Austin Butler, Elvis (The Movie) and ‘Suspicious Minds’

In the early days of this blog there were a fair few Elvis Presley posts – in fact there is a category on my sidebar dedicated to him (link here) – but it’s not been added to for a long time, perhaps because everything I had to say about him has already been said. Until now.

It nearly didn’t happen, as the friend I was supposed to go and see the new Baz Luhrmann film Elvis with last week was struck down with covid. Last night was the last time it was showing at our local arts centre however, and she was still testing positive, so I persuaded Mr WIAA (he’s not a fan of Elvis so it was tough going), to come with me. Elvis was one of my first musical heroes so it was unthinkable that I might miss out on seeing this film on the big screen.

As it turned out we had a really sociable evening even before heading into the cinema. The deal struck was that I would drive, and Mr WIAA would enjoy a large glass of red wine in the bar ahead of the film starting. Once there, we both met old work colleagues and in Mr WIAA’s case, old friends from as far back as school days, one of whom is now DD’s boss. They were very complimentary about her abilities which is always nice to hear as a parent and of course a lot of catching up to be done. Ahead of the film starting we said our farewells, only of course to find ourselves sitting next to each other once inside. Typical.

But back to the film, I thought it was pretty fabulous actually. There is always a worry that the actor playing such an important role will not be believable, but Austin Butler was blisteringly perfect for it. Such a beautiful man too, just as the young Elvis was a beautiful, beautiful man. I use that word deliberately. I recently shared extracts from Caitlin Moran’s essay on what it takes to achieve the massive success bands like the Beatles found so quickly, and yes, it involves girls. Both the Beatles and Elvis, Frank Sinatra before them, and all those boys since have experienced the following:

They know there is a power they will never attain until they have stood in the white-noise of a theatre of devotion and seen the girls down the front collapse in ecstatic tears. (CM)

To experience that devotion you have to love girls, be on the side of girls, dress in dandy clothes like a girl, and most important of all, look beautiful like a girl. I was transfixed by Austin Butler’s cupid’s bow lips. For the duration of the film he had me convinced he was Elvis.

Sigh… those high cheekbones and the cupid’s bow lips

The storyline very much reflected the relationship between Elvis and his long time manager ‘Colonel’ Tom Parker. Tom Hanks, with his prosthetically enhanced nose and chin, did a fine job of playing the Colonel and acted as narrator throughout. I think most of us know the story by now of how the former carnival huckster wormed his way into his boy’s life and took total control, but watching the film it is understandable how the young Elvis and his parents were convinced he was the right man for the job. Every now and again it looked as if Elvis was going to stand up to him and make the break, only to be thwarted by some convincing talk from the Colonel that he knew best. Fortunately Elvis did stand his ground when it came to the ’68 Comeback Special, which was a triumph after his years of making lacklustre films in Hollywood. I still have the DVD of that show and unbelievably still have something to play it on, so will be seeking it out this weekend.

Throughout the film there were some incredible performances of many of the songs we associate with Elvis. I think Austin did some of the singing on the early ones but got a lot of help from the original recordings for the later years. All an absolute joy to watch however and I know I had a big smile on my face right the way through (also my right leg just wouldn’t stay still, shaking at breakneck speed in time to the music). Many of his songs have been shared around here before, but not this one. Most of us who were fans of Elvis prefer to forget about the latter years of his life (just too sad), but on the back of the ’68 Special, the Colonel arranged a six-week residency for him at the new International Hotel in Last Vegas. Elvis was fired up for it, was slim, dressed in a comfortable white jumpsuit and gave us some electrifying performances, especially this one which goes down in history I think as one of the most remarkable ever to have taken place. Elvis didn’t just sing songs, he became the song, and although not mathematically possible, he gave us 110%, every single time. (Gets really energetic in this clip from 2:45 onward.)

Suspicious Minds by Elvis Presley:


Suspicious Minds was a No. 1 hit for Elvis on the Billboard Chart and reached the No. 2 position in the UK in November 1969. It kickstarted things for him again and he followed it up with many other hit singles and albums. Although the song is about a dysfunctional relationship, during the film you couldn’t help but think the first lines of the lyric reflected Elvis’s life at the time. The Colonel effectively trapped him in Las Vegas, the residencies lasting for years as opposed to the six weeks originally planned. Elvis had wanted to tour the world, something he had never done before, but because of a deal struck on a napkin with the hotel owner early on, he couldn’t walk out.


So, ‘What’s It All About? – I would thoroughly recommend the film to everyone, even those who have never been Elvis fans. Ever since the success of the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, many more have been made about other artists, of differing quality, so it’s all becoming a bit boring now. I deliberately chose not to use that term for the Baz Luhrmann film however as it’s more about the journey these two men went on together, sadly culminating in a tragic ending for Elvis. Being a Baz movie, it is also of course lavishly colourful and opulent, so a feast for the eyes too.

I am always fascinated by novels where there is a dual narrative, of paths taken or not taken, and how they can either lead to a totally different outcome for the character or arrive at the same destination via another route. There is no doubt that had the Colonel not taken Elvis under his wing in those early days, he would still have become a big star. He had the looks, the voice, the moves and the stage charisma. To become such a big star at such a young age does not always bode well however for the artist, especially back in those days, so had the Colonel not insisted on the Hollywood route for his boy, things might still have gone awry. He was from a poor southern family, ill-equipped to deal with his sudden success and wealth, and was also a good-looking ‘dandy’ who loved that he was adored by women. An intoxicating mix for a young man. We will of course never know how it could have turned out, but he certainly has left an enduring legacy as the ‘King of Rock and Roll’.

Until next time… RIP Elvis Aaron Presley.

Suspicious Minds Lyrics
(Song by Mark James)

We’re caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Why can’t you see
What you’re doing to me
When you don’t believe a word I say?

We can’t go on together
With suspicious minds
And we can’t build our dreams
On suspicious minds

So, if an old friend I know
Stops by to say hello
Would I still see suspicion in your eyes?

Here we go again
Asking where I’ve been
You can’t see these tears are real
I’m crying
(Yes, I’m crying)

We can’t go on together
With suspicious minds
And we can’t build our dreams
On suspicious minds

Oh let our love survive
I’ll dry the tears from your eyes
Let’s don’t let a good thing die
When honey, you know I’ve never lied to you

Mmm yeah, yeah

We’re caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Why can’t you see
What you’re doing to me
When you don’t believe a word I say?

Oh, don’t you know
I’m caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Oh, don’t you know
I’m caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Oh, don’t you know
I’m caught in a trap

Glastonbury 2022, No Need to Feel Nervous for Sir Paul and ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!’

I did say I wasn’t going to write any more Beatles-related posts for a while – as there have been many around here of late – but after watching the headline act perform at Glastonbury last weekend (on telly), it can’t be avoided. I don’t know how well-known the Glastonbury Festival is outwith the UK but I’m guessing most people who visit this place will have heard of it. It’s a massive event in the British cultural calendar and it all began in 1970, inspired by the hippie movement and the counterculture of the 1960s. Michael Eavis, a dairy-farmer from Pilton, Somerset, came up with the idea of the first festival, and since then it has become a behemoth of an event where between two and three hundred thousand people have been known to attend. After the last two years’ planned festivals had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, it seems this year’s festival-goers were really up for it, and I dipped into much of the excellent BBC coverage over the course of last weekend.


The ‘big one’ however is the act who will perform on the Pyramid Stage on the Saturday night and this year it was to be none other than Sir Paul McCartney. He was supposed to headline back in 2020, and then last year, but eventually things got back on track and he got his time on that most famous of stages. It aired an hour later on telly, starting at 10.30pm, but I was really curious as to how it would go and of course I was also a bit nervous for him. He had turned 80 only the week before – could he still cut it? In the end I stayed up late, watching his entire set (link here to BBC iPlayer) until just after 1am and I think most of us would agree, yes he could.

With such a back catalogue of songs to choose from he was spoilt for choice, but he trod a nice balance, covering early Beatles, late Beatles, Wings and solo material, in no particular chronological order. Made it a nice surprise to find out what would pop up next. The vocals at times were less than perfect, and there were some sound issues, but his band have been with him a long time and are the consummate professionals. The crowd didn’t seem to notice any of the sound issues at all and were just happy to witness one of the world’s first pop superstars in action. Mr WIAA went to bed about half way through, which is a shame I think, because it wasn’t until the second half that the truly memorable bits happened. Lovely stills on the big screen behind him of George Harrison, and of course there was the duet with John Lennon using footage from Peter Jackson’s recent Get Back documentary series. There were also the ‘surprise’ guest appearances by Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen which meant at one point we had two of the three richest people in music on stage at the same time (sorry Dave, it wasn’t you), not that their wealth would have mattered a jot to them at that precise moment.

Paul on the Pyramid stage

But what meant more to me than the joy of listening to all those songs I know and love, was that it could happen at all. In my current life I find it hard to feel positive about the aging process. My mum has had dementia since before she turned 80 and is now in a care home, along with a lot of other people who also have dementia or who are just too physically infirm to look after themselves. Many of them are much younger than 80. Watching Glastonbury on Saturday night made me realise it’s not a given that this will happen to all of us. If we are lucky, and look after ourselves, there is a lot to be positive about as the years roll by. Paul was looking pretty good and very youthful for a man of his vintage I thought, and to have played and sang for over two and a half hours in such a setting was no mean feat. I’m sure he’s had a bit of ‘help’ along the way but he always was the baby-faced one amongst the Beatles and it seems to be holding him in good stead – that and being a serial monogamist and family man possibly?

I have added his setlist from Saturday night in the Postscript below, but which of all the many songs that were performed have resonated with me most since? I can’t believe I’m even admitting to this, as a very unlikely pick, but for the last five days I’ve had Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! going round and round in my head. It’s not even a Paul song but one written by John Lennon after he bought an old 19th century circus poster in an antiques shop in 1967. The song’s lyrics detail the entire evening’s program and of course it ended up on the Sgt. Pepper album, also made in 1967. How weird that it’s stayed with me all week but maybe because it’s one of the songs that hasn’t become over-familiar and I did enjoy how on the night, his drummer flamboyantly waved his arms around in a circular fashion, in the style of a circus performer. Quite a performance.


I can’t find YouTube footage of this song from his Glastonbury set, but here it is from earlier in the month performed elsewhere. See what I mean about the drummer, Abe Laboriel Jr., at 1:05 and 2:05? Below it you will find an audio clip of the original Beatles song recorded for Sgt. Pepper.

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! by the Beatles:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Lots of enjoyment to be had from watching the reinstated festival this year, even if it was vicariously via the telly. I was nervous for Sir Paul, but I shouldn’t have been, as everyone accepted his vocals can’t quite be what they were back in the day and they were happy just to have this legend on the Pyramid Stage at last. His band was fantastic and what with his ‘surprise’ guests, and the audience participation towards the end, he must have been really pleased by how it went down. I might have quite a few poorly and infirm 80-year olds in my life, but some of these rock and pop heroes from the 1960s make me realise it doesn’t have to be that way. If you keep on working on new things and feel passionate about what you do, there is no reason to slow down or stop doing it.

As for those who were actually there, I am a tad jealous. Many of us have been home-based for an awful long time now, and post-covid, some of us will continue to live that way. Watching the crowd scenes at Glastonbury, of all those people who came together for a festival, it reminded me that we humans are by nature social animals and should live in communities, not alone, interacting with a computer screen. Last time I wrote about my get-together in Edinburgh with my blogging pals. It was a wonderful few days and it harked back to how I used to live, always surrounded by people, having a chat, having a bit of a laugh. Now, not so much. Will have to do better going forward.

To end I had better show a clip from the actual night itself, so how about this bit of amateur footage. As I said, very jealous. A celebration of 60 years of popular music, my era of popular music, and I wasn’t even there. Thank goodness for the BBC.


Until next time…

Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! Lyrics
(Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

For the benefit of Mr. Kite,
There will be a show tonight
On trampoline
.

The Hendersons will all be there.
Late of Pablo Fanque’s Fair.
What a scene!

Over men and horses, hoops and garters,
Lastly through a hogshead of real fire!
In this way
Mr. K.
Will challenge the world!

The celebrated Mr. K.
Performs his feat on Saturday
At Bishopsgate.

The Hendersons will dance and sing
As Mr. Kite flies through the ring.
Don’t be late!

Messrs. K. and H. assure the public
Their production will be second to none.
And of course
Henry The Horse
Dances the waltz!

The band begins at ten to six,
When Mr. K. performs his tricks
Without a sound.

And Mr. H. will demonstrate
Ten summersets he’ll undertake
On solid ground.

Having been some days in preparation,
A splendid time is guaranteed for all.
And tonight
Mr. Kite
Is topping the bill!


Postscript:

Paul McCartney’s Glastonbury setlist of 39 songs

  • Can’t Buy Me Love (The Beatles song)
  • Junior’s Farm (Wings song)
  • Letting Go (Wings song)
  • Got to Get You Into My Life (The Beatles song)
  • Come On to Me
  • Let Me Roll It (Wings song) (with “Foxy Lady” outro jam)
  • Getting Better (The Beatles song)
  • Let ‘Em In (Wings song)apparently many people only know this song from the Postcode Lottery advert and were bemused by how it turned up on his setlist!
  • My Valentine
  • Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five (Wings song)
  • Maybe I’m Amazed
  • I’ve Just Seen a Face (The Beatles song)
  • In Spite of All the Danger (The Quarrymen song)
  • Love Me Do (The Beatles song)
  • Dance Tonight
  • Blackbird (The Beatles song)
  • Here Today
  • New
  • Lady Madonna (The Beatles song)
  • Fuh You
  • Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! (The Beatles song)
  • Something (The Beatles song
  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (The Beatles song)
  • You Never Give Me Your Money (The Beatles song)
  • She Came in Through the Bathroom Window (The Beatles song)
  • Get Back (The Beatles song)
  • I Saw Her Standing There (The Beatles song with Dave Grohl)
  • Band on the Run (Wings song with Dave Grohl)
  • Glory Days (Bruce Springsteen cover with Bruce Springsteen)
  • I Wanna Be Your Man (The Beatles song with Bruce Springsteen)
  • Let It Be (The Beatles song)
  • Live and Let Die (Wings song)
  • Hey Jude (The Beatles song)
  • Encore:
  • I’ve Got a Feeling (The Beatles song, virtual duet with John Lennon)
  • Helter Skelter (The Beatles song)
  • Golden Slumbers (The Beatles song)
  • Carry That Weight (The Beatles song)
  • The End (The Beatles song with Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen)

Yet More Beatles, ‘I Feel Fine’ and Words of Wisdom from Caitlin Moran

This blog has been a bit Beatles-heavy of late as after watching Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back mini-series on Disney+, I went on to watch some of the many other documentaries made about them, and kind of fell in love with them all over again. I admit to having been a bit too young for ‘Beatlemania’, but of course I knew of them, and in the early ’70s their films were often shown on telly during the school holidays. When the Red and Blue compilation albums were released in 1973, I somehow acquired them and loved pouring over the lyrics on the inner sleeves – what a songwriting journey between Love Me Do and The Long and Winding Road. (When I say I somehow acquired them, that’s because albums like this were really expensive in relation to what we received as pocket money back then, so I can only imagine there must have been a build up of birthday and Christmas money in my piggy bank.)

How great they were able to recreate the original picture all those years later. The EMI building now long since gone.

I mention the above because I am going to write one more Beatles-themed post before giving them (and you) a bit of a break. I have been making excuses of late as to why my blogging output has been falling short of normal – all valid excuses – but how to kick start things again once you’ve lost momentum? I decided to revert to one of the ideas I had when I first set up this place, simply pick a song at random, then challenge myself to write about it. When I opened the music app on this device the other night and pressed play, the song that burst forth was this one – I Feel Fine, a non-album single by the Beatles from 1964 (Paul goes over his ankle at 0:09 in this clip!).

I Feel Fine by the Beatles:


Most of us will already be really familiar with this simple but effective love song, but what made it a bit different, and a bit experimental, was that it starts with a single feedback note. It was apparently produced by accident when Paul plucked the A string on his bass, and John’s guitar, which was leaning against Paul’s bass amp, picked up feedback. The band loved that ‘Nnnnnnwahhhhh’ sound and asked George Martin if it could be edited onto the front of the record. It could, and the rest as they say, is history.

In the promotional clip for the song, made for a Top of the Pops round-up of the year’s biggest hits, the band are shown interacting with various items of gym equipment. George sang into a punch-ball whilst Ringo pedalled on an exercise bike. I recently shared a trailer for their film A Hard Day’s Night and although filmed just a year and a half later, the clip for I Feel Fine shows a band that is starting to morph into something else – the hair is longer, the clothes more casual and the attitude a bit more irreverent. Interestingly the Beatles only appeared on the live TOTP show once, which is really unusual for a British band from the ’60s, but then they were rarely available, and could it be that they got so big, so fast, that such a weekly chart show was a bit beneath them? Not sure, but few of the really big stars of music ever appeared, which led to the show becoming a bit MTV-ish for a time, especially in its final years.

But the main reason I was happy to have a song by the Beatles pop up as a random pick, was because I have been wanting to share an extract for some time from one of my favourite books, by one of my favourite authors. I don’t have many books by my bedside with little sticky tabs inserted to remind me of important passages, but two of them are by Caitlin Moran, whose writing I love. In her novel How To Be Famous, an entire chapter is dedicated to a letter, written by the main character to her friend John, who has suddenly become a big star in the world of music. The chapter/letter is too long to share in full, but here are what I think are the best bits, that sum up what she is trying to tell her friend:

There is one terrible weakness you can have if you amusedly and self-deprecatingly describe yourself as an artist, and become famous. One let-down if you become loved by millions, and your work is meaningful work. And that is if some of the millions who know, and love you, are teenage girls (…) the love of teenage girls is not merely substandard, or worthless – it is an active mortification to an artist. Oh you take those girls’ money and become elevated on their devotion, and enjoy them putting you at Number One – but you do not respect those girls.

Things that boys love are cooler than things girls love. That is a simple fact. Boys love clever things, cleverly. Girls love foolish things, foolishly. How awful it would be to love things like teenage girls do. How awful it would be to be the wrong kind of fan – a girl. A dumb, hysterical, screaming girl.

But bands need to be screamed at. In their hearts they know that. They know there is a power they will never attain until they have stood in the white-noise of a theatre of devotion and seen the girls down the front collapse in ecstatic tears. And this is true even when it’s the biggest scream in the world, even when the mythology is that the screaming was what killed your band.

The Beatles at Shea Stadium

Why did girls love the Beatles so much? Because the Beatles loved girls. They were saturated in girl culture – they loved black American girl groups; they had dandy outfits and uncomfortable pointy shoes, like girls. They went out of their way to write about girls in their songs – ‘She Loves You’ is the Beatles siding with a girl in love… acting as her sexy envoys. They grew their hair long, like girls: an act of alliance in a time when femininity was implicitly inferior.

How can you be as extraordinary as the Beatles? How can you change so much, in such a short space of time, with seemingly nothing – no capital, no contacts no education – on your side? By tapping into the cultural capital of humanity: girls. To be on the side of girls. To look girls in the eye, and declare yourself on our team. To copy girls, to acknowledge girls, to learn from girls.

The great pity of my lifetime is that still no one notices this is what happens. Girls are invisible. The power source goes unacknowledged. But not to other girls. I see you girls. I see you in history. And all anyone has to do – to have our impossible energy and love, given willingly, forever – is to say, ‘I see you too.’

Well said Caitlin.

The wonderful Caitlin Moran

Until next time…

I Feel Fine Lyrics
(Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

Baby’s good to me, you know
She’s happy as can be, you know
She said so
I’m in love with her and I feel fine

Baby says she’s mine, you know
She tells me all the time, you know
She said so
I’m in love with her and I feel fine

I’m so glad that she’s my little girl
She’s so glad, she’s telling all the world

That her baby buys her things, you know
He buys her diamond rings, you know
She said so
She’s in love with me and I feel fine, mmm

Baby says she’s mine, you know
She tells me all the time, you know
She said so
I’m in love with her and I feel fine

I’m so glad that she’s my little girl
She’s so glad, she’s telling all the world

That her baby buys her things, you know
He buys her diamond rings, you know
She said so
She’s in love with me and I feel fine
She’s in love with me and I feel fine, mmm, mmm

The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night and ‘If I Fell’

Last time I mentioned that the hard graft part of my college course is now over, so to reward myself I indulged in a bit of a wallow in the distant past, revisiting old footage of the Beatles at the height of Beatlemania. This came about because I’d recently re-read my Christmas stocking book, Nothing Is Real: The Beatles Were Underrated And Other Sweeping Statements About Pop, by David Hepworth. A bit of non-fiction was needed as a foil to the very literary books I’ve had to dissect of late and there is nothing I enjoy more than a rock and pop anthology. The first section of the book contained essays on the Beatles, and yet again (I’ve mentioned some of David’s other books around here before), I learnt so much that was new to me.


I knew the Beatles had been in existence for some time before their breakthrough year 1963, but it wasn’t until Ringo Starr was recruited in September 1962 that they truly became a group (they weren’t called bands in those days). He was the best drummer in Liverpool at the time and the rest of the lads liked him, so once it was decided that Pete Best had to go, in those days before house telephones, Brian Epstein turned up at his family home in one of the less salubrious parts of that city to ask if he wanted to join the group. The rest as they say is history. Ringo was more than happy to change his slicked back hair to mop-top style, and wear the smart suits Brian had insisted the lads adopt. His unique style of drumming was pivotal in creating the Beatles’ sound and a lot of that was down to the fact he was born left-handed, but his superstitious grandmother wouldn’t let him use his left hand so he learned to play on a right-handed kit. It meant his route round the drum kit was a bit different to that of other drummers which is why other bands found it so hard to copy their sound exactly.


Anyway, I had enjoyed reading all these snippets in David’s book so much, I decided to search for moving images of the Beatles on some of the many avenues available to us on our tellies nowadays. It didn’t take long for me to find their 1964 film A Hard Day’s Night (on Amazon Prime), and what a joy it was to watch it again straight after reading the book, as there was so much more to look out for now that I knew more of the Fab Four backstories.

Within the first 10 seconds, both George and Ringo have fallen over!

The film has a plot of sorts, but it was essentially about Beatlemania and was a vehicle to showcase some of the songs written especially for the soundtrack. It was early reality television, where we saw the lads lark around in between rehearsals, exhibiting their individual personalities, but best of all they sang those simple (but not simple) love songs that were aimed at their young teenage market. Every time I watch the film I warm most to this song, If I Fell, possibly because it’s not one of the ones that’s become overfamiliar but also because we get to see them ‘at work’ interacting with each other whilst they rehearse for the show. I hadn’t noticed before but I also like how the beat to the song comes from Ringo simply tapping the metal side of the snare drum with his drumstick (0:32) – Maybe this is ‘a thing’ in the world of drumming, but I’d never taken heed of it before.

If I Fell by the Beatles:


It’s an accident of birth of course, but had I been born ten years earlier I would have been just the right demographic for Beatlemania, but I wasn’t, I only had Rollermania which was a pale imitation. What I noticed most about watching the film this week however, was just how much joy exuded from the screen. The Fab Four were still finding their feet as a band experiencing something that had never occurred before in the UK. Their fans adored them and they thought they were the luckiest guys in the world.

I knew if I looked hard enough I would find them, and I did. Here are seven of a series of 60 trading cards issued by A&BC, with chewing gum, back in 1964. I thought they might be worth something, but once I visited the ‘well-known online auction site’ I realised there are still many of them out there. I’m pretty sure they weren’t bought by me as there is no way my mum allowed me to have chewing gum at age four (‘if you swallow it it’ll stick to the inside of your tummy’), so I reckon they probably came via my older cousins who often came to stay in the summer holidays. Nice little bit of memorabilia though, and perfect for my wallow in all things Beatles-related this last week.

Trading cards from a set issued by A&BC in 1964


Until next time…

If I Fell
(Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

If I fell in love with you
Would you promise to be true
And help me understand
Cause I’ve been in love before
And I found that love was more
Than just holding hands

If I give my heart to you
I must be sure
From the very start
That you would love me more than her

If I trust in you oh please
Don’t run and hide
If I love you too oh please

Don’t hurt my pride like her
Cause I couldn’t stand the pain
And I would be sad if our new love was in vain

So I hope you see that I
Would love to love you
And that she will cry

When she learns we are two
Cause I couldn’t stand the pain
And I would be sad if our new love was in vain

So I hope you see that I
Would love to love you
And that she will cry
When she learns we are two
If I fell in love with you

Reading Lists, Sammy Davis Jr. (Jr.) and ‘Mr. Bojangles’

I’m going to dip my toe back into the world of blogging, just to reassure those of you who are kind enough to follow these pages that I’m still around. My college course has been taking up most of my spare time of late as we analyse and discuss a different novel every week. By the time I’ve finished reading whatever the current ‘novel of the week’ is, and taken notes, there’s just enough time left for me to prepare for our Monday morning discussion. Then we start all over again for the following week, with a new novel. Yesterday we discussed Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds and it was definitely the most challenging read so far, as it’s an epic work of metafiction. Some of us loved it and some of us, well, didn’t love it, but that’s ok as there are no right or wrong answers on my course.

For the record, the other novels we’ve studied this term are:
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
The House on Half Moon Street by Alex Reeve
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
and finally,
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

This reading list has been in place for a few years but we reached Everything Is Illuminated, which is set in Ukraine, just at the time of the Russian invasion. As well as reading the novel, I discovered the story had also been made into a film starring Elijah Wood, so I watched that too. What a beautiful country. The most fertile farmland in Eastern Europe punctuated by some of the world’s most beautiful cities, which are now being razed to the ground – So, so sad.

Elijah’s foil in the film is the very likeable character Alex played by Ukrainian actor/musician Eugene Hütz. Alex was Elijah’s tour guide for the duration of his visit to Ukraine and he regales our hero with stories about his life, and his passion for American pop culture. He has a unique command of the English language and although we always understand what he means, the words he uses are often very literal which leads to some very amusing exchanges between the characters, which lightened the otherwise heavy subject matter pertaining to another very hard time in Ukraine’s history. Alex’s grandfather is their driver, and he brings along with him his slightly deranged dog, Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. named in honour of his favourite Rat Packer. What could possibly go wrong?

Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. hogging the boot

But this is a music blog so where’s the song? Well, I imagine you can guess where I’m going with this one. It occurred to me after watching the film that Sammy Davis Jr. has never appeared on these pages despite the fact I often return to the 1960s around here, a period during which he was very successful. Sammy Davis Sr., his father, was also in ‘the business’ and Sammy first joined the family trio on stage at the very young age of three. He certainly was multi-talented becoming a singer, dancer, actor, comedian, author, film producer and television director. His journey through the decades wasn’t always easy, although his popularity did help break down the race barrier in the American entertainment industry.

My memories of Sammy Davis Jr. are mainly from seeing him pop up on mainstream light entertainment television shows of the ’60s and ’70s but of course he also appeared in film musicals, one of which being 1969’s Sweet Charity, which I have always loved. The Rhythm of Life sequence, where Charity and Oscar find themselves in an alternative church presided over by a preacher called Big Daddy (played by Sammy), is one of the best in the movie. A good few years ago now DD was part of a local musical theatre group and at their annual show they performed The Rhythm of Life for the finale. I had helped her rehearse at home and of course we both ended up learning the very fast-paced lyrics. On the night, when they all sang in harmony, it gave the audience goose-bumps. Possibly explains how I thought of it today.

Sadly my digital library has let me down as I don’t seem to have a copy of Sammy’s version of The Rhythm of Life from Sweet Charity, and not easy to find amongst all the other versions available to purchase online either. What I do have however is a copy of Mr. Bojangles, which became a bit of a signature song for Sammy. Ironically the song was written about a homeless, tap-dancing white man who had found himself in a prison cell, and who called himself Mr Bojangles, that name taken from Bill “Bojangles” Robinson the highest paid African-American entertainer in the United States during the first half of the 20th century. A song that really tugs at the heartstrings.

Mr. Bojangles by Sammy Davis Jr.


I often sit down not knowing how a blog post is going to turn out and this one is a case in point. My college reading list led me to a film, which in turn led me to one of the Rat Pack. Didn’t see that coming when I got up this morning but I’ve enjoyed rewatching that scene from Sweet Charity as well as Sammy’s performance of Mr. Bojangles.

Has anyone read any, or all, of the books on my reading list? If you have, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. I have an essay to write on one of them and I’m still not sure which I’m going to choose (although I know it won’t be Flann O’Brien’s book as just far too complex for my feeble mind).

As for the beautiful cities of Ukraine, we have all seen images on the news which are heart-breaking. Eugene Hütz who plays Alex in the EIL film is part of an American punk rock band called Gogol Bordello formed in 1999 by musicians from all over the world. Following the Russian invasion, Hutz released a video on social media condemning what had happened. The band have organised a benefit concert and are currently planning a benefit tour.

Until next time…

Mr. Bojangles Lyrics
(Song by Jerry Jeff Walker)

I knew a man
Bojangles
And he’d dance for you
In worn out shoes
With silver hair
A ragged shirt
And baggy pants
He would do the old soft shoe
He could jump so high
Jump so high
And then he’d lightly touch down

I met him in a cell
In New Orleans, I was
Down and out
He looked to me to be the very eyes of age
As the smoke ran out
Talked of life, lord that man talked of life
Laughed, clicked his heels and stepped

He said his name was “Bojangles”
And he danced a lick
Right across the cell
He grabbed his pants
Took a bitter stance
Jumped up high
That’s when he
Clicked his heels
Then he let go a laugh
Lord, he’d let go a laugh
Shook back his clothes all around

Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles

Mr. Bojangles
Dance

He told me of the times
He worked with minstrel shows
Throughout the south
He spoke with tears
Of fifteen years
How his dog and he
They travel all about
The dog up and died
Dog up and died
And after twenty years he still grieved

He said “I dance
Now and every chance a
Honkey-tonk
For drinks and tips
But most of the time
I spend behind these country bars
You see son, I drinks a bit”
He shook his head
As he shook his head
I heard someone
Say please, please, please

A-Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles

Mr. Bojangles
Dance

The Beatles, ‘Paperback Writer’ and Nearly At The Finish Line

WIAA: Alyson…, oh Alyson.

Alyson: I know, I know WIAA – It appears that I’ve gone quiet around here again, but all for a good reason. One final push and I think I’ll actually finish my course and get a qualification. I had a project to submit yesterday which took three weeks of hard graft – Doesn’t leave much time for blogging.

WIAA: Understandable then. It’s just that my pages were feeling a little unloved again.


Alyson: Sorry WIAA. It’s also not lost on me that just as we seemed to be finally getting back to normal after two years of pandemic-related anxiety and restrictions, the biggest, most scary scenario imaginable has actually come to pass. I can’t pretend to understand all the background detail to what’s going on, and it’s complicated, not black and white, but could the 21st century really get any worse?

WIAA: Again, understandable then that you’ve not been feeling ‘blogging inclined’.

Alyson: Here’s the irony WIAA. Exactly 40 years ago right now I was in the midst of studying for my finals, at University. Those stressful last few weeks were overshadowed by the fact our country went to war, with a large South American country. Some of our lecturers lost the will to tutor us, such was their dismay at what had happened. Rumours went round that young males (our boyfriends) would be conscripted. Of course that didn’t happen, and our lecturers did put the processes in place for us to sit our finals, but with only seven weeks left to go on my current course, I’m experiencing a terrible sense of déjà vu albeit on a far scarier level.

WIAA: How about sharing a song to take your mind off things?

Alyson: Always a joy WIAA, although not much time today for all the background research I like to include around here. As I’ve had to read so many books over the last few weeks (my chosen author for my project was the wonderfully clever Kate Atkinson), I think something about writers might be a good idea. Here is Paperback Writer by the Beatles, one of their non-album singles from 1966.

Paperback Writer by the Beatles:


Last month I spent the guts of a weekend watching Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back mini-series on Disney+, which documented their time making the Let It Be album, culminating in that rooftop performance in Central London. I loved it, and as others have said, because the footage has been so skilfully remastered, it looks as if it could have been made yesterday. All four Beatles were back in our lives and with eight hours of airtime, you got a real insight into how they were with each other at that time in early 1969. Not as bad as was always made out it seems.


Anyway, I have a copious amount of notes that I want to make into a Get Back blog post at some point, but I did also have one of those revelatory moments when watching it. Yoko Ono was permanently attached to John throughout the whole thing, never veering far from his side. How annoying for the rest of them I thought until I realised that 40 years ago, I too was that limpet. He doesn’t get mentioned around here often, as I’m not as anonymous as I used to be and don’t want to cause any upset, but the student boyfriend and I were rarely apart during those years which meant whenever he spent time with his male friends I was always there too, as I had done the unthinkable and dropped my female friends. In the library, in the bar, having lunch in the refectory, at the football pitch, yep, I was always there…

I was Yoko.

Although I have now lost touch with that entire group of young men, all these years later I can only apologise for my limpet-like behaviour. I’m still really glad you didn’t get conscripted, but instead got to the finish line and sat your finals. Let’s hope the same can be said for the class of ’22.

Yoko Ono

Until next time…

Paperback Writer
Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It’s based on a novel by a man named Lear
And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

It’s the dirty story of a dirty man
And his clinging wife doesn’t understand
His son is working for the Daily Mail
It’s a steady job but he wants to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

Paperback writer

It’s a thousand pages, give or take a few
I’ll be writing more in a week or two
I can make it longer if you like the style
I can change it round and I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

If you really like it you can have the rights
It could make a million for you overnight
If you must return it, you can send it here
But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer
Paperback writer

Paperback writer

Paperback writer, paperback writer
Paperback writer, paperback writer
Paperback writer, paperback writer
Paperback writer, paperback writer (fade out)

Belfast (the Film), ‘Everlasting Love’ and Van Morrison

Trying to kick-start some of my old routines now that restrictions seem to be lifting somewhat. Pre-pandemic I used to have seven people in my Film Group and we used to go along to our local arts centre to watch whatever was showing on the last Thursday of the month. It was a great way of discovering films you might never have actively chosen – Foreign language films and documentaries, as well as the odd Oscar winner or Hollywood blockbuster. Some were excellent and some were stinkers, but always worthy of discussion afterwards.

Our local arts centre

Sadly, at the moment, Film Group is reduced to two people, myself and one other. For various reasons I’ve lost five of our number from my life over the last couple of years, which is a pretty high dropout rate, but much of it down to the fact some people’s lives are now very different to how they were in 2019. Anyway, tonight I’m off to see a NTLive showing of Leopoldstadt, on this, Holocaust Memorial Day. Hopefully I’ll be able to recruit a few more film fans over the coming months, as let’s face it, ‘group’ is not really the collective noun for only two people. Out of interest, here is the list of films we randomly watched between 2012 and 2018, all carefully documented and subjectively scored (I produced many, many spreadsheets).


Earlier this week I also persuaded Mr WIAA to come with me to watch Kenneth Branagh’s new semi-autobiographical film Belfast. It was released in the US first, so some of you who visit this place have already seen it, but if you haven’t I would thoroughly recommend it.


Turns out both myself and Mr WIAA were born within a few months of Sir Ken, so any story he told of his childhood should have really resonated with us, and it did. The playing in the street, the toys given as Christmas presents, the clothes, school routines, television programmes and comics. The big difference however was that it was set in 1969 Belfast, so that’s where any similarity with our own childhoods ended. That was right at the start of The Troubles, when bombings and violence escalated on the streets of the city. It wouldn’t have occurred to me at the time that Belfast children aged nine, just like myself, were facing such danger on a daily basis. But it’s not all grim, the film is classed a comedy-drama, with much of the comedic moments coming from Jude Hill, the young actor who played Buddy, the character inspired by the young Kenneth Branagh.

One aspect of the film I found a little unbelievable, was that Buddy’s parents were played by the extremely good-looking actors Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan. I didn’t remember our parents ever looking that good, but then Mr WIAA reminded me of some of the photos we have of his very fashionable mum and dad from those days, and they really were an attractive couple. We always think of our parents as being old despite them probably only being in their 30s when we were young. One of the memorable scenes in the film was from a family wake which in Ireland is cause for a bit of a party – Jamie Dornan, as well as being a great actor can also sing it seems, and his character entertained the mourners with this No. 1 hit song from 1969, Everlasting Love by Love Affair. It was a really special scene and I defy anyone who goes to see the film not to have it as an earworm for the next few days.

Everlasting Love by Love Affair:


But of course when making a film set in Belfast, it was highly likely there would be much on the soundtrack from Van Morrison. After my trip to Belfast in 2018 I wrote a post about it here, and after seeing ‘the Man’s’ face on many of the city’s murals, I shared his signature song. This time I’m going to share Days Like This which was married up with a particulary poignant scene in the film and was the song of his I enjoyed most.

Days Like This by Van Morrison:


Days Like This was the title song of his 1995 album of the same name. It became one of the official anthems of the peace movement and was used in an advert promoting the cease fire.  Van Morrison performed it in front of a large audience when US President Bill Clinton visited Belfast.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Back in March 2020, right at the start of the pandemic, I often warned that the virus would have massive implications for all of us, way beyond the effects of the virus itself. At the time I think I was classed as a bit of a doom and gloom merchant, especially as many of us were ‘loving the lockdown’ with all that fine weather. As the months and years have rolled by, many have indeed fallen victim to some of the negative side-effects of the pandemic, which has turned their lives upside down. I think we’ve escaped the worst of it but I do miss some of my old routines, Film Group being one of them. As I said above, hopefully over the course of 2022 I’ll find some new film fans to join our ‘group’ of two.

As for the film Belfast, it certainly brought back many happy memories of my own childhood which, excluding the backdrop of The Troubles, was scarily similar to Buddy’s. Not all of us go on to become a Sir (or Dame) however, so there was obviously something about the young Kenneth Branagh that made him destined for great things.

I think the soundtrack to Belfast lifted it up a notch, and although the scene with the song Everlasting Love is strangely out of kilter with the rest of the film, it certainly was an important one, and it will stay with you long after you’ve left the cinema.

Until next time…

Days Like This Lyrics
(Song by Van Morrison)

When it’s not always raining there’ll be days like this
When there’s no one complaining there’ll be days like this
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need to worry there’ll be days like this
When no one’s in a hurry there’ll be days like this
When you don’t get betrayed by that old Judas kiss
Oh my mama told me there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need an answer there’ll be days like this
When you don’t meet a chancer there’ll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit
Then I must remember there’ll be days like this

When everyone is up front and they’re not playing tricks
When you don’t have no freeloaders out to get their kicks
When it’s nobody’s business the way that you wanna live
I just have to remember there’ll be days like this

When no one steps on my dreams there’ll be days like this
When people understand what I mean there’ll be days like this
When you ring out the changes of how everything is
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this

Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this

Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this

Aretha, Clarence and Muscle Shoals: Another Special Place In Time

A new year and a renewed vigour to find out more about the music that’s accompanied me through life. In 2020, I finally got round to pinning down Laurel Canyon on the map. I’d known about it as a place for years, and of how it became a hotbed of creativity for those musicians who went to live there in the late 1960s, but I’d never taken the time to investigate the geography of it. The special place I’m going to pin down this time, is Muscle Shoals.

Strangely enough, although I’d often heard of Muscle Shoals as the place where musicians gravitated to whenever they wanted to create a bit of rhythm and blues magic, it hadn’t clicked that the spelling is not the one used for the shellfish. Anything linked to the word shoal must surely be fishy related and coastal I thought, but no, Muscle Shoals is a smallish town (called a city in the US) in the far north-west corner of Alabama. It does sit on the Tennessee River however and early settlers did find a shallow area where mussels and clams were gathered. Before the distinct spelling for the shellfish came about, they simply called the place Muscle Shoals.

The first film I went to see back at our local cinema after a pandemic-enforced break of 18 months, was Respect, the Aretha Franklin biopic. I learnt so much more about her from watching it, and now understand how she became the Queen of Soul. None of that might have happened however if she’d not made her way down to Muscle Shoals at a crucial juncture in her career.

Rick Hall, Producer/Engineer and his FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals

In the late 1950s, a very driven local lad called Rick Hall set up a recording studio in Muscle Shoals and recruited session musicians from nearby Sheffield and Florence. These musicians became known as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, and despite being individually unremarkable, they soon became a tight unit and ended up creating a unique sound, fusing the blues, country and gospel. It came as a great shock to many black artists, such as Wilson Pickett, to find his backing band full of very ordinary looking ‘white dudes’.

The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section later known as the Swampers

But back to Aretha Franklin. After years of trying to make it as a jazz singer, she was persuaded to start finding songs that ‘moved her’ rather than trying to come up with a polished image. After securing a deal with Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records, they both headed down to Alabama where she paired up with Rick Hall and the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. Their modus operandi was not to work with an arranger, or with sheet music, but to instead jam their way to a hit record. Her first recording with them was, I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You). The hits then just kept on coming. Aretha had found her new ‘sound’.

I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) by Aretha Franklin:

Many artists and bands recorded at Rick Hall’s studio over the years, the Rolling Stones, Percy Sledge, Candi Staton, Etta James, Clarence Carter and many more. As often happens however, in 1969 the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section jumped ship and set up their own rival studio, also in Muscle Shoals. Rick wasn’t deterred and soon replaced them with new musicians who also knew how to create that very special crossover sound. Both studios did well and this small town, for a time, became the unlikely epicentre of the music business.

When trying to learn more about Muscle Shoals earlier on this week, I discovered a wonderful 2013 documentary on YouTube (link here). You may well have seen it already, but if not I would thoroughly recommend it. It explains how the Muscle Shoals sound could really only have happened in that geographical area. Those ‘white dudes’ had grown up absorbing black music so it was part of their DNA. There were no barriers when making music together and whether black or white, everyone had ‘soul’.


In 1974 the band Lynyrd Skynyrd had a big hit with the song Sweet Home Alabama. I’ve always liked it but only now understand the significance of the following lines of lyric:

Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers
And they’ve been known to pick a song or two

Lord, they get me off so much
They pick me up when I’m feelin’ blue
Now how about you?

The song is a bit of a controversial one, and was written in answer to two songs by Neil Young. That verse however was added to acknowledge the help given to the band by the Swampers in their early days, making demo reels with them at their Muscle Shoals studios. A nice tip of the hat. Lynyrd Skynyrd remain connected to Muscle Shoals, having since recorded a number of times there and making it a regular stop on their concert tours

Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd:


But this is the song that’s stayed with me more than any other since watching the Muscle Shoals documentary. In the interviews with an older Rick Hall, it came across loud and clear he had been brought up dirt poor and although he knew his dad had done his best, the desire to pull his family out of poverty was the driving force behind his phenomenal work ethic, without which there would have been no Muscle Shoals sound. Patches was a song written by the lead singer of Chairmen of the Board, but when Rick Hall heard it he felt it related to his own personal history, and he persuaded Clarence Carter to record it at his FAME Studios. In 1971 it won the Grammy for Best Rhythm and Blues Song.

Patches by Clarence Carter:


As happened with my Laurel Canyon post, I finally feel as if I understand what happened in Muscle Shoals back in the 1960s/70s and how it came about. I also now realise it’s not a place on the Alabama coast after all, but a small town on the Tennessee River. The geography of the place definitely had a lot to do with the magic that was created there but none of it would have happened without Rick Hall, or Patches as he was called as a boy, because his clothes were so ragged. Without him there would have been no studio, and no Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. Without those musicians there would have been no special sound, and perhaps no Aretha. Most definitely a very special place in time.

Until next time…

Patches Lyrics
(Song by Ronald Dunbar/Norman Johnson)

I was born and raised down in Alabama
On a farm way back up in the woods
I was so ragged that folks used to call me Patches
Papa used to tease me about it
‘Cause deep down inside he was hurt
‘Cause he’d done all he could

My papa was a great old man
I can see him with a shovel in his hands, see
Education he never had
He did wonders when the times got bad
The little money from the crops he raised
Barely paid the bills we made

For, life had kick him down to the ground
When he tried to get up
Life would kick him back down
One day Papa called me to his dyin’ bed
Put his hands on my shoulders
And in his tears he said

He said, Patches
I’m dependin’ on you, son
To pull the family through
My son, it’s all left up to you

Two days later Papa passed away, and
I became a man that day
So I told Mama I was gonna quit school, but
She said that was Daddy’s strictest rule

So every mornin’ ‘fore I went to school
I fed the chickens and I chopped wood too
Sometimes I felt that I couldn’t go on
I wanted to leave, just run away from home
But I would remember what my daddy said
With tears in his eyes on his dyin’ bed

He said, Patches
I’m dependin’ on you, son
I tried to do my best
It’s up to you to do the rest

Then one day a strong rain came
And washed all the crops away
And at the age of 13 I thought
I was carryin’ the weight of the
Whole world on my shoulders
And you know, Mama knew
What I was goin’ through, ’cause

Every day I had to work the fields
‘Cause that’s the only way we got our meals
You see, I was the oldest of the family
And everybody else depended on me
Every night I heard my Mama pray
Lord, give him the strength to make another day

So years have passed and all the kids are grown
The angels took Mama to a brand new home
Lord knows, people, I shedded tears
But my daddy’s voice kept me through the years

Sing,
Patches, I’m dependin’ on you, son
To pull the family through
My son, it’s all left up to you

Oh, I can still hear Papa’s voice sayin’
Patches, I’m dependin’ on you, son
I’ve tried to do my best
It’s up to you to do the rest

I can still hear Papa, what he said
Patches, I’m dependin’ on you, son
To pull the family through
My son, it’s all left up to you

Farewell 2021, The Association and ‘Windy’

It’s the last day of 2021 and like many of us I’ve just looked back to see what I wrote on this same day last year. As expected it was all about what an awful year it had been, but I did add, “At least there is hope on the horizon, as vaccines are now coming on stream faster than you can say Jack Robinson (god bless the scientists). Hopefully by Spring, life will have started to get a bit easier for all of us.”

Each person’s pandemic experience has been different, but personally I’ve not felt this year has been any easier at all. In fact it’s been a whole load worse in some ways as I’m fairly sure my old life has gone for good, never to return. I am aware some families have had a far worse experience, so not the time to moan about it, but my goodness, lets hope 2022 is indeed a better year. If my old life has gone, I need to set about creating a new one.

In 2020 I was more prolific with my blogging than I’ve been this year – We had this momentous new situation to deal with and there was much to write about. There were rants, posts written purely to entertain, reviews and diary entries (all accompanied by an appropriate song). This year I’m aware my posts have been a bit more downbeat, as I think I’m suffering pandemic fatigue. Apologies for that, but hope you’ve noticed I’ve tried to end the year a bit more joyfully, kickstarted by sharing a few words of wisdom from her Dollyness, Ms Parton.

Revisiting favourite old songs makes me happy, as does finding out so much more about them than was ever possible back in the day. Tears sometimes prick my eyes when I’m out and about battling whatever restrictions are currently in place (visiting my mum in her care home has been a challenge, as has earning my living and meeting up with friends), but making a ‘new’ old song discovery, always raises the spirits. This year, as happened last year, my favourite new discovery was from the late 1960s. What can I say, I was born too late.

Windy by The Association:


Because The Association were never that well-known over here in the UK, when their song Never My Love appeared on the soundtrack to one of the dramas we watched on telly this year, it was new to me, and I was immediately smitten by their sunshine pop sound. Unbelievably, that song turned out to be one of the most listened to of the 20th century, but over in North America and not here. Of course I ended up writing about it and in the comments boxes mention was made of other hit records by The Association. One of those hits was this song, Windy, which I can’t help thinking sounds like the theme tune to a kids telly show from my childhood, but I’m not having much luck finding out if that was actually the case. Maybe someone out there could help? Whatever, maybe because of that perceived association with my childhood, it makes me smile whenever I hear it.

It wasn’t about this Windy

The song was written by Ruthann Friedman about a man, but in the version by The Association they changed the lyrics to make Windy a girl. It’s a long time since anyone called me a girl, but after another shitty year, there is nothing I would love more than to: Trip down the streets of the city, Smilin’ at everybody I see (whilst not wearing a mask). Who knows, maybe in 2022?


Until next time… A very Happy New Year to everyone who drops by this place.

Windy Lyrics
(Song by Ruthann Friedman)

Who’s peeking out from under a stairway
Calling a name that’s lighter than air?
Who’s bending down to give me a rainbow?
Everyone knows it’s Windy

Who’s tripping down the streets of the city
Smiling at everybody she sees?
Who’s reaching out to capture a moment?
Everyone knows it’s Windy

And Windy has stormy eyes
That flash at the sound of lies
And Windy has wings to fly
Above the clouds (Above the clouds)
Above the clouds (Above the clouds)

And Windy has stormy eyes
That flash at the sound of lies
And Windy has wings to fly
Above the clouds (Above the clouds)
Above the clouds (Above the clouds
)

Who’s tripping down the streets of the city
Smiling at everybody she sees?

Who’s reaching out to capture a moment?
Everyone knows it’s Windy

Who’s tripping down the streets of the city
Smiling at everybody she sees?
Who’s reaching out to capture a moment?
Everyone knows it’s Windy

Pirate Ships, the Rolling Stones and ‘Paint It Black’

Well, I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas festivities. Although I said we would be home alone this year, that didn’t turn out to be the case, as we were actually invited out in the end and didn’t have to do any cooking on the day at all. It was also quite reassuring to see my sister-in-law getting in a bit of a flap over the serving up of the turkey and trimmings, as I thought that only happened to me. Even the best home cooks find it a challenge to coordinate the roasting, heating, boiling and stirring of so many dishes at the same time it seems.

DD had a lovely time at her boyfriend’s parents, but of course we are now teasing them that next year it will be their turn, so we can all be together. Watch this space. Problem is the bar has been raised in terms of what is served up nowadays. Back in the day my granny made Christmas dinner for 15 of us, and it was delicious, but that was before the era of the ‘celebrity chef’ Christmas Cookbook and of: three types of stuffing; red cabbage; sprouts with chestnuts; and gluten-free/vegan options. It’s all got a bit more complicated.

100 years ago many of us could only afford root vegetables for Christmas dinner – Now some of us choose them.

The good thing about eating early-ish elsewhere, is that you still have a fair chunk of evening when you get home and our Christmas presents beckoned. As ever there were a few ‘makes’ in our stockings so I started work on my new jigsaw and Mr WIAA got down to creating the Black Pearl, courtesy of his traditional gift of an Airfix kit. Down at the other end of the country DD was putting together a scene from her latest Lego set (yes, Lego for adults is now a big thing apparently, as well as Airfix kits). Three days later and two of us have finished their ‘make’. One of us still has a fair way to go…

But this is a music blog, and although I had no idea what the featured song might be when I started out with this one, as often happens, it has fallen into my lap. Anyone who has watched the Pirates of the Caribbean film series will know the Black Pearl is a ship, and that actor Johnny Depp plays Captain Jack Sparrow, an eccentric pirate characterised by his slightly drunken swagger, slurred speech and flailing hand gestures. Initially Sparrow was just supposed to act a bit cocky, but after researching 18th century pirates, Johnny compared them to modern rock stars and decided to base his performance on Keith Richards.

Keith has even appeared in the film franchise with Johnny, playing his father.

The song that fell into my lap was this one, Paint It Black, by the Rolling Stones. I’m not often quite so literal when it comes to song choice, but Mr WIAA did paint his model black and it was the ship captained by a character inspired by the song’s co-writer, Keith Richards.

I’ve said around here before that I’ve never really been a fan of the Rolling Stones which will probably come as no surprise to regular visitors to this place, but I can’t help but be impressed by their longevity as a band. I was saddened to hear of the death of Charlie Watts earlier on this year but in true Stones’ fashion, after a short break, their tour carried on without him. I am fond of some of their songs though, and this is one of them. It reached the top of the UK Singles Chart in 1966 and it was the first time they made use of the Indian sitar. Some critics thought they were trying to copy their rivals the Beatles, but Brian Jones had a background with the instrument, after studying with Ravi Shankar, so it was only a matter of time before it happened. As ever with Stones’ songs, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive explanation as to the meaning behind the lyrics, but it does seem to be about grief and loss of sorts.

Paint It Black by the Rolling Stones:


Here we are at the end of 2021 and looking at his DOB, it seems Keith has just turned 78. I’m fairly sure no-one back in 1966 would have thought the Stones would still be going strong over 55 years later. Like the 18th century pirate however, they are other-worldly. They are the stuff of legend, and certainly don’t look like any of the grandads (great-grandads?) I know. We’re entering totally new territory where some of the ‘pop stars’ of the 1960s might well keep going as energetic octogenarians. Whatever their secret is, I wish they would share it.

Until next time.

Paint It Black Lyrics
(Song by Mick Jagger/Keith Richards)

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colours anymore, I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by, dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

I see a line of cars and they’re all painted black
With flowers and my love both never to come back
I see people turn their heads and quickly look away
Like a newborn baby, it just happens every day

I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door, I must have it painted black
Maybe then I’ll fade away and not have to face the facts
It’s not easy facing up when your whole world is black

No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue
I could not foresee this thing happening to you
If I look hard enough into the setting sun
My love will laugh with me before the morning comes

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colours anymore, I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by, dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

Hmm, hmm, hmm…

I wanna see it painted, painted black
Black as night, black as coal
I wanna see the sun blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted black

Yeah!

Hmm, hmm, hmm…

Postscript:

For the record, I did complete my jigsaw a few days later and here is my Christmas 2021 effort.