Georgie Fame, Sitting In The Park and Years That End With A Seven!

Well it is now most definitely 2017, and the switchover to new calendars at work and home confirms it. Sadly, in the course of the year, my workplace is to be transformed into a LEAN environment where three times as many people will have to fit into the same space and there will be “clutter police” to ensure we don’t pollute our new space age workstations with superfluous things like calendars.

Sadly it is not only the calendars that will have to go but also the pens, pencils, staplers, plants, coffee mugs….  All the things basically that help get the work done in a pleasing, human manner. Not sure if I’m ready for this brave new world and just so different from 30 years ago when I first moved up to the Highlands to work for the same organisation. In those days we had supremely cluttered offices, and also tea-ladies, adding machines and analysis paper but somehow we still got the work done and kept the ship on course. The big irony here is that in those days the offices were all positively “chubby” with clutter but most of us were indeed LEAN. Changed days indeed, but enough of this talk or else the “clutter police” will be out to get me!

Something I do love about a brand new calendar is that it is full of blank pages. We don’t know yet what the year will bring (although considering what last year brought maybe that’s a good thing) – 30 years ago it brought a new job, a new town and a new life. But this is supposed to be a music blog so what would I have been listening to back in 1987? Looking at the UK Singles Chart for this week, 30 years ago, the record still at No. 1 was Reet Petite by Jackie Wilson. I am constantly amazed at how rarely the top-selling record at any time really reflects the musical zeitgeist of the times, and this is a perfect example. Reet Petite was written for Jackie by Motown founder Berry Gordy back in 1957 but here it was giving much joy, 30 years later. Although still indeed a joy to listen to, perhaps its new found success had something to do with the great video – I remember that one of the games at a New Year’s party the week earlier had been for us to make our own “Jackie Wilson plasticine man” – Not easy as it turns out, especially after a festive tipple, but lots of fun.

I didn’t really know which direction this post was going to take before I started but it does seem to heading in the general direction of revisiting years that end with the number 7!

Those of you who follow these pages will know that over the last twelve months my favourite year for revisitation has been in fact 1967 as somehow the music from that era is the most pleasing to my now middle-aged ears. Why is that I wondered? It turned out to be down to a combination of factors but one of the main ones was simply that I was a very happy child and songs from that era only conjure up good memories. Also my awareness of the world of popular music was still at its nascent state, so songs from that year are still lesser-known and I have not tired of them in the same way that I have tired of some of the material from my own, very well-known era, the ’70s and ’80s.

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Looking back at the UK Singles Chart for week commencing 5th January 1967 contains many rare gems that I have not yet tired of. One that quickly became an earworm (of the very pleasant variety) was Sitting In The Park by Georgie Fame. Back in my childhood days I always used to mix up Georgie Fame and Alan Price (ex of The Animals), but looking into it a bit more, both of them did usually sit at keyboards of some sort and did work together quite a bit over the years, so explains a lot.

Sitting In The Park by Georgie Fame:

Georgie’s real name was Clive Powell but once he became managed by Larry Parnes, who had given new stage names to Marty Wilde and Billy Fury (there’s a pattern forming here) the new name was pretty much forced upon him. Georgie Fame was essentially an R&B and jazz singer who had many hits in the ’60s, Sitting In The Park being one of his less successful actually. He had played piano for Billy Fury as part of his backing band The Blue Flames, and this record was indeed attributed to “Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames”. He is still the only British pop star to have achieved three number one hits with his only Top 10 chart entries. There was Yeh, Yeh in 1964, Get Away in 1966 and The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde in 1967 (inspired by the film from the same year).

bonnie.jpgLike many others from this era, Georgie had been heavily influenced from early on by the great jazz and blues musicians and was one of the first white artists to be influenced by the ska music he heard in Jamaican cafes. The Blue Flames had a three-year residency at the Flamingo Club in Soho which was usually full of American GIs who came in from their bases for the weekend. They brought records with them and after one GI gave Georgie a copy of Green Onions by Booker T & the MG’s, he apparently went out and bought a Hammond organ the very next day.

