Something has left my life

And I don’t know where it went to

On this cold January day, Dolores has died. In her death she comes to me once more, like she did when I was fifteen, sixteen, seventeen. Thrown into the swirling chaos of adolescence, trying to find something to hold on to in my miserable awakening to womanhood, I found myself in the presence of Dolores.

There I was, 16 years old, studying in an elite New Delhi school, as far from Belfast as one could imagine. Singing songs in an American accent because that’s how cool music went. There we were, making cruel fun of classmates from poorer homes, who spoke English so thickly it fell on our prejudiced ears like a foreign language. Here she was Dolores, Irish as Irish came, singing in brogue so un-American it was as alien as the kids we ridiculed. But we didn’t mock her. No we couldn’t mock Dolores.

Here we were, us girls in 1990s India, taught that men rocked while girls fawned. Believing that only a Robert Plant or Axl Rose could screech, grunt and orgasm on the microphone. Girls made for pretty popstars, Brittanys with baby voices. But not Dolores. Not never-in-a-good-mood Dolores. She wasn’t going to smile on demand or give a damn about pretty. Here she was, Dolores, full-throated and growling, sometimes guttural and on rare occasions off-key. Other worldly perhaps. Intimate always. These were the sounds of no one but Dolores.



Dolores helped me build a bridge to my best friend. We would gather to try out her songs at break time or over nights spent at each other’s homes. My friend could yodel like she did. I did some cool harmonies. We would go on to win competitions with Dolores. At night, I would listen to her on my Walkman, clicking the cassette into place and burying myself under sheets so that no one witnessed the rollercoaster of emotions I was about to experience.



On this day that Dolores has died, I plug her voice into my ears once again. I’m now at a safe distance from my past. I allow myself to feel it all again – rage, loneliness & fear. If I could, I would tell Dolores I’m a different person now. I am grown.

Nevertheless, there are memories still hidden in the nooks of her songs, not always in the obvious places. They’re hidden in background strains of ‘Ode To My Family’ that I once mistook for vocal harmonies. They’re tucked into the transformative break in ‘Daffodil’s Lament’ as dark plaint turns to soft decision: ‘I have decided to leave you forever, I have decided to start things from here.’ They’re embedded in the longing of ‘When You’re Gone’ once reserved for a boy, now shockingly, for Dolores.



But it’s not just memories that are hidden, there are notes of love & solidarity. Women, after all, have a way of breaching all kinds of boundaries to embrace each other. We form chains of empathy that link across vast oceans to prop up a sister. There she is Dolores, as she always was, in gentle whispers and hi-octave clarion calls, pointing me to the truth in my heart. Staying now as then, when everyone is gone. Even she.

I try not to cry as I raise the volume up a notch. There she goes now, Dolores, deep into her cosmos, her time with us over. I remind myself to keep an ear open, just in case her voice rings out again. Unmistakable in Irish trill & yodel, recognizable on the darkest of nights, Dolores will not die.


This doesn’t look like much (and Youtube police please don’t put me in jail for copyright infringement) but it’s meaningful to me. It’s me returning from an evening walk as the rain picks up, conspires with Apple Music to knock the wind out of me, then plants the seed for an idea.

It’s me taking a shitty cracked-up mobile phone (that tends to overheat at the slightest) with a wobbly tripod and recording a video where the focus goes in and out because I have NO sense of how optics work. It’s me matching music to cut to subtitle so that the timing works.

In the end, it’s a bit boring and visually flawed but it works. Because I made it. Because the words hit page & screen just *so*. Because, R.E.M and Automatic For The People.

Even the focus going in and out ends up looking nice to me. Next time I’ll angle and light the shot better.

It is my personal view that no one sings love quite like Bjork does. So it’s weird that I came to this song not through her but through Thom Yorke and Radiohead. This was in the days before the internet was everywhere (it was there but only on a desktop, where we downloaded audio tracks and never have enough bandwidth to look at Youtube videos). For the longest time I thought it was their song. Not hers.


“while you are away
my heart comes undone
slowly unravels
in a ball of yarn
the devil collects it
with a grin
our love
in a ball of yarn

he’ll never return it

so when you come back
we’ll have to make new love”


In her songs, Bjork loves like a little girl and a tall woman. This is something I am learning to do everyday. Love doesn’t work if you won’t do it with a child’s heart. Love doesn’t work if you don’t possess a warrior’s courage. Time happens. Change is constant. Things unravel. We say goodbye. We find someone else. We find ourselves. The devil keeps all these balls of yarn. We let him have his spoils. He grins. We make new love.

Sorry Thom, well tried, but it takes a woman like Bjork to write and sing this song for me to find peace with where I am – somewhere between letting go and holding love close.


In the last three months, I’ve divested myself of most of my mindless addictions. It’s just happened without an extraordinary struggle of will power.

I’ve quit smoking, I’ve stopped drinking alone every other night, I’ve become celibate(ish), stopped ordering so much takeout, stopped eating out much, become more vegetarian than before (this might have something to do with the weather) and I haven’t bought a frivolous piece of clothing in ages. There are of course some addictions that have only gotten stronger as a result. Like binge-watching computer-tv & being miserable a lot. But there are some fascinating upsides.

Like this morning, when I replaced my cooking-time music with sacred Tibetan chants – you know the kind, right?

When the mind & body has been vice-less for a while, incredible things begin to happen. One is cleansed, one attains, if you will, a certain purity. One begins to see, hear and experience things like never before. Such as arcane messages embedded in sacred Tibetan chants.

From this morning:

“Joy joy joy joy

George George by George Boy George,

Gay George, Yay George,

Oy Boy Soy Boy

Toy Boy Joy Boy



I gotta tell you, it was enlightening as fuck. And now I’m horny.


Getting back in the dating game at the ripe old age of 36 in this wonderfully misogynist country is….just…terrific…

Sistah needs an anthem.

I’ve never known heartbreak like this – where it was no one’s fault and no one was evil or cowardly or devious. It was just the wrong time and the wrong people, at least one of whom, I can say for absolute certain, loved the other deeply and will always be grateful she got to experience what happens when a man reveals the softest part of his heart.

Dear S, loving you was a privilege. I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you.

(Damn, the beautiful restraint in Christina Aguilera’s voice. Damn)

The best thing about my favourite musicians is that they know exactly when to pop up into my life and with which song.

Buried under blankets, drowning myself with work, stealing moments to get in a solid cry, pretending I’m ‘moving on’ with style. It’s all par for the course. And this song.


“Hello love, my invincible friend
Hello love, the thistle and the burr
Hello love, for you I have so many words
But I, I forget where we were”

Sex. The consensual, naughty, respectful, seductive, joyful, freaky kind. It can move mountains. As a nation, we need to really start thinking, talking and grooving with (instead of groping, violating and dismissing) the idea.

We can start with Mr. Legend’s video here:

If being a feminist is part of your personal journey, at some point you could find yourself in a boxing ring, asked to choose favourites between the two fighters. If your feminist principals are living, breathing creatures and not cold & dead strictures, you could (much to your discomfort) find yourself rooting for both fighters in the ring – each for different but equally logical reasons. It’ll torment and make you question your integrity until (if you’re lucky and smart enough) you get to the bit where you realize it’s not a boxing ring at all – and that the two fighters are really buds. Not quite Siamese twins, but good buds.

Beyonce Knowles, it seems to me, has cracked the code in her latest album Beyoncé. Coming as she does from a pop music industry that doesn’t miss a beat in objectifying women (especially women of colour and women in the hip-hop industry), breaking them up into body parts that are pressed into the service of a man, she will lull you gently into a song starting with the lyric “Let me sit my ass down….on you…”. Then just as you begin to roll your eyes over this hot mess, she will oh-so-sexily wrest back control of the situation, ending the track, repeatedly singing “Goddamit, I’m so comfortable in my skin…” This is not a woman who can be controlled or contained by anything other than her own independent self.

She will sing a song called ‘Partition’ that’s all about ripped up blouses, flying buttons and mascara running down the side of a woman’s face because she and her man couldn’t wait to get rough on each other. She will complain that she took “45 minutes to git all dressed up/ And we ain’t even gonna make it to this club…” and then she’ll show you who’s boss by ordering the chauffeur to raise the partition while she takes charge in the back of the car. She will sample a French translation of the epic Julianna Moore dialogue from The Big Lebowski: “Do you like sex? Sex. I mean, the physical activity. Coitus. Do you like that? You’re not interested in sex? Men think feminists aren’t interested in sex, but it’s a very stimulating and natural activity that women love.

She will embed an extract from a Chimamanda Adichie talk into her track ‘Flawless’, a track whose lyrics play on the many meanings of ‘diamond’ – The Rock. Is it the rock she wanted put on her finger as a single lady, the glitzy symbol of belonging to another, that too many women feel is the sole purpose of their existence? Or is it the rock solid power she feels just by being alive, the flawlessness of all of us? She sings most matter-of-factedly: “I woke up like this/ I woke up like this.”

She will confuse us with her hungry sexuality, her quest for artistic climax, her insecurities, her carnal appetite and her innate confidence.

She will make it wonderful to be in love with a man and feel sexy – for him and for herself.

She will remind you she’s also a mother.

And she will piss the fuck out of Bill O Reilly.

So it follows that I love her. I absolutely love this woman. She makes it so much fun and so very interesting to be a woman.

In her latest album, she celebrates herself as Mrs. Carter, the woman who bears her husband’s name. She does this with such absolute confidence that no one will dream of confusing her with her (very accomplished & famous) man. Her man. The sheer power of her self-belief will subvert the notion that marriage – or the claustrophobia of patriarchy – could ever trap a woman. Ha! As if!

Watch as Oprah Winfrey asks her how it feels to be ‘a wife’:

You know how you make gods out of people who’ve based their lives on resisting becoming gods?

I’m going to do that, starting now:  

                          Oh Eddie Eddie Eddie…

“What we (Stone Gossard & Jeff Ament) thought was our new band that we’d try and control together was immediately taken over by Ed. But we learned the greatest lesson of all, which is just as you’re fighting over the scraps of control, you meet somebody with so much artistic energy that your argument becomes pointless.”

~ Stone Gossard, Pearl Jam – Twenty (2011)


Watch Cameron Crowe’s absolutely beautiful labour of love, a masterclass in music documentary making – Pearl Jam Twenty. 


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