40 Years Ago This Week, Elvis “Left the Building” for the Last Time – Part 2

Last time I told the story of how it came about that my very first vinyl album was an Elvis one. Believe it or not my first CD was an Elvis one as well (and I didn’t even have a CD player yet!). We had been slow to move from vinyl and cassette tape to digital mediums as I just couldn’t get my head round the concept of having to replace nearly 30 years’ worth of music, but the writing was on the wall, so when I decided to buy the new Elvis compilation album “Always On My Mind” in 1997, it had to be in CD format. As new parents money was tight, so the cutting-edge CD player had to wait until later in the year to be purchased. In the meantime however, I played it liberally on our home computer until the ridiculously large VDU (remember those) decided to blow up after over-heating one sunny afternoon. Hard to believe in Scotland I know, but we had stupidly placed it right in front of a single-glazed window.

NB: For those of you who were sceptical last time about the ability to “Do a Swede” with only a CD to work with, the above goes to prove that it is kind of possible. Just sayin’.

The anniversary of Elvis’ death sort of crept up on me this week and the post that I published on the actual day itself was a very hastily put together affair. Since then however I have had a chance to read the many other posts written by my fellow bloggers, and after having watched some great video clips, listened to many of his wonderful songs and generally had a good wallow through the memorabilia in my “Elvis Box” (it’s a thing), my love for the man and his music has returned with a vengeance.

Talking of love, the CD “Always On My Mind” was subtitled The Ultimate Love Songs Collection, so not surprisingly it contains an awful lot of songs with that word in the title. Looking at it right now we have: Can’t Help Falling In Love, Love Me Tender, Love Me, Loving You, Love Letters, You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me and It’s Only Love. The word mind also crops up a couple of times as Suspicious Minds (this is a blistering live version) was included as well as the title track, Always On My Mind.

Always On My Mind by Elvis Presley:

Elvis Presley recorded his version of Always On My Mind a few weeks after his final separation from Priscilla. Although Elvis didn’t actually write any of his songs, he might as well have done, for they always seemed to be just so darned personal. Elvis was not the best of letter-writers and Priscilla used to say that they communicated through music instead, as he regularly sent her “meaningful” records after returning home from Germany. Always On My Mind was most definitely for Priscilla which makes it all the more heart-breaking. I don’t really think Elvis ever thought she would leave, but one little lady (albeit with sometimes very big hair) versus the might of the Memphis Mafia, was never going to work out in the long run.

And this is where I’m reminded of the film Blue Hawaii which has become a bit of a tradition in our house as a Boxing Day pick-me-up. Living in Scotland is a cold, damp and dreich affair over the winter months so what could be better than to curl up on the sofa with some slices of fresh pineapple (yes really) and watch Elvis rock-a-hula his way across the sands of Waikiki Beach. I am reminded of the film because of this song, Almost Always True. No, I think it’s a given that Elvis was not “always true” but he was a family man at heart so when Priscilla left, that marked the beginning of the end for him.

Funnily enough, well actually not funny at all as it turns out, my Boxing Day tradition of watching Blue Hawaii did not take place last year as that was the day we found out that George Michael had passed away. I spent most of the day surfing the net and writing the first of my tribute posts. A couple of days later however, the film Viva Las Vegas popped up on the television schedules and whilst watching the antics of Elvis and Ann-Margret (again, their on-screen chemistry suggested he was almost always true), it occurred to me that both men had similarly long careers but both came to a similarly premature, and undignified end.

So, no little paragraph this time with my musings on the “meaning of life”, as just a bit too sad. Instead a photomontage of two of my musical heroes, both taken from us far too soon. I rest my case. RIP Elvis, RIP George.

Always On My Mind Lyrics
(Song by Johnny Christopher/Mark James/Wayne Carson)

Maybe I didn’t love you
Quite as often as I could have
Maybe I didn’t treat you
Quite as good as I should have
If I made you feel second best
Girl I’m sorry I was blind
But you were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

Maybe I didn’t hold you
All those lonely, lonely times
I guess I never told you
That I am so happy that you’re mine
If I made you feel second best
Girl I’m sorry I was blind
But you were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

Tell me, tell me that your sweet love hasn’t died
Give me, give me one more chance
To keep you satisfied
I’ll keep you satisfied
Little things I should have said and done
I just never took the time
But you were always on my mind
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

40 Years Ago Today, Elvis “Left the Building” for the Last Time – Part 1

Yesterday was the day Scottish kids went back to school but 40 years ago we went back to school on today’s date, the 16th August. I remember it well as it was my senior year and we took a picture of me in my Prefect’s uniform (see postscript). I also remember it because it was the day Elvis died.

I have written about Elvis a fair bit since starting this blog as I used to be a massive fan of both him and those films he starred in between the late ’50s and early ’60s. I had a friend who felt the same way and as teenagers, whilst our peers were heading off out at night with their boyfriends, we could often be found at the local fleapit, watching oft repeated showings of old Elvis movies.

