Monday, 4 November 2013

sounds of pain

My first podcast on the subject of tinnitus is out. 

It's called Sounds of Pain

And it's a conversation (of course) between me and Isobel Anderson.You can get it here on iTunes. Or if you're not an iTunes person, you can download it directly here.

Isobel is a singer, a songwriter and a sound artist. A seriously talented young woman with the voice of an angel, a mind that's as curious as it is creative and a sense of self that's both fragile and robust. Her songs are delicate and sure-footed, powerful and vulnerable, funny and wicked. Her wit oozes gently into her lyrics while her voice captures you. She lays bare her soul but somehow manages to hold you with a firm grip all at the same time.

She's about as talented a singer song-writer as I've heard. But she's not in the least bit interested in becoming a star.

So what's the nature of my interest in her story?

Well, a couple of years ago, out of nowhere, Isobel developed tinnitus. It all happened horribly easily. She had some wax in her ear. She got an ear infection. The infection damaged her ear. And whatever the precise medical explanations and definitions, the bottom line is that the nerves that send signals to her brain quickly seized the opportunity to create a kind of chaos between her ear and her mind.

As she puts it:

It felt like I was being tortured.

I couldn't sleep.

I completely lost it.

I was just /

My whole world turned upside down.

It /

I had never ever imagined suffering like that. Ever.

I just had no idea that /

That could happen.

I always thought that that kind of suffering happens when /

You know /

When you're being tortured.

Her description of what happened and how she's learned to manage her tinnitus and maybe even befriend it is an extraordinary thing to listen to. And it's the first of my encounters with a series of people whose lives have been affected by this strange and very specific condition. My hope with these podcasts is to reveal to those of us who don't have it a little more of what it's like to have tinnitus. To share some stories of struggle and success. And to allow some creative air into a space that seems often to focus mostly on the medical side of things.   

I can think of any number of reasons why I might hope that people will enjoy listening to this particular podcast.

First, it might be you one day.

Secondly, I think anyone who has tinnitus might find some of her perspectives really helpful or at least thought provoking.

And thirdly, anyone who enjoys Isobel's music and her acoustic, part-folk, part-blues musical instincts will find the way she peels back a few of the layers of her life so far utterly compelling.

As I've listened back to our conversation bit by bit, time and time again - as you do when you're editing - I've become more and more fascinated by how useful it can be - when you're trying to describe something as specific and hard to imagine as tinnitus - to describe something else.

(When and if you listen, you'll hear what I'm talking about.)

Now - there's a special feature on this podcast.

Isobel has written a rather beautiful song about her experience of tinnitus called Little Sounds of Pain. You can hear it within the podcast but if you want to put it on your iPod - and you so should - she's released it to coincide with the podcast going out. It's a really beautiful song. And she's donating half of the proceeds to the British Tinnitus Association who are doing really fabulous work in terms of supporting, educating and (hopefully) inspiring tinnitus sufferers all over the country. There's a big week coming up early next year for the BTA. It's Tinnitus Awareness week,  from February 3rd - 9th and you can read all about it here.

So if you make your way over to Isobel's  website you can buy Little Sounds of Pain for as little as £1.00 if you like.

While you're there you'll notice that Isobel has a new album called In My Garden coming out in December. Her back catalogue is a joy to discover. (My bet is that if you listen to the podcast, you'll end up buying most of her music. I know I did.)

Right. That's it for now. 

This podcast has been a pleasure to work on from start to finish. Partly because getting to know to Isobel just a little bit has been an intriguing and uplifting experience. And partly because I've been able to weave into the edit of our conversation so much of her music. And partly because I have a strong sense that I'm only beginning my journey with exploring tinnitus.

So do listen to the podcast if you can. 

It's about 75 minutes long. Perfect for a car journey, a commute or a kitchen.. 

For now, thanks Isobel. Here's to all things auditory.  

(Oh, you might find the language a bit fruity here and there. If you're the sensitive sort.)