Amanda Palmer – 2 March 2017

To some it might seem a surprise to say I had never seen Amanda Palmer live before, or that I really only have one of her albums (and an early Dresden Dolls one at that The Dresden Dolls). It wouldn’t surprise them that I found out about her from her relationship with Neil Gaiman. However, that was the second of three unrelated segues that lead me to following and ultimately seeing her live at the Gasometer in Collingwood.

The first time I saw Amanda was on an ABC music quiz show – you know the one Spicks and Specs, or it may have been one of former (or current) DAAS members, Paul McDermott’s game show(s). Either way it was her wildness that caught me. I think she mounted the desk and may have gyrated at either Paul or Adam Hills or another contestant. She may even have played the ukulele, it didn’t matter. I thought she was a fun addition to the show or shows. She was a strange American, who was a little out there and while it burned in my memory, I never did anything more than notice if she reappeared on a show and I could make a mental note to watch it.


The second was the aforementioned inclusion of her name in Neil’s tweets, or his blog or whatever.  At first it was passing interest, oh look an author I like is in a new relationship, isn’t that nice. It had no bearing on anything else until I worked out it was the same person who appeared on those shows. Small world hey!

The third time the universe sent me the message that maybe, maybe I should take more interest in Amanda was her book. The Art of Asking. By this stage I was following her on at least one form of Social Media – she was after all a significant person in Neil’s life and besides she posted more than he did and hey I thought she was fun. I had seen her journey in writing the book, at the least the one she displayed to the World via tweets or instagram images. I didn’t really think it was something I would be interested in – at this stage I didn’t even have The Dresden Dolls yet. But something about the idea of the book caught me.


Then my wife suggested I buy a book from Audible as she had a credit on the account (we share an account) and The Art of Asking was somewhere on the front page or a suggestion list or maybe I actually searched for it. Whatever lead me to it, I bought it and suddenly Amanda was my companion to my daily commute.

The Art of Asking is a bigger post than I want to write right now, I have touch on it before in 2014, and I will again I am sure.

So waiting in the intimate performance space that is the open courtyard of the Gasometer (it may be the dinning area in a normal day – I am not sure) I thought back to how I even ended up here, how I ended up buying tickets one night because of a tweet or post about the shows from Amanda. How I hadn’t even brushed up on any more of her music.

Amanda first sat were the “International” sign is above (note this is NOT Amanda’s gig)

I was taking a gamble, it was a risk to come and see her show. Our nights out are limited and scarce. Not only do we need to budget for the cost of the thing, dinner drinks and all, but we need to include the cost and availability of a babysitting. It’s a big effort and one we usually have to move a lot to achieve. Yet here we were, a night out to see a show from a performer I knew was great but I didn’t have a strong connection to.

In saying that I have seen plenty of performers, bands and musicians I knew NOTHING about – like I literally knew not a single song! It wasn’t that it was the fact that a rare night out together with my wife was hanging on the fine string of we thought we would kinda like her show and music.

We were not disappointed.

From the moment Amanda appeared on the mezzanine level, equipped with her ukulele, as she mounted the railing/shelf propping herself against the wall and spoke, we were captured.

“I will do a request show” she announced. “Mostly because I am tired and thought this would be easier… of course I now have to remember songs that I don’t play often, so in hindsight this might be a harder show than usual” – or something to that affect.

Then she started with the first request, then moving around the mezzanine she sang Map of Tasmania, with her crotch perfectly place above ‘selfie guy’ – a more apt position could not have been planned. We joined in to support her vocals, “Oh my god…” you get it!

<Insert image from the selfie guy – IF I ever find it online… come on selfie guy post the damn image>

The she sang New Zealand  basically above us on the stair way. It was marvellous and so good to be able to see her up close as she talked to us her audience. We truly felt par to of the show – it added to it that we were choosing the songs!

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Action shot of @amandapalmer

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Moving some more she did her first cover Fake Plastic Trees, from Radiohead, it was such a great slow cover version. Added to the experience it was a song I really knew… Did I mention she was standing on a chair at this point – basically singing to the requester.

She went on to also cover Paul Kelly as one of her favourite Australian singer/songwriter.

It was after this she moved from the floor and joined her keyboard on stage, to become wired for sound.

