Months Of The Year In Song: May, the Start of Celtic Summer and RIP Anna “Mae” Bullock

Not too many days left in the current month, so I’d better crack on with the latest instalment of this series. We usually start off with the story behind the naming of the month so let’s see which Roman god May is named after. Well, blow me down, this time it’s not a Roman god but a Greek goddess, Maia. She was the mother of Hermes (the Greek god of parcel deliveries) and was associated with fertility for the Romans. Many people still get a holiday on the 1st of May as it was traditionally a time for festivals celebrating the start of summer. In England there would have been the setting up of a Maypole and the crowning of a May Queen whereas up here in Scotland, the festival was called Beltane which included the building of bonfires (written about here).


Fortunately May does not have as many songs that refer to it which is lucky for me as last month’s instalment nearly broke me with all the song suggestions. Not entirely true of course but a bit of a respite before we hit the month of June which I suspect will be very song heavy.

The first visitor to come up with suggestions for May, was Ernie Goggins. Here are his own words:

A couple of suggestions for May to get the ball rolling. My Girl The Month Of May by Dion. It is from the mid 1960s by which time he had given up rock ‘n roll and become a hippy folkie type. The other is The Watersons’ version of the Swinton May Song, one of the many traditional ‘May songs’ marking the peak of Spring and the imminent coming of Summer.

Thanks Ernie, and as I said in reply last month, I hadn’t known about Dion’s later change in direction until recently. He has had a long career and is still going strong it seems at age 83. As for The Watersons, all very Steeleye Span, but I like it.


The second set of song suggestions came from Rigid Digit and as ever he had lots of them:

Can I have Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven for the line “it’s just a spring clean for the May Queen”?
No – how about Robert Plant’s
May Queen instead then.

Anything by Brian May ?
And continuing to push it, the first of May is celebrated with a May Fair.
So … The Quireboys debut single, Mayfair would fit.
That’s 3 duff suggestions and one sensible one

Back to being sensible: The Bee GeesFirst Of May

Thanks RD and I hope I’ve correctly identified the one sensible suggestion of the first four?


As for the Bee Gees song it was always going to be one of my own suggestions as I am a bit of a fan. A lovely little film there of the brothers too. You forget how young the twins were when they started out with big brother Barry at the helm. It was this song that was their undoing for a time however as Robin had wanted the song he sang vocals on to be the A-side of this record, but Barry decided it should be on the B-side. This precipitated them parting company. Fortunately for us (if like me you are a fan) they got back together again a year later.

First of May by the Bee Gees:


The next suggestion came in from three different visitors last month – C, John Medd and Khayem – and although not month-related I feel duty bound to include it as they have all enthused about it so much. Here is Kevin Ayers with his song May I. Here is what C said about it:

Regarding May – may I suggest May I?! I mean ‘May I’ by Kevin Ayers and The Whole World. There’s a lovely clip of them performing it on OGWT on youtube. I love Kevin’s rich voice and his quite subtle, arty eccentricity, in my mind anyway I see him in a similar way to Syd Barrett, Julian Cope, Robyn Hitchcock. I know it’s not about the month of May but I do like to bend the rules a little. The lyrics might be seen as either sweet or a bit stalkery nowadays – but I’ll go for sweet!

It is sweet C, and what a lovely deep voice he has. Quite sad that we have to continually question nowadays if something is “stalkery” or not, as I’m pretty sure it wasn’t meant to imply that when it was written.


The final month-of-May-related song suggestion came from Khayem. Here is what he said about it:

Just one suggestion from me this time, but it’s from one of my favourite subversive pop bands, Black Box Recorder. May Queen is from their second album, The Facts Of Life, released in 2000. With Luke Haines (The Auteurs) one of the trio, along with John Moore and Sarah Nixey, sublime music and unsettling lyrics and vocals are present and correct.

From the image in the clip I wasn’t expecting that sound at all – sublime music and vocals as you say Khayem. As for the lyrics, yes a tad unsettling perhaps.


I usually like to add a picture of someone whose name is that of the current month before I finish, but other than Brian May mentioned above, not thinking of many. Perhaps timely therefore to include someone born with the middle name Mae who sadly died this week. Yes, it’s the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll herself, Anna Mae Bullock, more commonly known as Tina Turner. For some unfathomable reason she has never appeared around here although some of my favourite songs from the ’80s were by her. I still own my vinyl copy of her wonderful album Private Dancer. She was in her mid 40s when her career relaunched in 1983 after the success of her cover of Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together. Back in the day we didn’t watch YouTube, we watched The Tube on telly after coming home from work on a Friday. I still remember being blown away by her singing this song as she was no longer the, dare I say it,”mumsy lady” I had seen interviewed a year or so before. Against all the odds she was back, and this time there was no stopping her.


Well, that’s it for this month. As ever song suggestions for next month, the month of June, will be gratefully received.

