Big Voice, Big Performances, Big Personality: RIP Meat Loaf

Well, after writing a couple of themed posts, I fully intended to use this week’s effort to pay tribute to some of the people from the world of film and music we’ve already lost this year. First there was Sidney Poitier, then Ronnie Spector, and last week R. Dean Taylor, all of whom have appeared around here over the years in some guise. But I’m a music blogger of a certain vintage and the artists I grew up listening to are inevitably now of an even older vintage and we are losing them at an alarming rate. Few of us yesterday could have failed to notice who else has just been added to the growing list of ‘those we have lost in 2022’.

RIP Meat Loaf 1947-2022

He hailed from a big state, and was a big man with a big voice who gave big performances. Marvin Lee Aday is not a name many of us would have been familiar with but when you mention the name Meat Loaf, all that changes. The amount of time dedicated to him on mainstream news channels yesterday proved that. The last tribute I wrote was about another man from Texas, Mike Nesmith. He was primarily a singer who became an actor. Meat Loaf was primarily an actor who became a singer, and it showed. Like long-term collaborator Jim Steinman (who sadly died last year) he had a background in musical theatre, so when they came to making their first album together, Bat Out of Hell, it was very much in that vein – a tough sell to record companies in the mid-1970s.

Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf:


Considering it was such a tough sell, it’s remarkable to think that it’s now clocked up over 500 weeks on the UK Albums Chart and sold over 43 million copies worldwide. (I have a feeling those numbers will now rise for a time as always happens after the sudden death of a much-loved artist).

We often go in circles around here and it wasn’t lost on me that my original plan to write about Ronnie Spector today could possibly have led to Bat Out of Hell anyway. Working in the opposite direction, The Meat Loaf album is often compared to the music of Bruce Springsteen, and in particular his album Born to Run. Bruce’s album is often noted for it’s Phil Spector-like ‘Wall of Sound’ arrangements and production, used so effectively when recording Ronnie’s albums with the Ronettes. Others may choose to disagree, but I’m buying that connection.

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad by Meat Loaf:


The album cover for Bat Out of Hell is a very familiar one to most of us of a certain age as even if we didn’t own it ourselves (I never did), we had friends who would have done. Here is where the ‘memory’ part of this post comes in. Back in 1978 when the album was unleashed on an unsuspecting nation, I had just finished school and moved into the city to start life as a student. The familiar routines had all gone, the school boyfriend and I had parted company for a time, and many of my friends had moved elsewhere in the country. Some thrive on such new beginnings, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I didn’t, and was a bit of a lost soul that first term.

By good fortune, my across-the-corridor neighbour in our halls of residence came from a village only about 10 miles from where I grew up. By a quirk of geography she had gone to a different secondary school but it turned out she knew a lot of people from my village and we soon became friends, always heading to the dining hall together for meals (very scary to enter that cavernous hall on your own – some risked starvation as they avoided it completely). When we weren’t studying we often visited each other’s rooms and although I had brought my cassette player from home, she had her record player and the album Bat Out of Hell. We listened to it often and I seem to remember the combination of Meat Loaf, a bit too much Leibfraumilch, and falling down the steps to our corridor one evening, led to a trip to A&E for me the following morning. It turned out to be just a sprain, but I felt bad, as although my exams had already finished, my new friend (who came with me) had one that afternoon. I think she did ok however as she spent much of her time in the hospital waiting area revising.

Paradise by the Dashboard Light by Meat Loaf with Karla DeVito:


Music wise, I’ve barely scratched the surface here but despite not making any money from that first album (a common theme it seems for 1970s artists), Meat Loaf continued to make new albums for decades to come, so made up for it later in life. There were fallings out with Jim Steinman who understandably felt as the creative force behind the albums he was being overlooked, but fortunately they made up down the line. The pair of them will possibly be up there right now, contemplating Bat Out of Hell IV. (A bit of a contradiction in terms!)

Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman

As for me, the loss of Meat Loaf will not affect me greatly, but as ever you feel for their family and friends who will miss them immensely. Is it because we are all getting older ourselves that we start to wonder when we will be at that age when never a week goes by without losing someone from our personal lives. It’s getting closer all the time and things I had never contemplated when I started this blog only six years ago (wills and pensions) have started to rear their heads.

When we lose someone from the world of music however, we can’t help but remember what we were doing when they released their seminal album, and I have enjoyed revisiting that time when my new friend and I were 18-year-old freshers, and a bit wet behind the ears. The album was played at many a party that year (when we plucked up courage to go) but I will remember it most from those evenings spent in her student room – Haven’t seen her for nearly 40 years so perhaps time to visit ‘the socials’ and see what she’s up to.

Until next time… RIP Meat Loaf.

Bat Out Of Hell Lyrics
(Song by Jim Steinman)

The sirens are screaming and the fires are howling
Way down in the valley tonight.
There’s a man in the shadows with a gun in his eye
And a blade shining, oh, so bright.
There’s evil in the air and there’s thunder in sky,
And a killer’s on the bloodshot streets.
Oh, and down in the tunnel where the deadly are rising,
Oh, I swear I saw a young boy down in the gutter,
He was starting to foam in the heat.

Oh, baby, you’re the only thing in this whole world,
That’s pure and good and right.
And wherever you are and wherever you go,

There’s always gonna be some light.
But I gotta get out,
I gotta break it out now,
Before the final crack of dawn.
So we gotta make the most of our one night together.
When it’s over you know,
We’ll both be so alone.

Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone when the morning comes.
When the night is over
Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone-gone-gone.
Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone when the morning comes.
But when the day is done, and the sun goes down,
And the moonlight’s shining through,
Then like a sinner before the gates of heaven,
I’ll come crawling on back to you.

I’m gonna hit the highway like a battering ram
On a silver black phantom bike.
When the metal is hot and the engine is hungry,
And we’re all about to see the light.
Nothing ever grows in this rotting old hole.
And everything is stunted and lost.
And nothing really rocks
And nothing really rolls
And nothing’s ever worth the cost.

And I know that I’m damned if I never get out,
And maybe I’m damned if I do,
But with every other beat I’ve got left in my heart,
You know I’d rather be damned with you.

Well, if I gotta be damned you know I wanna be damned
Dancing through the night with you.
Well, if I gotta be damned you know I wanna be damned—
Gotta be damned, you know I wanna be damned—
Gotta be damned, you know I wanna be damned
Dancing through the night—
Dancing through the night—
Dancing through the night with you.

Oh, baby, you’re the only thing in this whole world,
That’s pure and good and right.
And wherever you are and wherever you go,
There’s always gonna be some light.
But I gotta get out,
I gotta break it out now,
Before the final crack of dawn.
So we gotta make the most of our one night together.
When it’s over you know
We’ll both be so alone.

Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone when the morning comes.
When the night is over
Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone gone gone.
Like a bat out of hell
I’ll be gone when the morning comes.
But when the day is done and the sun goes down,
And the moonlight’s shining through,
Then like a sinner before the gates of heaven,
I’ll come crawling on back to you.
Then like a sinner before the gates of heaven,
I’ll come crawling on back to you.

I can see myself tearing up the road
Faster than any other boy has ever gone.
And my skin is raw but my soul is ripe.
No one’s gonna stop me now,
I’m gonna make my escape.
But I can’t stop thinking of you,
And I never see the sudden curve until it’s way too late.

And I never see the sudden curve ’til it’s way too late.

Then I’m dying at the bottom of a pit in the blazing sun.
Torn and twisted at the foot of a burning bike.
And I think somebody somewhere must be tolling a bell.
And the last thing I see is my heart
Still beating,
Breaking out of my body and flying away,
Like a bat out of hell.

Then I’m dying at the bottom of a pit in the blazing sun.
Torn and twisted at the foot of a burning bike.
And I think somebody somewhere must be tolling a bell.
And the last thing I see is my heart
Still beating, still beating,
Breaking out of my body and flying away,
Like a bat out of hell.
Like a bat out of hell.
Like a bat out of hell.
Oh, like a bat out of hell!
Like a bat out of hell!
Like a bat out of hell!

Alyson’s Archive #9 – David Bowie, Six Years Gone and ‘Sorrow’

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, 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 got a little badge this week from the WordPress people as it was my blog’s 6th birthday. It’s not difficult to forget when that anniversary comes around as I posted my first set of ‘memories’ the day we heard of the death of David Bowie. Six years already though – Hard to believe, on either score. Time perhaps to delve back into my box of teenage memorabilia and it didn’t take long to find something of interest.

Back in 1973 I often bought pop magazines aimed at teenage girls and one of these was Hit (note the star instead of the dot – an often used graphics ploy back in those days). What a diverse group of artists (and tennis players!) mentioned on the cover, but we were also invited to David Bowie’s exclusive party which was apparently being held to mark his farewell to pop performances. Well, we all know how that turned out, but in July ’73 he had abruptly retired the character Ziggy Stardust during a show at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, so maybe more to do with temporary burnout. To quote David, “Ziggy wouldn’t leave me alone for years. That was when it all started to go sour. My whole personality was affected. It became very dangerous. I really did have doubts about my sanity.”

Does anyone recognise the woman with David?

I love reading these snippets from the past as they are exactly that, primary sources, written at the time. Interesting to hear who was at the party and of the marriages that were in place at the time. Mick Jagger had come out top on the dance floor apparently which has held him in good stead as he is still performing those moves on stage today. On the menu were such culinary delights as smoked salmon, turkey and strawberries and cream – We were easily pleased back then it seems as the era of the ‘foodie’ and the celebrity chef was still a long way off.

1973 was an incredibly busy year for David Bowie and at one point he had six albums concurrently in the UK Albums Chart. It had been ‘his time’. Got me to thinking about how I consumed this wealth of Bowie goodness back then and it didn’t take long for me to remember that my 1972 Christmas present (from Santa) was a Murphy cassette recorder – For soon-to-be-teens like myself, the affordability of these machines changed our lives. When visiting some of the music blogs written by Americans, like Rich from KamerTunesBlog, I am constantly amazed how many albums they owned by the time they were out of single digits. As a family we certainly weren’t poor, but my pocket money at that time wouldn’t have extended beyond the odd single, or a compilation album bought with birthday or Christmas money. Having my own cassette player/recorder (emphasis on the recorder) changed all that, and unbelievably I still have the operating instructions for it in my box of memorabilia. By the time we got to September 1973 when his ‘farewell party’ (got to laugh, but not like a gnome) took place, I would have been able to tape four of his chart singles from that year already.

But as we all know, he didn’t retire from pop performances in 1973 but continued to reinvent himself every few years, always coming up with a new persona and style of music. I’ve done a fair bit of reading about him this week and am starting to wonder if we will ever see his like again as he was also an actor of renown, an artist and so much more.

Got me to thinking about the many albums he made during the period 1969 to 1984 when I would have been following his music more than I would have done in his later years. Would I be able to put them in order of release if I tested myself. Here they are in a random layout – How would you do? (Answer in the Postscript.)

But my goodness we’ve come a long way with this one and still no song. Since the magazine article above was from 1973 I think it’ll have to be something from that year. As I’ve already shared The Jean Genie and Life On Mars? on the blog, here is Sorrow from later on in 1973, taken from the Pinups album featuring songs by British bands from the 1960s that influenced David as a teenager. The song was first recorded by the McCoys in 1965, and then by the Merseys in 1966. David’s version reached the No. 3 spot on the UK Singles Chart in Oct 1973. If you watch the clip to the end, there’s a bit of a funny out-take.

Sorrow by David Bowie:


What’s your favourite album of those shown above? As ever, I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time…

Sorrow Lyrics
(Song by Richard Gottehrer/Jerry Goldstein/Bob Feldman)

With your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue
The only thing I ever got from you
Was sorrow sorrow
You acted funny
Trying to spend my money
You’re out there playing your high-class games of sorrow sorrow

You never do what you know you ought to
Something tells me you’re a Devil’s daughter
Sorrow, sorrow
Ah, ah, ah

I tried to find her
Cause I can’t resist her
(I tried to find her)
I never knew just how much I missed her sorrow sorrow

With your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue
The only thing I ever got from you
Was sorrow sorrow

Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh

With your long blonde hair
I couldn’t sleep last night
With your long blonde hair

Ah, ah, ah
Ah, ah, ah, oh, yeah
Ah, ah, ah
Ah, ah, ah, oh, yeah

Postscript:

Easy for Bowie fans but for the rest of us here is the order of David’s studio album releases.

M. David Bowie (1969)
I. The Man Who Sold the World (1970)
N. Hunky Dory (1971)
H. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
I. Aladdin Sane (1973)
D. Pin Ups (1973)
K. Diamond Dogs (1974)
J. Young Americans (1975)
O. Station to Station (1976)
B. Low (1977)
F. “Heroes” (1977)
A. Lodger (1979)
C. Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980)
E. Let’s Dance (1983)
G. Tonight (1984)

For any of you who also remember with great fondness the analogue world of cassette recorders, here are some pages from my little manual of operating instructions. Happy days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section later known as the Swampers

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd:


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

Patches by Clarence Carter:


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

Until next time…

Patches Lyrics
(Song by Ronald Dunbar/Norman Johnson)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My 400th Post and Christmas, WIAA Style

WIAA: Alyson…, oh Alyson.

