The End of an Era, Being Kept Safe and ‘Walk Tall’

I had fully intended to return to my regular web-diary style of blogging last Saturday, as there is much to write about, but events overtook me. I think we had all expected it for some time, but when the news was released on Friday that Prince Philip, our Queen’s consort of over 73 years, had died peacefully that morning, our mainstream radio and television channels pulled all their planned schedules and replaced them with sombre music and programmes about the life of the Prince. I was surprised at the level of coverage given to his passing, dare I say it because of his age, but it seems it had all been planned out for some time, so went ahead. In consequence, it no longer seemed appropriate for me to write a jokey blog post combined with upbeat music.

The Queen with her Prince – Because of their height difference there are so many pictures just like this.

It kind of feels like the end of an era for those of us of a certain age. For as long as I can remember the Prince was always there by the Queen’s side and their work ethic over the last 70 plus years has been phenomenal. He had the good looks of a Hollywood star as a younger man and my mum always had a bit of a crush on him I think. Although his naval career was cut short after his father-in-law the king died prematurely, he carved out a role for himself that included work on conservation (long before it became obvious it was going to be important) and the setting up of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme which has helped millions of young people around the world find a confidence to do things that wouldn’t normally have been open to them. He made the odd gaffe, as we all know, but who wouldn’t when having to make small talk and break the ice at hundreds of engagements per year.

It was his time. He reached the age of almost a 100 without having to endure too many of the usual indignities of old age, and that would have suited him just fine. His wife is a pragmatic and stoic woman who will not crumble. They are the last of their kind I suspect.

Ironically I had planned to write a post about old age last Saturday, as I am finally able to enter my mum’s care home after an absence of over a year. It is a very different experience however, as even with the staff and residents all having had their full quota of vaccinations, a half-hour visit now takes around three hours. There is a lot of form filling to be done then I have to have a covid test and wait in the car for the result. Once given the all-clear there is much hand-washing/sanitising and temperature checking before being dressed in the required PPE. A convoluted walk to her room using fire escape doors and staircases then follows after which I am shown the seat I must not move from for the duration of the visit. My mum gets another chair several metres away but of course doesn’t understand why it can’t be like it used to be – But she is being kept safe, as she has been, very successfully, for the last year and a bit.

We chose her particular care home as it had so many fine features, like a hair salon, a little cinema, two coffee shops and a steady stream of visiting musicians who came to entertain. This last year she has had to predominantly stay in her room and the doors to the salon, cinema and coffee shops have remained firmly closed – But she has been kept safe. The average length of stay in a care home is two and a half years as by it’s very nature it is for those who can no longer look after themselves. In the 13 months since the pandemic began many of the residents have passed away from natural causes. They spent the last few months of their lives alone in their rooms with no visits from family and friends – But they were kept safe from the virus.

I am being a tad sarcastic I know, but it does gall me a little that we could have bought a small flat for DD with the money it has taken to keep my mum captive in her room for the last year. It really wasn’t supposed to be like this but I don’t suppose the care homes had much of a choice after those initial outbreaks at the start of the pandemic. I do question however whether those that are being kept safe are going to live long enough to see the end of restrictions to visits and have their fine facilities open again for business. My mum no longer recognises her granddaughter in pictures, as she hasn’t seen her for over a year. Hopefully a balance can soon be found where things can open up a bit more without compromising safety.

Another couple who got married in the 1950s, my mum and dad.

My mum was never what you would have called a music buff, but like many other ladies of her generation she did enjoy some of the artists who appeared on mainstream Saturday night television shows back in the day. I have over the years shared some of her favourites around here, Jim Reeves and Andy Williams come to mind. Another chap she was definitely fond of was Val Doonican who regularly appeared on our screens dressed in some very fine knitwear. His big hit Walk Tall from 1964 comes to mind as it also makes me think of Prince Philip, who although not actually that tall, always gave that impression because of how he carried himself, right to the end. In the US the song was recorded by, and was also a hit for, Faron Young.

Walk Tall by Faron Young:

I think I needed to write this one as it has been upsetting over the last year being kept at arms length from the care home where my mum lives. It does also make you ponder on what might be to come. The Who sang about not wanting to grow old but two of them are most definitely heading that way and looking good on it I must say. We don’t know what lies ahead which is probably a good thing. For ladies like my mum the care home route worked well, until the pandemic came along. Now, not so much.

Until next time…

Walk Tall Lyrics
(Song by Don Wayne)

Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
That’s what my mama told me when I was about knee high
She said son, be a proud man and hold your head up high
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye

All through the years that I grew up, ma taught these things to me
But I was young and foolish then and much too blind to see
I ignored the things she said as if I’d never heard
Now I see and understand the wisdom of her words

Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
That’s what my mama told me when I was about knee high
She said, son, be a proud man and hold your head up high
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye

I started goin’ places where the youngsters shouldn’t go
I got to know the kind of girls it’s better not to know
I fell in with a bad crowd and laughed and drank with them
Through the laughter mama’s words would echo now and then

Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
That’s what my mama told me when I was about knee high
She said, son, be a proud man and hold your head up high
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye

I got in trouble with the law and I’m in prison now
Through these prison bars I see things so much different now
I’ve got one year left to serve and when my time is done
I’ll walk tall and straight and make ma proud to call me son

Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
That’s what my mama told me when I was about knee high
She said, son, be a proud man and hold your head up high
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye

Songs Written In Tribute #2 – ‘Tunic (Song For Karen)’ by Sonic Youth

Welcome back to this occasional series where I plan to write about songs written as a tribute to artists who have gone before. I will also always share something by the recipient of the tribute.

Sonic Youth were an American band I was not very familiar with, but once I discovered they had written a song about the late, great Karen Carpenter I knew it would have to be included in this series. If you know the story of how Karen lost her life to anorexia at the very young age of 32, it makes for sober listening.

Tunic (Song For Karen) by Sonic Youth:


Kim Gordon, from Sonic Youth, was a massive Carpenters fan and Tunic (Song For Karen) is a powerful homage. She imagined her happy in heaven, looking down at her brother Richard.

“I was trying to put myself into Karen’s body. It was like she had so little control over her life, just like a teenager – they have so little control over what’s happening to them, that one way they can get it is through what they eat or don’t eat. Also I think she lost her identity, it got smaller and smaller. And there have been times when I feel I’ve lost mine. When people come and ask me about being famous or whatever and I don’t feel that, it’s not me. But it makes me think about it. The music is definitely about the darker side. But I also wanted to liberate Karen into heaven.”

Karen on the left, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth on the right

As it’s a Monday, and as it’s rainy here today, there can only be one song choice from the Carpenters vast back catalogue. Rainy Days And Mondays is one of my favourite songs but you do have to be in a pretty good place, mentally, to listen it. I used to have a friend who loved nothing more than to spend an evening in a darkened room listening to melancholy music, but it’s not something I’ve ever mastered without getting a bit blue. The song was written by Paul Williams but Karen always made any song her own, and when you listen to the vocals here, well, it’s all just so sad.

Rainy Days and Mondays by the Carpenters:


I have watched a couple of documentaries in the last fortnight about suicide, one made by the family of Caroline Flack (who sadly took her own life just over a year ago) and one by Roman Kemp called Our Silent Emergency (prompted by his best friend’s suicide). The thing that struck me most was that in both cases the people who died were surrounded by people who loved them, and who would have gone out of their way to help them, but in the end it just wasn’t enough. Vile trolling on social media was most definitely a factor in Caroline’s death, but for young men, who find it hard to talk openly about their worries, silence is the biggest factor.

Looking back at the years when I watched the Carpenters on television, it was obvious something was very wrong. We didn’t know it at the time but Karen’s death was a long slow suicide, right in front of our eyes. She never lost her beautiful voice, but by the end of her life she was a hollow-eyed, shell of the girl she had been behind the drum kit. She had millions of fans who adored her, but like Caroline she struggled with life in the spotlight, and like Roman’s friend, she remained silent.

A bit of a sad one this, but as I said, I really felt the need to include it. Next time the material will hopefully be a little happier.

Sonic Youth

Tunic (Song For Karen) Lyrics
(Song by T. Moore, K. Gordon, L. Ranaldo, S. Shelly)

Dreaming, dreaming of a girl like me
Hey what are you waiting for, feeding, feeding me
I feel like I’m disappearing, getting smaller every day
But I look in the mirror, I’m bigger in every way

She said,
You aren’t never going anywhere
You aren’t never going anywhere
I ain’t never going anywhere
I ain’t never going anywhere

I’m in heaven now, I can see you Richard
Goodbye Hollywood, goodbye Downey, hello Janis
Hello Dennis, Elvis and all my brand new friends
I’m so glad you’re all here with me, until the very end

Dreaming, dreaming of how it’s supposed to be
But now this tunic’s spinning, around my arms and knees
I feel like I’m disappearing, getting smaller every day
But when I open my mouth to sing, I’m bigger in every way

She said,
You aren’t never going anywhere
You aren’t never going anywhere
I ain’t never going anywhere
I ain’t never going anywhere

Hey mom! Look I’m up here, I finally made it
I’m playing the drums again too
Don’t be sad, the band doesn’t sound half bad
And I remember mom, what you said
You said honey, you look so under-fed

Another green salad, another ice tea
There’s a tunic in the closet waiting just for me
I feel like I’m disappearing, getting smaller every day
But I look in your eyes, and I’m bigger in every way

She said,
You aren’t never going anywhere
You aren’t never going anywhere
I ain’t never going anywhere
I ain’t never going anywhere

Goodbye Richard, gotta go now
I’m finally on my own, but Dan’s got a gig
Keep the love lights glowing, little girl’s got the blues
I can still hear momma say: “honey don’t let it go to your head

Things We’ve Missed, ‘Saturday Night At The Movies’ and The Drifters

I don’t know about you but I’ve really missed cinema over the last 12 months. We have a great theatre/arts centre only minutes away from our house and most of my socialising used to take place there. As well as the large 800-seater auditorium, it has two cinemas, a smaller theatre, a restaurant/bar & coffee shop, as well as two performance/dance studios and rooms for classes and exhibitions. It has been closed for over a year now.

Our local theatre/arts centre

I am really looking forward to getting back to the cinema, but not sure at the moment how easy it’s going to be, what with many of the restrictions likely to carry on even after the vaccine rollout to all adults. Tough times lie ahead for our arts sector.

The song on the radio that reminded me how much I’m missing cinema, is this one, Saturday Night At The Movies by The Drifters. I can’t say the lyrics are that appropriate to my current situation, as it’s a long time since I’ve been ‘hugging with my baby last row in the balcony’. Also, I nowadays very much care about what ‘picture I see’, but it’s still a great song that harks back to the America of 1964, all about what they called ‘Going to the Movies’. For the record I still call it ‘Going to the Cinema’ (always have done) and my dad, who was a great fan back in the 40s & 50s, always called it ‘Going to the Pictures’. All depends on where, and when, you were born it seems.

Saturday Night At The Movies by The Drifters:


All this thinking about my favourite pastime led me down a rabbit hole, as I tried to remember the names of the many cinemas that used to exist in Aberdeen, where I spent much of the first half of my life. It’s been a trip down memory lane, and as I know a few Aberdonians visit this place, what is to follow might jog a few memories.

I’m pretty sure the first cinema I ever visited was with my primary school in the late 1960s and it was called Cosmo 2, situated on Diamond Street. Looking at these old pictures, it now makes sense that it had been converted from a stable building in 1936. After many changes in name/ownership over the years, it became Cosmo 2 in 1964 (Cosmo 1 was located in Glasgow) but closed for the final time in 1977. The film we went to see with the school was Disney’s Fantasia (link to the memorable scene with Mickey and the buckets), but the thing I still remember most was that we all got one of those purple lollipops that came in a little foil tray – Something you didn’t get in our village.

The Cosmo 2 on Diamond Street

Another cinema I went to whilst still in primary school was a much grander place altogether. It was the Majestic situated on Union Street, the city’s main thoroughfare, and this time it was to see Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I had been staying with my aunt and uncle in Aberdeen for some of the school holidays and my uncle had found some old complimentary tickets for the Majestic. My aunt and I headed into town and miraculously they accepted them, despite them being about 10 years old at the time (to be clear, we would still have paid to go in had they not). The Majestic was built on the site of an even older cinema and also opened in 1936, but it was eventually demolished in 1973, despite protests to save it.

The Majestic on Union Street

Names of some of the other cinemas that were still around when I was growing up in the Aberdeen area are as follows: Gaumont, Astoria, Odeon, ABC, Capitol, Cinema House, Grand Central, Playhouse and the Queens. The Capitol was also a theatre where we went to watch bands perform, but as a cinema it was where I went as a teenager to watch David Essex in the film Stardust (tagline: Show me a boy who never wanted to be a rock star and I’ll show you a liar). The Grand Central became the home of those naughty X-rated movies.

After moving into the city to live, the two most visited cinemas were the ABC and the Odeon, as both had three screens. The ABC was at the bottom of Union Street so just a short bus ride down King Street from Old Aberdeen where I lived as a student. Once I decanted into town, it was just a short walk up Justice Mill Lane to the Odeon, from my flat on Hardgate. On a summer’s evening we thought nothing of heading out for an ice-cream at the Baskins-Robbins shop on Rose Street before heading home via the cinema to watch a film. Happy days. In July 2000 the projectors stopped purring and the screens went black as the Odeon finally closed its doors – It was the last cinema left standing in the city centre. Some of the cinemas became nightspots, but most have now been replaced by health clubs, office blocks or flats.

The heyday of most of the cinemas mentioned above was probably the ’40s and ’50s when my dad was a big fan. In terms of competition, they really didn’t have much, and it would be a while before television took over so completely. By the 1970s, when I became a film fan, they were closing at an alarming rate but by that time the cinemas had seen better days and although some great films were made in that decade, the industry was somewhat in the doldrums for a time.