RIP Tina Turner

Until next time…

First Of May Lyrics
(Song by Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb)

When I was small and Christmas trees were tall
We used to love while others used to play
Don’t ask me why, but time has passed us by
Some one else moved in from far away

Now we are tall and Christmas trees are small
And you don’t ask the time of day
But you and I, our love will never die
But guess we’ll cry come first of May

The apple tree that grew for you and me
I watched the apples falling, one by one
And I recall the moment of them all
The day I kissed your cheek and you were mine

Now we are tall and Christmas trees are small
And you don’t ask the time of day
But you and I, our love will never die
But guess we’ll cry come first of May

When I was small and Christmas trees were tall
Do-do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do
Don’t ask me why, but time has passed us by
Some one else moved in from far away

Months Of The Year In Song: April, Time for Things to “Open Up”

Thank goodness for this series, as I seem to have lost my blogging momentum. I return with the latest edition a bit earlier than usual this month in the hope it will kickstart things. Watch this space as they say.

We’re now well through the month of April and at last it’s starting to feel quite springlike with record temperatures around here this week. It hit 23 degrees on Tuesday so there was a mad scramble to find some summery clothes. As ever, such unseasonal temperatures are more a cause for concern than joy nowadays, but still nice to see blue skies again after a long winter (of discontent).

Yet again I suspect the naming of the month of April will have something to do with the Romans, as has every other month since I started this series. I haven’t checked yet but let’s have a look. Yep, although the derivation is not certain it is thought to come from the Latin verb aperire, to open, it being the month when trees and flowers begin “to open” for spring. Thankfully my garden is indeed now looking a lot more interesting as trees and shrubs start to flower, making them a lot less stick-like. Roll on summer I say.

My Forsythia shrub now in full bloom

The great thing about these series where we ask for song suggestions is that they almost write themselves. This might not be the series I’ve enjoyed researching the most, but I have really enjoyed making new musical discoveries courtesy of those who drop by the comments boxes with their contributions. As I always say, I couldn’t do this one without you, so thank you.

One of the first suggestions last time came in from Martin and it was April Come She Will by Simon & Garfunkel. Considering they have their own category on my sidebar this was a welcome contribution as I love the music they made around the time of The Graduate film soundtrack which this song was on. Although I re-watched the film recently after carrying out a clearance of old DVDs (The Graduate was definitely a keeper), I wouldn’t have specifically remembered it – but next time I’ll know when to look out for it. The song was written in 1964 when Paul Simon was living in England. The lyrics apparently use the changing nature of the seasons as a metaphor for a girl’s changing moods. Girls…, Changing Moods…, don’t know what you’re talking about Paul.

April Come She Will by Simon & Garfunkel:


As ever there was a fair amount of overlap when it came to suggestions, and Khayem and Rol both came up with these next two songs.

First we have April Skies by The Jesus & Mary Chain. I really should know more about this band as they are Scottish, but somehow they weren’t on my radar in the late ’80s, possibly because they didn’t pop up on shows like TOTP very often. This song seems to have been the one that achieved their highest chart placing, reaching the No. 8 spot in 1987. I did like this comment attached to the clip on the video sharing website. “My hometown band – it can be a bleak and desolate place, but so glad that East Kilbride gifted them to the music world.” A proud fan from Scotland’s first New Town, designated in 1947.


Secondly, we have that musical genius from Minneapolis, Prince, with his song Sometimes It Snows in April. Again it’s from the soundtrack to a film, this time Under the Cherry Moon. I’ll have to admit I’ve never seen this film but it was very much Prince’s baby as he both directed it and starred in it. His character in the film was someone called Christopher Tracy, and deeply affected by the character’s death, the singer expresses their desire to rejoin them in heaven. Understandably it received much attention after Prince’s sudden death in April, 2016. I had only been blogging for a few months and after researching him for a tribute post realised I had totally underestimated his talent over the years – the man could do everything – but burnt out at far too young an age.


Ernie Goggins is another regular contributor to this series and one of his suggestions was April Anne by John Phillips, whom I know better as one of the Papas from the Mamas & the Papas. What a sweet sounding song this is from his first solo album, and although containing none of the harmonies we associate with his former group, it shows us what his solo work was like. Quite country-ish? I’m struggling with the language in the lyrics and sometimes wonder whether I’m just too naïve for the music blogging world, sharing things I sometimes don’t quite understand. Having just checked however, the (April) Ann in the song seems to have been based on a real person, and as I suspected, there are veiled references in there to real people such as Dennis Hopper, Michelle Phillips and Mick Jagger.


Time to mix things up a bit so we’ll now share something by an artist called April. Here is C from Sun Dried Sparrows in her own words:

I’m going slightly leftfield here but the first song thing that came to mind for me was Teach Me Tiger by April Stevens – if you’ll permit the bending of the rules there. It’s so kitsch you just gotta love it and once heard, never forgotten…


Indeed C, I won’t forget that one in a hurry, and I quite liked it. Lots of breathy wa wa wa wahs and even naïve little old me knows what April is getting up to.

Now that we’ve moved onto artists with April in their name, time to share another such suggestion. Here are a few words from Bill P:

As for April, since you chose the band name to carry March, I could offer April Wine as the band name for this month. They weren’t super famous, but they did have a few songs that charted rather high.

Thanks Bill P, a Canadian rock band from Novia Scotia it seems. Here is Roller from 1979. Very much of their time and didn’t get the recognition they deserved it seems.


