Months Of The Year In Song: May, the Start of Celtic Summer and RIP Anna “Mae” Bullock

Not too many days left in the current month, so I’d better crack on with the latest instalment of this series. We usually start off with the story behind the naming of the month so let’s see which Roman god May is named after. Well, blow me down, this time it’s not a Roman god but a Greek goddess, Maia. She was the mother of Hermes (the Greek god of parcel deliveries) and was associated with fertility for the Romans. Many people still get a holiday on the 1st of May as it was traditionally a time for festivals celebrating the start of summer. In England there would have been the setting up of a Maypole and the crowning of a May Queen whereas up here in Scotland, the festival was called Beltane which included the building of bonfires (written about here).

Fortunately May does not have as many songs that refer to it which is lucky for me as last month’s instalment nearly broke me with all the song suggestions. Not entirely true of course but a bit of a respite before we hit the month of June which I suspect will be very song heavy.

The first visitor to come up with suggestions for May, was Ernie Goggins. Here are his own words:

A couple of suggestions for May to get the ball rolling. My Girl The Month Of May by Dion. It is from the mid 1960s by which time he had given up rock ‘n roll and become a hippy folkie type. The other is The Watersons’ version of the Swinton May Song, one of the many traditional ‘May songs’ marking the peak of Spring and the imminent coming of Summer.

Thanks Ernie, and as I said in reply last month, I hadn’t known about Dion’s later change in direction until recently. He has had a long career and is still going strong it seems at age 83. As for The Watersons, all very Steeleye Span, but I like it.

The second set of song suggestions came from Rigid Digit and as ever he had lots of them:

Can I have Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven for the line “it’s just a spring clean for the May Queen”?
No – how about Robert Plant’s
May Queen instead then.

Anything by Brian May ?
And continuing to push it, the first of May is celebrated with a May Fair.
So … The Quireboys debut single, Mayfair would fit.
That’s 3 duff suggestions and one sensible one

Back to being sensible: The Bee GeesFirst Of May

Thanks RD and I hope I’ve correctly identified the one sensible suggestion of the first four?

As for the Bee Gees song it was always going to be one of my own suggestions as I am a bit of a fan. A lovely little film there of the brothers too. You forget how young the twins were when they started out with big brother Barry at the helm. It was this song that was their undoing for a time however as Robin had wanted the song he sang vocals on to be the A-side of this record, but Barry decided it should be on the B-side. This precipitated them parting company. Fortunately for us (if like me you are a fan) they got back together again a year later.

First of May by the Bee Gees:

The next suggestion came in from three different visitors last month – C, John Medd and Khayem – and although not month-related I feel duty bound to include it as they have all enthused about it so much. Here is Kevin Ayers with his song May I. Here is what C said about it:

Regarding May – may I suggest May I?! I mean ‘May I’ by Kevin Ayers and The Whole World. There’s a lovely clip of them performing it on OGWT on youtube. I love Kevin’s rich voice and his quite subtle, arty eccentricity, in my mind anyway I see him in a similar way to Syd Barrett, Julian Cope, Robyn Hitchcock. I know it’s not about the month of May but I do like to bend the rules a little. The lyrics might be seen as either sweet or a bit stalkery nowadays – but I’ll go for sweet!

It is sweet C, and what a lovely deep voice he has. Quite sad that we have to continually question nowadays if something is “stalkery” or not, as I’m pretty sure it wasn’t meant to imply that when it was written.

The final month-of-May-related song suggestion came from Khayem. Here is what he said about it:

Just one suggestion from me this time, but it’s from one of my favourite subversive pop bands, Black Box Recorder. May Queen is from their second album, The Facts Of Life, released in 2000. With Luke Haines (The Auteurs) one of the trio, along with John Moore and Sarah Nixey, sublime music and unsettling lyrics and vocals are present and correct.

From the image in the clip I wasn’t expecting that sound at all – sublime music and vocals as you say Khayem. As for the lyrics, yes a tad unsettling perhaps.

I usually like to add a picture of someone whose name is that of the current month before I finish, but other than Brian May mentioned above, not thinking of many. Perhaps timely therefore to include someone born with the middle name Mae who sadly died this week. Yes, it’s the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll herself, Anna Mae Bullock, more commonly known as Tina Turner. For some unfathomable reason she has never appeared around here although some of my favourite songs from the ’80s were by her. I still own my vinyl copy of her wonderful album Private Dancer. She was in her mid 40s when her career relaunched in 1983 after the success of her cover of Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together. Back in the day we didn’t watch YouTube, we watched The Tube on telly after coming home from work on a Friday. I still remember being blown away by her singing this song as she was no longer the, dare I say it,”mumsy lady” I had seen interviewed a year or so before. Against all the odds she was back, and this time there was no stopping her.

Well, that’s it for this month. As ever song suggestions for next month, the month of June, will be gratefully received.

RIP Tina Turner

Until next time…

First Of May Lyrics
(Song by Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb)

When I was small and Christmas trees were tall
We used to love while others used to play
Don’t ask me why, but time has passed us by
Some one else moved in from far away

Now we are tall and Christmas trees are small
And you don’t ask the time of day
But you and I, our love will never die
But guess we’ll cry come first of May

The apple tree that grew for you and me
I watched the apples falling, one by one
And I recall the moment of them all
The day I kissed your cheek and you were mine

Now we are tall and Christmas trees are small
And you don’t ask the time of day
But you and I, our love will never die
But guess we’ll cry come first of May

When I was small and Christmas trees were tall
Do-do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do
Don’t ask me why, but time has passed us by
Some one else moved in from far away

The Holy Trinity of Topics Best Avoided – Clearing the Backlog and Starting Afresh, Hopefully…

WIAA: Hey Alyson, it looks as if you’ve become a blogger who no longer blogs.

ALYSON: It does look a bit like that doesn’t it WIAA, and I’ve lost count of how many posts I’ve started recently apologising for my much reduced output. It’s kind of getting boring now so I either have to reinvent this place or bow out.

WIAA: How could you reinvent my pages Alyson? I am feeling a bit lonely and unloved to be honest.

ALYSON: Still not sure WIAA, but I think I’ve almost exhausted all my music-related anecdotes and delved into the back stories of most of my rock and pop heroes. I also used to share a lot of personal stuff around here (oversharing was my middle name), but now that I’m not as anonymous as I used to be, not as easy to do without feeling self-conscious.

WIAA: I remember the days when you rushed home from work and couldn’t wait to start blogging.

ALYSON: Indeed WIAA, and here’s a funny thing that’s happened this week. DD has just started a new job at my old workplace and has already met up with many of my old workmates. They have regaled the tales of “Breaking Bad Day” when I wore a Walter White mask, and of how I was generally the instigator of social events. I’m not ashamed to admit I’m in a bit of a rut at the moment and hearing her stories has made me a tad envious of her exciting new start. Although recounted on these pages, I seem to have conveniently erased all my bad work memories and if I did partly give up my job six years ago to spend more time blogging (which I think I did), I really owe it to myself to keep going, but it has to be enjoyable.

WIAA: I get that Alyson. How about we join forces to get you out of that rut and for me to feel less lonely and unloved?

ALYSON: Sounds like a plan WIAA. Give me a prompt and I’ll see what I can come up with?

WIAA: Well last time you wrote about telly shows you’d watched recently. How about we start there. Anything new to add to the list?

ALYSON: Funny you should suggest that WIAA as I’ve partly kept a low profile around here over the last few weeks because of my viewing habits. I know which topics it’s best to avoid around here by now, and lo and behold we’ve had a conflagration of all three of them over the last three weeks: The Royal Family, Eurovision and Football!

I was always going to watch The Coronation but I am also acutely aware it’s something more than half the population most certainly had no intention of watching, Mr WIAA and DD included. It wasn’t lost on me however that it might well be the only coronation I ever see as something that’s been happening for around a 1000 years in the same spot, seems likely to die out on our watch (there seems to be a pattern forming here). Much of it made me feel uncomfortable and I’m pretty sure the new king felt just as uncomfortable – the wording of the oaths, being stripped down to his nightgown and the canopied “anointing”, BUT, there was also much to be in awe of – Penny Mordaunt’s impressive sword-holding skills, Princess Anne’s red feathered hat perfectly obscuring the errant prince, the king’s very professional “hot” kilted equerry and the assembled congregation’s bladder control (they had to arrive at 6.30am).

