Another Kind of Chain – Gene Pitney and “Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa”

Don’t panic, I’m not about to highjack that most excellent of features, Jez’s “The Chain”, but I seem to be experiencing blogger’s block, and want to find a way of kick starting things again around here.  I wrote last time about how I have very nearly completed my third year on the blogosphere. It’s been a joy, and although each year has been totally different for me in terms of what’s going on in the real world, this virtual world has been my anchor, my constant amongst all of life’s ups and downs. Something that has kept me going more than anything else however, is that I seem to have become part of a little community, which I hadn’t bargained for when I started out in the blogging world. I suspect I would never have found this little community had I not discovered Jez’s place back in the early days, when I pretty much only wrote about the music (with a little anecdote thrown in). One of my early posts featured the three Jimmy Webb songs recorded by Glen Campbell in the late 1960s. One of these  songs was Galveston, and back then I used to perform a quick search before pressing the publish button, to check whether anyone else had written about it recently. Someone had, Jez, and as usual he had included a very funny story.
Many of us around here know that Jez has been a bit poorly of late, but after being absent for a wee while he seems to back firing on all cylinders in terms of his blogging output. I suspect there are a few more chapters to go in terms of what happened, but as ever, he has made what must have been a pretty awful time, very entertaining. Cross fingers he’s well and truly on the road to recovery. Back in my early days of blogging, I used to find that each post linked to the previous one in terms of the thought process. I sometimes ended up with a string of posts all connected to each other in some way, as is wont to happen when you revisit older songs. Davy Jones followed on from David Bowie, for obvious reasons. Seals and Crofts followed on from the Isley Brothers, for possibly less obvious reasons, but great fun for me to delve into the respective backstory to their songs.
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Linked posts
Suggestions for Jez’s Chain were creative indeed. In fact there used to be a prize for the most tenuous link of the week, which led to a fair bit of “showboating”. Anyway, we all still miss The Chain, but respect the fact it took an awful lot of time and effort to put together, so no pressure to see it make a comeback. No indeed, no pressure at all! But back to my chain and Galveston – What song links to it in terms of the thought process for me? Well I don’t know about you, but my immediate thoughts turned to Gene Pitney’s 1964 hit, Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa. We’ve moved across the state line from Texas into Oklahoma, but we’re still in the Southern States of the USA, we’re still in the 1960s, and it’s another song about leaving a girl behind. Oh yes, it wasn’t until I checked it out properly, that I came to realise the lyrics were about a chap finding himself just 24 hours from home, but falling head over heels in love with a woman he meets after stopping at a motel for the night. Apparently he “lost control as he held her charms“. This woman must have had stupendous “charms”, as hitherto, Gene had been looking forward to being back in the “arms” (not charms) of his wife.
Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa by Gene Pitney: As a kid of course, back in the 1960s, I would never in a month of Sundays have worked out the meaning behind those lyrics when I first saw Gene perform the song on British telly. I do remember however that my dad used to do quite a good impression of him, as he did have quite a distinctive style. Oh how our little family of three laughed. But that was over 50 years ago, and for the first time ever, Mr WIAA and I will have none of our parents with us on Christmas Day. Only my mum left now, and she will have lunch in the care home. It really hit me this week, as I finally got round to doing some festive preparation, that our family has shrunk somewhat in the time we’ve been in our current house. The year we moved in, we had to hire a table and chairs to accommodate everyone, but over time we have lost a mum, two dads, an auntie and a best friend. Only ourselves and DD now, until the next generation make an appearance (and not quite ready for that yet, so will be patient). th32ELX1C0.jpg I hoped this post would kick start the writing juices again, and it seems it has. A whole week to go until Christmas Day, so time to return with something festive before then I think. And, another full moon post to fit in as well – Will have to exercise the act of brevity when blogging, something I’m not great at delivering on. Good luck with all the last minute shopping, and again, all the best to Jez for his continued recovery.    Until next time…. Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa Lyrics (Song by Burt Bacharach and Hal David) Dearest darling I had to write to say that I won’t be home any more For something happened to me While I was driving home and I’m not the same any more Oh, I was only twenty four hours from Tulsa Ah, only one day away from your arms I saw a welcoming light And stopped to rest for the night And that is when I saw her As I pulled in outside of the small hotel she was there And so I walked up to her Asked where I could get something to eat and she showed me where Oh, I was only twenty four hours from Tulsa Ah, only one day away from your arms She took me to the café I asked her if she would stay She said, “Okay” Oh, I was only twenty four hours from Tulsa Ah, only one day away from your arms The jukebox started to play And night time turned into day As we were dancing closely All of a sudden I lost control as I held her charms And I caressed her, kissed her Told her I’d die before I would let her out of my arms Oh, I was only twenty four hours from Tulsa Ah, only one day away from your arms I hate to do this to you But I love somebody new What can I do When I can never, never, never go home again?

