Tuesday 13 September 2011


In the deepest mists of early memories sit the bright lights of the songs which lulled me to sleep. Until the day I die these tunes will hold fierce nostalgic imagery for me:

Fanny Power
Drink to me only with thine eyes
Pokarekare ana

My earliest memories involve my dad tramping up and down in the small hours of the night with me slung over his shoulder. He always maintains that he can't sing (and isn't musical in the traditional sense) but would hum the Carolan tune Fanny Power for all it was worth; Carolan's Concerto is another old favourite of mine which holds special memories. Meanwhile Drink to me only with thine eyes  always struck me as an odd favourite of his, but there you go. My mother meanwhile would never sling me over her shoulder; rather, she would softly sing the Maori Pokarekare ana by my bedside if I had trouble sleeping. As an Australian perhaps that, too, was a slightly unusual choice.

A few years ago I was given a ticket by a friend of mine to go and see Jose Carreras at the Albert Hall. Carreras belted out Christmas carols (why he was miked up, I have no idea) and then showed up special guest Hayley Westenra for the appalling singer that she is. But when she performed Pokarekare ana I nearly dissolved on the spot. It's an incredibly beautiful song. One that I hope I can pass on one day.

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