40 Years Ago This Week, Elvis “Left the Building” for the Last Time – Part 2

Last time I told the story of how it came about that my very first vinyl album was an Elvis one. Believe it or not my first CD was an Elvis one as well (and I didn’t even have a CD player yet!). We had been slow to move from vinyl and cassette tape to digital mediums as I just couldn’t get my head round the concept of having to replace nearly 30 years’ worth of music, but the writing was on the wall, so when I decided to buy the new Elvis compilation album “Always On My Mind” in 1997, it had to be in CD format. As new parents money was tight, so the cutting-edge CD player had to wait until later in the year to be purchased. In the meantime however, I played it liberally on our home computer until the ridiculously large VDU (remember those) decided to blow up after over-heating one sunny afternoon. Hard to believe in Scotland I know, but we had stupidly placed it right in front of a single-glazed window.

NB: For those of you who were sceptical last time about the ability to “Do a Swede” with only a CD to work with, the above goes to prove that it is kind of possible. Just sayin’.

The anniversary of Elvis’ death sort of crept up on me this week and the post that I published on the actual day itself was a very hastily put together affair. Since then however I have had a chance to read the many other posts written by my fellow bloggers, and after having watched some great video clips, listened to many of his wonderful songs and generally had a good wallow through the memorabilia in my “Elvis Box” (it’s a thing), my love for the man and his music has returned with a vengeance.

Talking of love, the CD “Always On My Mind” was subtitled The Ultimate Love Songs Collection, so not surprisingly it contains an awful lot of songs with that word in the title. Looking at it right now we have: Can’t Help Falling In Love, Love Me Tender, Love Me, Loving You, Love Letters, You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me and It’s Only Love. The word mind also crops up a couple of times as Suspicious Minds (this is a blistering live version) was included as well as the title track, Always On My Mind.

Always On My Mind by Elvis Presley:

Elvis Presley recorded his version of Always On My Mind a few weeks after his final separation from Priscilla. Although Elvis didn’t actually write any of his songs, he might as well have done, for they always seemed to be just so darned personal. Elvis was not the best of letter-writers and Priscilla used to say that they communicated through music instead, as he regularly sent her “meaningful” records after returning home from Germany. Always On My Mind was most definitely for Priscilla which makes it all the more heart-breaking. I don’t really think Elvis ever thought she would leave, but one little lady (albeit with sometimes very big hair) versus the might of the Memphis Mafia, was never going to work out in the long run.

And this is where I’m reminded of the film Blue Hawaii which has become a bit of a tradition in our house as a Boxing Day pick-me-up. Living in Scotland is a cold, damp and dreich affair over the winter months so what could be better than to curl up on the sofa with some slices of fresh pineapple (yes really) and watch Elvis rock-a-hula his way across the sands of Waikiki Beach. I am reminded of the film because of this song, Almost Always True. No, I think it’s a given that Elvis was not “always true” but he was a family man at heart so when Priscilla left, that marked the beginning of the end for him.

Funnily enough, well actually not funny at all as it turns out, my Boxing Day tradition of watching Blue Hawaii did not take place last year as that was the day we found out that George Michael had passed away. I spent most of the day surfing the net and writing the first of my tribute posts. A couple of days later however, the film Viva Las Vegas popped up on the television schedules and whilst watching the antics of Elvis and Ann-Margret (again, their on-screen chemistry suggested he was almost always true), it occurred to me that both men had similarly long careers but both came to a similarly premature, and undignified end.

So, no little paragraph this time with my musings on the “meaning of life”, as just a bit too sad. Instead a photomontage of two of my musical heroes, both taken from us far too soon. I rest my case. RIP Elvis, RIP George.

Always On My Mind Lyrics
(Song by Johnny Christopher/Mark James/Wayne Carson)

Maybe I didn’t love you
Quite as often as I could have
Maybe I didn’t treat you
Quite as good as I should have
If I made you feel second best
Girl I’m sorry I was blind
But you were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

Maybe I didn’t hold you
All those lonely, lonely times
I guess I never told you
That I am so happy that you’re mine
If I made you feel second best
Girl I’m sorry I was blind
But you were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

Tell me, tell me that your sweet love hasn’t died
Give me, give me one more chance
To keep you satisfied
I’ll keep you satisfied
Little things I should have said and done
I just never took the time
But you were always on my mind
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

Barbra, Ariana and Carly – A Week of Highs and Lows

Well, emotional times indeed.

First of all it’s Chelsea Flower Show week and back at the beginning of this week I had fully intended to perhaps write a heart-warming story about my dad, who in my opinion, had one of the nicest gardens in our village – It was small but perfectly formed and just about all the plants were grown from seed in his greenhouse. I thought I’d include a few pictures and find an appropriate florally-inclined song to accompany the post. Having already shared Barbra Streisand’s duets with both Kris Kristofferson and Barry Gibb, it was perhaps time to revisit the duet she recorded with Neil Diamond.

