Harvests, Autumnal Equinoxes and ‘Can’t Fight The Moonlight’

Did you see it? Last night it was time for the Harvest Moon to put in an appearance and I was lucky enough to catch sight of it before heading to bed. The moon in the picture I took on my phone is a bit blurry, but what with the clouds and the treeline, I thought it looked a bit like a celestial scene from an old master painting.

September’s Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon by Neil Young:

So, September’s full moon appeared in our skies last night, and today is the Autumnal Equinox, one of only two dates in the annual calendar when there is an equal amount of night and day. Regulars around here might remember two of the series I’ve put together since starting this blog, the Full Moon Calendar in Song and nature’s Wheel of the Year in Song. Although both are now complete, I still take enjoyment from marking the relevant dates.

September by Earth, Wind & Fire:


I would like to say we’re planning a wee soiree tonight to give thanks for the harvests and the fact crops have yet again been stored for the coming winter, but I can’t, for two reasons. I don’t know about where you live but our supermarket shelves are all looking a bit empty. I had never thought much about supply chains until recently, as in the 21st century we are used to being able to quite easily source whatever we need. Now, not so much.

The national shortage of lorry drivers is causing real problems, especially for us here in the North of Scotland. With the anticipated CO2 shortage coming into play as well, it sounds as if fresh meat and vegetables will become a bit of a rarity. Will we have to be issued with ration books and queue up for a few under-the-counter sausages?

The second reason for the lack of a soiree is that my house looks as if a bomb has dropped. Who knew that putting in a new bathroom would cause such chaos (well I didn’t anyway) and if you have a smallish house it’s disruptive indeed. Again, because of supply chain issues we had to order the bits and bobs early to avoid problems with delivery, so currently have a bath in our living room and a toilet sitting in DD’s old bedroom (not plumbed in of course!).

At least the walls are up again!

With dustsheets and other bathroom paraphernalia spread liberally throughout the house, a get-together with friends really isn’t an option. I shouldn’t use wartime analogies yet again, as really not in the same league, but with the water and electricity also turned off for much of the day, you do need to muster up a bit of Blitz spirit.

But this is a music blog, so time for the song. It’s astronomical autumn as of today so it’s getting pretty dark early on in the evening. Although it’ll now be starting to wane, the moon will still look pretty full for a couple of days yet, so hopefully you’ll catch sight of it, cloud cover permitting. A moon-related song that failed to make the cut for my series first time around is this one by LeAnn Rimes, Can’t Fight The Moonlight. Here’s the official video clip showing Ms Rimes doing her thing standing on the bar, in the film Coyote Ugly.

Can’t Fight The Moonlight by LeAnn Rimes:


The song was the film’s main theme and did really well in the charts, reaching the top spot in the UK Singles Chart in November 2000, and it did the same in another 12 countries. The rom-com got its inspiration from an article written about a real-life bar, the Coyote Ugly Saloon, which in the late ’90s became a favourite with New York’s Lower East Side hipsters. The film seems to have become a bit of a cult classic, an icon of early-2000s fashion and culture, but if I watched it again now I think I would be troubled by it. Twenty years on, is it still ok to enjoy a film about girls dancing on a bar, in wet T-shirts, for tips – It was supposed to be about female empowerment, but really, are we still buying that? As it turns out the ‘saloon’ is still in operation today and has spawned a franchise model that seems to be working well for them, so what do I know.

As for the song, it was written by that most prolific of songwriters Diane Warren and was produced by Trevor Horn, so it almost couldn’t fail. Just like most other moon-related songs, it’s all about being out at night in the moonlight with the one you love.

You can try to resist
Try to hide from my kiss
But you know

But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight

I’ve seen the day, but being quite honest, if Mr WIAA suggested we go out in the moonlight tonight I think I would find it quite easy to resist. It’s suddenly got quite cold around here so a mug of cocoa and a box-set it’ll have to be. The plumber has just left for the day but will be back in the morning so I need to get all those jobs out of the way that require water and power – That would be just about everything. Only a week of this still to go – Argh.

Until next time…

Can’t Fight The Moonlight Lyrics
(Song by Diane Warren)

Under a lovers’ sky
Gonna be with you
And no one’s gonna be around
If you think that you won’t fall
Well, just wait until
‘Til the sun goes down

Underneath the starlight, starlight
There’s a magical feeling, so right
It’ll steal your heart tonight

You can try to resist
Try to hide from my kiss
But you know
But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight
Deep in the dark
You’ll surrender your heart
But you know
But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight
No, you can’t fight it
It’s gonna get to your heart

There’s no escape from love
Once a gentle breeze

Weaves its spell upon your heart
No matter what you think

It won’t be too long
‘Til you’re in my arms
Underneath the starlight, starlight
We’ll be lost in the rhythm, so right
Feel it steal your heart tonight

You can try to resist
Try to hide from my kiss
But you know
But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight
Deep in the dark
You’ll surrender your heart
But you know
But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight
No you can’t fight it
No matter what you do
The night is gonna get to you

Don’t try then
You’re never gonna win

Underneath the starlight, starlight
There’s a magical feeling, so right
It will steal your heart tonight

You can try to resist
Try to hide from my kiss
But you know
But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight
Deep in the dark
You’ll surrender your heart
But you know
But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight
No, you can’t fight it

Justin Timberlake, ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling!’ and 2016, A Happy Year

My last two posts have seen me hark back to 1976, the year of The Long Hot Summer, and I think I even came out and said I keep doing that because it was the last time I was truly happy with no worries of any kind.

What a load of tosh!

We definitely have a selective memory when it comes to revisiting the music of our youth and somehow forget the upset caused by a missed homework deadline, or the feeling we get when the boy we have long admired becomes romantically involved with our best friend.

40 years on from 1976 was the year 2016 which was a really happy one for me as I launched What’s It All About? Looking back at my stats for that year I published 109 posts and wrote over 110,000 words. I don’t know how I did it now as I still went to work every morning, ran the family business in the afternoon and looked out for my elderly mum who was still living semi-independently. DD even came back home to live in the middle of that year. I definitely didn’t watch a lot of telly in 2016 (I seem to have become an addict since Lockdown 1) and Mr WIAA was probably somewhat neglected, but I had this new hobby and was loving all the interaction with my fellow bloggers. To call me a ‘music blogger’ is probably a stretch, but people were kind and added me to their sidebars which helped this place build up a following that’s kept me going ever since.

Perusing the pop charts of 2016, I definitely wasn’t writing about current music back then, as once the BBC called time on TOTP, I kind of lost track of new chart artists and their output. Oh no, instead I was revisiting decades past and strangely enough discovered a new affinity for the music of 1967 which I had been too young to truly appreciate back then. It all made me very happy.

The music of 2016??

One song I do remember well from 2016 however was Can’t Stop the Feeling! by Justin Timberlake – A really happy song written for the film Trolls.

I got this feeling, inside my bones
It goes electric, wavy when I turn it on

I got that sunshine in my pocket
Got that good soul in my feet

I can’t stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance

Justin got to perform it as part of the interval act at the grand final of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden, watched by an audience of around 180 million. Regulars around here know I am a fan of Eurovision and even went to the live event in Vienna in 2015. A year too early to witness Justin in action but he probably made a lot of new fans, as the Eurovision audience is broad indeed. Prolific Swedish songwriter/producer Max Martin was behind the making of the song which might also have had an influence on his selection.

Can’t Stop the Feeling! by Justin Timberlake:


I was too old to really appreciate Justin when he first appeared with boy band NSYCH in the late ’90s, but over the years his music kept popping up on DD’s compilation CDs and even I couldn’t fail to notice he was becoming a bit of an all-round sensation. He could sing, dance, act and had a real charisma on stage which can’t be manufactured (although many try). He is now aged 40 and is apparently referred to as the President of Pop by contemporary journalists. Until I looked up his bio for this post I really don’t think I’d appreciated how big a star he has become and is already a contender for ‘Best Male Pop Star of the 21st century’. Who knows, as still nearly 80 years to go until decision time and I won’t be around to see it, but quite something.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Apologies for having been a bit miserable around here of late. It’s been a tough couple of years and like most of us I’ve had my ups and downs, and mood swings, which can come through in the blog. Still plenty of happy songs out there though and we don’t always have to go back to the 1960s to find them. I went to bed last night thinking yesterday had been a really good day, a happy day. In this post-pandemic world that’s about as good as it gets.

Until next time…

Can’t Stop the Feeling! Lyrics
(Song by Justin Timberlake/Max Martin/Johan Shuster)

I got this feeling inside my bones
It goes electric, wavy when I turn it on
All through my city, all through my home
We’re flying up, no ceiling, when we’re in our zone

I got that sunshine in my pocket
Got that good soul in my feet
I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops
I can’t take my eyes up off it
Moving so phenomenally

Room on lock the way we rock it
So don’t stop

And under the lights when everything goes
Nowhere to hide when I’m getting you close
When we move, well, you already know
So just imagine, just imagine, just imagine

Nothing I can see but you
When you dance, dance, dance
Feeling good, good, creeping up on you
So just dance, dance, dance
Come on
All those things I shouldn’t do
But you dance, dance, dance
And ain’t nobody leaving soon
So keep dancing

I can’t stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance
I can’t stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance
Come on

Ooh, it’s something magical
It’s in the air, it’s in my blood, it’s rushing on
Don’t need no reason, don’t need control
I fly so high, no ceiling, when I’m in my zone

I can’t stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance

I can’t stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance
I can’t stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance
I can’t stop the feeling
So keep dancing, come on

Postscript:

Justin’s Eurovision performance also featured the song Rock Your Body which I have in my digital library courtesy of one of DD’s Pop Party CDs from 2003. She’s all grown up now, and such CDs have long gone, but her mum obviously had the foresight to load them onto her computer in the event she might someday start a music blog. Probably didn’t expect to write about this song, but just goes to show, ‘the tracks of our years’ are rich and varied indeed.

Rock Your Body by Justin Timberlake:


In case anyone visiting this post hasn’t experienced the phenomenon that is the Eurovision Song Contest, here is the other item from that interval break in Sweden in 2016. Touted as being one of the best fillers ever, and showing that the contest really doesn’t take itself too seriously, here is Måns Zelmerlöw (the winner of the 2015 contest) and Petra Mede giving us a pastiche of past Eurovision songs. Love, Love, Peace, Peace was very funny indeed and possibly formed the inspiration for the Will Ferrell film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga written about here last year. Enjoy.

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

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

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

What Do You Want by Adam Faith:

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

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

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

Moonlight Serenade by the Glenn Miller Orchestra:


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

London Calling by the Clash:

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

Never Forget by Take That:


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

Until next time…

Never Forget Lyrics
(Song by Gary Barlow)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A New Season, George Michael and ‘December Song’

Well, is it just me, or has today suddenly marked the start of Christmas in a really big way? It’s probably because this year has been so generally awful, anything that brings a bit of cheer into our lives is going to be welcomed with open arms. It felt as if every song played on the radio today was a Christmas one, and lots of people seem to have put up their trees and decorations already. How ridiculous – I would usually say – except this year I joined in! My bare little tree in the front garden is now festooned with lights and I can see a few more bits and bobs going up over the next few days. Meteorologically we have finished with autumn and are now heading into winter, but that first winter month is December, and for most of us in the western world December means Christmas.

Trying to bring cheer to my front garden

I’ve not had too many rants around here of late which is probably a good thing. The pandemic has affected all of us in so many ways but it seems the ‘new normal’ (as we used to call it) is now just normal life. I was in a state of high alert for the first few months of the crisis and became a bit of a doom and gloom merchant, but have since learnt to keep my own counsel. It’s going to be a tough winter for many, but hopefully there is now light at the end of the tunnel.

I have been doing a bit of tidying up around here of late and my attempt at being a daily blogger last month really helped with that. I have reinstated some posts that had been taken down and topped up some of the categories that only had one post attributed to them. One category that has been incomplete for some time however is The Seasons In Song. In my first year of blogging I wrote a Summer post on the 1st June and an Autumn one on the 1st September. A couple of years ago I wrote a Spring post on the 1st March, but Winter has so far eluded me so it’s time to right that wrong.

It often feels as if this blog is a George Michael fansite as he appears around here so often. It’s not of course, but what better day than this to share one of his last successful single releases, December Song. It reached the No. 14 spot on the UK Singles Chart in 2009, but would probably have reached a higher position had physical copies of the record not sold out in only one day.

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


What I hadn’t realised before was that December Song starts off with a sample from Frank Sinatra’s The Christmas Waltz. I’m a bit early really with the whole Merry Christmas thing, but I doubt if many people at the moment would object to the next line, ‘May your every New Year dream come true’.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – We had the November full moon in our skies last night which was a great way to end autumn but now we are most definitely heading into winter. There was a beautiful sunset in the sky this afternoon and I took a rather long detour on the way back from the shops just to appreciate it. Hopefully there will be more just like it.

It’s obvious that December 2020 is going to be very different from those we are used to but we humans seem to adapt and I’ve almost forgotten what my old life was like. I feel desperately sorry for all those people who have suffered loss this year, of any kind, and recognise this time of year makes it even tougher. Those of us who are able to, should go the extra mile in doing what we can to help them. Hopefully, all our dreams for 2021 will come true.

Until next time…

December Song (I Dreamed of Christmas) Lyrics
(Song by George Michael/David Austin)

Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
May your every New Year dream come true

Sweet December song
The melody that saved me
On those less than silent nights
When snow would fall upon my bed
White sugar from Jesus
And take me to the day
She could always smile
The Virgin Child would always show, you see
Just to save me
(Just to save me)

There was always Christmas time
To wipe the year away
I guess that morning theyd decided
That the war would have to wait

There was always Christmas time
Jesus came to stay
I could believe in peace on Earth
And I could watch TV all day
So I dreamed of Christmas

Maybe since youve gone
I went a little crazy
God knows they can see (the child)
But the snow that falls upon my bed
That loving I needed
Falls every single day
For each and every child
The Virgin smiles for all to see
But you kept her from me

There was always Christmas time
To wipe the year away
I guess that morning theyd decided
That the war would have to wait

There was always Christmas time
Jesus came to stay
I could believe in peace on Earth
And I could watch TV all day
And so I dreamed of Christmas
Yes, I dreamed like you

Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas
May your every New Year dream come true

Britney, Richard and ‘Oops!… I Did It Again’

Well, regulars around here will know I had set myself the challenge of writing 30 posts in 30 days to come out in solidarity with my college chums who are taking part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). As I’m unlikely to ever write a novel, I set myself a blogging challenge instead and what fun we had that first couple of weeks. A NaNoWriMo Facebook page was set up and we all jumped in on a daily basis to share what we’d achieved. Then it became every other day. Then not at all. It seems you’ve got to be hardy to keep up the punishing regime of writing so much every day (when it’s not for work or financial gain). I did manage 17 posts in 18 days, but by then the fun had gone out of it, and real life was getting in the way.

I have now removed the ’30 in 30 #’ from all the titles and those posts will join the others in the archive, where they may or may not be stumbled upon at some point in the future. My output this month still represents over 12 weeks of business as usual however, so all in all, not too shabby.

Since calling time on the challenge I’ve had a bit of an earworm (from the German ohrwurm) going round and round in my head. I thought it was purely because I had yet again tried to turn myself into a daily blogger, only to yet again realise it just doesn’t suit my style of output – Oops!… I did it again. But then, after watching some prime time telly last night, I decided it was more likely down to this Christmas advert from a large and well-known supermarket chain. Very much made for ‘the times’ we are living through.

It wasn’t until I wrote about the Music of Sweden recently, that I discovered Oops!… I Did It Again was actually written by Swede Max Martin. Britney Spears flew across to his Cheiron Studios in Stockholm to record it in 2000. Max and his team were behind many of the big hits of the day and unbelievably only Paul McCartney and John Lennon have had more Billboard No. 1s. When I wrote that post, I conjectured the songs of Max Martin have perhaps been written to a successful formula and may not stand the test of time compared to those of Lennon and McCartney. But hey, here we are 20 years on listening to it in an advert, so I’m pretty sure it has stood the test of time as a catchy pop tune.

Max and Britney – Don’t get me started on her trousers!

As for the video for the song, it follows on nicely from my last post which marked the start of a new series called the Solar System In Song. Britney herself created the concept, saying she wanted to be dancing on Mars dressed in a red jumpsuit. I think she ticked both those boxes with bells on. What I hadn’t noticed before (at 2:50), was that the astronaut in the video gifts Britney ‘The Heart of the Ocean’, the blue diamond from the film Titanic. She questions him about it, as she thought the ‘old lady’ (Rose) dropped it into the ocean at the end, to which he replies, ‘Well, baby, I went down and got it for you’. In keeping with the lyrics from the song, she just says, ‘Aww, you shouldn’t have,’ and walks away. The poor astronaut shrugs and leaves.

Oops!… I Did It Again by Britney Spears:


It was around this time we seemed to accumulate lots of this kind of fodder, as DD was often gifted Pop Party and Now! compilation CDs for birthdays and Christmas. It always bothered me that the emphasis seemed to have shifted in pop music from the song, to the dance routines. No self-respecting Pop Princess could appear without a full support cast of dancers and each three minute song had to be accompanied by the most complex and energetic of dance moves. I blame Madonna who had started out as a dancer herself. You would never have seen Sandie Shaw or Lulu in red jumpsuits or low slung trousers gyrating across the stage like that. Oh no, it was always a simple dress, a mic and a bit of a sway from side to side for them. What can I say – Things had most definitely changed.

What is quite interesting however is that some of these memorable pop songs from the turn of the millennium are often covered by the most unlikely people. When doing a bit of research for this post I found this clip. It seems even Richard Thompson OBE, that English singer/songwriter/guitarist, ex of Fairport Convention, decided to give it a whirl. If proof be needed, here he is in full flow – He certainly does add a touch of gravitas to the song.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Well I certainly gave the daily blogging challenge a really good try, but it was always going to be a bridge too far I think. I should have learned my lesson by now but Oops!… I tried it again. I promise I won’t subject you to such a rush of posts ever again.

As for the song, I tended to think these pop tunes churned out to a formula would never stand the test of time, but here we are having Oops!… coming into our living rooms every night in the form of an advert, so it seems not. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it ends up back in the charts.

Until next time…

Oops!… I Did It Again Lyrics
(Song by Max Martin/Rami)

I think I did it again
I made you believe we’re more than just friends
Oh baby
It might seem like a crush
But it doesn’t mean that I’m serious
‘Cause to lose all my senses
That is just so typically me


Oh baby, baby
Oops!…I did it again
I played with your heart, got lost in the game
Oh baby, baby
Oops!…You think I’m in love
That I’m sent from above


I’m not that innocent
You see my problem is this
I’m dreaming away
Wishing that heroes, they truly exist
I cry, watching the days
Can’t you see I’m a fool in so many ways
But to lose all my senses
That is just so typically me


Baby, oh
Oops!…I did it again
I played with your heart, got lost in the game
Oh baby, baby
Oops!…You think I’m in love
That I’m sent from above


I’m not that innocent
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah


Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
“All aboard”


Oops!…I did it again to your heart
Got lost in this game, oh baby
Oops!…You think that I’m sent from above
I’m not that innocent

Bon Iver, “Blindsided” and What A Difference A Week Makes

Well, what a difference a week makes. Last Saturday marked the publication of my 300th post and it has become a habit for me to write something to mark the achievement of reaching that nice round number (Post 101 and Post 201), but understandably not finding much inspiration. I am still amazed I bounced back in February after a month’s hiatus as I had found myself writing negative, self-pitying posts for quite some time which just weren’t particularly entertaining, but I did, and I’ve been quite enjoying revisiting the tracks of my years of late.

But here we are, and although I desperately want to avoid any talk of coronavirus around here this is my web diary as well as a music blog, so it really can’t be avoided. I am reminded of a conversation I had with a girl at work many years ago – It was about how we both spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about restructurings at work, issues with our kids, house prices and the rest, whereas in reality the really worrying things will come out of nowhere, and we’ll be blind-sided on a Tuesday afternoon. The following Tuesday afternoon, after a visit to her GP, she was diagnosed as having cancer. Fortunately it was caught early and after treatment she made a return to full health but it made me realise we really shouldn’t sweat the small stuff.

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But, old habits die hard, and over the last couple of years I have been sweating the small stuff (suddenly the whole Brexit debacle seems like small stuff). I am one of those people however who is a bit rubbish at dealing with minor problems and dilemmas but when something really big comes along I rise to the challenge. The way things are currently playing out, this year is going to be one helluva challenge and I’m not talking about the virus itself (which as the PM has even said himself will lead to loved ones being taken before their time), but the fallout from it.

Mr WIAA and I have a mantra for life which is, “It’s All About The Balance” – It has served us well over the years and it’s only when the balance becomes skewed that we struggle. But that just relates to our family dynamic (and the balance in the last few days has been severely skewed). Applied to the country as a whole it’s not going to be pretty, but there really is no way of avoiding it. This virus is new, there is no vaccine as yet and we’re pretty much all going to have to get it in order to build up immunity (assuming “the science” is correct). I totally get why the government want to delay the banning of large scale gatherings but events seem to have overtaken them and in domino-effect style one large “gathering” after another is being cancelled or postponed by its organising body.

Many small businesses will go to the wall, especially in the hospitality and entertainment sectors (I include football in this one, DD’s other half’s industry). My home town derives a massive amount of its income from tourism and that’s just not going to happen this year (my industry). Dedicated health professionals will be tested to their limits and those who lose their jobs and livelihoods will suffer greatly (doubt if DD’s workplace will weather the storm). The old folk with dementia in care homes (I include my mum in this group) can no longer be visited by their families and they won’t understand why they’ve been abandoned. Should the worst come to the worst, they will be alone.

But again, here we are, and although the experts and scientists tell us to self-isolate if we have symptoms (and not go on cruises !?), many of us in the real world who may well not be paid if we don’t turn up for work will carry on regardless – It’s just human nature as navigating the Universal Credit system for urgent replacement funding would be nigh impossible. Likewise, there is an army of unpaid carers out there who look after their elderly relatives. They have been told to give them a phonecall and tell them they won’t see them for a few weeks! Again, not going to happen. I know from personal experience I had to visit my mum three times a day when she was poorly otherwise she would not have been fed or given her medication.

Last Saturday my first guest of the year to the holiday hideaway left for home, after having spent an excellent week in the area where he and his family were blessed with great weather. He knew about Alyson’s Highland Adventures from my blog and decided to give me a whirl. This Saturday it’s increasingly looking like he might be my first and only guest of 2020. Yes, this year the town is going to look less like the picture on the left and more like the one on the right.

I have just asked Mr WIAA if he had any song suggestions for this post and he came up with It’s The End Of The World As We Know It by REM. Although I think he’s kinda right (in the short-term), that all sounds a bit too dystopian. Instead I’ll include this offering from Bon Iver who are new to me, but the song Blindsided from their 2008 album For Emma, Forever Ago suddenly seems appropriate to how we’ve all been hit this week. The majority of that album was recorded whilst lead singer Justin Vernon spent three months in (self?) isolatation in a cabin in north-western Wisconsin. Most interestingly for me however is that their name comes from the French phrase “bon hiver” (good winter) taken from a greeting heard on the excellent ’90s telly show Northern Exposure. We watched that show religiously but with the passage of time I seem to have forgotten they ever said that.

Blindsided by Bon Iver:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I seem to have returned with another negative post but I’m just bracing myself for all the changes we’re going to have to get used to over the next few weeks and months. I really want all my loved ones to stay well (and of course all you lovely followers too) but being realistic this thing has to run its course so that we can get to the other side. Strange times indeed.

Until next time….

Blindsided Lyrics
(Song by Justin Vernon)

Back down, down to the downtown
Down to the lockdown…
Boards, nails lie around

I crouch like a crow
Contrast in the snow
For the agony I’d rather know

‘Cause blinded
I am blindsided

Peek in
Into the peer in
I’m not really like this
I’m probably plightless

I come through the window
I’m crippled and slow
For the agony I’d rather know

‘Cause blinded
I am blindsided

Would you really rush out?
Would you really rush out?
Would you really rush out for me now?
Would you really rush out
Would you really rush out for me now?
Would you really rush out for me now?
Would you really rush out for me now?
Would you really rush out
For me now?

Ooh, for me now
Ooh, for me now
Ooh, for me now

Taut line
Down to the shoreline
The end of a blood line
The moon is a cold light

There’s a pull to the flow
My feet melt the snow
For the irony I’d rather know

‘Cause blinded
I was blindsided
Blinded
I was blindsided
Blinded
I was blindsided

Postscript:

Lest we stray into negative blogging territory too soon, here is a clip a friend has just sent me. Most of us will remember Nigel Hawthorne’s portrayal of Sir Humphrey Appleby, the Permanent Secretary for the Department of Administrative Affairs in the telly show Yes Minister. Very funny, but also very apt for our times.

The Winter Solstice, “Fly Me To The Moon” and A Very Merry Christmas

Since discovering that all full moons have a name (given to them by the Native Americans who kept track of the months by the lunar calendar), I have written about each one as they appear in our skies. To accompany the post I always include one of the numerous songs that have been written about the moon and its many foibles.

Well, it’s all coming together at just the same time! Today is Yule, the day of the winter solstice, that pivot point in the year after which the days will start to get longer again. Tomorrow is the day of the December full moon, very appropriately called both the Cold Moon, and the Long Nights Moon. Last but not least, we are also right in the middle of Christmastime, that annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, which seems to have become a cultural phenomenon celebrated around the world by billions of Christians and non-Christians alike.

But this is my Moon Series, so what song to feature this time? Unbelievably, I have yet to share a Frank Sinatra song in this series, which is bizarre, as the Chairman of the Board was known to record a fair few songs with the word moon in the title over the course of his career. I shared a version of Fly Me To The Moon by Julie London just before I started this series, but now that we’re into its second calendar year, time to revisit the song I think, and time for a bit of Francis Albert at Christmastime.

Fly Me To The Moon by Frank Sinatra:

Fly Me To The Moon was written in 1954 by Bart Howard, but originally had the title “In Other Words”. Kaye Ballard recorded it first, but since then it has become a jazz standard, often featured in popular culture. Frank Sinatra’s 1964 version was closely associated with the first Apollo missions to the moon.

A few great moon shots have again been captured by my friend with the all singing, all dancing camera over the last week. Here are a few of the best.

I’ve mentioned this often since starting the blog, but the year I seem to warm to most when revisiting the tracks of my years, is 1967. Lots of reasons for that, but the main one seems to be that it’s the year I was just starting to take an interest in the music I heard on the radio and on television – I was a kid, I was happy, loved and nothing bad had yet happened in my young life. For this reason I took to retuning one of the car’s digital radio stations recently to Absolute60s. I figured that whenever I tuned in, there would be a one in ten chance something from my favourite year would be playing, which would in turn take me to my “happy place” (if I was having a bit of a stressful day).

As luck would have it, the first song played on this new retuned station was Somethin’ Stupid by Frank & Nancy Sinatra from, yes you’ve guessed it, 1967. This of course reminded me that in 2001, Robbie Williams & Nicole Kidman recorded a great cover version of the song which became the Christmas No. 1 hit that year. Both artists were at the top of their game in terms of their respective careers, and the video for the song, although obviously staged, still makes me feel all Christmassy. If I had to choose one year other than 1967 to take me to my happy place, it would be 2001, a time when DD herself was just a kid and starting to take an interest in music. She was old enough to enjoy all the wonderment of this time of year without yet being taken in by the commercialisation of it all.

Somethin’ Stupid by Frank & Nancy Sinatra:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I suspect I won’t return with anything new now before the big day, so to everyone who visits here, have a wonderful Christmas. Remember to look out for the full moon that should appear in our skies on Saturday night, and look forward to the fact the days are now lengthening again.

Just one more thing. Last night, Mr WIAA and myself headed into town to take part in an awareness raising event for a local charity. The high rate of suicide amongst young men in the Highlands means that many families have lost a son or brother in recent years. Mikeysline has been set up to offer support to people who suffer from depression and chronic loneliness. Yes, it may well be “the most wonderful time of the year” for some, but keep a close eye on those who could well be feeling even lonelier than usual.

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We lit up the bridges for Mikeysline

An added bonus to last night, was that we managed to take a few pictures whilst walking through the town centre, and of course, our almost full moon made it’s way into the shot.

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The moon peeping over the top of our Townhouse

Merry Christmas from all of us at WIAA. Hope you have a good one.

Fly Me To The Moon Lyrics
(Song by Bart Howard)

Fly me to the moon
Let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On a-Jupiter and Mars

In other words: hold my hand
In other words: baby, kiss me

Fill my heart with song
And let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore

In other words: please, be true
In other words: I love you

Fill my heart with song
Let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore

In other words: please, be true
In other words, in other words: I love you

The Kingdom of Fife, James Yorkston and “Woozy With Cider”

A few weeks ago, I threw down the gauntlet and asked followers to come up with ideas for future posts. Whenever I’ve done this in the past it’s been quite easy to come up with something reasonably entertaining, as a fairly mainstream song has been suggested. This time…., not quite so easy. This third reply post was always going to be tricky, as I hadn’t actually heard of the artist or song when it was first suggested by Mr Medd, whose Are We There Yet? blog is one I visit often. My proviso for this challenge was that I had to have heard of the artist, so by rights I could have wriggled out of it, but that would be a bit lame so here goes:

Woozy With Cider by James Yorkston:

Woozy With Cider was recorded by singer/songwriter James Yorkston in 2007. It’s a spoken word kind of affair and apparently falls into the electronic/folk rock camp. As I said above, both James and his “song” were new to me, so before hitting the keyboard I was going to have to do a bit of serious listening. Lots of imagery in this song but what comes across loud and clear is that Mr Yorkston is neither a fan of big cities nor city folk and their sometimes patronising attitude towards those of a more countrified nature. He kind of yearns to be back in the place he feels most comfortable, “a village the size of a teacup”. There has been a wedding though (oh no, another wedding post – I can’t get away from them), which is the reason for the trip to the big smoke, but it is now the day after where there is time for reflection, relaxation and just enough cider to cause a bit of “wooziness”.

I really liked this spoken word song right from the off, and I think I worked out why pretty early on. Once I’d done a bit of research into James Yorkston, I discovered he came from the Kingdom of Fife in Scotland, which is a peninsula situated between the Firth of Tay and Firth of Forth (and home to the ancient Pictish kings). He became part of something called the Fence Collective set up by Kenny Anderson (aka King Creosote) where a group of Fife-based musicians got together and released music on their own record label with little more than a CD burner and the use of a local bar’s unused “back room”.

Looking at a map of Fife it looks remarkably like the Black Isle peninsula where I reside. From experience, these are beautiful places to live – Great scenery (water on three sides), picturesque villages, clean air and not too many people or cars. Like James, I would find life in a big city nowadays nigh impossible and find the best mix for me is kind of what is implied in the first line of the lyrics, “I hear you softly sleep amongst the cars and saluting songbirds”. It is now evening and the sound of the traffic has died down so the birds can be heard in equal measure. That’s my ideal – To be near enough civilisation to hear the sound of cars in the distance, but also to be able to hear the sound of birds (as I type I am listening to a hooting owl). It’s not for me the cacophony of city life with only the odd squawking seagull – I know where I’m supposed to “be” and like James Yorkston, I very fortuitously found it when I was relatively young, in my late twenties.

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So, I only found out about James Yorkston when the suggestion for this post came in but since then I have been bombarded by references to Fife and Fence Records. There is a name for this phenomenon (more than just coincidence) which currently eludes me, but we all experience it from time to time – In our house, whenever it happens it’s always accompanied by a quick burst of the Twilight Zone music.

First of all, as per my previous post, we ended up having a spontaneous wee break last week in the city of Dundee, which is just on the other side of the Tay Bridge from Fife. It was a no brainer therefore that we would head across for a visit. By this time I knew all about the Fence Collective based in the East Neuk of Fife, so what better place to visit in order to get “woozy with cider”?

Secondly, a couple of night’s ago I caught the final episode of the BBC2 documentary series Rip It Up which was ostensibly about how Scots have had to overcome obstacles, and blaze a trail, in order to make the music they love. This episode featured those independent labels such as Fence Records who decided to follow a different path and not head to London, but to remain in Scotland and be inspired by their surroundings – They would make music primarily for the love of it and not just to make lots of money. We even had a lengthy interview with Mr Yorkston (whom I warmed to greatly) and I’ll no doubt look out for him now that I know the background to his, and the Collective’s, aims.

Before I go, here is something I found when trying to find out a bit more about the man. It was from an interview he gave after having written his second book (yes it seems he’s multi-talented, also being an author – not jealous honest, grrr…).

Interviewer: James, what’s your guiltiest music pleasure?

James: I think I’ve grown out of that stuff now. When I was a kid, I was very much involved in genre, so I’d only like punk rock or dub reggae, say. Fortunately, as I’ve aged, I’ve thrown off such daft shackles and I no longer feel guilty about anything I like. I feel guiltier disliking things, especially if it’s music by people who I like as people. Guilty Music Displeasure, perhaps.

A great place to end, as since starting this blog I have had massive crises of confidence after writing about songs from my collection that others may well class as “a guilty pleasure”. I know everyone is usually very kind about it, but when James Yorkston also comes out and admits to now feeling more guilty about disliking music, I think I’m ok.

Until next time…

Woozy with Cider Lyrics
(Song by James Yorkston)

I watch the park quieten from the hotel window, I hear you softly sleep amongst the cars and saluting songbirds,
For a city whose size had scared me for years right now it’s a feeble evening row, not un-similar to a beach evening ending.
On the table to my left there’s a magazine with a picture of dead money, making a mockery of what I’d call art
But what would I know about the scene in the city that has swallowed up friends lovers and family,
Just give me a village the size of a teacup

You’re happier here spread out with your eyes closed,
I feel I should order a drink in celebration to welcome the summer, whose first day is ending
Should you wake you’d catch me of course and ask me the wisdom of drinking once more
I cast my mind back to yesterdays wedding where we got drunk and fell over
I did my best to be polite to a family I’d never met, but on numerous occasions, I guess, I could have tried harder
Of course by the end of the night I was a best friend with everyone and every ones wife but right now I couldn’t remember their names no matter how hard I try

As the sun glares through the hotel window I wonder of our future and where it will lead to,
I wonder if you’ll be laying there 10 years 20 years 30 years down the line
I’ll still be staring out at the street confused about love and life,
It’ll be interesting to see if anyone every bought those songs of mine if anyone heard those words that I never got quite right,
I think I can be honest in presuming the world is not exactly going to be leaping out of its bed to make me rich using my songs in adverts selling oranges or lemons

Who knows I may end up owning the whole street, or more likely sleeping under tree in the park opposite
Would the runners keep me awake or would I keep them asleep
I’d hope I have the sense to move back home, as lovely as today is, I‘d imagine the winter would be rather cold

I’d been told for years that the devil had the best tunes and that the devil lived down here whereas us country folk weren’t worth the salt from the road
Ex pat magazine editors who choose to loose their temper on the easily persuaded northern town dwellers
And sure enough 99 percent of the people I meet have scant regard for entertaining me, it seems I’m too old too slow too quiet and just wrong
And I’m glad. In their cocaine fuelled electronic cabarets I’ll be the man at the bar drinking overpriced whiskey from a bar maid who’s too good to catch my eye
She only works here two nights a week, the rest of the time she’s a singer in a rock and roll band
I bet she’d change her tune if I told her my album had peaked at number 172 and that I also had friends who worked in bars and that didn’t define who they are
Though it certainly helps their capacity to drink.

But I’ve strayed off the subject
Now I’ll be leaning over and waking you up, and you’ll squint at me through the cracks between your eyelids, woozy with cider
As if you’re asking exactly where we are and exactly what I wanted.
And I’ll be happy because we won’t be taking anything too seriously.

Glenn Miller, Carly Simon and “Moonlight Serenade”

Since discovering that all full moons have a name (given to them by the Native Americans who kept track of the months by the lunar calendar), I have written about each one as they appear in our skies. To accompany the post I always include one of the numerous songs that have been written about the moon and its many foibles.

Well I don’t know about you, but it seems ages since I’ve seen a bright moon, as it doesn’t get dark up here in the North of Scotland until way after my bedtime at this time of year. By hook or by crook however I intend to catch the one that should grace our skies later on this week, on Thursday night. This full moon is called the Strawberry Moon, because for the Algonquin tribes of North America, June was the month the wild berries started to ripen and could be harvested.

Different for us nowadays when we can buy soft fruit all year round, but as a child I lived in a house with a massive garden (tended by my dad and I) and in one corner was a large strawberry patch, which meant “pudding” for around two months of the summer was berries and ice-cream. It all got a bit boring, and no longer a treat at all, although once we acquired our new refrigerator complete with tiny ice-making compartment, at least we could keep a small supply of Walls vanilla in block form, which saved me being sent to the shop every evening just ahead of “tea-time”. (We were definitely tea rather than dinner people).

But I digress, this “moon song” was always going to feature at some point in this series and as reference is made to the month of June in the lyrics, this would seem to be the time. It’s soppy and sentimental but harks back to simpler times when boys stood at the gate waiting for their date to appear, and looked forward to “the touch of their hand in the June night”. Moonlight Serenade is a song that could only have been written by someone living in the northern hemisphere, as being outdoors at night, hanging around garden gates feeling all romantic, has never been an attractive proposition during the cold winter months. The music of course was written by big band leader Glenn Miller with the lyrics coming later from Mitchell Parish, but here we have it being performed by Ms Carly Simon – A beautiful version for this romantic summer month, taken from her 2005 album of the same name,

Moonlight Serenade by The Glenn Miller Orchestra:

The reason I am so fond of the Glenn Miller “sound”, is that back in the days when my dad and I were busy tending that large garden with strawberry patches, he and I were also very fond of watching old movies on telly, and if they were musicals, even better. One that we both absolutely loved was The Glenn Miller Story starring Jimmy Stewart and June Allyson. In fact in my head Jimmy Stewart is Glenn Miller because hard sometimes to disassociate the person playing them on the big screen from the real life person whom you’ve seen images of very rarely. I don’t think I’d be giving the game away by saying the film has an incredibly tragic and sad ending (after which I had to retreat to the pre-fridge, sound-proofed “pantry”, to stifle my sobbing), but ahead of that, throughout the hour and fifty minutes of musical action, we are treated to some mighty fine tunes of the swing persuasion: Moonlight Serenade, Tuxedo Junction, Little Brown Jug, In the Mood, A String of Pearls and Pennsylvania 6-5000.

Much of the film was of course a love story which revolved around the courtship between Glenn and his wife-to-be Helen Burger. The song Moonlight Serenade (amongst many others) was written for her, so very apt that the actress who played Helen was called June, as their courtship did seem to play out at garden gates on June nights. Glenn worked hard at finding that unique “sound” he was always looking for, and when he did, he became the world’s best-selling recording artist. In the four years between 1939 and 1943 he scored 23 No. 1 hits – More than Elvis Presley and the Beatles achieved in their respective careers. Sadly, whilst travelling to entertain U.S. troops in France during World War II, his aircraft disappeared in bad weather over the English Channel. Various theories have been put forward as to what happened that night but in the end it was pronounced a death in absentia. Glenn was aged only 40.

So there I was, a pre-teen buying swing albums, which looking back does seem a bit odd, but yet again I think I was ahead of the curve. In 1976 who should appear on the front cover of my monthly copy of Words magazine but The Glenn Miller Orchestra. As well as getting very hot and bothered by the weather, it seems the UK was also experiencing a bit of a nostalgia-fest that year, and Glenn’s music fitted the bill perfectly. A single was released containing a Moonlight Serenade, Little Brown Jug & In The Mood medleyand it reached No. 13 in the UK Singles Chart Suddenly it wasn’t uncool to like this stuff (well maybe just a little bit).

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Glenn, back in the “hit parade” alongside Abba, 32 years after his death

So, “What’s It All About?” – This post seems to have been all about looking back. I’ve enjoyed reminiscing about times spent with my dad, and realise he was probably my best friend until I reached the age of nine. He died 15 years ago but I still miss him every day – I don’t know what he would think of all this blogging malarkey but I suspect he would be quite proud of what I’ve achieved, as that’s just the kind of man he was.

As for the music of Glenn Miller, just like Carly Simon, every now and again an artist records an album of standards and there is a high likelihood that something by Glenn will be in there. Timeless tunes, which I was going to say come from simpler times, but in view of how he died, not simple at all. Different times. At the moment my favourite Glenn Miller tune is this one, I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo – As a great lover of both alphabetisation and unusual sounding place-names, this one really hits the spot. The two dancers here are The Nicholas Brothers who back in the 1930s and ’40s were virtuosos of tap-dancing. I urge you to watch to the end as some incredibly acrobatic stuff here called flash dancing (with of course The Glenn Miller Orchestra playing in the background). Oh, and also remember to look out for that full Strawberry Moon on Thursday night.

Until next time….

Moonlight Serenade Lyrics
(Song by Glenn Miller/Mitchell Parish)

I stand at your gate
and the song that I sing is of moonlight
I stand and I wait
for the touch of your hand in the June night
The roses are sighing a moonlight serenade

The stars are aglow
And tonight how their light sets me dreaming
My love, do you know
That your eyes are like stars brightly beaming?
I bring you, and I sing you a moonlight serenade

Let us stray ’til break of day
In love’s valley of dreams
Just you and I, a summer sky,
A heavenly breeze, kissin’ the trees

So don’t let me wait
Come to me tenderly in the June night
I stand at your gate
And I sing you a song in the moonlight
A love song, my darling, a moonlight serenades

Postscript:

Well it wouldn’t be a “moon post” without a contribution from my friend the amateur photographer. This time however it’s not a picture taken of the last full moon but a picture taken on the night of the Summer Solstice – A waxing gibbous moon back then, a full week shy of this next full moon. Incredible image as ever.

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The Summer Solstice moon: Picture courtesy of R.J.

St David’s Day, the Stereophonics and Spring Is Here (Isn’t It?)

I have been watching the news coverage from around the country and am frankly amazed that the North of Scotland has got off so lightly in terms of snow. At the moment we seem to have avoided the full impact of what is being called “the Beast from the East”. (Why do weather fronts all need a name nowadays? Makes them much scarier somehow than they often need to be.) Anyway, although very cold here today I am just glad there have been more blue skies, but I’d better not get too smug as we may still bear the brunt of the “Beast” later on in the week.

As today however is meteorologically the first day of Spring, and as my friend’s moon shots seemed to go down quite well last time, here is what he shared on his Facebook page earlier on today. Yes, Spring might not have come to the rest of the country, but it has arrived in the North of Scotland.

Pictures courtesy of R.J.

But today of course is also Saint David’s Day when the people of Wales celebrate the life of their patron saint. It is common, apparently, to pin a daffodil or leek to clothing, but if the snow has been as bad as I suspect it has in Wales today there will have been no picking of daffodils going on. Also, last time I bought leeks in the supermarket they were monstrous things and with only three I managed to make a large pot of leek and potato soup – Doubt if they’re the kind of leeks that could be worn on the lapel of your jacket somehow, but possibly could adorn those giant black hats that make up part of Welsh national dress.

Alms house residents

I am probably going to be unpopular here but I’m really glad that our national dress involves the kilt, as despite being essentially a skirt, it somehow always manages to look macho, and smart – I love seeing Mr WIAA turn up at an event in his kilt outfit (despite being English by birth) whereas if he decided to turn up in one of those Morris Dancer outfits I think I would be less than impressed. Just sayin’.

But this is a music blog, so what comes to mind when I think of Wales? Well here is something from a band I have long admired and who are still going strong after 25 years in the business. Stereophonics are a Welsh rock band that formed in 1992 in the village of Cwmaman in the Cynon Valley, one of many former coal mining valleys within South Wales. The band’s lead singer Kelly Jones does sound really Welsh when he is interviewed, but somehow when he starts to sing it all disappears and he has been described as having “whiskey vocals”. Lots of songs to choose from by that band but as this has been a spur of the moment post inspired by the fine weather (apologies to those currently snowbound), the mobile device I am using only has Dakota saved within, so it’ll have to be it (but a fine choice as it turns out).

Dakota by Stereophonics:

Dakota reached the No. 1 spot in the UK Singles Chart in 2005 and was the first Stereophonics record to chart in the US. It was apparently first called Vermillion after the name of the US town in which it was written but after another band released a song with the same name, they decided to change the title to “Dakota” after the apartment building in New York City (and of course where John Lennon lived at the time of his death).

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Kelly Jones on Live 8 Day

The band have also been praised for their live performances which have landed them headlining slots at many of the UK and Ireland’s most high-profile music festivals. I think most of us of a certain vintage remember Live Aid day well (and I intend to write about my memories of the event at some point). Live 8 however was a benefit concert which took place on 2nd July 2005 to precede the G8 conference held at the Gleneagles Hotel here in Scotland. Unlike with Live Aid, when for one reason or another I missed out on large chunks of the day, I did watch all of Live 8 from beginning to end. On the Monday at work, I discussed the concert with a colleague (who had been present at the original Live Aid as a mere lad of 17) – When asked which act I had enjoyed the most, I decided it was Stereophonics. Considering who was on the bill that day, quite something. Kelly and the boys did well.

For those of you suffering the worst of the bad weather, hope things improve soon. For those of you in Wales, hope you’ve enjoyed your St. David’s Day – Time now to get those leeks off your lapels and make them into a large pot of warming soup!

Until next time….

Dakota Lyrics
(Song by Kelly Jones)

Thinking back, thinking of you
Summertime think it was June
Yeah think it was June
Laying back, head on the grass
Chewing gum having some laughs
Yeah having some laughs.

You made me feel like the one
Made me feel like the one
The one
You made me feel like the one
Made me feel like the one
The one

Drinking back, drinking for two
Drinking with you
When drinking was new
Sleeping in the back of my car
We never went far
Didn’t need to go far

You made me feel like the one
Made me feel like the one
The one
You made me feel like the one
Made me feel like the one
The one

I don’t know where we are going now
I don’t know where we are going now

Wake up call, coffee and juice
Remembering you
What happened to you?
I wonder if we’ll meet again
Talk about life since then
Talk about why did it end

You made me feel like the one
Made me feel like the one
The one
You made me feel like the one
Made me feel like the one
The one

I don’t know where we are going now
I don’t know where we are going now

So take a look at me now

Postscript:

If you follow my Full Moon series, it seems that on top of taking great scenery shots during the daytime, my friend was also busy at night-time on the 1st March and managed to capture the elusive Worm Moon which appeared in its full state just after midnight. Here it is viewed from our (almost) clear skies.

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The Worm Moon: Picture courtesy of R.J.