The song Sitting In The Park (which I find both beautiful but also desperately sad – commonplace when revisiting this era) was actually written by American R&B/soul artist Billy Stewart. He had a string of hits in the ’60s although was more popular in his native USA. Billy sadly died in a car accident shortly before his 33rd birthday. Here is his version of this song from 50 years ago which I have just discovered, and find strangely enchanting.

So, “What’s It All About?” – It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…  Oh no, that’s another song altogether by Nina Simone! It is however a new year and one that does indeed end with a 7 – A number with all sorts of significance. There are 7 days in the week, 7 notes on the musical scale, 7 wonders of the world and 7 deadly sins. There is also the fictional MI6 agent 007, and of course it was the number on the back of a certain well-known footballer’s shirt.

As for me, I think I’ve just had another touch of “blogger’s block” in this, the first week of a new year, which might well account for this very odd post. Whatever, I hope to return to form soon but in the meantime it has been a joy reacquainting myself with the sounds of Georgie Fame and Billy Stewart, who were both, just sittin’ in the park.

Until next time…

Sitting In The Park Lyrics
(Song by Billy Stewart)

Sittin’ in the park,
Waitin’ for hooo-hoo-hoo-hoo sha-la

Yes I’m sitting right here
Waiting for you my dear
Wondering if you ever
want to show up

I don’t know you’re gonna show
My darlin’ I got to go
But nevertheless I staying
You got to be waiting

Sittin’ in the park,
Waitin’ for hooo-hoo-hoo-hoo sha-la-la

Sitting here on the bench
With my back against the fence
Wonderin’-a-if I
Have any sense

Something tells me I’m a fool
Let you treat me so cruel
But nevertheless I say again
you gotta be waiting

Sittin’ in the park,
Waitin’ for hoooo-hoo-hoo-hoo

Why oh, why oh, why oh,
Why oh, why oh, why oh, why

Won’t you tell me why
Oh my darlin I’m sittin’ right now
Oh, girl, I want to know why?
Why? sha-la-la-la

Sittin’ in the park,
Waiting for hooo-hoo-hoo-hoo sha-la-la

Sittin’ here on the bench
With my back against the fence
Wonderin-a-if I
Have any sense

Something tells me I’m a fool
Let you treat me so cruel
Nevertheless I say it
You gotta be waiting

Sittin’ in the park,
Waiting for hooo-hoo-hoo-hoo

No I’m not gonna wait
I am tired of waiting
No longer gonna wait, girl
Any longer
I’m tired of waiting
No longer gonna wait, girl

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was recorded for the film of the same name and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might finally work out the answer to his question, "What's it all about?"

16 thoughts on “Georgie Fame, Sitting In The Park and Years That End With A Seven!”

  1. Hi Alyson,
    I’m a fan of Billy Stewart’s original, but Georgie Fame’s cover is also very good. (I’ve played it twice already!) I think the flute interlude was a nice touch. You’re right – there is a degree of sadness inherent in the song. For me, listening to it brings back memories of heading down to Le Coq d’Or Tavern to hear a visiting R & B group on a sultry summer night with my two flatmates in ’69.

    I can sympathize with your workplace travails. Some young hotshot once arrived at my former workplace and turned everything upside down in the name of “efficiency” too.

    As for Jackie Wilson’s ‘Reet Petite’, it’s astonishing that it enjoyed such a successful revival 30 years after it first achieved hit status.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi – thanks for dropping by.

      Glad you liked these songs although this post was one of my odder ones as had a touch of “blogger’s block”! Can’t write much as about to head off to the clutter-less office right now. A brave new world and not one I am ready for. Will just think of Sitting In The Park instead and let it all go over my head!

