, for example “Living on a prayer” by Bon Jovi and “Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams. So many people still watch YouTube videos of songs like these, so they’re as popular in 2018 as they were in 1987. It’s hard to write and perform that are so timeless but there are many artists who have managed to do so.

I have listened to a variety of songs over the years. My personal preference is rock n roll above other genres. My favourite bands are (in order) Toto, Queen, Midnight Oil and Red Hot Chili Peppers. They are all successful bands at their peak from the 70s through to the 90s. I am happy to admit I these bands over more modern recording artists. Making good music is more important than having a great image. Substance over style is the bottom line.

Evolution of one’s musical tastes

I’m changing tack on my WordPress blog and sharing my strong interest in music as it’s something I really enjoy it and I have a reasonable knowledge of musical history.

In my high school years I liked listening to a mix of genres like rock (Eg. Pearl Jam and U2) and smooth tunes from Boyz II Men (remember them??). This was in the 90s when businesses still sold cassette tapes (I’m showing my age here!). They were eventually phased out by CDs, which in turn have been overshadowed by iPods and other MP3 players in recent years.

By year 9 I gravitated towards rap music as a result of my friend’s influence. He only like listening to rap. He told me about a rap artist who went by the name of Snow, which is likely to be a reference to him being one of the few white rappers in the world at that time. He also had a Caribbean accent (possibly Jamaican) which really blew my mind! His voice belied his skin colour. I couldn’t understand most of what he was rapping but I liked the sound of his tunes and I was hooked! I also liked listening to Naughty by Nature who produced really edgy rap music and had explicit lyrics and coarse language, which is common in rap music in any event. that didn’t bother me though…I was a teenager who simply liked listening to their tape on my Walkman.

My friend in Year 12 was into listening to techno and he recorded some songs on a tape and gave it to me. I liked it initially and thought the songs were cool but it turned out to be a short lived phase in my music journey.

I’m sure that most of you have been fickle in your music tastes through the years but when you’re more mature it’s good to have a few musical genres you regularly listen to. For me music is not just a hobby but a passion. I’ve listened to hundreds of songs in my life and I expect I’ll listen to heaps more new songs in the future.

Work-life balance

In today’s world. people are juggling multiple responsibilities amid the busyness of their lives. Because of this, it is extremely important to have a healthy balance between work and life outside work. Ideally, our lives are a cycle of work, rest and play (to quote a Mars commercial!).

Work consumes a significant part of our lives. We tend to spend more time at work than with our loved ones. ‘Downtime’ is often mentioned but not always practiced. This can lead to stress and burnout. We all need to have interests outside work, such as running, watching sports and listening to music in my case. Work-life balance is good for both physical and mental health. This is beneficial for all concerned in the long run.

Friendships are vital for connection and meaningful relationship. Setting aside quality time to catch up with friends is important in our busy lives. It reduces isolation and increases happiness. This leads to a balance between our work and leisure time.

Those who bury themselves in their work cannot truly experience joy in their lives and they tend to be dissatisfied with life in general. Their personal lives suffer to an extent. It’s time for them to clear their schedules so they can spend more quality time with family and friends. The work-life balance is something we should all strive for.

Gratitude

I have recently started journalling where I write down ten things I am grateful for each day. I believe this is important to me as it conditions my mind towards positivity and as a result I am less likely to get angry and fearful of what might happen in the future; these have been my biggest struggles. It really does work! I highly recommend it to anybody who wants to improve the way they think.

I have so many things to be grateful for, big and small. I wrote down simple things as having enough food to eat and sleeping in a warm bed at night to things like being married to a loving and caring wife. I’m fortunate to live in Australia as we have freedom of speech and religion and statistics show we are among the top 5% of wealthiest countries in the world, among countries such as the US, UK and Germany. When I look at it from that perspective, I realise how blessed I am.

It’s easy to lose perspective of things like that when you have pressures, stresses and responsibilities in your life but that is the power of having an attitude of gratitude. Be grateful for what you do have and the positive things in your life rather than focusing on what you DON’T have. The last thing you want is to compare yourself to others and become envious of what they have that you don’t. Instead, say to yourself “My life might not be perfect but there are so many good things that I am thankful for”. It’s extremely worthwhile getting into the habit of regular journalling like I have done. It doesn’t take long – no more than 5 minutes a day – so no excuses. Start journalling!

Modifying diet

Both my wife and I have been on a weight loss journey for the past several months. Since we started, Karthi has lost over 21 kilos and I’ve shed over 15 kilos. This is very encouraging as we look back on where we started and realise how much progress we’ve made. We are both following the classical plan of weight loss: a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. There are certainly no short cuts towards achieving long term results and increased fitness.

My personal trainer advised me that on any weight loss journey, diet contributes 70% and exercise contributes only 30%. This is significant because we tend to intuitively believe that exercise contributes as much to weight loss as diet, if not more. Karthi started the ketogenic diet, which is basically a low carb high fat diet, after being inspired by a “YouTuber” who lost 22 kg on this diet. More information on the diet and ketosis can be found here: authoritynutrition.com/ketogenic-diet-101 At a certain point in time ketosis starts, where the body produces ketones and it can produce energy entirely from the fat and in the process burn fat. Karthi’s goal is to reach 50 kg and she is well on the way to achieving that.