Music played a large part in proceedings and I learnt a lot from the commentators. I had no idea that the piece of music we most associate with coronations was written by Handel back in 1727 for the crowning of George II. The words, which until now I had always thought were in Latin as hard to decipher, were translated from the biblical account of the anointing of Solomon by Zadok the Priest, and they have been used in every coronation since that of King Edgar in the year 973. Anyway, if you are a fervent Republican you can close your ears now but I found a whole new appreciation for a piece of music I had only ever heard accompanying some very grainy black and white footage of a coronation from 70 years earlier. I give you Zadok the Priest by George Frideric Handel. Rousing stuff at 1:20.

Zadok the Priest by George Frideric Handel:

On the Sunday night after the coronation there was a concert held outside Windsor Castle and for once the line-up was not purely made up of people from the world of pop music, old and new. In fact other than some dodgy singing from Lionel Richie, and Katy Perry looking like the Quality Street toffee penny, it was all very professional and this segment where the pianist Alexis Ffrench and singer Zak Abel performed a cover of the Simple Minds’ song Don’t You (Forget About Me) was for me the highlight of the show. It was a reference to how we must look after the natural world (one of the new king’s passions) and the drone display that accompanied it was beautiful indeed. If you only watch the section at 3:20 where a whale emerges from the centre stage, I hope you’ll agree it was worth it.

Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds:

WIAA: Crikey Alyson, considering this was a topic you were going to avoid you really got into your stride there. What was the second topic you decided no-one would want to read about?

ALYSON: Ah that would be the equally marmite-y topic, Eurovision. The song contest that started out in Switzerland in 1956 to bring the countries of Europe closer together (??) was held in Liverpool this year on behalf of last year’s winning country Ukraine. It’s 25 years since it took place in the UK and the BBC certainly milked it, sending all their DJs and television presenters up there to cover the hoopla. I’m a fan of Eurovision, which I mainly put down to my love of facts and figures (just so many), and all things geographical (37 countries take part). The music itself is a real hotch-potch of pop, metal, the bizarre and the beautiful, but the contest has really grown in stature over the last decade and is now a week long extravaganza.

For the first time since before the pandemic our friends who were the other half of Bucks Fizz with us when we went to the contest in 2015 (written about here) came along to join us on the night. DD and her other half were also invited, so a great excuse for a celebration of the food and drink of the participating nations. The music at these get-togethers is often the sideshow but for the record we all voted for the Finnish entrant Käärijä to win, along with the rest of Europe it seems in the public vote. Sadly the national juries had other ideas and the Swedish entrant Loreen won, ensuring the contest will head to Sweden next year for the 50th anniversary of Abba’s win with Waterloo. The conspiracy theorists have been out in force. I will share a clip of the Finnish song Cha Cha Cha which ended up in second place, a song which probably sums up the wacky nature of Eurovision and is typical of the kind of thing entered by that Scandi nation.

WIAA: You’re doing well Alyson, two topics no-one will want to read about, only one left to go. You’ve also gone from Handel to “metal-dance-pop fusion” in one step – what’s next?

ALYSON: In for a penny in for a pound WIAA. Just a short one this but last night I watched a great documentary about how in four short years, Aberdeen FC went from being the nearly men of Scottish football to winning the European Cup Winners Cup. It’s called Aberdeen ’83: Once In A Lifetime and was made because the 40th anniversary of their amazing victory in Gothenburg has just been celebrated. I lived in Aberdeen at the time and the whole city came alive both in the build up to the match, and once the victors returned home. The most poignant part of the programme was watching footage of the 19-year-old Neale Cooper, my friend’s brother, who sadly died back in 2018 and whom I dedicated a tribute post to (link here). He was the youngest of the “Gothenburg Greats” but is the only one to have passed on. I know it will have been tough viewing for his family but they were included in the recent celebrations which must have been really special for them.

When I wrote my tribute to Neale I included this abomination of a song which was hurriedly put together ahead of the big final 40 years ago. Is it the worst football song ever made? Quite possibly, but if you lived in Aberdeen back in 1983 and were a fan of football the European Song would have been played on repeat for sure. Happy memories of a great time for the city.

WIAA: And now a football anthem! If you really are thinking of reinventing this blog Alyson, you’re certainly getting rid of the backlog that’s been building up of topics to avoid. Also if you were going to make things a bit less personal around here I think you’ve failed.

ALYSON: You know what WIAA, I’ve kind of enjoyed writing this one in the end. It’s taken me nearly all day but you’re right, the topics I didn’t think I would broach have now all been broached so a clean slate as they say. Thanks for chivvying me up today as it’s got me writing again. Maybe the rut is just a shallow one.

Until next time…

Don’t You (Forget About Me Lyrics)
(Song by Steve Schiff/Keith Forsey)

Won’t you come see about me?
I’ll be alone, dancing, you know it, baby

Tell me your troubles and doubts
Giving everything inside and out and
Love’s strange, so real in the dark
Think of the tender things that we were working on

Slow change may pull us apart
When the light gets into your heart, baby

Don’t you, forget about me
Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t
Don’t you, forget about me

Will you stand above me?
Look my way, never love me
Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling
Down, down, down

Will you recognize me?
Call my name or walk on by
Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling
Down, down, down, down

Hey, hey, hey, hey
Ooh, woah

Don’t you try and pretend
It’s my feeling we’ll win in the end
I won’t harm you or touch your defenses
Vanity and security, ah

Don’t you forget about me
I’ll be alone, dancing, you know it, baby
Going to take you apart
I’ll put us back together at heart, baby

Don’t you, forget about me
Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t
Don’t you, forget about me

As you walk on by
Will you call my name?
As you walk on by
Will you call my name?
When you walk away

Or will you walk away?
Will you walk on by?
Come on, call my name
Will you call my name?

I say
La, la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
When you walk on by
And you call my name
When you walk on by

More Great Telly – Guilt, Daisy Jones & The Six and “Dancing Barefoot” by Patti Smith

As this place seems to act as my web diary nowadays I no longer keep a paper diary. I did get a small one from a neighbour at Christmastime however (think it was surplus to requirements) and I’ve been using it to record the films and TV dramas I’ve watched this year, plus the books I’ve read. Time to share some of my favourites here I think.

I’ll start with the telly – I last did a roundup of what I’d been watching 10 months into the pandemic, and although it was a well-received post, I did feel a tad guilty about having had so much free time for boxset binging, especially when many of us were really struggling at the time, what with home-schooling kids and remote working. Hopefully this time, the divide between the time-rich and time-poor who visit this place will be less pronounced. Also, I’ll not admit to all of it, just the ones that have really made an impact.

Well, we didn’t dilly dally with this one and have finished it already, but if you haven’t yet watched BBC Scotland’s dark comedy-drama, Guilt, I would thoroughly recommend it. Think Better Call Saul relocated to Edinburgh, or Fargo on the Firth of Forth. Here is the trailer.

You really need to watch the first two series before embarking on the latest (and final) series, but only four episodes in each so very doable. I have always liked Scottish actor Mark Bonnar who seems to pop up on our screens regularly, but in Guilt he really is the lead actor and gets a chance to shine in the role of Max, a Leith boy done good, but a Leith boy whose charm and lawyer shenanigans don’t always get him out of a fix. I won’t offer up any spoilers but I would urge you to watch it. For the music bloggers who visit here, Max’s brother Jake runs a record shop very much like the one in the film High Fidelity, so lots of musical anecdotes interspersed throughout the show. Catch it on the BBC iPlayer.

But this is a music blog, so next up we have the Amazon Prime show Daisy Jones & The Six. Regulars who visit this place will already know I have a real fondness for the music that came out of Laurel Canyon in the late ’60s/early ’70s, so it was a no-brainer that I would watch this drama set in that very place. It charts the rise and fall of a fictional rock band made up of an amalgam of real-life characters from that time (we spotted Fleetwood Mac, Ringo and George, plus many more).

