Mark Croxon and the JimJams online music group have produced a breathtaking cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water in aid of Tonic Music for Mental Health.
Read on to find out what inspired this collaboration and how music has brought people together in lockdown.
Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel – performed by JimJams in aid of Tonic Music for Mental Health
“It’s a friend or lover, extending an encouraging hand… to comfort you, dry your eyes, ease your mind, take your side.”
As we reflect upon 2020 and recognise the challenges that it has thrown at everyone across the globe, can we find a silver lining? Despite the headlines about isolation, and the negative effects on mental health, two periods of lockdown in the UK have led many of us to appreciate the simpler but more fundamental things in life. The opportunity to go for a walk, to enjoy the beauty of the changing of the seasons, to sit still, to read, to write.
For me, the true highlight of the year has been JimJams, the now only slightly tongue-in-cheekily titled, “The World Famous International Grosvenor SW1 Online Open Mic”. At the beginning of November, I wrote about how the roots of an in-real-life monthly open mic night at The Grosvenor pub in Pimlico has grown organically over time into a weekly, international online event – you can read the article here:
The ability to employ relatively cheap and easily accessible communication and music production technology led to the collaboration of a group of over fifty active participants, and dozens more viewers from all around the world: England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, the United States, and Japan. That’s the “how”, but what’s the “why”? Why did this happen in the first place, and why has it carried on every week for three quarters of a year?
JimJams has become an environment where people not only share their different musical tastes – singing and playing three songs – but we talk, and laugh, and support each other on topics quite separate from music. We have all benefitted in our own ways from the love and support in this group, and all agree that this highlight to our week has helped to keep us in good spirits through such an unusually demanding year. We recognise the beneficial effects of learning to play, record and produce music, and the therapeutic effects of music and poetry in allowing oneself to express one’s feelings, thoughts and troubles.
So, what’s the “what’?
Back in May, I decided to set up a Just Giving page to raise funds for Tonic Music for Mental Health, in lieu of not being able to celebrate my birthday, due to lockdown. As a group, we also thought it would be a good idea to create a collaborative recording as a gift to Tonic – to continue to raise funds and enable them to carry out their mission to raise mental health awareness, challenge stigma and promote mental wellbeing through music and the arts. We believe that this song from fifty years ago continues to offer succour to people. So, with love from JimJams to Tonic, here is our international collaboration of Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water. Please, instead of that pint at the works’ Christmas party, or the office Secret Santa, why not donate £5 to the wonderful work that Tonic continues to do: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jimjamstonic
And let’s look forward to live music in 2021!
Tonic was founded in 2012 as a direct response to the lack of creative support for people experiencing mental health difficulties. It was founded upon the belief that participation in music and the arts can aid you in your recovery from mental illness. Tonic’s mission is to raise mental health awareness, challenge stigma and promote mental wellbeing through music and the arts. From its early beginnings promoting mental health awareness, Tonic now champions mental health action. By providing opportunities for people to participate in music and the arts, Tonic directly supports them on their journeys of recovery. Having its roots in ska music, and patronage from The Specials, it seems appropriate to categorise Tonic’s values as the Ten Commandments:
1. We believe that participation in music and the arts can promote and sustain the mental wellbeing of everyone involved.
2. We believe in standing up for the rights of people suffering from mental illness, who deserve hope, support and respect.
3. We believe in a recovery-based approach to mental healthcare. People’s lives should be about more than just survival.
4. We believe that finding purpose and a sense of belonging can be an effective tonic for mental illness.
5. We believe that the stigma, discrimination and marginalisation of people suffering from mental illness is an injustice that needs to be put right.
6. We believe that discussion, education and inclusion are a means to reducing stigma and breaking down barriers.
7. We believe that participation in music and the creative arts can support people in their recovery from mental illness and empower them to become the best versions of themselves. Creative therapies have long been known to aid in recovery.
8. We believe that the practice of waiting for people to reach crisis, and then treating them at great expense – as the public sector model currently does – is failing some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Tonic aims to prevent crisis in the first place, by lifting people up before they hit rock bottom. Early intervention saves lives.
9. We believe in health equality. There should be equality between physical and mental healthcare.
10. We believe in the importance of trust, which is built through the transparency and integrity of our organisation.