A Nostalgic Journey Through the Tracks of My Years
Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.
Listening to Lyin’ Eyes yesterday and reminiscing about The Eagles’ great music got me thinking about all the other ’70s American artists we loved to listen to. There were a group of them living in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles who collaborated to create amazing American country rock – Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne and Bob Seger.
For teenagers in rural Scotland, the lyrics in their songs conjured up something totally other-worldly – “Dark desert highways”, “Blue bayous” and “Tequila sunrises”. Also until then I hadn’t really listened to the lyrics of songs properly, it was always about the melody or the artist (typical teenage girl) but these guys were telling a whole story in a song. Yesterday’s Lyin’ Eyes tells an incredibly sad story and makes me realise how lucky I am to have married my best friend and not had to resort to “the cheatin’ side of town”. (One of the best lines ever in a song.)
Anyway, by chance when I was in the car today, this song came on the radio and although more from the soft rock/easy listening camp, it totally reminded me of those great American songs from that mid ’70s era. I’d Really Love To See You Tonight was in the UK Singles Chart in September 1976 and told the sweet story of a guy who just wanted to “hang out” with (probably) an old girlfriend, no strings attached. It was recorded by England Dan and John Ford Coley and was their biggest hit in the UK.
I’d Really Love To See You Tonight by England Dan & John Ford Coley:
They definitely weren’t teen idols (see picture below) but there is something about this song that I’ve always loved – What not to love about the line “there’s a warm wind blowing the stars around, and I’d really love to see you tonight”. Where we lived there was never, ever a warm wind blowing and the stars were usually hidden by cloud, so something really exotic and romantic-sounding.
I am partial to a “story song” and re-reading these lines, know that I’ve been there. Sometimes it’s just really nice to meet up with an old boyfriend, post-breakup, knowing you are never going to get back together but just to reminisce about good times. All very lovely until you bump into them with their new girlfriend, in which case the pain comes right back, but tolerable if you’ve put on a great outfit that day and perfected the hair and makeup. My 16-year-old self didn’t know about any of that as not really had any great romances yet, but boy did I enjoy listening to that line about the warm wind blowing the stars around.
I’d Really Love to See You Tonight Lyrics (Song by Parker McGee)
Hello, yeah, it’s been a while Not much, how ’bout you? I’m not sure why I called I guess I really just wanted to talk to you And I was thinking maybe later on We could get together for a while It’s been such a long time And I really do miss your smile
I’m not talking ’bout moving in And I don’t want to change your life But there’s a warm wind blowing the stars around And I’d really love to see you tonight
We could go walking through a windy park Or take a drive along the beach Or stay at home and watch tv You see, it really doesn’t matter much to me
I’m not talking ’bout moving in And I don’t want to change your life But there’s a warm wind blowing the stars around And I’d really love to see you tonight
I won’t ask for promises So you don’t have to lie We’ve both played that game before Say I love you, then say goodbye
After last week’s shock news of the death of David Bowie, I had hoped it would be some time before the blog would end up being about the death of another ’70s rock legend but here we are again. Woke up this morning to the news that Glenn Frey from The Eagles had died yesterday aged 67.
Got me thinking that we are maybe at the tipping point, where our post-war baby boomers who entered the music industry in the ’60s and ’70s and by their own admission lived a hedonistic drug-fuelled lifestyle, are now maybe running out of luck. I don’t know the details of his death and don’t really want to delve into all that, but a pattern is definitely emerging here. Again, as with Bowie, I am really sorry for his family and friends who will no longer be able to spend time with him but for the rest of us, we will always have those fantastic songs.
I have decided therefore to make today’s featured song Lyin’ Eyes from 1975 as it was one of The Eagles’ early ones where Frey performed lead vocals. If this blog is supposed to reflect the soundtrack to my life, Lyin’ Eyes definitely played a large part in forming the soundtrack to the mid ’70s. I was still at school and not really old enough for pubs and clubs, but local bands were regularly booked to play the town and village halls in our area. Their music of choice tended to be cover versions of songs by soft rock bands such as The Eagles, and Lyin’ Eyes (all 6 minutes of it) was most definitely a favourite. If a boy you weren’t too keen on asked you to dance, but you were far too polite to refuse, it was a very long song.
Lyin’ Eyes by The Eagles:
By the time we got to 6th year at school, everyone owned their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 album and many an evening was spent hanging out with friends listening to it. I have just double-checked but already knew that Lyin’ Eyes was track number 3 on side 1. I miss that nowadays with digital downloads – We knew exactly where, on every piece of vinyl, our favourite tracks lay. The technology of the day didn’t involve touchscreens or keyboards, you simply had to pick up the arm of the record-player and place it gently on the record – If you had good control and eyesight you could seamlessly jump straight to the song of choice and in my case it was often Lyin’ Eyes. RIP Glenn.
Lyin’ Eyes Lyrics (Song by Don Henley/Glenn Frey)
City girls just seem to find out early How to open doors with just a smile A rich old man And she won’t have to worry She’ll dress up all in lace and go in style
Late at night a big old house gets lonely I guess every form of refuge has its price And it breaks her heart to think her love is Only given to a man with hands as cold as ice
So she tells him she must go out for the evening To comfort an old friend who’s feelin’ down But he knows where she’s goin’ as she’s leavin’ She is headed for the cheatin’ side of town
You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes And your smile is a thin disguise I thought by now you’d realize There ain’t no way to hide your lyin eyes
On the other side of town a boy is waiting with fiery eyes and dreams no one could steal She drives on through the night anticipating ‘Cause he makes her feel the way she used to feel
She rushes to his arms, They fall together She whispers that it’s only for awhile She swears that soon she’ll be comin’ back forever She pulls away and leaves him with a smile
You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes And your smile is a thin disguise I thought by now you’d realize There ain’t no way to hide you lyin’ eyes
She gets up and pours herself a strong one And stares out at the stars up in the sky Another night, it’s gonna be a long one She draws the shade and hangs her head to cry
She wonders how it ever got this crazy She thinks about a boy she knew in school Did she get tired or did she just get lazy? She’s so far gone she feels just like a fool
My, oh my, you sure know how to arrange things You set it up so well, so carefully Ain’t it funny how your new life didn’t change things You’re still the same old girl you used to be
You can’t hide your lyin eyes And your smile is a thin disguise I thought by now you’d realize There ain’t no way to hide your lyin’ eyes There ain’t no way to hide your lyin’ eyes Honey, you can’t hide your lyin’ eyes
I’ve come to realise that although I had a plan for how I would select songs to write about, they end up choosing themselves. The death of David Bowie last week led me to spend a lot of time thinking about him and then with the death of Alan Rickman, that led me to thinking about songs from movies. Somehow we ended up with Careless Whisper by George Michael which was the first randomly chosen song of last week as it turned out but followed on very nicely from the post about other early ’80s post-New Romantic pop acts.
So, the soundtrack of our lives can come from a variety of sources and in my case it is as much from television shows and films as from the music charts – This afternoon when I switched on the radio, a French song was playing and it took me right back to the kid’s TV show from the 1960s, Belle and Sebastian. There were still only two channels available at that time on our television set in rural Scotland, so very few programmes to choose from. Belle was a Pyrenean mountain dog and every week from late 1967 to early 1968, Belle and Sebastian enchanted us all, in black and white, with their adventures. It was a French show set in the Alps, and dubbed into English by the BBC. The most memorable thing about it for me however was the deeply moving opening song performed by the boy who played Sebastian – L’Oiseau. Listening to it again just now, I can still picture that scene right at the beginning where you see young Sebastian scrambling up the snowy mountain-side with his big white dog, Belle.
The TV schedules at that time had many other European children’s dramas such as Tales from Europe (set in the most amazing Medieval locations) and the very best of them all – White Horses. This one was made by a Yugoslavian television company and followed the adventures of Julia and the beautiful Lipizanner horses raised on her Uncle Dimitri’s stud farm outside Belgrade. Again it was in black and white and again dubbed into English. First broadcast on British TV in 1968 it became a firm favourite especially with horse-loving little girls. The best bit of the show however was the theme song White Horses sung by Jackie Lee or, by the time it was released as a single in the April of that year, just Jacky. Some pieces of music just can’t help but make you feel good and this is most definitely one of them, often coming at the top of polls of the best TV theme song ever.
White Horses by Jacky:
What I do remember vividly however from this time of White Horses in the late ’60s, was that I was a very happy child. We were a family of three – My mum, dad and me, with my granny and grandad living next door. We had a big garden with vegetables, soft fruit, flowers and plenty of areas of grass to play on. There were neighbour’s children to play with and my cousins came to stay every school holiday. I realise now how lucky I was – Very different for many city-dwelling children back in those days, and different for nearly all children nowadays. All we would have needed to make it perfect was a white Lipizanner stallion and Jacky singing White Horses in the background. Ok I’ve gone too far now – I’ll sign out for today before it gets any more schmaltzy!
