Photo Challenges, Paul Heaton and The Beautiful South

Last Saturday, for my weekly blog post, I decided to just sit down at my keyboard and type, with no particular plan in mind. Most bizarrely I ended up back in the 1920s which I hadn’t anticipated happening at all, especially as I have a massive list of ideas sitting in ‘Posts Pending’. That’s often the problem though, you have so many ideas, you can’t decide between them and end up totally off piste.

Talking of piste, it’s been rather snowy around here of late and to make the daily walk (for exercise) more interesting, I’ve had a bit of a photo challenge going on with a friend who lives in Yorkshire. We choose a theme for the day and take some fitting pictures, exchanging them before 9pm. No prizes of course, and no prizes for guessing what the theme was on this particular day, but it has made the walks a bit more fun as even they are becoming a tad monotonous after ten months of lockdowns and restrictions.

Old Red Eyes Is Back by The Beautiful South:

Great excuse to include something by The Beautiful South as they don’t seem to have popped up around here before, which is odd as they were one of my favourite bands back in the day. But by back in the day I mean when I was in my thirties and forties, and as we all know, however much we appreciate and enjoy the music of our more mature years, it never affects us in quite the same way as when we are young and in our teens. I’m no psychologist, or neuroscientist, but there are certain songs from my teenage years that can still render me an emotional wreck, all these years later. Apparently it’s a neuronic command and no matter how sophisticated our tastes might become, our brains stay jammed on those songs we obsessed over during the drama of adolescence.

Here’s something I’ve never mentioned around here before but in 1989 I got my first VCR and over the next few years, just as we used to do with cassette recorders in earlier decades, I ‘taped’ my favourite songs from TOTP on a Thursday night. I still have many chunky VCR tapes in the loft with all this material, but a bit pointless keeping them really, as we now have access to pretty much everything we might want to watch at the touch of a screen. The reason I mention all that, is because the very first song I ever recorded on my new machine back in 1989 was You Keep It All In by The Beautiful South. Hundreds of songs would follow it, but you always remember your first. (Bit of a messy start to this clip but fine from 0:20.)

You Keep It All In by The Beautiful South:

The Beautiful South rose from the ashes of another band I have very fond memories of, The Housemartins. Former bandmates Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway, along with Briana Corrigan, formed The Beautiful South in 1988 and despite a frequent change in female vocalist over the years, kept going until 2007. In contrast The Housemartins were only in the spotlight for two years but who could forget this bit of animated fun, Happy Hour from 1986 – Don’t be fooled by the still, as a more lively video clip would be hard to find.

Common to all the songs shared today is that they were written by Paul Heaton who has been described in The Guardian as ‘one of our finest songwriters: his music reveals an exuberant ear for melody, his lyrics a keen eye and a brilliant wit‘. Paul has kept diaries throughout the years and I remember him once producing some of them when being interviewed on telly. They are a beautiful hand-written record of his years with the above mentioned bands complete with doodles. He certainly is a wordsmith which is reflected in his lyrics. Old Red Eyes Is Back is a play on words, from the Sinatra album Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back, and is about the curse of alcoholism. As for Happy Hour it apparently ‘hammers away at the hypocrisy and sexism of young British business types on the move‘. Very apt for 1986, the era of the ‘yuppie’, when it was written.

Paul Heaton

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I’ve gone and done it again. Like alphabetising your record collection rather than tackling a really tricky piece of work, my long list of Posts Pending has not been eaten into for a second week in a row. But, sharing my red-themed pictures has somehow led me to share some Paul Heaton songs, which is a bonus. I may never have had his poster on my bedroom wall, and his lyrics don’t hark back to my own teenage dramas, but he has provided me with a fine set of songs for my digital library, ones I really should revisit more often.

As for that box of old VCR tapes in the loft, I’m really going to have to do something about them aren’t I, but I think I’ll keep that very first one where You Keep It All In was the inaugural song. Being able to rewatch TOTP later in the week was quite something back in the 1980s and this new technology meant we could do that. Compared to what we have at our disposal nowadays it seems positively antiquated, like using a Charles Babbage computer to work from home. Yes, the youngsters of today really are spoilt but I have an inkling the joy I felt at being able to record my favourite songs on video, was as great as anything they might experience today. It’s all relative.

Until next time…

You Keep It All In Lyrics
(Song by Paul Heaton, Dave Rotheray)

You know your problem
You keep it all in
You know your problem
You keep it all in

That’s right
The conversation we had last night
When all I wanted to do was
Knife you in the heart
I kept it all in

You know your problem
You keep it all in
You know your problem
You keep it all in

Midnight, a husband getting ready to fight
A daughter sleeps alone with the light
Turned on, she hears but
Keeps it all in

Just like that murder in ’73
Just like that robbery in ’62
With all these things that have happened to me
I kept them all in
Why do you keep on telling me now

You know your problem
You keep it all in
You know your problem
You keep it all in

That’s sweet
That conversation we had last week
When you gagged and bound me up to my seat
You’re right, I do
I keep it all in

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. 57 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 by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

13 thoughts on “Photo Challenges, Paul Heaton and The Beautiful South”

  1. I’m from “across the pond,” living near Nashville (and NO, I am not a Country Music fan!) I’m also up in years, a wee bit older than Alyson, and losing my hearing. So, I don’t hear the old songs the way they were back then.

    “Beautiful South” never, to my knowledge, made it over here. Our loss, as their music is pretty good. When I was through watching/listening to “You Keep It All In,” I never got the chance to close out YouTube, and it segued into another of their songs on TOTP, and then to a very long presentation (over an hour) of their work. Here it is, in case you didn’t catch it:

    Thanks for your blog, Alyson. It is helping me to stay sane during this pan-damit!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Guy – Glad to hear you’ve enjoyed discovering something else new to you. I don’t imagine the Beautiful South were big in the US as they just feel so British, singing about quintessentially British things. The video clip you shared was good (I’ve watched half of it already) and although it was filmed a long time ago the show itself is still going strong. The usual host Jools Holland was in the band Squeeze who did make it in the US I think.

      I find it hard to believe you live in Nashville but are not a Country music fan – It must be all pervasive there, singin’ in the wind.

      Glad my little blog is proving a distraction during these tough times. Cross fingers things start to improve as we head through 2021.


  2. There is definitely something about music that we listened to in our youth continuing to resonate with us in later life, however many hundreds of newer tunes we take on board in the interim. I’m sure it’s to do with the amount of time we had to listen when we were young, unencumbered by the pressures and worries that creep up on and distract us as we go through life. Funnily enough, Happy Hour is one such song for me. I have vivid memories of a group of us attempting the funny little running from side to side dance that the other three band members do behind Paul Heaton towards the end of the video, tripping over our own feet and collapsing with laughter. Such carefree days.
    Having relatively recently completed a house move, I was marginally horrified to discover just how many video tapes I still own! I knew there were a few knocking about, but I’d seriously underestimated the amount. I still have a dusty old VCR player that presumably works, but as I haven’t owned a TV set since 2004, it’s all a bit academic really.
    Several of our chums in this little corner of the internet already embellish their blogs with fine examples of their photography – your own are always terrific Alyson. Perhaps we could set up the occasional photo challenge between us all, if anyone’s interested?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah Swede – Thanks for dropping by. Hope this means you are having a restorative break from work.

      Yes, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there TS, we had so many more hours to listen to music when we were young and didn’t yet have all the responsibilities of adulthood. Looking at my graph of songs I’ve revisited around here, there is very little from the early 2000s as I think that was the time in my life when I had the least amount of time to myself. But, there is definitely some sort of emotional response too in that in adolescence we are more “socially sensitive”, more receptive to people and ideas that at any other time in our lives (I’ve researched it you can tell).

      I like the idea of you and your pals tying out the Happy Hour dance. You’ve mentioned the Young Guns dance too, walking along the street after a night in the pub. Fun times by the sound of it, and ones I recognise, but for the last year none of that for anyone – I feel sorry for youngsters, they have missed out for sure.


      1. Our most regularly practiced post-pub entertainment was actually doing The Monkees walk (from the opening credits of the TV show), which once again, always ended with us collapsed in hysterics. None of us would’ve been seen dead on a dancefloor, but we apparently had no shame when it came to making fools of ourselves on the darkened pavements of Ipswich after a few pints!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. As for the photo challenge, that’s an idea. We’ve had the hat pics before and of course our Swedey McSwedeface pics but maybe time for something new. Let me have a think about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the photos; I’ve themed some of mine by colour when posting on Twitter and it can be very pleasing on the eye.

    The music we grew up with is the music we grew up with. We can’t change it. But we can write about it…


    1. I have a few sets shared on my FB page and the colour theme works well. Had a day off today as we did two really long walks at the weekend and am jiggered!

      The music I grew up with seems to be written about most around here but I’m running out of stories. I might have to make my teenage years more colourful than they actually were!


  4. As has been said above – so true about the music we grew up with – the associated memories stay so vivid. My friends and I had a Showaddywaddy Dance (not dissimilar to the Monkees one), which we sometimes used to do on the way home from school. It can’t have been a good look, what with our horrible brown uniforms, braces on our teeth and regulation flat shoes but in our heads we were…erm……. actually I’ve no idea! But we were happy.
    I love your photos! Great idea re. the theme challenge – I’d be up for it too in the future if the idea takes off.


    1. Could that have been the Tiger Feet dance I wonder? These simple little dances certainly cottoned on didn’t they. As for Showaddywaddy, I always thought they were just too old for young fans, more like those older blokes who used to frequent the haunts teenagers hung out in (not wording that very well, but you probably know what I mean). They certainly did well out of the rock ‘n’ roll revival thing though.

      Glad you like my photos – We’ll have to have a think as it’s always fun when a few people share their similarly themed pictures. The bippity boppity hat one was good.


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