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers by Barbra and Neil:

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers (Any More) was actually a song about a couple who have drifted apart but somehow, taken literally, that song title really struck a cord with me this week. My dad died back in 2003 but prior to that he always used to arrive on this, the last week of May, with scores of bedding plants for my garden as he always produced way more than were needed. His green fingers meant that I too ended up with a colourful summer garden but of course since 2003 there have been no trays of bedding plants which is what made me think of that song. (Pictures from Dad’s garden below.)

Secondly, on Monday night before going to bed, I spotted a Facebook update from one of darling daughter’s best friends (so close she features on his FB profile photo). He was in Manchester at the Ariana Grande concert and it was obvious there was much excitement in the air. I knew very little about Ariana Grande before this week but now of course we have all heard of her and not for the reasons she would have ever wanted. It appears she started off in musical theatre which led on to a role in a very popular Nickelodeon television show and from there to life as a recording artist. She is very, very pretty (in a Cheryl Tweedy/Cole/Fernandez-Versini kind of way) which always helps, and although much has been made of her fan base being teenage girls, I know from personal experience that she is also much loved by young gay men. Fortunately, the young gay man we know who went to the concert came to no harm on Monday night but of course the same cannot be said for those in the foyer area who found themselves at the mercy of a happening I find very hard to comprehend.

manchester

The people of Manchester have shown themselves to be predictably strong, caring and full of community spirit, with many stories of random acts of kindness unfolding in the course of the week. From taxi drivers to homeless people to nurses to schoolchildren, everyone rallied round. Life must go on as before and that great city has certainly shown that they will be doing just that (some even grudgingly applauding the fact that Man U won their match on Wednesday night). The electioneering all had to grind to a halt for a while for which I was grateful – Coming from Scotland we have now had five trips to the ballot box in just over two and a half years and for once I will not be staying up all night to watch the results come in. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m all electioned-out.

Ariana Grande herself has announced she is to return for a benefit concert in aid of the bereaved families and I’ve just had a quick delve into the music database to see if we have anything of hers stored there – It appears that we do, from back in 2013, before darling daughter went down different music purchasing avenues. Having just listened to it and watched the video, I don’t feel I can include it however, as just a bit too raunchy for this place but in the meantime here is Ariana on the Jimmy Fallon show doing some of her great musical impressions. I do think this young lady is going to have a hard time dealing with what happened on Monday night so I really hope she gets the support she will no doubt need.

Finally, this week we heard of the death of Roger Moore. He was 89 so not one of those shock deaths we had got so used to hearing about last year, but still the end of an era for those of us who remembered him well as The Saint, Lord Brett Sinclair and of course as the most light-hearted, comedic James Bond of them all. Last year I wrote a post about Bond themes (Bond Themes and Nancy Sinatra) and ranked them by personal preference. Although You Only Live Twice came at the top, it is interesting to note that the next three were from the Roger Moore era so perhaps a bit of a golden age, if not for the franchise, for the theme song. (We’ll not mention Moonraker however which came at the bottom of my list!)

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Not in the mood at the moment for the big production number that is Live and Let Die nor for Sheena Easton so instead I’ll end this meandering post with the theme song to the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me, which was Roger’s third outing as Bond. Nobody Does It Better was composed by Marvin Hamlisch, the lyrics were by Carole Bayer Sager and it was performed by Carly Simon. It was the first theme song with a title that was different from the name of the film and for many, nobody did Bond better than Roger.

Nobody Does It Better by Carly Simon:

So, “What’s It All About?” – Despite the fact that this week has turned out to be one of great sadness, it has also provided a fair few highs as well. Because our back garden is now a much more open space with fewer bedding plants, it is perfect as a gathering place for the young people, who held an impromptu get-together to welcome the return of their friend from Manchester, unscathed. The weather has also been absolutely glorious over the last few days so tonight there is to be a party in another garden to celebrate a neighbour’s 90th birthday. Poor Roger didn’t make it to 90 but Albert has, and although he didn’t ever drive a Lotus Esprit or meet Barbara Bach, he did once serve Princess Margaret breakfast in bed. Yes, you don’t get to be an nonagenarian without having a fair few tales to tell and that one is perhaps again, for another day!

Until next time….

Nobody Does It Better Lyrics
(Song by Marvin Hamlisch/Carole Bayer Sager)

Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, you’re the best

I wasn’t looking
But somehow you found me
It tried to hide from your love light
But like Heaven above me
The spy who loved me
Is keeping all my secrets safe tonight

And nobody does it better

Though sometimes I wish someone could
Nobody does it quite the way you do
Why’d you have to be so good?