One of the lead actors, who played the titular Daisy Jones, was Riley Keough who interestingly is Elvis’s granddaughter. Both she and British actor Sam Claflin, who played Billy Dunne in the band, provided the vocals and if this is indeed the case they both did really well. Again I don’t want to give away any spoilers but the format they used, with documentary style footage included of their future selves, worked really well I thought. Oh, and Daisy’s extensive wardrobe of hot pants and diaphanous garments felt right for the times. There is a soundtrack album, and a couple of the songs from it have been released as singles. Here is a clip of Look At Us Now (Honeycomb). Wonder what Elvis would have thought. He would have been a proud grandfather no doubt, but that was never going to be.

Looking at my little diary, here are the other dramas I’ve really enjoyed so far this year: Happy Valley final series (BBC iPlayer), The Gold (BBC iPlayer), Dead To Me (Netflix), You (Netflix) and Blue Lights (BBC iPlayer). The common factor amongst really memorable telly is the writing, and there can’t be many people in the UK who didn’t watch the final series of Sally Wainwright’s Happy Valley. It was going to be tough coming up with an ending that tied up all the loose ends and left viewers satisfied, but I think she managed it. What a fine young man Ryan had turned into too. As for Neil Forsyth, the Scottish writer who gave us Guilt, it seems he also wrote the screenplay for The Gold, the mini-series centred on the Brink’s-Mat robbery of 1983. It makes sense now that I enjoyed both so much and it was good to see the talented actor (with a wonderful voice), Emun Elliot, pop up in both. Blue Lights, set in Belfast, follows the trials and tribulations of three probationary police officers and it was so well-received a second series has already been commissioned. More synchronicity here in that one of the police officers is played by the same actor who played Max’s wife in Guilt.

From across the pond came the black comedy, Dead To Me, very much centred around the bond of friendship between two women (in amongst all the death!). It reminded me of the days before I met Mr WIAA when I was lucky enough to have a series of very close female friends, the kind you do everything with and can depend on entirely. These kind of friendships are by their nature short-lived, especially once a boyfriend or partner comes along, but I have fond memories of those days and this drama reminded me of how important it can be to have such a friend. My last pick, You, was also from across the pond, although in the final season the action moved to London. It’s a psychological thriller and although I thought it lost its way a bit in the second season we persevered with it and enjoyed the twists and turns along the way.

I will finish with the song that was used as the opening theme to Daisy Jones & The Six, one that formed an earworm when we were watching the show. Dancing Barefoot by Patti Smith was recorded for her second album Wave in 1979 but was the perfect fit for this new drama released in 2023. Something timeless about it I think and the lyrics really did work for the character of Daisy.

Dancing Barefoot by Patti Smith:

So, a lot of telly there but not as much as I admitted to during the long periods of lockdown. What have you been watching of late? If you have anything you think I might like, please do share. I’d love to hear from you and as you know by now, I always reply.

Until next time…

Dancing Barefoot Lyrics
(Song by Patti Smith/Ivan Kral)

She is benediction
She is addicted to thee
She is the root connection
She is connecting with he

Here I go and I don’t know why
I fell so ceaselessly
Could it be he’s taking over me…

I’m dancing barefoot
Heading for a spin
Some strange music draws me in
Makes me come on like some heroine

She is sublimation
She is the essence of thee
She is concentrating on
He, who is chosen by she

Here I go and I don’t know why
I spin so ceaselessly,
Could it be he’s taking over me…

She is re-creation
She, intoxicated by thee
She has the slow sensation that
He is levitating with she …

Here I go and I don’t know why,
I spin so ceaselessly,
’til I lose my sense of gravity…

(oh god I fell for you …)

The plot of our life sweats in the dark like a face
The mystery of childbirth, of childhood itself
Grave visitations
What is it that calls to us?
Why must we pray screaming?
Why must not death be redefined?
We shut our eyes we stretch out our arms
And whirl on a pane of glass
An afixiation a fix on anything the line of life the limb of a tree
The hands of he and the promise that she is blessed among women.

(oh god I fell for you …)

Months Of The Year In Song: April, Time for Things to “Open Up”

Thank goodness for this series, as I seem to have lost my blogging momentum. I return with the latest edition a bit earlier than usual this month in the hope it will kickstart things. Watch this space as they say.

We’re now well through the month of April and at last it’s starting to feel quite springlike with record temperatures around here this week. It hit 23 degrees on Tuesday so there was a mad scramble to find some summery clothes. As ever, such unseasonal temperatures are more a cause for concern than joy nowadays, but still nice to see blue skies again after a long winter (of discontent).

Yet again I suspect the naming of the month of April will have something to do with the Romans, as has every other month since I started this series. I haven’t checked yet but let’s have a look. Yep, although the derivation is not certain it is thought to come from the Latin verb aperire, to open, it being the month when trees and flowers begin “to open” for spring. Thankfully my garden is indeed now looking a lot more interesting as trees and shrubs start to flower, making them a lot less stick-like. Roll on summer I say.

My Forsythia shrub now in full bloom

The great thing about these series where we ask for song suggestions is that they almost write themselves. This might not be the series I’ve enjoyed researching the most, but I have really enjoyed making new musical discoveries courtesy of those who drop by the comments boxes with their contributions. As I always say, I couldn’t do this one without you, so thank you.

One of the first suggestions last time came in from Martin and it was April Come She Will by Simon & Garfunkel. Considering they have their own category on my sidebar this was a welcome contribution as I love the music they made around the time of The Graduate film soundtrack which this song was on. Although I re-watched the film recently after carrying out a clearance of old DVDs (The Graduate was definitely a keeper), I wouldn’t have specifically remembered it – but next time I’ll know when to look out for it. The song was written in 1964 when Paul Simon was living in England. The lyrics apparently use the changing nature of the seasons as a metaphor for a girl’s changing moods. Girls…, Changing Moods…, don’t know what you’re talking about Paul.

April Come She Will by Simon & Garfunkel:

As ever there was a fair amount of overlap when it came to suggestions, and Khayem and Rol both came up with these next two songs.

First we have April Skies by The Jesus & Mary Chain. I really should know more about this band as they are Scottish, but somehow they weren’t on my radar in the late ’80s, possibly because they didn’t pop up on shows like TOTP very often. This song seems to have been the one that achieved their highest chart placing, reaching the No. 8 spot in 1987. I did like this comment attached to the clip on the video sharing website. “My hometown band – it can be a bleak and desolate place, but so glad that East Kilbride gifted them to the music world.” A proud fan from Scotland’s first New Town, designated in 1947.

Secondly, we have that musical genius from Minneapolis, Prince, with his song Sometimes It Snows in April. Again it’s from the soundtrack to a film, this time Under the Cherry Moon. I’ll have to admit I’ve never seen this film but it was very much Prince’s baby as he both directed it and starred in it. His character in the film was someone called Christopher Tracy, and deeply affected by the character’s death, the singer expresses their desire to rejoin them in heaven. Understandably it received much attention after Prince’s sudden death in April, 2016. I had only been blogging for a few months and after researching him for a tribute post realised I had totally underestimated his talent over the years – the man could do everything – but burnt out at far too young an age.

Ernie Goggins is another regular contributor to this series and one of his suggestions was April Anne by John Phillips, whom I know better as one of the Papas from the Mamas & the Papas. What a sweet sounding song this is from his first solo album, and although containing none of the harmonies we associate with his former group, it shows us what his solo work was like. Quite country-ish? I’m struggling with the language in the lyrics and sometimes wonder whether I’m just too naïve for the music blogging world, sharing things I sometimes don’t quite understand. Having just checked however, the (April) Ann in the song seems to have been based on a real person, and as I suspected, there are veiled references in there to real people such as Dennis Hopper, Michelle Phillips and Mick Jagger.