For a total change in tempo here is Bill P’s other suggestion. It’s back to songs with April in the title, and as a fan of Ella & Louis, he tells us, “you can’t miss with April in Paris“.

I’ve never been to Paris in the springtime so maybe something to tick off the bucket list as it sounds as if it would be beautiful. This year the people were revolting on the streets of Paris in the springtime, but that’s their prerogative, and they’re not happy about having their pension age increased. We Brits are not ones for revolting so just take it on the chin, but I’m at the stage of wondering if I’ll ever make it to pension age.


There was an awful lot of overlap with suggestions last time and I hope I’m managing to cover them all but here is a song that both Khayem and Ernie Goggins came up with, April Grove by Chrysalis. Here are Khayem’s words:

I’d like to pretend I’m so cool that I knew about it first, but it was Martina Topley-Bird’s excellent cover version that alerted me to the song April Grove.

And here is Ernie’s reply:

Unlike Khayem I have long been familiar with ‘April Grove’ by Chrysalis. I don’t think that makes me cool, just old. (You’re in good company Ernie!)


Rigid Digit arrived a bit too late to the comments boxes this time and two of his suggestions had already gone. First one was the JAMC song but the second was this instrumental from Deep Purple, also suggested by Mr Sun Dried Sparrows who tells us it was the flipside to their Hallelujah single from 1969. Here is April Part 1 (there were also Parts 2 & 3).


Despite his main two suggestions having already gone, RD did wrack his brain, and his hard drive, to come up with these other picks. As he says:

Something to do with the month perhaps, but none of these choices could be described as upbeat.

Real Estate – April’s Song
Ron Sexsmith – April After All
Rufus Wainwright – April Fools


His final suggestion was this one by Three Dog Night Pieces Of April. Very pretty indeed despite being quite sad. Thanks RD.


A final bit of mopping up to do with Khayem’s other suggestions (yes, there were even more – he was full of them for April).

Here are a few more for the pot:
April 5th – Talk Talk
April In Portugal – Les Baxter & His Orchestra

As for your Cocteau Twins suggestion KM, I’m going to save that one for May, as a bit of a twofer, but thanks as ever for your contribution. Before I finish I can’t let someone called Les Baxter go by without hearing what he has to offer. April in Portugal – wonder if they revolted there this spring?


Only four months left to go in this series but it does seem to be gaining momentum month on month. As ever, suggestions for May will be gratefully received. I had said recently I was feeling under the cosh having time-sensitive posts to write for series, but the flip side to that is that it gives you the discipline to sit down and put something together when you might otherwise not have got your ass in gear. Maybe I need more series and not less. Will have to revisit some ideas.

Remember her? April Merroney from The Brothers, an early 1970s TV Drama

Until next time…

April Come She Will Lyrics
(Song by Paul Simon)

April, come she will
When streams are ripe and swelled with rain
May, she will stay
Resting in my arms again

June, she’ll change her tune
In restless walks she’ll prowl the night
July, she will fly
And give no warning to her flight

August, die she must
The autumn winds blow chilly and cold
September, I’ll remember
A love once new has now grown old

Months Of The Year In Song: March, Time to “Spring Forward”

I return with another edition of this series and thankfully we’re now heading toward the home straight as over half way through now. As I said last time, the story behind the naming of months hasn’t been as interesting as I had hoped, but let’s see if March can surprise us. Well, it seems despite March being the third month in our current calendar, in the Roman calendar it was the first, and was named after Mars, the Roman god of war. Mars was important to the people of Rome because he supposedly fathered Romulus and Remus whose story tells of the events that led to the founding of the city. Ok, a bit more interesting this time and I can see how they thought it would be a fitting name for their first month.  

I also said last time that I’d quite enjoyed February, as it had felt quite Spring-like. Sadly March has been a bit of a letdown, it having been so cold and wet (where I live anyway), but with the Vernal Equinox now behind us and the fact the clocks spring forward tonight into BST, I’m sure things will improve soon.

What I was hoping for…
What I got!

But enough of the etymology and onto the main event, the songs. Despite there being a dearth of songs that refer to the month of March, yet again you did not let me down and we have plenty to share from last month’s comments boxes. Not all refer to the month to be fair, but in this instance that’s just fine.

First up we had Neil who came up with Julie London’s Melancholy March. Julie’s Calendar Girl album has been invaluable for this series as it contains a song for each month, most quite sad sounding like this one although perhaps her style of vocals just makes everything sound melancholy. Anyway one to get the ball rolling and an added bit of info from Neil was that it had been written by Dory Langdon, who later married André Previn. The most famous Mrs Previn was probably Mia Farrow but having just checked it seems André had five wives in total and 10 children! Lots of alimony payments there I suspect.

