Rod Stewart, Decade by Decade #1 – “Handbags and Gladrags”

I find it hard to believe I have been bashing out my musical memories in this blog for nearly three years now, yet haven’t really included much at all by Mr, or Sir as he is now, Rod Stewart. Today sees the release of his 30th studio album called “Blood Red Roses”, so inevitably he was on the radio this morning performing songs from it. Fair play to him, he still has the voice, and has really enjoyed his song-writing of late, delving deep into his past coming up with autobiographical tales about the people and places encountered on the way. Always a bit of a dandy, he still seems to be in great shape and still always looks dapper, with the trademark spiky “Rod the Mod” hairstyle laboriously coiffed into shape.

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Rod Stewart is another of these artists who has had such longevity that I can’t remember a time when he wasn’t around. He was born towards the tail end of the war, in Highgate, North London, the last son to a Scottish father and English mother. The baby of the family by eight years, he admits to having been thoroughly spoiled and had a wonderful childhood. Not being particularly academic, he left school aged 15 planning to pursue one of his two great loves, football or music. Despite trials with a few clubs the football didn’t work out, so thankfully for us, the world of music beckoned.

I remember trying to find out a bit more about early Rod Stewart a few years ago, ahead of going to see him perform at our local stadium, and found he’d first joined a band in 1959. This makes him one of the few artists still performing today, to have had a career that at a push, spans seven decades. I can’t seem to find where I got that info now but whatever, he certainly has had a long and colourful career. A few changes in direction along the way means he probably lost a few original fans, but then gained a whole set of new fans. I think it would be churlish for any of us now however, to look back at his career with anything other than awe. In his back catalogue, there is most definitely something for everyone.

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Steampacket

I’m going to keep this post relatively short as it’s going to be the first in a Rod Stewart series covering each decade of his recording career. The 1960s saw Rod masquerading first as a Beatnik, then a Mod, singing with bands such as Long John Baldry’s Hoochie Coochie Men, and then Steampacket. Towards the end of the decade he had joined the Jeff Beck Group which was when he first played with long-term friend Ronnie Wood. At the same time however he was pursuing a solo career, and in 1969 released his first album, “An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down”. I’m afraid I don’t remember Rod from this era at all, as he just didn’t fall into the category of artist a pre-teen would have been aware of (basically he wasn’t an Osmond or a Jackson), but in later years the song Handbags and Gladrags, written by Mike D’Abo of Manfred Mann, has become one of my favourites. This song was covered by Rod on his debut album and it still sends shivers down my spine when I hear it.

Handbags and Gladrags (Live version) by Rod Stewart:

The song was apparently about the futility of fashion and the irrelevance of outward appearances, which is a bit ironic considering how much of a dandy Rod has been over the years. For me though, it still kind of smarts when I listen to it, as the memories come back of the times I was probably less than grateful as a youngster. My granny was a fantastically talented knitter, and loved making me jumpers and “tank tops” (remember them?). Sadly, these home-knitted affairs were just not appreciated, and never worn, as by the time you reach your teenage years the only “duds” you want to wear are those identical to your peers. Acrylic V-necks from Chelsea Girl I seem to remember, rather than those lovingly crafted Aran sweaters. Likewise, the annual trek to buy new school shoes and winter boots usually ended in tears. Who wanted fur-lined leather boots from Clarks, when True Form and Dolcis had all those lovely synthetic boots with platform soles? A familiar tale back then, and probably now, but this song always reminds me of those battles. All these years later and I still feel bad about those gorgeous Aran sweaters that mouldered at the back of the wardrobe.

So, my first Rod Stewart post is at an end, but I already have a good idea of which songs I’m going to cover in this series. It was lovely hearing him chat and sing on the radio this morning. Long may he continue.

Until next time….

Handbags and Gladrags Lyrics
(Song by Mike D’Abo)

Ever seen a blind man cross the road
Trying to make the other side?
Ever seen a young girl growing old
Trying to make herself a bride?

