“Dancing In The Moonlight” by Jubël, and Sweden, Thank You for the Music

Having just looked back at my blog post from this same weekend last year, I seem to be faced with exactly the same dilemma – Not a lack of inspiration, but instead just too many ideas to choose from, and I currently have five drafts on the go. (Sadly none of these are fit for the role of “guest post” over at one of my fellow blogger’s places, but I do have a few ideas up my sleeve for those too, promise.)

Last weekend I did return to the topic none of us seem to be able to avoid at the moment, but won’t go down that route again today, so my old friend the moon is going to be my saviour, as a full moon (the Sturgeon Moon) is due to put in an appearance on Monday night. Regulars around here know that throughout 2018 I became immersed in all things moon-related, and after discovering that all full moons have a name (given to them by the Native Americans who kept track of the months by the lunar calendar), I managed to find an appropriate song for each one, which in turn led to an interesting new series.

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August was when these huge freshwater fish could be found in lakes and rivers

The sturgeon is not the most attractive looking fish, it must be said, and not the most attractive sounding name either (I feel for our First Minister), but the moon always lends itself to some very attractive sounding songs, and by sheer coincidence I’m going to share a different version of the song featured this same weekend last year. Since DD returned home a month ago, I can’t help but take heed of what she is currently listening to, and this song has been regularly played on her various devices over the last couple of weeks – Dancing In The Moonlight by Swedish electronic duo Jubël (feat. NEIMY). 

Although the version I am most familiar with is the one by Toploader from 1999, this time last year I had just discovered the original from 1972 by King Harvest which we all agreed at the time had the edge. The song was written in 1969 by Sherman Kelly who was the brother of the King Harvest drummer. He apparently wrote it whilst recovering from an attack by a gang and was trying to “envision an alternate reality, the dream of a peaceful and joyful celebration of life”. How bizarre then that just as we are back together again as a family, my daughter is discovering something for the first time that could possibly have been listened to both by her grandparents and her parents in its different guises. Like my moon series, it seems to be a song that just keeps on giving.

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Of course my knowledge of Swedish electronic music is scant, but it has been noticeable over the last 50 years or so, that Sweden has punched above it’s weight in terms of its musical contribution to the world. Even if they had just produced Abba and then stopped that would have been enough, but there has been so much more. A quick bit of research this morning has led me to the following interesting facts:

  • Abba are the second most successful group ever after the Beatles in terms of record sales.
  • Excluding the UK, Sweden is the European country to have had the most No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 – Songs by Blue Swede (written about here before), Abba, Roxette (with four) and Ace of Base.
  • Songwriters/Producers Denniz Pop and his protegé Max Martin from Cheiron Studios are behind many of the big hits recorded by Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Westlife, Katy Perry and Pink. Only Paul McCartney and John Lennon have written more Billboard No. 1 hits than Max Martin. 
  • Sweden has won the Eurovision Song Contest six times, only one less than record holders Ireland.
  • Such has been its success abroad, clubs specialising in Swedish dance music have sprung up in major cities like Berlin, Barcelona and London.
  • Other well-known Swedish names not already mentioned above include: Avicii, Europe, Neneh and Eagle Eye Cherry, Swedish House Mafia, First Aid Kit, The Cardigans, Robyn, Dr Alban, Sylvia, Harpo, Wannadies, The Hives and Eric Prydz – Wow!

Thank You for the Music by Abba:

So, on top of producing all that furniture we love (IKEA), and cars (Volvo/Saab), and clothes (H&M), and devices (Ericsson), Sweden has given us a pretty impressive body of musical talent too. I would argue that the songs of Max Martin have been written to a successful formula, and may not stand the test of time compared to those of Lennon and McCartney, but hey, I’m old-school, so for future generations that might not be the case.

There is another reason why I chose to return to Dancing In The Moonlight for this post however. By some quirk of fate, a producer from BBC Radio recently stumbled upon my Full Moon Calendar In Song series, and got in touch. After a bit of toing and froing we managed to record my contribution to a show that’s due to be aired in the coming week. I try to remain anonymous around here, and have been a bit shy about sharing my blog with even my nearest and dearest, but I’m quite excited about it all and am (nervously) looking forward to tuning in. It’s been a topsy-turvey old year, but something positive has come out of it for me.

With all this hot and muggy weather, I didn’t catch the moon at all in the sky last night, but hopefully we’ll be lucky on Monday night. Wonder if Nicola knows about her moon?!

Until next time….

Dancing In The Moonlight Lyrics
(Song by Sherman Kelly)

We get it on most every night
When that moon is big and bright
It’s a supernatural delight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight

Everybody here is out of sight
They don’t bark and they don’t bite
They keep things loose, they keep things light
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight

Dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight

We like our fun and we never fight
You can’t dance and stay uptight
It’s a supernatural delight
Everybody was dancing in the moonlight

Dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight

Everybody here is out of sight
They don’t bark and they don’t bite
They keep things loose, they keep things light
Everybody was dancing in the moonlight

Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight (everybody)
Dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight (everybody)
Dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight

Fear Versus FOMO and Some Time Spent “On The Beach”

“Is it me?”, as the affable Terry Wogan used to say, or are others feeling a bit fearful at the moment as we ease into a new kind of normal. We were a bit later in opening up various sectors of our economy here in Scotland, but we’re getting there, and I can finally get my hair licked into shape, visit friends inside, have a meal in a restaurant, and perhaps, even consider a staycation. Of course all this easing of the lockdown makes the possibility of a dreaded second wave more likely, but we can’t stay in our houses for ever, can we?

This week I decided it was time to put myself out there again, so touched base with a few friends, offering up suggestions of things we could do. The responses were interesting. One set of friends wouldn’t be able to do anything for a while, as they were off on a walking holiday for two weeks with three other couples, staying at various fine dining establishments on the way. Other friends, most of whom are usually up for socialising and having fun, are not quite ready to venture out yet, and even a socially-distanced drink in the garden is still a bridge too far. For some, Fear is trumping Fear of Missing Out it seems.

I did have lunch in one of my favourite restaurants this week though, and it was just lovely being able to do such a seemingly normal thing again, albeit in a very empty room where the number of tables has been reduced greatly. The serving staff wore masks and visors, so…. a bit weird, but the new normal as we keep saying. It did concern me that the prices on the menu were exactly the same, as it should be obvious to even the most financially illiterate person that no restaurant can remotely turn in a profit any more if they don’t radically change tack, but at the moment they’re just trying to woo their customers back before it’s too late. But anyway, my old work colleague and I had a wonderful couple of hours, and this time, for me, FOMO trumped Fear.

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My favourite eatery

The next evening I invited another friend round for a movie night. This was the first time we’ve had anyone other than family in the house since March, so a big deal. I still have a DVD player so we picked a film she hadn’t seen before and cracked open a bottle of wine. This was something we used to do quite a lot, but of course not since lockdown, so a real treat. Again, FOMO trumped Fear.

