Photo Challenges, Simon & Garfunkel and ‘Scarborough Fair’

I am going to have to admit defeat today as neither of the posts I’ve started have worked out – It happens, and I’m sure some of my blogging pals will recognise that feeling. Just too much going on I think, after over a year of very little going on at all. Our senses are being overloaded.

Time therefore to resort to the sharing of a photograph, which is exactly what some of the music blogging fraternity have been doing of late. I will first refer you to The Swede over at Unthought Of, Though, Somehow, to check out his excellent Friday Photo, and then to John over at Are We There Yet? for his equally excellent, but very different, Two of a Kind photographs.

Here is my photo, taken just yesterday evening when we decided to make the short trip through to a nearby village for an ice-cream. The village, called Beauly because French-speaking Mary Queen of Scots called it a beau lieu (beautiful place), has a very old Priory which in the evening sun looked striking. Needless to say, the locally renowned fish and chip shop where we got our very delicious Mr Whippy ice-cream, is called The Friary. Love it.


But what song to include in a picture post such as this? As we wandered round the inside of the ruined priory licking ice-cream (probably a sacrilege), we couldn’t help but notice the dates on some of the tombstones, a few going as far back as the 15th century. It will therefore have to be a very old song, and off the top of my head this one comes to mind, Scarborough Fair by that duo who have appeared around here often, Simon & Garfunkel. To be fair (no pun intended), it’s a traditional English ballad, but it does seem to have a lot in common with a Scottish ballad called The Elfin Knight, so not too unreasonable.

The lyrics are about trying to attain true love by performing impossible tasks. In Medieval times, the herbs mentioned in the song represented virtues – Parsley was comfort, sage was strength, rosemary was love, and thyme was courage. As I often say around here, every day’s a school day.

The song was released as a single in 1968, after it was used on the soundtrack to one of my all-time favourite films, The Graduate. Paul Simon learned of the song whilst on tour in England, after hearing it performed by folk singer Martin Carthy. Martin Carthy in turn had learned the song from a Ewan MacColl songbook.

Scarborough Fair/Canticle by Simon & Garfunkel:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – When you’re stumped for inspiration, or suffering blogger’s block, resort to a picture post. A song will surely follow as it has done for me here.

As for this flurry of photo sharing amongst the community, I’m also up for the challenge and look forward to seeing what the others share next.

I have been very careful (until now) to avoid any mention of the momentous football match which will take place tomorrow night between Scotland and England. It’s 25 years since we played each other in the Euros, but I still remember that night well. DD was a just a little baby so the return match has been a long time coming. Talking of Scottish/English rivalry, I’ve just shared an English ballad which was based on a Scottish ballad, but not sure which is best. Time perhaps to share a version of The Elfin Knight, on this occasion by Kate Rusby. Personally I’m torn, as both very different in style, but would be interested to hear your thoughts.

As for who will fair best on the football pitch tomorrow night, we have yet to find out, so I’m glad I got this one in ahead of kick-off. I’m not a massive football fan, but I do like the big tournaments and used to watch them all with my dad as a girl. I’m Scottish, but Mr WIAA is English – Could make for an interesting time in our house tomorrow night.

Until next time…

Scarborough Fair Lyrics
(Traditional)

Are you going to Scarborough Fair:
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.

On the side of a hill in the deep forest green.
Tracing of sparrow on snow-crested brown.
Blankets and bedclothes the child of the mountain
Sleeps unaware of the clarion call.

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt:
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
Without no seams nor needle work,
Then she’ll be a true love of mine.

On the side of a hill a sprinkling of leaves.
Washes the grave with silvery tears.

A soldier cleans and polishes a gun.
Sleeps unaware of the clarion call.

Tell her to find me an acre of land:
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
Between the salt water and the sea strand,
Then she’ll be a true love of mine.

War bellows blazing in scarlet battalions.
General order their soldiers to kill.
And to fight for a cause they’ve long ago forgotten.

Tell her to reap it with a sickle of leather:
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
And gather it all in a bunch of heather,
Then she’ll be a true love of mine.

Six Years of Birthday Blogging and the Phrase, ‘We All Now Know How That Turned Out’

I had a birthday this week, my sixth since starting this blog, and it occurred to me to look back at what I was writing about in each of those years at this time. It made for interesting reading, as although there is always a song around here, from the get-go it has also been my web-diary, and I’ve been pretty honest about all the ups and downs that life has very naturally thrown my way.

2016 – Back then I was still concentrating primarily on the music, and for my birthday post I decided to write about music from the year of my birth, music that certainly didn’t feature in my own musical memories, but it might have done for my parents had they not been quite so busy coping with a new baby in the house. My next post was all about that momentous decision we were about to make, which could possibly take us out of the EU. (Well, we all now know how that turned out and a right hullaballoo it’s still causing all these years later, this week regarding the humble British banger.) But getting back to the year of my birth, here’s a bit of Adam Faith for you.

What Do You Want by Adam Faith:

2017 – This was the summer of terrorist attacks and tragic fires. The Manchester Arena and London Bridge attacks and then the horrors of Grenfell Tower. At the same time our new PM Theresa May decided to hold a snap election to consolidate her majority in The House of Commons ahead of Brexit negotiations. (Again, we all now know how that turned out.) On a more positive note, a very successful benefit concert called One Love was held in Manchester shortly after the atrocity at the arena, and we also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ seminal album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles:

2018 – By this time I was really getting into my blogging stride and in early June I wrote a couple of wedding posts, one a very royal affair (we all now know how that turned out – there’s a pattern forming here) and one for a girl from our neighbourhood. To challenge myself I also embarked on a whole week of blogging which culminated with me posting 7 in 7 (seven posts in seven days). I was very proud of myself but now realise whenever I set myself these kind of challenges I understandably lose followers along the way, as overkill really. It certainly does help flex the blogging muscles though. On a positive note, my Full Moon Calendar in Song series was really gathering pace and is still my favourite because of all I discovered, both about our only satellite, and about the many moon-related songs that were included. I thought Carly Simon’s version of Moonlight Serenade was just perfect for June’s Strawberry Moon.

Moonlight Serenade by the Glenn Miller Orchestra:


2019 – By the time my birthday came around two years ago I was already headlong into greeting guests at the holiday hideaway we had taken on earlier in the year, but having worked in an office for 35 years it turned out I wasn’t ‘match fit’, and my back, neck and shoulders were already giving me gyp. I wrote about the sleepless nights that ensued, compounded by the sheer number of troubling television dramas that filled our screens of an evening. One BBC drama called Years and Years portrayed a worrying picture of what life might be like in only five years time, with everyone working from home at their kitchen tables, communication all being done virtually via screens, and everything we consume being ordered online. (Well, well, well – Again, we all now know how that turned out and it didn’t take five years, just one.) On a really positive note however, I finally made it down to London that month to meet long time blogging buddy C from Sun Dried Sparrows. As we used mock-ups of our first albums to recognise each other this song by the Clash seems appropriate (for C anyway – my first album wasn’t quite as ‘cool’).

London Calling by the Clash:

2020 – This is the big one isn’t it. I had reached a milestone birthday but couldn’t celebrate it with anyone as we all had to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. Not complaining of course, as there seemed little other choice at the time, but by June it was becoming apparent there would be no V-shaped bounce back to the economy and that restrictions could be in place for another few weeks yet (a year on, we all now know how that turned out). DD’s life in Glasgow was in disarray and there would be a complicated manoeuvre to get her home safely – It was going to be a Cruel Summer, I could tell. One positive thing from that time was that our country’s entertainers rallied round, and I enjoyed a fair few online concerts cobbled together via the wonders of modern-day technology. One was by Take That which aired just before my birthday. I had been a bit too old for the Take That phenomenon when they first appeared on the scene in the early ‘90s, but they are now a middle-aged man band as opposed to a boy band, with a great back catalogue of songs, so it was a real treat to watch them in action when everything was still looking very bleak. The song that always ends their shows is Never Forget, and I think we can all agree, unlike Y2K which came and went with very little drama, none of us will ever forget the year 2020.

Never Forget by Take That:


2021 – So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – It has become apparent from writing this post that life can throw us some pretty spectacular curve balls and from one year to the next we find it impossible to predict how things might turn out. I wasn’t able to celebrate my big birthday much last year, but the +1 version was a whole lot better – Afternoon tea at a posh hotel courtesy of DD. Very nice indeed. Who knows what next year’s birthday will throw up, but let’s hope it will be that life is a whole lot better for all of us.

Until next time…

Never Forget Lyrics
(Song by Gary Barlow)

We’ve come a long way
But we’re not too sure where we’ve been
We’ve had success we’ve had good times
But remember this

Been on this path of life for so long
Feel I’ve walked a thousand miles
Sometimes strolled hand in hand with love
Everybody’s been there

With danger on my mind
I would stand on the line
Of hope and I knew I could make it

Once I knew the boundaries
I looked into the clouds
And saw my face in the moonlight

Just then I realised what a fool I could be
Just ’cause I look so high I don’t have to see me
Finding a paradise wasn’t easy but still
There’s a road going down the other side of this hill

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Safe from the arms of disappointment for so long
Feel each day we’ve come too far
Yet each day seems to make much more
Sure it’s good to be here

I understand the meaning
Of “I can’t explain this feeling”
Now that it feels so unreal

At night I see the hand
That reminds me of the stand
That I make the fact of reality

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

We’ve come so far and we’ve reached so high
And we’ve looked each day and night in the eye
And we’re still so young and we hope for more
But remember this

We’re not invincible, we’re not invincible, no
We’re only people, we’re only people
Hey we’re not invincible, we’re not invincible
So again I’ll tell you

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Never
Never forget babe
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Sérgio Mendes, ‘Mas Que Nada’ and Being Chivvied Up By WIAA

WIAA: Alyson…? Oh Alyson…? Where are you?

ALYSON: Sorry WIAA, I am still around, just not had much time for blogging of late.

WIAA: What’s been happening with you?

ALYSON: Well, last week marked the end of the semester for my college course and we had to get our assignments in. Turns out none of the 373 posts I’ve written here provided much in the way of inspiration, which was disappointing, but fair. It even sparked a discussion with our class tutor, about how using lines from song lyrics in our writing, or the name of a musician for a character, is a big no-no. Copyright issues, obviously.

WIAA: Thank goodness for the niche world of music blogging then, where anything goes. ‘You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave’. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

ALYSON: Just realised Rol will think I’m stealing his Conversations With Ben feature. But no, you’ve popped up around here before to drag me out of a blogging fug and of course you’re not real, like Ben, you’re just a blank page on my blogging platform.

WIAA: Blank page…, on a blogging platform. Not showing much loyalty there, Alyson, after all we’ve been through.

ALYSON: Sorry, WIAA, you’re right. We’ve been through a lot these last five and half years and if I can get my ass in gear there will be more stories to tell, and more songs to write about. As well as submitting my assignments last week, I also had to get the holiday house ready for my first set of guests. They had a lovely time and I got a glowing review, but with no tourists from abroad yet, and the idea of ‘staycations’ (hate that word) in towns and cities not quite taking off yet, it could be another quiet season. There’s also the issue of the snow.

WIAA: The snow?

ALYSON: Yep, this is what we woke up to this morning. Only a month and a half until the Summer Solstice, so we live in hope Spring might briefly put in an appearance before then.

WIAA: Gosh, I wouldn’t have known, me just being a ‘blank page on a blogging platform’. If I’d been real, like Ben, you could have compared notes about the weather in his neck of the woods. Excuse me for not being a bit more corporeal.

ALYSON: You know I love you, WIAA. It’s just that I’m finding the idea of getting back to some semblance of normality tough after a year of being holed up at home. I’d love to meet up with friends and do fun things, but after not seeing them for so long, it’s tough reconnecting. A touch of social anxiety I think. Also, the things I love most, like cinema, theatre, cosy country pubs, are still kind of out of bounds for the older, not-yet-fully-vaccinated individual. Doesn’t leave much to write about.

WIAA: I’m sure you’ll do it, Alyson. In the meantime, have you thought of a song to share, as if I’m not mistaken this is supposed to be a music blog?

ALYSON: You are right of course, Mr (now not so) Blank Page. And can I just say thank you for drawing me back in today, as I couldn’t seem to unblock the blockage around here. I have my new Tribute Series to add to, and another few ideas in the pipeline, so good to be back. Here’s something to cheer us both up though – No, not the full six and half minutes of the song you alluded to above, but something quite different. I don’t know if it was the sight of the snow this morning, but when the other half fired up his computer at 9am, he went straight to YouTube for a fix of something from warmer climes. I give you Sérgio Mendes and Brasil ’66 (sounds like a football tournament, but no, we’ll never be allowed to forget who won that one), with his signature song Mas Que Nada, the first time a song in Portuguese became a hit all over the world.

Mas Que Nada by Sérgio Mendes and Brasil ’66:

WIAA: Brilliant stuff, Alyson, and right up your alley as your visitors often say. They do look a bit hot and sweaty in that clip, not something that’ll be troubling you today by the sounds of it, what with all the snow. Not sure how the group of singers coped in that rainforest though, dressed as they were.

ALYSON: Ah, I did love a cute little crocheted dress with some matching clacker earrings. I’ve been loving my cottagecore crafting of late, but I think my days of wearing a crocheted dress are now definitely over, so I won’t be fashioning one for myself. I googled Sergio straight after watching the clip this morning and was pleased to see he is still with us, and still making new music. He apparently specialises in ‘bossa nova heavily crossed with jazz and funk’, and it seems he is still married to Gracinha Leporace, who has performed with him since the early 1970s. Good for Sergio.

Sérgio Mendes and Brasil ’66

WIAA: Are you going to include the lyrics on this one? Not sure if we’ll know ‘what it’s all about’ otherwise.

ALYSON: Good point. I’ll see if I can find a translation. It’s bound to be something really deep and meaningful. A torrid love story laced with danger. Or…, maybe not as it turns out, maybe more suited to a disinterested teenager. I give you the translated lyrics to Mas Que Nada, or rather, Whatever.

Until next time…

Whatever (Mas Que Nada) Lyrics
(Song by Jorge Ben)

Oari rai
Oba oba boa
Whatever
Get out of my way
I wanna pass
Because samba is really exciting
And I wanna dance [samba]


This samba
That is mixed with maracatu
Old black samba
Black samba you
Whatever
A samba like this is so nice
You don’t want to it to end

Postscript:

We do like a compare and contrast around here so it would be remiss of me not to also include the version of Mas Que Nada that Sergio recorded with The Black Eyed Peas back in 2006. How things change in 40 years.

Outlander, The Association and ‘Never My Love’

A new song came into my life last week which I have just discovered is one of the most listened to of the 20th century. Why am I only finding out about it now, as for me, it ticks all the boxes?

  • Released in 1967
  • Recorded by a band of the sunshine pop persuasion
  • Made with members of the legendary Wrecking Crew (that group of session musicians based in Los Angeles who worked with Sonny & Cher, the Mamas & the Papas, the 5th Dimension, the Monkees, the Beach Boys and many others)

The Association were until last week unknown to me, however according to the well-known online encyclopaedia, they hit the No. 1 spot in the charts in October 1967, and had four other top ten hits in the late 1960s. Ah…, but not here in the UK, in America (as I would have called it then). That would explain it, as it seems they largely bypassed the notice of the great British public. The song I have become quite smitten by is this one, their version of Never My Love.

Never My Love by The Association:


The reason I stumbled upon this beautiful song from over 50 years ago was because it featured in the final episode of the historical television drama Outlander, which we have just finished binge watching for the second time. Overkill perhaps I know, but we needed something to fill the gaps in our viewing schedule and the storyline is about events and people from our neck of the woods. It’s also one of the reasons why we’ve been getting so many visitors to the Highlands over the last few years (pre-pandemic), as what with time-travel and romance as well as drama, the Outlander books and television series have quite the cult following.

Anyway, I won’t give too much away in terms of spoilers in case anyone hasn’t reached the final episode of season five yet, but the main character Claire returns to her own time, the late 1960s, in a surreal, dream-like set of scenes. The song Never My Love would have been chosen because it fitted the era, as well as the love story that runs through the whole plotline. Here is a clip that uses some of that footage, as well as footage from the mid 1700s, where she goes back in time and meets her handsome Highlander, Jamie Fraser.

It was a strange coincidence then that we reached the end of a series that all kicked off with the build up to the Jacobite Rising, just as we were about to mark the 275th anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, the last pitched battle held on British soil. As most people know, the Jacobite army led by Charles Edward Stewart was decisively defeated by government troops on 16th April 1746, and over 2000 Highlanders were killed or wounded.

Although 275 is not a particularly round number for anniversaries, a large event had been planned at the visitor centre for last Friday, but sadly, due to continuing pandemic-related restrictions, it all moved online. The battlefield was still open for walks however, and as we are local we decided to go up with our new camera equipment, hoping to make a little film. I’ve shared a few dashcam films around here before, but this time all credit goes to Mr WIAA who put this effort together. A few Outlander fans were there on the day looking for the Clan Fraser stone (Jamie’s clan) and as usual it had a few floral tributes in front of it.

Culloden Battlefield – Site of the last pitched battle fought on British soil

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I love that I’m still making lots of new discoveries from the late ’60s as I do seem to have a real affinity for the music from that time. More often than not it comes from having heard it on a film or television soundtrack, and as there is nothing like an older song to evoke the era, film-makers usually choose wisely.

As for the Outlander phenomenon, not so many visitors for us over the last year, but I am hopeful that by summer we will be able to open up again and welcome people back. My little holiday hideaway is being prepped and made appealing for bookings as we speak. I know we won’t get many from abroad this year (nor should we), but hopefully we’ll get some guests from other parts of the UK. I hate the word ‘staycation’ which keeps being bandied about – For someone like me brought up in the ’60s and ’70s we never went abroad, and all our great ‘holidays’ were in Scotland. A staycation would have happened during one of those summers when for one reason or another we had to stay at home, and just had day trips instead – Something quite different to my mind.

Jamie Fraser from Outlander

Anyway, whatever it’s called, all being well we will be able to travel more freely this summer and you would be made very welcome if visiting the Highlands. Hopefully the visitor centre at Culloden will be open for business again and I can thoroughly recommend it – You can even dress up in a kilt, just like the one worn by Jamie in Outlander. As for the term Outlander, it apparently means foreigner, or more specifically an English person (used to describe Claire) although I’d personally never heard it before and am more familiar with the word Sassenach which essentially means the same thing. But again, whatever it’s called, you would be made very welcome, so what are you waiting for? The midges await!

Until next time…

Never My Love Lyrics
(Song by Don Addrisi/Dick Addrisi)

You ask me
If there’ll come a time
When I grow tired of you
Never my love
Never my love

You wonder
If this heart of mine
Will lose its desire for you
Never my love
Never my love

What makes you think love will end
When you know that my whole life depends
On you?
On you

You say you fear
I’ll change my mind
I won’t require you
Never my love
Never my love

How can you think love will end
When I’ve asked you to spend
Your whole life
With me?
With me

You ask me
If there’ll come a time
When I grow tired of you
Never my love
Never my love

Never my love
Never my love

Never my love
Never my love

The End of an Era, Being Kept Safe and ‘Walk Tall’

I had fully intended to return to my regular web-diary style of blogging last Saturday, as there is much to write about, but events overtook me. I think we had all expected it for some time, but when the news was released on Friday that Prince Philip, our Queen’s consort of over 73 years, had died peacefully that morning, our mainstream radio and television channels pulled all their planned schedules and replaced them with sombre music and programmes about the life of the Prince. I was surprised at the level of coverage given to his passing, dare I say it because of his age, but it seems it had all been planned out for some time, so went ahead. In consequence, it no longer seemed appropriate for me to write a jokey blog post combined with upbeat music.

The Queen with her Prince – Because of their height difference there are so many pictures just like this.

It kind of feels like the end of an era for those of us of a certain age. For as long as I can remember the Prince was always there by the Queen’s side and their work ethic over the last 70 plus years has been phenomenal. He had the good looks of a Hollywood star as a younger man and my mum always had a bit of a crush on him I think. Although his naval career was cut short after his father-in-law the king died prematurely, he carved out a role for himself that included work on conservation (long before it became obvious it was going to be important) and the setting up of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme which has helped millions of young people around the world find a confidence to do things that wouldn’t normally have been open to them. He made the odd gaffe, as we all know, but who wouldn’t when having to make small talk and break the ice at hundreds of engagements per year.

It was his time. He reached the age of almost a 100 without having to endure too many of the usual indignities of old age, and that would have suited him just fine. His wife is a pragmatic and stoic woman who will not crumble. They are the last of their kind I suspect.

Ironically I had planned to write a post about old age last Saturday, as I am finally able to enter my mum’s care home after an absence of over a year. It is a very different experience however, as even with the staff and residents all having had their full quota of vaccinations, a half-hour visit now takes around three hours. There is a lot of form filling to be done then I have to have a covid test and wait in the car for the result. Once given the all-clear there is much hand-washing/sanitising and temperature checking before being dressed in the required PPE. A convoluted walk to her room using fire escape doors and staircases then follows after which I am shown the seat I must not move from for the duration of the visit. My mum gets another chair several metres away but of course doesn’t understand why it’s not like it used to be – But she is being kept safe, as she has been, very successfully, for the last year and a bit.

We chose her particular care home as it had so many fine features, like a hair salon, a little cinema, two coffee shops and a steady stream of visiting musicians who came to entertain. This last year she has had to predominantly stay in her room and the doors to the salon, cinema and coffee shops have remained firmly closed – But she has been kept safe. The average length of stay in a care home is two and a half years as by it’s very nature it is for those who can no longer look after themselves. In the 13 months since the pandemic began many of the residents have passed away from natural causes. They spent the last few months of their lives alone in their rooms with no visits from family and friends – But they were kept safe from the virus.

I am being a tad sarcastic I know, but it does gall me a little that in some parts of the country you could buy a small house with the money it has taken to keep my mum captive in her room for the last year (the dementia tax is alive and well). It really wasn’t supposed to be like this but I don’t suppose the care homes had much of a choice after those initial outbreaks at the start of the pandemic. I do question however whether those that are being kept safe are going to live long enough to see the end of restrictions to visits and have their fine facilities open again for business. My mum no longer recognises her granddaughter in pictures, as she hasn’t seen her for over a year. They are being kept safe, but time is not on their side.

Another couple of the same generation, my mum and dad.

My mum was never what you would have called a music buff, but like many other ladies of her generation she did enjoy some of the artists who appeared on mainstream Saturday night television shows back in the day. I have over the years shared some of her favourites around here, Jim Reeves and Andy Williams come to mind. Another chap she was definitely fond of was Val Doonican who regularly appeared on our screens dressed in some very fine knitwear. His big hit Walk Tall from 1964 comes to mind as it also makes me think of Prince Philip, who although not actually that tall, always gave us that impression because of how he carried himself, right to the end. In the US the song was recorded by, and was also a hit for, Faron Young.

Walk Tall by Faron Young:


I think I needed to write this one as it has been upsetting over the last year being kept at arms length from the care home where my mum lives. It does also make you ponder on what might be to come. The Who sang about not wanting to grow old but two of them are most definitely heading that way and looking good on it I must say. We don’t know what lies ahead which is probably a good thing. For ladies like my mum the care home route worked well, until the pandemic came along. Now, not so much.

Until next time…

Walk Tall Lyrics
(Song by Don Wayne)

Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
That’s what my mama told me when I was about knee high
She said son, be a proud man and hold your head up high
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye

All through the years that I grew up, ma taught these things to me
But I was young and foolish then and much too blind to see
I ignored the things she said as if I’d never heard
Now I see and understand the wisdom of her words

Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
That’s what my mama told me when I was about knee high
She said, son, be a proud man and hold your head up high
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye

I started goin’ places where the youngsters shouldn’t go
I got to know the kind of girls it’s better not to know
I fell in with a bad crowd and laughed and drank with them
Through the laughter mama’s words would echo now and then

Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
That’s what my mama told me when I was about knee high
She said, son, be a proud man and hold your head up high
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye

I got in trouble with the law and I’m in prison now
Through these prison bars I see things so much different now
I’ve got one year left to serve and when my time is done
I’ll walk tall and straight and make ma proud to call me son

Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
That’s what my mama told me when I was about knee high
She said, son, be a proud man and hold your head up high
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye

Things We’ve Missed, ‘Saturday Night At The Movies’ and The Drifters

I don’t know about you but I’ve really missed cinema over the last 12 months. We have a great theatre/arts centre only minutes away from our house and most of my socialising used to take place there. As well as the large 800-seater auditorium, it has two cinemas, a smaller theatre, a restaurant/bar & coffee shop, as well as two performance/dance studios and rooms for classes and exhibitions. It has been closed for over a year now.

Our local theatre/arts centre

I am really looking forward to getting back to the cinema, but not sure at the moment how easy it’s going to be, what with many of the restrictions likely to carry on even after the vaccine rollout to all adults. Tough times lie ahead for our arts sector.

The song on the radio that reminded me how much I’m missing cinema, is this one, Saturday Night At The Movies by The Drifters. I can’t say the lyrics are that appropriate to my current situation, as it’s a long time since I’ve been ‘hugging with my baby last row in the balcony’. Also, I nowadays very much care about what ‘picture I see’, but it’s still a great song that harks back to the America of 1964, all about what they called ‘Going to the Movies’. For the record I still call it ‘Going to the Cinema’ (always have done) and my dad, who was a great fan back in the 40s & 50s, always called it ‘Going to the Pictures’. All depends on where, and when, you were born it seems.

Saturday Night At The Movies by The Drifters:


All this thinking about my favourite pastime led me down a rabbit hole, as I tried to remember the names of the many cinemas that used to exist in Aberdeen, where I spent much of the first half of my life. It’s been a trip down memory lane, and as I know a few Aberdonians visit this place, what is to follow might jog a few memories.

I’m pretty sure the first cinema I ever visited was with my primary school in the late 1960s and it was called Cosmo 2, situated on Diamond Street. Looking at these old pictures, it now makes sense that it had been converted from a stable building in 1936. After many changes in name/ownership over the years, it became Cosmo 2 in 1964 (Cosmo 1 was located in Glasgow) but closed for the final time in 1977. The film we went to see with the school was Disney’s Fantasia (link to the memorable scene with Mickey and the buckets), but the thing I still remember most was that we all got one of those purple lollipops that came in a little foil tray – Something you didn’t get in our village.

The Cosmo 2 on Diamond Street

Another cinema I went to whilst still in primary school was a much grander place altogether. It was the Majestic situated on Union Street, the city’s main thoroughfare, and this time it was to see Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I had been staying with my aunt and uncle in Aberdeen for some of the school holidays and my uncle had found some old complimentary tickets for the Majestic. My aunt and I headed into town and miraculously they accepted them, despite them being about 10 years old at the time (to be clear, we would still have paid to go in had they not). The Majestic was built on the site of an even older cinema and also opened in 1936, but it was eventually demolished in 1973, despite protests to save it.

The Majestic on Union Street

Names of some of the other cinemas that were still around when I was growing up in the Aberdeen area are as follows: Gaumont, Astoria, Odeon, ABC, Capitol, Cinema House, Grand Central, Playhouse and the Queens. The Capitol was also a theatre where we went to watch bands perform, but as a cinema it was where I went as a teenager to watch David Essex in the film Stardust (tagline: Show me a boy who never wanted to be a rock star and I’ll show you a liar). The Grand Central became the home of those naughty X-rated movies.

After moving into the city to live, the two most visited cinemas were the ABC and the Odeon, as both had three screens. The ABC was at the bottom of Union Street so just a short bus ride down King Street from Old Aberdeen where I lived as a student. Once I decanted into town, it was just a short walk up Justice Mill Lane to the Odeon, from my flat on Hardgate. On a summer’s evening we thought nothing of heading out for an ice-cream at the Baskins-Robbins shop on Rose Street before heading home via the cinema to watch a film. Happy days. In July 2000 the projectors stopped purring and the screens went black as the Odeon finally closed its doors – It was the last cinema left standing in the city centre. Some of the cinemas became nightspots, but most have now been replaced by health clubs, office blocks or flats.

The heyday of most of the cinemas mentioned above was probably the ’40s and ’50s when my dad was a big fan. In terms of competition, they really didn’t have much, and it would be a while before television took over so completely. By the 1970s, when I became a film fan, they were closing at an alarming rate but by that time the cinemas had seen better days and although some great films were made in that decade, the industry was somewhat in the doldrums for a time.

Once the large multiplexes began to be built on the edge of our towns there seemed to be a resurgence, and ‘Hollywood Blockbusters’ were being churned out to a bit of a formula, the budgets getting bigger and bigger every year. Of late however, even before the pandemic, I’ve noticed that our multiplex is just not getting the trade it used to, and there are now many special offers on ticket price (the Netflix effect?). It almost feels as if our cinemas are now food outlets that also happen to screen films. Why I like our local arts centre best, but popular mainly with the older generation, so not sure how confident its usual patrons will be in returning to the screens post-pandemic.

But I have become well and truly side-tracked by the history of local cinema. Getting back to The Drifters, I get really confused when I look at their various line-ups, as there were so many changes over the years. I am fairly confident however that lead vocalist on both Saturday Night At The Movies and this song from 1974, Kissin’ in the Back Row of the Movies (when they had a bit of a resurgence in the UK), was Johnny Moore. Yes, they did like to sing about the ‘Movies’, although more as a place to canoodle, rather than get absorbed by what’s taking place on the big screen!

Is your childhood cinema still standing or has it long gone? Are you, like me, missing being able to watch films on the big screen? Cross fingers things can open up again later in the year. I am really looking forward to it.

Until next time…

Saturday Night At The Movies Lyrics
(Song by Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman)

Well, Saturday night at eight o’clock
I know where I’m gonna go
I’m a-gonna pick my baby up
And take her to the picture show
Everybody in the neighborhood
Is dressing up to be there, too
And we’re gonna have a ball
Just like we always do

Saturday night at the movies
Who cares what picture you see
When you’re hugging with your baby
Last row in the balcony?

Well, there’s Technicolor and Cinemascope
A cast out of Hollywood
And the popcorn from the candy stand
Makes it all seem twice as good
There’s always lots of pretty girls
With figures they don’t try to hide
But they never can compare
To the girl sitting by my side

Saturday night at the movies
Who cares what picture you see
When you’re hugging with your baby
Last row in the balcony?

Oh, Saturday night at the movies
Who cares what picture you see
When you’re hugging with your baby
Last row in the balcony?

Whoa, Saturday night at the movies
Who cares what picture you see
When you’re hugging with your baby
Last row in the balcony?

Yeah, Saturday night at the movies

Phil Spector, The Ronettes and ‘Be My Baby’

Yet another person written about in the early days of this blog left us yesterday. Phil Spector was an innovator, coming up with the “Wall of Sound”, a Wagnerian approach to rock ‘n’ roll. His work with the Ronettes, the Crystals and Darlene Love produced some of the finest pop tunes ever recorded, and of course he gave us the best Christmas Album ever made, A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records. I think I’ve shared something from it every year since starting this blog.

He had a troubled life however and at the time of his death was an inmate of the California state prison system. Here is not the place to go into the whys and wherefores, but if you want to hear a bit of classic Phil Spector, click on the post below where you will find his once wife, Ronnie Spector, performing Be My Baby with her fellow Ronettes. This two-and-a-half minute gem is often cited as being “the perfect pop song” – A fine accolade indeed.

What's It All About?

Following on from my last post when I wrote about Amy Winehouse’s album “Back to Black”, her image at that time was very much taken from the American girl groups of the early ’60s. The most famous and recognisable of these was probably The Ronettes of Be My Baby fame.

Be My Baby by The Ronettes:

Now I would be lying if I said that I remembered this song from 1963 when it was first released, but it is one of those songs you will have heard throughout your entire life, popping up on the radio and on film soundtracks. Phil Spector, who produced the record, was an innovator and in the early 60s created his now infamous “wall of sound” as a backdrop to the sultry vocals of singers like Veronica (Ronnie) Bennett of The Ronettes and Darlene Love. This new approach to recording included using whole string and…

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Five Years Of Blogging, Fun Statistics and Favourite Years

Oh the irony. Back in January 2020, after writing my first post of the year I decided to have a month off, as my blog had lost much of its joie de vivre. I’d decided that in the four years I’d been blogging, the world had gone to hell in a handbasket and although nothing to do with me and my little blog, maybe best to recharge the batteries before inflicting any more rants on you lovely followers. As it turns out, although each of them very different in flavour, those four years 2016 to 2019 will now be remembered as a bit of a golden age.

