Thursday, June 29, 2006

Top of the Pops

Ah well, looks like I will never achieve my ambition of appearing on Top of the Pops as a granny...
Here, however, are the scores for the tracks (cue exciting music like on game shows)
1. The Word is Goodbye and Don't Know Why (13 votes each- everybody voted for these ones)
2. London and Running Away (12 votes each)
3. Dreaming of You and Swan (11 votes each)
4. Heaven Avenue, Once in a Blue Moon, Hill of Fools, Britannia Great and Colour My Day (10 votes each)
5. Temptation and Hymn to Kent (9 votes each)
6. Songbird, Little England and Gretna Green (8 votes each)
7. Moses (7 votes)
8. The Past is Just a Dream and The Love of Money (6 votes)
9. The Properties of Chalk and Sun (5 votes)
So... Everything 8 votes and above will be on it... the others, perhaps I'll finish and put on Myspace or this site.
And also, I will put the Screaming song on it. Dubulah did some cool guitar overdubs and there will be bass on it too courtesy Gina Birch.
The song that 4 people fell in love with was Once in a Blue Moon, which is about falling in love, so perhaps it's not surprising.
I will be playing and talking on Scaledown's Resonance show on Friday 21st July- details to follow.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Guitar and Vocals

Today I'm going to Dubulah's gaff to put some guitar tracks on to the Screaming song. Dubulah plays bass with Temple of Sound and we did a mad electro-rockabilly-hip-hop track together that not only got played on the Folk programme on Radio London but also got played in a Spanish nightclub. Now it's a delicacy in Japan (Leavin' You, Baby- it's on the Helen and the Horns CD). He's a brilliant guitarist and a mad person so it will be fun, fun, fun. He has lots of guitars to make a guitarist like myself green with envy, but that's OK, I can pretend it's a special sort of a sun tan.
I now have all the results from the Euroaural listeners and will collate them later today to see what the CD is going to be like- very exciting, a moment to savour!!
I'm going to put Screaming on it as an extra track. I think Gina Birch will play bass on it- I hope- I've played it to her- she's so good!I have had my singing lesson with marvellous Jamie- what an intense hour that was, but I understand a lot more now about throats!! I am practicing every other day- which means today. I make funny noises, but I think that's probably a good thing. My voice needs a bit of a shake-up, and so does my head. Me and Joan (she's an animator, and therefore quiet) plan to go to the top of a hill and shout. Beachy Head might be good- I wonder if they could hear us in France?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Elephant and Castle

Yesterday evening I did a lovely thing- I went on an audio tour of the Elephant and Castle that Ben Cummins put together for Architecture Week. My cousin-once-removed came too which was a bloody good job as it hadn't even occurred to me to download the tour from the internet and I had to borrow one of his ear things to listen to it- perish the thought of having to mime the whole thing, especially since Ben had included a story I told him about the pigeon getting into Gregg's Bakers window and stamping on the pink cakes- and he had someone with a trayful of the horrid things for people to eat when they got there! Very funny! But I would have had to walk round with my headphones on, copying everyone's expressions and pretending I knew what was going on, so thank you, cousin-once-removed, if you read this.
We all climbed to the top of the tallest block in the Heygate Estate, and on the way down you could smell a different dinner cooking on every floor. It was fascinating- going through the Rockingham Estate, where I used to be a Youth Worker, being not only a tourist but also an object of derision (elderly ladies on balconies nudging each other as the middle class trooped through with their iPods) and walking through Trinity Square that I never knew was there, where the Philharmonia practice, and somebody from the Philharmonia has a rather swanky Harley Davidson. Blissful evening.
Today, Jamie's coming round to teach me to scream. Then I will re-record some of the vocals on the songs for the CD.
I discovered recently that I'm not too old to be a fireman. It is something that I have always wanted to do, and I got really excited and was just about to send off for an application form, when it was pointed out to me that I might have to carry a Very Big Fat Man out of a burning building, and I am probably too skinny and weak to do that.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Wouldn't it be funny if....

...I had a hit with a song telling people how to program a link in HTML? I've got to do it now, haven't I? It's already a hit on this blog.
Watch this space!