White Horses Lyrics (Song by Michael Carr/Ben Nisbet)
On white horses let me ride away To my world of dreams so far away Let me run To the sun.
To a world my heart can understand It’s a gentle warm and wonderland Far away Stars away
Where the clouds are made of candy floss As the day is born. When the stars are gone We’ll race to meet the dawn
So when I can only see the grey Of a sad and very lonely day That’s when I softly sigh On white horses Snowy white horses Let me ride away
The original premise of this blog was to write about a random piece of music heard on the radio, and in my case that is usually BBC Radio 2 nowadays. So many musical memories by the time you get to your mid-fifties that just about everything played on that station conjures up something, so it made sense. The Soundtrack of My Life would end up becoming The Story of My Life.
What appears to have happened is that this has been an exceptional week – David Bowie and Alan Rickman both died. This kind of threw me and instead of writing randomly, a lot of the week was spent looking back at songs associated with both of those people. Occurred to me that this is highly likely to become a feature of this blog as the music I remember from the 1960s onwards, would have been made by people if not a generation older than myself, certainly a good few years and sadly they will be approaching an advanced age by now. Enough of this maudlin talk however – Hoping there will be no more shock news this coming week or indeed for quite some time. Too much to take in.
So today I did try to stick to my original premise and when I turned on the radio this morning it was Steve Wright with his Sunday Love Songs. Not a fan but decided to stick with it. The first song was Love is All Around by The Troggs but ironically I have already written about that one this week so passed on it. The next was Careless Whisper by George Michael. Perfect, as this is one of my all-time favourite songs. It was released in the summer of 1984 and was George’s first solo effort, his work to date always having been with his best friend Andew Ridgeley, the other half of Wham!. Although they had started out as a duo it had become apparent that Ridgeley was mainly there for moral support as he didn’t sing, play an instrument or write the songs. To be fair, George has always said that he wouldn’t have had the confidence to start out in music if Andrew hadn’t been by his side so just as well it happened that way, but by 1984, it seems he needed a few solo projects.
Careless Whisper by George Michael:
It was summertime and George had yet again come up with an amazing-sounding song. The video was shot in Miami which added the necessary glamour, and the saxophone-playing gave it a sultry, jazzy sound. Sad lyrics but George was looking good and his teen-idol status went through the roof. Yes, lots of girls with his picture on their walls that summer!
As for me, I was still in the midst of my big hair, tanned skin, and pastel-coloured clothes and lipstick period – Unusual not to have been in the mid ’80s. I was living in a really nice flat with my best friends and had, for the first time in eight years, no exams to sit that summer. I know there was a lot of unemployment and social unrest at the time but if you were 24 and in work, life was not too shabby. In London, the term “yuppie” had been coined and although we weren’t earning “loadsamoney” (like the Harry Enfield character of the time) we were definitely young, urban and professional. A lot of partying was done that year and not a lot of saving for the future. The music in the background was a mixture of all that was popular at the time and it most definitely included George Michael with his big ballad – A slow dance number if ever there was one.
A slight downside to the year of partying in 1984 was that we all split up with our long-term University boyfriends. Still not sure if that would have happened if we hadn’t been having such a great social life but as careers took off, more time was being spent with new colleagues and that ended up being the result. Or, could it have been that 1984 was the year we all decided to knit them a jumper? Months of hard work (fortunately I opted for a fairly simple pattern) and at the end of the year, no boyfriend. I for one even ended up at the doctors with a worryingly mysterious ailment – Turned out it was muscle strain from all the knitting (these were big, sporty lads and by the time you reached row 300 there was a lot of wool to support). Who knows, but at least in the midst of all the trauma and health scares, we had George Michael and Careless Whisper for solace.
