Earworm of the Week #2 – Carly Simon and “Let The River Run”

I have been banished to the office to “do some therapeutic blogging”, as I think I’m starting to drive Mr WIAA a little mad (in a nice way) with my whinging. When we acquired the holiday hideaway earlier this year to help pay my mum’s care home fees, I hadn’t reckoned on the sheer physicality of having so many changeovers to carry out in a relatively short space of time. My poor neck and shoulder still cries out in pain when I have to lift, push or carry anything with my right arm, and there will be no respite now until the end of September. I am bracing myself for the next seven weeks when we are to have a total of 18 changeovers, as most guests book for only two nights. I was an office wallah for 35 years, so however fit I thought I was, the shock to the system has been intense. Best foot forward though, and we’ll get through it, but just willing the season to now be over so that I can rejig my business model and yet again have a fully functional neck and shoulder.

As this is an imposed and not a planned session of blogging, the easiest song to write about would be the one that is currently spinning around in my head. I must have heard it on the radio the other day and when I woke up at 3am the other night, it was the first thing that came into my head and has barely left since. Let The River Run was a 1988 song written by Carly Simon for the film Working Girl and she swept the board with it when it came to awards season the following year winning a Grammy, an Oscar and a Golden Globe. It definitely has an anthemic quality to it – She apparently wanted to write a hymn to New York with a contemporary jungle beat under it, and it sounds as if she pretty much nailed it.

Let The River Run by Carly Simon:

Carly has appeared in this blog before, once when I wrote about the death of Roger Moore (she sang the theme to The Spy Who Loved Me) and again when I wrote a “moon-post” featuring the Glenn Miller song Moonlight Serenade (she recorded an album of standards and this was the title track). It occurred to me that she is one of those artists who has had great longevity in the industry yet quietly got on with business without ever becoming over-exposed or over-familiar.

I’m pretty sure that as I teenager I would have loved to look like Carly Simon – She had a great mane of hair, a natural tan and that rock ‘n’ roll kind of face as sported by some of her male counterparts. A handsome woman rather than a pretty one, which is always a good thing if you want to be taken seriously, and again, there was all that great hair. Being a Scottish person I rarely had a tan, have quite fine, straight hair and as for the rock ‘n’ roll face, not in my family genes I’m afraid but not jealous, honest!

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Carly Simon

The thing about earworms is that a particular line can keep repeating itself in your head and you don’t always know the name of the song it’s from, but in this case it was quite easy once I’d revisited Carly’s discography. I had seriously forgotten just how many albums she’d made and although not all her single releases became big hits in the UK, they do still get airplay so we are familiar with much of her output over the years. You’re So Vain of course (although we will probably never know for sure who it was about) but also Coming Around Again, Why, The Right Thing To Do and Mockingbird (with husband James Taylor), as well as the other songs mentioned above.

As for the film Working Girl, I remember well going to see it in 1988 and quite possibly had big permed hair at the time like Melanie Griffith, who played wannabe investment broker Tess McGill from Staten Island. She had worked hard, gone to night school and wanted the big job, but it turned out big hair and big jobs don’t go together, so a period of reinvention had to take place. All these years later I’m not sure if much has changed and it’s probably tougher than ever for women (and men) from what seems to be called disadvantaged backgrounds to climb the corporate ladder. Higher education is increasingly only for those whose parents can afford to help out with the cost, which is sad. In the late 70s, I unbelievably used to save some of my student grant, as I just didn’t need it all. Was this education wasted on me though, as I never did get what would be described as the big job but merely a pot-boiler job which was satisfactory but never stellar. Thinking back I definitely had big hair however, so perhaps I now see where I went wrong, unless you’re a rock star like Carly Simon of course where the bigger the hair the better.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I have a lot of work to get through so I’d better buckle down and get on with it. The kind of hair I have no longer affects me a jot but I think I will listen to a little more Carly Simon in the course of the day and dream of holidays in her beloved Martha’s Vineyard.

Before I go I’m going to include a clip of her joining Taylor Swift in concert where they perform a version of You’re So Vain. Apparently Taylor has now been let into the secret of who the song is about – As for us, I doubt if we’ll ever really know.

Until next time….

Let The River Run Lyrics
(Song by Carly Simon)

We’re coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

Let the river run,
let all the dreamers
wake the nation.
Come, the New Jerusalem.

