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October 1, 2012 / angelavbolton

Songs I play for Bob

Angela, Amsterdam

After a gap of many years, I took up guitar again about a year before Bob had his surgery, so around 2010. It was a very gradual thing. I used the ‘teach yourself’ method of playing guitar – finding out the chords of songs you like and learning them. He would listen to me and sometimes make suggestions as to how I could work out a key but I’d stop him and ask to carry on as I was. It is daunting to play an instrument in front of someone you know is able to play it superbly; but it was more than that. I do everything by ear, I can’t read music nor can I transpose keys or work out notes – if it’s wrong I can hear it so will try to get it right and then would ask for his advice, but when he’d say ‘the E string played on the first fret is actually …’ aargh! I would lose him right there! Poor Robert. But eventually he got used to my independent approach, would smile at me indulgently but then started to play solos on some of the songs I was doing. The first time he said to me ‘keep playing…’ while he went to get another guitar was one of the sweetest memories I have. We’ll do it again, honey, I promise you.

Brooks and Dunne

Neon Moon Brooks and Dunne perform this most romantic ‘lost love’ song which I find easy to play. That’s why it was one of the first songs I learned on guitar when I started playing again. Eventually, Bob picked up another guitar and played a solo on this song with me. Now I play it for him because it’s one of the earliest of our songs together, playing guitar. Fiona, the lovely receptionist/secretary in Bennetts Ward, says she likes it most of the songs I do. The duo of Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunne have written some of our favourite tunes like Brand New Man and Boot Scootin’ Boogie.

When You Say Nothing at All ~ I just got the chords from and they were simple, so this would have also been in the first tranche of songs I learned on guitar. It sometimes seems to have a particular resonance considering our situation just at the moment and sometimes it can be difficult to play. The last time I did it all the way through (without interruption), Sorcha stuck her head in the door and said how much she enjoyed it. A compliment indeed.

Shania Twain

Still The One ~ Shania Twain’s (or Eileen Edwards’) catchy melodic tune perfectly describes how some people felt about myself and Bob’s relationship insofar as that they assumed it wouldn’t survive. They’ve been proved wrong because he’s still the one I kiss goodnight and that doesn’t and won’t change. We both admire and enjoy Shania Twain’s early career but this is one that is nice to play and the lyrics mean a lot to me. ‘Glad we didn’t listen, look at what we would be missing…’

Love Me Tender ~ I had only begun to learn Love Me Tender when it was suggested that I play it on the John Murray Show (RTE Radio 1) in August 2012. I had mentioned it in the interview with The Irish Times HealthPLUS supplement the week before so it was the logical link to the show. I brought the chords and words with me just in case I panicked and forgot them. By the time I got back to the guitar and microphone (after the initial sound check) the page had somehow flipped over and the words and chords for ‘Crazy’ were what were visible. I’m surprised I didn’t let a swear word slip but, as it turned out, I remembered the song. And just managed to finish singing before my emotions got the better of me.

The only problem with the last three songs is that they have so much meaning in our current situation that it can be difficult to sing them sometimes. One line will catch me and my voice gets squeaky and I have to stop. However, there’s times I feel Bob is listening intently and remembering. And if that happens, I keep going.

The Mavericks

Foolish Heart ~ Beautiful melody and one that we both know very well as we’re big Mavericks fans. I try to play songs that are familiar to Bob and this and Here Comes The Rain are songs we’ve done loads of times. The lovely harmonies and Raul Malo’s soaring vocals make Mavericks songs amongst our favourites.

Recently I started playing a Faith Hill song, It Matters to Me ( and it appears that Bob remembers it. When I played it first he woke up and breathed quite heavily. We did it with Suzie & Ruff Cutt in San Diego so he’d know it really well, harmonies, bass line, everything.

Another new one on our list is Mowtown classic Being With You ( and the words recall to me how things were when Bob and I first met. Although the lyrics might sound corny when one is reading them, well, when Smokey sings they convey the need and desire of a person in love. I wouldn’t dare say I can sing as well as Smokey but the meaning is very clear – ‘one thing I know for sure is really really real… I never felt before the way you make me feel…’


Having grown up in the seventies, sometimes I throw in the odd It Must Have Been Love by Roxette (, We Belong by Pat Benetar ( or Harden My Heart by Quarterflash ( just to mix things up. Bob teases me about liking Foreigner and other soft rockers but was always gracious enough to admit that they were good pop songs even if they weren’t what he’d choose to listen to. Mind you, he listened to It Must Have Been Love on MTV with me one day and was blown away by Marie Fredriksson’s vocal range when she goes up an octave. I think he may have also liked her statuesque build (he’s six foot tall – he’s bound to admire tall leggy women!) and she is amazing!


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