Time to mix things up a bit so we’ll now share something by an artist called April. Here is C from Sun Dried Sparrows in her own words:

I’m going slightly leftfield here but the first song thing that came to mind for me was Teach Me Tiger by April Stevens – if you’ll permit the bending of the rules there. It’s so kitsch you just gotta love it and once heard, never forgotten…

Indeed C, I won’t forget that one in a hurry, and I quite liked it. Lots of breathy wa wa wa wahs and even naïve little old me knows what April is getting up to.

Now that we’ve moved onto artists with April in their name, time to share another such suggestion. Here are a few words from Bill P:

As for April, since you chose the band name to carry March, I could offer April Wine as the band name for this month. They weren’t super famous, but they did have a few songs that charted rather high.

Thanks Bill P, a Canadian rock band from Novia Scotia it seems. Here is Roller from 1979. Very much of their time and didn’t get the recognition they deserved it seems.

For a total change in tempo here is Bill P’s other suggestion. It’s back to songs with April in the title, and as a fan of Ella & Louis, he tells us, “you can’t miss with April in Paris“.

I’ve never been to Paris in the springtime so maybe something to tick off the bucket list as it sounds as if it would be beautiful. This year the people were revolting on the streets of Paris in the springtime, but that’s their prerogative, and they’re not happy about having their pension age increased. We Brits are not ones for revolting so just take it on the chin, but I’m at the stage of wondering if I’ll ever make it to pension age.

There was an awful lot of overlap with suggestions last time and I hope I’m managing to cover them all but here is a song that both Khayem and Ernie Goggins came up with, April Grove by Chrysalis. Here are Khayem’s words:

I’d like to pretend I’m so cool that I knew about it first, but it was Martina Topley-Bird’s excellent cover version that alerted me to the song April Grove.

And here is Ernie’s reply:

Unlike Khayem I have long been familiar with ‘April Grove’ by Chrysalis. I don’t think that makes me cool, just old. (You’re in good company Ernie!)

Rigid Digit arrived a bit too late to the comments boxes this time and two of his suggestions had already gone. First one was the JAMC song but the second was this instrumental from Deep Purple, also suggested by Mr Sun Dried Sparrows who tells us it was the flipside to their Hallelujah single from 1969. Here is April Part 1 (there were also Parts 2 & 3).

Despite his main two suggestions having already gone, RD did wrack his brain, and his hard drive, to come up with these other picks. As he says:

Something to do with the month perhaps, but none of these choices could be described as upbeat.

Real Estate – April’s Song
Ron Sexsmith – April After All
Rufus Wainwright – April Fools

His final suggestion was this one by Three Dog Night Pieces Of April. Very pretty indeed despite being quite sad. Thanks RD.

A final bit of mopping up to do with Khayem’s other suggestions (yes, there were even more – he was full of them for April).

Here are a few more for the pot:
April 5th – Talk Talk
April In Portugal – Les Baxter & His Orchestra

As for your Cocteau Twins suggestion KM, I’m going to save that one for May, as a bit of a twofer, but thanks as ever for your contribution. Before I finish I can’t let someone called Les Baxter go by without hearing what he has to offer. April in Portugal – wonder if they revolted there this spring?

Only four months left to go in this series but it does seem to be gaining momentum month on month. As ever, suggestions for May will be gratefully received. I had said recently I was feeling under the cosh having time-sensitive posts to write for series, but the flip side to that is that it gives you the discipline to sit down and put something together when you might otherwise not have got your ass in gear. Maybe I need more series and not less. Will have to revisit some ideas.

Remember her? April Merroney from The Brothers, an early 1970s TV Drama

Until next time…

April Come She Will Lyrics
(Song by Paul Simon)

April, come she will
When streams are ripe and swelled with rain
May, she will stay
Resting in my arms again

June, she’ll change her tune
In restless walks she’ll prowl the night
July, she will fly
And give no warning to her flight

August, die she must
The autumn winds blow chilly and cold
September, I’ll remember
A love once new has now grown old

Lost Mail and Trashed Houses: A Mini Rant (and A Couple of Great Songs)

Like many of us at the moment, I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time waiting in call centre queues, or more commonly nowadays chatbox queues (where you eventually find out you’re communicating with a robot), trying to fix some error or problem that really shouldn’t have happened. It can be very frustrating and I have a few ongoing situations that just never seem to get resolved. So, rather than moan about the fact that HM Customs are now charging us a hefty fee to have some of our bespoke items lost in the mail returned to us (they were sent abroad so we missed the delivery deadlines)…, rather than moan about the fact my last guests at the holiday hideaway pretty much trashed the place…, time to think of some songs to share.

The recent cyber-attack affecting International Mail seriously impacted small businesses

I wrote about him around here once before, but our regular postman has sadly now retired. At the time everyone seemed shocked I knew my postman so well and spent time shooting the breeze with him of a morning, but when he took on the job later in life he decided to approach it that way. When he retired there was an outpouring of good wishes on our local neighbourhood Facebook group and in some streets Happy Retirement banners were put up. Things have not been the same since he retired and although there is nothing he could have done about the missing international packages, I do think he might have been able to help with my current returns issue.

In that last post I shared the song Please Mr. Postman and I featured the versions by the Beatles and the Carpenters. This time let’s go way back in time to 1961 and listen to the original by The Marvelettes. These girls formed the very first successful all-female group and this song was the first No. 1 single for Motown. As we all know, the hits from that label then kept on coming, but despite their early success The Marvelettes were soon eclipsed in popularity by their rivals The Supremes. The song seems to have been written by a veritable committee but one of those committee members has a very familiar surname, Brian Holland, he who went on to write many of Motown’s hits during their peak hit-making period with his brother Eddie and Lamont Dozier. Between them they helped define the Motown sound in the 1960s. (Music clip the Carpenters version.)

Please Mr. Postman by the Carpenters:

As for my last guests trashing my lovely wee holiday hideaway in The Highlands, pretty much everyone experiences it at some point and we just have to suck it up. The booking platforms’ systems are flawed (people book under ‘borrowed’ accounts), and as they get the lion’s share of the fee from the guest, not the host, that old adage about the customer always being right generally holds true.

Not my actual place but shocking what some some people will do

A song that came to mind when I thought of houses, was this one, A House Is Not A Home written by my favourite songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. We lost Burt recently so the BBC dedicated a large chunk of it’s weekend schedules to him, one of the shows part of a BBC Electric Proms concert Burt gave at London’s Roundhouse in 2008. Burt was aged around 80 at this point so the voice is not what it was but when I watched this performance on Saturday Night I was quite moved. Oh and for the record, when it comes to holiday lets a house is most definitely not a home, however hard we try to please. Some guests treat it simply as a product to be used and abused, which I still find shocking as I would always leave a place as I found it (and sometimes in better shape).

A House Is Not a Home by Chris Golfer:

Anyway, apologies for the mini-rant, but sometimes our blogs are the best place for such outpourings. Everything will be resolved in due course I’m sure but goodness me, just so time-consuming (and less time for blogging). I shall return no doubt in a better frame of mind.

Until next time…

A House Is Not a Home Lyrics
(Song by Burt Bacharach/Hal David)

A chair is still a chair, even when there’s no one sittin’ there
But a chair is not a house and a house is not a home
When there’s no one there to hold you tight
And no one there you can kiss goodnight

A room is still a room, oh, even when there’s nothin’ there but gloom
But a room is not a house and a house is not a home
When the two of us are far apart
And one of us has a broken heart

Now and then I call your name
And suddenly your face appears
But it’s just a crazy game
When it ends, it ends in tears

Pretty little darling, have a heart, don’t let one mistake keep us apart
I’m not meant to live alone, turn this house into a home
When I climb the stairs and turn the key
Oh, please be there, sayin’ that you’re still in love with me, yeah

I’m not meant to live alone, turn this house into a home
When I climb the stairs and turn the key
Oh, please be there, still in love
I said still in love
Still in love with me, yeah

Are you gonna be in love with me?
I want you and need you to be, yeah
Still in love with me
Say you’re gonna be in love with me
It’s drivin’ me crazy to think that my baby
Couldn’t be still in love with me

Are you gonna be, say you’re gonna be
Are you gonna be, say you’re gonna be
Are you gonna be, say you’re gonna be
Well, well, well, well
Still in love, so in love, still in love with me?
Are you gonna be

Say that you’re gonna be

Still in love with me, yeah
With me, ohh
Still in love with me, yeah

Bowie, Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence and ‘Forbidden Colours’- RIP Ryuichi Sakamoto

If you are a music blogger and check your stats regularly, you soon sense something is amiss when one of your really old posts suddenly gets a lot of traffic. As it turns out I had already heard the news of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s death on the car radio, but true to form, once I got home and checked, a post I had written in my first week of blogging back in 2016 was already the most visited of the day.

I was still reeling from the death of David Bowie when I wrote it (so most of it is about him) but back then the whole raison d’être of this blog was for me to revisit favourite songs from the past, and all these years later, Sylvian and Sakamoto’s Forbidden Colours was still a favourite. Here is that post again from seven years ago.

First Posted 17th January 2016:

Inevitably I got to thinking a lot about David Bowie this week and like many of us, have ended up spending a fair bit of time online looking back at his many guises. One that has thrown me a bit is the early ‘80s Let’s Dance phase. Early ‘70s David Bowie hid behind bizarre “spaceman” characters but by 1983 he had gone seriously mainstream. Or was he playing another character? I heard him say in an interview that he felt far more confident on stage playing a character such as Ziggy but by 36, as he would have been by this time, it looks as if he was confident enough to be himself. Amazingly, after looking pale, thin, malnourished and let’s be honest, a tad weird a decade earlier, he had turned into one of the best-looking guys in the industry (we’ll ignore the teeth). This was the post-New Romantic period and he was very much adopting the sharp, elegant look that bands such as Duran Duran, ABC and Japan favoured.

I am still unsure who copied who, but in 1983 there were a series of events that seemed to tie in and feed off each other. He released the Let’s Dance album that year and a string of hits came from it starting off with the title track in March. He had approached Nile Rodgers to act as producer on it, and his brief was to “give him hit singles”, which is exactly what he did. A massive world tour followed and I remember my flatmate of the time heading downtown with her sleeping bag in order to queue all night for tickets (no computers or Ticketmaster in those days, we were old school).

We knew that Bowie had a film coming out later that summer, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, and leading the advance party were David Sylvian (ex of the band Japan) and Ryuichi Sakamoto, a musician who acted in the film but who had also produced the soundtrack album. The beautiful song Forbidden Colours was released in July 1983 and looking at a picture of David Sylvian from back then, there is more than a passing resemblance to ‘83 Bowie (although he is not as suntanned as he hadn’t been on location in a tropical rainforest).

Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Sylvian

The lyrics again are a bit bizarre but the theme is a forbidden love, which is also reflected in the storyline of the film. I do remember going to see it when it came out the following month and Bowie turned in a really good performance. A male colleague from that era had also been to see it and when I asked his opinion he decided that there had been something lacking, in that there were no women in it. That would of course have been because it was set in a male prisoner of war camp.

Forbidden Colours by David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto:

So, unlike with his earlier creations, David Bowie in 1983 was very much part of the zeitgeist making highly commercial pop music and looking and dressing very much like his younger counterparts. He was back acting, and feeding off the people he worked with. Happy memories of those days – the real start of big ’80s hair (perms and bleaching were de rigueur), bold bright earrings, tanned skin, and lots of white shoes and clothing. Those of us who got on board with the whole look have probably ruined our hair and skin in the process but boy did we feel good when stepping out for a “night on the town”.

Scene from Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence

Not very much about Ryuichi himself in this repost for which I apologise, but other than the soundtrack to the film mentioned, I didn’t really know much about him. I have just discovered however that he also composed the soundtrack to another film I really enjoyed from the 1980s, The Last Emperor, for which he won an Oscar. He won a BAFTA as recently as 2015, for the soundtrack to the film The Revenant. A respected composer, record producer and actor who, like Bowie, sounds as if he was taken far too soon.

Until next time… RIP Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Forbidden Colours Lyrics
(Song by David Sylvian/Ryuichi Sakamoto)

The wounds on your hands never seem to heal
I thought all I needed was to believe
Here am I, a lifetime away from you
The blood of Christ, or the beat of my heart
My love wears forbidden colours
My life believes

Senseless years thunder by
Millions are willing to give their lives for you
Does nothing live on?

Learning to cope with feelings aroused in me
My hands in the soil, buried inside of myself
My love wears forbidden colours
My life believes in you once again

I`ll go walking in circles
While doubting the very ground beneath me
Trying to show unquestioning faith in everything
Here am I, a lifetime away from you
The blood of Christ, or a change of heart

My love wears forbidden colours
My life believes
My love wears forbidden colours
My life believes in you once again

Months Of The Year In Song: March, Time to “Spring Forward”

I return with another edition of this series and thankfully we’re now heading toward the home straight as over half way through now. As I said last time, the story behind the naming of months hasn’t been as interesting as I had hoped, but let’s see if March can surprise us. Well, it seems despite March being the third month in our current calendar, in the Roman calendar it was the first, and was named after Mars, the Roman god of war. Mars was important to the people of Rome because he supposedly fathered Romulus and Remus whose story tells of the events that led to the founding of the city. Ok, a bit more interesting this time and I can see how they thought it would be a fitting name for their first month.  

I also said last time that I’d quite enjoyed February, as it had felt quite Spring-like. Sadly March has been a bit of a letdown, it having been so cold and wet (where I live anyway), but with the Vernal Equinox now behind us and the fact the clocks spring forward tonight into BST, I’m sure things will improve soon.

What I was hoping for…
What I got!

But enough of the etymology and onto the main event, the songs. Despite there being a dearth of songs that refer to the month of March, yet again you did not let me down and we have plenty to share from last month’s comments boxes. Not all refer to the month to be fair, but in this instance that’s just fine.

First up we had Neil who came up with Julie London’s Melancholy March. Julie’s Calendar Girl album has been invaluable for this series as it contains a song for each month, most quite sad sounding like this one although perhaps her style of vocals just makes everything sound melancholy. Anyway one to get the ball rolling and an added bit of info from Neil was that it had been written by Dory Langdon, who later married André Previn. The most famous Mrs Previn was probably Mia Farrow but having just checked it seems André had five wives in total and 10 children! Lots of alimony payments there I suspect.

Melancholy March by Julie London:

Next suggestions came in from Jez, who despite having been very ill returned to blogging for a while last month. If he drops by this post, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we’re all rooting for you to get fully well again soon. Here are his own words:

Marching On by The Alarm, and two versions of the same song (The Marching Song Of The Covert Battalions) by Billy Bragg: firstly, the original which is on The Internationale EP, but secondly (and for my money, a much better) live version from a gig at the Mountain Stage where he was supporting R.E.M. which was broadcast both here and in the US. After his set, the US radio announcer had to state that Billy’s views did not reflect those of the US station it was broadcast on; when R.E.M. took the stage bassist Mike Mills said “The views of Billy Bragg very much reflect the views of R.E.M.”. Broadcast over here on Radio 1, I’ve posted it over at my place at least once or twice, it’s a brilliant example of a) how Billy connects with his audience and b) how he changes the words to suit current times.

Thanks Jez for the tangential suggestions and for providing the music clips.

Marching On by The Alarm:

The Marching Song of the Covert Battalions by Billy Bragg:

Over the months Khayem has been a great source of suggestions for this series and as ever he didn’t disappoint, despite it being a tricky month to find songs/instrumentals for. Here are three of them: Ides Of March by John Cale & Terry Riley from 1971, followed on by March 9th by My Life Story and March Violets by Andrew Weatherall. Thanks Khayem, all of these totally new to this blog, that’s for sure.

The most common suggestion when it came to a band for this month’s edition was The Ides Of March. In fact four of you, C, Rol, Rich and Ernie all mentioned the band and their song Vehicle. Before I go on to share the clip I’m realising I don’t exactly know what the Ides of March refers to, so time to find out.

