Seven in Seven #5: Eddy Amoo, The Real Thing and “You To Me Are Everything”

Day Five of my challenge to write seven posts in seven days….

I’m seriously starting to flag now and noticed that I’d pressed the publish button last night without changing the tags, or finishing the post title. All sorted now but it seems my kind of blogging is not short and snappy enough for a daily post, and however hard I try I can’t seem to make them any shorter.

There is a reason for this self-imposed madness however – I have applied for a course at our local college and have the interview next week. I am unsure whether I have enough spare time on my hands to take up the mantle of being the Highlands’ oldest undergraduate, so needed to test the water. Will no doubt keep you all informed on progress however, as I do love to “over-share”.

Inverness-College.jpgI mentioned earlier this week that I’d not written a single tribute this year for anyone from the world of music. I usually rely on Mark over at So It Goes… to keep me updated on who has indeed passed away, as he is usually first off the mark (pun intended). Today he has written about Eunice Gayson, the first Bond girl, who apparently died yesterday at the age of 90. Back in February, Mark announced the passing of Eddy Amoo from the group The Real Thing. I jotted this down in my “blogging notebook”, as they were definitely a group whose songs feature heavily in the tracks of my years.

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Eddie Amoo

If like me you turned 16 in 1976, you will remember that it was dubbed the Long Hot Summer, and for teenagers it was a great time to be alive. We had far more freedom in those days and I don’t think sunscreen had even been invented yet. We lived in blissful ignorance of the damage the sun could wreak on our future middle-aged skin, so just kept topping it up with cooking oil to ensure we turned a “healthy” golden brown. I spent a lot of time that summer with friends at the local youth club. This was the last year we were deemed age-appropriate to attend, as once you turned 17 you were cast out into the world of pubs and “discotheques” – All very grown up, and not at first as comforting as our old youth club, so we made the most of that last summer where it was our fellow school chums who chose and spun the discs.

But I digress – The reason I mention the legendary summer of ’76 is because one of the songs we loved to dance to at the aforementioned youth club was this one, You To Me Are Everything by The Real Thing. It reached the No. 1 spot in July and stayed there for three weeks. It still makes me smile, for in my subconscious it will always be linked to that long, hot summer, when being a teenager was a lot less stressful than it is today. Perhaps it was because of those trousers we used to wear – Who could get hot and bothered with all that fabric flapping about?

You To Me Are Everything by The Real Thing:

The Real Thing were from Liverpool and became the most successful black British group of the 1970s. Although they prided themselves on writing their own material, brothers Chris and Eddy Amoo decided they needed to be more commercial in order to get radio play. With this pop/soul classic, penned by Ken Gold and Michael Denne, they did just that, with bells on. Their follow up record, Can’t Get By Without You made it to the No. 2 spot later on that year.

What I hadn’t realised however was that Eddy Amoo had been in a group called The Chants back in the 1960s. They played the Cavern Club and once had the privilege of having the Beatles act as their backing band (much to the chagrin of Brian Epstein I should add).

chants
The Chants

After the commercial success of the mid ’70s started to wane, Eddy Amoo returned to the “message songs” he had always wanted to write. “I started to feel that I wanted to really project what had happened to me and the people that I’d grown up with in my songs,” he said. The Real Thing released “4 From 8”, an album exploring the four band members’ experiences of living in Liverpool 8, which covered the troubled Toxteth area. The album included Children of the Ghetto which has become a Liverpool favourite. Eventually it would be covered by Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind and Fire and Mary J Blige, making it a popular protest song.

RIP Eddy Amoo

You To Me Are Everything Lyrics
(Song by Ken Gold/Michael Denne)

I would take the stars out of the sky for you
Stop the rain from falling if you asked me to
I’d do anything for you your wish is my command
I could move a mountain when your hand is in my hand

Words cannot express how much you mean to me
There must be some other way to make you see
If it takes my heart and soul you know I’d pay the price
Everything that I possess I‘d gladly sacrifice

Oh you to me are everything
The sweetest song that I could sing
Oh baby, oh baby

To you I guess I’m just a clown
Who picks you up each time you’re down
Oh baby, oh baby

You give me just a taste of love to
Build my hopes upon
You know you got the power boy
To keep me holding on
So now you got the best of me
Come on and take the rest of me
Oh baby

Though you’re close to me we seem so far apart
Maybe given time you’ll have a change of heart
If it takes forever boy then I’m prepared to wait
The day you give your love to me won’t be a day too late

Postscript:

Don’t think it’s just me, but the set in that Real Thing clip looked very odd. Also, I felt there was something familiar about it. Back in my first year of blogging I wrote another Summer of ’76 post (link here) and one of the featured songs was this one, Get Up And Boogie by Silver Convention. I think they’ve been somewhat rearranged, but those “things” that litter the set are most definitely the same. Very odd indeed. Does anyone recognise the show these two 1976 acts might have appeared on?

Seven in Seven #4: Capercaillie, “Caledonia” and Letters From America

Day Four of my annual challenge to write seven posts in seven days. No pressure on regular visitors to leave comments though and these….. Oh what the heck, you know the score by now, I’ll just get on with it.

So far so good with this challenge but as I was away last weekend, today the garden beckoned. Lots of plants to be bedded in and pots to be filled. I am seriously cream-crackered so this will definitely have to be a shorter post.

One of the gardening pressures I have, is that I am custodian of the “family begonias”. Some people inherit money and some inherit good genes. After my dad’s death I inherited begonia corms! These corms have passed down the generations and can’t be purchased in garden centres nowadays but continually reproduce every year. I usually have around ten tubs of beautiful red flowers in my garden every summer but as the only child, of an only child, of an only child, I feel the pressure not to render them extinct. Darling daughter is sadly disinterested in gardening at the moment, but then again so was I at her age, so all is not yet lost – Down the line these knobby corms will become hers, and hopefully she will rise to the challenge of keeping them going for another generation.

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The family begonias!

These begonias have been mentioned in this blog before, when I wrote about The Proclaimers’ song Letter From America (link here). The lyrics reminded me that although my family in Scotland is really small, if I included all those who left for America at the turn of the last century to find work, and perhaps their fortunes, it would be enormous. My grandad’s aunts and uncles all left the family croft and made the brave journey across the Atlantic to the New World. To track down their offspring would be an enormous task, and one that might have to be a retirement project, but at this time of the year I often wonder if any of them took a few begonia corms with them, as a reminder of home. If they did, there could well be gardens all over America with pots of red flowers just like mine.

emigration

Letter From America by The Proclaimers:

The Scottish diaspora is said to be around five times the size of our native population, and often far more fervently Scottish. Caledonian Societies abound and many bands from Scotland are probably far more widely known in “The Colonies” than south of the border. The folk band Capercaillie was founded in the 1980s, and is fronted by singer Karen Matheson. The group adapt traditional Gaelic music and lyrics with modern instruments such as electric guitar or bass and are probably one of our most successful exports. Here they are performing Cape Breton Song at Aberdeen’s Capitol Theatre in 1992.

But I always include the lyrics in my posts and although I laboured over Peter Kay’s Car Share Buddy song yesterday (which I couldn’t find anywhere), this time the lyrics are in Gaelic, so I have no chance. Time to think of another song that seems to go down well in those parts of the world where the residents often have a surname with the the prefix Mac. The song Caledonia was written in 1977 by Dougie MacLean – He was on a beach in France, feeling homesick, and wrote it in less than ten minutes. The song has became something of an anthem for Scotland and has been covered by many artists. The version I have in my collection is by Frankie Miller, so the audio clip will be that one, but for the video clip I think it will have to be the man himself. I wonder if he is also custodian of the family begonia corms?

Caledonia by Frankie Miller:

Caledonia Lyrics
(Song by Dougie MacLean)

I don’t know if you can see
The changes that have come over me
In these last few days I’ve been afraid
That I might drift away
I’ve been telling old stories, singing songs
That make me think about where I’ve come from
That’s the reason why I seem
So far away today

Let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia, you’re calling me, now I’m going home
But if I should become a stranger
Know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had

Now I have moved and I’ve kept on moving
Proved the points that I needed proving
Lost the friends that I needed losing
Found others on the way

I have kissed the fellas and left them crying
Stolen dreams, yes, there’s no denying
I have travelled hard, sometimes with conscience flying
Somewhere with the wind

Let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia, you’re calling me, now I’m going home
But if I should become a stranger
Know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had

Now I’m sitting here before the fire
The empty room, the forest choir
The flames have cooled, don’t get any higher
They’ve withered, now they’ve gone
But I’m steady thinking, my way is clear
And I know what I will do tomorrow
When hands have shaken, the kisses float
Then I will disappear

Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had
Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had
Caledonia’s been everything I’ve ever had

Postscript:

Just in case anyone doesn’t know what I’m talking about when I mention the word “corm” – This is what they look like.

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Not very attractive granted, but once buried in some soil they start to perform their annual magic.

The scene of our “End of the Summer” get-together.

An Awfully Serious Post, Boz Scaggs and “We’re All Alone”

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week. Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, this year’s focus was on stress. Research has shown that two thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes, and stress is a key factor in this.

MHF

Here in the Highlands we have had an epidemic of young men taking their own lives – In one case two best friends committed suicide within days of each other, and in response one of their uncles set up a local helpline, hoping to reach out to other young men who may also be vulnerable. Darling daughter has many friends who have suffered from mental health problems over the years, and even today, because of chronic stress at her workplace, she is going to hand in a letter of resignation. Something has gone horribly wrong along the way. The government tell us that more people are in work than ever before, but these jobs do not offer the security and support that we used to associate with the world of employment.

So, last year I threw in the towel, and this year it is to be DD. Unlike me she does have a plan however so I am hopeful all will turn out well for her in the end. Until my ongoing parental care situation is resolved (after four months we are still on a waiting list to get the official diagnosis) I am in limbo, unable to commit to anything other than helping out with our online business and boring old domestic stuff. It’s a lonely life, especially as the other half isn’t around much any more, having had to pick up on the bread-winning side of things.

By my own admission I spend far too much time in a day sitting in front of a computer screen and too many hours can slip by, falling down that rabbit hole – The Web was essentially designed to function in this way because of how the hyperlinks work, but boy can it steal your time to no purposeful end. Facebook was something I had all but abandoned after discovering blogging, but of late I have taken to carrying out a daily browse, finding out what my friends and family are up to. The other week, the awful news came through that Scott Hutchison of the Scottish Indie band Frightened Rabbit, who had been missing for several days, had been found dead. He had taken his own life. Despite having helped so many others through dark times, telling them “they were not alone”, when it came down to it, he was indeed alone.

Many of my Facebook “Friends” offered condolences – They had been big fans of Scott’s music so were understandably saddened by this news. Many added the hashtag, #youarenotalone which I took to be the offer of a helping hand to those who might be in need. An opportunity to test the water I thought, so I put together a short post along these lines: “Like most of us, I am constantly in awe of the dazzling lives my Facebook friends seem to lead. I am also fully aware that life is not quite as dazzling as portrayed, all the time. As someone who is currently working from home/looking after a parent with dementia, I miss the buzz of meeting lots of people every day – If any of my FB friends are in a similar position please feel free to PM me as you might have a few ideas on how to both fit everything in, but still have “real life” people to connect with. A First World problem I know, and not complaining, but just thought I’d throw it out there!”

Needless to say, this post led to a tumbleweed moment. A few acquaintances “liked” it but I don’t think they had actually read the words, and were just liking the pretty picture of some cherry blossom I had added to take the edge off the sombreness of the post. I had suspected however that this would be the case, as at the end of the day, most of us don’t want to be “brought down” by other people’s troubles. I myself have been very wary over the years of DD getting too involved with kids who have mental health issues – It’s not contagious but it can impact on their lives, spectacularly so, like the two best friends mentioned in my opening paragraph. Sad but true.

Another water-testing moment came along last week when a family get-together was organised – Mr WIAA’s side of the family all lead the kind of dazzling lives I mentioned in my FB post, but when we get together, it inevitably crops up that our lives are perhaps not quite as dazzling at the moment – Somehow it always causes a bit of an argument because of what I perceive as being unhelpful advice being given on what we “should be doing”. But, difficult for those not in the same position, to really understand how it feels. This time I decided we would turn in the performance of a lifetime – We would be bubbly, joyful and interested in all their adventures. No mention would be made of parents with health issues, offspring with career dilemmas or money worries, and of course it worked a treat. There were no arguments for once and invitations flowed freely to spend time in their various holiday homes (which of course is impossible at the moment anyway). But of course it was all an act, and the next day I went back to being a bit sad and lonely….

Was Mental Health Awareness Week a success? I’m not sure, but I do know that my little experiments did confirm what I have long suspected – At times of crisis, those who have previously maintained they would always be there if we needed them, were suddenly found wanting. People are busy, and have their own troubles. Fortunately for me, my situation is a cause and effect one, and once things start happening in terms of getting professional help, life should get a bit less lonely.

But this is supposed to be a music blog, and so far not much music around here today. I had a lot I wanted to say however and sometimes our blogs provide the perfect forum, us being essentially anonymous after all. Not looking for comments here, but just glad I got my thoughts down – I wish it wasn’t the case, but at the end of the day I think We’re All Alone, (courtesy of Mr Boz Scaggs).

We’re All Alone by Boz Scaggs:

We’re All Alone Lyrics
(Song by Boz Scaggs)

Outside the rain begins
And it may never end
So cry no more
On the shore of dreams
Will take us out to sea
Forever more, forever more

Close your eyes and dream
And you can be with me
‘Neath the waves
Through the caves of hours
Long forgotten now
We’re all alone
We’re all alone

Close the window
Come alive
Honey, we’ll be alright
No need to bother now
Let it out
Let it all begin
Learn how to pretend

Once the story’s told
You can’t help but grow old
Roses do
Lovers too
So cast your seasons to the winds
And hold me dear
Oh, hold me dear

Close the window
Come alive
And it will be alright
No need to bother now
Let it out
Let it all begin
All’s forgotten now
We’re all alone
We’re all alone

A Right Royal Affair, Barry White and “Just The Way You Are”

Well, it was a bit busy around here yesterday as we had to get our outfits organised for heading to a wedding…. down south…. near Windsor!! No, sadly it wasn’t that wedding but a bit of a coincidence that our young friends are to tie the knot amongst those very iconic surroundings so soon after the Right Royal Affair. No big crowds for them though, and no long carriage rides (I don’t think anyway) but looking forward to it all very much. I’ve mentioned here before that we live in a very sociable street, and as the bride-to-be is one of our own, having been brought up in the house next-door to us, all the neighbours are going. Even Albert, who celebrated his 90th birthday last year with a party in one of our gardens, is going to make the long trip south in his capacity as honorary granddad.

windsor

But I do also love a Royal Wedding and I will admit to having spent much of yesterday watching the build-up to it all and then the actual service itself. I know these events are not for everyone, and the family in question does come in for much criticism at times, but not from me. Luck was on Harry and Meghan’s side though, and the deep blue skies shining above Windsor Castle yesterday made that little corner of England look absolutely stunning – So much history, and just so scenic. Considering there was to be an estimated 2 billion people watching the event on television, I would guess that tourist numbers are going to be well up for the foreseeable future. In view of all the “exiting” that’s been going on around here of late, a bit of a relief that at least one aspect of the economy might have been given a fortuitous boost.

Who-Performed-Prince-Harry-Meghan-Markle-Reception

The actual wedding itself was certainly like no other royal wedding any of us have watched before, and despite the bride having had to contend with family difficulties in the build up to her big day, her mother, Doria Ragland, presented a highly dignified figure as the sole representative on the Markle side. A million miles away from her comfort zone no doubt, but how cool that for once, the mother of the bride sported dreadlocks and a nose stud. But of course for most of us who watched it, the unexpected star was the Reverend Michael Curry who treated the congregation to an evangelical-style sermon which to be fair did go on a bit, and caused several members of the royal family to exude nervous giggles (Camilla?), but even for non-believers this was rousing stuff. We had the usual musical offerings from the St George’s Chapel choristers, but lo and behold we also had Stand By Me from The Kingdom Choir. Who would have thought a generation ago, that the works of Ben E. King would feature so prominently at such an event.

Stand By Me by Ben E. King:

But the featured song today is going to be something else. I used to like the flow of it all when I linked each post in this blog to the one before – Last time I wrote about Billy Joel and his album “The Stranger”, so what better song to include here than another one written for it, Just The Way You Are. This time it won’t be Billy doing the honours however, but a man who recorded the song in 1978 and reached No. 12 in the UK Singles Chart, Mr Barry White – I do love a bass-baritone voice, and I also love the languid and sensual delivery he gave to all his songs, but also a very appropriate song for this post. Turns out that had he still been alive, he could have made the perfect contribution to yesterday’s very romantic royal wedding.

Just The Way You Are by Barry White:

“So, What’s It All About?” – Harry, unlike so many royal princes that have gone before him, has been allowed to choose his own bride and in Miss Markle he seems to have found the perfect match. If there was ever an actual form, complete with tick boxes, of the traits a potential royal bride should possess (and I suspect there will have been), Meghan would have failed spectacularly, but that form seems to have been quite rightly now torn to shreds. From a first date to the wedding day itself has been quite a speedy process, so they also seem to still exhibit the touchy-feeliness that comes with that first flush of romance. As a slightly more mature bride, Meghan has not been railroaded into having to adapt and change to fit in with the very unique family that are “The Windsors”. At some point Harry must have said to her, “Don’t go changing, to try and please me,” before adding, “I love you just the way you are”!

Until next time….

Just The Way You Are Lyrics
(Song by Billy Joel)

I never take anything for granted
Only a fool maybe takes things for granted
Just because it’s here today
It can be gone tomorrow
And that’s one thing that you
Never in your life ever have to worry about me
If I’ll ever change towards you because
Baby I love you
Yeah I love you
Just the way… You are…

Don’t go changing, trying to please me
You never let me down before
I don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore
I would not leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are

Don’t go trying some new fashion
Don’t change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care

I don’t want clever conversation
I don’t want to work that hard
I just want some someone to talk to
I want you just the way you are

I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew
What will it take till you believe in me
The way that I believe in you.

I said I love you and that’s forever
And this I promise from my heart
I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are

Post 201, Billy Joel and “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)”

Last time I pressed the publish button on this blog I got one of these from the WordPress people. It only took me 10 months to write my first 100 posts, but it’s taken another 17 months to mapost-milestone-200-2xke it to the 200 mark. I couldn’t really have kept up that pace long-term though and anyone who has followed this blog for a while now will know that there have been a few bumps on the road around here of late, but I plan to keep going, as I still love putting together these offerings that tenuously link to the Tracks of My Years. Also, the little blogging community I seem to have found myself part of has become really important to me, and if I’m not mistaken, it looks as if there might even be a real life meet-up down the line. Wouldn’t have expected that 27 months ago, no siree Bob.

But what to write about this time, for boring old Post 201 (I do hate veering away from a nice round number) – I remember suffering from blogger’s block when I reached Post 101, but then as if by magic, all sorts of ideas sprang forth. The number 101 led to thoughts of George Orwell’s Room 101 which in turn led to featured song choices. The binary number 101 converts to 5 in decimal, and no end of bands that incorporate that number into their name. Also, I decided that 101 is a palindromic number, which again inspired a song choice or two.

201 though….

Hmm….

2… 0… 1…

Much, much trickier, so time to resort to the vast resources of the world wide web. First up is this interesting snippet – It turns out that the North American Area Code for Hackensack, New Jersey, is the number 201. This is not the first time Hackensack has been mentioned in this blog, as one of the New Jersey suggestions for my AmericanthDZ2ELYSU Odyssey series was the song Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) by the Piano Man himself Billy Joel. There is much wordplay and a distinctive use of rhyme in this song, and that particular place, Hackensack, fitted the lyrics perfectly as Billy was also singing about heart attack ack ack ack acks and Cadillac ac ac ac acs. Personally I wouldn’t be that keen on living in a place with such an ugly sounding name (apologies to the residents of course), but as ever, it started life as something totally different. The Native American tribes who first inhabited the area called it Achinigeu-hach, or Ackingsah-sack, meaning stony ground, but along the way it became the more anglicised Hackensack.

For the record, my favourite place names in the UK are Westward Ho! (don’t forget that exclamation mark), Mousehole in Cornwall (just so cute) and Ashby-de-la-Zouche (all very post-Norman Conquest). It can’t be denied however, that there are some pretty unattractive place names here in Scotland, and up there with the best of them would be Auchtermuchty in Fife – I will give it a pass however as that is where those bespectacled singing twins The Proclaimers hail from, and without them and their songs this blog would have a much reduced number of visitors per month, so thanks guys for writing that love letter to Leith and for the Sunshine that falls upon it.

But back to the song, and in case anyone has absolutely no idea what I have been wittering on about above, here is an extract from the lyrics that make sense of it all:

Who needs a house out in Hackensack?
Is that what you get with your money?
It seems such a waste of time
If that’s what it’s all about
If that’s movin’ up then I’m movin’ out

Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song):

Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) was one of the singles released from his 1977 album “The Stranger”, which is generally considered to be his magnum opus. For me it was one of the soundtracks of my student years, as yet again it was an album owned by the boyfriend-of-the-time’s older brother (who was also incidentally responsible for making me fall in love with the music of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Carole King, but that’s been covered here before).

thYUT9VDV0Billy felt very strongly it seems, about the prevailing blue-collar immigrant work ethos, whereby it was important to work long hours at sometimes back-breaking work just to acquire the trappings that proved you had “made it in America” – The house out in the suburbs and the Cadillac on the drive. He made his character Anthony question it all, as he felt too many people were wasting their lives and talents because they felt pressured into taking a job to take care of the family.

