Songs About Home Towns, “Húsavík” and The Wacky World Of Eurovision

Many of the songs I share around here come from film and television, as borne out by the sheer number of posts in each of those categories on my sidebar. It was obvious early on in the evolution of this blog, that unless I was revisiting songs from my chart-loving/album buying years of the 1970s and ’80s, much of the music I have warmed to over the decades has come from watching something on the big, or small, screen.

I recently wrote about the Eurovision Song Contest, which like everything else this year didn’t happen, but for us fans of such fluff and nonsense there has been a bit of a reprieve in the form of the new Will Ferrell film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga. It went straight to Netflix so despite there being no cinemas yet open around here we have been able to watch it twice. There have been a few scathing reviews and on the whole it was not a winner with the critics, but hey, what do they know? During these dark times it has offered up a couple of hours of pure escapism and as an oficiando of all things Eurovision, and someone who in the past memorised vast amounts of info on the runners and riders, there were some great cameos and in-jokes which will have been lost on our friends across the pond.

Even if you’re not a fan of Eurovision, or a fan of comedic musicals, the scenery alone makes it a worthwhile watch. Our wannabe contest winners, Fire Saga, have become the unlikely representatives for little Iceland and their home town Húsavík is featured heavily in the film – I’m guessing that once we’re able to travel more freely again, it will be heavily inundated by tourists. (Whether they are wanted is another matter, and a standing joke throughout the film, but I’ll leave that for you to discover should you watch it for yourselves.)

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Húsavík in Iceland

One of the showstopping songs from the film is also called Húsavík, written as a love letter to their home town, and performed by Fire Saga member Sigrit Ericksdóttir (expertly played by Rachel McAdams). It has formed a bit of an earworm for me this week, partly because it’s a great song, and partly because it’s so relevant to what’s happening in our neighbourhood.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we had DD back living with us in the Highlands as the current crisis made her realise more than ever that big city life is not for her. But also, one by one, our neighbours’ adult children have similarly returned to their respective nests as this lockdown period has not been kind to the young in terms of job losses, accommodation unsuitable for home-working, and sadly, relationship breakdown. It seems when the chips are down, like Lars and Sigrit from Iceland, your home town is often just where you want to be, and despite all the turmoil of the last few months I haven’t seen DD so happy in years. We don’t have whales up here (as they do in Húsavík), but we do have the Moray Firth Dolphins, and she has loved her long walks along the coast with old friends since returning to her home town.

Where the mountains sing through the screams of seagulls
Where the whales can live ’cause they’re gentle people (or dolphins?)
In my hometown, my hometown

Thought I made it clear, do I have to say it?
It was always there, we just didn’t see it
All I need is you and me and my home

Húsavík by Molly Sandén:

But this of course is a song from a film and it’s not always the case that the actor playing the role of the singer, does the actual singing. It has been a long-standing tradition in the making of movies and I remember well that scene in Singin’ In The Rain when poor old Lina Lamont was humiliated when the curtains went back to reveal a young Debbie Reynolds/Kathy Seldon at the microphone. In the Eurovision film it is Swedish singer Molly (My Marianne) Sandén who takes the honours so credit where credit’s due, although it seems they did mix her voice with that of Rachel McAdams to a certain extent, which seems to have worked well. Turns out Molly represented Sweden in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2006, so quite apt really.

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Molly Sandén

So, “What’s It All About?” – Sometimes you’re just in the mood for watching a feel-good comedy and the film written about in this post ticked all the boxes for me. A couple of years ago a film called The Greatest Showman was similarly panned by the critics, but unless you lived under a rock in 2018, you will know it spawned a best-selling album and kept returning to the top spot time and time again in terms of box-office takings. The showstopping song in that film, Never Enough, was very similar in style to the one featured above, and although I thought at the time it was sung by actress Rebecca Ferguson, who played Swedish Nightingale Jenny Lind, it was American singer Loren Allred who took the honours that time. Two films, one where a Swede sings for an American and one where an American sings for a Swede!

Never Enough by Loren Allred:

As for our adult children returning to their home town, like many others have found during this crisis, priorities can change. We do have short memories however and as we are seeing an opening up of much of our economy, people seem anxious to get back out there, doing what they used to do. Cross fingers it doesn’t result in the dreaded second wave we keep hearing about. The 21st century phenomenon FOMO (fear of missing out) has been thankfully absent from our lives of late, but as things start to get back to normal it will no doubt return with a vengeance as get-togethers are shared on social media. Let’s hope we have learnt something from this downtime and that the “old normal” does not return in full any time soon.

Until next time….

