Another Festive Ramble, Some Seasonal Globetrotting and ‘A Very Merry Christmas to You’

Well, it’s now or never, and I don’t mean Elvis’s version of O Sole Mio. In my seven years of blogging I’ve always written a few festive posts ahead of the big day, but none have so far been forthcoming this year. Life in the UK is a tad… challenging at the moment. Makes the writing of jolly upbeat posts harder than usual, but no reason not to try. As I’ve just mentioned Elvis, I think I’ll start the ball rolling with something from him, Blue Christmas, this performance from the ’68 Comeback Special. Was it his finest hour? Perhaps not, but it must have come close, and even sweeter as it came on the back of him being written off as an artist, after all those years holed up in Hollywood.


Quite an apt song to kick off with I think. For the past two years the festive season has been severely curtailed by the pandemic. The advice was always to keep all the doors and windows open if you were having the family round, which made things a bit cold and miserable. This year no-one can afford to both turn up the thermostat and celebrate Christmas, so again we’ll all turn blue with the cold. I’m jesting of course, or am I? It’s certainly going to be a tough time for many families. (At this point I have to share concern for my blogging buddies in the US, who if the forecasts are correct, are about to experience sub-zero temperatures of biblical proportions – please keep yourselves safe and warm.)

A Blue Christmas

Talking of families going through tough times, we still have a war, sorry Special Military Operation, being waged in Eastern Europe, causing so many families to be displaced. Several hotels in our town are hosting Ukrainians at the moment, and I noticed a few local charities had organised parties and presents for the children. Hopefully it cheered them up, but there is absolutely no doubt they would rather be at home in their own country with their dads. Let’s hope by this time next year that can happen. Like me you’ve probably heard this beautiful song being played many times in the run to Christmas this year, Carol of the Bells, written by Ukrainian composer Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych. He apparently used a four note motif as an ostinato (musical phrase) which was taken from an ancient pagan Ukrainian New Year’s chant. Here is a choir in full national dress, and a music clip from the very seasonal film Home Alone. Aw, Kevin McCallister, a one-boy army.

Carol of the Bells from Home Alone by John Williams:


Although I had no qualms about sharing that piece of music from another part of the world, this one I am in two minds about, but it has become a bit of an earworm this year. It keeps popping up on the radio and I couldn’t understand why, but Mr WIAA tells me it features in an advert, which always revives interest. Is it ok that I’m enjoying listening to a middle-aged white bloke sing a Hawaiian Christmas song? Not sure, but I think so. Mele Kalikimaka (‘Merry Christmas’ in Hawaiian, a language that doesn’t use the letters R, Y, C, S or T, thus the substitutes), was written back in 1949 by R. Alex Anderson who was a golfing chum of Bing Crosby’s. Bing enjoyed the song so much he recorded it with The Andrews Sisters in 1950. (Chevy Chase also seemed to enjoy the song in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!)

Mele Kalikimaka by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters:


As often happens with these spontaneous festive rambles, things turn full circle. Elvis, as we know, made many films in Hawaii and also staged the Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite event in 1973 watched by millions all over the world. He’s not looking quite as healthy as he did in the Comeback Special (a Christmas Special when first aired in the US), but his voice was still as strong as ever. Let’s listen to a bit of Blue Hawaii to take our minds off how cold it is both inside and out this year. Still hard to believe he was found dead only four years later at the age of 42.


This might seem like I’m veering way off tangent now, but bear with me. I’ve kind of missed the boat now, but I really wanted to host a Fifty Year Retrospective this year, as 1972 was when I really started to get into music, big time. It didn’t happen, obviously, but I still thought I’d have a look back at the UK Singles Chart from this week in 1972. The usual suspects, T. Rex, Slade, Elton and Michael, were present and correct, but back in 1972 those Osmond Brothers were sweeping the board with three singles in the Top Ten.


We’ll ignore the one at the top spot but when I watch the rest of them perform Crazy Horses (they were way ahead of their time as it’s a song about ecology and the environment), the Osmonds remind me of little Elvises in their bejewelled jumpsuits (starts at 0:17). Watching them now, not so cool, but back then I was definitely the right demographic for Osmondmania and had their posters all over my bedroom wall. In my defence I was only 12. In their defence, they must have taken fashion tips from Elvis.


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I do enjoy a festive ramble and how bizarre to end up with the Osmonds but all because I started off with the line, ‘It’s now or never’. We’ve watched Elvis in his Christmas Special, visited the Ukraine and Hawaii, returned to a jumpsuited Elvis, before finally revisiting the UK Singles Chart of Christmas 1972.

This year we’re going to DD’s for Christmas Dinner after teasing them it was their turn. She’s seen me do it often enough, so I’m sure it will go well. My little mum will be in her care home, with those who have become her new family, the staff and residents. It’s sad that she no longer recognises us but just how these things go. I’ll leave her presents for her to open on the day.

Merry Christmas to everyone who visits this place. I hope those of you who celebrate it, have a lovely time (and please…, keep warm).

One of the baubles made by my mum, many years ago

Until next time…


Mele Kalikimaka Lyrics
(Song by R Alex Anderson)

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say
On a bright Hawaiian Christmas day
That’s the island greeting that they send to you
From the land where palm trees sway

Here, they know that Christmas will be green and bright
The sun to shine by day and all the stars at night
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way
To say Merry Christmas to you

I’m a lonesome traveller from so far away
And I won’t be home on Christmas day
But I’ve got some friends to help me celebrate
In the land where hula maidens sway

Here, where life is easy going, I have come
To mingle with the fishes in the Hawaiian sun
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way
To say Merry Christmas to you

(Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say)
(On a bright Hawaiian Christmas day)
(That’s the island greeting that we send to you)
(From the land where palm trees sway)

Here, they know that Christmas will be green and bright
The sun to shine by day and all the stars at night
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way
To say Merry Christmas to you
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way
To say Merry Christmas
Mele Kalikimaka
A very Merry Christmas to you

Months of the Year in Song: November Nights (with a Nip in the Air)

Well, I had my doubts about this series but with all the great suggestions I got last month this post will practically write itself. As it’s the last day of the month however (also St Andrew’s Day here in Scotland) I’m going to have to be quick or I’ll miss my window of opportunity.

Yet again, as with September and October, the month of November is named after a Latin number, this time nine, or novem, all because the Roman calendar used to have 10 months with a gap for an “unorganised winter”. As we head into next year things will get a bit more interesting, promise.

Another picture by Veli Bariskan, who kindly let me use the banner image above

So far in this series we’ve had Sad September and Orange October. I had hoped there would be an obvious alliterative word to tag on to November, but all I can think of at the moment is Nights. Back in September there was a bit of debate about whether that month was really the tail end of summer rather than the start of autumn. At this point in November, as it’s very cold and dark much of the time, it feels more like winter than autumn. The clocks change back to GMT at the end of October and from then on it starts to get dark at around tea-time (if like me you live in the North of Scotland). If you’re busy at work for much of the day, any social activity will probably be done at night-time, and it will probably be very dark indeed. Great for Bonfire Night on the 5th of November (link here to a previous post) but also for other outdoor extravaganzas where darkness is required. We headed along to Brodie Castle the other week where the castle and grounds were illuminated with all sorts of relevant images and colours. Really pretty indeed and a nice warming hot chocolate to enjoy at the end.

Spot the wee windows on the castle (famous for its daffodils in Spring). We were also blessed with a full moon and a starry, starry night.


But this is supposed to be a music blog, so where are the songs?

Last month the first suggestion came in from Charity Chic, Mr. November by The National, although he did add a warning that it contains ‘sweary words’. If you’re likely to be offended, cover your ears. I was struggling to work out what the song is about, but here is a possible explanation. ‘He was a high school quarterback. November is playoff season for football. He was carried in the arms of cheerleaders. He was a hero. This character has peaked way too early. He’s had his big accomplishment already, so now he sleeps late.’ Makes sense.

The next suggestion came from C of Sun Dried Sparrows, Late November by Pavlov’s Dog. Here are her own words:

‘It comes from around 1975, I think. Sort of uncategorisable. David Surkamp’s vocals are… erm… not easy to describe in a complimentary way, you wouldn’t think they could work, and yet, and yet! – there is something incredibly charming about this – I just can’t put my finger on why. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea and I wouldn’t have thought it could ever be mine. But in this case, it is. Maybe it’s the song as a whole that just gets in there.’

Crikey, I see what you mean about those vocals C, but you are right, it does have a certain je ne sais quoi.

Next up we had a suggestion from Graeme, who remembered that Mike Oldfield had a song called Man in the Rain where the month of November is heavily featured in the chorus. Coming from the Orkney Islands Graeme is probably often a man who finds himself caught in the rain. Let’s have a listen.


Very nice indeed. The vocals on that one were apparently performed by Irish folk singer Cara Dillon.

Rol as ever was not found wanting when it came to suggestions, but one of them also overlapped with a second suggestion from C, so I’ll include it first. Here is what she said about it:

‘Another (different) Late November that comes to mind is the hauntingly beautiful, melancholy song by Sandy Denny. (There are a few versions floating around, some quite stripped back with just piano and vocals but the one I like most has more instrumentation on it.)’

Let’s hope I’ve found the one you were thinking of C.


But back to Rol, here is what he said about this next song, November Rain, the one I would probably have picked myself if thinking of one relating to this month.

‘November begins and ends with Guns n Roses for me. It was my late nephew’s favourite song too, and they played it at his funeral, so much as I enjoy Axl’s histrionics, it always comes with bittersweet memories.’

Hope you don’t mind that I shared your words Rol, and understandable that it would be a tough listen for you nowadays. From the era of the really big budget music video. They don’t make ’em like that any more.

November Rain by Guns N’ Roses:


For the record, Rol’s other suggestions were as follows:

Carter USM – Born On The 5th of November
Tom Waits – November
Harry Chapin – November Rains
Morrissey – November Spawned A Monster
Stornoway – November Song
The Waterboys – November Tale

Quite a range of styles there but an all-male line-up. Maybe we should shoehorn in some Julie London to redress the balance a bit. Here we have her singing November Twilight from her Calendar Girl album (always a good source of material for this series).


Last but definitely not least we have a suggestion from Khayem, who came up with this:

‘I was surprised to find I’ve relatively few ‘November’ songs in my collection. However, I will give a nod to November by Echo & The Bunnymen. The song was a B-side (if it can be classed as such) to their 2009 digital single I Think I Need It Too. I’m not going to pretend that this is anything close to imperial phase E&TB, but I love the opening bassline and musically, it’s far jauntier than I’d expect a song with that title to be.’


To be honest I hadn’t even realised that Echo & The Bunnymen are still active as a band as I don’t think I’ve listened to them since their ‘imperial phase’ as Khayem calls it. A nice reminder of how they used to sound back then, and still do today.

So, that’s your lot for this month, something for everyone I suspect. I’ve been shocked at how quickly winter has come upon us this year and despite all my good intentions about not turning up the thermostat, I have indeed succumbed, so it’s feeling pretty cosy at WIAA Towers with the curtains shut tight of an evening. If you do venture out, as well as fireworks and lightshows, you might have spotted a pretty spectacular crescent moon this week. Some of the planets have also been visible in the night sky.

Next month is December – how the heck did it come round so quickly, but then I say that every year. There will be plenty of song choices for that month I’m sure but feel free to add your tuppence worth to the comments boxes. Always grateful for any of your suggestions.

