The Pretenders, ‘I’ll Stand By You’ and Hate Will Never Win

Gardening, The Royal Family, Weddings, Royal Weddings, Eurovision and Football. If you’ve been blogging for a while, you get to know the subject matter that’s best to avoid, as it really doesn’t resonate with your readership. The aforementioned topics are the ones I now try and avoid, but this blog is primarily my web-diary, so last week it felt necessary to write about football, and more specifically the Euro 2020 final that was going to be held on the Sunday. I focussed on the happy memories I had of watching past tournaments with my dad, and of populating large wallcharts with scorelines which would eventually lead to a winner. I am a Scot, but I would be supporting England, a home nation who for the first time in 55 years had made it to the final of a big tournament.

Like most of us, I had hoped that with so many fans of all ages and backgrounds hooked on the tournament, the negative and ugly side of football would be kept at bay. Sadly this wasn’t to be and after the final, when a penalty shoot-out didn’t go their way, a minority took to social media spouting vile abuse, aimed at the players whose penalties had been very unluckily saved. But…, it only took around 24 hours for all that negativity to be swept aside ten times over, by the positive and supportive comments left by the vast majority who were proud of their team and all they had achieved. The black players who had been the target of some horrific trolling only a day earlier, were now swathed in love and support. Closer to home, some of my middle-aged, white, female ‘Facebook friends’ even popped their heads above the parapet for the first time in ages, and posted their support for these young, black, English players. If you are a mum there is nothing that raises your hackles more than the bullying and abuse of someone’s child, whatever their age, and these ladies were having none of it.

A hug from someone who knows exactly how it feels – and he’s not done too badly for himself

I really need to start posting more regularly around here as I love researching and finding out so much more about the songs I grew up listening to, but the web-diary element has taken over at the moment it seems. Last week I focused on the build up to the football final and now it has been its aftermath. I think we can all agree it’s not the game itself that’s particularly to blame for all the hate and ugliness, but rather that something has gone terribly wrong in society as a whole to make such behaviour even possible. We all have our theories but probably too big a topic for this little blog. Best to simply share an appropriate song that champions looking out for each other when life gets tough. What comes to mind is this one – I’ll Stand By You by The Pretenders from 1994.

I’ll Stand By You by The Pretenders:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I promise to get back to the music and memories aspect of this blog soon, but sometimes there is just so much going on in the country as a whole that it’s hard to focus on anything else. The football tournament gave many of us a lift, just when we needed it, but sadly the bad behaviour of a minority ultimately soured the whole experience. It soon became clear however that social media can also be a force for good, and I hope the players who subsequently received a deluge of caring messages from both supporters and non-supporters alike, have been heartened by them.

I will leave you with a happier image of Bukayo Saka having a bit of R&R ahead of the big final last Sunday. Let’s hope he gets that same smile back on his lovely face soon.

Until next time…

I’ll Stand By You
(Song by Chrissie Hynde/Tom Kelly/Billy Steinberg)

Oh, why you look so sad?
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now

Don’t be ashamed to cry
Let me see you through
’cause I’ve seen the dark side too
When the night falls on you
You don’t know what to do
Nothing you confess
Could make me love you less

I’ll stand by you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you

So if you’re mad, get mad
Don’t hold it all inside
Come on and talk to me now

Hey, what you got to hide?
I get angry too
Well I’m a lot like you
When you’re standing at the crossroads
And don’t know which path to choose
Let me come along
’cause even if you’re wrong

I’ll stand by you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you

Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I’ll never desert you
I’ll stand by you

And when…
When the night falls on you, baby
You’re feeling all alone
You won’t be on your own

I’ll stand by you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you

I’ll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I’ll never desert you
I’ll stand by you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you

Postscript:

It didn’t seem appropriate to include my only Chrissie Hynde anecdote in the main body of this latest post, but in case anyone hasn’t seen it already, here it is again, cut and paste from an earlier post.

From July 2017:

Our mini Glastonbury is called the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival and looking at the line-up, the band that jumps out at me first is the Pretenders. That would be because they appeared at our Students’ Union in 1979, the week they were at No.1 in the UK Singles Chart with Brass In Pocket. A fortuitous booking had obviously been made some time before by the incumbent Union President – Oh yes, that would have been Sky News reporter Glen Oglaza. Back then however he looked a bit like a bearded Frank Zappa. What happened to the hair Glen?


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

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Chrissie Hynde with her trademark long fringe

A Summer of Sport, Coin Collections and Songs from Simpler Times

Well, I don’t suppose I can write this week’s blog post without mentioning sport, as there’s an awful lot of it going on right now, and I’ve got caught up in all the excitement. Unlike many Scots I am always happy if any of our home nations does well in a big football tournament, as it extends the excitement that bit longer and you can experience it all vicariously via their fans. Although I am no longer a fan of club football, I do still love the big tournaments and there will be an awful lot of UK citizens tuning in on Sunday night for the final. Sadly DD and her boyfriend had chosen that one weekend to head off to a fancy-pants hotel for a bit of R & R. She is most definitely not a fan of football but her boyfriend certainly is. Their Sunday night “dining experience” will be cut short I fear.

An absolute dream for a fan of spreadsheets, lists and statistics – My ‘beflagged’, almost completed wallchart

But anyway, with tennis back at Wimbledon, the Tour de France in progress, our national football teams giving the country a much needed lift, and the Tokyo Olympics (sans spectators it seems) just round the corner, it feels like summers of old. Odd that everything is now out of sync in terms of the year though, UEFA Euro 2020 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics both being held in 2021. In the fullness of time, when we look back at those long lists of annual sporting achievements, the year 2020 will be erased from time, something that didn’t even happen during the two world wars. The pesky virus, invisible to the eye, has shut down international gatherings like never before in history.

