Missing Out On Festivals: There Could Have Been ‘Good Times’ at Belladrum

You know that feeling, the one you get when you know you really should be somewhere else having a whale of a time, but you dithered and missed out on the opportunity, leaving others to have all the fun. I’m having that feeling today as despite promising myself I would definitely go this year, if only for a day, it’s just not happened.

I’m talking about our local music festival, called the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival (theme this year – Myths and Legends). It didn’t happen in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic, but it’s very much back on this year, and what a line-up. DD always used to go when she was younger and we acted as a taxi service taking her and her friends back and forth, sometimes even if they were camping. Nice to be able to pop home for a shower and dry out the wellies, especially if it was a wet and muddy year. Until recently I had been happy to leave the rigours of an open-air festival to the youngsters but I’m conscious of the fact I’m getting on a bit now (sad but true), and there may be few opportunities left for me to see some of these acts live.


But I did dither and here I am sitting at my computer instead. There were still day tickets left this week but I had guests arriving at the holiday hideaway, and the weather forecast was for rain. Needless to say I don’t now think it will rain, and despite being a dedicated host (remember my plans for ‘Alyson’s Highland Adventures’), who tells her guests she is available 24/7 to help out in any way, most of them rarely bother me once they’ve been handed the house keys and the Wi-Fi code.

So, next year there will be no dithering. I will block off all the calendars (and in my current life there are many) well in advance, and will be prepared for all-weathers. If anyone wants to join me, you know where to find me – there will even be an empty holiday hideaway for you to stay in. Of course next year there will be a totally different line-up but as the eagle-eyed amongst you might have spotted there are always a fair few very lively Scottish folk bands on the bill. All adds to the local flavour of the festival.

He’s certainly been busy this summer popping up at all sorts of outdoor events so I would have loved to see the legend that is Nile Rodgers perform live. Here is a clip of him from Glastonbury 2017, a set I remember watching on television and it certainly doesn’t feel like five years ago. (The pesky pandemic has played havoc with the timeline of our memories.)

Good Times by Chic:


It’s a long time since he’s affected the ‘chic’ sharp-suited look, apparently inspired by Bryan Ferry, but I do like his 21st century ‘street hippie’ look just as much. He’s probably going to be staying in one of our premier hotels tonight (no, not that one) – wonder if I could persuade Mr WIAA to hover around the foyer nursing a drink with me, just in case we get a chance to schmooze with him after his headline act performance. A long shot though, on both counts.

Another act on the bill I would have loved to see live are these guys from Iceland, Daði Freyr. They will always be remembered as the band who would have won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2020 had it not been cancelled, again due to the pandemic. No matter, they have made quite a name for themselves now anyway, and their dance routines have been copied many times on those social media platforms that feature short videos.


I really am going to have to get my act together aren’t I? Mr WIAA is not a particular fan of big open air concerts, as his middle-aged brain seems to no longer connect with his middle-aged bladder, reminding it that having no ‘facilities’ nearby really isn’t the end of the world! Too much information perhaps, but issues the youngsters don’t have to think about at all.

Time to start blocking off this same weekend in next year’s calendar I think. If I am still blogging this time next July, you will hopefully be reading about my exploits at Belladrum 2023. If not, feel free to give me a serious rollicking. No more missing out.

Until next time…

Good Times Lyrics
(Song by Nile Rodgers/Bernard Edwards)

Good times
These are the good times
Leave your cares behind
These are the good times

Good times
These are the good times
Our new state of mind
These are the good times

Happy days are here again
The time is right for making friends
Let’s get together, how ’bout a quarter to ten?
Come tomorrow, let’s all do it again

Boys will be boys, better let them have their toys
Girls will be girls, cute ponytails and curls
Must put an end to this stress and strife
I think I want to live the sporty life

Good times
These are the good times
Leave your cares behind
These are the good times

Good times
These are the good times
Our new state of mind
These are the good times

A rumor has it that it’s getting late
Time marches on, just can’t wait
The clock keeps turning, why hesitate?
You silly fool, you can’t change your fate

Let’s cut the rug, a little jive and jitterbug
We want the best, we won’t settle for less
Don’t be a drag, participate
Clams on the half shell and roller-skates, roller-skates

Good times
These are the good times
Leave your cares behind
These are the good times

Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Jackson Browne and ‘Somebody’s Baby’

Am I now too old to appreciate, and really enjoy, a coming-of-age movie from 1982 set in an American high school? Apparently not. When multiple references were made to Fast Times at Ridgemont High in the phenomenally successful Netflix drama Stranger Things, also set in the 1980s, I decided it was high time I watched it, and I’m so glad I did. It doesn’t matter how old you get, the themes that crop up in these movies – good and bad – still resonate, as those years when you are aged 16 to 18 are probably the most highly charged and memorable of your life. It’s certainly no coincidence that I write about songs from the late 1970s more than any other era in this retrospective music blog, just when I was that age exactly.

I don’t quite know how Fast Times… had slipped through the net for me as I’ve watched all those similarly themed ’80s movies many times over: Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off etc. In some ways Fast Times… hasn’t aged very well, as certain scenes just wouldn’t have been made nowadays, for all sorts of reasons, but in other ways nothing has changed. The various characters that make up the student body of a high school were all represented and most of the lead actors went on to great things: Sean Penn, Judge Reinhold, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, Forest Whitaker, with more minor roles played by Eric Stoltz and Nicolas Cage (or Nicolas Coppola as he was then).

Fast Times… was the first teen movie of its type and it seems to have formed the template for all that came afterwards. It is essentially a comedy-drama, but the drama is limited to observing the lives of a diverse group of characters as they navigate a single year of high school. Sean Penn, playing Jeff Spicoli, was the original ‘surfer stoner dude’ and gets all the best lines in the movie, some of them quite deep and observationally spot on.

“Life comes at you pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

“What Jefferson was saying was, ‘Hey! You know, we left this England place ’cause it was bogus; so if we don’t get some cool rules ourselves—pronto—we’ll just be bogus, too!’ Get it?” (I can now see where the makers of the Bill and Ted movies got their inspiration.)

“Mr. Hand, do you have a guy like me in all your classes? You know, a guy you make an example of?”

“Well Stu I’ll tell you, surfing’s not a sport, it’s a way of life, it’s no hobby. It’s a way of looking at that wave and saying, ‘Hey bud, let’s party!”

Coming from rural Scotland, I don’t exactly know why I have such a fondness for films set in American high schools, even now, but a lot of it could be down to how the lives of the students, although just like our own in many ways, always seemed much more glamourous and adrenaline-packed compared to what we experienced. Our senior school days played out just like those of Gregory, Dorothy and Susan in Gregory’s Girl, set in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire. Ridgemont, in the San Fernando Valley, it most definitely was not. In the late 1970s we didn’t have:

Sunny weather all year round (half our school year at least was spent in duffle coats as it was so cold and ‘dreich’)
Landlines in our bedrooms (our ‘house phones’ were in the hall or living room, if we had one at all, so no privacy)
Shiny new shopping malls to hang out in (we had the local high street or the park)
Car parks for the students to park their cars in (no-one had a car at my school, ergo, no car park!)
Street clothes worn to school (we had drab blazers, skirts, shirts & ties and aforementioned duffle coats)
Proms complete with bands, limousines and corsages (we had an end of term disco if we were lucky – no corsage needed)

Part-time jobs in trendy pizza and burger joints (if we were lucky we got a Saturday job in the baker’s shop, or a paper round)

Yes, I can see the appeal these films had for me back then, and to this day. Because Fast Times… was set in 1982 we of course were treated to a fine soundtrack full of songs recorded by some of the biggest American artists of the day (although some of them possibly having peaked a decade earlier – the director’s pick maybe?). The opening scene, set in the busy, colourful and space-age looking Ridgemont Mall (obviously the inspiration for the Starcourt shopping mall in Stranger Things), was played out to the song We Got The Beat by the Go-Gos. Again, the intro to this clip hasn’t aged well, but great to see the girls in action before they all started to go their separate ways.