Until next time…

November Rain Lyrics
(Song by Axl Rose)

When I look into your eyes
I can see a love restrained
But, darlin’, when I hold you
Don’t you know I feel the same? Yeah

‘Cause nothing lasts forever
And we both know hearts can change
And it’s hard to hold a candle
In the cold November rain

We’ve been through this such a long, long time
Just tryna kill the pain, ooh yeah
But lovers always come and lovers always go
And no one’s really sure who’s lettin’ go today, walkin’ away
If we could take the time to lay it on the line
I could rest my head, just knowin’ that you were mine, all mine

So, if you want to love me
Then, darlin’, don’t refrain
Or I’ll just end up walkin’
In the cold November rain

Do you need some time on your own?
Do you need some time all alone?
Ooh, everybody needs some time on their own
Ooh, don’t you know you need some time all alone?

I know it’s hard to keep an open heart
When even friends seem out to harm you
But if you could heal a broken heart
Wouldn’t time be out to charm you, whoa-whoa

Sometimes, I need some time on my own
Sometimes, I need some time all alone
Ooh, everybody needs some time on their own
Ooh, don’t you know you need some time all alone?

And when your fears subside
And shadows still remain, ooh yeah
I know that you can love me
When there’s no one left to blame

So, never mind the darkness
We still can find a way
‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever
Even cold November rain

Don’t ya think that you need somebody?
Don’t ya think that you need someone?
Everybody needs somebody
You’re not the only one, you’re not the only one
Don’t ya think that you need somebody?
Don’t ya think that you need someone?
Everybody needs somebody

Another Platinum Anniversary and Al Martino, the UK’s First Official Chart-Topper

Al Martino.

Who?

Al Martino. The person who had the honour of reaching the top spot on the very first UK Singles Chart published back in November 1952, 70 years ago this week.


Those of us who used to be chart-obsessed (and in the early ’70s I think I was), will already know this, as the kind of thing that often pops up in quizzes, but to my shame I don’t think I’d be able to identify Al’s chart-topping song even if I heard it. Time to right that wrong.


Well, what can I say, very much of its time and Al remained at the top spot for a further eight weeks so the only chart-topping artist of 1952. Al was born in Philadelphia to Italian immigrant parents and was inspired by the success of a close family friend, someone who had changed his name to Mario Lanza.

Al moved to the UK after the success of Here In My Heart, as he’d got himself into a bit of a pickle with some other Italian Americans who shall remain nameless, but who like to offer ‘protection’ and wear sharp suits. He often appeared at the London Palladium and had another six hits over here in the early ’50s. He eventually managed to return to the US in 1958 but found it hard to re-establish himself after so long away, and with the arrival of rock and roll his style of music had suddenly become very dated.

I did say I had never knowingly listened to Here In My Heart before but I definitely knew of Al Martino as during my chart-obsessed years, he had a No. 5 hit on the UK Singles Chart with this song, Spanish Eyes. I remember well writing his name in my chart listings notebook in July 1973, and on the cardboard insert of the cassette tape where I very illegally recorded the Top 20.

Spanish Eyes by Al Martino:


Spanish Eyes had first been recorded in 1965 after lyrics were added to a tune by German orchestra leader Bert Kaempfert, originally titled Moon Over Naples. It first charted in the UK in 1970 before returning as a big hit in 1973. I didn’t really question it at the time as the chart in those days was full of left-field offerings (it wasn’t all glam rock, we also had Benny Hill, Lieutenant Pigeon and Peters & Lee hitting the top spot!).

But what could it have been that prompted Al Martino’s return to form? Well, it didn’t take me long to find out it was Al who played the character Johnny Fontane in the 1972 film The Godfather, as a ‘mob-associated’ singer (not in any way inspired by Frank Sinatra of course) looking for help from his ‘godfather’ in securing a movie role. After a few false starts we end up with the very memorable bed scene, where the studio-boss woke up next to the severed head of his prize stallion. Needless to say, Johnny did then get the role.

Al with Marlon Brando in The Godfather

I think most of us of a certain age will recognise the Godfather theme music, but I hadn’t realised until now that Al also recorded a version with lyrics called Speak Softly, Love. It was the version by Andy Williams that became the most popular but fitting to have Al, the Italian American who was actually in the film, record it too.


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – There is so much I could have written about when celebrating 70 years of the UK Singles Chart, but best I think on this occasion to stick with the artist who kick-started the whole thing. It was Percy Dickins of the New Musical Express who first gathered a pool of 52 stores willing to report sales figures – 52 stores in 1952, for 52 weekly charts published annually. How fitting.

It has of course got an awful lot more complicated since those early days. During my chart-obsessed years it was always the British Market Research Bureau who compiled the weekly chart, the one I listened to religiously (no pun intended) on a Sunday evening from 5pm until the big reveal at 7pm. I have to admit I no longer peruse the charts and if I ever do I have absolutely no idea who 90% of the artists on them are. It’s all got a lot more complicated what with streaming and the downloading of music. The songs are somehow not as precious as they used to be, and a lot more disposable.

Unusually for me I do recognise most of the artists on this week’s Official UK Singles Chart – Yeah me!

I still have some of my mum’s old shellac 78s from 70 years ago. I doubt if many of today’s youngsters will have a physical copy of anything they listened to in 2022 in 70 years’ time. Then again, the way things are going they will probably have bigger things to worry about, but I would wager our descendants will still listen to music, and have songs that become favourites above all others, songs that eventually top their 2092 charts.

Until next time…

Here In My Heart Lyrics
(Song by Bill Borrelli/Lou Levinson/Pat Genaro)

Here in my heart I’m alone, I’m so lonely
Here in my heart I just yearn for you only
Here in my arms I long to hold you
Hold you so near, ever close to my heart
So, darling

Say that you care, take these arms I give gladly
Surely you know I need your love so badly
Here is my heart, my life, and my all, dear
Please be mine and stay here in my heart

Say that you care, take these arms I give gladly
Surely you know I need your love so badly
Here is my heart, my life, and my all, dear
Please be mine and stay here in my heart

Bothy Ballads, Gaberlunzie and The Best Fun I Had All Week, Was in a Care Home!

