Bon Iver, “Blindsided” and What A Difference A Week Makes

Well, what a difference a week makes. Last Saturday marked the publication of my 300th post and it has become a habit for me to write something to mark the achievement of reaching that nice round number (Post 101 and Post 201), but understandably not finding much inspiration. I am still amazed I bounced back in February after a month’s hiatus as I had found myself writing negative, self-pitying posts for quite some time which just weren’t particularly entertaining, but I did, and I’ve been quite enjoying revisiting the tracks of my years of late.

But here we are, and although I desperately want to avoid any talk of coronavirus around here this is my web diary as well as a music blog, so it really can’t be avoided. I am reminded of a conversation I had with a girl at work many years ago – It was about how we both spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about restructurings at work, issues with our kids, house prices and the rest, whereas in reality the really worrying things will come out of nowhere, and we’ll be blind-sided on a Tuesday afternoon. The following Tuesday afternoon, after a visit to her GP, she was diagnosed as having cancer. Fortunately it was caught early and after treatment she made a return to full health but it made me realise we really shouldn’t sweat the small stuff.

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But, old habits die hard, and over the last couple of years I have been sweating the small stuff (suddenly the whole Brexit debacle seems like small stuff). I am one of those people however who is a bit rubbish at dealing with minor problems and dilemmas but when something really big comes along I rise to the challenge. The way things are currently playing out, this year is going to be one helluva challenge and I’m not talking about the virus itself (which as the PM has even said himself will lead to loved ones being taken before their time), but the fallout from it.

Mr WIAA and I have a mantra for life which is, “It’s All About The Balance” – It has served us well over the years and it’s only when the balance becomes skewed that we struggle. But that just relates to our family dynamic (and the balance in the last few days has been severely skewed). Applied to the country as a whole it’s not going to be pretty, but there really is no way of avoiding it. This virus is new, there is no vaccine as yet and we’re pretty much all going to have to get it in order to build up immunity (assuming “the science” is correct). I totally get why the government want to delay the banning of large scale gatherings but events seem to have overtaken them and in domino-effect style one large “gathering” after another is being cancelled or postponed by its organising body.

Many small businesses will go to the wall, especially in the hospitality and entertainment sectors (I include football in this one, DD’s other half’s industry). My home town derives a massive amount of its income from tourism and that’s just not going to happen this year (my industry). Dedicated health professionals will be tested to their limits and those who lose their jobs and livelihoods will suffer greatly (doubt if DD’s workplace will weather the storm). The old folk with dementia in care homes (I include my mum in this group) can no longer be visited by their families and they won’t understand why they’ve been abandoned. Should the worst come to the worst, they will be alone.

But again, here we are, and although the experts and scientists tell us to self-isolate if we have symptoms (and not go on cruises !?), many of us in the real world who may well not be paid if we don’t turn up for work will carry on regardless – It’s just human nature as navigating the Universal Credit system for urgent replacement funding would be nigh impossible. Likewise, there is an army of unpaid carers out there who look after their elderly relatives. They have been told to give them a phonecall and tell them they won’t see them for a few weeks! Again, not going to happen. I know from personal experience I had to visit my mum three times a day when she was poorly otherwise she would not have been fed or given her medication.

Last Saturday my first guest of the year to the holiday hideaway left for home, after having spent an excellent week in the area where he and his family were blessed with great weather. He knew about Alyson’s Highland Adventures from my blog and decided to give me a whirl. This Saturday it’s increasingly looking like he might be my first and only guest of 2020. Yes, this year the town is going to look less like the picture on the left and more like the one on the right.

I have just asked Mr WIAA if he had any song suggestions for this post and he came up with It’s The End Of The World As We Know It by REM. Although I think he’s kinda right (in the short-term), that all sounds a bit too dystopian. Instead I’ll include this offering from Bon Iver who are new to me, but the song Blindsided from their 2008 album For Emma, Forever Ago suddenly seems appropriate to how we’ve all been hit this week. The majority of that album was recorded whilst lead singer Justin Vernon spent three months in (self?) isolatation in a cabin in north-western Wisconsin. Most interestingly for me however is that their name comes from the French phrase “bon hiver” (good winter) taken from a greeting heard on the excellent ’90s telly show Northern Exposure. We watched that show religiously but with the passage of time I seem to have forgotten they ever said that.

Blindsided by Bon Iver:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I seem to have returned with another negative post but I’m just bracing myself for all the changes we’re going to have to get used to over the next few weeks and months. I really want all my loved ones to stay well (and of course all you lovely followers too) but being realistic this thing has to run its course so that we can get to the other side. Strange times indeed.

Until next time….

Blindsided Lyrics
(Song by Justin Vernon)

Back down, down to the downtown
Down to the lockdown…
Boards, nails lie around

I crouch like a crow
Contrast in the snow
For the agony I’d rather know

‘Cause blinded
I am blindsided

Peek in
Into the peer in
I’m not really like this
I’m probably plightless

I come through the window
I’m crippled and slow
For the agony I’d rather know

‘Cause blinded
I am blindsided

Would you really rush out?
Would you really rush out?
Would you really rush out for me now?
Would you really rush out
Would you really rush out for me now?
Would you really rush out for me now?
Would you really rush out for me now?
Would you really rush out
For me now?