The way that you hold me
Whenever you hold me
There’s some kind of magic inside you
That keeps me from running
But just keep it coming
How’d you learn to do the things you do?

And nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, baby, darlin’, you’re the best

Baby, you’re the best
Darlin’, you’re the best

An American Odyssey in Song: Rhode Island – “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey

Welcome to this occasional series where I am attempting a virtual journey around the 50 States of America in song. For anyone new to this place, I have a continuous route map where I enter and leave each state only once. Suggestions for the next leg always welcome!

Last time we visited Massachusetts (tricky to spell but that’s probably the last time I’ll have to do it) so we are now heading west towards New York, first passing through Rhode Island. This tiny state, only 37 miles wide and 48 miles long is made up of islands, inlets and peninsulas but also what appears to be chunks of mainland America plucked from Connecticut and Massachusetts (drat had to spell it again). The name came about because the Italian explorer Giovanni Verrazzano thought that the large pear-shaped island sitting in Narragansett Bay looked like the Greek island of Rhodes. The official name is actually the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, the plantations part being an archaic name for “colony”.

Rhode Island

And now for the part I am coming to enjoy most about this series – The random fact element. Rhode Island is also called the Ocean State and due to its geography has a long history of sailing. The America’s Cup, offered up as a prize by the British Royal Yacht Squadron in 1851, was first won by a boat called America which is how it got its name. The cup has spent much of its time in Newport, Rhode Island ever since and poor Britain has never won it back. The MGM musical High Society was set in one of the many fully staffed mansions that littered the state back then and one of the most memorable scenes was when Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly took a trip on the True Love which in turn inspired the song for the movie. I do remember being troubled by their age difference when first watching it as a child – Having just looked it up, Bing was 53 and Grace 27 when the film was shot, but not unusual amongst wealthy Rhode Islanders back then I suppose. In fact the mansions, or “cottages” as they were called, were originally built by rich plantation owners in order to escape the heat of the Southern summer. Later on rich Northern families started to do the same as the Gilded Age of Vanderbilts and Astors reached its staggeringly opulent zenith. Never had so much money, been made so fast, by so few, and much of this wealth was reflected in the Cliff Walk properties of Newport, RI.

But hey, as usual I am being side-tracked, for this is supposed to be a music blog. Not many obvious contenders for this state but last time both CC and Rol came up with the suggestion Sweet Rhode Island Red by Ike and Tina Turner. A good one but not my featured song for this post as although most of us who are not even au fait with the world of poultry farming have heard of the Rhode Island Red hen (the state bird), the song is not about the hen or even set in the state. Also, although I really enjoyed Tina’s output during her reincarnation of the 1980s, I’m not so fond of the songs she recorded with Ike (or Ike), especially Nutbush City Limits, but we’ll come to the reason for that another day.

ike and tina

But not everyone in Rhode Island lives in mansions and owns yachts. Some of you will know of the animated sitcom Family Guy created by Seth MacFarlane. The series centres on the Griffins family who have an anthropomorphic pet dog called Brian. Seth MacFarlane is not only a talented actor, writer, singer, film-maker but is also (I think) extremely good-looking and it turns out he is even descended from one of the original passengers from The Mayflower (grrr…). He studied animation at the Rhode Island School of Design so not unusual to have set the show in the fictional city of Quahog, RI. I give you the Road To Rhode Island by Brian and Stewie!

All this talk of the Gilded Age and opulent mansions however has made me look into it a bit more and has inspired my choice of featured song for this post. One of the largest “cottages” was Hammersmith Farm owned by the stepfather of Jacqueline Bouvier, Hugh D. Auchincloss. She of course went on to marry John F Kennedy and their wedding reception was held there. The property was also used as the setting for the 1974 film version of The Great Gatsby starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. I have a feeling that Grace Kelly may well have also “graced” the terraces of Hammersmith Farm at some point, perhaps not in High Society as that appeared to be a film set, but perhaps in her role as Princess Grace of Monaco.

Some of you will know that Baz Luhrmann also made a dazzling version of The Great Gatsby back in 2013 and the song Young and Beautiful was specially written and recorded for it by Lana Del Rey. It was perfect for the film as she has a deep, sultry voice and a look that is evocative of a much earlier time. Also, a song about “the young and the beautiful” was totally appropriate for the tale of The Great Gatsby. All of the people mentioned in the paragraph above were rich, young and beautiful but whether characters in fiction or real people, they all died prematurely or experienced tragedy in their lives. Again a very tenuous link to this state, and again from a film, but just reinforces the knowledge we all have that a life of wealth and privilege does not necessarily bring happiness.

Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey:

Having done a bit of research, it seems that Lana Del Rey adopted her exotic sounding Latin name and look after spending time with friends in Miami. She is however originally from New York and has a Scottish heritage. Her real name is Lizzy Grant which I find amusing as where I come from in the North-East of Scotland there are many older ladies called Lizzy Grant – Absolutely none of them look like Lana Del Rey!

So, a longish post about the smallest state. Heading into Connecticut next and drawing a blank myself for that state at the moment, so again, any suggestions more than welcome. I can think of a couple of siblings who came from there and whose songs I have featured in this place recently, so may well go down that route. We’ll see, but in the meantime, I think I’ll have another listen to the haunting and sombre sound of Young and Beautiful.

Until next time….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Postscript:

Because I mentioned the film High Society a fair few times above, I feel I should share this excellent clip of the inimitable Mr Louis “Satchel Mouth” Armstrong giving us a potted version of what is to come. Yes, this was high society Rhode Island-style, back in 1956. Enjoy.

Music from Guardians of the Galaxy #2 – Rupert Holmes and that Piña Colada Song!

Saturday is the day I go for my Stormfront lesson – Sounds like I’m in training to become a Marvel superhero-type figure but no, after purchasing my new Apple laptop from the local Stormfront computer shop, I thought it would be a good idea to actually learn how to use all the bells and whistles on it. It turns out you can buy a year’s Personal Trainer Card which gives you up to 200 hours of one-to-one training. No-one has ever fitted in 200 hours of training in a year to date, but I am working on being the first – Works out at 39p per session if you do, so excellent value for money (and no jokes please about the fact that I am Scottish and therefore unfairly regarded as being a bit tight with the old spondulicks).

Of course whenever anything sounds just too good to be true, it usually is, and by the time you pay for the car parking and shove in time at one of the many nearby stores (if you’ve got there a bit too early), it has already cost you about £15 before you begin but hey, it’s my new Saturday routine, and so far I’ve learnt a lot.

The shop right next door to Stormfront is Lakeland, which of course sells all sorts of highly priced but colourful kitchen accessories you never knew you needed. Last week I ended up buying Easter egg moulds and a fancy silicon pastry brush which meant we made some dodgy homemade chocolate eggs which came out at around £10 per unit as opposed to the nice shop-bought ones that could have been purchased for a £1.

th1T0OM42E

Today I had another browse, as I had again arrived about ten minutes too early, and what was piled up on a table by the front entrance, but lots of pots of ready-made frosting (or icing as we would call it) for cup cakes. Considering I wrote about cakes and icing last Saturday for my MacArthur Park post, I had to have a proper look at these brightly packaged tubs. One of the flavours was “Piña Colada” which of course reminded me of Escape (The Piña Colada Song) released in 1979 by Rupert Holmes. Funnily enough I had already been trying to work out which song to feature next from the excellent Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack album, full of lesser-known ’70s pop fodder. Here it was falling into my lap!

Escape (The Piña Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes:

I did write about this song last year as I had always thought I liked it because of the jaunty upbeat chorus. After revisiting it however I took more heed of the lyrics and realised (as often happens), that it was not really a jaunty upbeat tale at all. I even ended up having a bit of a spat with an American blogger due to our different interpretation of the lyrics. He seems to have disappeared from the blogosphere since and if it had anything to do with me I am truly sorry, but I doubt it. You need stamina to keep going with all this malarkey and it can really separate the men from the boys (or girls).

The spat came about because of our very different take on the twist to the song. After being tired of his “old lady” Rupert replies to a personal ad in a newspaper but lo and behold, who turns up for their clandestine meeting but his own “lovely lady” – What happened to the “old lady” he was so tired of?

So I waited with high hopes, then she walked in the place
I knew her smile in an instant, I knew the curve of her face
It was my own lovely lady, and she said, “Oh, it’s you”
And we laughed for a moment, and I said, “I never knew”

I know this might sound totally unreasonable but in my opinion if your other half was the person who turned up at O’Malley’s, there would be no sniggers of laughter and playful chiding about how little you knew each other, it would be curtains for the relationship. In the first place you would both have been caught out so you would become all angry and defensive, and secondly, the excitement of perhaps meeting someone with whom to plan your escape has all of a sudden dissipated. I fear there would be no turning back, from this “turn of events”.

My American blogging friend however decided that after the initial shock of finding each other at O’Malley’s, they would indeed get over it, have a laugh about it, and start to rebuild their relationship. He obviously doesn’t know Scottish women!