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  2. My first job, as a wide-eyed 17 year-old, was in an office, one that was a world away from any kind of lean environment! I worked there for a relatively brief time, but it was my introduction to the ‘grown-up’ world and so had quite an effect on me. I can recall little of what I actually did on a day to day basis, but remember a generally relaxed atmosphere, an established drinking culture (we were on flexi-time, so 2 hour lunches weren’t unusual) and that everyone smoked at their desks – relentlessly! I’ve touched on those days over at my place from time to time – this was a piece I was particularly pleased to have written. http://unthoughtofthoughsomehow.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/frank-and-david.html
    I thought I might know one of the versions of ‘Sitting In The Park’ more than the other, but both are equally familiar to me – and equally lovely. I probably heard both of them many times as a kid on the trusty family radiogram via programmes like Two Way Family Favourites. Now there was a radio show!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was a lovely post about Frank and David – I too have made many friends in offices and at the time they are your best friends in the world, as you spend most of your day with them. If you are down or on a bit of a high about anything that happened the evening before they will be the first to hear about it. My current work buddies know all about my blogging highs and lows from the last year but know that I want to keep it away from the “real world” so have been very good about not reading any of it. About to get all sterile however as we will be hot-desking at bland workstations with no personal touches allowed. Will be sitting next to strangers. Also just found out today that the sandwich vans that come to sell us lunch are to be banned because they also sell crisps and chocolate so it would be seen as promoting unhealthy eating – Sitting in a bland pod for 8 hours a day without talking to anyone on the other hand is deemed to be healthy!! Oh dear, I’m getting too old for all of this. Like you I remember the days of boozy lunches, in-house office parties and ashtrays everywhere (although to be fair I didn’t ever smoke so it was annoying).

      You’ve given me an idea for a future post however as like you there were often obscure songs that we thought of whilst at work that no-one had ever heard of that became the tune of the office. And, I always had my trusty Guinness Book of Hit Singles in a drawer to settle any arguments!

      Thanks as well for reminding me about Two Way Family Favourites – Had always thought that back then I just picked up on music from TV shows but of course there was also the Light Programme on a Sunday lunchtime. Happy days.

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  3. Oh, I was shocked and saddened to hear about the lean office and the clutter police! My office days were definitely cheered up by the little personal touches in my workspace which definitely helped me to feel less like an automaton. And then you’d see everyone else’s too and it felt homely. As you say, they helped to get the work done in a pleasing, human manner. After I read about the changes at your place I started wondering why, and if it was a response to the intrusion of other personal things these days, like mobile phones and social media – could it have caused some kind of backlash that makes the bosses think they have to define the the workplace from one’s personal space more clearly? I left the office life before that all became a factor, the nearest anyone got to being distracted was a game of Solitaire at lunchtime. What a shame it has come to that if so. I just hope you have a window! And can maybe sneak in one of those fluffy googly-eyed things with sticky feet just tp rebel! (What WERE they called?!)

    Ha, I used to confuse Georgie Fame with Alan Price too, for exactly the same reason!

    I’m afraid I’m no fan of that Reet Petite video! It was in the charts when I was working in the record shop, and I have a very vivid memory of a young (white) bloke coming in one day asking for it but he could only remember the video which he described to me. He had an unfortuate way of wording it, as he described it as the “video of the little rubber….” and a derogatory racist word I won’t repeat here. I never for a second thought he meant it maliciously, it was just the way some people were used to speaking, I suppose. It stuck in my mind, though.

    Finally (sorry for long comment but you open up so many topics for discussion, it’s great!) I love the Billy Stewart ‘Sitting In The Park’ – thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it is pretty desperate isn’t it and I won’t repeat it all again but if you look at my reply to Mr S’s comment above you will find out more about what is to happen. No it isn’t a backlash to mobile phones etc. at all as people now have them permanently attached to their workstations, it is all the lovely human things that will have to go like the fluffy googly-eyed things, and my lovely new artsy calendar!

      The good thing is however that because I am also Mr WIAA, A?’s (unpaid) secretary I have to spend a fair bit of time in our office at home helping him out so I can still have all the nice things there – You should see me in a stationery shop, I’m like a kid in a candy store!

      Shame that the unfortunate description of the video for RP has put you off the song for good but can understand why. Not probably meant maliciously as you say but has had that effect. Glad you liked the Billy Stewart version of SITP – only discovered it doing the research for the post and like it better now of the two, but was too far in by then to change tack. Considering I thought this was a disaster of a post (as I was definitely struck down with “bloggers block” this week) it seems to have struck a cord. Hope your new year is going well so far and you’ve not been struck down with “artist’s block”!