There have been many football anthems over the years and I shared one from Scotland’s 1982 campaign a couple of weeks ago (link here). Time to focus on the home nation who will appear in Sunday’s final then. Over the years, England have had many songs recorded to accompany their football tournament journey, but only four have made it to the top spot on the UK Singles Chart. The first was this one, Back Home, from 1970, the year I first became invested in football and from the days when the actual team lined up for singing duties. (Bobby Charlton looking a bit sad there in the still, or is he embarrassed?).

I had been just too young to remember the 1966 campaign (down to a very early bedtime in those days I’ve now realised) but by the time I reached the age of 10, I could join my dad in watching the matches, and collecting those coins that were given out at petrol stations. I do still have some of the sticker books petrol stations gave away during the Olympics of that era, but sadly no longer have my coin collection. Fortunately I’ve found some sets online shared by people who have very sensibly held on to theirs. Some very familiar names there from the 1966 World Cup winning team, but sadly not many of them still with us. Bobby’s brother Jack Charlton died just last year, and so did Nobby Stiles. A great shame they didn’t live long enough to see their team reach another final.

So the song Back Home, written by top pop songwriters of the day Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart in May 1970. It took another 20 years for an England campaign football song to reach to top spot and this time it was a very different animal. World in Motion was written/performed by New Order and Keith Allen with the football squad joining in for the chorus. Footballer John Barnes took the song to a whole new level by very ably adding a rap section, and unlike Back Home, I think it has stood the test of time.

I had just starting going out with Mr WIAA and I remember watching much of Italia ’90 with him. This time there were no coins to collect, but many of us did find ourselves warming to opera, after being serenaded by Luciano Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma every evening ahead of watching the television coverage.

Luciano Pavarotti

The third No. 1 football song was of course Three Lions which seems to have become the unofficial anthem for every England campaign since. It was written back in 1996 for the Euros held in England so it made sense for the songwriters to add the line, “It’s coming home”. It didn’t as it turned out, but 25 years on there is the chance for that to happen on Sunday night. This time the song was written by comedians David BaddielFrank Skinner, and the band Lightning Seeds. Don’t know about you but it doesn’t feel like 25 years since that tournament, but then again DD was just a baby back then, and now she’s off to expensive hotels with her boyfriend. How time flies.

Scotland found themselves in the same group as England at Euro 96 and I remember well sitting with a piece of paper on the night of the final group stage matches, working out the changing goal difference between teams each time the ball found itself at the back of the net. For a time it was looking as if Scotland would progress, but a last minute goal by The Netherlands put paid to that dream. As they were playing England many of us thought they possibly let that happen, but that would be casting aspersions wouldn’t it.

For the sake of completeness I feel I should add the fourth and final anthem to have reached the top spot, Shout for England, but I can’t say I even remember it. It was written for the South Africa 2010 World Cup tournament and samples Tears for Fears Shout as well as sections of rap by Dizzee Rascal. James Corden also seems to have played a part on that one. This tournament largely passed me by, because of intense work pressures around that time, but who could forget the dreaded vuvuzela.

And so we come to now, and very oddly a song from 1969 has captured the imagination of the fans on the terraces. It has worked its magic in stadiums throughout the US, but who would have thought Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline would hit that sweet spot just as we reach Sunday’s final. All apparently because of its very particular lyrics:

Good times never seemed so good (especially if you’ve just won a big match)

Hands, touchin’ hands
Reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you
(rises to a rousing crescendo, and a fine sentiment for fans who have been kept apart for so long)

I always knew the name Caroline in the song was inspired by JFK’s daughter, but only found out today that it was because his wife’s name, Marcia, just didn’t work phonetically. After reading a magazine article about Caroline, he worked out the syllables in her name fitted better, so changed it.

Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I don’t think many music lovers who follow this blog are fans of football, so excuse me this little indulgence, but it’s been an exciting few weeks with three of our home nations doing really well in the Euros. I was sad when Scotland didn’t progress beyond the group stages, but we were all really proud of our team and can always say we held one of the tournament finalists (we don’t yet know who will win) to a draw. Many think we should have won that match.

As for the songs, just wanted to cover the ones that made it to the top spot in the singles chart but of course there are many, many more. If the England team do the business on Sunday night, and win their match against Italy, I’m sure 60,000 football fans will find their voices, and the sounds of Sweet Caroline will fill Wembley stadium.

Until next time…

Sweet Caroline Lyrics
(Song by Neil Diamond)

Where it began
I can’t begin to knowin’
But then I know it’s growin’ strong

Was in the spring
And spring became the summer
Who’d have believed you’d come along

Hands, touchin’ hands
Reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’ve been inclined
To believe they never would

But now I…

…look at the night
And it don’t seem so lonely
We fill it up with only two

And when I hurt
Hurtin’ runs off my shoulders
How can I hurt when holdin’ you?

Warm, touchin’ warm
Reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’ve been inclined

To believe they never would
Oh, no, no

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
Sweet Caroline
I believed they never could

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good

Six Years of Birthday Blogging and the Phrase, ‘We All Now Know How That Turned Out’

I had a birthday this week, my sixth since starting this blog, and it occurred to me to look back at what I was writing about in each of those years at this time. It made for interesting reading, as although there is always a song around here, from the get-go it has also been my web-diary, and I’ve been pretty honest about all the ups and downs that life has very naturally thrown my way.

2016 – Back then I was still concentrating primarily on the music, and for my birthday post I decided to write about music from the year of my birth, music that certainly didn’t feature in my own musical memories, but it might have done for my parents had they not been quite so busy coping with a new baby in the house. My next post was all about that momentous decision we were about to make, which could possibly take us out of the EU. (Well, we all now know how that turned out and a right hullaballoo it’s still causing all these years later, this week regarding the humble British banger.) But getting back to the year of my birth, here’s a bit of Adam Faith for you.