Melancholy March by Julie London:


Next suggestions came in from Jez, who despite having been very ill returned to blogging for a while last month. If he drops by this post, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we’re all rooting for you to get fully well again soon. Here are his own words:

Marching On by The Alarm, and two versions of the same song (The Marching Song Of The Covert Battalions) by Billy Bragg: firstly, the original which is on The Internationale EP, but secondly (and for my money, a much better) live version from a gig at the Mountain Stage where he was supporting R.E.M. which was broadcast both here and in the US. After his set, the US radio announcer had to state that Billy’s views did not reflect those of the US station it was broadcast on; when R.E.M. took the stage bassist Mike Mills said “The views of Billy Bragg very much reflect the views of R.E.M.”. Broadcast over here on Radio 1, I’ve posted it over at my place at least once or twice, it’s a brilliant example of a) how Billy connects with his audience and b) how he changes the words to suit current times.

Thanks Jez for the tangential suggestions and for providing the music clips.

Marching On by The Alarm:

The Marching Song of the Covert Battalions by Billy Bragg:


Over the months Khayem has been a great source of suggestions for this series and as ever he didn’t disappoint, despite it being a tricky month to find songs/instrumentals for. Here are three of them: Ides Of March by John Cale & Terry Riley from 1971, followed on by March 9th by My Life Story and March Violets by Andrew Weatherall. Thanks Khayem, all of these totally new to this blog, that’s for sure.


The most common suggestion when it came to a band for this month’s edition was The Ides Of March. In fact four of you, C, Rol, Rich and Ernie all mentioned the band and their song Vehicle. Before I go on to share the clip I’m realising I don’t exactly know what the Ides of March refers to, so time to find out.

Ok, so apparently the Romans (yes them again) didn’t number each day of the month as we do but counted back from three fixed points: the Nones, the Ides and the Kalends. The Ides always fell around the 15th day and in the month of March, the 15th was the date by which you had to settle your taxes. It was also the date of Julius Caesar’s assassination so probably why it has entered into our vernacular to such an extent.

Anyway, here are The Ides Of March, a band formed in Illinois way back in 1964 and still going strong. What a great sounding song, although as Rol reminded us, “Don’t accept lifts from strange men, ladies.”

Vehicle by The Ides Of March:


Rigid Digit dropped by again with his tuppence worth and here is what he had to say:

March songs seem harder to come by than other months, but I do have to offer:
Journey
Winds Of March (quite like a bit of Journey in small doses, and Neal Schon is a pretty decent guitarist). Other than that … Iron MaidenIdes Of March and HelloweenTime Marches On (not about the month, but it does have “March” in the title).

Thanks RD. I always think of Journey as being an ’80s band but it seems they were around for most of the ’70s too and this song is from 1978.


Ernie Goggins has been mentioned already but for completion’s sake, here are his other March suggestions:

Unusually for me I have something chirpy to offer this month – Rosa Passos with Águas de Março, which as George will tell you means ‘Waters of March’ in Portuguese. Slightly less chirpy but nowhere near as miserable as last month’s offerings I can also suggest March Rain by Michael Chapman, from his excellent album ‘Fully Qualified Survivor’.

Thanks Ernie, let’s hear what they both sound like.


Well that’s just about it for this month although I did have a late submission from The Swede. Here are his own words:

Here’s a very short offering for next month’s challenge. I’ve written about local favourites Christina Alden & Alex Patterson several times over at my place. They are absolutely lovely and if they tip up in your neck of the woods anytime, I can guarantee a splendid evening’s entertainment. March is a brief instrumental interlude from their terrific 2021 ‘Hunter’ album.

(The tune doesn’t appear to be on YouTube, but you should be able to embed it from their Bandcamp page: 

https://christinaaldenandalexpatterson.bandcamp.com/track/march )

Sadly WordPress won’t let me do that TS but I’ve left the link. Here is a picture of the duo in their very interesting looking front room.

Christina Alden & Alex Patterson

Roll on April, that’s what I say, because I need some warmer weather to offset the heating bill hikes. I may also have to dig up my garden and “grow my own” this Spring to offset the food shop hikes. Where will it all end? Who knows but in the meantime we’ll always have an eclectic mix of music (this post a case in point) to raise our spirits. Suggestions for April songs gratefully accepted.

Until next time…

Vehicle Lyrics
(Song by Jim Peterik)

Hey, well, I’m the friendly stranger in the black sedan
Woncha hop inside my car
I got pictures, I got candy, I’m a lovable man
And I can take you to the nearest star

I’m your vehicle, baby
I can take you anywhere you wanna go
I’m your vehicle woman
By that I’m sure you know

I love ya (love ya)
I need ya (need ya)
I wants ya gots to have you child
Great God in heaven, you know I love you
(Oh you know I do)

Well, if you wants to be a movie star
I canna take-a you to Hollywood
But if you wanna stay just like you are
You know, I think you really should

I’m your vehicle, baby
I can take you anywhere you wanna go
I’m your vehicle woman
By that I’m sure you know

I love ya (love ya)
I need ya (need ya)
I wants ya gots to have you child
Great God in heaven, you know I love you
(Oh you know I do)

Well I’m the friendly stranger in the black sedan
Oh woncha hop inside my car
I got pictures, candy, I’m a lovable man
And I can take you to the nearest star

I’m your vehicle, baby
I can take you anywhere you wanna go
I’m your vehicle woman
By that I’m sure you know

I love ya (love ya)
I need ya (need ya)
I wants ya gots to have you child
Great God in heaven, you know I love you
(Oh you know I do)

I’m your vehicle, baby
Y’know I love you (love ya)
I Needs ya (need ya)
I wantcha gots to have you child
Great God in heaven you know I love you

Months Of The Year In Song: February, The Start of Celtic Spring

It is with good grace that I return to this series with another edition. Last time I had complained that such series can end up not being as much fun as was anticipated at the outset. It has come to my attention several times this week however that this is very much a First World problem. Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it occurred to me that if any of the displaced Ukrainians being put up locally in hotels stumbled upon my post, they would not be impressed. They have lost everything. I have just temporarily lost my enthusiasm for something which in the grand scheme of things, is a bit of light-hearted fluff and nonsense. With that it mind let’s get on with it.

The name February apparently comes from the Latin term februum which means purification. The Roman ritual Februa was always held on February the 15th to ‘purify the city’, promoting health and fertility. Hmm…, interesting, NOT. I don’t know about you but I feel these Latin names used for the months of the year have well and truly lost their meaning in today’s world, but they’re too engrained now to be changed or updated. Valentine-uary or Snowdrop-uary anyone? No, that definitely wouldn’t work either, for all sorts of reasons, so we’re stuck with them. A safe and familiar pair of hands I suppose. Let’s look at the songs that reference February.


I’ll start off with a song suggested by two of last month’s visitors. First of all we had C who remembered a song she has never been too keen on, but which fits the remit. Here are her own words:

I can’t think of anything at all, apart from January February by Barbara Dickson which as I’m sure you know is not my cup of tea at all, but for some reason I seem to know it very well – it must have had a lot of radio play at the time.

Rigid Digit also came up with Barbara’s song as a suggestion, ‘a Scottish MOR Folkie Two For The Price Of One’, he said. Sadly I had forgotten about it for the January edition so a lost opportunity, but happy to include it now as I quite like Scottish MOR Folk. She’s had a long career Barbara Dickson and I feel a certain loyalty to her as first of all she’s Scottish, but also she used to work for a good friend’s dad way back in the day before she got her big break. Yes, Barbara used to be a humble civil servant in Rosyth where she grew up. A lot less glamorous than the world of West End Theatre, where she ended up.

January February by Barbara Dickson:


I look at Barbara in that clip and remember a perm I had in 1978 (and in 1979, in 1980…) that looked just like her one. That was a really popular style for girls back then and although it looks very dated now, and a bit poodle-like, it was a great low-maintenance style that just needed to be washed and left to dry naturally. A bit of a fluff up with one of those afro combs and you were good to go. My middle-aged hair needs much more maintenance, so I look back at those days fondly, although I now realise there was an element of cultural appropriation going on. The afro comb became recognised as a way of saying no to oppression, and wearing it in the hair led to a kind of comradeship amongst those whose hair grows up and out, not down. I was definitely not aware of this back in 1978 when I headed along to our local salon.

But this is supposed to be all about February songs so what else was suggested last time. Rick dropped by again:

Not a ton of great February songs but Xmas in February by Lou Reed is a good one, pretty sad tale though it is.

Crikey Rick that really is a sad tale – what a song though. It often occurs to me that had some of the American bloggers who visit this place been born a few years earlier, Vietnam would have beckoned. Not lost on you either I imagine.


Next up we have Ernie Goggins whose blog I have just discovered (apologies for the delay Ernie). Here are his own words:

Only a couple of suggestions for February, both of them as miserable as Rick’s suggestion – Cold Days of February by Edinburgh’s own Incredible String Band and Sad February by The Unthanks.

I had started this series with September songs and they were pretty sad but February seems to be upping the ante. Here are Ernie’s suggestions.



Martin from the New Amusements blog offered up this song by Billy Bragg, The Fourteenth of February. This is the studio version but Martin also added a link to a lovely, simple, live version. What a beautiful love song. Unlike Billy I do remember everything about the first time I met Mr WIAA but just down to the kind of memory I have. He, needless to say, remembers nothing.


Rol decided he couldn’t beat Martin’s suggestion, but offered up February by Dar Williams as an ‘also-ran’. Hope Dar never drops by as not an ‘also-ran’ song at all, although September by now has well and truly been usurped by February in the sadness stakes.


Neil came up with another Two For The Price Of One suggestion – Van Morrison’s March Winds In February. Thanks Neil, a new one for me from Mr Grumpy of Belfast, a Mr Grumpy who delivers sublime songs.


Nearly at the end of the suggestions now but Rigid Digit did come up with a second one. Here are his own words:

From the Foo Fighters The Colour & The Shape – is it the best Foos album? – comes February Stars. Actually, writing out that album title, I’ve just noticed – The Foo Fighters spell “Colour” properly, not the US English version sans U.

Yes Neil and Rick, funny that an American band used the British English spelling as opposed to the American English version, or as RD calls it, the proper version! Here is their February song.


Finally, we have Khayem’s pick for February:

My February suggestion is a lovely little instrumental ditty by Australian musical collective Architecture In Helsinki. One Heavy February is the opening song of their debut album (Fingers Crossed) from 2003, just under a minute long but with a fun video. 


