Earworm of the Week #1 – Motown Supergroups and “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”

In my last post I mentioned that I now had 83 ideas backing up in my list of “posts pending” and needed some help in making inroads. C from Sun-Dried Sparrows stepped up to the plate and randomly picked no. 63. That turned out to be an idea added only last week (as this list is in spreadsheet form and is sorted by category then alphabetically). It was also potentially going to kick start a new series called Earworm of the Week.

earworm

We all know what an earworm is – That catchy piece of music that continually repeats in your head long after you’ve heard it, and apparently a calque (a word or phrase borrowed from another language via a literal word-for-word translation) from the German Ohrwurm. Two weeks ago my Earworm of the Week was Tony Christie’s Avenues and Alleyways, but the moment passed for me to write about it, despite having done the research (the theme tune to the TV show The Protectors I discovered). This last week, the earworm was I’m Gonna Make You Love Me by Diana Ross & The Supremes and The Temptations.

Not sure if this part of the song is the “hook”, if fact I’m pretty sure it’s not, but the line that keeps going round and round in my head is this one:

“I’m gonna try every trick in the book”

Having studied such things as part of my course this last year, poets and lyric writers make great use of the sound patterning of words, and both trick and book end with the hard letter k, which means that line exhibits the sound pattern called consonance. Perhaps that’s why it has really taken hold this last week. Whatever, lets have a listen to the whole song, a wonderful example of what can happen when two of Motown’s top groups get together for a recording. The song was incidentally written not by Holland-Dozier-Holland in this case, but by that wonderful team Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff who went on to form Philadelphia International Records as a rival to Berry Gordy’s Motown.

I’m Gonna Make You Love Me by Diana Ross & The Supremes and The Temptations:

The song peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100 in the United States and at No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart in January 1969. Putting those two groups together was a masterstroke, but long delayed, as they had known each other since their Detroit school days. The Supremes were originally called the The Primettes, the sister group to a singing group known as The Primes formed by Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks who would go on to become The Temptations. As a Motown supergroup however, the name is a tad cumbersome what with the word “and” featuring twice. At least one is an ampersand, but still, a bit of a mouthful.

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Gamble and Huff

From experience, earworms don’t usually last longer than a week, which is fortunate as although this is a fairly pleasurable one, they can be really annoying. Around the time of the Eurovision Song Contest it’s important to avoid catching the 1981 winner Making Your Mind Up by Bucks Fizz on the radio, as once it’s in there, impossible to budge.

So, “What’s It All About?” – My long list of ideas is going to take a fair while to eat into, as it keeps being added to at a faster rate than I can keep up. I think I can knock two ideas off the list now though, as poor old Tony Christie doesn’t look as if he’s going to be written about now, although a shame, as I had no idea he’d had such a long and interesting career, continually reinventing himself. I had also assumed when I was young that he was American, as he always seemed to sing about places in the US such as Amarillo. Not so, he was a product of the Working Men’s Clubs of the North of England and lived most of his life in Sheffield.

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Tony Christie – Still going strong

Thanks C for the prompt. Happy to oblige if anyone else wants to throw me a few numbers between 1 and 81? You can take the number cruncher out of the workplace, but you can’t take the number crunching out of the girl!

Until next time….

I’m Gonna Make You Love Me Lyrics
(Song by Kenny Gamble/Leon Huff/Jerry Ross)

I’m gonna do all the things for you, a girl wants a man to do.
Oh, baby (Oh, baby)
I’ll sacrifice for you, I’ll even do wrong for you.
Oh, baby (Oh, baby)

Every minute, every hour.
I’m gonna shower you with love and affection.
Look out it’s coming in your direction.
And I’m… I’m gonna make you love me.
Oh, yes I will.
Yes I will.
I’m gonna make you love me.
Oh, yes I will.
Yes I will.

Look it here.
My love is strong, you see.
I know you’ll never get tired of me.
Oh, baby (She’ won’t) (Oh baby)
And I’m gonna use every trick in the book.
I’ll try my best to get you hooked.
Hey, baby (Take me I’m yours) (Hey, baby)

And every night, every day.
I’m gonna say.
I’m gonna get you, I’m gonna get you.
Look out boy, ’cause I’m gonna get you.

I’m gonna make you love me.
Ooo, yes I will.
Yes I will.
And I’m gonna make you love me.
Ooo, yes I will
You know I will.

