Chicken up, our family anthem

Music has always been a part of my life and has become more and more important to me as I’ve got older; if I haven’t listened to any tunes for more than a day, I start to crave it. I need it to move and to think and to put everything upside down back in place. I wouldn’t describe myself as musical. I can’t even clap in time (imagine a sea lion having a stroke), which makes learning to play the guitar all the more challenging. But I love listening to music, and dancing and singing aloud.

Music makes me feel alive and sometimes it saves me.

I listened to music throughout my pregnancy and when George was born. Having our playlist on at the hospital was the only part of my birth plan I did get to see through. The beautiful melodic sounds of Elbow’s One Day Like This helped to heal the wounds from what was essentially the most horrific experience of my life. Listening to this song reminds me of the beautiful boy who arrived that day, the boy who fought off Meningitis to come home and sing more songs with us.

George takes his music very seriously.
George takes his music very seriously.

Shake it out

On the way to hospital the night before George arrived, we listened to Florence and the Machine’s album Ceremonials, which has become one of my favourite albums. But after the fear of almost losing George, I couldn’t listen to it without bursting into tears. I have always strongly associate times in my life by the music that was playing and, strangely, the clothes I was wearing*. Hearing those songs became a reminder of what had happened during the birth and it took me several months to come to terms with it. But I did come to terms with it and the album soon became a message of courage and strength and all that fear I had inside gradually washed away. Shake it Out has sort of become my anthem and I listen to this song a lot when I am faced with challenges in my life that can sometimes seem insurmountable. It gives me strength and reminds me that I am not beaten.

It’s hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake him off.

Chicken up

It’s also now a song that I can sing along to with George. Like his Mamma and Daddy, George loves listening to music and this is his most requested song when we are driving in the car.

Except, he thinks it’s called ‘Chicken up’.

Chicken up, chicken up, whoa oh oh!

And so a new memory of this song has been made, another happy moment in my life to hold on to. Once again, my little boy has saved me.

*The night I went into labour, I was wearing Andy’s old school Liverpool football shirt and some blue, stretchy yoga pants. I’d also eaten a sausage sandwich.

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Joanne Harris

Hi, I'm Joanne (Jo) Harris, also known as Little Mamma Jo. As well as going on plenty of adventures with my son, George, I am the digital communications manager at UCL.

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