Húsavík Lyrics
(Song by Fat Max Gsus/Rickard Göransson/Kotecha)

All by myself
With this great big world before me
But it’s all for someone else
I’ve tried and tried again
To let you know just where my heart is
To tell the truth and not pretend

All I needed was to get away
Just to realize that I was meant to stay

Where the mountains sing through the screams of seagulls
Where the whales can live ’cause they’re gentle people
In my hometown, my hometown
Thought I made it clear, do I have to say it?
It was always there, we just didn’t see it
All I need is you and me and my home

Vera með þér, með þér
Í Húsavík við Skjálfanda
Í heimabærinn minn

You want the world (Want the world)
All the neon lights and billboards
To be seen and to be heard (Heard)
And I followed you (Oh-ooh)
But now I know what makes me happy
And I can tell you feel it too

Where the mountains sing through the screams of seagulls
Where the whales can live ’cause they’re gentle people
In my hometown, my hometown
Where the northern lights burst out in colors
And the magic nights surpass all others
Það eina sem ég þrái er, að vera

More Local Hero-Related Pictures and Music

 

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Last time I included another of the little films I made a couple of years ago around the time of the Spring Equinox. It featured the Mark Knopfler instrumental Going Home from the film Local Hero and regular commenter Lynchie jumped in and regaled us with his tale of having been the first journalist to meet with David Puttnam and Bill Forsyth to hear about their planned production (link here). The village of Pennan on the Aberdeenshire coast had been chosen as the setting for the fictitious village of Ferness which was to be the site for a new oil refinery. The hot-shot executive sent to close the deal gradually adapts to the slower-paced life however and gets to know the eccentric residents. As time goes by he becomes conflicted, as he knows the deal will mark the end of the quaint little village he has come to love. Unbeknownst to him however, the villagers are tired of their hard life and are more than eager to sell, although they feign indifference to induce a larger offer. This all leads to some great comedic moments.

A couple of years ago we decided to take an Australian visitor along the coast to visit Pennan and I managed to get my picture taken outside the iconic red telephone box. I’m pretty sure everyone must do that but only if they successfully navigate the steep single track road down into the village. At one point we had to reverse backwards up the hill to let someone past and I was pretty alarmed by the burning smell coming from under the bonnet. Anyway, the car survived, and we had a really pleasant afternoon in a village that feels as if time forgot.

I only have one other piece of music on this device by Mark Knopfler and it’s called If This Is Goodbye, a duet he recorded with Emmylou Harris. Very beautiful but not the most positive of sounding songs, so to end this post I’ll just share another clip of Mr Knopfler playing a different version of his instrumental from the film.

Until next time….  Take care and keep well.

A Shower Room Update, Appreciating the Little Things and “Going Home”

I have absolutely no idea how to pitch my blog posts at the moment as in the few days between writing something new, the world has yet again been transformed into a place none of us would have recognised only a couple of weeks ago. I admit to having had a rather large wobble over the last 24 hours (too much social media), but after the massive treat of going to the local supermarket for a basketful of basics, and having just met some of my neighbours (at a distance) for the mass round of applause for the NHS, I think I’ve just swung the other way – What a roller-coaster of emotions. Still haven’t spoken to my mum or had any communication from the care home and DD is at the other end of Scotland with her boyfriend in their one bedroom flat (true test of a relationship), so tough.

Last time I wrote about how I had eventually treated myself to a new shower room after 20 years of making do with the previous owner’s version. Although last week the plumber was confident it was a CV-19 Free Build, by late Monday it was obvious he wouldn’t be able to come back. I paid him in full, as he is one of the many self-employed tradesmen who now have no work. A plan came through to help the self-employed this afternoon but many will fall through the cracks, including ourselves – Not complaining as any help should go to those most in need, but I do worry about a lot of the locals who depend on tourism and the service sector for their livelihoods.

Last time I also shared one of the little films I made at the 2018 Spring Equinox after taking a few classes at the Apple Store. Here is the second one, this time featuring a piece of music by Mark Knopfler, which seemed to suit the particular scenes around here really well. I give you Going Home from the excellent 1983 film Local Hero. Watching it now, I cannot believe how quickly something like going for a leisurely drive has turned into a pipe dream. At the moment, I feel as if I will never take anything for granted again.

Until next time, I hope you and your loved ones stay safe and well.

If you are a frontline worker, we are so grateful for all that you are doing. At times like this it becomes obvious which jobs are worthy and necessary, but sometimes poorly paid, and which are very well paid but not necessarily worthy. The Cult of Celebrity has been seen for what it is and for that I am grateful.

Alyson’s Archive #7 – 10cc, “I’m Not In Love”

Things are a bit grim, so we need a bit of a distraction. Welcome back to this occasional series where I share the contents of my archive box of teenage memorabilia. I always knew these random bits and pieces would come in handy some day, but little did I think it would be because 2020 is turning out to be the year when everything changed. Let’s hark back to simpler times.

We’re journeying back to March 1976 when I picked up my monthly copy of Words Magazine. On the cover of that edition were 10cc, and on page 3, we get to hear a little more about our cover stars.

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I do sometimes (always?) ramble on a bit around here, but no need for that this time as I recognise some people actually drop by for the tunes. One of my favourite films is Guardians of the Galaxy and it was on telly on Saturday night as a replacement for the rugby which didn’t go ahead. One of the “stars” of that film is the mixtape made for our hero by his mother, full of her favourite songs from the 1970s. The opening scene shows the young Peter listening to his Walkman, and the song playing is I’m Not In Love.

I’m Not In Love by 10cc:

There is a half hour documentary in the BBC iPlayer archives about the making of this one song, so I urge you to seek it out. Written by band members Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman, it has a really distinctive backing track, composed mostly of the band’s multitracked vocals. Released in May 1975, it became the second of the group’s three number-one singles in the UK and was our smooching song of choice at my local youth club disco. Written mostly by Stewart as a reply to his wife’s declaration that he did not tell her often enough that he loved her (he really did), it was originally played on guitars, but the other two members of the band, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, disliked the track and it was abandoned. Stewart persuaded the group to give the song another chance and they ending up creating a new version using just voices.

Until next time….

I’m Not In Love Lyrics
(Song by Eric Stewart/Graham Gouldman)

I’m not in love
So don’t forget it
It’s just a silly phase I’m going through
And just because
I call you up
Don’t get me wrong, don’t think you’ve got it made
I’m not in love, no no, it’s because..

I like to see you
But then again
That doesn’t mean you mean that much to me
So if I call you
Don’t make a fuss
Don’t tell your friends about the two of us
I’m not in love, no no, it’s because..

I keep your picture
Upon the wall
It hides a nasty stain that’s lying there
So don’t you ask me
To give it back
I know you know it doesn’t mean that much to me
I’m not in love, no no, it’s because..

Ooh you’ll wait a long time for me
Ooh you’ll wait a long time
Ooh you’ll wait a long time for me
Ooh you’ll wait a long time

I’m not in love
So don’t forget it
It’s just a silly phase I’m going through
And just because I call you up
Don’t get me wrong, don’t think you’ve got it made
I’m not in love
I’m not in love

The Cotton Club, Ella Fitzgerald and “Ill Wind (You’re Blowin’ Me No Good)”

One of the new things I discovered during my month of abstinence from all things computer-related (should have waited until lent really) was a telly channel called Talking Pictures. I have bemoaned of late that hardly any of the mainstream channels show old black and white movies any more, and I miss that. Here however (I think it’s No. 81 on Freeview) was a channel totally dedicated to such fare. It bothers me somewhat that there will be a whole generation of people who have never heard of Humphrey Bogart or Fred Astaire, and have never laid eyes on any of their prodigious output.

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One film I recently re-watched on Talking Pictures wasn’t black and white however, in fact it was an extravaganza of colour, but was set right at the start of the 1930s so fitted the channel’s ethos well. Many years ago I had one of those “lost weekend” kind of things. My two flatmates were away for the duration; I had recently split up with the long-term boyfriend; and, for two days had no other commitments, so I holed up in my comfy indoors-y clothes and watched telly. We didn’t have a VCR back in those days, just a basic Radio Rentals telly, but one of the flatmates had recently acquired a new job in sales, and had been given a machine with a built in video-player to dazzle her potential customers. That weekend I aimed to make full use of it, but ended up watching only one film, four times, as I was so blown away by it. The film I rented was Francis Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club and I can still remember most of the dialogue verbatim. (This clip seems to start in the middle, so needs to be reset.)

Two weeks ago I wrote about the film Paint Your Wagon and about how it was both a Western, and a Musical. The Cotton Club was a Crime-Drama, but also a Musical and like Paint Your Wagon didn’t get brilliant reviews when it came out, as it didn’t particularly appeal to either audience. Personally I loved it and couldn’t understand why it hadn’t been more successful. With the passage of time that opinion has been reassessed however and a remastered version was released in 2017.

The Cotton Club was the name of a Harlem jazz club of the 1930s during the era of Prohibition and Jim Crow racial segregation. Black people could not patronise the Cotton Club, but the venue featured many of the most popular black entertainers of the era, including musicians Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Adelaide Hall, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, and dancers such as Bill Robinson and The Nicholas Brothers. In its heyday, the Cotton Club served as a hip meeting spot, with regular “Celebrity Nights” featuring guests such as Jimmy Durante, George Gershwin, Paul Robeson, Al Jolson, Mae West and Fanny Brice, amongst others.

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There were some great musical performances in the film and we got to witness what it would have been like to experience Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway (he of Minnie the Moocher fame) in their prime. The song I most enjoyed when I first watched the film 35 years ago was Ill Wind (You’re Blowin’ Me No Good) and all these years later it was still the song I most enjoyed. The actress Lonette McKee was given the task of singing it, however over the years it has been recorded by all the greats, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Washington and Ella Fitzgerald to name but a few. The song was composed by Harold Arlen who also gave us the soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz. Yes, he was the man responsible for taking us Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

Ill Wind (You’re Blowin’ Me No Good) by Ella Fitzgerald:

One observation from having typed the word “ill” several times for this post, depending on the typeface you use it can look like the number three in Roman numerals. A capital “i”, and the letter “l”, often look the same, but I can assure you it’s neither a song by Lonette McKee the Third, nor a level Three Wind, it is indeed about a wind that we really don’t want, just like the one that whisked Dorothy off to the land of Oz.

These old movies on the Talking Pictures channel are not for everyone but I’ve watched a few now and they are a real insight into our social history. Some of the best lines in The Cotton Club came from a young Lawrence Fishbourne who played mob boss and bookmaker Bumpy Rhodes. They made a real impact on me when I watched the film 35 years ago and his short speech has never left me. Last week I wrote about the BRIT awards and how rapper Dave was responsible for the most powerful performance of the night. 90 years on and I’m realising they are not a million miles apart.

Until next time….

Ill Wind (You’re Blowin’ Me No Good) Lyrics
(Song by Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler)

Blow ill wind,
Blow away,
Let me rest today.
You’re blowin’ me no good,
No good.

Go ill wind,
Go away,
Skies are oh so gray
Around my neighborhood,
And that ain’t good

You’re only misleadin’ the sunshine I’m needin’,
Ain’t that a shame
It’s so hard to keep up with troubles that creep up
From out of nowhere,
When love’s to blame.

So ill wind, blow away.
Let me rest today.
You’re blowin’ me no good.

So, ill wind, blow away,
Please let me rest today.
You’re blowing me no good, no good, no good.

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

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

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

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Billie Eilish with brother Finneas

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

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Lewis Capaldi with “cousin” Peter Capaldi aka Dr Who

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

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Mabel with her mum Neneh Cherry

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

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

7 Seconds by Youssou N’Dour and Neneh Cherry:

Until next time….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Unlikely Chart Topper: Lee Marvin and “Wand’rin’ Star”

I really enjoyed my return to the world of blogging last weekend after a month’s break. I was also pleasantly surprised that my featured song by Edison Lighthouse proved to be such a favourite with so many of you, as I hadn’t expected that at all. I have ended up returning to the UK Singles Chart of 1970 for these first two posts of the new decade, and both songs have been really enjoyable to research and write about. I thought it might be an idea for this calendar year to revisit that chart once a month (a kind of 50-year-retrospective) but you know what, I can’t wait another month to dip into the archives again because the March 1970 No. 1 single was Wand’rin’ Star by Lee Marvin.

I’ve often mentioned around here that the songs hitting the top spot are not always representative of what we were listening to at the time at all – Oh no, it’s often a song that became a hit because of its association with a prime time television show or blockbuster movie. All those people who would never normally go out and buy records suddenly do so, and it invariably skews the chart keeping what are now thought of as pop classics, off the top spot.

Wand’rin’ Star by Lee Marvin:

But, I really do have a soft spot for this song. It was from the film Paint Your Wagon released in 1969 which was one of only two films I went to see at the cinema with my parents (the other being The Sound of Music). Living nearly 30 miles away from the nearest cinema it wasn’t something we ever did as a family, but I think we were on holiday at the time in the south of Scotland, and it being July it was probably wet, so the decision must have been made to hole up for the afternoon watching a film we were all familiar with because of Mr Marvin’s regular appearances on TOTP. I have featured a few really deep voices around here over the years (Barry White, Johnny Cash…. ) but surely Lee must have had the deepest voice of all. It was described, by co-star Jean Seberg, as “like rain gurgling down a rusty pipe” and has also been described as “the first 33⅓ recorded at 45” – Seems about right.

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Paint Your Wagon was a Western, but also a Musical, and it wasn’t really a box-office success, never recouping its cost of production and marketing. Just not the kind of thing people wanted to go and see in 1970 it seems. Musicals of this sort had gone out of fashion and as this Simpson’s clip shows, it had something of a split personality, neither working for rootin’, tootin’, shootin’ western lovers, or lovers of the more sedate musical.

I don’t think Lee ever released any more records but continued to work as an actor right up until his death in 1987. He starred in many classic movies such as The Dirty Dozen and Cat Ballou, winning the 1965 Best Actor Oscar for his role in that film.

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Lee Marvin, 1924-1987

I do remember my mum being a bit concerned, after leaving the cinema, that there had been things in Paint Your Wagon I wouldn’t understand. Yes, there was a fair bit of bodice-ripping and all the excitement of kidnapping “six French tarts” in order to provide the miners with female companionship (There’s a Coach Comin’ In), but even at age ten I wasn’t totally green, just mortified at having to sit beside my parents whilst watching such fodder. Funny, but looking back, the only two films watched in a cinema with my family were about a nun called Maria, and a wind called Maria (albeit pronounced differently) – Cue one last link to a song from the film!

Until next time….

Wand’rin’ Star Lyrics
(Song by Frederick Loewe/Alan Jay Lerner)

I was born under a wanderin’ star.
I was born under a wanderin’ star.

Wheels are made for rollin’, mules are made to pack.
I’ve never seen a site that didn’t look better lookin’ back.

I was born under a wanderin’ star.

Mud can make you prisoner and the plains can bake you dry.
Snow can burn your eyes but only people make you cry.
Home is made for comin’ from, for dreams of goin’ to.
Which with any luck will never come true.

I was born under a wanderin’ star.
I was born under a wanderin’ star.

Do I know where hell is, hell is in hell-o.
Heaven is good-bye forever it’s time for me to go.

I was born under a wanderin’ star, a wanderin’, wanderin’ star.

Mud can make you prisoner and the plains can bake you dry.
Snow can burn your eyes but only people make you cry.
Home is made for comin’ from, for dreams of goin’ to.
Which with any luck will never come true.

I was born under a wanderin’ star.
I was born under a wanderin’ star.

When I get to heaven tie me to a tree.
Or I’ll begin to roam and soon you’ll know where I will be.

I was born under a wanderin’ star.
A wanderin’, wanderin’ star.

The Bee Gees, “I Started A Joke” and Tribute Bands, Is It Ok?

The other day I was heading back from visiting my mum in the care home, when I decided to swing by our local theatre to find out what was on. I still had a gift voucher which ironically was acquired when I had to return my mum’s outstanding theatre tickets last year after her admission to the home. It was due to expire soon, so I needed to convert it into readies, and if not readies, bona fide tickets at any rate. When I discovered that a show called Jive Talkin’, championing the music of the Bee Gees was taking place that very night, it was a no-brainer that I would ask about seats. As luck would have it there were only two left, in a second circle box, so I snapped them up.

It took me a long time to admit to being a Bee Gees fan around here, as I know they have been heavily parodied over the years and Barry’s late ’70s falsetto has been the subject of much mirth, but only Elvis, the Beatles, and he who shall no longer be named, have outsold them. They wrote all their own songs, performed perfect harmonies and continually reinvented themselves “for the times”. I’ve written about them a few times and I suspect a new category on my sidebar will have to be set up after I press the publish button.

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The original Bee Gees line-up – Kind of obvious which of them is a Gibb brother!

But of course there is sadly now only one Bee Gee left, Barry, and I do feel for him if I ever catch him on telly, as he cuts a lonely figure without the rest of his brothers in tow. In view of the fact I will now never see them live, I had no difficulty in making the decision that it was ok to head along to our fantastic theatre, to watch this trio (plus backing band complete with string section) sing songs from the vast back catalogue at their disposal.

I wrote last year about a show called Fastlove, dedicated to the George Michael back catalogue. They took great pains to make sure that, we, the audience, realised this was not “A Tribute Act” but in fact “A Tribute” to George, so I was hoping this show would follow the same lines. As it turned out, there was a bit more of a pantomime quality to this one, but the voices were pitch perfect and from where I was seated in the second circle, they looked uncannily like the real Bee Gees.

I Started A Joke by the Bee Gees:

The first half was dedicated to their 1960s incarnation and they rattled through 16 classic hits such as Gotta Get A Message To You, To Love Somebody, Words, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart (written about here before) and my personal favourite I Started A Joke from the album “Idea” released in 1968. Apparently the melancholic melody of the song was inspired by the sounds on board an aeroplane. To quote Robin Gibb: “The melody to this one was heard aboard a British Airways Vickers Viscount about a hundred miles from Essen. It was one of those old four engine “prop” jobs, that seemed to drone the passenger into a sort of hypnotic trance, only with this it was different. The droning, after a while, appeared to take the form of a tune, which mysteriously sounded like a church choir. As soon as we landed and reached the hotel, we finished the lyrics.”

As for me, this era of the Bee Gees just reminds me of watching telly with my parents as a child. They were frequent visitors to the TOTP studio and there were always a few raised eyebrows in our house at Robin’s vibrato, as not many pop voices like that at the time. I only realised later that the twins, Robin and Maurice, were still teenagers – A massive amount of success for those so young, the pressure of which led to Robin leaving the band for a while.

