A Break From Rolling News, A Return To The Sixties and More Northern Soul

Another Saturday and another blog post from me. I’ve suddenly become quite prolific after a bit of a fallow period. We’ve all had our ups and downs over the last couple of years but thankfully my downs seem to be temporary. I feel for those whose mental health has really been affected however, as there just doesn’t seem to be enough help out there for the increased demand. This week’s news headlines won’t have helped – Could Christmas be cancelled yet again?

Something Mr WIAA and I have actively tried to cut back on over the last fortnight, is rolling news. Being home-based, we never wanted to fall into the trap of watching daytime telly, so always kept the screen in the kitchen tuned to a news channel. Problem is, in 2021 the stories have been bleak indeed, and not just down to the pandemic. Best to simply catch the radio news first thing in the morning then stay well away from it all for the rest of the day – Turns out a bit of property porn, or touching base with the heir-hunters when having a break, is far less depressing.

Kay Burley from the world of rolling news

Forgive me this indulgence, but over the years, whenever something quite big happened in our family, we didn’t just rush home to tell each other. Oh no, we also burst into song, the first lines from this song to be specific. One of DD’s favourite films as a young child was Summer Holiday and it was watched many, many times. Near the end of the film, Don (Cliff Richard) puts the world’s press right, via the medium of song. Here he is singing Big News from 1963. (Starts at 0:33.)

Big News by Cliff Richard:

Sticking with a 1960s theme, my Saturday morning starts well nowadays. Not just because of Rol’s Saturday Snapshots, but also because of the radio show Sounds of the Sixties. The current presenter Tony Blackburn is now aged 78, but his enthusiasm for the songs he plays is infectious, and in a 15 minute period he can fit in around five classic songs, punctuated with his short and snappy, so bad they’re good, dad jokes.

Couldn’t get to sleep so went to buy a new mattress – Salesman said if you lie near the edge you’ll soon drop off.

Tony started out in pirate radio and of course was the first DJ to be heard on BBC Radio 1 when it launched in 1967. The first record he played was The Move’s Flowers in the Rain, a useful fact for pop quizzes. He’s had a long career and even provided the inspiration for many a comedy sketch about aging, ‘not-so-cool’ DJs. Think Tony has had the last laugh though, as here he is still doing a job he adores all these years later – How many of us can say that nowadays. His first love was soul music and he always includes a floor-filler from the days of Northern Soul on his show. This morning’s pick was this gem from 1968, What by Judy Street.

What by Judy Street:

I’ve become fascinated by Northern Soul over the last few years and have written a fair few posts about the phenomenon that hit the North of England in the mid 1970s. I love to watch those dancers in action and live in hope I’ll master their moves whilst still fit enough to do so. The music usually drives the dance style, but because I wasn’t there at the time, tricky to pick it up in later life it seems. Maybe I’ll have to get one of those big circular skirts and put some talc on my laminate floor.

The song What was originally recorded by Melinda Marx, daughter of Groucho, and released in 1965. Judy recorded it in 1968 as the B-side to her single You Turn Me On. After being exported to England, it was picked up by DJs at Wigan Casino and became a big hit on the Northern Soul circuit.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I used to be shocked when people I worked with said they didn’t really watch the news, as I always like to be well-informed about what’s going on in the world. It does start to wear you down however, when everything is negative, worrying and doesn’t give you much hope for the future. I will no doubt return to my old ways in due course, but for the moment, nice to have a bit of a break from it all.

It was a real delight to listen to back to back songs from the 1960s earlier on this morning – In a short space of time we were treated to Oh, Happy Day, Waterloo Sunset, Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing, Do You Know The Way To San Jose and I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love, as well as the song written about above. As for Tony Blackburn, just like Kay Burley in the world of television news, he’s not for everyone, but when interviewed he’s like the cat that got the cream, as he still can’t quite believe he gets paid for playing all these songs he loves. He is apolitical and never offers up his opinions, so his show makes for a nice relaxed start to the weekend. His predecessor Brian Matthews was more a connoisseur of ’60s music I think, often playing lesser known tracks, but Tony is a people pleaser and sticks to the ones we all know and love.

Right, time to dust off my plimsoles and get working on my spins and shuffles. If you want to find out more about Northern Soul, this episode of The Culture Show does well in explaining it all.

Until next time…

What Lyrics
(Song by H.B. Barnum)

Do you want me to get down on my knees
Beg you baby please cry a million tears
Do you want me to call you on the phone
Beg you to come home think of all the years

When i once lived in paradise
When the love light showed in your eyes

Oh tell me what
What (what) can i do when i still love you

What (what) can i say when i still want you
What can i do what can i say
Youll never know this way

Do you want me to follow you around everywhere in town do you want a clown
Why do you treat me mean and crule breaking every rule cant i be your fool
We could make this a happy home
So come back where you belong

Oh tell me what (what) can i do when i still love you
What (what) can i say when i still want you
What can i do what can i say
Youll never know this way

Please forgive me come back and then
We can fall in love
Over and over and over and over again

Oh tell me what (what) can i do
What (what) can i say
Say you’ll come back don’t stay away
What (what) can i do now baby

Postscript:

After pressing the publish button I made a bit of an interesting discovery. At the start of last week, my first post back after a break of a few weeks featured a song by Soft Cell. I of course mentioned that their first big hit in 1981 was a cover of Tainted Love, a Northern Soul favourite originally recorded by Gloria Jones.

In 1982 they also recorded What, and it got to the No. 3 spot on the UK Singles Chart. For some bizarre reason I don’t remember it at all, so can only put that down to the fact my life as a student had just come to an end and the world of paid work had begun – Different priorities. Anyway, here are Soft Cell with a very different version of today’s featured song. They obviously had an affinity for Northern Soul.

A Return to Live Theatre, Dolly Parton and the Legacy of ‘9 to 5’

Last time I wrote a bit of a frivolous post about people in the music business with very ‘big’ hair, inspired by the fact my own locks are currently proving troublesome (damp winter weather I think). It didn’t take long for me to get to Dolly Parton, as although in today’s world her look could almost be seen as understated, back in the 1970s her blousy, blonde wigs did raise a few eyebrows.

Dolly then and Dolly now

I was probably also drawn to Dolly because last week I had my first time back in our local theatre since before the pandemic. If you live in the far north of Scotland, the opportunities to see a West End show are limited indeed, so if a production comes to us, it feels only right we should support it.

My friend and I had bought tickets for Dolly’s stage musical 9 to 5 nearly two years ago, but after having been postponed twice, this time the show actually went ahead. Sadly the friend I should have been going with has not been well for some time, another victim not of the virus, but of one of the many side-effects of the pandemic itself. I wish her well and hope she is back to her old self soon, but in the meantime she very magnanimously said I could give her ticket to another. In the end it wasn’t easy, as some of us are still nervous about attending mass gatherings and no-one relished the prospect of wearing a mask throughout the show, but quite appropriately an old colleague from my days of working in offices said she’d love to come.

I went to see the film 9 to 5 when it first came out back in 1980. It was the first time Dolly had appeared on the big screen and just as with everything else she turns her hand to, she rose to the challenge beautifully, and ended up winning several awards, both for her acting and for the title song. The film was the brainchild of fellow 9 to 5 actor Jane Fonda, and she wanted it to be a comedy rather than a preachy, feminist drama, in order to get the message across more subtly. If you’ve never seen it, the basic premise is that three very capable women live out their fantasies of getting even with, and overthrowing, the company’s ‘autocratic, sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot’ boss (the full gamut). They show you can run an office without a boss, but you can’t run an office without the secretaries.

9 to 5 by Dolly Parton:


To be honest I think I just took it at comedic face value first time around and I hadn’t yet stepped foot in a working office to know how things were anyway. Watching the stage show last week, in 2021, I was blown away by how much things have changed over the decades. Just possibly, the empowerment given to female office workers back in 1980 via the film, kickstarted the revolution that led to equal pay for equal work, flexible working, job-share schemes and so on. I know it was well underway by the time I joined the workforce, and by the time I had DD, the opportunity to work part-time or flexibly was firmly in place.

It’s not lost on me that since the pandemic, most people now seem to work from home, and a return to the 9 to 5-style office will probably never happen again, but I really appreciate that I entered (and left) the workplace at probably just the right time. Coincidentally, C over at Sun Dried Sparrows recently shared some job adverts from 1975 which were a real eye-opener. As I say, we’ve come a long way.

An unexpected surprise for me at last week’s show was that Dolly herself appeared on stage, albeit via a big screen. She wrote all the songs for the musical but is also the narrator. In her inimitable style, she gives us many ‘Dollyisms’ and also sings 9 to 5. It was a fun way to break myself back into theatre-going. If you listen carefully to the song’s intro, the clacking typewriter rhythm was devised by running her acrylic fingernails back and forth against one another.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I’m not sure if this is a temporary blip or what, but when I returned to blogging this time last week I was a bit down and admitted to not feeling myself. Turns out she doesn’t even have to bottle it, all you have to do is immerse yourself in Dolly World (as opposed to Dollywood) for 48 hours and your spirits are raised no end. The feedback to my first Dolly post was very positive which shows just how much she is loved and admired. She seems to be a genuinely ‘good’ person who is now putting all her energies into making life better for others, whether it be through scholarships, her Imagination Library, creating local job opportunities, or simply through her music.

There are many, many famous quotes from her out there but I think most of us know them already, so to finish off I’m going to share the address she delivered to students at the University of Tennessee when she received her honorary degree. I think she won over a great many of the sceptical academics that day, and quite rightly so (we’ll ignore Prof Grumpy to her right) – She may be blonde but Dolly is most definitely not dumb. If you scroll through to 3:55 you will get to the point where she passes on some of the wisdom she has used to great effect in her own journey through life. I really hope the graduating students took heed, as they have one helluva fairy godmother in Dolly.

Until next time…

9 to 5 Lyrics
(Song by Dolly Parton)

Tumble out of bed
And stumble to the kitchen
Pour myself a cup of ambition
And yawn and stretch and try to come to life

Jump in the shower
And the blood starts pumpin’
Out on the streets, the traffic starts jumpin’
For folks like me on the job from 9 to 5

Workin’ 9 to 5
What a way to make a livin’
Barely gettin’ by
It’s all takin’ and no givin’

They just use your mind
And they never give you credit

It’s enough to drive you
Crazy if you let it

9 to 5
For service and devotion
You would think that I
Would deserve a fat promotion

Want to move ahead
But the boss won’t seem to let me
I swear sometimes that man is
Out to get me, hmmm

They let you dream
Just a watch ’em shatter
You’re just a step on the boss man’s ladder
But you got dreams he’ll never take away

In the same boat with a lot of your friends
Waitin’ for the day your ship’ll come in
And the tide’s gonna turn
And it’s all gonna roll you away

Workin’ 9 to 5
What a way to make livin’
Barely gettin’ by
It’s all takin’ and no givin’

They just use your mind
And you never get the credit
It’s enough to drive you
Crazy if you let it

9 to 5
Yeah, they got you were they want you
There’s a better life
And you think about it, don’t you?

It’s a rich man’s game
No matter what they call it
And you spend your life
Putting money in his wallet

9 to 5
Oh, what a way to make a livin’
Barely gettin’ by
It’s all takin’ and no givin’

They just use your mind
And they never give you credit

It’s enough to drive you
Crazy if you let it

Big Hair, Honky Tonk Angels and ‘Silver Threads & Golden Needles’

Really enjoyed my foray back into blogging earlier on this week, but I’m conscious of the fact it’s been a fair while since I posted anything jolly or upbeat around here. Someone who never fails to bring a bit of sunshine and positivity into the world is the lady shown below, and by a quirk of fate, she came into my life twice this week.

Dolly Parton with her signature ‘big hair’ in the 1970s

I don’t think this is something my male readership will understand, but my female readership definitely will. When your hair is proving troublesome and you can’t do a thing with it, your confidence takes a bit of a hit, and you feel a bit blah. Mr WIAA now has very little hair left on the top of his head at all, but a short crop is perfectly normal for a man of his age and I think it suits him. Unbeknownst to me until recently, a woman’s hair changes texture as they age – It can go grey and coarse, or become fine and baby soft. I seem to have fallen into the latter camp and it’s driving me mad. At times I just want to shave it all off and go down the Dolly route, and have a big blousy wig cantilevered onto the top of my head – It didn’t take long to find a fair few pictures of her many looks from over the years.

The picture above was from that era in the early 1970s when we first got to know about her over here in the UK. Her song Jolene did really well on our Singles Chart reaching the No. 7 spot in 1973. Back then, country music and big hair seemed to go hand in hand, and as the genre grew in popularity, we were treated to many other highly coiffed ladies of the country persuasion peppering our charts. Sadly, for mere mortals like us, the big, blousy, blonde wig is a non-starter – There would be ‘looks’ in the supermarket, it would blow off when out on a hill walk and I imagine your cranium would get very hot indeed.

The Judds, Tammy Wynette and Reba McEntire (not how we spell it around here!)

I don’t have much country in my digital library, but here is a song recorded by Dolly and two of her pals in 1993, Silver Threads and Golden Needles. Big hair had kind of had it’s day by the early nineties but it seems Dolly, Tammy and Loretta didn’t get that memo. The song, written by Dick Reynolds and Jack Rhodes, was first recorded by Wanda Jackson in 1956. It has since been recorded by just about everyone, but one of the better known versions came from Linda Ronstadt who included it on her debut album (back when the Eagles were her backing band).

Silver Threads and Golden Needles by Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn:


Not being an expert in country music, I didn’t quite get the significance of all the visitors the Honky Tonk Angels had to their dressing room in this clip, but some of the names certainly were familiar. I hope this list is accurate and complete (please put me right if it’s not), but it seems the following stars of country were all more than happy to put in a cameo appearance on the day of filming. Just shows the power and influence those three queens of country had. They are: Chet Atkins, Carl Perkins, Little Jimmy Dickens, Confederate Railroad, Ricky Skaggs, Tom Wopat, Bill Anderson, Grandpa Jones, Ronnie Milsap, Marty Stuart, Doug Stone, Rodney Crowell, Diamond Rio, Sammy Kershaw, Bill Monroe, George Lindsey, Charlie Chase, and Ralph Emery.

I did say that Dolly had come into my life twice this week but I now realise this will have to be a two-parter (a two-Parton) as I’ve already reached my wordcount. Having read a fair bit about her over the last few days I have an even greater admiration for her than I already had. She’s not for everyone, but I love how she always pokes fun at her looks, and doesn’t take herself too seriously. As a musician she has won just about every award going but she is also an incredibly successful businesswoman and humanitarian. The day she came into the world certainly was a good one for the employment prospects of those living in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Before I go, here is a little montage of some of the other big-haired musicians I found when bemoaning the current state of my own locks. Who have I missed? Feel free to visit the comments boxes with your own favourite lions and lionesses of music.

Until next time…

Silver Threads And Golden Needles Lyrics
(Song by Dick Reynolds/Jack Rhodes)

I don’t want your lonely mansion with a tear in every room
All I want’s the love you promised beneath the haloed moon
But you think I should be happy with your money and your name
And hide myself in sorrow while you play your cheating game

Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine
And I dare not drown my sorrows in the warm glow of your wine
You can’t buy my love with money cause I never was that kind
Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine

Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine
And I dare not drown my sorrows in the warm glow of your wine
You can’t buy my love with money cause I never was that kind
Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine

Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine

The New College Experience, Soft Cell and ‘Bedsitter’

It’s a fair while since I posted anything new around here and I can’t help but compare my current blogging output to that of the same month last year. Back then I had very ambitiously decided to come out in support of my college chums, who were embarking on NaNoWriMo, and decided to attempt 30 posts in 30 days. I was never going to write a novel so this was my blogging equivalent. Amazingly I got to day 18 before calling time on my challenge, more down to the worsening ache in my neck and shoulders rather than any lack of inspiration, and I actually outdid some of the wannabe novel writers in the class in terms of word count.

But here we are a year on, and suffice to say I’m not myself at the moment. I don’t know about you, but I’ve not been a fan of 2021, which is ironic considering what hit us last year. My old life has gone and isn’t coming back any time soon. Considering I use this place as my web diary, as well as a place to share music from my past, probably best that I’ve stayed away for a while.

My college course has all been online again this year, but no mention of NaNoWriMo this time around and few now drop by for the ‘live’ lectures. We seem to be just going through the motions to get the grades, and the institution appears to prefer it that way, so this will now be the future of higher education in my neck of the woods. Lectures are now finished for the semester and only one assessment still to submit but I haven’t got to know a single person from the new class this year and only know what three of them look like (ironically the other more mature students). I fear the younger ones who would have been excited about ‘going to Uni’ back in September, will have been disappointed.

At times like this I often hark back to when I last was a student, around 40 years ago. Back then the idea of gaining a degree without ever leaving your room would have been unthinkable. It was probably a really inefficient use of our time, but many happy hours were spent in the library sourcing material and copying it out in longhand before decanting to the refectory for food, or to the student bar for a very sociable drink. Wherever we went there were hundreds of people and you got to know a great many of them during that first term. Now, not so much.

I think many of us of a certain age have kind of lost the plot when it comes to new music and what young people are listening to at the moment. 40 years ago however I was in my final year of completing a really enjoyable degree in geography and was pretty familiar with everything that remotely made it near the charts. Looking at the chart from this same week all those years ago, here is something that jumps out at me, Bedsitter by Soft Cell. This was only their second single release after the massive success of Tainted Love earlier on in 1981. This time however it was self-penned and it reached No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart.

Bedsitter by Soft Cell:


I look at the lyrics in this song and think of some of today’s students holed up in their rooms for most of the day, rarely venturing out. We had to write a piece in the early weeks of this semester about a typical day in our lives, and some of the submissions shocked me. Other than popping to the supermarket for a pizza, most students now spend all day in front of a screen, as when the studying ends, gaming and the watching of YouTube clips takes over. Unlike Marc Almond who just seemed to spend his time in bedsitter land in between going out clubbing, I don’t think our town’s nightlife has really got started again yet after the pandemic. With covid restrictions still in place and the mandatory wearing of facemasks, perhaps a life lived online is still preferable, and more than Marc had in 1981.

Sorry I’m not on my best form at the moment, but decided to not hold off any longer before sharing something new. I’ve had quite a lot on this month and have more stories to tell so will return with them in due course. It’s been a crazy couple of years and we’ve all had our ups and downs. Hopefully I’ll pull myself out of this down sooner rather than later. In the meantime I have that last assessment to finish – Onward and upward.

Until next time…

Bedsitter Lyrics
(Song by David Ball/Marc Almond)

Sunday morning going slow
I’m talking to the radio
Clothes and records on the floor

Memories of the night before
Out in club-land having fun
And now I´m hiding from the sun
Waiting for a visitor
Though no-one knows I’m here for sure

Dancing laughing
Drinking loving
And now I’m all alone
In bedsit land
My only home

I think it’s time to cook a meal
To fill the emptiness I feel
Spent my money going out
I’ve nothing I’m left without
Clean my teeth and comb my hair
Look for something new to wear
Start the nightlife over again
Kid myself I’m having fun

Look out from my window view
I’ve really nothing else to do
Read a book and write a letter
Mother, things are getting better
Watch the mirror count the lines
The battle scars of all the good times
Look around and I can see
A thousand people just like me

Dancing laughing
Drinking loving
And now I’m all alone
In bedsit land
My only home

I’m waiting for something
I’m only passing time

Another Week of Losses, Prince and ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’

Last week I wrote about how our neighbours, who were also good friends, had moved on to pastures new. I was sad, as they will largely now be lost to us.

This week we lost Peanut, the hamster DD bought as a pandemic pick-me-up last year. I didn’t think we’d ever have another small rodent in the house (by choice), but he came along at just the right time, when things were still looking pretty grim. Of late we’ve just been needed for pet-sitting duties, so we didn’t see him as often, but his health had deteriorated fast over the last few weeks. Mercifully he went to sleep on Monday night and just didn’t wake up, thus avoiding that distressing final trip to the vet’s.

Peanut the hamster in his heyday

Another big change this week came about when I went to see my mum at the care home. I am allowed in once a week but our visits are still heavily policed in order to keep the residents safe. Far from ideal, but she seems content which is about as good as it gets. When the carer who supervises visits came to collect me, my mum told her I was an “old friend”. Once your mum no longer recognises you as her daughter, do you still have a mum, or is she now lost to you? It’s all very weird and distressing but we’re on an Alzheimer’s journey with her and have no idea how it will end.

Something I can no longer do, as the 2m rule is still firmly in place

Finally (long-term followers will probably remember my trilogy of posts), this was the weekend two years ago that my best friend lost her daughter to suicide, so a really tough one for her and her family. She not only lost her daughter, who is missed more with each year that passes, but she also lost her way of life, which now bears no resemblance to how it used to be. I miss my friend and all the fun times we used to have together.

Holly’s memorial bench

A bit of a sad post this, for several reasons, and for once I don’t think it would be appropriate to balance it out with some jokey happening from the week. Instead, here is Nothing Compares 2 U, a very sad song that has been shared around here before, but one that still wins the prize for featuring in my least visited post, a full five years on from when it was written. I have always found this unusual as the song, written by the genius that was Prince, was a massive world-wide hit in 1990 for Sinéad O’Connor. The lyrics are not particularly appropriate to any of the sad situations mentioned above but they do evoke that feeling of loss we experience, when things we take for granted are no longer in our lives. Here is that iconic video clip of Sinéad singing the song and an audio clip of the song performed by the man himself, Prince, this time featuring Rosie Gaines.

Nothing Compares 2 U by Prince and The New Power Generation (feat. Rosie Gaines)


I’m hoping to get back on track by next time but just not the week for a jaunty upbeat post. The COP26 conference on climate change starts in Glasgow today so young people around the world will be hoping for a firm commitment from world leaders that their futures are not being jeopardised. I hope to return with positive news on that front. Early days yet but we might even have a new hamster in the family by then too. Amazing how a small desert rodent originating from Syria can bring such joy to both children and adults, but he did. RIP Peanut.

Until next time…

Nothing Compares 2 U Lyrics
(Song by Nelson Prince Rogers)

It’s been seven hours and fifteen days
Since you took your love away
I go out every night and sleep all day

Since you took your love away

Since you’ve been gone I can do whatever I want
I can see whomever I choose
I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
But nothing
I said nothing can take away these blues

‘Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares to you

It’s been so lonely without you here
Like a bird without a song
Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling
Tell me, baby, where did I go wrong

I could put my arms around every boy I see
But they’d only remind me of you
I went to the doctor and guess what he told me?
Guess what he told me?
He said, “Girl, you better try to have fun no matter what you do,”
But he’s a fool

‘Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares to you

All the flowers that you planted, mama, in the back yard
All died when you went away
I know that living with you, baby, was sometimes hard
But I’m willing to give it another try

Nothing compares
Nothing compares to you
Nothing compares
Nothing compares to you
Nothing compares
Nothing compares to you

The End of An Era, Crosby, Stills & Nash and ‘Marrakesh Express’

I don’t know if this applies to everyone, but because life hasn’t been ‘normal’ for such a long time now, I’ve almost forgotten what it used to be like. I do know that I miss it however, and what has replaced it just doesn’t cut the mustard for me, for all sorts of reasons. Compared with many, I have been spared some of the worst outcomes of the pandemic, and of our departure from the EU, but I can’t seem to curb that continual feeling of anxiety about what is potentially coming round the corner next. I was horrified to hear this week, that worries about climate change are really affecting children, even young ones – How sad is that. Lets hope COP26 in Glasgow goes some way to allaying their fears, but I’m not holding my breath.

WIAA: Whoa Alyson, you’re being a bit miserable in this one. Can we raise the mood a bit please?

ALYSON: Sorry WIAA. Of course, but sometimes we just get a bit overwhelmed by everything negative going on in the news and closer to home. I seem to have lost a lot of people from my life of late and last week our neighbours of 18 years, who were also close friends, moved away from the area.

WIAA: That’s a shame.

ALYSON: It’s good for them of course, as they have a whole new life planned for where they are going, but there have been many, many get-togethers over the years, and we’ll miss that. They specialised in Murder Mystery Parties when we all dressed up in costume, and coming out of lockdown last year when we were still only allowed two people in our gardens, they joined me for a (very pared down) 60th birthday bash.

WIAA: What can I say Alyson? Things change, but I’m sure you’ll keep in touch and your new neighbours might also become friends. Any songs you associate with them?

ALYSON: Many, but here’s one that became very relevant a few years ago after they booked a trip to Morocco. Whenever they mentioned their holiday destination, I had to give a few bursts of this gem of a song, Marrakesh Express by Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Marrakesh Express by Crosby, Stills and Nash:

Yet again I am revisiting artists who set up camp in late ’60s Laurel Canyon but I have a great affinity for the music of those days, despite having been a bit too young for it at the time. The song came about after Graham Nash journeyed from Casablanca to Marrakesh on the ‘Express’. He soon realised there was little to interest him in his first-class compartment so moved down the train and experienced all the sights and sounds written about in the lyrics of the song. When he got back to England, his band The Hollies rejected the song for not being commercial enough, which precipitated him parting company with them and he headed to LA. Once there, he got together with Stephen Stills and David Crosby to form Crosby, Stills and Nash. The song became the first single from their debut album.

I love the story behind this album cover. The band had been driving around with their photographer friend Henry Diltz when they saw an abandoned house with a sofa outside. They took the iconic picture and then went home. After finalising the name of the band, they realised they should change the seating order. Sadly when they returned to the same spot, the house had been reduced to a pile of timber, so the original picture stood.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Things change over time and it saddens me that we will never have the same experiences with new neighbours as we did with the ones who have moved. We’re just not in that age demographic any more. Fortunately they have not moved to Morocco, so we will hopefully be able to arrange a few visits over the coming months and years, but it’s not the same as living next door.

Life in late ’60s Laurel Canyon, where Crosby, Stills and Nash set up camp, really sounded idyllic. All these musicians and artists living in close proximity to each other, in those rustic houses overlooking downtown Los Angeles, formed a hotbed of creativity which has had a long-lasting impact. It too came to an end however, as all things must.

ALYSON: Hope I’ve redeemed myself, WIAA, by sharing a classic song?

WIAA: You have indeed. Chin up. The world leaders at COP26 will sort out all our problems in one fell swoop, I’m sure of it.

ALYSON: Let’s hope so, otherwise the North of Scotland might end up looking like Marrakesh. Strange times, as I often say around here.

Until next time…

Marrakesh Express Lyrics
(Song by Graham Nash)

Looking at the world through the sunset in your eyes
Traveling the train through clear Moroccan skies
Ducks and pigs and chickens call
Animal carpet wall to wall
American ladies five-foot tall in blue

Sweeping cobwebs from the edges of my mind
Had to get away to see what we could find
Hope the days that lie ahead
Bring us back to where they’ve led
Listen not to what’s been said to you

Wouldn’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express
Wouldn’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express
They’re taking me to Marrakesh
All aboard the train, all aboard the train

I’ve been saving all my money just to take you there
I smell the garden in your hair

Take the train from Casablanca going south
Blowing smoke rings from the corners of my mouth
Colored cottons hang in the air
Charming cobras in the square
Striped djellebas we can wear at home Well, let me hear you now

Wouldn’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express
Wouldn’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express
They’re taking me to Marrakesh

Wouldn’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express
Wouldn’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express
They’re taking me to Marrakesh
All on board the train, all on board the train
All on board

Music from Guardians of the Galaxy #4 – Silver and ‘Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang’

I have many categories on my sidebar that haven’t been added to for some time. I keep meaning to head over to Delaware to rejoin my American Odyssey in Song, or to revisit more songs from the Awesome Mixtape given to me by a friend eons ago, but of course those posts take a fair bit of research, so tend to get side-lined.

There is another very well-known awesome mixtape that has been revisited several times around here however, one that had a bit of a starring role in the film Guardians of the Galaxy. I’m not usually a fan of superhero movies, but when DD introduced us to it a few years back we thoroughly enjoyed it, and I found myself smitten by the soundtrack. It contained many lesser-known, soft rock songs from the 1970s, played over and over on an old Walkman by the lead character, as a link to his dead mother and home in Missouri.

thOG317ONA

The success of the first movie meant there was a sequel a few years later, and of course there was a second awesome mixtape. I was reminded of one of the songs from it the other week, when it popped up as the answer to a clue on Rol’s excellent Saturday Snapshots feature. Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang by the band Silver was never a hit in the UK, which is why I wouldn’t have recognised them in a picture, but of course once I heard the song, it was immediately familiar from the film.

Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang by Silver:

I do like my American country rock from the ’70s, and despite 1967 still wearing the crown as being my favourite year to revisit around here, 1976 is fast becoming a usurper. For the umpteenth time this year I seem to be writing about a song from that year. The band’s record company gave them the song as a single after deciding none of the other tracks on the album they had produced had single potential. Interestingly one of the members of Silver was Tom Leadon, brother of Bernie who was of course in the Eagles at that time (not that I can ever imagine the Eagles recording Wham Bam).

Before I go, I can’t ignore the fact that over here in Britain in the early ’70s we had another couple of hit songs that perhaps formed the inspiration for Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang, via their titles at any rate. Both bands below have been featured around here before, but not sure how well their songs stand the test of time. Sweet had started out as a bubblegum pop outfit but had just morphed into glam rockers for 1972’s Wig-Wam Bam, inspired by Henry Longfellow’s poem Hiawatha. Those tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh, the Bay City Rollers, were at their height when they released Shang-a-Lang in 1974.

Wig-Wam Bam by Sweet:
Shang-a-Lang by the Bay City Rollers:


I am being facetious of course, as neither song has anything to do with the Silver song, but nearly 50 years on it’s fun to revisit these old clips to remind ourselves what (some) music fans of my generation were buying in those days. As for the three songs, not sure if you have a favourite amongst them? I am inclined to think many visitors to this place might say, “None of the above”, in which case this offering from ten years later might be more your thing. Had forgotten how great they were right at the start of the Wham! years. I give you Wham Rap!

Wham Rap! by Wham!:


Until next time…

Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang Lyrics
(Song by Rick Giles)

Starry nights, sunny days
I always thought that love should be that way
Then comes a time that you’re ridden with doubt
You’ve loved all you can, now you’re all loved out

Ooh, ooh, baby, we’ve been a long, long way
And who’s to say where we’ll be tomorrow?
Well, my heart says no but my mind says it’s so
That we gotta love, is it a love to stay?

We got a wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing
Wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing

Looking at you, I wanted to say
I think a little emotion goes a long, long way
Careful, now, you don’t get caught in your dreams
Look out, baby, this is not what it seems

Ooh, ooh, baby, you’ve been so good to me
But please don’t make it what it’s not
Well, I thought we agreed on what we need
So, listen to me, I’ll tell you what we’ve got

We got a wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing
Wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing

I think you’re seeing what I’ve been saying
Because I hear you singing to the tune I’m playing
Now that it’s said and we both understand
Let’s say our goodbyes before it gets out of hand

Bye bye, baby, I’d really like to stay
But we’ll remember the best time in our life

We had a wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing
Wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing

Wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing
Wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing

Charity Shops, ‘Madness’ and Another Mini-Bloggers Summit

A bit of a niche post this, for those in the know, but I can’t let the occasion pass without a mention. I don’t know about you, but heading into autumn 2021, I’ve been finding there’s not much going on in the news to raise our spirits. Combine that with the fact life is most definitely not back to normal, nor going to be for some time, and you need to find things that give you a bit of a lift – Things that get you out of the house, meeting up with people again.

Little did I think this week’s lift would be a meetup with long-time blogging buddy CC, from Charity Chic Music. He likes his October holidays does CC, and this year he and his wife were going to be staying in a cottage not far from my home town. When he suggested a get-together over lunch with our other halves, it was a no-brainer we would head through to the beau lieu (beautiful place) written about here recently.

Of course despite having visited each other’s blogs for over five years, there is a large element of anonymity amongst the music blogging community and I wondered how we would identify each other. To avoid any confusion at the restaurant, I made a small sign out of A4, and wrote my blog’s name on it. Having a diner hold up a bit of paper in front of her with the words, “What’s It All About?”, must have alarmed the serving staff at 12.30pm on a Tuesday – Was I having some sort of existential crisis, and would they have to deal with the fallout? Fortunately, I didn’t have to hold my sign up for long, as at the appointed hour, in walked CC holding a newly acquired charity shop album with the lovely Mrs CC by his side.

Of course as happened with blogging buddy C (no relation) when we met up in London, the conversation flowed freely as we’ve known each other virtually for years. Mr WIAA very proudly admitted to never reading my blog, which is good of him, as he likes giving me the freedom to write freely. It wasn’t lost on me however that in some ways our blogging pals know more about us than our real life family, as when you revisit the tracks of your years, as I do, all manner of anecdotes come out. The veil of anonymity means we can do that…, until it comes down that is. Anyway, thankfully CC didn’t spill any beans (as we all went for soup and a sandwich!).

I’m not sure if CC’s purchase, Absolutely by Madness, is really his thing, but as he said, at only a pound he couldn’t not buy it. Madness have popped up around here a couple of times, as they most definitely are my thing. I loved the ska and rocksteady revival of the late ’70s and of course had to go and see them live in 1979 when they came to town as part of the 2 Tone Tour (written about here). Exactly 40 years later they came north again, and I was lucky enough to see them then too (also written about here). They have a vast back catalogue of hits and are still happy to perform them with all the humour and energy they deserve. Lead singer Suggs may be a grandad now, but I never think he has changed that much over the years – Another artist who found his style early on and stuck with it.

Madness

The single releases from Absolutely were, Baggy Trousers, Embarrassment, and this one, The Return of the Los Palmas 7. It’s mainly an instrumental with a bit of ad-libbing at the beginning from Chas Smash and it reached No. 7 in the UK Singles Chart in 1981. Whether you are a fan of Madness or not, the videos for their songs were always a lot of fun and as well as being seen in both a greasy spoon and a posh restaurant in this one, the boys also took on the persona of another set of magnificent seven chaps, albeit this time in Kenwood Park, London and not Mexico. If you concentrate, you will also get a potted history of just about every big event in politics, science, sport and entertainment that took place over the previous few decades, via the many clips interspersed throughout the short video. Blink and you’ll miss some of them.

The Return of the Los Palmas 7 by Madness:

No lyrics this time so it would have been good to end with a picture of us both at our meet-up. Sadly, as I hadn’t taken an album with me, I was woefully unprepared for a Swedey McSwedeface which was a shame. Should I ever meet up with a fellow-blogger again, I’ll be much better prepared.

Until next time…

Harvests, Autumnal Equinoxes and ‘Can’t Fight The Moonlight’

Did you see it? Last night it was time for the Harvest Moon to put in an appearance and I was lucky enough to catch sight of it before heading to bed. The moon in the picture I took on my phone is a bit blurry, but what with the clouds and the treeline, I thought it looked a bit like a celestial scene from an old master painting.

September’s Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon by Neil Young:

So, September’s full moon appeared in our skies last night, and today is the Autumnal Equinox, one of only two dates in the annual calendar when there is an equal amount of night and day. Regulars around here might remember two of the series I’ve put together since starting this blog, the Full Moon Calendar in Song and nature’s Wheel of the Year in Song. Although both are now complete, I still take enjoyment from marking the relevant dates.

September by Earth, Wind & Fire:


I would like to say we’re planning a wee soiree tonight to give thanks for the harvests and the fact crops have yet again been stored for the coming winter, but I can’t, for two reasons. I don’t know about where you live but our supermarket shelves are all looking a bit empty. I had never thought much about supply chains until recently, as in the 21st century we are used to being able to quite easily source whatever we need. Now, not so much.

The national shortage of lorry drivers is causing real problems, especially for us here in the North of Scotland. With the anticipated CO2 shortage coming into play as well, it sounds as if fresh meat and vegetables will become a bit of a rarity. Will we have to be issued with ration books and queue up for a few under-the-counter sausages?

The second reason for the lack of a soiree is that my house looks as if a bomb has dropped. Who knew that putting in a new bathroom would cause such chaos (well I didn’t anyway) and if you have a smallish house it’s disruptive indeed. Again, because of supply chain issues we had to order the bits and bobs early to avoid problems with delivery, so currently have a bath in our living room and a toilet sitting in DD’s old bedroom (not plumbed in of course!).

At least the walls are up again!

With dustsheets and other bathroom paraphernalia spread liberally throughout the house, a get-together with friends really isn’t an option. I shouldn’t use wartime analogies yet again, as really not in the same league, but with the water and electricity also turned off for much of the day, you do need to muster up a bit of Blitz spirit.

But this is a music blog, so time for the song. It’s astronomical autumn as of today so it’s getting pretty dark early on in the evening. Although it’ll now be starting to wane, the moon will still look pretty full for a couple of days yet, so hopefully you’ll catch sight of it, cloud cover permitting. A moon-related song that failed to make the cut for my series first time around is this one by LeAnn Rimes, Can’t Fight The Moonlight. Here’s the official video clip showing Ms Rimes doing her thing standing on the bar, in the film Coyote Ugly.

Can’t Fight The Moonlight by LeAnn Rimes:


The song was the film’s main theme and did really well in the charts, reaching the top spot in the UK Singles Chart in November 2000, and it did the same in another 12 countries. The rom-com got its inspiration from an article written about a real-life bar, the Coyote Ugly Saloon, which in the late ’90s became a favourite with New York’s Lower East Side hipsters. The film seems to have become a bit of a cult classic, an icon of early-2000s fashion and culture, but if I watched it again now I think I would be troubled by it. Twenty years on, is it still ok to enjoy a film about girls dancing on a bar, in wet T-shirts, for tips – It was supposed to be about female empowerment, but really, are we still buying that? As it turns out the ‘saloon’ is still in operation today and has spawned a franchise model that seems to be working well for them, so what do I know.

As for the song, it was written by that most prolific of songwriters Diane Warren and was produced by Trevor Horn, so it almost couldn’t fail. Just like most other moon-related songs, it’s all about being out at night in the moonlight with the one you love.

You can try to resist
Try to hide from my kiss
But you know

But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight

I’ve seen the day, but being quite honest, if Mr WIAA suggested we go out in the moonlight tonight I think I would find it quite easy to resist. It’s suddenly got quite cold around here so a mug of cocoa and a box-set it’ll have to be. The plumber has just left for the day but will be back in the morning so I need to get all those jobs out of the way that require water and power – That would be just about everything. Only a week of this still to go – Argh.

Until next time…

Can’t Fight The Moonlight Lyrics
(Song by Diane Warren)

Under a lovers’ sky
Gonna be with you
And no one’s gonna be around
If you think that you won’t fall
Well, just wait until
‘Til the sun goes down

Underneath the starlight, starlight
There’s a magical feeling, so right
It’ll steal your heart tonight

You can try to resist
Try to hide from my kiss
But you know
But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight
Deep in the dark
You’ll surrender your heart
But you know
But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight
No, you can’t fight it
It’s gonna get to your heart

There’s no escape from love
Once a gentle breeze

Weaves its spell upon your heart
No matter what you think

It won’t be too long
‘Til you’re in my arms
Underneath the starlight, starlight
We’ll be lost in the rhythm, so right
Feel it steal your heart tonight

You can try to resist
Try to hide from my kiss
But you know
But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight
Deep in the dark
You’ll surrender your heart
But you know
But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight
No you can’t fight it
No matter what you do
The night is gonna get to you

Don’t try then
You’re never gonna win

Underneath the starlight, starlight
There’s a magical feeling, so right
It will steal your heart tonight

You can try to resist
Try to hide from my kiss
But you know
But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight
Deep in the dark
You’ll surrender your heart
But you know
But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight
No, you can’t fight it

The Flat-Sharing Years, The Specials and Everything But The Girl

I was away from home last week which explains my blogging absence. We’ve been lying low this summer so as not to jeopardise any of our business ventures by having to self-isolate, but it was time to emerge from WIAA Towers to visit one of my oldest friends who has moved from London to ‘God’s Own Country’, Yorkshire. She has been mentioned around here often, whenever I’ve written about my flat-sharing years in Aberdeen. Between 1979 and 1987 we lived in a total of five different abodes (with up to four others depending on the size of the flat) before finally parting company and heading off in totally different directions, both figuratively and geographically.

Another very famous set of flatmates

We didn’t know each other very well when we moved into that first student flat in 1979 and we were studying very different subjects. As the years go by however, your flatmates become your ‘urban family’ and you form a very special bond that can only come from living in the same shared space for so long. (Oh yes, there were many, many dramas over exams, jobs and boyfriends.) It was lovely to be able to spend time with her last week, sampling the delights of the North Yorkshire Dales, nearly 42 years on from that first flat-sharing experience.

But this is a music blog so what song to share? Back in 1979 we didn’t have laptops, Netflix or Amazon Prime but we did have a black and white telly that sat on an alcove shelf to the right of the bulky gas fire (never serviced of course but thankfully we lived to tell the tale and didn’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning). My musical memories always lead me back to the show that aired on a Thursday night at 7.30pm, and despite the lack of colour, it was great living somewhere again with a telly. The year before we had been in halls, with no access to telly at all, so for a music lover like myself this was a step up in the world indeed.

As it turned out, only being able to view our favourite music show in black and white was not a problem in the autumn of 1979, as that was just when the 2 Tone phenomenon started to grip the nation – Pork pie hats were even spotted on the heads of Aberdonians. Suddenly ska and rocksteady, a genre we had been too young to appreciate first time around, really started to resonate with a new generation of young people. A tour was put together and in November 1979 I went along to a local nightspot with another music-loving friend to witness the stars of 2 Tone in action – Link to post about that night here. The Specials topped the bill and by then we knew all the songs from their eponymously named debut album. Too Much Too Young rattles along at a fair old speed, giving this late ’70s version of ska a whole new punk sensibility.

Too Much Too Young by the Specials:


But this post was supposed to be about the reunion with my old friend and I don’t remember her being a particular fan of ska in 1979. By the time we parted company in 1987 our musical allegiances were much more aligned and one of the albums I bought that year really did resonate with her. We gladly shared any new acquisition and took advantage of the flat ‘music centre’ to (very illegally) record a copy on cassette tape. Here is a song from the album Baby, the Stars Shine Bright by Everything But The Girl, one that apparently always brought a tear to her to eye whilst driving around the North of Scotland in the new company car she had just been given (which unbeknownst to her bosses became the Flatmobile). We had started flat life with steady boyfriends, but by 1987 they had long gone, and we were singletons again ready to start the next chapter.

Come On Home by Everything But The Girl:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I seem to have mislaid a lot of local friends of late so was feeling a bit lonely. This pandemic has put paid to many of my regular routines and several of the friends I used to do things with are now finding themselves either busy with grandchildren, or are retiring, and moving away from the area. Thank goodness for old friends of 42 years standing. I had a lovely time last week and our 2021 ‘digs’, unlike our old flat, were most definitely 5 Star.

Until next time…

Come On Home Lyrics
(Song by Tracey Thorne/Ben Watt)

Baby come home, I miss the sound of the door
Your step on the stair’s not there to wake me no more

And every day’s like Christmas Day without you
It’s cold and there’s nothing to do

And it’s mighty quiet here now that you’re gone
I’ve been behaving myself for too long
‘Cause I don’t like sleeping
Or watching TV on my own
So please come on home

Baby, what’s keeping you all this time
You’re wasting your days out there in the sunshine
And who can I turn to if you believe still
That England don’t love you and she never will

For it’s mighty quiet here now that you’re gone
And I’ve been behaving myself for too long
I don’t like drinking
or painting the town on my own
So please come on home

Baby come on home Please

For it’s mighty quiet here now that you’re gone
And I’ve been behaving myself for too long
‘Cause I don’t like sleeping
Or watching TV on my own
So please come on home