Silver cities rise,
the morning lights
the streets that meet them,
and sirens call them on
with a song.

It’s asking for the taking.
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.

We’re coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

We the great and small
stand on a star
and blaze a trail of desire
through the dark’ning dawn.

It’s asking for the taking.
Come run with me now,
the sky is the color of blue
you’ve never even seen
in the eyes of your lover.

Oh, my heart is aching.
We’re coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

It’s asking for the taking.
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.
We’re coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

Let the river run,
let all the dreamers
wake the nation.
Come, the New Jerusalem.

Long Lost Aussie Cousins, Mental As Anything and “Live It Up”

Last time, I alluded to the fact that much has been happening around here of late, not least that Mr WIAA has now too given up his nice secure part-time job. That makes both of us then, but when I’m being rational, it makes no sense to carry on doing a job that has become beset by politics and managerial interference when you could be working for yourself. We now both have businesses that earn a crust, and although there will be lean months, there will hopefully also be months when it all falls into place and the contracts flood in. We have set ourselves a deadline of next June, after which, if it hasn’t worked out, we will both have to look for jobs or cash in the meagre pension funds early. Neither of these options is very appealing, so motivation levels are currently running high.

I also mentioned last time that one of the many things we have decided to tackle this summer is “The Loft Project”. Like most of us who live in houses with a fully floored loft, this space becomes the depository for a lifetime’s worth of possessions, and in my case many of our deceased grandparents’ and parents’ possessions. Tea sets, dinner sets, artwork, furniture, gadgets (three spare tellys at the last count), clothes, photographs, scrapbooks, camping equipment, books … , the list goes on. It has been fortunate for this blog that I have kept so much teenage memorabilia, as many posts have been written using images of old pop pinups and magazines, but of late the sheer volume of it all has become overwhelming so something needs to be done. (Pictures below of the kind of loft I have and the kind of loft I want to have!)

One of the biggest jobs to be tackled was going to be sifting through my vast collection of family photographs, as all of them seem to have come down the line to me. I know I should share them out amongst my cousins but I have had very little contact with many of these cousins for years, so not an easy thing to do. By some amazing act of serendipity, the other week I received a message from a long lost cousin who found me on Facebook. He had emigrated to Australia in 1976 and I hadn’t set eyes on him for nearly 50 years. His wife was putting together a family tree for their son’s 40th birthday and they had very little knowledge and no photographs at all from his dad’s side of the family (that would be because I have them all).

We have now been in constant touch over the last two weeks and they have provided me with all the information they have gleaned from census records, and I in turn have provided them with digital copies of the above, along with anecdotal accounts of the personalities behind the people in the pictures. As with most rural families in the early 20th century, there were however complications. My uncle (the handsome chap with the movie star looks) was a half brother to my dad as there seems to have been just so much death and sadness. My dad’s mum was one of a family of twelve, but four of her siblings died, and then both her mum and dad died. The chap I always thought of as my Great Uncle was actually her cousin, but he would have felt like a brother as they were both brought up by her septuagenarian grandmother. My granny’s first husband died, but then she met my grandad and they had a fine life together with their two boys. Sadly my granny died before I was born, and my uncle died young too, which I think precipitated my cousin’s move to Australia. As I say, all very complicated, and with second marriages it gets even more complicated but as someone from a very small family, it’s been lovely making contact with someone who shares the same branch of the family tree. Invitations to visit have been mutually made, so who knows, after 50 years we may actually meet up again in person sometime soon.

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My lovely dad in his National Service uniform – Thankfully he grew into those ears!

With all of this toing and froing of messages between Australia and Scotland, my mind has of course wandered into musical territory, and that great continent has certainly given us plenty of artists who have made their mark. From Frank Ifield, The Seekers and Kylie to Men At Work, Crowded House, INXS, ACDC and Nick Cave, over the years our charts have been littered with records made by our Antipodean cousins. As I’m feeling particularly upbeat about having rediscovered my long lost cousin, I am going to share an upbeat song that always makes me smile. Mental As Anything recorded the song Live It Up in 1985 and although it was a hit in Australia it didn’t get noticed elsewhere until it featured in the film Crocodile Dundee starring Paul Hogan. It ended up being the band’s most successful and most popular song, reaching No. 3 in the UK Singles Chart in 1987.