Ooh, for me now
Ooh, for me now
Ooh, for me now

Taut line
Down to the shoreline
The end of a blood line
The moon is a cold light

There’s a pull to the flow
My feet melt the snow
For the irony I’d rather know

‘Cause blinded
I was blindsided
Blinded
I was blindsided
Blinded
I was blindsided

Postscript:

Lest we stray into negative blogging territory too soon, here is a clip a friend has just sent me. Most of us will remember Nigel Hawthorne’s portrayal of Sir Humphrey Appleby, the Permanent Secretary for the Department of Administrative Affairs in the telly show Yes Minister. Very funny, but also very apt for our times.

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 written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

12 thoughts on “Bon Iver, “Blindsided” and What A Difference A Week Makes”

  1. Northern Exposure was a great TV series. Weird and funny and a great soundtrack for all the episodes. I received the box set as a present and it was strange going back to the early 1990’s to watch it again. The way this virus is working it seems I may have to dig out that box set soon.
    All the best to you and yours in the hope you all get through the bad times ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We loved Northern Exposure – Quirky characters and I liked the moose that wandered down Main Street in the titles. Yes we may all need to revisit our old boxsets – A bit of a worry and a disaster for the economy which will lead to even more distress for the most vulnerable in society,

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    1. Yes, it worked. I look forward to your comment although didn’t expect to be writing a blog post like this one. Things have moved on apace since we were last in touch! As someone with a big birthday in a few months time I’m a bit worried I’m going to come into the “elderly” category. No pension until 67 but I might have to self-isolate.

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  2. Great, I can comment now without having to show my passport.
    Wise words about not sweating the small stuff, definitely a good mantra for life. Another similar one I like is “there are tragedies and burned potatoes”, although I can’t remember where I first heard that, it was either Marty Crane in Frasier or Roy Cropper in Coronation Street – or was it Socrates…?!
    Such weird times though, I feel as if I’m in a relentless dream. What with recent world events such as the Brexit vote, Trump getting in, then Boris and now this, it all feels very alienating, like I’m not really of this world (probably not helped by my naturally self-isolated life most of the time). It’s reassuring to read your words and those of others who feel the same way (and who aren’t stocking their cupboards with 50 toilet rolls and a year’s supply of baked beans).But of course worrying to have older or more vulnerable friends and relatives so just have to hope everyone we care about stays well.
    Hopefully it won’t affect our plans further down the line either. Re. your upcoming birthday, 60 is the new 40… none of this ‘elderly’ nonsense!

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    1. Hi C and sorry you’ve had to faff about setting up a new profile because of me probably but you seem to be back up and running again. That’s a great mantra from you as well and it sounds familiar as I think I read an article that used it this week (in relation to you-know-what).

      Can’t believe things have ramped up to such a level in just a few days. Our supermarket shelves are empty of loo roll, soap, pasta and paracetamol yet as far as I know only one recorded case so far in Highland. Suddenly I feel a bit stupid for having had rants about Brexit and all sorts of what seems like trivial stuff now. I hope I didn’t sound uncaring in my piece but as every member of my family is now impacted by the fallout from the virus (not the virus itself) I think the cost to society will be far higher in the long run from the impact of job losses, stock market crashes and anxiety disorders if things carry on as they are. A massive dilemma for the government in what line to take but as it turns out people in the western world will do what they want anyway thus the cancellation of mass gatherings despite guidance to the contrary. BUT, things are changing on a daily basis so we’ll see what today brings. We always take my mum out of the care home at the weekend but now we’re not allowed near the place. She’ll think we’ve abandoned her which is sad but even worse for those whose partner/children come in every day to spend time with them. As I said, I doubt if they will keep the virus out of the care home with 80 staff coming and going every day anyway, so just sad if we who really take care with washing hands etc before going in are kept out.

      No – I certainly don’t feel elderly but I’ve heard it banded about that “older people” i.e. those over 50 were potentially going to be banned from public gatherings! All academic now of course. Our 70-something year old neighbours who are just back from their latest skiing holiday (retired PE teachers) and could give most 30-somethings a run for their money sound as if they’re going to have to self-isolate for 4 months. We have all indeed been blind-sided. (Still hope our plans come off though.)

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      1. Absolutely agree with all you say – the fallout is surely far worse than the virus itself already, and I’m so sorry for your mum and others caught in the same situation. Obviously headlines such as ‘Over 97% of people will fully recover’ and ‘0.0000023% of the world population currently have the virus’ (I calculated it!) will not get our attention….

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        1. Things are definitely moving on apace and the upshot is, if the stats bear out, the proportion of people who potentially might need to be hospitalised is around 8 million – 15% of 80% of the population. That just can’t happen all at one time so I am now understanding why the total lockdown and self-isolation model is the only option in order to spread cases over a longer period. I very much hope the stats are the worst case scenario but being realistic life is going to change for all of us for a fair while.

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  3. Oddly enough, we have that album, after hearing a track from it in a restaurant in Chester, back in 2012, I think it was. A kindly waitress took pity upon our aged, furrowed brows and let us know the identity of the band. I see they’re supposed to playing Glasgow soon (or maybe not!). Oh, Northern Exposure, one of the many tangential reasons we now live in Orkney. The recent trip to Loch Ruthven, with its ice scrunching against the shore, brought back thoughts of the episode where the ice melts, ‘Spring Break’.

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    1. Yes, I kind of recognised the name from awards shows a few years back but had obviously forgotten all about them. Not one of their better tracks this one but just fitted by post and it has a nice sound to it.

      Northern Exposure was great wasn’t it and the main character was so determined to return to his old city life but yet had this amazing bond with all these quirky characters in the show. A bit like the premise behind Local Hero I suppose. Ah, ice on the loch, yes that would have reminded you of the show.

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