Cher and Dolly Get a Pass, and It’s Not One For the Bus!

I’ve been meaning to write this one for a while, so here goes.

At what age do we start to feel old nowadays? For me it happened last year, and nothing to do with my chronological age or any physical changes that have come over me, it’s just that a new epidemic, in a very stealthy fashion, has taken the country by storm.

Never a week passes by without some female actor, presenter or well-known musician suddenly appearing on our screens looking ten years younger. I sometimes have to do a double take, as I find it hard to delve behind the frozen expression to find the lady within, one whom I often used to warm to greatly because of their enthusiastic and energetic performance. Now the acting seems wooden, as facial expressions are restricted to the mouth and chin – Nothing else moves a muscle, literally, for they are frozen into place with all manner of toxic bacteria.

How have we got to this point in our evolution? There seems to be no turning the tide either, as even those whom I thought would never partake, seem to be coerced into such madness for fear of their careers being over without it. We all know which “celebrities” are roughly the same age as ourselves (that would be 58 in my case) – Jeremy Clarkson is allowed to get grey and crinkly, whilst Carol Vorderman now looks about 20 years younger, and sports that polyurethane type of skin best suited to a child’s baby doll.

“They look really great for their age”, is a remark I often hear bandied about – Well yes, of course they do, as they’ve spent thousands of pounds nipping, tucking and freezing everything into place! I can’t help thinking some of these poor souls are going to suffer greatly in the years to come, as those syringes full of chemicals and fat, start to take their toll. There can be difficulty speaking, and a breakdown of the skin. Whoever decided a fat top lip was a good look anyway? It is the natural order of things that our bottom lip should be the predominant one, no doubt having evolved that way to best support feeding ourselves, talking and breathing.

thI3DN6OZONothing to be done but just accept that as a gender, females in the public eye are no longer allowed to grow old, which makes the rest of us who are not in the public eye, and have no intention of transforming ourselves, feel a bit shit. Just as well I’m a blogger and not a vlogger, as my 58-year-old appearance would no doubt have you faithful readers running for the hills.

But of course there are a few exceptions to my ire, and they are ladies who have made no secret of changing their appearance over the years, and who exist in the firmament of stars because they are indeed masters of human transformation – One of these is Cher and the other Dolly Parton. I can’t believe neither of these ladies have put in an appearance around here before, as I am a big fan of both.

Cher is now aged 72 and had a cameo role in the second of the Mama Mia! franchise of jukebox musicals last summer. We went to see it when on holiday, and the most hilarious scene in the entire film was when flawless “grandmother” Cher looked across the courtyard, only to catch the eye of her beau of many years previously, Fernando. This was a convoluted turn to the plotline indeed, but an excuse of course to include the song of the same name. Whilst promoting Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Cher confirmed she was working on an album that would feature cover versions of songs by the band Abba, and Dancing Queen, was released in the September of 2018. It topped the Billboard Album Sales chart (the crowd-pleasing one), making it Cher’s first ever number-one album.

Another septuagenarian who popped up on our screens recently is Dolly Parton. She was across in the UK promoting the new West End extravaganza, 9 to 5: The Musical. Here is a clip from a few years ago when she appeared in the Legends slot at Glastonbury. I don’t know what Dolly’s undergarments are like, or if it’s all cosmetically augmented, but she certainly has a perky bottom for someone of her years.

Jolene by Dolly Parton:

There is of course so much I could write about these two ladies, but for another day probably. In the meantime, as if proof were needed (no not really), here is a photo-montage of two remarkable artists who have both been around since the 1960s, but like Peter Pan, don’t seem to have aged one iota. Both freely admit to having had “absolutely everything done” when it comes to holding the years at bay, but as neither of them seem to ever take themselves too seriously, I don’t begrudge them the squillions of dollars that must have taken one bit.

As for the song Jolene, even to this day Mr WIAA winces when he hears it. It came out at just the wrong time for him, before he’d had work done to remedy his slightly discoloured teeth, which had come about because of the tablets his mum had taken for morning sickness ahead of his birth. Oh yes, kids can be cruel, and because his teeth had a “greenish” hue, his classmates’ playground taunt was Joe Green, Joe Green, Joe Green, Joe Green…. , sung along to the melody of Dolly’s famous 1976 hit. Needless to say, his schooldays weren’t “the best years of his life” but it just goes to show, sometimes a bit of “work” is needed to make life as a teen just that little bit more tolerable.