So, “What’s It All About?” – If you’re thinking of placing sneaky little personal ads or going down the modern day online equivalent, run it by your other half first as you just never know, they might be thinking of doing exactly the same thing! As for me, Mr WIAA has just arrived with a large glass containing a Piña Colada made with the cocktail mix I bought in the Lakeland shop today after my lesson – A pre-emptive strike is the best kind of strike but I do think that this time, I’ll give the dunes of the cape a miss!

dunes

Escape (The Piña Colada Song) Lyrics
(Song by Rupert Holmes)

I was tired of my lady, we’d been together too long
Like a worn-out recording, of a favourite song
So while she lay there sleeping, I read the paper in bed
And in the personals column, there was this letter I read

“If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain
If you’re not into yoga, if you have half a brain
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape
I’m the love that you’ve looked for, write to me, and escape”

I didn’t think about my lady, I know that sounds kind of mean
But me and my old lady, had fallen into the same old dull routine
So I wrote to the paper, took out a personal ad
And though I’m nobody’s poet, I thought it wasn’t half bad

“Yes, I like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain
I’m not much into health food, I am into champagne
I’ve got to meet you by tomorrow noon, and cut through all this red tape
At a bar called O’Malley’s, where we’ll plan our escape”

So I waited with high hopes, then she walked in the place
I knew her smile in an instant, I knew the curve of her face
It was my own lovely lady, and she said, “Oh, it’s you”
And we laughed for a moment, and I said, “I never knew”

“That you liked Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain
And the feel of the ocean, and the taste of champagne
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape
You’re the love that I’ve looked for, come with me, and escape”

“If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain
If you’re not into yoga, if you have half a brain
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape
I’m the love that you’ve looked for, come with me, and escape”

Music from Guardians of the Galaxy #1 – Blue Swede and Hooked on a Feeling

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter Monday. My day was particularly good in that it was spent almost entirely away from a computer screen. Considering that in my last post I wrote of my suspected “addiction to blogging”, this is a good thing. Instead my day was spent licking the back garden into shape, getting the outdoor furniture back in its usual spot in order to read the last few chapters of the book I’ve been stuck on for ages and having a lovely meal cooked for us by darling daughter.

The icing on the cake however was that one of our favourite films was on telly in the evening so for the first time in ages “we three” watched something together and not in different rooms of the house as is wont to happen nowadays. What was the film? – Why it was Guardians of the Galaxy which is an unusual choice for me but it is a very different animal from other films of its ilk because one of its stars is a “mix-tape”. I wrote about this mix-tape last year as the most important song on it was Hooked On A Feeling by Blue Swede and it was only after watching last year’s Eurovision Song Contest (yes I watch it) that I discovered it was actually by a band from Sweden. In the interests of continuing my detox from the computer screen for a little longer, I hope you don’t mind if I do another little cut and paste from last year:

Guardians of the Galaxy
Those intrepid Guardians of the Galaxy!

“Last time I wrote about the Eurovision Song Contest and the show itself, hosted by Sweden this year, was possibly the best ever and had a brilliant set of very entertaining “interval fillers”. The most surprising of these was a film montage of Sweden’s contribution to pop music – Surprising, because I hadn’t realised that many of these artists were in fact Swedish. For a small Nordic country it seems to have punched above its weight in that department. Even if they had only produced Abba and then stopped that would have been enough, but no, we have also had Roxette, Europe, Ace of Base and many more that have passed me by, but the younger generation will know well.

The first of these artists to be celebrated was Björn Skifs of the band Blue Swede who hit the No. 1 spot in the US Charts in 1974 with Hooked on a Feeling. At exactly the same time, Björn Ulvaeus and the rest of Abba launched themselves on an unsuspecting world at the Eurovision Song Contest, winning decisively with Waterloo. Just to top things off, that was also the year that Björn Borg really started making a name for himself in the tennis world – So, all in all, a good year for Swedes called Björn.

Blue Swede

Looking at him now, our first Björn looks like the archetypal Disney Prince with his “Viking-esque” clothing and blond hair. The song Hooked on a Feeling was written by Mark James and was first recorded in 1968 by B.J. Thomas (he of Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head fame). The Blue Swede version that did so well in the US has the strange “ooga chaka” chant at the beginning which was originally added by Jonathan King in 1971. Until last Saturday night watching Eurovision, I hadn’t realised that this song, which has come into my life twice in the last 20 years, was by a band from Sweden.

Hooked on a Feeling by Blue Swede:

A couple of years ago darling daughter persuaded us to go and see a new Marvel Studios film called Guardians of the Galaxy. My heart sank when she mentioned the name as I am not a fan of superhero-type space films at all, but it turned out to be excellent. The writing was predictably sharp and witty, local girl Karen Gillan starred in it and best of all, the soundtrack was full of ’70s songs that totally resonated with us. Yes, it was set in space, but it took me right back to my school days and all the memories they conjure up. The ’70s songs were on a mix-tape (remember those?) played over and over by the lead character on an old Walkman, as a link to his dead mother and home in Missouri.