Every breathe I take.
And each and every step I make.
Brings me closer, baby.
Closer to you.

And with each beat of my heart.
For every day we are apart.
I’ll hunger for every wasted hour.

And every night and every day.
I’m gonna get you, I’m gonna get you.
Look out ’cause I’m gonna get you.

And I’m gonna make…
I’m gonna make you love me.
Oh, oh. (Yes I will)
I’m gonna make you love me.
Ooo, yes I will. Yes I will.
I’m gonna make you love me.
Yes I will. (Yes I will)
Ooo, I’m gonna make you love me.
Yes I will.
Yes I will.

Another Serious Post: A Much-loved Cousin who was “Football Crazy”

I had a long and sad journey to make yesterday as my 56-year-old cousin, who was diagnosed with MND nearly four years ago, finally lost his battle with that horrible “locked-in” disease. Down to the excellent round-the-clock care given to him by his mum and sisters, he outlived most other victims post diagnosis, but everyone knew it was time for his suffering to end and his friends turned out in droves to his memorial service in Aberdeen. It was standing room only and I don’t think I’ve ever been to a service where quite so many middle-aged men found it impossible to control their emotions. The main reason for this outpouring of emotion – Football.

My cousin didn’t have a glittering career or ever earn vast sums of money but he worked hard, raised a family and was a loving father, son and brother. From an early age however, his passion was football, and for nearly 35 yrs he played in the many Junior and Amateur leagues run within The Granite City. Apparently he was still playing at age 50, just two years before his diagnosis. Facebook is awash with tributes to him and of his many exploits on the pitch. He had played with, and captained, many teams over the years so knew the entire footballing fraternity and they had nothing but good things to say about him – A legend, a true gent, a prankster, a great friend, and so it went on.

There is a dearth of quality football songs out there, so I’m just going to go with the obvious choice, Football Crazy, a song written back in the days of yore but made popular by Robin Hall and Jimmie Macgregor when they regularly performed their version of it on the Tonight programme back in the early 1960s. I don’t remember watching this show back then (just too young), but I must have recognised the theme tune as I always knew when “Ciff” (that would be Cliff Michelmore) came on the telly, it was time for bed (we didn’t climb the stairs to Bedfordshire where I came from).

Strangely enough, last Saturday I went to our football stadium for the first time in nearly 20 years to watch the local team. DD’s boyfriend, who looks after the team’s physical (and often mental) welfare, got us tickets for the section where the player’s wives, kids and mums sit. They probably go to every home match and build up that familiarity and camaraderie from spending so much time together. I watched friends meet up for their weekly fix of football; old men turning up in their scarves who have probably been fans since they were lads; and the staff who kept everything running like clockwork – A massive footballing family. It was nice.

This week we have had the freaky scenario where two English teams who were not expected to come back with a win on aggregate, did just that – Even fans of other teams, usually fierce rivals, have come out and congratulated them on those fantastic wins. Just at the time we were supposed to have left the EU, both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur are on their way to Madrid and the Champion’s League Final. There’s going to be an English winner now whatever the outcome.

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This time last week I wasn’t really thinking much about football at all, but as with my cousin, if it has played a large part in your life you could be one of the lucky ones as you are part of one big family. Many of the middle-aged men at yesterday’s service had walked, ran and climbed improbable distances and heights to raise money for a vehicle for their old team-mate. They called it the Stephen-Hawking-mobile and there were many great outings in it. There have also been fund-raising dinners for MND and the many other charities who supported him and his family over the last few years. I don’t know for sure, but I doubt very much if my old work-mates would do the same for me.

On a personal level, one of the player’s mums sitting behind me at last weeks match turned out to be a carer at my mum’s nursing home. I had thought she looked familiar but out of context I couldn’t place her. Having now met with her this week at the home, I realise my mum will now potentially be even better looked after, as I am now (somewhat loosely) attached to her son’s team.

So, a sad week for my family, but as ever at these events it was great to meet up with people whom I have been out of touch with for a long time. Plans are now being made for me to keep in touch with everyone and contact details have been exchanged. It seems unfair that people who are the healthiest, fittest, kindest and most generous can be dealt such a cruel blow, but no-one ever said life was fair.

Until next time…

Football Crazy Original Lyrics
(Song by James Curran)

I have a favourite brother
And his Christian name is Paul.
He’s lately joined a football club
For he’s mad about football.
He’s got two black eyes already
And teeth lost from his gob,
Since Paul became a member of
That terrible football club.

For he’s football crazy,
He’s football mad,
The football it has taken away
The little bit o’ sense he had,
And it would take a dozen servants
To wash his clothes and scrub,
Since Paul became a member of
That terrible football club.

In the middle of the field, one afternoon,
The captain says, “Now Paul,
Would you kindly take this place-kick
Since you’re mad about football?”
So he took forty paces backwards,
Shot off from the mark.
The ball went sailing over the bar
And landed in New York.

His wife, she says she’ll leave him
If Paulie doesn’t keep
Away from football kicking
At night-time in his sleep.
He calls out ‘Pass, McGinty!”
And other things so droll
Last night he kicked her out of bed
And swore it was a goal!

Morrissey, The Fifth Dimension and “Wedding Bell Blues”!?

Well, I am in shock. Little did I think the first time that chap who seems to be doing a good job of alienating his fanbase would appear on these pages, would be because he has recorded a song I became smitten with during my first year of blogging. I’d just been to a wedding, which coincided with me also discovering the Laura Nyro penned Wedding Bell Blues for the first time. A nice synchronicity so it was a no-brainer I should write about it. As for this version by Morrissey, it was recorded with Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day, as one of the tracks for his soon-to-be-released album of ’60s covers called California Son. We might not agree with his politics and he is definitely sporting middle-age spread nowadays, but his voice still seems to be in good shape. I don’t know about you but I’m really loving his version of the song.

If you want to compare with the original by the 5th Dimension, here is the post from 2016, written the day after my friend’s daughter got married. Being objective, which version do you prefer? I’m wavering towards the new Morrissey one – Argh, is that still allowed I wonder.

First published October 2016

We had a wedding to attend yesterday and much of the week was spent preparing for it. When the song Wedding Bell Blues by The 5th Dimension came on the radio one afternoon, I was therefore already tuned into all things “wedding-y”. Secondly, as explained in my last post, of late I seem to have found myself continually gravitating towards songs from the late ‘60s, which I find bizarre as from a time when I was still a little kid. Finally, just as my fellow bloggers also have musical guilty pleasures, I felt a little uneasy at my appreciation of The 5th Dimension, but in no time at all I was dancing around the room and made a sneaky little purchase on iTunes.

Wedding Bell Blues by The 5th Dimension:

What I find fascinating about the ‘60s is that during that decade, in the wink of an eye, we moved from boy and girl bands, dressed very smartly in identical matching outfits and very rigid hairstyles to the wild abandon that constituted the hippy counterculture. The 5th Dimension were probably best-known for the song medley Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In, from the stage musical Hair. Hard to believe now that full-scale nudity even came to Scotland in the form of a touring production of the show in 1969.

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But back to Wedding Bell Blues, it is a song that was written and originally recorded by Laura Nyro in 1966 but only really became a big hit when covered by The 5th Dimension in 1969. The song is written from the perspective of a woman whose boyfriend has not yet proposed to her, and she wonders, “Am I ever gonna see my wedding day?” The woman obviously adores her man but there is definitely a theme of frustration going on there as well.

There was a lot more to the above post, as I went on to describe the wedding, and how I embarrassed myself in front of the bride’s friends and family by embarking on the full six minute “re-enactment of the lyrics” dance to Bohemian Rhapsody, with Mr WIAA in tow (link here). For the moment though, I’m just curious, what do people think of this new Morrissey album and will you be adding it to your collection?

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Until next time…

Wedding Bell Blues Lyrics
(Song by Laura Nyro)

Bill I love you so
I always will
I look at you and see
the passion eyes of May
Oh but am I ever gonna see
my wedding day?
Oh I was on your side Bill
when you were losin’
I’d never scheme or lie Bill
There’s been no foolin’
but kisses and love won’t carry me
till you marry me Bill

Bill I love you so
I always will
and in your voice I hear
a choir of carousels
Oh but am I ever gonna hear
my wedding bells?
I was the one came runnin’
when you were lonely
I haven’t lived one day
not loving you only
but kisses and love won’t carry me
till you marry me Bill

