That Revolving Door, A Return to the ‘60s and ‘Fool On The Hill’

WIAA: Alyson, oh Alyson…?

ALYSON: Yes, I am here WIAA, it’s just that I don’t even know how to start with this one. As I treat you as my web-diary as well as a place to share some of my favourite songs, I feel duty bound to pass comment on some of the political upheaval we’ve been faced with as a country over the last few weeks, but I’m sure everyone’s sick and tired of it by now.

WIAA: I have no idea what you’re talking about Alyson.

ALYSON: Ah, that would be because you’re a page on a blogging platform and as long as I can afford to keep paying your subscription fees, you needn’t worry your pretty little head over political infighting, leadership contests and the ‘crashing’ of the economy.


WIAA: It all sounds a bit worrying Alyson.

ALYSON: It’s more than that WIAA, it proves that the ‘systems’ we have in place are no longer fit for purpose and the new Prime Minister who will be in post by this time next week is quite possibly not going to make any better a fist of it than the previous four, yes four, we’ve had over the last six years. It’s all going horribly wrong WIAA, all over the world, and there are some REALLY big issues that need dealt with, but that involves REALLY big change which seems to be impossible to bring about.

WIAA: What about sharing a calming song, Alyson?

ALYSON: Good idea WIAA. Back when I was researching Sérgio Mendes for a previous post, I stumbled upon this cover from 1968. If you’re feeling a bit stressed and anxious by what’s going on in the world just listen to this, Fool on the Hill by Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’66. I think I need to add it to my sidebar category ‘Balm For The Soul’, as it certainly acts as a balm for me. I just love the girls in this clip, their dresses, their hair, the way they carry themselves and that soft, understated style of delivery they have. Reminds me of the soundtracks to many a late ’60s film, such as The Graduate or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Fool on the Hill by Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’66:

But of course, we all know that Fool on the Hill is a Lennon & MacCartney composition and just to be clear I didn’t choose the song because I was alluding to any particular ‘fool’ of today. I’m not that clever. It was a Paul song, and it probably related to a character such as the Beatles’ meditation teacher, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – a solitary figure who was not understood by others but was actually quite wise, apparently. Let’s compare and contrast.

Fool on the Hill by the Beatles:

I seem to have shared more Beatles’ songs this year than in any other year since starting this blog. The Get Back documentary series that aired earlier this year made me fall in love with them all over again, after a good few years of deciding their music had become a bit over-familiar to my ears.

As for Sérgio’s sound, there is nothing like listening to Mas Que Nada on a cold and dreich Scottish Saturday (like today) to raise the mood. His version of Fool on the Hill is not so much a mood-raiser but a mood-calmer. Either way I have become a bit of a fan of the Brazilian maestro who is apparently still with us, so good for him. He is a contemporary of the Beatles but had a very different start in music, first training as a classical pianist at his local ‘conservatoire’. The Cavern Club and its ilk were not for him, but by 1968 here he was covering songs written by these Liverpool lads.

For any of my followers from outside the UK, no need to worry about what’s going on in our country. It’s all good, we know what we’re doing, and a new PM will be in place by this time next weekend sorting everything out. Britain is open for business and it’s all going to be grand. Yes… (big gulp), it’s all going to be grand.

Until next time…

The Fool On The Hill Lyrics
(Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

Day after day, alone on a hill
The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still
But nobody wants to know him
They can see that he’s just a fool
And he never gives an answer

But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning ’round

Well on the way, head in a cloud
The man of a thousand voices talking perfectly loud
But nobody ever hears him
Or the sound he appears to make
And he never seems to notice

But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning ’round

And nobody seems to like him
They can tell what he wants to do
And he never shows his feelings

But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning ’round

He never listens to them
He knows that they’re the fools
They don’t like him

The fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning ’round

Balm For The Soul #2 – Theme From White Horses

Well, it’s all looking a bit fraught across the pond today with the election result in the balance and the votes still being counted (very legally). All a bit tense here in the UK too, with a new lockdown due to start at midnight. As an antidote to all that real world nonsense, let’s head back in time to a country that doesn’t even exist any more, and spend some time with Julia and her beautiful Lipizanner horses.

I started a new series recently called Balm For The Soul and I think this next song fits that category perfectly. If like me you were born at the start of the ’60s, you will remember kids telly featured many European dramas, such as Belle and Sebastian (the Scottish indie band took their name from it) and the wonderful White Horses. It was made by a Yugoslavian television company and followed the adventures of Julia and the Lipizanner horses raised on her Uncle Dimitri’s stud farm outside Belgrade. It came to our shores in 1968, dubbed into English, and soon became a firm favourite with horse-loving girls. The best bit of the show however was the theme song, White Horses sung by Jacky. Some pieces of music just can’t help but make you feel good and this is most definitely one of them, often coming at the top of polls for the best TV theme song ever.

White Horses by Jacky


Looking at my trusty Guinness Book of British Hit Singles, it seems White Horses reached the No. 10 spot in April 1968. Jacky was actually Jackie Lee from Ireland who had another hit in 1971 with Rupert, the song from the show based on the famous cartoon character, Rupert Bear. She certainly seems to have cornered that sector of the market.

I remember once feeling incredibly stressed ahead of a particular set of exams. One morning, rather than hitting the books, I took myself along to the only television lounge in our student Halls of Residence and spent a good few hours watching kids telly. By lunchtime I felt refreshed and ready to pick up my revision timetable again (as you expect, I had many). Of course I can’t now remember if White Horses was one of the shows I watched, but it is highly likely as it was repeated often, right through the ’70s. That theme song, and the whole nostalgia aspect, would have got me right back on track I’m sure. Let’s hope it does the same for us now.

Until next time….

White Horses Lyrics
(Song by Michael Carr/Ben Nisbet)

On white horses let me ride away
To my world of dreams so far away
Let me run
To the sun.

To a world my heart can understand
It’s a gentle warm and wonderland
Far away
Stars away

Where the clouds are made of candy floss
As the day is born.
When the stars are gone
We’ll race to meet the dawn

So when I can only see the grey
Of a sad and very lonely day
That’s when I softly sigh
On white horses
Snowy white horses
Let me ride away

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

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

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

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

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

Heal The Pain by George Michael:


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

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

Filling in the gaps – At last!

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

Desafinado by George Michael (with Astrud Gilberto):


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

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

Until next time….

Heal The Pain Lyrics
(Song by George Michael)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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