Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise (photo: John McGuinness)

The “Bird of Paradise” is a remarkably dynamic flower that, viewed from a certain angle, resembles a flying bird. It originates from South Africa, where it is also nicknamed the “Crane Flower”. The Bird of Paradise has three bright orange petals and three blue petals which are fused together into a single bud.

Bird of Paradise, John McGuinness

This Bird of Paradise has become, for me, a powerful metaphor for loved ones who have died. Indeed, I dedicated my songs, “Bird of Paradise” to Michèle and “Birds of Paradise” to my parents. It is a great pleasure to me that they have become the two most streamed pieces of my music!

Birds of Paradise, John McGuinness

Recently, on a visit to Bath, Carol and I went to the Tivoli cinema. The bar and foyer of the cinema were full of “Bird of Paradise” flowers. It proved to be a lovely experience, the kind that sticks in one’s memory forever.

Music has always been a friend and constant companion to me. It speaks so freely and beautifully to the soul and connects me deeply to the people, places and events in the world around me.

To listen to music is a joy and to play it is like life itself. However, to create music, no matter how simple, is to be lost in a world where time and space cease to exist. Perhaps that is why I am so attracted to the image of the “Bird of Paradise”. It speaks of a world beyond where, like birds, we are able to fly freely.

Recently, I have written a little composition dedicated to all “Bird of Paradise” lovers. It is called, yep, you’ve guessed it – “Flower of Paradise”.

Flower of Paradise, John McGuinness

You can find “Bird of Paradise” on the album “Kissed by Light” and “ Birds of Paradise” on the album “Reflections”. “Flower of Paradise” is soon to be released. To listen to these on Spotify, click on the images below.


My Musical Diary

When Will I See You Again?

Following the death of my wife, Michèle, in December 2010, I found that music and walking helped me greatly during the long hours of sustained grief. I felt I was in a bubble far from the world of people and events. Within this place, I found myself composing little pieces of music, my “rien du touts” (“nothing at alls”)

These piano pieces were inspired by lengthy walks along the River Trent. Despite the sadness, I usually found myself humming little melodies in my head. The minute I got home, I would rush to the piano and scribble down each melody in my notepad. I would then work for hours, transcribing the music using a notation app before recording it on the piano. I would lose myself in these little compositions and they soon became my emotional connection to the world, describing the places I visited, the characters I met and the people I love – a kind of musical diary.

In time, these little tunes became an intrinsic part of my life and I began to realise that they expressed who I was as a person, sometimes in emotionally charged ways, sometimes in quite subtle ways! When someone suggested to me that I should share my work with others, I became aware that sharing my music would be akin to exposing parts of myself to external scrutiny. I found this difficult to contemplate because, by nature, I am a very private person.

I had found in the past – largely through my professional work as a psychology lecturer – that it is damned difficult to expose even a little bit of yourself to public evaluation and criticism. I believe this to be a fundamental fear in everyone and pertains heavily to individuals who share their creative works with other people, whether they are in education, business or the creative arts. Nevertheless, in November 2018 I released my first Album, “Riversongs”.

Depite my initial reticence, I have received many kind words about my music from people all over the world. I have found this both pleasing and deeply moving. My only disappointment is that a few of my little “rien du touts” have remained just that, “nothing at alls” because they haven’t been played a great deal. However, they are still very special to me!

Some of my earliest compositions are featured in my first two albums Riversongs and Reflections. These include Riversong, Snowdrops, Song for Michèle, When Will I See You Again, First Light and Amour; which can be found by clicking the album cover images below.