The Brits, Feeling Under the Cosh and 50 Year Retrospectives – Houston, We Have A Problem

Something that we music bloggers never want to happen is for our blogging output to become a bit of a chore, yet…, we can get ourselves into a cycle of writing about things we kind of have to write about as opposed to what we want to write about, and that’s not a good position to find yourself in.

I don’t know about everyone else but this blog is starting to feel like an obituary column, but all down to that old chestnut age – if we are getting older then our musical heroes are getting even older, and we are starting to lose them at an alarming rate. The option not to write about Burt Bacharach was never there for me, as this blog’s name came from the opening line to one of his songs, but going forward I think I’m going to have to limit the number I write.

What’s It All About, Alfie?

Then there’s the series. Over the years I’ve really enjoyed some of the ones I’ve published (the Full Moon Calendar In Song being my favourite) but some of the others have petered out early on, especially if they’ve been particularly epic like my American Odyssey in Song (it was all Delaware’s fault). At the moment I have a series about songs relating to months of the year, but I always seem to be up against a deadline, just managing to fit the latest edition in before we move into the next month – it’s not turned out to be as much fun as I thought.

Perry, it was all your fault!

As for my 50 year retrospective series, where I intended to revisit my folder of pop star pinups from 1973, that has hit a bump in the road. Some of the artists that populated the Top Ten back then, and the pages of magazines aimed at 12-14 year old girls, were later found to have been predators of the worst kind, and it now makes for uncomfortable reading. No, Mr Paul Gadd, I never did want to “touch you, there, where, there”, but the editors of our mags obviously thought differently and his hairy chest and grinning face appeared in every copy in 1973. I do think teenage girls are a good judge of character but back then we were often let down by adults who should have known better, but who inexplicably missed all the signals. Different times indeed.

Last but not least, I always watch the Brit Awards and usually write about them afterwards (or as Jez said in the comments boxes last year, “Alyson, she watches the Brits so we don’t have to”). So far, despite the show airing a week ago now, I’ve not yet come up with anything for this year’s extravaganza. There always used to be a standout performance, or shocking moment, but the main takeaway for me this year is that music has become very corporate indeed with the artists sitting at tables surrounded by “their team” – the money men, the label bosses, the songwriters – all looking very smug. It’s nigh impossible to become really successful by just plugging away at your craft as per the old days, and the big winner of the night, Harry Styles, was someone who started out in a boy band put together by Simon Cowell for a prime time television show. It seems that Sam Smith’s demonic performance with Kim Petras did however ruffle a few feathers and, wait for it, Ofcom received the grand total of 109 complaints about it. Considering the show was aired live on ITV on Saturday night and was watched by 4 million people, if they had set out to cause outrage, they failed miserably.

Harry Styles, the big winner of the night

One big bonus for me this year is that I now understand why so much fuss has been made about Isle of Wight band Wet Leg. They have been mentioned often amongst the other “cooler” blogs, whose hosts have their finger on the pulse, and it seems those bloggers were on the button as they came away with two big awards, one for being Best Newcomer and the other for Best Group. Straight to the top in their first year so a bit of a stratospheric rise considering their debut album only came out last year. Here is their performance of debut single Chaise Longue which is delivered in deadpan style by lead singer Rhian Teasdale. She apparently wrote the song in only a day whilst sitting on bandmate Hester’s grandfather’s chaise longue. The lyric, “Is your muffin buttered?/Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?” is supposedly a direct quote from the 2004 teen comedy Mean Girls. Having watched that film with DD many years ago, I can believe that, but yet again I’m probably being naïve.

It was all happening on the Wet Leg stage – Morris dancers, pastoral scenes, bonnets and cows.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I hate feeling under the cosh around here and with four time sensitive posts to be written this month (more if anyone else passes away), it’s all got a bit too much. I really need to get back to what I do best – simply picking a timely song from the tracks of my years, finding out so much more about it than was ever possible back in the day, and sharing a few memories. Maybe next month.

In the meantime, and before I sign off for today, here’s an idea. Instead of a 50 year retrospective where I concentrate on those artists who featured in the Smash Hits equivalent of the day and who made it to the Top Ten of the UK Singles Chart, how about I revisit those songs which only made it to the lower reaches of the charts but which have since become classics. Billy Paul recorded Me and Mrs. Jones in Philadelphia in 1972 but it peaked on our British charts in the February of 1973. It’s such a lush song, and one I have always loved, although at the age of 12 I probably wouldn’t have picked up on quite how heart-breaking the lyrics are. Glad I’ve never found myself in such a position as the subterfuge would cripple me. I would crack early on and tell Mr WIAA exactly what I’d been up to at 6.30pm every day (if indeed it is pm and not am). A beautiful song though.

Me and Mrs. Jones by Billy Paul:

A strange one this but I still managed to touch on the Brits and revisit a favourite song from 50 years ago. Quite something considering I sat down today to say I wasn’t going to do any of those things!

Until next time, to our our elder statesmen of rock and pop, please keep well until next month, as at the moment I can’t keep up.

Me and Mrs. Jones Lyrics
(Song by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, Cary Gilbert)

Me and Mrs Jones
We got a thing going on
We both know that it’s wrong
But it’s much too strong
To let it go now

We meet every day at the same cafe
I know, I know she’ll be there
Holding hands, making all kinds of plans
While the jukebox plays our favorite song

Me and Mrs, Mrs. Jones
Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones
We got a thing going on
We both know that it’s wrong
But it’s much too strong
To let it go now

We gotta be extra careful
That we don’t build our hopes up too high
Cause she’s got her own obligations
And so, and so do I

Me and Mrs, Mrs. Jones
Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones
We got a thing going on
We both know that it’s wrong
But it’s much too strong
To let it go now

Well, it’s time for us to be leaving
It hurts so much, it hurts so much inside
Now she’ll go her way
And I’ll go mine
But tomorrow we’ll meet the same place
The same time

Me and Mrs, Mrs. Jones
Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones
We got a thing going on

We gotta be extra careful
We can’t afford to build our hopes up too high
I wanna meet and talk to you
At the same place, the same cafe, the same time
And we’re gonna hold hands like we used to
We gonna talk it over, talk it over
We know, they know
And you know and I know it was wrong
But I’m thinking strong
We gotta let ’em know now
That we got a thing going on, a thing going on

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.

17 thoughts on “The Brits, Feeling Under the Cosh and 50 Year Retrospectives – Houston, We Have A Problem”

    1. I like how you seem to be very disciplined about publishing something regularly though – once a fortnight is quite a good regime and makes time to think of a new topical subject to write about. Well done.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks for the mention, although I fear you may have given the impression to your regulars that my blog is in some way entertaining or amusing; my apologies if you visit and feel cheated!

    I must say that, other than seeing there had been some kerfuffle amongst the straight-laced red tops about Sam Smith’s attire, I had no idea the Brits had even happened. So, once again, thanks for keeping me abreast of modern stuff.

    As for Wet Leg, whilst they’ve featured in a couple of my Friday night mixes, I can’t claim to have bigged them up – I have recently bought a chaise longue though, does that count? You’re in pretty good company as a convert, were you aware that Barack Obama is also a fan?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As Khayem has already alluded to, your blog is probably the most entertaining and amusing of all the ones I visit, especially the Rants. No-one would feel cheated. I am flattered though that despite not being quite yourself at the moment you managed to write this long comment, albeit in the middle of the night – but then again I first read it in the middle of the night too, so neither of us seems to be sleeping well at the moment!

      As for the Brits, for the first time ever it was aired on a Saturday Night during the prime time slot so the show has all become very mainstream and the shenanigans that used to go on when it was a much smaller event in a much smaller venue just wouldn’t be allowed to happen nowadays – no more Robbie challenging Liam to a fight or Jarvis storming MJ’s Messiah stage. It’s all about those who make lots of money nowadays and everyone has a “team” of people who make it all happen. Sam Smith dressed in a very strange outfit on the Red carpet (you might have seen it online) but very similar to what Bowie wore 50 years ago and as for Harry, I keep thinking he must have a wardrobe team of 20 people advising him on how he should dress (also a bit like Bowie from 50 years ago) so never sure how authentic it all is – not very I suspect.

      Crikey, Barrack O is a fan of Wet Leg – pretty cool for them. I liked his playlist actually, some really old stuff and really new stuff with a mixture of everything else in between. The current POTUS would probably have a very different mix indeed, but then again I doubt very much if he would have time for such endeavours or know how to go about making one. Kamala might though.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I know exactly what you mean, Alyson – the ‘obituary column’ feelings resonate with many bloggers. Last Friday was the third anniversary of Andrew Weatherall’s death, someone who has meant so much to me and my love of music for over three decades. However, in a week where I’d posted tributes to Burt Bacharach, Trugoy The Dove of De La Soul and Raquel Welch, I plumped for some uplifting sounds from 1973 (albeit and ironically from many artists who are no longer with us).

    I am one of those dedicated people (fools) who have continued to post daily, though I’ve ‘only’ been doing for a couple of years, small beer compared to the likes of The Vinyl Villain and Bagging Area. I’ve always said (to myself) that I’d slow down or stop if it stops being fun or a chore. I rarely plan in advance and any themes or series have been very ad-hoc and loose, so there is still a feeling of ‘what next?’ as I create a new post, usually the night before, often the morning of, it being published.

    Sometimes – like the tributes/obituaries – it’s an emotional response and reaction to what’s just occurred, though it’s often a poke (as with De La Soul) that I haven’t previously posted much, or at all, about an artist and their music. Sometimes, it’s semi-planned, i.e. there’s an upcoming birthday (to offset all the death, I guess!), a new album or a few words about a gig I’ve been. A large part of it is a trawl through my collection of cassettes and CDs that I compiled for myself and others from the 1980s onwards. Sometimes, it’s as random as a shuffle on my playlist, deciding on a whim where I’m going to go.

    I come to your blog with no expectation of what you’re going to write about, other than it’s entertaining, from the heart and an insight or introduction to music and songs. I’ve enjoyed your themes and series but I’d still be coming back if you decided to rest or retire any or all of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Khayem, I felt really bad even mentioning the whole obituary fatigue thing as everyone I write about is so deserving of a tribute and I would always want to write one. It’s just that the last few months have been intense. I do sometimes wonder why they are always mentioned on mainstream news, however, as some of the lesser-known ones won’t be known by many people under a certain age. If they give every death a 10-minute slot on the main evening news there won’t be time for much else soon – hmm, then again, considering how watching the news is bad for your mental health nowadays, there is perhaps method in their madness – who doesn’t like watching a montage of our heroes from the duration of their career. There are a few that will probably command an extended news bulletin when they pass on, if not something akin to what happened for the Queen.

      Yes, I’ve spotted that you are one of the daily bloggers, and am impressed by your output. I started off as a daily blogger but had to slow down after only 10 days as all I could fit into my day was work and blogging so domestic life was starting to fall apart. Since then I’ve tried it a couple of more times – my 7 in 7 series worked well but I was ready for it to end and once I tried to keep pace with my NaNoWriMo chums by writing 30 posts in the month of November but stumbled and fell on day 18. The thing I like about daily blogging however is that you can be topical – by the time I next write something nowadays the moment has sometimes passed – like with this one which was hoovering up a few subject matters all in the one post. My style of blogging is too wordy for daily blogging but you can be quite wordy too sometimes, so impressed you fit it into your daily routine – that is probably the key, making it part of your daily routine.

      I’m going to keep going with the months of the year in song as halfway there already but some themes lend themselves to such series better than others, especially for a music blog. The Full Moon series was just perfect and lasted for two years in the end – there is something romantic about looking up at a full moon and it lends itself well to having loads of songs written about it. The annual calendar – not so much – but thanks for coming up with the suggestions you have as I find out about bands and songs I might never have otherwise heard of.

      Thanks for your continuing support.


  3. All the Brits do for me is make me feel old. The only one I am familiar with,and even then only vaguely. Is Wet Leg.
    I do listen to and buy and go to see new music but thankfully remain totally ignorant about the mainstream.
    There was a question on Pointless the other day requiring the teams to fill in the blanks to identify 8 songs which were all the biggest sellers in years from the 2000s.I knew none of them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha, yes I get that but I find it a good way of finding out about some of the newer mainstream bands/artists I might never normally get to know about. I now know who Wet Leg are and why they are getting such plaudits – very quirky and original amongst so much sameness.

      I quite like when music questions come up on Pointless but if it’s anything recent I don’t do well – when I say recent I mean anything from the 21st century!


      1. Somebody won on Pointless after her boyf had told her to say Henrik Larsson for ant football question. Similarly, just say Drake for any music ones you don’t know, he crops up all the time on Pointless.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Good idea re the 50 years retrospective, and you selected a lovely track too. It’s probably different for everyone who has gone through it, but yes, I would agree that subterfuge is crippling. I had better go and have a listen to Wet Leg to see what all the fuss is about, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This post covered a lot of material and nearly everyone has commented on a different aspect but you are the first to mention the song. It’s a beauty isn’t it and around that time there were a few others that broached the same subject matter, The Manhattans for one. As I said I wouldn’t have understood the lyrics at age 12 but at this age I can see how tough being in that situation would be.

      As for Wet Leg, they just seem to be really fresh and different. They certainly did well at the Brits and they had quite a stage set.


  5. A friend of my commented on social media that the Brits were rubbish this year (Wet Leg excepted). I reminded him that he said they were rubbish 30 years ago, when we were but slips of lads. The more things change…

    Don’t feel yourself forced into continuing series if you’ve lost the fun of doing then. I’ve abandoned a bunch of series over the years. They’re always there if you want to dip back into them. That said, I’m finding increasing comfort in my own series at the moment… preferable to writing about the real world!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would disagree because I’ve always watched the Brits and some years have been pretty memorable – I always enjoyed the collaborations and some have gone down in history. This year it just felt so far removed from how it all began and was full of middle-aged men in dinner suits looking smug and checking their bank balances probably. The artists are pawns in this massive corporate industry. Also, as I said above, the artists are probably dressed by a wardrobe committee now and have to appear avant-garde and push boundaries. No, they just dress like Bowie did 50 years ago, but he was the real thing and chose his own style.

      I only really have the Months of the Year in Song going at the moment and halfway through now. (The 50-year retrospective is proving too tricky.) I’ll keep going with it but not nearly as much fun as the Full Moon Calendar In Song. Once I no longer have to earn my living I shall return to my American Odyssey – it takes a lot of time that one and I was put off during the Trump years but it shall rise again from the ashes. You have a real routine going with your series and of course, the weekend is filled with the highly successful Snapshots challenge. How long has it been going now I wonder – working it out it must be around 5 and a half years! I’ve only been blogging for 7 years so that’s been my Saturday routine for most of that time – thank you for your dedication. You really need one of us to come up with something as good to give you a chance to play – unfair of us really but you’re so good at it.


      1. I think my friend’s definition of rubbish is “too corporate”, but perhaps the corporate-ness is far more obvious these days.

        Snapshots began at the end of September, 2017, and you’ve been there since the start. I thank you for that.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. What a great post covering so much but it all just hangs together beautifully. And I just tuned in to that Sam Smith performance from your link here: the overkill of dancers onstage, all that studied sauciness which by its very contrivance looks pretty unsexy to me and the manufactured jarring vibe of the song itself – I know, I shouldn’t hold back, I should just say what I mean 😉 – and then compare it to the purity and classy song craft of Me & Mrs Jones – it’s like walking out of a fuggy grungy pub into a fresh Spring meadow! I’m glad you ended the post with that, I can breathe clearly again now…
    As for your various series, I think it’s always good to have them to fall back on but, as you say, not worth stressing about time sensitive pressures. No reason why you couldn’t post the February songs in July if it comes to it, we’ll still enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right, the Sam Smith performance did feel contrived and “in your face” which made it anything but sexy. Billy Paul on the other hand…, his song oozes sex appeal, yet nothing salacious is mentioned at all. I just love that song so much and although the Top Ten of 50 years ago was full of novelty songs, and songs by people we don’t want to mention any more, if you look at the lower reaches of the charts it is full of “sweet soul music”. I know what has stood the test of time more. Having said that, I still have fond memories of the beautiful boy singers whose pin-ups went up on my wall, and of course the rousing Blockbuster by Sweet, but as I said above, looking back at the old magazines has been sullied.

      As for the series I only really have one regular one at the moment but always seem to leave it until the last day of the month so have a mad rush. Will have to start early this time as I have all the suggestions in already so it should almost write itself. I think it’s the sheer number of obituaries of late that has meant I’ve not had time for the one-off random posts that I like writing. Hopefully, I’ll get back to that soon.

      Thanks for dropping by.


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