Carrie Bradshaw, Barbra Streisand and Guilty

Although my posts often follow on from each other and are somewhat related, the two I wrote last week (from my sickbed) were very different indeed with no obvious link at all. Yet again however a strange synchronicity has come about, and this is the post that links them.

WARNING: It’s all about to get very girly!

In my last post I featured the song Single Girl by The Primitives/Sandy Posey (take your pick). It was all about a girl feeling a bit sad and lonely in a “great big town”. One of the most infamous groups of “Single Girls” were those Manhattan-based stars of Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw and her pals, also at times known to feel a bit sad and lonely in a great big town (although not that often to be fair).

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This reminded me that one of my favourite scenes from a SATC episode was the one where Carrie realises that her failed relationship with Mr Big (the nickname her ex-boyfriend is given – he was supposed to be The Big One, the one she married) was down to the same reason that it didn’t work out for Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand in the 1973 film The Way We Were. The world is made up of “complicated girls” with wild curly hair (Carrie and Barbra) and “simple girls”, the ones with tame straight hair – Big and Redford chose the simple girls!

As mentioned above, the female star of TWWW was Barbra Streisand. Who then appeared on the cover of the magazine that pops through my letterbox on a Saturday? – Yes, it was Barbra Streisand. I don’t know what it is about Streisand but she has always just looked so beautiful and timeless to me – Gorgeous hair, skin and that kinky nose. She is one of a very small group of artists who have won Grammys, Emmys, Tonys and Oscars, such is the breadth of her talent – The Queen of the Divas indeed.

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Got me thinking and joy of joys I discovered that TWWW resides on Netflix so (again from my sickbed) I decided to give it another viewing as I have shockingly never watched it all the way through from beginning to end in one sitting. Of course I had to have a little weep once we got to that scene at the end where Katie (Barbra) tells Hubbell (Robert) that “his girl is lovely” (although she is no doubt crying inside).

Barbra Streisand doesn’t sing in that one but she did record the lovely theme song which contains the following lines:

Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line
If we had the chance to do it all again, tell me, would we, could we……?

Ironically, last year, after failing miserably to co-ordinate a date for a reunion weekend with my old “Single Girl” friends, I jokingly sent them an email with those very lines contained within. I thought it was quite funny….but they didn’t. We are all just about talking again now (perhaps that cultural reference was lost on them).

But back to Barbra, it has also of course been known for her to record great duets with some of the biggest artists of the day. Back in 1980 she recorded Guilty with Barry Gibb, on his own, without the rest of The Bee Gees. And this is where the reference to my second post of last week comes in – On St Valentine’s Day I featured a Bee Gees‘ love-song and wrote about how sad I felt watching Barry, the lone surviving brother, all on his own at this year’s Grammys, watching a tribute being performed for the 40th anniversary of the album Saturday Night Fever.

Guilty by Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb:

I am quite frankly amazed that the song Guilty only made it to No. 34 in the UK Singles Chart but looking again at the video clip, Barry and Barbra (nice ring to it) did look oh so very white in it, and this was very much the era of new wave, post-punk and ska where the artists wore very little white indeed and were much, much edgier in terms of their output. Still a great duet however where each of them gets their own boy/girl lines and “nothing to be guilty of” in terms of liking it, as we don’t do that around here any more. The Bee Gees were great songwriters and as mentioned last week I am very proud to have come out and admitted to being a fan.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Who knew that the simple girls always get their man whereas the complicated girls don’t? Well, maybe they didn’t in TWWW, but thirty years later in SATC, Carrie Bradshaw did end up marrying Big. Yes, it turned out he’d made a massive mistake and he did want a complicated girl after all!

As someone with very tame, straight hair but who is not necessarily always simple, this is good to know. Sadly back in 1973 it just didn’t seem to be possible so I am very glad that relationships seem to have evolved and that even complicated girls now can have it all!

Until next time….

