A Better Week for Women, Taylor Swift and ‘The Lakes’

Last week I said I’d decided to delete all the draft posts I had backing up around here so that I could start again with a clean slate – Well, here is that clean slate, but already I’m torn between several blog ideas I’ve had over the last week, not all of them relating to music it must be said. I think I’m just going to have to accept that this blog has indeed morphed into something quite different from what was originally intended when I started out, but nothing wrong with that I suppose. There will always be a song(s) though, and that will never change.

I made no mention of it last weekend, but anyone watching the news that week will know it hadn’t been a good one for women. On International Women’s Day, a young, high-profile, mixed-race woman was lambasted and disbelieved by a white, middle-aged, male broadcaster (who trust me, could never have truly understood how she was feeling); the next day, the body of a murdered girl who had simply risked walking home on her own after dark, was found in Kent; at the weekend, those who met up for a peaceful vigil in the place where she had gone missing were found to be flouting covid restrictions, and there were ugly scenes of women being pinned to the ground and handcuffed by police.

As someone who comes from a long line of strong women who pretty much ran the show in their respective households (in a good way of course), I have always found it hard to personally relate to those who class themselves as feminists. Born at the start of the ’60s, by the time I reached adulthood all the hard work had been done (for which I am very grateful) and I have never felt that any barriers have been put in my way, other than those which were self-imposed. My working life was mainly in the public sector where the majority of my ‘bosses’ were always female, at one point all five departmental heads being of that gender. Life can be tough at various stages along the way, but if we all pulled together as a diverse group of humans (as opposed to humans with labels) it could all be so much easier. It seems we still have a way to go. As for walking home alone in the dark, it has always been something I’ve avoided unless absolutely necessary. It’s scary, for both sexes, and however much guidance is put out on how to make us feel less scared and vulnerable, I would always advise against it. Sad but true.

On the upside, the big winners at the Grammys this year were women, which was a first. Hopefully not purely down to a bias within the judging panel, so good to see. I haven’t been able to watch much of the show, but it seems it was all very covid-safe, which made it a bit of a different affair from the usual extravaganza. As Album Of The Year is usually the big one, here is something from Taylor Swift’s winning album folklore. The other ladies who did well were Beyoncé (she broke the record for all-time wins by a woman), Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa and Megan Thee Stallion.

Taylor’s new album was a bit of a surprise, even to her, as it was conceived during lockdown in 2020, after her planned tour had to be postponed. She describes it as a collection of songs and stories that flowed like ‘a stream of consciousness’. It consists of mellow ballads telling stories rooted in escapism and romanticism reflecting her desire for the music to have a lasting legacy, akin to folk songs. This song, the lakes, was inspired by a holiday Taylor once had in that very beautiful region of England called The Lake District (with Harry Styles, another big winner at the Grammys).

Take me to the lakes where all the poets went to die
I don’t belong, and my beloved, neither do you
Those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry
I’m setting off, but not without my muse

In carrying out a modicum of research for Taylor’s new album I discovered a term that is new to me, cottagecore, which is what the album’s artwork and aesthetic was based on. Apparently it reflects a movement that celebrates idealised rural life and is popular with Generation Z. It developed throughout the 2010s and values traditional skills and crafts such as baking and pottery. It’s obvious when trawling through the various television guides of an evening, that programmes championing such traditional crafts are very much in vogue and we ourselves really enjoyed the final of the Great Pottery Throw Down last weekend (won by a woman). I myself spent much of this last week finishing off some tiny garments I had knitted all the pieces for, but never got round to making up – As a stress-buster, crafting takes some beating and I felt really chuffed when they were finished. All I need now is for the button shop to open up again, and for some grandchildren to dress them in (but no pressure DD).

Spring flowers and teeny weeny garments

Yet again I’ve veered way off topic and haven’t got round to some of the other ideas I had for today. I have one or two ‘new series’ ideas which I hope to explore soon though, so watch this space as they say.

As for Taylor Swift, she has become one of the best-selling artists of all time, in a relatively short space of time. I remember her being interviewed on a breakfast telly show many years ago when she was still a teenager. A clearly talented youngster, she and her family had relocated from Pennsylvania to Nashville when she was aged only 14, so that the young Taylor could pursue her career in country music. It was 2008 and she had just released her second album Fearless which I know DD was a fan of, and I seem to have some songs from it in my digital library.

Love Story by Taylor Swift:

Taylor wrote Love Story about a relationship that was not popular among the narrator’s family and friends. A common theme for teens, and one that’s been around since time immemorial – Why she decided to relate the song to the plot of Romeo and Juliet. Luckily for the couple in question, she replaced the play’s original tragic conclusion with a happy ending. The song was a huge commercial success and received widespread critical acclaim. The start of big things for an artist who has been able to cross over into other genres, transcending her country roots. I wouldn’t be surprised if like Dolly Parton, she manages to stay relevant and popular for many decades to come.

As for me, my poorly ankle is well and truly on the mend, so not long now before I can get about without ‘the boot’. In the meantime, I feel a bit more crafting coming on. Mr WIAA got me some new balls of wool this morning so the cottagecore aesthetic certainly is alive and well in our house at the moment. As for Taylor Swift, I hope she’s enjoyed her foray into yet another new genre – I think it suits her. Also, bit of trivia, she was named after singer/songwriter James Taylor so that was a masterstroke by her parents as it’s obviously brought her good luck (although with her prodigious talent I don’t think she needed a bit of it).