The WordPress Birthday Badge

I am really pleased however to have got to this point – It’s WIAA’s 5th birthday on Monday and I can’t believe I’ve actually kept it going through all the trials and tribulations the world has thrown at us, and through all the ups and downs closer to home. It started off just as the tagline says, “a nostalgic journey through the tracks of my years”, but of course it’s also ended up becoming a personal record of those five years, with many, many songs thrown in.

Heading into my 6th year of blogging I expect the direction of travel will be much the same. Every now and again I’ll have a bit of a rant about what’s going on in the world, but hopefully I’ll not veer too far from my original plan, to look back at the songs of my youth from this end of the conveyor belt of life, and find out so much more about them that was ever possible back in the day.

But first of all, some statistics. Despite having given up my very number-orientated job a few years ago to concentrate on other things (more wordy in nature), I do still love a statistic and I’ve put together a few relating to this blog. Here is a bar graph that shows the number of songs written about by year since WIAA’s inception back in January 2016. As expected, the year I seem to have returned to more than any other is 1967, for all sorts of reasons mentioned around here before. It was probably the first year I was allowed to stay up late enough to watch TOTP; I was a happy child from a comfortable home so no negative memories attached to the songs; I have a great affinity for the baroque, orchestral and sunshine pop of the era; and finally, all the rules changed around then and our parents who were not from the baby boomer generation were not part of it.

Or…, maybe it’s simply because that was the year I fell in love with Davy Jones from The Monkees. Oh yes, he was very much part of my 7-year-old self’s daytime thoughts. Cue Daydream Believer.

Daydream Believer by the Monkees:


Ok, so we’ve worked out that my favourite year to revisit is 1967, but my graph also shows that the median song (sorry to get all mathsy here), the one that ends up bang in the middle of the entire range, falls in the year 1977. Again I’ve written about the reason for this before. A study was carried out, and the findings were that if any company wished to target a particular demographic with their advertising, they should use music from the time that group was 16, which I was for much of 1977. Despite having to sit some heavy duty life-changing exams that year, life was anything but shabby. My material needs were all catered for; I had a tight regime to my day with school and a Saturday job; I saw my best friends daily; my social life was full-on; and we all had a reasonable level of independence, as helicopter parenting wouldn’t start for a few decades yet. Top that off with a few short romances that didn’t cause too much distress when they were over, no social media to mess with your head, and life was sweet. These giant corporations know that, and home in on our weakness for a pop song that reminds us of simpler times. Cue Hot Chocolate with the song that was at the top of the charts when I finished sitting my Scottish Highers in May 1977, So You Win Again.

So You Win Again by Hot Chocolate:


From the opposite end of the spectrum here is Elvis Costello with, quite aptly for this place, his song Alison from the album My Aim Is True. It was the album played most often in our newly commandeered 6th Year Common Room, after returning to school after the long summer holidays.

Alison by Elvis Costello:


But back to the statistics. I don’t know what the other blogging platforms are like, but here at WordPress we have access to some pretty amazing sets of charts as to how our blogs are performing. I’m a bit of a geography nerd, so the map showing all the countries you’ve had visits from is the one I’m most fascinated by. As at the time of writing, this is my map – It’s taken five years, but of the 197 countries in the world recognised by the UN, there are only 21 left where no one has dropped by this place. There are also of course lots of Dependencies and Territories, but I think I’m going to have to keep going until I get a visit from that last 21.

Come on in: Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo (Republic of), Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Kiribati, Liberia, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Niger, North Korea, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, your time is up.

To be fair, it’s quite obvious why some of the residents of the above-mentioned countries haven’t dropped by yet, but you do get a few surprises when you peruse your stats. See the last line in this list of Country Views. Wonder who’s been nostalgically revisiting the tracks of his years?

As for stats regarding my most visited posts, it has remained largely unchanged since my first year of blogging. Right at the top is the one I wrote about the Proclaimer’s song Sunshine On Leith and I can always tell when a documentary about them has been aired on television, or the film of the same name shown, as there is a dramatic spike in views. Of course there are a few newer releases now creeping up the chart, so in time there will be a few changes. (For the record, Elvis still seems to top all of those lists relating to Most No. 1s and Most Weeks at No. 1, and the way music is consumed nowadays, that’s unlikely to ever change.)

I find it surprising that Joshua Kadison’s song Jessie has retained its Top 5 position ever since I first wrote about it nearly four years ago. It wasn’t even a song I remembered from when it was released in 1993 as I only discovered it when one of the entertainment team sang it on a family holiday about a decade ago. I have a feeling that depending on how you title your posts, search engines can home in on them more easily than some other offerings, but it still makes for fascinating reading (if you’re a stats nerd like me).

Jessie by Joshua Kadison:


So, “What’s It All About?” – I’ve loved my time on the blogosphere and still can’t quite believe WIAA is still going strong after five years. A lot of it is down to the interaction with my fellow bloggers (many of them on my sidebar) and visitors to the Comments Boxes. I think it would be tough to keep going if writing in a bit of a vacuum with no feedback whatsoever, so thanks for that.

As for the years mentioned above, have a look at your music library and if possible sort it by year – There is a pretty good chance a large chunk of it will centre on the year you turned 16. Hot Chocolate’s song was part of the soundtrack to my life during those busy months of study ahead of my big life-changing exams, and then the song we danced to when all the hard work was over. Looking at the lyrics now they’re not as upbeat as I remember, but they do reflect what our love lives were like back then. Fortunately we got over all the heartache relatively quickly.

As for me I’m off to switch on the telly, and if any adverts come up featuring the sounds of 1977, I’ll no doubt be putty in their hands.

Until next time…

So You Win Again Lyrics
(Song by Russ Ballard)

Just to admit one mistake
That can be hard to take
I know we’ve made them fall
But only fools come back for more
Being the fool I am
I figured in all your plans, darling
Your perfumed letters didn’t say
That you’d be leaving any day

So you win again, you win again
Here I stand again, the loser
And just for fun you took my love and run,
But love had just begun

I can’t refuse her
But now I know that I’m the fool
Who won your love to lose it all
When you come back, you win again
And I’m not proud to say
I let love slip away
Now I’m the one who’s crying
I’m a fool there’s no denying
When will my heartache end?
Will my whole life depend on fading memories
You took the game this time with ease

So you win again, you win again
Here I stand again, the loser
And just for fun you took my love and run,
But love had just begun

Postscript:

Hot Chocolate, a British soul band formed by Errol Brown and Tony Wilson, were incredibly popular during the 1970s and 1980s and had at least one hit every year from 1970 to 1984. Their 1975 song You Sexy Thing made the UK Top 10 three times over three decades, mainly because of its inclusion on the soundtrack to the British film The Full Monty. Here is Robert Carlyle trying to show them how to become Sheffield’s answer to The Chippendales.

And here is Erroll Brown, the epitome of “cool”, showing us how it should be done.

Goodbye 2020, José Feliciano and “California Dreamin'”

Well, it’s the last day of 2020 and I feel duty bound to post something as it’s been a year like no other. We all wish we could just wipe the slate clean and start afresh with a 2021 that is fit for purpose, but sadly just not possible. In the short-term nothing much will change regarding the pandemic, bar things getting worse for a while it seems. At least there is hope on the horizon, with vaccines 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.

As of 11pm tonight (the time difference dictates it will work out that way) we will no longer be part of the EU, which makes me sad. I shared some pictures two years ago of DD’s Hogmanay party and over half her guests were originally from other countries in Europe. She is of the generation who grew up with the offspring of people who had come here to work from Eastern Europe, and of course is also of the generation who thought nothing of heading off to Amsterdam, Paris or Barcelona for a short city break. Geographically we are still going to be part of Europe, but it just doesn’t feel right to be breaking away like this at a time when mutual cooperation is more important than ever. Let’s hope the new relationship with our closest neighbours is a good one.

But hey, this is a music blog and although I have had many post ideas over the last few days, I have been rather distracted by my Christmas presents. One of my Boxing Day hobbies used to be jigsawing (and not the kind which can relieve you of a digit). This year DD not only gave me a great jigsaw but also a board to make it on which means we are no longer sans dining table until the puzzle is completed. It was tough going, especially for my neck and shoulders, but I finished it yesterday.

My Christmas jigsaw

Other distractions have come in the form of books, craft kits and another pretty special present from DD, a signed copy of the script for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer pilot episode, ‘Welcome to the Hellmouth’. Regulars around here will know that we as a family were big fans back in the day, so a very thoughtful gift. I think I’ll have to return another day with one of the many songs I have in my library from the Buffy soundtrack, as the song I want to feature in this post is a bit of a different animal and has been my favourite new discovery of 2020.

It’s been a hell of a year I think we can all agree, and we didn’t have Buffy to save the day for us, but in amongst all the anxiety, rules and restrictions most of us have watched a fair amount of television and I am no exception.

A few months ago I wrote about the documentary Laurel Canyon which I had watched the same week as the Tarantino film Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. Both were set around the Hollywood Hills of the late 60s and there is a great scene in the movie where Brad Pitt is driving his boss’s car around LA, listening to the radio. The song playing is not the Mamas & the Papa’s version of California Dreamin’, but the one by José Feliciano. Maybe it’s because it’s winter here in Scotland at the moment, but like me, don’t you just want to swap places with Brad for a few hours? (For the record, if you haven’t seen the film yet, the girl in the clip is a key player in the plotline. Yes she is very young, and yes, Brad is now very old, but nothing unsavoury came of their ‘friendship’ bar the usual blood and gore you would expect from a Tarantino movie.)

California Dreamin’ by José Feliciano:


It occurred to me I know very little about José Feliciano but it seems he is still going strong at the age of 75 and released a new album at the start of this year. He is Puerto Rican and his music is known for its fusion of styles – Latin, jazz, blues, soul and even rock, created with his unique, signature acoustic guitar sound. The song California Dreamin’ was recorded along with other covers for his 1968 album Feliciano!. I think most of us who are fans of Quentin Tarantino movies appreciate the song choices he makes for the soundtracks almost as much as the movie. He certainly chose wisely with this song which was perfect for the era but not too obvious either.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – No wild Hogmanay parties for us tonight, it being 2020 an’ all, but had things been as usual, we would probably have spent it with our neighbours as we have done for the last couple of decades. We were supposed to take turns in hosting, but some houses have a better layout than others for parties, so we tended to be guests rather than hosts – Guests who used to offer up the entertainment I might add. More of that another time.

For now, a Happy New Year to everyone who visits here. We’ll all be glad to see the back of 2020 I’m sure, but 2021, please, please be kinder to us.

Until next time…

California Dreamin’ Lyrics
(Song by John Phillips/Michelle Phillips)

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day
I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day

Stopped in to a church I passed along the way
Well I got down on my knees and I pretend to pray
You know the preacher liked the cold
He knows I’m gonna stay
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day
If I didn’t tell her I could leave today
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day

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

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

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

Our Town House looking very festive

Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt:


A Memorial Hall brightly lit for Christmas

Do You Hear What I Hear? by Jack Jones:


Seasonal chandeliers in the Victorian Market

Christmas Cookies and Holiday Hearts by Teresa Brewer:


The footbridge that stretches across the river

I Saw Three Ships by Westminster Abbey Choir:


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

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

Until next time…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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