Careless Whisper Lyrics (Song by George Michael)
I feel so unsure As I take your hand And lead you to the dance floor As the music dies Something in your eyes Calls to mind a silver screen And all it’s sad goodbyes
I’m never gonna dance again Guilty feet have got no rhythm Though it’s easy to pretend I know you’re not a fool I should have known better than to cheat a friend And waste a chance that I’ve been given So I’m never gonna dance again The way I danced with you
Time can never mend The careless whisper of a good friend To the heart and mind Ignorance is kind There’s no comfort in the truth
Pain is all you’ll find
Tonight the music seems so loud I wish that we could lose this crowd Maybe it’s better this way We’d hurt each other with the things we want to say We could have been so good together We could have lived this dance forever But now who’s gonna dance with me Please stay
Inevitably I got to thinking a lot about David Bowie this week and like many of us, have ended up spending a fair bit of time online looking back at his many guises. One that has thrown me a bit is the early ’80s “Let’s Dance” phase. Early ’70s David Bowie hid behind bizarre “spaceman” characters but by 1983 he had gone seriously mainstream – Or was he playing another character? I heard him say in an interview that he felt far more confident on stage playing a character such as Ziggy but by 36, as he would have been by this time, it looks as if he was confident enough to be himself. Amazingly, after looking pale, thin, malnourished and let’s be honest, a tad weird a decade earlier, he had turned into one of the best-looking guys in the industry (we’ll ignore the teeth). This was the post-New Romantic period and he was very much adopting the sharp, elegant look that bands such as Duran Duran, ABC and Japan favoured.
I am still unsure who copied who, but in 1983 there were a series of events that seemed to tie in and feed off each other. He released the “Let’s Dance” album that year and a string of hits came from it starting off with the title track in March. He had approached Nile Rodgers to act as producer on it, and his brief was to “give him hit singles“, which is exactly what he did. A massive world tour followed and I remember my flatmate of the time heading downtown with her sleeping bag in order to queue all night for tickets (no computers or Ticketmaster in those days, we were old school).
We knew that Bowie had a film coming out later that summer, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, and leading the advance party were David Sylvian (ex of the band Japan) and Ryuichi Sakamoto (also an actor in the film), who had produced the soundtrack album. The beautiful song Forbidden Colours was released in July 1983 and looking at a picture of David Sylvian now, there is more than a passing resemblance to Bowie at that time although not as suntanned (as he hadn’t been on location in a tropical rainforest).
The lyrics again are a bit bizarre but the theme is a forbidden love, which is also reflected in the storyline of the film. I do remember going to see it when it came out the following month and Bowie turned in a really good performance. A male colleague from that era had also been to see it and when I asked his opinion he decided that there had been something lacking, in that there were no women in it. That would of course have been because it was set in a male prisoner of war camp!
Forbidden Colours by David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto:
So, unlike with his earlier creations, David Bowie in 1983 was very much part of the zeitgeist making highly commercial pop music and looking and dressing very much like his younger counterparts. He was back acting, and feeding off the people he worked with. Happy memories of those days – The real start of big ’80s hair (perms and bleaching were de rigueur), bold bright earrings, tanned skin, and lots of white shoes and clothing. Those of us who got on board with the whole look have probably ruined our hair and skin in the process but boy did we feel good when stepping out for a “night on the town”.
Forbidden Colours Lyrics (Song by David Sylvian/Ryuichi Sakamoto)
The wounds on your hands never seem to heal
I thought all I needed was to believe
Here am I, a lifetime away from you
The blood of Christ, or the beat of my heart
My love wears forbidden colours
My life believes
Senseless years thunder by Millions are willing to give their lives for you Does nothing live on?
Learning to cope with feelings aroused in me My hands in the soil, buried inside of myself My love wears forbidden colours My life believes in you once again
I`ll go walking in circles While doubting the very ground beneath me Trying to show unquestioning faith in everything Here am I, a lifetime away from you The blood of Christ, or a change of heart
My love wears forbidden colours My life believes My love wears forbidden colours My life believes in you once again
I wrote yesterday about Bryan Adams’ monopolisation of the British music charts in 1991 with his movie song. 1994 was most definitely monopolised by another movie song – The Troggs’ Love Is All Around, this time recorded by Wet Wet Wet. As it turns out it would have beaten Bryan Adams record of 16 weeks at No. 1 had the band themselves not taken the decision to delete it from sale after week 15. They were fully aware by this time that everyone was fed up hearing it and some radio stations had even taken to banning it from the airwaves.
Love Is All Around by Wet Wet Wet:
The song had been attached to the fantastically popular film Four Weddings and a Funeral and yet again, droves of fans of the film took to purchasing possibly their first single in many a year. It hit the number one spot at the end of May and stayed there until October!
I remember going to see it that summer with my husband and his family who were home from abroad for a visit. Seemed like a good idea for a night out and I must admit to loving the film so much, I went back the following week for a second viewing. Hugh Grant had been around in films for a while but when Richard Curtis cast him as the smart, funny, good-looking but slightly awkward Charles in Four Weddings, he struck gold. The whole cast of mainly British actors (we’ll not mention Ms MacDowell as I think she was included to appease the American market) were fabulous and although set in “Richard Curtis-world” where everyone lives in stately homes or Notting Hill townhouses with no discernable income stream to match, the film was a tremendous success. When Liz Hurley hit the red carpet on Hugh Grant’s arm in the safety pin dress, her career took a discernable turn for the better also, so lots of winners here.