Live It Up by Mental As Anything:

Although he has apparently lived in every state in Australia, I don’t think my cousin ever worked as a crocodile hunter, but Paul Hogan certainly created something memorable when he took on the role of Mick Dundee, and just goes to show, good training for life in inner city New York where he seemed to fit right in. In light of our nation’s current epidemic of knife crime, I don’t feel I can include the clip of how Mick deals with a particularly tricky situation, but if you’ve seen the film I’m sure you’ll know the one I mean. Suffice to say Sue, played by his future wife Linda Koslowski, must have felt in safe hands when out and about with Mick, whether in the Australian jungle or NYC. I often say around here that we don’t really need alpha males any more to protect us from harm, but rather someone who can cook dinner and perhaps fix our laptops – Watching Crocodile Dundee and other action movies however, there is still something quite alluring about a man who has “a very particular set of skills”, but maybe that’s just me.

So, “What’s It All About?” – The loft project has now stalled for several reasons. We have come to realise that nothing sells nowadays; we have to painstakingly go through every box in case old family photos are accidentally destroyed, and, like it or not; some things will have to be kept, for sentimental reasons. At least we’ve made a start though.

Great to be back in touch with my cousin and I now know so much more of my family history, albeit much of it very sad. My great-grandfather was apparently a grocer’s carter yet he had 10 children and lived in a two roomed house. Poverty was very real, yet only two generations on things had changed so much, and my parents’ generation all did very well for themselves, retiring with good pensions at 60 or 65 dependent on gender (the man always tended to be around five years older than his wife so it made sense – not so much nowadays). I have a terrible feeling that in the last 30 years or so, things have started to regress in the western world and child poverty yet again seems to be rife. Some retire young with good pensions, yet others will probably never make it to pensionable age. At least my family tree is now all well-documented and I look forward to receiving my hard copy soon. Those who emigrated to Australia in the late 20th century do seem to have done well for themselves. I wonder if you have any family members who did the same thing – It’s highly likely that you do.

Until next time….

Live It Up Lyrics
(Song by Greedy Smith)

How can you see looking through those tears
Don’t you know you’re worth your weight in gold
I can’t believe that you’re alone in here
Let me warm your hands against the cold

A close encounter with a hard-hearted man
Who never gave half of what he got
Has made you wish you’d never been born
That’s a shame cause you got the lot

Hey yeah you with the sad face
Come up to my place and live it up
You beside the dance floor
What do you cry for let’s live it up

If you smiled the walls would fall down
On all the people in this pickup joint
But if you laughed you’d level this town
Hey lonely girl that’s just the point

Hey yeah you with the sad face
Come up to my place and live it up
You beside the dance floor
What do you cry for let’s live it up

Just answer me the question why
You stand alone by the phone in the corner and cry

How can you see looking through those tears
Don’t you know you’re worth your weight in gold
I can’t believe that you’re alone in here
Let me warm your hands against the cold

If you smiled the walls would fall down
On all the people in this pickup joint
But if you laughed you’d level this town
Hey lonely girl that’s just the point

Hey yeah you with the sad face
Come up to my place and live it up
You beside the dance floor
What do you cry for let’s live it up

Let’s live it up
Live it up
Mmm live it up
Hey yeah you
With the sad face
Come up to my place
Come up to my place baby

Hey yeah you with the sad face
Come up to my place and live it up
You beside the dance floor
What do you cry for let’s live it up

You with the sad face
Come up to my place and live it up
You beside the dance floor
What do you cry for let’s live it up

Awesome Mixtapes #1 – Propaganda and “Duel”

If it seems I have been largely absent of late, don’t worry, I’m not giving you all the cold shoulder, instead I have a cold shoulder as a result of the ice pack currently attached to it. I don’t know about the rest of you, but too many hours spent in front of a computer really goes for my neck and shoulders. On top of it being gardening season, being busy with changeovers at the holiday hideaway, and a spot of sewing, I am currently in agony. Here is one that was largely already written however, so I’ll try and finish it off before the ice pack melts!

I recently wrote about one of the songs that featured in the second Guardians of the Galaxy movie. It formed part of the excellent soundtrack which became known as, and was released under the moniker, Awesome Mix Vol. 2. It certainly was an awesome mix of lesser-known 1970s pop hits, all carefully chosen by James Gunn, who directed and wrote the screenplay for the film.

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If like me you were born right at the start of the ’60s, you would have been just the right age for mixtapes, as we became teenagers right at the time those newfangled cassette recorder machines came into our lives. Right through the ’70s, I created many, many mixtapes by recording songs from TOTP and Sunday night’s Official Chart Show, where just before 7pm, we discovered who now held the top spot in the UK Singles Chart.

In time however, as our equipment became more sophisticated, mixtapes were made by selecting our favourite album tracks and tailoring them for specific people. Over the years many mixtapes were exchanged between friends, lovers, or more likely, potential lovers – Of all the ones I received, this one was probably the best. There was also an IC1, an IC3 and an IC4, but IC2 was my favourite, which is why I still own it all these years later despite no longer having anything to play it on. I’m not going to say who IC was, but suffice to say he was a friend with a fantastic record collection who was also a born entertainer. He was one of my first friends to own his own house, and being an excellent cook, many dinner parties were held. This mixtape was made in the autumn of 1986, when for a brief nano-second I think I became part of the city’s “cool” set. It was fun for a short time, but as a naturally “uncool” person, the pressure was on to always wear the right clothes, read the right publications and generally be on point at all times. Luckily, I got a job in another town soon afterwards, so could extricate myself quite easily from this group, clocking it up to a short-lived, but exciting time in my life when I think I did fake it by trying to be someone I was not (wouldn’t ever recommend it).

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Anyway, I am in need of a new series I think as I seem to be jumping all over the place at the moment. As a nod to the GOTG soundtrack, I am going to use this mixtape of my own, and work my way through the tracks from IC’s awesome collection. When I first started seeing Mr WIAA he picked out this tape as one of his favourites and it accompanied us on holidays, on car trips and the like. It was very much from his era as an art student and the tracks reminded him of those days. He has a great fondness for the song Duel by Propaganda, partly because it reminds him so much of how the girls at art school looked in the mid ’80s – The hair, clothes and make-up was on point (unlike when I tried to recreate the look to fit in with my new “cool” friends). So, time to find out a bit more about this band and the song.

Duel by Propaganda:

What I wouldn’t have known back then was that Propaganda are German and were signed to Trevor Horn’s ZTT label between 1984 and 1986, which is when the song Duel was released. It was their highest-charting single in the UK reaching No. 21 in April 1985. Recording music of a synthpop nature they would naturally have found favour with the art school set of the mid ’80s. Lead singer Susanne Freytag certainly did have quite a distinctive look. (If like me however you had poker-straight fine hair back then, the voluminous spikey look was a challenge indeed that required much “product”).

As for the song Duel, the reason I’ve started off with it, is because it is often played in football stadiums ahead of kick-off, where two adversaries are about to challenge each other. It is the song played at the Heart Of Midlothian stadium during home matches and only last weekend they made it to the final of the Scottish Cup at Hampden. Perhaps because they didn’t have the adrenaline rush of coming out to the sound of Duel in familiar surroundings they lost 2-1 to Celtic, after initially being ahead. Earlier this week we had the Europa League final in Baku where Chelsea won the big prize and later on today, we are to have the Champions League final in Madrid. Jez over at Dubious Towers has already written about that match earlier today and will no doubt hope his beloved Spurs will take the crown.

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Propaganda

In news closer to home, it seems DD’s boyfriend is off to join one of the country’s biggest football teams for the new season – We wish him all the best, but as DD (who knows nothing about football) seems to be going with him, it will be a big wrench for our little family. Big changes round the corner but after years of having little interest in all things football-related, suddenly it’s become a pretty big deal.

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So, “What’s It All About?”. I seem to have pulled this one off, despite my sore neck and shoulders. I will be cheering on Spurs tonight in support of Jez who has had a tough time of late and could be doing with a bit of good fortune coming his way. I doubt if we will hear the song Duel as they enter the pitch in Madrid, but good for me to have found out a bit more of the backstory, which just wouldn’t have been possible back in the day. As for the DD footballing story, there will no doubt be more on that over the next few months. Football is not coming home for her, it’s taking her away, but perhaps time to fly the nest – We hope she will soar.

Until next time….

Duel Lyrics
(Song by Claudia Brücken/Ralf Dörper/Michael Mertens)

Eye to eye stand winners and losers
Hurt by envy, cut by greed
Face to face with their own disillusion
The scars of old romances still on their cheeks

And when blow by blow the passion dies
Sweet little death just have been lies
The memories of gone by time
Would still recall the lie

The first cut won’t hurt at all
The second only makes you wonder
The third will have you on your knees
You start bleeding I start screaming

It’s too late the decision is made by fate
Time to prove what forever should last
Whose feelings are so true as to stand the test
Whose demands are so strong as to parry all attempts

And when blow by blow the passion dies
Sweet little death just have been lies
The memories of gone by time
Would still recall the lie

The first cut won’t hurt at all
The second only makes you wonder
The third will have you on your knees
You start bleeding I start screaming

First World Problems, Friday Pints and “Getting Fresh at The Weekend”

“It’s Friday, it’s five to five . . . It’s time to go to the pub!”

Those of us in the UK will remember well that Friday at five to five was always Crackerjack! time, but hey, that’s not been part of my weekend ritual for over 40 years. Neither has going to the pub been part of my weekend ritual for an awful long time, but somehow, it was just what was required earlier on this evening. I have now returned somewhat tipsy, and rather than it being a bit of a car crash, it used to be one of the best times for me to turn to blogging. Let’s see how it goes this time.

To get us in the weekend mood, I need a weekend song – Hmm…

The computer I’m on just now doesn’t have the master database of digital music loveliness, but having just done a quick search on YouTube, here is something that certainly does mention the weekend. I was very fond of Mel and Kim back in the day and here they are Showing Out and Getting Fresh at the Weekend.

Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend) by Mel and Kim:

Why did I feel the need to go to the pub tonight? Because I’m disappointed. I’ve spent the last few months getting my new business up and running, but as ever, I have entered the market too late. Mr WIAA and myself seem to be experts at always getting in on the act a little too late and we are now the proud owners of a lovely holiday hideaway that looks as if it might cost more to run than the revenue we are likely to get back from paying guests. The Highlands of Scotland is up there amongst the top five regions in the world to visit in 2019, but it seems many of us had the same idea, so as a business idea it has turned out to be a poor one. I had stupidly thought that my plan to act as a local guide, and to come up with suggestions as to how guests could make the most of their stay, would be a winner – Turns out they just want a lockbox, good Wifi and for me to bugger off!

On the upside, if you fancy a short break, do it now, as in some place prices have returned to 1987 levels, back when Mel and Kim Appleby (mentioned above) hit the No. 1 spot in the UK with Respectable. Ok, so they were part of the much derided SAW stable of artists, but it’s the weekend and I have just visited the pub in town which was very much our hostelry of choice when I arrived in the Highlands back in 1987, so all very appropriate. Of course back then it was, and still is, the kind of bar where the likes of Mel and Kim would never have been selected on the jukebox. Oh no, it was more of a Celtic Rock kind of bar, but it was also where I met Mr WIAA a couple of years later, so happy memories of the place.

There is always a touch of sadness now when we watch the Appleby sisters looking so youthful and full of life, as Mel sadly died of cancer three years later, at the incredibly young age of 23. What they are wearing in this clip sums up the kind of clothing girls adopted around that time. Tops that fell off one shoulder, dolman sleeves, berets and trousers with belts that cinched in the waist. I blame Britney Spears for the demise of women’s waistlines – She hastened the falling out of fashion of the cinched in waist, with her famously low slung jeans that just covered the tootamuffin (my own made-up word) and no more. Girls could eat what they wanted and didn’t have to worry about fastening the top button of their jeans. In my humble opinion, she is single-handedly responsible for the current obesity crisis.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I’ve had a Friday pint, a bit of a rant and a bit of a nostalgic look back at the music and fashion of 1987. I never did get a Crackerjack pencil and I doubt if the kids of today would remotely want one – It would have to be the latest iPhone at the very least.

I’m sorry to have moaned about my new business, but it just hasn’t panned out how it was supposed to, so obviously a bit disappointing. Early days though, and hopefully as the summer progresses I will get more takers for Alyson’s Highland Adventures, guests who want a bit more interaction with their hosts, rather than simply getting the access code to the lockbox.

Apparently I’m off to the football tomorrow as in the two years DD’s boyfriend has been attached to the local team (in a medical capacity), she hasn’t been to a single match. Of course it would have to coincide with a particularly cold snap where hailstones have actually fallen here today. Our stadium was built on a piece of reclaimed land that juts out into the Moray Firth. It’s going to have to be a case of thermals and woolly hats I think. If we survive the temperatures, I will return to welcome my next set of guests, who with any luck, might be in the mood for a Highland Adventure.