We Got The Beat by the Go-Gos:


I kind of got sad watching the shopping mall scenes in the film as although we did eventually get these massive cathedrals dedicated to consumerism here in Scotland a few years later, most of them are now sitting half empty or have been bulldozed. We all shop online nowadays and young people hang out with their friends on social media, most certainly not in the local shopping centre food court. ‘Tis the times we are living through.

The other song that struck a cord, and one that has formed an earworm over the last few days since watching the film, is this one, Somebody’s Baby, by Jackson Browne. It became a leitmotif attached to one of the main characters, Stacy Hamilton. A perfect song for a film about the issues hormone ridden teens go through whilst at high school.

Somebody’s Baby by Jackson Browne:


Every now and again I revisit some of these teen/coming-of-age/slice-of-life movies and always get something new out of them. This blog is mainly nostalgia-based and boy do I get nostalgic when I watch movies set in the late ’70s/early ’80s. Not sure what that says about me, but I have nothing but fond memories for those days. I was one of the lucky ones I know, as not everyone has such fond memories of their teenage years. I do wish however I’d had a landline in my bedroom, a few more sunny days in the annual calendar and a shiny new mall to hang out in with my friends. Could have made life a whole lot easier!


Until next time…

Somebody’s Baby Lyrics
(Song by Jackson Browne/Danny Kortchmar)

Well, just – a look at that girl with the lights comin’ up in her eyes
She’s got to be somebody’s baby
She must be somebody’s baby
All the guys on the corner stand back and let her walk on by
She’s got to be somebody’s baby
She must be somebody’s baby
She’s got to be somebody’s baby
She’s so fine
She’s probably somebody’s only light
Gonna shine tonight
Yeah, she’s probably somebody’s baby, all right

I heard her talkin’ with her friend when she thought nobody else was around
She said she’s got to be somebody’s baby; she must be somebody’s baby
‘Cause when the cars and the signs and the street lights light up the town
She’s got to be somebody’s baby
She must be somebody’s baby
She’s got to be somebody’s baby
She’s so
She’s gonna be somebody’s only light
Gonna shine tonight
Yeah, she’s gonna be somebody’s baby tonight

I try to shut my eyes, but I can’t get her outta my sight
I know I’m gonna know her, but I gotta get over my fright
We’ll, I’m just gonna walk up to her
I’m gonna talk to her tonight
Yeah, she’s gonna be somebody’s only light
Gonna shine tonight
Yeah, she’s gonna be somebody’s baby tonight
Gonna shine tonight, make her mine tonight

A Flock of Seagulls, Adam and the Ants, and the Yin and Yang of Life

Back in the early days of the pandemic I often wrote a web diary kind of post, as things were changing by the day and I wanted to record my thoughts for posterity, if I made it (we really were thinking that way back then). Everyone was looking forward to the pandemic being over and ‘things getting back to normal’. I was sceptical whenever anyone said that however – the changes to our way of life were just so far-reaching. Whenever the equilibrium is disturbed, there is a knock-on effect elsewhere, and with Brexit and a war in Eastern Europe further disturbing that equilibrium, life is certainly a lot more challenging than it was back in 2019. Oh, and we also don’t have a fully functioning government at the moment. Yes, the Tories are in the throes of choosing their third new leader in six years, after Boris’s antics finally got too much to bear (although he still thinks he did nothing wrong – it was all down to a ‘herd mentality’).

And then there were two…

But most of us are not heavily invested in every twist and turn within the Westminster Bubble, most of us just want to get through the week, stay solvent (a challenge at the moment with prices rising so sharply) and have a few pleasurable moments along the way. I’ve had a few days this week when I changed my routine totally and it’s been really nice. We were lucky enough to avoid the scorching temperatures up here in the North of Scotland so it was lovely to join the many tourists visiting our town and go for an evening walk along the river. A stop off at our favourite ice-cream shop was a must, and my flavour of choice, Cherry Garcia, was slipping down nicely when suddenly something jumped on my back and my waffle cone was whipped out of my hand. First time in my life it’s happened, but I was attacked by…

Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You) by A Flock of Seagulls:


What a great excuse though to share a clip of my favourite A Flock of Seagulls song, Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You) from 1982. Of course most of us now mainly remember the band because of lead singer Mike Score’s quite spectacular early ’80s hairstyle. Looking at a current picture of him, the former hairdresser is now bald as a coot, but so often the case with our most hirsute of rock and pop idols from the past – Dave Gilmour, Michael Stipe, Phil Oakey. (I’m sure you could come up with many more?) That song still a great example of synthpop from one of the many new wave bands hailing from Liverpool at that time.

Mike Score today

Another change to my weekly routine was that I spent an entire day redesigning my garden. It’s a great frustration that come this time of year, gardens can go from being tidy to looking a tad overgrown in the space of a fortnight. A lot of quite boring maintenance is required but this week I was a bit more creative, replanting some pots, rearranging the garden furniture and doing some quite radical cutting back. I was really happy with the final result until I came in at the end of a hard day, only to discover that some creepy crawlies had fallen inside my T-shirt. By evening, I was covered in bites, all courtesy of…

Antmusic by Adam and the Ants


… well, the ants anyway. Again I’m travelling back to the early ’80s, when Adam and the Ants got to No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart with Antmusic. Another new wave band, but this time not relying on synthesisers but on heavy drumming and heavy use of the dressing up box. Adam’s style (real name Stuart Goddard) suited MTV, and his videos were camp and theatrical. Funnily enough Adam is another artist who maybe overdid the hairstyling back in the day and is also now bald as a coot. He hides it well however by doing a pretty good impression of Captain Jack Sparrow.

Adam Ant today

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Amidst all the political upheaval and difficulties the country is facing right now, in our own domestic bubbles there are still things that can give us joy. Take some time out from your regular routine (if you can) and become a tourist in your own town, or spend a day in the garden. The equilibrium, or yin and yang, of life however also means such indulgences can have a downside, like being attacked by a flock of seagulls, or getting ants in your proverbial pants (other insects are available), but as Boris stated in his resignation speech, ‘them’s the breaks’ (usually used when something unfair or unpleasant happens and you have no choice but to accept it). Well, we all have our views on whether him having to go was unfair or not, but in my case, I did think it was very unfair that those seagulls made off with my Cherry Garcia – what a great name for a flavour.

Inspiration for an ice-cream flavour – Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, never bald as a coot

Until next time…

Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You) Lyrics
(Song by Mike Score/Ali Score/Frank Maudsley/Paul Reynolds)

It’s not the way you look
It’s not the way that you smile
Although there’s something to them
It’s not the way you have your hair
It’s not that certain style
It could be that perfume

If I had a photograph of you
Or something to remind me
I wouldn’t spend my life just wishing

It’s not the make-up
And it’s not the way that you dance
It’s not the evening sky
It’s more the way your eyes
Are laughing as they glance
Across the great divide

If I had a photograph of you
Or something to remind me
I wouldn’t spend my life just wishing

It’s not the things you say
It’s not the things you do
But it must be something more
And if I feel this way for so long
Tell me is it all for nothing
You’ll still walk out the door

If I had a photograph of you
Or something to remind me
I wouldn’t spend my life just wishing

Postscript:

I was curious, so just wanted to pass this snippet on. A coot is a water bird which has a marking on its head that gives it an appearance of being bald. It does have feathers on his head, but it’s the way it looks from a distance that gives us the idiom. Every day’s a school day!

