Months Of The Year In Song: January, A Time Of New Beginnings

At last I find myself writing about a month whose name isn’t derived from a Latin number. That would be because we have moved on from the Roman calendar to the Julian and Gregorian ones. The ‘unorganised winter’ period became ‘organised’ and the months of January and February were added to the calendar so that it covered a standard lunar year of 354 days (a slight flaw there but in time it was adjusted for). The month of January is named after Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology. Sounds about right.

A statue of the god Janus

Here in Scotland, which is in the Northern Hemisphere, it is the coldest month of the year, and true to form it has been very parky around here of late. A bit of a disaster in a year when our heating bills are sky-rocketing. Conversely, for all you lucky people in the Southern Hemisphere, it is your warmest month.

The actress January Jones – much prettier than Janus

As for songs relating to the month, I ended up with a few more suggestions than I expected, so let’s crack on with them. Before I start here are a few words from C of Sun Dried Sparrows fame:

“I have a slight case (is that the right word?!) of synaesthesia, and see the months (along with days of the week and letters of the alphabet) as colours. January is a colour that I can’t even describe, kind of grey but also purple.”

I hear you C, and although the colours in my head are not quite as vivid as the ones you possibly see, that grey/purple hue sounds about right, just as orange was apt for the month of October.

Just about everyone suggested the song January by Pilot for this edition of the series but I’m going to leave it for last, as it would have been my suggestion too. Other contributions came in first of all from Ernie Goggins, who put forward January Song by Lindisfarne. I see that song is from the album Fog On The Tyne which has been written about here before when I shared photos of my late father-in-law, who also came from Newcastle. The band really were at the top of their game back in 1971 when this beautiful song was recorded.


The next set of suggestions came in from Khayem and here are his own words:

“First up is Dave Goulder from 1970 with his song January Man, covered by the likes of Bert Jansch, Christy Moore and Martin Carthy. I’ve just got one, a rather fine version by Rachel Unthank & The Winterset, link here. Also, Nick Heyward eschewed folk for frenetic acoustic pop with his same-name-song in 1993.”

Two very different styles of song there and as I said in my reply to him last month, I was a big fan of the very cute Nick Heyward back in the day, so lovely to hear something from him that was new to me.  


The next contribution was from Rol:

“Very late to this, so I’ll keep it brief. I had a few suggestions, but I’ve narrowed it down to just one, The Decemberists with January Hymn.


Another beautiful folksy song and a great clip made up of footage from a harsh 1960s winter it seems (check out the person at 1:38 – very funny). Thanks Rol.

The final suggestion was from The Swede, who thought he might be too late, but because of my tardiness he wasn’t!

“I hope I’m not too late to offer a January song suggestion. Khayem beat me to it with my first thought of January Man, so I’ll head off in a 1960s psych/prog direction with The Doorway to January, an instrumental piece by Mandrake Paddle Steamer, a band formed in my home town of Walthamstow in 1967.”

Crikey TS, it seems the Summer of Love came to Walthamstow after all, but being only aged seven I imagine you missed out. Very psychedelic as you say.


But here is the song that immediately sprang to mind for many of us of a certain vintage, January by the Scottish band Pilot. Written by lead singer David Paton and produced by Alan Parsons (he of The Project fame and Dr Evil’s scientist) the song was their sole No. 1 hit, reaching the top spot this exact week back in 1975, where it stayed for three weeks.

January by Pilot:


The song, however, was not about the month but about a girl named January, the name taken from a female protagonist in a book that David Paton’s wife was reading at the time. It’s obvious now of course but I’m not sure if it clicked back in the day, it becoming a big hit for them at this time of year.

Before I go I want to share a discovery just made this morning. I was only 14 when Pilot appeared on TOTP with their song. A few months later an artist called Andy Fairweather Lowe also appeared on TOTP, as he had a hit with the song Wide Eyed and Legless. Until today I always thought the lead singer of Pilot and Andy were the same guy, who had now gone solo – separated at birth or what? I feel really silly now, but hey, I was young and had no access to any of the info we have at our disposal nowadays.

Andy on the left and David on the right

Next month will be February, so any song suggestions will be gratefully received as ever. The worst of the winter will be past by then hopefully, and our thermostats will return to more economically manageable settings. Lighter nights too, or rather lighter afternoons, which is always a good sign.

Until next time…

January Lyrics
(Song by David Paton)

January
Sick and tired, you’ve been hanging on me
You make me sad with your eyes
You’re telling me lies
Don’t go, don’t go

January
Don’t be cold, don’t be angry to me
You make me sad, come and see
Oh, January
Don’t go, don’t go

Life gets me higher (Higher)
I can show, I can glow
I can wake up the world, little world
Gotta know you, gotta show you

Sun, like a fire (Fire)
Carry on, don’t be gone
Bring me out of my home sweet home
Gotta know me, gotta show me
You’ve been facing the world
You’ve been chasing the world

January
Sick and tired, you’ve been hanging on me
You make me sad with your eyes
You’re telling me lies
Don’t go, don’t go

January
Don’t be cold, don’t be angry to me
You make me sad, come and see
Oh, January

Don’t go, don’t go

Time, it’s a flier (Flier)
Sunny day, fly away
English summers are gone, so long
Gotta go up, gotta blow up

Sun, like a fire (Fire)
Carry on, don’t be gone
Bring me out of my home sweet home
Gotta know me, gotta show me
You’ve been facing the world
You’ve been chasing the world

January
Sick and tired, you’ve been hanging on me
You make me sad with your eyes
You’re telling me lies
Don’t go, don’t go

January
Don’t be cold, don’t be angry to me
You make me sad, come and see
Oh, January
Don’t go, don’t go

Months of the Year in Song: December Departed

Yet again I’m up against a deadline, sneaking the latest edition of this series into the tail end of the month, and what a month it’s been. I had fully expected this edition to be a really festive one, full of jollity and Christmas songs, but for me, December 2022 has been memorable for the sheer number of deaths there have been both in the world of celebrity and closer to home.

