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I’d heard about music being a key way to communicate with people with dementia but hadn’t done much about it when I saw the BBC site of snippets of songs from decades. My Mum’s life began in 1926 so I started by listening to the ’20s and ’30s lists. I was surprised to find many songs I recognised from our family radio in the Fifties.

I started to practice singing some of the songs and downloaded lyric sheets. I then got my son and his son involved in playing and singing a small selection to my 92 year old mum in her carehome. Many people have responded warmly to the video we made of this visit.


After making this I realised that one or two things might be awry. One is that two of the songs are from the USA, and as the BBC radio in the period of her youth broadcast mainly live music, rather than playing 78rpm discs, it may be they were not in circulation in Nottingham. The BBC had a monopoly of the airwaves and was conservative in taste avoiding anything too vulgar or too ‘hot’ as in jazz! So she might not have heard these two songs, ‘Red Red Robin’ and ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’, until they were released in Britain in the Fifties. That’s maybe why I knew them so well. Henry Hall’s ‘Teddy Bears Picnic’ is a British hit song and the band that issued it was the BBC orchestra from 1932 – 37.

The second thing was that the songs that can break through the dementia communication barrier are often from out teenage years, when we choose ‘our own’ musics and these tunes get associated with the formation of our selves. Mum was only thirteen in 1939 – so maybe I should have been looking more at wartime songs? Flanagan and Allen’s ‘Run Rabit Run’ was one such song we did use in our session. Never mind, it was all a positive experience and I hope the video will inspire other people to try something similar.

The project has lead me to have an appreciation of the very lively popular music scene in the UK which seems to have been a mix a US jazz inspired dance bands and music-hall comedy soloists. Joan may have been too young to go out to the dance bands that must have played in Nottingham – except for a few years in the middle to end of the War when she was working as a nurse. She got married to a Polish Mosquito pilot and moved to Central London in 1947. But then I was born in February 1948 so that would have limited her social life in London to some extent. There are a lot of questions that I’ll sadly never have answers to.

Joan has always danced since she’s been in the Carehome – but not sung. It was only in the last year that I got more confidence in my own singing and started singing a bit to her. We never used to sing together at home. My mum’s mum Daisy worked in service in her young years and perhaps picked up that raucous working class sing-songs were a bit vulgar.

‘Playlist for Life’ is somewhat like my Agit Disco Dispersal idea – the suggestion that our lives have a musical accompaniment and a version of our life stories may be told in the musics that grab us at key times. If we do get dementia later in life this could be useful to our close relatives.

The Agit Disco project, of which this blog is a close relation, is archived here:

and is still available as a paper book from several sources.

Other links relating to music and memory:




The history of post-war popular music has been closely associated with concerns for social justice. It is not only that particular ideals (equality, community, rights, an end to oppression and discrimination) have animated the public sphere; it is also that those ideals have – whether we look at blues, gospel, world music, punk or hip-hop, for instance – been central in many music genres.”


The conference will be at University of Memphis on the 30 March 2019

a 15 minute video by Ed Ram.

Georgia’s rave revolution.

In May this year, riot police raided the country’s most popular nightclubs prompting thousands of young Georgians to rave in the streets in protest.

But the events also revealed an undercurrent – a clash between liberal youth and conservative far-right groups.

‘Opportunity Costs’ spotty playlist created by Death, Sex and Money

Anna Sale host of an NPR Podcast called ‘Sex, Death and Money’ invited podcast listeners to contribute to this playlist.


The x5 ‘Opportunity Costs’ podcasts. in which people talk about their feeling about their class, can be found here:

Thanks to Sherry Linkon of

for this intelligence.

César Strawberry rapper get two year prison sentence for lyrics (suspended).

  • “”In December, 12 members of the rap group Insurgencia each received two-year jail terms, for glorifying terrorism in one of their songs

  • In February, the Supreme Court confirmed a three-and-a-half year jail term for Mallorcan rapper Valtònyc for glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy in his lyrics

  • Earlier this month, Catalan rapper Pablo Hasél also received a two-year sentence and a fine of 37,800 euros (£33,500; $46,700) on similar charges

Please follow these people on Twitter for updates.

Meanwhile in Turkey and elsewhere”

Back in Blightly Transpontine reminds me that the anti-rave Criminal Justice Act from 1994 is still in effect …



noda tsutomu is the ele-king editor who made the Japanese edition of Agit Disco happen. This playlist is first published on ele-king columns:

noda has written this ‘basic’ playlist “to explain what is agit disco to our young readers”!