By the Friday, Mr WIAA decided to take the afternoon off, and we headed north in the car in order to work out whether a coastal staycation might be a possibility for late summer. It was a glorious sunny day and after stopping off for some lunch at a place which is now only offering a reduced menu in a open-sided marquee kind of affair, we made it to the beaches of East Sutherland. It was busy, but not Bournemouth on a bank holiday busy, so hoping to book something in one of the many holiday spots soon.

On the way home we took a bit of a detour to visit The Mermaid of The North – Not quite as demure as the little mermaid in Copenhagen, and not something you usually stumble upon whilst visiting the beaches of Scotland, but now on the popular North Coast 500 route map.

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The Mermaid of the North

And here’s a funny one – I didn’t even realise I had taken this picture, but it seems I must have accidentally “clicked”, just after capturing our mesmerised mermaid. I love images of shapes, colours and textures so was quite chuffed when it popped up on my screen without me even knowing it had been taken.

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Pebble beach, far away in time….

All seemed to be going pretty well for me until I got an unexpected booking for the holiday hideaway. As a host I am now responsible for the well-being of the guests who come to stay with me, but with this pesky virus lurking goodness knows where, the cleaning protocols are onerous indeed. Because I have a cousin coming to stay this week I would only have a day to turn everything around, getting the house ready for my new guests. After realising I would have to renew every bit of bedding, remove all soft furnishings & paper, deep clean and covid-sanitise the whole house (even the mattresses), I realised it would be impossible. The thought of one of my guests becoming ill on my watch made me fearful (would I be sued?), so I quickly cancelled their booking and have now foregone what would have been some very welcome earnings. Fear won this time over FOMO.

So, “What’s It All About?” – It’s all about the balance isn’t it and some of us are desperate to get back out there, whereas others are still a tad fearful. I had been experiencing FOMO, so I did put myself out there and had a nice week, but things are most definitely not “normal” and earning your living from the hospitality and tourism sectors at the moment is nigh impossible. Touch wood we turn a corner soon in our efforts to control this thing, but I’m not holding my breath.

After posting non-pandemic related stuff for three weeks now, I seem to have returned to my old ways. Just an interlude though, as I like to get my thoughts down for posterity more than anything else. As for the song, there are many beach-related ones out there and I have already alluded to Echo Beach by Martha and the Muffins in the caption for my pebble shot above. The one I’m going to share however is On The Beach by Chris Rea from 1986. I had a particularly nice summer that year as I went with the flatmates of the time to Zakynthos in Greece for my first ever all-girls holiday. One of those flatmates (the one I spent Live Aid day with and whom I wrote about last time) later moved south and ended up in Berkshire, living in a house next to the one Chris Rea used to own. He had a recording studio in the garden and I often wondered when we went to visit whether On The Beach had actually been recorded there.

On The Beach by Chris Rea:

It seems Chris Rea also had a nice summer in 1986 as On the Beach was inspired by a trip to the Spanish island of Formentera off the coast of Ibiza. Chris is quoted as saying, “That’s where me and my wife, became me and my wife. That’s what it’s about. Yeah, I was ‘between the eyes of love.’ It’s a lovely island”. Sadly, visiting any holiday island is fraught with difficulty at the moment, as we all continue to fight the invisible virus. Time to perhaps just plug in the earbuds, listen to those waves roll in, and imagine yourself there.

What’s your favourite beach-related song? I’d love to hear from you and as you all know by now, I always reply.

Until next time….

On The Beach Lyrics
(Song by Chris Rea)

Between the eyes of love I call your name
Behind the guarded walls I used to go
Upon a summer wind there’s a certain melody
Takes me back to the place that I know
Down on the beach

The secrets of the summer I will keep
The sands of time will blow a mystery
No-one but you and I
Underneath that moonlit sky
Take me back to the place that I know
On the beach

Forever in my dreams my heart will be
Hanging on to this sweet memory
A day of strange desire
And a night that burned like fire
Take me back to the place that I know
On the beach

Postscript:

John Medd from Are We There Yet? reminded me in the comments boxes that a couple of years ago, he’d written about Chris Rea and On The Beach. The version of the song I shared above was the one released as a single, however the original version from the  album of the same name was a much slower, more contemplative affair. If you click on the link to John’s blog you will see that most people now prefer the original, but in case you want to check it out for yourself, here is a clip.

My Live Aid Day Remembered – Freddie, George and “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”

“It’s twelve noon in London, seven AM in Philadelphia, and around the world it’s time for Live Aid”

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Those were the words that kicked off probably the most memorable fund-raising event in rock and pop history, and this week was its 35th anniversary. On Monday morning, after being reminded of the date, I decided to revisit my DVD boxset of the event and over the course of the week I’ve watched it all, and taken notes. Sadly these notes fill 12 pages of my shorthand notebook, so I have absolutely no chance of condensing my thoughts into a format suitable for a blog post. I do however remember how I spent the day, so before my aging memory lets me down, I think I’ll approach it that way.

You have to be of a certain age to remember Live Aid at all, mid 40s or older I suspect, but if you do, you’ll probably remember it was held on a glorious, hot summer’s day, the like of which doesn’t often fall on a Saturday in Scotland. I was a big music fan, but the concert would go on all day, so what did my flatmate and I do just before 12 noon on Saturday, the 13th July, 1985? – We went to the local park of course!

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Aberdeen’s Duthie Park

I was prepared however and had brought a small transistor radio with me, so although we weren’t watching the action live on telly we did hear the opening act, Status QuoRockin’ All Over The World. Had I been watching on telly, I would have known that Paul Weller, who was next up with his Style Council, was looking very summery and dare I say healthy that day in his white trousers, but we only had this crackly radio. By 1 pm it was obvious we should head back to our cool, granite, second floor flat – The day had become just too hot and we were missing out on all the action.

Over the next few hours we watched the following artists perform on stage at Wembley in front of an audience of 72,000. Everyone that day was hot and bothered, there is no doubt, but also having the time of their lives.

The Boomtown Rats, Adam Ant, Ultravox, Spandau Ballet, Elvis Costello, Nick Kershaw, Sade, Sting, Phil Collins, Howard Jones, Brian Ferry and Paul Young

Watching this segment of the concert now, 35 years on, it was a veritable Who’s Who of mid ’80s chart toppers (with organiser Bob Geldof included of course). The dress code of the day seemed to be either black leather or baggy white clothing depending on your musical leanings, but those who opted for white definitely suffered less in the baking heat. There were mullets of all persuasions too, even amongst those who were thinning on top (Phil Collins?). The quality of the singing was less than perfect, but hey, there had been little time to rehearse or prepare for this massive event so hats off to them for committing, as some did not and later regretted it. Final observation – So many saxophones! The instrument of choice for the mid ‘80s it seems.

