NaPoWriMo, The Crusaders and “Street Life” (Or Rather The Lack Of It)

Well, how are we all doing? A whole new collection of words and phrases has entered our vocabulary (self-isolation, social distancing, on furlough et al) and it somehow feels as if they’ve always been with us, but they really haven’t, it’s just that everyone seems to have adapted overnight to “the new normal”.

I’ve already been for my daily walk and fortunately timed it just right, as yesterday we did not, and ended up striding along the banks of the Caledonian Canal in sheet rain. I was wearing one of those coats with a complicated hood full of channels for cords and toggles. By the time we’d worked out how they kept sheet rain out it was too late, but no matter, I certainly wasn’t going anywhere important where I had to look smart and coiffed, just back home.

Home.

hsh

I spend a lot of time at home in my normal life, so not a big change for me. The big change is that economically I now have no purpose, as my purpose was to help Mr WIAA run his business and to prepare for guests coming to stay in the holiday hideaway. Neither of these businesses can operate in this strange new world of staying at home and social distancing, so all a tad disconcerting. I know we have to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives, but my goodness, the fallout will be with us all for many, many years to come and I fear for the younger generation whose job it will be to navigate this brave new world.

napofeature2
Spread your wings, but not for a while it seems

A very pleasant distraction that came along yesterday was the start of NaPoWriMo – National Poetry Writing Month. Although I am currently a lapsed student, I am still part of a NaPoWriMo FaceBook group, and a fair few efforts have already come in. I shared some of my fellow students’ work last year (link here) as I was really blown away by their poems, having quickly realised it was not a discipline I had any talent for at all. Whenever I did post something it tended to be a comedic tum-ti-tum kind of affair, and true to form, my first contribution this year seems to have gone along the same lines.

A Loo Roll Dystopia

Handed in a story once upon a time
Up for an assessment, thought it would be fine
Looked forward to the outcome, but ’twas a massive fail!
“Too far-fetched… , dystopian” was deemed to be my tale

But that was then, and this is now
And I find myself with furrowed brow
I had foretold what might come to pass
But missed the obsession we’d have with our ass

Paper products stripped from the shelves
Even those in a pack of twelve
When the threat recedes of what came from Hubei
We’ll be trapped inside, by Triple Velvet 3-ply

(I’ll get my coat!)

No mention of music yet in this post, but I am inclined to share a song I heard on the radio last night before heading to bed. When Randy Crawford started to sing Street Life, the song she recorded with American jazz band The Crusaders, it really hit home that street life as we know it has all but gone, and we miss it. The song reached No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart in 1979 and represented the peak of the band’s commercial popularity. Randy has appeared around here before, a couple of times, as I have always had a great fondness for her voice.

I usually share an audio clip of the featured song but it seems I don’t have The Crusader’s Street Life in my library. What I do have however is another Street Life by Roxy Music, this time from 1973. He certainly was a very dapper chap that Bryan Ferry wasn’t he? Again the lyrics about a world I now know nothing of, bar the suburban streets that run adjacent to the place we call home.

Street Life by Roxy Music:

I hope you and those you love stay safe and well. It hasn’t really hit home what we are up against yet here in the North of Scotland, but for any of you who are key workers caught up in the eye of the storm, you have my immense admiration and gratitude for what you are doing.

Until next time….

Street Life Lyrics
(Song by Will Jennings/Joe Sample)

I play the street life
Because there’s no place I can go
Street life
It’s the only life I know
Street life
And there’s a thousand cards to play
Street life
Until you play your life away

You let the people see

Just who you wanna be
And every night you shine
Just like a superstar
The type of life that’s played
A temptin’ masquerade
You dress you walk you talk
You’re who you think you are

Street life

You can run away from time
Street life
For a nickel or a dime
Street life
But you better not get old
Street life
Or you’re gonna feel the cold

There’s always love for sale

A grown up fairy tale
Prince charming always smiles
Behind a silver spoon
And if you keep it young
Your song is always sung
Your love will pay your way
Beneath the silver moon

Street life

Street life
Street life
Oh street life

I play the street life

Because there’s no place I can go
Street life
It’s the only life I know

Street life

And there’s a thousand cards to play
Street life
Until you play your life away – oh
Street life
Street life
Street life
Oh street life

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.

14 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo, The Crusaders and “Street Life” (Or Rather The Lack Of It)”

  1. I love Randy Crawford’s voice. Songs like “One Day I’ll Fly Away” and “You Might Need Somebody” and “Tender Falls the Rain” are just beautiful, but “Street Life” is the first song of hers I heard and it always gives me a lift.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m fine. Hope you & yours are well. Sainsbury phoned me on Sunday to say I was on their vulnerable list and now I can get one home delivery a week! This will save my poor niece and a couple of friends having to chase after me with my grocery demands.
        I have a garden with a tree so I get to wander about there most days. Even though it’s officially British Summer Time, it seems devilish cold or mebbe that’s some weird effect of old age?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Good to hear – well done Sainsburys. We are all fine, just wishing we could wake up and find it was all a horrible dream. You are right about it being cold though, I am still having my daily walk in gloves and woolly hat. Take care.

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  2. Hi Alyson. A few weeks ago I heard Brian Eno on Desert Island Discs. The show was from years ago. Anyway, he said that he and Ferry didn’t get along at all. Ferry might have been jealous of Eno, because Eno got a lot of media attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad this post reminded you of that story as good to have distractions at the moment. Always squabbles within bands and very few all got along swimmingly.

      Stay safe and well Neil and Sandy.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Brilliant, I think there’s always room for a bit of satirical poetry, commenting upon social attitudes. More power to your pen. And thank you for a nice juxtaposition of song choice with the current situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think brilliant is a stretch but thanks. Just not got the knack for romantic poetry or the like, so has to be the tum-ti-tum variety!

      Oh how I miss street life – Any expedition out of the house is now a massive treat. Hope you and the family are all safe and well.

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  4. The Crusaders’ ‘Street Life’ is one of those LPs that takes me back to my earliest days working behind a record shop counter at the end of 1979. All the staff very democratically took turns in playing our choice of LPs throughout each working day. When it came to my turn, I would invariably pull out the promotional copy of The Clash’ ‘London Calling’ that we had tucked away by the record deck. It was eventually officially released at the end of December 1979 and remains my favourite all-time album. ‘Street Life’ was released at the beginning of December and was the regular selection of the shop’s manager and it therefore forms a part of the eclectic soundtrack of an important period of my life, along with other shop favourites at the time such as, PIL’s ‘Metal Box’, ‘Setting Sons’ by The Jam, ‘Reproduction’ by The Human League, ‘Joe’s Garage’ by Frank Zappa, ‘Off the Wall’ by Michael Jackson, ‘Entertainment’ by Gang of Four and ‘Tusk’ by Fleetwood Mac.
    I’m glad to hear that you’re keeping well and active in these troubling times Alyson – my best to you and your family. Keep sharing the poetry!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your memories of this time – Funny how easily we can remember the soundtrack of our days back then but can’t remember what we did last week (although I suspect in your case you will have been working hard keeping us all supplied – thanks for that). What an eclectic mix of albums but just reflected the nation’s tastes back then and all these years later, should any record shops reopen after this, there would be a similar eclectic mix of albums no doubt.

      Yes, all the best to you too TS but maybe my poetry is not what’s going to get us through this!

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  5. Love the poem, Alyson; who would’ve thought just a few months ago that there would even be such a theme as a ‘Loo Roll Dystopia’?! ‘Street Life’ is one of those songs that is not my normal cup of tea but just keeps sounding better with age. Perhaps there’s a comfort to be had in hearing this kind of familiar, older music at the moment.
    You made me smile at the thought of you dealing with your coat of many toggles, I could imagine it made quite a comedic scene (but sorry it was at the expense of you getting rained on!).
    It’s hard, this, isn’t it, wherever we live, but no doubt harder for those in inner cities and of course those on the front line. Like you up there I’m so grateful to have such pleasant places to walk around here and a relatively comfortable existence given all the truly awful stuff going on around the globe, but sometimes it’s a real effort to stop longer-term and wider-world worries from taking over.
    Stay well, and please keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, even a month ago none of this would have made any sense. No not your thing back in the day but all these years later we are less judgemental about the music we perhaps dismissed when we were part of “a tribe” in our younger days. Quality will out and this was a quality track.

      That flipping hood has never been used before and I just couldn’t work out how to get it to frame my face as opposed to just blow off in the wind. Mr WIAA helped and we got there in the end but what a faff. Not one of our better walks though and they are a real luxury at the moment so don’t like it when they are squandered.

      Yes, we are really lucky to live in semi-rural places at the moment as can’t be easy in the inner cities. Also seems as if having day to day issues to worry about, like picking up food, and home-schooling children, is ensuring people don’t get too bogged down in thinking about the long-term. Must be how humans cope with all this madness. One day at a time….

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  6. I liked your poem, Alyson, and you shouldn’t dismiss them as comedic… we need humour more than ever right now. A friend of mine recently lost a video of him singing Imagine there’s no Andrex… I suggested he follow it up with a version of This Charmin Man.

    I am very thankful to live in (or within an easy walk to) open countryside. That’s always been important to me, but never more so than now. Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a bit of a roller-coaster isn’t it and tough working out how to pitch what we share (anywhere) at the moment. Some of the earlier funnies and comedic offerings are perhaps a bit off the mark now as it’s all getting a bit more serious. Also, we have a broad range of friends and acquaintances so everyone’s experience will be different – People with family in the NHS working on the frontline are the ones I really feel for at the moment.

      Yes, anyone with access to open countryside at the moment is so lucky – Let’s hope we can keep up our exercise regimes as the high point of my day. Stay safe, all of you.

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