The latest tally ‘closer to home’ is now seven deaths since the start of the month. None of them family or really close friends, but people I knew through their offspring, through work, or from my neighbourhood. Out there in the wider world the obituaries just keep on coming. Last night we heard of the death of Vivienne Westwood (would punk have happened in quite the same way without her?), and yesterday we also lost Pele, whose playing style probably gave football the moniker, ‘the beautiful game’. On Christmas Eve we lost Maxi Jazz, lead vocalist of British electronic band Faithless. To be honest, until reading a comment about him on another blog just before his death, I wouldn’t have known his name, but there can’t be many of us who weren’t aware of him. Such a striking man whose struggle with Insomnia gave us the dance track that even those of us who missed the Ibiza boat knew well. I’ve already written tributes for Christine McVie and Terry Hall this month, but we’ve also lost Jet Black of the Stranglers, and many others from the world of music and entertainment.

In clockwise direction: Vivienne Westwood and pals, Christine McVie, Terry Hall, Maxi Jazz, Jet Black

Insomnia by Faithless:


But this is supposed to be a post full of December songs and appropriately I’m going to kick things off with George Michael, who himself died on Christmas Day, 2016. That year had been incredibly cruel for losses but his death was the one that hit me hardest as his music had accompanied me throughout my entire adult life up until that point. I’ve shared his December Song (I Dreamed of Christmas) around here before, but no reason not to share it again.

December Song (I Dreamed of Christmas) by George Michael:


It always seems a bit odd listening to Christmas songs after the 25th so apologies for the timing of this post. Hope everyone who visits this place had a good time over the peak festive period, but I am also aware it can be a tough time for many. For the second year in a row we went out for Christmas lunch as it seemed high time that DD and the new fiancé gave it a bash. I can report back that everything went really well and I think she got a lot less stressed than I usually do when juggling so many dishes at the same time. When we got back home in the evening though it was just the two of us, so very different from the years when we had our own parents, Mr WIAA’s siblings and DD to entertain. Just the place we’ve reached on the conveyor belt of life I suppose.

DD’s Christmas table complete with fancy napkins!

Before I get on with the song suggestions, here is the bit of trivia I found really interesting back in September, but now find a bit boring and repetitive. Yes, yet again the month of December is named after a Latin number, this time ten, or decem, all because the Roman calendar used to have 10 months with a gap for an ‘unorganised winter’. Phew, think we’re done with all that now, so it should get a bit more interesting once we head into a new calendar year.

The first suggestion last time came in from Rick who thought the line, ‘I wanted to assassinate Christmas’, in the Teenage Fanclub song, December, was a really good one. First time this Scottish band has put in an appearance around here, so thanks Rick, and yes, a sentiment many of us probably agree with.


Our next pick came from Ernie Goggins who suggested Merle Haggard’s song, If We Make It Through December. Listening to the lyrics I can’t help thinking there must be many, many families out there thinking exactly the same thing this year. Sadly, the way things are going, I don’t think there will be much respite in January, or February, and the current incumbent at No. 10 is not going to offer up any easy fixes. But thanks Ernie, a new song for me, and I do like Merle’s voice despite the sad lyrics.

Got laid off down at the factory
And their timing’s not the greatest in the world
Heaven knows I been workin’ hard
Wanted Christmas to be right for daddy’s girl

I don’t mean to hate December
It’s meant to be the happy time of year
And my little girl don’t understand
Why daddy can’t afford no Christmas here


Next up we have a suggestion from Khayem who for the second time in this series came up with something from the band The The (I think he must be a big fan). Here are his own words:

‘Unsurprisingly, lots and lots of December songs out there, so I’m just going to stick with one, although it’s been re-recorded and covered several times over. It’s DecemberSunlight (no spacing) by The The. The original version appeared on the 2000 album NakedSelf.’

Thanks Khayem, and anyone who wants to investigate some of the many covers can find them in last month’s comments boxes (link here).


Rol promised to be kind this time, with fewer suggestions to drown me with. As it turns out, a couple of the songs he mentioned, I would have included myself anyway. First of all, I can’t write a December themed post without including this song from the Four Seasons. I always used to think it was simply called, Oh What a Night, but the official title is December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night). This time the lead vocals came from drummer Gerry Polci, with Frankie Valli just singing the bridge sections and backing vocals. Whenever I hear this song I am transported back to 1975 when our newly minted community centre was the focal point for teenage social life (no iPhones in those days). Most of our year at school headed along every Saturday night for the ‘disco’, where the decks were manned by some of our enterprising classmates. Fun times played out to songs like this one, and as I’ve said around here before, I think the Four Seasons provided the backdrop to my first kiss!

December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) by the Four Seasons:


Another of Rol’s suggestions was this one, December, by Count Basie & the Mills Brothers. The Mills Brothers, originally known as the Four Kings of Harmony, were an American jazz and traditional pop vocal quartet who made more than 2,000 recordings that sold more than 50 million copies. They were active from 1928 to 1980 and were the first African-American artists to have their own show on national network radio in the US.

December by The Mills Brothers:


I am reminded of a Christmas several years ago when our blogging buddy Jez used to ask for suggestions for his very entertaining feature, The Chain. I’m not sure how it came about but I remember offering up this Mills Brothers song back then as I had it in my library, and no suggestions were ever rejected. As it turns out Jez isn’t very well at the moment, so if he reads this, we’re all wishing you well and hope you can get back to the important business of blogging soon. No pressure though, health comes first an’ all that.

A suggestion now from C of Sun Dried Sparrows fame. Here are her own words:

‘The first song that springs to mind for me is My<Dsmbr by Linkin’ Park featuring Kelli Ali – I know, you’d have thought they could have spelt it correctly, will it be disqualified on the grounds of having no vowels? I’m no Linkin’ Park fan usually, but I like Kelli Ali for her time with Sneaker Pimps and creator of some great solo material and there’s just something about this song that seems to fit the mood of the month.’

No, won’t be disqualified C, so lets give it a listen. Yes, I do hear what you say about it fitting the mood of the month. Thanks for this one.


