Lionel Richie: Hello Tour Review

When I was proposed to go see Lionel Richie, I knew that I had to seize this opportunity to see a living legend perform live. For the younger generation he may be known for being the father of Nicole & Sofia Richie and recently as judge of American Idol, but for the older generation, the four-time Grammy Ward Winner was the soundtrack of their dancing youth and makeout sessions.

I don’t watch American Idol, so I only know Richie for his music, but the performance at the Santa Barbara Bowl proved that he not only can sing but is a mighty funny showman too (he could’ve had a whole other career in stand-up comedy, the man is hilarious!). At 70, Richie still commands the stage and can work the crow like very few performers can.

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With iconic hits like Penny Lover, Say You, Say Me, and Easy, the crowd couldn’t help but relive happy memories linked to those songs. By the time he belted out Dancing on the Ceiling and Stuck On, the audience was heated up to dance like it was 1977. And if you ever wondered if women in their sixties and seventies can still bust out some crazy moves, then let me assure you that they can and then some!

By the time the evening came to a close, I knew that the king of glittery jackets would be back for an encore, when the only song he hadn’t sung from his Greatest Hits was All Night Long. And sure enough, the charming crooner returned to give the crow just what they had been waiting for. And for one night, we all felt that we could’ve danced all night if given the chance.

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Throwback Thursday: Andreas Johnson – Glorious

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1998-1999 was a golden age for music. Or at least I thought it was, seeing that many of my favourite bands came out with albums those two years that I not only loved but defined me, such as Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Animals, Garbage’s 2.0, Hole’s Celebrity Skin, and Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Californication, just to name a few.

During that time I had also become a big fan Swedish singers, and Andreas Johnson came out with a song and music video that was absolutely thrilling, called Glorious.

The song was catchy from the very beginning and like most Swedes, Andreas Johnson was quite the eye candy (especially for all of us teenage girls). Now, the music video wasn’t crazily original (as it just showed him performing the song on some stage upon another stage and then in a bedroom in the company of a model-looking girl). Despite it not being a video that screamed with originality, there was something very sexual and sexy about the beautiful couple making out on a bed at that looked like to be dawn (maybe they had spent the whole night partying or they met at a club?) only to fall upon the bed in a shower of silver glitter. Back then, I was in full mode glam-mania (Manson had ditched his goth guise for feather boas and platforms as Omega in Mechanical Albums and the movie Velvet Goldmine was set in 1970’s London, heyday of glam rock had just been released). This was the time I used to wear glitter liner and star rhinestones at the corner of my right eye. I’m telling you, we were much cooler than the emo crowd.

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I can’t recall when it was the last time I had listened to this song but surely it was around 1999-2000 timeframe, because if you were living in Italy at the time (as I was), there was no way you didn’t her this song on the radio at least four times a day. The music video was in heavy rotation on MTV Italy too. So, watching the video and listening to the song almost twenty years later I discovered that the song is still hella catchy today, and you can’t help but be intrigued by the opening lyrics when Johnson croons, “Here she comes with a masterplan, and I’m starting to lose control.” Mind you, we never get to know what this masterplan is unless it’s referring to her seducing him (maybe?). And even two decades later, falling upon a bed of silver glitter still seems thrilling (forget rose petals! Rolling around in glitter that evoke stars is my fantasy!).

The song doesn’t sound dated to me (maybe cause it’s a love song), although I suppose the music video could be seen a bit dated. But honestly, it’s still way more exciting than videos most artists are releasing nowadays (the death of MTV as a music channel brought death to the music videos).

Glorious was an all-out fun, sexy song that sticks with you far longer than you think it should. Maybe because we’ve all fantasized about meeting a sexy stranger at a club to end with a dawn filled with passionate glitter sex. No? Just me?