01. Billie Holiday And Her Orchestra ‎– “Strange Fruit” (1939)
02. John Coltrane – “Alabam” (1963)
03. Bob Dylan – “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” (1963)
04. Nina Simone – “Mississippi. Goddamn” (1964)
05. Sam Cooke ‎– “A Change Is Gonna Come” (1964)
06. Aretha Franklin – “Respect” (1967)
07. James Brown – “Say it Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud” (1968)
08. The Beatles‎– “I’m so tired” (1968)
09. ジャックス – “ラブ・ジェネレーション” (1968)
10. Sly & The Family Stone ‎– “Stand!” (1969)
11. The Plastic Ono Band ‎– “Give Peace A Chance” (1969)
12. Curtis Mayfield – “Move On Up” (1970)
13. Gil Scott-Heron – “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (1970)
14. Jimi Hendrix – “Machine Gun” (1971)
15. The Last Poets ‎– “This Is Madness” (1971)
16. Timmy Thomas ‎– “Why Can’t We Live Together ” (1972)
17. Funkadelic ‎– “America Eats Its Young” (1972)
18. 友部正人 – “乾杯” (1972)
19. Sun Ra ‎– “Space Is The Place” (1973)
20. Bob Marley & The Wailers ‎– “Rat Race” (1976)
21. Fẹla And Afrika 70 ‎– “Sorrow Tears And Blood” (1977)
22. Sex Pistols ‎– “God Save The Queen” (1977)
23. Steel Pulse ‎– Ku Klux Klan (1978)
24. The Slits ‎– “Newtown” (1979)
25. Joy Division ‎– “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (1980)
26. The Pop Group ‎– “How Much Longer” (1980)
27. The Specials – “Ghost Town” (1981)
28. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five ‎– “The Message” (1982)
29. Time Zone Featuring John Lydon & Afrika Bambaataa ‎– “World Destruction” (1984)
30. The Smiths ‎– “Meat Is Murder ” (1985)
31. Public Enemy ‎– “Rebel Without A Pause” (1987)
32. じゃがたら – “ゴーグル、それをしろ” (1987)
33. N.W.A _ “Fuck Tha Police” (1989)
34. Mute Beat – “ダブ・イン・ザ・フォグ” (1988)
35. RCサクセション – 『カバーズ』 (1988)
36. Fingers Inc. ‎– “Can You Feel It (Spoken Word: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) ” (1988)
37. Underground Resistance ‎– “Riot” (1991)
38. Sonic Youth- “Youth Against Fascism” (1992)
39. Bikini Kill ‎– “Rebel Girl” (1993)
40. Goldie ‎– “Inner City Life” (1994)
41. Autechre ‎– 「Anti EP」 (1994)
42. Radio Boy ‎– 『The Mechanics Of Destruction』 (2001)
43. Wilco – “Ashes of American Flags” (2002)
44. Outkast – “War” (2003)
45. Radiohead – “2 + 2 = 5” (2003)
46. ECD – “言うこと聴くよな奴らじゃないぞ” (2003)
47. ゆらゆら帝国 – “ソフトに死んでいる” (2005)
48. Digital Mystikz ‎– “Anti War Dub” (2006)
49. 七尾旅人 – airplane (2007)
50. Kendrick Lamar ‎–Alright (2015)
次. Beyoncé ‎– Formation (2016)

Noda writes about item 35: “RCサクセション was  like The KLF or Sex pistols or John Lennon, a little bit, that’s band leader, his name is Kiyoshiro Imawano is very famous here, and he has been anti-establishment singer in the j-pop field.
He is very important man for us.
If you [could] understand his lyrics, you’d like him.”

article mentioning Imawano here:

No 49. is ‘Nanao traveller’ a singer songwriter. ‘airplane’ is a track from a three-piece album “911 FANTASIA” which was a response to the 9/11 attacks.



I like the inclusion of the reference to Nina Donovan’s 2017 poem ‘I Am a Nasty Woman’. (08 Valentina).

Nice to see a few Japanese acts cropping up here.

12. eastern youth – ‘Bottom of the World’  2015


14. Salu – ‘Nipponia Nippon’ 2016

15. Asian Kung-Fu Generation – a massive band going on their high Youtube views, but I can’t find this 2012 song. Could it be this one? – ‘Living in the Now’

There is mention in the following text of ‘Bottom Up Democracy’ and SEALDs (2015/16) which is or was the biggest student protest movement since the Sixties. Prior to WW2 Japan had been an increasingly militarised country in which any civilian democracy was under the thumb of the generals. The post-war settlement and constitution (imposed by the USA) limited the military and provided a civilian democracy and most treasured of all, a period of peace. However, recent economic stagnation has threatened that peace consensus with the spectre of a return to militarism and nationalism. This trend has been vigorously opposed by the SEALD movement which has used innovative methods to try to get Japanese people to value and increase real democracy. (Please correct me if I have that wrong!)

This is alluded to at the end of this article but of course I can’t tell what the relation to the music playlist is.  I would have thought that a culturally innovative movement like SEALD would have been reflected in music or had music as part of its actions.