Once the large multiplexes began to be built on the edge of our towns there seemed to be a resurgence, and ‘Hollywood Blockbusters’ were being churned out to a bit of a formula, the budgets getting bigger and bigger every year. Of late however, even before the pandemic, I’ve noticed that our multiplex is just not getting the trade it used to, and there are now many special offers on ticket price (the Netflix effect?). It almost feels as if our cinemas are now food outlets that also happen to screen films. Why I like our local arts centre best, but popular mainly with the older generation, so not sure how confident its usual patrons will be in returning to the screens post-pandemic.

But I have become well and truly side-tracked by the history of local cinema. Getting back to The Drifters, I get really confused when I look at their various line-ups, as there were so many changes over the years. I am fairly confident however that lead vocalist on both Saturday Night At The Movies and this song from 1974, Kissin’ in the Back Row of the Movies (when they had a bit of a resurgence in the UK), was Johnny Moore. Yes, they did like to sing about the ‘Movies’, although more as a place to canoodle, rather than get absorbed by what’s taking place on the big screen!

Is your childhood cinema still standing or has it long gone? Are you, like me, missing being able to watch films on the big screen? Cross fingers things can open up again later in the year. I am really looking forward to it.

Until next time…

Saturday Night At The Movies Lyrics
(Song by Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman)

Well, Saturday night at eight o’clock
I know where I’m gonna go
I’m a-gonna pick my baby up
And take her to the picture show
Everybody in the neighborhood
Is dressing up to be there, too
And we’re gonna have a ball
Just like we always do

Saturday night at the movies
Who cares what picture you see
When you’re hugging with your baby
Last row in the balcony?

Well, there’s Technicolor and Cinemascope
A cast out of Hollywood
And the popcorn from the candy stand
Makes it all seem twice as good
There’s always lots of pretty girls
With figures they don’t try to hide
But they never can compare
To the girl sitting by my side

Saturday night at the movies
Who cares what picture you see
When you’re hugging with your baby
Last row in the balcony?

Oh, Saturday night at the movies
Who cares what picture you see
When you’re hugging with your baby
Last row in the balcony?

Whoa, Saturday night at the movies
Who cares what picture you see
When you’re hugging with your baby
Last row in the balcony?

Yeah, Saturday night at the movies

Songs Written In Tribute #1 – ‘When Smokey Sings’ by ABC

As a great fan of alphabetisation, I have often wondered how I could create “a series” by working my way through the 26 letters of our alphabet, in song, but impossible of course, as how on earth could you ever pick only one artist to suitably represent each letter. Had this series ever become a reality, it would have been a no-brainer to kick the whole thing off with the band ABC who had great success in the early 1980s, their album Lexicon of Love spawning no less than four top twenty singles.

The band came from Sheffield, a city that has a rich history of producing successful musicians. I’ve written about this around here before, but it seems twice as many people in Sheffield (percentage-wise) are engaged in the creative industries compared to the national average. The city suffered the collapse of the steel and coal industries in the ’70s and ’80s and there does seem to be a correlation – When work is no longer plentiful, young people have the time and energy to exercise their creativity which no doubt led to a flurry of artists from that city having peppered the charts over the years – Human League, Heaven 17, Pulp, Babybird, Moloko and The Arctic Monkeys, as well as the aforementioned ABC.

After hearing a song by ABC on the radio last week, it occurred to me that another series could be derived from one of their best-loved hits. Over the years songwriters have often paid tribute to artists who have gone before, and in 1987 ABC released When Smokey Sings, a tribute to the great Smokey Robinson. It narrowly missed the UK Top 10 but the song did give the group their biggest hit in the US. Here’s a reminder of how it sounds.

When Smokey Sings by ABC:

Martin Fry, the vocalist and writer of the song is looking very dapper in this clip, as many bands of the blue-eyed soul persuasion did in those days. He was usually dressed in a smart suit with big shoulder pads, and his short blond hair was always neatly blow-dried into place. It was the mid-80s, so of course there had to be a saxophone in the mix, but it really works, and I don’t think this song has dated much at all.

But how does it compare to something by the man himself? Well the song I most associate with Smokey Robinson & the Miracles is this one, Tears of a Clown, written in 1967 but becoming a No. 1 hit in the UK in 1970. Smokey Robinson had arrived at Berry Gordy’s Motown studios in 1957 with a book containing over 100 songs he had written whilst still a schoolboy, so a bit of a “boy wonder”.

Pagliacci, the Sad Clown

Talking of wonder, it was Stevie Wonder who came up with the music for Tears of a Clown with Smokey adding the lyrics later. He decided it sounded like circus music, so came up with lyrics based on the Italian opera Pagliacci all about a clown who must make the audience laugh while he weeps behind his makeup because his wife betrayed him – The sad clown.

Tears of a Clown by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles

Watching this clip, the set designers seem to have had a bit of a field day, as was often the case with light entertainment shows around that time. As someone said in the clip’s comments boxes, they probably went on to work on screen savers for Microsoft in later life. Like Martin Fry, Smokey and the boys are looking very dapper in their purple suits and bow ties, but this time, no big shoulder pads.

So, two songs written 20 years apart, one a tribute and one by the recipient of the tribute, but which artist do we now warm to most all these years later? On this occasion I’m going with Martin Fry and ABC, as their canon of work best fits my era. Controversial perhaps, but as our blogging friend Charity Chic always says, others may chose to disagree.

Until next time…

When Smokey Sings Lyrics
(Song by Martin Fry/Mark White)

Debonair lullabies
In melodies revealed
In deep despair on lonely nights
He knows just how you feel
The slyest rhymes, the sharpest suits
In miracles made real

Like a bird in flight on a hot sweet night
You know you’re right just to hold her tight
He soothes it right, makes it out of sight
And everything’s good in the world tonight

When Smokey sings, I hear violins
When Smokey sings, I forget everything
As she’s packing her things
As she’s spreading her wings
The front door might slam
But the back door it rings
And Smokey sings, he sings

Elegance in eloquence
For sale or rent or hire
Should I say yes and match his best
Then I would be a liar
Symphonies that soothe the rage
When lovers’ hearts catch fire

Like a bird in flight on a hot sweet night
You know you’re right just to hold her tight
He soothes it right, makes it out of sight
And everything’s good in the world tonight

When Smokey sings, I hear violins
When Smokey sings, I forget everything
As she’s packing her things
As she’s spreading her wings
Smashing the hell
With the heaven she brings
Then Smokey sings, he sings

When Smokey sings, I hear violins
When Smokey sings, I forget everything
As she’s packing her things
As she’s spreading her wings
She threw back the ring
When Smokey sings
Smokey sings
Smokey sings

A Better Week for Women, Taylor Swift and ‘The Lakes’

Last week I said I’d decided to delete all the draft posts I had backing up around here so that I could start again with a clean slate – Well, here is that clean slate, but already I’m torn between several blog ideas I’ve had over the last week, not all of them relating to music it must be said. I think I’m just going to have to accept that this blog has indeed morphed into something quite different from what was originally intended when I started out, but nothing wrong with that I suppose. There will always be a song(s) though, and that will never change.

I made no mention of it last weekend, but anyone watching the news that week will know it hadn’t been a good one for women. On International Women’s Day, a young, high-profile, mixed-race woman was lambasted and disbelieved by a white, middle-aged, male broadcaster (who trust me, could never have truly understood how she was feeling); the next day, the body of a murdered girl who had simply risked walking home on her own after dark, was found in Kent; at the weekend, those who met up for a peaceful vigil in the place where she had gone missing were found to be flouting covid restrictions, and there were ugly scenes of women being pinned to the ground and handcuffed by police.

As someone who comes from a long line of strong women who pretty much ran the show in their respective households (in a good way of course), I have always found it hard to personally relate to those who class themselves as feminists. Born at the start of the ’60s, by the time I reached adulthood all the hard work had been done (for which I am very grateful) and I have never felt that any barriers have been put in my way, other than those which were self-imposed. My working life was mainly in the public sector where the majority of my ‘bosses’ were always female, at one point all five departmental heads being of that gender. Life can be tough at various stages along the way, but if we all pulled together as a diverse group of humans (as opposed to humans with labels) it could all be so much easier. It seems we still have a way to go. As for walking home alone in the dark, it has always been something I’ve avoided unless absolutely necessary. It’s scary, for both sexes, and however much guidance is put out on how to make us feel less scared and vulnerable, I would always advise against it. Sad but true.

On the upside, the big winners at the Grammys this year were women, which was a first. Hopefully not purely down to a bias within the judging panel, so good to see. I haven’t been able to watch much of the show, but it seems it was all very covid-safe, which made it a bit of a different affair from the usual extravaganza. As Album Of The Year is usually the big one, here is something from Taylor Swift’s winning album folklore. The other ladies who did well were Beyoncé (she broke the record for all-time wins by a woman), Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa and Megan Thee Stallion.

Taylor’s new album was a bit of a surprise, even to her, as it was conceived during lockdown in 2020, after her planned tour had to be postponed. She describes it as a collection of songs and stories that flowed like ‘a stream of consciousness’. It consists of mellow ballads telling stories rooted in escapism and romanticism reflecting her desire for the music to have a lasting legacy, akin to folk songs. This song, the lakes, was inspired by a holiday Taylor once had in that very beautiful region of England called The Lake District (with Harry Styles, another big winner at the Grammys).

Take me to the lakes where all the poets went to die
I don’t belong, and my beloved, neither do you
Those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry
I’m setting off, but not without my muse

In carrying out a modicum of research for Taylor’s new album I discovered a term that is new to me, cottagecore, which is what the album’s artwork and aesthetic was based on. Apparently it reflects a movement that celebrates idealised rural life and is popular with Generation Z. It developed throughout the 2010s and values traditional skills and crafts such as baking and pottery. It’s obvious when trawling through the various television guides of an evening, that programmes championing such traditional crafts are very much in vogue and we ourselves really enjoyed the final of the Great Pottery Throw Down last weekend (won by a woman). I myself spent much of this last week finishing off some tiny garments I had knitted all the pieces for, but never got round to making up – As a stress-buster, crafting takes some beating and I felt really chuffed when they were finished. All I need now is for the button shop to open up again, and for some grandchildren to dress them in (but no pressure DD).

Spring flowers and teeny weeny garments

Yet again I’ve veered way off topic and haven’t got round to some of the other ideas I had for today. I have one or two ‘new series’ ideas which I hope to explore soon though, so watch this space as they say.

As for Taylor Swift, she has become one of the best-selling artists of all time, in a relatively short space of time. I remember her being interviewed on a breakfast telly show many years ago when she was still a teenager. A clearly talented youngster, she and her family had relocated from Pennsylvania to Nashville when she was aged only 14, so that the young Taylor could pursue her career in country music. It was 2008 and she had just released her second album Fearless which I know DD was a fan of, and I seem to have some songs from it in my digital library.

Love Story by Taylor Swift:

Taylor wrote Love Story about a relationship that was not popular among the narrator’s family and friends. A common theme for teens, and one that’s been around since time immemorial – Why she decided to relate the song to the plot of Romeo and Juliet. Luckily for the couple in question, she replaced the play’s original tragic conclusion with a happy ending. The song was a huge commercial success and received widespread critical acclaim. The start of big things for an artist who has been able to cross over into other genres, transcending her country roots. I wouldn’t be surprised if like Dolly Parton, she manages to stay relevant and popular for many decades to come.

As for me, my poorly ankle is well and truly on the mend, so not long now before I can get about without ‘the boot’. In the meantime, I feel a bit more crafting coming on. Mr WIAA got me some new balls of wool this morning so the cottagecore aesthetic certainly is alive and well in our house at the moment. As for Taylor Swift, I hope she’s enjoyed her foray into yet another new genre – I think it suits her. Also, bit of trivia, she was named after singer/songwriter James Taylor so that was a masterstroke by her parents as it’s obviously brought her good luck (although with her prodigious talent I don’t think she needed a bit of it).

Until next time…

the lakes lyrics
(Song by Taylor Swift)

Is it romantic how all my elegies eulogize me?
I’m not cut out for all these cynical clones
These hunters with cell phones

Take me to the lakes, where all the poets went to die
I don’t belong and, my beloved, neither do you
Those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry
I’m setting off, but not without my muse

What should be over burrowed under my skin
In heart-stopping waves of hurt
I’ve come too far to watch some name-dropping sleaze
Tell me what are my Wordsworth

Take me to the lakes, where all the poets went to die
I don’t belong and, my beloved, neither do you
Those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry
I’m setting off, but not without my muse

I want auroras and sad prose
I want to watch wisteria grow right over my bare feet
‘Cause I haven’t moved in years
And I want you right here
A red rose grew up out of ice frozen ground
With no one around to tweet it
While I bathe in cliff-side pools
With my calamitous love and insurmountable grief

Take me to the lakes, where all the poets went to die
I don’t belong and, my beloved, neither do you
Those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry
I’m setting off, but not without my muse
No, not without you

One Year On, Ian Dury and ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’

I shared my first pandemic-related post (called Blindsided) this same weekend last year and since then there have been many, many more. I’m glad I have documented all the ups and downs (mainly downs to be fair) of the past 12 months as I no longer keep a paper diary, so in the future it will be interesting to look back at this time and remind myself of how it all played out. Doesn’t really fit the remit of this blog however, which was always supposed to be a nostalgic journey through the tracks of my years.

Does this happen to other music bloggers I wonder – Do you run out of songs to write about and find that your blog has inadvertently veered into new territories? Of course we could never run out of songs per se as we are exposed to tens of thousands of them (more?) in the course of our lifetimes, but only so many really resonate with us and have an entertaining, personal story attached. That’s when the idea of creating ‘a series’ becomes appealing, as you have a theme to anchor you, and I’ve loved the ones I have shared so far. None of my recent ideas have worked out though, for various reasons. The Solar System in Song was supposed to take over from the Full Moon in Song, but once you get past Mars and Venus there is little left to work with (songs about Uranus anyone?).