I expect the biggest winner of all was Reg Presley of The Troggs who had written the song in 1967 and had a top ten hit with it back then. Nearly 30 years on and here he was, the writer of the biggest-selling single of all time. Very nice for the pension pot.
Not too shabby either for Wet Wet Wet but sadly this was to be one of their last forays into the pop charts. They had started out in the ’80s as a Celtic Soul band but as happened with my earlier pop hero David Cassidy, the good looks (and incredibly smiley face) of lead singer Marti Pellow meant they quickly became teen idols. A long string of pop hits followed culminating with the truly massive Love Is All Around. As with many acts like Wet Wet Wet, they had great commercial success but really craved credibility – Hard to get both and when they went their separate ways, problems ensued. As the comedian Kevin Bridges commented in his latest standup routine, Marti Pellow must have been the only person to leave Clydebank, and become a heroin addict (no slur on Clydebank intended). All that seems to be behind him now however and he has become a bit of a West End star turning up in many big productions.
Something I never got to the bottom of however – All through his Wet Wet Wet career which included numerous TOTP appearances, Marti sported the short, spikey haircut that boys from that era tended to have. All of a sudden he was belting out the now big production number that was Love Is All Around, sporting long, luscious locks. That was hair which would have taken years of growth and high-level maintenance. Still don’t know how he did it and probably never will!
Love Is All Around Lyrics (Song by Reg Presley)
I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my toes
Love is all around me
And so the feeling grows
It’s written on the wind It’s everywhere I go So if you really love me Come on and let it show
You know I love you, I always will My mind’s made up by the way that I feel There’s no beginning, there’ll be no end ‘Cause on my love you can depend
I see your face before me As I lay on my bed I kinda get to thinking Of all the things you said
You gave your promise to me and I gave mine to you I need someone beside me in everything I do
You know I love you, I always will My mind’s made up by the way that I feel There’s no beginning, there’ll be no end ‘Cause on my love you can depend
I am in disbelief – only four days into this blog and another of my heroes has died. Again at 69 and again of cancer. Didn’t know he had been ill.
Thought I’d first really noticed Alan Rickman in Truly, Madly, Deeply – A lovely little film with Julia Stevenson but it turns out that Die Hard came out first where he brilliantly played the villain Hans Gruber. He was familiar to me then, so he must have appeared on TV shows and films prior to that. He seems to have been the kind of actor who never played the leading man but kept popping up in supporting roles and stole the show. In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, he definitely stole the show playing the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham. Kevin Costner was at the peak of his career around this time and although the film was a great success, I thought he was a bit underwhelming in it (give me Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood any day). Alan Rickman on the other hand turned in an amazing dramatic and comedic performance totally outshining his fellow actors. He has of course appeared in many, many films and theatre productions since, but most of us will remember him best as The Sheriff of Nottingham, Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies and as Emma Thompson’s foolish husband in Love Actually.
Thinking back to 1991, I remember going to see Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves with my boyfriend (now husband) after returning from an early summer holiday in Greece. It was June, the start of summer, and we were already sporting glorious suntans. Little did I think that the title track from the movie (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, would still be at the top of the UK Singles Chart in October, long after the suntans had faded. Poor old Bryan Adams – He still holds the record for the most weeks at No. 1 in the UK and although it wouldn’t have done his bank balance any harm, for those of us who used to get quite excited about what topped the charts (sad I know), it ruined most of 1991. We ended up getting quite cross with Mr Adams through no fault of his own. All those people who didn’t usually buy records, rushed out to acquire it after enjoying the film. The same phenomenon happened three years later when Four Weddings and a Funeral was released. All those fans of the film went mad for Wet Wet Wet’s version of Love Is All Around and we had yet another summer long monopolisation of the No. 1 spot.
(Everything I Do) I Do It For You by Bryan Adams:
Anyway, I have now forgiven Bryan Adams for commandeering the 1991 chart and listening to the song again I have to concede that it is quite pleasing to the ear. And, a piano intro again, which seems to be forming a pattern here. I will now, as well as enjoying David Bowie’s back catalogue this weekend, look out for some Alan Rickman films to watch. Two heroes gone in four days, and both only 69 – Enough now. RIP Alan.