The main song was Hooked on a Feeling but there were also ones by 10cc, The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Elvin Bishop and Rupert Holmes. An excellent soundtrack album was released but ironically had to be downloaded with a digital picture of a cassette tape attached as no-one has the means to play actual tapes any more. The success of this mix lay in the fact that the songs chosen were, according to the director, “semi-familiar” – Ones you recognise but might not be able to name off the top of your head.

I mentioned that the song had come into my life twice before, the other time being when it popped up on the television show Ally McBeal, a comedy drama set in a Boston legal firm. The use was made of fantasy sequences and the “dancing baby” made regular appearances, always accompanied by the Blue Swede song Hooked on a Feeling. I loved that show as it came along in the late ’90s just at the time I had given up work to be a full-time mum. I think it reminded me of what life was like on the outside but thankfully I don’t remember ever feeling wistful about wanting to return to it which made for a happy time for us.

Hooked On A Feeling by Vonda Shepard:

Ally and her colleagues always frequented the same bar after work where the resident performer was singer Vonda Shepard. It was inevitable therefore that there would be an album of songs from the show and of course I bought it. Hooked on a Feeling was on it of course but again there was a great mix of lesser-known tracks, my favourite being the Skeeter Davis song The End of the World which had accompanied a particularly poignant scene in the show.

So, a song I had come across often but hadn’t realised was by a Swedish band until last weekend. Looking now at pictures of all the aforementioned Björns in later life, they could be the affluent CEOs of large multinational corporations. The Swedes are successful in music and sport but the “rock ‘n’ roll” lifestyle is obviously not for them – In view of what has been happening to so many of our idols of late, I think I am grateful.”

Hooked on a Feeling Lyrics
(Song by Mark James)

Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga
Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga
Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga
Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga

I can’t stop this feeling
Deep inside on me
Girl, you just don’t realize
What you do to me

When you hold me
In your arms so tight
You let me know
Everything’s all right

I’m hooked on a feeling
I’m high on believing
That you’re in love with me

Lips as sweet as candy
It’s taste is on my mind
Girl, you got me thirsty
For another cup o’ wine

Got a bug from you girl
But I don’t need no cure
I’ll just stay a victim
If I can for sure

All the good love
When we’re all alone
Keep it up girl
Yeah, you turn me on

I’m hooked on a feeling
I’m high on believing
That you’re in love with me

Postscript:

For those who have seen the movie, here is a wee fellow you may recognise – Made by Mr WIAA for darling daughter as she was such a fan.

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Baby Groot!

An American Odyssey in Song: New Hampshire – Noel Harrison and The Windmills Of Your Mind

Welcome to this series where I am going to attempt a virtual journey around the 50 States of America in song – Suggestions for the next leg always welcome!

Last time we started our journey in Maine and our road trip inevitably now takes us to the neighbouring state of New Hampshire. This is a state that has very little coastline but it does have the highest peaks east of the Mississippi – The White Mountains cover about a quarter of the state and are part of the northern Appalachian range. Looking at a map of New Hampshire, New England you could be back in Old England as the place names are all very familiar to us. There is Portsmouth on the coast then slightly inland there is Exeter, Dover and Manchester. Yes when the founding fathers landed in the New World they took a lot of the old world with them.

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The most distinctive thing about New Hampshire for me, is that it does seasons like no other state. Autumn, or fall as it is called there, is spectacular and in winter the mountain regions are covered in snow. Spring and summer look quite nifty too and again, although these are not travelogue posts, I’ll include a few pictures.

In popular culture, the Henry/Jane Fonda film On Golden Pond is set in New Hampshire and John Irving, a native of the state, wrote his best-selling novel about the eponymous Hotel. In both crime dramas Breaking Bad and The Sopranos, we have characters who successfully hide out there for long periods, in “cabins in the woods”.

But this is supposed to be a music blog so what song could accompany my post about New Hampshire? The suggestions were not as free-flowing as last time, mainly because there aren’t many well-known songs that mention place names from The Granite State although thanks to Jez for manfully coming up with his suggestion (The Shaw Brothers’ New Hampshire Naturally). Rick, a New-Englander himself, came in with a late suggestion (Tom Rush’s Merrimack County) and CC‘s generic pick (Jonathan Richman’s New England) is being kept for another state. Rol, who can usually be depended on for a multitude of suggestions, was even stumped in finding songs suitable for this blog – As he pointed out there are plenty of songs that refer to Manchester, Portsmouth and even Lebanon but just not the ones in New Hampshire. Time to bend the rules a bit then and this is where I made a wonderful discovery.