It was at that moment I realised that she had been performing to this small crowd of about 100 with no amplification, not her voice or her ukulele. The crowd sang along (and I did to Fake Plastic Trees) but we were respectful of her voice. We didn’t drown out Amanda (even though there were only 100 or so of us, we could have), the crowd respected the artist and the artist respected us. Amanda walked though and amongst us, and through that brought us into the show. Not only in the requests but also by connecting with us, a glance, a smile or a leg over a railing to arc our head with her crotch. Her fearlessness was also a connection between us and her, the performance and the audience.

Once on the keyboard Amanda stepped it up a pace (or three) with some thundering songs like The Killing Type or Girl Anachronism. She still talked to us between songs, asking for requests, abandoning a few and discussing where the song came from or to stall for time as her mind dug up the chords or lyrics.

Amanda’s songs are stories, stories change over time, the author’s original intent adjusts, or the to reader (listener) own overlaid experiences. This show was very different to my usual gig experience. This was not an over produced cookie-cut show. This was raw, unique, an experience we shared with the audience.

One moment stands out where I stepped out of the hive mind and turned to Anji and I shared a knowing look. Amanda was singing A Mother’s Confession. I believe that almost every parent can relate to at least one or more of the incidents she sings about.

It was that kind of show.

I also remember thinking, especially when she did the couple of covers, about called out for a Cure song. I didn’t, I felt I didn’t deserve to over-rule the more die hard fans, the ones who knew all the lyrics or even the titles to the songs she was singing. However, it was right at the moment, the night was getting on, we needed to get back for the babysitter and I took a chance to go to the bathroom before the drive home. It was then, as I stood at the urinal, she spoke about one of her favourite bands and played the first few bars of Lovecats (here is a cover of In Between Days). My only blessing from that was that the venue was so small I heard everything perfectly clear in the bathroom, was wish I had called out for a Cure song instead of biting it back.

To sum up the show as a collaborative journey with lots of small eddies where you could be yourself, or step into your small tribe.

Amanda admits that she doesn’t necessarily write her songs in a firm structure – just a basic melody with some core chords that can ebb and flow. It certainly suits her, and to me at least from both the recorded versions I have listened to and the show I experienced last Thursday, it suits the experience that is Amanda Fucking Palmer.

Music from the 1990’s – part 1

So I took on a challenge from a friend on Facebook to list my top 7 songs from the 1990’s. I took that one step further and decided to list my favourite song from each year of that decade. 1990 – 1999.  A task I found hard for more than one year.

I also chose to list the albums that either had an effect on me or was one that stuck with me for more than one reason.


My song for this year was also the big hit from my first ever CD. I also got my first CD player this year. The start of the decade was the start of something bigger. The song might not be the best ever but it meant something at the time.

Albums released:

Greenday released their debut album 30/Smooth
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released The Good Son which featured The Ship Song 
Blue Sunshine released their only album The Glove – first released in 1986 it was re-released in 1990 with some bonus tracks. Main reason I list this is that the band was a side project by Robert Smith (The Cure) and Steven Severin (Siouxsie and the Banshees)….
Roger Walter performed and released his live version of The Wall from Berlin to celebrate the fall of the wall eight months earlier. I have this on cassette somewhere.
Ride released three EP’s marking their debut – later this was released as a combination album. While never reaching the full height they may have deserved this band certainly hit a lot of marks! EP were Ride, Play and Fall 
The Cure released their re-mix album Mixed Up which featured the single Never Enough 
Lush released their debut album Gala and beginning a great career of harmonious singing and great guitar work. Pure Showgazing music.
Enigma’s first album MCMXC a.D. with the single Principle of Lust and Mea Culpa setting this German project up to be a band that will feature more in the 1990’s.


Was pivotal for the rise of Alternative 90’s music. Nirvana was one of the first to rise from the Seattle scene and it had to feature as my song for the year. So hear is the song that many still say was about them and their struggle – Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Albums released:

The Smashing Pumpkins release their debut album – GISH
Big Audio Dynamite II released their fifth album (second under the BADII name) – The Globe
The Tea Party also released their debut album – The Tea Party
I first heard the Red Hot Chili Peppers with – Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Crowded House released the album with most singles ever – Woodface
Metallica rocked the world with – The Black Album
Perl Jam released a defining album – Ten
Blur continued the theme with debut album – Leisure
U2 released – Achtung Baby


A truly defining year.  The Cure released WISH, and I started on a journey with that band which continues to this day. I also saw them for the first time at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, later this year we see them again at Rod Laver Arena – I am going with my mate Les who’s mum took us all those years ago. So it was no surprise that they featured as my song of the year. For the challenge I did Friday I’m In Love, but it could easily have been High or Letter To Elise.