This next song was alluded to by Rol, but it was left to Rigid Digit to come out and suggest it properly. December Will Be Magic Again, by Kate Bush from 1980. Kate, who now lives quietly in an English village, became the artist de jour this last summer after her 1985 song Running Up That Hill was used for an important scene in the hit television drama Stranger Things. After 37 years it finally made it to the top spot on the UK Singles Chart, Kate’s first No. 1 since Wuthering Heights in 1978. For some reason her Christmas song is not one of the staples you hear on the radio much nowadays, which is a great shame, as classic Kate Bush.


The final song for this post comes from our blogging pal The Swede, who has been conspicuous by his absence this festive period. I suspect he might be too jiggered for blogging after long shifts keeping the nation fed, but hopefully all is well with him. Here are his own words:

‘My suggestion for the next instalment in this series is Fred Neil’s cover of December’s Dream, a song that unfathomably remained unreleased in his lifetime. Fred’s voice can reduce me to a blubbering wreck at the best of times, but here he just about finishes me off. The original version of the song by John Braheny is also excellent.’

Crikey TS, I see what you mean about that song, it’s got me reduced to a blubbering wreck too. A new artist and song for me, but what a beautiful and pure voice he has. Thank you for that suggestion.


Right, that’s definitely your lot for this month, and for the 2022 segment of this series. The next edition will come out before the end of January so yet again I would be most grateful for any of your song suggestions for that month (but please be sparing as these posts take a lot out of a person – I was warned!).

It’s going to be a quiet Hogmanay for us this year as there has been a radical change in our neighbourhood over the last few years meaning that the people we used to party with have either moved away, suffered illness or sadly passed away. On a positive note, I went to visit my mum in her care home earlier today and despite many of them having come down with flu, she was in good spirits and sporting a hat made out of balloons in the shape of a reindeer. (They’d had a magician in to entertain.) The mum I used to know would never have contemplated wearing a balloon hat, but the mum I now have is much more fun-loving and up for anything, so a bit of a blessing really.

Whatever you do for Hogmanay, whether it be watching a firework display, heading off to a party, or cosying up in front of the telly, I hope you have a good one.

Until next time…

December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) Lyrics
(Song by Bob Gaudio/Judy Parker)

Oh, what a night
Late December, back in ’63
What a very special time for me
As I remember, what a night

Oh, what a night
You know, I didn’t even know her name
But I was never gonna be the same
What a lady, what a night

Oh, I, I got a funny feeling
When she walked in the room
And my, as I recall
It ended much too soon

(Oh, what a night)
Hypnotizing, mesmerisin’ me
She was everything I dreamed she’d be
Sweet surrender, what a night

And I felt a rush
Like a rolling bolt of thunder
Spinning my head around
And takin’ my body under
(Oh, what a night)

Oh, I got a funny feeling
When she walked in the room
And my, as I recall
It ended much too soon

(Oh, what a night)
Why’d it take so long to see the light?
Seemed so wrong, but now it seems so right
What a lady, what a night

Oh, I felt a rush
Like a rolling bolt of thunder
Spinning my head around
And takin’ my body under

(Oh, what a night)
Do do do, do do, do do do do
(Oh, what a night)
Do do do, do do, do do do do
(Oh, what a night)
Do do do, do do, do do do do
(Oh, what a night)
Do do do, do do, do do do do.
..

Months of the Year in Song: November Nights (with a Nip in the Air)

Well, I had my doubts about this series but with all the great suggestions I got last month this post will practically write itself. As it’s the last day of the month however (also St Andrew’s Day here in Scotland) I’m going to have to be quick or I’ll miss my window of opportunity.

Yet again, as with September and October, the month of November is named after a Latin number, this time nine, or novem, all because the Roman calendar used to have 10 months with a gap for an “unorganised winter”. As we head into next year things will get a bit more interesting, promise.

Another picture by Veli Bariskan, who kindly let me use the banner image above

So far in this series we’ve had Sad September and Orange October. I had hoped there would be an obvious alliterative word to tag on to November, but all I can think of at the moment is Nights. Back in September there was a bit of debate about whether that month was really the tail end of summer rather than the start of autumn. At this point in November, as it’s very cold and dark much of the time, it feels more like winter than autumn. The clocks change back to GMT at the end of October and from then on it starts to get dark at around tea-time (if like me you live in the North of Scotland). If you’re busy at work for much of the day, any social activity will probably be done at night-time, and it will probably be very dark indeed. Great for Bonfire Night on the 5th of November (link here to a previous post) but also for other outdoor extravaganzas where darkness is required. We headed along to Brodie Castle the other week where the castle and grounds were illuminated with all sorts of relevant images and colours. Really pretty indeed and a nice warming hot chocolate to enjoy at the end.

Spot the wee windows on the castle (famous for its daffodils in Spring). We were also blessed with a full moon and a starry, starry night.


But this is supposed to be a music blog, so where are the songs?

Last month the first suggestion came in from Charity Chic, Mr. November by The National, although he did add a warning that it contains ‘sweary words’. If you’re likely to be offended, cover your ears. I was struggling to work out what the song is about, but here is a possible explanation. ‘He was a high school quarterback. November is playoff season for football. He was carried in the arms of cheerleaders. He was a hero. This character has peaked way too early. He’s had his big accomplishment already, so now he sleeps late.’ Makes sense.

The next suggestion came from C of Sun Dried Sparrows, Late November by Pavlov’s Dog. Here are her own words:

‘It comes from around 1975, I think. Sort of uncategorisable. David Surkamp’s vocals are… erm… not easy to describe in a complimentary way, you wouldn’t think they could work, and yet, and yet! – there is something incredibly charming about this – I just can’t put my finger on why. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea and I wouldn’t have thought it could ever be mine. But in this case, it is. Maybe it’s the song as a whole that just gets in there.’

Crikey, I see what you mean about those vocals C, but you are right, it does have a certain je ne sais quoi.

Next up we had a suggestion from Graeme, who remembered that Mike Oldfield had a song called Man in the Rain where the month of November is heavily featured in the chorus. Coming from the Orkney Islands Graeme is probably often a man who finds himself caught in the rain. Let’s have a listen.


Very nice indeed. The vocals on that one were apparently performed by Irish folk singer Cara Dillon.

Rol as ever was not found wanting when it came to suggestions, but one of them also overlapped with a second suggestion from C, so I’ll include it first. Here is what she said about it:

‘Another (different) Late November that comes to mind is the hauntingly beautiful, melancholy song by Sandy Denny. (There are a few versions floating around, some quite stripped back with just piano and vocals but the one I like most has more instrumentation on it.)’

Let’s hope I’ve found the one you were thinking of C.


But back to Rol, here is what he said about this next song, November Rain, the one I would probably have picked myself if thinking of one relating to this month.

‘November begins and ends with Guns n Roses for me. It was my late nephew’s favourite song too, and they played it at his funeral, so much as I enjoy Axl’s histrionics, it always comes with bittersweet memories.’

Hope you don’t mind that I shared your words Rol, and understandable that it would be a tough listen for you nowadays. From the era of the really big budget music video. They don’t make ’em like that any more.

November Rain by Guns N’ Roses:


For the record, Rol’s other suggestions were as follows:

Carter USM – Born On The 5th of November
Tom Waits – November
Harry Chapin – November Rains
Morrissey – November Spawned A Monster
Stornoway – November Song
The Waterboys – November Tale

Quite a range of styles there but an all-male line-up. Maybe we should shoehorn in some Julie London to redress the balance a bit. Here we have her singing November Twilight from her Calendar Girl album (always a good source of material for this series).


Last but definitely not least we have a suggestion from Khayem, who came up with this:

‘I was surprised to find I’ve relatively few ‘November’ songs in my collection. However, I will give a nod to November by Echo & The Bunnymen. The song was a B-side (if it can be classed as such) to their 2009 digital single I Think I Need It Too. I’m not going to pretend that this is anything close to imperial phase E&TB, but I love the opening bassline and musically, it’s far jauntier than I’d expect a song with that title to be.’


To be honest I hadn’t even realised that Echo & The Bunnymen are still active as a band as I don’t think I’ve listened to them since their ‘imperial phase’ as Khayem calls it. A nice reminder of how they used to sound back then, and still do today.

So, that’s your lot for this month, something for everyone I suspect. I’ve been shocked at how quickly winter has come upon us this year and despite all my good intentions about not turning up the thermostat, I have indeed succumbed, so it’s feeling pretty cosy at WIAA Towers with the curtains shut tight of an evening. If you do venture out, as well as fireworks and lightshows, you might have spotted a pretty spectacular crescent moon this week. Some of the planets have also been visible in the night sky.

Next month is December – how the heck did it come round so quickly, but then I say that every year. There will be plenty of song choices for that month I’m sure but feel free to add your tuppence worth to the comments boxes. Always grateful for any of your suggestions.

Until next time…

November Rain Lyrics
(Song by Axl Rose)

When I look into your eyes
I can see a love restrained
But, darlin’, when I hold you
Don’t you know I feel the same? Yeah

‘Cause nothing lasts forever
And we both know hearts can change
And it’s hard to hold a candle
In the cold November rain

We’ve been through this such a long, long time
Just tryna kill the pain, ooh yeah
But lovers always come and lovers always go
And no one’s really sure who’s lettin’ go today, walkin’ away
If we could take the time to lay it on the line
I could rest my head, just knowin’ that you were mine, all mine

So, if you want to love me
Then, darlin’, don’t refrain
Or I’ll just end up walkin’
In the cold November rain

Do you need some time on your own?
Do you need some time all alone?
Ooh, everybody needs some time on their own
Ooh, don’t you know you need some time all alone?

I know it’s hard to keep an open heart
When even friends seem out to harm you
But if you could heal a broken heart
Wouldn’t time be out to charm you, whoa-whoa

Sometimes, I need some time on my own
Sometimes, I need some time all alone
Ooh, everybody needs some time on their own
Ooh, don’t you know you need some time all alone?

And when your fears subside
And shadows still remain, ooh yeah
I know that you can love me
When there’s no one left to blame

So, never mind the darkness
We still can find a way
‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever
Even cold November rain

Don’t ya think that you need somebody?
Don’t ya think that you need someone?
Everybody needs somebody
You’re not the only one, you’re not the only one
Don’t ya think that you need somebody?
Don’t ya think that you need someone?
Everybody needs somebody

Romantic Gestures, Robbie Williams and ‘She’s The One’

It’s a while since I posted something new around here, but life has been a tad busy of late. A big contract Mr WIAA had been working on for over a year finally came to a conclusion and last weekend we attended a fancy event where the fruits of his labours had a starring role. We’ve both been working really hard all summer so were looking forward to a bit of a break once we came back, but true to form, as soon as we started to relax, we got ill. Nothing more than a regular cold virus thankfully, and starting to feel better now, but just wanted to explain my absence.

I’ve often mentioned that I now know which subject matters are best avoided around here, and one of those is weddings. I make no apologies however for sharing this lovely snippet of news. Right in the middle of our fraught preparations for the big event last weekend we had an unexpected visit from DD’s other half. We were waiting for a camera crew to arrive to film the various pieces Mr WIAA had made, so when the doorbell rang, we thought it was them. But no, ahead of their own weekend away on the Isle of Skye, DD’s boyfriend had dropped by to ask our permission to ‘pop the question’. All very traditional and more than Mr WIAA did back in the day, but we were both very happy about this new development in their relationship and told him so. Needless to say, at this momentous juncture the camera crew did arrive, so a bit of confusion for a time, but in the end all went well with both the filming and the subsequent proposal, so it seems we are going to have a son-in law!

The Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye – scene of many a romantic gesture

It occurred to me that this blog has inadvertently not only followed the journey my own life has taken over the past seven years, but also the life of DD, as she is mentioned often around here. There have been ups and downs, and two periods of returning to her old school bedroom, but this is a really happy time for her and the ring she is now wearing on her left hand is a real bobby dazzler. The wedding plans are not seriously in place yet, and won’t be for some time, but in the meantime I thought I’d share a song that was DD’s favourite when she was aged just three. He appeared on prime-time telly singing it the weekend of the big proposal, so it seems doubly appropriate – I give you Robbie Williams with She’s The One.

