Day 432 - Michael Rattray: Open Your Heart
Based in Bridge Of Earn and a hugely talented songwriter in his own right, Michael has turned out some superb interpretations of other artists’ songs in recent years. Open Your Heart offers a tantalising sneak peek of the 80’s covers album he's currently working on.
Why choose Open Your Heart?
When I was growing up Madonna's Like A Virgin tour had a big impact on me. My sister, cousin and I were obsessed. Open Your Heart has great memories for me. My sister and I would video record any new Madonna song on Top Of The Pops and watch it countless times. Open Your Heart was one of those videos - it’s just a great pop song. I've recorded a few of her songs over the years, about 4 now. I really enjoy taking pure pop songs and putting my own slant on them. It kinda just happened and fell into place. It really works as a full blown rock song which surprised me.
What does Madonna mean to you?
I grew up with her songs, happy memories, discovering the magic of music, childhood and my close relationship with my sister. We went to see Madonna in 2016, which was really special, she was fantastic. I'm not too keen on her latest stuff. I think Kylie's Disco album was much more fun.
How did the idea for the 80's album come about?
Like most of my ideas it was just playing around with stuff at home on the guitar. I tried out different songs. Spin Me Right Round was the first. It didn't work but others turned out great. I still have lots to do and music takes me longer now as managing my health issues takes a lot of my time. It's great when I manage to complete stuff though and I still love that feeling of it all working out.
There's more humour in the covers album and its refreshing to record other peoples songs. It's less introspective. I do rock covers of Olivia Newton John's Physical and Wham's I'm Your Man which really makes me laugh. It just shouldn't work but it does. I'm tempted to do Bucks Fizz Making Your Mind Up too.
90's rock was what made me pick up a guitar in the first place so its great to get that sound again. I use a big muff pedal on the album and layer all the tracks. I love that big fuzzy sound.
How has lockdown affected you?
Lockdown has been okay for me. I'm used to being locked down living with health issues. There's always something I want to do each day that I cant and I always feel the world is leaving me behind. I'm always restricted and limited.
What surprised me was how badly some healthy people took lockdown. It made me realise how well I've coped with adversity. No-one likes being restricted so I gave myself a break for struggling with the issues I manage and live with each day.
Acceptance is difficult but really key in trying to carve a little life with my health issues. My family and friends are a great support and regular prolonged mindfulness meditation has really saved my life. With lockdown it felt like we were all going through it. We were all facing the same restrictions and threat. In a weird way, I felt more connected to the rest of the world as awful as the pandemic has been.
I found myself discovering new music too in lockdown and have began making and selling lampshades which is so theraputic.