On the advice of my personal trainer at the gym, I started a diet where I was able to eat more carbs in the morning and as time passed in the day eat less carbs and more protein. It was a struggle at the start as I had to give up rice for dinner and I didn’t really get going with the diet and seriously follow it until we got back from our trip to Sydney last October. I modified my diet accordingly in line with my PT’s advice. My goal was to go from 96 kg to 85 kg. I must admit that I didn’t always follow my diet but losing the first 5 kg was relatively easy. Losing the next 6 kg were much harder and my weight was up and down (as is typical when one tries to lose weight). Karthi walks regularly for at least an hour each time and she can feel the difference in her fitness.

I was working hard at the gym but I wasn’t losing weight as quickly as I wanted because I lacked discipline at times. However I persevered and reached 85 kg. After discussing with my PT, I adjusted my goal to 80 kg. I was attempting to incorporate more servings of fruits and vegetables into my diet and at the same time drastically cut down on junk such as chocolate and high fat foods such as burgers and chips. Cutting down on chocolate was harder than anything else but I had to do it and take my weight loss seriously. I’m happy to say that I’m now 80.6 kg and endeavouring to lose that last 0.6 kg to reach my goal weight.

Neither of our diets are easy to follow but we both persisted and are getting the results we want. We’ve both deviated from them from time to time but we realised that we needed persistence and discipline to get back on track and reach our goal weights. On the next blog I will focus on exercise and the part it plays in health and fitness.

Mindfulness

We all tend to live busy lives nowadays. Being in a hurry to get the kids to school, get to work on time while stuck in traffic, both partners working while raising kids and fitting in commitments 6 or possibly 7 days a week. Too many things to do and not enough time to do everything. I have experienced this with my wife often in recent times.

Taking time out for ourselves is difficult but necessary. Mindfulness is a recent buzzword, however it has existed for several centuries . It is a form of meditation where you simply sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and take deep breaths. To guide me through this process, I use an app called simple habits It is designed to focus our minds and get rid of all the unwanted clutter. For many years I have struggled with having an overactive mind and thinking too much. 

I have recently started practicing mindfulness and I see the benefits. I have a clear and focused mind and the distracting, negative thoughts are much less frequent.  It does make a difference in your outlook on life when you engage in mindfulness for a few minutes a day. It is worth setting aside a small part of your day to do this. You will love life more and have an inner peace which you deserve.

Physical health

I honestly truly believe that looking after our physical body is the key to true physical health and fitness. These two aspects go hand in hand, much like a horse and carriage in the 19th century. Good health is fundamental to being able to function in life and get through each day. On the other hand, a high level of fitness gives you more energy and vitality and makes your body function more efficiently.

In the last year I have tried my best to improve my fitness by going to the gym, employing the services of a personal trainer and starting to run regularly (more so in the last 4-5 months). I have managed to get my weight down from 96 kg to 81 kg due to better nutrition and regular exercise. Losing these 15 kilos is an achievement I am really proud of. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my personal trainer and learning self-discipline when it came to my diet.

Many of us are fundamentally healthy but are lacking in fitness. This is primarily due to lifestyle, either through a poor diet with too much consumption of fat, sugar and salt and/or a lack of regular exercise. This can be corrected quite easily through a genuine desire to improve your level of fitness and changing your lifestyle to suit your individual goals. It takes hard work to lose weight and become fit and there are no shortcuts. It’s never too late to make changes but sooner is better than later. You must have a strong hope that you can experience change your physical fitness. Once you choose hope, anything is possible.

Making a difference

Health is a holistic concept, and true health encompasses mind, body and soul (or spirit). Therefore good mental health must also be accompanied by physical health and fitness and spiritual wellness. My focus has been on mental health thus far, however I will focus more on the other aspects of health in future posts.

I hope that my previous blogs have been a source of encouragement to those who have experienced, or are experiencing, mental health issues. I am particularly passionate about helping youth and their struggles during the adolescent years leading into young adulthood. Headspace (www.headspace.org.au) is a great organisation in Australia dedicated to promoting the well-being of Australians aged 12-25. This includes early intervention mental health services among other services.

I wish to get in touch with someone from Headspace and inquire about volunteering opportunities within their organisation. The main reason for this is that I wish to study a Diploma of Youth Work, most likely in Semester 1 next year. Volunteering at Headspace would be enormously beneficial as it is hands on experience in helping and communicating with young people. Sadly, suicide is the leading cause of death in young people, accounting for one-third of all deaths. This is closely linked with mental health issues within the youth. Headspace exists to reduce the incidence of, and ultimately prevent, youth suicide. I believe this is an organisation we could all get behind and support their mission and vision.

I have learned that living beyond myself is vital to having a successful and productive life. My life is not all about me. I can use my personal struggles to help others going through similar issues. Making a difference in whatever sphere of life you find yourself is hugely rewarding and satisfying. That is the kind of purpose that we all need to be striving for.