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Poetry: Starry Eyes

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Your neglect has managed to

Burst my heart into so many tiny pieces

That I was unable to recover all

The love that I bled out

I listen to your old songs about me

In hopes that I can feel that rush

I felt the first time that our eyes locked

Nothing could give me more joy

Than to feel

Remember when we had starry eyes

Our lips spoke poetry in every kiss

Remember when we had starry eyes

Our limbs resonated with music in every caress

I had a Kate Moss smile

Your nonchalance was so very James Dean

I read all the books you loved

If only to see the world from your perspective

My whole essence breathed you into me

I’ve never been the same again

There’s a hole in my chest

Where all my love for you resided

Remember when we had starry eyes

Our lips spoke poetry in every kiss

Remember when we had starry eyes

Our limbs resonated with music in every caress

What kills me

Is that I remember everything about our days

Together

What kills me

Is that I can’t recreate that feeling of starry eyes

With anyone else.

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Throwback Thursday: Dr. Jones – Aqua

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For someone who’s a self-proclaimed connoisseur of rock music, it’s probably very perplexing to understand why I’d enjoy a pop band like Aqua. Sure, I tried to resist this Danish-Norwegian band with their earworm music and bubbly demeanor. When Barbie Girl became popular, I resisted, they weren’t going to have me! But when Dr. Jones was released I could no longer resist and caved into the bubblicious world of lightness that was Aqua. Perpetually happy and poppy, the band sang about notorious icons such as Barbie and Indiana Jones. Mattel notoriously tried to sue them but a judge dismissed the case in 2002 allegedly stating, “The parties are advised to chill.”

The song though didn’t really have that many Indiana Jones references, the lyrics were more about a summer love (think Grease). But the music video was genius campiness to the max. I also truly loved the female lead singer Lene Nystrom, she was a breath of fresh air, because she dared to defy the busty 90’s gals that had been helped by silicone. Lene had a badass attitude wearing crop tops that read, “No Silicone Added.”

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But much like the heyday of the ’90s, even Aqua’s eternal optimism fizzled with the oncoming of the new millennia. And so, for awhile Lene tried a solo career, becoming one of those many busty gals singing suggestive songs that she used to mock. When the band reunited in 2009 and did a cover of Abba’s My Mamma Said, we immediately knew that this band wasn’t the same anymore. The music video was one of the most visually darkest moments for the band, as you see them reunited around a table, dressed in black as they were being served the strangest foods as roaches walked all over the table. Even their voices had lost their signature cheerfulness and instead had turned more morose. It was official: the once happy pop band had turned dark.

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There had also been a shift in the band dynamics. Before, at the height of their popularity, Lene was dating the male lead singer in the band, Renee. But then she later got married to another Aqua member, drummer, Soren, and the two were married for sixteen years before divorcing in 2017 (the couple has two children together).

So what did I learn from re-listening and rewatching a video I hadn’t seen since 1997? Well, I’m thoroughly confused as to why the cannibals were speaking French, but other than that, the light campiness of Dr. Jones is just as infectious now as it was in 1997. Although now, when I listen to it I’m taken back to a place where my teenage problems seemed so trivial to the real-life troubles that one only understands once you reach adulthood. Nowadays, I relate more to the Aqua members in My Mamma Said, disillusioned and nostalgic for their lightness but now consumed by the darkness.

And despite all those books and movies about how much light wins over the dark, the last two decades have proven that darkness has been prevailing and we’re all left longing for that time in our lives when we used to enjoy light pop songs like Dr. Jones.

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As Lene sings, “Dr. Jones, Dr. Jones wake up now,” I wonder if we’ve all been sleeping and that the past two decades have simply been one prolonged nightmare. Who isn’t ready to wake up now? I know I am.

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1995 Alanis Was My Spirit Animal

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A week ago, the internet was set on fire when someone dared to criticize Alanis Morissette’s multi-Grammy winning album, Jagged Little Pill. Now, I’ll admit that I’m not a current Alanis fan, however, there was a time when I fiercely loved that album and her. So, much like when things have ended with an ex, and you may not currently be in love with them, there will always remain the good memories of your time spent together, and in a way, you will always defend those memories. That’s exactly how I feel about Jagged Little Pill. Living in southern Italy during my youth, it meant that I was bombarded with female musicians who only sung of their broken hearts, begging for ungrateful exes to return to them, or images of TV hosts where they were barely dressed, showing off huge breasts and silicone enhanced lips. To be a woman meant to be passive and beautiful, almost like a pretty Christmas ornament.

But I couldn’t relate to those women, and thus felt very much an outsider living in a town where men stared at you like you were a pretty piece of flesh and that you were obligated to think that cat-calls were compliments in disguise, cause, after all, it only happened to the pretty girls. It also meant having nothing in common with any of the girls living in that town, who would spend hours sitting in the town plaza waiting and hoping for their crushes to pass by with their mopeds. When I’d declare that I wouldn’t wait for hours for a guy to show up I’d be seen as “weird”. Other times, people assumed I lacked passion simply because I refused to be a human doormat for men. I was very passionate as a teen, especially when it came to the guy I was majorly in love with, but I also loved myself enough not to be willing to wait six hours in the town plaza in hopes that maybe the guy would show up, to only be stood up. Cause more often than not, that’s how events played out for my friends.

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I don’t remember exactly how I came across Alanis, but probably it was through the radio (southern Italy didn’t get MTV) and I believe it was the song, You Learn, cause in patriarchal Italy, that was the least offensive song of the album. But for me, You Oughta Know was my jam. I remember playing Jagged Little Pill uber high that the walls would shake and my neighbors complained. They couldn’t understand the rage I felt, after all, I lived in a society that expected me to just be pretty passive. I was considered a freak for wearing dark blue nail varnish, fishnet stockings with Docs, and coating my lips in dark shades of Vermillion. In other words, I didn’t look “safe”.

Alanis was my gateway drug to Courtney Love, Gwen Stefani (No Doubt heyday was angry, not like today’s pop persona), and Shirley Manson, women who were even angrier and far more outspoken than her. I’m not trying to say that Jagged Little Pill saved my life, but it made it more bearable. It made me feel that there were other girls out there who had a similar rage and outspokenness. That there wasn’t anything wrong with me for wanting to reject the notion of what a woman should be, whether or not others agreed with me.

In 1995, Alanis was pretty much the rock goddess of angry rock that we all needed (I know I did), so to compare her legacy and efforts to a childish song like Baby Shark is not only insulting but downright cruel. I may not be into Alanis’ music nowadays (she’s too mellow for me now, and I never outgrew my anger and angst), but I’ll always defend the woman and the album that made an outcast not feel so much alone. I may have been out of place in Sicily, Italy, but I knew that belonged somewhere. Where the legions of angry girls resided.

1995

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Throwback Thursday: TLC – No Scrubs

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When the single NO SCRUBS came out twenty years ago (February 2, 1999), TLC was the best-selling girl group in the world and fierce feminists at a time when the music world was suddenly getting overrun with Lolita-esque divas like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.

I chose this song for my Throwback Thursday because when the song came out I loved the message it promoted. For the first time, you had women who were confident enough to say, “NO.” No, they didn’t want a man who had no ambitions and was a deadbeat parasite. And if you think that this message wasn’t bold, you’re gravely mistaken. For centuries women have been groomed to always say, “Yes,” that stating a “NO,” loud and clear, for women to actually have standards of which men could pursue them, this was a big deal.

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Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes were known for being bold, independent, and outspoken young women. They were no damsels in distress, these women were ambitious and hardworking and didn’t expect anything less from their men. This song actually had men questions themselves for the first time, ask themselves if they fit the “scrub” list or not. Ironically, usually, the men who did fit the “scrub” list were the ones who got the most upset over the song.