Albums Released:

Shakespeare’s Sister release their second album – Hormonally Yours – Hello being the big single I remember.
Ride also released their second album with – Going Back Again
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released – Henry’s Dream
The Lemonheads brought us “It’s a Shame About Ray”
P J Harvey burst on to the scene with – Dry, she was to feature a lot through-out the 90’s for me…
Eric Clapton “Unplugged” – I’m not sure if he was the first to do this but it was certainly the first I remember of this popular kind of live album
Brian May came “Back to the Light” with his first post Queen solo album since the death of Freddy (second he had released) This was full of great songs and features “Too Much Love Will Kill You” which was also released by Queen with Freddy’s vocals in 1995.
Just for fun I had to mention Ween with Pure Guava – I have the single “Push th’ little daisies” – it’s just silly.


Suede, another band I have followed since they started, released their debut album Suede. Interestingly another band Radiohead also released their debut Pablo Honey. I had a hard time choosing which one… But I had to go with Suede – so here is The Drowners.

Albums released:

Belly released their début album “Star” – Feed the Trees was the single of note.
Another début from the Cranberries with “Everybody Else is Doing it, So why can’t we?” – we didn’t mind it Lingered… (bad jokes!)
Lenny Kravitz came to my attention with his third album “Are you going go my way?”
Depeche Mode brought out “Songs of Love and Devotion” this one got a lot of play during my University Years. Dark room, loud music… a few beverages… you know it!
To get some rock into this line up Aerosmith released it’s best selling album “Get a Grip” – a great little album to get your rock on to!
Blur returned with their second album “Modern Life is Rubbish” – said to have come from some graffiti one of the band saw in a toilet. Also a lot of people say this is a defining moment in the Brit Pop scene this set the band up for their follow-up albums.
P J Harvey followed up one year later with her second album “Rid of Me”
Jamiroquai’s debut album “Emergency of Planet Earth” – I enjoy his stuff but never owned any albums…
More from The Smashing Pumpkins with “Siamese Dream” featuring the hits “Today”, “Cherub Rock” and “Disarm” – this certainly set them up to be the well known band they are now.
Mazzy Star the Dream Pop band released their second album “So Tonight That I Might See” featuring “Fade into you”
Billy Joel brought out his twelfth “River of Dreams” – yes I still like to listen to the “Piano Man”…


This was a massive year. Working out which song to feature is even harder for this year. Three albums stand out.
Suede’s second album and still arguably the best they have ever released Dog Man Star. If I didn’t feature them already they would be here!
Blur released Parklife with great hits Girls and Boys and of course Parklife. Again I should probably feature them but…
I will go with Pulp and there third album His ‘n’ Hers and I couldn’t go past the pop alternative sound of Do You Remember the First Time?. Jarvis Cocker has a way with words and how he presents it…

Albums released:

Green Day came out with “Dookie” – featuring the hit “When I come around”. Probably the first time I read heard them.
Cake came on to the scene with “Motorcade of Generosity” while not a stand out it is of note as this was their début.
Hole released their second album “Live Through This” – of note it was released about a week after front woman Courtney Love’s husband Kurt Cobain died…
Nick Cave and the Bad Seed released “Let Love In”, classic hits of “Do You Love Me?” and “Red Right Hand”
Weezer’s début album (sometimes called the Blue Album) brought us “Undone” and “Buddy Holly” – excellent film clip and a good return to simple rock sound.
Beastie Boys brought us “Ill Communication” – with one of my favourite hits “Sabotage” … gotta love 1970’s era cop show film clip!
Powderfinger’s début album “Parables for Wooden Ears” Another one of those not so much because of any hits but the first it started the band on the journey.
Marilyn Manson brought his special kind of music to the world with “Portrait of an American Family”.
Portishead was again a début album to the world. “Dummy” was critically acclaimed but didn’t reach huge sales.
Oasis also released their first album with “Definitely Maybe” – the start of a huge career of ups and downs…
The Cranberries returned with “No Need to Argue” and the classic hit “Zombie” this certainly set the band up as one to watch.
Nirvana released “Unplugged” after the death of Kurt Cobain featuring some awesome covers this album is testament to the loss we had over the death of Kurt.
Pink Floyd – came back with “The Division Bell” first album since the 1987 “Momentary Loss Of Reason” – this was certainly a great return.
Lush came back with “Split”. My favourite track was a b-side on “Hypocrite” – the cover “Love at First Sight”…