He goes on to say:

I own a different version from 2008 on the Like It Or Not EP. No video for this one (though an image pops up around 0:38) but it’s a veritable extended club banger, with a handy run through of the calendar towards the end, all done in under three minutes. That’ll blow the cobwebs away! 


It certainly will Khayem, so thanks for suggesting that Australian collective with a Scandinavian capital in their name. Having just looked it up they apparently got their name after cutting up a newspaper and re-arranging the words. Was it a Finnish newspaper I wonder.

So, that brings our February edition to a close. All new songs for me apart from the Barbara one but regulars to this place would probably have expected that. A lot of sad songs amongst them, but personally I’ve quite enjoyed February this year. In the Celtic calendar, Spring starts on the 1st of February (Imbolc, written about here), and the lighter nights and flowers in my garden would attest to that.

imbolc


Imbolc was one of the cornerstones of the Celtic calendar, as the success of the new farming season was of great importance. Winter stores of food were getting low and rituals were performed to ensure a steady supply of food until the harvest six months later. This year, it seems that however many rituals are performed, supermarkets are still going to be low on supplies of certain fruits and vegetables. All to do with climate change and politics though. Compared with what the people of Ukraine have been through over the last year I think we can forego our raspberries and cucumbers this month without too much complaint.

Next month is definitely a Spring month (if you live in the Northern Hemisphere) and it also means we are now half way through this series. If you have any March songs you would like to see included, please add them to the comments boxes. I couldn’t do this one without you.

Until next time…

Xmas In February Lyrics
(Song by Lou Reed)

Xmas in February
Sam was lyin’ in the jungle
Agent orange spread against the sky like marmalade
Hendrix played on some foreign jukebox
They were praying to be saved
Those gooks were fierce and fearless
That’s the price you pay when you invade
Xmas in February

Sam lost his arm in some border town
His fingers are mixed with someone’s crop
If he didn’t have that opium to smoke
The pain would never ever stop
Half his friends are stuffed into black body bags
With their names printed at the top
Xmas in February

Sammy was a short order cook
In a short order black and blue collar town
Everybody worked the steel mill
But the steel mill got closed down
He thought if he joined the army
He’d have a future that was sound
Like no xmas in February

Sam’s staring at the vietnam wall
It’s been a while now that he’s home
His wife and kid have left, he’s unemployed
He’s a reminder of the war that wasn’t won
He’s the guy on the street with the sign that reads
“Please help send this vet home”
But he is home
And there’s no xmas in February
No matter how much he saves

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

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

A statue of the god Janus

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

The actress January Jones – much prettier than Janus

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


The next contribution was from Rol:

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


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

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

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

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


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

January by Pilot:


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

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

Andy on the left and David on the right

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

Until next time…

January Lyrics
(Song by David Paton)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t go, don’t go

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

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

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

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


Postscript:

Some of the other people who have been suggested also look like David Paton. I’ll leave you to be the judge.

Months of the Year in Song: December Departed

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

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

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

Insomnia by Faithless:


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

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


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

DD’s Christmas table complete with fancy napkins!

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

December by The Mills Brothers:


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Until next time…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

November Rain by Guns N’ Roses:


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Until next time…

November Rain Lyrics
(Song by Axl Rose)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Months Of The Year In Song: Orange October

Welcome to this second instalment of my new series, where I plan to share songs relating to all 12 months of the year. I didn’t start in January but that’s ok as the months just keep rolling by in a continual loop, or so I thought until last month’s discovery that the calendar year used to have 10 months with a gap for an “unorganised winter”, which is why October is confusingly named after the Latin word for eight. In time that got sorted out and we now have the calendar we are familiar with where October is the 10th month, and what a month it is for those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere. I don’t know about you but over the last couple of weeks I have been privileged to witness the leaves changing colour all around my neighbourhood and what a treat it’s been.

Last month in the comments boxes there was a bit of debate about September being the first month of autumn, as although meteorologically it is, it still feels like the tail end of summer (again I’m referring to those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere – sorry if I’m alienating my Southern Hemisphere followers). But October is ‘proper autumn’ and what with the colour of the leaves, our warm woollen clothes back on rotation and Halloween making its presence felt at the end of the month, a very orange one indeed in terms of the hues.

But this is a music blog so where are the songs? Last month it became obvious that September songs are quite nostalgic and melancholy, but mainly because the month’s name rhymes with the word ‘remember’. October doesn’t rhyme with much so by default there are less songs that mention it. No matter, some great suggestions were put forward in the comments boxes last time, so I still have plenty of material.

First of all, both Lynchie and The Swede came up with this song for inclusion, October Song by the Incredible String Band. It wasn’t until I watched a recent documentary about the history of popular music in Scotland that I discovered this band. All the usual suspects were included, from Lulu to the Proclaimers but the Incredible String Band were new to me as from a bit before my time and not the kind of band that would have ever popped up on prime time telly when I was growing up. But despite sounding as if they had San Francisco origins, they actually hailed from Edinburgh, and were really successful during the period 1966 to 1974. As you will hear, they were pioneers of psychedelic folk and by fusing a wide variety of traditional music styles and instruments, helped develop world music. October Song was from their first album released in 1966 and it certainly is full of the imagery of autumn. Beautiful in its way but maybe not my thing.