So, I have done a bit of tidying up around here this week and got rid of all the draft (daft?) ideas that didn’t turn into anything. I have a clean slate to work on, which is quite appealing. I am aware my regular Saturday blog post has turned into a bit of a web-diary affair with an appropriate song thrown in, which I’m still fine with, but I think I really need to get back to revisiting the tracks of my years in some shape or form. Watch this space as they say.

Talking of web-diaries, nothing much to report this week other than that my poorly ankle continues to improve, after the tumble caused by a pesky pothole. I even went to the supermarket yesterday with Mr WIAA which was the first time I’ve ventured out since it happened. I’m never quite sure how fastidious most shoppers are about social distancing, but with my foot in a boot, I certainly got lots of distance as I navigated the aisles. It seems a physical manifestation of benign ill-health is easier to deal with, when it comes to social distancing, than a potentially lethal invisible virus, and there lies the problem I suppose.

But this is a music blog and I have actually been experiencing a bit of an earworm this week, caused by something heard on the radio. I had just finished reading the David Hepworth book Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Stars and particularly enjoyed the chapter on Ian Dury. He first formed a band in 1971 and although he didn’t actually sing, but rather spoke his lyrics, by 1978 he was one of the most successful acts in the country. Omnipresent around the Christmas of that year was Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick. When it came on the radio this week I was reminded just how great it still sounds, with no less than two saxophone solos (one of them on two different saxophones!). Ian wrote the lyrics in his usual rhyming style, and Chaz Jankel was responsible for the music, which features an impressive bassline.

Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick by Ian Dury and the Blockheads:


Watching this footage of Ian Dury and the Blockheads, I am also reminded of just what a great performer he was. Despite contracting polio at the age of seven, which resulted in the paralysis and withering of his left leg, shoulder and arm, he didn’t let it get in the way and adopted a distinctive pose at the mike stand. It is no surprise he also became an actor, appearing in many films throughout the ’80s and ’90s. He sadly died at the age of 57 in 2000, but his legacy lives on through his son Baxter Dury.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I realise I have just tagged on a song by someone who had a disability after describing my temporary disability. This is pure coincidence I can assure you. There is no doubt however that Ian’s journey through life was informed by his experiences, his lyrics often exploring the place of disabled people in what he called ‘normal land’ (Spasticus Autisticus).

As for me, if I am to carry on with this blogging malarkey for a while yet, I will have to up my game I think and try to get back to what it was all supposed to be about. I may have got rid of all the daft drafts, but I still have my ‘spreadsheet of ideas’ tucked away in the recesses of my computer. Time to look it out again perhaps.

Until next time…

Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick Lyrics
(Song by Ian Dury/Chaz Jankel)

In the deserts of Sudan
And the gardens of Japan
From Milan to Yucatán
Every woman, every man

Hit me with your rhythm stick
Hit me! Hit me!
Je t’adore, ich liebe dich
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!
Hit me with your rhythm stick
Hit me slowly, hit me quick
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!

In the wilds of Borneo
And the vineyards of Bordeaux
Eskimo, Arapaho
Move their body to and fro

Hit me with your rhythm stick
Hit me! Hit me!
Das ist gut, c’est fantastique
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!
Hit me with your rhythm stick
It’s nice to be a lunatic
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!

Hit me! Hit me! Hit!

In the dock of Tiger Bay
On the road to Mandalay
From Bombay to Santa Fé
Over the hills far away

Hit me with your rhythm stick
Hit me! Hit me!
C’est si bon, ist es nicht
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!
Hit me with your rhythm stick
Two fat persons, click, click, click
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me
!

Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!
Hit me!
Hit me!
Hit me!

Hit me!
Hit me!
Hit me! Hit me!

Hit me!
Hit me!
Hit me!
Hit me!
Hit me!
Hit me!
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!

Sofa Slouching, Tears For Fears and It’s A ‘Mad World’

Last weekend I recounted the tale of my little altercation with a pothole, and explained why my foot will be in a boot for the next few weeks. The week it happened I was in great pain but still managed to get about a bit, doing odd jobs around the house, and keeping up with the daily admin required to run a small business. This week I seem to have lost my mojo and have simply holed up on the sofa for much of the last seven days. To be fair I think this is what I’m supposed to be doing to give my poorly ankle a chance to repair, but I can’t remember having done such a thing for many a year. The reason I mention it, is that I’m a bit short on inspiration for the weekly blog post so will have to dig deep.

I remember this particular Saturday from last year really well as life was still unaffected by the pesky virus that has changed all our lives so much. I had spent the morning writing about the Young brothers of Australia (by way of Glasgow). Between them they had not only formed the Easybeats and AC/DC in the 60s/70s, but also Flash and the Pan in the 80s. I love finding out about rock and pop family trees, so it was a really enjoyable blog post to write (link here).

Later on that day we were going to have a bit of a reunion with old friends who were visiting the Highlands for the weekend. I spent the afternoon deciding what to wear and I styled my hair. By early evening we were on our way to the house of mutual friends on the other side of town, and after a short debate on whether we should just bump elbows or actually hug, we hugged (at that stage it still felt rude not to). We then spent the next few hours laughing and reminiscing about our various adventures back in the day. I can honestly say we didn’t discuss the virus much at all, other than wondering whether visitor attractions would be open for our forthcoming holidays.

But that was a year ago today, and unbelievably I don’t think we’ve been inside anyone else’s house since then. We’ve been in a couple of gardens, but with quite strict rules here in Scotland right through the pandemic, it’s all been about sticking to them, and staying at home. Last week I both stayed at home and stayed on the sofa and you know what…

it’s starting…

to drive…

me…

MAD!

Mad World by Tears For Fears:


This song was of course written by the 19-year-old Roland Orzabal from Tears For Fears, and sung by his bandmate Curt Smith. (That’s Roland dancing outside on the deck in the video clip.) The song was their first chart hit and reached the No. 3 spot in the UK Singles Chart in 1982. The album it came from, The Hurting, reached the top of the Album Chart the following year. Roland might well have been a bit depressed when he wrote the song, but after all the success they achieved over the next few years, I hope he then put it all behind him.

As for me, I’m not depressed, just a bit fed up at being locked down (because of my injured foot) during a lockdown. As mentioned above, the whole concept of ‘lockdown’ wasn’t even a thing this time last year, but the term is now bandied about willy nilly as if it’s always been in use. In reality it has just become a convenient way to describe the widescale imposing of restrictions in order to preserve the capacity of our NHS to care for us. I don’t deserve to feel sorry for myself at all, as touch wood none of my family has contracted the virus (that we know of), and so far we have kept the wolf from the door in terms of still being able to earn. I know there are many out there who have not been as fortunate, and of course our healthcare workers are now beyond exhausted.

As I sit here however, reminiscing about that fun night out with friends exactly a year ago, I can’t help pinching myself to check whether it’s all just been a bad dream. Whatever, it certainly has been a mad, mad world.