(Everything I Do) I Do It For You Lyrics
(Song by Bryan Adams)
Look into my eyes – you will see What you mean to me. Search your heart, search your soul And when you find me there you’ll search no more.
Don’t tell me it’s not worth tryin’ for. You can’t tell me it’s not worth dyin’ for. You know it’s true: Everything I do, I do it for you.
Look into your heart – you will find There’s nothin’ there to hide. Take me as I am, take my life. I would give it all, I would sacrifice.
There’s no love like your love And no other could give more love. There’s nowhere unless you’re there All the time, all the way, yeah.
Look into your heart, baby…
Oh, you can’t tell me it’s not worth tryin’ for. I can’t help it, there’s nothin’ I want more.
Yeah, I would fight for you, I’d lie for you, Walk the wire for you, yeah, I’d die for you
Thinking yesterday about my first crush (Davy Jones) inevitably led me to think of my second big crush, David Cassidy. Thankfully this David is still alive and well although now 65 which would have made him around 21 when he first came into my life in the early ’70s. He starred in The Partridge Family which was shown midweek in the kid’s TV slot just before the early evening news.
It was inevitable because of his amazing good looks and great singing voice that he would become a teen idol. There had been chart hits already with The Partridge Family but in April 1972 David had his first solo hit as himself, and not as Keith Partridge. Could It Be Forever was the perfect vehicle to cement David’s place as one of the two biggest “pop stars” of the day (the other being Donny Osmond but we’ll leave him for another time).
Looking back at the dates now, I realise that this song must have been around during the last few weeks spent at my Scottish primary school. It is also the first song that made me cry – I still remember those tears welling up as I listened to it being played on the radio. Young girls are highly emotional beings and at around 12, just when the hormones are kicking in, we have to leave the familiar surroundings and friendships of our junior school and enter the serious, scary world of secondary school. We end up losing our sanity a bit when it comes to our pop idols and behave in a totally irrational and frenzied manner. We buy all the magazines that have their pictures and create scrapbooks and fanzines. We cover our bedroom walls with their posters. We even iron picture transfers onto our pillowcases. (Yes guilty of all the above.) Of course we dream of them being our fantasy boyfriends, without really understanding what having a real boyfriend would mean.
The really frenzied behaviour however happens if we are ever lucky enough to see them in concert, or in the flesh, and whenever David came to Britain there were hordes of girls at the airport to greet him. It always amazes me when we see old footage of these scenes, that young girls simply headed off to Heathrow en masse unsupervised. We have become a nation who heavily supervises its young people until they are practically at the stage of leaving home – Wasn’t so in the early ’70s obviously. Also, the girls are practically on the tarmac and hanging off every balcony/rooftop vantage point. Compare that to the massive security operation nowadays of getting people shoeless, belt-less and scissor-less through to their plane of choice.
As with most teen idols, David’s time in the sun didn’t last and it was practically all over by 1974. He had become disillusioned with it all by then anyway and who could blame him. It can be a curse to be that good-looking as you are going to have a stratospheric rise to fame but then lose all control of your life in the process. Unless you are incredibly grounded, realistic and well-managed you will find it very hard to cope with life when it’s over. He also suffered the double-whammy of having a fan die in the crush at one of his concerts which he never quite got over. He did attempt a bit of a comeback in the ’80s but it was short-lived. Young girls are very fickle and grow up fast – Once they’ve moved on to “real boys” the career is over.
As for me I will enjoy listening once more to the first song that really made me weep. His second solo single How Can I Be Sure didn’t just make me weep but sob. Yes the hormones and move to “big school” were really kicking in by then. Thank goodness for DC Thomson of Dundee who could be relied upon weekly, to provide plenty of reasonably priced centrefold posters of our idol in Jackie magazine. Hope this David lives a long and healthy life.
Could It Be Forever Lyrics (Song by Wes Farrell/Danny Janssen)
Could it be forever or is my mind just rambling on Well I touched you once and I kissed you once And I feel like you’re mine Well I feel like you’re mine and I see in your face I’m not wrong to have these feelings Well I feel like you’re mine and I’ve never known a time before That’s had so many meanings
Could it be forever or is my mind just wasting time Well I don’t think so because you let me know You make me feel like you’re mine Well I feel like you’re mine and I can’t remember When the feelings have been stronger And all I know is I can’t let go of you Or be with you just a little while longer
All my feelings come together All of me is here Never known when I felt better Cause I know this won’t disappear
But could it be forever Or is my mind just rambling on Maybe it is, if it is Then I’ll be moving on
Well, I feel like you’re mine And I see in your face I’m not wrong to have these feelings Well, I feel like you’re mine I’ve never known a time before That’s had so many meanings
Day two after news broke of the death of David Bowie (Jones) and the media still awash with trubutes and commentaries about the icon.
Got me to thinking about that other David Jones who also died prematurely in his sixties – Davy Jones of The Monkees. My first big crush. Their television show (also called The Monkees) ran from 1966-68 and I was an avid viewer. Bright clothes, great pop songs, psychedelic sets and anarchic, slapstick behaviour – What not to like for a seven-year-old. Their scheduled slot was teatime on a Saturday night so perfect for family viewing.
They very cunningly managed to highjack Neil Diamond’s best songs from that era and made them their own, no doubt contributing handsomely to Mr Diamond’s royalty cheques. My favourite was this one however from November 1967 and not a Neil Diamond song as it turns out – Daydream Believer. You only have to hear the first few notes on the piano to recognise what is about to come and boy are you in for a treat (starts at 0:20).
Daydream Believer by The Monkees:
Again, it makes me sad to think of those days nearly 50 years ago watching the impossibly cute Davy Jones leading the rest of the boys with his tamborine in hand. His diminutive size meant that he never really seemed to grow old and was a very handsome man right up until his death. After a spell of acting as a youth (Ena Sharples’ nephew in early Coronation Street) he became an apprentice jockey, but after taking up the role of the Artful Dodger in the West End, his show business path was set. He contined to have a lifelong love of horses however, and died aged just 66 after being out riding.
The Monkees never really did reunite properly although there were a few mini reunions over the years, the last being in 2011 to celebrate their 45th anniversary. The main reason was that they could never get Mike Nesmith on-board. His mother had invented and patented correction fluid, “Tippex”, so he inadvertently became a Tippex millionaire who didn’t really need the money and preferred to concentrate on his own projects – Very Rock ‘n’ Roll!
So from one David Jones (a Londoner turned Berliner turned New Yorker) to another David Jones (a Mancunian turned Angeleno turned Floridian) in two blogs. And both dead by the age of 70 – Far, far too young.
Daydream Believer Lyrics
(Song by John Stewart)
Oh, I could hide ‘neath the wings Of the bluebird as she sings The six o’clock alarm would never ring But it rings and I rise Wipe the sleep out of my eyes The shavin’ razor’s cold and it stings
Cheer up, sleepy Jean Oh, what can it mean To a daydream believer And a homecoming queen
You once thought of me As a white knight on a steed Now you know how happy I can be Oh, and our good times start and end Without dollar one to spend But how much, baby, do we really need
Ironically I had already chosen this day, 11th January 2016, to start a blog. The idea behind it was to jot down those memories conjured up by a random piece of music heard in the course of the day. And what a day it turned out to be. News broke this morning, as we were all waking up, that David Bowie had died after an 18 month struggle with cancer. I had noticed a few days earlier that he’d just released a new album to coincide with his 69th birthday (suddenly prolific in his later years after a long gap with little output), but like most of us I was unaware that he was so ill. A video clip showed him with stylish short cropped hair, smartly dressed, but looking old I thought which made me sad. Sad perhaps because of my own mortality. If our musical heroes were getting old then so must we. This morning’s news confirmed that “The Man Who Fell To Earth” was indeed not immortal.
Only three times in my life can I remember this much media attention having been paid to the death of a person from the world of music, and they were:
Elvis Presley, who died the day I went back to school after the long summer holidays in 1977. I was only 17 and had been a big Elvis fan mainly because of the movies we had watched on television and then the massive events that were the ’68 Comeback Special and the ’73 Aloha from Hawaii concert broadcast live around the world. In a career stretching back to the mid 1950s it’s sad that so many only remember Elvis in the later jumpsuited, Vegas years when until the early 1970s he truly was still the King of Rock and Roll.
John Lennon, shot down by Mark Chapman at the end of 1980. I was a 20-year-old student at the time and stayed in bed most of the morning listening to BBC Radio 1 which played the music of both The Beatles and Lennon himself. Andy Peebles, a DJ of the day had recently recorded an interview with Lennon, so he found himself suddenly the man of the moment in terms of contributing to the day’s output.
Michael Jackson, the King of Pop. It was June 2009 and we had just come back from my daughter’s school’s version of Britain’s Got Talent. She was one of eight performers that night (one of three solo singers) and was by far the youngest entrant at 13. After tremendous praise from our local panel of celebrity judges who forecast her being “snapped up by Simon Cowell”, she ended up not being placed so was upset. A tremendous rush of adrenaline following weeks of preparation which led to disappointment and the low that comes with it. It was when we got home that we heard of the death of Michael Jackson and as we watched footage of him as a very young boy totally outshining his brothers with his singing and dancing, it did make me glad that my 13-year-old daughter had perhaps had her wings clipped as I can think of very few child stars who have gone on to have a long and happy life.
And now we have Mr Bowie. At 69 he has actually had a long life compared to the others listed above who died at 42, 40 and 50 respectively. It is sad that his family and friends will no longer be able to talk with him, work with him and spend time with him but I am not sure if it is true that it is “sad” for the rest of us who did not know him other than through his work. It is more a massive shock that someone who has been around for such a long time as part of the fabric of Britain’s music culture, is suddenly no longer with us. Back to the mortality, reality check. It is sad that his body of work is now complete but what a body of work to leave – It will be added to, new material will be found and it will be reworked for as long as people have the appetite to do so. With a creative force such as Bowie whose work never did fit neatly into a particular genre or period, it will keep on appealing to new fans.
So back to the original premise to this blog – The random piece of music heard in the course of the day. I’m going to pick Life On Mars?.
Life On Mars? by David Bowie:
I have watched many video clips of Ziggy Stardust today and heard much analysis of how Bowie pushed boundaries with his androgyny, but here’s the thing, when Life on Mars? hit the charts in June 1973, I was just a 13-year-old girl who loved Top of the Pops and Radio 1’s chart show. I sat poised with my cassette recorder and microphone on a Thursday night at 7.30pm desperately trying to capture my favourite songs with no annoying applause or voice-overs. I liked Life on Mars? a lot, because it’s a great sounding song, but at 13 I really wouldn’t have understood what androgyny meant and having taken in lots of telly from the mid ’60s onward, he was just another flamboyantly dressed pop star (we’d had the hippy era already and glam rock was well and truly underway by this time). Looking now at the lyrics, they are fairly bizarre and my 13-year-old self wouldn’t have given them much thought. The weirdest thing about Life on Mars? foray into the charts is that it coincided with The Laughing Gnome’s second release after failing miserably to make an impact first time around in 1967. Not part of his grand plan to have both songs around at the same time I imagine but the economics of the recording industry being as they are, his former record company weren’t going to miss out on an income stream from a now popular artist.
My older self now sees what a massive a creative talent David Bowie was and I look forward to revisiting his back catalogue as we all do when something like this happens. When I said earlier that he was just another flamboyantly dressed pop star I will concede that he was indeed the most flamboyant of them all. The striped, sleeveless swimsuit affair and the one-legged jumpsuit ensembles are still deeply troubling to look at today! I will try to make sense of it all although I am not entirely sure we were ever meant to. He was unusual in that he was primarily an actor and artist whose biggest success came in the music industry. Only an actor could reinvent himself, so often, so successfully, into so many great characters.
But when all’s said and done I would just like to know, once and for all, how to pronounce his name – Is is Bow-ie or Bo-wie? Still working that one out but maybe that’s how it should be for the master of reinvention. RIP David.
Life On Mars? Lyrics
(Song by David Bowie)
It’s a god-awful small affair To the girl with the mousy hair But her mummy is yelling “No” And her daddy has told her to go But her friend is nowhere to be seen Now she walks through her sunken dream To the seat with the clearest view And she’s hooked to the silver screen But the film is a saddening bore For she’s lived it ten times or more She could spit in the eyes of fools As they ask her to focus on
Sailors fighting in the dance hall Oh man! Look at those cavemen go It’s the freakiest show Take a look at the Lawman Beating up the wrong guy Oh man! Wonder if he’ll ever know He’s in the best selling show Is there life on Mars?
It’s on America’s tortured brow That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow Now the workers have struck for fame ‘Cause Lennon’s on sale again See the mice in their million hordes From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads Rule Britannia is out of bounds To my mother, my dog, and clowns
But the film is a saddening bore ‘Cause I wrote it ten times or more It’s about to be writ again As I ask you to focus on…
A brilliant television series, first shown in 2006 was also called Life On Mars. The main character Sam Tyler went back in time to join the 1973 Manchester Police Force. It had a really clever fantasy-esque plotline and a great soundtrack of ’70s songs which made it a must-watch show, especially for me. It was inevitable that Life On Mars? the song, would be heavily used throughout the whole series and probably contributed to it becoming my favourite Bowie song.