This sums up the first 5 years of the decade… I will return with the second half later in the week.

Life, Challenges, and Goals

So we are nearly one month in to 2016, a year on from my cancer treatment, and the third year we are in Melbourne.

I am settling in to life here, we have built up some great networks and friends. Family life is very good, my eldest is starting Grade 1 and the youngest is growing up WAY too fast. We might not get out as much as we would like (as an adult couple) but we have so much opportunity for so many adventures with the girls (even just on the farm we rent) that we sometimes forget to spent time as a couple.

Socially we have really found our place. I have been able to get back into serious tabletop gaming, including a regular Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Anji is riding semi-regularly and her budding business/hobby (hobby/business?) of fiber making (yarn, wool, and end products like knitted goods) is growing steadily.

I have continued swimming (it feels like I am slowly getting there…) Work is going well and we have achieved some great things combining the region into a cohesive focused group.

Yet there is more that I want to achieve.

I have been reading Will Wheaton and his reboot posts (check out January post to see what I mean). He is monitoring seven categories, things that he wants to change and challenge himself with. I have some similar goals that I want to achieve and I would like to explore ways to achieve them or at least give me space and time to give them a go.

  1. Exercise: This is based around my fitness, I want to increase my level of fitness, reduce my weight and generally be healthier. Now I have been swimming fairly regularly, I just need to keep that up! Goal: Swim at least once per week.
  2. Music: Practise my guitar and record some drum tracks… generally I want to be able to create some music with my friends around Australia and the World – we can do that, we just need the drive! Goal: Play guitar more often and record at least once a week.
  3. Read: In the past I did the Good Reads Challenges – which kinda fell apart last year. I would like to make sure that I read more and in more ways. Because I now drive to work I have less time to read, so I have downloaded some audiobooks to listen to on the commute. Goal: Read or listen to 24 books this year.
  4. Write: I want to do regular posts – non-fiction around my interests and work stuff; fiction – write a few short stories or keep planning that novel. Goal: Write more, a weekly post, or a few hundred words a week on fiction.

It’s a few less than Will’s but I really can’t commit to any more than that!

Now to plan it I must work out a weekly planner – fit all the work and life stuff and see where I can fit in these goals… Onwards and upwards.

Hopefully I will be able to report back on the achievements (or not) and keep motivated to achieve these 4 things… it’s only 4 things after all!

Suede – Dog Man Star, 1994

1994 was a significant year for me. I had finished high school the previous year, moved out of home, enrolled in the University of Canberra in an Environmental Science degree (never finished), met a bunch of new friends – forged some better relationships with old friends and generally started on the journey of adulthood. But that year also saw me form some of the foundations of the things that interest me and made me… well me.

Science Fiction: through watching marathon sessions of Star Trek the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and meeting some other fans and devotees (I wasn’t the only one and I wasn’t strange or weird)

Education: Sure I never finished my first degree but I learnt that this was a world I wanted to return to at some point… and I did and still do now and then…

Music: Collecting (buying) new CD’s, Mix Tapes from a very good mate, hanging out with bands as a very cheap roadie and mostly listening to it for “hours and hours”