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      1. Thanks Alyson. Sounds horrible that you’re having to hot-desk and sit with strangers and the banning of the ‘unhealthy’ sandwich van is indeed ironic. I hope that perhaps in another year’s time someone will realise that leanness can end up being emaciation and it will start to revert to a more comfortable middle ground at least (optimistic!) Not surprised you’re glad to have your bits and pieces around you in your ‘other’ office, sounds much better!
        I’m having a very unusual break from work at the moment. I was due to start two jobs mid-December and got myself all in a frazzle about the deadlines and volume of work, expecting to have to work through Christmas to keep on top. Then both publishers delayed and now I can’t start either! Of course it’ll all start up at once when it does but for now I’m taking a very rare breather from the drawing board. Love my work but needed chance to recharge batteries and here it is!
        Seem to have a blogging block now, though…!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes nature will out and I think a middle ground will have to be found in the end as we are humans at the end of the day and not robots.

          Like you, Mr WIAA, A? is having a bit of a break at the moment from major jobs but he has just finished his entry for an annual sculpture competition – It is amazing and I am going to have to find a way of inserting a picture of it in my blog. Not going to be easy to find a song that links to it but if LEAN offices led to Sitting In The Park I’m sure I’ll find a way!

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    1. Oh dear – I think I confused you didn’t I? I saw your comment this morning before I went to work and thought I should reply but had to keep it short. When I said it was one of my “odder” posts it maybe looked like “older” (perhaps because odder probably isn’t even a word!). Anyway my little preamble about the new sterile office conditions seems to have become the hot topic of the post when in the end it led me to “Sitting In The Park” which was really nice.

      Now that I have discovered Billy Stewart I think I actually like his version best but having to listened to Georgie’s version again I see what you mean about the flute segments. Don’t know what it is about 1967 but I could stick to that year from now on and never run out of material as so much of it brings such joy to my ears.

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  4. I think if the Clutter Police ever set eyes on my workplace desk, they would probably keel over on the spot. It’s beyond messy – frankly, it’s a mountain. I tidy it every few months in between terms but as soon as I’m teaching again the mountain grows to new heights. I can feel my boss shudder every time he walks past but he’s yet to make a comment. He’s new. My previous boss, a neatness freak, would have palpitations and eventually avoided coming in to our office so she didn’t have to look at it. On the one occasion she suggested I tidy it though, I reminded her of the ten other pointless tasks she’d emailed me that day and asked her to prioritise them for me…

    Georgie Fame played at one of our local village’s jazz festival a couple of years back. The tickets sold out in about 10 minutes…very few of them to locals! (I didn’t get one.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am always amazed how you find time for your great Top Tens when you have all this mountain of work to contend with – Hopefully you manage to compartmentalise the two lives. I can’t believe how my little rant about LEAN offices has resonated with people! I am by nature a very tidy and organised person but I do like the tools of my trade to be laid out nicely on my desk. Not sure I’m going to like this world where everything has to be done electronically which is kind of ironic considering I have spent most of my free time over the last year in “this” electronic virtual land!

      Good to hear that Georgie is still plying his trade – One of the earliest names I remember from the ’60s. Not sure when you said that you didn’t get a ticket if you meant “oh no”, or “I didn’t want one”. I am intrigued about your end of the summer song though and it can’t be as bad as the one I posted.

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      1. I would happily have gone to see him play live, notwithstanding the usual time & money issues which have reduced my gig-going to about once a year over the last few years.

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        1. Oh good – The gig-going days will come again so enjoy the family days for now as all too soon they will be past. Sadly Mr WIAA, A?’s insistence that there are always excellent “facilities” restricts our concert/festival attendance but having the blog is making me want to do a bit more this next year – We’ll see.

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  5. I’ve had a few beers so will restrain from commenting on LEAN and the clutter police other than that I can see why you had the same joy about returning to work than I had!

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