So what becomes of you my love
When they have finally stripped you of
The handbags and the gladrags
That your poor old Grandad had to sweat to buy you

Once I was a young man
And all I thought I had to do was smile
Well you are still a young girl
And you’ve bought everything in style

So once you think you’re in you’re out
‘Cause you don’t mean a single thing without
The handbags and the gladrags
That your poor old Grandad had to sweat to buy you

Sing a song of six-pence for your sake
And drink a bottle full of rye
Four and twenty blackbirds in a cake
And bake ’em all in a pie

They told me you missed school today
So what I suggest you just throw them all away
The handbags and the gladrags
That your poor old Grandad had to sweat to buy

They told me you missed school today
So what I suggest you just throw them all away
The handbags and the gladrags
That your poor old Grandad had to sweat to buy you

Sleepless Nights, “Please Mr. Postman” and Songs About Aretha

Tuesday, 21st August, 9.30am

Well, as I sit down to start blogging for the first time in a couple of weeks, I feel a little nauseous – No, not at the thought of blogging, but because half and hour ago I had to leap out of bed and get ready to face the day at breakneck speed. The reason for this haste? – I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of the postman!

This sounds ridiculous I know, but since giving up work last year I’ve been able to have a more laissez-faire attitude to becoming suited and booted by 8am every morning. Problem is, once you log on for the day, the hours and minutes can whizz by and I sometimes find myself still in pyjamas when the doorbell rings, knowing full well it will be our smiling postman, with some parcel or other I have to sign for. I probably imagine it, but he makes me feel like a tardy teen who has been festering under the duvet, as opposed to a busy bee who has already put on a washing, tidied the kitchen, paid a few bills and checked the various email accounts. To compensate I end up gibbering, telling him about everything that is going on in my life, but a nice little exchange all the same. My friend the postman is the only person other than my family (and the blogging fraternity who very kindly take the time to read my posts) who knows of the journey I have been on over the last year, since deciding the world of the paperless office was not for me.

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As this blog always features a song or two, this would therefore seem like the perfect time to squeeze in something I have long wanted to include, Please Mr. Postman. Now this is a song I am very familiar with as one of my favourite duos, the Carpenters, got to No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart in 1975 with their version. It started out however as the debut single for the Marvelettes and in late 1961 became the first Motown song to reach the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The Beatles started performing it as part of their live set at the Cavern Club in 1962 and also included it on one of their first albums. Here is a great clip from those days, the boys dressed in their very smart suits complete with snake hips and mop top haircuts. They would have had no idea back then of what was yet to come.

Last time the Beatles cropped up around these parts was when I did a compare and contrast (link here) between their version of Ticket to Ride and the slower paced one, yet again, by the Carpenters. Seems like a good time to offer up both versions of Mr Postman then (although I won’t inflict the Carpenter’s official Disney-themed video clip on you). Which one do you prefer, or would it be the original by the Marvelettes that floats your boat?

Please Mr. Postman by the Carpenters:

But I digress and have yet to explain my morning nausea caused by leaping out of bed at such speed. I woke up last night at 3.30am, which is fairly normal for me, but I usually get back to sleep at some point and get a few extra hours in before the 7 o’clock alarm goes off. Last night however I didn’t, as I had committed the cardinal sin of surfing the net on my phone before going to sleep as I still hadn’t worked out the angle I was going to take when I eventually get round to writing my Aretha Franklin tribute. Not so long ago, after “experiencing” the song I Say A Little Prayer at great volume on the car radio, I wrote another compare and contrast post (link here). The Aretha version of course won hands down, but other than that I’m finding it difficult to find a personal connection to her music. I can see how she came along at just the right time, when America was going through a period of massive change, but having been born about 20 years later in rural Scotland, other than appreciating that great voice and the passion with which she sang, nothing much else for me to write about.

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Aretha Franklin 1942- 2018

So, the last thing I did last night before switching off my phone was to visit some of the other blogs in my little circle to remind myself what they had written about Aretha. Last week, even before it was announced she had passed away, CC over at Charity Chic Music had posted something very fitting and then Rol dedicated the whole weekend on his My Top Ten blog to the lady and her music. Both of these dedicated daily bloggers chose to include the song Aretha by Rumer and that was the cause of last night’s sleeplessness – After listening to it twice before turning the lights out, it was the first thing to enter my head when I woke up at 3.30am and subsequently formed an earworm for the rest of the night however hard I tried to get back to sleep. As earworms go it’s a very pleasing one, and quite a soporific one you would have thought, Rumer having a voice not that dissimilar to the late great Karen Carpenter. But no, last night it just didn’t work out that way at all.

Aretha by Rumer:

Typically though, once Mr WIAA said goodbye and headed off to work, I slipped into a deep, deep earworm-free sleep, waking up far too late, thus the mad panic to get up and dressed before the postman’s inevitable ring of the doorbell. I made it, just, and so avoided that feeling of guilt at not being up and at it yet. Despite often talking gibberish of a morning, I decided that to recount the tale of the “Rumer earworm” was taking casual conversation a tad too far, so on this occasion resisted – Lucky chap!

As for the tribute song, I may not have had a personal connection to Aretha and her music, but the narrator in this song certainly does – All about a girl who goes to school listening to Aretha Franklin on her headphones. Like the fate of so many others, she’s having trouble there, and as her mother seems to be suffering from depression, she doesn’t have anyone to turn to. Fortunately Aretha comes to life in her imagination, encouraging her to stand up for herself and strike out on her own. The songwriter was asked why she chose Aretha Franklin: “She’s the Queen of Soul. If you’re going to write about somebody who embodies the spirit of music itself you go to the top of the list – and there she is. Her voice is probably the closest you get to God. There’s an incredible amount of passion and heartbreak in her voice as she’s lost a lot of family members. She’s just got something in her voice that puts her at the top of the tree and there’s no negotiation.” And on that note, I think I’ve just written my tribute post.

Until next time, RIP Aretha Franklin.

Aretha Lyrics
(Song by Steve Brown/Sarah Joyce)

I got Aretha in the morning
High on my headphones and walking to school
I got the blues in springtime ’cause I know that I’ll never have the right shoes

Mamma she’d notice but she’s always crying
I got no one to confide in, Aretha nobody but you
Momma she’d notice but she’s always fighting
Something in her mind and it sounds like breaking glass

I tell Aretha in the morning
High on my headphones and walking to school
I got the blues in springtime ’cause I know that I’ll never have the right shoes

You got the words, baby you got the words
You got the words, baby you got the words

“Oh Aretha
Aretha, I don’t want to go to school
‘Cause they just don’t understand me and I think the place is cruel”

“Child singer, raise your voice
Stand up on your own, go out there and strike out”

I tell Aretha in the morning
High on my headphones and walking to school
I got the blues in springtime ’cause I know that I’ll never have the right shoes
But I got the words

A Week Is A Long Time In Blogging – The Eclectic Mix of Bernard Cribbins and Nancy Wilson

Just over a month ago I wrote seven posts in seven days, and it was actually remarkably easy. Now that I’m back to one post per week, it’s somehow become a bit more difficult. Partly down to the fine weather and the fact Mr WIAA is on holiday from his paid employment (as opposed to the wonderful world of self-employment which must still continue over the summer months), but mainly because there seems to be just so much going on at the moment, both in the wider world and domestically. Every time I think I have an idea for the following week’s post, and start working on it, by the time I’ve gathered my thoughts we’ve moved on to something else.

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Melania – “How did I get here?”

Since pressing the publish button last week we’ve had two high profile resignations from the cabinet, our government seems to be in total disarray with regards to what our future relationship with Europe will be and the POTUS and FLOTUS flew across for a visit. As expected the POTUS made a few monumental gaffes, whilst the ever-elegant FLOTUS just looks like a trophy wife who still can’t quite believe what has happened to her.

On a happier note we saw the miraculous rescue of 12 Thai boys and their football coach from flooded underground caves. I am in awe of what the divers went through in order to facilitate that rescue. Sporting-wise, we’ve had the closing stages of the World Cup where England nearly made it to the final, but fell at the hands of Croatia, a country with a population of 4 million. The Men’s Wimbledon Final took place on Sunday where the Serbian with the haircut that never changes recaptured his tennis mojo, and took the big prize.

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In the more frivolous sections of the media we found out lots about the goings on in the Love Island villa (they do like to “crack on”, discuss their “connections” and parade around in barely there swimsuits). It also seems that the youngest of the Kardashian clan, aged only 20, is likely to become a billionaire in the very near future courtesy of a make-up range that the Love Island girls would no doubt approve of – Lots of products aimed at plumping the lips to cartoonish proportions.

So, that’s the wider world taken care of in three paragraphs, what’s been happening domestically? Well, DD has landed herself a new job which she is really pleased about and with Mr WIAA on holiday, we finally got the bit between our teeth and started doing all those jobs round the house that have been staring us down for months. Sadly there is nothing more likely to cause marital strife in our house than a spot of DIY, so needless to say tempers are frayed. Much moving around of furniture has had to be done, but if punctuated by frequent stops for a cuppa, it’s all bearable. Cue Bernard Cribbins and that great wee ditty from the early ’60s, Right Said Fred.

Today I finally finished “the kitchen project” which started a long, long… six months ago. The reliable, skilled tradespersons we had always hoped to commandeer never materialised, so a lesser tradesperson called Alyson did the lion’s share of the tiling, decorating and up-cycling of furniture. Back in January it only took 8 days to rip out the old kitchen and install a new one, complete with appliances, but it’s just taken me 14 days to sand down the old table and chairs, then re-varnish and paint them in another colour. Blame all the false starts for the length of time taken, but now that it’s finished, I’m really chuffed with myself.

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Finally finished!

One condition I have when decorating is that Mr WIAA does all the cleaning of brushes, especially if white spirit is involved. Such a messy business and really hard nowadays to dispose of all that cloudy solvent when you’re finished. Other than that however I am more than happy to spend my days up a stepladder, or crouched at skirting board level, transforming tired rooms into freshly painted ones. The best bit about decorating is being able to listen to the radio, totally guilt-free, for hours on end. I say guilt-free because I am incapable of doing anything that requires any modicum of concentration (computer stuff generally) and listen to the radio at the same time, so I have to limit my listening pleasure.

The kind of mainstream stations I tend to listen to don’t often play songs I’m unfamiliar with, but every now and again they surprise me, and this week I have a few new songs to add to the ever-growing database that constitutes the tracks of my years. This next song, like Right Said Fred, is from the early ’60s but a very different animal indeed. I don’t know if this is unusual for someone of my vintage but I was unaware of American artist Nancy Wilson until this week. Once I got past the idea that she sounded a little like our own Shirley Bassey I really warmed to her, and loved this little gem of a song that popped up on one of the radio playlists. Yes, it gets the prize for earworm of the week, and you don’t know, you don’t know, you don’t know, you don’t know… how glad I am, about that

(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am by Nancy Wilson:

(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am was a hit in the US for Nancy Wilson in the summer of 1964. It also received the Grammy Award in the R&B category the following year. Someone I had been unaware of until this week but someone I might like to investigate a little further once some semblance of a normal routine returns.

Hopefully by next week it’ll be back to business as usual but not always easy at this time of year to keep the pot boiling as my mum would say. I still have another post idea to tackle as a result of having thrown down the gauntlet a few weeks ago. Not going to be easy however, so to the person who suggested it, still on the back burner at the moment but will definitely appear in due course. In the meantime I’ll just “crack on” (as the Love Islanders would say) with all these decorating jobs and if it looks as if tempers are starting to fray, I’ll take advice from good old Bernard Cribbins and ‘ave a cuppa tea. Unlike Nancy Wilson, I don’t think my love (for Mr WIAA) at the moment has no beginning, end, front or back but fortunately it’s all just temporary!

Until next time….

(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am Lyrics
(Song by Jimmy Williams/Larry Harrison)

My love has no beginning, my love has no end
No front or back and my love won’t bend
I’m in the middle, lost in a spin loving you
And you don’t know, you don’t know
You don’t know, you don’t know how glad I am

My love has no bottom, my love has no top
My love won’t rise and my love won’t drop
I’m in the middle and I can’t stop loving you
And you don’t know, you don’t know
You don’t know, you don’t know how glad I am

I wish I were a poet so I could express
What I’d, what I’d like to say yeah
I wish I were an artist so I could paint a picture
Of how I feel, of how I feel today

My love has no walls on either side
That makes my love wider than wide
I’m in the middle and I can’t hide loving you

And you don’t know, you don’t know
You don’t know, you don’t know how glad I am

Seven in Seven #7: The Summing Up, Matt Monro and “Born Free”

Day Seven of my challenge to write seven posts in seven days.

Well, as this is my 7th post, it seems I’ve achieved my goal of writing “Seven in Seven”. This was a self-imposed challenge (ahead of applying for a college course) to find out if I actually had the free time and the discipline to do it, and I’ve not been found wanting. Did I enjoy it however? – Not so much.

7For me at this stage in my blogging career, it’s the feedback and discussion part that I enjoy as much as the actual writing. Over the last week I didn’t want regular visitors to feel under pressure to leave comments, but now that I’ve done about two months worth of blogging in nine days (it actually turned out to be “Eight in Nine”), it’s back to business as usual – Feel free to leave comments, and as you all know by now, I always reply! By checking out my stats for the last week I’m guessing posts about weddings, and gardening, are not top of the pops, so that’s good to know going forward.

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Now that I’ve kind of caught up with the “posts pending” in my blogging notebook (it’s a thing), I’m going to throw down the gauntlet and hand over to you guys, the people who visit this place. I’m always up for a challenge so if you have any ideas of your own for a blog post that could include a featured song, feel free to let me know via the comments boxes, or indeed the Contact Me page. You perhaps don’t always enjoy doing the research, but I do, so as long as it involves a song or artist that I’m likely to have heard of, I’m up for it. (And to the person who contacted me recently about writing a fan fiction story involving David Cassidy and a Princess, not usually my thing, but I promise to give it some serious thought.)

But what to include song-wise, in this, the seventh and final post in the series? Well I didn’t really want to admit it, but for me it seems that blogging has become an alternative form of social media. I have kind of put the more mainstream platforms behind me of late (that would be Facebook then), as anything remotely insightful was always met with a tumbleweed moment, whereas a cute cat video could go viral. Whilst in the car yesterday, Matt Monro’s version of the song Born Free came on the radio, so as an homage to all forms of mainstream social media (and to try and entice back my followers), I too am going to share a cute cat video.

Born Free by Matt Monro:

Born Free was of course written for the 1966 film of the same name and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. It starred the real life couple Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, and the making of the film was a life-changing experience for both of them, as they became animal rights activists and were instrumental in creating the Born Free Foundation. If you’ve never watched the film, I urge you to seek it out, but it’s a real tear-jerker in places and I did shed a tear just watching this short trailer yesterday (although a lot to do with the fact that Virginia McKenna reminds me of my late mother-in-law…., scarily so).

As for the song, it’s a firm favourite in our house along with another Matt Monro classic from the movies, On Days Like These. If ever he’s feeling a bit blue, Mr WIAA takes himself off to watch our copy of The Italian Job where the song is played during the opening titles. Lyricist Don Black managed British singer Matt Monro at the time, and made him the film industry’s go-to guy when it came to recording soundtrack themes. The producer of these themes was always, not surprisingly, George Martin.

R-5906845-1406016734-2141So, “What’s It All About?” – My Seven in Seven challenge is now done and dusted so back to business as usual (which is probably around one published post per week). I’ve learnt a lot though, about my ability to put in the hours and about the kind of blogging I enjoy most. Note to self however – Music bloggers are not too keen on wedding, or gardening posts. If the gauntlet is indeed picked up, not expecting any songs covering those themes to pop up (although I do have a good Billy Idol/White Wedding anecdote).

Until next time….

Born Free Lyrics
(Song by Don Black/John Barry)

Born free, as free as the wind blows
As free as the grass grows
Born free to follow your heart

Live free and beauty surrounds you
The world still astounds you
Each time you look at a star

Stay free where no walls divide you
You’re free as the roaring tide
So there’s no need to hide

Born free and life is worth living
But only worth living
‘Cause you’re born free

Stay free where no walls divide you
You’re free as the roaring tide
So there’s no need to hide

Seven in Seven #2: Butcher’s Shops, Open Mic Nights and “(Bacon) Breaking Up Is Hard to Do”!

Day Two of my annual challenge to write seven posts in seven days. No pressure on regular visitors to leave comments though, and these are going to have to be much shorter posts than usual, but I have a bit of a backlog of blog ideas building up so here’s a chance to play catch up. Fell at the first hurdle last year so lets hope I fare better this year.

First of all, if you are a vegetarian or indeed a vegan you might not want to read this post as it involves a butcher’s shop – The inspiration that led me to write about a butcher’s shop in a music blog is because last Saturday, the day after the wedding in Berkshire, we visited the town of Marlow.

Not much sign of austerity down there I must admit, and not many high street shops closing their doors – No, all very buoyant and wealthy it seems, so the very place for a celebrity chef to open an upmarket hostelry, or two. The Butcher’s Tap is run by the Michelin starred chef Tom Kerridge and is just what it says on the tin (or the signage) – A butcher’s shop, that also serves beer. We popped in for a look but were on our way for lunch elsewhere so didn’t dilly-dally too long – The shop looked great but the prices were most definitely not what we are used to at our local Asda or Lidl. Then again I don’t think the people of Marlow look as if they would ever frequent Asda or Lidl, but maybe I’m making unfair assumptions.

Outside the Butcher’s Tap was a sandwich board where someone had written in beautiful chalk lettering that there was to be an Open Mic Night the following week. We all found this quite funny, it being a butcher’s shop an’ all. Inevitably the puns started to flow as to who would be performing, and if they were indeed singers, what would the song be?

Over lunch we came up with the following artists…..

Chris de Burger
Meat Loaf
New Kidneys On The Block
The Cure
Steak That 
Boney M
Captain Beefheart

…..and as for the songs, these came to mind, although some are pretty offal:

Bacon Up Is Hard To Do by Neil Sedaka 
Turkey Turkey Cheep Cheep by Middle of the Road
Heart of Glass by Blondie

The Liver by Bruce Springsteen
Rabbit by Chas and Dave

But I know we only scratched the surface with these picks – I have no doubt there are many of you out there who could come up with much better suggestions (a certain blogger who tends to do things in tens comes to mind). Feel free to litter the comments boxes.

In the meantime I will leave you with this song, Bacon, I mean Breaking Up Is Hard To Do by Neil Sedaka as it was my favourite of our meat-related puns. This song was recorded by him twice, once in 1962 and once in 1975, the second being a slower ballad version. To be honest, the Neil Sedaka I remember best is not the pop teen sensation of the early ’60s who churned out successful hits like this one, but the Sedaka of the mid ’70s who was often to be seen popping up on TOTP with songs such as That’s When The Music Takes Me and Laughter In The Rain. To me at the time he seemed really old, but he would only have been in his mid-30s – It’s all relative. Neil certainly has been prolific having written over 500 songs during his long career and is still performing today.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do by Neil Sedaka:

So, two posts down and five to go – I already have an idea of what they’re going to be, but as ever new ideas can pop up in the course of the day that trump the planned post. In the meantime if anyone has any ideas for who could join my roster of artists at the Open Mic Night in the butcher’s shop, do share.

Until next time….

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do Lyrics
(Song by Neil Sedaka/Harold Greenfield)

Do do do
Down dooby doo down down
Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down
Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down
Breaking up is hard to do

Don’t take your love away from me
Don’t you leave my heart in misery
If you go then I’ll be blue
Cause breaking up is hard to do

Remember when you held me tight
And you kissed me all through the night
Think of all that we’ve been through
And breaking up is hard to do

They say that breaking up is hard to do
Now I know
I know that it’s true
Don’t say that this is the end
Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making up again

I beg of you don’t say goodbye
Can’t we give our love another try?
Come on, baby, let’s start anew
Cause breaking up is hard to do

(They say that breaking up is hard to do)
Now I know
I know that it’s true
(Don’t say that this is the end)
Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making up again

I beg of you don’t say goodbye
Can’t we give our love another try?
Come on, baby, let’s start anew
Cause breaking up is hard to do

(Down dooby doo down down)
Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down
Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down
Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down
Comma, comma, down dooby doo down

Spotlight Dances, The Marcels and “Blue Moon”

Since discovering that all full moons have a name (given to them by the Native Americans who kept track of the months by the lunar calendar), I have written about each one as they appear in our skies. To accompany the post I always include one of the numerous songs that have been written about the moon and its many foibles.

Well, we had a Blue Moon at the end of January, and now coinciding with Easter, we’re going to have another one at the end of March – All down to timing, as the cycle between full moons is 29 and a half days. The short month February had no full moon at all but both months on either side have had one at the beginning and at the end. This time however there are no complications with it being a Super Blue Blood Moon – Oh no, this time a run-of-the-mill Blue Moon, that name of course also used to describe something that “doesn’t come along very often” (although I beg to differ, as here we are already with two blue moons in the first quarter of the year, but highly unusual granted).

The Rodgers and Hart song Blue Moon is one I have been aware of for most of my life as it has been recorded by just about everyone (Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Billy Eckstine, Mel Tormé, The Supremes, Bing Crosby, Rod Stewart….), and also appeared in many of the old movies I watched on Sunday afternoons as a youngster.

The Dance Contest

The movie I now associate it with most however is Grease, as it was the song used for the “Spotlight Dance” when Danny Zuko and the brash usurper Cha-Cha DiGregorio take to the floor after winning the dance contest which is being broadcast live to an unsuspecting nation (who didn’t realise that a group of so-called “mooners” would gate-crash this bit of poetry in motion).

The Spotlight Dance

Blue Moon by Sha Na Na (aka Johnny Casino and the Gamblers):

And here is where I confused myself earlier in the year – Because this next version of Blue Moon is just so dissimilar from the original, I had convinced myself that it was actually a different song, which meant I would have had one to coincide with each of the blue moons we have had in our skies so far this year. But no, it is of course the same song, it’s just that back in 1961 the Marcels (named after the “marcel waved” hairstyles worn by some of the group) added an infectious, nonsensical introduction performed by bass singer Fred Johnson – Dang-a-dang-dang, ding-a-dong-ding and so on…..

The Marcels novelty version of Blue Moon was an instant hit and topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. They followed it with a series of less successful novelty versions of standards and then disbanded in the mid ’60s. Their version of Blue Moon, along with several other moon songs, featured in the John Landis film An American Werewolf in London (one of Mr WIAA’s favourites as he had a bit of a crush on Jenny Agutter as a young man – a common affliction it seems). Having just watched some of the clips that feature the song, all quite unpleasant, so I’ll spare you the gore and just add a picture of the delectable Nurse Alex Price, who until she met backpacker David Kessler was “without a dream in her heart, or a love of her own” (shame he turned out to be a werewolf).

So, “What’s It All About?” – It’s amazing how a single song can be covered just so many times over the years (it was first recorded in 1934), that it can end up barely recognisable compared to the original. Lots of examples out there, and although this time Blue Moon was given the full doo-wop treatment, other songs have been transformed into three minute ska, reggae, or disco triumphs. CC over at Charity Chic Music has run some excellent series over the last year asking us to compare and contrast cover versions to the originals, and I have also written a few posts that do just that (here and here). One of my most surprising discoveries was that the Blondie hit record Denis was actually a cover of a song called “Denise” by American doo-wop band Randy and the Rainbows.

But this is supposed to be a post about tomorrow night’s full moon, so just in case there is cloud cover and we don’t actually get to see it, here is another picture courtesy of my friend with the all singing, all dancing camera. It was taken at the end of January and was cleverly made into a bona fide Blue Moon using a special filter lens. I’m still hoping for a shot at some point that includes the moon alongside some of the amazing scenery we have up here, but not apparently always easy to capture. Only six posts into this series however, and seven to go, so still plenty of time!

Blue Moon highlands
The Blue Moon: Picture courtesy of R.J. and his favourite Nikon filter lens (it’s football related!)

Until next time, have a great Easter and look out for that Blue Moon on Saturday night.

Blue Moon Lyrics
(Song by Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart)

Blue Moon, you saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

Blue Moon, you knew just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for

And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will ever hold
I heard somebody whisper, ‘Please adore me’
And when I looked, the moon had turned to gold

Blue Moon, now I’m no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

Postscript:

One last thing – In case you haven’t heard of The Marcel Wave before, it looked like this…..

Bing+Crosby+A+Bing+Crosby+Collection+-+Vol-467446

…..and was invented by a Frenchman, who looked like this. Every day’s a school day!

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Snow Scenes, the Beatles and “Ticket to Ride”

Well, this post has come about because of the plethora of snow images that seem to have come my way this week. It’s been a really cold one and although we’ve avoided snowfall in our neck of the woods, I know that many other parts of the country have had a fair bit – Beautiful if falling in remote scenic places but a bit of a pain if you have to dig your car out for the commute to work.

Yesterday morning we had the Opening Ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics which are taking place this time in South Korea. A spectacle of a show as expected with technology playing a large part in the proceedings. I can hardly believe however that there is to be a joint Team Korea at these games. Athletes from the North and South walked into the stadium together, dressed in identical “cosy” outfits behind a unifying blue and white flag. Considering the childish badinage that has taken place between some of our world leaders of late (who really should know better), this was a wonderful sight – The power of sport in bringing people together toward a common goal.

winter olympics

But here are the pictures that have inspired today’s song choice. Our “across the road neighbours” got back from their skiing holiday this week and sent me a few of the shots they had taken there. Turns out they had visited Obertauern in Austria, which is where they filmed those very snowy segments for the Beatles film Help!. Over 50 years later and it seems that it’s still the resort’s main claim to fame, as the pictures below show.

Obertauern

Obertauern
Obertauern in Austria where the Beatles filmed Help!

I always loved the snow scenes in that film and of course that was also when the song Ticket to Ride was included, to accompany their “madcap” antics. The Beatles were dressed in those iconic outfits, black against the white snow, complete with top hats, cape-like jackets and “bunnets”.

To quote Paul:
“It was good to make Help! and it’s a nice film. It’s funny. It’s a period film now. We just took it all very lightly, we had a laugh, and in the snow. All the snow scenes were cos the lads wanted a holiday, they were fed up working.”

Ticket to Ride by the Beatles:

I am not going to insult anyone’s intelligence by explaining who the Beatles were so we’ll stick to the song. Released as a single in April 1965, it became the Beatles’ seventh consecutive No. 1 hit in the UK and their third consecutive No. 1 in the US. It similarly topped the charts in many other parts of the world. The song was recorded in London for the album “Help!” and it marked a progression in their work relative to previous releases. The Beatles it seems were growing up!

But of course being a great fan of the Carpenters, I will have to include their version which was originally recorded in 1969 but then re-recorded for their first Greatest Hits album in 1973. Arranged by Richard Carpenter, the song has a very different sound – The long piano intro means it doesn’t even really kick in until 0:35, and in the capable hands of Karen Carpenter, the line “I think I’m gonna be sad” sounds truly convincing.

No snow here today fortunately, and blue skies, so we’re going to head out shortly to enjoy the day. Hopefully these Winter Olympics in South Korea will provide a fair bit of entertainment over the next couple of weeks as unlike in years gone by, Team GB actually win a fair amount of medals nowadays, on the ice and on the snow. There are also usually a few locals in the Curling Team which always adds to the excitement and has made us all experts. It looks comical, but it’s always impressive how they can sweep the ice to make the stone curl, or go faster. I will leave you with a picture of the view I wake up to from my bedroom window if there’s been a fall of snow overnight – Lucky me, but sadly no Carpenters lurking amongst the trees in my forest!

45 22nd Dec Craig Phadrig hill covered in snow

Until next time….

Ticket to Ride Lyrics
(Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

I think I’m gonna be sad
I think it’s today, yeah
The girl that’s driving me mad
Is going away

She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
But she don’t care

She said that living with me
Is bringing her down, yeah
For she would never be free
When I was around

She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
But she don’t care

I don’t know why she’s riding so high
She ought to think twice
She ought to do right by me
Before she gets to saying goodbye
She ought to think twice
She ought to do right by me

I think I’m gonna be sad
I think it’s today, yeah
The girl that’s driving me mad
Is going away, yeah

Oh, she’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
But she don’t care

I don’t know why she’s riding so high
She ought to think twice
She ought to do right by me
Before she gets to saying goodbye
She ought to think twice
She ought to do right by me

She said that living with me
Is bringing her down, yeah
For she would never be free
When I was around

Ah, she’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
She’s got a ticket to ride
But she don’t care

My baby don’t care, my baby don’t care
My baby don’t care, my baby don’t care
My baby don’t care, my baby don’t care….