ALYSON: Hi WIAA, I am here, it’s just that I’m feeling a bit discombobulated by all the uncertainly that’s crept in over the last week so don’t know where to go with this one. Last year I wrote a (hopefully humorous) blog post about the planned five day Christmas Bubbles, but then at the 11th hour, the rules all changed. It’s looking like that might happen again, and for the second year in a row, many of us will find ourselves…

WIAA: Do you have any Christmas songs to share with your lovely followers?

ALYSON: To be honest WIAA, as this is my fifth Christmas as a music blogger I fear I may have revisited all my favourites already (link here), and despite the fact many well-known artists have recorded something new this year, none of their songs have really resonated with me. Here’s something to kick off with though – I mentioned at the end of 2020 that my favourite ‘new song discovery’ of that year was José Felicianos version of California Dreamin’. As the whole world still seems to be going through a topsy-turvey time, it doesn’t feel that unusual for a music blogger from the Highlands of Scotland to be drawn to a song by a Puerto Rican singer/songwriter from 1970. I give you Feliz Navidad (don’t think you’ll need a translation).

Feliz Navidad by José Feliciano:


WIAA: Good one Alyson. What have you been doing in the build up to Christmas this year?

ALYSON: Well, it’s a bit of a weird one, as we’re now having to lie low to keep ourselves virus-free in advance of guests arriving at the holiday hideaway. Personally I think both sets will now cancel, which will be a bit of a blow, but before the whole lying low thing happened, I had tentatively returned to my regular cinema-going ways.

WIAA: What have you been to see?

ALYSON: It didn’t occur to me until now but maybe the reason I thought of José’s song is that I went to see Stephen Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story last week, all about the rivalry between two New York gangs, the Jets, and the Puerto Rican Sharks.

WIAA: Did you enjoy it?

ALYSON: I think I’m still processing it. The 1961 film won 10 Academy Awards, and when I first watched it as a teenager, I was blown away by it – Although some of the musical numbers were outstanding in the new film, as were the two female leads, there was something about it that felt a bit ‘silly’ for 2021. Our viewing habits have become a lot more sophisticated and I don’t think the younger generation would see it as a period drama. The clothes and themes could almost be contemporary, but the language used by the gangs and their balletic style of dance is most definitely not contemporary. Again, I was discombobulated and wondered if it really needed to be remade.

WIAA: Did you cry at the end?

ALYSON: Oh WIAA, you know me well. I did indeed despite knowing how it ended having watched the original many times. The love story was inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but a story that never dates it seems, and just as relevant today. Stephen Sondheim, the musical’s lyricist, died aged 91 at the end of November, just at the time of the film’s release. As a bit of a tribute to him, here is the Tonight Quintet from the original film, an incredible piece of ‘opera’ based on the duet between Maria and Tony from earlier on in the musical. The five parts of the quintet are sung by the Jets, the Sharks, Tony, Maria, and Anita.

Tonight Quintet by the West Side Story Cast:


WIAA: Well, you really got into your stride there despite me feeling a bit unloved earlier on – A blank page sitting on a blogging platform with only five days to go until Christmas.

ALYSON: Yes I can always rely on you to get me back on track. Can you believe that when I press the publish button on this one, we’ll have racked up a total of 400 blog posts together. It’s been a journey, and we’re not finished yet are we? I think I can fly solo now WIAA, so happy to let you head off and do whatever blogs have to do behind the scenes, fixing broken links and the like. Merry Christmas to you.

WIAA: Merry Christmas Alyson.

Five years ago, in my first year of blogging, I bemoaned the fact I was one of the sandwich generation, someone who worked full-time but also had adult offspring still living at home and an elderly parent to look out for. As regulars around here will know, none of these things now apply – I waved goodbye to my old workplace four years ago, my mum moved into her care home three years ago and DD headed out into the world two years ago. It’s happened gradually, but it turns out you kinda miss being the squished filler in a sandwich, especially around Christmastime.

It’s become traditional at this time of year that I share some songs relevant to each generation of my family, and Mr WIAA and I have had some fun this week watching old clips on YouTube when we probably should have been engaged in something more productive, by hey, I’m a loose filler who has lost her bread, so it’s allowed.

2 Become 1 by the Spice Girls:


Can you believe it’s 25 years since Girl Power became ‘a thing’ courtesy of those larger than life Spice Girls. Back then I was a busy mum with a baby and a responsible job so they really weren’t aimed at my demographic, but you couldn’t fail to get caught up in all their Zig-a-Zig-ah-ing back in 1996. They’d already had two No. 1 hits that year and at Christmastime they did it again with this one, 2 Become 1. I just loved the video for it set in New York, and it reminded me that Mr WIAA and I had become an item just before Christmas a few years earlier – A great time of year to be all loved up. I was shocked therefore to learn it was all filmed in a studio on Old Compton Street, London, using a ‘green screen’. Anyway, this one’s for DD, as although I know what the song is really all about, the romantic in me just wants to acknowledge the fact it’s also about two individuals forming a relationship and perhaps welcoming a new little person into the world one day.

Yesterday I went to visit my mum at the care home. I had to wear full PPE and the visit was heavily supervised as her care home has yet again been forced into lockdown and all their Christmas activites were cancelled. I did however manage to play her a few Christmas songs on my phone from the only festive album that resided in our house when I was growing up. Yes, yet again it’s going to be that Texan Jim Reeves, with one of the songs from his best-selling album, Twelve Songs of Christmas. My mum was my age 25 years ago when the Spice Girls were at No.1 with their song, and a big help to me when I was a busy mum myself. How things change with the passage of time, and food for thought indeed. Think she enjoyed hearing Jim though, and hopefully it did bring back memories from the distant past.

As for us, I’m going to defer to Mr WIAA who seems to find good clips to watch. Another person we lost from the world of music recently was John Miles. As 1976 seems to have been my favourite year to revisit these last 12 months, here is an epic 2001 Proms performance of his song, Music, which reached the No. 3 spot on our UK Singles Chart back in ’76. It’s not a Christmas song, but the audience certainly make it look festive with all those lights. He was only aged 72 when he died. RIP John.

Music by John Miles:


One final indulgence, and yet again not a Christmas song, but one that is set to clips from the Emma Thompson film Last Christmas. In terms of plot, if you are using the lyrics from the song Last Christmas as inspiration, it really can’t get any more literal than this, and a bit ridiculous really. If however you are a fan of the songs of George Michael, as I am, it was a no-brainer you would go and see it at the cinema when it came out two years ago.

