A Pesky Pothole, A Trip to A&E and X-Ray Spex

Well it was probably only a matter of time what with all this additional daily walking (for exercise), but in the end it was a pesky gravel-filled pothole that was my (literal) downfall and my left foot is now ensconced inside a muckle great boot. I’m getting used to it all now but it sounds as if I’m going to be out of action for around 4-6 weeks which isn’t great – A lockdown on top of a lockdown. As I’ve never broken a bone before, I’m going to write about my experience here, if nothing else just to remind myself to be more careful in the future (although in reality more likely down to bad luck).

My foot for the next few weeks!

It was a lovely sunny afternoon so we thought we’d fit in the daily walk (for exercise) just after lunch, as Mr WIAA had a really important job to get finished and in the post later on that afternoon. We are lucky enough to have a river flowing through our town with large islands in the middle linked to the banks by a network of ornate bridges. We had parked up at the entrance to the first bridge, traversed the islands, joined the road on the other side and were just on our way back round to the starting point when all of a sudden I found myself sprawled out on the road and in great pain. It being the road along the river, I immediately had visions of cars speeding towards me unable to stop, but thankfully it was a quiet afternoon. I was not dignified at all in my fall from grace, and to Mr WIAA’s great embarrassment I made loud yelping sounds, which caused a couple of teenagers who had been standing nearby to quickly scarper.

Eventually we got my battered little body off the road and towards a low wall where I could take the weight off my obviously distressed ankle. A nice lady stopped to ask after me and said she would stay by my side whilst hubby went to get the car. The blood was by this time seeping through my right trouser leg and my left ankle was really swelling up. She thought we should go to A&E but I suspected Mr WIAA (who hurts himself all the time and just brushes it off) would think I was being a big baby…, and I was right. When he eventually got back with the car all he could think of was the job he had to get in the post, so we thanked the kind lady (who was a carer by profession – makes sense) and headed home.

Getting inside the house was a real effort as the drive is narrow and getting out of the car was difficult. The steps up to the front door were a bit of a hindrance too but once on the sofa with an ice pack on my ankle and a dressing on my knee (which refused to stop bleeding), I started to feel a bit better. The priority was “the job” however which I understood – As anyone who is self-employed will know, fulfilling deadlines is of paramount importance and a happy customer will return. Once back from the post office, hubby had another look at the ankle and decided it was probably a sprain although by this time DD had been messaged and was keen for us to visit A&E, just in case.

By 6pm the ankle was still very swollen, and although I’d managed to change into a pair of clean trousers the knee was still spurting blood, so I somehow managed to get into the back of the car with the aid of one of my mum’s old walking sticks and we headed up to our local hospital. During these covid times it’s all a bit different, and difficult. The injured person is the only one allowed in, so I had to mask up, use the hand sanitiser whilst balancing on one leg, and then manfully make my way to the reception area. I told the girl what had happened and she in turn told me to “take a seat”. Easy for you to say I thought.

Fortunately it was really quiet, but maybe it’s quiet all the time now, what with everyone working from home and people scared to go anywhere near a hospital. I got called over to a side room where we naturally had to go through all the covid screening questions re coughs, temperatures etc. Once finished there, I was again told to “take a seat”. Easy for you to say I thought.

In no time at all a wheelchair appeared (hallelujah) and I was taken along a labyrinth of newly built, covid-safe, chipboard corridors linking the waiting room to an area in the main hospital, where I got the once-over. An X-ray was required which was a relief as we would at least find out what had really happened. As I’d suspected my ankle had been fractured and a bone had been chipped, so off I went to get fitted with a support boot and have my knee seen to. It all happened in record time and so fast I forgot to ask all the pertinent questions, but it seems they want you in and out at the speed of light at the moment which is understandable, and high praise indeed to our wonderfully efficient NHS.

Back in the waiting room sitting in my wheelchair I phoned Mr WIAA, who had naturally just arrived home, thinking I might be some time. He turned and came straight back and was allowed in to wheel me out to the car. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t wearing one of those, “I told you so,” looks on my face but I said nothing. Getting into the house was easier this time, what with the boot, but not being able to bend my right knee was proving troublesome as it has remained for the rest of the week. I can sit at my computer for short bursts (which is why this has been written in record time) but a lot of reclining on the sofa will be required over the next few weeks it seems. All these months of staying fit and healthy, going on daily walks, and now my wings have been well and truly clipped – Sod’s law. At least I won’t have guests arriving at the holiday hideaway anytime soon.

But this is a music blog so what song to add to this particular story? I’ve never needed an X-ray before, so how about something from one of our favourite early punk rock bands, X-Ray Spex, headed up by the inimitable Poly Styrene.

Germ Free Adolescents by X-Ray Specs:


Poly Styrene (real name Marion Joan Elliott-Said) became the band’s public face, and remains one of punk’s most memorable front-women. She wore thick braces on her teeth and once said, “I wasn’t a sex symbol and if anybody tried to make me one I’d shave my head tomorrow”. Poly Styrene was inspired to form a band after seeing the Sex Pistols, and through their live performances, she and X-Ray Spex became one of the most talked about acts on the burgeoning punk rock scene. Their 1978 album Germfree Adolescents is widely regarded as a classic of the punk rock genre and spawned five singles, including the title track. Sadly Poly died of cancer in 2011 at the very young age of 53.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Don’t be like me, look where you’re going, or else a pesky pothole might trip you up and keep you out of action for weeks on end. Of course it could be a lot worse in that we are still severely limited in what we can do anyway, but if I get the call to come in for my vaccination, I’ll make damned sure I get myself and my boot down the local health centre pronto.

It’s a big birthday for Mr WIAA next week, and we had originally planned to have a joint celebration to make up for the damp squib that was my big birthday last year – That won’t be happening now and who would have thought back then that nine months on we’d still be in lockdown. Oh well, the big celebration will have to wait for another time now, but I must remember to get off the sofa for long enough to wrap his presents (fortunately all bought online).

Right, that’s long enough sitting at my desk, so I’ll shuffle off to treat my knee with some antiseptic. Although I’ve not been an adolescent for an awful long while, I most definitely want to stay germ-free!

Until next time…

Germ Free Adolescents Lyrics
(Song by Poly Styrene)

I know your antiseptic
Your deodorant smells nice
I’d like to get to know you
You’re deep frozen like the ice


She’s a germ free adolescent
Cleanliness is her obsession
Cleans her teeth ten times a day
Scrub away scrub away scrub away
The S.R. way….

You may get to touch her
If your gloves are sterilised
Rinse your mouth with listerine
Blow disinfectant in her eyes

Her phobia is infection
She needs one to survive
It’s her built-in protection
Without fear she’d give up and die

She’s a germ free adolescent
Cleanliness is her obsession
Cleans her teeth ten times a day
Scrub away scrub away scrub away
The S.R. way….