And here is where the day was punctuated with another break from the telly, as the oil company I worked for at the time was hosting a barbeque for its staff that very evening. The flatmate and I duly got ready to head along Queen’s Road to the spot overlooking Rubislaw Quarry (from which Aberdeen was built) where many of these corporate HQs were based. Before we left however we caught the performance by U2 which is often cited as having elevated them to superstardom. Bono was tiptoeing around in his tight black leather trousers and long boots, but after spotting a girl in the crowd, jumped down into the mud at the front of the stage and helped save her from being crushed. They missed out on playing their third song but it was a sign of things to come from him, for sure.

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My workplace on the left

So, we arrived at my workplace in the early evening, but bowing down to pressure from their staff, it had been decided to install a big screen in the underground carpark so we could watch the concert whilst eating the fine barbequed food only an American company could serve up. My workmate was there with her new boyfriend, so was on a bit of a high. As was often the case however with these office romances in Aberdeen, it later transpired he had a wife who lived elsewhere whom he’d conveniently omitted to tell her about. They were slippery characters some of these chaps we worked with who often broke our hearts.

But back to the concert, we were now lined up on chairs watching scenes coming live from Wembley on the big screen. I’m not going to describe the Philadelphia concert here as would get far too bogged down, and anyway, it just wasn’t a patch on our set-up. Wembley, with its enclosed stadium, twin towers and greenery all around, looked beautiful on that hot summer’s day whereas the JFK Stadium in Philadelphia looked like a makeshift set of scaffolding surrounded by carparks and interstate highways.

As the day wore on the stakes were raised and artists of more legendary status started to appear on stage. First up we had Dire Straits but then we had the band who is generally thought to have stolen the show that day, Queen.  I have written about their Live Aid performance around here before and it’s my second most visited post ever (link here) so won’t repeat myself, but Freddie was on especially fine form that day and owned the stage, encouraging the crowd to sing along in unison. His sustained “Aaaaaay-o” during the a cappella section came to be known as the note heard round the world. The last time I wrote about their set on Live Aid day I shared Radio Gaga, but having watched them again this week, the song they finished with was We Are The Champions which was almost as perfect. They certainly were champions that day.

It’s obvious watching this footage that Queen’s set took place just as the sun had gone down, but it wasn’t yet dark. This is my favourite time of the day for any outdoor event as there’s a certain magic about it – No harsh sunlight but not a total absence of light either. In Scotland it’s called The Gloaming and a very special time of the day. Up in Aberdeen it wouldn’t be gloaming for a while yet, so we sat tight and carried on watching the big screen.

Next up was David Bowie, looking very dapper in a powder blue suit and pointy black patent shoes. Another great performance and quoted as being “his last triumph of the 1980s”. He was followed by The Who who hadn’t played together for three years. No powder blue suit for Roger Daltrey, oh no indeed. As ever he had his shirt open showing off his hairless, suntanned torso. Roger must be doing something right in terms of looking after himself, as at the grand old age of 76 he still looks pretty good today, and I imagine the bare-chested look is something he still favours.

But this was Saturday night in the big city and one by one people were drifting off. The hostelry of choice for 20-somethings in 1985 was the Dutch Mill on Queen’s Road, so leaving the concert behind for a while, my flatmate and I headed in that direction. In those pre-mobile phone days, it was highly likely you would bump into most of your friends on a weekend evening, but when we got there on the evening of the 13th July, it was dead, as everyone was at home watching Live Aid. We had a quick drink then walked the short distance back to our flat in the city centre.

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The Dutch Mill, Aberdeen

Once home we settled back into our large beige and brown sofa (it was the ’80s) and turned on our Radio Rentals telly. I can’t be sure, and I would be lying if I said I was, but the artist following on from The Who was Elton John so if we did get back in time for his set that’s who we would have watched next. Having viewed the boxset this week, Elton had the longest time on stage of anyone and he performed a couple of duets, first with his old mucker Kiki Dee, and then joy of joys, with the person I have written about most around here, George Michael.

I have mentioned the making of the Band Aid single before, and how the Wham! boys George and Andrew weren’t treated with much respect that day by the other artists, being proponents at the time of feel-good pop tunes. But here we were just six months on and Elton John saw fit to ask George to sing Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me with him. He said he was “a great admirer of his musical talent” when introducing him, and I have to say he gives an impeccable performance here. Also, unlike many others that day, he was dressed simply in jeans, white T-shirt and black leather jacket which is kind of timeless (we’ll ignore the fact it was dark and he’s wearing shades). His Live Aid appearance has stood the test of time and he went on to great things whereas those who had laughed at him are perhaps long forgotten.

Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me by George Michael and Elton John:

The Wembley concert finished off with a set by Paul McCartney who had been persuaded out of retirement for the event. Sadly he was the only artist on the night to experience microphone failure, so the audience missed out totally on one of his songs. It was fixed quite quickly but typical it had to happen to him. Once finished, he and Bowie raised Bob Geldof up on their shoulders, and then, along with the rest of the performers from the day (and a few others it seems) they launched into a version of Do They Know It’s Christmas?, the charity single that started the whole thing off. The first two lines were a bit ropey, sung by Bowie and Bob, but then they wisely handed the mic over to a safe pair of hands in the form of George Michael, who very confidently took over.

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I think we spent a good few hours in front of the telly that night as we then watched the rest of the Philadelphia Live Aid concert, which would go on for a fair while yet due to time differences. The programmers also revisited “the best bits” of the day, so by the time I went to bed in the early hours, I’d pretty much seen everything.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I’m not going to get into the whole criticisms and controversy aspect of Live Aid. All the money may not have got to the right places, at the right time, but around 1.9 billion people watched the concerts that day and over £150 million was raised. There is no denying, the publicity generated meant that western governments could no longer ignore humanitarian crises. Through rock ‘n’ roll, the common language of the planet, an issue that was not hitherto on the political agenda, became so.

As for this post, it was for my own benefit really, as I have never documented My Live Aid Day and always wanted to. The flatmate I spent it with FaceTimed me the other day and is coming up to visit next month (as long as that pesky virus is kept under control) and the workmate with the broken heart soon got over it, and we still keep in touch via Christmas cards. The boyfriend of the time chose to spend that summer travelling round France with a work colleague, so missed out on Live Aid totally. Needless to say he soon became the ex-boyfriend upon his return, and we are definitely no longer in touch.

How did you spend your Live Aid day? I have met a few people over the years who were actually at Wembley for the concert and I love hearing their stories. If you have any, I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time….

Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me Lyrics
(Song by Elton John/Bernie Taupin)

I can’t light no more of your darkness
All my pictures seem to fade to black and white
I’m growing tired and time stands still before me
Frozen here on the ladder of my life

It’s much too late to save myself from falling
I took a chance and changed your way of life
But you misread my meaning when i met you
Closed the door and left me blinded by the light

Don’t let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it’s always someone else I see
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free
But losing everything is like the sun going down on me

I can’t find the right romantic line
But see me once and see the way feel
Don’t discard me just because you think I mean you harm
But these cuts I have they need love to help them heal

Oh, don’t let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it’s always someone else I see
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free
Cause’ losing everything is like the sun going down on me

Don’t let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it’s always someone else I that see, yeah
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free baby, oh
Cause’ losing everything is like the sun going down on me

Songs About Home Towns, “Húsavík” and The Wacky World Of Eurovision

Many of the songs I share around here come from film and television, as borne out by the sheer number of posts in each of those categories on my sidebar. It was obvious early on in the evolution of this blog, that unless I was revisiting songs from my chart-loving/album buying years of the 1970s and ’80s, much of the music I have warmed to over the decades has come from watching something on the big, or small, screen.

I recently wrote about the Eurovision Song Contest, which like everything else this year didn’t happen, but for us fans of such fluff and nonsense there has been a bit of a reprieve in the form of the new Will Ferrell film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga. It went straight to Netflix so despite there being no cinemas yet open around here we have been able to watch it twice. There have been a few scathing reviews and on the whole it was not a winner with the critics, but hey, what do they know? During these dark times it has offered up a couple of hours of pure escapism and as an oficiando of all things Eurovision, and someone who in the past memorised vast amounts of info on the runners and riders, there were some great cameos and in-jokes which will have been lost on our friends across the pond.

Even if you’re not a fan of Eurovision, or a fan of comedic musicals, the scenery alone makes it a worthwhile watch. Our wannabe contest winners, Fire Saga, have become the unlikely representatives for little Iceland and their home town Húsavík is featured heavily in the film – I’m guessing that once we’re able to travel more freely again, it will be heavily inundated by tourists. (Whether they are wanted is another matter, and a standing joke throughout the film, but I’ll leave that for you to discover should you watch it for yourselves.)

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Húsavík in Iceland

One of the showstopping songs from the film is also called Húsavík, written as a love letter to their home town, and performed by Fire Saga member Sigrit Ericksdóttir (expertly played by Rachel McAdams). It has formed a bit of an earworm for me this week, partly because it’s a great song, and partly because it’s so relevant to what’s happening in our neighbourhood.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we had DD back living with us in the Highlands as the current crisis made her realise more than ever that big city life is not for her. But also, one by one, our neighbours’ adult children have similarly returned to their respective nests as this lockdown period has not been kind to the young in terms of job losses, accommodation unsuitable for home-working, and sadly, relationship breakdown. It seems when the chips are down, like Lars and Sigrit from Iceland, your home town is often just where you want to be, and despite all the turmoil of the last few months I haven’t seen DD so happy in years. We don’t have whales up here (as they do in Húsavík), but we do have the Moray Firth Dolphins, and she has loved her long walks along the coast with old friends since returning to her home town.

Where the mountains sing through the screams of seagulls
Where the whales can live ’cause they’re gentle people (or dolphins?)
In my hometown, my hometown

Thought I made it clear, do I have to say it?
It was always there, we just didn’t see it
All I need is you and me and my home

Húsavík by Molly Sandén:

But this of course is a song from a film and it’s not always the case that the actor playing the role of the singer, does the actual singing. It has been a long-standing tradition in the making of movies and I remember well that scene in Singin’ In The Rain when poor old Lina Lamont was humiliated when the curtains went back to reveal a young Debbie Reynolds/Kathy Seldon at the microphone. In the Eurovision film it is Swedish singer Molly (My Marianne) Sandén who takes the honours so credit where credit’s due, although it seems they did mix her voice with that of Rachel McAdams to a certain extent, which seems to have worked well. Turns out Molly represented Sweden in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2006, so quite apt really.

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Molly Sandén

So, “What’s It All About?” – Sometimes you’re just in the mood for watching a feel-good comedy and the film written about in this post ticked all the boxes for me. A couple of years ago a film called The Greatest Showman was similarly panned by the critics, but unless you lived under a rock in 2018, you will know it spawned a best-selling album and kept returning to the top spot time and time again in terms of box-office takings. The showstopping song in that film, Never Enough, was very similar in style to the one featured above, and although I thought at the time it was sung by actress Rebecca Ferguson, who played Swedish Nightingale Jenny Lind, it was American singer Loren Allred who took the honours that time. Two films, one where a Swede sings for an American and one where an American sings for a Swede!

Never Enough by Loren Allred:

As for our adult children returning to their home town, like many others have found during this crisis, priorities can change. We do have short memories however and as we are seeing an opening up of much of our economy, people seem anxious to get back out there, doing what they used to do. Cross fingers it doesn’t result in the dreaded second wave we keep hearing about. The 21st century phenomenon FOMO (fear of missing out) has been thankfully absent from our lives of late, but as things start to get back to normal it will no doubt return with a vengeance as get-togethers are shared on social media. Let’s hope we have learnt something from this downtime and that the “old normal” does not return in full any time soon.

Until next time….

Húsavík Lyrics
(Song by Fat Max Gsus/Rickard Göransson/Kotecha)

All by myself
With this great big world before me
But it’s all for someone else
I’ve tried and tried again
To let you know just where my heart is
To tell the truth and not pretend

All I needed was to get away
Just to realize that I was meant to stay

Where the mountains sing through the screams of seagulls
Where the whales can live ’cause they’re gentle people
In my hometown, my hometown
Thought I made it clear, do I have to say it?
It was always there, we just didn’t see it
All I need is you and me and my home

Vera með þér, með þér
Í Húsavík við Skjálfanda
Í heimabærinn minn

You want the world (Want the world)
All the neon lights and billboards
To be seen and to be heard (Heard)
And I followed you (Oh-ooh)
But now I know what makes me happy
And I can tell you feel it too

Where the mountains sing through the screams of seagulls
Where the whales can live ’cause they’re gentle people
In my hometown, my hometown
Where the northern lights burst out in colors
And the magic nights surpass all others
Það eina sem ég þrái er, að vera

Don McLean, “Vincent” and Being Held to Account By WIAA

ALYSON: Well, another week in lockdown here in Scotland…..

WIAA: Alyson, whoa, this is supposed to be a music blog yet you keep treating me like your personal diary, recording your thoughts, telling everyone what’s going on in your life. Where are the songs, the memories, the bits of trivia?

ALYSON: True, it has kind of gone that way of late, but good to get those thoughts down on your virtual pages. It’ll be interesting in the future to look back at this time and remind ourselves of what we went through.

WIAA: Maybe, but you’re no Anne Frank are you, so can we please just get back to the songs.

ALYSON: DD and I visited the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam the summer after she left school. We queued for a long, long time to get in, but well worth it. Many of us are feeling cooped up and isolated at the moment, but nothing compared to what those two families and the dentist went through.

WIAA: Any songs come to mind from that trip?

ALYSON: Hmm… not really. DD and I had very different musical tastes at that time so nothing really springs to mind.

WIAA: Any pictures?

ALYSON: Loads.

WIAA: Anything that might inspire a song?

ALYSON: Well, we also went to the Van Gogh museum and learnt a lot about the man and his art. A place bathed in golden light, what with all the yellow sunflowers bouncing off the walls. Here is a picture of a wax model of Vincent, holding his palette. He also appears to be still in possession of his left ear at this point, but I suppose a big, bloody bandage would have scared the kiddies. And, is it just me, but does he not look uncannily like a hipster of today?

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WIAA: Waiting…. . The song?

ALYSON: Isn’t it obvious? Vincent by Don McLean, and not the one who used to appear on Crackerjack.

WIAA: At last. Good choice. Let’s hear it.

Vincent by Don McLean:

ALYSON: I remember well listening to this song on my mum and dad’s old wireless (lots of wires actually) back in 1972. We already knew of Don McLean as American Pie had been a big hit the year before, but here he was coming along with something else from that album, a beautiful and soothing melody. I don’t think it probably registered with me at the time that the song was about Vincent Van Gogh the artist, as you only find out about these things as you become more worldly wise. Don had apparently been reading a biography of Van Gogh, and suddenly knew he had to write a song about the artist and his mental illness. He sat down with a print of Starry Night and wrote out the lyrics on a paper bag. Crikey, just how many great songs have started life on a napkin or paper bag?

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Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

WIAA: Thanks for that Alyson, another song to add to my archives. As a reward I’ll let you tell everyone about your week.

ALYSON: I now feel as if the moment has passed, and anyway I have to head off soon to visit my mum in her care home, the first visit in nearly four months so it will be very weird. I have to wear a mask, get my temperature checked and sit outside with her 2m apart, so certainly not back to normal, but how it has to be in the “new normal” I suppose.

We’re off to collect the rest of DD’s belongings tomorrow, which is bittersweet, as it was this week last year she headed off to begin her new life in the South of Scotland. Not quite back to square one however, as somehow she has managed to get herself a new job already, which is quite remarkable in the current climate (wish I had her ability to ace interviews).

It seems my holiday hideaway can now be opened up for single household guests and I have a family coming next week who want to visit, but not stay with, the grandparents who live nearby. Sadly it means DD has had to vacate for a while, but as long as I can handle the level of cleaning and sanitising now required, she is happy to do so. Only private lets this year so shouldn’t be too onerous.

Last not but least I had an exciting package arrive this morning, the latest instalment of Rol and Rob’s Department of the Peculiar comic book series. I have had a sneaky peek already but intend to leave full consumption until later in the day, when it can be properly savoured with no distractions. They really are very talented.

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WIAA: Sounds as if you’re going to be busy this weekend Alyson so I’d better let you go. I think we’re back on track around here (no pun intended) but just remember, here is where we revisit the songs of your youth, so lets not get too side-tracked by all that’s going on in the world. People come here for a bit of a break from the real world and don’t want to hear your moans and groans. Are we cool with that?

ALYSON: Yes cool with that WIAA.

WIAA: Right then, time to sign off for today. What is it you usually say? Ah yes, until next time….

Vincent Lyrics
(Song by Don McLean)

Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul

Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue

Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night

You took your life, as lovers often do
But I could’ve told you Vincent
This world was never meant for
One as beautiful as you

Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frame-less heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget

Like the strangers that you’ve met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will

The Phenomenon of Ghosting, Motown Girl Groups and “Nathan Jones”

I seem to have veered way off topic on this blog over the last few months and the nostalgic journey through the tracks of my years element (as per the tagline above) has all but been forgotten about. But hey, that’s what a global pandemic will do to you. I now realise however, I may have been a culprit of “doomsurfing/doomscrolling” whereby I spend many hours a day scrolling through the various news streams on my phone, picking up on every new development as it happens. I am well informed, but maybe too well-informed, and I think it has led to some ghosting (“the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication”) by old friends.

I have been in touch with a fair few old friends since March and am now realising that one or two are no longer replying to my messages and certainly don’t instigate conversation. A side-effect of doomsurfing seems to be that I have become a doom and gloom merchant! But hey, yet again, that’s what a global pandemic will do to you. I’m not sure I can totally change my ways however, so just another downside to the crisis,

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So it seems it’s time for me to change my ways around here, or else I may lose the support of all you lovely followers too. Shit happens as they say, and what better way to drag ourselves out of the doom and gloom than by listening to some great tunes. Last week I shared something by Bananarama and discovered their first hit single, (He Was) Really Saying Something, was unbeknownst to me at the time a cover of an early sixties Velvelettes recording.

The Velvelettes were an American girl group, signed to Motown in the 1960s. Their biggest chart success occurred in 1964, when Norman Whitfield produced Needle in a Haystack which peaked at number 45 on the Billboard Chart. I’m not sure why some of these girl groups went on to great things and others kind of drifted away but it seems they needed to be both championed by those in charge (Berry Gordy) and have a hunger for success above all else. Cue the Supremes. Founded as The Primettes in 1959, the Supremes were the most commercially successful of Motown’s acts, with 12 No. 1 singles on the Billboard Chart. At their peak in the mid-1960s, the Supremes rivalled the Beatles in worldwide popularity and their success possibly made it easier for future African American R&B and soul musicians to find mainstream success.

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And here is where we return to Bananarama yet again, as another of their Top 20 hits, Nathan Jones, was a cover of a Supremes song. By 1971 Diana Ross had left the group and their lead voice was now that of Jean Terrell, but along with Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong they racked up a good few more hits during that era, Up The Ladder To The Roof, Stoned Love and Floy Joy to name but a few. Strangely enough both Bananarama versions of these Motown songs were hits 17 years after the original. Maybe that’s just the amount of time it takes for a song to become fresh again and for listeners not to confuse it with its first incarnation. I for one certainly didn’t know about these earlier versions when I was an avid fan of Bananarama in the 1980s.

Nathan Jones by the Supremes:

So, “What’s It All About?” – Funny how things often turn full circle when you write an off-the-cuff blog post as I’m doing today. The song Nathan Jones is apparently about a woman’s former lover, a man named Nathan Jones who left her nearly a year ago “to ease his mind.” Suffering through the long separation (“winter’s passed, spring, and fall”) without any contact or communication between herself and Jones (ghosting?), the narrator is no longer in love with him, remarking that “Nathan Jones, you’ve been gone too long”. It’s a bit of a coward’s way out, but just goes to show, the practice of withdrawing from all communication is still alive and well today, possibly even more so with the advent of online dating apps and such like.

As for me, I plan to curb my “doomsurfing” activities somewhat but going to be hard after all these weeks. Having really enjoyed this nostalgic journey through the tracks of my years, it would be a shame for me to lose all the goodwill I’ve built up by being the merchant of doom! Please feel free to let me know if I overstep the mark.

Until next time….

Nathan Jones Lyrics
(Song by Leonard Caston/Kathy Wakefield)

You packed your bags, as I recall
And you walked slowly down the hall
You said you had to get away to ease your mind
And all you needed was a just little of time

Oh, winter’s passed, spring and fall
You never wrote me, you never called
(Yeah) Nathan Jones, you’ve been gone too long
Gone too long (Gone too long)

If a woman could die of tears
Nathan Jones, I wouldn’t be here
The key that you’re holding won’t fit my door
And there’s no room in my heart for you no more

‘Cause winter’s passed, spring and fall
You never wrote me, you never called
(Oh-oh) Nathan Jones, you’ve been gone too long
Gone too long

Do-do-do

Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones
Mm-hmm
Nathan Jones, oh

Winter’s passed, spring and fall
You never wrote me, you never called
(Oh-oh) Nathan Jones, you’ve been gone too long
Mm-mm-mm, Gone too long (Gone too long)
Nathan Jones, you’ve been gone too long (Gone too long)
You’ve been gone too long (Gone too long)
Hey, Nathan Jones, you’ve been gone too long (Gone too long)
Hey, you know, you’ve been gone (Gone too long)
Nathan Jones, you’ve been gone too long (Gone too long)

Baggy Dungarees, Bananarama and “Cruel Summer”

It’s Saturday morning which is usually my preferred slot for a weekly blogging session however I am struggling to find inspiration. That’s not actually true, it’s more that I am still overwhelmed by what’s going on in the world, and can’t seem to snap out of it. Is it just me, or is the initial relief the country felt at being in full lockdown starting to morph into something quite different? I think it is only now starting to hit home that there won’t be a V-shaped bounce back for the economy, and many will lose their jobs and businesses.

Talking of which, last Saturday we had a tricky manoeuvre to perform in getting DD back home to the Highlands but we managed without breaking (too many) rules. Back in March she had a pretty good life for someone her age but this pandemic has put paid to that – Once you lose your job, bit by bit you lose everything else and although she is by no means the only one, it’s a bitter pill to swallow. Today is the summer solstice, astronomically the first day of summer (written about here before). In years gone by I would have probably had a wee soiree for the neighbours, but this is going to be a Cruel Summer I can tell, so not really in the mood. Cue Bananarama.

Cruel Summer by Bananarama:

Anyone who was around at the time will know that Bananarama were incredibly prolific in the 1980s and they ended up being listed in the Book of Guinness World Records for achieving the world’s highest number of chart entries by an all-female group. They came along just at the time my life as a student was coming to an end but we weren’t ready to cast our student wardrobes aside quite yet and I remember those Bananarama-inspired dungarees and baggy T-shirts were a staple right through those transition years. They had caught the eye of Terry Hall, and in February 1982 released It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It) with Fun Boy Three, which got to the No. 5 spot in the UK Singles Chart. By the time Cruel Summer hit the charts in July 1983, they’d already had 5 other hit singles!

As we are contemporaries, it’s always interesting to see the girls when they pop up on telly today. Although they lost Siobhan Fahey for a good while as she embarked on other projects, she got back together with fellow Bananaramers Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward in 2017, and they completed a world tour. The dungarees have gone, in favour of the little black dress, but I don’t begrudge them that at all. Once we ladies get to a certain age the clothes of our youth just look silly on us, although we can still rock the shoes. Back in 1982/83, when we copied their look, it was all about the shoes. A large sector of the female population was at that time going down the white stiletto route, even with dungarees. You could always tell which “tribe” a girl belonged to because of her shoes – It was always Doc Martins and loafers for Bananarama and if I’m not mistaken they still marry up their old footwear of choice with their little black dresses of today. Way to go girls.

So “What’s It All About?” – It’s going to be a tough old summer for many of us I suspect. I keep telling DD she is not alone, as if that somehow makes it better, but of course it doesn’t. As my holiday house is sitting empty at the moment she at least has somewhere to stay whilst she tries to regroup. I had been optimistic recently about my ability to reopen the holiday hideaway for staycations later in the summer, but having seen the many cleaning protocols and risk assessments that (understandably) need to be completed ahead of each guest arriving, like many others in the hospitality and tourism sectors, I am starting to wonder whether it will be possible. Based on costs/unit of hospitality, we should now be charging around £30 for each drink in a pub and around £500 for each night away. With a recession looming, just don’t think that’s going to be possible.

I’ve not exactly come back with a very positive post today, but at least I’ve eased the blockage which had stopped me from writing. I have had something very positive happen to me of late however which involves this blog. What did they say to Kevin Costner in Field Of Dreams? – “If you build it, they will come.” Something along those lines and I hope to share more in due course.

Until next time….

Cruel Summer Lyrics
(Song by Sara Dallin/Siobhan Fahey/Steve Jolley/Tony Swain/Keren Woodward)

Hot summer streets
And the pavements are burning
I sit around

Trying to smile
But the air is so heavy and dry

Strange voices are saying
What did they say
Things I can’t understand
It’s too close for comfort
This heat has got right out of hand

It’s a cruel, cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel, cruel summer
Now you’re gone

The city is crowded
My friends are away
And I’m on my own

It’s too hot to handle
So I got to get up and go

It’s a cruel, cruel summer
Leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel,
It’s a cruel, cruel summer
Now you’re gone
You’re not the only one

Those We Have Lost in 2020 – RIP Kenny, Bill, John and Richard

Because this year has been one like no other, my blogging has changed tack and I have not been keeping up with the sad roll call of people we have lost from the world of music. It is almost inevitable that many of them would have been written about here before, as most were elder statesmen of their particular genres, but time to pay special tribute I think.

My very first post of this year led me back to the chart music of 1970, and at the top spot was Mr Kenny Rogers with his excellent story song Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town. I am not however really that familiar with the First Edition era of Kenny’s career. The Kenny I am more familiar with was his late ’70s persona which gave us the hits Lucille, The Gambler and Coward of the County. Like Ruby these were all very much story songs and their lyrics have given us some great lines which are often quoted. After the news of his death on March the 20th, just ahead of all the upheaval and distress caused by the pandemic, there were many who noted that Kenny had followed the advice within his signature song:

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em

Ten days after the death of Kenny Rogers, news came through that we had also lost Bill Withers. Last summer, after a particularly lovely day out I shared many pictures in a blog post, so the obvious accompanying song choice was Bill’s 1977 song Lovely Day. To be honest I hadn’t realised until that point just how respected Bill had been in the music world, having won three Grammy Awards and been nominated for six more. His life was even the subject of a 2009 documentary film called Still Bill. Quite something considering he worked as a professional musician for just 15 years, from 1970 to 1985, after which he moved on to other occupations.

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Bill Withers, 1938-2020

My Bill song choice is going to have to be this one however, Ain’t No Sunshine. They’re not for everyone I know, but I am a bit of a fan of Richard Curtis movies, and the song certainly fitted a particularly poignant scene in the film Notting Hill very well – Poor old lovelorn Hugh Grant straddles all four seasons whilst he walks through the market with Bill’s song playing the background [spoiler alert: all turns out well in the end].

Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers:

A week after the death of Bill, we heard of the sad loss of John Prine. John was someone I only discovered since starting this blog, and when I accidentally came across his song When I Get To Heaven one evening when on my way to visit my mum in hospital, I got a bit emotional, all because of these lines of lyric:

And then I’m gonna go find my mom and dad, and good old brother Doug
Well I bet him and cousin Jackie are still cuttin’ up a rug
I wanna see all my mama’s sisters, ’cause that’s where all the love starts
I miss ’em all like crazy, bless their little hearts

Yes, there was nothing more I wanted than to go find my dad who had died 15 years earlier, and ask for his advice on decisions that were going to have to be made. Listening to the song, even us non-believers are almost prepared to be converted, as there is a definite party atmosphere going on. John Prine had apparently been treated for cancer twice, and it was after his second bout that he wrote the song about some of the things he had to give up following his illness. Here is a quote: “I wrote that song because I figured there’s no cancer in heaven. So when I get up there, I’m going to have a cocktail and a cigarette that’s 9 miles long. That’s my idea of what heaven is like.

I hope John is up there right now, sitting with Kenny and Bill, enjoying that cocktail and extremely long cigarette!

When I Get To Heaven by John Prine:

Last but most definitely not least, on the 9th May we lost the artist known best to us as Little Richard. I can’t pretend to know that much about Mr Penniman, as he was a bit before my time, but I do know he was an influential figure in popular music, often nicknamed The Innovator, The Originator, or The Architect of Rock and Roll. His best known work dates back to the mid-1950s, when his charismatic showmanship, dynamic music and frenetic piano playing laid the foundation for rock and roll. He influenced numerous singers and musicians across musical genres from rock to hip hop and in a line-up he would have been easily recognisable because of his pompadour hairstyle.

Tutti Frutti became an instant first hit for him in 1955 but as we started off with Kenny Rogers, and mentioned his song Lucille, I think I’ll come full circle and end with Little Richard’s song of the same name. Lucille became a big hit for him in 1957 but he then abandoned rock and roll for born again Christianity.  When he was persuaded to tour Europe in 1962, the Beatles opened for him and Richard even advised them on how to perform his songs. He is cited as one of the first crossover black artists, and his music and concerts broke down barriers, drawing blacks and whites together despite attempts to sustain segregation. How sad therefore to see what is going on right now as I type, 60 years on.

Until next time, RIP Kenny, Bill, John and Richard, you will not be forgotten.

When I Get To Heaven Lyrics
(Song by John Prine)

When I get to heaven, I’m gonna shake God’s hand
Thank him for more blessings than one man can stand
Then I’m gonna get a guitar and start a rock-n-roll band
Check into a swell hotel, ain’t the afterlife grand?
And then I’m gonna get a cocktail: vodka and ginger ale
Yeah, I’m gonna smoke a cigarette that’s nine miles long
I’m gonna kiss that pretty girl on the tilt-a-whirl
‘Cause this old man is goin’ to town

Then as God as my witness, I’m gettin’ back into show business
I’m gonna open up a nightclub called “The Tree of Forgiveness”
And forgive everybody ever done me any harm
Well, I might even invite a few choice critics, those syph’litic parasitics
Buy ’em a pint of Smithwick’s and smother ’em with my charm

‘Cause then I’m gonna get a cocktail: vodka and ginger ale
Yeah I’m gonna smoke a cigarette that’s nine miles long
I’m gonna kiss that pretty girl on the tilt-a-whirl
Yeah this old man is goin’ to town

Yeah when I get to heaven, I’m gonna take that wristwatch off my arm
What are you gonna do with time after you’ve bought the farm?
And then I’m gonna go find my mom and dad, and good old brother Doug
Well I bet him and cousin Jackie are still cuttin’ up a rug
I wanna see all my mama’s sisters, ’cause that’s where all the love starts
I miss ’em all like crazy, bless their little hearts
And I always will remember these words my daddy said
He said, “Buddy, when you’re dead, you’re a dead pecker-head”
I hope to prove him wrong… that is, when I get to heaven

‘Cause I’m gonna have a cocktail: vodka and ginger ale

Yeah I’m gonna smoke a cigarette that’s nine miles long
I’m gonna kiss that pretty girl on the tilt-a-whirl
Yeah this old man is goin’ to town

Yeah this old man is goin’ to town

Virtual Concerts, Take That and We’ll “Never Forget” 2020

I missed my regular session of blogging yesterday morning as Mr WIAA and I instead headed out to source a 3m wide gazebo ahead of being able to invite one other family into our back garden for a socially distanced chat, with no offer of refreshments being made of course. Am I really writing this? The phrase “you couldn’t make it up” comes to mind but this is indeed the new normal. It wasn’t easy, but after waiting in a fair few long queues we found something cheap and cheerful that would do the job – Now we just have to work out who might be up for the idea. With no family living locally it’s down to friends and I’m fully aware we might not be at the top of their lists for a wee while yet, as they do have family who live locally.

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Billy No-Mates
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A socially distanced chat anyone?

As we enter week 11 of lockdown (with partial easing) here in Scotland, I can see that people are getting restless, and they won’t be able to keep to the rules for much longer. Let’s hope they don’t have to but I am nervous, must be said. My heart goes out to those who have lost a loved one but my heart also goes out to those who have lost their jobs and businesses. It’s certainly a tricky situation to get out of, and I’m glad I’m not the one having to make the difficult decisions.

I did have a few drafts backing up around here which I could have returned to today but somehow the moment passes and the song choices are no longer relevant. Instead I am going to tell you about something which raised my spirits on Friday night. There have been many online attempts at virtual concerts of late, some more successful than others, but when a friend told me that Take That were going to be streaming live from 8pm on the 29th, I thought I’d give it a whirl (link here). Boy was I glad I did as for 40 minutes or so I forgot all about the pesky virus that has affected our lives so much.

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I was way too old for Take That when they appeared on the scene back in the early ’90s but they soon became the biggest boy band in the land, racking up an impressive run of chart hits between 1991 and 1996 including eight releases that reached the No. 1 spot. Gary generally wrote and performed the songs, whereas Howard and Jason were primarily dancers. Robbie and Mark were jack-of-all-trades, dancing, singing and offering themselves up as teen idols. Their live shows were spectacular and when they split there was a period of national mourning amongst their young fans. Richard and Judy even had to set up a helpline (I know this because it happened during one of the rare times I caught sight of daytime television as I had just given birth to DD and was on maternity leave).