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So, we’ve had the first half where they were dressed in the classic late era Bee Gees’ uniform of black trousers, shirts and jackets, but what would the second half bring? As expected there had to be an element of pantomime, as the 1970s brought disco, and Barry’s falsetto rose to unnaturally new heights. There is nothing more unnerving than seeing a middle-aged man dressed in tight white trousers and a silver jacket revealing chest hair, but here we were. To be honest I don’t think many of the ladies in the audience cared however, we were all teenagers again, reminding ourselves of the time we heard these songs first time around – Night Fever, Stayin’ Alive, You Should Be Dancing and many more.

Up in my second circle box, no-one’s view would have been blocked if I stood up and danced along to the songs, so that was just what happened. Mr WIAA did not partake in the dancing, and was a bit bemused by the whole thing I think, but he was also aware I’ve been working really hard of late trying to support everyone, so if anyone needed to let their hair down, it was me (as he no longer has any).

Every now and again, when emotions are running high, it can only take a few bars of a familiar song, to make you feel quite overcome by it all. When the trio on stage sang More Than A Woman, I was right back in 1978, a year I’ve often mentioned in this blog as it was the summer I left school and went off to work in a country house hotel with my best friend Catriona, who sadly died at age 41. By day we were jack-of-all-trades, chambermaids, laundrymaids, barmaids (yes, still called that back then) but by night we were disco divas, trying out our routines in the local nightspots. At the start of the summer we were a novelty, new girls in town, but as the summer progressed there were a few romances that we knew would go nowhere, but still made the heart flutter. One of the songs that made the heart flutter was this one. The dancing looks tame now and frankly a bit comical, but funny how 40 years on, a warm glow came over me when listening to it – More than goose-bumps, but rather an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia for simpler times.

More Than A Woman by the Bee Gees:

I know tribute acts are the source of much derision, but sometimes an evening of honest to goodness nostalgia is just what is needed, and that’s what I experienced this week. Because of the ongoing situation regarding how to pay for my mum’s care, stress levels have been running high in our house of late, but funnily enough, my evening with the pretend Bee Gees has put paid to that. Mr WIAA will be really glad he (reluctantly) agreed to come along with me.

Until next time….

I Started A Joke Lyrics
(Song by Barry Gibb/Maurice Gibb/Robin Gibb)

I started a joke, which started the whole world crying
But I didn’t see that the joke was on me, oh no

I started to cry, which started the whole world laughing
Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me

I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes
And I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I’d said

Till I finally died, which started the whole world living
Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me

I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes
And I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I’d said

‘Till I finally died, which started the whole world living
Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me

Earworm of the Week #2 – Carly Simon and “Let The River Run”

I have been banished to the office to “do some therapeutic blogging”, as I think I’m starting to drive Mr WIAA a little mad (in a nice way) with my whinging. When we acquired the holiday hideaway earlier this year to help pay my mum’s care home fees, I hadn’t reckoned on the sheer physicality of having so many changeovers to carry out in a relatively short space of time. My poor neck and shoulder still cries out in pain when I have to lift, push or carry anything with my right arm, and there will be no respite now until the end of September. I am bracing myself for the next seven weeks when we are to have a total of 18 changeovers, as most guests book for only two nights. I was an office wallah for 35 years, so however fit I thought I was, the shock to the system has been intense. Best foot forward though, and we’ll get through it, but just willing the season to now be over so that I can rejig my business model and yet again have a fully functional neck and shoulder.

As this is an imposed and not a planned session of blogging, the easiest song to write about would be the one that is currently spinning around in my head. I must have heard it on the radio the other day and when I woke up at 3am the other night, it was the first thing that came into my head and has barely left since. Let The River Run was a 1988 song written by Carly Simon for the film Working Girl and she swept the board with it when it came to awards season the following year winning a Grammy, an Oscar and a Golden Globe. It definitely has an anthemic quality to it – She apparently wanted to write a hymn to New York with a contemporary jungle beat under it, and it sounds as if she pretty much nailed it.

Let The River Run by Carly Simon:

Carly has appeared in this blog before, once when I wrote about the death of Roger Moore (she sang the theme to The Spy Who Loved Me) and again when I wrote a “moon-post” featuring the Glenn Miller song Moonlight Serenade (she recorded an album of standards and this was the title track). It occurred to me that she is one of those artists who has had great longevity in the industry yet quietly got on with business without ever becoming over-exposed or over-familiar.

I’m pretty sure that as I teenager I would have loved to look like Carly Simon – She had a great mane of hair, a natural tan and that rock ‘n’ roll kind of face as sported by some of her male counterparts. A handsome woman rather than a pretty one, which is always a good thing if you want to be taken seriously, and again, there was all that great hair. Being a Scottish person I rarely had a tan, have quite fine, straight hair and as for the rock ‘n’ roll face, not in my family genes I’m afraid but not jealous, honest!

