The World of Work Through the Generations and a Bit of Kenny Chesney

Well, I seem to have turned into a bimonthly blogger. Or at least I thought I had until I discovered bimonthly can mean either occurring twice a month, or every two months. All very confusing so you have to add something else to clarify which of the two you mean i.e. ‘a bimonthly blogger only publishing something new twice a month’. Seems to me it’s probably best to avoid the word altogether.

I haven’t written a web-diary kind of post for a while as a bit self-indulgent really, but it probably comes as no surprise to regular followers around here, that when life gets a bit angsty, I kind of lose my mojo. Watching rolling news is a recipe for disaster but nigh impossible to avoid. I often think it was the very act of starting this blog that turned the world to hell in a handbasket as since 2016 one disastrous happening seems to have followed another, but no, that kind of thinking is ridiculous. Like many others however, I sometimes wish I could turn the clock back and change some of the events of the past six years, both in the wider world and closer to home (Brexit, that pesky bat in Wuhan, my mum’s Alzheimer’s…).


The hot topic at the moment is the ‘cost of living crisis’, as it’s being coined. I cannot imagine how tough it must be for families with young children coping with the current onslaught of rising prices – energy, petrol, food etc. Can it go on long-term? Hope not. I had thought by the time retirement comes round we would be ok but now I’m starting to panic. Not looking for sympathy at all as I know how lucky I am in many ways, but my decision to give up my secure job ten years shy of pension age, so that I could spend more time blogging, was maybe not one of my best. That decision however was not out of character for me as over the years I have a track record of throwing in the towel when the workplace all gets a bit too much. At the last count, I have given up four pretty good jobs to start at the bottom again, but I’m not alone, as many of us who have had children have had to do the same. I also think I’m a bit of a perfectionist which means if I can’t do a job to the best of my ability I get overly stressed and anxious, which could have been solved with a period of sick leave probably, but I never saw that as an option in case it ruined any future job prospects. There were many others however who had no such compunction and after a six months absence came back to their old jobs, and climbed the ladder to boot. But hey, a pattern there to be sure, so no-one to blame but myself.

I’ve perhaps overshared a bit too much on this one, but something nice happened recently that made me reflect on my very first ‘job’ at the age of four. Every now and again I get a message from one of the people I used to know back at my old village primary school. It’s still a close-knit community and although I am no longer part of it they know I have a good memory for things that happened in the dim and distant past. A booklet is going to be published soon containing stories from the 1960s and they wondered if I would contribute. Here’s what I came up with (some of it in Doric, the local dialect):

Going to Work for the Doctor

One of my very first memories is from when I was aged four. Doctor Campbell, our local GP, had opened the back door to our house on Meadow Avenue to find us sitting at our little kitchen table supping our lunchtime soup, possibly broth, or maybe tattie it being a Saturday.

‘Isn’t it time you were getting back to work quine?’ he said to my mum who was still in shock from this unannounced visit (but no-one locked their doors in those days and village doctors didn’t stand on ceremony).

I think the year was 1964 and it turned out he was in need of assistance as his wife, Mrs Campbell, who became my Primary Three teacher, was heading back to the classroom. A new appointment-based system was going to be set up and there would be a need for reception/secretarial staff at his little surgery within the grounds of his house on Western Road. He had obviously remembered my mum from her time at John Robertson Ltd, the local building firm, where she had worked for many years prior to having me.

‘But what about Alison?’ asked my mum once a brief discussion had taken place between the good doctor and my parents. (Our soup by this time had quite probably gone cold.)

‘She can come too,’ he replied.

The young worker in her favourite office attire – a dress with rabbits on it! (My dad’s bumper ‘tattie’ crop in the background)

And so it came to pass that my mum and I headed off to work every morning, me on my trike and her in one of her smart outfits that hadn’t been needed for some time, those pencil skirt and edge-to-edge jacket combos that were popular in the early ‘60s. It couldn’t happen nowadays of course, and I can’t imagine any of my 21st century bosses agreeing to such a thing, but I think I must have been quite a well-behaved and trustworthy child who was good at amusing herself, so it worked well. There was the waiting room to ‘file’ comics in (I couldn’t actually read them yet as Miss Margaret, my Primary One teacher, still had to work her magic on me); the garden and summer house to play in; and the paths to ride my trike on. If I ever had a fall and ‘skinned my knee’, as children are prone to do, there was medical assistance close at hand. Come lunchtime we headed home again and the other lady, who had been recruited at the same time, took over, ready to greet the afternoon’s batch of patients.

In due course, I started school, so my days of ‘going to work’ were short-lived but my mum carried on supporting the local GP practice for another 31 years right up until she retired in 1995, at age 60. There were many changes of course during that time with some doctors retiring and other new ones joining the practice. It happened after I had left the village, but there was also the move to the fancy new Health Centre, and the advent of computerisation which had to be grappled with and conquered.

My mum lives in a care home now, not far from me, but on her wall she still has the cross-stitched picture she was given upon her retirement, of her sitting at the Health Centre reception window in her red cardigan. Happy memories for her indeed, of being at the heart of the community and of a job well done.

____________________

But what the heck – this is supposed to be a music blog. I have pretty much used up all the wordcount already so nothing left to do but share a song relating to the world of work – this one called Shiftwork by Kenny Chesney. It seems there are plenty of job vacancies out there, but most of them due to the after effects of Brexit, and the pandemic, so not always the quality jobs our offspring need to get them on track for adult life. Most of DD’s friends have two jobs and she has recently taken on a second job herself. Life is tough for some of them and without help from the mythical ‘bank of mum and dad’, the idea of ever buying their own home is a non-starter. As I said, I think I may have thrown in the towel a bit too soon.

Shiftwork by Kenny Chesney (feat. George Strait)


Until next time…

Shiftwork Lyrics
(Song by Troy Jones)

Shift work, hard work, tired body
Blue-collar shirt and a baseball cap
You knew me

He’s hot, sweat drops, ’round the clock
Door never locks
Noise never stops
Not all day
Work seven to three
Three to eleven
Eleven to seven

Shift work, tough work for the busy convenience store clerk
Two feet that hurt, going insane
She’s mad at some lad
Drove off and didn’t pay for his gas and he won’t be the last
’round the clock pain
Work seven to three
Three to eleven
Eleven to seven


Talking about a bunch of shift work
A big ol’ pile of shift work
Work seven to three
Three to eleven
Eleven to seven

Well I work, shift work,
Ten years man, i hated that work
I made a break with the money i saved
It took me to the beach to have a beer by the edge of the sea
And this ’round a clock place
I drank my money away
We partied
Work seven to three
Three to eleven
Eleven to seven

Work seven to three
Three to eleven
Eleven to seven

Key Largo, Kokomo and Yet Another Outrageous Musical Sub-Genre

I’ve not been a very productive blogger of late – only six posts over the last three months which is my publication rate since setting up this place over six years ago. I’d like to say it’s purely because I’ve been so busy, which I have, but in reality I think I’ve become a bit of a telly addict and come evening Mr WIAA and I are drawn to the many delights offered up on the small screen. That said, even when I sat down to write this afternoon, the words just wouldn’t come – Mr WIAA suggested I try some blogging prunes, but before I avail myself of these delicacies (I think we all need them from time to time), I’ll try and make use of this draft, put together straight after revisiting the song Ride Like the Wind by Christopher Cross. It’s been sitting as a draft because I decided it might be a bridge too far, even for this place, but in the absence of anything new coming to mind, I’ll try again.

It’s actually all Rol’s fault, but ever since this chap popped up on his regular Saturday Snapshots quiz feature, I’ve been wondering how to shoehorn his one-hit wonder into the blog. I very recently shared a song by Christopher Cross, whose music, back in the ’80s, fell into a sub-genre called Yacht Rock. Aha I thought, as a follow-up post I can finally share that spectacular example of yacht rock from 1982, Key Largo by Bertie Higgins. When I looked into it a bit more however, it turns out that Bertie’s song was attributed to yet another sub-genre called Tropical Rock, one I had never heard of before. Is there truly no end to the number of labels we attach to the three minute pop song.

Key Largo by Bertie Higgins:


The premise of Bertie’s song is that a romance is compared to the one between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, who famously fell in love and married after starring opposite each other in ‘To Have and Have Not’, when she was 19 and he was 44. The Hollywood couple went on to make many more films together, one of which being Key Largo set in the upper Florida Keys. Bertie himself was from Florida so it’s not a stretch to see how the inspiration for his song came about. Watching the video for the song now, in terms of style it just screams Miami Vice with all the boxes ticked: white clothes, jacket sleeves rolled up, gold medallion, patterned shirt with upturned collar, Barry Gibb hair and beard, a tropical breeze, speedboats, sunsets and cigarettes. The romance portrayed in the video also mirrors the Bogie/Bacall romance in that the age difference between Bertie and his co-star is obviously sizeable (20 years to be exact) but somehow this bit of tropical glamour from the early ’80s has not stood the test of time, and it ends up looking a bit comedic in 2022.

An on-screen couple who still look pretty cool today are the original stars of Key Largo, Bogie and ‘Betty’ (as he used to call her – her real name). I loved watching these old black and white movies when they popped up on telly when I was growing up and I had a pretty good knowledge of all the Hollywood greats and the films they starred in at a very young age. These oldies don’t crop up very often on our viewing schedules nowadays but if you ever seek them out on some of the streaming services, they are still well worth a watch. It’s a really difficult thing to define but if you want to know what ‘cool’ looks like on screen, watch some of Bogie’s films. He has that elusive quality in spades (Sam Spades – an in-joke). Bertie, not so much.


But what else can be attributed to this newfound sub-genre called Tropical Rock? According to the well-known online encyclopaedia, its main focus was on ‘escapism’ – a laid back lifestyle, tropical places, boating and having fun. (Well, that tallies with Bertie’s video). It is also usually associated with southern Florida and the Gulf Coast of the US.

The Beach Boys in 1988

Another perfect example of tropical rock must be that Beach Boys (minus Brian) song Kokomo then, I thought to myself, except it turns out Kokomo is not even an actual place but a fictional island off the Florida Keys. Whatever, the song about it featured in the 1988 film Cocktail starring a young Tom Cruise. I think I even went to see that film at the cinema when it came out, but yet again it perhaps hasn’t stood the test of time, because it was so very much ‘of its time’.


An awful lot of clips in this one already but my current addiction to telly means this scene came to mind when I thought of the song Kokomo. If you haven’t yet watched the American comedy drama Space Force, created by and starring Steve Carell, I would thoroughly recommend it. Whenever poor old General Naird is under severe pressure and is fast approaching a meltdown, the solution is to launch into a version of Kokomo and here we see the main cast all joining him in the final ever scene (not too much of a spoiler there).


So, ‘What’s it all about? – I seem to have managed to unblock the blockage without resorting to blogging prunes. I also seem to have found out about another sub-genre of music I had never encountered before. Despite being a supposed music blogger (although I never actually call myself that) barely a post goes by without me making some reference to a film, or television show, as that’s pretty much where I get all my inspiration from. I know a lot of you out there do probably sit in a darkened room, just listening to music, but nowadays I like mine to come with moving pictures too.

I always feel bad if I’ve been a bit dismissive about someone I’ve written about as that’s not what this place is about. It’s not lost on me either that an awful lot of the music made by George Michael, of whom I was and still am a great fan, could probably have come under the umbrella Tropical Rock – The Careless Whisper video was shot in Miami (where the humidity caused real problems for George’s naturally very curly hair) and the Club Tropicana video looks as if it’s a scene straight out of the film Cocktail. No indeed, if Bertie ever drops by to see what I’ve written about him, I can only congratulate him on having had his time in the sun (both literally and figuratively) and if I’m not mistaken he’s still going strong today, so good for him.

Any more outrageous musical sub-genres I should write about? There are certainly plenty of them out there so this one could run and run.

Until next time…

Key Largo Lyrics
(Song by Bertie Higgins/Sonny Limbo)

Wrapped around each other
Trying so hard to stay warm
That first cold winter together
Lying in each other’s arms

Watching those old movies
Falling in love so desperately
Honey, I was your hero
And you were my leading lady

We had it all
Just like Bogie and Bacall
Starring in our own late, late show
Sailing away to Key Largo

Here’s lookin’ at you kid
Missing all the things we did
We can find it once again, I know
Just like they did in Key Largo

Honey, can’t you remember
We played all the parts
That sweet scene of surrender
When you gave me your heart

Please say you will
Play it again
Cause I love you still
Baby this can’t be the end

We had it all (we had it all)
Just like Bogie and Bacall
Starring in our old late, late show
Sailing away to Key Largo

Here’s lookin’ at you kid (here’s lookin’ at you kid)
Missing all the things we did
We can find it once again, I know
Just like they did in Key Largo

We had it all (we had it all)
Just like Bogie and Bacall

The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night and ‘If I Fell’

Last time I mentioned that the hard graft part of my college course is now over, so to reward myself I indulged in a bit of a wallow in the distant past, revisiting old footage of the Beatles at the height of Beatlemania. This came about because I’d recently re-read my Christmas stocking book, Nothing Is Real: The Beatles Were Underrated And Other Sweeping Statements About Pop, by David Hepworth. A bit of non-fiction was needed as a foil to the very literary books I’ve had to dissect of late and there is nothing I enjoy more than a rock and pop anthology. The first section of the book contained essays on the Beatles, and yet again (I’ve mentioned some of David’s other books around here before), I learnt so much that was new to me.


I knew the Beatles had been in existence for some time before their breakthrough year 1963, but it wasn’t until Ringo Starr was recruited in September 1962 that they truly became a group (they weren’t called bands in those days). He was the best drummer in Liverpool at the time and the rest of the lads liked him, so once it was decided that Pete Best had to go, in those days before house telephones, Brian Epstein turned up at his family home in one of the less salubrious parts of that city to ask if he wanted to join the group. The rest as they say is history. Ringo was more than happy to change his slicked back hair to mop-top style, and wear the smart suits Brian had insisted the lads adopt. His unique style of drumming was pivotal in creating the Beatles’ sound and a lot of that was down to the fact he was born left-handed, but his superstitious grandmother wouldn’t let him use his left hand so he learned to play on a right-handed kit. It meant his route round the drum kit was a bit different to that of other drummers which is why other bands found it so hard to copy their sound exactly.


Anyway, I had enjoyed reading all these snippets in David’s book so much, I decided to search for moving images of the Beatles on some of the many avenues available to us on our tellies nowadays. It didn’t take long for me to find their 1964 film A Hard Day’s Night (on Amazon Prime), and what a joy it was to watch it again straight after reading the book, as there was so much more to look out for now that I knew more of the Fab Four backstories.

Within the first 10 seconds, both George and Ringo have fallen over!

The film has a plot of sorts, but it was essentially about Beatlemania and was a vehicle to showcase some of the songs written especially for the soundtrack. It was early reality television, where we saw the lads lark around in between rehearsals, exhibiting their individual personalities, but best of all they sang those simple (but not simple) love songs that were aimed at their young teenage market. Every time I watch the film I warm most to this song, If I Fell, possibly because it’s not one of the ones that’s become overfamiliar but also because we get to see them ‘at work’ interacting with each other whilst they rehearse for the show. I hadn’t noticed before but I also like how the beat to the song comes from Ringo simply tapping the metal side of the snare drum with his drumstick (0:32) – Maybe this is ‘a thing’ in the world of drumming, but I’d never taken heed of it before.

If I Fell by the Beatles:


It’s an accident of birth of course, but had I been born ten years earlier I would have been just the right demographic for Beatlemania, but I wasn’t, I only had Rollermania which was a pale imitation. What I noticed most about watching the film this week however, was just how much joy exuded from the screen. The Fab Four were still finding their feet as a band experiencing something that had never occurred before in the UK. Their fans adored them and they thought they were the luckiest guys in the world.

I knew if I looked hard enough I would find them, and I did. Here are seven of a series of 60 trading cards issued by A&BC, with chewing gum, back in 1964. I thought they might be worth something, but once I visited the ‘well-known online auction site’ I realised there are still many of them out there. I’m pretty sure they weren’t bought by me as there is no way my mum allowed me to have chewing gum at age four (‘if you swallow it it’ll stick to the inside of your tummy’), so I reckon they probably came via my older cousins who often came to stay in the summer holidays. Nice little bit of memorabilia though, and perfect for my wallow in all things Beatles-related this last week.

Trading cards from a set issued by A&BC in 1964


Until next time…

If I Fell
(Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

If I fell in love with you
Would you promise to be true
And help me understand
Cause I’ve been in love before
And I found that love was more
Than just holding hands

If I give my heart to you
I must be sure
From the very start
That you would love me more than her

If I trust in you oh please
Don’t run and hide
If I love you too oh please

Don’t hurt my pride like her
Cause I couldn’t stand the pain
And I would be sad if our new love was in vain

So I hope you see that I
Would love to love you
And that she will cry

When she learns we are two
Cause I couldn’t stand the pain
And I would be sad if our new love was in vain

So I hope you see that I
Would love to love you
And that she will cry
When she learns we are two
If I fell in love with you

FREE AGAIN…!, Christopher Cross and ‘Ride Like The Wind’

I’ve been a bit of a part-time blogger of late because my college course has been taking up most of my spare time. The last assessment has now been submitted however, so as of this week, I’M FREE AGAIN…

but I don’t have to ride like the wind,

I don’t have a long way to go,

and I don’t have to make it to the border of Mexico…, to be free again. Phew.

Cue Christopher Cross from 1980, with Ride Like The Wind.

Ride Like The Wind by Christopher Cross:


Well, I genuinely didn’t intend to revisit Christopher’s song when I sat down to blog today, but as soon as I’d typed those words about being free again, as happens with predictive text on our phones, the rest of the the lyrics jumped into my head. I can’t remember what I did yesterday but I can remember all the words to a song from over 40 years ago that only reached the No. 69 spot on the UK Singles Chart. To be fair it gets quite a bit of airplay on some of the mainstream radio stations and it also popped up on the soundtrack to a film I went to see last week…, so that could explain why the predictive lyrics popped into my head.

My Last Thursday of the Month Film Club is getting back on track and last week we went to see The Phantom of the Open starring Mark Rylance. I come from a sport-loving family so all through my childhood and teenage years I had a fairly good knowledge of what was happening in the world of sport – The Olympics, The World Cup, Wimbledon and golf’s British Open were all watched in our house. For some reason however, I didn’t remember the name Maurice Flitcroft, the non-golfer who somehow blagged his way into the 1976 British Open. It could never happen in today’s world, but back then the administration behind these big competitions was a lot more analogue, and ‘players’ like Maurice could slip through the net. It was a really enjoyable watch, very funny in places, but it also had a lot of heart. The soundtrack was chock full of ’70s and ’80s songs I knew well, and to accompany one of Maurice’s flights from the fairway whilst being chased by officials, they used Ride Like The Wind (had Maurice and his caddy son been in a buggy it would have made even more sense, but it still worked with them on foot).


Christopher Cross has appeared around here before when his song about being caught between the moon and New York city featured in my Full Moon In Song series. Back then I mentioned that Christopher had been pigeon-holed as a proponent of Yacht Rock, a sub-genre of Soft Rock which sadly was poked fun at back in the day. Anyone who visits this place regularly will know I don’t have a problem with soft rock at all, but of course I am conscious that such fodder might not fit the sidebars of some of the serious music blogs I have very kindly been added to. Hope we are a broad enough church around here to accept all comers and that I don’t sully your ‘cool’ blogs with my post titles.

It was Christopher’s song Sailing that led the pack when it came to having yacht rock credentials. Such music apparently related to the stereotype of the yuppie yacht owner, who enjoyed smooth music while out for a sail. Since sailing was a popular leisure activity in Southern California, many yacht rockers deliberately made nautical references in their lyrics, videos, and album artwork. Ride Like The Wind on the other hand, was inspired by the cowboy movies Christopher grew up with. He came from San Antonio near Mexico so as a kid he always thought of the border as being a place where an outlaw could escape authority, drink and behave in a debauched manner. Cowboy boots and hard liquor rather than designer deck shoes and cocktails with little parasols this time.


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – If you ever have to take a break from blogging, for whatever reason, it’s quite hard to get back into it again as I think you lose your momentum, and your confidence. In some ways it was a lot easier when I started out as a music blogger as no-one knew about me and few people dropped by. I could revisit whoever I wanted to, without feeling self-conscious about whether they fell into the ‘cool’ camp or not. Anyway, I’m back, and I’ve shared Christopher Cross, someone whose songs I’ve always enjoyed. If I have to be removed from some of the sidebars, so be it (but I hope not).

Something nice that did happen this week was that I got a badge from the WordPress people telling me I had now clocked up over 500,000 views around here. A new one on me and not a landmark I would have spotted had I not received the alert. I may not always be ‘cool’ with my song choices but I must be doing something right.

My badge from the WordPress people

Until next time…

Ride Like The Wind Lyrics
(Song by Christopher Cross)

It is the night
My body’s weak
I’m on the run
No time to sleep

I’ve got to ride
Ride like the wind
To be free again

And I’ve got such a long way to go
To make it to the border of Mexico
So I’ll ride like the wind
Ride like the wind

I was born the son of a lawless man
Always spoke my mind with a gun in my hand
Lived nine lives
Gunned down ten
Gonna ride like the wind

And I’ve got such a long way to go
To make it to the border of Mexico
So I’ll ride like the wind
Ride like the wind

Accused and tried and told to hang
I was nowhere in sight when the church bells rang
Never was the kind to do as I was told
Gonna ride like the wind before I get old

It is the night
My body’s weak
I’m on the run
No time to sleep
I’ve got to ride
Ride like the wind
To be free again

And I’ve got such a long way to go
To make it to the border of Mexico
So I’ll ride like the wind
Ride like the wind

Postscipt:

Another soft rock legend Michael McDonald, ex of the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan can be heard singing backing vocals on Ride Like The Wind.

‘Such a long way to go’ – Yep, that’s his line (immortalised in The Cleveland Show).

Reading Lists, Sammy Davis Jr. (Jr.) and ‘Mr. Bojangles’

I’m going to dip my toe back into the world of blogging, just to reassure those of you who are kind enough to follow these pages that I’m still around. My college course has been taking up most of my spare time of late as we analyse and discuss a different novel every week. By the time I’ve finished reading whatever the current ‘novel of the week’ is, and taken notes, there’s just enough time left for me to prepare for our Monday morning discussion. Then we start all over again for the following week, with a new novel. Yesterday we discussed Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds and it was definitely the most challenging read so far, as it’s an epic work of metafiction. Some of us loved it and some of us, well, didn’t love it, but that’s ok as there are no right or wrong answers on my course.

For the record, the other novels we’ve studied this term are:
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The House on Half Moon Street by Alex Reeve
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
and finally,
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

This reading list has been in place for a few years but we reached Everything Is Illuminated, which is set in Ukraine, just at the time of the Russian invasion. As well as reading the novel, I discovered the story had also been made into a film starring Elijah Wood, so I watched that too. What a beautiful country. The most fertile farmland in Eastern Europe punctuated by some of the world’s most beautiful cities, which are now being razed to the ground – So, so sad.

Elijah’s foil in the film is the very likeable character Alex played by Ukrainian actor/musician Eugene Hütz. Alex was Elijah’s tour guide for the duration of his visit to Ukraine and he regales our hero with stories about his life, and his passion for American pop culture. He has a unique command of the English language and although we always understand what he means, the words he uses are often very literal which leads to some very amusing exchanges between the characters, which lightened the otherwise heavy subject matter pertaining to another very hard time in Ukraine’s history. Alex’s grandfather is their driver, and he brings along with him his slightly deranged dog, Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. named in honour of his favourite Rat Packer. What could possibly go wrong?

Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. hogging the boot

But this is a music blog so where’s the song? Well, I imagine you can guess where I’m going with this one. It occurred to me after watching the film that Sammy Davis Jr. has never appeared on these pages despite the fact I often return to the 1960s around here, a period during which he was very successful. Sammy Davis Sr., his father, was also in ‘the business’ and Sammy first joined the family trio on stage at the very young age of three. He certainly was multi-talented becoming a singer, dancer, actor, comedian, author, film producer and television director. His journey through the decades wasn’t always easy, although his popularity did help break down the race barrier in the American entertainment industry.

My memories of Sammy Davis Jr. are mainly from seeing him pop up on mainstream light entertainment television shows of the ’60s and ’70s but of course he also appeared in film musicals, one of which being 1969’s Sweet Charity, which I have always loved. The Rhythm of Life sequence, where Charity and Oscar find themselves in an alternative church presided over by a preacher called Big Daddy (played by Sammy), is one of the best in the movie. A good few years ago now DD was part of a local musical theatre group and at their annual show they performed The Rhythm of Life for the finale. I had helped her rehearse at home and of course we both ended up learning the very fast-paced lyrics. On the night, when they all sang in harmony, it gave the audience goose-bumps. Possibly explains how I thought of it today.

Sadly my digital library has let me down as I don’t seem to have a copy of Sammy’s version of The Rhythm of Life from Sweet Charity, and not easy to find amongst all the other versions available to purchase online either. What I do have however is a copy of Mr. Bojangles, which became a bit of a signature song for Sammy. Ironically the song was written about a homeless, tap-dancing white man who had found himself in a prison cell, and who called himself Mr Bojangles, that name taken from Bill “Bojangles” Robinson the highest paid African-American entertainer in the United States during the first half of the 20th century. A song that really tugs at the heartstrings.

Mr. Bojangles by Sammy Davis Jr.


I often sit down not knowing how a blog post is going to turn out and this one is a case in point. My college reading list led me to a film, which in turn led me to one of the Rat Pack. Didn’t see that coming when I got up this morning but I’ve enjoyed rewatching that scene from Sweet Charity as well as Sammy’s performance of Mr. Bojangles.

Has anyone read any, or all, of the books on my reading list? If you have, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. I have an essay to write on one of them and I’m still not sure which I’m going to choose (although I know it won’t be Flann O’Brien’s book as just far too complex for my feeble mind).

As for the beautiful cities of Ukraine, we have all seen images on the news which are heart-breaking. Eugene Hütz who plays Alex in the EIL film is part of an American punk rock band called Gogol Bordello formed in 1999 by musicians from all over the world. Following the Russian invasion, Hutz released a video on social media condemning what had happened. The band have organised a benefit concert and are currently planning a benefit tour.

Until next time…

Mr. Bojangles Lyrics
(Song by Jerry Jeff Walker)

I knew a man
Bojangles
And he’d dance for you
In worn out shoes
With silver hair
A ragged shirt
And baggy pants
He would do the old soft shoe
He could jump so high
Jump so high
And then he’d lightly touch down

I met him in a cell
In New Orleans, I was
Down and out
He looked to me to be the very eyes of age
As the smoke ran out
Talked of life, lord that man talked of life
Laughed, clicked his heels and stepped

He said his name was “Bojangles”
And he danced a lick
Right across the cell
He grabbed his pants
Took a bitter stance
Jumped up high
That’s when he
Clicked his heels
Then he let go a laugh
Lord, he’d let go a laugh
Shook back his clothes all around

Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles

Mr. Bojangles
Dance

He told me of the times
He worked with minstrel shows
Throughout the south
He spoke with tears
Of fifteen years
How his dog and he
They travel all about
The dog up and died
Dog up and died
And after twenty years he still grieved

He said “I dance
Now and every chance a
Honkey-tonk
For drinks and tips
But most of the time
I spend behind these country bars
You see son, I drinks a bit”
He shook his head
As he shook his head
I heard someone
Say please, please, please

A-Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles

Mr. Bojangles
Dance

Guilt, Compartmentalisation and Crescent Moons

Two years ago, in March 2020, I wrote a post about how we’d all been blindsided. We constantly sweat the small stuff, but then an event we couldn’t really have predicted comes along and floors us, challenging our safety and our way of life.

Here we go again…

The bridge in the centre of our town lit up with the colours of the Ukrainian flag

It’s now March 2022, and I might be wrong, but I really don’t think many of us believed a land war would ever again take place in Europe. Those in the know may not have been ‘blindsided’, but for the average family going about their daily routines, the pictures streaming live on television news are harrowing, and we are in shock at what we are witnessing.

Two years ago I had a bit of a rant about how we’d been spending vast sums of cash from the nation’s coffers on the wrong kind of defence, as what we faced back then was a war with an invisible virus that no amount of nuclear missiles could defeat. I think I’m probably being a bit naïve, but the fact we do have those nuclear missiles now terrifies me even more, as absolutely no good can come from ever using them. We truly are in uncharted territory and I’m sorry for even broaching the subject on a music blog, but this is also my web diary, so impossible to avoid.

Yet again, the upside is that I am no longer sweating the small stuff. Suddenly the state of my pension fund, and the rate of inflation, seem like frivolous worries. I made a big effort to make Mr WIAA’s birthday a really special one last week and we saw DD no less than three times. To assuage the guilt I feel about our inability to help those in need, I’ve upped my usual charity donation amount tenfold. Amongst the Airbnb community, we’ve been booking trips with hosts in Ukraine – We won’t ever go, but it gets much needed funds to them fast.

As for which song to share on a post like this, I’m truly at a loss. There are plenty of songs out there that mention war, but I really don’t want to go there. We are having to compartmentalise at the moment, in order to make it through the day and achieve all we have to achieve, so I think I just want to share a pretty song. My Full Moon in Song series hasn’t been added to for a long time as I think I’ve pretty much covered all the full moon songs out there. Here’s a bit of an alternative though, a Crescent Moon in Song series. The skies have been clear the last few nights and that tiny sliver of a crescent moon has been visible from late afternoon on. Not as spectacular, granted, but still quite something to behold.


As I suspected, there are far fewer songs about Crescent Moons but here’s one of the first ones I stumbled upon, and it certainly has a very pleasant vibe to it. Who are Conor Albert & James Smith though? Lets find out.

Well blow me down, it turns out that Conor (producer/multi-instrumentalist aged 20) and James (singer/songwriter aged 22) are both from London, and got together only last year to record Crescent Moon. Somehow it felt as if the song could have come from a long time ago but they seem to specialise in that nostalgic soul-pop sound. The first thing I thought of when listening to the lyrics, was the boy sitting on the crescent moon in the DreamWorks ident, and that’s exactly what inspired James apparently. I wish them both all the best in their future careers.

Crescent Moon by Conor Albert & James Smith:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I’m aware people come here to be entertained (well they hope to be entertained I suppose) but during the life of this blog there has been an awful lot of ‘bad stuff’ going on in the world, for wont of a better phrase, and it encroaches on these pages. The world feels like a very scary place right now, so all we can do is hope that those who have the power to calm the situation, do exactly that. A big ask it seems. Our donations will hopefully go some way to helping those people who have found themselves driven from their homes.

I enjoyed my new song discovery, and it will hopefully kick start a new series to coincide with crescent moons. I’m enjoying my walks at the moment and Spring certainly seems to be in the air. Lots of blue and yellow everywhere – even Mother Nature seems to be showing solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

Until next time…

Crescent Moon Lyrics
(Song by Conor Albert/James Smith)

Lonely
You were my only
It’s like you were a thousand miles away
From ever falling inside my arms (ahh)

Baby, I caught you
Dived into the water
Held you so tight like finding riches as a pauper
I stole a heart

From someone like you
But I never knew

When I threw a line
From my crescent moon
And out of the blue
Was something untrue
Someone like you

I’m counting my blessings
You brought me heaven

Sitting in the sky looking back at adolescence
Without you by my side
Oh I’m unworthy of a woman
Like yourself, I couldn’t
Ever imagine something so perfect, oh
How in the hell did I find

From someone like you
But I never knew
When I threw a line
From my crescent moon

And out of the blue
Was something untrue
Someone like you
And out of the blue
Was something untrue
Someone like you

From someone like you
But I never knew
When I threw a line
From my crescent moon
And out of the blue

Was something untrue
Someone like you, ooh
And out of the blue
Was something untrue
Someone like you

The Beatles, ‘Paperback Writer’ and Nearly At The Finish Line

WIAA: Alyson…, oh Alyson.

Alyson: I know, I know WIAA – It appears that I’ve gone quiet around here again, but all for a good reason. One final push and I think I’ll actually finish my course and get a qualification. I had a project to submit yesterday which took three weeks of hard graft – Doesn’t leave much time for blogging.

WIAA: Understandable then. It’s just that my pages were feeling a little unloved again.


Alyson: Sorry WIAA. It’s also not lost on me that just as we seemed to be finally getting back to normal after two years of pandemic-related anxiety and restrictions, the biggest, most scary scenario imaginable has actually come to pass. I can’t pretend to understand all the background detail to what’s going on, and it’s complicated, not black and white, but could the 21st century really get any worse?

WIAA: Again, understandable then that you’ve not been feeling ‘blogging inclined’.

Alyson: Here’s the irony WIAA. Exactly 40 years ago right now I was in the midst of studying for my finals, at University. Those stressful last few weeks were overshadowed by the fact our country went to war, with a large South American country. Some of our lecturers lost the will to tutor us, such was their dismay at what had happened. Rumours went round that young males (our boyfriends) would be conscripted. Of course that didn’t happen, and our lecturers did put the processes in place for us to sit our finals, but with only seven weeks left to go on my current course, I’m experiencing a terrible sense of déjà vu albeit on a far scarier level.

WIAA: How about sharing a song to take your mind off things?

Alyson: Always a joy WIAA, although not much time today for all the background research I like to include around here. As I’ve had to read so many books over the last few weeks (my chosen author for my project was the wonderfully clever Kate Atkinson), I think something about writers might be a good idea. Here is Paperback Writer by the Beatles, one of their non-album singles from 1966.

Paperback Writer by the Beatles:


Last month I spent the guts of a weekend watching Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back mini-series on Disney+, which documented their time making the Let It Be album, culminating in that rooftop performance in Central London. I loved it, and as others have said, because the footage has been so skilfully remastered, it looks as if it could have been made yesterday. All four Beatles were back in our lives and with eight hours of airtime, you got a real insight into how they were with each other at that time in early 1969. Not as bad as was always made out it seems.


Anyway, I have a copious amount of notes that I want to make into a Get Back blog post at some point, but I did also have one of those revelatory moments when watching it. Yoko Ono was permanently attached to John throughout the whole thing, never veering far from his side. How annoying for the rest of them I thought until I realised that 40 years ago, I too was that limpet. He doesn’t get mentioned around here often, as I’m not as anonymous as I used to be and don’t want to cause any upset, but the student boyfriend and I were rarely apart during those years which meant whenever he spent time with his male friends I was always there too, as I had done the unthinkable and dropped my female friends. In the library, in the bar, having lunch in the refectory, at the football pitch, yep, I was always there…

I was Yoko.

Although I have now lost touch with that entire group of young men, all these years later I can only apologise for my limpet-like behaviour. I’m still really glad you didn’t get conscripted, but instead got to the finish line and sat your finals. Let’s hope the same can be said for the class of ’22.

Yoko Ono

Until next time…

Paperback Writer
Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It’s based on a novel by a man named Lear
And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

It’s the dirty story of a dirty man
And his clinging wife doesn’t understand
His son is working for the Daily Mail
It’s a steady job but he wants to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

Paperback writer

It’s a thousand pages, give or take a few
I’ll be writing more in a week or two
I can make it longer if you like the style
I can change it round and I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

If you really like it you can have the rights
It could make a million for you overnight
If you must return it, you can send it here
But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

Paperback writer

Paperback writer, paperback writer
Paperback writer, paperback writer
Paperback writer, paperback writer
Paperback writer, paperback writer (fade out)

Back to Business As Usual at the BRITS, Adele, Ed and Little Simz

It’s going to be a really busy few months for me, so I might not be posting quite as regularly. My college course has not been what I’d hoped for, mostly down to the pandemic. I’ve not been inside our local college for nearly two years and it seems they are more than happy to keep things that way. I’m therefore going to try and complete this semester’s module as best I can from home, and then pick up the resulting qualification, but an awful lot of research/reading/writing to be done before then. I’ve enjoyed all the modules so far but this one, quite rightly, is a highly academic one, so a bit more graft involved.

As we are now in the month of February, we are well and truly into Awards Season. I was pleased to see that the film Belfast, written about last time, is up for many BAFTAs and Academy Awards. Hope it does well although I have a sneaking suspicion it might hog the runner-up spot in most categories. We’ll have to wait and see. This week (here in the UK) we had the BRIT Awards back on telly in all their former glory. Unlike last year, the word ‘pandemic’ wasn’t even mentioned, and not a mask or a socially distanced performance graced our screens. After the last couple of years where such shows have had to be either cancelled altogether or held in a limited capacity in open spaces such as Railway Stations (93rd Academy Awards), it was the biggest sign that life is hopefully going to return to a semblance of normality this year.

Unlike Mr WIAA, who is not a fan of award shows, I have always watched the BRITs as that’s when I find out about some of the new artists/bands who would otherwise never have crossed my radar. This blog is very much a retrospective one, where I revisit songs from my youth, but important not to get totally stuck in the past and over the last few years I’ve been blown away by some of the live performances on the show – Stormzy in 2018 and Dave in 2020. As a middle-aged female living in the North of Scotland I know nothing of what life must be like for young, black, urban males but when you watch these guys in action, they definitely help you understand.

This year, the performance that stood out for me most was by Little Simz – She won the award for Best New Artist (although she has been around for a while it seems). The actress Emma Corrin also appeared on stage with her in a very spectacular hat. Together they gave us Introvert and Woman.

Introvert and Woman by Little Simz:


The big change this year was that the awards were gender neutral with no Best Male or Best Female categories at all. This made room for some new categories which included Best Dance Act (Becky Hill), Best Rock/Alternative Artist (Sam Fender), Best Hip Hop/Grime/Rap Act (Dave) and Best Pop/R&B Act (Dua Lipa). I’m afraid when it comes to genres such as these I come a bit unstuck and would probably fail spectacularly if it came to categorising songs in such a way myself, but the winners of these new awards certainly were pleased, some deliriously so (Becky Hill?), so in turn I was pleased for them.

Another big change this year was that I managed to persuade Mr WIAA to watch the show with me. “There’s always a really big memorable moment,” I told him. “From Jarvis Cocker’s very justified storming of MJ’s stage, to Madonna in her cape falling down those steps, to Geri’s Union Jack dress, to Freddie’s last appearance…”. Yes, lots of memorable moments over the years, but as luck would have it, not this year, so I had to eat my words.

The really big winner was Adele, so a lot of the industry ‘suits’ as she called them at a previous BRITs would have been happy, but all a bit safe and predictable. She lives in LA now, stages big shows in Las Vegas (although that’s a whole other story) and looks nothing like the Adele we first saw on the show back in 2008. Was all a bit disappointing and samey, in my humble opinion.

The girl’s come a long way, but I miss the old Brit School Adele:

Although I totally agreed with the move to gender neutral awards (needs to happen in the world of film too I think), one key difference between the vast majority of men and women at the BRITs was the footwear they chose to wear on the night. I couldn’t help but notice that many of the women were sporting shoes that were detrimental to their health. Adele’s spikey heels got caught up in her long dress when climbing the steps to pick up her first award and poor Anne-Marie fell down some steps in her platform boots whilst performing Kiss My (Uh-Oh). Not quite as spectacular as Madonna’s tumble a few year’s back but she still took a tumble, and landed on her Uh-Oh. She was a trooper however and carried on as if nothing had happened. We’re still a long way off from equality in footwear it seems, which is a shame, as at my age I regret many of my younger self’s footwear choices. My younger self would of course have ignored my older self’s advice, and there lies the rub.

Poor Anne-Marie took a tumble

Like Adele, he’s been around a long time now, and he’s not for everyone, but I do still have a soft spot for Ed Sheeran. He too looks a bit more polished than the lad who first rolled up at the BRITs back in 2012, but whatever you think of his music there’s no denying he knows how to write a successful pop song. He didn’t win big on Tuesday night like Adele, but he did win the award for Songwriter of the Year and I enjoyed his performance of The Joker and the Queen. Many a metaphor/pun can be found in a pack of cards it seems. I was trying to work out what it reminded me of, and of course it’s music from a classic film score, which is what was intended.

The Joker and the Queen by Ed Sheeran:

I really should be doing college work today but procrastination came along in the form of this blog post. Exactly what used to happen first time around, although there weren’t blogs back then, or an internet, or Netflix, just lots and lots of fellow students to be distracted by. Changed days. I’ve just heard back from my course tutor who tells me I can keep going with the course one module at a time – I really thought there was a time-limit on it but they don’t want to lose any students it seems, even ancient ones like myself. Decisions to be made.

I enjoyed the BRITs this year, for the many performances, but also because it felt as if things are truly getting back to normal again. Lord knows we all need that.

Until next time…

The Joker and the Queen Lyrics
(Song by Ed Sheeran/Johnny McDaid/Samuel Elliot Roman/Fred Gibson)

How was I to know?
It’s a crazy thing
I showed you my hand
And you still let me win

And who was I to say
That this was meant to be?
The road that was broken
Brought us together

And I know you could fall for a thousand kings
And hearts that would give you a diamond ring
When I fold, you see the best in me
The joker and the queen

I was upside down
From the outside in
You came to the table
And you went all in

With a single word
And a gentle touch
You turned a moment
Into forever

And I know you could fall for a thousand kings
And hearts that could give you a diamond ring
When I fold, you see the best in me
The joker and the queen

And I know you could fall for a thousand kings
And hearts that would give you a diamond ring
When I folded, you saw the best in me
The joker and the queen
The joker and queen

Postscript:

Before I started writing this one I looked back over the years to my previous BRIT Awards posts. It seems I wrote something about all of them except the 2019 show. Remiss of me but perhaps also a bit of an unremarkable one that passed without incident.

What I do remember about that show however was that Scottish DJ Calvin Harris (along with Dua Lipa) won the award for British Single of the Year. He appeared on the night and it occurred to me that had he not, I wouldn’t have known what the world’s highest paid DJ, a Scot, looked like. Remarkable how anonymous DJs can be. The standout collaboration that year was when Calvin manned the decks whilst Dua, Sam Smith and Rag’n’Bone Man sang. Only three years too late but I give you a medley of Giant, Promises and One Kiss.

One Kiss by Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa:

Belfast (the Film), ‘Everlasting Love’ and Van Morrison

Trying to kick-start some of my old routines now that restrictions seem to be lifting somewhat. Pre-pandemic I used to have seven people in my Film Group and we used to go along to our local arts centre to watch whatever was showing on the last Thursday of the month. It was a great way of discovering films you might never have actively chosen – Foreign language films and documentaries, as well as the odd Oscar winner or Hollywood blockbuster. Some were excellent and some were stinkers, but always worthy of discussion afterwards.

Our local arts centre

Sadly, at the moment, Film Group is reduced to two people, myself and one other. For various reasons I’ve lost five of our number from my life over the last couple of years, which is a pretty high dropout rate, but much of it down to the fact some people’s lives are now very different to how they were in 2019. Anyway, tonight I’m off to see a NTLive showing of Leopoldstadt, on this, Holocaust Memorial Day. Hopefully I’ll be able to recruit a few more film fans over the coming months, as let’s face it, ‘group’ is not really the collective noun for only two people. Out of interest, here is the list of films we randomly watched between 2012 and 2018, all carefully documented and subjectively scored (I produced many, many spreadsheets).


Earlier this week I also persuaded Mr WIAA to come with me to watch Kenneth Branagh’s new semi-autobiographical film Belfast. It was released in the US first, so some of you who visit this place have already seen it, but if you haven’t I would thoroughly recommend it.


Turns out both myself and Mr WIAA were born within a few months of Sir Ken, so any story he told of his childhood should have really resonated with us, and it did. The playing in the street, the toys given as Christmas presents, the clothes, school routines, television programmes and comics. The big difference however was that it was set in 1969 Belfast, so that’s where any similarity with our own childhoods ended. That was right at the start of The Troubles, when bombings and violence escalated on the streets of the city. It wouldn’t have occurred to me at the time that Belfast children aged nine, just like myself, were facing such danger on a daily basis. But it’s not all grim, the film is classed a comedy-drama, with much of the comedic moments coming from Jude Hill, the young actor who played Buddy, the character inspired by the young Kenneth Branagh.

One aspect of the film I found a little unbelievable, was that Buddy’s parents were played by the extremely good-looking actors Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan. I didn’t remember our parents ever looking that good, but then Mr WIAA reminded me of some of the photos we have of his very fashionable mum and dad from those days, and they really were an attractive couple. We always think of our parents as being old despite them probably only being in their 30s when we were young. One of the memorable scenes in the film was from a family wake which in Ireland is cause for a bit of a party – Jamie Dornan, as well as being a great actor can also sing it seems, and his character entertained the mourners with this No. 1 hit song from 1969, Everlasting Love by Love Affair. It was a really special scene and I defy anyone who goes to see the film not to have it as an earworm for the next few days.

Everlasting Love by Love Affair:


But of course when making a film set in Belfast, it was highly likely there would be much on the soundtrack from Van Morrison. After my trip to Belfast in 2018 I wrote a post about it here, and after seeing ‘the Man’s’ face on many of the city’s murals, I shared his signature song. This time I’m going to share Days Like This which was married up with a particulary poignant scene in the film and was the song of his I enjoyed most.

Days Like This by Van Morrison:


Days Like This was the title song of his 1995 album of the same name. It became one of the official anthems of the peace movement and was used in an advert promoting the cease fire.  Van Morrison performed it in front of a large audience when US President Bill Clinton visited Belfast.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Back in March 2020, right at the start of the pandemic, I often warned that the virus would have massive implications for all of us, way beyond the effects of the virus itself. At the time I think I was classed as a bit of a doom and gloom merchant, especially as many of us were ‘loving the lockdown’ with all that fine weather. As the months and years have rolled by, many have indeed fallen victim to some of the negative side-effects of the pandemic, which has turned their lives upside down. I think we’ve escaped the worst of it but I do miss some of my old routines, Film Group being one of them. As I said above, hopefully over the course of 2022 I’ll find some new film fans to join our ‘group’ of two.

As for the film Belfast, it certainly brought back many happy memories of my own childhood which, excluding the backdrop of The Troubles, was scarily similar to Buddy’s. Not all of us go on to become a Sir (or Dame) however, so there was obviously something about the young Kenneth Branagh that made him destined for great things.

I think the soundtrack to Belfast lifted it up a notch, and although the scene with the song Everlasting Love is strangely out of kilter with the rest of the film, it certainly was an important one, and it will stay with you long after you’ve left the cinema.

Until next time…

Days Like This Lyrics
(Song by Van Morrison)

When it’s not always raining there’ll be days like this
When there’s no one complaining there’ll be days like this
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need to worry there’ll be days like this
When no one’s in a hurry there’ll be days like this
When you don’t get betrayed by that old Judas kiss
Oh my mama told me there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need an answer there’ll be days like this
When you don’t meet a chancer there’ll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit
Then I must remember there’ll be days like this

When everyone is up front and they’re not playing tricks
When you don’t have no freeloaders out to get their kicks
When it’s nobody’s business the way that you wanna live
I just have to remember there’ll be days like this

When no one steps on my dreams there’ll be days like this
When people understand what I mean there’ll be days like this
When you ring out the changes of how everything is
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this

Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this

Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this

Big Voice, Big Performances, Big Personality: RIP Meat Loaf

Well, after writing a couple of themed posts, I fully intended to use this week’s effort to pay tribute to some of the people from the world of film and music we’ve already lost this year. First there was Sidney Poitier, then Ronnie Spector, and last week R. Dean Taylor, all of whom have appeared around here over the years in some guise. But I’m a music blogger of a certain vintage and the artists I grew up listening to are inevitably now of an even older vintage and we are losing them at an alarming rate. Few of us yesterday could have failed to notice who else has just been added to the growing list of ‘those we have lost in 2022’.

RIP Meat Loaf 1947-2022

He hailed from a big state, and was a big man with a big voice who gave big performances. Marvin Lee Aday is not a name many of us would have been familiar with but when you mention the name Meat Loaf, all that changes. The amount of time dedicated to him on mainstream news channels yesterday proved that. The last tribute I wrote was about another man from Texas, Mike Nesmith. He was primarily a singer who became an actor. Meat Loaf was primarily an actor who became a singer, and it showed. Like long-term collaborator Jim Steinman (who sadly died last year) he had a background in musical theatre, so when they came to making their first album together, Bat Out of Hell, it was very much in that vein – a tough sell to record companies in the mid-1970s.

Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf:


Considering it was such a tough sell, it’s remarkable to think that it’s now clocked up over 500 weeks on the UK Albums Chart and sold over 43 million copies worldwide. (I have a feeling those numbers will now rise for a time as always happens after the sudden death of a much-loved artist).

We often go in circles around here and it wasn’t lost on me that my original plan to write about Ronnie Spector today could possibly have led to Bat Out of Hell anyway. Working in the opposite direction, The Meat Loaf album is often compared to the music of Bruce Springsteen, and in particular his album Born to Run. Bruce’s album is often noted for it’s Phil Spector-like ‘Wall of Sound’ arrangements and production, used so effectively when recording Ronnie’s albums with the Ronettes. Others may choose to disagree, but I’m buying that connection.

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad by Meat Loaf:


The album cover for Bat Out of Hell is a very familiar one to most of us of a certain age as even if we didn’t own it ourselves (I never did), we had friends who would have done. Here is where the ‘memory’ part of this post comes in. Back in 1978 when the album was unleashed on an unsuspecting nation, I had just finished school and moved into the city to start life as a student. The familiar routines had all gone, the school boyfriend and I had parted company for a time, and many of my friends had moved elsewhere in the country. Some thrive on such new beginnings, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I didn’t, and was a bit of a lost soul that first term.

By good fortune, my across-the-corridor neighbour in our halls of residence came from a village only about 10 miles from where I grew up. By a quirk of geography she had gone to a different secondary school but it turned out she knew a lot of people from my village and we soon became friends, always heading to the dining hall together for meals (very scary to enter that cavernous hall on your own – some risked starvation as they avoided it completely). When we weren’t studying we often visited each other’s rooms and although I had brought my cassette player from home, she had her record player and the album Bat Out of Hell. We listened to it often and I seem to remember the combination of Meat Loaf, a bit too much Leibfraumilch, and falling down the steps to our corridor one evening, led to a trip to A&E for me the following morning. It turned out to be just a sprain, but I felt bad, as although my exams had already finished, my new friend (who came with me) had one that afternoon. I think she did ok however as she spent much of her time in the hospital waiting area revising.

Paradise by the Dashboard Light by Meat Loaf with Karla DeVito:


Music wise, I’ve barely scratched the surface here but despite not making any money from that first album (a common theme it seems for 1970s artists), Meat Loaf continued to make new albums for decades to come, so made up for it later in life. There were fallings out with Jim Steinman who understandably felt as the creative force behind the albums he was being overlooked, but fortunately they made up down the line. The pair of them will possibly be up there right now, contemplating Bat Out of Hell IV. (A bit of a contradiction in terms!)

Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman

As for me, the loss of Meat Loaf will not affect me greatly, but as ever you feel for their family and friends who will miss them immensely. Is it because we are all getting older ourselves that we start to wonder when we will be at that age when never a week goes by without losing someone from our personal lives. It’s getting closer all the time and things I had never contemplated when I started this blog only six years ago (wills and pensions) have started to rear their heads.

When we lose someone from the world of music however, we can’t help but remember what we were doing when they released their seminal album, and I have enjoyed revisiting that time when my new friend and I were 18-year-old freshers, and a bit wet behind the ears. The album was played at many a party that year (when we plucked up courage to go) but I will remember it most from those evenings spent in her student room – Haven’t seen her for nearly 40 years so perhaps time to visit ‘the socials’ and see what she’s up to.

Until next time… RIP Meat Loaf.

Bat Out Of Hell Lyrics
(Song by Jim Steinman)

The sirens are screaming and the fires are howling
Way down in the valley tonight.
There’s a man in the shadows with a gun in his eye
And a blade shining, oh, so bright.
There’s evil in the air and there’s thunder in sky,
And a killer’s on the bloodshot streets.
Oh, and down in the tunnel where the deadly are rising,
Oh, I swear I saw a young boy down in the gutter,
He was starting to foam in the heat.

Oh, baby, you’re the only thing in this whole world,
That’s pure and good and right.
And wherever you are and wherever you go,

There’s always gonna be some light.
But I gotta get out,
I gotta break it out now,
Before the final crack of dawn.
So we gotta make the most of our one night together.
When it’s over you know,
We’ll both be so alone.

Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone when the morning comes.
When the night is over
Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone-gone-gone.
Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone when the morning comes.
But when the day is done, and the sun goes down,
And the moonlight’s shining through,
Then like a sinner before the gates of heaven,
I’ll come crawling on back to you.

I’m gonna hit the highway like a battering ram
On a silver black phantom bike.
When the metal is hot and the engine is hungry,
And we’re all about to see the light.
Nothing ever grows in this rotting old hole.
And everything is stunted and lost.
And nothing really rocks
And nothing really rolls
And nothing’s ever worth the cost.

And I know that I’m damned if I never get out,
And maybe I’m damned if I do,
But with every other beat I’ve got left in my heart,
You know I’d rather be damned with you.

Well, if I gotta be damned you know I wanna be damned
Dancing through the night with you.
Well, if I gotta be damned you know I wanna be damned—
Gotta be damned, you know I wanna be damned—
Gotta be damned, you know I wanna be damned
Dancing through the night—
Dancing through the night—
Dancing through the night with you.

Oh, baby, you’re the only thing in this whole world,
That’s pure and good and right.
And wherever you are and wherever you go,
There’s always gonna be some light.
But I gotta get out,
I gotta break it out now,
Before the final crack of dawn.
So we gotta make the most of our one night together.
When it’s over you know
We’ll both be so alone.

Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone when the morning comes.
When the night is over
Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone gone gone.
Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone when the morning comes.
But when the day is done and the sun goes down,
And the moonlight’s shining through,
Then like a sinner before the gates of heaven,
I’ll come crawling on back to you.
Then like a sinner before the gates of heaven,
I’ll come crawling on back to you.

I can see myself tearing up the road
Faster than any other boy has ever gone.
And my skin is raw but my soul is ripe.
No one’s gonna stop me now,
I’m gonna make my escape.
But I can’t stop thinking of you,
And I never see the sudden curve until it’s way too late.

And I never see the sudden curve ’til it’s way too late.

Then I’m dying at the bottom of a pit in the blazing sun.
Torn and twisted at the foot of a burning bike.
And I think somebody somewhere must be tolling a bell.
And the last thing I see is my heart
Still beating,
Breaking out of my body and flying away,
Like a bat out of hell.

Then I’m dying at the bottom of a pit in the blazing sun.
Torn and twisted at the foot of a burning bike.
And I think somebody somewhere must be tolling a bell.
And the last thing I see is my heart
Still beating, still beating,
Breaking out of my body and flying away,
Like a bat out of hell.
Like a bat out of hell.
Like a bat out of hell.
Oh, like a bat out of hell!
Like a bat out of hell!
Like a bat out of hell!