Guilty Lyrics
(Song by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb)

Shadows falling baby, we stand alone
Out on the street anybody you meet got a heartache of their own
(It oughta be illegal)
Make it a crime to be lonely or sad
(It oughta be illegal)
You got a reason for livin’
You battle on with the love you’re livin’ on
You gotta be mine
We take it away
It’s gotta be night and day
Just a matter of time
And we got nothing to be guilty of
Our love will climb any mountain near or far, we are
And we never let it end
We are devotion
And we got nothing to be sorry for
Our love is one in a million
Eyes can see that we got a highway to the sky
I don’t wanna hear your goodbye

Pulse’s racing, darling
How grand we are
Little by little we meet in the middle
There’s danger in the dark
(It oughta be illegal)
Make it a crime to be out in the cold
(It oughta be illegal)
You got a reason for livin’
You battle on with the love you’re buildin’ on
You gotta be mine
We take it away
It’s gotta be night and day
Just a matter of time
And we got nothing to be guilty of
Our love will climb any mountain near or far, we are
And we never let it end
We are devotion
And we got nothing to be sorry for
Our love is one in a million
Eyes can see that we got a highway to the sky

I don’t wanna hear your goodbye

Don’t wanna hear your goodbye

I don’t wanna hear your
And we got nothing, and we got nothing to be guilty of
Our love will climb any mountain near or far, we are
And we never let it end
We are devotion
And we got nothing to be sorry for
Our love is one in a million
Eyes can see that we got a highway to the sky
Don’t wanna hear your goodbye
Don’t wanna hear your
And we got nothing, and we got nothing to be guilty of
Our love will climb any mountain near or far, we are

Sandy Posey, The Primitives and Single Girl

Well the stinky cold I mentioned in my last post has got worse and I am bedridden – Can’t be helped though as it seems the whole town has come down with this horrid virus. We will all emerge from our sickbeds in due course but just goes to show, even in 2017 the cold“common cold” (doesn’t feel that common from where I am at the moment) is something we are still a long way off from conquering. Oh and of course this was the week that I was due to start my new job but what with going home early on Monday, braving it out on Tuesday and Wednesday but then missing Thursday and Friday altogether, not a great start. We have collectively decided that I will now start the new job next week instead so cross fingers I’ll be back to firing on all cylinders by then. But don’t worry – Last time I checked you can’t catch a cold via an internet browser!

How have I passed my time then over the last couple of days? I have actually finished a novel which I started only recently. Since starting the blog I have noticed a serious decline in the time I spend reading fiction although I have of course spent an awful lot of time reading other people’s blogs and carrying out research for my own, so not low on word count, just not as much from the new Best Sellers lists as used to happen.

I also had another look, as I have been wont to do quite often this year, at the UK Singles Chart from 1967 – Now a full 50 years ago but always something “lesser-known” in there that jumps out at me. This time it was Single Girl by Alabama-born countrypolitan (it’s a thing) artist Sandy Posey. I really don’t think I am remembering this song from back then however but rather from 1975 when it was re-issued. We seemed to be having a bit of a love affair in the mid ’70s with the music of the ’60s when all of a sudden back in the charts were songs by The Shangri-LasThe Chiffons and so it seems Sandy Posey. spI’m not sure what Sandy looked like in 1975 but first time around she looked like the average ’60s housewife but that was the style of choice back then for women singers who hadn’t really adapted yet to the brave new world that was emerging. Also this song can be seen as being a bit anti-feminist but I don’t really see it that way. It tells the simple, yet timeless tale, of a woman who just looks forward to the day when she will find someone to love and settle down with. Considering how popular online dating sites are nowadays, have things really changed all that much? I know that some of the best times in my life were when I flat-shared with other single girls but what did we spend every weekend doing? – Going out on the town in the hope we would find the man of our dreams which ironically would ultimately put an end to the “fun-times” we were all having flat-sharing. We are it seems, pre-programmed to pair up and create families but again, ironic, as in 2017 the divorce rate is as high as 50% so we’re not doing a very good job of it. I have my own theories about that one but perhaps not for today.

Single Girl by Sandy Posey:

As it turns out, indie band The Primitives from Coventry, who are probably best known for their 1988 hit Crash, must also have been a bit smitten by Single Girl as they included it on their 2012 comeback album “Echoes and Rhymes”. I really don’t think they would have included an anti-feminist track on any of their albums so like me they must just be reading into the lyrics that there are indeed two sides to this independence we have fought so hard to achieve.