The fallen leaves that jewel the ground
They know the art of dying
And leave with joy their glad gold hearts
In the scarlet shadows lying


Another suggestion came in from Rol who offered up October Swimmer by JJ72. The period that gets mentioned least around here is the turn of the millennium, as I think I was just so busy working, and being a mum to a small child. This could explain how I have absolutely no memory of this song or band at all despite the fact they did really well with it in 2000 and appeared on ToTP. No imagery of autumn this time just quite bleak lyrics, so thanks, but again not really my thing. The band was from Dublin and lead singer and songwriter Mark Greaney (he of the somewhat unusual voice) for a time lived next door to Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy. Wonder if the young Mark had been inspired to get into music by Phil?

The splash of October swimmers
The cheers of Helsinki winners
My barbed bones of futility
Leaking marrow of ability


Another new discovery in this next clip and this time it came from Darcy. Here are his own words:

“Regarding October songs the only one that immediately comes to mind is Outubro by Azymuth. The album’s title track is very relaxing and fits the northern hemisphere September and early October vibe very well. There are no words, which you may want, and Azymuth are a Southern Hemisphere band which may mean they are going for a Spring feel, but I think it works for us Northerners too.”

Going a bit left field with this one, and an instrumental, but it follows on nicely from my last post which featured Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’66. Azymuth are also from Brazil and are a jazz-funk trio that formed in 1973. Outubro is Portuguese for October, and as this series of songs relates to months of the year, not seasons, quite appropriate to include it. Very mellow and pretty like the theme music to many a ’70s television drama.


The final suggestion I’m going to include came from C of Sun-Dried Sparrows fame. She had done a bit of research and found something by Amy Winehouse called October Song. I too found that one but hard to work out if it has any connection to the month. Here’s what C came up with:

Amy Winehouse had a track called October Song which was apparently written in memory of her pet canary… or was it about her use of marijuana? … both have been suggested!”

Sadly, we will now never know, and it can be hard to watch clips of the supremely talented Amy looking so healthy when we now know she only lived another seven years after this was filmed. Tragic, but like watching something in slo-mo, we could almost see it coming.


To be honest I’m not entirely sold on any of the above, but they do fit the remit of this series so happy to include them. Something that doesn’t fit the remit at all is this song by Bobby (Boris) Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers but as Halloween is almost upon us, time for a little Monster Mash I feel. This is the kind of song that popped up on Ed (Stewpot) Stewart’s Junior Choice when I was growing up and actually reached the No. 3 spot on the UK Singles Chart in 1973. Bobby Pickett co-wrote Monster Mash with Leonard Capizzi in May 1962. The song was a spoof on the dance crazes popular at the time, including the Twist and the Mashed Potato, which inspired the title. The song also featured Bobby’s impersonations of veteran horror stars Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. This must be one of the few novelty records I haven’t tired of as I still find it quite good fun. Maybe just me though?

Monster Mash by Bobby (Boris) Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – October is not it seems a month that lends itself to the writing of songs. There were plenty to choose from for September but kind of all over the place this time, what with psychedelic folk, alternative rock and jazz-funk putting in an appearance. Not all the lyrics even mention the month and only one song mentions nature and the falling of leaves.

For me, October is all about the falling leaves and the spectacular colour show natures gives us, but I suppose if you are a city dweller, the month might not conjure up those images. For some, October is all about Halloween, which isn’t a big deal for us nowadays but at DD’s abode she still likes to put up spooky decorations and invite friends over for a themed party. Why I decided to include that old favourite of a song.


Hopefully November will turn out to be a bit more inspirational when it comes to the writing of songs. As ever, your suggestions will be invaluable and gratefully received.

Until next time…

Monster Mash Lyrics
(Song by Bobby Pickett/Leonard Capizzi)

I was working in the lab, late one night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight
For my monster from his slab, began to rise
And suddenly to my surprise

He did the mash, he did the monster mash
The monster mash, it was a graveyard smash
He did the mash, it caught on in a flash
He did the mash, he did the monster mash

From my laboratory in the castle east
To the master bedroom where the vampires feast
The ghouls all came from their humble abodes
To get a jolt from my electrodes

They did the mash, they did the monster mash
The monster mash, it was a graveyard smash
They did the mash, it caught on in a flash
They did the mash, they did the monster mash

The zombies were having fun
The party had just begun
The guests included Wolfman
Dracula, and his son

The scene was rockin’, all were digging the sounds
Igor on chains, backed by his baying hounds
The coffin-bangers were about to arrive
With their vocal group, ‘The Crypt-Kicker Five’

They played the mash, they played the monster mash
The monster mash, it was a graveyard smash
They played the mash, it caught on in a flash
They played the mash, they played the monster mash

Out from his coffin, Drac’s voice did ring
Seems he was troubled by just one thing
Opened the lid and shook his fist and said
“Whatever happened to my Transylvania Twist?”