Zoom Side Effects, The Faces and ‘Stay With Me’

Well, how are we all doing? It occurred to me that for months now, all I seem to have written about around here is what I’ve been doing from the comfort of my own home – Reading, watching telly, my college course, helping Mr WIAA out with his business…, and so on. There are the walks and the trips to the supermarket, but all very local so nothing much to (literally) write home about.

A most unexpected and unwelcome outcome of lockdown is that I seem to have aged by about 10 years. This one is very much aimed at the ladies of my own age who drop by this place, as I would be very surprised if I feel alone in this. All down to the phenomenon called ‘Zoom Face’. Never before have we had to conduct most of our interactions with others via screens, and it leads to far too much time contemplating our own visages, resulting in a reverse Narcissus experience.

In a normal outward-looking life, we don’t have to spend much time at all perusing at our faces. Other than popping on a bit of mascara and lipstick in the morning (if you are so inclined), and fluffing up the hair with the drier, we tend not to spend that much time looking at our reflections. Nowadays, what with FaceTime calls, family Zoom quizzes and my online college course, all I seem to do is look at my face, and I think it’s made me develop some sort of body dysmorphia. We are usually seen as a complete package, and the essence of who we are comes down to a combination of our personalities, our minds, the kind of clothes we wear and our individual mannerisms, but we are now reduced to a badly lit, high definition… face.

I’ve written about ‘changed faces’ around here before, but decided I’d give certain ladies in the entertainment industry a pass (Cher and Dolly). Both freely admit to having had ‘absolutely everything done’, but as they are both icons and neither seem to ever take themselves too seriously, I don’t begrudge them the squillions of dollars it must have taken one bit. It has now become very clear however that just about every female we see on our television screens (unless they are very young) has felt the need to go down the cosmetic surgery route, but after experiencing ‘Zoom Face’ myself, I kind of understand why. It was the advent of HD television that swung it apparently, and once you start with the Botox, there’s no going back. Like hair-colouring and leg-waxing, it just becomes a routine part of body maintenance for those in the public eye.

But where does that leave the rest of us who aren’t in the public eye? Feeling a bit shitty about ourselves it seems. I’m writing about all of this as if it’s a purely female problem but perhaps men experience the current reverse Narcissus phenomenon as well. Do tell.

But this is a music blog, I think, although I’m all over the place at the moment. What song would fit this post? At first I thought of Holding Back The Years by Simply Red but the lyrics aren’t really about the kind of holding back of years I’m talking about at all. So instead, I’m going to follow on from last time, when I wrote about the year 1971 in music. Two of the biggest albums of the year were by Rod Stewart (solo artist), and by the Faces (where Rod played lead singer). I’ve never quite got to grips with how the Small Faces morphed into the Faces, so maybe it’s time to find out.

The Small Faces were from London and formed in 1965. The group originally consisted of Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones, and Jimmy Winston, with Ian McLagan replacing Winston as the band’s keyboardist in 1966. The band was one of the most acclaimed and influential mod groups of the 1960s. They got their name because they were all under five feet six inches tall, the face part coming from the Who song, I’m The Face, which showed their mod allegiances. When their first and only No. 1 hit, All Or Nothing, made it to the top of the charts in 1966, it shared the spot with Yellow Submarine by the Beatles.

All Or Nothing by the Small Faces:


The band split up in early 1969, after Steve Marriott went on to form Humble Pie with Peter Frampton. The remaining band members changed their name to the Faces in 1969 when Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood joined. Both of them were much taller than the other members at the time, so the band wasn’t really ‘small’ any more. When touring, they were known for living a wild hedonistic lifestyle and were banned from many hotel chains.

Their big hit, Stay With Me, reached the No. 6 spot in the UK Singles Chart in 1971 and is the tale of poor Rita, is who is left under no illusion that she is anything other than a one-night stand. I don’t think family man Rod would get away with writing lyrics like that nowadays, but I suppose 50 years ago they were writing about what they knew, and girls like Rita were not exactly in short supply. It still sounds great, and not dated at all, but some of those lyrics are a tough listen. Funny how the theme of this post is ‘Faces’ and even in the song, reference is made to Rita’s countenance. It seems whatever other qualities we may possess, the one that carries the most weight (when it comes to first impressions) is facial beauty.

You won’t need too much persuading
I don’t mean to sound degrading
But with a face like that
You got nothing to laugh about

Stay With Me by the Faces:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I hope this is a short-lived dysmorphia that leaves me once things start to open up again but having done some research for this post, I know I’m not alone in feeling a bit blah… at the moment. The botulism injectors look as if they’re going to be working round the clock once we all get out there again. Another sad consequence of the pandemic.

As for the Small Faces and the Faces, I now understand the personnel changes along the way and how it led to a slight change in their moniker. Most of them are sadly no longer with us but a few of them still are, Ronnie still playing with the Rolling Stones, and Rod still doing his thing. They are both around the same age as Cher and Dolly pictured above. I questioned whether this obsession with looking young and unlined was just a problem for the female of the species, but it’s hard to tell really. Maybe we could ask Ronnie?

The happily lined and craggy Ronnie Wood – Way to go Ron, but wish we girls were allowed to do the same.

Until next time…

Stay With Me Lyrics
(Song by Rod Stewart/Ronnie Wood)

In the morning
Don’t say you love me
‘Cause I’ll only kick you out of the door

I know your name is Rita
‘Cause your perfume smelling sweeter
Since when I saw you down on the floor, guitar

You won’t need too much persuading
I don’t mean to sound degrading
But with a face like that
You got nothing to laugh about

Red lips hair and fingernails
I hear your a mean old Jezebel
Let’s go up stairs and read my tarot cards, c’mon

Stay with me
Stay with me
For tonight you better stay with me, oh yeah

Stay with me
Stay with me
For tonight you better stay with me, oh rock on

So in the morning
Please don’t say you love me
‘Cause you know I’ll only kick you out the door

Yea I’ll pay your cab fare home
You can even use my best cologne
Just don’t be here in the morning when I wake up, c’mon honey

Stay with me
Stay with me
‘Cause tonight you gonna stay with me
Sit down, get up, get down

Stay with me
Stay with me
‘Cause tonight your going stay with me
Hey, what’s your name again
Oh no, get down, whoo, hey, oh no, woo, get yourself home, slow down babe

Favourite Reads and 1971, the Start of the ‘Rock Era’

I know there are quite a few of us in my little blogging circle who prefer to write anonymously using an alias. It gives us an enormous sense of freedom as we can write about our daily lives, our innermost thoughts, and even hark back to the days of our youth, telling the tales of those times. Of late however, for one reason or another, a few more people in the real world have found out about this place than I might have liked, and although I’m sure they have better things to do than trawl through these pages, it does kind of affect the openness of the writing.

I’m mentioning this because I finally bit the bullet this week and shared the domain name with my course tutor. Regulars around here will know I joined the student body of my local college a couple of years ago, and the new semester has just begun. It got to the point I had mentioned my elusive ‘web-diary’ so often it was getting silly, so to offer up an explanation I sent her a link. As that link will land on the homepage, the pressure is on to make this next post a good one, which is a bit of an oxymoron, as when it comes to writing, pressure and quality never seem to go well together.

Ok, so I’ve had a bit of a wordy lead-in to this one, but I just wanted to get it out there that my course tutor Sara might drop by, and it’s making me nervous. Also, I haven’t really mentioned the fact it’s ostensibly a music blog that’s just grown arms and legs over the years, so it might come as a bit of a surprise.

Last time I wrote about all the great telly shows we’ve been fortunate enough to have at our disposal during these tough times of lockdown and restrictions. Prior to that I shared some of the pictures I’ve been taking on our daily walks and created a little montage. Another of my lockdown pastimes has been reading. Yes, lots and lots of reading, because that’s what students do isn’t it? (Do you think that’s enough to convince Sara?).

The background of choice for many a Zoom call, but have they all been read?

As it turns out, just like music, reading is for many of us as essential to life as the air we breathe, so simply part of our daily routine. Since starting my course, I’ve been keeping a record of what I’ve been reading, and like last time I’m happy to share my lockdown list. Again I’ll highlight my favourites, just in case you trust my judgement.

The complete works of Jenny Eclair (yes, another string to her bow), The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen, Why the Dutch are Different by Ben Coates (explains a lot!), Broken Greek by Peter Paphides, The Forensic Records Society by Magnus Mills), The Dressmaker’s Gift by Fiona Valpy, Department of the Peculiar… Goes Pop, 1&2 by Rol Hirst and Rob Wells (the latest comic book series from our talented blogging pal and his mate), Final Demand by Deborah Moggach, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, Queen Bee by Jane Fallon (Ricky Gervais’ other half), Tidelands by Philippa Gregory, The Switch by Beth O’Leary, Uncommon People and 1971, Never A Dull Moment both by David Hepworth.

A very rich and varied selection there and although maybe more aimed at a female market, I have been mighty impressed with Jenny Eclair’s output over the last few years and look forward to whatever she may publish next. On my list are a few books relating to the world of rock and pop, and Pete Paphides’ autobiography about growing up as part of a Greek family in 70’s/80s Britain, really resonated with me. Not because of the Greek part, but because he was a bit of a ‘rock and pop nerd’, and his relationship with radio chart shows, TOTP, and new albums, very much mirrored my own.

The two books below were in my Christmas stocking, and I’ve now finished both. David Hepworth is a fabulous writer and between these two books and the one by Pete Paphides, I have added more new words to my ‘new word notebook’ (it’s a thing), than from all the other books put together. In Uncommon People, the premise is that the era of the rock star came along in the mid-fifties but faded away in the last decade of the 20th century. There is a chapter for all of these ‘uncommon people’, starting with Little Richard in 1955 and ending with Kurt Cobain in 1994. As we often say around here, the 21st century has produced a totally different kind of artist what with the lack of physical product to covet and hold; the committee approach to making hit records; the importance of choreography; and, the mystique-destroying internet.

As for 1971, Never A Dull Moment, David reckoned that for a music fan like himself, having been born in 1950 was the equivalent of having won the winning ticket in the lottery of life, as he turned 21 at just the right time. On New Year’s Eve 1970, Paul McCartney issued a writ in London to wind up the Beatles, thus ending the ‘pop era’. The following day was 1971, and the first day of the ‘rock era’.

In the book, David chronicles those 12 months and it soon becomes clear that it was indeed an exceptional year. Many of those who first achieved stardom in 1971 – David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Elton John and Joni Mitchell – went on to have long careers, and looking at the Top 100 albums of the year, many have truly stood the test of time and are still being purchased 50 years on. Songs from some of these albums have on occasion found their way onto this blog and all of them from way before my peak time as a consumer of vinyl, but now just part of our musical heritage:

Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells A Story
Carole King – Tapestry

The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
Nick Drake – Bryter Layter
The Faces – A Nod’s As Good As A Wink To A Blind Man
Joni Mitchell – Blue
David Bowie – Hunky Dory
Nilsson – Nilsson Schmilsson
John Lennon – Imagine
The Carpenters – Carpenters
Isaac Hayes – Shaft
Cat Stevens – Teaser And The Firecat

etc, etc, etc…

For once, I’ll not get all wordy about the artist or the song, as if you’re reading this you probably already know more about them than I ever will. I’ll simply select three of my favourite songs from a few of the above albums and leave it at that. Hope you approve of my choices.

Reason To Believe by Rod Stewart:

I Feel The Earth Move by Carole King:

Wild Horses by the Rolling Stones:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I kind of got into my stride by the end of this post and forgot that people from the ‘real world’ might drop by. Whenever I’ve been in this position before, I soon regain my confidence, as it seems our family and friends are generally a lot less interested in what we write about than we might suppose. Just as well really.

As for my reading list above, hope I’ve given you a few ideas, as I was in turn by another blogger who frequents this place (he knows who he is). I’m always a sucker for rock and pop related volumes and autobiographies, and would thoroughly recommend the ones mentioned. For the record, a few examples of the new words added to my ‘new word notebook’ are as follows (every day’s a schoolday):

salmagundi – a pot pourri; a miscellaneous collection
gimcrack – cheap or showy ornament; a knick-knack
athwart
across from side to side; so as to be perverse or contradictory
bowdlerised – material removed from a text if deemed ‘improper’ making it weaker or less effective
ululating – a howl or wail as an expression of strong emotion (Yoko Ono was at times prevented from appearing on stage, for fear of her potential ululating!)


Do you wish you’d been born in 1950 in order to have experienced the music of 1971 at age 21, or are you happy with how the die was cast? Although 1971 was a remarkable year that gave us all these monumental albums, I’m personally happy with my own era, and still have the advantage of being able to continually make new discoveries. I think we probably all feel a bit like that, and long may it continue.

Until next time…

Reason To Believe Lyrics
(Song by Tim Hardin)

If I listened long enough to you
I’d find a way to believe that it’s all true
Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried
Still I look to find a reason to believe

Someone like you makes it hard to live without
somebody else
Someone like you makes it easy to give
never think about myself

If I gave you time to change my mind
I’d find a way just to leave the past behind
Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried
Still I look to find a reason to believe

If I listened long enough to you
I’d find a way to believe that it’s all true
Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried
Still I look to find a reason to believe

Someone like you makes it hard to live without
somebody else
Someone like you makes it easy to give
never think about myself

Five Years Of Blogging, Fun Statistics and Favourite Years

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

The WordPress Birthday Badge

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

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

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

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

Daydream Believer by the Monkees:


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

So You Win Again by Hot Chocolate:


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

Alison by Elvis Costello:


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

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

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

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

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

Jessie by Joshua Kadison:


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

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

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

Until next time…

So You Win Again Lyrics
(Song by Russ Ballard)

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

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

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

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

Postscript:

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

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

Earworm of the Week #7 – Lovers Rock, Janet Kay and ‘Silly Games’

Well, you don’t experience an ‘earworm’ for weeks and then two come along at once. I wrote about the phenomenon last week in relation to another song, from an advert, but I defy anyone who has watched Steve McQueen’s Lovers Rock not to have Janet Kay’s Silly Games on repeat in their head afterwards. Lovers Rock is the second film in Steve’s anthology film series Small Axe which tells stories about the lives of West Indian immigrants in London during the 1960s and 1970s. The title references a proverb – ‘If you are the big tree, we are the small axe’ – that was popularised by Bob Marley in his song Small Axe.

I was drawn to the episode after watching an interview with Steve where they showed the trailer. I was intrigued, as it was only last month that I first heard the term Lovers Rock. When writing my tribute post to those we have lost from the world of music this year, I found a quote from Boy George who had been saddened by the death of Johnny Nash.

‘R.I.P to the reggae legend Johnny Nash. One of the artists who made me fall in love with lovers rock and reggae music in the early 70s. So many amazing tunes and a voice like silk. I have never really known a time without reggae music. He was one of the greatest.’ – Boy George

At the time I thought it was a typo. I didn’t think it made sense, but then when sharing my story about a break-up, I found a suitable featured song by Alton Ellis who himself was a proponent of Lovers Rock. This short film was the third time it had cropped up in as many weeks, so time to investigate.

It seems Lovers Rock is not a genre or subgenre as such but a style of reggae music noted for its romantic sound and content. It became really popular in South London in the mid-1970s and combined the smooth soul sounds of Chicago and Philadelphia with rocksteady and reggae bassline rhythms. The style had particular appeal amongst women and produced many female stars. Dennis Harris set up a new record label, Lover’s Rock, at his South East London Studio along with Dennis Bovell, which gave the new style a name. It was Bovell who wrote and produced Silly Games, which reached number 2 in the UK Singles Chart in 1979. He got the inspiration for it from an advert where Ella Fitzgerald sang a note and broke a glass – ‘I wanted a song with a note like that. Little girls always try to sing a high note, so when I wrote “Silly Games” and put that high note in there, it meant that every female in the dance would try and sing that note.

Silly Games by Janet Kay:


Back in 1979 I was a great fan of radio and chart music so I know this song well, but I had never heard of Lovers Rock back then so wouldn’t have known it was part of something much bigger, almost spiritual. After watching Steve’s film I now get it. The film is really quite mesmerising and follows the events taking place over a night and morning during a London house party in 1980. There is very little dialogue, but somehow it doesn’t matter and we feel as if we are there with them.

For second-generation West Indian immigrants, who were denied access to white clubs, these parties were a haven where they could dance, drink, smoke and be themselves. It was common in a big house to clear the furniture and carpets to make a dance floor, set up the sound system and have curried goat served up from the kitchen. The main character, Martha, sneaks out of her devout mother’s house after dark and she and her friend Patty take a bus ride to the party. Once there, they pay their 50p to the doorman, cross the threshold and look forward to what the night will bring.

In 1980 I lived at the opposite end of the country from Martha and her friends and come from a totally different cultural background but what struck me most about this film is that there is a commonality amongst young people to want to get together, listen to music and dance. It’s biological. As the night wears on the tempo changes and the music inspires slow sensuous dances but every couple is in their own little bubble, oblivious to those around them. Not that dissimilar to the house parties I went to as a teenager before we were old enough for clubs and pubs. Many of the romances kindled during those parties have survived the test of time, but of course like Martha, our parents knew nothing of them. A lot of sneaking around and the creating of alibis had to be done in the run up to the event.

If you haven’t yet watched the film, I would thoroughly recommend it. I haven’t watched the others in the series yet but I plan to. As for this style of music, first I discovered Alton Ellis, and now I understand the background to some of the chart hits I remember from the 1970s. I’ll finish with Ken Boothe and his 1974 hit Everything I Own. It now makes sense that Boy George also recorded a version.

Until next time…

Silly Games Lyrics
(Song by Dennis Bovell)

I’ve been wanting you
For so long, it’s a shame
Oh, baby
Every time I hear your name
Oh, the pain
Boy, how it hurts me inside

‘Cause every time we meet
We play hide and seek
I’m wondering what I should do
Should I, dear, come up to you
And say, How do you do?
Would you turn me away

You’re as much to blame
‘Cause I know you feel the same
I can see it in your eyes
But I’ve got no time to live this love
No, I’ve got no time to play your silly games
Silly games

Yet, in my mind I say
If he makes his move today
I’ll just pretend to be shocked
Oh, baby
It’s a tragedy
That you hurt me
We don’t even try

You’re as much to blame
‘Cause I know you feel the same
I can see it in your eyes
But I’ve got no time to live this love
No, I’ve got no time to play your silly games
Silly games

Silly games
Silly games (No, don’t wanna play)
Silly games (Your silly)

No, I’ve got no time to play your silly games

The Halfway Point, Is It a ‘Stop’ or a ‘Don’t Stop’?

Well, I’ve just passed the halfway point in my challenge to write 30 posts in 30 days, and although my neck and shoulder injury seems to have righted itself, I am starting to flag a little. Should I keep going I wonder, or just content myself with having kept up the pace for as long as I have?

I am acutely aware that all you lovely followers might be finding it rather tedious having so much thrown at them in a single month, but I do still have a few more ideas up my sleeve. Feedback is positively encouraged as I don’t want to lose people along the way.

Anyway, I’m happy either way, so should it be a Stop

… or a Don’t Stop?

Don’t Stop by Fleetwood Mac:


I was totally the wrong demographic for the phenomenon that was the Spice Girls in the mid ’90s, but they were omnipresent, so you just couldn’t avoid their catchy pop tunes – There are a fair few I’ll admit to still being quite fond of. That was unbelievably nearly 25 years ago now, when DD was just a tot. Where has the time gone?

The Rumours album was a Christmas gift from the school boyfriend in 1977. Sadly it was in cassette tape format, so didn’t stand up well to the wear and tear of being played so often in the subsequent months – Remember having to rewind the tape back into the casing manually, after it getting scrunched up the machine?

Considering the many relationship breakdowns that happened within Fleetwood Mac before recording started, it’s quite something the album ever got made at all, but it did, and became one of the best-sellers of all time. Certainly plenty of material there to shape the song-writing.

Don’t Stop Lyrics
(Song by Christine McVie)


If you wake up and don’t want to smile
If it takes just a little while
Open your eyes and look at the day
You’ll see things in a different way

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be here better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone


Why not think about times to come?
And not about the things that you’ve done?
If your life was bad to you
Just think what tomorrow will do


Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be here better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone

All I want is to see you smile
If it takes just a little while
I know you don’t believe that it’s true
I never meant any harm to you

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be here better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone

Focus and a Whole Load Of ‘Hocus Pocus’

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the domain name for this place is one quite a few other parties would like to get their hands on, as it reflects the name of their product or business. I have therefore had to remove any mention of it in the blog in case I get a take down notice.

H.G. Wells time machine

Anyway, back in 2017 I had planned to start a new series where I journeyed back in time in my ‘magical jukebox’ (you see where I’m going with this?) but only got as far as one spin the random number generator (I had it all thought out). It took me back to this date:

Year – 1973
Month – 2, i.e. February
Date – 14 (St Valentine’s Day!)

The act at the top of the UK Singles Chart on that date was Sweet, with their only chart-topper Blockbuster. I wrote about that song recently (link here) so time to mention another band who appeared in that very first post in the ‘series that never was’. Although I can’t say I was a big fan back then, in the fullness of time I have come to appreciate the falderals involved in the making of a Focus record (a bit of yodelling anyone?) and February 1973 was their time in the sun as far as chart success went. Their instrumental Sylvia was a climber at No.5 and Hocus Pocus was also climbing up the chart at No. 22.

The Dutch prog rock outfit, Focus.

I may well have forgotten all about these Dutch prog rockers had it not been the album I got for Christmas that year was ‘Arcade’s 20 Fantastic Hits by the Original Artists’, the emphasis on the word original, as up until then most of these compilations were very much by the unoriginal artists – I still have the album and Hocus Pocus is Track 7 on Side 2.

Hocus Pocus by Focus:


I don’t know if you’ve ever watched Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver but I’d thoroughly recommend it. I’m not usually a fan of films that feature multiple car chases, but this one was a very different animal, and the best car chase of all was played out to the sounds of Focus with what has turned out to be their most memorable recording (was it because the words rhymed so well I wonder?). Watching this excellent clip again, the lead character Baby, could definitely give Lewis Hamilton a run for his money.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my second journey back to February 1973. All you need is a random number generator it seems and we’re good to go, although the mode of transport was a tad uncomfortable. If there is a next time, I might have to trade in H.G. Wells’ time machine for Doc Brown’s DeLorean. Might make for a smoother ride.

Until next time….

Memories of Junior School: Cliff, Marc and Alice

Recently, whilst starting out on a project to declutter the house, I found a booklet that was printed for my old primary school’s centenary celebrations. A call had gone out asking ex-pupils to submit their memories, and many did, including myself – Unbeknownst to me until after publication however, most contributors stuck to a concise 150-200 words, whereas my ‘contribution’ ended up being a good deal longer so kind of stood out like a sore thumb. Anyway, I did notice that the piece included a few references to the music of the day, so I’m going to recycle it for this place – Hope you can forgive me this little indulgence.

My old Primary School

Extract from 1899-1999 Centenary Booklet (written in 1998):

If like me you joined the school in 1965, and spent the whole of your primary school education there, your memories of the experience will be very similar to mine. I spent an evening conjuring up images from the past and came up with the following whistle stop tour through the seven years.

In Miss Margaret’s Primary One class, courtesy of the Tom and Ann books, we all became literate. For many Aberdeenshire children this was no mean feat since these books were written in English and not in our native Doric. At the same time we were also becoming numerate courtesy of wooden rods number one to ten (or was it twelve in those pre-decimal days?). These rods came in the full spectrum of colours and I’m pretty sure that number four rod was quite an attractive lime green.

By the time we progressed next door to Miss Mabel’s Primary Two class we were ready to pick up on the finer points of spelling, writing and sums. Miss Margaret and Miss Mabel, being sisters and located in rooms next to each other, frequently brought their classes together. Sometimes it was for Music and Movement, and sometimes it was to watch a film on the noisy school projector, skilfully manned by Mr Anderson the headmaster as women in those days were obviously not to be trusted with advanced technology. The film invariably had a Commonwealth theme (the young queen was very popular in the mid ’60s) and might have been about children on sheep stations in Australia or perhaps in African villages. At the time however I think I was more fascinated by the projector’s light beam picking up the slow moving mass of chalk dust that usually filled the air.

For Primary Three we veered round the corner to Mrs Scott’s classroom next to the staffroom. I seem to remember we were introduced to the wonderful world of Work Cards which dealt heavily with Stone Age Man and the Romans in Britain. At age seven we were highly versed in the life of the average Neanderthal or Centurion. Also at that time, it was very important for us to master the new metric system which would soon take over completely from the old imperial system of measurement. Over thirty years later and I still quote my height in feet and inches and order my curtain material in yards – What would Mrs Scott say?

Primary Four, back in 1968, was housed in a hut to the right of the main school building. Mrs Fraser was the teacher and although most classes at that time still had milk monitors, Primary Four was the only class that had a wood-burning stove monitor. A major turning point for the school came that year when the old wooden desks, complete with ink well, were abandoned in favour of new-fangled formica tables that had little plastic drawers on runners. Very much in keeping with the hi-tech furniture of the time.

There was great dismay for me that year however when Helen, my best friend since Primary One, left the village for a new life in Aberdeen (with her parents and younger brother Stuart I hasten to add). We lost touch for many years but met up again at University in 1978 and we both ironically became accountants in later life. Miss Margaret’s number one to ten rods must have had a profound effect on us.

As we come to Primary Five, my memories get more vivid. We were back in the main body of the school and our teacher was Miss Reid who impressed the girls at any rate, with her trendy crocheted waistcoats and short skirts. She also had amazing high hair usually adorned with elaborate accessories. It was now 1969 and great advances were being made in the world of Science and Technology. We were lucky enough to have Mr Bruce take us for science once a week and in one lesson he mass-manufactured bright blue eye-shadow for the girls (much to the anguish of our parents I’m sure). He also invited everyone to his lab to witness one of the first Apollo moon landings. To my eternal shame, not realising the significance of what we were to watch on the grainy black and white TV, I was so busy discussing the novelty of getting off normal lessons with new best friend Sheena, that I think I missed the whole thing.

Christmas time always was and still is an exciting time in the school year and as was often the case we performed a nativity play that year. I was the narrator, a major part that called for much learning of lines and constructing of angel wings and head-dress. If you were a girl however the most sought after role was always that of Mary (depending of course on whoever happened to be Joseph that year). The other event that made Christmas special was the annual Christmas party when before dances, the boys would line up on one side of the gym hall and the girls on the other, as if about to go into battle. Nine year old boys and girls are not known for being socially at ease with each other but somehow we manfully made it round the hall on an annual basis mastering the finer points of the Gay Gordons, the St Bernard’s Waltz and the Bluebell Polka. To this day, every time I attend a Wedding or Dinner Dance, I thank my primary school for having taught me the rudiments of Scottish Country Dancing.

What we had to dance to – Jimmy Shand
What we wanted to dance to – The other Jimi

Incidentally, growing disquiet in the ranks over the choice of music for our annual bash (we were living in the psychedelic ’60s after all in the days of the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix) meant the teachers had to take steps in acquiring some ‘pop’ records for us as well as the Jimmy Shand perennial favourites. For some strange reason what they came up with was Cliff Richard singing the waltz-friendly When The Girl In Your Arms Is The Girl In Your Heart. It wasn’t until I was older that I realised it happened to be from The Young Ones filmed in 1961 – Not quite what we had in mind.

Primary Six was Mrs McPhee’s class in the room next to the ‘Higher Grade’ girl’s cloakroom. (It was a junior/secondary school that taught kids up to the age of 15 after which, unbelievably, they could leave school and join the adult world of work.) At age ten we were in awe of these ‘women’ of 14 and 15 in their wetlook coats and boots, long sleek hair and chokers. Full decimalisation came about in 1970 and I remember the excitement on the first day about paying for lunch tokens with the already circulated 50p and anticipating the change in shiny new pence. On receiving these new pence we hotfooted it to the local baker’s shop at break time where we regularly went to buy our sweets. Soon a dilemma was to be faced – Apparently during the transition period, one new pence was to equate to both the old tuppence and thrupence. It was important to remember to buy a penny chew along with your tuppenny ice-pole or else you lost out bigtime. I think this was also the year we broke some record or other by being the first school, thanks mainly to the endeavours of Mr Bruce, to have everyone over a certain age pass their cycling proficiency test. We were even photographed for the Aberdeen Press and Journal, so fame indeed.

Educationally by this stage, we were covering the whole gamut of school subjects and even received extra tuition from the Higher Grade teachers. One of these teachers was Miss Jaffrey whom the girls at any rate, got for Sewing and Knitting. (I would have said Home Economics but at that age we were obviously not yet let loose with cookers, although when attempting to thread the needle of the electric sewing machine with my friend Lorna that year, we did inadvertently manage to stitch through the top of my finger – ouch.) Miss Jaffrey got married when we were in Primary Six and I remember the girls clubbing together to buy her a wedding present – Unfortunately for Miss Jaffrey this wedding present took the form of a pair of ornamental plastic bambis. Much to her credit however she seemed overwhelmingly pleased with her gift, although I doubt if they ever took pride of place on her mantelpiece.

And so we come to Primary Seven, our last year in junior school. We were right along the corridor beyond the art room and the janitor’s cupboard. Our teacher was the heavily accented Miss Robertson (she was half German which often came about as a result of servicemen marrying local girls after the war). I remember this being a really enjoyable year despite having to endure the dreaded 11-plus test at some point. Coming up to Christmas we feverishly collected for the Blue Peter Annual Appeal and were rewarded with a personal thank you note from Pete, John and Val. Brenda snuck in a copy of her big sister’s T. Rex LP to the Christmas party (Jeepster had been a big hit in the November of that year) and things were never quite the same after that. Robert and Stephen both got feather cut hairstyles and so ended the era of short back and sides for most of the boys in the class.

Also that year I suffered a nasty bout of appendicitis which took me into the Sick Children’s Hospital for quite some time and off school for about a month. When in hospital I received a box of fruit from the class and Scoop Bookclub paperbacks (remember them?). Unfortunately a schedule of schoolwork also came in the box which I conveniently mislaid and then pleaded ignorance when asked about it later (there had to be some advantages in having your appendix removed.) In the spring of 1972 both the boys and girls were heavily involved in football and netball tournaments which took us to distant lands (other villages 5 to 10 miles away) – Most of the time however I didn’t even make it into the first team which kind of put me off competitive sport for life although I discovered later they just didn’t want me to overdo it since I’d been so recently in hospital. The grand finale of Primary Seven was School Camp in Abington, Lanarkshire. We had a great time and made lots of new friends from all over Aberdeenshire, many of whom we met up with in later years. (Mr WIAA’s predecessor was a boy I fell for at School Camp who hailed from a nearby village).

So there we have it. In the summer of 1972 Alice Cooper was topping the charts with School’s Out and our class went their separate ways. There were choices, and some of us went to one nearby academy, some went to another, and some stayed at the junior/secondary (although by this time the leaving age had increased to 16). When it was time to enrol my daughter for pre-school, I decided we would have to move house, as I wanted her to go to a school like the one I had attended. This must certainly be a testament to the time I spent there, the inspirational teachers and the friends made along the way.

School’s Out by Alice Cooper:


Until next time….

School’s Out Lyrics
(Song by the Alice Cooper band)

Well we got no choice
All the girls and boys
Makin all that noise
‘Cause they found new toys
Well we can’t salute ya
Can’t find a flag
If that don’t suit ya
That’s a drag

School’s out for summer
School’s out forever
School’s been blown to pieces

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher’s dirty looks

Well we got no class
And we got no principles
And we got no innocence
We can’t even think of a word that rhymes

School’s out for summer
School’s out forever
School’s been blown to pieces

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher’s dirty looks

Out for summer
Out till fall
We might not go back at all

School’s out forever
School’s out for summer
School’s out with fever
School’s out completely

Postscript:

Interestingly, despite the fact we wanted more Beatles and less Jimmy Shand MBE in the late ’60s, it turns out that much of Jimmy’s success in the charts in the 1950s was down to none other than George Martin! Yes once signed to Parlophone, the master of the button box accordion was given George as a producer, and became the only leader of a Scottish Country Dance Band ever to enter the UK Singles Chart.

Elections, Maps and The Music of Pennsylvania

Well, I certainly made a brave attempt at becoming a daily blogger around here but it seems my style of blogging just isn’t suited to such regular delivery. My poor shoulder and neck is now aching, even after a night’s sleep, so I think I’m going to have to call time on this challenge for a wee while, in order to prioritise work, and my college course.

Most of us will have been keeping tabs on what’s going on across the pond right now, and dare I say, it’s almost nice to have something else going on in the news. Looking at all those red and blue maps of the 50 states (does anyone else find it confusing that red means right and blue means left in the US?), I was reminded of my American Odyssey in Song series. I’ve loved the ‘Full Moon’ and ‘Wheel Of The Year’ series (on my sidebar), but that journey around the states in song was definitely my favourite. Again, like this challenge, it was labour intensive, so by the time I got nine states under my belt I had run out of steam. A retirement project perhaps, although they keep changing the goalposts, so who knows when we will be able to retire in this brave new world.

Anyway, as the great state of Pennsylvania has become the focus of so much attention in this election, and because that’s where I am currently holed up on my American Odyssey ahead of journeying on to Delaware (which is not an easy state from which to find musical inspiration), I’m going to share that post again. A very diverse state, and one with a lot of history – Hope you enjoy it.

——–

An American Odyssey in Song: Pennsylvania

(First posted 1st February 2018)

Welcome to this occasional series where I am attempting a virtual journey around the 50 States of America in song. For anyone new to this place, I have a continuous route map where I enter and leave each state only once. Suggestions for the next leg always welcome!

I really need to pick up the pace with this series otherwise it looks as if I’m going to be in my dotage before I make it all the way round to my final destination, Florida. Anyway, as it’s now been over three months since I entered New Jersey (must have lost track of time in those vast gambling emporiums in Atlantic City), the great state of Pennsylvania now beckons. Yet again however we are entering a state that cannot be neatly summed up as having a single character. Pennsylvania has wide stretches of farmland, forests and mountains but it also has Philadelphia, the sixth largest city in the US.

pennsylvania

A few random facts about Pennsylvania. It was one of the 13 original founding states and came into being as a result of a royal land grant given to William Penn, an English Quaker and son of the state’s namesake. Philadelphia played an important role in the American Revolution as a meeting place for the Founding Fathers of the United States – The Declaration of Independence was signed there on the 4th of July, 1776. It is also home to the cracked Liberty Bell, an iconic symbol of American independence.

During the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg was fought in the south central region of the state and is the place where Abraham Lincoln delivered his landmark address. The Pennsylvania Dutch (who were actually German/Deutsch) settled in the south-east of the state and there are still Christian groups living there today who separate themselves from the world favouring simple living and plain dressing.

But what do I associate with Pennsylvania when it comes to music. Last time a few suggestions were offered up for which I am always grateful. Rol over at My Top Ten suspected I might choose Pennsylvania 6-5000 by The Glenn Miller Orchestra which was most definitely going to be a contender until I discovered it was actually the telephone number for the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City! C, from Sun Dried Sparrows suggested I’m in Pittsburgh (and It’s Raining) by the Outcasts, a sort of ‘sub-Stones US ’60s garage classic’ she tells us. Last but not least Lynchie, a frequent and very knowledgeable visitor to the music blogosphere, came up with two songs by Loudon Wainwright III. ‘I don’t think you’ll find the first one on YouTube’ he said, and he was right, but fortunately he gave us some of the lyrics for Have You Ever Been To Pittsburgh.

Have you ever been to Pittsburgh
Do you think you’d wanna go?
Have you ever been to Pittsburgh
(It’s in Pennsylvania)
Do you think you’d wanna go?
Well – if you wanna go to Pittsburgh
Get on the bus and go!

‘Loudon however’, he added, ‘also wrote the more affectionate Ode To Pittsburgh‘ and this time it could be found YouTube. A nice little film to accompany the song that gives us a flavour of what it might be like to live there. Not heard it myself before, but I find myself strangely smitten.

But as ever, music and film go hand in hand for me, and three movies immediately came to mind for this Pennsylvania post. The tunes from them are by no means all favourites, but they do for me, sum up the state. As tends to happen at award ceremonies, I will announce the results in reverse order:

First of all, when I saw that the next state we would be entering was Pennsylvania, I was immediately reminded of the film The Deer Hunter as the main characters in that epic Vietnam war drama were steelworkers from Clairton, Pennsylvania, a small working class town south of Pittsburgh. The images of that grim steel town have obviously stayed with me but also the scenes in the mountains where that trio of friends, played by Robert De NiroChristopher Walken and John Savage, spend much of their time deer hunting. I didn’t see the film when it first came out in 1979, but I do remember that the piece of music called Cavatina (popularly known as ‘Theme from The Deer Hunter’) received much radio airplay at the time and reached No. 13 in the UK Singles Chart. It was performed by classical guitarist John Williams whom I have just discovered is not the same John Williams responsible for writing the film scores for ET and Jurassic Park. Obvious now, but the same name and from a long time ago.

poster_thedeerhunter
Cavatina by John Williams:


The second film I was reminded of was of course Rocky where the main character, played by new kid on the block Sylvester Stallone, is to be seen pounding the streets of Philadelphia in his grey sweats, whilst carrying out his gruelling training regime. These scenes were of course very memorably played out to the sounds of Gonna Fly Now (popularly known as the ‘Theme from Rocky’) which was composed by Bill Conti. The lyrics (all 30 words of them), were performed by DeEtta Little and Nelson Pigford. Released in February 1977, the song has become part of American popular culture after Rocky Balboa runs up the 72 stone steps leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and then raises his arms in a victory pose.

Whenever I watch 1970s footage of American cities (like in this clip), I think of ‘the three B’s’, boxes, braziers and back alleys, as just about everything I watched on telly back then seemed to feature these three elements. Maybe it was just because there was a plethora of gritty cop shows and crime dramas, but also our inner cities were in real need of gentrification. I am sure however that the Philadelphia of today looks quite different, and I’m also sure that Neil from Yeah, Another Blogger, who is a resident, will keep us right on that score.

Gonna Fly Now by DeEtta Little and Nelson Pigford:


But of course I can’t write a post about PA, without mentioning all the great music that came to be known as the Philadelphia Sound, or Philly Soul. Any regular visitors to this place might remember that I wrote about how it all came to pass recently (The O’Jays, The Three Degrees and a ‘Year Of Decision’). It does seem there were three pivotal players without whom it might never have happened – Philadelphia International Records was founded in 1971 by the very talented writer-producer duo Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, along with collaborator Thom Bell. It very much showcased a new genre of music based on the gospel, doo-wop and soul music of the time. Throughout the 1970s the label released a string of worldwide hits which featured lavish orchestral instrumentation, heavy bass and driving percussion. Some of their most popular and best selling acts included The O’Jays, The Three Degrees, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass, Billy Paul, Patti LaBelle and Lou Rawls.

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But I have written about some of those artists before so this time I’m going to go a little further back in time to 1969 when Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) was written by producer Thom Bell and William Hart, lead singer of the Philadelphia R&B/Soul vocal group The Delfonics. It was released by the group on the Philly Groove record label and is regarded as a classic, winning a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group.

And this is where my third film choice comes in, as for many of us, it is simply that great song from the Tarantino film Jackie Brown. It very much plays a pivotal role in the film as it underscores the relationship between main characters Jackie, and Max Cherry. Like many others I was probably a bit too young for a song like this when it first came along in 1969 but after re-discovering it in 1997, when the film came out, I found a new appreciation for Philadelphia based groups like The Delfonics.

Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) by The Delfonics:


So that’s your lot as far as Pennsylvania goes. When I started this series it was with a view to featuring one song per state but of course once you start to do the research it becomes impossible to limit it to just that. Next time however we will be entering Delaware, a very small state indeed which at the moment is not offering up any inspiration (bar the obvious candidate). If you have any suggestions feel free to leave them in the comments boxes, as left to my own devices it’s going to be a very short post.

It has just occurred to me, as I returned to the top of the page to insert a title, that I may have inadvertently been a tad insensitive having included both the Theme from The Deer Hunter and Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) in the same post – To anyone who has ‘experienced’ the film The Deer Hunter, they will probably know what I mean. Enough said.

See you in Delaware….

Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) Lyrics
(Song by Thom Bell/William Hart)

I gave my heart and soul to you, girl
Now didn’t I do it, baby didn’t I do it baby
Gave you the love you never knew, girl, oh
Didn’t I do it, baby didn’t I do it baby

I’ve cried so many times and that’s no lie
It seems to make you laugh each time I cry

Didn’t I blow your mind this time, didn’t I
Didn’t I blow your mind this time, didn’t I
Yes sir

I thought that heart of yours was true, girl
Now, didn’t I think it baby didn’t I think it baby
But this time I’m really leavin’ you girl oh
Hope you know it baby hope you know it baby

Ten times or more, yes, I’ve walked out that door
Get this into your head, there’ll be no more

Didn’t I blow your mind this time, didn’t I
Didn’t I blow your mind this time, didn’t I
Yes sir

(Didn’t I do it baby didn’t I do it baby)
(Didn’t I do it baby didn’t I do it baby)

Ten times or more, yes, I’ve walked out that door
Get this into your head, there’ll be no more

Didn’t I blow your mind this time, didn’t I (oh)
Didn’t I blow your mind this time, didn’t I (Hoo)
Didn’t I blow your mind this time, didn’t I (Did I blow your mind, baby)
Didn’t I blow your mind this time, didn’t I (Can’t you see)
Didn’t I blow your mind this time, didn’t I (Did I blow your mind)
Didn’t I blow your mind this time, didn’t I (Ooh baby, ooh)

Girl, can we talk for a second
I know it’s been a long time
Since some someone’s blown your mind, like I did
There’ll be other times, for me and you
And I can see the tears fallin’ from your eyes

Tell me girl, did I blow your mind

Didn’t I blow your mind this time, didn’t I (Did I blow your mind baby)
Didn’t I blow your mind this time, didn’t I (Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh)

Bonfire Night, More Bond Themes and ‘Live And Let Die’

Well, it’s Guy Fawkes Night, but there will be no big ‘town display’ tonight down at the municipal playing fields. There will probably be a few small displays in back gardens (look out for your pets folks), but nothing grander. Shame all these festivals, Halloween, Christmas and Bonfire Night, land during the coldest and wettest time of the year here in Scotland, as we’ve had a fair few soakings and frostbitten fingers over the years.

For those who are not from the UK, Guy Fawkes Night will mean nothing to you, so by way of explanation, here is an abbreviated version of the Wiki entry about the aforementioned chap:

Guy Fawkes (1570 – 1606), was a member of a group of English Catholics who was involved in the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Fawkes had fought for Catholic Spain in the Eighty Years’ War against Protestant Dutch reformers. When he returned to England he was introduced to Robert Catesby, who planned to assassinate King James I, and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne.

Guy Fawkes

The plotters leased an ‘undercroft’ (a cellar) beneath the House of Lords and Fawkes was placed in charge of the gunpowder they stockpiled there. An anonymous letter to the authorities prompted a search of Westminster Palace during the early hours of 5 November, and they found Fawkes with the explosives. After being tortured he confessed to wanting to blow up the House of Lords.

Fawkes was later sentenced to death but he became synonymous with the Gunpowder Plot, the failure of which has been commemorated in the UK as Guy Fawkes Night since 5 November 1605, when his effigy is traditionally burned on a bonfire, accompanied by fireworks.

Growing up, it was an exciting annual event, and as our back garden was joined to three others (we had the gable-end, prized in a terrace), the dads usually built a big communal bonfire. In the preceding couple of weeks, all the kids collected their fireworks. There were ‘selection boxes’, with a mix of all the usual suspects, Catherine wheels, bangers, and rockets, but also packets of sparklers and individual fireworks of the more spectacular nature.

Needless the say, over the years there were a fair amount of nasty accidents involving fireworks (none for us thankfully), so nowadays people are encouraged to attend well-supervised, organised displays. Let’s hope this year there won’t be a return to the past, as the dads, although well intentioned, just don’t have the training of our local Fire Officers.

The best display our town ever held was when they used Bond themes to choreograph the igniting of the fireworks. It was a dry night for once, with clear skies, so a pretty spectacular event. I’ve written about Bond themes this week already, so appropriate to share this song, as it’s often accompanied by stunning pyrotechnics even when it’s not Guy Fawkes night. I give you Live And Let Die by Wings from 1973.

Live And Let Die by Wings:


The song was written for the film of the same name, the eighth in the Bond series, this time starring Roger Moore. Paul McCartney, along with wife Linda, wrote the song and on this occasion George Martin wrote the film score, as John Barry was unavailable. Performed by their group Wings, it was the first ‘rock and roll’ song used to open a Bond film, and became a major success, reaching No. 9 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 2 in the US. It was nominated for an Academy Award, but lost out that year to The Way We Were.

Stay safe, as we keep saying nowadays, but tonight I mean beware of stray fireworks. No doubt we’ll still see a fair few light up our skies.

Until next time….

Live And Let Die Lyrics
(Song by Paul McCartney/Linda McCartney)

When you were young and your heart was an open book
You used to say live and let live
(you know you did, you know you did you know you did)
But if this ever changing world in which we’re living
Makes you give in and cry

Say live and let die
Live and let die
Live and let die
Live and let die

What does it matter to ya
When you got a job to do
You gotta do it well
You gotta give the other fellow hell

When you were young and your heart was an open book
You used to say live and let live
(you know you did, you know you did you know you did)
But if this ever changing world in which we’re living
Makes you give in and cry

Say live and let die
Live and let die
Live and let die
Live and let die