Until next time…

Mad World Lyrics
(Song by Roland Orzabal)

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places
Worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere
Going nowhere

And their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression
No expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow
No tomorrow

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
‘Cause I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very very
Mad world
Mad world
Mad world
Mad world

Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Made to feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen
Sit and listen

Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me
No one knew me
Hello, teacher, tell me what’s my lesson?
Look right through me
Look right through me

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
‘Cause I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very very
Mad world
Mad world
Mad world
Mad world

And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
‘Cause I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very very
Mad world
Mad world
Halargian world
Mad world

A Pesky Pothole, A Trip to A&E and X-Ray Spex

Well it was probably only a matter of time what with all this additional daily walking (for exercise), but in the end it was a pesky gravel-filled pothole that was my (literal) downfall and my left foot is now ensconced inside a muckle great boot. I’m getting used to it all now but it sounds as if I’m going to be out of action for around 4-6 weeks which isn’t great – A lockdown on top of a lockdown. As I’ve never broken a bone before, I’m going to write about my experience here, if nothing else just to remind myself to be more careful in the future (although in reality more likely down to bad luck).

My foot for the next few weeks!

It was a lovely sunny afternoon so we thought we’d fit in the daily walk (for exercise) just after lunch, as Mr WIAA had a really important job to get finished and in the post later on that afternoon. We are lucky enough to have a river flowing through our town with large islands in the middle linked to the banks by a network of ornate bridges. We had parked up at the entrance to the first bridge, traversed the islands, joined the road on the other side and were just on our way back round to the starting point when all of a sudden I found myself sprawled out on the road and in great pain. It being the road along the river, I immediately had visions of cars speeding towards me unable to stop, but thankfully it was a quiet afternoon. I was not dignified at all in my fall from grace, and to Mr WIAA’s great embarrassment I made loud yelping noises, which caused a couple of teenagers who had been standing nearby to quickly scarper.

Eventually we got my battered little body off the road and towards a low wall where I could take the weight off my obviously distressed ankle. A nice lady stopped to ask after me and said she would stay by my side whilst hubby went to get the car. The blood was by this time seeping through my right trouser leg and my left ankle was really swelling up. She thought we should go to A&E but I suspected Mr WIAA (who hurts himself all the time and just brushes it off) would think I was being a big baby…, and I was right. When he eventually got back with the car all he could think of was the job he had to get in the post, so we thanked the kind lady (who was a carer by profession – makes sense) and headed home.

Getting inside the house was a real effort as the drive is narrow and getting out of the car was difficult. The steps up to the front door were a bit of a hindrance too but once on the sofa with an ice pack on my ankle and a dressing on my knee (which refused to stop bleeding), I started to feel a bit better. The priority was “the job” however which I understood – As anyone who is self-employed will know, fulfilling deadlines is of paramount importance and a happy customer will return. Once back from the post office, hubby had another look at the ankle and decided it was probably a sprain although by this time DD had been messaged and was keen for us to visit A&E, just in case.

By 6pm the ankle was still very swollen, and although I’d managed to change into a pair of clean trousers the knee was still spurting blood, so I somehow managed to get into the back of the car with the aid of one of my mum’s old walking sticks and we headed up to our local hospital. During these covid times it’s all a bit different, and difficult. The injured person is the only one allowed in, so I had to mask up, use the hand sanitiser whilst balancing on one leg, and then manfully make my way to the reception area. I told the girl what had happened and she in turn told me to “take a seat”. Easy for you to say I thought.

Fortunately it was really quiet, but maybe it’s quiet all the time now, what with everyone working from home and people scared to go anywhere near a hospital. I got called over to a side room where we naturally had to go through all the covid screening questions re coughs, temperatures etc. Once finished there, I was again told to “take a seat”. Easy for you to say I thought.

In no time at all a wheelchair appeared (hallelujah) and I was taken along a labyrinth of newly built, covid-safe, chipboard corridors linking the waiting room to an area in the main hospital, where I got the once-over. An X-ray was required which was a relief as we would at least find out what had really happened. As I’d suspected my ankle had been fractured and a bone had been chipped, so off I went to get fitted with a support boot and have my knee seen to. It all happened in record time and so fast I forgot to ask all the pertinent questions, but it seems they want you in and out at the speed of light at the moment which is understandable, and high praise indeed to our wonderfully efficient NHS.

Back in the waiting room sitting in my wheelchair I phoned Mr WIAA, who had naturally just arrived home, thinking I might be some time. He turned and came straight back and was allowed in to wheel me out to the car. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t wearing one of those, “I told you so,” looks on my face but I said nothing. Getting into the house was easier this time, what with the boot, but not being able to bend my right knee was proving troublesome as it has remained for the rest of the week. I can sit at my computer for short bursts (which is why this has been written in record time) but a lot of reclining on the sofa will be required over the next few weeks it seems. All these months of staying fit and healthy, going on daily walks, and now my wings have been well and truly clipped – Sod’s law. At least I won’t have guests arriving at the holiday hideaway anytime soon.

But this is a music blog so what song to add to this particular story? I’ve never needed an X-ray before, so how about something from one of our favourite early punk rock bands, X-Ray Spex, headed up by the inimitable Poly Styrene.

Germ Free Adolescents by X-Ray Specs:


Poly Styrene (real name Marion Joan Elliott-Said) became the band’s public face, and remains one of punk’s most memorable front-women. She wore thick braces on her teeth and once said, “I wasn’t a sex symbol and if anybody tried to make me one I’d shave my head tomorrow”. Poly Styrene was inspired to form a band after seeing the Sex Pistols, and through their live performances, she and X-Ray Spex became one of the most talked about acts on the burgeoning punk rock scene. Their 1978 album Germfree Adolescents is widely regarded as a classic of the punk rock genre and spawned five singles, including the title track. Sadly Poly died of cancer in 2011 at the very young age of 53.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Don’t be like me, look where you’re going, or else a pesky pothole might trip you up and keep you out of action for weeks on end. Of course it could be a lot worse in that we are still severely limited in what we can do anyway, but if I get the call to come in for my vaccination, I’ll make damned sure I get myself and my boot down the local health centre pronto.

It’s a big birthday for Mr WIAA next week, and we had originally planned to have a joint celebration to make up for the damp squib that was my big birthday last year – That won’t be happening now and who would have thought back then that nine months on we’d still be in lockdown. Oh well, the big celebration will have to wait for another time now, but I must remember to get off the sofa for long enough to wrap his presents (fortunately all bought online).

Right, that’s long enough sitting at my desk, so I’ll shuffle off to treat my knee with some antiseptic. Although I’ve not been an adolescent for an awful long while, I most definitely want to stay germ-free!

Until next time…

Germ Free Adolescents Lyrics
(Song by Poly Styrene)

I know your antiseptic
Your deodorant smells nice
I’d like to get to know you
You’re deep frozen like the ice


She’s a germ free adolescent
Cleanliness is her obsession
Cleans her teeth ten times a day
Scrub away scrub away scrub away
The S.R. way….

You may get to touch her
If your gloves are sterilised
Rinse your mouth with listerine
Blow disinfectant in her eyes

Her phobia is infection
She needs one to survive
It’s her built-in protection
Without fear she’d give up and die

She’s a germ free adolescent
Cleanliness is her obsession
Cleans her teeth ten times a day
Scrub away scrub away scrub away
The S.R. way….