Well, has anything changed in the intervening 40 years I wonder? Too many of us still seem to be pressured into taking jobs that waste our talents, because at the end of the day there are bills to be paid and mouths to feed. In fact I would even suggest that nowadays the vast majority aren’t even doing these kind of jobs to upgrade to a fancier car or a luxury house in the suburbs, but merely to keep afloat. But hey, let’s not end this post on doom and gloom, as the upside is that artificially intelligent robots will take over most of the jobs in the next few decades anyway, so a universal wage and life of leisure awaits us all. Or will it? Time will tell.

As ever, I’d love to hear from you and I always reply.

Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) Lyrics
(Song by Billy Joel)

Anthony works in the grocery store
Savin’ his pennies for some day
Mama Leone left a note on the door
She said
“Sonny, move out to the country”

Oh but workin’ too hard can give you a heart attack
You oughta know by now
Who needs a house out in Hackensack?
Is that all you get for your money?

And it seems such a waste of time
If that’s what it’s all about
Mama, if that’s movin’ up, then I’m movin’ out

Sergeant O’Leary is walkin’ the beat
At night he becomes a bartender
He works at Mister Cacciatore’s down on Sullivan Street
Across from the medical center

And he’s tradin’ in his Chevy for a Cadillac
You oughta know by now
And if he can’t drive
With a broken back
At least he can polish the fenders

And it seems such a waste of time
If that’s what it’s all about
Mama, if that’s movin’ up, then I’m movin’ out

You should never argue with a crazy mind
You oughta know by now
You can pay Uncle Sam with the overtime
Is that all you get for your money?

And if that’s what you have in mind
Yeah, if that’s what you’re all about
Good luck, moving up, ’cause I’m movin’ out

I’m movin’ out

Postscript:

It was inevitable that I would revisit other songs on “The Stranger” whilst writing this post and what a joy it’s been listening to this work of genius again. Scenes from an Italian Restaurant is effectively a mini opera with three distinct “acts” rolled into one. It begins with a gentle piano ballad, and sets the scene for two old classmates meeting up in an Italian restaurant. The next section is jazz-influenced and up-tempo, featuring a clarinet, trombone, tuba and saxophone solo. Here the two update each other on how their lives have turned out. It ends with a rock ‘n’ roll section telling the story of Brenda and Eddie, a couple of popular “jocks” from their schooldays whose life kind of peaked too early – We all know a Brenda and Eddie and even if we don’t come from Long Island like Billy Joel, most of us of a certain age can probably identify with this song. It was never released as a single but it’s still my favourite track on the album. Enjoy.

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant by Billy Joel:

Nick Drake, “Pink Moon” and Pink Floyd

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

It passes in a flash doesn’t it? Ever since following the full moon cycle for this blog, the lunar months seem to have rocketed by. This calendar month, on the 30th April, we are to have a Pink Moon appear in our skies. This time the name comes from one of the spring flowers the ancient Native Americans would have seen covering the ground around April’s full moon – The pink Moss Phlox.

Well I can’t say I have such a flower in my garden, but I can share a picture of what my cherry blossom tree should look like at this time of the year. Sadly, because of that really cold snap back at the beginning of March, it seems that Mother Nature’s work has been delayed, but here is what the blossom looked like at this time last year. Very pink, to coincide with the Pink Moon.

177 4th May Cherry blossom

When I started choosing songs for this series, I couldn’t help but notice there was a song called Pink Moon written and recorded by a man who seems to have become a bit of a cult figure in music circles. Nick Drake only made three albums, and died at the ridiculously young age of 26, but over the last couple of decades has sold hundreds of thousands of albums. Many of these sales came about as a result of the song Pink Moon being used for a car advert which sparked a resurgence of interest. Time to see what caused all the furore then, and for once we seem to have an example of an ad where the inclusion of music was well executed and aesthetically successful.

Pink Moon by Nick Drake:

It’s an incredibly short song, only one verse and a chorus, on repeat, but the spare delivery and acoustic guitar accompaniment just seemed to work. Drake was a troubled soul however and suffered from major depression, often reflected in his lyrics. After completing his 1972 “Pink Moon” album, he withdrew from both live performance and recording, retreating to his parents’ home in rural Warwickshire. On 25 November 1974, he died from an overdose of a prescribed antidepressant. His cause of death was determined to be suicide.

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Nick Drake

Drake’s music remained available through the mid-1970s, but the 1979 release of the retrospective album “Fruit Tree” allowed his back catalogue to be reassessed. By the mid-1980s Drake was being credited as an influence by such artists as Robert Smith and David Sylvian. In 1985, The Dream Academy reached the UK and US charts with Life in a Northern Town, a song written for and dedicated to Drake. By the early 1990s, he had come to represent a certain type of “doomed romantic” musician in the UK music press.

Interestingly, Life in a Northern Town was produced by Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd. Although never a big fan of Pink Floyd (I was just a tad to young for them I think), I knew that at some point in this series I should include something from their album “Dark Side of the Moon”. I think this post, what with all the pink-ness, should be the one. I will leave you with The Great Gig in the Sky, the fifth track on the album. I was pretty much blown away by Pink Floyd when I watched them at Live 8 in 2005 (the first time they had performed together for 24 years), and subsequently took to listening to Mr WIAA’s collection of Floyd tracks. Whenever I heard Clare Torry’s “wail”, used in effect as a musical instrument on Great Gig, I got goose bumps.

The Great Gig in the Sky by Pink Floyd:

Until next time….

Pink Moon Lyrics
(Song by
Nick Drake)

I saw it written and I saw it say
Pink moon is on it’s way
And none of you stand so tall
Pink moon gonna get you all

It’s a pink moon
Hey, it’s a pink moon
It’s a pink, pink, pink, pink, pink moon.
It’s a pink, pink, pink, pink, pink moon.

I saw it written and I saw it say
Pink moon is on it’s way
And none of you stand so tall
Pink moon gonna get you all

It’s a pink moon
Yeah, it’s a pink moon

Postscript:

I was a tad early in posting this full moon alert, so just in case you missed it, here is a picture of Monday night’s Pink Moon taken by my photographer friend – Stunning as ever.

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Picture courtesy of R.J.

Alyson’s Archive #6 – “Rollermania” and Me

Welcome to this occasional series where I share the contents of my archive box of teenage memorabilia. I always knew these random bits and pieces would come in handy some day, but little did I think back in the 1970s that they would find their way onto such a thing as a “blog”, courtesy of that as yet unthought of invention, the world wide web!

I’ve been threatening to write this post for a while, and it seems the time is right, coming at the end of a trilogy of posts inspired by my recent trip to Edinburgh. On our last day there we met some friends in an area of the city called The Meadows, a large green space near the Old Town. Bordering the Meadows is a large building which I discovered was Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary, however in days gone by it was called Simpson’s Hospital. And why did that sound familiar? Because it’s where most baby boomers from that city were born, including those five lads who for a brief period of time went on to be the world’s biggest boy band – Yes, I’m talking about Les, Eric, Woody, Derek and Alan: The Bay City Rollers.

Simpsons Hospital where the Rollers were born

“It’s a teenage dream, to be seventeen”, sang Les McKeown back in 1975. But no, I beg to differ Les. Back in 1975 it was a teenage dream to be fourteen, and have pictures of you and the rest of the boys staring down at me from my bedroom wall. Had I been a year or two older, or a year or two younger, it just wouldn’t have happened but I was the perfect demographic for these “tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh”. My generation had missed out on Beatlemania, and Osmondmania was on the wane, it was time for something new and luckily for me the band that inspired this latest mania came from Scotland.

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The humble author’s teenage collection of Bay City Roller pinups!

(I have shared a display like this once before, of David Cassidy pinups. I would just like to reiterate that I honestly don’t spend my evenings pouring over such teen-dream fodder, because that truly would be weird, it’s just that if you’ve ever had to clear out your parents loft when they downsize, it kind of becomes redistributed to your own loft, which fortunately for this blog is where it remains today.)

Anyway, getting back to the Rollers, the band’s founder members were brothers Alan and Derek Longmuir but after a few changes along the way, in late 1973 the classic line-up fell into place, consisting of guitarists Eric Faulkner and Stuart “Woody” Wood, singer Les McKeown, bassist Alan and drummer Derek. Tam Paton, their (highly controlling) manager was the man in charge, they got a record deal with Bell, and they came up with a unique “look” which consisted of cropped trousers, skimpy V-neck sweaters and plenty of tartan – What could go wrong?

All through the year 1974 they were never far from the UK Singles Chart and when we heard the band were coming to the Capitol Theatre in Aberdeen, of course my friends and I (aged only 13) went to see them. This tour was to promote the album “Rollin'” where most of the songs were written by those champions of the short and catchy pop song, Phil Coulter and Bill Martin. First of all we had Remember (Sha-La-La-La), then we had Shang-A-Lang, Summerlove Sensation and finally All Of Me Loves All Of You. The album went to No. 1 in the Album Chart – The boys were adored by hordes of teeny-bopper fans and were well and truly on their way.

And here are a few personal memories of that time. I don’t know about elsewhere in the country but here in Scotland, back in the 1970s, many young lads left school at 16 after (half-heartedly for many of them) sitting their “O” Grades. They all had apprenticeships lined up and work was plentiful, so why not? There was however the technicality that if you turned 16 later on in the calendar year, you couldn’t leave school until Christmas. As a group they were called “The Christmas Leavers”. They didn’t want to be there and the concept of abiding by strict school uniform rules went out the window. One by one, in 1974, they started to adopt Bay City Roller style clothing wearing trousers with tartan down the side, the cropped jumpers and the short-sleeved shirts. They had Les, Eric and Woody style haircuts and of course had similar accents – For girls like us in the lower grades they became our big crushes. We all had our favourite Roller (mine was Les, quite the showman back in the day) and there were definitely boys in our school who started to look like him – Unlike the clean-cut Osmonds, who kind of came from an alien planet as far as we were concerned, the Rollers were the “boys next door”.

By 1975, Rollermania had really taken hold, and after putting together their second album “Once Upon A Star”, another tour was announced. Again my friends and I persuaded one of our mums to take us into Aberdeen to see them. Their cover of the old Four Seasons song Bye Bye Baby was at No. 1 in the Singles Chart and ended up being the biggest selling record of the year.

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The Rollin’ Tour programme and Wish Upon A Star, complete with pull-out pics

Unlike the previous year when we went to see them, this was a far more hysterical concert with girls screaming constantly throughout – I probably went hoarse myself, shouting LES at the top of my voice every time he came near the front of the stage. But strangely, my most vivid memory of that night is of a particular member of security staff, who for one night only had been given free rein to manhandle young girls. This is not a #MeToo confession but I did come home with a whiplash that night, as suddenly, out of nowhere, a pair of hands had grabbed my shoulders and firmly shoved me back down into my seat. Everyone in the entire theatre was standing, but for some reason this one “bouncer” had decided he would go up and down all the rows forcing us back into our seats – I took some time out to watch him, and even at that young age, could tell he was enjoying hurting us. Of course I didn’t tell my parents, as we didn’t in those days, but this was a new concept for me and one I have obviously never forgotten.

But back to the Rollers – In 1976 they were kind of lost to us as they secured a record deal with Arista and were heavily promoted in America. They appeared on Saturday Night Live and ended up at the top of the Billboard Chart with a song that had been a flop in the UK but obviously hit the spot in the US. Saturday Night started off with a chant that also struck a cord with New York band the Ramones – It is no coincidence that their record Blitskrieg Bop starts in the same way. They had watched the Rollers on telly and decided to copy their winning formula of a catchy three minute song, a “uniform” and a football-style chant. Hard to believe I know, but part of rock and pop folklore.

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Most of us by this time had moved on to “real boys”, so we were happy to forget about the Rollers and leave them to their success in other parts of the world such as North America, and strangely enough Japan, where they still have a following today. I have never had any inclination to see them perform as part of a reunion tour, as for me, they were very much of their time. I do however feel very sorry for them sometimes, as it is well known that despite their global success they ended up with none of the money – 300 million albums sold worldwide (in an era where the revenue came from such sales) and no spondulicks. Tam Paton was of course blamed, and he went to his grave taking the secret of where the money went with him. The Rollers were not highly educated and they came from families that were ill-equipped to deal with their fame, so became one of the many financial casualties of that era.

Give A Little Love by the Bay City Rollers:

I am going to end this post with some extracts from what has turned out to be the most interesting part of rifling through old teenage memorabilia – The words that were on the back of the pinups. Prior to being in a band, Alan used to get the horses ready for the local dairy’s milk round (yes really). Eric and Derek (has a nice ring to it) were apprentice joiners and Woody and Les were only 16 when they found fame – Not the best backgrounds from which to go on and “take care of business”. Despite it all falling apart in the late ’70s, it sounds as if the Rollers still have happy memories of their heyday, their time in the sun. The Beatles had a mania, and so did these five boys from Edinburgh – Who would have ever thought it possible?

The Rollers’ Story Part 1
The Rollers’ Story Part 2

Until next time….

Give A Little Love Lyrics
(Song by Phil Wainman/John Goodison)

It’s a teenage dream to be seventeen
And to find you’re all wrapped up in lo-o-ove
And I found that you made a dream come true
Now I do believe in what they say-ay-at

You’ve got to give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do-oo

Give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do

When I walk with you there is just we two
And the world goes by and I just don’t care-are
And I know one day I will find a way
To be safe and sound within your hear-eart

So until I do, gonna give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do-oo

Give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do