She’s The One by Robbie Williams:


The song came from the album I’ve Been Expecting You from 1998 and it was also one of the standout songs in the pantomime we went to see as a family that year. She’s The One was track number 10 on the CD, and the player we had at the time came with a remote control. It didn’t take her long, but DD soon worked out she had to press both a one and a zero to get her favourite song from the pantomime, and it was played many, many times over that Christmas period. She didn’t always get the singer’s name right however confusing him with another of the artists whose CD we had bought around that time – oh yes, ‘Robbie Michaels’ was an artist often mentioned in our house back then.


I hadn’t realised until today that the song was not a Robbie Williams/Guy Chambers one. She’s The One was actually written by Karl Wallinger of World Party, a band he set up after leaving the Waterboys. Because the song only became a really big hit once released as a single by Robbie, poor Karl’s song-writing credits were for a time overlooked, and a fair bit of rancour developed between the pair. Hopefully all good now though.

Just to round things off nicely for this post, what with talk of engagements and weddings, it’s our own 30th wedding anniversary this weekend (Pearl apparently) and we’re heading off again, to celebrate and hopefully recharge the batteries. I remember writing about my Silver Wedding anniversary five years ago and it feels like only five minutes ago so that’s a bit of a worry. If I can pick up momentum again, I might even still be blogging for the 35th anniversary.

Until next time…

She’s The One Lyrics
(Song by Karl Wallinger)

I was her, she was me
We were one, we were free
And if there’s somebody calling me on
She’s the one
If there’s somebody calling me on
She’s the one

We were young, we were wrong
We were fine all along
If there’s somebody calling me on
She’s the one

When you get to where you wanna go
And you know the things you wanna know
You’re smiling
When you said what you wanna say
And you know the way you wanna play
You’ll be so high you’ll be flying

Though the sea will be strong
I know we’ll carry on
‘Cause if there’s somebody calling me on
She’s the one
If there’s somebody calling me on
She’s the one

When you get to where you wanna go
And you know the things you wanna know
You’re smiling
When you said what you wanna say
And you know the way you wanna say it
You’ll be so high you’ll be flying

I was her, she was me
We were one, we were free
If there’s somebody calling me on
She’s the one
If there’s somebody calling me on
She’s the one

If there’s somebody calling me on
She’s the one
Yeah she’s the one
If there’s somebody calling me on
She’s the one
She’s the one
If there’s somebody calling me on
She’s the one
She’s the one

If there’s somebody calling me on
She’s the one

She’s the one

Belfast (the Film), ‘Everlasting Love’ and Van Morrison

Trying to kick-start some of my old routines now that restrictions seem to be lifting somewhat. Pre-pandemic I used to have seven people in my Film Group and we used to go along to our local arts centre to watch whatever was showing on the last Thursday of the month. It was a great way of discovering films you might never have actively chosen – Foreign language films and documentaries, as well as the odd Oscar winner or Hollywood blockbuster. Some were excellent and some were stinkers, but always worthy of discussion afterwards.

Our local arts centre

Sadly, at the moment, Film Group is reduced to two people, myself and one other. For various reasons I’ve lost five of our number from my life over the last couple of years, which is a pretty high dropout rate, but much of it down to the fact some people’s lives are now very different to how they were in 2019. Anyway, tonight I’m off to see a NTLive showing of Leopoldstadt, on this, Holocaust Memorial Day. Hopefully I’ll be able to recruit a few more film fans over the coming months, as let’s face it, ‘group’ is not really the collective noun for only two people. Out of interest, here is the list of films we randomly watched between 2012 and 2018, all carefully documented and subjectively scored (I produced many, many spreadsheets).


Earlier this week I also persuaded Mr WIAA to come with me to watch Kenneth Branagh’s new semi-autobiographical film Belfast. It was released in the US first, so some of you who visit this place have already seen it, but if you haven’t I would thoroughly recommend it.


Turns out both myself and Mr WIAA were born within a few months of Sir Ken, so any story he told of his childhood should have really resonated with us, and it did. The playing in the street, the toys given as Christmas presents, the clothes, school routines, television programmes and comics. The big difference however was that it was set in 1969 Belfast, so that’s where any similarity with our own childhoods ended. That was right at the start of The Troubles, when bombings and violence escalated on the streets of the city. It wouldn’t have occurred to me at the time that Belfast children aged nine, just like myself, were facing such danger on a daily basis. But it’s not all grim, the film is classed a comedy-drama, with much of the comedic moments coming from Jude Hill, the young actor who played Buddy, the character inspired by the young Kenneth Branagh.

One aspect of the film I found a little unbelievable, was that Buddy’s parents were played by the extremely good-looking actors Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan. I didn’t remember our parents ever looking that good, but then Mr WIAA reminded me of some of the photos we have of his very fashionable mum and dad from those days, and they really were an attractive couple. We always think of our parents as being old despite them probably only being in their 30s when we were young. One of the memorable scenes in the film was from a family wake which in Ireland is cause for a bit of a party – Jamie Dornan, as well as being a great actor can also sing it seems, and his character entertained the mourners with this No. 1 hit song from 1969, Everlasting Love by Love Affair. It was a really special scene and I defy anyone who goes to see the film not to have it as an earworm for the next few days.

Everlasting Love by Love Affair:


But of course when making a film set in Belfast, it was highly likely there would be much on the soundtrack from Van Morrison. After my trip to Belfast in 2018 I wrote a post about it here, and after seeing ‘the Man’s’ face on many of the city’s murals, I shared his signature song. This time I’m going to share Days Like This which was married up with a particulary poignant scene in the film and was the song of his I enjoyed most.

Days Like This by Van Morrison:


Days Like This was the title song of his 1995 album of the same name. It became one of the official anthems of the peace movement and was used in an advert promoting the cease fire.  Van Morrison performed it in front of a large audience when US President Bill Clinton visited Belfast.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Back in March 2020, right at the start of the pandemic, I often warned that the virus would have massive implications for all of us, way beyond the effects of the virus itself. At the time I think I was classed as a bit of a doom and gloom merchant, especially as many of us were ‘loving the lockdown’ with all that fine weather. As the months and years have rolled by, many have indeed fallen victim to some of the negative side-effects of the pandemic, which has turned their lives upside down. I think we’ve escaped the worst of it but I do miss some of my old routines, Film Group being one of them. As I said above, hopefully over the course of 2022 I’ll find some new film fans to join our ‘group’ of two.