Choosing music, and other things

This has been very interesting- only 3 more people to go and the tracks are chosen. There are two clear favourites that everyone has chosen- one of them is completely unlikely. I have never played it live and when I recorded it it seemed impossible to sing in tune and I decided I wasn't the person to sing it, even though it was a passionately felt song, and gave it to Katharine Blake of the Medaeval Babes to sing at Slappers- which she never did, so I asssumed she didn't like it. She has a beautiful deep voice and I thought she might be able to sing it better than me. Then one ore two people have chosen their favourite ones- and this was unexpected, too. One song has definitelywon out as a favourite favourite, and again, that was a surprise as I've only played it live once and almost didn't include it. Then, one of my favourites looks like it's going to be a reject! I'm so glad I did this, if you are reading this and have listened to the stuff for me I am very,very grateful.
I've called up my freind Dubulah from Temple of Sound to play on my Screaming song. I don't think the screaming is screamy enough but I'm going to ask Gina tomorrow as she inspired me to try to scream (how unassertive is that- to ask someone if my screaming is good enough!). And then, to work on the duets! Hoping to meet up with Martin Stephenson soon to learn some Wstern Swing songs too, and trying to arrange a solo tour for the autumn, looking for a good venue for 9th or 10th September in Edinburgh to play as I will be there with work and would prefer to be there for singing!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Plastilina from Peru

Well, Plastilina have been in touch: the surviving Chefs will have to meet up and talk, I think. I've always wanted to go to South America- first, Venezuela (there was a girl at school from there) then my friend Marek Kohn went to Peru and I wanted to go there, then Argentina after I read about Hank Wangford going there,then Chile out of curiosity. A friend, Mufti, has gone to Patagonia.

If I was a sailor,
I'd go to Venezuela.
If you were one too
We'd go to Peru.
Would it be silly
To visit Chile?
If I went to Patagonia,
I'd be sure to phone ya.

(Panama? Where's that?
Better take a hat.)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Dejeuner Sur L'Herbe

We had a mass family gathering yesterday in Greenwich Park to celebrate my brother's birthday. People turned up from far and wide, bearing everything from 10 cigarettes to a gazebo and mosaic table. I drank a lot of white wine, which I don't even like, and did the usual catalogue of faux-pas: offering a vegetarian cousin a rainbow-coloured selection of juicy chicken nibbles, trying to outdo my second cousin once removed's very nice wife's budgie stories, planting about 100 cherry trees under a sycamore by not popping the stones into a carrier bag, and so on. I'm sure there are more awful items to come as the hangover works itself off; my only consolation is that my brother is even worse than me when it comes to angst from remembering things said when under the influence, and he will be curled up on the floor writhing about in remorse today, thinking about all the things he thinks he said, and exaggerating them beyond belief in order to torture himself. I must phone him- roaring with laughter at his woe is a very good pick-me-up!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Chefs

A Peruvian record company called Plastilina contacted me a while ago asking to bring out a Chefs compilation. I'm now back in touch with Carl and James (guitarists). Russ, the drummer, died a few years ago. Plastilina didn't get back in touch after I asked for a sample agreement, but we are getting together some tracks just in case anyone else asks us if we want to do a compilation. It's early days yet, and we'll do it if the interest is there and if anyone can stomach getting thru to the BBC for our sessions- it took Near Shore two years to get the Helen and the Horns ones. Also, distribution has been a problem for the Helen and the Horns CD- there is still no distributor which is why it sells by mail order only. The poor guy has them stacked up in his hallway and I have to take them down to Rough Trade myself, when I can get there, and face the rather grumpy staff.
This is what happens when you aren't famous, but at least you can buy corn plasters in Boots without someone phoning the News of the World.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ladyfest Cardiff

I'm going to Cardiff on the first of July to do a talk at the Ladyfest in the afternoon and play some CDs- sort of a DJ lecture, if I can do it. I sort of wish I was playing there too, but that's a bit greedy, and the person who contacted me has said she will arrange that another time. I'm really looking forward to it- heading west with a bag of CDs and a bag of crisps, sea air, talking, listening, will be fun!
The website is www.ladyfestcardiff.co.uk
Sorry again for not doing proper links- one computer I write on does it automatically, but not this one and I don't know the html off by heart.
(Note to self: write a stupid song to enable me to memorise the code for links- hey, I could write an entire musical with instructions on how to construct a web page!! Yippe-eye-aye! Lets put on the show RIGHT HERE!)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Suburban Pastoral


I have fixed the computer! Like pets, they have to be instructed in a certain order before they respond. (thanks to Arnauld for his Trojan Horse recipe, too)
Once, I lived in a house with a cat called Jasper. Every day, Jasper rushed into the kitchen at full pelt at about 11 a.m. We could not understand why, until my brother realised that Jasper always came rushing into the kitchen at food-time: therefore, Jasper associated food with running, and thought (obviously) that running into the kitchen made food appear in the bowl.
Later, we discovered that Jasper was a girl.
Here's the website that Joby sent me- you may want to support this cause! www.protectourwoodland.co.uk

Monday, June 12, 2006

Hot, lawnmower

The chewing gum painter has finished the cover art for Suburban Pastoral- it's brilliant! He painted it by the Courthouse in Normandy Avenue, and it's hands pushing a lawnmower on a stripey lawn.
I dreamed another song last night and sang it into my mobile phone at about 2:16 a.m.
What's there today? Durh, durh, durh, durh, durh! Some things only mean anything at the time; I should have learned by now that anything 'sung' at that time of night sounds like a dying washing-machine in the morning.
I'm in the library again and I'm hungry. As I write this, I'm trying to decide whether to have a Magnum Classic or go for something healthy like a smoothie. I could be greedy and have both but either the ice cream would melt while I drank the smoothie or the smoothie would get warm while I ate the ice cream. I wonder if George Bush worries about such things? I suspect he does, and it's all he thinks about. He certainly doesn't consider anything else.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

How to play...PIANO

I got to grade 3 when I was 9, then my piano teacher sacked me as she realised I couldn't read music and was just going home and copying what I remembered from the lesson.
I wrote 2 of my new songs on piano, though, and this is how you play piano- or how I learned, anyway, and everything's worth a try apart from parachuting.
1. Remember what your school music teacher looked like when she was playing: frenzied smile, bouncing head and jerking shoulders, tossing hair. Copy this movement.
2. Sway like Ray Charles; add this to (1)
3. While undertaking these actions, approach piano with fingers alternately wiggling and then clawed and twitching up and down, left right left right left right.
4. Hit keys, a mixture of black and white, as confidently as you can, flapping elbows as you do so, and looking intense.
5. Sit back after 3 minutes with a satisfied sigh.
Naturally, this doesn't work every time, but usually one time in a thousand, music happens.

Friday, June 09, 2006

It's putting the postings in the wrong order!

Protest Camp and Song Club Show

Oh Joby, sorry not to have bigged up the protest camp yet! I've had a trojan horse on the computers at home and currently post fom any computer I can get to- this is from Barnet library, yesterday's was from a computer in the basement at work- hence complex things like pasting in details and email addresses is having to wait- for anyone anxious to know what the hell I'm gannin' on aboot (esp. if Geordie and understand those complex linguistics), see the coooment Joby made on the previous posting. Anyone protecting ancient land from greedy developers has my support, any day!
This morning, Song Club sang their songs to all their school chums in assembly- a little bit shy, and they almost all forgot to say their bits in between. I messed up one song, Dan messed up another but we pulled ourselves together and did a superb finale, with all the children strumming away at the invisible strings on their cardboard guitars (should have heard them comparing techniques afterwards- honestly!). Ahh, sweet! Thanks to Graz and Kevin from Barnet Football Club for giving up their time to come along and talk to the children. And for tickets!!!
Got almost all the selections for my CD back from the listening ears- the only ones in late are the musicians of my acquaintance. Why could this be? Busy schedules, days full of sex, drugs, rock'n'roll: or wine, women and song? Who knows? Not I.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Evil Spirits

This morning I went to meet Ben at the Elephant and Castle. The Architecture Association has asked him to make an audio tour so he has been talking to people about the area and recording it. I told him about the pigeon that got into Greggs window display and stamped all over the icing on the lurid pink cakes- and when the shop assistants got into a flap and started shrieking and shooing it away, the pigeon flapped about so wildly it completely destroyed all those nice lines of cakes and buns. Oh it was so funny! Those little claw prints all through the icing... it drew quite a crowd! There was a man there wih a stall with lots of religious stuff- candles, room sprays and so on. Some of them smelled simply dissgusting- you'd have to buy another room spray to cancel it out. However, I bought some with a native American on with a massive head-dress, and it's supposed to rid the home of evil spirits. I put it in the toilet, where most of the evil spirits lurk, chez McCookerybook.
This afternoon, we made 10 little orange and black cardboard stratocasters for the Song Club performance on Friday- Barnet's Community Liason officer is coming; I think he'll be impressed.
Here's a thought- what would you get if you crossed Van Morrison with Alanis Morisette?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Moody ole website

Well, I've just been trying to upload some new songs on to Myspace and it won't do it. It's such a moody site; it doesn't matter how nice you are to it, it just has those strops and you can't get through to it. I recommend counselling, I really do.

21st Birthday

I asked for a motorbike for my twenty-first birthday and was given a Kenwood Food Blender.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Late Night Thought

Blogs
Are for boasting about gigs
Blogs
Rhymes with hogs
And gigs
Rhymes with pigs

Singing to a Zebra

This is one of these things you do, to make yourself do something else. If I write on this blog that I am going to have a photo taken of myself, wearing a zebra-striped dress, playing my guitar sitting next to a reclining zebra on a lawn and singing to it, then I'll do it (although I haven't phoned the Mad Professor yet, but all in good time when...). Yes- the Ears people who have been choosing my CD tracks are making up their minds. I was following one of them the other day in a car and passing an Asian Restaurant. 'Shit!' I thought, 'I have stolen one of my melodies from an Asian tune without realising it!'. Then I realised he was playing the tracks in his car as he drove along. Scary moment...
This morning, I sent my manuscript to the publisher. It was about 15 cm thick and still hasn't got the photos yet but I'll do that this week. Some cheeky rotter wrote to me pretending to be a woman called Violet or something and asked for my memories of Brighton as they are writing some sort of raunchy novel or other. Well, those raunchy memories are mine and may materialise at some point, even on this blog perhaps maybe not likely. You know what I mean though. What a nerve. I may not be able to spell but I'm clever enough to spot a fast one being pulled.
Put a new drawing on myspace this morning to illustrate the Songbird Remix www.myspace.com/helenmccookerybook
I have asked Jamie to teach me how to scream and he has said yes. Hands over your ears, everybody!
(not hand over your ears).

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Martin Stephenson, and Birmingham

Wednesday's gig was amazing- the whole of the upstairs room at the Sheepwalk is filled with fake flowers, a light-up cactus, a wall-hanging of a man riding a buffalo, glamourous lighting, candles on tables- fantasyland! Fake Hawaii in Leytonstone! The guy who runs it is really nice and there's a DJ, Johnny Clash, who plays the best music I've heard for ages. Then Martin turned up with his little acoustic guitar, the venue packed out with a really friendly crowd- such an enjoyable gig. I was going to leave straight away to go to Birmingham but Martin's a great performer- really funny between songs, great stories, and a crafty fingerpicker to boot- so I stayed for quite a few songs, in the end. Martin has an outsider musician mentality, so refreshing. He gave me a CD that he recorded in Carolina, going round with a minidisc recorder, even has Etta James on it who is now 92! I'm really looking forward to those gigs in December. I got lost on the way home in Stamford Hill, and for some reason lots of Hasidic students were out and about, a little secret world of its own... and then a mad person crashed into the back of my car and ruined the bumper...
Next, on to Birmingham, to run two whole day songwriting workshops with children, with Dan who I do these things with. What hard work! But the children loved it and were all really good singers. Took 4 hours to get back, five miles an hour.Problem is that I can't get the songs out of my head today! I am also so completely knackered that I have melted into this chair in spite of the fact I have to call my insurance company and fuss about my car- c'est la vie!