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 getting scrunched up the machine?

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

Don’t Stop Lyrics
(Song by Christine McVie)


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

An Open Letter to DD – When Life Gets Tough, ‘What Would Buffy Do?’

My Dearest Darling Daughter (DD for short)

I know you don’t often drop by this place and I thank you for giving me the freedom to write freely without worrying about being viewed by people from the real world, but here is a short post just for you. Other regulars may drop by but they already know all about you, as all of your shenanigans, as well as those of your dad and granny, pop up within these pages from time to time.

We are now heading into our 10th week of lockdown here in Scotland, which means it’s nearly 11 weeks since you were ‘let go’ from your workplace. What an awful euphemism – You and your colleagues were not flimsy pieces of rope loosely tethered to your desks, but were sparky, go-getting young people with so much to offer. Anyway, because of the pandemic it happened, and on behalf of my generation I apologise for how your generation have been treated over the last decade or so. 

We all know how tough it is for you to buy somewhere to live, as we bought everything up as ‘investment property’. We all know how tough it is for you to enter the job market, as we cling on to the quality jobs and now (have to) work ’til we drop. We gave you computers & phones which let you access social media 24/7, often damaging your mental health. Some of us call you ‘snowflakes’ which is an insult of the highest order and could only come from those who haven’t seen how hard your generation have had to work to navigate the school system and beyond. And now… , the world has seen fit to give you a pandemic to deal with.

This is primarily a health crisis we are living through, and yes, it is our older people and those with underlying health conditions who have borne the brunt of it so far, however I would argue that it’s the 18 to 24-year-olds like yourself whose lives have been turned upside down by it most, and who will bear the brunt in the longer term. I feel desperately sorry for all of you who will miss sitting those life-changing exams; who will finish your degrees virtually; who will miss out on all those end of term revelries; who work in the arts & hospitality; whose new apprenticeships/jobs are now on hold, and; whose plans for next year are now in jeopardy. Many of you might be in a serious relationship yet are having to lockdown in different households. Your social life, which is of immense importance to your age group, is reduced to a Zoom quiz or a hour’s walk with your parents.     

Anyway, got to find some positives and I know you will do your absolute best to adapt to a post-pandemic world. It was obvious before all this that something had to change in terms of how we live, and this might just be the catalyst to make it happen. Over the last few months we have seen less pollution, more innovative ways of working and communities taking care of each other – All bodes well for the future, as long as we can get through this tricky next phase.

I know you’re starting to struggle a bit now and I would like nothing more than to give you a great big hug, but as you’re at the other end of the country, sadly not possible for some time yet. Your dad and I miss you desperately and are your biggest supporters – Whatever the future holds, you will be fabulous.

Mum xxx


Postscript:

I have written about DD often around here, so if anyone wants to drop by the comments boxes with a message of support I think it would give her a big lift. Cross fingers we can all reunite soon. Back in the day, we as a family once spent a whole calendar year watching all 144 episodes of Joss Whedon’s award-winning cult drama, Buffy The Vampire Slayer. When times get tough, the question still is, ‘What would Buffy do?’ – She was one powerful young lady.

As we watched all the episodes, we must have also heard the theme music by Nerf Herder at least 144 times. I had never thought to look into this before, but Nerf Herder are apparently an American rock band from Santa Barbara, California. They describe themselves as a ‘geek rock’ band, and are known for simplistic, modern, punk-style songs and pop-culture-referencing lyrics. Perfect for the Buffy Theme it seems, and as I often say around here, every day’s a school day.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Theme by Nerf Herder:

Runrig, “Hearthammer” and A Bit Of Shameless Marketing

Well, another week on and another Saturday morning blogging session. As I sit down to type I am as yet undecided on today’s subject matter/featured song, so it’s going to be interesting. I occasionally take to “tipsy blogging” (just the one glass of red, so not too tipsy) when I’m lost for inspiration, but not really the done thing before elevenses so a mug of tea it’ll have to be instead.

But of course I’m not lost for inspiration today, it’s just that I had a bit of a rant last week so feel I’m going to have to reel it in a bit this week. I had been a bit upset by the lack of empathy for those going through tough times. I shouldn’t have been surprised however as we are most definitely not all in the same boat during these early days of the crisis. Socio-economic factors have created a massive divide in terms of the lockdown experience and for many, their lives haven’t changed much at all. The economic/social crisis now developing from the health crisis is going to impact the young most, and also those who cannot work from home. In time, a new fairer balance will be found, but how many years will that take? I hope I’m still around to see it happen.