Of course, this song wouldn’t have been the same without Hype Williams amazing futuristic music video, especially in an age where music videos could make or break a career (this was back in the day when MTV still predominantly only aired music videos on their channel). Hype Williams at the time was considered to be one of the best music video directors around with his bold colours, anime style sequences, and notorious for his fish-eye view which distorted the image in central focus. In his vision, Chilli, T-Boz, and Left-Eye were futuristic warriors that could be both sexy but ferocious, in other words, they were fierce.

The video went on to win the MTV Video Music Award for that year, beating out the all-male competition of boy bands like Backstreet Boys and Nsync at their career highs, which was no small feat.

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Listening to this song twenty years later only emphasizes how much this message is still relevant today. Not that long ago when just idly chatting with my boyfriend in the car, he said he couldn’t understand my need for all this ambition, that he’d still love me even if I were a slob who’d spend all day at home and wait for him to return and he said something along the lines of, “Wouldn’t you love me still the same way if I were like that?” And I replied, “Look, as TLC taught me, I don’t want no scrub. I’d never date someone with no ambition or dreams to be better.” Probably not the kind of response he was relying on (after all, most men would hope that women are “romantic” enough to like them even at their worst), but it’s the truth.

I expect a lot from myself and would never dream of being someone who’s just looking for a way to get out of work to stay at home. So for anyone to think that I’d expect less of them just because out of romantic notions is kind of absurd. TLC taught many girls the power to say no, and that’s a lesson that many of us took to heart. I know I did.

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Top Ten Halloween Songs

Hosting a Halloween party and need to find the perfect tunes, or maybe you just want to get into the festive mood? Whatever your reason, the music world has lots to offer in regards to scary songs. So use this playlist as a guide to help you infuse your nights with some major creep factor.

I Put A Spell On You – Marilyn Manson

The shock-rocker gave this cult classic his own creepy vibe to it with his unique Mansonesque ways (dark vocals, death drums).

Welcome To My Nightmare – Alice Cooper

There no way that a Halloween playlist could be complete without the master of shock rock himself, Alice Cooper, named after the ghost of a woman he spoke to through the ouija board, it can’t possibly get creepier than that.

Astro Zombies – The Misfits

The Misfits are those goth friends of yours that wished they could celebrate Halloween everyday, and with their undead looks and spooky lyrics, these fellows are living the goth dream.

Pet Sematary – Ramones

After being inspired by Stephen King’s novel by the same name, about using an ancient Indian burial ground to bring loved ones back (always a mistake!), they explored why sometimes dead is better.

Nightmare On My Street – DJ Jazzy – Fresh Prince

As a HUGE Freddy Krueger fan, I just had to choose a song that was written inspired by the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Too bad that Wes Craven wasn’t too keen on the rappers using references to the movies, suing them for copyright infringement.

(Don’t Fear) The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

This strangely seductive song has been a staple of the horror culture and suicidal teen goths of all ages. It’s been used in Halloween and Scream, and although the band’s leadsinger assures that the song isn’t about a romantic suicide pact, it’s hard to decipher the lyrics, “Romeo and Juliet are together in eternity, we can be like they are,” as anything else.

Red Right Hand – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Nick Cave is one creepy dude, and his whole Murder Ballads album could pretty much be the defacto go to album for Halloween. This song was inspired by John Milton’s Paradise Lost and the vengeful hand of God. This song is considered so creepy that it’s been used in all three Scream movies, so you know you can’t go wrong with Cave when it comes to dark and twisted.

Helena – My Chemical Romance

In the early aughts, Gerard Way had perfected the living dead boy look to a T. The song is inspired by the death of his grandmother, whilst the video shows the band during a funeral and at the song’s climax, the lady of the hour, Helena, herself gets up from the coffin and shows that the after life can be as much of a dance party as the living.

The Devil’s Rejects – Rob Zombie

Named after the movie he directed of the same name, Rob Zombie has been creeping kids out since 1995. He’s a huge horror fan and nothing goes better with rock than dark lyrics.

Thriller – Michael Jackson

No proper Halloween playlist is complete without Michael’s iconic single that catapulted him to stardom. Bonus perks to this track: The king of horror himself, Vincent Price recorded the spoken word section. You can’t get any more horror-infused than that!

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10 Things You Don’t Know About Me

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A candid photo from when I got talked into modeling for Back to School attire (P.S. that’s vegan leather so no worries!) 

  1. I’m bilingual. I’m fluent in Italian and English.
  2. I was born on a Thursday, January 8, just like David Bowie.
  3. I drink every beverage with a straw, and yes, this also includes hot tea and coffee. (Method to my madness, drinking from straws lowers your chances of damaging your teeth and staining them).
  4. I studied piano for close to ten years. I had a love/hate relationship with it, as I love music and loved playing it, but hated the long practice time (over an hour every single day) of it and being forced to study Bach by my teachers (when I preferred Beethoven, I actually decided to learn to play the piano because I was obsessed with his music).
  5. If you only know me through blogging, then you may not know that I’m a writer, and have several books up for sale on Amazon including a paranormal urban fantasy: CUT HERE, a collection of short stories: DOLL PARTS – Tales of Twisted Love, and an anthology I edited: MY AMERICAN NIGHTMARE – Women In Horror Anthology.
  6. My first celebrity crush was Leonard Nimoy who played Spock on Star Trek when I was two, and yes, I did prefer him because of his quirky ears and thus began my path of crushing on odd dark-haired men.
  7. My favourite city in the whole world is London, England. I love it so much that I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to it.
  8. My love for lipstick started at the tender age of three when I begged my aunt to leave me one of her lipstick tubes. I haven’t stopped wearing lipstick since.
  9. The historical figure I’ve been obsessed with since I was three is the last French Queen Marie Antoinette. Watching the anime Lady Oscar – The Rose of Versailles for the majority of my childhood did have a hand in that.
  10. My four favourite novels are novels I’ve read more than once (which I often don’t re-read novels as I have a good memory and find it hard to reread something I already know everything that’s going to happen) are: The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde), Interview With the Vampire (Anne Rice), 1984 (George Orwell), and A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens).                                                                                         White and Pink Strikeout Cosmetics Beauty LogoDid you enjoy what you just read? If yes, then FOLLOW THE BLOG, give the post a like, or leave a comment! New posts are up every Tuesday & Thursday!

My Bad Romance: My First Time

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One of the most important moments in a girl’s life is the time she loses her virginity. So much time is spent on how we hope events will play out, who it will be, and how do we know that the guy or girl we’ve chosen for that particular moment is the right one? I know as a teen I obsessed over this so much (mostly over how was I gonna know that the person was the right person to lose it with?).

In my daydreams, I always thought it’d be a lot more romantic. Or at least, the setting would be far more romantic. But when it happened, it was kind of last minute, I hadn’t planned for it to happen, it just did.

I had just started talking to the soulmate. He had a music event to go to and asked me if I could be his date. That meant that I was going to go to London. I left that afternoon to get on the plane, and couldn’t wait for those three hours to pass by quickly. I knew that he liked girls dressed in leather, and I had worn a leather dress that I had “borrowed” from my mum.

The whole event was a whirlwind, and when it all ended, he asked me if I wanted to see his flat and listen to music. I was on the fence over whether I wanted cause I had recently read American Psycho and knew what happened to girls who fell for charming blokes ala Patrick Bateman.

When we arrived at his flat, we were greeted by his white cat Stardust. He turned on the radio and was busy looking through various CD’s as we spoke about various things. It was a cold February night, and I was freezing in my short ensemble, not to mention that I could barely breathe.

I looked over at the soulmate, his beautiful face. I thought: I love him so much, and tonight may be the last time I ever see him. That thought broke my heart. I knew he could be my everything, but I couldn’t tell him that because we had barely met and he was leaving for a lengthy tour.

“Please excuse the mess,” he told me, as he tried to cover up his unmade bed. His bedroom was filled with stacks of hardback books, CD’s, and cigarette packets strewn everywhere. Three guitars rested against the wall. I looked over at the clock and noticed that I had two hours before I had to be back at the airport.

A terrible song from Venga Boys started playing. He came close to me and being at loss for words, I was inspired to use those from a Meatloaf song, stating, “We shouldn’t let a night like tonight go to waste.” Those words changed everything. And I couldn’t explain to you then how important that moment was to me, cause really can you halt a storm just to spew technicalities?

When our lips met, it was like an explosion in the sky. Suddenly, it didn’t matter whether the room was a mess or that shitty music was on the radio, it didn’t matter that none of the settings coincided with my idea of how I wanted things to be. Cause what really mattered was that I was there with you.

Our clothes were on the floor and your lips were everywhere and I kept thinking, Is this really happening? Cause I couldn’t believe that any of it was real. That you were real.

When it was over, I held you close to me, too afraid that perhaps you weren’t real. I needed to make sure that you were there, and I didn’t know then what the future was going to hold, all I knew was that if I was given even that one night with you, it was enough to be happy. One night with you was worth a thousand nights with anyone else.

You were my sun, and I was merely a star that reflected off of your light.

Eventually, I said the dreaded words, “I need to get going,” but a part of me never left that room. My ghost still haunts that flat, and maybe even yours does too.

Maybe we couldn’t have a happy ending, but then again, we haven’t really reached the end. And our ghosts remain in that flat, unchanged, and happy.

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By: Azzurra Nox

Remembering Dolores and the Summer of 1999

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While the majority of the world became a Cranberries fan with the iconic song Zombie, I didn’t become a fan till 1999, when their fourth album Bury the Hatchet was released, preceded by their single, Promises. Something about that angry revenge anthem spoke to me (I was an angsty, angry teen) and I also loved the music video cause the wicked witch of the west resembled Fairuza Balk a little. Someone else who was equally a fan of that album was my cousin Melody.

I remember how she and I would listen to the album and daydream about living in London or Los Angeles. That we felt that maybe, in cities like that, our mutual weirdness would be better understood or at least not scoffed or poked fun at, as opposed to where we lived.

My cousin was a bigger fan than I was, to the point that she said, “I wish my name could be Dolores at least it would be better suited for me than Melody. Do-lo-res…just saying it sounds darkly poetic.”

We’d sing along to Animal Instinct whilst applying makeup and drinking conspicuous amounts of coffee and Bailey’s Irish Cream. Clouds of smoke would circle above our heads as we shared lipsticks and secrets, all the while Dolores O’Riordan’s voice at times aggressive, other times ethereal playing in the background. We’d stroll the cobblestone streets of our small Sicilian town, humming Just My Imagination, and dreaming big dreams. This was before selfies were a thing, so I don’t have photos documenting those moments of us together, but they’ve remained engrained in my mind, milk fresh as though they’ve only happened several months ago, and not years ago. How we’d lie both in bed, our long hair meshing together, her’s bleached blonde, mine strawberry blonde, and how it created the perfect sunset hue, and the notes from the songs would transport us elsewhere, somewhere we were convinced that we’d be better versions of ourselves.

On Christmas Eve of 2013, Melody committed suicide—and although I hadn’t seen her in years since 1999 (I had moved to America and she had moved to Turin), I couldn’t stop thinking of the last summer days we spent together. Of how everything seemed possible—when we were young and fearless. And we didn’t know it then, but maybe, we already were the better versions of ourselves but we were just too blind to see it.

Now, with the recent and unexpected death of Dolores O’Riordan, I can’t help but think about how Bury the Hatchet had been the soundtrack of my last days spent with Melody. And how often, these last five years, I’ve found myself listening to the familiar songs as a way to feel closer to my cousin, as a way to be transported back to those careless summer days.

And now, I’m merely left with the songs and the memories of a summer that’s gone and with it its dreams.

By: Azzurra Nox