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Crowds at the gates of Graceland following the death of Elvis

I’m afraid I’m copying this picture idea from The Swede, whose excellent Unthought of, though, somehow blog is one I visit often, but Elvis is also special to me because “Elvis Sings Flaming Star” was the very first album I purchased with my own money. I wrote about it last year (link here) and some of you may have read that post already, but an appropriate day to re-share it I feel.

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The humble author today, 16/8/17, with her first album

It wasn’t until after I finished that “first album” post however that I did a little more digging and the story of how I came to acquire it, all started to make a bit more sense. We didn’t actually get to see the now legendary ’68 Comeback Special on television in the UK until about a year and a half later. I could only have been about 9 or 10 when it aired but I still remember that evening clearly. I had been asked to go down to our local village shop, which stayed open late on a Friday – All the ladies at the counters were really excited about going home to watch Elvis later on that evening and were asking all the customers if they would be tuning in. I must have mentioned this to my family when I got home and thankfully we did watch this piece of television history. Elvis was clad in black leather, was looking good, singing well and turned in an amazing performance as only he could. He resurrected his career after years of being holed up in Hollywood, churning out what were often thought of as lacklustre movies and dubious soundtrack albums.

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Elvis clad in black leather for the ’68 Comeback Special

The sponsor of the NBC television special was the Singer Sewing Machine Company (yes really) and the company had put together an album called “Singer Presents Elvis Singing Flaming Star and Others” (all very confusing) as a promotional tie-in for retail outlets that sold their machines. In March 1969, after the success of the special, it was re-issued internationally for normal retail outlets as “Elvis Sings Flaming Star”, which is when I must have come across it. Wouldn’t have known any of this back story at the time but just goes to show how fascinating rock and pop trivia can be.

So, nearly fifty years on from the infamous Comeback Special and exactly forty years on from his death, which song should I feature from his vast back catalogue? It occurred to me that only last week I had mentioned the song An American Trilogy as part of my Glen Campbell tribute post. Elvis Presley recorded the song in 1972 and it became a bit of a showstopper for him when performed during the massive event that was “Elvis—Aloha from Hawaii” broadcast in 1973. Three 19th century folk songs had been melded together and given the full jumpsuited-Elvis treatment and even today I can’t think of anyone better suited (no pun intended) for the song. His poverty-stricken southern roots, his close affinity with black music and his subsequent elevation to all-American global superstar.

An American Trilogy by Elvis Presley:

This was a more mature Elvis, now in his late thirties, but sadly this would be one of the last times we would see him turn in a performance like this. Later on that year his divorce from Priscilla would become final and he started to become increasingly unwell, his addiction to prescription drugs really starting to take their toll. 

In some ways I am glad Elvis didn’t make it to old age – He would have been exactly the same age as my mum and although the life she leads in her retirement complex suits her well, I cannot contemplate an octogenarian Elvis being suited to a similar life (with all the issues it can throw up). Best to remember the man as he was, the “star” of Flaming Star, the leather clad Comeback King and the jumpsuited maestro of those Global Event concerts broadcast around the world.

RIP Elvis, RIP The King.

An American Trilogy Lyrics
(Song by Mickey Newbury)

Oh, I wish, I was in the land of cotton
Old times there are not forgotten
Look away, look away, look away Dixieland

Oh, I wish, I was in Dixie, away, away
In Dixieland I take my stand to live and die in Dixie
For Dixieland, that’s where I was born
Early Lord one frosty morn
Look away, look away, look away Dixieland

Glory, glory, Hallelujah
Glory, glory, Hallelujah
Glory, glory, Hallelujah
His truth is marching on

So hush little baby, don’t you cry
You know your daddy’s bound to die
But all my trials, Lord will soon be over

Glory, glory, Hallelujah
His truth is marching on
His truth is marching on

Postscript:

Yes, being a bit of a hoarder I still have that picture although we weren’t very good at keeping shadows out of the shot back then it seems – Good try though Dad.

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The author on 16/8/77 – The day Elvis died

Alyson’s Archive #1 – Eddie and the Hot Rods, Radio Stars and Squeeze

Welcome to this occasional series where I will very embarrassingly, 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” thanks to Sir Tim Berners-Lee and his little invention, the world wide web! 

Back in 1978 I used to keep a journal. Here is the extract from Friday, March the 3rd, the day I’d gone in to Aberdeen with the school boyfriend (s bf) to watch Eddie and the Hot Rods at the Capitol Theatre. The Capitol was used as a cinema most of the time but between the mid ’70s and mid ’80s I went to see an awful lot of bands and artists perform there. Eddie and the Hot Rods were the only band on the bill that night who’d had much chart success to date, having got to No. 9 in the UK Singles Chart with Do Anything You Wanna Do in August, 1977. The two support acts were Radio Stars and an unheard of, fledgling band called Squeeze.

If you can read the extract below you will see that I was a very “proper” and not very “cool” teenager (who also didn’t have brilliant writing skills it seems) but hey, I was wearing my new-fangled straight-legged trousers and was still flushed with the success of having won the prize for “Best Pogoing” at our local Community Centre (documented here) so despite my misgivings about punk concerts, it turned out to be a good night. Interesting also to note that the ticket cost only £2.50 but looking back that was what I earned from my Saturday job, working a whole day in a shop – It’s all relative.

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The strange thing is that in later life we seem to develop a selective memory based on subsequent events and I had always thought that the standout act that night was Squeeze – Looking back at my journal entry, the verdict was that “they weren’t bad”. How bizarre as down the line they became one of my favourite bands and Up The Junction is still one of my all-time favourite songs.

Eddie and the Hot Rods were apparently “very good” and we had “no qualms about jumping up and down pogoing”, although it was “an exhausting occupation” (it’s all just so embarrassing). I don’t really think that in the annals of punk, Eddie and the Hot Rods will be remembered as one of that movement’s biggest movers and shakers – They were more of a pub rock band from Canvey Island but I suppose back in 1977, they did fit that whole “new wavey” mould quite well.

It seems that the band I most enjoyed that night were the Radio Stars and looking at the picture of them now, I still remember the showmanship of their lead singer, Andy Ellison. He had bleached blond hair and certainly knew how to work the crowd – I remember how he effortlessly meandered through the audience, niftily navigating his way across the back of the seats in the stalls. Their minor hit record Nervous Wreck also went down well that night and funny how my memories of that night are so at odds with how the respective careers of each of these bands evolved. I don’t know if it’s just me but looking at him now, does he have a hint of the Joe Brown about him?

But I can’t leave it there, for although it seems I didn’t think that much of Squeeze that particular night, they went on to become one of the UK’s best-loved bands. The vast majority of their songs were written by Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, but of course the band Squeeze also spawned one Jools Holland, who seems to have become a bit of a National Treasure and whose annual New Year’s Eve Hootenanny is watched by millions. During the height of their popularity in the late ’70s/early ’80s they had hits with such classics as Cool for Cats, Slap and Tickle, Another Nail in My Heart, Pulling Mussels (from the Shell), Tempted, Labelled with Love, Black Coffee in Bed and Hourglass, as well as the aforementioned Up The Junction.

It was with great joy therefore, whilst watching live footage from Glastonbury this year, that I managed to catch Chris and Glenn pop up as guests in the outdoorsy green room area where Mark Radcliffe and (my other girl crush) Jo Whiley usually reside. They performed a very alternative version of Up The Junction complete with a band of kazoo players – This clip has appeared in my little corner of the blogosphere before but well worth another outing I feel.

Up The Junction (original version) by Squeeze:

So, “What’s It All About?” – Funny how we have a selective memory when it comes to reminiscing about the music of our youth. Just as Fred Astaire’s first audition went badly and notes were made to the effect, “Can’t act, can’t sing, slightly bald, can dance a little”, my diary entry from March ’78 was less than complimentary about Squeeze. Fortunately I soon saw the light and became a big fan down the line – I must have just been far too dazzled on the night by the energetic antics of Joe Brown lookalike Andy Ellison, to really concentrate on the talents of Messrs Difford and Tilbrook. That of course and all the pogoing – “An exhausting occupation”!

Up The Junction Lyrics
(Song by Chris Difford/Glenn Tilbrook)

I never thought it would happen
With me and the girl from Clapham
Out on the windy common
That night I ain’t forgotten
When she dealt out the rations
With some or other passions
I said “you are a lady”
“Perhaps” she said. “I may be”

We moved in to a basement
With thoughts of our engagement
We stayed in by the telly
Although the room was smelly
We spent our time just kissing
The Railway Arms we’re missing
But love had got us hooked up
And all our time it took up

I got a job with Stanley
He said I’d come in handy
And started me on Monday
So I had a bath on Sunday
I worked eleven hours
And bought the girl some flowers
She said she’d seen a doctor
And nothing now could stop her

I worked all through the winter
The weather brass and bitter
I put away a tenner
Each week to make her better
And when the time was ready
We had to sell the telly
Late evenings by the fire
With little kicks inside her

This morning at four fifty
I took her rather nifty
Down to an incubator
Where thirty minutes later
She gave birth to a daughter
Within a year a walker
She looked just like her mother
If there could be another

And now she’s two years older
Her mother’s with a soldier
She left me when my drinking
Became a proper stinging
The devil came and took me
From bar to street to bookie
No more nights by the telly
No more nights nappies smelling

Alone here in the kitchen
I feel there’s something missing
I’d beg for some forgiveness
But begging’s not my business
And she won’t write a letter
Although I always tell her
And so it’s my assumption
I’m really up the junction

Tartan Heart Festivals, Hippies and the Summer Of Love

Exactly 50 years ago, in 1967, the “hippies” of North America (and other parts of the world) converged on Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco, wearing flowers in their hair. It was the infamous Summer Of Love which has cropped up on these pages often as although I was only aged seven that year, it seems to be a year I have a great fondness for when it comes to revisiting the “tracks of my years”. All sorts of reasons for this which have already been covered but one that hadn’t really occurred to me until recently was that children of six and under generally have a very early bedtime (I know I did), so any opportunity to watch music shows of any kind on telly would have been an impossibility. Looking back now I have a pretty good memory for music from 1967 onwards as that would have been the year it would have been deemed reasonable for me to stay up “late” to watch shows such as Top of the Pops, an absolute must for kids of my generation.

Many songs were written that year referring to this mass migration of up to 100,000 young people to Haight-Ashbury, the most obvious being Scott McKenzie’s San Francisco. I don’t however seem to have that one in my digital library but I do have Let’s Go To San Francisco by British band The Flower Pot Men. As ever I have learnt something new, as I had always taken it forgranted that they were American – The song, a one-hit wonder, very much imitated the style of Brian Wilson, and could easily have been mistaken for a Beach Boys one.

Let’s Go To San Francisco by The Flower Pot Men:

As I’ve also mentioned many times, the Summer of Love never came to my small Scottish village, and if it had, my dad and his fellow civic-minded friends would probably have had something to say about it. It did however, infiltrate the student body of Aberdeen, a city we drove to every other Saturday so that my dad could watch his beloved Aberdeen FC and my mum could do some shopping (with me in tow – grrr). The car park we used was very near the University and right across the street was the building that housed the Students’ Union. It was the social hub of University life where there were bars, dining halls, venues for concerts and little shops selling supplies that are probably no longer needed for the modern-day student, such as pads of foolscap paper, pencils, pocket files and even, books.

This building had a steady stream of “hippies” leave and enter as we passed by and to me they looked just like the singers and groups I loved to watch on Top of the Pops. They had long hair, little round glasses, guitars, even Afghan coats – One day I thought to myself, I want to be just like them, although I definitely kept that plan to myself as my parents used to make it quite clear that come the hour, they wouldn’t want to see me stumble out of that door on Schoolhill a bit worse for the wear and high on plant life. As it turned out I did stumble out of that door frequently over a decade later but the hippie era was long gone by then and new wave had taken its place. Fortunately my parents didn’t see me however, as the black lipstick (it makes your teeth look awful by the way) and nail varnish, complete with leopard spot garments would not have gone down well. Don’t get me wrong, my parents were wonderful and I had a charmed childhood, but they were not what you would have called “open-minded”.

So, where is all this going I hear you ask? – Next weekend a mini Glastonbury (about a tenth of the size in terms of numbers) will be held just a few miles west of where we live and they have a Summer of Love theme going on this year. Darling daughter and her friends have all acquired “flowers for their hair” and are heading along for the whole camping experience. Mr WIAA and I on the other hand will watch on telly, BBC Alba to be precise, which means the presenters are Gaelic speakers and we won’t even understand what they are saying, but the music will still be great. I do feel a bit aggrieved in that I missed the whole Summer of Love experience first time around because I was too young, and just as there was a resurgence of interest in staging festivals, I was kind of too old and had responsibilities. I really don’t think my middle-aged bones and Mr WIAA’s bladder could cope with the whole camping experience now, especially if it rains, but we do enjoy experiencing it vicariously via the young people.

Our mini Glastonbury is called the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival and looking at the line-up, the band that jumps out at me first is the Pretenders. That would be because they appeared at our aforementioned Students’ Union in 1979, the week they were at No.1 in the UK Singles Chart with Brass In Pocket. A fortuitous booking had obviously been made some time before by the incumbent Union President – Oh yes, that would have been Sky News reporter Glen Oglaza. Back then however (and I really wish I could find a picture but I can’t) he looked just like Frank Zappa. It was 1979 but he was still sporting the look of a Summer of Love hippie. What happened to the hair Glen?

My friend Stuart worked on the student newspaper, The Gaudie, which is the oldest in the UK apparently and got the sought after gig of interviewing Ms Hynde before she went on stage. Chrissie Hynde is one of those timeless looking ladies, a rock chick whose style has changed very little over the decades. Sadly that evening she had decided to cut her trademark long fringe and it had all gone horribly wrong – She was not in the best of moods and the interview was not quite as exciting for the interviewer, as it should have been. A lesson was obviously learnt that night as I don’t remember ever seeing her with anything other the style shown below – She found her look early on and stuck with it.

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Chrissie Hynde with her trademark long fringe

As for darling daughter’s pick for the weekend, she is most looking forward to Twin Atlantic – Not so much psychedelic rock but alternative rock, of the Glaswegian variety. I was introduced to them by her this week and have to say, I am mighty impressed. Last year we had The Proclaimers at Belladrum, those heavily accented twin brothers from Auchtermuchty. This year we are going to have the heavily accented Twin Atlantic – Perfect. Their most successful chart hit so far has been Heart and Soul from 2014 and I look forward to watching them perform it from the comfort of my sofa next weekend!

So, What’s it all about? – One of these days I will have to bite the bullet and head along to Belladrum, just so that I can tick it off the bucket list. I may well need that bucket along with me however as it does have a history of being quite a rain-soaked festival. I could collect water in it to make tea and to wash my hair. It could also be handy for Mr WIAA’s middle-aged bladder (although not all at the same time of course).

I doubt if many of the young people know much at all about the Summer of Love of fifty years ago but no matter, they are young and need to experience everything for the first time, their way. Mobile phones feature heavily at festivals nowadays which would have been inconceivable 50 years ago – No selfies with Frank, Janis, Jimi or Grace back in the day but who knows, maybe Glen Oglaza did get a picture taken with Chrissie Hynde in 1979, before she cut her fringe. Wonder if they keep in touch!

Let’s Go To San Francisco (Belladrum?) Lyrics
(Song by John Carter/Ken Lewis)

Let’s go (let’s go) to San Francisco (let’s go to San Francisco)
Where the flowers grow (flowers grow)
So very high (so high)
Sunshine (sunshine) in San Francisco
(Sunshine in San Francisco)
Makes your mind grow up to the sky.

Lots of sunny (lots of) sunny people
Walking hand in hand(walking hand in hand)
Then a (then a) funny people (funny people)
They have found (they have found) their land.

Let’s go (let’s go) to San Francisco (let’s go to San Francisco)
Where the flowers grow (flowers grow)
So very high (so high)
Sunshine (sunshine) in San Francisco
(Sunshine in San Francisco)
Makes your mind grow up to the sky.

Lots of sunny (lots of) sunny people
Walking hand in hand(walking hand in hand)
Then a (then a) funny people (funny people)
They have found (they have found) their land.

 

Seals and Crofts, England Dan and “We May Never Pass This Way Again”

I am going to dip my toe in the water a little today to see how I get on – Since my somewhat enforced hiatus (I don’t know if it’s actually a thing, but I think I had the equivalent of a “blogging breakdown”), I have read a few comments from my fellow practitioners and had a bit of an epiphany. As John Medd of the eponymously named blog wrote:

“Speaking as someone who has maintained a modest two up two down blog since 2010 you seem, to me anyway, to be worrying needlessly. This is your space so just write what you want to write about, when you want to write about it. Your readership won’t suddenly unsubscribe from your site [if you have a break] and the sky won’t fall in. Believe me.”

Wise words indeed John and taking them on board I am now going to write about something that could perhaps cause the sky to fall in – Yes I’m going to cover the wonderful world of “soft rock”!

Early on in my days of blogging, long before I kind of lost the plot as to what it was all supposed to be about (that would be a nostalgic journey through the tracks of my years), I covered the soft rock classic I’d Really Love To See You Tonight by England Dan and John Ford Coley (link here). My last post before I had a break (or was it a breakdown?) for the summer, featured Summer Breeze by The Isley Brothers which has always been a favourite of mine, but, whilst doing a bit of research as to its provenance I made a wonderful discovery. The song was not indeed written by the Isley Brothers as I had always thought but by the writing duo Seals and Crofts, Jim Seals being the older brother of Dan Seals, or England Dan as he became known because of his great love for the Beatles. Although from Texas, that nickname was given to him by big brother Jim after he briefly affected an English (or was it Liverpudlian?) accent. And this is what my blog was always supposed to be about – Finding out the backstory to the songs and artists of my youth. There is so much more information out there now (ok some might be a bit dubious) but back in the day, all we had was Jackie magazine and a few more worthy publications – We lived in blissful ignorance, which was perhaps a good thing in light of a few revelations of late, but as you may have guessed I am a bit of a rock & pop “facts and figures” aficionado, so for me, this brave new digital world is just perfect.

Incidentally, before I get onto the featured song, I made quite an amazing discovery the other day – If I do a google search for my most viewed posts (purely for research purposes of course) they come right up there at the top of the results page along with a YouTube clip, Wiki, Songfacts and a few lyrics sites. Not bad for someone who only started a year and half ago and although they really didn’t have the time for all this malarkey could often be seen bashing away on their laptop at two in the morning ahead of a busy day at work. If it all ends tomorrow (although hopefully not), I will still have added to the body of websites dedicated to our love affair with the world of late 20th century popular music, a world that has given me much joy over the years, and if you are reading this, most likely to you too.

But I digress. I had always thought that when I started posting again I would simplify matters somewhat and get back to basics. Last year my very first post was about David Bowie, as by chance the day I had decided to start blogging was also the day we heard of his sad demise. This led me to think of that other David Jones, Davy Jones to be precise of Monkees fame, so my next post was about him. By day three I had moved onto another David, this time of the Cassidy variety who was my first teen idol. Yes, I had no followers yet so didn’t have to worry about what was perhaps deemed “cool” or not, and those first posts followed on from each other perfectly. (I hesitate to call it a chain as that has been done around these parts before and a thread I have discovered is the name given to a series, so we’ll just call it a set of “linked posts”.)

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Linked posts!

So, what follows on from Summer Breeze? Well by good fortune I heard a song on the car radio the other day by none other than Seals and Crofts and was immediately smitten by it – Like little brother’s output, the music of Jim Seals and his singing partner Darrell “Dash” Crofts, fitted nicely into the soft rock camp which now seems to have become a bit of a derogatory term but when it comes to rock I have always preferred mine to be of the soft rather than the hard variety anyway (and my listening to be easy as opposed to difficult). These genres and labels we give music truly baffle me as at the end of the day there is music of great quality and music that really is a bit rubbish, but there is also music that just gives lots of pleasure, to lots of people, and this song does that for me. The Carpenters whom I featured recently (link here) also came from the soft rock camp and the passage of time, and Karen’s tragic death, seems to have erased any preconceptions many had about their output – When it comes to music of quality, it doesn’t get much better than The Carpenters.

We May Never Pass This Way (Again) by Seals and Crofts:

The song We May Never Pass This Way (Again), from 1973, didn’t ever enter the UK Singles Chart but it did reach No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. I can honestly say I don’t remember ever having listened to Seals and Crofts before (neither can Mr WIAA) but theirs was very much the kind of music that was all pervasive during my teenage years. Originating in southern California, soft rock was a style that largely featured acoustic guitars and slow-to-mid tempos – Simple, melodic songs with big, lush productions. I very much doubt if we called it soft rock back then but when listening to the radio from the early ’70s onward much of what we heard was by bands and artists such as Anne Murray, John Denver, Linda Ronstadt, Rod Stewart, Carole King, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Toto, England Dan & John Ford Coley, the Eagles, Chicago, America and the reformed Fleetwood Mac whose “Rumours” was the best-selling album of the decade. In the late ’70s, prominent soft rock acts included Boz Scaggs, Michael McDonald, Christopher Cross and Captain & Tennille. A lot of albums were brought in to school and exchanged amongst friends for the very naughty practice of home-taping – Good to know such illicit activity doesn’t happen today!

Since we are featuring big brother Jim’s song in this post, I can’t leave little brother Dan out, so here is another soft rock delight, this time from the late ’70s. Love Is The Answer was written by Todd Rundgren and was a hit for England Dan and John Ford Coley in 1979. Although I loved this soundtrack to my teenage years, we weren’t really awash with visuals in those days and YouTube was still a few decades away – This sounds really shallow but I am quite glad now as somehow these lush love-songs sound better when you don’t think of the moustachioed pair who sang them. My bedroom walls at the time might have had an array of good-looking boys on them, but when it just came down to the lyrics, who wouldn’t want “a ticket to paradise“?

So, “What’s it all about?” – Lots of things actually.

First of all, I have missed blogging dreadfully so as long as I remember that it is indeed my space, to do with what I want, there should be no problem. Unlike with a paid job there are no deadlines, only the ones that are self-inflicted. Oh yes, and there are apparently “no guilty pleasures” in music (although we do have to remind ourselves of that one an awful lot, which leads me to suppose there actually are, but I’ll keep on peddling the myth).

Secondly, the lyrics to the featured song have really struck a cord with me. Ok, some of the lines make little sense and probably just sounded right for the melody, but the basic premise is that we only get one shot at life and at the moment I am definitely wearing too many hats, so in order to sort my life out, one will have to go. As it turns out, getting rid of the chapeau de bloggeur seems not to be an option, so it will have to be one of the others. Interesting times.

car share

Thirdly (odd word), just as Kayleigh Kitson realised in Peter Kay’s Car Share (link here), “we may never pass this way again”, so she came out and declared her love for John, which was a very brave thing to do but had she not she might have regretted it for the rest of her life. I would have done the same in her position and in my late twenties, a few “declarations” were made, just in case. Unfortunately, 30 years on, a couple of the recipients of such declarations have turned up in this new-fangled “smarter office” setup I have going on at work (for that read packing four times as many people into the same space). Fortunately we have all moved on and have families of our own now, but there is still perhaps a slight twinge of embarrassment as you bump into them whilst casually hydrating at the water cooler of a morning – I just hope that the passage of time, and loss of hair follicles (for them, not me), has blanked out the memory of it all!

Finally, I know I said that I wouldn’t return until August but I do seem to have (thanks to Mr Medd, Jez and a few others) a better perspective now on this pastime called blogging – If I don’t always have the time to visit the other blogs I follow, and leave a comment or two, it’s because I’m still wearing “all the hats”. Once I dispense with one (or two?), that rare commodity called “spare time” might reappear in my life. I look forward to that day with relish.

Until next time….

We May Never Pass This Way (Again) Lyrics
(Song by Jim Seals/Dash Crofts)

Life, so they say, is but a game and we let it slip away.
Love, like the Autumn sun, should be dyin’ but it’s only just begun.
Like the twilight in the road up ahead, they don’t see just where we’re goin’.
And all the secrets in the Universe, whisper in our ears

And all the years will come and go, take us up, always up.
We may never pass this way again. We may never pass this way again.
We may never pass this way again.
Dreams, so they say, are for the fools and they let ’em drift away.

Peace, like the silent dove, should be flyin’ but it’s only just begun.
Like Columbus in the olden days, we must gather all our courage.
Sail our ships out on the open sea. Cast away our fears
And all the years will come and go, and take us up, always up.

We may never pass this way again. We may never pass this way again.
We may never pass this way again.
So, I want to laugh while the laughin’ is easy. I want to cry if it makes it worthwhile.
We may never pass this way again, that’s why I want it with you.

‘Cause, you make me feel like I’m more than a friend.
Like I’m the journey and you’re the journey’s end.

We may never pass this way again, that’s why I want it with you, baby.
We may never pass this way again. We may never pass this way again.
We may never pass this way again. We may never pass this way again

The Isley Brothers, Summer Breeze and Time for a Holiday!

It was only supposed to be for a year, a year when I did something just for me for a change, but I kept on going…… and going…… and going. Although the plan was simply to write an occasional post about a random song from my past, it’s kind of grown arms and legs of late and I’ve being enjoying it all just a little bit too much!

BUT

1.5 years on

150 posts published

500 plus views per week

…… it’s definitely time for a short break as I have become seriously addicted – I’ve mentioned this before and the feedback was that as an addiction it’s one of the least harmful ones, which is true, but when it adversely impacts on the rest of your life it’s definitely time to indulge in a bit of cold turkey. It has now become apparent that I have let too many other things slide over the past year and poor Mr WIAA’s business (which I supposedly manage for him) is being sorely neglected – Here are a couple of the lovely things he can make, but because of the blogging, I haven’t spent nearly enough time marketing them for him of late so now it’s time to right that wrong.

I have tried the whole cold turkey thing before but this time I need to be a bit more disciplined, so if I suddenly pop up on your sidebar you have full permission to castigate me for falling off the wagon. My American Odyssey series of posts has led me to New York City which is a fine, if possibly hot and stuffy, place to spend the summer – I can indulge my fantasy of living the life of New York columnist Carrie Bradshaw in her brownstone Manhattan apartment. Failing that, it will simply have to be a summer spent at my castle in the Scottish Highlands (joke).

balmoral
Balmoral Castle!

But which song to include before I have bit of a holiday? – An easy call actually as I have been trying to shoehorn it in for a while now but Summer Breeze by The Isley Brothers is one of my all-time favourite songs and it was included on the playlist I put together for last week’s summer solstice get-together in the garden.

Summer Breeze by The Isley Brothers:

This Seals and Crofts cover was released in 1974 and reached No. 16 in the UK Singles Chart. The Isley Brothers were one of the first black groups to form their own label and managed, with the help of early member Jimi Hendrix, to inject rock influences into their music. I have however just made a wonderful discovery – Jim Seals, one of the writers of this song, is the older brother of Dan Seals otherwise known as England Dan of England Dan and John Ford Coley fame. One of the very first posts in this blog was about the song I’d Really Love To See You Tonight which is also a favourite of mine (link here). Considering that song also references a warm summer breeze, I feel as if I’ve come full circle!

So “What’s It All About?” – Sometimes we need to take some time out in order to redress the balance in our lives. I think I probably spend a good 20 hours a week on the blogosphere and it’s a 20 hours I just don’t have at the moment – I hope to return fully refreshed in August.

Until next time….. enjoy that summer breeze, “blowing through the jasmine in your mind”.

I know I will.

Summer Breeze Lyrics
(Song by Darrell Crofts/Jim Seals)

See the curtains hangin’ in the window, in the evenin’ on a Friday night
A little light a-shinin’ through the window, lets me know everything is alright

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind

See the paper layin’ in the sidewalk, a little music from the house next door
So I walked on up to the doorstep, through the screen and across the floor

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind

Sweet days of summer, the jasmine’s in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune
And I come home from a hard day’s work
And you’re waiting there, not a care in the world
See the smile a-waitin’ in the kitchen, food cookin’ and the plates for two
Feel the arms that reach out to hold me, in the evening when the day is through

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind

Barbra, Ariana and Carly – A Week of Highs and Lows

Well, emotional times indeed.

First of all it’s Chelsea Flower Show week and back at the beginning of this week I had fully intended to perhaps write a heart-warming story about my dad, who in my opinion, had one of the nicest gardens in our village – It was small but perfectly formed and just about all the plants were grown from seed in his greenhouse. I thought I’d include a few pictures and find an appropriate florally-inclined song to accompany the post. Having already shared Barbra Streisand’s duets with both Kris Kristofferson and Barry Gibb, it was perhaps time to revisit the duet she recorded with Neil Diamond.

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers by Barbra and Neil:

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers (Any More) was actually a song about a couple who have drifted apart but somehow, taken literally, that song title really struck a cord with me this week. My dad died back in 2003 but prior to that he always used to arrive on this, the last week of May, with scores of bedding plants for my garden as he always produced way more than were needed. His green fingers meant that I too ended up with a colourful summer garden but of course since 2003 there have been no trays of bedding plants which is what made me think of that song. (Pictures from Dad’s garden below.)

Secondly, on Monday night before going to bed, I spotted a Facebook update from one of darling daughter’s best friends (so close she features on his FB profile photo). He was in Manchester at the Ariana Grande concert and it was obvious there was much excitement in the air. I knew very little about Ariana Grande before this week but now of course we have all heard of her and not for the reasons she would have ever wanted. It appears she started off in musical theatre which led on to a role in a very popular Nickelodeon television show and from there to life as a recording artist. She is very, very pretty (in a Cheryl Tweedy/Cole/Fernandez-Versini kind of way) which always helps, and although much has been made of her fan base being teenage girls, I know from personal experience that she is also much loved by young gay men. Fortunately, the young gay man we know who went to the concert came to no harm on Monday night but of course the same cannot be said for those in the foyer area who found themselves at the mercy of a happening I find very hard to comprehend.

manchester

The people of Manchester have shown themselves to be predictably strong, caring and full of community spirit, with many stories of random acts of kindness unfolding in the course of the week. From taxi drivers to homeless people to nurses to schoolchildren, everyone rallied round. Life must go on as before and that great city has certainly shown that they will be doing just that (some even grudgingly applauding the fact that Man U won their match on Wednesday night). The electioneering all had to grind to a halt for a while for which I was grateful – Coming from Scotland we have now had five trips to the ballot box in just over two and a half years and for once I will not be staying up all night to watch the results come in. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m all electioned-out.

Ariana Grande herself has announced she is to return for a benefit concert in aid of the bereaved families and I’ve just had a quick delve into the music database to see if we have anything of hers stored there – It appears that we do, from back in 2013, before darling daughter went down different music purchasing avenues. Having just listened to it and watched the video, I don’t feel I can include it however, as just a bit too raunchy for this place but in the meantime here is Ariana on the Jimmy Fallon show doing some of her great musical impressions. I do think this young lady is going to have a hard time dealing with what happened on Monday night so I really hope she gets the support she will no doubt need.

Finally, this week we heard of the death of Roger Moore. He was 89 so not one of those shock deaths we had got so used to hearing about last year, but still the end of an era for those of us who remembered him well as The Saint, Lord Brett Sinclair and of course as the most light-hearted, comedic James Bond of them all. Last year I wrote a post about Bond themes (Bond Themes and Nancy Sinatra) and ranked them by personal preference. Although You Only Live Twice came at the top, it is interesting to note that the next three were from the Roger Moore era so perhaps a bit of a golden age, if not for the franchise, for the theme song. (We’ll not mention Moonraker however which came at the bottom of my list!)

thQY1FAW1J

Not in the mood at the moment for the big production number that is Live and Let Die nor for Sheena Easton so instead I’ll end this meandering post with the theme song to the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me, which was Roger’s third outing as Bond. Nobody Does It Better was composed by Marvin Hamlisch, the lyrics were by Carole Bayer Sager and it was performed by Carly Simon. It was the first theme song with a title that was different from the name of the film and for many, nobody did Bond better than Roger.

Nobody Does It Better by Carly Simon:

So, “What’s It All About?” – Despite the fact that this week has turned out to be one of great sadness, it has also provided a fair few highs as well. Because our back garden is now a much more open space with fewer bedding plants, it is perfect as a gathering place for the young people, who held an impromptu get-together to welcome the return of their friend from Manchester, unscathed. The weather has also been absolutely glorious over the last few days so tonight there is to be a party in another garden to celebrate a neighbour’s 90th birthday. Poor Roger didn’t make it to 90 but Albert has, and although he didn’t ever drive a Lotus Esprit or meet Barbara Bach, he did once serve Princess Margaret breakfast in bed. Yes, you don’t get to be an nonagenarian without having a fair few tales to tell and that one is perhaps again, for another day!

Until next time….

Nobody Does It Better Lyrics
(Song by Marvin Hamlisch/Carole Bayer Sager)

Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, you’re the best

I wasn’t looking
But somehow you found me
It tried to hide from your love light
But like Heaven above me
The spy who loved me
Is keeping all my secrets safe tonight

And nobody does it better

Though sometimes I wish someone could
Nobody does it quite the way you do
Why’d you have to be so good?

The way that you hold me
Whenever you hold me
There’s some kind of magic inside you
That keeps me from running
But just keep it coming
How’d you learn to do the things you do?

And nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, baby, darlin’, you’re the best

Baby, you’re the best
Darlin’, you’re the best