As for the film Belfast, it certainly brought back many happy memories of my own childhood which, excluding the backdrop of The Troubles, was scarily similar to Buddy’s. Not all of us go on to become a Sir (or Dame) however, so there was obviously something about the young Kenneth Branagh that made him destined for great things.

I think the soundtrack to Belfast lifted it up a notch, and although the scene with the song Everlasting Love is strangely out of kilter with the rest of the film, it certainly was an important one, and it will stay with you long after you’ve left the cinema.

Until next time…

Days Like This Lyrics
(Song by Van Morrison)

When it’s not always raining there’ll be days like this
When there’s no one complaining there’ll be days like this
When everything falls into place like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need to worry there’ll be days like this
When no one’s in a hurry there’ll be days like this
When you don’t get betrayed by that old Judas kiss
Oh my mama told me there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need an answer there’ll be days like this
When you don’t meet a chancer there’ll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit
Then I must remember there’ll be days like this

When everyone is up front and they’re not playing tricks
When you don’t have no freeloaders out to get their kicks
When it’s nobody’s business the way that you wanna live
I just have to remember there’ll be days like this

When no one steps on my dreams there’ll be days like this
When people understand what I mean there’ll be days like this
When you ring out the changes of how everything is
Well my mama told me there’ll be days like this

Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this

Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this
Oh my mama told me
There’ll be days like this

My 400th Post and Christmas, WIAA Style

WIAA: Alyson…, oh Alyson.

ALYSON: Hi WIAA, I am here, it’s just that I’m feeling a bit discombobulated by all the uncertainly that’s crept in over the last week so don’t know where to go with this one. Last year I wrote a (hopefully humorous) blog post about the planned five day Christmas Bubbles, but then at the 11th hour, the rules all changed. It’s looking like that might happen again, and for the second year in a row, many of us will find ourselves…

WIAA: Do you have any Christmas songs to share with your lovely followers?

ALYSON: To be honest WIAA, as this is my fifth Christmas as a music blogger I fear I may have revisited all my favourites already (link here), and despite the fact many well-known artists have recorded something new this year, none of their songs have really resonated with me. Here’s something to kick off with though – I mentioned at the end of 2020 that my favourite ‘new song discovery’ of that year was José Felicianos version of California Dreamin’. As the whole world still seems to be going through a topsy-turvey time, it doesn’t feel that unusual for a music blogger from the Highlands of Scotland to be drawn to a Christmas song by a Puerto Rican singer/songwriter from 1970. I give you Feliz Navidad (don’t think you’ll need a translation).

Feliz Navidad by José Feliciano:


WIAA: Good one Alyson. What have you been doing in the build up to Christmas this year?

ALYSON: Well, it’s a bit of a weird one, as we’re now having to lie low to keep ourselves virus-free in advance of guests arriving at the holiday hideaway. Personally I think both sets will now cancel, which will be a bit of a blow, but before the whole lying low thing happened, I had tentatively returned to my regular cinema-going ways.

WIAA: What have you been to see?

ALYSON: It didn’t occur to me until now but maybe the reason I thought of José’s song is that I went to see Stephen Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story last week, all about the rivalry between two New York gangs, the Jets, and the Puerto Rican Sharks.

WIAA: Did you enjoy it?

ALYSON: I think I’m still processing it. The 1961 film won 10 Academy Awards, and when I first watched it as a teenager, I was blown away by it – Although some of the musical numbers were outstanding in the new film, as were the two female leads, there was something about it that felt a bit ‘silly’ for 2021. Our viewing habits have become a lot more sophisticated and I don’t think the younger generation would see it as a period drama. The clothes and themes could almost be contemporary, but the language used by the gangs and their balletic style of dance is most definitely not contemporary. Again, I was discombobulated and wondered if it really needed to be remade.

WIAA: Did you cry at the end?

ALYSON: Oh WIAA, you know me well. I did indeed despite knowing how it ended having watched the original many times. The love story was inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but a story that never dates it seems, and just as relevant today. Stephen Sondheim, the musical’s lyricist, died aged 91 at the end of November, just at the time of the film’s release. As a bit of a tribute to him, here is the Tonight Quintet from the original film, an incredible piece of ‘opera’ based on the duet between Maria and Tony from earlier on in the musical. The five parts of the quintet are sung by the Jets, the Sharks, Tony, Maria, and Anita.

Tonight Quintet by the West Side Story Cast:


WIAA: Well, you really got into your stride there despite me feeling a bit unloved earlier on – A blank page sitting on a blogging platform with only five days to go until Christmas.

ALYSON: Yes I can always rely on you to get me back on track. Can you believe that when I press the publish button on this one, we’ll have racked up a total of 400 blog posts together. It’s been a journey, and we’re not finished yet are we? I think I can fly solo now WIAA, so happy to let you head off and do whatever blogs have to do behind the scenes, fixing broken links and the like. Merry Christmas to you.

WIAA: Merry Christmas Alyson.

Five years ago, in my first year of blogging, I bemoaned the fact I was one of the sandwich generation, someone who worked full-time but also had adult offspring still living at home and an elderly parent to look out for. As regulars around here will know, none of these things now apply – I waved goodbye to my old workplace four years ago, my mum moved into her care home three years ago and DD headed out into the world two years ago. It’s happened gradually, but it turns out you kinda miss being the squished filler in a sandwich, especially around Christmastime.

It’s become traditional at this time of year that I share some songs relevant to each generation of my family, and Mr WIAA and I have had some fun this week watching old clips on YouTube when we probably should have been engaged in something more productive, by hey, I’m a loose filler who has lost her bread, so it’s allowed.

2 Become 1 by the Spice Girls:


Can you believe it’s 25 years since Girl Power became ‘a thing’ courtesy of those larger than life Spice Girls. Back then I was a busy mum with a baby and a responsible job so they really weren’t aimed at my demographic, but you couldn’t fail to get caught up in all their Zig-a-Zig-ah-ing back in 1996. They’d already had two No. 1 hits that year and at Christmastime they did it again with this one, 2 Become 1. I just loved the video for it set in New York, and it reminded me that Mr WIAA and I had become an item just before Christmas a few years earlier – A great time of year to be all loved up. I was shocked therefore to learn it was all filmed in a studio on Old Compton Street, London, using a ‘green screen’. Anyway, this one’s for DD, as although I know what the song is really all about, the romantic in me just wants to acknowledge the fact it’s also about two individuals forming a relationship and perhaps welcoming a new little person into the world one day.

Yesterday I went to visit my mum at the care home. I had to wear full PPE and the visit was heavily supervised as her care home has yet again been forced into lockdown and all their Christmas activites were cancelled. I did however manage to play her a few Christmas songs on my phone from the only festive album that resided in our house when I was growing up. Yes, yet again it’s going to be that Texan Jim Reeves, with one of the songs from his best-selling album, Twelve Songs of Christmas. My mum was my age 25 years ago when the Spice Girls were at No.1 with their song, and a big help to me when I was a busy mum myself. How things change with the passage of time, and food for thought indeed. Think she enjoyed hearing Jim though, and hopefully it did bring back memories from the distant past.

As for us, I’m going to defer to Mr WIAA who seems to find good clips to watch. Another person we lost from the world of music recently was John Miles. As 1976 seems to have been my favourite year to revisit these last 12 months, here is an epic 2001 Proms performance of his song, Music, which reached the No. 3 spot on our UK Singles Chart back in ’76. It’s not a Christmas song, but the audience certainly make it look festive with all those lights. He was only aged 72 when he died. RIP John.

Music by John Miles:


One final indulgence, and yet again not a Christmas song, but one that is set to clips from the Emma Thompson film Last Christmas. In terms of plot, if you are using the lyrics from the song Last Christmas as inspiration, it really can’t get any more literal than this, and a bit ridiculous really. If however you are a fan of the songs of George Michael, as I am, it was a no-brainer you would go and see it at the cinema when it came out two years ago.

Five years ago George Michael died on Christmas Day, and his passing affected me more than any other person we’ve lost since I started this blog. My sidebar has a couple of categories dedicated to him. The song used is Praying for Time from 1990, and it still gives me goose-bumps when I listen to it. The song deals with, “the many social injustices faced by so many, and questions the conditioning society has created and why it can be so hard to be kind to one another.” He was a good egg George, and many of his random acts of kindness were only discovered after his death. Around this time of year we should all try and take a leaf out of his book, as over 30 years on, those social injustices are still around and have become compounded by the pandemic.

Praying for Time by George Michael:


Another final, final, indulgence (nearly done now I promise) – If you scroll forward to 0:22 in the clip above you’ll find the logo for an established London restaurant. Mr WIAA is commissioned by third parties to make miniature sculptures for their various clients. Sometimes we have samples left over, and I liked this chap, so he sits on my desk. Watching that video clip, we just found out who he was for!

Anyway, it’s a very wordy one this, but as it’s my 400th post and my 5th Christmas as a music blogger I really did want to get something published before the big day. Thankfully, with my blog’s encouragement, I got there in the end.

If you celebrate it, hope you have a lovely Christmas Day with no last minute changes to your plans. Unlike 25 years ago, or indeed 5 years ago, we’ll be having a very quiet time indeed but that’s just how life rolls. As ever I’ll raise a glass to George on the day – He is missed, but never forgotten.

Until next time…

Praying For Time Lyrics
(Song by George Michael)

These are the days of the open hand
They will not be the last
Look around now
These are the days of the beggars and the choosers

This is the year of the hungry man
Whose place is in the past
Hand in hand with ignorance
And legitimate excuses

The rich declare themselves poor
And most of us are not sure
If we have too much
But we’ll take our chances
‘Cause God’s stopped keeping score

I guess somewhere along the way
He must have let us all out to play
Turned his back and all God’s children
Crept out the back door

And it’s hard to love, there’s so much to hate
Hanging on to hope
When there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it’s much much too late
Well maybe we should all be praying for time

These are the days of the empty hand
Oh, you hold on to what you can
And charity is a coat you wear twice a year

This is the year of the guilty man
Your television takes a stand
And you find that what was over there is over here

So you scream from behind your door
Say, “What’s mine is mine and not yours”
I may have too much but I’ll take my chances
‘Cause God’s stopped keeping score

And you cling to the things they sold you
Did you cover your eyes when they told you
That he can’t come back
‘Cause he has no children to come back for

It’s hard to love, there’s so much to hate
Hanging on to hope when there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it’s much too late
So maybe we should all be praying for time

Big Hair, Honky Tonk Angels and ‘Silver Threads & Golden Needles’

Really enjoyed my foray back into blogging earlier on this week, but I’m conscious of the fact it’s been a fair while since I posted anything jolly or upbeat around here. Someone who never fails to bring a bit of sunshine and positivity into the world is the lady shown below, and by a quirk of fate, she came into my life twice this week.

Dolly Parton with her signature ‘big hair’ in the 1970s

I don’t think this is something my male readership will understand, but my female readership definitely will. When your hair is proving troublesome and you can’t do a thing with it, your confidence takes a bit of a hit, and you feel a bit blah. Mr WIAA now has very little hair left on the top of his head at all, but a short crop is perfectly normal for a man of his age and I think it suits him. Unbeknownst to me until recently, a woman’s hair changes texture as they age – It can go grey and coarse, or become fine and baby soft. I seem to have fallen into the latter camp and it’s driving me mad. At times I just want to shave it all off and go down the Dolly route, and have a big blousy wig cantilevered onto the top of my head – It didn’t take long to find a fair few pictures of her many looks from over the years.

The picture above was from that era in the early 1970s when we first got to know about her over here in the UK. Her song Jolene did really well on our Singles Chart reaching the No. 7 spot in 1973. Back then, country music and big hair seemed to go hand in hand, and as the genre grew in popularity, we were treated to many other highly coiffed ladies of the country persuasion peppering our charts. Sadly, for mere mortals like us, the big, blousy, blonde wig is a non-starter – There would be ‘looks’ in the supermarket, it would blow off when out on a hill walk and I imagine your cranium would get very hot indeed.

The Judds, Tammy Wynette and Reba McEntire (not how we spell it around here!)