Ok, so apparently the Romans (yes them again) didn’t number each day of the month as we do but counted back from three fixed points: the Nones, the Ides and the Kalends. The Ides always fell around the 15th day and in the month of March, the 15th was the date by which you had to settle your taxes. It was also the date of Julius Caesar’s assassination so probably why it has entered into our vernacular to such an extent.

Anyway, here are The Ides Of March, a band formed in Illinois way back in 1964 and still going strong. What a great sounding song, although as Rol reminded us, “Don’t accept lifts from strange men, ladies.”

Vehicle by The Ides Of March:

Rigid Digit dropped by again with his tuppence worth and here is what he had to say:

March songs seem harder to come by than other months, but I do have to offer:
Winds Of March (quite like a bit of Journey in small doses, and Neal Schon is a pretty decent guitarist). Other than that … Iron MaidenIdes Of March and HelloweenTime Marches On (not about the month, but it does have “March” in the title).

Thanks RD. I always think of Journey as being an ’80s band but it seems they were around for most of the ’70s too and this song is from 1978.

Ernie Goggins has been mentioned already but for completion’s sake, here are his other March suggestions:

Unusually for me I have something chirpy to offer this month – Rosa Passos with Águas de Março, which as George will tell you means ‘Waters of March’ in Portuguese. Slightly less chirpy but nowhere near as miserable as last month’s offerings I can also suggest March Rain by Michael Chapman, from his excellent album ‘Fully Qualified Survivor’.

Thanks Ernie, let’s hear what they both sound like.

Well that’s just about it for this month although I did have a late submission from The Swede. Here are his own words:

Here’s a very short offering for next month’s challenge. I’ve written about local favourites Christina Alden & Alex Patterson several times over at my place. They are absolutely lovely and if they tip up in your neck of the woods anytime, I can guarantee a splendid evening’s entertainment. March is a brief instrumental interlude from their terrific 2021 ‘Hunter’ album.

(The tune doesn’t appear to be on YouTube, but you should be able to embed it from their Bandcamp page: )

Sadly WordPress won’t let me do that TS but I’ve left the link. Here is a picture of the duo in their very interesting looking front room.

Christina Alden & Alex Patterson

Roll on April, that’s what I say, because I need some warmer weather to offset the heating bill hikes. I may also have to dig up my garden and “grow my own” this Spring to offset the food shop hikes. Where will it all end? Who knows but in the meantime we’ll always have an eclectic mix of music (this post a case in point) to raise our spirits. Suggestions for April songs gratefully accepted.

Until next time…

Vehicle Lyrics
(Song by Jim Peterik)

Hey, well, I’m the friendly stranger in the black sedan
Woncha hop inside my car
I got pictures, I got candy, I’m a lovable man
And I can take you to the nearest star

I’m your vehicle, baby
I can take you anywhere you wanna go
I’m your vehicle woman
By that I’m sure you know

I love ya (love ya)
I need ya (need ya)
I wants ya gots to have you child
Great God in heaven, you know I love you
(Oh you know I do)

Well, if you wants to be a movie star
I canna take-a you to Hollywood
But if you wanna stay just like you are
You know, I think you really should

I’m your vehicle, baby
I can take you anywhere you wanna go
I’m your vehicle woman
By that I’m sure you know

I love ya (love ya)
I need ya (need ya)
I wants ya gots to have you child
Great God in heaven, you know I love you
(Oh you know I do)

Well I’m the friendly stranger in the black sedan
Oh woncha hop inside my car
I got pictures, candy, I’m a lovable man
And I can take you to the nearest star

I’m your vehicle, baby
I can take you anywhere you wanna go
I’m your vehicle woman
By that I’m sure you know

I love ya (love ya)
I need ya (need ya)
I wants ya gots to have you child
Great God in heaven, you know I love you
(Oh you know I do)

I’m your vehicle, baby
Y’know I love you (love ya)
I Needs ya (need ya)
I wantcha gots to have you child
Great God in heaven you know I love you

St Patrick’s Day, Red Nose Day and an Irish Band Trigger Warning

I’m going to be really controversial around here today but here we go.

It’s been obvious since joining the music blogging community that there are some artists and bands best avoided if you don’t want negative comments coming your way. Yesterday however, because it was St Patrick’s Day, I thought it might be interesting to finally get to grips with why “That Irish Band” attracts such vitriol from so many quarters.

Is it because of Bono’s glasses?

Is it because they became the biggest band in the world?

Is it because Bono (to quote Noel Gallagher) is a “Do-Gooder”?

Is it because they dropped their album into our iTunes libraries uninvited? (One we couldn’t then delete.)

Is it because their guitarist is called The Edge (and apparently isn’t very skilled)?

Is it because they’ve become billionaires but harp on about poverty?

Is it because they harp on about poverty but use tax avoidance schemes?

U2 in 2017

Hmm…, now that I’ve made that list it does make for a compelling argument as to why they attract so much, well…, hate.

Hate though. It’s a strong word and one I try never to use as it can’t be healthy to subject yourself to that kind of emotion. Let’s see if I can come up with any reasons to cut them some slack, as I worry about anyone who gets so hot under the collar about a bunch of musicians.

First of all, the easy ones. Bono has glaucoma so has to wear the glasses, but yes, I do think he likes the look a bit too much, what with the Gucci frames an’ all. But…, he’s a rock star, and just the kind of thing rock stars would wear if they had to. As for their silly names, I don’t know about where you come from but during my schooldays most groups of lads got silly nicknames, and many of them have stuck right into adulthood. Bon(i)o also being the name of a dog food hasn’t helped of course, and The Edge doesn’t sound as if he has ever been the edgiest guitarist, but too late to change their handles now I suppose. Possible to cut them some slack?

I was one of the victims of the Songs Of Innocence iTunes drop, as was my 80-year-old father-in-law who had just acquired his first Apple device (and who only listened to classical music). We didn’t want it but there didn’t seem to be any way of deleting it – annoying if you set your listening device to shuffle. It seems everyone involved now realises this was a bad plan – like giving you a free pint of milk but not just putting it on the doorstep but coming into your house and pouring it on your cereal, even if you were lactose intolerant. The upshot is the iTunes people had to develop a means of deleting such freebie downloads (and for the first time in years I’ve tried it and found it successful – farewell Sounds Of Innocence) but who amongst us hasn’t made an error of judgement along the way, or a major boo boo with technology? Sending an email to All-Users instead of the one person it was meant for, or accidentally letting a virus into your work computer network that creates all sorts of havoc (I can tick both those boxes). Possible to cut them some slack?

Cover of album we were ‘gifted’ whether we wanted it or not!

Are U2 the biggest band in the world right now? Not sure, but because they just keep on touring, they must be up there. As a nation we like it when bands stay small, niche and stick to the music, but if you set out to become the biggest band in the world and manage to achieve that feat (especially coming from a small country of only 5 million people), surely there should be some kudos. Possible to cut them some slack?

Now for the big one – the political activism and philanthropy. It seems as well as not liking bands to get too successful, we also don’t like them to refashion themselves as the next Messiah, which Bono kind of has. We don’t mind our rock and pop stars doing good (it was only after George Michael’s death that we found out how much good he did over the years) we just don’t want them to make a song and dance about it, especially if they are billionaires who engage in tax avoidance schemes. It was Red Nose Day yesterday and of course Mr Bono popped up on screen at one point encouraging us all, during a cost of living crisis, to part with some of our hard-earned cash. As ever I did, but it wasn’t lost on me that had he parted with 5% of his monthly income, as I did, there would no longer be any need for such charity fundraising events, but maybe I’m missing the point. Is it ever right to “hate” someone for being a Do-Gooder though? Maybe it would be better to quietly get on with things behind the scenes but not for everyone apparently. Possible to cut them some slack?

I don’t think I’m going to change anyone’s opinion of the band but maybe we should be more like my blogging buddy Rich (who is revisiting his favourite albums of 1983 at the moment), who “tries not to let artists’ personal stuff interfere with his enjoyment of their work” (his words). He wrote about their album War recently and it made me revisit some of their output from that time – rousing stuff indeed. Here is Sunday Bloody Sunday from their set which took place on that very hot sunny day at Wembley in 1985. Hindsight is a great thing, and we should probably have known from this performance what was to come from Mr Bono, but back then, their set was one of the ones I enjoyed most (not so sure about his high-heeled boots though).

Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2:

But if you have innocently dropped by and now been traumatised by what you have just read, watched and listened to, here is something to cleanse the palate. As I said it was St Patrick’s Day yesterday, but it was also Red Nose Day. On the live show it was a no-brainer that they would have an Irish group perform, but you’re quite safe, it was another one! I heard them earlier that day on the radio and here they were again on my telly screen. I give you those girls from Dublin who popped up on all of DD’s pop compilation albums when she was a wee tot, B*Witched, with Blame It On The Weatherman.

Blame It On The Weatherman by B*Witched:

Until next time…

Sunday Bloody Sunday Lyrics
(Song by Dave Evans/Paul David Hewson/Adam Clayton/Larry Mullen)

I can’t believe the news today
Oh, I can’t close my eyes and make it go away

How long? How long must we sing this song?
How long? How long?
‘Cause tonight, we can be as one tonight

Broken bottles under children’s feet
Bodies strewn across the dead end street
But I won’t heed the battle call
It puts my back up
Puts my back up against the wall

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Alright, let’s go

And the battle’s just begun
There’s many lost, but tell me, who has won?
The trench is dug within our hearts
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters torn apart

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday

How long? How long must we sing this song?
How long? How long?
‘Cause tonight, we can be as one tonight

Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Tonight, tonight)
Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Tonight, tonight)
Come get some

Wipe the tears from your eyes
Wipe your tears away
Oh, wipe your tears away
Oh, wipe your tears away

Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Oh, wipe your bloodshot eyes)
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday, oh
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday, oh
Yeah, let’s go

And it’s true, we are immune
When fact is fiction and TV reality
And today, the millions cry (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
We eat and drink while tomorrow, they die (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
The real battle just begun (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)
To claim the victory Jesus won (Sunday, Bloody Sunday)

Sunday, Bloody Sunday, yeah, yeah
Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Another Trip to Dundee, Aztec Camera and Keeping it in the Family

I was away from home last weekend and suspect I may have fallen behind with visiting some of my fellow bloggers’ sites. Apologies for that, but for once we left home with no devices other than a phone. We are slaves to the various shopping sites and booking platforms we peddle our wares on (you lose all your brownie points if you take too long to acknowledge sales or reply to queries), but sometimes you just want it all to STOP, if only for a few days, which we did manage to do. The box of padded envelopes which arrived when we were away sadly suffered the fate of being left outside our garage for three days, next to a leaky downpipe. Fortunately I saved most of them by lining them up along the radiators but for once the sometimes risky practice of leaving deliveries in the recycling bin might have been a better option.

So, where did I go? Nowhere warm and exotic sadly, but to celebrate Mr WIAA’s birthday we decided to, wait for it…, head to Dundee. We chose Dundee as a place for a short break a few years ago (written about here) and really enjoyed it so thought we’d give it another whirl. Dundee certainly doesn’t have the same tourist appeal of places like Edinburgh, and like most post-industrial cities it has its fair share of problems, but it’s definitely a city on the up. There has been much development going on along the waterfront of late and it also has some of the most interesting visitor attractions in Scotland. Everywhere we went the people were really friendly and a fair bit of ‘banter’ was had with the locals.

Dundee: The home of DC Thomson, Desperate Dan, The McManus Art Gallery, The Transport Museum and some fine local graffiti

We did head along to the V&A Dundee which is housed in an impressive new building designed in the shape of a ship, overhanging the Tay. The building itself is actually the most impressive thing about it however and so far the permanent collections are a bit sparse. A nice restaurant, gift shop and conference facilities, but not much else. Give me the McManus, the Transport Museum and a revamped Jute Mill any day, but maybe just me. Perhaps it will improve with time.

One exhibit in the V&A that did pique my interest was this one. Many visitors to this place will recognise these album covers but until now I hadn’t realised they were the work of Scottish artist David Band. As it says in the caption, his bold graphic style helped define the look of early 80s music. He apparently collaborated closely with Altered Images, Spandau Ballet and Aztec Camera to create these covers. As the first two bands in that list have appeared around here before, a good time to include something by Aztec Camera who quite unfathomably have never been featured. Here is the song Oblivious from their first album High Land, Hard Rain on display below, from 1983.

Oblivious by Aztec Camera:

Perhaps I should have chosen something by a Dundee band for this post but the usual suspects, Deacon Blue, Danny Wilson and The Associates have all already appeared. When writing about those bands I always expressed surprise that their most familiar songs only reached the lower reaches of the UK Singles Chart. Here we are again with Scottish band Aztec Camera, as their song Oblivious apparently only reached the No. 18 spot and that was after being re-released – what were we thinking. Aztec Camera were one of those bands first championed by Postcard Records, the Glasgow-based independent record label co-founded by Edwyn Collins and Alan Horne, a fertile period for music-making in Scotland. Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera was aged only 16 when he joined Postcard Records and doesn’t he look young in the clip above. Roddy is still active in the industry today.

Another reason we chose Dundee last weekend was because Mr WIAA has family who have moved to a place not too far from the city. Last time we visited them, I recounted the tale of how his two cousins have had a life-long involvement in the music industry which even included being signed to Atlantic Records for a time. We met up with them at their parents’ house on the Saturday and heard of the EP released to commemorate the 30th anniversary of that first signing. A lot of water under the bridge in the intervening period, regular jobs, families and lives going in totally different directions, but quite something to have ‘got the band back together again’. I give you Kiss of the Gypsy with Forever Loved:

Of course I had to take a few family photos on Saturday and here is one that shows how things can change over the years. Back in the day they could have been construed as a Hair Metal band. Now…, not so much!

All very Rock ‘n’ Roll, a photoshoot in your mum and dad’s conservatory!

Back in the day, the cousin on the left took the role of roadie for the band, however he has always been a drummer and is currently a member of Scottish punk band The Tolerated. This next clip is certainly a far cry from the soft rock and orchestral pop I usually share around here, but here they are with their cover of Maxwell Murder. Some very energetic drumming going on there.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Despite being a home-loving kind of girl, I really enjoyed my few days away, and yet again found a great affinity for the city of Dundee. I would thoroughly recommend giving it a visit sometime although it might be best during the summer months, when it would be a lot warmer (it was very parky).

Cousins are in most cases the family members we see least once we are fully grown adults making our own way in the world. If you do ever meet up however, there are always lots of memories to share. As Mr WIAA spent most of his childhood holidays with his two cousins – in caravans by the beach usually – they had a lot of catching up to do. The music might be of the hard metal and punk persuasion, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a nicer couple of chaps. Glad they are still plying their trade.

Until next time…

Oblivious Lyrics
(Song by Roddy Frame)

From the mountain tops
Down to the sunny street
A different drum is playing a different kind of beat
It’s like a mystery
That never ends
I see you crying and I want to kill your friends

I hear your footsteps in the street
It won’t be long before we meet
It’s obvious
Just count me in and count me out
And I’ll be waiting for the shout

Met Mo and she’s okay
Said no one really changed
Got different badges but they wear them just the same
Down by the ballroom
I recognized
That flaming fountain in those kindred caring eyes

I hear your footsteps in the street
It won’t be long before we meet
It’s obvious
Just count me in and count me out
And I’ll be waiting for the shout

I hope it haunts me ’til I’m hopeless
I hope it hits you when you go
And sometimes on the edge of sleeping
It rises up to let me know
It’s not so deep, I’m not so slow

They’re calling all the shots
They’ll call and say they phoned
They’ll call us lonely when we’re really just alone
And like a funny film
It’s kinda cute
They’ve bought the bullets and there’s no one left to shoot

I hear your footsteps in the street
It won’t be long before we meet
It’s obvious
Just count me in and count me out
And I’ll be waiting for the shout


As I’m feeling a tad guilty about not having shared any music by Dundonians in this post, here is a discovery I made recently. Two of the founding members of the Average White Band were from Dundee and met whilst at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. Roger Ball and Malcolm ‘Molly’ Duncan were affectionately known as the ‘Dundee Horns’ as they both played saxophone.

I was a teenager when they were at their peak in the 1970s and to be honest didn’t even realise they were Scottish, what with funk and R&B not really being on the musical menu up here back then. They were the first Scottish band, in 1974, to get to No. 1 in both the US Singles and Album Charts simultaneously. Here they are with Let’s Go Round Again from 1980. (Still find it hard to believe they are Scottish – they don’t look or sound like any of the Dundonians I met last weekend!)

Let’s Go Round Again by the Average White Band:

And, that’s your lot for this time – you can’t say I don’t give you plenty of variety around here.

Months Of The Year In Song: February, The Start of Celtic Spring

It is with good grace that I return to this series with another edition. Last time I had complained that such series can end up not being as much fun as was anticipated at the outset. It has come to my attention several times this week however that this is very much a First World problem. Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it occurred to me that if any of the displaced Ukrainians being put up locally in hotels stumbled upon my post, they would not be impressed. They have lost everything. I have just temporarily lost my enthusiasm for something which in the grand scheme of things, is a bit of light-hearted fluff and nonsense. With that it mind let’s get on with it.

The name February apparently comes from the Latin term februum which means purification. The Roman ritual Februa was always held on February the 15th to ‘purify the city’, promoting health and fertility. Hmm…, interesting, NOT. I don’t know about you but I feel these Latin names used for the months of the year have well and truly lost their meaning in today’s world, but they’re too engrained now to be changed or updated. Valentine-uary or Snowdrop-uary anyone? No, that definitely wouldn’t work either, for all sorts of reasons, so we’re stuck with them. A safe and familiar pair of hands I suppose. Let’s look at the songs that reference February.

I’ll start off with a song suggested by two of last month’s visitors. First of all we had C who remembered a song she has never been too keen on, but which fits the remit. Here are her own words:

I can’t think of anything at all, apart from January February by Barbara Dickson which as I’m sure you know is not my cup of tea at all, but for some reason I seem to know it very well – it must have had a lot of radio play at the time.

Rigid Digit also came up with Barbara’s song as a suggestion, ‘a Scottish MOR Folkie Two For The Price Of One’, he said. Sadly I had forgotten about it for the January edition so a lost opportunity, but happy to include it now as I quite like Scottish MOR Folk. She’s had a long career Barbara Dickson and I feel a certain loyalty to her as first of all she’s Scottish, but also she used to work for a good friend’s dad way back in the day before she got her big break. Yes, Barbara used to be a humble civil servant in Rosyth where she grew up. A lot less glamorous than the world of West End Theatre, where she ended up.

January February by Barbara Dickson:

I look at Barbara in that clip and remember a perm I had in 1978 (and in 1979, in 1980…) that looked just like her one. That was a really popular style for girls back then and although it looks very dated now, and a bit poodle-like, it was a great low-maintenance style that just needed to be washed and left to dry naturally. A bit of a fluff up with one of those afro combs and you were good to go. My middle-aged hair needs much more maintenance, so I look back at those days fondly, although I now realise there was an element of cultural appropriation going on. The afro comb became recognised as a way of saying no to oppression, and wearing it in the hair led to a kind of comradeship amongst those whose hair grows up and out, not down. I was definitely not aware of this back in 1978 when I headed along to our local salon.

But this is supposed to be all about February songs so what else was suggested last time. Rick dropped by again:

Not a ton of great February songs but Xmas in February by Lou Reed is a good one, pretty sad tale though it is.

Crikey Rick that really is a sad tale – what a song though. It often occurs to me that had some of the American bloggers who visit this place been born a few years earlier, Vietnam would have beckoned. Not lost on you either I imagine.

Next up we have Ernie Goggins whose blog I have just discovered (apologies for the delay Ernie). Here are his own words:

Only a couple of suggestions for February, both of them as miserable as Rick’s suggestion – Cold Days of February by Edinburgh’s own Incredible String Band and Sad February by The Unthanks.

I had started this series with September songs and they were pretty sad but February seems to be upping the ante. Here are Ernie’s suggestions.

Martin from the New Amusements blog offered up this song by Billy Bragg, The Fourteenth of February. This is the studio version but Martin also added a link to a lovely, simple, live version. What a beautiful love song. Unlike Billy I do remember everything about the first time I met Mr WIAA but just down to the kind of memory I have. He, needless to say, remembers nothing.

Rol decided he couldn’t beat Martin’s suggestion, but offered up February by Dar Williams as an ‘also-ran’. Hope Dar never drops by as not an ‘also-ran’ song at all, although September by now has well and truly been usurped by February in the sadness stakes.

Neil came up with another Two For The Price Of One suggestion – Van Morrison’s March Winds In February. Thanks Neil, a new one for me from Mr Grumpy of Belfast, a Mr Grumpy who delivers sublime songs.

Nearly at the end of the suggestions now but Rigid Digit did come up with a second one. Here are his own words:

From the Foo Fighters The Colour & The Shape – is it the best Foos album? – comes February Stars. Actually, writing out that album title, I’ve just noticed – The Foo Fighters spell “Colour” properly, not the US English version sans U.

Yes Neil and Rick, funny that an American band used the British English spelling as opposed to the American English version, or as RD calls it, the proper version! Here is their February song.

Finally, we have Khayem’s pick for February:

My February suggestion is a lovely little instrumental ditty by Australian musical collective Architecture In Helsinki. One Heavy February is the opening song of their debut album (Fingers Crossed) from 2003, just under a minute long but with a fun video. 

He goes on to say:

I own a different version from 2008 on the Like It Or Not EP. No video for this one (though an image pops up around 0:38) but it’s a veritable extended club banger, with a handy run through of the calendar towards the end, all done in under three minutes. That’ll blow the cobwebs away! 

It certainly will Khayem, so thanks for suggesting that Australian collective with a Scandinavian capital in their name. Having just looked it up they apparently got their name after cutting up a newspaper and re-arranging the words. Was it a Finnish newspaper I wonder.

So, that brings our February edition to a close. All new songs for me apart from the Barbara one but regulars to this place would probably have expected that. A lot of sad songs amongst them, but personally I’ve quite enjoyed February this year. In the Celtic calendar, Spring starts on the 1st of February (Imbolc, written about here), and the lighter nights and flowers in my garden would attest to that.


Imbolc was one of the cornerstones of the Celtic calendar, as the success of the new farming season was of great importance. Winter stores of food were getting low and rituals were performed to ensure a steady supply of food until the harvest six months later. This year, it seems that however many rituals are performed, supermarkets are still going to be low on supplies of certain fruits and vegetables. All to do with climate change and politics though. Compared with what the people of Ukraine have been through over the last year I think we can forego our raspberries and cucumbers this month without too much complaint.

Next month is definitely a Spring month (if you live in the Northern Hemisphere) and it also means we are now half way through this series. If you have any March songs you would like to see included, please add them to the comments boxes. I couldn’t do this one without you.

Until next time…

Xmas In February Lyrics
(Song by Lou Reed)

Xmas in February
Sam was lyin’ in the jungle
Agent orange spread against the sky like marmalade
Hendrix played on some foreign jukebox
They were praying to be saved
Those gooks were fierce and fearless
That’s the price you pay when you invade
Xmas in February

Sam lost his arm in some border town
His fingers are mixed with someone’s crop
If he didn’t have that opium to smoke
The pain would never ever stop
Half his friends are stuffed into black body bags
With their names printed at the top
Xmas in February

Sammy was a short order cook
In a short order black and blue collar town
Everybody worked the steel mill
But the steel mill got closed down
He thought if he joined the army
He’d have a future that was sound
Like no xmas in February

Sam’s staring at the vietnam wall
It’s been a while now that he’s home
His wife and kid have left, he’s unemployed
He’s a reminder of the war that wasn’t won
He’s the guy on the street with the sign that reads
“Please help send this vet home”
But he is home
And there’s no xmas in February
No matter how much he saves