Postscript:

By sheer coincidence, a new film about the life of Poly Styrene, made by her daughter Celeste Bell, was released this week. It is called I Am A Cliché and here is an excerpt from the film’s website: “She introduced the world to a new sound of rebellion, using her unconventional voice to sing about identity, consumerism, postmodernism, and everything she saw unfolding in late 1970s Britain, with a rare prescience. As the frontwoman of X-Ray Spex, the Anglo-Somali punk musician was also a key inspiration for the riot grrrl and Afropunk movements.”

Sounds as if it would be worth a watch.

Zoom Side Effects, The Faces and ‘Stay With Me’

Well, how are we all doing? It occurred to me that for months now, all I seem to have written about around here is what I’ve been doing from the comfort of my own home – Reading, watching telly, my college course, helping Mr WIAA out with his business…, and so on. There are the walks and the trips to the supermarket, but all very local so nothing much to (literally) write home about.

A most unexpected and unwelcome outcome of lockdown is that I seem to have aged by about 10 years. This one is very much aimed at the ladies of my own age who drop by this place, as I would be very surprised if I feel alone in this. All down to the phenomenon called ‘Zoom Face’. Never before have we had to conduct most of our interactions with others via screens, and it leads to far too much time contemplating our own visages, resulting in a reverse Narcissus experience.

In a normal outward-looking life, we don’t have to spend much time at all perusing at our faces. Other than popping on a bit of mascara and lipstick in the morning (if you are so inclined), and fluffing up the hair with the drier, we tend not to spend that much time looking at our reflections. Nowadays, what with FaceTime calls, family Zoom quizzes and my online college course, all I seem to do is look at my face, and I think it’s made me develop some sort of body dysmorphia. We are usually seen as a complete package, and the essence of who we are comes down to a combination of our personalities, our minds, the kind of clothes we wear and our individual mannerisms, but we are now reduced to a badly lit, high definition… face.

I’ve written about faces that seem to have got younger around here before, but decided I’d give certain ladies in the entertainment industry a pass (Cher and Dolly). Both freely admit to having had ‘absolutely everything done’, but as they are both icons and neither seem to ever take themselves too seriously, I don’t begrudge them the squillions of dollars it must have taken one bit. It has now become very clear however that just about every female we see on our television screens (unless they are very young) has felt the need to go down the cosmetic surgery route, but after experiencing ‘Zoom Face’ myself, I kind of understand why. It was the advent of HD television that swung it apparently, and once you start with the Botox, there’s no going back. Like hair-colouring and leg-waxing, it just becomes a routine part of body maintenance for those in the public eye.

But where does that leave the rest of us who aren’t in the public eye? Feeling a bit shitty about ourselves it seems. I’m writing about all of this as if it’s a purely female problem but perhaps men experience the current reverse Narcissus phenomenon as well. Do tell.

But this is a music blog, I think, although I’m all over the place at the moment. What song would fit this post? At first I thought of Holding Back The Years by Simply Red but the lyrics aren’t really about the kind of holding back of years I’m talking about at all. So instead, I’m going to follow on from last time, when I wrote about the year 1971 in music. Two of the biggest albums of the year were by Rod Stewart (solo artist), and by the Faces (where Rod played lead singer). I’ve never quite got to grips with how the Small Faces morphed into the Faces, so maybe it’s time to find out.

The Small Faces were from London and formed in 1965. The group originally consisted of Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones, and Jimmy Winston, with Ian McLagan replacing Winston as the band’s keyboardist in 1966. The band was one of the most acclaimed and influential mod groups of the 1960s. They got their name because they were all under five feet six inches tall, the face part coming from the Who song, I’m The Face, which showed their mod allegiances. When their first and only No. 1 hit, All Or Nothing, made it to the top of the charts in 1966, it shared the spot with Yellow Submarine by the Beatles.

All Or Nothing by the Small Faces:


The band split up in early 1969, after Steve Marriott went on to form Humble Pie with Peter Frampton. The remaining band members changed their name to the Faces in 1969 when Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood joined. Both of them were much taller than the other members at the time, so the band wasn’t really ‘small’ any more. When touring, they were known for living a wild hedonistic lifestyle and were banned from many hotel chains.

Their big hit, Stay With Me, reached the No. 6 spot in the UK Singles Chart in 1971 and is the tale of Rita, is who is left under no illusion that she is anything other than a one-night stand. I don’t think family man Rod would get away with writing lyrics like that nowadays, but I suppose 50 years ago they were writing about what they knew, and girls like Rita were not exactly in short supply. It still sounds great, and not dated at all, but some of those lyrics are a tough listen. Funny how the theme of this post is ‘Faces’ and even in the song, reference is made to Rita’s countenance. It seems whatever other qualities we may possess, the one that carries the most weight (when it comes to first impressions) is facial beauty.

You won’t need too much persuading
I don’t mean to sound degrading
But with a face like that
You got nothing to laugh about

Stay With Me by the Faces:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I hope this is a short-lived dysmorphia that leaves me once things start to open up again but having done some research for this post, I know I’m not alone in feeling a bit blah… at the moment. The botulism injectors look as if they’re going to be working round the clock once we all get out there again. Another sad consequence of the pandemic.

As for the Small Faces and the Faces, I now understand the personnel changes along the way and how it led to a slight change in their moniker. Most of them are sadly no longer with us but a few of them still are, Ronnie still playing with the Rolling Stones, and Rod still doing his thing. They are both around the same age as Cher and Dolly pictured above. I questioned whether this obsession with looking young and unlined was just a problem for the female of the species, but it’s hard to tell really. Maybe we could ask Ronnie?

The happily lined and craggy Ronnie Wood – Way to go Ron, but wish we girls were allowed to do the same.

Until next time…

Stay With Me Lyrics
(Song by Rod Stewart/Ronnie Wood)

In the morning
Don’t say you love me
‘Cause I’ll only kick you out of the door

I know your name is Rita
‘Cause your perfume smelling sweeter
Since when I saw you down on the floor, guitar

You won’t need too much persuading
I don’t mean to sound degrading
But with a face like that
You got nothing to laugh about

Red lips hair and fingernails
I hear your a mean old Jezebel
Let’s go up stairs and read my tarot cards, c’mon

Stay with me
Stay with me
For tonight you better stay with me, oh yeah

Stay with me
Stay with me
For tonight you better stay with me, oh rock on

So in the morning
Please don’t say you love me
‘Cause you know I’ll only kick you out the door

Yea I’ll pay your cab fare home
You can even use my best cologne
Just don’t be here in the morning when I wake up, c’mon honey

Stay with me
Stay with me
‘Cause tonight you gonna stay with me
Sit down, get up, get down

Stay with me
Stay with me
‘Cause tonight your going stay with me
Hey, what’s your name again
Oh no, get down, whoo, hey, oh no, woo, get yourself home, slow down babe

Favourite Reads and 1971, the Start of the ‘Rock Era’

I know there are quite a few of us in my little blogging circle who prefer to write anonymously using an alias. It gives us an enormous sense of freedom as we can write about our daily lives, our innermost thoughts, and even hark back to the days of our youth, telling the tales of those times. Of late however, for one reason or another, a few more people in the real world have found out about this place than I might have liked, and although I’m sure they have better things to do than trawl through these pages, it does kind of affect the openness of the writing.