Bill I love you so
I always will
and though devotion rules my heart
I take no bows
Oh but Bill you know
I wanna take my wedding vows
Come on Bill
Come on Bill
I got the wedding bell blues

End of Term Blues, Simon & Garfunkel and “The Boxer”

My last post was a bit of a rant as a result of having imbibed a few Friday night wines. Time to move on, quickly, as all a bit embarrassing now. Last week we had to submit the final assignment for my college course, and the week before, we had our very last lecture of the academic year. It coincided with that really warm spell of weather which rather nicely landed upon Easter weekend. Although most of us VC in from home (as we are scattered across the vast college catchment area), I did go in for that lecture, and although we were all sweltering in the heat, it was nice to have a last meet up before the long summer break.

end of term

Sadly, I will now lose touch with most of my classmates as I am a part-time student and will be covering the remaining modules not taken this year, next year. Fortunately for me, the girl whose work I definitely warm to most is the other part-time student, so our paths will continue to cross. She was one of the few of us to complete the 30 day NaPoWriMo challenge written about recently, and here is another set of her amazing poems – Same subject matter, same title but two entirely different approaches. She says they are just rough drafts, but they look pretty finished to me. I am in awe.

Adrenaline-soaked Gauze and Silver Nitrate #1

An ancient trade; a coiled spring in sinew
The blood of men that failed to make their mark
A stage all ringed about with ropes and snarling
(Once you’re) In, just you and him, a roaring dark

The cutman’s in the corner gaging damage
The only middle-ground in all this noise
An alchemy of bone and glove, blood-thunder
The bruises start to blossom round your eyes

The oldest game that only ever yielded
When you saw the Devil’s face and knew your worth
Or was it God’s – his vital disappointment
(You’re) laughing bloody, carved in iron and in wrath

Adrenaline-soaked Gauze and Silver Nitrate #2

Begin the age-old fight, again, unbloodied

The bullet’s spark with caution is a cunning scalpel
Older eyes keep watch, as scattered scars break forth
This broad shoulder, molten heavy, built for battle
Reach and stagger as he falls towards the earth
Rage withheld until the fight is almost over
Face it all son, keep the rein in good and tight
Grinning bloody through the carnage thunder
‘Let the blood flow till he’s back in front.’
A break, tuck the edge, and enswell stiffly
A hand-clasp to his feet – he trusts your poise
A nod; you’ll see him at the end, come swiftly
Let him go, steady now into the noise

Back into the ring, my son, unburied

For me, there can only be one song to include in this post – The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel

The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel:

I think I’m going to have to set up a new category on my sidebar as I realise this must be at least the fifth song featured around here by that talented duo from Queens, NYC. I really don’t think I remember the song from when it would have appeared in the UK Singles Chart in 1969, but when a friend gave me a home-recorded cassette tape (naughty) with their greatest hits a few years later, it was one of the stand out songs for me and often listened to. It apparently took 100 hours to record in two different studios in two cities, and in a church with a tiled dome which had great acoustics. The legendary record executive Clive Davis was told a standard 8-track recorder wasn’t going to be enough for all their material, so he stumped up for a 16-track, and it shows.

I hadn’t heard of the term placeholder before but it’s what they call the part of a song where they just haven’t come up with the lyrics yet. The temporary bit where any old words or sounds can slot in. When Paul Simon couldn’t find the words to replace the lie la lie chorus, it was left as was, unintentionally giving the song international appeal.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I have been a very part-time student over the last eight months, and each semester’s work is packed into an intense ten-week period so not been too onerous at all. Just got the results of my last assignment back though and pleased to report that all these years later I’m still a straight A’s student (fairly normal nowadays but it used to mean you were a swot). Sadly at this rate I’ll be drawing my state pension before I finish the full degree I embarked on last year, so I suspect that won’t be happening. I think I have another year left in me however of juggling the various commitments I seem to have taken on of late as well as doing the course. No more poetry next year, but glad my talented fellow student will still be by my side, as I can’t wait to see what wonderful material is still in her arsenal. I suspect it will be epic.

Until next time….

The Boxer Lyrics
(Song by Paul Simon)

I am just a poor boy
Though my story’s seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles, such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

When I left my home and my family
I was no more than a boy
In the company of strangers
In the quiet of the railway station
Running scared,
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go
Looking for the places
Only they would know

Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie

Asking only workman’s wages
I come looking for a job
But I get no offers
Just a come-on from the whores
On Seventh Avenue
I do declare
There were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there, le le le le le le le

Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie

Then I’m laying out my winter clothes
And wishing I was gone
Going home
Where the New York City winters
Aren’t bleeding me
Leading me
Going home

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev’ry glove that laid him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains, mmm mmm

Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie
Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie……
Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie

Grace Slick, “White Rabbit” and NaPoWriMo

Not a lot of writing around here for a while as I’ve been a bit preoccupied with writing elsewhere. Last time I posted something, it was about the Weekend Residential I had in Cromarty with my college classmates (link here). I had been a bit harsh about the regime (no alcohol allowed on the premises, lots of uber-healthy foodstuffs etc), but you know what, by the end of the weekend we had all really bonded and have been in constant touch ever since. I had written that post on the Saturday morning, but by Saturday evening I had kind of fallen in with the music-loving group of students who had brought guitars and fiddles. An impromptu jamming session began in the big kitchen on the ground floor. I was amazed at how many older songs these youngsters knew well, many of which have put in an appearance around here. One of our number was a young student with a fantastic voice, who could have given Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane a run for her money when performing her version of White Rabbit (the backstory to that song in a previous post, link here).

White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane:

I would never have known this had it not been for the course, but April is NaPoWriMo, otherwise known as National Poetry Writing Month. The challenge is to write 30 poems during the month, one every day. There is a closed group set up on Facebook for our class, and everyone is manfully posting their efforts on a daily basis. I’m in awe of the talent within our little group, and of course feel as if my own efforts fall short. They still don’t know about this place, and I’m going to keep it that way, which means I can anonymously share some of our efforts in honour of this fantastic creative project.

poets corner

Presumed Paris Syndrome

‘Creatures scratchin’….
A new moon, a sideways glance
A friend she ain’t made yet
Raising a feathered hand at the bar

She’s loose in the French Quarter
Allowed to dip her toe in
(Because even in her dreams she ain’t that golden)

Cloistered black magnolia shadows
Dripping deep ripples into purple pools

A whole city drenched in graveyards
Night-wakeful, and bloodshot
This; where the old gods came to die
or at least drink heavily
Before whispers sucked ’em down into molasses

She’s heard voices talking this city up for years
A long black coat hanging just inside the door
Crickets in his footsteps

When the city’s hot and sticky on your back
Like a drunk you had to come and carry home
Throttle of a motorcycle, opened up on a straight stretch
Out to the bayou where the gallow trees hang low at 3pm

She drinks burgundy here
And sleeps in the afternoon
Because the nights are incandescent.

A slither, aged shiver
Full of heavy mud, meconium
Passing like a paddle in the painted-silver night
Suzanne sits pitting pebbles
Orange seeds in clefs and trebles
Underneath a red Louisiana moon

From the other end of the spectrum…

Heilan’ Coo

I’ll write a haiku
aboot a big heilan’ coo
ginger, hairy, moo

And finally…

The “B” Word (A Brexit Acrostic)

Ballsed-up badly – It was supposed to be advisory
Rigidly stuck to her plan, didn’t make it revisory
Exiting Strangeways in a straightjacket, would have been easier
X marks the spot for those who peddle political amnesia
If democracy fails, will anarchy sweep the land?
Theresa of the Wheat Fields, it’s in the palm of your hand

I’ll leave it up to you to guess which of the above (first drafts) is mine, if any.

At this point I thought it would be great to share a clip of Saturday morning kid’s telly stalwarts Trev and Simon, performing something from Poetry Corner. Sadly my memory had let me down and it was Singing Corner they championed. Poetry Corner was a feature from Harry Hill’s Saturday night telly show. There are loads of examples, but these will give you the gist.

No lyrics this time as lots of poetry type stuff already included in this one.

In other news however, Theresa May has been From Paris to Berlin as she is still Looking For A Way Out. Yes, she has found herself in a bit of hole, but not as black as the one they’ve finally managed to take a picture of. Turns out the heart of the galaxy looks a bit like a Halloween pumpkin with one eye. Who knew?

BBVNQks.jpgUntil next time….

Postscript:

How bizarre. I woke up this morning to discover the new extension date for us leaving the EU is the 31st October, Halloween. I think a few heads had been turned yesterday by that photo of the black hole, and they too subliminally decided it looked like a giant pumpkin, so set the date accordingly. Lots more bats in the belfry before then no doubt.

The Band, “The Weight” and a Bit of a Puzzler.

A while back I featured this song by Abba in one of my posts, and it led to a new discovery for me. I wouldn’t have spotted it myself, but in the comments boxes at the time, The Swede pointed out that one of the albums Agnetha was sadly, post-divorce, storing away in her new abode, was Music From Big Pink recorded in 1968 by The Band (all happens very quickly at 0:58).

Back in 1968 I definitely wouldn’t have known about The Band and to be honest even in 1981 when the Abba video came out, all I knew of them was that they used to play with Bob Dylan and made a documentary movie called The Last Waltz.

Since having their great album cover pointed out to me however, I have been bombarded with references to it, especially after asking for song suggestions for the state of Pennsylvania for my American Odyssey series. Turns out their song The Weight, written by Band member Robbie Robertson, is about a traveller’s experiences arriving, visiting, and departing a town called Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Robbie chose this town  because it was the home of Martin Guitars, and he had written the guitar parts for Music From Big Pink on a 1951 Martin D-28. The Weight has been named as one of the best songs of the ’60s and is named as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

The Weight by The Band:

The song was also featured the other week over at Rich Kamerman’s place, his Satur-debut post having been dedicated to Music From Big Pink. I of course had to point out my discovery that the album puts in an appearance in that 1981 Abba video, but after checking the exact location (0:58 as it turns out), I noticed that Agnetha places a second album on the shelf straight afterwards. For the last fortnight or so I have been driving myself mad trying to work out what it is, so if anyone can help me out I would be most grateful? At one point I thought it was Boz Scaggs Silk Degrees, but on closer inspection, definitely not. A bench it seems, and people in white clothing, but other than that I’m stumped. It has to be from earlier than 1981 otherwise we would be having a weird wibbly wobbly timey wimey kind of thing going on, but as I say, any help in identifying it would be much appreciated.

As for the title of the album Music From Big Pink, I have now discovered it’s because the music was composed partly in “Big Pink”, the house shared by several of the band members in West Saugerties, New York. The cover artwork is a painting by Bob Dylan. I am no art expert, so it could either be a work of genius or the daubs of a child, but whatever it is considered to be, it certainly does make for memorable cover art.

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Big Pink with its pastel siding

So, “What’s It All About?” – So many songs make reference to other songs in their lyrics but it also seems that reference is made to other albums in videos. Makes sense as in the giant oak that is rock and pop’s family tree, everyone is influenced by someone else. Where did it all begin? Who knows, but like human life itself, I suspect it all came Out of Africa.

Bit of a heavy ending there so going to add some footage from the Martin Scorsese film The Last Waltz, the song this time being The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. The Last Waltz was originally the name of a concert held on Thanksgiving Day 1976, at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. It was advertised as The Band’s “farewell concert appearance”, and they were joined by more than a dozen special guests, including Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Ronnie Wood, Muddy Waters, Neil Young, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Dr. John, Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell, and The Staple Singers. The event was filmed and made into a documentary of the same title, released in 1978.

Before next time, I hope someone can help me out with the puzzler?

The Weight Lyrics
(Song by Robbie Robertson)

I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin’ about half past dead
I just need some place where I can lay my head
“Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?”
He just grinned and shook my hand, “no” was all he said

Take a load off, Annie
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Annie
And (and, and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)

I picked up my bag, I went lookin’ for a place to hide
When I saw Carmen and the Devil walkin’ side by side
I said, “Hey, Carmen, come on let’s go downtown.”
She said, “I gotta go but my friend can stick around.”

Take a load off, Annie
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Annie
And (and, and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)

Go down, Miss Moses, there’s nothin’ you can say
It’s just old Luke and Luke’s waitin’ on the Judgment Day
“Well, Luke, my friend, what about young Anna Lee?”
He said, “Do me a favor, son, won’t you stay and keep Anna Lee company?”

Take a load off, Annie
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Annie
And (and, and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)

Crazy Chester followed me and he caught me in the fog
He said, “I will fix your rack if you take Jack, my dog.”
I said, “Wait a minute, Chester, you know I’m a peaceful man.”
He said, “That’s OK, boy, won’t you feed him when you can?”

Yeah, take a load off, Annie
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Annie
And (and, and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)

Catch a cannon ball now to take me down the line
My bag is sinkin’ low and I do believe it’s time
To get back to Miss Annie, you know she’s the only one
Who sent me here with her regards for everyone

Take a load off, Annie
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Annie
And (and, and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)

Peter Tork, The Monkees and “Shades of Gray”

Saddened to hear the news that Peter Tork of the Monkees has died. Since starting this project, where I journey back in time reminiscing about the music of my youth, it has become apparent that it all started for me at around the age of six, which in my case was 1966. Coincidentally that was when the Monkees first made an appearance on our black and white television screens, and although I was aware of other artists who popped up on the prime time slots watched by my mum and dad, the Monkees belonged to me.

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Peter Tork, RIP

I am sorry Peter, but the Monkee I was most infatuated with at age six, was Davy Jones, and one of the first posts I published on this blog was about him (link here). But you Peter, were the Howard Donald of the Monkees. You weren’t the cutest or the zaniest; you had a bowl haircut, didn’t wear a hat and were the oldest of the group; but like Howard of Take That fame, in time you became my favourite Monkee.

Despite being an accomplished Greenwich Village folk musician when you got the role in the sitcom that would change your life, at the start you weren’t even allowed to play your own instruments. That would change with time however, and you became the man in charge of keyboards and bass. You didn’t get the role of star vocalist very often, but here is a lovely song where you did share lead vocals with Davy Jones. Shades of Gray (American spelling of grey) is also very apt for this post, as it starts off with the lines:

When the world and I were young
Just yesterday
Life was such a simple game
A child could play, (yes, that would have been 1966 for me)

and ends with the verse:

But today there is no day or night
Today there is no dark or light
Today there is no black or white
Only shades of gray, (oh yes, as our politicians can testify, how complicated life has become in 2019)

Shades of Gray was another of those great ’60s songs written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. It was recorded by The Monkees for their 1967 album “Headquarters” and was the first song on which the group played all their own instruments.

But here is another great song from that era, the clip this time in colour, where the boys are wearing those iconic dark red shirts with the silver buttons. Of course back in 1966 we wouldn’t have known their shirts were red, would we, because we watched telly in black and white? But here is where I beg to differ. Our local football team, Aberdeen FC played in red, and whenever their matches were aired on television, the grey of their shirts matched the grey of the Monkees shirts. At age six I was obviously pretty good at working out what the colours should be, based on the shades of grey of the various team shirts. Living in a football loving household meant you developed all sorts of useful skills of a televisual nature.

Last Train To Clarksville by the Monkees:

Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart wrote Last Train To Clarksville as a protest to the Vietnam War but had to keep that quiet in order to get it recorded. It is about a guy who gets drafted, and the train is taking him to the army base. He knows he may die in Vietnam, and at the end of the song he states, “I don’t know if I’m ever coming home.”

Peter Tork was one of the many artists of my youth to have been born in 1942, right in the middle of a World War, but yet a vintage year for the birth of future musical legends (what was that all about?). Unlike in 2016, when I started this blog, I haven’t actually written any tributes so far this year. Cross fingers there won’t be too many more, but considering the span of time I write about here, I suspect there will be. A great chance to revisit the music though, and I have a feeling that a lot of people who had all but forgotten about the Monkees, might have had a sneaky peek at an old clip of Daydream Believer yesterday – I know I did.

the monkeesUntil next time…

Shades of Gray Lyrics
(Song by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil)

When the world and I were young
Just yesterday
Life was such a simple game
A child could play
It was easy then to tell right from wrong
Easy then to tell weak from strong
When a man should stand and fight
Or just go along

But today there is no day or night
Today there is no dark or light
Today there is no black or white
Only shades of gray

I remember when the answers seemed so clear
We had never lived with doubt or tasted fear
It was easy then to tell truth from lies
Selling out from compromise
Who to love and who to hate
The foolish from the wise

But today there is no day or night
Today there is no dark or light
Today there is no black or white
Only shades of gray

It was easy then to know what was fair
When to keep and when to share
How much to protect your heart
And how much to care

But today there is no day or night
Today there is no dark or light
Today there is no black or white
Only shades of gray
Only shades of gray