Until next time….

Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend) Lyrics
(Song by Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, Peter Waterman)

Show show show show, show show show show
Show show show show, show show show
Showin’ out, showin’ out
Showin’ out, showin’ out
Showin’ out, showin’ outGet fresh at the weekend
Showin’ out, showin’ out
Get fresh at the weekend
Showin’ out, showin’ outYou’d better live in love than luxury, it’s alright
And don’t be dining out on foolish dreams every nightO-o-only takes a moment to feel alright
Get fresh at the weekend, showin’ out
Get fresh at the weekend, showin’ out
Showin’ out, showin’ outCan’t afford to wear diamond and pearl, that’s okay
Wouldn’t want to be that kind of girl anywayO-o-only takes a moment to feel alright
Get fresh at the weekend, showin’ out
Get fresh at the weekend, showin’ out
Showin’ out, showin’ outI can supply you things
I can provide everything
If it’s the man’s hand that pays the price
Then you belong to meOnly only only o’ (show show show show)
Only only only o’ (show show show show)
Only only only o’ (show show show show)
Only only only o’ (show show show show)

Can’t afford to buy finer things, that’s alright
We won’t just lose our heads for anything anytime

O-o-only takes a moment to feel alright
Get fresh at the weekend, showin’ out, showin’ out
Get fresh at the weekend, showin’ out
Get fresh at the weekend, showin’ out, showin’ out, showin’ out
Get fresh at the weekend, showin’ out

Showin’ out, I’m showin’ out
Showin’ out, I’m showin’ out

Poetry Assignments, Steve Strange and “Fade to Grey”

Well, I have been largely absent from these pages this month and largely absent from the comments boxes of the blogs I follow, but on the home stretch now of a particulary busy time for me. Today I have decided to timetable my day into four sections in order to fit everything in, and these sections reflect the very diverse strands to how my life has turned out since giving up my sensible, secure job a year and a half ago.

The final assignment for my college course is due in on Wednesday, so I decided to tackle it first thing this morning. The course was meant to be my main focus this year but of course regular visitors will know all that changed when my elderly mum had a fall, and instead of becoming a full-time student last September, I became a full-time carer for a time. As it turns out, the shift to part-time was probably a wise one, and for some time I managed to kill two birds with one stone so to speak, as my Saturday blog post (when I was still sticking to that regime) often inspired the “homework” I endeavoured to complete for the course on a Sunday. I am still amused by the fact my tutor gave me most praise for a poem I dashed off after writing about the song Shades of Gray by the Monkees, following the  death of Peter Tork (link here).

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The Monkees

I didn’t have much time, and the song had formed a bit of an earworm over the course of the weekend, so a hybrid list/concrete poem developed after referring to a paint chart courtesy of either Mr Crown or Mr Dulux (can’t remember which now). There is much talk of plagiarism in academia nowadays as there is great scope for cutting and pasting from the work of others online. I made no pretence however of saying I’d come up with these shades of grey myself, I purely selected them and rearranged them, but my lecturer complimented me on them and I didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth. Oh well, not for a marked assignment this one, and it was my take on the Brexit shenanigans going on at the time, so no harm done.

Shades of Grey

But hey, there are plenty of other songs about the colour grey, and the first that comes to mind is Fade to Grey by Visage. I see this song is attributed to the genre new wave, but in my mind it can only be classed as New Romantic where Steve Strange, the man who almost single-handedly started that movement, performed lead vocals.

Fade to Grey by Visage:

The whole New Romanticism movement came along half way through my four years as a full-time student first time around, and I probably embraced it more than any other in terms of how I dressed at the time. It was a long time since I’d had to court the approval of my parents in such matters and I was still nowhere near entering the “real world”, where sensible suits rather than flamboyant frills and falderals would have to be adopted.

Many trips to both the local Oxfam and fabric/haberdashery shop were all that was needed to acquire the necessary apparel. Ribbons, tassels, hats and big coats were the order of the day, as were shirts with ruffles and simply made but colourful skirts. Two metres of fabric and a roll of flat sewing elastic was all that was needed. I still had my granny’s old Singer sewing machine in my student room but it needed an upgrade, so I asked for a new sewing machine for my 21st birthday later on that year. Back in those days clothes were still relatively expensive compared to income, especially a paltry student income, so my evenings were split between leaning over the books, and leaning over the sewing machine.

Also in my student room was my beloved black and white portable telly, which in those far less technologically saturated times, was the only one in our flat shared by six people. Come 7.30pm on a Thursday we of course all piled in to watch TOTP, and in 1980-81 this was the kind of music that pretty much filled each show. Fade to Grey was released in 1980, on the same day as the band’s debut album. It reached No. 8 in the UK Singles Chart and made the No. 1 spot in Germany and Switzerland. The song is sung in English and spoken in French. The music video became one of the first directed by Messers Godley and Creme after leaving the world of 10cc behind and becoming masters of that new medium.

Steve Strange formed Visage with Rusty Egan and Midge Ure from Rich Kids, Billy Currie from Ultravox, and Barry Adamson, John McGeoch and Dave Formula from Magazine, so a veritable supergroup. Steve had appeared in the video for David Bowie’s No. 1 hit Ashes to Ashes (first spotted at 0:30), a song which helped propel the burgeoning New Romantic fashion movement into the mainstream. Both he and Rusty Egan worked at Blitz, the influential New Romantic nightclub in London, from 1979 until 1981. They famously only allowed entry to the weird and the wonderful and apparently Mick Jagger was once refused admittance. Egan and Strange later opened up the Camden Palace nightclub, also in London, where they continued to spread and influence the development of electronica music in the UK.

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Sadly Steve died at the age of only 55 back in 2015. He had frequently appeared on those talking head shows in the years prior to that, and it didn’t seem as if the years had been kind to him. He certainly left his mark however in that he was responsible for a whole cultural phenomenon right there at the cusp of the ’70s/’80s. He was also responsible for the honing of my sewing skills, which I have to say have come in very handy over the years.

So, that’s the blog post written, which was the second item on today’s timetable. Now it’s time to get Mr WIAA’s latest batch of beautiful things dispatched to their new owners, and then, later on today, I welcome the next set of guests to my holiday hideaway. No time to write any stories about that new venture in this post, but they will definitely follow.

Until next time….

Fade To Grey Lyrics
(Song by Billy Currie/Chris Payne/Midge Ure)

Devenir gris
Devenir gris

One man on a lonely platform
One case sitting by his side
Two eyes staring cold and silent
Show fear as he turns to hide

We fade to grey (fade to grey)
We fade to grey (fade to grey)

Un homme dans une gare désolée
Une valise à ses cotés
Des yeux fixes et froids
Montrent de la peur lorsqu’il
Se tourne pour se cacher

We fade to grey (fade to grey)
We fade to grey (fade to grey)

Sens la pluie comme un été anglais
Entends les notes d’une chanson lointaine
Sortant de derrière un poster
Espérant que la vie ne fut aussi longue

We fade to grey (fade to grey)
We fade to grey (fade to grey)

Feel the rain like an English summer
Hear the notes from a distant song
Stepping out from a backdrop poster
Wishing life wouldn’t be so long

Devenir gris

We fade to grey (fade to grey)
We fade to grey (fade to grey)
We fade to grey (fade to grey)
Devenir gris

Postscript:

Ashes to Ashes was a fantasy police drama series set in the 1980s and the sequel to Life on Mars which has been written about around here before. Needless to say music from the era played a big part in the show, and what better song to include but Fade to Grey. Here is a clip from the show which features the man himself, Steve Strange.

The Clash, Big Decisions and Girlfriend Trouble

We are now over a 1000 days on from this post and it seems as relevant as ever. In my original opening paragraph, I said that with only a day to go, many of us were still none the wiser as to which way to vote. That worked out well, didn’t it?

What's It All About?

Short post, but with only a day to go, there should be no-one in the UK who doesn’t understand the significance of today’s clip. If the EU was our girlfriend this is how it would be playing out right now but despite the 24/7 debate and news coverage from both sides (all very balanced so as not to show any bias of course) many of us are still none the wiser as to which way to vote.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go by The Clash:

Not entirely sure why Angela Merkel and Co. haven’t been getting involved in the debate but it seems that they don’t want to affect the outcome one way or another, so are leaving it to the people of the UK themselves.

