Posted in Writing

Life Playlists is returning for the Autumn and to start the new series I’m pleased to welcome Margaret James with her five special choices

Hello Jo

Thank you so much for inviting me to be a guest on the Life Playlists feature on your blog. Here are five favourite songs which have marked various stages of my life.

First off, Bob Dylan’s Mr Tambourine Man, recorded absolutely decades ago while I was still a child, but which has been part of the soundtrack of my life ever since. Anyone who says Dylan is not a poet just needs to listen to this song! I kind of went off Dylan as he grew older and more aggressive in tone. But this song has stayed with me.


Next up, All Around My Hat. When I was a teenager, a long time ago, I was totally hooked on all those remastered folk songs performed so brilliantly by folk rock bands like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. This song is so joyful and uplifting that it’s my go-to track whenever I am feeling a bit down. It’s so good to see that this band is still going strong!


When Freddie Mercury died I thought I would never get over it and wore black for a week. Bohemian Rhapsody – what can I say, except that it must be the best song by Queen, the best band ever! I’m just so sorry that at the stage in my life when I might have gone to their concerts I was the mother of small children and I never got to see them perform live. I once had a horrible job working for a small insurance company whose boss was an – insert your own bad word here – and I always played Queen’s greatest hits as I was driving home from work.


More recently, I’ve become somewhat hooked on hip-hop and rap, mainly as a result of seeing the musical Hamilton. I’ve never seen a show performed with such energy and emotion. It’s the life story of one of the founding fathers of the USA, and if you think you’ve seen his face before, that’s probably because his image is on the US $10 bill. What a life he led – born in the West Indies, the illegitimate son of a Scottish nobleman, he made his way to the fledgling USA, as it was to become. He lived a good life until – well, until it all went wrong for him in a very big way. As a subject – the musical biography of a politician who became the first Secretary to the Treasury of a new country – the show sounds deadly dull, but actually it’s mesmerising, and the music is fabulous. The theatre trip was a lovely Christmas present from my daughter. Here is the opening scene.

Finally, this is my most recent discovery, made earlier this year via Classic FM. It’s a piece of choral music that sends shivers down my spine. Composed back in the seventeenth century by a Portuguese missionary who worked in Peru, it’s sung in a Native American language. I can’t pronounce or spell the title, but this hymn to the Virgin is haunting. Give it a go and see what you think of Hanaq Pachap Kusikuynin.



My crime and mystery novel The Final Reckoning is published by Ruby Fiction and is available in ebook and audio format from all the usual platforms, including Amazon and Kobo.


I always love to hear from readers, so please feel very welcome to contact me!


A gripping thriller from this successful historical novelists and creative writing tutor. Perfect for fans of Erin Kelly, Linda Green and Laura Marshall.

What if you had to return to the place that made you fall apart?
When Lindsay Ellis was a teenager she witnessed the aftermath of a violent murder involving her lover’s father. The killer was never found.

Traumatised by what she saw, Lindsay had no choice but to leave her home village of Hartley Cross and its close-knit community behind.

Now, years later, she must face up to the terrible memories that still haunt her. But will confronting the past finally allow Lindsay to heal, or will her return to Hartley Cross unearth dangerous secrets and put the people she has come to care about most at risk?


Directs fictional destinies. Living on the edge of a wonderful Georgian city. Addicted to Arthurian legend, good wine, and rock music. Writes...mostly about love

3 thoughts on “Life Playlists is returning for the Autumn and to start the new series I’m pleased to welcome Margaret James with her five special choices

  1. Lovely choices. My introduction to Bob Dylan was ‘The Times They Are a Changing’. I’ve always loved him and was sorry I couldn’t include him in my own 5 (or rather, 6, because I cheated and Jo was kind to me!).

  2. Thanks for your comment Gilli. That is my first memory of Bob Dylan too and of course he was a great influence during the sixties with many of his songs becoming hits for other artists.

  3. He’s inspirational, isn’t he? So many other artists owe so much to the boy from Duluth! I’ve been to Duluth and I can’t say I’m surprised he ran away. There wasn’t a lot going on. A good railway museum if you’re into locomotives, but otherwise…

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