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Carly Simon

The thing about earworms is that a particular line can keep repeating itself in your head and you don’t always know the name of the song it’s from, but in this case it was quite easy once I’d revisited Carly’s discography. I had seriously forgotten just how many albums she’d made and although not all her single releases became big hits in the UK, they do still get airplay so we are familiar with much of her output over the years. You’re So Vain of course (although we will probably never know for sure who it was about) but also Coming Around Again, Why, The Right Thing To Do and Mockingbird (with husband James Taylor), as well as the other songs mentioned above.

As for the film Working Girl, I remember well going to see it in 1988 and quite possibly had big permed hair at the time like Melanie Griffith, who played wannabe investment broker Tess McGill from Staten Island. She had worked hard, gone to night school and wanted the big job, but it turned out big hair and big jobs don’t go together, so a period of reinvention had to take place. All these years later I’m not sure if much has changed and it’s probably tougher than ever for women (and men) from what seems to be called disadvantaged backgrounds to climb the corporate ladder. Higher education is increasingly only for those whose parents can afford to help out with the cost, which is sad. In the late 70s, I unbelievably used to save some of my student grant, as I just didn’t need it all. Was this education wasted on me though, as I never did get what would be described as the big job but merely a pot-boiler job which was satisfactory but never stellar. Thinking back I definitely had big hair however, so perhaps I now see where I went wrong, unless you’re a rock star like Carly Simon of course where the bigger the hair the better.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I have a lot of work to get through so I’d better buckle down and get on with it. The kind of hair I have no longer affects me a jot but I think I will listen to a little more Carly Simon in the course of the day and dream of holidays in her beloved Martha’s Vineyard.

Before I go I’m going to include a clip of her joining Taylor Swift in concert where they perform a version of You’re So Vain. Apparently Taylor has now been let into the secret of who the song is about – As for us, I doubt if we’ll ever really know.

Until next time….

Let The River Run Lyrics
(Song by Carly Simon)

We’re coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

Let the river run,
let all the dreamers
wake the nation.
Come, the New Jerusalem.

Silver cities rise,
the morning lights
the streets that meet them,
and sirens call them on
with a song.

It’s asking for the taking.
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.

We’re coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

We the great and small
stand on a star
and blaze a trail of desire
through the dark’ning dawn.

It’s asking for the taking.
Come run with me now,
the sky is the color of blue
you’ve never even seen
in the eyes of your lover.

Oh, my heart is aching.
We’re coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

It’s asking for the taking.
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.
We’re coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

Let the river run,
let all the dreamers
wake the nation.
Come, the New Jerusalem.

Long Lost Aussie Cousins, Mental As Anything and “Live It Up”

Last time, I alluded to the fact that much has been happening around here of late, not least that Mr WIAA has now too given up his nice secure part-time job. That makes both of us then, but when I’m being rational, it makes no sense to carry on doing a job that has become beset by politics and managerial interference when you could be working for yourself. We now both have businesses that earn a crust, and although there will be lean months, there will hopefully also be months when it all falls into place and the contracts flood in. We have set ourselves a deadline of next June, after which, if it hasn’t worked out, we will both have to look for jobs or cash in the meagre pension funds early. Neither of these options is very appealing, so motivation levels are currently running high.

I also mentioned last time that one of the many things we have decided to tackle this summer is “The Loft Project”. Like most of us who live in houses with a fully floored loft, this space becomes the depository for a lifetime’s worth of possessions, and in my case many of our deceased grandparents’ and parents’ possessions. Tea sets, dinner sets, artwork, furniture, gadgets (three spare tellys at the last count), clothes, photographs, scrapbooks, camping equipment, books … , the list goes on. It has been fortunate for this blog that I have kept so much teenage memorabilia, as many posts have been written using images of old pop pinups and magazines, but of late the sheer volume of it all has become overwhelming so something needs to be done. (Pictures below of the kind of loft I have and the kind of loft I want to have!)

One of the biggest jobs to be tackled was going to be sifting through my vast collection of family photographs, as all of them seem to have come down the line to me. I know I should share them out amongst my cousins but I have had very little contact with many of these cousins for years, so not an easy thing to do. By some amazing act of serendipity, the other week I received a message from a long lost cousin who found me on Facebook. He had emigrated to Australia in 1976 and I hadn’t set eyes on him for nearly 50 years. His wife was putting together a family tree for their son’s 40th birthday and they had very little knowledge and no photographs at all from his dad’s side of the family (that would be because I have them all).

We have now been in constant touch over the last two weeks and they have provided me with all the information they have gleaned from census records, and I in turn have provided them with digital copies of the above, along with anecdotal accounts of the personalities behind the people in the pictures. As with most rural families in the early 20th century, there were however complications. My uncle (the handsome chap with the movie star looks) was a half brother to my dad as there seems to have been just so much death and sadness. My dad’s mum was one of a family of twelve, but four of her siblings died, and then both her mum and dad died. The chap I always thought of as my Great Uncle was actually her cousin, but he would have felt like a brother as they were both brought up by her septuagenarian grandmother. My granny’s first husband died, but then she met my grandad and they had a fine life together with their two boys. Sadly my granny died before I was born, and my uncle died young too, which I think precipitated my cousin’s move to Australia. As I say, all very complicated, and with second marriages it gets even more complicated but as someone from a very small family, it’s been lovely making contact with someone who shares the same branch of the family tree. Invitations to visit have been mutually made, so who knows, after 50 years we may actually meet up again in person sometime soon.

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My lovely dad in his National Service uniform – Thankfully he grew into those ears!

With all of this toing and froing of messages between Australia and Scotland, my mind has of course wandered into musical territory, and that great continent has certainly given us plenty of artists who have made their mark. From Frank Ifield, The Seekers and Kylie to Men At Work, Crowded House, INXS, ACDC and Nick Cave, over the years our charts have been littered with records made by our Antipodean cousins. As I’m feeling particularly upbeat about having rediscovered my long lost cousin, I am going to share an upbeat song that always makes me smile. Mental As Anything recorded the song Live It Up in 1985 and although it was a hit in Australia it didn’t get noticed elsewhere until it featured in the film Crocodile Dundee starring Paul Hogan. It ended up being the band’s most successful and most popular song, reaching No. 3 in the UK Singles Chart in 1987.

Live It Up by Mental As Anything:

Although he has apparently lived in every state in Australia, I don’t think my cousin ever worked as a crocodile hunter, but Paul Hogan certainly created something memorable when he took on the role of Mick Dundee, and just goes to show, good training for life in inner city New York where he seemed to fit right in. In light of our nation’s current epidemic of knife crime, I don’t feel I can include the clip of how Mick deals with a particularly tricky situation, but if you’ve seen the film I’m sure you’ll know the one I mean. Suffice to say Sue, played by his future wife Linda Koslowski, must have felt in safe hands when out and about with Mick, whether in the Australian jungle or NYC. I often say around here that we don’t really need alpha males any more to protect us from harm, but rather someone who can cook dinner and perhaps fix our laptops – Watching Crocodile Dundee and other action movies however, there is still something quite alluring about a man who has “a very particular set of skills”, but maybe that’s just me.

So, “What’s It All About?” – The loft project has now stalled for several reasons. We have come to realise that nothing sells nowadays; we have to painstakingly go through every box in case old family photos are accidentally destroyed, and, like it or not; some things will have to be kept, for sentimental reasons. At least we’ve made a start though.

Great to be back in touch with my cousin and I now know so much more of my family history, albeit much of it very sad. My great-grandfather was apparently a grocer’s carter yet he had 10 children and lived in a two roomed house. Poverty was very real, yet only two generations on things had changed so much, and my parents’ generation all did very well for themselves, retiring with good pensions at 60 or 65 dependent on gender (the man always tended to be around five years older than his wife so it made sense – not so much nowadays). I have a terrible feeling that in the last 30 years or so, things have started to regress in the western world and child poverty yet again seems to be rife. Some retire young with good pensions, yet others will probably never make it to pensionable age. At least my family tree is now all well-documented and I look forward to receiving my hard copy soon. Those who emigrated to Australia in the late 20th century do seem to have done well for themselves. I wonder if you have any family members who did the same thing – It’s highly likely that you do.

Until next time….

Live It Up Lyrics
(Song by Greedy Smith)

How can you see looking through those tears
Don’t you know you’re worth your weight in gold
I can’t believe that you’re alone in here
Let me warm your hands against the cold

A close encounter with a hard-hearted man
Who never gave half of what he got
Has made you wish you’d never been born
That’s a shame cause you got the lot

Hey yeah you with the sad face
Come up to my place and live it up
You beside the dance floor
What do you cry for let’s live it up

If you smiled the walls would fall down
On all the people in this pickup joint
But if you laughed you’d level this town
Hey lonely girl that’s just the point

Hey yeah you with the sad face
Come up to my place and live it up
You beside the dance floor
What do you cry for let’s live it up

Just answer me the question why
You stand alone by the phone in the corner and cry

How can you see looking through those tears
Don’t you know you’re worth your weight in gold
I can’t believe that you’re alone in here
Let me warm your hands against the cold

If you smiled the walls would fall down
On all the people in this pickup joint
But if you laughed you’d level this town
Hey lonely girl that’s just the point

Hey yeah you with the sad face
Come up to my place and live it up
You beside the dance floor
What do you cry for let’s live it up

Let’s live it up
Live it up
Mmm live it up
Hey yeah you
With the sad face
Come up to my place
Come up to my place baby

Hey yeah you with the sad face
Come up to my place and live it up
You beside the dance floor
What do you cry for let’s live it up

You with the sad face
Come up to my place and live it up
You beside the dance floor
What do you cry for let’s live it up