View across the Beauly Firth to Ben Wyvis

I included this picture in last week’s post so shouldn’t really share it again but it’s a bobby dazzler isn’t it and taken from a place just 15 minutes walk from the holiday hideaway which has now been put into mothballs. Regulars around here will remember my foray into the world of tourism last year and how it didn’t quite turn out the way I had hoped. Alyson’s Highland Adventures (AHA) soon became Highland Adventures (HA) as it became apparent people generally just want a lockbox, good Wi-Fi and for me to bugger off!

This week was spent cancelling the remainder of my bookings for the calendar year as we have no idea when we will be able to safely operate such businesses again. Being positive however, I think by next year people will start to have holidays again, and the Staycation will be a popular choice. Some shameless self-promotion here but my Orcadian blogging buddy Graeme from Imperfect and Tense came to stay with his family just before it all started to go horribly wrong, and shared some great pictures over at his place. I was nervous, as he lives in such a beautiful spot himself, but over the course of the week he found all sorts of interesting outdoors-y places that were even new to me. The bonus of course of having a self-contained holiday house on the edge of town, is that your guests have the duel benefits of access to great scenery but also an M&S Foodhall for holiday treats. (Don’t want to sound scary, but has to be said, also useful to have a large acute NHS hospital nearby too.)

Not sure as yet when I shall reopen for business but as I said last year, if any regular visitors want to give me a whirl when the time is right, feel free to get in touch via the Contact Me link at the top of the page. I’m pretty sure Graeme would be more than happy to provide a reference.

As the focus of this post seems to have been on local scenery, it would seem sensible to include a very local piece of music too. There are loads of small venues around here where bands perform in the summer months but of course not going to be easy for them to operate for some time, which is sad. As for the local festivals and gatherings which pepper the annual calendar, again, not going to happen this year. Thank goodness for aforementioned good Wi-Fi as at least many musicians have been able to take to online platforms, but must be said, not the same at all and of course won’t pay the bills.

A band who were able to stream their 2018 Farewell Concert the other week on social media was Runrig. They have featured around here before when I wrote about their version of the traditional song Loch Lomond. Despite looking a bit dated now, in the absence of coming up with a better alternative I’m going to revisit that video clip again (really gets lively after 3:00), as it’s a great reminder of how only weeks ago it would not have seemed unusual to attend such mass gatherings. When will we see their like again? Not for some time I suspect.

Loch Lomond was on the B-side of an EP released in 1991 and of course I bought it, along with the rest of the population of the Highlands. The main song on the EP was Hearthammer which made it into the UK Singles Chart and even got them a slot on TOTP. Looking at the lyrics properly now for the first time, they most definitely come from the memories of people who were youngsters in the 1960s, and I have found out about a famous Argentinian footballer called Di Stefano who was previously unknown to me. Sounds as if he was a remarkable player.

Hearthammer by Runrig:

Runrig’s lead singer Donnie Munro was Mr WIAA’s art teacher at school in the 1970s but by the late 1980s he was very much a full-time musician. When he’d told the class he was involved with a band, and that they played a kind of Gaelic/Celtic rock, the class were highly sceptical (this was the decade of glam rock, punk and disco after all) but he certainly proved them all wrong. In the period 1987-1997 they were signed to Chrysalis and released five very successful studio albums.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Wasn’t sure where this one would go but it seems I’ve ended up shamelessly plugging my temporarily mothballed holiday house. I would hope that by next year we will start to see visitors return to the Highlands of Scotland but with widespread foreign travel probably a thing of the past, and with Airlines going out of business, they are more likely to be of the home-grown variety rather than the myriad of nationalities I welcomed last year.  I’m sure local businesses will adapt and the smaller intimate (but not too intimate) venues will probably be the first to showcase live music again, but as we all keep saying, strange times indeed.

Until next time….