Dionne, Aretha and “I Say A Little Prayer”

Now that I no longer have to commute to work every day, I seem to be missing out on those wonderful moments when a great song comes on the car radio, and you just have to turn up the volume to full blast.

I did however experience such a thing earlier this week on my way to the supermarket and needless to say it stuck with me for a good few days. The song was this one, I Say a Little Prayer, written by my favourite songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Inevitably the first person to record it back in 1967 was Dionne Warwick, as she was very much Burt’s “go-to” girl when he needed a chanteuse for his great material. What I hadn’t realised until now was that Hal David’s lyrics were meant to convey a woman’s concern for her man, who was serving in the Vietnam War (makes total sense now considering the timing). I have always loved those first few lines where the words wake up and makeup are used to such great effect. The rhyme just works so perfectly and for us girls, anything that happens before the morning ritual of putting on the makeup is early indeed, so doubly emphasizes the urgency of the prayer.

The moment I wake up
Before I put on my makeup
I say a little prayer for you

Although Burt’s recordings with Dionne usually took no more than three takes, I Say a Little Prayer took ten takes and he still disliked the completed track, feeling it rushed. He was nothing if not a perfectionist that Burt Bacharach.

But the version I heard in the car the other day wasn’t by Dionne but instead by the person who had a big hit with it in the UK. Aretha Franklin was in the process of recording her 1968 album entitled “Aretha Now” when her backing vocalists, The Sweet Inspirations, started singing the song just for fun. It suddenly became apparent that I Say a Little Prayer could be a worthy inclusion on the new album which is exactly what happened. The song ended up being released in July 1968 as the B-side to the single The House that Jack Built, but after accruing its own airplay reached No. 10 on the Billboard Chart and No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart.

And here is where the music producers seem to get it horribly wrong at times – It had taken much persuasion for Burt to release the original recording by Dionne Warwick, but with Theme from Valley of the Dolls on the B-side, it became one of the most successful double-sided releases of all time. Aretha’s version was never expected to make any sort of mark in its own right, but in subsequent decades it has been ranked right at the top of lists relating to the “Greatest 150 Singles of All Time”. How bizarre and makes you wonder what other delights have slipped through the net and never been given the air time they indubitably deserved. Then again, is that not the case for every art form? How many great writers and artists (and I include Mr WIAA and some of my blogging buddies in those categories) slip through the net, not seeming to catch that lucky break needed to get to the important next level, where actual money changes hands for exceptional work done.

But before I go, it should also be mentioned that I Say a Little Prayer is one of several Bacharach and David songs to feature prominently in the 1997 rom-com/chick-flick My Best Friend’s Wedding. There was a reggae-style cover by Diana King and a version sung by the film’s cast. Diana’s cover was released as a single which brought the song back to the Top 40 almost thirty years after Dionne Warwick’s original.

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I Say A Little Prayer by Diana King:

So, “What’s It All About?” – Having included all three very different versions in this post, they are ripe for a compare and contrast. Dionne’s does indeed sound a bit too rushed and not typical of Burt Bacharach’s usual orchestral pop style. Diana’s reggae version certainly creates a very different sound where the lyrics are sung Jamaican-style (before mi put on mi makeup). Aretha however, being the Queen of Soul an’ all that, nails it for me and it’s probably why the car radio had to be turned up to such a volume earlier in the week. Some songs, despite having a very low key start in life, end up becoming the most memorable and that’s why I live in hope that some of my wonderful artsy friends also eventually catch that lucky break which leads to their work being reclassified from being ordinary, to being extra-ordinary.

Until next time….