Austin Butler, Elvis (The Movie) and ‘Suspicious Minds’

In the early days of this blog there were a fair few Elvis Presley posts – in fact there is a category on my sidebar dedicated to him (link here) – but it’s not been added to for a long time, perhaps because everything I had to say about him has already been said. Until now.

It nearly didn’t happen, as the friend I was supposed to go and see the new Baz Luhrmann film Elvis with last week was struck down with covid. Last night was the last time it was showing at our local arts centre however, and she was still testing positive, so I persuaded Mr WIAA (he’s not a fan of Elvis so it was tough going), to come with me. Elvis was one of my first musical heroes so it was unthinkable that I might miss out on seeing this film on the big screen.

As it turned out we had a really sociable evening even before heading into the cinema. The deal struck was that I would drive, and Mr WIAA would enjoy a large glass of red wine in the bar ahead of the film starting. Once there, we both met old work colleagues and in Mr WIAA’s case, old friends from as far back as school days, one of whom is now DD’s boss. They were very complimentary about her abilities which is always nice to hear as a parent and of course a lot of catching up to be done. Ahead of the film starting we said our farewells, only of course to find ourselves sitting next to each other once inside. Typical.

But back to the film, I thought it was pretty fabulous actually. There is always a worry that the actor playing such an important role will not be believable, but Austin Butler was blisteringly perfect for it. Such a beautiful man too, just as the young Elvis was a beautiful, beautiful man. I use that word deliberately. I recently shared extracts from Caitlin Moran’s essay on what it takes to achieve the massive success bands like the Beatles found so quickly, and yes, it involves girls. Both the Beatles and Elvis, Frank Sinatra before them, and all those boys since have experienced the following:

They know there is a power they will never attain until they have stood in the white-noise of a theatre of devotion and seen the girls down the front collapse in ecstatic tears. (CM)

To experience that devotion you have to love girls, be on the side of girls, dress in dandy clothes like a girl, and most important of all, look beautiful like a girl. I was transfixed by Austin Butler’s cupid’s bow lips. For the duration of the film he had me convinced he was Elvis.

Sigh… those high cheekbones and the cupid’s bow lips

The storyline very much reflected the relationship between Elvis and his long time manager ‘Colonel’ Tom Parker. Tom Hanks, with his prosthetically enhanced nose and chin, did a fine job of playing the Colonel and acted as narrator throughout. I think most of us know the story by now of how the former carnival huckster wormed his way into his boy’s life and took total control, but watching the film it is understandable how the young Elvis and his parents were convinced he was the right man for the job. Every now and again it looked as if Elvis was going to stand up to him and make the break, only to be thwarted by some convincing talk from the Colonel that he knew best. Fortunately Elvis did stand his ground when it came to the ’68 Comeback Special, which was a triumph after his years of making lacklustre films in Hollywood. I still have the DVD of that show and unbelievably still have something to play it on, so will be seeking it out this weekend.

Throughout the film there were some incredible performances of many of the songs we associate with Elvis. I think Austin did some of the singing on the early ones but got a lot of help from the original recordings for the later years. All an absolute joy to watch however and I know I had a big smile on my face right the way through (also my right leg just wouldn’t stay still, shaking at breakneck speed in time to the music). Many of his songs have been shared around here before, but not this one. Most of us who were fans of Elvis prefer to forget about the latter years of his life (just too sad), but on the back of the ’68 Special, the Colonel arranged a six-week residency for him at the new International Hotel in Last Vegas. Elvis was fired up for it, was slim, dressed in a comfortable white jumpsuit and gave us some electrifying performances, especially this one which goes down in history I think as one of the most remarkable ever to have taken place. Elvis didn’t just sing songs, he became the song, and although not mathematically possible, he gave us 110%, every single time. (Gets really energetic in this clip from 2:45 onward.)

Suspicious Minds by Elvis Presley:


Suspicious Minds was a No. 1 hit for Elvis on the Billboard Chart and reached the No. 2 position in the UK in November 1969. It kickstarted things for him again and he followed it up with many other hit singles and albums. Although the song is about a dysfunctional relationship, during the film you couldn’t help but think the first lines of the lyric reflected Elvis’s life at the time. The Colonel effectively trapped him in Las Vegas, the residencies lasting for years as opposed to the six weeks originally planned. Elvis had wanted to tour the world, something he had never done before, but because of a deal struck on a napkin with the hotel owner early on, he couldn’t walk out.


So, ‘What’s It All About? – I would thoroughly recommend the film to everyone, even those who have never been Elvis fans. Ever since the success of the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, many more have been made about other artists, of differing quality, so it’s all becoming a bit boring now. I deliberately chose not to use that term for the Baz Luhrmann film however as it’s more about the journey these two men went on together, sadly culminating in a tragic ending for Elvis. Being a Baz movie, it is also of course lavishly colourful and opulent, so a feast for the eyes too.

I am always fascinated by novels where there is a dual narrative, of paths taken or not taken, and how they can either lead to a totally different outcome for the character or arrive at the same destination via another route. There is no doubt that had the Colonel not taken Elvis under his wing in those early days, he would still have become a big star. He had the looks, the voice, the moves and the stage charisma. To become such a big star at such a young age does not always bode well however for the artist, especially back in those days, so had the Colonel not insisted on the Hollywood route for his boy, things might still have gone awry. He was from a poor southern family, ill-equipped to deal with his sudden success and wealth, and was also a good-looking ‘dandy’ who loved that he was adored by women. An intoxicating mix for a young man. We will of course never know how it could have turned out, but he certainly has left an enduring legacy as the ‘King of Rock and Roll’.

Until next time… RIP Elvis Aaron Presley.

Suspicious Minds Lyrics
(Song by Mark James)

We’re caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Why can’t you see
What you’re doing to me
When you don’t believe a word I say?

We can’t go on together
With suspicious minds
And we can’t build our dreams
On suspicious minds

So, if an old friend I know
Stops by to say hello
Would I still see suspicion in your eyes?

Here we go again
Asking where I’ve been
You can’t see these tears are real
I’m crying
(Yes, I’m crying)

We can’t go on together
With suspicious minds
And we can’t build our dreams
On suspicious minds

Oh let our love survive
I’ll dry the tears from your eyes
Let’s don’t let a good thing die
When honey, you know I’ve never lied to you

Mmm yeah, yeah

We’re caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Why can’t you see
What you’re doing to me
When you don’t believe a word I say?

Oh, don’t you know
I’m caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Oh, don’t you know
I’m caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Oh, don’t you know
I’m caught in a trap

Glastonbury 2022, No Need to Feel Nervous for Sir Paul and ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!’

I did say I wasn’t going to write any more Beatles-related posts for a while – as there have been many around here of late – but after watching the headline act perform at Glastonbury last weekend (on telly), it can’t be avoided. I don’t know how well-known the Glastonbury Festival is outwith the UK but I’m guessing most people who visit this place will have heard of it. It’s a massive event in the British cultural calendar and it all began in 1970, inspired by the hippie movement and the counterculture of the 1960s. Michael Eavis, a dairy-farmer from Pilton, Somerset, came up with the idea of the first festival, and since then it has become a behemoth of an event where between two and three hundred thousand people have been known to attend. After the last two years’ planned festivals had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, it seems this year’s festival-goers were really up for it, and I dipped into much of the excellent BBC coverage over the course of last weekend.


The ‘big one’ however is the act who will perform on the Pyramid Stage on the Saturday night and this year it was to be none other than Sir Paul McCartney. He was supposed to headline back in 2020, and then last year, but eventually things got back on track and he got his time on that most famous of stages. It aired an hour later on telly, starting at 10.30pm, but I was really curious as to how it would go and of course I was also a bit nervous for him. He had turned 80 only the week before – could he still cut it? In the end I stayed up late, watching his entire set (link here to BBC iPlayer) until just after 1am and I think most of us would agree, yes he could.

With such a back catalogue of songs to choose from he was spoilt for choice, but he trod a nice balance, covering early Beatles, late Beatles, Wings and solo material, in no particular chronological order. Made it a nice surprise to find out what would pop up next. The vocals at times were less than perfect, and there were some sound issues, but his band have been with him a long time and are the consummate professionals. The crowd didn’t seem to notice any of the sound issues at all and were just happy to witness one of the world’s first pop superstars in action. Mr WIAA went to bed about half way through, which is a shame I think, because it wasn’t until the second half that the truly memorable bits happened. Lovely stills on the big screen behind him of George Harrison, and of course there was the duet with John Lennon using footage from Peter Jackson’s recent Get Back documentary series. There were also the ‘surprise’ guest appearances by Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen which meant at one point we had two of the three richest people in music on stage at the same time (sorry Dave, it wasn’t you), not that their wealth would have mattered a jot to them at that precise moment.

Paul on the Pyramid stage

But what meant more to me than the joy of listening to all those songs I know and love, was that it could happen at all. In my current life I find it hard to feel positive about the aging process. My mum has had dementia since before she turned 80 and is now in a care home, along with a lot of other people who also have dementia or who are just too physically infirm to look after themselves. Many of them are much younger than 80. Watching Glastonbury on Saturday night made me realise it’s not a given that this will happen to all of us. If we are lucky, and look after ourselves, there is a lot to be positive about as the years roll by. Paul was looking pretty good and very youthful for a man of his vintage I thought, and to have played and sang for over two and a half hours in such a setting was no mean feat. I’m sure he’s had a bit of ‘help’ along the way but he always was the baby-faced one amongst the Beatles and it seems to be holding him in good stead – that and being a serial monogamist and family man possibly?

I have added his setlist from Saturday night in the Postscript below, but which of all the many songs that were performed have resonated with me most since? I can’t believe I’m even admitting to this, as a very unlikely pick, but for the last five days I’ve had Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! going round and round in my head. It’s not even a Paul song but one written by John Lennon after he bought an old 19th century circus poster in an antiques shop in 1967. The song’s lyrics detail the entire evening’s program and of course it ended up on the Sgt. Pepper album, also made in 1967. How weird that it’s stayed with me all week but maybe because it’s one of the songs that hasn’t become over-familiar and I did enjoy how on the night, his drummer flamboyantly waved his arms around in a circular fashion, in the style of a circus performer. Quite a performance.


I can’t find YouTube footage of this song from his Glastonbury set, but here it is from earlier in the month performed elsewhere. See what I mean about the drummer, Abe Laboriel Jr., at 1:05 and 2:05? Below it you will find an audio clip of the original Beatles song recorded for Sgt. Pepper.

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! by the Beatles:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Lots of enjoyment to be had from watching the reinstated festival this year, even if it was vicariously via the telly. I was nervous for Sir Paul, but I shouldn’t have been, as everyone accepted his vocals can’t quite be what they were back in the day and they were happy just to have this legend on the Pyramid Stage at last. His band was fantastic and what with his ‘surprise’ guests, and the audience participation towards the end, he must have been really pleased by how it went down. I might have quite a few poorly and infirm 80-year olds in my life, but some of these rock and pop heroes from the 1960s make me realise it doesn’t have to be that way. If you keep on working on new things and feel passionate about what you do, there is no reason to slow down or stop doing it.

As for those who were actually there, I am a tad jealous. Many of us have been home-based for an awful long time now, and post-covid, some of us will continue to live that way. Watching the crowd scenes at Glastonbury, of all those people who came together for a festival, it reminded me that we humans are by nature social animals and should live in communities, not alone, interacting with a computer screen. Last time I wrote about my get-together in Edinburgh with my blogging pals. It was a wonderful few days and it harked back to how I used to live, always surrounded by people, having a chat, having a bit of a laugh. Now, not so much. Will have to do better going forward.

To end I had better show a clip from the actual night itself, so how about this bit of amateur footage. As I said, very jealous. A celebration of 60 years of popular music, my era of popular music, and I wasn’t even there. Thank goodness for the BBC.


Until next time…

Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! Lyrics
(Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

For the benefit of Mr. Kite,
There will be a show tonight
On trampoline
.

The Hendersons will all be there.
Late of Pablo Fanque’s Fair.
What a scene!

Over men and horses, hoops and garters,
Lastly through a hogshead of real fire!
In this way
Mr. K.
Will challenge the world!

The celebrated Mr. K.
Performs his feat on Saturday
At Bishopsgate.

The Hendersons will dance and sing
As Mr. Kite flies through the ring.
Don’t be late!

Messrs. K. and H. assure the public
Their production will be second to none.
And of course
Henry The Horse
Dances the waltz!

The band begins at ten to six,
When Mr. K. performs his tricks
Without a sound.

And Mr. H. will demonstrate
Ten summersets he’ll undertake
On solid ground.

Having been some days in preparation,
A splendid time is guaranteed for all.
And tonight
Mr. Kite
Is topping the bill!


Postscript:

Paul McCartney’s Glastonbury setlist of 39 songs

  • Can’t Buy Me Love (The Beatles song)
  • Junior’s Farm (Wings song)
  • Letting Go (Wings song)
  • Got to Get You Into My Life (The Beatles song)
  • Come On to Me
  • Let Me Roll It (Wings song) (with “Foxy Lady” outro jam)
  • Getting Better (The Beatles song)
  • Let ‘Em In (Wings song)apparently many people only know this song from the Postcode Lottery advert and were bemused by how it turned up on his setlist!
  • My Valentine
  • Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five (Wings song)
  • Maybe I’m Amazed
  • I’ve Just Seen a Face (The Beatles song)
  • In Spite of All the Danger (The Quarrymen song)
  • Love Me Do (The Beatles song)
  • Dance Tonight
  • Blackbird (The Beatles song)
  • Here Today
  • New
  • Lady Madonna (The Beatles song)
  • Fuh You
  • Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! (The Beatles song)
  • Something (The Beatles song
  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (The Beatles song)
  • You Never Give Me Your Money (The Beatles song)
  • She Came in Through the Bathroom Window (The Beatles song)
  • Get Back (The Beatles song)
  • I Saw Her Standing There (The Beatles song with Dave Grohl)
  • Band on the Run (Wings song with Dave Grohl)
  • Glory Days (Bruce Springsteen cover with Bruce Springsteen)
  • I Wanna Be Your Man (The Beatles song with Bruce Springsteen)
  • Let It Be (The Beatles song)
  • Live and Let Die (Wings song)
  • Hey Jude (The Beatles song)
  • Encore:
  • I’ve Got a Feeling (The Beatles song, virtual duet with John Lennon)
  • Helter Skelter (The Beatles song)
  • Golden Slumbers (The Beatles song)
  • Carry That Weight (The Beatles song)
  • The End (The Beatles song with Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen)

A Bloggers Meet-Up In Edinburgh, The Selector and ‘On My Radio’

Last time, I wrote about the television drama Stranger Things, where a tear in the fabric of reality means the town of Hawkins, Indiana, is exposed to a hostile alternate reality after a local scientific facility inadvertently creates a portal. I do like a drama with alternate realities, but of course I didn’t ever expect to become part of one…, until last week!

Hawkins from Stranger Things – a bad alternate reality

But don’t be alarmed – the alternate reality I was exposed to wasn’t hostile in the slightest, it was merely a bunch of like-minded music bloggers finally getting together in the real world, in Edinburgh to be exact, as opposed to virtually in the comments boxes of our blogs.

Edinburgh with blogging buddies – a good alternate reality


I have recounted the story of why I started this blog many times so won’t bore you with it again, but suffice to say, I like sharing my thoughts, and I like rock and pop trivia – a blog merging those two themes would serve me well I thought. In time I found other music blogs, Jez’s A History of Dubious Taste was the first, and by contributing to the comments boxes over at his place I found more music bloggers who were kind enough to add me to their sidebars. I certainly didn’t anticipate this happening when I started this place, but over the years I have actually met up with a few of them, and after a lot of delays due to the pandemic a date was finally fixed in the calendar for me to meet up again with the lovely C from Sun-Dried Sparrows. We had met up three years earlier in London, which was written about here, but now it was maybe time to include those other bloggers who have also expressed an interest in meeting up in the real world.

And so it came to pass that six of us (and partners) spent a really enjoyable few days in Scotland’s capital city last week. As most of us use an alias for our blogs, there was still an element of virtual reality going on, but to be honest, going by anything but your blog name would just feel weird in such a scenario. C and I stayed at a perfectly comfortable chain hotel five minutes from Waverley (which was handy for me as I think I heavily overpacked), CC and his wife came through from Glasgow on the second day, The Swede made a bit of a holiday of it staying for the week, Martin came all the way up for a single day (which was much appreciated), and John Medd (who has never gone by an alias and was teased relentlessly about it – I’M JOHN MEDD!) and his wife were on their way to a family wedding in Moray, so a perfect stopping off point. Everyone had already met at least one person in the group before, and on that Venn diagram of blog sidebars, we all overlap, so although there were a few initial nerves (for myself and C at any rate), it all went really well. To those of you who couldn’t make it this time, maybe another time, another city?


Needless to say a fair few hostelries were visited which was another break from reality for me, as just not something I do much in my current life, but when on a bloggers summit an’ all that. One of the highlights of the few days came about because John had found a Wednesday afternoon Open Mic session, and we all met up to hear him perform some of his own material. The ‘Old Boys Network’ was really welcoming, and quite bemused I think to hear we were a bunch of music bloggers who had (in the main) never met before. Being the only person in the group not to go by an alias, I’m sure John won’t mind me sharing a picture and a link to his Soundcloud where you will find some of the songs he performed (Camberwick Green being my favourite). A really enjoyable afternoon.

But it wasn’t all eating, drinking and making merry, we all did our own thing for much of the day and as C had never visited Edinburgh before we did a lot of walking together over the few days. In fact it wasn’t until I came home and DD showed me how to work out how many steps I’d done on my phone, I realised just how much walking we had done. Up and down the Royal Mile a few times, along Princes Street a few times, out to Haymarket and in the other direction out to Holyrood Park, almost climbing Arthur’s Seat in the process (but cut off at the pass). The weather was warm but not too sunny, which was a blessing considering how hot it was in the south of the country last week.


But what is it I always say at around this point – this is a music blog, so where is the music? Well here’s a thought. At one point in proceedings the conversation turned to, ‘What was your favourite ever gig?’. Of course blind panic kicked in for me, as over the last few decades I’ve not been known to attend many. As it turned out I shouldn’t have worried, as nearly everyone picked one from when they were a late teenager. There must be something about that time in your life that heightens the senses to everything you experience, and as we get older those senses are sadly dulled. My favourite ‘gig’ (although I would still refer to it as a concert) was the 2 Tone Tour that came to Aberdeen when I was aged 19. I’ve written about it around here already and shared something from Madness that time, so perhaps time to give Pauline Black and The Selector a mention this time. Oh to still have that much energy.

On My Radio by The Selector:


On My Radio was The Selector’s biggest hit and reached the No. 8 spot on the UK Singles Chart in 1979, just around the time I went to see them, along with Madness and fellow Coventry-based band The Specials. What a time to be alive. Glad I had it up my sleeve as a ‘gig’ to remember.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – An odd song choice for a post about a bloggers get-together in historic Edinburgh, but then again, quite apt in a way. If I hadn’t been obsessed by listening to my little transistor radio as a teenager, I probably wouldn’t have got into chart music quite so much, and if I hadn’t got into chart music back then I wouldn’t have had as much to write about around here. You see where I’m going? Without the stories and songs written about in this blog I wouldn’t have like-minded followers and without those followers on my sidebar there would have been no ‘bloggers summit’.

As most of us still like to wear the blogger’s cloak of anonymity, I won’t share any of the pictures taken in Edinburgh, but they do exist, so who knows, maybe one day. As I said I didn’t expect to ever meet up with any of the people who visit this place, and whose blogs I also follow, but now that it’s happened (several times now), I see it as a wonderful upside to this hobby of ours. As for all the personal stuff I’ve shared around here, I’m now regretting some of it, but hey ho, the price you have to pay to venture through that tear between the virtual and real world. I would thoroughly recommend it.

Until next time…

On My Radio Lyrics
(Song by Neol Davies)

I bought my baby a red radio
He played it all day, a-go-go a-go-go
He liked to dance to it down in the streets
He said he loved me but he loved the beat

But when I switch on I rotate the dial
I could see it there driving him so wild
I bought my baby a red radio
He said he loved me but he had to go

It’s just the same old show on my radio
It’s just the same old show on my radio
It’s just the same old show on my radio
It’s just the same old show on my radio
On my radio, on my radio, on my radio

I bought my baby a red radio
He played it all day a-go-go a-go-go
He liked to dance to it down in the streets
He said he loved me but he loved the beat

It’s just the same old show on my radio
It’s just the same old show on my radio
It’s just the same old show on my radio
It’s just the same old show on my radio
On my radio on my radio on my radio

It’s just the same old show on my radio (I bought my baby a red radio)
It’s just the same old show on my radio (A red radio a-go-go a-go-go)
It’s just the same old show on my radio (A red radio I rotate the dial)
It’s just the same old show on my radio (A red radio driving him so wild)

It’s just the same old show on my radio (I bought my baby a red radio)
It’s just the same old show on my radio

Stranger Things and Kate Bush, ‘Running Up That Hill’

Now that I no longer take any heed of what is going on in the music charts, I get most of my inspiration for this blog from the music that pops into my life from other sources, one of those being the soundtracks to films and television dramas. It seems many others are the same and that’s why the charts of today, based on the volume of downloads/streams in the last week (I can’t pretend to understand it all), can sometimes be infiltrated with songs from the distant past.


Many of us who have just watched the first batch of episodes from the latest season of Stranger Things, seem to have been afflicted by an earworm, and it’s driven us to seek out this song in it’s entirety. Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush was first a hit for her in 1985, but because of it’s association with the popular science-fiction/horror drama set in ’80s Indiana, it’s right up there at the top of the UK Singles Chart again in 2022.

Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) by Kate Bush


I’m sure Ms Bush is quite bemused by all this sudden attention her song is receiving, especially as she now lives a fairly quiet life in an English village. Watching the clip for the song, she is just as I remember her – flowing hair, a leotard and an interpretive dance performance. She has appeared around here before and when I looked into her career back then I was shocked to find out how young she was when she wrote some of her most successful songs. A bit of a child prodigy that’s for sure.

As for Stranger Things, it seems to be the biggest thing on Netflix at the moment and like many other series affected by the pandemic (Ozark, Better Call Saul…), the season has been broken into two halves, as filming took much longer than usual. Only got a few weeks to wait until the final episodes air however and thankfully there seems to be a fifth season in the pipeline as most of the quality dramas have now ended for good (bar Saul, whose final few episodes, ever, will air soon).

The kids from Stranger Things
The kids from Buffy (plus Giles)

I can’t help compare Stranger Things to Buffy the Vampire Slayer which we became heavily invested in as a family 20 years ago. A bunch of small town kids from very different social groups come together to fight evil, the grown-ups and figures of authority seemingly unaware of, or unable to process, what is going on. The difference this time is that it’s a period drama and although to me, the ’80s doesn’t even feel that long ago, for most viewers it will seem like ancient history. If you lived through that time you will spot where they have got the period details, like the clothes and the hair, just right. Sometimes in the first season it was a bit off, but in season four the perms and shoulder pads are spot on. In case of giving away spoilers I won’t include a clip of the scene where Kate’s song is used (to great effect), but if you’ve already seen it, here is the link – not for the faint-hearted. It was apparently chosen because, ‘it’s deep chords connected with (the character) Max’s emotional struggles’. Gives us one of the best musical moments in television history.

Max levitates

I usually include a music clip in my posts but I get nervous about sharing something that is so current as you can fall foul of the ‘internet police’ and get a take down notice. Instead, as a treat for new fans of Kate Bush I will include one of her other songs, one to which I have a personal story attached, but perhaps for another day. Cloudbusting was also a big hit for her in 1985 and the video for it stars Donald Sutherland as an inventor/father trying to get his cloudbusting machine to work (inspired by Peter Reich’s 1973 Book of Dreams).

Cloudbusting by Kate Bush:


I’ve already mentioned around here that I seem to have become a bit of a telly addict since Lockdown 1, but I don’t suppose I’m alone. We as a family didn’t even have access to Netflix or the like when I started this blog so there were far fewer distractions of an evening and the quality of these distractions seem to be getting better year on year. What can I say, I’m a weak, weak woman – BUT, as a lover of music from decades past who is ‘revisiting the tracks of her years’, there is often something on a television soundtrack to enjoy, and I certainly don’t seem to have been alone in enjoying the unexpected musical star of Stranger Things Season 4. Way to go Kate – you have a new legion of young fans who are adept in the ways of the world wide web. Expect to be at the top of the charts for quite some time.

Until next time…

Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) Lyrics
(Song by Kate Bush)

It doesn’t hurt me
Do you want to feel how it feels?
Do you want to know that it doesn’t hurt me?
Do you want to hear about the deal that I’m making?
You, it’s you and me

And if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get him to swap our places
Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
Be running up that building
See if I only could, oh

You don’t want to hurt me
But see how deep the bullet lies
Unaware I’m tearing you asunder
Ooh, there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love?
Tell me, we both matter, don’t we?
You, it’s you and me
It’s you and me won’t be unhappy

And if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get him to swap our places
Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
Be running up that building
Say, if I only could, oh

You
It’s you and me
It’s you and me won’t be unhappy

C’mon, baby, c’mon darling
Let me steal this moment from you now
C’mon, angel, c’mon, c’mon, darling
Let’s exchange the experience, oh

And if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get him to swap our places
Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
With no problems

So if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get him to swap our places
Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
With no problems

So if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get him to swap our places
Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
With no problems

So if I only could
Be running up that hill
With no problems

(If I only could, I’d be running up that hill)
(If I only could, I’d be running up that hill)

‘We May Never Pass This Way Again’ – RIP Jim Seals

It’s become a bit of a thing in our house that rarely an hour, heck 10 minutes goes by, without me saying, ‘I’ve written about that song’. Yes, the songs I revisit around here are generally well-known classics that regularly pop up on mainstream radio, and on the soundtracks to television dramas. Every now and again a lesser known song I’ve written about pops up however, and that happened the other day when I heard We May Never Pass This Way Again by Seals & Crofts on the radio, a song that was new to me around five years ago and one I immediately fell in love with. It wasn’t until the folowing day that I realised it had been played because one half of the duo, Jim Seals, had died, or passed as we euphemistically like to call it.

Regulars around here will know that I’m a bit of a fan of 1970s soft rock and Seals and Crofts fitted that genre nicely. It wasn’t until I delved into them a bit more that I discovered all sorts of connections to other songs written about earlier on in this blog. It was a fun post to write so I’m going to share it again. Jim was 80 when he died, so not one of those tragic departures like we’ve had of late, but of course for his family, friends and fans he will be sadly missed. RIP Jim Seals.

Seals and Crofts, England Dan and ‘We May Never Pass This Way Again

First published 25th July 2017

Early on in my days of blogging, long before I kind of lost the plot as to what it was all supposed to be about (that would be a nostalgic journey through the tracks of my years), I covered the soft rock classic I’d Really Love To See You Tonight by England Dan and John Ford Coley (link here). My previous post before I had a break for the summer featured Summer Breeze by The Isley Brothers which has always been a favourite of mine, but, whilst doing a bit of research as to its provenance I made a wonderful discovery. The song was not indeed written by the Isley Brothers as I had always thought but by the writing duo Seals and Crofts, Jim Seals being the older brother of Dan Seals, or England Dan as he became known because of his great love for the Beatles.

Although from Texas, that nickname was given to him by big brother Jim after he briefly affected an English (or was it Liverpudlian?) accent. And this is what my blog was always supposed to be about – finding out the backstory to the songs and artists of my youth. There is so much more information out there now (ok some might be a bit dubious) but back in the day, all we had was Jackie magazine and a few more worthy publications – we lived in blissful ignorance, which was perhaps a good thing in light of a few revelations of late, but as you may have guessed I am a bit of a rock & pop ‘facts and figures’ aficionado, so for me, this brave new digital world is just perfect.

So, what follows on from Summer Breeze? Well by good fortune I heard a song on the car radio the other day by none other than Seals and Crofts and was immediately smitten by it – Like little brother’s output, the music of Jim Seals and his singing partner Darrell ‘Dash’ Crofts, fitted nicely into the soft rock camp which now seems to have become a bit of a derogatory term but when it comes to rock I have always preferred mine to be of the soft rather than the hard variety anyway (and my listening to be easy as opposed to difficult). These genres and labels we give music truly baffle me as at the end of the day there is music of great quality and music that really is a bit rubbish, but there is also music that just gives lots of pleasure, to lots of people, and this song does that for me. The Carpenters whom I featured recently (link here) also came from the soft rock camp and the passage of time, and Karen’s tragic death, seems to have erased any preconceptions many had about their output. When it comes to music of quality, it doesn’t get much better than The Carpenters.

We May Never Pass This Way Again by Seals and Crofts:

The song We May Never Pass This Way (Again), from 1973, didn’t ever enter the UK Singles Chart but it did reach No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. I can honestly say I don’t remember ever having listened to Seals and Crofts before (neither can Mr WIAA) but theirs was very much the kind of music that was all pervasive during my teenage years. Originating in southern California, soft rock was a style that largely featured acoustic guitars and slow-to-mid tempos – simple, melodic songs with big, lush productions. I very much doubt if we called it soft rock back then but when listening to the radio from the early ’70s onward much of what we heard was by bands and artists such as Anne Murray, John Denver, Linda Ronstadt, Rod Stewart, Carole King, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Toto, England Dan & John Ford Coley, the Eagles, Chicago, America and the reformed Fleetwood Mac whose ‘Rumours’ was the best-selling album of the decade. In the late ’70s, prominent soft rock acts included Boz Scaggs, Michael McDonald, Christopher Cross and Captain & Tennille. A lot of albums were brought in to school and exchanged amongst friends for the very naughty practice of home-taping. Good to know such illicit activity doesn’t happen today!

Since we are featuring big brother Jim’s song in this post, I can’t leave little brother Dan out, so here is another soft rock delight, this time from the late ’70s. Love Is The Answer was written by Todd Rundgren and was a hit for England Dan and John Ford Coley in 1979. Although I loved this soundtrack to my teenage years, we weren’t really awash with visuals in those days and YouTube was still a few decades away. This sounds really shallow but I am quite glad now as somehow these lush love-songs sound better when you don’t think of the moustachioed pair who sang them. My bedroom walls at the time may have had an array of good-looking boys on them, but when it just came down to the lyrics, who wouldn’t want ‘a ticket to paradise’?


Until next time….

We May Never Pass This Way (Again) Lyrics
(Song by Jim Seals/Dash Crofts)

Life, so they say, is but a game and we let it slip away.
Love, like the Autumn sun, should be dyin’ but it’s only just begun.
Like the twilight in the road up ahead, they don’t see just where we’re goin’.
And all the secrets in the Universe, whisper in our ears

And all the years will come and go, take us up, always up.
We may never pass this way again. We may never pass this way again.
We may never pass this way again.
Dreams, so they say, are for the fools and they let ’em drift away.

Peace, like the silent dove, should be flyin’ but it’s only just begun.
Like Columbus in the olden days, we must gather all our courage.
Sail our ships out on the open sea. Cast away our fears
And all the years will come and go, and take us up, always up.

We may never pass this way again. We may never pass this way again.
We may never pass this way again.
So, I want to laugh while the laughin’ is easy. I want to cry if it makes it worthwhile.
We may never pass this way again, that’s why I want it with you.

‘Cause, you make me feel like I’m more than a friend.
Like I’m the journey and you’re the journey’s end.

We may never pass this way again, that’s why I want it with you, baby.
We may never pass this way again. We may never pass this way again.
We may never pass this way again. We may never pass this way again

Yet More Beatles, ‘I Feel Fine’ and Words of Wisdom from Caitlin Moran

This blog has been a bit Beatles-heavy of late as after watching Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back mini-series on Disney+, I went on to watch some of the many other documentaries made about them, and kind of fell in love with them all over again. I admit to having been a bit too young for ‘Beatlemania’, but of course I knew of them, and in the early ’70s their films were often shown on telly during the school holidays. When the Red and Blue compilation albums were released in 1973, I somehow acquired them and loved pouring over the lyrics on the inner sleeves – what a songwriting journey between Love Me Do and The Long and Winding Road. (When I say I somehow acquired them, that’s because albums like this were really expensive in relation to what we received as pocket money back then, so I can only imagine there must have been a build up of birthday and Christmas money in my piggy bank.)

How great they were able to recreate the original picture all those years later. The EMI building now long since gone.

I mention the above because I am going to write one more Beatles-themed post before giving them (and you) a bit of a break. I have been making excuses of late as to why my blogging output has been falling short of normal – all valid excuses – but how to kick start things again once you’ve lost momentum? I decided to revert to one of the ideas I had when I first set up this place, simply pick a song at random, then challenge myself to write about it. When I opened the music app on this device the other night and pressed play, the song that burst forth was this one – I Feel Fine, a non-album single by the Beatles from 1964 (Paul goes over his ankle at 0:09 in this clip!).

I Feel Fine by the Beatles:


Most of us will already be really familiar with this simple but effective love song, but what made it a bit different, and a bit experimental, was that it starts with a single feedback note. It was apparently produced by accident when Paul plucked the A string on his bass, and John’s guitar, which was leaning against Paul’s bass amp, picked up feedback. The band loved that ‘Nnnnnnwahhhhh’ sound and asked George Martin if it could be edited onto the front of the record. It could, and the rest as they say, is history.

In the promotional clip for the song, made for a Top of the Pops round-up of the year’s biggest hits, the band are shown interacting with various items of gym equipment. George sang into a punch-ball whilst Ringo pedalled on an exercise bike. I recently shared a trailer for their film A Hard Day’s Night and although filmed just a year and a half later, the clip for I Feel Fine shows a band that is starting to morph into something else – the hair is longer, the clothes more casual and the attitude a bit more irreverent. Interestingly the Beatles only appeared on the live TOTP show once, which is really unusual for a British band from the ’60s, but then they were rarely available, and could it be that they got so big, so fast, that such a weekly chart show was a bit beneath them? Not sure, but few of the really big stars of music ever appeared, which led to the show becoming a bit MTV-ish for a time, especially in its final years.

But the main reason I was happy to have a song by the Beatles pop up as a random pick, was because I have been wanting to share an extract for some time from one of my favourite books, by one of my favourite authors. I don’t have many books by my bedside with little sticky tabs inserted to remind me of important passages, but two of them are by Caitlin Moran, whose writing I love. In her novel How To Be Famous, an entire chapter is dedicated to a letter, written by the main character to her friend John, who has suddenly become a big star in the world of music. The chapter/letter is too long to share in full, but here are what I think are the best bits, that sum up what she is trying to tell her friend:

There is one terrible weakness you can have if you amusedly and self-deprecatingly describe yourself as an artist, and become famous. One let-down if you become loved by millions, and your work is meaningful work. And that is if some of the millions who know, and love you, are teenage girls (…) the love of teenage girls is not merely substandard, or worthless – it is an active mortification to an artist. Oh you take those girls’ money and become elevated on their devotion, and enjoy them putting you at Number One – but you do not respect those girls.

Things that boys love are cooler than things girls love. That is a simple fact. Boys love clever things, cleverly. Girls love foolish things, foolishly. How awful it would be to love things like teenage girls do. How awful it would be to be the wrong kind of fan – a girl. A dumb, hysterical, screaming girl.

But bands need to be screamed at. In their hearts they know that. They know there is a power they will never attain until they have stood in the white-noise of a theatre of devotion and seen the girls down the front collapse in ecstatic tears. And this is true even when it’s the biggest scream in the world, even when the mythology is that the screaming was what killed your band.

The Beatles at Shea Stadium

Why did girls love the Beatles so much? Because the Beatles loved girls. They were saturated in girl culture – they loved black American girl groups; they had dandy outfits and uncomfortable pointy shoes, like girls. They went out of their way to write about girls in their songs – ‘She Loves You’ is the Beatles siding with a girl in love… acting as her sexy envoys. They grew their hair long, like girls: an act of alliance in a time when femininity was implicitly inferior.

How can you be as extraordinary as the Beatles? How can you change so much, in such a short space of time, with seemingly nothing – no capital, no contacts no education – on your side? By tapping into the cultural capital of humanity: girls. To be on the side of girls. To look girls in the eye, and declare yourself on our team. To copy girls, to acknowledge girls, to learn from girls.

The great pity of my lifetime is that still no one notices this is what happens. Girls are invisible. The power source goes unacknowledged. But not to other girls. I see you girls. I see you in history. And all anyone has to do – to have our impossible energy and love, given willingly, forever – is to say, ‘I see you too.’

Well said Caitlin.

The wonderful Caitlin Moran

Until next time…

I Feel Fine Lyrics
(Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

Baby’s good to me, you know
She’s happy as can be, you know
She said so
I’m in love with her and I feel fine

Baby says she’s mine, you know
She tells me all the time, you know
She said so
I’m in love with her and I feel fine

I’m so glad that she’s my little girl
She’s so glad, she’s telling all the world

That her baby buys her things, you know
He buys her diamond rings, you know
She said so
She’s in love with me and I feel fine, mmm

Baby says she’s mine, you know
She tells me all the time, you know
She said so
I’m in love with her and I feel fine

I’m so glad that she’s my little girl
She’s so glad, she’s telling all the world

That her baby buys her things, you know
He buys her diamond rings, you know
She said so
She’s in love with me and I feel fine
She’s in love with me and I feel fine, mmm, mmm

My First Job (As A Pre-Schooler), Kenny Chesney and ‘Shiftwork’

Well, I seem to have turned into a bimonthly blogger. Or at least I thought I had until I discovered bimonthly can mean either occurring twice a month, or every two months. All very confusing so you have to add something else to clarify which of the two you mean i.e. ‘a bimonthly blogger only publishing something new twice a month’. Seems to me it’s probably best to avoid the word altogether.

It probably comes as no surprise to regular followers around here, that when life gets a bit angsty, my blogging suffers. Watching rolling news is a recipe for disaster but nigh impossible to avoid. Like many others, I sometimes wish I could turn back the clock and change some of the events of the past six years, both in the wider world and closer to home (Brexit, that pesky bat in Wuhan, my mum’s Alzheimer’s…).


The hot topic at the moment is the ‘cost of living crisis’, as it’s being coined. Basically, everything is getting more expensive. I cannot imagine how tough it must be for families with young children coping with the current onslaught of rising prices – energy, petrol, food, etc. Can it go on long-term? Hope not. I had thought we would be ok when retirement comes along but now I’m not so sure – my decision to give up my secure office job ten years shy of pension age, so that I could spend more time blogging, was maybe not one of my best, but hey, who knew back then what lay ahead.

Talking of jobs, something nice happened recently that made me reflect on my very first experience of the world of work, when I was aged just four. Every now and again I get contacted by one of the people I used to know from my old village primary school. It’s still a close-knit community and although I am no longer part of it, they know I have a good memory for things that happened in the dim and distant past. A booklet is going to be published soon containing stories from the 1960s and they wondered if I would contribute. Here’s what I came up with (some of it in Doric, the local dialect):


Going to Work for the Doctor

One of my very first memories is from when I was aged four. Doctor Campbell, our local GP, had opened the back door to our house on Meadow Avenue to find us sitting at our little kitchen table supping our lunchtime soup, possibly broth, or maybe tattie it being a Saturday.

‘Isn’t it time you were getting back to work quine?’ he said to my mum who was still in shock from this unannounced visit (but no-one locked their doors in those days and village doctors didn’t stand on ceremony).

I think the year was 1964 and it turned out he was in need of assistance as his wife, Mrs Campbell, who became my Primary Three teacher, was heading back to the classroom. A new appointment-based system was going to be set up and there would be a need for reception/secretarial staff at his little surgery within the grounds of his house on Western Road. He had obviously remembered my mum from her time at John Robertson Ltd, the local building firm, where she had worked for many years prior to having me.

‘But what about Alison?’ asked my mum once a brief discussion had taken place between the good doctor and my parents. (Our soup by this time had quite probably gone cold.)

‘She can come too,’ he replied.

The young worker in her favourite office attire – a dress with rabbits on it! (My dad’s bumper ‘tattie’ crop in the background)

And so it came to pass that my mum and I headed off to work every morning, me on my trike and her in one of her smart outfits that hadn’t been needed for some time, those pencil skirt and edge-to-edge jacket combos that were popular in the early ‘60s. It couldn’t happen nowadays of course, and I can’t imagine any of my 21st century bosses agreeing to such a thing, but I think I must have been quite a well-behaved and trustworthy child who was good at amusing herself, so it worked well. There was the waiting room to ‘file’ comics in (I couldn’t actually read them yet as Miss Margaret, my Primary One teacher, still had to work her magic on me); the garden and conservatory to ‘make house visits’ in; and the paths to ride my three-wheeled ‘ambulance’ on. If I ever had a fall and ‘skinned my knee’, as children are prone to do, there was medical assistance close at hand. Come lunchtime we headed home again and the other lady, who had been recruited at the same time, took over, ready to greet the afternoon’s batch of patients.

In due course, I started school, so my days of ‘going to work’ were short-lived but my mum carried on supporting the local GP practice for another 31 years right up until she retired in 1995, at age 60. There were many changes of course during that time with some doctors retiring and other new ones joining the practice. It happened after I had left the village, but there was also the move to the fancy new Health Centre, and the advent of computerisation which had to be grappled with and conquered.

My mum lives in a care home now, not far from me, but on her wall she still has the cross-stitched picture she was given upon her retirement, of her sitting at the Health Centre reception window in her red cardigan. Happy memories for her indeed, of being at the heart of the community and of a job well done.

____________________

But what the heck – this is supposed to be a music blog. I have pretty much used up all the wordcount already so nothing much left to do but share a song relating to the world of work – this one called Shiftwork by Kenny Chesney. I can’t say I know much about Kenny other than that he’s American and is a very successful country music star, having won many awards. The song Shiftwork was recorded with George Strait in 2007 for his album Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates. Both singers express their frustrations with constantly working shifts at a convenience store.

Shiftwork by Kenny Chesney (feat. George Strait)


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – The world of work has changed a lot over the generations and in the 21st century it has changed again. Although there seem to be plenty of job vacancies out there, most of them are down to the after-effects of Brexit, and the pandemic, so not always the quality jobs our offspring need to get them on track for adult life. Many of DD’s friends already have two (shiftwork) jobs and she has recently taken on a second job herself. Life is tough for some of them and without help from the mythical ‘bank of mum and dad’, the idea of ever owning their own home is a non-starter. I think I may have thrown in the towel myself, a tad too soon.

Until next time…

Shiftwork Lyrics
(Song by Troy Jones)

Shift work, hard work, tired body
Blue-collar shirt and a baseball cap
You knew me

He’s hot, sweat drops, ’round the clock
Door never locks
Noise never stops
Not all day
Work seven to three
Three to eleven
Eleven to seven

Shift work, tough work for the busy convenience store clerk
Two feet that hurt, going insane
She’s mad at some lad
Drove off and didn’t pay for his gas and he won’t be the last
’round the clock pain
Work seven to three
Three to eleven
Eleven to seven


Talking about a bunch of shift work
A big ol’ pile of shift work
Work seven to three
Three to eleven
Eleven to seven

Well I work, shift work,
Ten years man, i hated that work
I made a break with the money i saved
It took me to the beach to have a beer by the edge of the sea
And this ’round a clock place
I drank my money away
We partied
Work seven to three
Three to eleven
Eleven to seven

Work seven to three
Three to eleven
Eleven to seven