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Being ill today reminds me of the time when I first came to live in the Highlands – I had this great new job, a nice flat and car but no close friends yet. Down to very bad timing (and trust me I’m not ill very often) I picked up a nasty virus in the first few weeks and was all alone in my new flat with no-one to go out and get bread, milk or flu-remedies for me. In the end I sent out an SOS to my new workplace asking if someone could drop a few things off which they kindly did – Like Sandy Posey I was that single girl, all alone in a (medium-sized) town and feeling very sorry for myself!

Until next time, I leave you with The Primitives and their version of Single Girl.

Single Girl Lyrics
(Song by Martha Sharp)

The single girl all alone in a great big town
The single girl gets so tired of love letting her down
The life’s unreal and the people are phoney
And the nights can get so lonely
The single girl needs a sweet loving man to lean on
I’m a single girl wondering if love could be passing her by
I’m a single girl and I know all about men and their lies
Nobody loves me cause nobody knows me
Nobody takes the time to go slowly

The single girl needs a sweet loving man to lean on
I gotta make my own way
There’s rent I gotta pay
I need a night-time love to get me through the day
I’m a single girl all alone in a great big town
I’m a single girl and I get so tired of love letting me down
But there’s a man I’ve yet to know
Waiting somewhere I’ve yet to go
Someday I’ll have a sweet loving man to lean on

St Valentine’s Day, The Bee Gees and How Deep Is Your Love

By rights I shouldn’t have time for blogging today as it is indeed St Valentine’s Day and I should be spending it being all loved up with Mr WIAA – After being together for 28 years however, it is a bit hard to muster up the enthusiasm for a day of romance but I have just popped in past our local M&S to pick up one of their very delicious special occasion “Dine In For Two” meal deals (no expense spared here at Alfie Towers). I’m sure if we didn’t both have stinky colds it would all taste lovely, but what with the two cards sitting on the mantelpiece and the planned dinner, at least we’re making a bit of an effort.

st-vs-dayThe main reason I wanted to post something today however is that I have been feeling a tad guilty of late for the following reason – Of the 120 original posts that I’ve published since starting the blog 13 months ago, the only one I’ve “trashed” permanently is the one I wrote on this day last year, featuring a song by The Bee Gees. Yes, despite the fact that I’ve written about some ropey acts since starting this blog, once I’d accumulated a few followers, the only one I was really embarrassed about having covered was The Bee Gees. I blame the sheer number of comedy sketches that were made about them during their heyday (that would be Kenny Everett then), as how else can it be that a group who have sold 100 million-plus records; penned the world’s biggest-selling soundtrack album; had 10 UK No. 1s; wrote 4 consecutive US No. 1s and were the first group to have UK Top 20s in 5 decades, be embarrassing? No indeed, today is the day to come right out and say it – I’m a Bee Gees fan and am proud to admit it!

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The Bee Gees circa 1978

For the record, this was last year’s trashed post (fortunately still in a Word doc as I do worry about the day WordPress crashes and we lose all our stuff):

“No long-winded post today as it’s St Valentine’s Day and I’m going to spend it with my lovely husband. (It was a Sunday last year.)

Last time I wrote about the “break-up song” but How Deep Is Your Love by The Bee Gees is from the other end of the spectrum (I think – although retrospectively I’m starting to doubt some of my interpretations of the lyrics). It is still however, my all-time favourite love-song. It was from the soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever (starring a young John Travolta) which was released in the summer of 1978. That turned out to be the best summer of my young life to date – School had finished in the June, and the four month period before University was due to start was filled with happy memories that have stayed with me forever. To use the parlance of American teen movies, for my friends and I, that was our coming-of-age summer.

Unusually for me I’m going to leave it there for today – Enjoy that wonderful intro and Barry’s amazing falsetto. Happy Valentine’s day!”

How Deep Is Your Love by The Bee Gees:

But I did say that the main reason for wanting to post something today was to right the wrong of “trashing” a post about this much-loved group of brothers but the second reason is that last night darling daughter and I watched the highlights of the 59th Annual Grammy Awards. Last year I wrote a post about the 58th Grammys where our own Ed Sheerin came away with a couple of awards and I would probably have been writing a post again this year but they have coincided with St Valentine’s Day and anyway, the big awards, yet again, went to Adele. It was pretty much a re-run of our own Brit Awards last year and my thoughts about that ceremony still ring true (The Brits, The “Suits” and Adele), so no point in covering the same old ground.

What was of interest however was finding there had been a Bee Gees tribute on the big night performed by an array of contemporary acts. It is now 40 years since the making of the “Saturday Night Fever” album and 60 years since the brothers first formed a band singing harmonies together. It did make me sad however to see Barry, the only brother still alive, sitting on his own in the front row watching the performance intently, but sometimes also quizzically. Not the way they used to perform these songs back in the day but here is what the 59th Grammys served up (How Deep Is Your Love at 2:40).

So, “What’s It All About?” – It seems that we find it very hard to admit to liking music that for all the wrong reasons, is sometimes seen as being a bit “naff” (again blame Kenny Everett). I had the best summer of my life played out to the sounds of the “Saturday Night Fever” album so I have nothing but fond memories for it. Poor Maurice died in 2003 just before my own dear dad, and Robin died in 2012. Only Barry left now and although I find it sad to see him on his own without his brothers I am very glad they have left such a vast back catalogue – Although I haven’t admitted it here before, I revisit their songs often. As for How Deep Is Your Love, if you haven’t listened to it for a while, just take a moment to take in that beautiful intro – I don’t know how they did it but if I’m sitting at my desk, and it’s loud enough, I can feel the sound coming up through my feet. Either that or I’m still remembering the summer of ’78!

Until next time….

How Deep Is Your Love Lyrics
(Song by Barry Gibb/Robin Gibb/Maurice Gibb)

I know your eyes in the morning sun
I feel you touch me in the pouring rain
And the moment that you wander far from me
I wanna feel you in my arms again
And you come to me on a summer breeze
Keep me warm in your love and then softly leave
And it’s me you need to show
How Deep Is Your Love

How deep is your love, How deep is your love
I really need to learn
‘Cause we’re living in a world of fools
Breaking us down
When they all should let us be
We belong to you and me

I believe in you
You know the door to my very soul
You’re the light in my deepest darkest hour
You’re my saviour when I fall
And you may not think I care for you
When you know down inside that I really do
And it’s me you need to show
How Deep Is Your Love

The (Very) Eclectic Mix of Honor Blackman, Andy Stewart and Eric Idle

Reminiscing in my last post about those shiny white boots worn by Nancy Sinatra, reminded me that in December 1990, the novelty song Kinky Boots by those intrepid Avengers Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman had made it to the top of the UK Singles Chart. Nancy had recorded the theme song to the Bond movie You Only Live Twice and Honor of course played infamous Bond girl Pussy Galore (wouldn’t get away with that name nowadays thankfully), so both ladies had a bit more in common than just a habit of wearing, and singing about, boots!

The reason that I know it was a hit in Dec 1990 is because I still have a copy of the 7-inch single in my collection! At that time BBC Radio 1 was aimed at a more mainstream audience and the Breakfast Show DJ was Simon Mayo. Every year prior to Christmas he championed an old ’60s novelty song and gave it copious amounts of airplay. Needless to say it always sold well and made it to the higher reaches of the singles chart, No. 5 in this case. I’m pretty sure my boyfriend of the time (now husband) bought it for my “hypothetical” Christmas stocking (trying to fit a record of any kind into a real stocking tended to be a physical impossibility).

Kinky Boots had been commissioned to accompany a short film about these fashionable items of footwear for the very popular early ’60s satirical TV Programme, That Was The Week That Was. The most obvious candidates to sing the song were the stars of the new spy-fi drama that was entertaining Britain at that time – The main characters in The Avengers were Steed with his bowler hat and umbrella, and Cathy Gale in her long thigh-length boots. This was a very new kind of role for a woman in television and Honor Blackman played her perfectly. The role must have led to her becoming the leader of the all-female Flying Circus in Goldfinger but there followed in her wake a string of other “Avenging” women namely Emma Peel, Tara King and in the ’70s, the iconic Purdey, who inspired a generation of girls to have their beautiful long hair cut into a bowl shape!

But back to Simon Mayo’s Breakfast Show on the radio – Unbelievably, the previous year the song he had championed was actually by our very own local hero, Andy Stewart. Andy had been a bit of an institution in Scotland in the world of light entertainment and presided over the excruciatingly embarrassing White Heather Club which ran for 10 years between 1958 and 1968. It portrayed a very tartanised version of Scotland, what with the kilts, the dancing, the accordions and all the other stereotypical falderals and although very popular with television audiences, if you were a kid like me, lapping up all the great music that was emerging from America and “Swinging London”, it was seen as very uncool.

But in his wisdom Simon Mayo must have discovered Andy’s novelty song Donald Where’s Your Troosers from 1960 and helped it reach No.4 in the December 1989 singles chart. This could be a difficult listen I grant you, but bear with it, as Andy was a great impressionist as well as a singer/comedian and his impression of Elvis (at 1:45) is still a really funny one.

Out of interest, the third of Simon’s attempts to influence the outcome of who might top the Christmas singles chart, was when he championed Always Look on the Bright Side of Life sung and written by Eric Idle. It had first appeared in the Monty Python film The Life of Brian and here it was back in the charts in December 1991, this time reaching the No. 3 spot. This song still resonates with us today and it has popped up quite frequently in the various blogs I follow of late – ‘Tis the times we obviously live in.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Monty Python:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I really miss that sense of community we used to get from all watching or listening to the same thing at the same time. If like me, you worked in an office back in the ’80s and ’90s, the topic of conversation first thing in the morning was whatever had been on television the night before (very memorable Wogan interviewees for example, and I think we all know who I’m talking about) and what the breakfast DJ had been playing as we got ready for work. Now all you get is, “Don’t tell me what happened, I’ve recorded it” or “I only watch Netflix and boxsets” or “I don’t listen to that radio station”.

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In an era with so much choice and so many ways to consume visual and aural entertainment we have lost what it was that used to bring us all together. The days of getting together for a sing-song around the piano have long-gone and now it seems we hardly ever watch or listen to the same things, at the same time. Maybe, just maybe, that is why I am enjoying the blogosphere so much – Once you are part of a little group, you end up all reading (watching and listening to) the same post at the same time and have a wee chat about it. It’s not the community of my parents generation and not even the community of 20 years ago, but perhaps it’s a new kind of community that works for the modern day world. I may not know much about any of you, but it’s nice that you take the time to drop by and leave some feedback – Whether I’m likely to get much feedback on a post featuring Andy Stewart remains to be seen, but here’s hoping!

Until next time….

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life Lyrics
(Song by Eric Idle)

Cheer up, Brian. You know what they say.
Some things in life are bad,
They can really make you mad.
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle,
Don’t grumble, give a whistle!
And this’ll help things turn out for the best
And

Always look on the bright side of life!

Always look on the bright side of life
If life seems jolly rotten,
There’s something you’ve forgotten!
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing,

When you’re feeling in the dumps,
Don’t be silly chumps,
Just purse your lips and whistle — that’s the thing!
And always look on the bright side of life

Come on!

Always look on the bright side of life

For life is quite absurd,
And death’s the final word.
You must always face the curtain with a bow!
Forget about your sin — give the audience a grin,
Enjoy it, it’s the last chance anyhow!

So always look on the bright side of death!
Just before you draw your terminal breath.
Life’s a piece of shit,
When you look at it.

Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true,
You’ll see it’s all a show,
Keep ’em laughing as you go.
Just remember that the last laugh is on you!

And always look on the bright side of life

Always look on the bright side of life

Come on guys, cheer up

Always look on the bright side of life

Always look on the bright side of life

Worse things happen at sea you know

Always look on the bright side of life

I mean, what have you got to lose?
you know, you come from nothing
you’re going back to nothing
what have you lost? Nothing!

Always look on the bright side of life

Shiny Boots, Nancy Sinatra and Sugar Town

Well, I’ve wanted to feature this song in the blog for a while, and today seems to be the day for a variety of reasons – Yes it’s a shoo-shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo, shoo-in (all will become clear).

Last month, as we had moved into 2017, I decided to look back at the first chart listing from 50 years ago which seems to have become, in the course of writing this blog, my favourite year to revisit. Back then the song that jumped out at me was Sitting In The Park by Georgie Fame, so I decided to write about it. Looking at the same 1967 chart a month on, the song that jumped out at me this time was indeed Sugar Town by Nancy Sinatra. I have written about Nancy before as she still tops my personally ranked list of “Favourite Ever Bond Themes”, with You Only Live Twice but I wasn’t really familiar with Sugar Town until recently. As sometimes happens with the music of 1967, I am smitten.

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The second reason for today’s pick is that I have been curious of late as to how my blogging buddies got started so I’ve gone back to have a look at their very first posts, some from quite a few years ago. Lo and behold, over at Charity Chic Music, one of CC’s first picks in 2012 was Sugar Town by Nancy Sinatra whilst C (no relation) at Sun-Dried Sparrows also wrote about Nancy in her second ever post (as an accompaniment to showcasing a very shiny new pair of boots!). A lot of synchronicity going on at the moment in our little corner of the blogosphere, first with posts about songs from the world of psychedelic rock and now it seems with Nancy Sinatra!

Sugar Town by Nancy Sinatra:

Of course most people will remember Nancy for her 1966 hit record These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ and although I could only have been about five at the time, one of my very first memories is of watching Nancy and her troop of “go-go dancers” perform this song on television. It was catchy indeed and was definitely one of the songs even my mum and dad could be caught singing along to whilst doing the housework or a bit of DIY.

You rarely saw Nancy without her boots and they kind of became her signature item of clothing. Like Kylie, she was very petite and doll-like, but with the help of Lee Hazelwood did well to carve out a successful career for herself despite being the daughter the icon that was Frank. As for me, all through Junior School I coveted those white shiny boots but of course I never did get a pair – It was always a pair of sensible, fur-lined (it was Scotland after all), leather boots carefully fitted by those expert foot-measurers at the Clarks or Start-rite shop.

As I mentioned above, there have been quite a few posts regarding the world of psychedelic rock of late and I myself wrote about White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane last week. It was one of the first songs to get past the radio censors with its “Alice In Wonderland-esque” lyrics. Sugar Town also was an LSD song if ever there was one and Lee Hazelwood, the songwriter, freely admitted it. The song was directed at a young audience but was outwardly innocent enough to receive radio play.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I never did get a pair of white shiny boots and somehow I don’t think now that I ever will. I did buy a pair of very bright red ones recently however and people at work, who have never spoken to me before, have stopped to admire them – A great conversation starter and now that I think of it, perhaps how to get ahead in the modern day workplace.

Nancy it seems knew exactly what she was doing!

Sugar Town Lyrics
(Song by Lee Hazelwood)

I got some troubles, but they won’t last
I’m gonna lay right down here in the grass
And pretty soon all my troubles will pass
‘Cause I’m in shoo-shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo-shoo
Shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo Sugar Town

I never had a dog that liked me some
Never had a friend or wanted one
So I just lay back and laugh at the sun
‘Cause I’m in shoo-shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo-shoo
Shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo Sugar Town

Yesterday it rained in Tennessee
I heard it also rained in Tallahassee
But not a drop fell on little old me
‘Cause I was in shoo-shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo-shoo
Shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo Sugar Town

If I had a million dollars or ten
I’d give to ya, world, and then
You’d go away and let me spend
My life in shoo-shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo-shoo
Shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo Sugar Town

Postscript:

Anyone who visited this post earlier today may have noticed that the music clip I first included was not indeed by Nancy Sinatra but one that I found in my library by another artist. It turns out that darling daughter once got a CD from the Lush soap people which included Sugar Town by the Fresh Handmade Collective, a group of singers and musicians put together to create promotional CDs for the company. Quite different lyrics and Southend-on-Sea substituted for Tennessee. Still a sweet version though and well worth a listen.

Sugar Town by the Fresh Handmade Collective:

Imbolc, Love Unlimited and It May Be Winter Outside (But in My Heart It’s Spring)

Well, all winter I’ve been trying to work out how to fit this song into the blog as although there are loads (and loads) of Christmassy songs, there aren’t that many about winter per se. But today seems to be the day as it’s the 1st of February and on nature’s “wheel of the year”, it is Imbolc. Ever since last year’s autumnal equinox, or Mabon as it is also called on the pagan calendar, I have been taking a key interest in these landmark dates, creating a little display, and hopefully finding an appropriate song to post that day.

imbolc

Imbolc was one of the cornerstones of the Celtic calendar as for them, the success of the new farming season was of great importance. As winter stores of food were getting low, rituals were performed to ensure a steady supply of food until the harvest six months later. As darling daughter pointed out last September however, we don’t really have to perform such rituals nowadays as we go to the supermarket where you can acquire raspberries in December and Brussels sprouts in June, but I would like to at least acknowledge the old ways before we get just too out of touch with nature in our busy 21st century lives.

So today is the day that we celebrate the passing of Winter, and make way for Spring. The featured song may not really be about the world of nature but I have always loved Barry White and his Love Unlimited Orchestra and so far in the blog, no Barry. As it turns out still no Barry, but this song was written by him and then released in the UK in 1975 by the group Love Unlimited who provided backing vocals for him on his albums and concert tours but who then went on to find success in their own right. (Takes around a full minute to get going, but bear with it.)

It May Be Winter Outside by Love Unlimited:

The symbol of Imbolc is the snowdrop but having had a good recce of the area at the weekend, so far no snowdrops. In the garden today however I was pleasantly surprised to see a little clump popping through in the rockery but just a bit too early for us here in the North of Scotland it seems. I looked back at my folder of pictures taken in 2010 when I manfully tried to take a shot of the natural world every day for a year – Back then this snowdrop shot was taken on the 11th of February so in about 10 days they will no doubt be plentiful.

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The first snowdrops of the year

Coincidentally last weekend I wrote about Johnny Cash and how his deep bass baritone voice was something you don’t often hear in music nowadays. Of course another person who had a very deep bass baritone voice was aforementioned, three-time Grammy Award winner Barry White, also known for his romantic image (but I’ll not mention his nickname here as not very becoming). Barry’s music was of a soul/funk/disco/R&B persuasion and his greatest success came in the ’70s both as a solo singer and with his Love Unlimited Orchestra. Looking at his discography, he was barely out of the UK Singles Chart between 1973 and 1979, his biggest hit being You’re The First, The Last, My Everything.

I am constantly amazed when blogging how everything suddenly comes together by the end of the post and when I started to write about today’s special date in the Celtic calendar I didn’t think I would end up with Barry White, but the symbolism around Imbolc is all of the colour white – snowdrops, ewe’s milk (oi-melc) and St Bride – so very apt in an odd kind of way. Perhaps my subconscious was being cleverer than I was.

Just the Way You Are by Barry White:

I will finish with Barry’s version of the Billy Joel song Just the Way You Are. Again there is a bit of a preamble so bear with it but if anyone knows of a performer with a deeper voice, I’d like to know who? Poor Barry died in 2003 after a few years of health problems but again he has left a massive body of work, much of which is in my music library and I have sadly not been brave enough to admit to that yet. Perhaps appropriate then, on this the first day of Spring (in certain calendars), to come clean – As for me I’m off to light my white candle set amidst the little pot of white crocuses I had to buy as a substitute for snowdrops, and listen to a bit more Barry White!

It May Be Winter Outside (But in My Heart It’s Spring) Lyrics
(Song by Barry White/Paul Politi)

When the temperature dips
I miss my baby’s arms
His tender finger tips
Knows just how to keep me warm

It may be zero degrees
With the snow falling down
But I’ve got warm and tender love
Just as long as he’s around

It may be winter outside
But in my heart it’s spring
How much joy and pleasure, baby
Can one guy bring me

Winter nights can be awful cold
Without someone to hold
But when I have him next to me
Baby, I’m in ecstasy

Throughout my life
I’ve had my share of guys
But he’s been the only one
Who can make my temperature rise

Things are just not the same
When he’s not by my side
But yet, I shouldn’t complain
But be waiting with my arms open wide

Alice, Jefferson Airplane and White Rabbit

After getting into the routine of writing very long posts which need a fair bit of research, I really enjoyed putting together a much shorter one last week where the featured song was married up with a set of pictures. This week I’m going to try and do the same, albeit using a very different subject matter:

The tickets are now booked and towards the end of next month we’re off to the Big Smoke, or That London as I’ve heard it called recently, to attend an awards ceremony for those who work in Mr WIAA’s industry. We went for the first time last year and it all worked out so well we have replicated our travel plans exactly. He has apparently won an award, but they very cunningly don’t tell you what it is until the actual ceremony, to leave an element of surprise they say, but img_0319more likely to ensure that as many of us attend as possible. As it turns out you pretty much know what you have or haven’t won the minute you arrive, as last time those of us seated in the “body of the kirk” were the runners up, whereas those who got aisle seats had won the top prizes, the gold awards, and had to go up on stage to receive them. There is no monetary value to the award, just the prestige of being the best in the country at what you do (or perhaps the best of those who have entered but much the same thing), but all very swish and a chance for us country bumpkins from the North of Scotland to experience such a thing. Last time I was happy just to have the chance to put on my posh frock and admire the amazing venue where the ceremony took place. Once the schmoozing started there was even wine and nibbles and being one who very rarely drinks nowadays due to designated driving duties, I got quite tipsy, quite quickly (oops), and therefore made lots of new friends! Wonder if they’ll remember me this year?

The subject matter for his entry this time was the marrying up of sculpture with literature and after a few false starts due to copyright issues it was discovered that Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland was fair game for inspiration. Now I think this book was one of the very first hardback novels I ever owned, and I still have it as it was a present from my grandmother. Back then I read it as a children’s story but of course being from the fantasy genre it has had a lasting popularity with adults as well. I give you, Mr WIAA’s 2017 entry:

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And if you go chasing rabbits

 

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And the Red Queen’s off with her head

Today’s featured song could therefore be none other than White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane, that ’60s band from San Francisco who pioneered psychedelic rock. They headlined at all three of the very memorable (but perhaps not for those who were there) rock festivals of that era, Monterey, Woodstock and Altamont and when I think of 1967’s Summer of Love, I think of them.

White Rabbit:

The very beautiful Grace Slick wrote White Rabbit and brought it with her when she joined the band. It uses the imagery from 1865’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its 1871 sequel Through the Looking-Glass and her references include Alice, the hookah-smoking caterpillar, the White Knight, the Red Queen and the Dormouse. For Grace Slick, “The White Rabbit” was your curiosity and of course at that time drugs were very much a part of mind-expanding and social experimentation. With its enigmatic lyrics, in 1967 (that year again) White Rabbit became one of the first songs to sneak drug references past censors on the radio.

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As for Mr WIAA’s interpretation of the works of Lewis Carroll, it is a lot more literal, physical and 3-dimensional so I’m pretty sure he’ll sneak his way past the Craft Council’s board of censors. At his age his drugs of choice tend to be for indigestion or hayfever and sadly there haven’t been too many Summers of Love for him lately, so I think he’ll be ok – Hopefully he’ll do well with it in this year’s competition, the Oscars of the Craft Industry.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Sadly most of the craftspeople who will enter the competition are now of a certain age, and no-one is coming up behind, so these skills are being lost in our country forever. There has been a lot of talk about globalisation recently and we have seen it first hand in our industry as one by one the centuries-old casting companies of Sheffield and Birmingham shut up shop for good, unable to compete with the new technology and prices offered by the Far East. This will be Mr WIAA’s last vanity project as they are expensive to make and he has now been replaced by 3D photocopiers. It is sad, but a fact of modern day life in the Western world. I do wonder about what would happen if one day the machines rebel and refuse to work for us any more – Would anyone even be able to write in longhand any more, one of the most basic of life skills?

But hey, I don’t want to end this very pictorial post on a downbeat note so here is a montage of some of the other beautiful things that were presented at last year’s awards. As for us, we’ll be down at the end of the garden with our hookahs, looking for a rabbit hole, the voice of Grace Slick ringing in our ears!

White Rabbit Lyrics
(Song by Grace Slick)


One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small

And the ones that mother gives you, don’t do anything at all

Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call

And call Alice, when she was just small

When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving low

Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head, feed your head