I don’t have much country in my digital library, but here is a song recorded by Dolly and two of her pals in 1993, Silver Threads and Golden Needles. Big hair had kind of had it’s day by the early nineties but it seems Dolly, Tammy and Loretta didn’t get that memo. The song, written by Dick Reynolds and Jack Rhodes, was first recorded by Wanda Jackson in 1956. It has since been recorded by just about everyone, but one of the better known versions came from Linda Ronstadt who included it on her debut album (back when the Eagles were her backing band).

Silver Threads and Golden Needles by Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn:


Not being an expert in country music, I didn’t quite get the significance of all the visitors the Honky Tonk Angels had to their dressing room in this clip, but some of the names certainly were familiar. I hope this list is accurate and complete (please put me right if it’s not), but it seems the following stars of country were all more than happy to put in a cameo appearance on the day of filming. Just shows the power and influence those three queens of country had. They are: Chet Atkins, Carl Perkins, Little Jimmy Dickens, Confederate Railroad, Ricky Skaggs, Tom Wopat, Bill Anderson, Grandpa Jones, Ronnie Milsap, Marty Stuart, Doug Stone, Rodney Crowell, Diamond Rio, Sammy Kershaw, Bill Monroe, George Lindsey, Charlie Chase, and Ralph Emery.

I did say that Dolly had come into my life twice this week but I now realise this will have to be a two-parter (a two-Parton) as I’ve already reached my wordcount. Having read a fair bit about her over the last few days I have an even greater admiration for her than I already had. She’s not for everyone, but I love how she always pokes fun at her looks, and doesn’t take herself too seriously. As a musician she has won just about every award going but she is also an incredibly successful businesswoman and humanitarian. The day she came into the world certainly was a good one for the employment prospects of those living in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Before I go, here is a little montage of some of the other big-haired musicians I found when bemoaning the current state of my own locks. Who have I missed? Feel free to visit the comments boxes with your own favourite lions and lionesses of music.

Until next time…

Silver Threads And Golden Needles Lyrics
(Song by Dick Reynolds/Jack Rhodes)

I don’t want your lonely mansion with a tear in every room
All I want’s the love you promised beneath the haloed moon
But you think I should be happy with your money and your name
And hide myself in sorrow while you play your cheating game

Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine
And I dare not drown my sorrows in the warm glow of your wine
You can’t buy my love with money cause I never was that kind
Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine

Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine
And I dare not drown my sorrows in the warm glow of your wine
You can’t buy my love with money cause I never was that kind
Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine

Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine

Another Week of Losses, Prince and ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’

Last week I wrote about how our neighbours, who were also good friends, had moved on to pastures new. I was sad, as they will largely now be lost to us.

This week we lost Peanut, the hamster DD bought as a pandemic pick-me-up last year. I didn’t think we’d ever have another small rodent in the house (by choice), but he came along at just the right time, when things were still looking pretty grim. Of late we’ve just been needed for pet-sitting duties, so we didn’t see him as often, but his health had deteriorated fast over the last few weeks. Mercifully he went to sleep on Monday night and just didn’t wake up, thus avoiding that distressing final trip to the vet’s.

Peanut the hamster in his heyday

Another big change this week came about when I went to see my mum at the care home. I am allowed in once a week but our visits are still heavily policed in order to keep the residents safe. Far from ideal, but she seems content which is about as good as it gets. When the carer who supervises visits came to collect me, my mum told her I was an “old friend”. Once your mum no longer recognises you as her daughter, do you still have a mum, or is she now lost to you? It’s all very weird and distressing but we’re on an Alzheimer’s journey with her and have no idea how it will end.

Something I can no longer do, as the 2m rule is still firmly in place

Finally (long-term followers will probably remember my trilogy of posts), this was the weekend two years ago that my best friend lost her daughter to suicide, so a really tough one for her and her family. She not only lost her daughter, who is missed more with each year that passes, but she also lost her way of life, which now bears no resemblance to how it used to be. I miss my friend and all the fun times we used to have together.

Holly’s memorial bench

A bit of a sad post this, for several reasons, and for once I don’t think it would be appropriate to balance it out with some jokey happening from the week. Instead, here is Nothing Compares 2 U, a very sad song that has been shared around here before, but one that still wins the prize for featuring in my least visited post, a full five years on from when it was written. I have always found this unusual as the song, written by the genius that was Prince, was a massive world-wide hit in 1990 for Sinéad O’Connor. The lyrics are not particularly appropriate to any of the sad situations mentioned above but they do evoke that feeling of loss we experience, when things we take for granted are no longer in our lives. Here is that iconic video clip of Sinéad singing the song and an audio clip of the song performed by the man himself, Prince, this time featuring Rosie Gaines.

Nothing Compares 2 U by Prince and The New Power Generation (feat. Rosie Gaines)


I’m hoping to get back on track by next time but just not the week for a jaunty upbeat post. The COP26 conference on climate change starts in Glasgow today so young people around the world will be hoping for a firm commitment from world leaders that their futures are not being jeopardised. I hope to return with positive news on that front. Early days yet but we might even have a new hamster in the family by then too. Amazing how a small desert rodent originating from Syria can bring such joy to both children and adults, but he did. RIP Peanut.

Until next time…

Nothing Compares 2 U Lyrics
(Song by Nelson Prince Rogers)

It’s been seven hours and fifteen days
Since you took your love away
I go out every night and sleep all day

Since you took your love away

Since you’ve been gone I can do whatever I want
I can see whomever I choose
I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
But nothing
I said nothing can take away these blues

‘Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares to you

It’s been so lonely without you here
Like a bird without a song
Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling
Tell me, baby, where did I go wrong

I could put my arms around every boy I see
But they’d only remind me of you
I went to the doctor and guess what he told me?
Guess what he told me?
He said, “Girl, you better try to have fun no matter what you do,”
But he’s a fool

‘Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares to you

All the flowers that you planted, mama, in the back yard
All died when you went away
I know that living with you, baby, was sometimes hard
But I’m willing to give it another try

Nothing compares
Nothing compares to you
Nothing compares
Nothing compares to you
Nothing compares
Nothing compares to you

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