So, no tearful last minute pleadings – “It’s not you, it’s me”, “I think we just need a break” and “You’re too good for me”…

View original post 408 more words

Gloria Estefan, “Anything For You” and Heart-Wrenching Lyrics

A bit of a strange thing happened on Sunday that left me momentarily discombobulated, but it also led me to revisit an album from the late 1980s I had all but forgotten about. I had taken my mum out of the care home for a wee outing, and we went to one of those big garden centres that also has a coffee shop. We were just leaving when I saw a long shelf of picture frames, all shapes and sizes. I’m still adding the final touches to the Highland Hideaway, so thought I might find something suitable.

A middle-aged chap with a bald head was standing right in front of the shelf however, and thought I was staring at him. I wasn’t wearing my glasses at the time (vanity dictates I leave them in the car) which means I never recognise people in shops or in the street if they’re more than a few feet away, but once I focused I realised it was Mr WIAA’s predecessor, a chap I had a whirlwind romance with 30 years ago before deciding it was all just too safe, secure and dare I say, boring. Why settle down with someone who has a good job, a nice car, is kind and considerate, when you could potentially meet a penniless artist who lives in his Mum’s sewing room, but could make life a bit of an adventure. Well, regular visitors to this place will know which route I took, and no regrets, but it was weird to have this blast from the past standing in front of me.

What did we do? Nothing. There was a knowing look, and nod of acknowledgement from both of us, but he was with his wife/partner (?) and I was with my mum whom he hadn’t laid eyes on since she was a vital, working woman of 53. Getting into any kind of conversation was going to be complicated, so we obviously both made the split-second decision to just go our separate ways, again. I do find it really bizarre that we can still be in touch with people we worked with for just a short time decades ago, but people we knew on a whole different level are, once the magic ends, usually out of our lives for good. Doesn’t happen in all cases I know, but in my case it always has.

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Anyway, later on that evening I remembered that a few months after we split it was my birthday, and he kindly showed up with a present, a Gloria Estefan album. She was really popular at the time, so it made sense. Thanks very much I said, and casually added it to the shelf of other albums in my “corner unit” which housed the telly, the VCR and the music centre (lets face it we all had them). I probably did play it quite a bit, but back then I was a party-going flibbertigibbet and was more interested in the danceability of records rather that the lyrical content, so it’s taken me thirty years to actually listen to the title track properly, and boy are the lyrics heart-wrenching.

Anything For You by Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine:

Anything For You was written by Gloria Estefan and recorded with Miami Sound Machine. The song appeared on their 1987 album “Let It Loose” (although it was released as “Anything for You” in Europe). The song became their first US No. 1 in the summer of 1988 and reached No. 10 in the UK by the September.

Estefan had famously been married to Miami Sound Machine founder Emilio Estefan Jr., for 10 years when she wrote this song, and fans wondered how this supposedly happily married singer could write such a heart-wrenching ballad about love gone wrong. She explained to Billboard in 1988:

“I think that’s where the artist uses his creative license. I might have experienced these feelings awhile back or maybe vicariously through somebody else, maybe friends of mine who have gone through a similar thing. I think the artist always writes from within, from the soul, and even if you didn’t experience it yourself, you have to feel how would people in this situation feel, and how would they say it. I always try to write very conversationally, and think how would someone want to say it to someone else and then I try to make it more musical.”

Thirty years on, and suddenly I feel a bit of a heel.

Until next time….

Anything For You Lyrics
(Song by Gloria Estefan)

Anything for you
Though you’re not here
Since you said we’re through
It seems like years
Time keeps dragging on and on
And forever’s been and gone
Still I can’t figure what went wrong

I’d still do anything for you
I’ll play your game
You hurt me through and through
But you can have your way

I can pretend each time I see you
That I don’t care and I don’t need you
And though you’ll never see me cryin’
You know inside I feel like dying

And I’d do anything for you
In spite of it all
I’ve learned so much from you
You made me strong
But don’t you ever think that I don’t love you
That for one minute I forgot you
But sometimes things don’t work out right
And you just have to say goodbye

I hope you find someone to please you
Someone who’ll care and never leave you
But if that someone ever hurts you
You just might need a friend to turn to

And I’d do anything for you
I’ll give you up
If that’s what I should do
To make you happy

I can pretend each time I see you
That I don’t care and I don’t need you
And though inside I feel like dying
You know you’ll never see me cryin’

Don’t you ever think that I don’t love you
That for one minute I forgot you
But sometimes things don’t work out right
And you just have to say goodbye