Hearthammer Lyrics
(Song by Calum Macdonald/Rory Macdonald)

With the eyes of a child
The wonder of it all
I used to search the stars at night
And I felt so safe and small
Sweet sounds from a Mersey town
And my nursery god
And I wanted to ride with Yuri Gagarin
As he circled all around my world

Hearthammer
And I lose control
Hearthammer

Lying under the covers
With the radio on
Settle down with Caroline
As she sailed all summer long
Sweetheart of the rodeo
Mining hearts of gold
I think it was somewhere pre stand-up time
Somewhere post Rubber Soul

Hearthammer
And I lose control
Hearthammer

There was the first caress
There were the Labour years
There was the man who walked the moon
Something you never really believed
The Di Stefano twists
The Charlton goals
Now I’m still here with the eyes of a child
The wonder never grows old

Hearthammer
And I lose control
Hearthammer

Ten Sharp, “You” and 2019, What Are You Going to Deliver?

Happy New Year to everyone who visits here. I am conscious of the fact many of you visit without ever leaving a comment – Don’t be shy about joining in with the discussion that often arises. It might sometimes seem as if we have a whole private members thing going on, but trust me, it’s not like that at all. I for one just like writing about the music that’s formed the soundtrack to my life, and when you do that, the stories just start to pour out.

What to write about today though? I did wonder at the end of 2018 whether I could carry on as I have done for yet another year. My posts do tend to be quite wordy and often require a lot of research. The received wisdom however is just to do what feels right. I don’t think I’ll ever get back to writing as many posts as I did in this blog’s first year, as all I did in 2016 was go to work and blog – Amazing Mr WIAA didn’t find himself a new wife really. Fewer posts from me in 2017, as that was the year of big changes at my workplace, which resulted in me throwing in the towel. Would I have done that if I hadn’t become so besotted by blogging? Not sure. As it turns out, my mum’s deteriorating health in 2018 would have probably necessitated my leaving anyway, so just hastened my departure.

2019.jpgSo, here we are entering 2019, and as yet we have no idea what the hot topics will be this year in the blogging world. Three years ago, we were just days away from hearing of the death of David Bowie and for the following twelve months, the tributes just kept on flowing for other iconic artists. It was a brutal year in terms of loss.

It has been a relief, that very few bloggers around here have mentioned the “B” word over the last year. We are all sick and tired of the political shenanigans that dominate the news channels, and fortunately we had a welcome respite from it over the festive period. I have a feeling it’s about to ramp up to a whole new level however, so watch this space, as I do feel a one-off rant coming on!

In the meantime here is a heart-warming picture. No Hogmanay parties for us this year as most of the neighbours were either away or had grandchildren to stay. Changed days indeed, but time for the younger generation to take over perhaps, so DD and her boyfriend decided to host their very own shindig to bring in the New Year. In this digital age she has gone old skool, and now takes most of her pictures with a Polaroid Instax. In the years to come there will be tangible evidence of what they got up to back in the day, as opposed to having thousands of images lost in some virtual cloud.

49203393_10211962280643559_8668616275443843072_n And here is where I made a wonderful observation. Looking as this array of pics, I realised most of the local friends had managed to come along, and these local friends included people she has known since school-days along with more recent friends made through college and work. Amongst them, there was a brother and sister from Poland, the brother’s Lithuanian fiancée and two forestry students from The Netherlands. It may well be getting ugly out there, but I know for my daughter and her friends, they will remain staunchly European whatever. Many in her group have lived in the Highlands since junior school, and despite the challenge of studying in what would essentially have been a foreign language, they have already achieved great things both academically and professionally. A massive asset to our community. 

My featured song is therefore going to be this one – My earworm of the week. Mr WIAA has taken to watching YouTube music clips whilst having his morning coffee, and sometimes falls down that rabbit hole, ending up far from where he started. One day last week he ended up listening to this song – You by Ten Sharp. It was from the time when we were still just “dating”, so it conjured up memories of a more carefree time. Back then, like DD, we had a big circle of local friends, but none of them were from anywhere other than Scotland – Changed days indeed. 

You by Ten Sharp:

But the main reason for choosing You as my featured song, is because it’s by a Dutch band, something I hadn’t realised back in 1991 when the song became a big hit for them peaking at No. 10 in the UK Singles Chart. The two Ten Sharp band members are Marcel Kapteijn (vocals) and Niels Hermes (keyboards). The song itself was produced by Michiel Hoogenboezem (almost worth writing this post just to find an excuse to mention that great name).

My American Odyssey in Song series seems to have stalled, so perhaps it’s now time to champion some of the music made by our European neighbours over the years. DD’s Dutch friends were able to arrange a welcoming committee for her ahead of her trip to Amsterdam last year. Meant she spent a few days with a lovely couple of girls who have now become firm friends. Let’s hope none of that camaraderie will be jeopardised by what is to happen in the first few months of 2019.

Until next time….

You Lyrics
(Song by Ton Groen/Niels Hermes)

It’s all right with me
as long as you
are by my side

Talk or just say nothing
I don’t mind your looks never lie
I was always on the run
finding out, what I was looking for
And I was always insecure
just until I found

Words often don’t come easy
I never learned
to show you the inside of me
Oh no my baby

You were always patient
dragging out what I try to hide

I was always on the run
finding out what I was looking for
and I was always insecure
until I found

You, you were always on my mind
you, you’re the one I’ve been living for
you, you’re my everlasting fire
you’re my always shining star

The night’s always a good friend
a glass of wine, and the lights are low
you lying beside me, me full of love and…
and filled with hope…

You, you were always on my mind
you, you’re the one I’ve been living for
you, you’re my everlasting fire
you, ooh
you’re my always shining star
always on my mind
you, you’re the one I’ve been living for
you, you’re my everlasting fire
ooh, ooh
you’re my always shining star
you’re my always…
you’re my always shining star

New Beginnings Part 2: Web Diaries, Take That and “Everything Changes”

“I don’t like it…, I love it!”

Those of us who watch mainstream telly in the UK, will recognise those words, as they frequently come from the mouth of Mr Simon Cowell, who seems to have singularly ruined this time of year for music lovers. His big-budget karaoke shows highjack the seasonal chart, so nobody makes Christmas records any more. This blog may feature songs from the 1970s more than any other decade, but if I have to endure another festive season listening to Slade and Wizard, I will be very grumpy indeed. (Nothing against Noddy and Roy of course, but even they must be getting embarrassed at the abundance of riches accumulated since making their respective festive hits forty-five years ago.)

every-christmas-number-1-ever2
Christmas No. 1 Singles from over the decades

But as ever I’ve got side-tracked. Back to that hackneyed phrase:

“I don’t like it…, I love it!”

To my absolute delight, they were also the words that came from the mouth of my little mum this week, when I asked her if she liked her new care home. The relief was palpable, as so many old folk really resist going to live in such places. Of course it does help that it looks like a 5 Star Hotel; it does help that she is still able-bodied enough to enjoy all the activities, and finally; it helps immeasurably that the financial side of things is being taken care of by myself. As far as she is concerned, her state pension pays for all of it, and I intend to move heaven and earth to keep her there. Now that my time is being freed up from doing the actual caring (which was not my forte and can be done so much better by those professionally trained for such work), I can soon get back to being what they call “economically active”. Just a few things that need sorted out first…

You won’t probably have noticed, but I’ve not posted anything new around here for over a fortnight. Been a bit busy you see, but in a really good way. My mum is happy, so it’s now all steam ahead with selling her retirement flat, and we’ve watched enough of those “property porn” shows to know what can be done to dress the rooms for maximum effect. Still a bit to do, but it looks fantastic already. She was always really fastidious about keeping her home immaculate, so not too onerous at all. And, plenty of nice pieces to take to the care home once the deal is done.

phil
Phil and Kirsty doing their thing

But that’s not all. As far as my college course goes, we have now reached the end of the first semester. The last assignment had to be “uploaded” (bit more high-tech than first time around) on Monday, so now just waiting see how I did. Bit of a downside is that we had to prove we’d been keeping a journal, of sorts, for the last three months. Of course followers to this place know that this blog is in effect my web diary/journal, so although we all like retaining our anonymity around here, I had to bite the bullet and include a link. I have deliberately held off writing anything new for the last fortnight, as I was acutely aware that if my tutor opened the link, she would see the latest post – The pressure was on to make it a good one. I now realise however, she may not open the link for a while, so I can’t really hold off any longer. Will try and up the rate of output though, and with any luck, if she does drop by, it will be one of my better posts. Something I did mention in my assignment though, was that after a lifetime of working with Excel spreadsheets, it’s been great turning to writing in later life. Anyone who has been with me for the journey will hopefully agree I’ve got better at it over the years, the sentences becoming a little bit less clunky, and the posts a bit more entertaining.

Finally, the big one. As of last Saturday, I think we acquired a new business! We live right in the heart of the Scottish Highlands which now seems to be ranked No. 5 in the Lonely Planet Guide’s Top Regions to Visit in 2019, so anything related to tourism should be a winner. Won’t say too much about that one until it’s a done deal, but all very exciting, and with any luck it will help out with the care home fees.

So, not a lot of music around here yet today, but just kind of getting back into the swing of things again after a short absence. There is no doubt we have a lot of change going on around here at the moment, but it needed to happen, and just shows that retirement need never really be an option, as always new challenges out there to take on.

Lots of songs with the word ‘Change’ in the title, but I have included David Bowie’s Changes around here before (sadly still very relevant), so time for something different. I won’t inflict Wind of Change by the Scorpions on you, so you’re safe (although click on the link if you want a quick recap), but I will inflict this one, Everything Changes by Take That. I’ve always been a fan of Take That, right from the start, and remember well the outpouring of grief in 1996 when they announced they were splitting up. I’d just had DD and was a stay-at-home mum experiencing daytime telly for the first time in years – Poor Richard and Judy had to set up a helpline!

They are now a Man Band rather than a Boy Band and have lost a couple of members along the way, but this song just reminds me how great they were at the beginning – All that energy, and Robbie got starring role in this offering, which was a bit unusual, as Gary was usually in charge of the reins when it came to the lead singing role.

200px-Logo_Take_That

I’m feeling quite upbeat today, and have the designer for a well-known luxury brand sitting next to me as I type, as Mr WIAA is working with them on a new range. She has also become a friend, so a couple of busy, but fun days are likely to follow. Everything changes from time to time, and for us, everything has changed as we end 2018 and get ready to enter 2019. I will soon have completed a full three years of blogging, but I’m not done yet, and although it looks as if I’m going to be kept really busy in the new year, I’m going to keep this place going with more Moon Posts, American Odyssey posts and items from what I call Alyson’s Archive.

The lyrics to today’s song are entirely inappropriate for my situation, but the title is, and their high energy video clip is weirdly fitting for how I’m feeling today. It looks great, is shot in a sepia tone, and shows the band in a jazz café, performing the song with various patrons joining in. The song was the fifth single from the band’s second studio album, “Everything Changes” and was inevitably written by Gary Barlow amongst others. It was Take That’s fourth consecutive single to go straight in at No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart, where it remained for two weeks in April 1994.

Everything Changes by Take That:

I’ve ended up writing way too much here, but just goes to show what happens if you have a fortnight off. If my tutor does drop by this post, it’s not exactly representative of what I do around here, but it does show that my blog also doubles as my web diary, or journal, as well as being the place where I revisit the “tracks of my years”.

Back it 1996 everything changed for Take That, and life has continued to change for them over the intervening 22 years, as they later reformed, and morphed from being a five-piece Boy Band to a Man Band of varying number. In 2018 everything changed for us, and after a bit of an up-and-down year, everyone seems to be ending it in a good place. My mum loves her care home, I have my course and a new business to get up and running, Mr WIAA is busy making beautiful things that will appear in shop windows, and DD seems to have decanted to her boyfriend’s luxury apartment overlooking the river (no sad little student flat for her). I know it won’t last, as life just doesn’t work out that way, but in the meantime I’m going to enjoy the calm. No more whinging. New beginnings.

Until next time….

Everything Changes Lyrics
(Song by Gary Barlow/Michael Ward/Eliot Kennedy/Cary Baylis)

We’ve said goodbye, the taxi cab is waiting
Now don’t you cry, just one more kiss
Before I have to go
Hey girl I know the situation changed
And so much is new but something in my life
Remains the same cos

Everything changes but you
We’re a thousand miles apart
But you know I love you
Everything changes but you
You know everything single day
I’ll be thinking about you

The rumours true, you know that there’ve been others
What can I do, I tell you baby they don’t mean a thing
Now girl don’t go and throw our love away
I’ll be home soon back in your arms to hear you say that

Everything changes but you
We’re a thousand miles apart
But you know I love you
Everything changes but you
You know everything single day
I’ll be thinking about you

Everything changes but you
We’re a thousand miles apart
But I still love you
Everything changes but you
I’ll spend everything single day
Thinking about you

Though everything changes around us
(Baby don’t U cry)
We will be the same as before more

Everything changes but you
We’re a thousand miles apart
And I still miss you baby
Everything changes but you
You know everything single day
I’ll be thinking about you