During the darkest days of the pandemic, I often started my posts with the words, ‘How are we all doing?’. It was a stressful time for most of us what with all the uncertainty about how things would pan out. How soon we forget however, and once the vaccines became freely available, we thought life would get back to normal. In 2022 however, every ‘crisis’ imaginable seems to have hit us at the same time. My pandemic question again feels quite pertinent:

How are we all doing?

I’m not ashamed to admit that I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all that is going on in the world, and closer to home, and I am not the same relaxed person I was in 2016 when I started this blog. I should change my name to Anxious Alyson, someone who finds it quite hard to write entertaining and light-hearted posts at the moment, so apologies for that.

The modern-day care home – quite swish really

A most welcome relief from all the anxiety came in the unlikely form of a visit to a care home yesterday. Regulars around here will remember that four years ago we had to find a care home place for my mum, after a stay in hospital made it impossible for her to return to her retirement flat. It all started well but after only 15 months, due to the pandemic, the home closed to nearly all visitors and any non-essential personnel, like entertainers. For two and a half years it proved very difficult to visit at all what with tests being required, masks, much form-filling and social distancing. In the last month however all that has changed, and things have returned to how they used to be when she first took up residence. Sadly, those residents like my mum who have dementia, have deteriorated quite markedly because of the social isolation of the pandemic years. Yes, they were being ‘kept safe’ from the virus, as directed by our government, but time was not on their side, and many passed away during that period. My mum did make it through, but she no longer knows who I am, which makes my visits quite tricky at times, although you do learn how make them work.

Yesterday they had an accordionist in to entertain, a chap who came regularly prior to the pandemic and who is now being invited back again. I joined them all in the big lounge where he had set up shop, and what a joyous afternoon it turned out to be. One of the most bizarre aspects of dementia, and Alzheimer’s especially, is that you have no short-term memory at all, and you can’t remember anything about your previous life, but you do remember all the words to all the songs you grew up listening to. (Come the day, god forbid we music-bloggers end up in such a situation, we’ll be able to quote chapter and verse all the lyrics to all the songs mentioned in our blogs.)

Phil Cunningham, another well-known Scottish accordionist

It being Scotland, one of the most popular portable instruments for playing traditional music is the accordion, and Duncan, its very dextrous operator (just so many keys and buttons), has a lovely way of connecting with the home’s residents. The songs he plays are the ones I would have been mortified listening to as a teenager, as not the kind of fodder to ever pop up on ToTP or on prime-time telly (The White Heather Club being the embarrassing exception), but they are the songs that would have been played at my granny and grandad’s house on the radio, or via shellac 78s, so all very familiar. My mum, it’s safe to say, knew all the words to even the most obscure and forgotten-about traditional Scottish songs, and we had great fun singing along to them. The best bit was that the staff encouraged dancing, and after working out that if I held on to her at all times for support, my mum and I could entertain the troops with our waltzes, Gay Gordons (a Scottish country dance) and freestyle jigs. Every now and again I asked her if she needed a break but that was apparently not an option so we both had a great afternoon of song and dance. Bet she slept well last night.

I can’t believe I’m nearly seven years into this blog without sharing any of the Scottish songs of my youth but they’re definitely not for everyone and very niche. One of yesterday’s songs was a bothy ballad, called The Barnyards of Delgaty. A bothy is a very spartan farm outbuilding, where in the early years of the 1900s farm labourers in the North-East of Scotland would sleep after having been hired at the ‘feeing market’. Both my grandfathers worked as farm labourers in their youth and would have stayed in such places. My mum’s dad, whose songs I would have listened to as a child, himself worked at the farm called The Barnyards of Delgaty so I always think of him when I hear it. With no internet or large screen television sets for entertainment in the evening, bothy ballads were sung. Being a very male environment some of these songs were bawdy indeed, but this one is a story song really about how you could be deceived by the promise of a fine healthy horse to work with, only to find it was skin and bone when you got to the farm.

The Barnyards of Delgaty by Gaberlunzie:


Another song we sang along to yesterday was this one, The Bonnie Lass O’ Fyvie which is all about the unrequited love of a captain of Irish dragoons for a beautiful Scottish girl. The place names are all so familiar as from our neck of the woods, so another one my mum really enjoyed. Both these songs are performed by the Scots folk duo Gaberlunzie who started out in the late ’60s and were still touring in 2018. Turns out their name is from the medieval Scots word for a licensed beggar.


Duncan the accordionist finished off with The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen, a bit of a shmaltzy one this time, which all these years later still makes me homesick for my old stomping ground. I have such fond memories of living in Aberdeen during my late teens and twenties and of course I had my flat reunion there back in the summer (link here). My mum loves this song, so we did a little waltz, and I have to admit it all got a bit emotional for a myriad of reasons, but I quickly pulled myself together by the end. There are worse ways to spend a wet Thursday afternoon in November. Interestingly the first comment attached to this clip on the video-sharing website is very relevant to this post. It comes from kem10:

In my old job I used to help at a coffee morning which was run to help older adults who were socially isolated – in particular individuals with dementia. We would always play music and it was great to see folk light up and join in. This song was a particular favourite that EVERYONE got involved in and still knew all the words to.

‘It was great to see folk light up and join in.’ Exactly that.

The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen by the Mill Weavers:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – The power of music, eh? If the worst comes to the worst, my generation will be listening to a very different set of tunes in the care home, but they will bring us much joy and we will no longer worry about the really big issues of the day as they will be for the next generation to sort out. We will of course be blamed for having caused them in the first place, and they’ll have a point. People often avoid going to visit relatives with dementia as it can be quite distressing, but it can also be great fun as I found this week. Use music as a tool to connect with them.

Folk music comes and goes in popularity, but it has always been around as it tells the story of our cultural and regional identity, as is the case with bothy ballads. I’ve only shared songs here from the North-East of Scotland but such songs are attached to all parts of the country. Do you have any local favourites you might not have warmed to as a youngster at all, but have come round to as you’ve ‘matured’?

The music of folk duo Simon & Garfunkel has appeared often around here, so I’m going to end with their version of the bothy ballad Pretty Peggy-O. Soldiers from Highland regiments often ended up in bothies, and encounters between soldiers and ‘innocent maids’ were commonplace, thus songs were written about them. The Peggy in this song taken from the Bonnie Lass ‘O Fyvie lyrics and the tune not dissimilar to the Barnyards song either. Lovely stuff.


Until next time…

The Barnyards O’ Delgaty Lyrics
(Song by Unknown – Traditional)

As I came in by Turra Market
Turra Market for to fee,
I fell in wi’ a wealthy farmer,
From the Barnyards O’ Delgaty.

Linten adie toorin adie,
Linten adie toorin ee,
Linten lowrin, lowrin, lowrin
The Barnyards O’ Delgaty

He promised me the two best horses
Ever I set my eyes upon;
When I got home to the Barnyards
There was nothing there but skin and bone.

When I go to the church on Sunday,
Many’s the bonnie lass I see,
Sitting by her faither’s side
And winking ower the pews at me.

Well I can drink and not be drunk
And I can fight and not be slain.
I can lie wi’ anothers man’s lass
And aye be welcome to my ain.

Carole King and The Brill Building: Another Special Place In Time

We are nearing the end of summer, always a sad time of year for me. I’m a great fan of daylight and soon there will be more hours of darkness in any 24 hour period. All those activities best suited to the great outdoors will be on hold for another year, and we’ll be tucked up inside keeping cosy. Oh no, that’s right, this winter we’ll struggle to keep cosy as the thermostats will be firmly turned down, but hey, that’s another post for another day.

I’ve run quite a few ‘series’ since starting this place but I’m all out of workable ideas at the moment, which is a bit annoying, because I don’t have anything to return to and augment. As we are nearing the start of September I thought a series of posts about months of the year could be something to focus on (September seems to pop up often in a song title), but it turns out some of the other months have not been as inspirational for songwriters. Inevitably, one of the first songs I stumbled upon was this one by a very young Carole King, It Might as Well Rain Until September from 1962.

It Might as Well Rain Until September by Carole King:


I’ve always liked the song, although it’s not really about the month of September at all, but about how the world is no longer a beautiful place because the singer’s love interest is not around. As far as they are concerned the fine weather of the summer might as well be replaced with grey, rainy days. Thinking back I was often of the same opinion when I was a teenager (and this song was definitely aimed at teenagers), as the routines of term-time were often replaced with lots of time spent on your own, as your friends were either off on holiday with their families, or scattered around the country, the new academic year not starting again until September. If you’d found romance during term-time, the summer break was often not your friend.

But of course the Carole King that wrote this song with her husband Gerry Goffin, is not the same Carole King that has appeared on these pages before. That would be the Carole who by the early ’70s had moved to Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, and had massive success with her 1971 album Tapestry. No indeed, this Carole was the girl from Brooklyn who was a bit of a musical genius and at age 16 had turned up at the Brill Building in Manhattan with a bunch of songs oven-ready for the teen market.


I have often heard of the Brill Building as back in the early ’60s, after Elvis had enlisted (and they thought rock ‘n’ roll was over) but before the British Invasion had begun, it was the place where songwriting teams flourished, producing hit after hit record. The ground floor of the building was home to the Brill family clothing store, but the upper floors were rented out to people in the music industry. Music publishers like Don Kirshner were based there and offices were kitted out with cubicles, each containing a piano, a bench and a chair where songwriters could partner up, one person writing the lyrics and the other coming up with the music. This was songwriting to order, but the songs were aimed at the lucrative new teen market and they were given to some of the many girl groups that had formed in New York City at that time (the Shirelles, the Shangri-Las, the Ronettes and the Chiffons) and also to many of the up-and-coming teen idols (Bobby Darin, Bobby Vee and Gene Pitney).

 The Brill Building is located at 1619 Broadway on 49th Street, in the NYC borough of Manhattan

Before starting this blog, I was often unaware of who had written a particular song as I had always been more interested in the artist who performed it. As time went by however the same names kept popping up, and many of those names were songwriting partnerships who first got together in the Brill Building:

Burt Bacharach and Hal David
Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield
Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry
Gerry Goffin and Carole King
Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman

A lot of famous faces in that montage above and impossible to name them all individually. To finish off I’ll add another couple of clips of songs that came to life in the Brill Building. I know I was bemoaning the end of summer in the opening paragraph, but today has indeed been a very fine, sunny day here in the North of Scotland. I don’t think that’s the kind of fine day The Chiffons were singing about in 1963 but a perfect example of the kind of songs Goffin and King were writing for the girl groups of the Brill Building.

One Fine Day by The Chiffons:


As this post has predominantly focussed on Carole King, it would seem silly not to end with the song Neil Sedaka wrote about her. They had both gone to the same high school in Brooklyn and had briefly dated (when she was still a Carol without the ‘e’). Oh! Carol was Neil’s first big domestic hit and the song also reached the No. 3 spot in the UK Singles Chart in 1959.

Oh! Carol by Neil Sedaka:


Yet again I’ve kind of gone way off piste on this one but once I’d listened to Carole’s September song I decided to find out more about that place in NYC which was a veritable music factory in the late ’50s/early ’60s. Most of us of a certain age have grown up listening to songs that we may or may not have known started life in The Brill Building. I like these posts where I actually take the time to find out geographically where these special places were/still are located. Right there in Midtown Manhattan it seems, just along from Tin Pan Alley where the sheet music of an earlier era had started life.

As for my series about songs referring to months of the year, I’ve not abandoned the idea yet, so if you do have any September songs you’d like me to write about, do let me know. For the record, the Earth, Wind and Fire one has popped up around here a couple of times before, but there will be others I’m sure.

Until next time…

It Might As Well Rain Until September Lyrics
(Song by Carole King/Gerry Goffin)

What shall I write?
What can I say?
How can I tell you how much I miss you?

The weather here has been as nice as it can be
Although it doesn’t really matter much to me
For all the fun I’ll have while you’re so far away
It might as well rain until September

I don’t need sunny skies for thing I have to do
‘Cause I stay home the whole day long and think of you
As far as I’m concerned each day’s a rainy day
So It might as well rain until September

My friends look forward to their picnics on the beach
Yes everybody loves the summertime
But you know darling while your arms are out of reach
The summer isn’t any friend of mine

It doesn’t matter whether skies are grey or blue
It’s raining in my heart ’cause I can’t be with you
I’m only living for the day you’re home to stay
So It might as well rain until September
September, September, oh
It might as well rain until September

From Xanadu to Singin’ In The Rain, in Two Steps (of a Roller Skate)

When someone from the world of music leaves us, as Olivia Newton-John did a couple of weeks ago, many of us revisit their back catalogue and also end up watching footage of them we might not have viewed in decades, indeed, if ever.

Last weekend I decided it was high time I watched the film Xanadu, as it’s been mentioned many times since her death, yet it’s something I’ve never seen. The soundtrack album, packed full of songs by both Oliva and the band ELO, was a massive success all over the world (pun intended) and of course I know many of them well. The film however was still a mystery to me. It didn’t do well when it came out in 1980 which is why I probably didn’t see it back then, but having just watched it twice over the last two days (for research purposes of course), I’ve found it a total delight.


I can see why it was a bit of a flop when it came out as it didn’t neatly fit into any particular genre, and audiences going to see Olivia reprise her role as Sandy in the film Grease would have been sorely disappointed. But if you’re fairly open-minded when it comes to your film entertainment, and can wave reality goodbye as you start to watch, Xanadu has a bit of everything. In fact it’s totally bonkers in places, but all the better for it. Animated scenes, a bit of Old Hollywood glamour, lots of roller-skating, girls dressed as Disney princesses, dancers straight out of Studio 54, Mary Poppins-inspired rooftop scenes, big bands, rock bands, country and western bands, leg warmers, tuxedos, circus performers, Greek mythology, the Ready Brek special effect and girls turning into shooting stars. I could go on but you probably get the gist. The love story was the least believable aspect of the whole film, as the male lead was a bit angry and petulant most of the time whereas Olivia’s character Kira was sweetness personified, but hey, this was a film best suited to children under 12 I think, so we couldn’t have had too much raunchiness.

The songs were what it was all about though, and the whole film built up to this final musical scene when Olivia Newton-John breaks free from her ‘daughter of Zeus’ character, and sings the title song, Xanadu. As I said last time in my tribute post to her, she truly was the golden girl at that time and never more so than in this scene – literally everything about her is golden, her skin, her hair and her clothes. The song was written by Jeff Lynne of ELO and it reached the No. 1 spot on the UK Singles Chart in 1980, when the film came out.

And, Xanadu by ELO:


But for me, the most thrilling aspect of the whole film was that Gene Kelly had a main role. He played Danny McGuire, a former big band orchestra leader turned construction mogul, who together with Kira’s love interest Sonny Malone, builds a new night club in a beautiful old art deco building where aforementioned barminess takes place. There’s a big band but also a rock band, the colours are neon bright, and in the opening few seconds of the Xanadu scene, Gene leads out the dancers on roller-skates.

Gene on his roller-skates

Growing up, I was a massive fan of Gene Kelly, and I loved watching all those great 1940s and 50s musicals he starred in. Even at age 68 – which he would have been at the time of filming – he still cut a dash, and still had that dazzling smile and twinkle in his eye that catches your breath. I was yet again smitten, as I used to be as a teenager watching him in films like An American in Paris and Singin’ in the Rain. Gene was very nifty on his roller-skates in Xanadu, but of course he should have been, as he was probably the first person to choreograph an entire tap dance routine whilst wearing them. Here is a clip from the film It’s Always Fair Weather from 25 years earlier (the really impressive bit starts at 2:08), but there is no doubt Gene ‘still had it’ in 1980.


Of course I know the film Xanadu won’t be for everyone, but I think I now get why all those male music bloggers around a decade younger than myself have been so upset by the death of Olivia Newton-John. I think they were probably just the right demographic for her at the peak of her popularity.

Personally, it’s yet another mortality reality check. Although Olivia was around a decade older than me when she died, she always played someone (very successfully) around my own age. When I was 18, she played the 18-year-old Sandy Olsson in Grease, and I’m sure Kira in Xanadu would have been aged around 20 in 1980, which I also would have been. Since starting this blog, we’ve lost an awful lot of the artists of my youth – it’s a bit of a sobering thought.

But I don’t want to end on a morose note. Gene Kelly lived a long life and has gone down in history as having been one of Hollywood’s greatest stars. An actor, dancer, singer, filmmaker, and choreographer – he could do it all, with bells on. I will end with that most famous of scenes from one of the best musicals ever made. I don’t have an audio clip of Singin’ in the Rain sung by Gene but I do have one by someone else. Full marks if anyone can tell me who it is?

Singin’ in the Rain by Matt Monro:


Until next time… RIP Olivia, RIP Gene.

Singin’ In The Rain Lyrics
(Song by Arthur Freed/Nacio Herb Brown)

I’m singing in the rain
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feeling
I’m happy again
I’m laughing the clouds
So dark up above
The sun’s in my heart
And I’m ready for love

Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain
I have a smile on my face
I walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
And I’m singing
Just singing in the rain

I’m singing in the rain
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feeling
I’m so happy again
I’m laughing the clouds
So dark up above
The sun’s in my heart
And I’m ready for love

Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain
I have a smile on my face
I walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
And I’m singing
Just singing in the rain

Merry Christmas, 2020 Style and a Pot Pourri of Festive Songs

Well, what a difference a week makes. I had already written my Christmas post but just about everything in it is now obsolete. The five day Festive Bubbles are no more, and for much of the country, no Festive Bubbles at all. I think it was the right call, but for us up here in the Scottish Highlands it’s tough, as we have had a really low infection rate throughout. DD will no longer be going to the boyfriend’s parents for Christmas, so although I said we were going to be on our own for the very first time, not now the case. I do feel for the other set of parents though as they have rarely seen their offspring all year. Cross fingers with vaccines now being rolled out, things will start to improve as we head into Spring.

I have been out and about over the last few days and have taken a fair few pictures of the town, which despite ‘the times’ is still looking very pretty. Here are a few of them, and I’ll subtitle them with a few of the songs we used to play regularly around this time of year, when DD was small. All from festive CDs that are now largely redundant, as we no longer have anything to play them on!

Our Town House looking very festive

Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt:


A Memorial Hall brightly lit for Christmas

Do You Hear What I Hear? by Jack Jones:


Seasonal chandeliers in the Victorian Market

Christmas Cookies and Holiday Hearts by Teresa Brewer:


The footbridge that stretches across the river

I Saw Three Ships by Westminster Abbey Choir:


As for the song Santa Baby, it proved just a bit too suggestive for some Southern States when it was released in 1953, but has become a perennial favourite and been covered by many, many artists including Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Gwen Stefani.

Despite ‘the times’, A Merry Christmas to everyone who drops by this place. I am no Eartha Kitt, that’s for sure, but I do like having people drop by and leave their thoughts. And as you all know by now, I always reply.

Until next time…

Santa Baby Lyrics
(Song by Joan Javits/Philip Springer/Tony Springer)

Santa Baby, just slip a sable under the tree,
For me.
Been an awful good girl, Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa baby, a 54 convertible too,
Light blue.
I’ll wait up for you dear, Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight.

Think of all the fun I’ve missed,
Think of all the fellas that I haven’t kissed.
Next year I could be just as good,
If you’ll check off my Christmas list.

Santa baby, I want a yacht, and really that’s not
A lot.
Been an angel all year,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa honey, one little thing I really need,
The deed
To a platinum mine,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa cutie, and fill my stocking with a duplex,
And checks.
Sign your ‘X’ on the line,
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight.

Come and trim my Christmas tree,
With some decorations bought at Tiffany’s.
I really do believe in you,
Let’s see if you believe in me.

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing,
A ring.
I don’t mean on the phone,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.
Hurry down the chimney tonight.
Hurry, tonight.

The NaNoWriMo Challenge, Julie London and ‘November Twilight’

I’m going to attempt something new around here. For one month only, I’m going to set myself the challenge of becoming… A Daily Blogger. Argh, what am I doing to myself?

I’ve tried 7 posts in 7 days before, and succeeded, although the plan to make them shorter didn’t quite come off, so it was quite a task. This time I’ll be kinder to myself and probably use a few shortcuts. If you are a regular visitor, don’t feel any pressure to populate the comments boxes (although always nice), as this is really just a personal challenge tied in with my college course.

I’ve shared poems around here before from the NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) challenge, but now it’s time for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and we’ve all been encouraged to join in. The idea is to throw down 1650 words per day for the whole of November, and by the end of it all you’ll have a novel. It will probably be rubbish, and just the seed of something to work on in the future, but for many writers it’s a wonderful wordy workout.

Of course I have no illusions about being a writer myself, I’m just an enthusiast who likes using this place as her web-diary, and as somewhere to share the music she has enjoyed over the years. I am never going to write a novel, as that’s just not my thing, but I’m hopeful the ‘essays’ I post around here could be turned into some sort of volume down the line. Something for the grandchildren, if I ever have any. (The way this pandemic is playing out, our single offspring are finding the dating game nigh impossible at the moment, so any future grandchildren might end up being of the virtual variety.)

So, in solidarity with some of my classmates, there will be something new here every day until the end of the month, always including a featured song. Hopefully I will end up with a few gems, but at this stage who knows, it might be an epic fail. I suppose that’s going to be the fun of it.

As today is the first day of November, and as I am a fan of Julie London, here is something liberated from Charity Chic’s blog last year, when he very kindly shared a song at the start of every month from her Calendar Girl album. The song for today is November Twilight.

November Twilight by Julie London:


Looking at the album cover, it does seem to fit the remit well, Julie sporting some very skimpy outfits indeed and not the kind of thing for a dark and dreich November night here in Scotland. Julie was of her time however and always oozed glamour, so in 1956 I imagine this went down well with her fanbase. She has appeared around here a couple of times before (link here) as I’ve always loved her sultry voice, especially when singing her signature song, Cry Me A River.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I’ve ended up being too wordy already and it’s only day one of my challenge, but I will, by necessity I’m sure, have to ease up on the wordcount as the days go by. Thanks again to CC for sharing Julie’s wonderful album last year as we now have a go-to track for the start of every calendar month, should we need it. Looking at the first line of the song, it bears out what’s been happening around here this weekend – What with all the wind, the trees are looking very bare indeed, stripped of all those beautiful autumn colours.

As it looks as if it’s going to be another tough month for the country, I’ll try and make this a fun place to visit for the next 30 days. Always plenty of good music to share (it won’t always be from 1956) and I will avoid mentioning the pesky pandemic as much as possible. By the time Julie is ready to sing Warm In December (that Santa suit doesn’t look very warm at all), things might be a whole lot brighter.

Julie London

Until next time….

November Twilight Lyrics
(Song by Pete King/Paul Francis Webster)

The branches of the trees are bare
The smell of burning leaves is in the air
November twilight steals across my heart

At five o’clock the streets are dark
Across the empty bandstand in the park
November twilight softly falls again

So still that you could hear a voice
If one were calling
So quiet that you could hear a tear
If one were falling

And April’s laughter steals once more
Across the dark pavilion of my heart
And then I miss you most
Miss you with the ache of long lost things
Of sunburnt hours and garden swings
When life was beautiful
And love was young and gay
November twilight must you stay?

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

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

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

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

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

bill-withers-2
Bill Withers, 1938-2020

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

Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers:

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

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

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

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

When I Get To Heaven by John Prine:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah this old man is goin’ to town

Sleepless Nights, Summer of Rockets and The Music of 1958

Not sure what’s happened but experiencing a bit of blogger’s block at the moment. For me, it’s never about lack of inspiration as at the latest count I have 83 “posts pending” (yes really), a new series on the go, 3 series on hiatus and 4 “series pending”. I think it’s more that my senses are being over-stimulated at the moment, so can’t concentrate on one topic long enough to write about it without being distracted by something else.

My sore neck and shoulder continues to trouble me, so sleep is being disrupted, and when you can’t sleep your mind inevitably goes into overdrive. The darkest hour is just before dawn as we all know, but difficult to control what pops into the old noddle at that time. So, what does a person do when they want to clear their head a bit? – Why they have a notebook at hand at all times ready to capture ideas, thoughts and observations as they pop into the brain, freeing up a few of the terabytes left to fill up with other worries!

I’m making it sound a bit worse than it is as I don’t really have too many major worries compared to a lot of other folks, but being home-based as I am nowadays, I do watch an awful lot of news on telly, and there’s not a lot going on at the moment to give one much hope for the future. Combine that with watching the BBC drama Years and Years which portrays a worrying (but totally believable) picture of what life might be like in just 5 years time, and sleep patterns are inevitably disturbed.

Funnily enough, another drama we binge-watched last week on the BBC iPlayer was Summer of Rockets set in 1958, now over 60 years ago, which should have portrayed a picture of simpler times when we didn’t lie in bed worrying about the future. Not so however, as that was the year of the first hydrogen bomb test, the cold war was ramping up and issues arising from immigration brought out the worst in people. On the upside, I do love a period drama set in the 1950s, as I love the clothes the girls wore – All those wide skirts and petticoats. The omnipresent Keeley Hawes played one of the lead roles, but I was most impressed with another younger actress, called Lily Sacofsky, who played a reluctant debutante being prepared for “the season”. Britain however was on the cusp of major social change and her character Hannah plays a large part the denouement of the main plot. I won’t give too much away as some of the episodes have yet to air on real-time telly, but one to be recommended.

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Hannah the reluctant “deb”

But as I always say at around this point, this is supposed to be a music blog, so which song to include? I wasn’t yet born in 1958 when people were lying in bed worrying about the Bomb, and social change, so have no direct memory of the music of the time. We all know however that rock ‘n’ roll came to our shores in the late ’50s so a really exciting time for young people who were lucky enough to have invested in a record player for the corner of their bedrooms. Looking at the Official UK Singles Chart for this week in 1958 however, there isn’t much rock ‘n’ roll to be found, the top spot being taken by Connie Francis and the Top Ten containing an awful lot of ballads and show tunes.

One band on that list is The Mudlarks, a family group from Luton comprising Jeff, Fred and Mary Mudd who obviously sang like larks! In 1958, they attracted the attention of radio DJ David Jacobs, who got them an appearance on the Six-Five Special TV show, and a recording contract with EMI. They did a cover of the American novelty song Lollipop, but later in 1958 they released Book of Love, which is a song I am familiar with. At the end of the year The Mudlarks were voted top British vocal group by readers of the New Musical Express.

Here is an interesting snippet – Fred Mudd married Leila Williams, who co-hosted the children’s telly show Blue Peter from 1958 until 1962. Most of us of a certain age grew up watching Blue Peter, and remember well the making of the advent crown from tinsel and coat hangers, the annual Appeal, Freda the tortoise and that baby elephant called Lulu, who trod on John Noakes foot after running amok all over the studio. My era of Blue Peter featured presenters Valerie Singleton, Peter Purves and the aforementioned John (get down Shep) Noakes. I also think that was probably the last time I lay in bed and didn’t worry about “stuff”. Note to self: must do better.

Well, that clip never ceases to amuse, and made me laugh out loud. Lulu, I salute you.

Until next time….

Book of Love Lyrics
(Song by Charles Patrick/George Malone/Warren Davis)

I wonder, wonder who, who-oo-ooh, who
(Who wrote the Book Of Love)
Tell me, tell me, tell me
Oh, who wrote the Book Of Love
I’ve got to know the answer
Was it someone from above
(Oh, I wonder, wonder who, ummbadoo-ooh, who)
(Who wrote the Book Of Love)

I love you, Darlin’
Baby, you know I do
But I’ve got to see this Book of Love
Find out why it’s true
(Oh, I wonder, wonder who, ummbadoo-ooh, who)
(Who wrote the Book Of Love)

Chapter One says to love her
You love her with all your heart
Chapter Two you tell her you’re
Never, never, never, never, never gonna part
In Chapter Three remember the meaning of romance
In Chapter Four you break up
But you give her just one more chance
(Oh, I wonder, wonder who, ummbadoo-ooh, wWho)
(Who wrote the Book Of Love)

Baby, baby, baby
I love you, yes I do
Well it says so in this Book Of Love
Ours is the one that’s true
(Oh, I wonder, wonder who, ummbadoo-ooh, who)
(Who wrote the Book Of Love)