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In 2006, to the delight of their fans who like them were now a lot older and had kids of their own, they reformed, and so started the successful run of their existence as a 4-piece (sans Robbie). They were now a man band but the shows became even more spectacular, there were many more successful albums, and four more No. 1 hits. Eventually Jason too left the fold but they are still going strong today as a middle-aged man band and for the virtual concert on Friday night, for one night only, Robbie re-joined.

It was great fun, I can’t deny, and somehow using only basic technology we could hear all four of them from the comfort of their very own home studios (although some perhaps more basic than others – Mark?). They were able to perform many of the big hits, Back For Good, Shine, The Flood and Pray (Howard and Mark still have those moves) to name but a few, complete with fine virtual backgrounds courtesy of green screen. All these years later they have been able to become the kind of men they always were, not having to conform to a homogenised bandified look, and whilst watching the concert I gave them all nicknames: Flash, Natty, Scruffy and Dandy. If anyone wants to guess which name fitted each band member, feel free to leave a comment in the boxes below.

As is wont to happen at their big live concerts they ended the show with this song, Never Forget. I am a big fan as it features Howard Donald on vocals who rarely got top-billing which made me warm to him the most. It’s tough when you’re not perhaps the best singer, dancer or song-writer within a band, but when you do get your moment in the sun, it just makes it all the more special.

Never Forget by Take That:

The opening section of Never Forget is taken from Verdi’s Requiem, sung by the Henllen Boys Choir. The official music video contained a montage of the band’s childhood moments, but whenever I hear it I just think it sums up their history:

We’ve come a long way
But we’re not too sure where we’ve been
We’ve had success, we’ve had good times…

Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream…

So, “What’s It All About?” – Looks as if attempts are being made at returning to some semblance of normality, but all that means is that the hospitals can now probably cope better with an influx of patients, not that the virus has gone away. 2016 wasn’t great for several reasons, neither was 2017. 2018 was bad for us as a family and 2019 wasn’t much better. I had high hopes for 2020 but turns out it has been worse than anything most of us will ever have experienced. My daughter’s life is in disarray and our businesses are in mothballs leaving us with little income. Ironically, because the virus hasn’t made it into my mum’s care home, her life has changed very little and she always seems really happy when I call. 2020 is a year we will never forget, nor should we, but my goodness I’m really ready for things to improve. Hope that joyful little bit of entertainment on Friday night will kickstart something good. It’s time now.

Never Forget Lyrics
(Song by Gary Barlow)

We’ve come a long way
But we’re not too sure where we’ve been
We’ve had success we’ve had good times
But remember this

Been on this path of life for so long
Feel I’ve walked a thousand miles
Sometimes strolled hand in hand with love
Everybody’s been there

With danger on my mind
I would stand on the line
Of hope and I knew I could make it

Once I knew the boundaries
I looked into the clouds
And saw my face in the moonlight

Just then I realised what a fool I could be
Just ’cause I look so high I don’t have to see me
Finding a paradise wasn’t easy but still
There’s a road going down the other side of this hill

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Safe from the arms of disappointment for so long
Feel each day we’ve come too far
Yet each day seems to make much more
Sure it’s good to be here

I understand the meaning
Of “I can’t explain this feeling”
Now that it feels so unreal

At night I see the hand
That reminds me of the stand
That I make the fact of reality

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

We’ve come so far and we’ve reached so high
And we’ve looked each day and night in the eye
And we’re still so young and we hope for more
But remember this

We’re not invincible, we’re not invincible, no
We’re only people, we’re only people
Hey we’re not invincible, we’re not invincible
So again I’ll tell you

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Never
Never forget babe
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

An Open Letter to DD – When Life Gets Tough, “What Would Buffy Do?”

My Dearest Darling Daughter (DD for short)

I know you don’t often drop by this place and I thank you for giving me the freedom to write freely without worrying about being viewed by people from the real world, but here is a short post just for you. Other regulars may drop by but they already know all about you, as all of your shenanigans, as well as those of your dad and granny, pop up within these pages from time to time.

We are now heading into our 10th week of lockdown here in Scotland, which means it’s nearly 11 weeks since you were “let go” from your workplace. What an awful euphemism – You and your colleagues were not flimsy pieces of rope loosely tethered to your desks, but were sparky, go-getting young people with so much to offer. Anyway, because of the pandemic it happened, and on behalf of my generation I apologise for how your generation have been treated over the last decade or so. 

We all know how tough it is for you to buy somewhere to live, as we bought everything up as “investment property”. We all know how tough it is for you to enter the job market, as we cling on to the quality jobs and now (have to) work ’til we drop. We gave you computers & phones which let you access social media 24/7, often damaging your mental health. Some of us call you “snowflakes” which is an insult of the highest order and could only come from those who haven’t seen how hard your generation have had to work to navigate the school system and beyond. And now… , the world has seen fit to give you a pandemic to deal with.

This is primarily a health crisis we are living through, and yes, it is our older people and those with underlying health conditions who have borne the brunt of it so far, however I would argue that it’s the 18 to 24-year-olds like yourself whose lives have been turned upside down by it most, and who will bear the brunt in the longer term. I feel desperately sorry for all of you who will miss sitting those life-changing exams; who will finish your degrees virtually; who will miss out on all those end of term revelries; who work in the arts & hospitality; whose new apprenticeships/jobs are now on hold, and; whose plans for next year are now in jeopardy. Many of you might be in a serious relationship yet are having to lockdown in different households. Your social life, which is of immense importance to your age group, is reduced to a Zoom quiz or a hour’s walk with your parents.     

Anyway, got to find some positives and I know you will do your absolute best to adapt to a post-pandemic world. It was obvious before all this that something had to change in terms of how we live, and this might just be the catalyst to make it happen. Over the last few months we have seen less pollution, more innovative ways of working and communities taking care of each other – All bodes well for the future, as long as we can get through this tricky next phase.

I know you’re starting to struggle a bit now and I would like nothing more than to give you a great big hug, but as you’re at the other end of the country, sadly not possible for some time yet. Your dad and I miss you desperately and are your biggest supporters – Whatever the future holds, you will be fabulous.

Mum xxx


Postscript:

I have written about DD often around here, so if anyone wants to drop by the comments boxes with a message of support I think it would give her a big lift. Cross fingers we can all reunite soon. Back in the day, we as a family once spent a whole calendar year watching all 144 episodes of Joss Whedon’s award-winning cult drama, Buffy The Vampire Slayer. When times get tough, the question still is, “What would Buffy do?” – She was one powerful young lady.

As we watched all the episodes, we must have also heard the theme music by Nerf Herder at least 144 times. I had never thought to look into this before, but Nerf Herder are apparently an American rock band from Santa Barbara, California. They describe themselves as a “geek rock” band, and are known for simplistic, modern, punk-style songs and pop-culture-referencing lyrics. Perfect for the Buffy Theme it seems, and as I often say around here, every day’s a school day.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Theme by Nerf Herder: