Life in Lockdown: Who Are You?

Welcome back to the Head’s blog. Here is the second post:

So, with the end of week one of our new ways of working and living, what have we learnt? Joe Wicks is clearly at a loose end after Strictly, and has ambitions to teach, Marks and Spencer do delivery, and (who’d have thought it?) people are fundamentally civil, social and decent. 

This last point is not meant in a trivial way at all. Students of human nature will be familiar with the respective view of seventeenth century philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke who both offered contrasting views of what man would be like if he appeared in a state of nature, ie before proper societies existed. Hobbes’ classic text ‘Leviathan’ essentially argued that man was a selfish, mistrustful creature, having to behave in that way because all men were born with equal power and they were therefore in an intense competition for scarce resources such as food. Or toilet roll.

Although John Locke agreed with Hobbes’ view that life was fraught with threats, he challenged his rather negative view of human nature, instead that man was a social animal, capable of reason and working with others.

One always has to be wary of applying real-life experiences to justify abstract philosophical positions, but equally perhaps the ultimate test of any theory about human nature is how humans behave when placed in the most extreme conditions. So, in conclusion, I leave you with two questions to ponder:

  1. What does the response of the public to the coronavirus tell us about the respective views of Hobbes and Locke on human nature?
  2. What form of government do you think each of Hobbes and Locke might argue for?

Now onto really serious stuff. The week two playlist!

‘Valerie’: Steve Winwood

By the age of 21 Steve Winwood had graced three of the key bands of the 1960s: the Spencer Davis Group; Traffic; and Blind Faith. This track, probably his most well known, is from his later solo career.

‘Valerie’: The Zutons

Not to be confused with that other track about Valerie. I don’t know, however, if it’s the same woman that they are singing about. What I do know is that this is the original version of the track made famous by Amy Winehouse. And, deep breath, this is an infinitely superior version.

‘Veronica’: Elvis Costello

The keen-eyed amongst you may have spotted a pattern here. A co-write with Paul McCartney, this track was co-produced by T-Bone Burnett. Seriously. His role in its production therefore gave him a steak in the song’s success.

‘Los Ageless’: St. Vincent

As it’s too soon to drop the female V references, this was an obvious choice for inclusion. One of my favourite tracks of the last few years, with one of the great descending chord change choruses.

‘Charlemagne’: Blossoms

Charlemagne was arguably the most powerful individual in European history, controlling lands from Spain and Italy all the way up to Germany. Blossoms are named after a pub on the A6 in Stockport, a town which Charlemagne was never able to conquer.

‘Bye Bye Love’: The Everly Brothers

Last week I included a track by Simon and Garfunkel, whose love of the warring Everly Brothers led them to include a cover of this track on their final album, and to spend their time from that point on in a similar state of conflict. Bye bye love, indeed.

Turn the Page’: The Streets

Finding a track by any ‘street’ artist (see what I did there) which is fit for a school-based playlist is a pretty tricky endeavour. The Streets (actually just one bloke, so more of a house than a street, and certainly not multiple streets) produced two great albums, and this is the lead off track from his first album, Original Pirate Material.

‘Holiday’: Madonna

Before Madonna took to posting ever so slightly strange clips from her bath or lip-syncing her own songs with a hairbrush, she was a genuine pop star. What I love about ‘Holiday’ is not only is it a great, optimistic pop song, it captures Madonna as a hungry young singer, just happy to have a record out. Trivia fact: she once performed this on stage at the Hacienda nightclub, at a night when the DJ was Dave Haslam, the subject of the first CHed talk in 2018. 

‘Somewhere in my heart’: Aztec Camera

On any list of great tracks from the 1980s, this has to feature somewhere near the top. It is simply brilliant. Enough said.

Start a Fire’: John Legend

I would never class myself a huge fan of musicals, but La La Land was one of my favourite films of the last few years, and this tune, in its own way, plays an extremely important part in the development of the story. Trivia fact (2): Ryan Gosling and I share a birthday, and I have heard from a ‘well-placed source’ that he is fed up with being asked how life at CHS is by LA -based Old Wacs. 

Week 3 will follow at the start of next term. Have a great holiday!