Brain Attack

A true story of stroke survival told through music

I have been asked various questions about the songs on the Brain Attack project, so I thought it useful to write some brief notes about each one.  The sequence of songs is very important, as it is completely chronological from ‘Ground Zero’ to ‘The Machine’.  It is also totally autobiographical.  I have been very honest in what I remember as the ‘facts’ and my feelings at the time I experienced them.  (The final piece, entitled ‘Brain Attack’, has no chronology; I have nicknamed it “The Single”).

So, an overview of the songs:


Ground Zero

The moment the brain attack struck (not that I knew that I was experiencing a stroke at the time).  I have tried to draw the analogy with a bomb going off, as it was like an explosion in my head. 

Shock

This is about the shock that set in when I realised the enormity of what has happened, and how I tried to play things down for my loved ones.  (For a brief demo go to the 'Listen' page).

The Blackout

Once admitted to hospital, I deteriorated and two days later I had emergency brain surgery.  I don’t remember any of this, so this piece is what I have imagined might have been going on and what I might have been thinking.

After The Blackout

For me, I have about 5 days of ‘missing time’.  This piece is about coming back to consciousness and trying to work out what the hell had been going on.  (For a brief demo go to the 'Listen' page).

Awakening, Part One – Demon Eye

Some of my first memories after regaining consciousness are the most awful hallucinations, both aural and visual.  This is about the visual hallucinations.  Quite frightening.  (For a brief demo go to the 'Listen' page).

Awakening, Part Two – The Voices

This is about the aural hallucinations.  In many ways even more sinister than the visual ones.

Awakening, Part Three – WTF

The hallucinations have now worn off and I’m recognising some of my family sitting around the bed.  I am very confused and very happy to see them, but I have no idea why they are there.  (For a brief demo go to the 'Listen' page).

 Dawning, Part One

What’s happened to me is slowly ‘dawning’ due to being told bits and pieces by family and medics.  But taking it all in and understanding it is quite a tall order.  Ironically, it is also the dawning of a new era in my life.

Dawning, Part Two

Watching (and learning) how to use a wheelchair.

Euphoria

Whilst still in hospital, I managed to walk to the bathroom and back to my bed again using a Zimmer frame steadied by a male nurse and my wife.  On reaching the bathroom, I promptly burst into tears.  Just standing upright required monumental effort but it was truly exhilarating.

The Hill

This is a metaphor for recovery.  Each day is a challenge, progress is slow, you don’t know what the end game (summit) looks like, but you have to keep carrying on.  Trudging up The Hill.

Who Am I?

This is about self re-evaluation once I had started to absorb the changes to me and my life and started to accept my new found ‘limitations’.

Reflection

Following on from “Who Am I?” this is about introspection, looking deep into oneself, one’s experiences and what they mean.  The last verse links back to “The Hill” as recovery is ongoing and will always be so.  (The Hill is still being climbed).

Treasure

A bit enigmatic, this.  The ‘treasure’ is my family.  The verses are aimed at my kids, kind of ‘advice for life’, but written so that people can draw their own meanings.  When I showed this to my wife, she thought that the ‘treasure’ was life itself.  A lovely, coincidental metaphor.

Reboot

I have used the metaphor of re-booting a PC with re-booting my brain.  It’s a re-start and an interesting situation to find oneself in just when ‘life’ seemed to be on a fairly certain, middle-aged course.

Coming To Terms

This is literally coming to terms with the brain attack and what has happened.  However, it occurred to me that ‘terms’ also had a legal, contractual meaning and that – by not living as healthy a life as I could – I had broken some of the terms of my ‘life contract’.

The Machine

An unsettling and disturbing experience I had in an fMRI scanner (see previous blog “Wearing The Inside Out”) where I felt claustrophobic for the first time in my life.  This ‘psychological alteration’ has been just as difficult to contend with (if not, more so) than any physical changes.  (For a brief demo go to the 'Listen' page).

Brain Attack

Here I’m just trying to sum everything up in a deliberately ‘commercial’ sense, musically and lyrically.  It’s ‘The Single’, designed to get some publicity for the project!