I Say A Little Prayer Lyrics

(Song by Burt Bacharach/Hal David)

The moment I wake up
Before I put on my makeup
I say a little prayer for you
While combing my hair, now
And wondering what dress to wear, now
I say a little prayer for you

Forever, forever, you’ll stay in my heart
And I will love you
Forever, and ever we never will part
Oh, how I’ll love you
Together, together, that’s how it must be
To live without you
Would only be heartbreak for me

I run for the bus, dear
While riding I think of us, dear
I say a little prayer for you
At work I just take time
And all through my coffee break-time
I say a little prayer for you

Forever, forever, you’ll stay in my heart
And I will love you
Forever, and ever we never will part
Oh, how I’ll love you
Together, together, that’s how it must be
To live without you
Would only mean heartbreak for me

I say a little prayer for you
I say a little prayer for you

Forever, forever, you’ll stay in my heart
And I will love you
Forever, and ever we never will part
Oh, how I’ll love you
Together, together, that’s how it must be
To live without you
Would only mean heartbreak for me

My darling, believe me
For me there is no one, but you
Please love me, too
I’m in love with you
Answer my prayer
Say you love me, too
Why don’t you answer my prayer?
You know, every day I say a little prayer
I said, I say, I say a little prayer

Fireworks, Full Moons and “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)”

Well, socially it’s a busy time of the year in my neck of the woods and there have been two soirées in the last week alone. Last Tuesday our “across-the-road-neighbours” hosted a Halloween party which was great fun. We all specialise in different kinds of events (I do quiz nights and landmark dates in the calendar) but Halloween belongs to them. Despite being in their late sixties now, their son’s old baby bath is hauled out to enable “dooking for apples”, the garage is given a spooky makeover and all the local kids drop by in their costumes.

Then on Saturday, friends who live across on what is called the Black Isle (it’s not actually an island but it’s bordered on three sides by firths, so almost), asked if we’d like to join them for their local Bonfire Night celebrations. The best bit of the whole night however was that we witnessed the most spectacular full moon I think I’ve ever seen. The picture below is not of that actual moon, as I wasn’t quite on the ball with my camera equipment, but it could well have been.

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Having looked into it a bit more it was called the Frost Moon which peaked this year on the 4th November. It is also called the Beaver Moon however, that name coming from the Native Americans as this was the time of year they set their beaver traps to make sure there were enough warm furs ahead of winter. It turns out all full moons have a name which is something I hadn’t realised before and they go as follows:

December – Cold Moon
January – Wolf Moon
February – Snow Moon
March – Worm Moon
April – Pink Moon
May – Flower Moon
June – Strawberry Moon
July – Buck Moon
August – Sturgeon Moon
September – Corn Moon
October – Hunter’s Moon 
November – Beaver Moon

Over the last year I have written about all the landmark dates in the ancient Pagan, or Celtic calendar, but as that cycle is now complete I think I can feel a new series coming on, this time all about moons! But of course Saturday’s moon wasn’t just impressive because it was a full one – Oh no, it was also a “supermoon”, when it comes to that point nearest the Earth. Despite being only about 26,000 miles closer than at other times, it appears around 14% larger and a whopping 30% brighter than usual. I love all this stuff.

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But this is a music blog, so which song came to mind as I wandered along the beach on Saturday night on my way to the bonfire? Perhaps because I have written both about Frank Sinatra and the song Fly Me To The Moon in my last couple of posts, I ended up going down the Rat Pack route, and serenaded our friends with this golden oldie.

“In Napoli where love is king
When boy meets girl, here’s what they say:

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore”

That’s Amore is a song written by Harry Warren and Jack Brooks which became a big hit (and signature song) for Dean Martin in 1953. Funnily enough, I remember it best from the Cher film Moonstruck, where she plays a widowed Italian-American who falls in love with her fiancé’s estranged, hot-tempered younger brother (played by Nicolas Cage). Cher won the Oscar for Best Actress in that one and as I haven’t watched it in years, I think I will now go and seek it out.

But what else comes to mind when I think of songs with the word moon in the title or lyrics. Well, this might be a good time to include something by Christopher Cross in the blog. I have held off as long as possible as it seems that Christopher has unfortunately ended up being attributed to that category of artists who produce what is called soft rock, or even worse yacht rock. Apparently yacht rock relates to the stereotype of the yuppie yacht owner, who enjoys smooth music while out for a sail. Also, since sailing was a popular leisure activity in Southern California, many yacht rockers made nautical references in their lyrics, videos, and album artwork, particularly Sailing by Christopher Cross.

But hey, I have never owned a yacht nor am I ever likely to, but I still warm to the melodic tones of Mr Cross and always enjoy that romantic line from his Academy award winning song Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)If you get caught between the Moon and New York City, the best that you can do is fall in love”.

Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) by Christopher Cross:

It is no surprise really that I have always liked this song as it was written by Burt Bacharach (amongst others) for the 1981 film Arthur starring our own Dudley Moore. Burt’s song Wives and Lovers featured in my last post so definitely on a Frank and Burt roll at the moment it seems. What I have just discovered however is that the line about getting caught between the moon and New York City was inspired not by a romantic encounter but because one of the credited songwriters, Peter Allen, got stuck in a holding pattern waiting to land at JFK airport in New York several years earlier. Oh well, best not to know sometimes how these memorable lines came to pass.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I seem to have a new series on my hands! (Yes, I know I have a few others in progress but I will make time for them too, promise.) There are certainly many, many songs that mention the word “moon” in the title but which are your favourites?

In December, all being well we will witness the Cold Moon, that name again from the Native Americans as it was associated with the month when winter cold fastens its grip and the nights become long and dark. Any suggestions for songs therefore that relate to both the moon, and to the cold grip of winter, gratefully received. I will get my thinking cap on myself before that date and apologies that I couldn’t muster up anything this time that related both to the moon, and to beavers – Might have been a stretch?!

Until next time….

Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) Lyrics
(Song by Burt Bacharach/Carole Bayer Sager/Christopher Cross/Peter Allen)

Once in your life you find her
Someone that turns your heart around
And next thing you know you’re closing down the town
Wake up and it’s still with you
Even though you left her way across town
Wondering to yourself, “Hey, what’ve I found?”

When you get caught between the Moon and New York City
I know it’s crazy, but it’s true
If you get caught between the Moon and New York City
The best that you can do,
The best that you can do is fall in love

Arthur he does as he pleases
All of his life, he’s mastered choice
Deep in his heart, he’s just, he’s just a boy
Living his life one day at a time
And showing himself a really good time
Laughing about the way they want him to be

When you get caught between the Moon and New York City
I know it’s crazy, but it’s true
If you get caught between the Moon and New York City
The best that you can do,
The best that you can do is fall in love

Postscript:

Out of interest here are a few pictures from the display we went along to on Saturday night – The fireworks were indeed spectacular but not quite as spectacular as that amazing full moon reflected on the water of the firth. Very special indeed.

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“Wives and Lovers”, Mad Men and Julie London

Since giving up work a few weeks ago, my life has taken a serious turn for the better – Suddenly there is enough time for everything I need to do in my life and joy of joys there is also enough time for some things that I don’t really need to do, but am enjoying immensely. One of the frivolous things I don’t really need to do, has been to binge watch one of my favourite television shows, Mad Men, set in the 1960s at the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency on New York’s Madison Avenue. Season One begins in March 1960, just before I was born, and it’s almost worth watching it for the clothes alone. Totally impractical but incredibly beautiful.

The show won many awards over the years and has been lauded for its historical accuracy. For fans of music, the song choices for each episode were spot on in terms of evoking the era and how they related to a particular scene or storyline. This song, Fly Me To The Moon by Julie London, featured in the first season of Mad Men. I have always loved her languid voice, especially when singing her signature song Cry Me A River, and Julie’s look and sound were totally appropriate for this glamorous show.

Towards the end of the first season, the upcoming presidential elections feature highly as the agency was to work with Nixon’s team to help him secure that win. They think it’s a foregone conclusion but of course we all now know it turned out very differently back in 1960 and Nixon ended up being pipped at the post by a young Jack Kennedy. Mad Men depicts the American society and culture of the 1960s, highlighting cigarette smoking, drinking, sexism, adultery, homophobia and racism. It kind of reminds us that although we have a nostalgia for the past, we also sometimes have a selective memory.

A song I have in my digital database by Julie London is this one, but not easy to listen to nowadays. Despite the fact I love the songs of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, the lyrics to Wives and Lovers are just so at odds with how a 21st century woman would think, or more importantly how a man would expect her to think, that they become quite laughable. However if you watched only the first episode of Mad Men, set in 1960, they suddenly seem frighteningly accurate:

Hey! Little Girl
Comb your hair, fix your makeup
Soon he will open the door.
Don’t think because there’s a ring on your finger
You needn’t try anymore   (?!)

Day after day
There are girls at the office
And men will always be men.
Don’t send him off with your hair still in curlers
You may not see him again   (?!)

Wives and Lovers by Julie London:

There is a lot of talk in the media at the moment about certain “unsolicited actions” and “inappropriate behaviour” having been carried out by people in power. Our blogging buddy Jez has written a very good piece about it this weekend (link here) which I would thoroughly recommend. As he says, time and time again we hear the defence that the accused is “a dinosaur”, that their behaviour was acceptable “back in the day” – No, it really wasn’t.

Until next time….

Wives and Lovers Lyrics
(Song by Burt Bacharach/Hal David)

Hey! Little Girl
Comb your hair, fix your makeup
Soon he will open the door
Don’t think because there’s a ring on your finger
You needn’t try anymore

For wives should always be lovers too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
I’m warning you…

Day after day
There are girls at the office
And men will always be men
Don’t send him off with your hair still in curlers
You may not see him again

For wives should always be lovers too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
He’s almost here…

Hey! Little girl
Better wear something pretty
Something you’d wear to go to the city and
Dim all the lights, pour the wine, start the music
Time to get ready for love
Time to get ready
Time to get ready for love

Postscript:

Just in case anyone hadn’t heard of her before, Julie London was an American singer and actress, whose career spanned over forty years. She released 32 albums of pop and jazz standards during the 1950s and 1960s, her signature song being the classic Cry Me a River. Julie’s 35-year acting career began in 1944 and included roles co-starring with Rock Hudson, Gary Cooper and Robert Mitchum. She achieved continuing success in television in the 1970s, appearing in the show Emergency! with her husband, Bobby Troup.

Dusty Springfield, “The Look of Love” and Late ’60s Movies

I’ve decided that I might as well rename this blog A Nostalgic Journey Through the Works of Burt Bacharach, January to December 1967, as yet again I have found myself troubled by a pesky earworm from that year. All day yesterday I had the first few lines of The Look of Love by Dusty Springfield going round and round in my head but wasn’t sure where it had come from. I was pretty sure I hadn’t heard it on the radio or on television but here I was yet again revisiting my seemingly favourite year and favourite composer.

dustyspringfield_thelookofloveThe Look of Love, by Burt Bacharach and Hal David featured in the 1967 spoof James Bond film Casino Royale. Here is the scene in the movie where it appears and between Dusty’s husky vocals, the slow motion filming and the saxophone playing, Peter Sellers looks as if he is in for quite a time with Ursula Andress (the original Bond girl – Honey Ryder).

The Look of Love by Dusty Springfield:

Of all the songs featured in this blog, 1967 is the year I seem to keep coming back to and after thinking about it a bit more I have come up with a few reasons as to why that might be happening.

First of all I was only six at the start of ’67, so most of my personal musical memories are from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s (post turn-of-the-millennium is still classed as “new” music for me). My point is, there are many songs from the ’60s that are still fresh for me, as I haven’t yet reached the tipping point of having heard them just once too often. (Sadly the exception to that rule is now the song Alfie – After undertaking this project I hope I never, ever, have to listen to it again.)

Secondly, when you are six (just like in the world of A.A. Milne) you have no exam, work, money or relationship worries, so none of the songs from that era conjure up any unpleasant memories. If you were lucky like me and came from a stable family where you were loved and taken care of, life was sweet – The days of teenage angst were far off in the future.

Thirdly (is that even a word), the radio stations I now listen to (briefly in the morning when I get up, and when in the car) generally play older music so I am much more likely to hear something by Burt Bacharach than by Tame Impala in the course of the day, setting off one of those pesky earworms (although to be fair not pesky in the case of this song, more pleasurable).

Fourth, I am truly amazed at the sheer number of musical sub-genres, and in the last couple of weeks alone I have covered songs from the sunshine pop, baroque pop and champagne soul camps. Burt’s music was apparently from the orchestral pop camp and of the many sub-genres out there, I think this is the one I warm to most. In the late ’60s plenty of other arrangers and producers were championing this style of music such as George Martin, Brian Wilson and John Barry (of Bond theme fame) so lots of great stuff to listen to.

And finally, the big one, in my youth I absolutely loved old ’60s movies like Casino Royale shown in the clip. There is a delay of a few years before films made for the big screen can be shown on television and I am guessing that this one, and the non-spoof Cubby Broccoli Bond movie You Only Live Twice, first made an appearance on British television in the early ’70s. Perhaps all was hunky dory where you lived but my memory of early ’70s Britain is that things were a bit grim and depressing. We had economic and political unrest, three-day weeks and power cuts. The clothes were all droopy (midi/maxi skirts and flared trousers) and came in a variety of shades of brown and beige. Compare all that to the brilliant colours and exotic locations shown in those comedic, technicolor movies from the ’60s and I know which era I wanted to live in, albeit vicariously.

It is no coincidence that Peter Sellers popped up in the clip for The Look of Love – His output was prolific around that time and he had already starred in What’s New Pussycat? in 1965 and After The Fox in 1966, both films having title songs written by Bacharach and David. There can’t be many people who wouldn’t recognise Tom Jones’ version of What’s New Pussycat? but despite the fact that After The Fox by The Hollies (featuring Peter Sellers) is lesser known, it has now become one of my favourite Burt songs from that period. Again, when you listen to it, you just remember all those great films that usually had very funny cartoonised opening sequences and colourful movie posters designed by Frank Frazetta.

After The Fox by The Hollies (featuring Peter Sellers):

So, “What’s It All About?” – After writing this post, I worked out how the song The Look Of Love became an earworm yesterday. It turns out that it is being used in a new advert for tinned soup! That’s another song ruined then, as from now on it won’t be associated with the husky sounds of Dusty Springfield, it will be associated with tinned tomato.

I wrote a while back about how advertising companies have worked out that if they use music from the era their target market turned 16, they will be putty in their hands and mindlessly buy anything on offer. In the case of this song, it looks as if all those recent retirees aged around 65 who eschew spending a fortune on designer soup in cartons, are about to have a purchasing frenzy, buying up all their favourite tinned soups from their youth. (Oxtail anyone? No me neither.)

Very clever marketing The Heinz Corporation, but for me, they have just ruined another classic song from the ’60s…… for all of us.

The Look of Love Lyrics
(Song by Burt Bacharach/Hal David)

The look of love
Is in your eyes
The look your smile can’t disguise
The look of love
Is saying so much more
Than just words could ever say
And what my heart has heard
Well it takes my breath away

I can hardly wait to hold you
Feel my arms around you
How long I have waited
Waited just to love you
Now that I have found you

You’ve got the look of love
It’s on your face
A look that time can’t erase
Be mine tonight
Let this be just the start
Of so many nights like this
Let’s take a lover’s vow
And then seal it with a kiss

I can hardly wait to hold you
Feel my arms around you
How long I have waited
Waited just to love you
Now that I have found you
Don’t ever go

I can hardly wait to hold you
Feel my arms around you
How long I have waited
Waited just to love you
Now that I have found you
Don’t ever go
Don’t ever go
I love you so

Warm Winds, Burt Bacharach and “A House Is Not A Home”

Ahead of the onset of autumn, my plan for the weekend was, (perhaps foolishly, this being the north of Scotland) to organise an outdoors get-together for some good friends. Ever since writing about the England Dan & John Ford Coley song I’d Really Love To See You Tonight earlier in the year, I’ve been a tad obsessed with trying to recreate the ambiance it conjures up (there’s a warm wind blowing the stars around). This being Scotland it was never going to be easy as to see the stars it has to be dark, and earlier in the summer it barely gets dark at all. So, it really had to be right at the end of the season which meant there would be no warm winds, but if a fire was present at least there would be warmth. Other than a short shower of rain, when we conveniently decanted inside to eat, we were able to sit outside until midnight and although not many stars visible last night there was a lovely half-moon, so really pleased with my efforts.

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Late summer in Scotland – waiting for the guests to arrive!

Another real treat was that I took my new portable turntable outside which meant rifling through the old vinyl from back in the day. Rediscovered a lot of records I had forgotten about that have not been replaced in digital format, so a real added bonus to the evening. After writing about Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head recently, and how the scene where it appears in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid contains most of the ingredients I consider important for creating “the perfect day”, last night’s get-together contained most of the ingredients for the “perfect evening”.

You would think that would have been enough for one evening but no, after the guests left and some tidying up had been done, we discovered a wonderful show on BBC4 called Burt Bacharach, A Life In Song. Anyone familiar with this blog will know that I’m a great fan of Burt’s music and especially the songs he wrote with Hal David. This show had been filmed three years ago when Burt was 85 and although it was sad to see him looking so frail and aged, he still rose to the challenge of leading his orchestra and guest singers in a celebration of his music.

It was one of those shows where between the songs, Burt was interviewed by Michael Grade, who quizzed him on all aspects of his very lengthy career. What I found really interesting was that near the end, Michael asked Burt what his favourite song was and it turned out to be Alfie – This was obviously a pleasant surprise. Sadly, because I think I’ve listened to the song once too often this year, I have now become a bit tired of it but it was interesting to note that Burt chose it because he considered Hal’s lyrics to be “important”. A few months back I came to this conclusion also. There are earlier important lyrics in the song but near the end there are the lines:

I believe in love, Alfie
Without true love we just exist, Alfie
Until you find the love you’ve missed
You’re nothing, Alfie

Early on in this process of looking back nostalgically via song, it became apparent that “What’s it all about?” was indeed love – First for our family as children, then for our best friends as teenagers and finally for the people we form relationships with on the way to finding that special person. If you are lucky enough to have children, that is perhaps the greatest love of all and one from which you have no escape, although your patience may be tested at times. There is the old adage that nobody on their deathbed has ever said “I wish I’d spent more time at the office”- It is all about the people you meet on the way. In music and song, the subject of love is never far away, and what a wonderful thing to have in the world (I’m in tears here).

Of course there are many versions of the song Alfie (and it ended up being the Cher version used for the film) but when pressed, Burt very carefully sidestepped the issue of which one he preferred. He did however refer to the now infamous footage of Cilla Black being harangued into recording 41 versions, which suggests it wasn’t her one!

Alfie by Cilla Black:

But back to the show – When Burt was then asked what his second favourite song was, it turned out to be A House Is Not A Home. This show just kept getting better and better because earlier that evening, when getting ready for the party, I had thanked my lucky stars that due to circumstance we very much reside in a lived-in home as opposed to a show-house. I know that is not really the point of the song, but it had come to mind. By the time you reach your “middle-years” a lot of friends have invested heavily in their expensive, possibly cream-coloured furniture, fittings and floor coverings (the three Fs). All very nice but they are then terrified of ever hosting a social event in case anything gets spoilt or damaged. Having given up a good job when our daughter was born to be a stay-at-home mum, we’ve not had the luxury of constantly upgrading every few years – The upside of this however is that your house becomes a home, where the people in it are the most important thing and not the expensive furnishings. Our daughter’s friends were always welcome, pets were encouraged and social gatherings are a regular occurrence. I feel sorry in a way for those people trapped in the cycle of working so hard to buy all those lovely things that then can’t be enjoyed and shared, but hey, maybe that’s just me.

Yet again I have run out of words but I will end with a version of A House Is Not A Home from my collection which comes from the television show Glee, where it was sung very sweetly by the actor/singer Chris Colfer. I hadn’t really taken too much heed of the song until that point (previously recorded by Dionne Warwick, Brook Benton and many others) but it perfectly fitted the storyline and led me straight to iTunes after the show ended.

A House Is Not A Home by Chris Colfer:

So yet again I’m up far too late, just as happened last night when I was drawn to watching a late night show featuring Burt Bacharach. And of course this has been a very serious post, so apologies for that – I promise that a much more light-hearted one is to follow and it involves trousers. Watch this space.

A House Is Not A Home Lyrics
(Song by Burt Bacharach/Hal David)

A chair is still a chair
Even when there’s no one sitting there
But a chair is not a house
And a house is not a home
When there’s no one there to hold you tight,
And no one there you can kiss good night.

A room is still a room
Even when there’s nothing there but gloom;
But a room is not a house,
And a house is not a home
When the two of us are far apart
And one of us has a broken heart.

Now and then I call your name
And suddenly your face appears
But it’s just a crazy game
When it ends it ends in tears.

Darling, have a heart,
Don’t let one mistake keep us apart.
I’m not meant to live alone. turn this house into a home.
When I climb the stair and turn the key,
Oh, please be there still in love with me.

Butch Cassidy, Burt Bacharach and “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”

When is a song not a song? Why of course when it’s one of those pad a dap a dapadda, doob be doobee doop, pum… pum… pum… padadappada “a cappella-type” numbers performed by vocal harmony groups. I read a review this week for the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and immediately had those scenes in my head where Butch and Sundance are being chased down by the posse, led by white-hatted Lefors (“Who are those guys?”). It becomes clear they have to flee, and so they head to Bolivia with Sundance’s schoolteacher lover, in search of a more successful criminal career. Throughout the movie we are treated to Burt Bacharach’s amazing soundtrack, and when they hit Bolivia, it is the perfect cue for South American Getaway.

South American Getaway by Burt Bacharach:

Now I had always thought that this part of the soundtrack was by The Swingle Singers, that a cappella group that seemed to pop up with great regularity on Saturday night telly in the 1970s, but no, South American Getaway was by the Ron Hicklin Singers, a group of Los Angeles-based studio singers. They are most famously known as being the real backing singers behind The Partridge Family recordings but also worked on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly theme, MacArthur Park and Suicide Is Painless (the theme to the film M*A*S*H). They were the vocal equivalent of (and often worked with) The Wrecking Crew, that bunch of top session musicians who played on many ’60s and ’70s records. They were the house band for Phil Spector but also worked with Sonny & Cher, The Beach Boys, The Mamas & the Papas, Frank Sinatra and even Elvis. Getting back to the Ron Hicklin Singers, Ron himself was lead tenor but there was also an alto, a soprano, a bass and a couple of brothers called Bahler, who performed tenor harmonies on South American Getaway.

I was too young to have seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at the cinema in 1969 so would only have seen it a few years later on television, but what an impact it made. The two lead actors, Paul Newman and Robert Redford had amazing on-screen chemistry and for me, it marked the start of a major crush on both of them. In 1974 Paul Newman starred in The Towering Inferno, one of the many disaster movies around at that time and fortunately I was now old enough to see it at the cinema. The blue-eyed Mr Newman was actually five years older than my dad by that time which seems kind of creepy now but with film stars the whole age thing never seems to matter and even today stars like Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp, who are positively middle-aged, are adored by legions of young female fans around the world.

Around this time it was deemed that my childhood bedroom was in need of redecoration and I was given carte blanche on what the new scheme should be. (Bear with me here, there is a reason for this bit of sidestepping.) Down came the ’60s style wallpaper and the posters of Donny Osmond, David Cassidy and Bjorn Borg and up went woodchip wallpaper, which could be painted any colour I wanted. After pouring over paint charts for some time I went for an attractive mustard colour which would, I thought, look good with my new brown and orange curtains – Of course paint charts can be notoriously misleading and once my dad had finished the room it was most definitely a khaki green colour as opposed to mustard but hey, I was happy, it being so modern with the woodchip an’ all.

colour schemes.png

One of the house rules for this newly decorated bedroom was that there were to be fewer posters and certainly none attached with drawing pins – Instead I could use that new-fangled stuff called blu-tack. And so it came to pass that a giant poster of Paul Newman was purchased and a slightly smaller one of Robert Redford to feature on the newly painted khaki green walls – I honestly think they remained there until I left home about four years later so I obviously stayed true to this pair for a sizeable chunk of my teenage years.

Because I usually end a post with lyrics, which is not really possible with South American Getaway, I will also include a clip of the most familiar piece of music from that film’s soundtrack, Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head. Again this was a Bacharach composition and I always knew that the person singing it in the film was BJ Thomas but of course in the UK at the start of 1970, it was that dashing Frenchman Sacha Distel who got to No. 10 in the singles chart with the song.

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head by BJ Thomas:

It’s a bizarre kind of song to have inserted into a film about “The Wild West” but somehow it just works. This was a film all about the relationship between Butch, Sundance and Katharine Ross’s character Etta Place. Despite the desperately sad ending, there were just so many comedic moments and this scene on the bicycle kind of sums it up for me. Over the years I have tried to put together the recipe for a “perfect day” and a lot of the ingedients are contained within the video for this song:

  • It’s got to be a sunny day and if dappled sunlight is present (like here) even better.
  • Got to be with good friends you can truly relax with and be yourself.
  • Got to be wearing possibly quirky, but definitely comfy, casual clothes.
  • Important that there is no timetable or agenda for the day so that you can just go with the flow.
  • Not got to be a costly day but to be full of simple pleasures.
  • Get to go home to your own bed at night!

Not for everyone I know but works for me and watching this scene from the film again, I just love how Butch and Etta have that easy relaxed friendship, riding around in dappled sunlight, picking apples from the tree. Very late ’60s indeed and oh to have been Miss Ross on that very special day – Stepford was still many years in the future so for the time-being, until the going got a bit tough down Bolivia-way, she could enjoy being part of one of the most famous trios in film history.

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head Lyrics
(Song by Burt Bacharach/Hal David)

Raindrops are falling on my head
And just like the guy whose feet
Are too big for his bed
Nothing seems to fit
Those raindrops
Are falling on my head
They keep falling

So I just did me some
Talking to the sun
And I said I didn’t like the way
He got things done
Sleeping on the job
Those raindrops
Are falling on my head
They keep fallin’

But there’s one thing I know
The blues they send to meet me
Won’t defeat me, it won’t be long
Till happiness
Steps up to greet me

Raindrops keep falling on my head
But that doesn’t mean my eyes
Will soon be turning red
Crying’s not for me ’cause,
I’m never gonna stop the rain
By complaining,
Because I’m free
Nothing’s worrying me

It won’t be long
Till happiness
Steps up to greet me

Raindrops keep falling on my head
But that doesn’t mean my eyes
Will soon be turning red
Crying’s not for me cause,
I’m never gonna stop the rain
By complaining,
Because I’m free, ’cause nothing’s worrying me