On my long list of “posts pending”, which I have mentioned just a few times (I can’t keep up with it), I have the song The Windmills Of Your Mind by Noel Harrison because it is one of Mr WIAA’s favourites. It was written for a key scene in the film The Thomas Crown Affair and wait for it, that key scene is set in New Hampshire where Steve McQueen’s character flies a glider over the little airport in Salem. It’s obviously not autumn because it’s all very green but we do, literally, get a bird’s eye view of the landscape.

The Windmills Of Your Mind by Noel Harrison:

This classic 1968 bank heist film needed an original song for that glider scene and the director asked French composer Michel Legrand, along with American lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman, to come up with something that referenced the feelings of Thomas Crown as he calmly flies his glider, whilst experiencing the inner tension of preparing to commit a major robbery. To quote the Bergmans – “The lyrics were a stream-of-consciousness. We felt that the song had to be some kind of mind trip. I think we were thinking of that feeling you have when you try to fall asleep at night and you can’t turn your brain off because thoughts and memories tumble.”

I don’t know about you but I often find that I can’t turn my brain off (maybe why all this outpouring in a blog is so therapeutic) and this song does kind of conjure up images of what is going on in there. As for the film, I am actually more familiar with the very stylish remake from 1999 which starred Pierce Brosnan and Renee Russo. The plotline was adapted somewhat to take account of the times but what I remember most about it was that Ms Russo, a lady of a certain age by that time, kept appearing in the most stunning outfits.

One of my many potential schemes for making money over the last decade has been to devise a wardrobe planning system for busy women. Out there in cyberspace, there is probably still a website called The Little Red Box Wardrobe Planner, although I can’t quite remember where. There were business cards and everything and I even had conversations with the Dragon’s Den TV Show people about it as my online pitch must have caught their interest. Nothing came of it in terms of earning potential (I am exceptionally good at putting in an awful lot of time and effort to that end) but it still works for me on a daily basis – My point being is that one of the things that really causes the windmills to work overtime in a woman’s brain is that eternal dilemma, “What to wear?”. Not so if like Renee Russo in The Thomas Crown Affair you have all your outfits carefully co-ordinated and selected for you, or, if you are the proud owner of a Little Red Box Wardrobe Planning System!

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Noel Harrison

It was of course Noel Harrison (son of Rex) who recorded the original version of The Windmills Of Your Mind and it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1968. The remake in 1999 also featured the song, this time played during the end credits and performed by Sting who along with some other very serious-minded chaps seems to rarely pop up in the music blogosphere. Whatever, I do like his jazzy take on the song and it gives us a chance to revisit the autumnal New Hampshire landscape from that upgraded glider, and see some more of Renee’s great outfits (although in the still for this YouTube clip she seems to be in her birthday suit!).

Next time we’re heading across the state border into Vermont and any suggestions for songs associated with that state would be gratefully received. As you can see from this post it doesn’t necessarily have to be namechecked, just associated in some way. You know where the comments boxes are.

In the meantime, it’s not comments boxes I’m off to look at but Little Red Boxes of the wardrobe planning variety. Why have those windmills going round and round in your head all night when there is no need. Just sayin’.

Until next time…..

The Windmills Of Your Mind Lyrics
(Song by Michel Legrand/Alan Bergman/Marilyn Bergman)

Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel
Like a snowball down a mountain, or a carnival balloon
Like a carousel that’s turning running rings around the moon
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind

Like a tunnel that you follow to a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving in a half forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble someone tosses in a stream
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind

Keys that jingle in your pocket, words that jangle in your head
Why did summer go so quickly, was it something that you said?
Lovers walking along a shore and leave their footprints in the sand
Is the sound of distant drumming just the fingers of your hand?
Pictures hanging in a hallway and the fragment of a song
Half remembered names and faces, but to whom do they belong?
When you knew that it was over you were suddenly aware
That the autumn leaves were turning to the colour of her hair!
Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel
As the images unwind, like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

Carrie Bradshaw, Barbra Streisand and Guilty

Although my posts often follow on from each other and are somewhat related, the two I wrote last week (from my sickbed) were very different indeed with no obvious link at all. Yet again however a strange synchronicity has come about, and this is the post that links them.

WARNING: It’s all about to get very girly!

In my last post I featured the song Single Girl by The Primitives/Sandy Posey (take your pick). It was all about a girl feeling a bit sad and lonely in a “great big town”. One of the most infamous groups of “Single Girls” were those Manhattan-based stars of Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw and her pals, also at times known to feel a bit sad and lonely in a great big town (although not that often to be fair).

tha7visk0y

This reminded me that one of my favourite scenes from a SATC episode was the one where Carrie realises that her failed relationship with Mr Big (the nickname her ex-boyfriend is given – he was supposed to be The Big One, the one she married) was down to the same reason that it didn’t work out for Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand in the 1973 film The Way We Were. The world is made up of “complicated girls” with wild curly hair (Carrie and Barbra) and “simple girls”, the ones with tame straight hair – Big and Redford chose the simple girls!

As mentioned above, the female star of TWWW was Barbra Streisand. Who then appeared on the cover of the magazine that pops through my letterbox on a Saturday? – Yes, it was Barbra Streisand. I don’t know what it is about Streisand but she has always just looked so beautiful and timeless to me – Gorgeous hair, skin and that kinky nose. She is one of a very small group of artists who have won Grammys, Emmys, Tonys and Oscars, such is the breadth of her talent – The Queen of the Divas indeed.

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Got me thinking and joy of joys I discovered that TWWW resides on Netflix so (again from my sickbed) I decided to give it another viewing as I have shockingly never watched it all the way through from beginning to end in one sitting. Of course I had to have a little weep once we got to that scene at the end where Katie (Barbra) tells Hubbell (Robert) that “his girl is lovely” (although she is no doubt crying inside).

Barbra Streisand doesn’t sing in that one but she did record the lovely theme song which contains the following lines:

Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line
If we had the chance to do it all again, tell me, would we, could we……?

Ironically, last year, after failing miserably to co-ordinate a date for a reunion weekend with my old “Single Girl” friends, I jokingly sent them an email quoting those very lines with the addendum – Well, apparently not! I thought it was quite funny….but they didn’t. We are all just about talking again now (perhaps that cultural reference was lost on them).

But back to Barbra, it has also of course been known for her to record great duets with some of the biggest artists of the day. Back in 1980 she recorded Guilty with Barry Gibb, on his own, without the rest of The Bee Gees. And this is where the reference to my second post of last week comes in – On St Valentine’s Day I featured a Bee Gees‘ love song and wrote about how sad I felt watching Barry, the lone surviving brother, all on his own at this year’s Grammys, watching a tribute being performed for the 40th anniversary of the album Saturday Night Fever.

Guilty by Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb:

I am quite frankly amazed that the song Guilty only made it to No. 34 in the UK Singles Chart but looking again at the video clip, Barry and Barbra (nice ring to it) did look oh so very white in it, and this was very much the era of new wave, post-punk and ska where the artists wore very little white indeed and were much, much edgier in terms of their output. Still a great duet however where each of them gets their own boy/girl lines and “nothing to be guilty of” in terms of liking it, as we don’t do that around here any more. The Bee Gees were great songwriters and as mentioned last week I am very proud to have come out and admitted to being a fan.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Who knew that the simple girls always get their man whereas the complicated girls don’t? Well, maybe they didn’t in TWWW, but thirty years later in SATC, Carrie Bradshaw did end up marrying Big. Yes, it turned out he’d made a massive mistake and he did want a complicated girl after all!

As someone with very tame, straight hair but who is not necessarily always simple this is good to know. Sadly back in 1973 it just didn’t seem to be the case but perhaps relationships have evolved and even complicated girls now can have it all!

Until next time….

Guilty Lyrics
(Song by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb)

Shadows falling baby, we stand alone
Out on the street anybody you meet got a heartache of their own
(It oughta be illegal)
Make it a crime to be lonely or sad
(It oughta be illegal)
You got a reason for livin’
You battle on with the love you’re livin’ on
You gotta be mine
We take it away
It’s gotta be night and day
Just a matter of time
And we got nothing to be guilty of
Our love will climb any mountain near or far, we are
And we never let it end
We are devotion
And we got nothing to be sorry for
Our love is one in a million
Eyes can see that we got a highway to the sky
I don’t wanna hear your goodbye

Pulse’s racing, darling
How grand we are
Little by little we meet in the middle
There’s danger in the dark
(It oughta be illegal)
Make it a crime to be out in the cold
(It oughta be illegal)
You got a reason for livin’
You battle on with the love you’re buildin’ on
You gotta be mine
We take it away
It’s gotta be night and day
Just a matter of time
And we got nothing to be guilty of
Our love will climb any mountain near or far, we are
And we never let it end
We are devotion
And we got nothing to be sorry for
Our love is one in a million
Eyes can see that we got a highway to the sky

I don’t wanna hear your goodbye

Don’t wanna hear your goodbye

I don’t wanna hear your
And we got nothing, and we got nothing to be guilty of
Our love will climb any mountain near or far, we are
And we never let it end
We are devotion
And we got nothing to be sorry for
Our love is one in a million
Eyes can see that we got a highway to the sky
Don’t wanna hear your goodbye
Don’t wanna hear your
And we got nothing, and we got nothing to be guilty of
Our love will climb any mountain near or far, we are