This is the final Japanese Agit Disco bonus selection.



This includes lots of my favourite ‘agit disco’ bands and tracks: Sleaford Mods, M.I.A., Patti Smith etc.

One final track is over the page on p.334 and was new to me. From this I learnt the meaning of “talmbout!” What a powerful ‘call to arms’ this track is!

19. Janelle Monae – ‘Hell You Talmbout’  (2013)

“This song is a vessel. It carries the unbearable anguish of millions. We recorded it to channel the pain, fear, and trauma caused by the ongoing slaughter of our brothers and sisters. We recorded it to challenge the indifference, disregard, and negligence of all who remain quiet about this issue. Silence is our enemy. Sound is our weapon. They say a question lives forever until it gets the answer it deserves… Won’t you say their names?” -Janelle Monae

This looks like a hip one. Interestingly, it includes a Cornelius Cardew composition. He was a big part of my life and is central to my latest book ‘Improvisation Rites’ . I also learnt new people, like Heiner Goebbels, and I looked up Red Krayola, and listened to them for the first time. The question marks indicate that I don’t know the track because it is in Japanese (Japanese readers can see photos of pages below)

01 ? (2007)

02. Heiner Goebbels/ Alfred 23 Harth – ‘Berlin Q-Damn’ (1981)

Evokes, for me, the horror of Kristallnacht 9-10th November 1938

03 ? (1991)

04 Cornelius Cardew and Scratch Orchestra ‘The Great Learning Paragraph 2’ (1971)

05 Charlie Mingus ‘Orignal Faubus Fables’ (1960)

06 Frederic Rzewski – 36 variations on ‘The People United Will Never Be Defeated’. Variation 13 (1975)

I nearly heard this in Athens in 2017 … but lost my iphone in a taxi on the way there. Earlier I had been having a meal with Federic and other members of Documenta 14 in a wonderful cafe in which he was frank in his views. Interesting to hear a US communist!

07 ? (1971)

08 ? (1968)

09 ? (1973)

10 ? (1994)

11 ? (1971)

12 The Red Krayola with Art & Language – ‘Keep All Your Friends’ (1981) from Kangaroo? album

Art & Language are a leading English Conceptual Art group. The Red Krayola experimental US rock band, who remind me of the ethos of the Scratch Orchestra, were formed in 1966 by Mayo Thompson. In 1996 They/he provided the soundtrack for a short film Japan in Paris in L.A.

14 Archie Sheep – ‘Attica Blues’ (1972)

15 Happy End – ‘Turn Things Upside Down’ (1990)

Now here’s an interesting one. This is a Robert Wyatt song done by an English 20+ person left-field political band formed by Mat Fox in the area of London I was squatting in at the time (1983). Their name is taken from the title of a 1929 musical play co-written by Bertolt Brecht and Elisabeth Hauptmann, with music by Kurt Weill. They played over 150 benefit concerts for miners during 1984 strike. Their last concert was in 2000.

BUT it is also the name, I learn, of a highly influential Japanese band 1969 – 72. Even known as the Japanese Beatles. They are credited with bringing the use of Japanese back into Japanese pop songs (from 2000?). So ‘Happy End’ is quite evocative to Japanese people.

Any Japanese readers who could translate items 01, 03, 07 – 11 please let me know!




Here’s another subject that the first Anglo Agit Disco didn’t get to grips with – Steven Patrick Morrissey. This is a selection of Morrissey covers …. but none by Japanese Bands? I am not a big Morrissey fan. But for all his sometimes unpleasantness (recently nationalistic & anti-immigrant) and erratic thinking, he’s been a prolific working class song writer and I suppose he always ‘thinks for himself’. And it seems that many people do covers of Morrissey songs, so here’s another Japanese chapter that I’m keen to read in English. Looking through YouTube it is possible these versions are widely considered as better than the original Smiths versions. It is tempting to spend hours listening to both versions … but hey! life is short.

Some samples:

Placebo – ‘Big Mouth Strikes again’ (2003)

Bow Wow Wow – ‘I Started Something I couldn’t Finish” (2007)

OK go – ‘Interesting Drug’ (2017)

Jeff Buckley – ‘I know its over’ (1985)

Kitten (Chloe Chaidez’s band) – ‘Panic’ (2011) Kitten also had a song entitled ‘Japanese Eyes’ in 2012.

Marianne Faithful ‘Dear God Please Help Me’ (2008) Lyrically the gender reversal is powerful and weird.

Its difficult to see how some of these lyrics are self-evidently political… an Alienated rebel? Influenced by the Moors Murders and James Dean! A working class poet? In a very different vein to Mark E. Smith! But I’d like to see their lyrics compared sometime.

A recent review: