NaPoWriMo, The Crusaders and “Street Life” (Or Rather The Lack Of It)

Well, how are we all doing? A whole new lexicon of words and phrases has entered our vocabulary (self-isolation, social distancing et al) and it somehow feels as if they’ve always been with us, but they really haven’t, it’s just that everyone seems to have adapted overnight to “the new normal”.

I’ve already been for my daily walk and fortunately timed it just right, as yesterday we did not, and ended up traversing the banks of the Caledonian Canal in sheet rain. I was wearing one of those coats with a complicated hood full of channels for cords and toggles. By the time we’d worked out how they kept sheet rain out it was too late, but no matter, I certainly wasn’t going anywhere important where I had to look smart and coiffed, just back home.

Home.

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I spend a lot of time at home in my normal life, so not a big change for me. The big change is that economically I now have no purpose, as my purpose was to help Mr WIAA run his business and to prepare for guests coming to stay in the holiday hideaway. Neither of these businesses can operate in this strange new world of staying at home and social distancing, so all a tad disconcerting. I know we have to stay at home to protect the NHS and to save lives, but my goodness, the fallout will be with us all for many, many years to come and I fear for the younger generation whose job it will be to navigate this brave new world.

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Spread your wings, but not for a while it seems

A very pleasant distraction that came along yesterday was the start of NaPoWriMo – National Poetry Writing Month. Although I am currently a lapsed student, I am still part of a NaPoWriMo FaceBook group, and a fair few efforts have already come in. I shared some of my fellow students’ work last year (link here) as I was really blown away by their poems, having quickly realised it was not a discipline I had any talent for at all. Whenever I did post something it tended to be a comedic tum-ti-tum kind of affair, and true to form, my first contribution this year seems to have gone along the same lines.

A Loo Roll Dystopia

Handed in a story once upon a time
Up for an assessment, thought it would be fine
Looked forward to the outcome, but ’twas a massive fail!
“Too far-fetched… , dystopian” was deemed to be my tale

But that was then, and this is now
And I find myself with furrowed brow
I had foretold what might come to pass
But missed the obsession we’d have with our ass

Paper products stripped from the shelves
Even those in a pack of twelve
When the threat recedes of what came from Hubei
We’ll be trapped inside, by Triple Velvet 3-ply

(I’ll get my coat!)

No mention of music yet in this post, but I am inclined to share a song I heard on the radio last night before heading to bed. Because the home improvements are now in abeyance, I am still holed up in DD’s school bedroom and against all the odds am sleeping better than I have in years, so staying put. Moved in with just a few basics and my clock radio so when Randy Crawford started to sing Street Life, the song she recorded with American jazz band The Crusaders, it really hit home that street life as we know it has all but gone, and we miss it. The song reached No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart in 1979 and represented the peak of the band’s commercial popularity. Randy has appeared around here before as I have always had a great fondness for her voice.

I usually share an audio clip of the featured song but it seems I don’t have The Crusader’s Street Life in my library. What I do have however is another Street Life by Roxy Music, this time from 1973. He certainly was a very dapper chap that Brian Ferry wasn’t he? Again the lyrics are about a world I now know nothing of, bar the suburban streets that run adjacent to where we call home.

Street Life by Roxy Music:

I hope you and those you love stay safe and well. It hasn’t really hit home what we are up against yet here in the North of Scotland, but for any of you who are key workers caught up in the eye of the storm, you have my immense admiration and gratitude for what you are doing.

Until next time….

Street Life Lyrics
(Song by Will Jennings/Joe Sample)

I play the street life
Because there’s no place I can go
Street life
It’s the only life I know
Street life
And there’s a thousand cards to play
Street life
Until you play your life away

You let the people see
Just who you wanna be
And every night you shine
Just like a superstar
The type of life that’s played
A temptin’ masquerade
You dress you walk you talk
You’re who you think you are

Street life
You can run away from time
Street life
For a nickel or a dime
Street life
But you better not get old
Street life
Or you’re gonna feel the cold

There’s always love for sale
A grown up fairy tale
Prince charming always smiles
Behind a silver spoon
And if you keep it young
Your song is always sung
Your love will pay your way
Beneath the silver moon

Street life
Street life
Street life
Oh street life

I play the street life
Because there’s no place I can go
Street life
It’s the only life I know
Street life
And there’s a thousand cards to play
Street life
Until you play your life away – oh

Street life
Street life
Street life
Oh street life

ELO, “Mr Blue Sky” and I Won’t Be Hoarding Toilet Paper As I Have No Toilet!

Tough knowing how to pitch our blog posts at the moment, as yet again things have moved on apace, and we can barely keep up with what is unfolding day by day. After finding a new positive side to my personality this year after a couple of whingey and moany years, I have struggled this week. The virus itself has not really made too much of an impact up here yet on our health services (although I know it will), but of course the measures to contain it have, so it just takes a while to adjust and regroup.

I can’t see my mum at the moment but I have put cards offering help through all the doors of our immediate neighbours, and those others we know who are over 70. Our estate was built just over 40 years ago so many of the original residents still live here and are obviously now in the age group we need to shield, by asking them to self-isolate. A livelier bunch of septuagenarians you would be hard pressed to find, so it’s gonna be tough – We will endeavour to do what we can for them.

DD lost her job this week but hopefully will be joining the ranks of the NHS 111 teams very soon so trying to do her bit. Myself and Mr WIAA certainly have skills that could be invaluable at this time, so we too are ready and willing.

We watched The Last Leg on telly last night which did provide a bit of light relief, however the show ended on a serious note and it definitely struck home. The team made the point that at this difficult time we will be sorely tested – We should endeavour not to behave like the lawyer in Jurassic Park who runs off to hide in the toilet, but try to behave responsibly and help others in whatever way we can, directly or indirectly.

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Gennaro the Jurassic Park lawyer.

And here is a moment of levity in this sombre post. There is no chance of me running off to my toilet anyway, as this week, of all weeks, was the one we were scheduled to have a new shower room put in. Here is a picture of what my bedroom looks like at the moment! It is due to be finished next week but with things changing at such a pace, starting to wonder if that will be possible.

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Where has the toilet gone?

Believe it or not there is a very close connection between the current state of my shower room and this blog, specifically my Full Moon Calendar In Song series. 25 years ago I worked for the NHS myself, although not on the frontline. For 5 years I shared an office with RJ who has provided me with so many great pictures of the moon for my series. We both left our jobs at around the same time – I gave birth to DD and became a full-time mum, whilst RJ went on to try his hand at an array of new professions. Somehow, he ended up becoming the installer of fabulous kitchens and bathrooms and our paths have now crossed again at this most unusual and uncertain of times. Yes, he liked his coffee back then and he still likes it now!

I am at a loss to know what to share musically, but as yesterday was the Spring Equinox I am reminded of the little film we made a couple of years ago on the dashcam. I’m sleeping in DD’s school bedroom at the moment whilst the work is going on, and as her bed is situated right by the window, I woke up yesterday to beautiful blue skies and birdsong. For a few seconds I forgot that life as we know it has totally changed at the moment and might never quite return to what it was ever again. Nature is having a well-earned break from the worst effects of what we as a race have been throwing at it. If you can, I urge you to go out and enjoy a brisk walk. Really listen to the birds and check out what Mother Nature gives us at this time of year.

Until next time…. Hope you and your loved ones stay safe and well.

Mr. Blue Sky Lyrics
(Song by Jeff Lynne)

Morning! Today’s forecast calls for blue skies

Sun is shining in the sky

There ain’t a cloud in sight
It’s stopped raining
Everybody’s in a play
And don’t you know
It’s a beautiful new day
Hey ay ay!

Runnin’ down the avenue

See how the sun shines brightly
In the city
On the streets where once was pity
Mr. Blue
Sky is living here today
Hey ay ay!

Mr. Blue Sky

Please tell us why
You had to hide away
For so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey you with the pretty face

Welcome to the human race
A celebration
Mr. Blue Sky’s up there waitin’
And today
Is the day we’ve waited for
Ooorrr

Oh, Mr. Blue Sky

Please tell us why
You had to hide away
For so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey there Mr. Blue

We’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everybody smiles at you

Alyson’s Archive #7 – 10cc, “I’m Not In Love”

Things are a bit grim, so we need a bit of a distraction. Welcome back 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 it would be because 2020 is turning out to be the year when everything changed. Let’s hark back to simpler times.

We’re journeying back to March 1976 when I picked up my monthly copy of Words Magazine. On the cover of that edition were 10cc, and on page 3, we get to hear a little more about our cover stars.

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I do sometimes (always?) ramble on a bit around here, but no need for that this time as I recognise some people actually drop by for the tunes. One of my favourite films is Guardians of the Galaxy and it was on telly on Saturday night as a replacement for the rugby which didn’t go ahead. One of the “stars” of that film is the mixtape made for our hero by his mother, full of her favourite songs from the 1970s. The opening scene shows the young Peter listening to his Walkman, and the song playing is I’m Not In Love.

I’m Not In Love by 10cc:

There is a half hour documentary in the BBC iPlayer archives about the making of this one song, so I urge you to seek it out. Written by band members Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman, it has a really distinctive backing track, composed mostly of the band’s multitracked vocals. Released in May 1975, it became the second of the group’s three number-one singles in the UK and was our smooching song of choice at my local youth club disco. Written mostly by Stewart as a reply to his wife’s declaration that he did not tell her often enough that he loved her (he really did), it was originally played on guitars, but the other two members of the band, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, disliked the track and it was abandoned. Stewart persuaded the group to give the song another chance and they ending up creating a new version using just voices.

Until next time….

I’m Not In Love Lyrics
(Song by Eric Stewart/Graham Gouldman)

I’m not in love
So don’t forget it
It’s just a silly phase I’m going through
And just because
I call you up
Don’t get me wrong, don’t think you’ve got it made
I’m not in love, no no, it’s because..

I like to see you
But then again
That doesn’t mean you mean that much to me
So if I call you
Don’t make a fuss
Don’t tell your friends about the two of us
I’m not in love, no no, it’s because..

I keep your picture
Upon the wall
It hides a nasty stain that’s lying there
So don’t you ask me
To give it back
I know you know it doesn’t mean that much to me
I’m not in love, no no, it’s because..

Ooh you’ll wait a long time for me
Ooh you’ll wait a long time
Ooh you’ll wait a long time for me
Ooh you’ll wait a long time

I’m not in love
So don’t forget it
It’s just a silly phase I’m going through
And just because I call you up
Don’t get me wrong, don’t think you’ve got it made
I’m not in love
I’m not in love

Rock & Pop Family Trees, The Easybeats and “Friday On My Mind”

When I was young, and worked in offices, I couldn’t wait for the weekend to come. From this end of the telescope I really want time to slow down a bit more, as the weekend comes round just too quickly (although always a treat to have another edition of Rol’s Saturday Snapshots). Last year I dashed off a quick poem about this phenomenon for my writing class and it made reference to three songs. As I was the most mature (chronologically) of all the students in my group, no-one recognised the songs, but I’m pretty sure regular visitors to this place will pick them out easily.

I Don’t Like Fridays

Always used to have Friday on my mind
Start of the weekend
The promise (often unfulfilled)
of exciting times ahead

Now it comes round too quickly
Another hundred and sixty eight hours gone
Whoa time, slow down,
you move too fast

Boomtown Bob didn’t like Mondays
Now I want Monday to last forever
So much left to do
So little time…

Friday On My Mind by the Easybeats:

Back then I realised I knew very little about Australian group the Easybeats who had a big hit in 1966 with Friday On My Mind, so I did a little research, and as often happens around here I discovered a fascinating rock and pop family tree.

This winter has been quite mild here in Scotland but back in 1962-63 we had what was called The Big Freeze, the worst winter on record, with snow lying eight feet deep. A TV advert at the time offered assisted travel to families who fancied a new life in Australia, and 15 members of the Young family from Glasgow moved there in June 1963. One of their sons was George Young who went on to form the Easybeats. His younger brothers Malcolm and Angus went on to form AC/DC a decade later. The Easybeats disbanded in 1969 but then in 1976 George got together with his old bandmate Harry Vanda to form new wave group Flash and the Pan.

Had the winter of 1962-63 been a mild one none of these bands might ever have existed. The family initially stayed at Villawood Immigration Detention Centre on the outskirts of Sydney which was where George Young met and became friends with another migrant, Dutchman Harry Vanda, and together they formed the Easybeats. Malcolm and Angus Young then developed the idea for their band. The name came about after their sister Margaret saw the initials “AC/DC” on her sewing machine. The brothers felt this name symbolised the raw energy and power-driven performances of their music. It was she who also came up with the very memorable schoolboy outfit for Angus Young.

I can’t pretend to be a fan of AC/DC but of course I know of their musical output, although probably attributed more to having watched the film School of Rock several times. I can’t pretend to be a fan of Jack Black either, as he always comes across as just a bit too manic for my liking, but that kind of characterisation was just what was needed for this film. (Fast forward to 2:30 for the best bit in this clip.)

The song Waiting For A Train by Flash and the Pan (George and Harry’s new wave band) was the one that did best in the UK Singles Chart. It reached the No. 7 spot in 1983.

So, “What’s It All About? – I know there are lots of you who still long for the weekend but trust me, once you get to my age, you do want the week to slow down a bit more.

As for the song Friday On My Mind, Harry Vanda described it as reminiscent of the days when the band members lived in hostels in Sydney as “new Australians”. They longed for the end of the week because that’s when the fun began. The song has quite a build-up and after the opening cymbal crash, its just a staccato guitar for the next 20 seconds where the lead vocalist runs through the days of the week, explaining why Monday to Thursday doesn’t excite him. The bass finally comes in as he gets closer to the weekend. 30 seconds into the song we hit Friday, and the drums come in to play.

Well, that’s Saturday Snapshots played and my Saturday blogpost written. Better head off now and achieve meaningful things, as before we know it, it’ll be Friday again. Argh.

Until next time….

Friday On My Mind Lyrics
(Song by George Young/Harry Vanda)

Monday mornin’ feels so bad
Ev’rybody seems to nag me
Comin’ Tuesday I feel better
Even my old man looks good
Wed’sday just don’t go
Thursday goes too slow
I’ve got Friday on my mind

Gonna have fun in the city
Be with my girl, she’s so pretty
She looks fine tonight
She is out of sight to me
Tonight I’ll spend my bread, tonight
I’ll lose my head, tonight
I’ve got to get to night
Monday I’ll have Friday on my mind

Do the five day grind once more
I know of nothin’ else that bugs me
More than workin’ for the rich man
Hey! I’ll change that scene one day
Today I might be mad, tomorrow I’ll be glad
‘Cause I’ll have Friday on my mind

An Unlikely Chart Topper: Lee Marvin and “Wand’rin’ Star”

I really enjoyed my return to the world of blogging last weekend after a month’s break. I was also pleasantly surprised that my featured song by Edison Lighthouse proved to be such a favourite with so many of you, as I hadn’t expected that at all. I have ended up returning to the UK Singles Chart of 1970 for these first two posts of the new decade, and both songs have been really enjoyable to research and write about. I thought it might be an idea for this calendar year to revisit that chart once a month (a kind of 50-year-retrospective) but you know what, I can’t wait another month to dip into the archives again because the March 1970 No. 1 single was Wand’rin’ Star by Lee Marvin.

I’ve often mentioned around here that the songs hitting the top spot are not always representative of what we were listening to at the time at all – Oh no, it’s often a song that became a hit because of its association with a prime time television show or blockbuster movie. All those people who would never normally go out and buy records suddenly do so, and it invariably skews the chart keeping what are now thought of as pop classics off the top spot.

Wand’rin’ Star by Lee Marvin:

But, I really do have a soft spot for this song. It was from the film Paint Your Wagon released in 1969 which was one of only two films I went to see at the cinema with my parents (the other being The Sound of Music). Living nearly 30 miles away from the nearest cinema it wasn’t something we ever did as a family, but I think we were on holiday at the time in the south of Scotland, and it being July it was probably wet, so the decision must have been made to hole up for the afternoon watching a film we were all familiar with because of Mr Marvin’s regular appearances on TOTP. I have featured a few really deep voices around here over the years (Barry White, Johnny Cash…. ) but surely Lee must have had the deepest voice of all. It was described, by co-star Jean Seberg, as “like rain gurgling down a rusty pipe” and has also been described as “the first 33⅓ recorded at 45” – Seems about right.

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Paint Your Wagon was a Western, but also a Musical, and it wasn’t really a box-office success, never recouping its cost of production and marketing. Just not the kind of thing people wanted to go and see in 1970 it seems. Musicals of this sort had gone out of fashion and as this Simpson’s clip shows, it had something of a split personality, neither working for rootin’, tootin’, shootin’ western lovers, or lovers of the more sedate musical.

I don’t think Lee ever released any more records but continued to work as an actor right up until his death in 1987. He starred in many classic movies such as The Dirty Dozen and Cat Ballou, winning the 1965 Best Actor Oscar for his role in that film.

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Lee Marvin, 1924-1987

I do remember my mum being a bit concerned, after leaving the cinema, that there had been things in Paint Your Wagon I wouldn’t understand. Yes, there was a fair bit of bodice-ripping and all the excitement of kidnapping “six French tarts” in order to provide the miners with female companionship (There’s a Coach Comin’ In), but even at age ten I wasn’t totally green, just mortified at having to sit beside my parents whilst watching such fodder. Funny, but looking back, the only two films watched in a cinema with my family were about a nun called Maria, and a wind called Maria (albeit pronounced differently) – Cue one last link to a song from the film!

Until next time….

Wand’rin’ Star Lyrics
(Song by Frederick Loewe/Alan Jay Lerner)

I was born under a wanderin’ star.
I was born under a wanderin’ star.

Wheels are made for rollin’, mules are made to pack.
I’ve never seen a site that didn’t look better lookin’ back.

I was born under a wanderin’ star.

Mud can make you prisoner and the plains can bake you dry.
Snow can burn your eyes but only people make you cry.
Home is made for comin’ from, for dreams of goin’ to.
Which with any luck will never come true.

I was born under a wanderin’ star.
I was born under a wanderin’ star.

Do I know where hell is, hell is in hell-o.
Heaven is good-bye forever it’s time for me to go.

I was born under a wanderin’ star, a wanderin’, wanderin’ star.

Mud can make you prisoner and the plains can bake you dry.
Snow can burn your eyes but only people make you cry.
Home is made for comin’ from, for dreams of goin’ to.
Which with any luck will never come true.

I was born under a wanderin’ star.
I was born under a wanderin’ star.

When I get to heaven tie me to a tree.
Or I’ll begin to roam and soon you’ll know where I will be.

I was born under a wanderin’ star.
A wanderin’, wanderin’ star.

Tony Burrows, “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” and A Five Times One-Hit Wonder!

My last offering was over a month ago now and back then it was clear I was feeling a bit sad, and none too optimistic about what this new decade might bring. Since then however: the days have been getting longer (I celebrated Imbolc last weekend, the start of Spring according the pagan calendar); the St John’s Wort has kicked in (try it); the ongoing division over Brexit is in effect behind us, as Boris did eventually “get it done”; we now have a plan as to how we’re going to earn our living until the pensions kick in; and joy of joys, DD is at home for the weekend. She’s heading off shortly to meet friends for lunch so it gives me some time to bash away on the computer for a wee while.

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My Imbolc shrine – Yes that’s milk and yes it went off!

Also, since last time, I received one of these badges from the WordPress people as it was my blog’s 4th birthday. Because I pay an annual fee to keep this place going, and I don’t want to lose everything I’ve posted over the last few years, I’ve just paid my dues for another 12 months. My output seems to be reducing year on year but I’m not ready to call it a day yet.

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I’ve really enjoyed my digital detox over the last few weeks, but I live in the real world so it can’t continue for much longer. If you ever get the chance however, give it a whirl – I’ve read several books, knitted three (small) garments and not had to experience Facebook envy at all!

But what is it I usually say at this point? Ah yes, this is supposed to be a music blog so where is the song? About that. Heading into my fifth year of blogging I just want to remind everyone that I am by no means a muso and just enjoy revisiting the chart music of my youth, and being able to find out so much more about the song/singer than was available at the time. I used to pride myself on being a Pop Quiz Queen but have often never heard of the artists shared by many of the music bloggers on my sidebar. I thank them in return for adding me to their sidebars and can only apologise that my featured songs are perhaps not always of the “cool” persuasion.

So, which “uncool” song will be featured this time? Exactly 50 years ago this week, the song at the top of the UK Singles Chart was Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) by Edison Lighthouse, a one-hit wonder put together from a group of session musicians. Tony Burrows was the lead singer and I have only just discovered that he has appeared in this blog before as one of The Flower Pot Men who recorded Let’s Go To San Francisco.

Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) by Edison Lighthouse:

I have fond memories of this song as it would have been in the charts when I was aged around 10, and really into catchy pop tunes. Along with the Archies’ Sugar Sugar and Christie’s Yellow River (also one-hit wonders), this was one of the songs we sang on our way to school and in the back seat of the car when going on long journeys with my cousins. Oh how we loved to slide around the shiny leather seats of my grandad’s car way before anyone thought having seatbelts might be a good idea.

But getting back to Tony Burrows of Edison Lighthouse fame, he is the only artist to have appeared in four different episodes of TOTP twice, with different bands. Back in 1970, many, many bands were made up of session singers who changed personnel regularly. Just at the same time Love Grows was a massive hit, Tony sang on the White Plains’ song My Baby Loves Lovin’, The Brotherhood of Man’s United We Stand and The Pipkins’ novelty song Gimme Dat Ding (less said about that one the better). Later on he sang lead on The First Class hit Beach Baby. Tony is the only artist to have been a “one-hit wonder” 5 times. As I often say around here, every day’s a school day.

Well, that’s me broken the back of this, my fifth year of blogging. I seem to be getting less prolific year on year and can’t promise to visit all the other blogs as frequently as I used to as earning my living really has to take priority, but putting this effort together wasn’t too hard in the end. It certainly can be fun revisiting the “tracks of our years” and nothing wrong with a bit of pure pop to raise the spirits from time to time.

Until next time….

Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) Lyrics
(Song by Tony Macaulay/Barry Mason/Sylvan Mason)

She ain’t got no money
Her clothes are kinda funny
Her hair is kinda wild and free
Oh, but Love grows where my Rosemary goes
And nobody knows like me

She talks kinda lazy
And people say she she’s crazy
And her life’s a mystery
Oh, but Love grows where my Rosemary goes
And nobody knows like me

There’s something about her hand holding mine
It’s a feeling that’s fine
And I just gotta say
She’s really got a magical spell
And it’s working so well
That I can’t get away

I’m a lucky fella
And I’ve just got to tell her
That I love her endlessly
Because Love grows where my Rosemary goes
And nobody knows like me

There’s something about her hand holding mine
It’s a feeling that’s fine
And I just gotta say
She’s really got a magical spell
And it’s working so well
That I can’t get away

I’m a lucky fella
And I’ve just got to tell her
That I love her endlessly
Because Love grows where my Rosemary goes
And nobody knows like me

Kenny Rogers, “Ruby” and A Tentative Peek Into 2020

I have been putting off writing this, my first post of the new calendar year, as somehow my foray into the world of blogging has coincided with the world going to hell in a handbasket. I know this has nothing to do with me and my little blog, but weird how things have worked out, both closer to home and in the world at large.

Can it really be that only four years ago we were still very much in the EU; Barrack Obama was at the helm in the US; David Bowie, George Michael and Prince were still with us; Mr WIAA and I both had jobs we enjoyed; my mum was well and living independently; my back, neck and shoulders didn’t ache all the time; and my daughter lived in a flat just round the corner? None of these things now apply. Also, we seem to be on the verge of war, and one of our continents is on fire.

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My blog’s timeline

Heading into a new decade, can I really still justify spending most of my free time researching, and writing about, the pop music of my youth? I admit to having lost much of my joie de vivre of late and I know this has been reflected in my blogging which was always meant to be light-hearted and fun. It’s just really tough trying to stay upbeat at the moment, but I suppose we must try.

Looking at my sidebar on the right, I have a long list of categories that seem to have built up over the years. The first ones on the list are the decades from which the songs I write about come. Looks as if there will have to be a new decade added soon, as although on a technicality it seems we are not actually in the 2020s yet, I think most of us would agree it makes sense for us to think of it as such. The decade I seem to have revisited more often than any other around here is the 1970s which is probably the decade I spent most time listening to, and obsessing over, chart music. Perhaps then, in order to get past this obstacle of publishing my first post of the year, I should look back at what we were listening to 50 years ago just as a new decade was dawning.

Well, well, maybe things haven’t changed that much after all – The song at the top of the UK Singles Chart on the 6th January 1970 was actually the very first single I ever bought with my own money, yet it is one (look it up here) I have never been able to admit to around here, as the artist involved spent a fair bit of time residing At Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

Time to move on then and joy of joys, the record at the No. 2 spot was one of the best story songs ever written, Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town performed by the wonderful Kenny Rogers when he was still with The First Edition.

Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town by Kenny Rogers and The First Edition:

Took me a while to recognise Kenny in that clip as many of us are more used to his silver fox appearance in the later stages of his career. His very distinctive, understated vocals are perfect for this song however, and I especially love the sound patterning in this line (even Kenny has a sly grin as he sings it):
And the wants and the needs of a woman your age, Ruby, I realize

The percussion accompanying this line is also just perfect and mimics the footsteps outside the door:
She’s leaving now ’cause I just heard the slamming of the door

Less said about this next line the better. Suffice to say not to be recommended:
And if I could move I’d get my gun and put her in the ground

And finally he almost whispers:
…. for God’s sakes turn around

Because of the timeline, it’s assumed the crazy Asian war they refer to in the song is the Vietnam War so yet again maybe things haven’t changed so much after all. Maybe it’s just that in 1970 my life was as yet unaffected by the kind of stuff we worry about as adults.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I wasn’t sure if I would be able to carry on blogging this year as it seems somehow frivolous to write about pop music when life just seems to be getting tougher year on year. Then again, as it’s often mentioned around here, it can be a real stress-buster and possibly I’ve just had one too many personal knocks of late which has coloured my view of the world. Also, as I’ve just discovered by revisiting the music charts of 1970, back then we had songs about wars happening on the other side of the world and songs by artists who were later found to be sexual predators of the worst kind. Maybe it’s time to concentrate on doing the best for our families, friends and community, and not worry too much about the stuff we can do little about. We have to hope that humanity wins out in the end.

Kenny_Rogers_&_the_First_Edition_-_Ruby,_Don't_Take_Your_Love_to_Town

Until next time….  Happy New Year (I think).

Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town Lyric
(Song by Mel Tillis)

You’ve painted up your lips and rolled and curled your tinted hair
Ruby, are you contemplating going out somewhere?
The shadow on the wall tells me the sun is going down

Oh, Ruby,
Don’t take your love to town

It wasn’t me that started that old crazy Asian war
But I was proud to go and do my patriotic chore
And yes, it’s true that I’m not the man I used to be

Oh, Ruby,
I still need some company

It’s hard to love a man whose legs are bent and paralyzed
And the wants and the needs of a woman your age, Ruby, I realize
But it won’t be long I’ve heard them say until I’m not around

Oh, Ruby,
Don’t take your love to town

She’s leaving now ’cause I just heard the slamming of the door
The way I know I’ve heard it slam one hundred times before
And if I could move I’d get my gun and put her in the ground 

Oh, Ruby,
Don’t take your love to town

Oh, Ruby,
for God’s sakes turn around

Postscript:

Interestingly an answer song to Ruby was also released in 1969 by an artist called Geraldine Stevens. Called Billy, I’ve Got To Go To Town the melody is just the same, but this time the lyrics confirm Ruby’s love for her paralysed husband and she pleads for him to have faith in her fidelity. Not a big hit this one, but fascinating how these larger-than-life characters in songs can then spawn new songs, continuing the story-telling. If anyone knows of any other similar answer songs please share, as I’m now kind of intrigued.