Five years ago George Michael died on Christmas Day, and his passing affected me more than any other person we’ve lost since I started this blog. My sidebar has a couple of categories dedicated to him. The song used is Praying for Time from 1990, and it still gives me goose-bumps when I listen to it. The song deals with, “the many social injustices faced by so many, and questions the conditioning society has created and why it can be so hard to be kind to one another.” He was a good egg George, and many of his random acts of kindness were only discovered after his death. Around this time of year we should all try and take a leaf out of his book, as over 30 years on, those social injustices are still around and have become compounded by the pandemic.

Praying for Time by George Michael:


Another final, final, indulgence (nearly done now I promise) – If you scroll forward to 0:22 in the clip above you’ll find the logo for an established London restaurant. Mr WIAA is commissioned by third parties to make miniature sculptures for their various clients. Sometimes we have samples left over, and I liked this chap, so he sits on my desk. Watching that video clip, we just found out who he was for!

Anyway, it’s a very wordy one this, but as it’s my 400th post and my 5th Christmas as a music blogger I really did want to get something published before the big day. Thankfully, with my blog’s encouragement, I got there in the end.

If you celebrate it, hope you have a lovely Christmas Day with no last minute changes to your plans. Unlike 25 years ago, or indeed 5 years ago, we’ll be having a very quiet time indeed but that’s just how life rolls. As ever I’ll raise a glass to George on the day – He is missed, but never forgotten.

Until next time…

Praying For Time Lyrics
(Song by George Michael)

These are the days of the open hand
They will not be the last
Look around now
These are the days of the beggars and the choosers

This is the year of the hungry man
Whose place is in the past
Hand in hand with ignorance
And legitimate excuses

The rich declare themselves poor
And most of us are not sure
If we have too much
But we’ll take our chances
‘Cause God’s stopped keeping score

I guess somewhere along the way
He must have let us all out to play
Turned his back and all God’s children
Crept out the back door

And it’s hard to love, there’s so much to hate
Hanging on to hope
When there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it’s much much too late
Well maybe we should all be praying for time

These are the days of the empty hand
Oh, you hold on to what you can
And charity is a coat you wear twice a year

This is the year of the guilty man
Your television takes a stand
And you find that what was over there is over here

So you scream from behind your door
Say, “What’s mine is mine and not yours”
I may have too much but I’ll take my chances
‘Cause God’s stopped keeping score

And you cling to the things they sold you
Did you cover your eyes when they told you
That he can’t come back
‘Cause he has no children to come back for

It’s hard to love, there’s so much to hate
Hanging on to hope when there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it’s much too late
So maybe we should all be praying for time

Music from Guardians of the Galaxy #4 – Silver and ‘Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang’

I have many categories on my sidebar that haven’t been added to for some time. I keep meaning to head over to Delaware to rejoin my American Odyssey in Song, or to revisit more songs from the Awesome Mixtape given to me by a friend eons ago, but of course those posts take a fair bit of research, so tend to get side-lined.

There is another very well-known awesome mixtape that has been revisited several times around here however, one that had a bit of a starring role in the film Guardians of the Galaxy. I’m not usually a fan of superhero movies, but when DD introduced us to it a few years back we thoroughly enjoyed it, and I found myself smitten by the soundtrack. It contained many lesser-known, soft rock songs from the 1970s, played over and over on an old Walkman by the lead character, as a link to his dead mother and home in Missouri.

thOG317ONA

The success of the first movie meant there was a sequel a few years later, and of course there was a second awesome mixtape. I was reminded of one of the songs from it the other week, when it popped up as the answer to a clue on Rol’s excellent Saturday Snapshots feature. Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang by the band Silver was never a hit in the UK, which is why I wouldn’t have recognised them in a picture, but of course once I heard the song, it was immediately familiar from the film.

Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang by Silver:

I do like my American country rock from the ’70s, and despite 1967 still wearing the crown as being my favourite year to revisit around here, 1976 is fast becoming a usurper. For the umpteenth time this year I seem to be writing about a song from that year. The band’s record company gave them the song as a single after deciding none of the other tracks on the album they had produced had single potential. Interestingly one of the members of Silver was Tom Leadon, brother of Bernie who was of course in the Eagles at that time (not that I can ever imagine the Eagles recording Wham Bam).

Before I go, I can’t ignore the fact that over here in Britain in the early ’70s we had another couple of hit songs that perhaps formed the inspiration for Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang, via their titles at any rate. Both bands below have been featured around here before, but not sure how well their songs stand the test of time. Sweet had started out as a bubblegum pop outfit but had just morphed into glam rockers for 1972’s Wig-Wam Bam, inspired by Henry Longfellow’s poem Hiawatha. Those tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh, the Bay City Rollers, were at their height when they released Shang-a-Lang in 1974.

Wig-Wam Bam by Sweet:
Shang-a-Lang by the Bay City Rollers:


I am being facetious of course, as neither song has anything to do with the Silver song, but nearly 50 years on it’s fun to revisit these old clips to remind ourselves what (some) music fans of my generation were buying in those days. As for the three songs, not sure if you have a favourite amongst them? I am inclined to think many visitors to this place might say, “None of the above”, in which case this offering from ten years later might be more your thing. Had forgotten how great they were right at the start of the Wham! years. I give you Wham Rap!

Wham Rap! by Wham!:


Until next time…

Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang Lyrics
(Song by Rick Giles)

Starry nights, sunny days
I always thought that love should be that way
Then comes a time that you’re ridden with doubt
You’ve loved all you can, now you’re all loved out

Ooh, ooh, baby, we’ve been a long, long way
And who’s to say where we’ll be tomorrow?
Well, my heart says no but my mind says it’s so
That we gotta love, is it a love to stay?

We got a wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing
Wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing

Looking at you, I wanted to say
I think a little emotion goes a long, long way
Careful, now, you don’t get caught in your dreams
Look out, baby, this is not what it seems

Ooh, ooh, baby, you’ve been so good to me
But please don’t make it what it’s not
Well, I thought we agreed on what we need
So, listen to me, I’ll tell you what we’ve got

We got a wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing
Wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing

I think you’re seeing what I’ve been saying
Because I hear you singing to the tune I’m playing
Now that it’s said and we both understand
Let’s say our goodbyes before it gets out of hand

Bye bye, baby, I’d really like to stay
But we’ll remember the best time in our life

We had a wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing
Wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing

Wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing
Wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing

The Flat-Sharing Years, The Specials and Everything But The Girl

I was away from home last week which explains my blogging absence. We’ve been lying low this summer so as not to jeopardise any of our business ventures by having to self-isolate, but it was time to emerge from WIAA Towers to visit one of my oldest friends who has moved from London to ‘God’s Own Country’, Yorkshire. She has been mentioned around here often, whenever I’ve written about my flat-sharing years in Aberdeen. Between 1979 and 1987 we lived in a total of five different abodes (with up to four others depending on the size of the flat) before finally parting company and heading off in totally different directions, both figuratively and geographically.

Another very famous set of flatmates

We didn’t know each other very well when we moved into that first student flat in 1979 and we were studying very different subjects. As the years go by however, your flatmates become your ‘urban family’ and you form a very special bond that can only come from living in the same shared space for so long. (Oh yes, there were many, many dramas over exams, jobs and boyfriends.) It was lovely to be able to spend time with her last week, sampling the delights of the North Yorkshire Dales, nearly 42 years on from that first flat-sharing experience.

But this is a music blog so what song to share? Back in 1979 we didn’t have laptops, Netflix or Amazon Prime but we did have a black and white telly that sat on an alcove shelf to the right of the bulky gas fire (never serviced of course but thankfully we lived to tell the tale and didn’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning). My musical memories always lead me back to the show that aired on a Thursday night at 7.30pm, and despite the lack of colour, it was great living somewhere again with a telly. The year before we had been in halls, with no access to telly at all, so for a music lover like myself this was a step up in the world indeed.

As it turned out, only being able to view our favourite music show in black and white was not a problem in the autumn of 1979, as that was just when the 2 Tone phenomenon started to grip the nation – Pork pie hats were even spotted on the heads of Aberdonians. Suddenly ska and rocksteady, a genre we had been too young to appreciate first time around, really started to resonate with a new generation of young people. A tour was put together and in November 1979 I went along to a local nightspot with another music-loving friend to witness the stars of 2 Tone in action – Link to post about that night here. The Specials topped the bill and by then we knew all the songs from their eponymously named debut album. Too Much Too Young rattles along at a fair old speed, giving this late ’70s version of ska a whole new punk sensibility.

Too Much Too Young by the Specials:


But this post was supposed to be about the reunion with my old friend and I don’t remember her being a particular fan of ska in 1979. By the time we parted company in 1987 our musical allegiances were much more aligned and one of the albums I bought that year really did resonate with her. We gladly shared any new acquisition and took advantage of the flat ‘music centre’ to (very illegally) record a copy on cassette tape. Here is a song from the album Baby, the Stars Shine Bright by Everything But The Girl, one that apparently always brought a tear to her to eye whilst driving around the North of Scotland in the new company car she had just been given (which unbeknownst to her bosses became the Flatmobile). We had started flat life with steady boyfriends, but by 1987 they had long gone, and we were singletons again ready to start the next chapter.

Come On Home by Everything But The Girl:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I seem to have mislaid a lot of local friends of late so was feeling a bit lonely. This pandemic has put paid to many of my regular routines and several of the friends I used to do things with are now finding themselves either busy with grandchildren, or are retiring, and moving away from the area. Thank goodness for old friends of 42 years standing. I had a lovely time last week and our 2021 ‘digs’, unlike our old flat, were most definitely 5 Star.

Until next time…

Come On Home Lyrics
(Song by Tracey Thorne/Ben Watt)

Baby come home, I miss the sound of the door
Your step on the stair’s not there to wake me no more

And every day’s like Christmas Day without you
It’s cold and there’s nothing to do

And it’s mighty quiet here now that you’re gone
I’ve been behaving myself for too long
‘Cause I don’t like sleeping
Or watching TV on my own
So please come on home

Baby, what’s keeping you all this time
You’re wasting your days out there in the sunshine
And who can I turn to if you believe still
That England don’t love you and she never will

For it’s mighty quiet here now that you’re gone
And I’ve been behaving myself for too long
I don’t like drinking
or painting the town on my own
So please come on home

Baby come on home Please

For it’s mighty quiet here now that you’re gone
And I’ve been behaving myself for too long
‘Cause I don’t like sleeping
Or watching TV on my own
So please come on home

The Rolling Stones, ‘Fool To Cry’ and RIP Charlie Watts

As you may have noticed there hasn’t been much from the Rolling Stones shared around here. I can’t say I’ve ever been a big fan, but I can’t let the death of Charlie Watts go by without a mention. When the band formed back in the early ’60s, I doubt very much if anyone expected them to be still touring and recording new music almost 60 years later, but that’s exactly what’s happened. Doing the maths, it means the original – and even the unoriginal – band members are getting on in years. Charlie made it to the grand old age of 80 and by all accounts he was a very nice man, a jazz drummer who joined a blues band and quietly got on with the job, leaving the front of house stuff to the Glimmer Twins, and Ronnie. It seems chestnut hair-dye, gaudy silk shirts and pirate-esque garb was not for Charlie, and instead he developed a penchant for fine tailoring. A good move, and very smart he always looked too. He was married to wife Shirley for 57 years, almost unheard of in the rock world, so good for them. She will be bereft.

I’m not quite sure why the Rolling Stones haven’t featured more in the ‘tracks of my years’ but much of it down to the fact I was just too young for them back in the early days and by the time I understood more of what they were about, and the themes they covered in their song lyrics, my allegiances lay elsewhere.

I do like some of their ballads however and Wild Horses has been shared around here twice before, both by them and by the The Sundays (link here). Another favourite of mine is Fool To Cry from, yes you’ve guessed it, 1976. I did say I wasn’t going to return to that year for a while but it is a beautiful song and although not too much input from Charlie on that one, I’ve enjoyed listening to it again. I remember it being one of the songs played at our local youth club as it had reached No. 6 in the UK Singles Chart that year. The good friend I’ve often mentioned around here always had to leave the hall when it came on. Perhaps it was teenage hormones, or maybe she’d just had her heart broken, but at age 16 Fool to Cry always made her cry.

There will no doubt have been a fair few tears shed by the remaining Stones today, and understandably so. They’ve had the longest of journeys in an industry where longevity is a rarity. It won’t ever be quite the same again.

Fool To Cry by the Rolling Stones:

Until next time…, RIP Charlie Watts.

Fool To Cry Lyrics
(Song by Keith Richards/Mick Jagger)

When I come home baby
And I’ve been working all night long
I put my daughter on my knee, and she said
“Daddy what’s wrong?”
She whispered in my ear so sweet

You know what she said?
She said

“Daddy you’re a fool to cry
You’re a fool to cry
And it makes me wonder why.”

“Daddy, you’re a fool”

You know, I got a woman
(Daddy, you’re a fool)
And she live in the poor part of town
And I go see her sometimes
And we make love, so fine
I put my head on her shoulder
She said, “Tell me all your troubles.”
You know what she said? she said

“Daddy you’re a fool to cry
You’re a fool to cry
And it makes me wonder why.”

Daddy you’re a fool to cry
Oh, I love you so much baby
Daddy you’re a fool to cry
Daddy you’re a fool to cry, yeah

She said, “Daddy you’re a fool to cry
You’re a fool to cry
And it makes me wonder why.”

She said, “Daddy you’re a fool to cry
Daddy you’re a fool to cry
Daddy you’re a fool to cry
Daddy you’re a fool to cry”

Even my friends say to me sometimes
I make out like I don’t understand them

You know what they say?
They say, “Daddy you’re a fool to cry
You’re a fool to cry
And it makes me wonder why.”

I’m a fool baby
I’m a fool baby
I’m a certified fool
I want to tell ya
Gotta tell ya, baby

I’m a fool baby
I’m a fool baby
Come on
I’m a fool
I’m a fool
I’m a fool

Alyson’s Archive #8 – My Sporting Ineptitude and More Musical Memories from the Summer of ’76

Considering I go back to college in less than a month’s time, I really need to get back into the swing of putting pen to paper, or rather, typing words on a screen. It’s a very wordy course and this blog used to keep me limbered up so to speak. Going to hold my hands up and admit to being a bit off my game at the moment however, and although not for any one specific reason, a slew of minor anxieties all coming along at the same time can do that to a person. I’m sure I’ll get back on track soon, once we can re-emerge from WIAA Towers having avoided all contact with other humans for the last month in case we’re “pinged”. Both being self-employed it had to happen, but it does get a bit monotonous, especially as life returns to a semblance of normality for everyone else.

The Olympics did raise my spirits for a while but the live events often happened during the night due to the time difference and I’m coming round to the realisation (why has it taken so long?) that akin to football, where you end up on the medals table is down to how much money has been spent. As most of the funding comes via the National Lottery, I can’t help thinking some of it hasn’t given a great rate of return and could have been diverted to initiatives that help more of the people who buy those lottery tickets in the first place. Having said that, I am full of admiration for those who have worked hard in their chosen discipline and won medals, but by now we know it never turns us into a nation of superfit athletes. We’re great at sitting on our couches watching others swim, row, cycle, run and jump, but not so great at partaking ourselves.

A 100 years ago they trained by running along the beach. Mo performed in front of a home crowd in 2012 but this time, because of the pandemic, the stadiums were empty.

I’ve been reminiscing about the year 1976 a lot of late – First of all because of the Long Hot Summer mentioned around here last time, secondly because it was also an Olympic year (Montreal) but mainly because it was the last time I remember having absolutely no worries or anxieties. Sounds dramatic I know, and it doesn’t mean my life has been riddled with anguish since (I’ve had the odd year off!), but in 1976 when I was aged 16, life was indeed sweet.

Time for a family anecdote. My dad inevitably loved watching the 1976 Olympics as he had been quite an athlete in his youth and excelled at many different sports. I on the other hand was no athlete, and despite being encouraged by him to try lots of disciplines I could tell I was a bit of a disappointment when it came to my sporting prowess. Then he had an epiphany – Tennis. The village tennis courts where he had played as a youngster were in a state of disrepair and had long been out of use. He would rebuild the courts and perhaps, just perhaps, his daughter might become the next Wimbledon champion.

Not our courts, but similar

As was my dad’s way he simply went down to the courts every evening for a week sizing up the job to be done and taking measurements. People in the community gradually became interested and many of his friends started to join him. Materials were acquired to create a new clay court and the fences were repaired. The pavilion next to the courts was also refurbished and then painted, so the wives joined in too. For us teenagers it became a great place to hang out during that long hot summer. A coach was hired from the city to come and give us lessons, but yes, you guessed it, although I loved the social scene around the pavilion, tennis turned out not to be my thing either.

But what were we listening to in the summer of 1976? By good fortune I have just found my copy of Words magazine from the August of that year. This periodical has appeared around here before as I was a subscriber and as well as sharing song lyrics, the mag kept teens like myself up to date with all that was happening in the world of pop music. Here is the contents page from that issue along with the front and back covers. Lots of songs there that have really stood the test of time along with a surprising amount of reissues from the ’60s. Not sure if you can read from the picture, but how many of the artists would you identify from this list of songs without looking them up?

As for the cover star, it was Peter Frampton, who was becoming a bit of a big cheese in America around that time and had just released his Frampton Comes Alive! album. To be honest his previous role as frontman of the band Humble Pie had passed me by and I’m sure it was quite some time before I realised he was actually British, but there is no denying that 1976 was a good year for him.

The song Show Me the Way had reached No. 10 in the UK Singles Chart in the May of 1976 as the lead single from his new album. Peter was also one of the first artists to make extensive use of a talk box .

Show Me The Way by Peter Frampton:


But what else were we talking about whilst hanging out in our newly refurbed pavilion (rather than playing tennis). On the back page of the magazine was a picture of some of the characters from the new film Bugsy Malone. I have nothing but fond memories of this film – Great acting from its incredibly young cast, great songs and a lot of slapstick humour. I seem to remember I went to see it at our local cinema with a potential beau once the schools went back after the summer holidays. At the interval I dropped my ice-cream on the floor after falling over a single seat that had been left down in the row. Very much in tune with the slapstick nature of the film however, so thankfully the date was saved. Once DD came along she loved watching our video recording of the film on telly, but always called it Bugsy Alone (poor Bugsy).

Bugsy Malone – The final scene


So, a trip down memory lane for me and hopefully for some of you too. Out of interest here are some of the other bands that were written about in that particular edition of Words. Hard to imagine that some of them were just starting out, so the writers had no idea yet of what was to come.

The 16-year-old Angus Young
Ian Anderson who went on to become a successful fish farmer around these parts!

I’m going to end with another song featured in my magazine. Kiss and Say Goodbye was a massive worldwide hit in 1976 recorded by American R&B vocal group The Manhattans. I had another listen to it this week and it reminds me of so many other songs coming out of America at that time. It was written by Winfred Lovett, the bass singer, who also got the job of intoning the spoken work introduction. A love affair was coming to an end it seems for these reasons:

Because of my obligations, and the ties that you have

Well, if you both have obligations and ties that will happen, but at age 16 I always thought it was a very pragmatic and unlikely line to have included in such a beautiful but sad song – Shows what I knew about love triangles back then. I was still dropping my ice-cream on the cinema floor on my dates.

Kiss and Say Goodbye by The Manhattans:


I seem to have gone way over my usual wordcount which is good for me in terms of getting in some writing practice, but maybe not so good for you. Having said that I love revisiting these old magazines and reading the contemporary reviews, so hope you do too. Some turn out to be prophetic, but not all of them, as some music journalists got it horribly wrong.

As for me, I might look out my old tennis racquet – I’m going to have to spend more time on sport and less time sitting in front of a computer it seems if I’m to keep these old bones in tip top shape. I might have let my dad down back in 1976 by not becoming a Wimbledon champion, but to fair, I’m sure he always thought of it as a long shot. As it turned out, because of his efforts, the whole village had a thoroughly good summer down at our previously neglected tennis courts. Nice one Dad.

Until next time…

Kiss And Say Goodbye Lyrics
(Song by Winfred Lovett)

This has got to be the saddest day of my life
I called you here today for a bit of bad news
I won’t be able to see you anymore
Because of my obligations, and the ties that you have
We’ve been meeting here everyday
And since this is our last day together
I wanna hold you just one more time
When you turn and walk away, don’t look back
I wanna remember you just like this
Let’s just kiss and say goodbye

I had to meet you here today
There’s just so many things to say
Please don’t stop me ’till I’m through
This is something I hate to do
We’ve been meeting here so long
I guess what we done, oh was wrong
Please darling, don’t you cry
Let’s just kiss and say goodbye

Many months have passed us by
(I’m gonna miss you)
I’m gonna miss you, I can’t lie
(I’m gonna miss you)
I’ve got ties, and so do you
I just think this is the thing to do
It’s gonna hurt me, I can’t lie
Maybe you’ll meet, you’ll meet another guy
Understand me, won’t you try, try, try, try, try, try, try
Let’s just kiss and say goodbye

(I’m gonna miss you)
I’m gonna miss you, I can’t lie
(I’m gonna miss you)
Understand me, won’t you try
(I’m gonna miss you)
It’s gonna hurt me, I can’t lie
(I’m gonna miss you)
Take my handkerchief, wipe your eyes

(I’m gonna miss you)
Maybe you’ll find, you’ll find another guy
(I’m gonna miss you)
Let’s kiss and say goodbye, pretty baby

(I’m gonna miss you)
Please, don’t you cry
(I’m gonna miss you)
Understand me, won’t you try
(I’m gonna miss you)

Let’s just kiss
And say goodbye

Heatwaves, Starbuck and ‘Moonlight Feels Right’

Having a heatwave over the summer used to be seen as a good thing, but of course nowadays it’s happening so regularly it’s seen as a rather worrying trend. Up here in the North of Scotland we’ve not yet had the really high temperatures that makes sleep impossible, but there are of course all sorts of other downsides. If you are a fair-skinned person like myself you know full well that sunbathing is a big no-no, but we never learn do we, and over the years I’ve had a fair few bad cases of sunburn. The damage caused comes home to roost however and I’m off to the skin clinic next week to be checked out.

If you are British, and of my demographic, the summer we always hark back to is The Long Hot Summer of 1976. There have been summers just as hot since but they didn’t happen when I was aged 16, just about the best age to enjoy a heatwave with friends. Once the sunburnt skin had peeled off we did start to turn a nice shade of golden brown, with the help of some cooking oil, or if you could afford it, some Ambre Solaire. As for SPFs, they didn’t exist yet. Dressed in our Brutus jeans, wedge sandals and skimpy cheesecloth shirts we thought we looked the bees knees.

But what were we listening to back in the summer of 1976? Well I’ve written such a post before (link here), so most of the really memorable pop hits by the likes of Elton & Kiki, The Real Thing and Candi Staton have already been covered. Time therefore to revisit another song, one I heard on the radio the other day, and one that seems to have lodged itself in my head as an earworm.

As it turns out Moonlight Feels Right by Starbuck was never a hit in the UK, so although I know the song well it must be from hearing it on the radio over the years. It was however a big hit in the US, Canada and Australia, so wonder why it didn’t strike a cord over here. To me it just screams 1976 America (as we called it back then), and reminds me of another song from across the pond I also like from that era. Yes, one of the very first songs I ever wrote about around here was I’d Really Love To See You Tonight by England Dan & John Ford Coley. In Scotland, even during a heatwave, it is never warm after dark, so back in 1976 I just loved the idea of those “warm winds blowin’ the stars around”. Likewise, in Moonlight…, we are painted a picture of warm summer evenings by the coast, with the moon and stars shining brightly in the night sky. With foreign travel off the cards for most of us at the moment, I will have to content myself with song lyrics for the time being.

I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean
And drop the top at Chesapeake Bay
Ain’t nothin’ like the sky to dose a potion
The moon’ll send you on your way

We’ll lay back and observe the constellations
And watch the moon smilin’ bright
I’ll play the radio on southern stations
‘Cause southern belles are hell at night

Moonlight Feels Right by Starbuck:


After hearing the song on the radio this week I realised I had never taken the time to pick up on the artist’s name, so had to google it. Inevitably when I found out it was a band called Starbuck I just pictured a coffee cup, such is the ubiquitous nature of that name nowadays – Back in 1974 when Starbuck formed, the large coffee chain had been trading in Seattle for just three years, purely as a wholesaler of beans. It’s now their 50th anniversary year and how things have changed.

Moonlight… was promoted as the first rock song ever to feature a marimba and if you fast forward to 1:50 on the video clip you will see a jumpsuited Bo Wagner performing his instrumental solo. As mentioned before in my post about the England Dan & John Ford Coley song, back in 1976 we had often no idea what the artist behind the song looked liked. Without being cruel, I think for 16-year-old girls, it was good that some songs remained a radio staple only.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – After writing 23 full moon related posts, I don’t know how I missed including this song, but as luck would have it July’s Buck Moon should appear in our skies tonight. For those of you whose sleep patterns are affected by the heatwave, you might be lucky enough to witness it. A tiny upside.

As for me, on top of the skin clinic visit I have a screening appointment (much delayed due to the pandemic), a dental visit (also much delayed) and as a result of my recent fractured ankle, a bone density scan, all in the next 10 days. Like buses, they all come at once but sadly goes with the whole process of getting older. Until I get the all-clear I am going to keep my time in the sun to a minimum which makes life difficult when you live with a dedicated sunseeker. To all my fellow fair-skinned followers out there, as Sergeant Phil in Hill Street Blues used to say, ‘Let’s be careful out there’.