What Do You Want by Adam Faith:

2017 – This was the summer of terrorist attacks and tragic fires. The Manchester Arena and London Bridge attacks and then the horrors of Grenfell Tower. At the same time our new PM Theresa May decided to hold a snap election to consolidate her majority in The House of Commons ahead of Brexit negotiations. (Again, we all now know how that turned out.) On a more positive note, a very successful benefit concert called One Love was held in Manchester shortly after the atrocity at the arena, and we also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ seminal album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles:

2018 – By this time I was really getting into my blogging stride and in early June I wrote a couple of wedding posts, one a very royal affair (we all now know how that turned out – there’s a pattern forming here) and one for a girl from our neighbourhood. To challenge myself I also embarked on a whole week of blogging which culminated with me posting 7 in 7 (seven posts in seven days). I was very proud of myself but now realise whenever I set myself these kind of challenges I understandably lose followers along the way, as overkill really. It certainly does help flex the blogging muscles though. On a positive note, my Full Moon Calendar in Song series was really gathering pace and is still my favourite because of all I discovered, both about our only satellite, and about the many moon-related songs that were included. I thought Carly Simon’s version of Moonlight Serenade was just perfect for June’s Strawberry Moon.

Moonlight Serenade by the Glenn Miller Orchestra:


2019 – By the time my birthday came around two years ago I was already headlong into greeting guests at the holiday hideaway we had taken on earlier in the year, but having worked in an office for 35 years it turned out I wasn’t ‘match fit’, and my back, neck and shoulders were already giving me gyp. I wrote about the sleepless nights that ensued, compounded by the sheer number of troubling television dramas that filled our screens of an evening. One BBC drama called Years and Years portrayed a worrying picture of what life might be like in only five years time, with everyone working from home at their kitchen tables, communication all being done virtually via screens, and everything we consume being ordered online. (Well, well, well – Again, we all now know how that turned out and it didn’t take five years, just one.) On a really positive note however, I finally made it down to London that month to meet long time blogging buddy C from Sun Dried Sparrows. As we used mock-ups of our first albums to recognise each other this song by the Clash seems appropriate (for C anyway – my first album wasn’t quite as ‘cool’).

London Calling by the Clash:

2020 – This is the big one isn’t it. I had reached a milestone birthday but couldn’t celebrate it with anyone as we all had to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. Not complaining of course, as there seemed little other choice at the time, but by June it was becoming apparent there would be no V-shaped bounce back to the economy and that restrictions could be in place for another few weeks yet (a year on, we all now know how that turned out). DD’s life in Glasgow was in disarray and there would be a complicated manoeuvre to get her home safely – It was going to be a Cruel Summer, I could tell. One positive thing from that time was that our country’s entertainers rallied round, and I enjoyed a fair few online concerts cobbled together via the wonders of modern-day technology. One was by Take That which aired just before my birthday. I had been a bit too old for the Take That phenomenon when they first appeared on the scene in the early ‘90s, but they are now a middle-aged man band as opposed to a boy band, with a great back catalogue of songs, so it was a real treat to watch them in action when everything was still looking very bleak. The song that always ends their shows is Never Forget, and I think we can all agree, unlike Y2K which came and went with very little drama, none of us will ever forget the year 2020.

Never Forget by Take That:


2021 – So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – It has become apparent from writing this post that life can throw us some pretty spectacular curve balls and from one year to the next we find it impossible to predict how things might turn out. I wasn’t able to celebrate my big birthday much last year, but the +1 version was a whole lot better – Afternoon tea at a posh hotel courtesy of DD. Very nice indeed. Who knows what next year’s birthday will throw up, but let’s hope it will be that life is a whole lot better for all of us.

Until next time…

Never Forget Lyrics
(Song by Gary Barlow)

We’ve come a long way
But we’re not too sure where we’ve been
We’ve had success we’ve had good times
But remember this

Been on this path of life for so long
Feel I’ve walked a thousand miles
Sometimes strolled hand in hand with love
Everybody’s been there

With danger on my mind
I would stand on the line
Of hope and I knew I could make it

Once I knew the boundaries
I looked into the clouds
And saw my face in the moonlight

Just then I realised what a fool I could be
Just ’cause I look so high I don’t have to see me
Finding a paradise wasn’t easy but still
There’s a road going down the other side of this hill

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Safe from the arms of disappointment for so long
Feel each day we’ve come too far
Yet each day seems to make much more
Sure it’s good to be here

I understand the meaning
Of “I can’t explain this feeling”
Now that it feels so unreal

At night I see the hand
That reminds me of the stand
That I make the fact of reality

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

We’ve come so far and we’ve reached so high
And we’ve looked each day and night in the eye
And we’re still so young and we hope for more
But remember this

We’re not invincible, we’re not invincible, no
We’re only people, we’re only people
Hey we’re not invincible, we’re not invincible
So again I’ll tell you

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Never
Never forget babe
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

An Eclectic Mix of Abba, S’Express and Fred Astaire

Well, things seem to be cautiously opening up again around here, as I imagine they are where you are. A lot of empty units in our local shopping centre though, what with Debenhams, Top Shop and a few other high street stalwarts having shut their doors for good, but still a reasonable vibe about the place. I was chuffed to see that our local HMV is still open for business, as I do love a good browse up and down their aisles. It seems half the store is now given way to vinyl, either classic albums reissued in those beautiful original sleeves, or new stuff by artists who were probably born a good decade after vinyl ceased being the primary vehicle for music consumption.

The inspiration for this post was a clear-out. Yes, Mr WIAA and I have restarted our efforts into clearing some space in our loft and cupboards, but it’s tough, as I get sentimental about keeping things. This morning when tidying out a drawer I found something that reminded me of 7-inch singles, or 45s as they were called. For music lovers this image will probably cause apoplexy, but a few years ago, after a visit to a craft fair, DD presented me with a gift. Someone had set up a stall selling plant pots and little dishes made from old vinyl records. I think we’ve all probably melted some of our vinyl by accident (for me it involved a cold 1970s night in rural Scotland and the close proximity to our stylish 2-bar electric fire), but now it feels like sacrilege to deliberately render a 45 unplayable. Of course I thanked DD very much for her gift at the time, which looked remarkably like an impractical ashtray (not that I’ve ever had need of one).

Take A Chance On Me by Abba:

The little dish/ashtray was made from an Abba single. The song on the A-side was Take A Chance On Me from 1978, one of their many top 10 hits. It occurred to me to check out the B-side and found it was a song called I’m A Marionette, not one I’d ever heard of so time to find out more.

Hmm…, not sure about that one but it seems it was a song from a mini-musical called The Girl With the Golden Hair performed as part of their 1977 concert tour along with Thank You for the Music and The Name of the Game. Now it makes sense.

I don’t have many 45s still in my possession, but the little dish/ashtray made me want to seek them out. What a mixed bag. Really old stuff belonging to my mum and dad, some soppy songs by my teen idols, a few singles given as presents (probably had deep meaning attached at the time), purchases from bargain bins and a few from the dying days of ‘the 45’ as a music format.

Somehow my copy of Queen’s Somebody To Love got accidentally “ironed” (see nick out of top left) when sitting on a table in our student flat, so the first minute was lost to us!

I’m sure many of you will recognise some of the names there, as pretty mainstream stuff, but each piece of vinyl has a story behind it and some of the songs have already put in an appearance around here. Something I had forgotten all about was the single in the middle of the picture called The Brits 1990 (Dance Medley). The medley went down really well on the night of the awards show that year and was released as a 7 inch single straight after. It made it to the No. 2 spot in the UK Singles Chart. I was a bit long in the tooth for such fodder by 1990, but as an avid dancer, who often invited everyone ‘back to mine’ after a night out, it was good to have it for the turntable. Bit of S’Express anyone? Yes please, along with some Double Trouble and the Rebel MC, A Guy Called Gerald, The Beatmasters, Jeff Wayne, 808 State, D Mob and The Cookie Crew. Hard to believe it’s from over 30 years ago now as the video clip (although a bit cringifying in places) doesn’t look as dated as something from 1960 would have looked in 1990. A very different kind of 30 years in terms of the evolution of music and dance (and of course in colour).

Theme From S’Express by S’Express:

All this talk of dancing has reminded me of another clip I have been meaning to share for a while but not got round to yet, going back much, much further in time. The video clip has been doing the rounds for some time but it has been excellently edited and really showcases the talents of some of Hollywood’s greatest dancers. Bruno Mars was just a toddler when Fred Astaire died at age 87, but somehow his 2014 rendition of Uptown Funk (a Mark Ronson song with Bruno on vocals) lends itself well to a medley of some of the best-choreographed dance sequences in film history, many of which inevitably involve Fred.

I think Fred Astaire was my first crush, as I spent so much time watching him in old black and white movies when I was a child. Yes he was balding, yes he wasn’t that strong a singer, but boy could he dance and he had a certain boyish charm. In the 1930s his films were adored by audiences who craved escapism. Maybe why I went on to have such a love for dance, and why I was always the one who took over the dancefloor should the occasion arise (much to the chagrin of my friends who always said I put boys off asking us to dance). But hey, it was my thing, and fortunately I found a willing partner in Mr WIAA when he came into my life.

A Fine Romance by Fred Astaire:

The thrill of dance has always stayed with me, until now of course. Pre-pandemic there were few opportunities left for us ladies of a certain age to exercise their love of dance, but the odd wedding or party sufficed. In the last 15 months there has been no dancing at all for me and as I still seem to be recovering from the broken ankle I suffered a few months ago, I fear George Michael’s lyrics may become a reality – I’m never gonna dance again… the way I danced with you. Let’s hope not, as I don’t think I’m quite ready to hang up my pumps yet.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – A bit of a strange ramble this one, so apologies for that, but I’m trying to be more disciplined about my blogging and Thursday seems to be my new regular day. This week the stream of consciousness flowed from old 45s, to dance medleys, to Fred Astaire. You just never know where it’s going to go, which is part of the fun of it.

Until next time…

A Fine Romance Lyrics
(Song by Dorothy Fields/Jerome Kern)

A fine romance, with no kisses
A fine romance, my friend this is
We should be like a couple of hot tomatoes
But you’re as cold as yesterday’s mashed potatoes
A fine romance, you won’t nestle
A fine romance, you won’t wrestle
I might as well play bridge
With my old maid aunt
I haven’t got a chance
This is a fine romance

A fine romance, my good fellow
You take romance, I’ll take jello
You’re calmer than the seals
In the Arctic Ocean
At least they flap their fins
To express emotion
A fine romance with no quarrels
With no insults and all morals
I’ve never mussed the crease
In your blue serge pants
I never get the chance

This is a fine romance

A fine romance, with no kisses
A fine romance, my friend this is
We two should be like clams in a dish of chowder
But we just fizz like parts of a Seidlitz powder
A fine romance, with no clinches
A fine romance, with no pinches
You’re just as hard to land as the Ile de France!
I haven’t got a chance, this is a fine romance

Songs Written In Tribute #2 – ‘Tunic (Song For Karen)’ by Sonic Youth

Welcome back to this occasional series where I plan to write about songs written as a tribute to artists who have gone before. I will also always share something by the recipient of the tribute.

Sonic Youth were an American band I was not very familiar with, but once I discovered they had written a song about the late, great Karen Carpenter I knew it would have to be included in this series. If you know the story of how Karen lost her life to anorexia at the very young age of 32, it makes for sober listening.

Tunic (Song For Karen) by Sonic Youth:


Kim Gordon, from Sonic Youth, was a massive Carpenters fan and Tunic (Song For Karen) is a powerful homage. She imagined her happy in heaven, looking down at her brother Richard.

“I was trying to put myself into Karen’s body. It was like she had so little control over her life, just like a teenager – they have so little control over what’s happening to them, that one way they can get it is through what they eat or don’t eat. Also I think she lost her identity, it got smaller and smaller. And there have been times when I feel I’ve lost mine. When people come and ask me about being famous or whatever and I don’t feel that, it’s not me. But it makes me think about it. The music is definitely about the darker side. But I also wanted to liberate Karen into heaven.”

Karen on the left, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth on the right

As it’s a Monday, and as it’s rainy here today, there can only be one song choice from the Carpenters vast back catalogue. Rainy Days And Mondays is one of my favourite songs but you do have to be in a pretty good place, mentally, to listen it. I used to have a friend who loved nothing more than to spend an evening in a darkened room listening to melancholy music, but it’s not something I’ve ever mastered without getting a bit blue. The song was written by Paul Williams but Karen always made any song her own, and when you listen to the vocals here, well, it’s all just so sad.

Rainy Days and Mondays by the Carpenters:


I have watched a couple of documentaries in the last fortnight about suicide, one made by the family of Caroline Flack (who sadly took her own life just over a year ago) and one by Roman Kemp called Our Silent Emergency (prompted by his best friend’s suicide). The thing that struck me most was that in both cases the people who died were surrounded by people who loved them, and who would have gone out of their way to help them, but in the end it just wasn’t enough. Vile trolling on social media was most definitely a factor in Caroline’s death, but for young men, who find it hard to talk openly about their worries, silence is the biggest factor.

Looking back at the years when I watched the Carpenters on television, it was obvious something was very wrong. We didn’t know it at the time but Karen’s death was a long slow suicide, right in front of our eyes. She never lost her beautiful voice, but by the end of her life she was a hollow-eyed, shell of the girl she had been behind the drum kit. She had millions of fans who adored her, but like Caroline she struggled with life in the spotlight, and like Roman’s friend, she remained silent.

A bit of a sad one this, but as I said, I really felt the need to include it. Next time the material will hopefully be a little happier.

Sonic Youth

Tunic (Song For Karen) Lyrics
(Song by T. Moore, K. Gordon, L. Ranaldo, S. Shelly)

Dreaming, dreaming of a girl like me
Hey what are you waiting for, feeding, feeding me
I feel like I’m disappearing, getting smaller every day
But I look in the mirror, I’m bigger in every way

She said,
You aren’t never going anywhere
You aren’t never going anywhere
I ain’t never going anywhere
I ain’t never going anywhere

I’m in heaven now, I can see you Richard
Goodbye Hollywood, goodbye Downey, hello Janis
Hello Dennis, Elvis and all my brand new friends
I’m so glad you’re all here with me, until the very end

Dreaming, dreaming of how it’s supposed to be
But now this tunic’s spinning, around my arms and knees
I feel like I’m disappearing, getting smaller every day
But when I open my mouth to sing, I’m bigger in every way

She said,
You aren’t never going anywhere
You aren’t never going anywhere
I ain’t never going anywhere
I ain’t never going anywhere

Hey mom! Look I’m up here, I finally made it
I’m playing the drums again too
Don’t be sad, the band doesn’t sound half bad
And I remember mom, what you said
You said honey, you look so under-fed

Another green salad, another ice tea
There’s a tunic in the closet waiting just for me
I feel like I’m disappearing, getting smaller every day
But I look in your eyes, and I’m bigger in every way

She said,
You aren’t never going anywhere
You aren’t never going anywhere
I ain’t never going anywhere
I ain’t never going anywhere

Goodbye Richard, gotta go now
I’m finally on my own, but Dan’s got a gig
Keep the love lights glowing, little girl’s got the blues
I can still hear momma say: “honey don’t let it go to your head

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 got 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

Recipe For Cranachan and A Song From Whiskeytown

Last time I shared something from my other blog. It’s primarily a fan site for my favourite local author, but as well as posting extracts from her books and pictures of where she lived, I also include recipes. I’ve shared my girdle scone recipe around here before, so in view of the fact we’re heading into winter, and having to hunker down because of the pesky virus, here’s something to put hairs on your chest!

I very much doubt this ‘pudding’ would ever have appeared on the supper table at the Highland croft where my author was brought up, as her strict grandmother would never have allowed such a thing, but suspect it might have appeared on the dining table at The Big House, owned by the local laird. I made this traditional Scottish dessert of oats, cream, honey, whisky and raspberries for some English friends recently, as part of a Scottish themed menu, and very nice it was too. Here is the recipe:

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Cranachan

3 oz oatmeal
1 pint double cream
7 tbsps whisky
3 tbsps runny honey
1 lb raspberries

Toast the oatmeal (different from porridge oats) in a frying pan, taking care none of it burns. Keep some back for decoration.

Lightly whip the cream until it reaches the peak stage then fold in the whisky, honey, oatmeal and raspberries. Again keep some raspberries back.

Serve in glasses garnished with a few raspberries, a sprig of mint (optional) and a sprinkling of the toasted oatmeal.

Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Serve and enjoy.

Whiskeytown

Looking at my music library, one band springs to mind for this post. I have a feeling the featured song was again liberated from our friend CC, over at Charity Chic Music, as they featured recently in his ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ series. Whiskeytown (see the connection) are from Raleigh in North Carolina, but the song I liked best of the two picked for the compare and contrast was Lo-Fi Tennessee Mountain Angel. It appeared on their 1995 album Faithless Street.

Lo-Fi Tennessee Mountain Angel:


So, from a recipe whose main ingredient is whisky to a band with whiskey in the name (Irish spelling), who seem to sing a lot about drinking. The other song of theirs in the compare and contrast was Drank Like A River. Personally, I think I’ll stick to the cranachan.

Until next time….

Lo-Fi Tennessee Mountain Angel Lyrics
(Song by Ryan Adams/Caitlin Cary)

Lo-fi Tennessee mountain angel come back to me
Met you in a bar when I was drinking
You stood next to me
You say you wanna play country
But you’re in a punk rock band
You say you wanna play country
But you’re in a punk rock bank

I didn’t know you then
I didn’t know you then
I didn’t know you then
I didn’t know you then

Lo-fi Tennessee mountain angel come back to me
Met you in a bar when I was drinking
You stood next to me
You say you wanna play country
But you’re in a punk rock band
You say you wanna play country
But you’re in a punk rock bank

I didn’t know you then
I didn’t know you then
I didn’t know you then
I didn’t know you then

Lo-fi Tennessee mountain angel come back to me
Met you in a bar when I was drinking
You stood next to me
You say you wanna play country
But you’re in a punk rock band
You say you wanna play country
But you’re in a punk rock bank

Balm For The Soul #1 – George Michael, ‘Heal The Pain’ and ‘Desafinado’

It’s been a while since I posted anything new around here, but life has suddenly got quite busy for me, what with my college course, our business, and delivering guest posts (I’m over at Rol’s place this week), so finding it tough to set aside some time for the blog. I will now attempt to right that wrong.

It’s exactly six months since we first went into lockdown here in the UK, and as of today the rules have really tightened up again (especially in Scotland) with a whole raft of new restrictions kicking in, so almost back to where we started. I think most of us are now accepting the old normal has gone for the foreseeable, so maybe it’s time to throw in the towel and adapt to this post-pandemic world – There’s still a lot of great stuff out there to enjoy, and whether we simply stumble upon it, or actively seek it out, it can provide a balm for the soul.

I myself stumbled upon something last weekend that led me to think of that phrase, as it just seemed so apt. On Saturday night I caught Mr WIAA perusing the library of recordings on the machine attached to the telly, as we seem to be all caught up at the moment with our ‘boxsets’. I returned later to find him revisiting the George Michael documentary Freedom, which was released nine months after his death. Ironically, back in 2017, it premiered on our screens the same night as my 25th Wedding Anniversary, so I very unromantically spent the evening watching George as opposed to being all loved up with Mr WIAA. Much to his credit he didn’t even mind, as he knew I was (and still am) a big fan, which perhaps goes a long way to explaining how we made it to that landmark number, and now beyond.

I wrote about the documentary back in 2017 in my final Open Letter to George when I think I was still grieving for him, but three years on I could watch it again with less sadness, from the perspective of someone who has accepted he is gone, but is still so grateful we have his wonderful back catalogue of songs. The doc is peppered first of all with the Wham! hits, and then the solo stuff, progressing from the Faith album right through to Symphonica. As happened last time, I homed in on a couple of the songs featured, and they have stayed with me all week. One is Heal The Pain and the other Desafinado (with Astrud Gilberto).

Heal The Pain by George Michael:


How beautiful is that? Oh yes George, from beyond the grave you are healing my pain with your song. I accept the situation the world has found itself in and I accept you have gone – Your music is indeed a balm for the soul. Something I hadn’t realised until now is that this song came about as an homage to Paul McCartney in whose style the song was written. In 2005 George got the chance to record a version with Paul, and it ended up being included on his greatest hits collection Twenty Five. Heal The Pain was the was the fourth of five singles taken from the album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 entering the UK Singles Chart in February 1991 and peaking at number 31. It followed a pattern of reaching a slightly lower spot than its predecessor (the previous three singles having peaked at numbers 6, 23 and 28 respectively) which I now find quite unbelievable, considering the quality of the song.

Something else I find quite unbelievable is that until this week I didn’t actually own a hard copy of Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (there never was a Vol. 2 but that’s a whole other story), so when in town on Monday I swung by our local HMV which thankfully still seems to be trading. I was very tempted by a lovely looking vinyl copy sitting on one of the long display shelves at the entrance, but I dithered, and tussled with my conscience, as it was expensive and I don’t even have a half-decent turntable at the moment. On the other hand the CD shelves were awash with his albums, so in one fell swoop, for the grand sum of £15, I filled the gaps in my Wham!/George Michael collection of music. I’ve not even played them yet, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to have something tangible as opposed to digital, which although highly practical and portable, just doesn’t always hit the spot.

Filling in the gaps – At last!

Before I go I want to share the other song that’s stayed with me since rewatching the doc last weekend. During these troubled times, what could be better than a bit of bossa nova, combined with the dulcet tones of George Michael & Astrud Gilberto (The Girl from Ipanema). It seems Desafinado has been recorded by at least 65 people since 1959 and is translated into English as ‘Out of Tune’ or ‘Off Key’, originally written as a response to critics who claimed bossa nova was a new genre for singers who couldn’t sing. Well this pair certainly can sing, and listening to the 1996 recording feels like being wrapped in a large, fluffy, comfort blanket. Yet another balm for the soul.

Desafinado by George Michael (with Astrud Gilberto):


So, “What’s It All About?” – Not sure if I can keep up the positivity around here long-term but it seems being just that little bit too busy is also good for the soul, as it leaves little time for doomsurfing/doomscrolling, which I’ve spent far too much time doing of late.

As for my apparent fan worship of George Michael, it’s really not like that at all. In fact it wasn’t until he died on Christmas Day 2016 that I realised he had been there by my side for the entire journey that was my adult life. In a non-interfering, almost unnoticed way, he had provided one of its soundtracks and was there at a few of the most pivotal points, including the birth of DD (but not literally). Like many others I will probably continue to make new George Michael discography discoveries, and will thank the universe for having allowed this kind, sensitive, genius of a man, into our lives.

Until next time….

Heal The Pain Lyrics
(Song by George Michael)

Let me tell you a secret
Put it in your heart and then keep it
Something that I want you to know
Do something for me
Listen to my simple story
And maybe we’ll have something to show

You tell me you’re cold on the inside
How can the outside world
Be a place that your heart can embrace
Be good to yourself
Because nobody else
Has the power to make you happy

How can I help you
Please let me try to
I can heal the pain
That you’re feeling inside
Whenever you want me
You know that I will be
Waiting for the day
That you say you’ll be mine

He must have really hurt you
To make you say the things that you do
He must have really hurt you
To make those pretty eyes look so blue

He must have known
That he could
That you’d never leave him
Now you can’t see my love is good
And that I’m not him

How can I help you
Please let me try to
I can heal the pain
Won’t you let me inside
Whenever you want me
You know that I will be
Waiting for the day
That you say you’ll be mine

Won’t you let me in
Let this love begin
Won’t you show me your heart now
I’ll be good to you
I can make this thing true
Show me that heart right now

Who needs a lover
That can’t be a friend
Something tells me I’m the one you’ve been looking for
If you ever should see him again
Won’t you tell him you’ve found someone who gives you more

Someone who will protect you
Love and respect you
All those things
That he never could bring to you
Like I do
Or rather I would
Won’t you show me your heart
Like you should

Film Nights, The Waterboys and ‘How Long Will I Love You’

I wrote a bit of a depressing post last time, so want to follow it up with something a whole lot lovlier. With trips to the cinema no longer happening in my neck of the woods I have gone old-school and am hosting a socially-distanced weekly soiree at the holiday hideaway (now sitting empty for obvious reasons) where we take turns in picking a DVD to watch. With so much choice out there nowadays via the various streaming services, it’s sometimes more satisfying to just pick a single film and run with it, a bit like when we all went to the local arts centre on the last Thursday of the month to watch whatever was on at 8.30pm. (Made some amazing new discoveries that would otherwise have been missed.)

It was my turn to pick and as the only customer in our local HMV last Saturday I felt duty bound to buy something, so started looking at the section for films starting with the letters A-D (I’m a great fan of alphabetisation). I know he’s not for everyone, but I am also a great fan of Richard Curtis movies so went for this one, About Time from 2013. Mr WIAA is not and never has been a member of Film Club, so the fact it was a very girly movie didn’t matter as he could stay home and watch Movies For Men. Despite finding common ground most of the time, we do occasionally like to veer off to the extremes of the genre spectrum.

As it turned out, the film was not vintage Richard Curtis, and seemed to have been written to a very familiar formula. Plenty of posh middle class Englishmen and smart American women, but somehow not as funny as the other films I’ve written about here and a basic premise that was slightly ridiculous – Time travel effected by standing in a wardrobe and clenching your fists (not quite the Tardis or a DeLorean). One aspect that did work for me however was the soundtrack, and I have been afflicted by yet another earworm this week because of one particular song choice. In the film it was sung by a group of tube station buskers (played by Jon Boden & Friends), who also provided the version for the end credits, but for me, the best version is still the original – How Long Will I Love You by The Waterboys.

How Long Will I Love You by The Waterboys:


It’s a love song, but a low key and not overly sentimental one. A simple proclamation of undying love written by band member Mike Scott for their 1990 album, Room to Roam. I am a great fan of The Waterboys and they have appeared around here before as I shared their 1985 masterpiece The Whole Of The Moon as part of my Full Moon Calendar in Song series. Back then they were proponents of “The Big Music”, anthemic rock popularised by many Scottish and Irish bands of the time, but by 1990 they were more of a folk rock band. Surprisingly this song was never released by them as a single, which is a shame, as 23 years later Ellie Goulding reached the No. 3 spot in the UK Singles Chart with it, no doubt because of the publicity it received from its connection to the film.


Not sure why this song has affected me quite so much this week – Touch wood Mr WIAA and I are still good, despite his occasional foray into the world of Movies For Men and my fondness for the odd rom-com. With DD back living at home I am once again involved in the lives of her friends, and really feel for them trying to navigate this brave new world filled with anxiety, and hurdles to be overcome. Finding love has never been tougher, and I doubt very much if Mike Scott considered a global pandemic when he wrote his beautiful lyrics back in 1990. No, I doubt it very much indeed.

Until next time….

How Long Will I Love You Lyrics
(Song by Mike Scott)

How long will I love you
As long as there are stars above you
And longer if I can

How long will I need you
As long as the seasons need to
Follow their plan

How long will I be with you
As long as the sea is bound to
wash upon the sand

How long will I want you
As long as you want me to
And longer by far

How long will I hold you
As long as your father told you
As long as you are

How long will I give to you
As long as I live to you
However long it you say

How long will I love you
As long as are stars above you
And longer if I may

Virtual Concerts, Take That and We’ll ‘Never Forget’ 2020

I missed my regular session of blogging yesterday morning as Mr WIAA and I instead headed out to source a 3m wide gazebo ahead of being able to invite one other family into our back garden for a socially distanced chat, with no offer of refreshments being made of course. Am I really writing this? The phrase ‘you couldn’t make it up’ comes to mind but this is indeed the new normal. It wasn’t easy, but after waiting in a fair few long queues we found something cheap and cheerful that would do the job – Now we just have to work out who might be up for the idea. With no family living locally it’s down to friends and I’m fully aware we might not be at the top of their lists for a wee while yet, as they do have family who live locally.

Billy No-mates
A socially distanced chat anyone?

As we enter week 11 of lockdown (with partial easing) here in Scotland, I can see that people are getting restless, and they won’t be able to keep to the rules for much longer. Let’s hope they don’t have to but I am nervous, must be said. My heart goes out to those who have lost a loved one but my heart also goes out to those who have lost their jobs and businesses. It’s certainly a tricky situation to get out of, and I’m glad I’m not the one having to make the difficult decisions.

I did have a few drafts backing up around here which I could have returned to today but somehow the moment passes and the song choices are no longer relevant. Instead I am going to tell you about something which raised my spirits on Friday night. There have been many online attempts at virtual concerts of late, some more successful than others, but when a friend told me that Take That were going to be streaming live from 8pm on the 29th, I thought I’d give it a whirl (link here). Boy was I glad I did as for 40 minutes or so I forgot all about the pesky virus that has affected our lives so much.

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I was way too old for Take That when they appeared on the scene back in the early ’90s but they soon became the biggest boy band in the land, racking up an impressive run of chart hits between 1991 and 1996 including eight releases that reached the No. 1 spot. Gary generally wrote and performed the songs, whereas Howard and Jason were primarily dancers. Robbie and Mark were jack-of-all-trades, dancing, singing and offering themselves up as teen idols. Their live shows were spectacular and when they split there was a period of national mourning amongst their young fans. Richard and Judy even had to set up a helpline (I know this because it happened during one of the rare times I caught sight of daytime television as I had just given birth to DD and was on maternity leave).

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In 2006, to the delight of their fans who like them were now a lot older and had kids of their own, they reformed, and so started the successful run of their existence as a 4-piece (sans Robbie). They were now a man band but the shows became even more spectacular, there were many more successful albums, and four more No. 1 hits. Eventually Jason too left the fold but they are still going strong today as a middle-aged man band and for the virtual concert on Friday night, for one night only, Robbie re-joined.

It was great fun, I can’t deny, and somehow using only basic technology we could hear all four of them from the comfort of their very own home studios (although some perhaps more basic than others – Mark?). They were able to perform many of the big hits, Back For Good, Shine, The Flood and Pray (Howard and Mark still have those moves) to name but a few, complete with fine virtual backgrounds courtesy of green screen. All these years later they have been able to become the kind of men they always were, not having to conform to a homogenised bandified look, and whilst watching the concert I gave them all nicknames: Flash, Natty, Scruffy and Dandy. If anyone wants to guess which name fitted each band member, feel free to leave a comment in the boxes below.

As is wont to happen at their big live concerts they ended the show with this song, Never Forget. I am a big fan as it features Howard Donald on vocals who rarely got top-billing which made me warm to him the most. It’s tough when you’re not perhaps the best singer, dancer or song-writer within a band, but when you do get your moment in the sun, it just makes it all the more special.

Never Forget by Take That:

The opening section of Never Forget is taken from Verdi’s Requiem, sung by the Henllen Boys Choir. The official music video contained a montage of the band’s childhood moments, but whenever I hear it I just think it sums up their history:

We’ve come a long way
But we’re not too sure where we’ve been
We’ve had success, we’ve had good times…

Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream…

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Looks as if attempts are being made at returning to some semblance of normality, but all that means is that the hospitals can now probably cope better with an influx of patients, not that the virus has gone away. 2016 wasn’t great for several reasons, neither was 2017. 2018 was bad for us as a family and 2019 wasn’t much better. I had high hopes for 2020 but turns out it has been worse than anything most of us will ever have experienced. My daughter’s life is in disarray and our businesses are in mothballs leaving us with little income. Ironically, because the virus hasn’t made it into my mum’s care home, her life has changed very little and she always seems really happy when I call. 2020 is a year we will never forget, nor should we, but my goodness I’m really ready for things to improve. Hope that joyful little bit of entertainment on Friday night will kickstart something good. It’s time now.

Never Forget Lyrics
(Song by Gary Barlow)

We’ve come a long way
But we’re not too sure where we’ve been
We’ve had success we’ve had good times
But remember this

Been on this path of life for so long
Feel I’ve walked a thousand miles
Sometimes strolled hand in hand with love
Everybody’s been there

With danger on my mind
I would stand on the line
Of hope and I knew I could make it

Once I knew the boundaries
I looked into the clouds
And saw my face in the moonlight

Just then I realised what a fool I could be
Just ’cause I look so high I don’t have to see me
Finding a paradise wasn’t easy but still
There’s a road going down the other side of this hill

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Safe from the arms of disappointment for so long
Feel each day we’ve come too far
Yet each day seems to make much more
Sure it’s good to be here

I understand the meaning
Of “I can’t explain this feeling”
Now that it feels so unreal

At night I see the hand
That reminds me of the stand
That I make the fact of reality

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

We’ve come so far and we’ve reached so high
And we’ve looked each day and night in the eye
And we’re still so young and we hope for more
But remember this

We’re not invincible, we’re not invincible, no
We’re only people, we’re only people
Hey we’re not invincible, we’re not invincible
So again I’ll tell you

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Never
Never forget babe
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream