Martika, Jona Lewie and “You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties”

Well, I seem to find myself with a few spare hours so will attempt a little light blogging. As regular visitors to this place know, the soap opera that is my life seems to get played out on these pages and this post is very much in that vein.

Until this week I was a “new kitchen” virgin as somehow I have always been able to make do and mend with whatever kitchen was in place when we moved house. A few things happened towards the end of last year however that meant time was definitely up on our much-loved, brightly painted cabinets and obsolete appliances. (I used to be a great fan of the telly show Changing Rooms and threw myself into “upcycling”.)

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First of all, after returning from our only weekend away last year, we discovered that darling daughter had somehow managed to render the oven door hinges effectively bust. Luckily we are quite good at problem solving and worked out that my mum’s spare walking stick could be used as a prop to hold the door shut, but not a long-term solution obviously. The second thing that happened was that one of the worktops developed a little hole that was letting in water, causing the woodchip inside to bulge. This time Mr WIAA used some of his modelling putty to plug the hole but not being an exact colour match it always looked as if a pesky bit of carrot had been left on the surface (not very attractive). Finally, and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back, after the little button that ignited the gas hob decided to give up the ghost and crumble to nothing, Mr WIAA’s temporary solution meant that a trip to the kitchen showroom was very much on the cards. Yes, when asked to find something round and brown in colour that could work as a button to press, he came up with the item shown below, found amongst DD’s old collection of joke shop purchases – He thought it was funny, and functional, but not something you would want visitors to see if they casually sauntered in to check on culinary progress!

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And so we ended up doing the rounds of the many outlets who offer up fancy pants new kitchens. Anyone who replaces their kitchen often will be an old hand at all this but as newbies we were first of all aghast at just how much choice there is out there in terms of the various components (so many decisions to be made), and also of course shocked at how a set of cabinets costing around £4k leads to a grand total of about £12k after installation, but hey ho, god willing we won’t be doing it again for a very long time. With any luck, in another week or two we will end up with something as shown in this fine aerial plan done in minutes on the company’s wizard computer system. In the meantime a makeshift kitchen has been set up in the living room and the temperature, having plummeted of late, means that the garden is like one giant fridge/freezer so no problem keeping the milk fresh at all.

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I read earlier this week that Donald Trump’s diet consists mainly of takeaways from McDonalds as he is wary of being poisoned from eating food prepared elsewhere (as if!) – Having given in to hunger the other night and gone out to pick up such fare, I am not convinced he’ll last the distance. Morgan Spurlock made the excellent film Super Size Me back in 2004 and all the doctors were shocked at just how much his health deteriorated in the 30 days he consumed nothing but McDonalds’ food. Fortunately for us this was a one-off that won’t be repeated for some time, but for people like Donald who appear to be frequent consumers, they need to watch this film. Might be better to stick to that original fast food pre-packed by Mother Nature – The humble banana.

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Something I’ve been trying to shoehorn in for some time.

Anyway, no-one wants to hear any more about my renovation project but of course it has got me thinking about songs that refer to kitchens in their titles. The first that came to mind was Martika’s Kitchen sung by none other than the lady herself, Martika. Although this song came along in the early ’90s, long after I had lost interest in what was happening in the current singles chart, I do remember her popping up several times on those Saturday morning TV shows made primarily for kids, but also watched by those of us who might have been slowly recovering from the night before. Looking back, the show I must have spotted her on could only have been Going Live which ran from 1987 to 1993 and was presented by Phillip (after The Broom Cupboard but before This Morning) Schofield and Blue Peter’s Sarah Greene.

Having just listened to this song again for the first time in decades, it turns out that it’s probably not the kind of ditty that should have been anywhere near a kid’s telly show and not even really the kind of fodder I usually feature here at WIAA. It was written by Prince (that explains a lot) as Martika was one of his many dark-haired female protégés who were around at that time. Somehow, unlike my good self, I don’t think Martika ever got an aerial plan of the kitchen she’s singing about in this song.

But what other songs have been written about honest to goodness kitchens and not ones that were euphemisms like the one Martika sang about. Well back in 1980, ahead of the release of his perennial Christmas hit Stop The Cavalry, Jona Lewie gave us You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties. Unlike in the early ’90s when I seemed to be busy watching telly whilst nursing hangovers, at the start of the ’80s I was still keeping a close eye on what was in the charts and I remember this song well. Jona Lewie, I have just discovered, used to go by the name Terry Dactyl (as in pterodactyl, hmm…) and along with his backing band the Dinosaurs (what came first, the dinosaur or the terry dactyl?) had a hit in 1972 with the song Seaside Shuffle. Don’t know if it’s just me, but it has a definite Mungo Jerry sound to it.

You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties by Jona Lewis:

An interesting snippet about this song is that it was the first time Kirsty MacColl sang as a backing singer for Stiff Records. The daughter of folk singer Ewan MacColl, Kirsty went on to record several pop hits from the early ’80s to the mid ’90s but is of course best remembered for the Pogues song Fairytale of New York on which she dueted with Shane MacGowan. Kirsty sadly died in 2000 as a result of a tragic accident whilst on holiday in Mexico.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Like Jona Lewie I have done my fair share of spending time in the kitchen at parties. It can be a tough gig breezing it out with people you barely know in the main venue, so to retreat with a few others to the more relaxed environment of the kitchen can be just the ticket. I hope my new kitchen (once we manage to source a table that fits in properly) becomes a relaxed hub where people can hang out during parties should they wish. Whether I will actually have the time or energy to host any parties in the near future is another topic, for another day, but in the meantime I’m just glad for once that the temperatures are very low indeed as I’m about to pop out to the giant fridge that is our garden, for a cold beer and a pint of milk!

Until next time….

You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties Lyrics
(Song by Jona Lewie/Keith Trussell)

I’m no good at chatting up and always get rebuffed
Enough to drive a man to drink, I don’t do no washing up
I always reached the stuff piled up, piled up in the sink

But you will always find him in the kitchen at parties

Me and my girlfriend we argued and she ran away from home
She must have found somebody new and now I’m all alone
Living on my own, what am I supposed to do?

That’s why you’ll always find him in the kitchen at parties
You will always find him in the kitchen at parties
You will always find him in the kitchen at parties

Then I met this debutante, I said that I like new wave rock
She was into French cuisine but I ain’t no Cordon Bleu
This was at some do in Palmer’s Green, I had no luck with her

You will still find him in the kitchen at parties
You will still find him in the kitchen at parties

At last I met a pretty girl, she laughed and talked with me
We both walked out of the kitchen and danced in a new way

And now I’ve done my time in the kitchen at parties
I’ve done my time in the kitchen at parties

He’s done his time in the kitchen at parties
He’s done his time in the kitchen at parties
He’s done his time in the kitchen at parties
He’s done his time in the kitchen at parties

The Waterboys, “The Whole Of The Moon” and Hello 2018!

A Happy New Year to everyone who visits here.

Since I’ve taken to posting on a Monday, I will make this offering the next in my “full moon” series, as the first lunar spectacle of 2018 should appear in our night skies tomorrow, the 2nd January. Since starting this series we’ve had the Beaver Moon in November and the Cold Moon in December. January is the month of the Wolf Moon, again taken from the Native Americans as it used to appear in the sky when wolves were howling in hunger, outside their villages.

And here is where I get to share the song I have most looked forward to revisiting since starting this series – The Whole Of The Moon by The Waterboys. No need to wait until tomorrow to attempt an amateurish shot of the Wolf Moon then, as the picture in this clip is pretty special in itself.

The Whole Of The Moon by The Waterboys:

Appropriate that this song should feature at the time of year often associated with the Scots and Hogmanay as it was written by a native of Edinburgh, lead Waterboy Mike Scott. The Whole Of The Moon was first released in 1985 but only achieved moderate success in the charts. By the time The Waterboys had released their greatest hits album in 1991, Celtic Rock was in the ascendance so when re-released the song reached the No. 3 position in the UK Singles Chart. The early Waterboys sound was often referred to as “The Big Music” after a song on their second album. That sound either influenced or was used to very aptly describe a number of other Scottish or Irish bands who specialised in anthemic music at that time – U2, Simple Minds, Big Country and the Hothouse Flowers.

Some great lines in this song, my favourite being this one, “I saw the rain dirty valley, you saw Brigadoon” – It sums up how we’d all like to be in life, but not always easy to get into that mindset. I really wish I could always see Brigadoon rather than the rain dirty valley and I also wish that I could always see the whole of the moon rather than just the crescent but hey, I’m only human, and we humans can get bogged down in the detail sometimes losing the ability to see the big picture.

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Gene and Cyd in Brigadoon

Now we come to the point, for the benefit for those of you who visit here regularly, where I make my excuses as to why I might not be able to spend as much time on the blogosphere for a wee while. Against all the odds I seem to have landed myself a new job doing just the kind of work I enjoy, based locally and as flexible as it gets in terms of the hours. I should start on Wednesday but as of this last weekend it has become apparent that my mum can no longer live on her own so I find myself in the position of becoming her carer until we get something more permanent in place – In the short term, not going to be easy to juggle those two very different demands on my time.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Life never trundles along in a nice smooth pattern. I have, by my own admission, not had quite enough to do over the last few months, but all of a sudden I now have too much. I didn’t want to hang up my chapeau de bloggeur earlier in the year but things change, so the hat stand might be needed after all. Apologies if I miss out on any of your posts over the next few weeks but 2018 looks as if it’s going to be challenging, I can tell. Once everything settles down my blogging mojo will no doubt return.

In the meantime, remember to look out for that full moon tomorrow night – As Mike Scott implied in his lyrics, he who sees the whole of the moon as opposed to just the crescent, is a lucky man.

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The Whole Of The Moon Lyrics
(Song by Mike Scott)

I pictured a rainbow
You held it in your hands
I had flashes
You saw the plan
I wandered out in the world for years
While you just stayed in your room
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon

You were there in the turnstiles
With the wind at your heels
You stretched for the stars
And you know how it feels
To reach too high
Too far
Too soon
You saw the whole of the moon

I was grounded
While you filled the skies
I was dumbfounded by truth
You cut through lies
I saw the rain dirty valley
You saw, “Brigadoon”
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon

I spoke about wings
You just flew
I wondered, I guessed and I tried
You just knew
I sighed
But you swooned
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon
The whole of the moon

The torch in your pocket
And the wind on your heels
You climbed on a ladder
And you know how it feels
To reach too high
Too far
Too soon
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon

Unicorns and cannonballs
Palaces and Piers
Trumpets, towers, and tenements
Wide oceans full of tears

Flags, rags, ferryboats
Scimitars and scarves
Every precious dream and vision
Underneath the stars

Yes, you climbed on the ladder
With the wind in your sails
You came like a comet
Blazing your trail

Too high (too high)
Too far (too far)
Too soon (too soon)
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon
Yeah, you saw the whole of the moon

The Sandwich Generation at Christmas: Gentleman Jim Reeves, S Club 7 and Wham!

Like many others my of my generation, I seem to have found myself in the position of becoming the squeezed filling in a sandwich. The family sandwich that is, with elderly parents who need a considerable amount of assistance (in essence, your time) and offspring who also need a considerable amount of assistance (in essence, your cash). At no point in the year is this more apparent than at Christmastime.

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The Christmas Sandwich

For the ladies in my mum’s retirement complex, their normal routine is thrown out of kilter which causes much confusion and distress. Combine that with trying to preserve the traditions of Christmas like writing cards to old friends, and the distress is compounded. We all pride ourselves around here on our knowledge of music and can hark back to what we were listening to up to 50 years ago. Imagine pouring over your Christmas card list only to find that you can’t remember the last name of life-long friends, and in many cases, can’t even remember who they are. It seems my mum’s long-term, as well as short-term memory, has now left her which is a frightening prospect for both of us. I’m not sure what the year ahead will bring but I do know, like many other ladies of her age, that she loved listening to a bit of Gentleman Jim Reeves, so this one’s for her – The highly sentimental (but unapologetically so) An Old Christmas Card.

James Travis Reeves hasn’t appeared on these pages before but his “Twelve Songs of Christmas” album was a staple in my parent’s house at this time of the year. The Texan country and popular music singer became well known as a practitioner of the Nashville sound (a mixture of older country-style music with elements of popular music) and his songs continued to chart for years after his death. Poor Jim died in a plane crash, like so many others of his generation, back in 1964 at the age of 40

But before things get too maudlin around here, I will move onto the other half of the sandwich, darling daughter. She moved home in the summer of 2016 for “around two months” but through no fault of her own is still with us. Having gone down the “artsy” route after school (I blame Mr WIAA’s side of the family), finding herself in a well-paid job by the age of 22 was always going to be hard and despite working full-time (and more) in a sometimes very stressful work environment, being able to cover the rent and bills for a flat is tricky at best. The ignominy therefore of living with your parents is still better than poverty it seems, and we are caught up in the moral dilemma of wanting to help out but also wanting to instil a sense of independence. At the moment “helping out” is winning, thus the outpouring of cash for a new laptop which will of course only be used for the purposes of further study and the completion of application forms!

It has been mentioned around here before that DD’s first single was one also much appreciated by the childlike Kayleigh Kitson from Peter Kay’s Car Share – Yes it was that wonderful pop song included in the “Now 48” album called Never Had A Dream Come True. It was used for one of the dream sequences featuring Peter’s character John, Kayleigh, and a monster truck! On the B-side of that millennium single however was this song, Perfect Christmas, which always takes me right back to those days when the grandparents were all still hale and hearty and the only item required for Santa’s sack was a large shiny toy with no electronics of any kind putting in an appearance. Happy days indeed so this one’s for her.

Perfect Christmas by S Club 7:

S Club 7 were of course a manufactured pop act put together by ex-Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller and they starred in four really successful kids’ sitcoms. They recorded some very pleasant pop records and I’m not even very sure why (maybe Kayleigh Kitson could help me with that one), but this “B-side” still ranks up there amongst my favourite Christmas songs ever.

So, “What’s It All About?” – For the second year in a row all this looking back nostalgically at the tracks of my years is making me maudlin. I did snap out of it last year before the big day however and I anticipate the same thing will happen this year. In any case, although I am listening to these songs with fond memories, as often happens they are probably selective ones – No doubt I was very unhappy listening to Jim Reeves as a 17-year-old in the year of punk, 1977. Also, although I had S Club 7 to serenade me back in the year 2000, having 10 people descend for Christmas dinner was no doubt a tad stressful.

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George Michael RIP, in his 1984 Christmas jumper

But before I finish, unlike last year when I tried to be “cool” with my festive music choices, I am now obviously secure enough to share all manner of “uncool” material. Most of us will know that we lost George Michael on Christmas day last year which for me was a massive shock and many posts have been written about him here since. To my eternal shame I chose not to feature his Wham! triumph Last Christmas back then for fear of it being uncool to do so. As the clip epitomises my ever so slightly hedonistic mid-eighties lifestyle however, I have no compunction about doing so this year. I give you George, Andrew, Pepsi and Shirley having what seems to be a fantastic time in their winter hideaway – If that pesky heart just hadn’t been “given away the very next day”, all would have been perfect!

Last Christmas by Wham!

For those who celebrate it, Have a Very Merry Christmas from all of us who feature here at WIAA Towers (myself, Mr WIAA, DD and my little mum). See you on the other side, once it’s all over for another year. xxx

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Last Christmas Lyrics
(Song by George Michael)

Last Christmas
I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away.
This year
To save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special.

Once bitten and twice shy
I keep my distance
But you still catch my eye.
Tell me, baby,
Do you recognize me?
Well,
It’s been a year,
It doesn’t surprise me
(Merry Christmas)

I wrapped it up and sent it
With a note saying, “I love you,”
I meant it
Now I know what a fool I’ve been.
But if you kissed me now
I know you’d fool me again.

Oh, oh, baby.

A crowded room,
Friends with tired eyes.
I’m hiding from you
And your soul of ice.
My god I thought you were someone to rely on.
Me? I guess I was a shoulder to cry on.

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart.
A man under cover but you tore me apart, ooh-hoo.
Now I’ve found a real love, you’ll never fool me again.

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart (I gave you my heart)
A man under cover but you tore him apart
Maybe next year I’ll give it to someone
I’ll give it to someone special.

Alyson’s Archive #5 – David Bowie, “Heroes” and Seasonal Duets

Think back forty years ago, to this week in December 1977. I’m pretty sure I would have been busy at school sitting mock exams ahead of the Christmas break (luckily we got them out of the way beforehand so had the luxury of no holiday revision). But what else would I have been doing? Oh yes, that’s right, I would have been picking up my monthly copy of Words magazine, of which a couple of issues have already been shared in this series.

On the cover was none other than Mr David Bowie, as 1977 was a pretty good year for him having released two successful albums, “Low” at the start of the year and “Heroes” right at the end. Hard to believe that he left us nearly two years ago now. I started this blog on the day we heard of his death and despite never having really been a Bowie fanatic, he has appeared on these pages many times now. He obviously infiltrated the “tracks of my years” in a stealthy fashion without me having realised, and the song Heroes from that second album is one of my all-time favourites.

Heroes by David Bowie:

I’ve visited the soundtrack to the film Moulin Rouge! twice before in this blog (here and here) but as it’s coming up to Christmas (and the sumptuous red dress and glittering lights in this clip remind me of the festive period), I can’t help but share the Heroes portion of the medley performed by the two main characters, Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman. A total of 13 songs were melded together to create a cornucopia of love-songs, but for me, Bowie’s Heroes worked the best.

But as usual I’ve become side-tracked – Getting back to the magazine, the music journalist who wrote the column on December’s “Cover Star” seemed to get it just right. To quote from the piece, “Of all our current top rock stars, David Bowie is the one most likely to remain a major musical force decades hence… .” And they continue, “Listening to this [Heroes], you realise that Bowie’s strength and durability lies in the fact he refuses to fit neatly into any specific category. He will constantly surprise even his most dedicated followers, while maintaining an unvarying high quality of performance.” As I’ve discovered from this series, we didn’t always get it right back in the day and the slightly disparaging remarks in my 1978 journal about artists who went on to great things, proves this – Sorry Squeeze! Likewise the music journalists often got it wrong themselves and many of the stories printed in these vintage mags were about people who are now residing at Her Majesty’s pleasure. Makes for a somewhat excruciating read.

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You can’t have failed to notice that Bing Crosby also appears in the picture above – As I’ve already mentioned the “C” word in this post there is no point in holding back any longer. My first festive offering for this year is therefore going to be that very unusual foray into the 1982 UK Singles Chart by David Bowie. As explained in the column above, it came about as a result of this guest appearance on Bing Crosby’s 1977 Christmas Show. Poor Bing died a month later, before it was aired on television, but if you can get past the highly scripted, faux exchange at the start, it is a remarkable piece of archive material, especially as both “boys in blue” have now passed on. It is unlikely that Bing even knew who David Bowie was before recording the show but once the Peace On Earth counterpoint was written for the duet, Bowie got on board. It was apparently available as a bootleg single for several years before the record company decided to release it as a bona fide single, complete with dialogue. Bowie was unhappy with this move however and it probably led to him leaving RCA soon after.

Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy by David Bowie and Bing Crosby:

So, “What’s It All About?” – As of this last weekend the festive madness has begun, but it seems to be impossible to opt out. I’ve also just discovered that the online retail store named after a vast South American river is almost out of everything that darling daughter requested on her Santa list (yes he still visits 22-year-olds apparently), so a trip to the shops seems to be on the cards. Looks as if Mr WIAA and I will have to be “Heroes”, just for one day.

Oh and one more thing, the reason this particular cover jumped out at me is possibly because there is currently a 10 foot tall picture of David Bowie residing at the entrance to our local shopping centre – Forty years on, and two years after his death, his images still exude “cool” which has obviously made him the perfect candidate for a certain watch-maker to use as inspiration for their latest timepiece.

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Until next time….

Heroes Lyrics
(Song by David Bowie/Brian Eno)

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing, will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be heroes, just for one day

And you, you can be mean
And I, I’ll drink all the time
‘Cause we’re lovers, and that is a fact
Yes, we’re lovers, and that is that

Though nothing, will keep us together
We could steal time, just for one day
We can be heroes, forever and ever
What’d you say?

I, I wish you could swim
Like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim
Though nothing, nothing will keep us together
We can beat them, forever and ever
Oh, we can be heroes, just for one day

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can be heroes, just for one day
We can be us, just for one day

I, I can remember (I remember)
Standing, by the wall (by the wall)
And the guns, shot above our heads (over our heads)
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall)
And the shame, was on the other side

Oh, we can beat them, forever and ever
Then we could be heroes, just for one day
We can be heroes
We can be heroes
We can be heroes
Just for one day

We can be heroes
We’re nothing, and nothing will help us
Maybe we’re lying, then you better not stay
But we could be safer, just for one day
Oh-oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh-oh

Postscript:

Just in case you’re curious as to what else we were listening to in December ’77 (other than David Bowie) here is a copy of the Words contents page which includes two sets of lyrics. How many of these (without Googling) would you remember?

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The Name Of The Game by Abba:

Moonlighting, Al Jarreau and The Cold Grip of Winter

Last month I wrote a post (link here) about that amazing full moon we in the UK were all witness to. Having discovered that all full moons have a name, generally having come from the Native Americans who very much used the moon’s cycle as their calendar, I decided to embark on a series of “moon posts” to coincide with whenever a new one appears in our skies. Last night, despite the fact there had been solid cloud cover all day, I managed to witness the Cold Moon, so-called because it occurs at that time of the year when the cold grip of winter really starts to take hold. I tried very hard to get a good shot of it both with my phone and camera, but not easy, so here is the best I could come up with – My Cold Moon as seen in the Highlands of Scotland.

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The next full moon will occur in January, so as this is my last lunar offering of 2017 I am going to feature a song by an artist who sadly left us earlier this year and whom I have been remiss in not mentioning until now. I am talking about Al Jarreau who despite having had an incredibly long career as a jazz performer will, for me, always be remembered as the guy who sang the “Moonlighting” Theme. Al started out in 1968 and during his lengthy career received a total of seven Grammy Awards and was nominated for over a dozen more. He is perhaps best known for his 1981 album “Breakin’ Away” but passed away back in February this year at the age of 76, just two days after announcing his retirement.

“Moonlighting” Theme by Al Jarreau:

Moonlighting was the American comedy-drama television series, set in the offices of a private detective agency, that ran for four years in the late 1980s. It was must watch telly in the flat I shared with my best friends and even when we all started to move out and go our separate ways, it was always a great excuse for a get-together back at the mothership!

The show made a star out of Bruce Willis and re-launched the career of Cybill Shepherd. The relationship between their characters, David and Maddie, was of course one of those “will they, won’t they” ones but naturally once they did, the magic ended. Still included in most lists of the best TV couples of all time however.

Next month’s full moon will be called the Wolf Moon so I shall return at the start of January with another lunar song title. A bit of a quirk next month however in that we will also have a Blue Moon. Doesn’t happen often (thus the name) but as all full moons occur every 29.5 days we will have one on the 2nd and the 31st (just snuck in there at the end of the month). Plenty of song choices for blue moons but will have to have a think about which song would be most suitable for a wolf moon. Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band immediately comes to mind but we’ll see!

Until next time…. RIP Al Jarreau

Moonlighting Lyrics
(Song by Al Jarreau/Lee Holdridge)

Some walk by night
Some fly by day
Nothing could change you
Set and sure of the way
Charming and bright
Laughing and gay
I’m just a stranger
Love the Blues and the Braves
There is the sun and moon
Facing their old, sweet tune
Watch them when dawn is due
Sharing one space

Some walk by night
Some fly by day
Something is sweeter
When you meet ‘long the way
There is the sun and moon
Facing their old, sweet tune
Watch them when dawn is due
Sharing one space

So come walk the night
Come fly by day
Something is sweeter
‘Cause we met ‘long the way
We’ll walk the night
We’ll fly by day
Moonlighting strangers
Who just met on the way
Who just met on the way

Greenland, Guam and How Often Do You Check Your Stats?

A bit of a silly post this but I have previously asked the question, “Are you also addicted to blogging?” and the responses were interesting. Like myself, many others would admit to being addicted, but in a good way. To share our thoughts with others in this community can be a great stress-buster at the end of a busy day and the community itself is something to be cherished, a beautiful add-on to a world of real-life friends and colleagues.

My question today is, “How often do you check your stats?”. I ask because I tend to check mine quite frequently. I’m not sure how it works on other platforms but here at WordPress we get all sorts of breakdowns on a daily basis as to how our blog posts are faring – How many visitors and views, where these visitors come from and which posts are the most popular. Having dealt with statistics for most of my working life, I know that we have to take these stats with a pinch of salt, as there are many underlying reasons as to why a particular result might arise – Still makes for interesting reading though.

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An example of the WordPress stats page

At the moment my most visited post by a country mile is this one – The Proclaimers, Hibs and Sunshine On Leith. It was written right at the start of my blogging career but by sheer coincidence I picked a post title that matches exactly what a Hibernian Football Club fan would enter into a search engine after winning a big match. The song Sunshine On Leith is the anthem the fans sing from the terraces whilst supporting their team and those who want to relive that emotional moment probably stumble upon my post. This in turn pushes it up the search engines so when the recent documentary about the twins was aired on telly, that post started getting another massive hike in views. Interesting stuff but whether these visitors hang around and read any of my other posts is debatable.

Another statistic I love is looking at is that map of the world which shows where your visitors come from. First thing in the morning your top views are likely to be from North America and Australasia as those are the English-speaking regions that have been surfing the net whilst we in the UK are sound asleep. By mid afternoon however the tables turn and your most frequent visitors are likely to come from the UK and the rest of Europe. A fellow blogger wrote recently about all of this – I mentioned in his comments box that it fascinates me too and that I have had views from countries as diverse as Greenland and Guam. I threw those two in as I thought it formed a nice bit of alliteration – Imagine my surprise therefore, when only last week, on a single day, I had views from both those countries! There is a good chance that any visits to our blogs are merely the result of a google search for something else and the surfer didn’t linger long – Just in case that was not the case for my visitors from Greenland and Guam however, I decided to do a little research into the music of those two, very different countries.

Greenland:

Most of us will know that Greenland is that island within the Arctic Circle that always looks enormous on a conventional map but mainly down to the way the globe is stretched at the north and south poles via Mercator projection. It is however still the world’s largest island although it is also the world’s least densely populated country, no doubt because of that giant ice cap that practically covers it. Although part of the North American continent, it has long been politically and culturally associated with Europe and more specifically Scandinavia. Its people are in the main of Inuit and Danish descent.

The traditional music of Greenland features drum dances but modern day music tends to be influenced primarily by rock bands from the US and the UK – According to native drummer Hans Rosenberg, Greenland is definitely a rock country, both musically and literally. With the wonders of modern technology at my disposal it didn’t take long to find something by this popular modern day Greenlander band Nanook. The video clip gives a really good impression of what it would be like to live there (brrr…) and I have become quite smitten by this song which is tricky to spell but hopefully I’ve got it right – Ingerlaliinnaleqaagut.

Guam:

Unlike Greenland, Guam has a tropical rainforest climate and is the largest island in Micronesia. Most of us will know that it’s a territory of the United States and since the 1960s the economy has been supported by two main industries – Tourism and the United States Armed Forces. Indigenous Guamanians are the Chamorros who are related to other Austronesian natives to the west in the Philippines and Taiwan. A frequently used territorial motto is “Where America’s Day Begins”, which refers to the island’s close proximity to the international date line.

Modern music from Guam has American, Spanish, Filipino and Polynesian influences however it seems that of all the popular Chamorro musicians, Flora Baza Quan is the “Queen”. Her most famous recording was of the song Hagu so time to head down to Pika’s Café where Jen and RJ perform a fine cover version. 

So, another little geography lesson courtesy of “What’s It All About?” – Other countries that seem to pop up on my stats quite frequently, but unusually I think, are Japan, Finland and The Philippines. Always interested in who drops by this place so please pop your head round the door if you do indeed visit from these countries.

Getting back to my native Scotland, it does seem appropriate that my most popular post to date featured those heavily accented twins from Auchtermuchty, The Proclaimers. I do have a category dedicated to Scottish bands (link here) of which there are many, but for this post I should really include something else by Craig and Charlie Reid. As there is a lot of “love in the air” around here at the moment (yes, darling daughter has a new boyfriend), it will have to be I’m Gonna Be from 1988. I’m not entirely sure if the new boyfriend would as yet walk 500 miles and then 500 more to fall down at her door, but as love songs go it’s a belter and not schmaltzy at all.

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers:

Until next time….

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) Lyrics
(Song by Craig Reid/Charlie Reid)

When I wake up, well I know I’m gonna be,
I’m gonna be the man who wakes up next you
When I go out, yeah I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who goes along with you
If I get drunk, well I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who gets drunk next to you
And if I haver up, yeah I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who’s havering to you

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles
To fall down at your door

When I’m working, yes I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who’s working hard for you
And when the money, comes in for the work I do
I’ll pass almost every penny on to you
When I come home (when I come home) well I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who comes back home to you
And if I grow-old (when I grow-old) well I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who’s growing old with you

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles
To fall down at your door

When I’m lonely, well I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who’s lonely without you
And when I’m dreaming, well I know I’m gonna dream
I’m gonna dream about the time when I’m with you
When I go out (when I go out) well I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who goes along with you
And when I come home (when I come home) yes I know I’m gonna be
I’m gonna be the man who comes back home with you
I’m gonna be the man who’s coming home with you

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles
To fall down at your door

Fireworks, Full Moons and “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)”

Well, socially it’s a busy time of the year in my neck of the woods and there have been two soirées in the last week alone. Last Tuesday our “across-the-road” neighbours hosted a Halloween party which was great fun. We all specialise in different kinds of events (I do quiz nights and landmark dates in the calendar) but Halloween belongs to them. Despite being in their late sixties now, their son’s old baby bath is hauled out to enable “dooking for apples”, the garage is given a spooky makeover and all the local kids drop by in their costumes.

Then on Saturday, friends who live across on what is called the Black Isle (it’s not actually an island but it’s bordered on three sides by firths, so almost), asked if we’d like to join them for their local Bonfire Night celebrations. The best bit of the whole night however was that we witnessed the most spectacular full moon I think I’ve ever seen. The picture below is not of that actual moon, as I wasn’t quite on the ball with my camera equipment, but it could well have been.

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Having looked into it a bit more it was called the Frost Moon which peaked this year on the 4th November. It is also called the Beaver Moon however, that name coming from the Native Americans as this was the time of year they set their beaver traps to make sure there were enough warm furs ahead of winter. It turns out all full moons have a name which is something I hadn’t realised before. Over the next 12 months we will have the following:

December – Cold Moon
January – Wolf Moon
February – Snow Moon
March – Worm Moon
April – Pink Moon
May – Flower Moon
June – Strawberry Moon
July – Buck Moon
August – Sturgeon Moon
September – Fruit Moon
October – Hunter’s Moon 
November – Beaver Moon

Over the last year I have written about all the landmark dates in the ancient Pagan, or Celtic calendar, but as that cycle is now complete I think I can feel a new series coming on, this time all about moons! But of course Saturday’s moon wasn’t just impressive because it was a full one – Oh no, it was also a “supermoon”, when it comes to that point nearest the Earth. Despite being only about 26,000 miles closer than at other times, it appears around 14% larger and a whopping 30% brighter than usual. I love all this stuff.

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But this is a music blog, so which song came to mind as I wandered along the beach on Saturday night on my way to the bonfire? Perhaps because I have written both about Frank Sinatra and the song Fly Me To The Moon in my last couple of posts, I ended up going down the Rat Pack route, and serenaded our friends with this golden oldie.

In Napoli where love is king
When boy meets girl, here’s what they say:

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore”

That’s Amore is a song written by Harry Warren and Jack Brooks which became a big hit (and signature song) for Dean Martin in 1953. Funnily enough, I remember it best from the Cher film Moonstruck, where she plays a widowed Italian-American who falls in love with her fiancé’s estranged, hot-tempered younger brother (played by Nicolas Cage). Cher won the Oscar for Best Actress in that one and as I haven’t watched it in years, I think I will now go and seek it out.

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But what else comes to mind when I think of songs with the word moon in the title or lyrics. Well, this might be a good time to include something by Christopher Cross in the blog. I have held off as long as possible as it seems that Christopher has unfortunately ended up being attributed to that category of artists who produce what is called soft rock, or even worse yacht rock. Apparently yacht rock relates to the stereotype of the yuppie yacht owner, who enjoys smooth music while out for a sail. Also, since sailing was a popular leisure activity in Southern California, many yacht rockers made nautical references in their lyrics, videos, and album artwork, particularly Sailing by Christopher Cross.

But hey, I have never owned a yacht nor am I ever likely to, but I still warm to the melodic tones of Mr Cross and always enjoy that romantic line from his Academy award winning song Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)If you get caught between the Moon and New York City, the best that you can do is fall in love”.

Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) by Christopher Cross:

It is no surprise really that I have always liked this song as it was written by Burt Bacharach (amongst others) for the 1981 film Arthur starring our own Dudley Moore. Burt’s song Wives and Lovers featured in my last post so definitely on a Frank and Burt roll at the moment it seems. What I have just discovered however is that the line about getting caught between the moon and New York City was inspired not by a romantic encounter but because one of the credited songwriters, Peter Allen, got stuck in a holding pattern waiting to land at JFK airport in New York several years earlier. Oh well, best not to know sometimes how these memorable lines came to pass.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I seem to have a new series on my hands! (Yes, I know I have a few others in progress but I will make time for them too, promise.) There are certainly many, many songs that mention the word “moon” in the title but which are your favourites?

In December, all being well we will witness the Cold Moon, that name again from the Native Americans as it was associated with the month when winter cold fastens its grip and the nights become long and dark. Any suggestions for songs therefore that relate to both the moon, and to the cold grip of winter, gratefully received. I will get my thinking cap on myself before that date and apologies that I couldn’t muster up anything this time that related both to the moon, and to beavers – Might have been a stretch?!

Until next time….

Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) Lyrics
(Song by Burt Bacharach/Carole Bayer Sager/Christopher Cross/Peter Allen)

Once in your life you find her
Someone that turns your heart around
And next thing you know you’re closing down the town
Wake up and it’s still with you
Even though you left her way across town
Wondering to yourself, “Hey, what’ve I found?”

When you get caught between the Moon and New York City
I know it’s crazy, but it’s true
If you get caught between the Moon and New York City
The best that you can do,
The best that you can do is fall in love

Arthur he does as he pleases
All of his life, he’s mastered choice
Deep in his heart, he’s just, he’s just a boy
Living his life one day at a time
And showing himself a really good time
Laughing about the way they want him to be

When you get caught between the Moon and New York City
I know it’s crazy, but it’s true
If you get caught between the Moon and New York City
The best that you can do,
The best that you can do is fall in love

Postscript:

Out of interest here are a few pictures from the display we went along to on Saturday night – The fireworks were indeed spectacular but not quite as spectacular as that amazing full moon reflected on the water of the firth. Very special indeed.

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