Until next time…

Moonlight Feels Right Lyrics
(Song by Bruce Blackman)

The wind blew some luck in my direction
I caught it in my hands today
I finally made a tricky French connection
You winked and gave me your O.K.
I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean
And drop the top at Chesapeake Bay
Ain’t nothing like the sky to dose a potion
The moon’ll send you on your way

Moonlight feels right
Moonlight feels right

We’ll lay back and observe the constellations
And watch the moon smilin’ bright
I’ll play the radio on southern stations
‘Cause southern belles are hell at night
You say you came to Baltimore from Ole Miss
Class of seven-four, gold ring
The eastern moon looks ready for a wet kiss
To make the tide rise again

Moonlight feels right
Moonlight feels right

We’ll see the sun come up on Sunday morning
And watch it fade the moon away
I guess you know I’m giving you a warning
‘Cause me and moon are itching to play
I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean
And drop the top at Chesapeake Bay
Ain’t nothin’ like the sky to dose a potion
The moon’ll send you on your way

Moonlight feels right
Moonlight feels right

Moonlight feels right
Moonlight feels right

A Summer of Sport, Coin Collections and Songs from Simpler Times

Well, I don’t suppose I can write this week’s blog post without mentioning sport, as there’s an awful lot of it going on right now, and I’ve got caught up in all the excitement. Unlike many Scots I am always happy if any of our home nations does well in a big football tournament, as it extends the excitement that bit longer and you can experience it all vicariously via their fans. Although I am no longer a fan of club football, I do still love the big tournaments and there will be an awful lot of UK citizens tuning in on Sunday night for the final. Sadly DD and her boyfriend had chosen that one weekend to head off to a fancy-pants hotel for a bit of R & R. She is most definitely not a fan of football but her boyfriend certainly is. Their Sunday night “dining experience” will be cut short I fear.

An absolute dream for a fan of spreadsheets, lists and statistics – My ‘beflagged’, almost completed wallchart

But anyway, with tennis back at Wimbledon, the Tour de France in progress, our national football teams giving the country a much needed lift, and the Tokyo Olympics (sans spectators it seems) just round the corner, it feels like summers of old. Odd that everything is now out of sync in terms of the year though, UEFA Euro 2020 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics both being held in 2021. In the fullness of time, when we look back at those long lists of annual sporting achievements, the year 2020 will be erased from time, something that didn’t even happen during the two world wars. The pesky virus, invisible to the eye, has shut down international gatherings like never before in history.

There have been many football anthems over the years and I shared one from Scotland’s 1982 campaign a couple of weeks ago (link here). Time to focus on the home nation who will appear in Sunday’s final then. Over the years, England have had many songs recorded to accompany their football tournament journey, but only four have made it to the top spot on the UK Singles Chart. The first was this one, Back Home, from 1970, the year I first became invested in football and from the days when the actual team lined up for singing duties. (Bobby Charlton looking a bit sad there in the still, or is he embarrassed?).

I had been just too young to remember the 1966 campaign (down to a very early bedtime in those days I’ve now realised) but by the time I reached the age of 10, I could join my dad in watching the matches, and collecting those coins that were given out at petrol stations. I do still have some of the sticker books petrol stations gave away during the Olympics of that era, but sadly no longer have my coin collection. Fortunately I’ve found some sets online shared by people who have very sensibly held on to theirs. Some very familiar names there from the 1966 World Cup winning team, but sadly not many of them still with us. Bobby’s brother Jack Charlton died just last year, and so did Nobby Stiles. A great shame they didn’t live long enough to see their team reach another final.

So the song Back Home, written by top pop songwriters of the day Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart in May 1970. It took another 20 years for an England campaign football song to reach to top spot and this time it was a very different animal. World in Motion was written/performed by New Order and Keith Allen with the football squad joining in for the chorus. Footballer John Barnes took the song to a whole new level by very ably adding a rap section, and unlike Back Home, I think it has stood the test of time.

I had just starting going out with Mr WIAA and I remember watching much of Italia ’90 with him. This time there were no coins to collect, but many of us did find ourselves warming to opera, after being serenaded by Luciano Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma every evening ahead of watching the television coverage.

Luciano Pavarotti

The third No. 1 football song was of course Three Lions which seems to have become the unofficial anthem for every England campaign since. It was written back in 1996 for the Euros held in England so it made sense for the songwriters to add the line, “It’s coming home”. It didn’t as it turned out, but 25 years on there is the chance for that to happen on Sunday night. This time the song was written by comedians David BaddielFrank Skinner, and the band Lightning Seeds. Don’t know about you but it doesn’t feel like 25 years since that tournament, but then again DD was just a baby back then, and now she’s off to expensive hotels with her boyfriend. How time flies.

Scotland found themselves in the same group as England at Euro 96 and I remember well sitting with a piece of paper on the night of the final group stage matches, working out the changing goal difference between teams each time the ball found itself at the back of the net. For a time it was looking as if Scotland would progress, but a last minute goal by The Netherlands put paid to that dream. As they were playing England many of us thought they possibly let that happen, but that would be casting aspersions wouldn’t it.

For the sake of completeness I feel I should add the fourth and final anthem to have reached the top spot, Shout for England, but I can’t say I even remember it. It was written for the South Africa 2010 World Cup tournament and samples Tears for Fears Shout as well as sections of rap by Dizzee Rascal. James Corden also seems to have played a part on that one. This tournament largely passed me by, because of intense work pressures around that time, but who could forget the dreaded vuvuzela.

And so we come to now, and very oddly a song from 1969 has captured the imagination of the fans on the terraces. It has worked its magic in stadiums throughout the US, but who would have thought Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline would hit that sweet spot just as we reach Sunday’s final. All apparently because of its very particular lyrics:

Good times never seemed so good (especially if you’ve just won a big match)

Hands, touchin’ hands
Reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you
(rises to a rousing crescendo, and a fine sentiment for fans who have been kept apart for so long)

I always knew the name Caroline in the song was inspired by JFK’s daughter, but only found out today that it was because his wife’s name, Marcia, just didn’t work phonetically. After reading a magazine article about Caroline, he worked out the syllables in her name fitted better, so changed it.

Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I don’t think many music lovers who follow this blog are fans of football, so excuse me this little indulgence, but it’s been an exciting few weeks with three of our home nations doing really well in the Euros. I was sad when Scotland didn’t progress beyond the group stages, but we were all really proud of our team and can always say we held one of the tournament finalists (we don’t yet know who will win) to a draw. Many think we should have won that match.

As for the songs, just wanted to cover the ones that made it to the top spot in the singles chart but of course there are many, many more. If the England team do the business on Sunday night, and win their match against Italy, I’m sure 60,000 football fans will find their voices, and the sounds of Sweet Caroline will fill Wembley stadium.

Until next time…

Sweet Caroline Lyrics
(Song by Neil Diamond)

Where it began
I can’t begin to knowin’
But then I know it’s growin’ strong

Was in the spring
And spring became the summer
Who’d have believed you’d come along

Hands, touchin’ hands
Reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’ve been inclined
To believe they never would

But now I…

…look at the night
And it don’t seem so lonely
We fill it up with only two

And when I hurt
Hurtin’ runs off my shoulders
How can I hurt when holdin’ you?

Warm, touchin’ warm
Reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’ve been inclined

To believe they never would
Oh, no, no

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
Sweet Caroline
I believed they never could

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good