Finding the right rhythm for blues

You know you’re not quite yourself when music isn’t offering much solace. That’s some serious shizzle if, like me, your lifelong love affair with melody is currently dialled down to a low peep. A recent trawl through some all-time favourite choons (and god knows, there’s a lot of them) couldn’t locate a single soothing rhythm to ease this troubled soul. Even David Bowie couldn’t offer succour, and that’s a first.

It’s my mind, see. It just can’t settle anywhere upbeat. As winter approaches, my midlife hormones continue their gruelling grind and the virus is on the rampage once again, it’s little wonder that any cheery demeanour is AWOL.

It’s pretty normal to feel gloom during a late Glasgow autumn. Once the glory of the technicolour leaf display begins to fade and the days get shorter and darker, the collective mood definitely takes a dip. We’re a gregarious race and normally we’d be countering the chill by shooting the breeze in the boozer. But even that’s off the menu. And that’s not a laugh for those of us who thrive on the craic.

Life’s a lot duller without the close company of chums. I’ve always been someone who goes in for a bear hug and a big smackeroo, and the absence of physical proximity and lung-busting laughter is dragging me down. Yes, I can “see” pals online but the novelty of digital face time has long since worn thin. PS please don’t take this personally, beloved family and friends. It’s not you, it’s me.

I’m not suggesting that wallowing in self-pity until a light appears at the end of the pandemic tunnel is ideal, or likely any time soon, but it’s perfectly fine to feel a bit shit given these taxing times. So please don’t tell me to cheer up or count my blessings – I know exactly how lucky I am. But still, this month’s been a bit of a struggle.

However, spiritual uplift comes from unexpected quarters, and I’m always, always, always up for embracing precious moments. Thankfully, October has offered plenty of those. There’s been sunlight streaming over the Clyde and the still-working BAE shipyard; my lads in gales of laughter over dinner; the cringe-making, gasp-inducing brilliance of the TV series Succession; a exceptional autumnal display from Glasgow’s army of trees; and the wizardry of wordsmiths with talent to make the heart fly (thank you, Pete Paphides and Marina Hyde – you guys are currently providing essential emotional buoyancy, and some badly needed belly laughs). And of course, the beat goes on for this diehard music fan, even if the usual floor-stomping favourites have mostly been missing the mark.

After trying, and failing, to find musical comfort, a chance TV encounter with a beautiful black man in a white semmit reignited my inner dancing queen. Ah, Teddy Pendergrass, I’d forgotten just how sublime you were, especially when fronting the Bluenotes. Tragically, you joined the great Philly Sound choir in the sky a decade ago, but your glorious, gravelly voice has travelled unscathed across the years and straight into the heart, soul and feet of this gloomy old girl. Rhythmic resistance is futile, turns out that Teddy’s just the man to banish the blues.