I’m mentioning this because I finally bit the bullet this week and shared the domain name with my course tutor. Regulars around here will know I joined the student body of my local college a couple of years ago, and the new semester has just begun. It got to the point I had mentioned my elusive ‘web-diary’ so often it was getting silly, so to offer up an explanation I sent her a link. As that link will land on the homepage, the pressure is on to make this next post a good one, which is a bit of an oxymoron, as when it comes to writing, pressure and quality never seem to go well together.

Ok, so I’ve had a bit of a wordy lead-in to this one, but I just wanted to get it out there that my course tutor Sara might drop by, and it’s making me nervous. Also, I haven’t really mentioned the fact it’s ostensibly a music blog that’s just grown arms and legs over the years, so it might come as a bit of a surprise.

Last time I wrote about all the great telly shows we’ve been fortunate enough to have at our disposal during these tough times of lockdown and restrictions. Prior to that I shared some of the pictures I’ve been taking on our daily walks and created a little montage. Another of my lockdown pastimes has been reading. Yes, lots and lots of reading, because that’s what students do isn’t it? (Do you think that’s enough to convince Sara?).

The background of choice for many a Zoom call, but have they all been read?

As it turns out, just like music, reading is for many of us as essential to life as the air we breathe, so simply part of our daily routine. Since starting my course, I’ve been keeping a record of what I’ve been reading, and like last time I’m happy to share my lockdown list. Again I’ll highlight my favourites, just in case you trust my judgement.

The complete works of Jenny Eclair (yes, another string to her bow), The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen, Why the Dutch are Different by Ben Coates (explains a lot!), Broken Greek by Peter Paphides, The Forensic Records Society by Magnus Mills), The Dressmaker’s Gift by Fiona Valpy, Department of the Peculiar… Goes Pop, 1&2 by Rol Hirst and Rob Wells (the latest comic book series from our talented blogging pal and his mate), Final Demand by Deborah Moggach, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, Queen Bee by Jane Fallon (Ricky Gervais’ other half), Tidelands by Philippa Gregory, The Switch by Beth O’Leary, Uncommon People and 1971, Never A Dull Moment both by David Hepworth.

A very rich and varied selection there and although maybe more aimed at a female market, I have been mighty impressed with Jenny Eclair’s output over the last few years and look forward to whatever she may publish next. On my list are a few books relating to the world of rock and pop, and Pete Paphides’ autobiography about growing up as part of a Greek family in 70’s/80s Britain, really resonated with me. Not because of the Greek part, but because he was a bit of a ‘rock and pop nerd’, and his relationship with radio chart shows, TOTP, and new albums, very much mirrored my own.

The two books below were in my Christmas stocking, and I’ve now finished both. David Hepworth is a fabulous writer and between these two books and the one by Pete Paphides, I have added more new words to my ‘new word notebook’ (it’s a thing), than from all the other books put together. In Uncommon People, the premise is that the era of the rock star came along in the mid-fifties but faded away in the last decade of the 20th century. There is a chapter for all of these ‘uncommon people’, starting with Little Richard in 1955 and ending with Kurt Cobain in 1994. As we often say around here, the 21st century has produced a totally different kind of artist what with the lack of physical product to covet and hold; the committee approach to making hit records; the importance of choreography; and, the mystique-destroying internet.

As for 1971, Never A Dull Moment, David reckoned that for a music fan like himself, having been born in 1950 was the equivalent of having won the winning ticket in the lottery of life, as he turned 21 at just the right time. On New Year’s Eve 1970, Paul McCartney issued a writ in London to wind up the Beatles, thus ending the ‘pop era’. The following day was 1971, and the first day of the ‘rock era’.

In the book, David chronicles those 12 months and it soon becomes clear that it was indeed an exceptional year. Many of those who first achieved stardom in 1971 – David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Elton John and Joni Mitchell – went on to have long careers, and looking at the Top 100 albums of the year, many have truly stood the test of time and are still being purchased 50 years on. Songs from some of these albums have on occasion found their way onto this blog and all of them from way before my peak time as a consumer of vinyl, but now just part of our musical heritage:

Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells A Story
Carole King – Tapestry

The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
Nick Drake – Bryter Layter
The Faces – A Nod’s As Good As A Wink To A Blind Man
Joni Mitchell – Blue
David Bowie – Hunky Dory
Nilsson – Nilsson Schmilsson
John Lennon – Imagine
The Carpenters – Carpenters
Isaac Hayes – Shaft
Cat Stevens – Teaser And The Firecat

etc, etc, etc…

For once, I’ll not get all wordy about the artist or the song, as if you’re reading this you probably already know more about them than I ever will. I’ll simply select three of my favourite songs from a few of the above albums and leave it at that. Hope you approve of my choices.

Reason To Believe by Rod Stewart:

I Feel The Earth Move by Carole King:

Wild Horses by the Rolling Stones:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I kind of got into my stride by the end of this post and forgot that people from the ‘real world’ might drop by. Whenever I’ve been in this position before, I soon regain my confidence, as it seems our family and friends are generally a lot less interested in what we write about than we might suppose. Just as well really.

As for my reading list above, hope I’ve given you a few ideas, as I was in turn by another blogger who frequents this place (he knows who he is). I’m always a sucker for rock and pop related volumes and autobiographies, and would thoroughly recommend the ones mentioned. For the record, a few examples of the new words added to my ‘new word notebook’ are as follows (every day’s a schoolday):

salmagundi – a pot pourri; a miscellaneous collection
gimcrack – cheap or showy ornament; a knick-knack
athwart
across from side to side; so as to be perverse or contradictory
bowdlerised – material removed from a text if deemed ‘improper’ making it weaker or less effective
ululating – a howl or wail as an expression of strong emotion (Yoko Ono was at times prevented from appearing on stage, for fear of her potential ululating!)


Do you wish you’d been born in 1950 in order to have experienced the music of 1971 at age 21, or are you happy with how the die was cast? Although 1971 was a remarkable year that gave us all these monumental albums, I’m personally happy with my own era, and still have the advantage of being able to continually make new discoveries. I think we probably all feel a bit like that, and long may it continue.

Until next time…

Reason To Believe Lyrics
(Song by Tim Hardin)

If I listened long enough to you
I’d find a way to believe that it’s all true
Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried
Still I look to find a reason to believe

Someone like you makes it hard to live without
somebody else
Someone like you makes it easy to give
never think about myself

If I gave you time to change my mind
I’d find a way just to leave the past behind
Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried
Still I look to find a reason to believe

If I listened long enough to you
I’d find a way to believe that it’s all true
Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried
Still I look to find a reason to believe

Someone like you makes it hard to live without
somebody else
Someone like you makes it easy to give
never think about myself