One album that really defines 1994 to me is Suede’s Dog Man Star

I had heard some of the tracks from there initial self titled album Suede and enjoyed them. However, for me Dog Man Star will be my first Suede album and the songs are embedded in my mind as quintessential Suede. Which is quite strange as this album is probably not as raw as Suede and saw the departure of Bernard Bulter – who I still associate with that Suede sound (even though they have produced a hell of a lot more songs since Bernard left then before it still IS the sound of the first two albums) that captures (to me) the original spark that mark them as one of my top bands.
I suppose I haven’t really thought too much about Suede and the music and sound and feeling of 1994 for a long time. Then a friend posted a link to an article by Brett Anderson (singer/songwriter and main man of Suede) all about Dog Man Star and his thoughts on each of the tracks. 
Reading Brett’s thoughts on the album and each track both brought back the memories of that time and place for me and the realisation of what a completely brilliant album this was and is. 
I remember the rough concrete ceiling of my room in ressies, the cell like den where I could put on Dog Man Star plug in my head phones and drift off into Brett’s world of speeding cars, the streets of London and observations of life mixed in with the piano and guitar riffs that add gentle touches of beauty. I remember walking through the Uni grounds as one of the New Generation searching for my place in the world.
I would lay on my bed starring up at the beer bottle lids I had pressed into the roof in the shape of my favourite things Star Trek, The Cure, The Wall and Suede. Drifting off to a world where all my wishes and dreams came true. The room where I discovered more about sex then anywhere else, where I drank, ate and experimented with drugs. The place where I became a young man and left my boyhood behind.
Some of my best memories around this time are through music and friendship (both near and far) girl friends and mates, lovers and drinkers and getting letters and parcels from Zles…
Zles – a friend from early high school days, a musical partner (both playing and sharing), joined (in a state of what can only be described as insanity) the Navy and moved to Melbourne for training. We started letter writing to help each other stay sane in our journey into the world, swapping stories, dreams and music (through mixtapes) and many practical jokes and tom foolery.
I remember walking to class, via the mail room, with a very Christian classmate. I collected a fat envelope from Zles, imagining the usual 20-30 page letter and eager to see what would await me later in the day when I could grab a cold beer, quiet space and plug myself in for the read I opened the letter. Peering in I noticed something strange between the pages, not quiet knowing what it was I pulled it out. A soiled condom! 
My classmate gasped and I shoved the offending item back into the envelope and muttered something about a crazy mate and shoved the letter into my backpack hurrying to class saying no more on the matter.
When I did finally get to read the letter (and on the last page I might add) Zles told me the condom was filled with shaving cream and put in as a joke… well at least that’s what I will believe to this day!
Music was important to me before 1994 and it remains long after, but this was the year I went to bars with  bands, I hung out at rehearsals and real band members asked me what I thought of this or that song. This was the year I had to go on stage – mid song – and hold the lead singer/guitarists mic stand together (after he broke it) so he could play the lead break and pound out the last few notes of the final song. The year I watched the Far Gone Beauties with Bronwyn Bishop (yes that one) at the Uni Bar. The year I wrote most of my lyrics in a dark room with a multitude of new and old music pounding in my ears, a sweet drop of liquor on my lips and dodgy ball point in my hand.
1994 was a good year, thanks for the memories Brett and co…
Dog Man Star has played constantly in my ears while I wrote this dredging up the memories and visions from some many years ago – 18 to 36, twice a life-time and so much more and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am what I am because of years like 1994.

This still life is all I ever do
There by the window quietly killed for you
In the glass house my insect life
Crawling the walls under electric lights
I’ll go into the night into the night
She and I into the night

Is this still life all I’m good for too?
There by the window quietly killed for you
And they drive by like insects do
They think they don’t know me
They hired a car for you

To go into the night, into the night
She and I into the night

And this still life is all I ever do
There by the window quietly killed for you
And this still life is all I ever do
But it’s still, still life
But it’s still, still life
But it’s still, still life


Well I just heard that Queen are doing a new album – the first studio album in 13 years – since the Freddie Mercury Sessions that brought us Made In Heaven (one of my favourite Queen albums). And a new European Tour and maybe South America… of course no word on an Australian tour so 😦

Good news on the album me thinks – still concerned though about Paul Rogers… He sounds ok on the Live Double CD I have but… well he is no Freddy…

In related Music news – this one is a little old. NIN have released an instrumental album on the web – you can get the first few tracks for free or the whole album in digital format for $5 (US) from their website. here. Album is called Ghost I have the first 6 tracks and am really liking them so I will get the album soon.

Other Music news Stover has MP3’s available on CD Baby go here to buy. We are looking into getting into the studio again and putting down a few of our newer tracks – maybe in the next few months or so so keep an eye on the Stover page for news.

Sex Pistols

I do not know how i feel about this news sex pistols reforming??
Punk legends the Sex Pistols announced that they will stage a one-off gig in November to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their controversial album Never Mind the Bollocks.
Can they still be the Sex Pistols and be as old as they are – mind you they have more Punk in there old bones then any of the newer semi-punk bands we have today…
Would be good to see though – now where is my passport? Or cheaper where is my copy of this album… crank it up loud!!!


Ok here goes from some shameless self promotion.
My Band – Stover – have a new website kindly created by our Bassist Dirk. I have the link over at the side if you wish to come see us anytime. We have all our lyrics on the site (you have to move the mouse over the image of the CD cover to click on the song) you can also listen to the songs on the lyrics page if you wish. I think Dirk has done a wonderful job on the site and it all looks and feels really good.
We also have links to various other stover-ish pages as well as places to by/listen to our music. For the citizens of the USA please goto CDBaby and you can either buy our CD from them or purchase MP3’s through there site.
Ok there we go – I didn’t even force anyone to buy anything! But if you want to that’ll be great!
Stover is a lot of fun to play with and be a part of, we are looking to get a few more songs out there at the moment and I will (you can be sure) let you know!
Oh I am also involved with a side project Bennie James Effect (ok I added the effect but the Bennie James bit is real!). Check him out!

The Love Cats

Why that title – well The Cure are playing on the radio at the moment. What a great song, klinky keyboard and the odd little Rawwwl every now and then. This song was from the Japanese Whispers album when a large percentage of the band left (or where pushed out) leaving mainly Robert Smith and Lol Tolhurst to keep it all going. A strange little album, it was VERY pop from the kings of Moprock – most famous for the brilliance and depression of albums like “Pornography” and “Faith” (some of my Fav all time albums – I even have “Faith” on vinyl).
Lovecats was also around the time that Robert joined “Siouxsie and the Banshees” and also joined up with Steven Sevenrin from Banshees to form “The Glove” and they released the album “Blue Sunshine“.

Once again what turned out to start off as a chat about a song I heard on the radio I turned on – explanation mode – and tell you all about one of (OK THE) my favourite bands. Very pleased to know that I got it all right from my memory, checked all my facts as I link to the Wiki pages for your convince (smiley grin right now!)

Topic for my readers…

So what is your favourite Music and what makes it so good. I think that we should make some ground rules for this. I want One (1) response and a good explanation – link to your blog in the comments section or leave answer as a comment. Your response can be a song, a band, a style/genre of music the choice is yours BUT it can only be one – I know you have many – I do – but I only want to hear from one.


So why do I like The Cure, what makes them great – to me.
Firstly the music is simple and yet still has complexity to it. I like the Vocals – they are not great, not earth shattering – I can sing along !! The lyrics tell me a story, sometimes I can relate to the topic other times not but still the story makes me feel like I am part of the song. The Cure has evolved for many years from the late 70’s punk/rock, to the goth, pop, styles until now they are a style and genre into themselves. I used the term above Moprock which I think is what The Cure sound is to me. No it is not in Wikipedia but maybe it should be. I dunno. Alternative Rock, Goth Rock, even Brit Pop can all describe The Cure at various points in there career.
I love the sounds that the musicians have made, from Robert early days with is 10 pound guitar and Tolhurst simple easy drum beats, to the heyday of Disintegration – raw Porl Thompson guitar, keys/sythn sounds and The WONDERFUL Boris Williams on drums (GOD). Clearly this is MY standout album and the DVD The Cure – Trilogy which is a live recording of the three similar themed albums, Pornography, Disintegration and Bloodflowers is such an awe inspiring concert – wish I was there!
I first ‘found’ The Cure through my friend Zles as a teenager and many of the songs bring me back to that place in my early-mid teens, when everything else was too much to handle this music gave me life and a place.
From Pop to Rock there is always a song that can take me to that moment in The Cures arsenal.
So to sum it all up The Cure means many things to me, teenage life, making music, inspiration as well as a meaningful and realistic sense of place via the music that I listen to. I know that for what ever mood I am in I can listen to a Cure song which highlights and impacts that mood more. The songs and music make me feel whole and alive – and sometimes makes me feel better because I know it is there.