Until next time…

the lakes lyrics
(Song by Taylor Swift)

Is it romantic how all my elegies eulogize me?
I’m not cut out for all these cynical clones
These hunters with cell phones

Take me to the lakes, where all the poets went to die
I don’t belong and, my beloved, neither do you
Those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry
I’m setting off, but not without my muse

What should be over burrowed under my skin
In heart-stopping waves of hurt
I’ve come too far to watch some name-dropping sleaze
Tell me what are my Wordsworth

Take me to the lakes, where all the poets went to die
I don’t belong and, my beloved, neither do you
Those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry
I’m setting off, but not without my muse

I want auroras and sad prose
I want to watch wisteria grow right over my bare feet
‘Cause I haven’t moved in years
And I want you right here
A red rose grew up out of ice frozen ground
With no one around to tweet it
While I bathe in cliff-side pools
With my calamitous love and insurmountable grief

Take me to the lakes, where all the poets went to die
I don’t belong and, my beloved, neither do you
Those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry
I’m setting off, but not without my muse
No, not without you

Jay Gatsby, George Gershwin and ‘Rhapsody In Blue’

Had life been remotely normal at the moment, I could perhaps choose to start this 6th year of blogging with a 30, 40 or even 50 year retrospective (as I did last year before discovering some real stinkers made it to the top spot on the UK Singles Chart in 1970). I could add to some of the series that are still in progress or perhaps start a new one. I could share an earworm of the week… . But life isn’t “normal” at the moment is it, and that kind of blogging requires a calm and uncluttered mind.

We have had relatively low infection rates here in the North of Scotland up until now, but those days have gone, and part of me just wants to hunker down until I get my jab (the preferred medical term it seems). In the early days of the pandemic when the outlook seemed bleak, many of us probably had a few sleepless nights thinking this might be it – I know I did. As time went by we got used to this new way of doing things, and sleep came easier. With all these vaccines coming onstream, hope is now on the horizon, and if things pan out as they did in the aftermath of the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, we might even end up having another Roaring ’20s. Cue Jay Gatsby’s pad on Long Island, circa 1922 (Baz Luhrmann style).

I’m not going to hold my breath about that, and I think we’ve got more pressing problems to sort out before we party, but it seems many bank accounts are full to brimming at the moment as if you’ve been lucky enough to stay in work there has been very little opportunity to spend your spare cash of late (despite Mr Bezos waltzing off with much of it). In a balanced economy everyone gets a share of the pot, so I’m hoping some of this cash will help those hard hit sectors get back on their feet again.

It occurred to me I have never shared something from as far back as 100 years before, but then I looked again and discovered I have, all from film soundtracks of course. Rhapsody in Blue, written by George Gershwin in 1924, was used in the Woody Allen film Manhattan and I included it in my New York post, when journeying round the 50 States in Song (link here).

Apparently F. Scott Fitzgerald was of the opinion that “Rhapsody in Blue idealised the youthful zeitgeist of the Jazz Age” and in subsequent decades Fitzgerald’s literary works have often been culturally linked with Gershwin’s composition. Rhapsody in Blue was used as a dramatic leitmotif (a short, recurring musical phrase associated with a particular person, place, or idea) for F.Scott’s character of Jay Gatsby in Baz’s 2013 film. A nice bit of synchronicity for this post.

Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin:


If you watched the Gatsby party clip at the top of the page you might have spotted the bandleader was none other than Cab Calloway. He had a very distinctive look and performance style, so it could only be him. Most of us know of Cab, not from the 1920s (as I doubt if many visitors to this place were around back then), but from the film The Blues Brothers where he hooks up with the boys and turns in a great performance of Minnie The Moocher (link here).

Cab Calloway

Cab was one of the bandleaders at the infamous New York Jazz Club The Cotton Club, and after watching the film of the same name last year I wrote about it here. This time it’s an actor playing Cab but I think he did a great job.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I have no idea what happened here as I certainly had no intention of revisiting the music of the 1920s when I sat down at my desk today, but here we are. I suppose I am just hoping against hope that things do start to get better now that vaccines are being rolled out, and the idea of meeting up with more than one person at a time becomes a possibility. Watching these scenes at parties and jazz clubs however fills me with horror, as after only ten months we have become so acclimatised to social distancing and mask-wearing, I can’t yet envisage venturing into such a venue ever again, not that I’m ever likely to be invited to a Jay Gatsby kind of party anyway, no longer being of the right demographic. Cue Young and Beautiful, the haunting song from The Great Gatsby soundtrack by Lana Del Rey.

Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey:


I think I’m going to have to seek out our DVD copy of the film for tonight’s viewing, as I’ve been reminded how much I enjoyed it when it came out in 2013. It was one of the films I watched with my Last Thursday of the Month Film Club friends. Who knows, maybe Film Club will be able to be resurrected before too long – Like many others, I think I’ve missed going to the cinema more than just about anything else.

Until next time…

Young And Beautiful Lyrics
(Song by Lana Del Ray/Rick Nowels)

I’ve seen the world
Done it all
Had my cake now
Diamonds, brilliant
And Bel Air now
Hot summer nights, mid July
When you and I were forever wild
The crazy days, city lights
The way you’d play with me like a child

Will you still love me
When I’m no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me
When I got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will
I know that you will
Will you still love me when I’m no longer beautiful?

I’ve seen the world, lit it up
As my stage now
Channelling angels in the new age now
Hot summer days, rock ‘n’ roll
The way you play for me at your show
And all the ways I got to know
Your pretty face and electric soul

Will you still love me
When I’m no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me
When I got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will
I know that you will
Will you still love me when I’m no longer beautiful?

Dear lord, when I get to heaven
Please let me bring my man
When he comes tell me that you’ll let him in
Father tell me if you can
Oh that grace, oh that body
Oh that face makes me wanna party
He’s my sun, he makes me shine like diamonds

Will you still love me
When I’m no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me
When I got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will
I know that you will
Will you still love me when I’m no longer beautiful?
Will you still love me when I’m no longer beautiful?
Will you still love me when I’m not young and beautiful

More From Laurel Canyon, Fiona Apple and ‘In My Room’

Thankfully I’ve managed to keep most of my pandemic related thoughts to myself around here of late. I’m all pandemicked-out, so instead have been enjoying writing about some new musical discoveries. Most of these discoveries have come about via telly, which I seem to have been watching an unhealthy amount of recently. It feels wrong, but my regular trips to the cinema/theatre are in abeyance, and trying to meet up with with friends is becoming a bit of a logistical nightmare. With the nights drawing in and the weather getting a tad colder, it’s quite comforting to curl up on the sofa with a cuppa and a full set of remotes – Hopefully I’ll not start morphing into a Maris Piper anytime soon.

Before the rules changed (yet again), I’d been regularly meeting up with my friend Eve, as we are working our way through The Affair, that award winning drama starring Ruth Wilson and Dominic West. Somehow I’d missed it when it aired first time around, but it had been mentioned in the comments boxes around here in relation to a particular song, so I got curious and thought I’d give it a whirl. I should have known from the title there would be many, many scenes of a sexual nature, and although I’m no prude, it can be a bit awkward watching such shenanigans with your ‘walking buddy’. Now that we can no longer meet indoors here in Scotland, my blushes will be spared for the foreseeable, but as we both intend to carry on watching it independently, we’ll still be able to discuss the latest twists and turns when we meet up for our weekly walk outdoors. Such times.

And here is where a wonderful bit of synchronicity has kicked in. I have really been enjoying the show’s theme song, Container, but only took note of who recorded it last week. It was Fiona Apple, an American singer-songwriter who was new to me, as I seem to to be firmly stuck in the last millennium when it comes to such things.

Fiona Apple

How good is that? Fiona also wrote the song and in the first line she is ‘screaming into the canyon’. Over the last week I have spent much of my time revisiting the music that poured forth from the artists who lived in California’s Laurel Canyon in the late ’60s and as well as the documentary written about last time, I’ve also watched Echo In The Canyon fronted by Jakob Dylan, son of Bob.

The young Bob and Jakob

He looks and sounds uncannily like his dad at times during the film, where he and a selection of other musicians cleverly intersperse candid interviews with performances of some of the most memorable songs from the era. One of these guest musicians was my new discovery, Fiona Apple. I was bowled over when they got up on stage to sing the Brian Wilson song In My Room. Short, but oh so beautiful.

In My Room by Fiona Apple and Jakob Dylan:


Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys had been a Laurel Canyon resident in the late ’60s and despite starting out writing songs that represented the youth culture of southern California (basically surfin’, surfin’ and more surfin’) it soon became obvious that Brian was a bit of a musical genius, the like of whom doesn’t come along very often. Their album Pet Sounds, written and produced by Brian, was released in 1966 and is often cited as having inspired the Beatles to make Sgt. Pepper.

Apparently Brian had been an agoraphobic during his teens and had refused to leave his bedroom for some time. The song was written from the perspective of a teenager who felt safe and comfortable there. I’m pretty sure DD doesn’t have agoraphobia, but the amount of time she has been spending in her old school bedroom since returning home is concerning me. She is studying, and possibly doesn’t want to interfere with our routines, but as for many other young people who may not have work right now and can no longer be with friends, it just doesn’t feel very healthy at all. Maybe why I’ve been affected by the song so much.

Although it’s the Fiona Apple/Jakob Dylan version that I’ve fallen in love with this week, I can’t go without sharing the original by the Beach Boys themselves. Lots of screaming from the girls in the audience, but I think we still get the sense of it (and a lovely boyish smile from Brian at 0:35).

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I may have over-egged the pudding about how much television I’m watching, but with many other leisure-time activities still unavailable to us, it has become a bit of a saviour. I’m trying to avoid watching rolling news channels nowadays and instead am finding escapism in quality dramas and documentaries – Why so many people flocked to the cinema during the war to watch Hollywood musicals I suppose.

As for DD, she is currently ‘in her room’, but hopefully she’ll join us to watch Gogglebox later on, which always raises a smile. The world in 2020 – We work from home on laptops, socialise via Zoom, and sit in our living rooms watching television programs about other people sitting in their living rooms watching television programs. Like a wacky hall of mirrors, it really doesn’t sound healthy at all does it?

The ‘Stars’ of Gogglebox

Until next time….

In My Room Lyrics
(Song by Brian Wilson)

There’s a world where I can go and tell my secrets to
In my room, in my room
In this world I lock out all my worries and my fears
In my room, in my room

Do my dreaming and my scheming
Lie awake and pray
Do my crying and my sighing
Laugh at yesterday

Now it’s dark and I’m alone
But I won’t be afraid
In my room, in my room
In my room, in my room
In my room, in my room

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

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

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

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

How Long Will I Love You by The Waterboys:


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


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

Until next time….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those We Have Lost in 2020 – RIP Kenny, Bill, John and Richard

Because this year has been one like no other, my blogging has changed tack and I have not been keeping up with the sad roll call of people we have lost from the world of music. It is almost inevitable that many of them would have been written about here before, as most were elder statesmen of their particular genres, but time to pay special tribute I think.

My very first post of this year led me back to the chart music of 1970, and at the top spot was Mr Kenny Rogers with his excellent story song Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town. I am not however really that familiar with the First Edition era of Kenny’s career. The Kenny I am more familiar with was his late ’70s persona which gave us the hits Lucille, The Gambler and Coward of the County. Like Ruby these were all very much story songs and their lyrics have given us some great lines which are often quoted. After the news of his death on March the 20th, just ahead of all the upheaval and distress caused by the pandemic, there were many who noted that Kenny had followed the advice within his signature song:

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em

Ten days after the death of Kenny Rogers, news came through that we had also lost Bill Withers. Last summer, after a particularly lovely day out I shared many pictures in a blog post, so the obvious accompanying song choice was Bill’s 1977 song Lovely Day. To be honest I hadn’t realised until that point just how respected Bill had been in the music world, having won three Grammy Awards and been nominated for six more. His life was even the subject of a 2009 documentary film called Still Bill. Quite something considering he worked as a professional musician for just 15 years, from 1970 to 1985, after which he moved on to other occupations.

bill-withers-2
Bill Withers, 1938-2020

My Bill song choice is going to have to be this one however, Ain’t No Sunshine. They’re not for everyone I know, but I am a bit of a fan of Richard Curtis movies, and the song certainly fitted a particularly poignant scene in the film Notting Hill very well – Poor old lovelorn Hugh Grant straddles all four seasons whilst he walks through the market with Bill’s song playing the background [spoiler alert: all turns out well in the end].

Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers:

A week after the death of Bill, we heard of the sad loss of John Prine. John was someone I only discovered since starting this blog, and when I accidentally came across his song When I Get To Heaven one evening when on my way to visit my mum in hospital, I got a bit emotional, all because of these lines of lyric:

And then I’m gonna go find my mom and dad, and good old brother Doug
Well I bet him and cousin Jackie are still cuttin’ up a rug
I wanna see all my mama’s sisters, ’cause that’s where all the love starts
I miss ’em all like crazy, bless their little hearts

Yes, there was nothing more I wanted than to go find my dad who had died 15 years earlier, and ask for his advice on decisions that were going to have to be made. Listening to the song, even us non-believers are almost prepared to be converted, as there is a definite party atmosphere going on. John Prine had apparently been treated for cancer twice, and it was after his second bout that he wrote the song about some of the things he had to give up following his illness. Here is a quote: “I wrote that song because I figured there’s no cancer in heaven. So when I get up there, I’m going to have a cocktail and a cigarette that’s 9 miles long. That’s my idea of what heaven is like.

I hope John is up there right now, sitting with Kenny and Bill, enjoying that cocktail and extremely long cigarette!

When I Get To Heaven by John Prine:

Last but most definitely not least, on the 9th May we lost the artist known best to us as Little Richard. I can’t pretend to know that much about Mr Penniman, as he was a bit before my time, but I do know he was an influential figure in popular music, often nicknamed The Innovator, The Originator, or The Architect of Rock and Roll. His best known work dates back to the mid-1950s, when his charismatic showmanship, dynamic music and frenetic piano playing laid the foundation for rock and roll. He influenced numerous singers and musicians across musical genres from rock to hip hop and in a line-up he would have been easily recognisable because of his pompadour hairstyle.

Tutti Frutti became an instant first hit for him in 1955 but as we started off with Kenny Rogers, and mentioned his song Lucille, I think I’ll come full circle and end with Little Richard’s song of the same name. Lucille became a big hit for him in 1957 but he then abandoned rock and roll for born again Christianity.  When he was persuaded to tour Europe in 1962, the Beatles opened for him and Richard even advised them on how to perform his songs. He is cited as one of the first crossover black artists, and his music and concerts broke down barriers, drawing blacks and whites together despite attempts to sustain segregation. How sad therefore to see what is going on right now as I type, 60 years on.

Until next time, RIP Kenny, Bill, John and Richard, you will not be forgotten.

When I Get To Heaven Lyrics
(Song by John Prine)

When I get to heaven, I’m gonna shake God’s hand
Thank him for more blessings than one man can stand
Then I’m gonna get a guitar and start a rock-n-roll band
Check into a swell hotel, ain’t the afterlife grand?
And then I’m gonna get a cocktail: vodka and ginger ale
Yeah, I’m gonna smoke a cigarette that’s nine miles long
I’m gonna kiss that pretty girl on the tilt-a-whirl
‘Cause this old man is goin’ to town

Then as God as my witness, I’m gettin’ back into show business
I’m gonna open up a nightclub called “The Tree of Forgiveness”
And forgive everybody ever done me any harm
Well, I might even invite a few choice critics, those syph’litic parasitics
Buy ’em a pint of Smithwick’s and smother ’em with my charm

‘Cause then I’m gonna get a cocktail: vodka and ginger ale
Yeah I’m gonna smoke a cigarette that’s nine miles long
I’m gonna kiss that pretty girl on the tilt-a-whirl
Yeah this old man is goin’ to town

Yeah when I get to heaven, I’m gonna take that wristwatch off my arm
What are you gonna do with time after you’ve bought the farm?
And then I’m gonna go find my mom and dad, and good old brother Doug
Well I bet him and cousin Jackie are still cuttin’ up a rug
I wanna see all my mama’s sisters, ’cause that’s where all the love starts
I miss ’em all like crazy, bless their little hearts
And I always will remember these words my daddy said
He said, “Buddy, when you’re dead, you’re a dead pecker-head”
I hope to prove him wrong… that is, when I get to heaven

‘Cause I’m gonna have a cocktail: vodka and ginger ale

Yeah I’m gonna smoke a cigarette that’s nine miles long
I’m gonna kiss that pretty girl on the tilt-a-whirl
Yeah this old man is goin’ to town

Yeah this old man is goin’ to town

Happy Families At The BRITs, Neneh Cherry and “7 Seconds” of Innocence

This week I watched the BRIT Awards. It’s a big night for those in the music industry as a large clutch of awards can really raise sales to stratospheric levels – But enough about “The Suits” from the record companies, it is also a big night for the artists who have worked hard on their craft and been allowed to shine over the last 12 months. For many, all their dreams have come true, but for others, they may crash and burn – Lets hope most will fall into the former camp.

The big winner at the Grammys this year was American Billie Eilish, who is only 18 years old. She was also a big winner at the BRITs and performed the new Bond theme song No Time To Die written by her brother, who simply goes by the name Finneas. Billie certainly doesn’t follow any of the normal rules associated with pop princesses, and eschews make-up, hair extensions and skimpy clothing. With her lime green hair, she is a breath of fresh air in an increasingly plasticised world. What upset me however was that when she received her award she became quite emotional, as she’d been feeling “hated” of late on social media, but the reception she got from the crowd on Tuesday night had made her feel “loved”. Regulars around here will know my last post was about the #BeKind movement, and for Billie’s sake, I hope those who hide behind their keyboards spouting hatred take heed, and start being kinder.

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Billie Eilish with brother Finneas

Another big winner on Tuesday night was Scotland’s own Lewis Capaldi who won both the award for Best New Artist and also for Song of the Year. Like Billie he is no conventional pop idol, which is great, and as is his way, his acceptance speech was peppered with the kind of language not allowed on pre-watershed telly, so we didn’t get to hear any of it. He is so typically Glaswegian however and has that knack of not taking himself too seriously which I love. His Italian surname is the same as that of fellow Glaswegian Peter Capaldi, and yes, it turns out they are related, sharing a great-grandfather. Peter even appeared in the video for Lewis’ song of the year, Someone You Loved.

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Lewis Capaldi with “cousin” Peter Capaldi aka Dr Who

Another family connection that surprised me when watching Tuesday night’s show, was that Mabel, winner of Best British Female Solo Artist, has a mum who herself is the proud owner of three BRIT awards. Who could this be I wondered and did a quick google search – Her mum turns out to be Neneh Cherry and frighteningly, her awards were all received on the show exactly 30 years ago to the day. I remember watching that show well and honest to goodness, it feels like only about 10 years ago! Mabel also put in a great performance of her big hit Don’t Call Me Up on the night which reminded me a lot of Dua Lipa’s New Rules from two year’s ago. More stories of strong women taking control – A regular theme for the 21st century it seems.

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Mabel with her mum Neneh Cherry

But here is a clip of the most powerful performance of the night. Dave, from Streatham in South London, won the award for British Album of the Year which is apparently “the big one”. As a woman of a certain age living in the Scottish Highlands, I could not be culturally more different from Dave and his “brothers”, but listening to his Brits’ version of Black which had an incredibly moving verse added at the end encompassing a tribute to London Bridge terror attack victim Jack Merritt, it does make me understand their world a little more. Two years ago Stormzy blew me away at the Brits, but this year it was Dave. I urge you to watch until the end, and also, to admire the very clever graphics on the piano.

But getting back to Neneh Cherry, in case anyone has forgotten just how good she was back in the day, here is one of my all-time favourite songs – 7 Seconds by Youssou N’Dour featuring Neneh Cherry. It was released in 1994 as a single, and reached the No. 1 spot in numerous countries. In France it stayed at No. 1 for a record 16 weeks and it also won the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Song of 1994. 7 Seconds is apparently about the first positive 7 seconds in the life of a newborn child, a child who does not know about the problems and violence in our world. Three different languages were used in the song: English, French and Wolof, which is a language spoken in Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania. Also very apt I think for today’s post.

7 Seconds by Youssou N’Dour and Neneh Cherry:

Until next time….

7 Seconds Lyrics
(Song by Neneh Cherry/Youssou N’Dour/Cameron McVey/Jonathan Sharp)

Boul ma sene, boul ma guiss madi re nga fokni mane
Khamouma li neka thi sama souf ak thi guinaw
Beugouma kouma khol oaldine yaw li neka si yaw
mo ne si man, li ne si mane moye dilene diapale

Roughneck and rudeness,
We should be using
On the ones who practice wicked charms
For the sword and the stone
Bad to the bone
Battle is not over
Even when it’s won

And when a child is born
Into this world
It has no concept
Of the tone the skin is living in

It’s not a second
Seven seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting
It’s not a second
Seven seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting
I’ll be waiting
I’ll be waiting

J’assume les raisons qui nous poussent de changer tout,
J’aimerais qu’on oublie leur couleur pour qu’ils esperent
Beaucoup de sentiments de races qui font qu’ils desesperent
Je veux les deux mains ouvertes,
Des amis pour parler de leur peine, de leur joie
Pour qu’ils leur filent des infos qui ne divisent pas
Changer

Seven seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting
It’s not a second
Seven seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting
I’ll be waiting
I’ll be waiting

And when a child is born
Into this world
It has no concept
Of the tone the skin it’s living in

And there’s a million voices
And there’s a million voices
To tell you what you should be thinking
So you better sober up for just a second

We’re seven seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting
It’s not a second
We’re seven seconds away
For just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting
It’s not a second
Seven seconds away
Just as long as I stay
I’ll be waiting

That Final Journey, Gerry Cinnamon and “Belter”

Didn’t intend this to be the third post in what has turned out to be a trilogy, but still in shock over the tragic loss of my friend’s daughter, and on Friday the funeral took place in a church right in the centre of our town. An emotional event as expected, which threw our highly efficient local undertakers into a spin, as they’d never before had to try and seat so many people at one service. It was standing room only, which again makes me question what on earth we are doing to our young people. How is it they can feel just so alone, yet have so many people who care about them? Far too complex an issue to go into here but it has left many of us fearful for our own brood.

After a heartfelt poem written by and read out by a family friend, a reading by her sister, and the eulogy covering all the amazing achievements racked up during her brief 18 years, it was time for Holly’s wicker coffin to leave the church. Once outside, the town’s pipe band of which she had been a member, marched in front of the hearse to the cemetery for a private burial. People who didn’t know her or her family came out of their homes and shops to pay respect to this local girl who’d had just far too short a time on the planet. None of us noticed it at the time, but because of the rain that was falling, a rainbow had formed in the sky.

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That very rainbow

But as I always say around here this is a music blog and amongst all this sadness I have made a new musical discovery. I have been tardy as ever, but Gerry Cinnamon, a Scottish singer-songwriter and acoustic guitarist, has been slowly building up a following over the last few years and tickets for his latest stadium concert apparently sold out on Friday in three minutes. Like The Proclaimers before him, he sings using his local accent and has come to prominence purely on the back of word of mouth and social media, his first album “Erratic Cinematic” funded via the PledgeMusic platform.

My friend’s daughter and her buddies were fans of Mr Cinnamon and I have no doubt, had things turned out differently, they would all have been heading to Hampden next summer to see him. For this reason, his song Belter was the one her family chose to accompany that wicker coffin leaving the church. A moment of levity amongst all the sadness. The song was apparently written about that moment at the start of a relationship when things can go either way, trying-to-be-cool and not wanting to let your guard down for fear of rejection, but your heart doing exactly what it wants to do. A realistic, tongue-in-cheek love song.

Belter by Gerry Cinnamon:

Sorry to have written yet another really sad post around here but this is the place where I can share my thoughts anonymously without the real world getting involved or having an opinion, so a great outlet really. As for Mr Cinnamon, he is very unhappy at how those tickets got sold to “corporate goons” just so quickly and are now appearing online at highly inflated prices. He also however realises that if the biggest bands in the world can’t stop it happening or do anything about it, he is likewise stymied.

I hope my friend and her family will be able to come to terms with what has happened in time, but it’s not going to be easy. Listening to the song shared here will never be the same again, that’s for sure, but it will certainly always hold a special place in their hearts.

Until next time….

Belter Lyrics
(Song by Gerry Cinnamon)

She is a belter, different from the rest
Diamonds oan’ her finger and she always looks her best
She is a gangster, with a hundred-mile stare
When she walks her feet don’t touch the flare

She is a belter

She plays wae’ lightning
I’m a hundred miles high
Dishing out the thunder like a god inside the sky
She is a dancer and she dances in my dreams
Reminds me that the world is not as evil as it seems

She is a belter

No happy endings; unless fairytales come true
But she looks like a princess and there’s not much else to do
I think I love her
She gets underneath my skin
But I’ve been stung a few times, so I don’t let no one in
No even belters!

She is a belter
She is a belter
She is a belter

How can she reach me when I’m high above the shelf?
Lost inside a smoke ring
While I ponder tae’ myself
Is she the answer, to the question in my mind?
Is happiness an option, or has love just turned me blind?

Is she a belter?

No happy endings; unless fairytales come true
But she looks like a princess and there’s not much else to do
I think I love her
She gets underneath my skin
But I’ve been stung a few times, so I don’t let no one in
No even belters

She is a belter
She is a belter
She is a belter

SAMCRO, Audra Mae and “Forever Young”

I imagine I’m not alone in finding that we’re living in a bit of a golden age for television drama – What with streaming and on-demand services, as well as the mainstream channels, the discerning viewer is rarely stuck for something great to watch. I am noticing however that cinema audiences are down (around here anyway), and both our local venues have recently slashed their prices. Good news for those of us who still like the excitement of watching our films on the big screen but probably not good for the art form long-term.

This last year alone we have watched Peaky Blinders, Carnival Row, The Boys, Catch-22, Keeping Faith, Summer of Rockets, Years and Years, Killing Eve, Black Mirror, Chernobyl, Gentleman Jack and Les Misérables to name but a few. Seems like all I do is watch telly, but no, our habit is to finish up whatever we’re doing by 9pm, after which we reconvene in the “living room” (the least-used room in the house nowadays, so no longer a very apt name) and settle down for our nightly fix of the goggle-box, as it used to be called.

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This week we seemed to be all caught up with everything that had been recorded and nothing new to tickle our fancy on Netflix or elsewhere, so we decided to revisit a series we have already watched, Sons of Anarchy, which follows the lives of a close-knit, outlaw motorcycle club (SAMCRO), operating in a fictional town in Northern California. I’ve written about it around here before, as I became really fond of the theme song This Life performed by Curtis Stigers and the Forest Rangers. As I said last time, probably like most fans, I live in law-abiding “nice-world” where the worst crime I ever commit is to park illegally, or perhaps accidentally speed in a built-up area. Our modern day lives are so controlled and safe that it is sometimes necessary to experience something a bit more edgy from the other side of the tracks, albeit from the comfort of our sofas.

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In the penultimate episode of Season 1, a particularly poignant scene was accompanied by a fine version of the song Forever Young written by Bob Dylan, and I was immediately smitten by it. The singer this time was American Audra Mae, who it seems is a great-niece of Judy Garland which might explain the fine pipes. Here is the non-acapella version of the song, but in the show the alternative version was used.

Forever Young by Audra Mae & The Forest Rangers:

Forever Young was originally recorded by Bob Dylan with The Band in November 1973 and first appeared on his album Planet Waves. Dylan had four children between 1966-1969, including his youngest Jakob, and the song was intended as an uplifting message from a parent to a child. The song has endured as one of Dylan’s classics.

As for the show Sons of Anarchy, it took me quite some time to realise that the lead character, played by Charlie Hunnam, was a graduate of British kids telly, first finding his feet on the BBC show Byker Grove along with fellow Geordies Ant & Dec! He next popped up on the award-winning Queer as Folk along with the now seemingly omnipresent Aiden Gillen. Perhaps to those across the pond his accent still has a tinge of Geordie, but he seems to have made the leap from Byker to biker very successfully. I am convinced, and as the anti-hero of the show I have become quite smitten with him, as well as the song featured above.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Having so much great telly around at the moment, means that whenever we want to side-step the real world for a time it’s right there at our fingertips, and with so many great soundtracks, always something for the discerning music-lover as well.

Until next time…

Forever Young Lyrics
(Song by Bob Dylan)

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the light surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

Morrissey, The Fifth Dimension and “Wedding Bell Blues”

Well, I am in shock. Little did I think the first time that chap who seems to be doing a good job of alienating his fanbase would appear on these pages, would be because he has recorded a song I became smitten with during my first year of blogging. I’d just been to a wedding, which coincided with me also discovering the Laura Nyro penned Wedding Bell Blues for the first time. A nice synchronicity so it was a no-brainer I should write about it. As for this version by Morrissey, it was recorded with Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day, as one of the tracks for his soon-to-be-released album of ’60s covers called California Son. We might not agree with his politics and he is definitely sporting middle-age spread nowadays, but his voice still seems to be in good shape. I don’t know about you but I’m really loving his version of the song.

If you want to compare with the original by the 5th Dimension, here is the post from 2016, written the day after my friend’s daughter got married. Being objective, which version do you prefer? I’m wavering towards the new Morrissey one – Argh, is that still allowed I wonder.

First published October 2016

We had a wedding to attend yesterday and much of the week was spent preparing for it. When the song Wedding Bell Blues by The 5th Dimension came on the radio one afternoon, I was therefore already tuned into all things “wedding-y”. Secondly, as explained in my last post, of late I seem to have found myself continually gravitating towards songs from the late ‘60s, which I find bizarre as from a time when I was still a little kid. Finally, just as my fellow bloggers also have musical guilty pleasures, I felt a little uneasy at my appreciation of The 5th Dimension, but in no time at all I was dancing around the room and made a sneaky little purchase on iTunes.

Wedding Bell Blues by The 5th Dimension:

What I find fascinating about the ‘60s is that during that decade, in the wink of an eye, we moved from boy and girl bands, dressed very smartly in identical matching outfits and very rigid hairstyles to the wild abandon that constituted the hippy counterculture. The 5th Dimension were probably best-known for the song medley Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In, from the stage musical Hair. Hard to believe now that full-scale nudity even came to Scotland in the form of a touring production of the show in 1969.

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But back to Wedding Bell Blues, it is a song that was written and originally recorded by Laura Nyro in 1966 but only really became a big hit when covered by The 5th Dimension in 1969. The song is written from the perspective of a woman whose boyfriend has not yet proposed to her, and she wonders, “Am I ever gonna see my wedding day?” The woman obviously adores her man but there is definitely a theme of frustration going on there as well.

There was a lot more to the above post, as I went on to describe the wedding, and how I embarrassed myself in front of the bride’s friends and family by embarking on the full six minute “re-enactment of the lyrics” dance to Bohemian Rhapsody, with Mr WIAA in tow (link here). For the moment though, I’m just curious, what do people think of this new Morrissey album and will you be adding it to your collection?

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Until next time…

Wedding Bell Blues Lyrics
(Song by Laura Nyro)

Bill I love you so
I always will
I look at you and see
the passion eyes of May
Oh but am I ever gonna see
my wedding day?
Oh I was on your side Bill
when you were losin’
I’d never scheme or lie Bill
There’s been no foolin’
but kisses and love won’t carry me
till you marry me Bill

Bill I love you so
I always will
and in your voice I hear
a choir of carousels
Oh but am I ever gonna hear
my wedding bells?
I was the one came runnin’
when you were lonely
I haven’t lived one day
not loving you only
but kisses and love won’t carry me
till you marry me Bill

Bill I love you so
I always will
and though devotion rules my heart
I take no bows
Oh but Bill you know
I wanna take my wedding vows
Come on Bill
Come on Bill
I got the wedding bell blues

Suzi, Smokie, The Snowdroppers and a Film About A Red Dog

Well, I have so many big things going on in my life at the moment I don’t know where to begin – So I won’t! I do however need to throw down some words and share a tune, just to keep my hand in as they say, so this post is going to be about the film Red Dog which I’ve just finished watching with the other half.

I think I’ve mentioned this around here before, but back in 2012 I put in place a regular monthly event where a group of around seven of us from my neck of the woods would go to our local theatre/cinema to watch whatever turned out to be showing on the last Thursday of the month. It ended up being a great way of randomly trying out new genres, or foreign language films, as well as potentially catching the big Hollywood blockbusters of the day.

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As regular visitors around here would probably expect, a spreadsheet was kept, where I recorded all the films we went to see, who the lead actors were, the directors, the country of origin, and of course a star rating. Of late my little group has dwindled and I can see the demise of Film Club soon, as some of us have retired and grandchildren have started to put in an appearance. We had a great run of it though, and as fate would have it, back in 2012, the first three films we went to see all starred animals. The first was War Horse based on Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel of the same name. The second was The Artist, the French Oscar winner shot in the style of a black-and-white silent film and starring (amongst others) a little dog called Uggie. But best of all for me, and the recipient of a 5-Star rating, was Red Dog.

Red Dog was a 2011 Australian film set in the 1970s, based on the true story of a dog adopted by the workers of Dampier, a tough mining town in Western Australia. I won’t give too much away, but suffice to say, the storyline revolved around the theme of loyalty and nothing gets to me in a movie more than the undying devotion of a dog – Many tears were shed that first time I watched it in the cinema, and even tonight, on probably the 5th viewing, a fair few tissues were needed to see me through. Red Dog was known locally as the Pilbara Wanderer, and there is still a statue of him in the town of Dampier, erected by the workers of the mining company in his memory. He was indeed the Greyfriars Bobby of Australia.

But I am making this film sound a bit depressing whereas it is anything but. Labelled a comedy-drama for good reason, there are moments of great hilarity throughout which is what you would probably expect from an Aussie film about a bunch of sex-starved males on a red, dusty outpost of that vast country. It also had a great soundtrack made up of carefully selected ’70s music and songs performed by The Snowdroppers who played the role of house band at the local bar. This Australian blues band have been praised for their energetic live performances and on-stage musical theatrics, drawing influence from not only blues but also rockabilly and punk. This is not a clip from the actual film, but the song Do The Stomp is the one they perform in the bar, which has more than a touch of the old Wild West about it.

The big surprise for me however was the inclusion of the song Stumblin’ In by Chris Norman and Suzi Quatro, but it fitted a particular scene in the film really well and I ended up downloading it when I got home. It only reached No. 41 in the UK Singles Chart, but had hit the top spot in Australia, which is how it probably came to be included. Despite the film being set in the early ’70s, this song was from 1978, but watching the pair of them in the video clip here, they do represent that earlier phase of the decade perfectly, before punk and it’s antithesis disco took over. The song was written by that prolific partnership comprised of Mike Chapman (an Australian) and Nicky Chinn who between them scored a succession of massive hits written for the likes of glam-rockers Sweet, as well as for Mud, Smokie (of which Chris Norman was a member) and Suzi. (Excuse the cringeworthy clip here, but it seemed to be de rigueur at that time to re-enact the lyrics whilst singing these two-handers.)

Stumblin’ In by Chris Norman and Suzi Quatro:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I have been so busy of late I needed some downtime this evening, and watching a favourite old movie is sometimes just the tonic we need. A good soundtrack can really lift a film and the song choices for Red Dog were excellent I thought.

In case you are wondering where my full moon post is this month, I think I’m actually all mooned-out at the moment, as there is nothing left for me to learn about our only satellite. We should all have been witness to the Pink Moon on Friday night though, and if anyone wants a reminder about how it got that name, here is a link to my Nick Drake post from last year.

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We don’t really do Easter is a big way here in Scotland but if you do celebrate it, hope you have a good one. The perky weather presenters are promising us an exceptionally warm weekend for the time of year, which would be all well and good if we didn’t know that it’s only because we’re killing the planet. In a few years time Scotland will look like the  Western Australia of Red Dog if something doesn’t change. Those with the power to do something about it are all so consumed with the mechanics of Brexit, that none of the really big stuff is being tackled at all, and I fear we are all stumblin’ in to something much, much bigger.

Until next time…

Stumblin’ In Lyrics
(Song by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn)

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in

Wherever you go, whatever you do
You know these reckless thoughts of mine are following you
I’m falling for you, whatever you do
‘Cos baby you’ve shown me so many things that I never knew
Whatever it takes, baby I’ll do it for you

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in

You were so young, and I was so free
I may been young, but baby that’s not what I wanted to be
Well you were the one, oh why was it me
‘Cos baby you’ve shown me so many things that I’ve never seen
Whatever you need, baby you’ve got it from me

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in
Stumblin’ in
Stumblin’ in