It’s now the mash, it’s now the monster mash
The monster mash, and it’s a graveyard smash
It’s now the mash, it caught on in a flash
It’s now the mash, it’s now the monster mash

Now everything’s cool, Drac’s a part of the band
And my Monster Mash is the hit of the land
For you, the living, this mash was meant too
When you get to my door, tell them Boris sent you

Then you can mash, then you can monster mash
The monster mash, and do my graveyard smash
Then you can mash, you will catch on in a flash
Then you can mash, then you can monster mash

Wah-ooh, argh, monster mash, wah-ooh
Easy, Igor, you impetuous young boy
Argh, mash good, mm, argh
Monster mash, wah-ooh, monster mash, wah-ooh

Months Of The Year In Song: Sad September

I can’t believe I’ve reached the age I have, without noticing the names given to the last four months of the year come from the Latin words for seven, eight, nine and ten: Septem, Octo, Novem and Decem. It’s so obvious now but of course at first glance it makes no sense as we have 12 months in our calendar and those months find themselves sitting at ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth positions. That would be because the first calendar was a Roman one, and they liked the decimal system of doing things in tens. Their calendar year started in March but of course the summer and winter months would soon become misplaced so additional days belonging to no particular month were added as an “unorganised winter”, allowing things (nature) to restore to their proper place.


In time the Julian and then Gregorian calendars took over which included January and February, and the introduction of an extra day every four years (a leap year) to more closely approximate the 365.2422-day solar year determined by the Earth’s revolution around the Sun. The mathematically astute amongst you will notice that every so often another adjustment has to be made to keep things in line, but the last time that happened was in the year 1900 and the next time it’ll happen will be the year 2100, so not going to be during my lifetime.

But why am I rabbiting on about calendars? Well, I had prewarned you I intended to start a new series featuring songs relating to months of the year and despite this month having not turned out as I had expected here in the UK, what with the passing of our monarch, there is still time to list the great suggestions put forward for September. As I’ve already written about the Earth, Wind & Fire song September as part of my Wheel of the Year in Song series (link here), I’ll concentrate on new finds.

The first song I’m going to include is September Gurls by Big Star, that suggestion put forward by both Charity Chic and C from Sun Dried Sparrows. This is a new song for me, and to be honest, until I saw the band pop up on some of the other more serious music blogs, I had always assumed Big Star were a pop outfit, lumping them in with Big Fun and Five Star! My bad, but thanks guys for drawing my attention to a band from my favourite era who are very much in my wheelhouse. This song often talked about by fans as “the greatest number-one song that never charted”.


The next suggestion comes from Khayem who is a relatively new follower of this blog but his recent comments have been much appreciated. We could probably include this one again in 11 months time because of the title, but here is August & September by The The. Powerful lyrics there from Matt Johnson.


Another relatively new follower to this blog is Lizza, who is the same age as me and seems to have led a bit of a parallel life, enjoying the same songs in similar contexts. She first mentioned these two suggestions last year when I wrote a post about the Autumnal Equinox and Harvest Moon, which happened to coincide that year. Here are her own words:

“I love September Song, J P Cooper’s 2017 tale of teen romance, and also a much earlier September Song, first recorded by Walter Huston in 1938. It was one of my mum’s favourite songs – it was featured in a 1950s film, September Affair, which she saw on one of her first visits to the cinema after she moved to London to begin her career as a teacher … The singer admits that he’s lost a tooth, and is a little lame – but on the plus side: “I have a little money and I have a little fame”. September Song has been recorded by many other artists since Walter Huston, from Frank Sinatra to Jeff Lynne, but I think they all leave out the reference to the lost tooth and the lameness!”

A couple of great September songs there and the first one takes me right back to my teenage years. Both sad songs however as many that mention the month of September invariably are.



To finish off I’m going to share a couple of songs from opposite ends of the spectrum. The first by Green Day and the second by Julie London who made an entire album of songs, each of them featuring a different month of the year. The Green Day song was an ode to the songwriter’s father, who died in the month of September. Julie’s song is a standard and has been recorded by many others, but again a sad song, this time about nostalgia (first shared by CC who liberated the album from one of the many fine charity shops in his locale and created a whole series out of it!).

Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day:

September In The Rain by Julie London:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I always feel a bit sad when we hit September and it seems I’m not alone as the month does seem to be a bit of a metaphor for the passing of time and the end of things (for those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere). Others however, like my daughter, who enjoy wrapping up in their winter woollies and sitting around roaring fires, would beg to differ.

Whatever camp you fall into, there certainly seem to be plenty of songs out there featuring the month of September. Will there be as many about the month of October? Not sure yet, but hopefully some of you will be able to help me out. As ever, suggestions would be most welcome.

Until next time…


September In The Rain Lyrics
(Song by Al Dubin/Harry Warren)

The leaves of brown came tumbling down
Remember, in September, in the rain
The sun went out just like a dying ember
That September in the rain

To every word of love I heard you whisper
The raindrops seemed to play our sweet refrain
Though spring is here, to me it’s still September
That September in the rain

To every word of love I heard you whisper
The raindrops seemed to play our sweet refrain
Though spring is here, to me it is still September
That September in the rain
That September that brought the pain
That September in the rain