Until next time….

Jolene Lyrics
(Song by Dolly Parton)

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I’m begging of you please don’t take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don’t take him just because you can

Your beauty is beyond compare
With flaming locks of auburn hair
With ivory skin and eyes of emerald green

Your smile is like a breath of spring
Your voice is soft like summer rain
And I cannot compete with you, Jolene

He talks about you in his sleep
There’s nothing I can do to keep
From crying when he calls your name, Jolene

And I can easily understand
How you could easily take my man
But you don’t know what he means to me, Jolene

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I’m begging of you please don’t take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don’t take him just because you can

You could have your choice of men
But I could never love again
He’s the only one for me, Jolene

I had to have this talk with you
My happiness depends on you
And whatever you decide to do, Jolene

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I’m begging of you please don’t take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don’t take him even though you can

Jolene, Jolene

Music from Guardians of the Galaxy #3 – Looking Glass and “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)”

Last time I wrote about my new venture I said I was a bit disappointed, but business models change and I have had to quickly adapt to a new reality. It seems the modern-day traveller/holiday-maker wants limited or no interaction with their host, but they do want all the nice touches that transform a trip from being an ordinary one, to a really special one.

So, I am now akin to the Scarlet Pimpernel (which is very apt as most of my guests so far have been French), where no-one ever sees me in person but each party now gets tailor-made treats and helpful local guides left for them. It only took a month, but already Alyson’s Highland Adventures (AHA) has had to be truncated to Highland Adventures (as Alyson is now nowhere in sight). My favourite sesame seed snack is now redundant!

The upside of this covert behaviour is that I get to spend a lot of time on my own in the holiday hideaway getting it ready for the next set of guests, and in the corner of the kitchen I have placed the high quality radio appropriated from my mum’s old retirement flat. I love listening to the radio, which is why I can’t work at home on my computer with it switched on (would be far too diverting). Listening to the radio whilst doing all those practical jobs needed to get a house ready for guests however is a totally different matter, and something I’ve been really enjoying. This week, whilst doing probably the seventh “deep clean” in a month (got to keep those 5 Star reviews coming), this song popped up on the airwaves and it was a joy to listen to. My feather duster and I had a fine old time flitting from room to room, like Cinderella without all the wildlife in tow (or was that Snow White?).

Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) by Looking Glass:

Until I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at the cinema a couple of years ago, I don’t think I had ever consciously listened to Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) by Looking Glass before, but it played a big part in the movie, just as the songs from Awesome Mix Vol. 1 had done for the first film in that really popular franchise. I had been meaning to write more posts featuring songs from GOTG for a while, as I have a whole category dedicated to them on my sidebar (link here), and here it was falling into my lap.

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Awesome Mix Vol. 2 was also full of ’70s songs that were played over and over by the lead character on an old Walkman, as a link to his dead mother and home in Missouri. Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) plays in the opening scene, a flashback to before the lead character Peter, played by Chris Pratt, was born. When Peter reunites with his father Ego, played by Kurt Russell, the song comes to represent their conflict. To convince his son to help him rule the universe (Ego was aptly named), he quotes the song – Just as was the sea for the sailor who left Brandy behind, Ego left Peter’s mother to die on Earth while he went off to conquer the universe.

Here is a clip of that opening scene where they make great use of the Looking Glass song. It really threw us however when we went to see it, how young Kurt Russell looked in 2017. I thought they had maybe cut and paste old footage of when he was a young buck, but I have just discovered it was 20 per cent good make-up and the rest was done via the wonders of CGI, where they used a very similar looking younger actor and mapped his features to the older Kurt’s. Of course in interviews at the time, Kurt said very little of it was down to CGI and all that was needed was a bit of make up. Tut tut Kurt, your own egotism was getting the better of you I think.

As for Looking Glass, they were an American pop rock group that formed part of a genre called the Jersey Shore sound. Although this 1972 song was a No. 1 hit on the Billboard chart, it didn’t ever feature on the UK Singles Chart, which is why I probably hadn’t heard of them before. The song was not typical of the band’s sound however, which caused a problem at concerts. Audiences expected pop songs like this one, but Looking Glass usually played rock, which left the crowds disappointed.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I have a feeling the song only appeared on the radio the other day because there is a lot of interest at the moment in all things Marvel-related. The film Avengers: Endgame was released recently and amongst many other fine actors, it stars local girl Karen Gillan from the GOTG series. I remember well going to see her in school concerts what seems like no time ago – Just look at her now. I have also noticed my GOTG posts getting a fair amount of views of late, so here’s another to add to the series.

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Karen Gillan/Nebula

I have sought out many Scottish-themed DVDs for the holiday hideaway, but perhaps I should add some GOTG ones as well. Fans of Karen/Nebula might want to travel to the Highlands to find out a bit more about where she comes from. As it turns out, just a few streets away!

Until next time….

Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) Lyrics
(Song by Elliot Lurie)

(Dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda)

There’s a port on a western bay
And it serves a hundred ships a day
Lonely sailors pass the time away
And talk about their homes

And there’s a girl in this harbor town
And she works layin’ whiskey down
They say “Brandy, fetch another round”
She serves them whiskey and wine

The sailors say “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“Yeah your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea”
(Dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

Brandy wears a braided chain
Made of finest silver from the North of Spain
A locket that bears the name
Of a man that Brandy loves

He came on a summer’s day
Bringin’ gifts from far away
But he made it clear he couldn’t stay
No harbor was his home

The sailor said “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“But my life, my love and my lady is the sea”
(Dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

Yeah, Brandy used to watch his eyes
When he told his sailor’s story
She could feel the ocean fall and rise
When she saw his ragin’ glory
But he had always told the truth, Lord, he was an honest man
And Brandy does her best to understand
(Dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

At night when the bars close down
Brandy walks through a silent town
And loves a man who’s not around
She still can hear him say

She hears him say “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“But my life, my love and my lady is the sea”
(Dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

“Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“But my life, my love and my lady is the sea”

Doris Day, Calamity Jane and Another Hollywood Legend Gone

“You take the grey skies out of my way
You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day”, sang George Michael back in 1984 and he wasn’t far wrong.

She certainly did shine brightly on the big screen but today she passed away, at the grand old age of 97. Despite her success, life threw her some lemons, but in typical Doris style, she made lemonade.

Back in March, I wrote my final “Moon Post” celebrating the appearance of the Sugar Moon in our skies. To round off the series I chose a couple of Doris Day songs as I had been reminded of her brilliance whilst spending a lovely afternoon watching Calamity Jane with my mum at the care home. She was a force of nature and I have just caught an old interview with her on telly tonight where she admits that the real Doris was Calamity Jane!

RIP to one of the most popular singers and actresses of the 20th century.

What's It All About?

Since discovering that all full moons have a name (given to them by the Native Americans who kept track of the months by the lunar calendar), I have written about each one as they appear in our skies. To accompany the post I always include one of the numerous songs that have been written about the moon and its many foibles.

To be honest I didn’t think I was going to write any more “moon posts” as I think I’ve  clocked up 17 now, and have had to start using the alternate name for the full moon. Also, most of my favourite moon-related songs have been written about now, so starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel a bit.

This week however, I had a really pleasurable afternoon with a number of ladies who suffer from dementia, and it reminded me there are a few more songs I had…

View original post 917 more words

Suzi, Smokie, The Snowdroppers and a Film About A Red Dog

Well, I have so many big things going on in my life at the moment I don’t know where to begin – So I won’t! I do however need to throw down some words and share a tune, just to keep my hand in as they say, so this post is going to be about the film Red Dog which I’ve just finished watching with the other half.

I think I’ve mentioned this around here before, but back in 2012 I put in place a regular monthly event where a group of around seven of us from my neck of the woods would go to our local theatre/cinema to watch whatever turned out to be showing on the last Thursday of the month. It ended up being a great way of randomly trying out new genres, or foreign language films, as well as potentially catching the big Hollywood blockbusters of the day.

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As regular visitors around here would probably expect, a spreadsheet was kept, where I recorded all the films we went to see, who the lead actors were, the directors, the country of origin, and of course a star rating. Of late my little group has dwindled and I can see the demise of Film Club soon, as some of us have retired and grandchildren have started to put in an appearance. We had a great run of it though, and as fate would have it, back in 2012, the first three films we went to see all starred animals. The first was War Horse based on Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel of the same name. The second was The Artist, the French Oscar winner shot in the style of a black-and-white silent film and starring (amongst others) a little dog called Uggie. But best of all for me, and the recipient of a 5-Star rating, was Red Dog.

Red Dog was a 2011 Australian film set in the 1970s, based on the true story of a dog adopted by the workers of Dampier, a tough mining town in Western Australia. I won’t give too much away, but suffice to say, the storyline revolved around the theme of loyalty and nothing gets to me in a movie more than the undying devotion of a dog – Many tears were shed that first time I watched it in the cinema, and even tonight, on probably the 5th viewing, a fair few tissues were needed to see me through. Red Dog was known locally as the Pilbara Wanderer, and there is still a statue of him in the town of Dampier, erected by the workers of the mining company in his memory. He was indeed the Greyfriars Bobby of Australia.

But I am making this film sound a bit depressing whereas it is anything but. Labelled a comedy-drama for good reason, there are moments of great hilarity throughout which is what you would probably expect from an Aussie film about a bunch of sex-starved males on a red, dusty outpost of that vast country. It also had a great soundtrack made up of carefully selected ’70s music and songs performed by The Snowdroppers who played the role of house band at the local bar. This Australian blues band have been praised for their energetic live performances and on-stage musical theatrics, drawing influence from not only blues but also rockabilly and punk. This is not a clip from the actual film, but the song Do The Stomp is the one they perform in the bar, which has more than a touch of the old Wild West about it.

The big surprise for me however was the inclusion of the song Stumblin’ In by Chris Norman and Suzi Quatro, but it fitted a particular scene in the film really well and I ended up downloading it when I got home. It only reached No. 41 in the UK Singles Chart, but had hit the top spot in Australia, which is how it probably came to be included. Despite the film being set in the early ’70s, this song was from 1978, but watching the pair of them in the video clip here, they do represent that earlier phase of the decade perfectly, before punk and it’s antithesis disco took over. The song was written by that prolific partnership comprised of Mike Chapman (an Australian) and Nicky Chinn who between them scored a succession of massive hits written for the likes of glam-rockers Sweet, as well as for Mud, Smokie (of which Chris Norman was a member) and Suzi. (Excuse the cringeworthy clip here, but it seemed to be de rigueur at that time to re-enact the lyrics whilst singing these two-handers.)

Stumblin’ In by Chris Norman and Suzi Quatro:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I have been so busy of late I needed some downtime this evening, and watching a favourite old movie is sometimes just the tonic we need. A good soundtrack can really lift a film and the song choices for Red Dog were excellent I thought.

In case you are wondering where my full moon post is this month, I think I’m actually all mooned-out at the moment, as there is nothing left for me to learn about our only satellite. We should all have been witness to the Pink Moon on Friday night though, and if anyone wants a reminder about how it got that name, here is a link to my Nick Drake post from last year.

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We don’t really do Easter is a big way here in Scotland but if you do celebrate it, hope you have a good one. The perky weather presenters are promising us an exceptionally warm weekend for the time of year, which would be all well and good if we didn’t know that it’s only because we’re killing the planet. In a few years time Scotland will look like the  Western Australia of Red Dog if something doesn’t change. Those with the power to do something about it are all so consumed with the mechanics of Brexit, that none of the really big stuff is being tackled at all, and I fear we are all stumblin’ in to something much, much bigger.

Until next time…

Stumblin’ In Lyrics
(Song by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn)

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in

Wherever you go, whatever you do
You know these reckless thoughts of mine are following you
I’m falling for you, whatever you do
‘Cos baby you’ve shown me so many things that I never knew
Whatever it takes, baby I’ll do it for you

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in

You were so young, and I was so free
I may been young, but baby that’s not what I wanted to be
Well you were the one, oh why was it me
‘Cos baby you’ve shown me so many things that I’ve never seen
Whatever you need, baby you’ve got it from me

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in
Stumblin’ in
Stumblin’ in

The Sugar Moon, Doris Day and The Golden Age of Hollywood

Since discovering that all full moons have a name (given to them by the Native Americans who kept track of the months by the lunar calendar), I have written about each one as they appear in our skies. To accompany the post I always include one of the numerous songs that have been written about the moon and its many foibles.

To be honest I didn’t think I was going to write any more “moon posts” as I think I’ve  clocked up 17 now, and have had to start using the alternate name for the full moon. Also, most of my favourite moon-related songs have been written about now, so starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel a bit.

This week however, I had a really pleasurable afternoon with a number of ladies who suffer from dementia, and it reminded me there are a few more songs I had intended to include at some point but just not got round to yet, as definitely not from the “cool” camp at all. Appropriately, the March full moon which appeared so spectacularly in our skies last night, is also known as the Sugar Moon, because this is the time of year when the sugar maples of Nova Scotia are starting to produce sap. Appropriate because the songs that are going to be featured here, are sugary sweet indeed.

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The Sugar Moon

But back to my story. I arrived at my mum’s care home on Tuesday afternoon only to find her watching a film in the home’s very swish inhouse cinema. This room was no doubt set up with the best of intentions, but sadly most of the residents are either too physically infirm to make use of it, or in the case of the dementia sufferers, no longer have the concentration needed to sit through a long film. (We won’t mention the “comfort break” issue, but definitely also a problem.)

On Tuesday afternoon however, there were about five of them watching Calamity Jane starring Doris Day. When I say watching, they were definitely flagging when I arrived, and the carer who was with them was on the verge of abandoning the viewing. “No way”, I thought, this could be a lot more fun than our usual visits where the conversation is tricky to put it mildly. As a great fan of old movies, I knew a lot of the background to Calamity Jane (not least that the Hollywood-ised version was nothing like the life of the real Martha Jane Cannary), so we continued to watch it with me giving a running commentary about the actors, the state it was set in, the storyline and the songs. Of course when you’re in an honest to goodness cinema where actual cash changes hands for a ticket, this is impossible, or very rude at any rate, but in the care home it works well.

The songs from Calamity Jane are standards now, and most of us of a certain age know them well. One of the foibles of dementia is that you don’t remember what you had for breakfast but you remember all the words to old songs, and fortunately most of the ladies in the room were in that position. My mum still has a good singing voice so we all enjoyed singing along to The Deadwood Stage (Whip-Crack-Away!), Just Blew in from the Windy City, The Black Hills of Dakota and best of all, Secret Love. We had a rare old afternoon and I’ve offered to come in next time they plan to show a film – Fingers crossed it’s one I know just as well.

Doris Day (born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff) is still with us today, and is about to turn 97 in April (possibly due to her rewarding work as an animal welfare activist – good for body and soul). She recorded more than 650 songs from 1947 to 1967, which made her one of the most popular singers of the 20th century. Her film career began during the latter part of the Classical Hollywood Film Era and she starred in a series of successful films, including musicals, comedies, and dramas. Some of her most successful films were the “bedroom comedies” she made co-starring Rock Hudson and James Garner. Among her awards, Doris received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and was given the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures.

In 1951 Doris starred in the film On Moonlight Bay with Gordon MacRae. It was so successful, a sequel was made in 1953 called By The Light of the Silvery Moon. Of course there were songs of the same name to accompany the films, and to celebrate the sighting of the Sugar Moon, they are my featured songs for this post. They don’t make ’em like this any more.

Until next time….

On Moonlight Bay Lyrics
(Song by Percy Wenrich/Edward Madden)

We were sailing along on Moonlight Bay
We could hear the voices ringing
They seemed to say
“You have stolen her heart”
“Now don’t go ‘way”
As we sang love’s old sweet song on Moonlight Bay

We were sailing along on Moonlight Bay
We could hear the voices ringing
They seemed to say
“You have stolen her heart”
“Now don’t go ‘way”
As we sang love’s old sweet song on Moonlight Bay

We were sailing along on Moonlight Bay
We could hear the voices ringing
They seemed to say
“You have stolen her heart” (You have stolen her heart)
“Now don’t go ‘way”
As we sang love’s old sweet song on Moonlight Bay
(Sailing through the moonlight on Moonlight Bay)

Postscript:

I seem to be unusually productive this week in terms of my blogging output. That would be because I have an academic essay to hand in on Friday for my college course, and I seem to be doing everything I can to avoid completing it. Thought I would find it all a bit easier second time around but it turns out students will be students, whatever their age.

Before I buckle down to finishing my essay (that would be 80% of it), I think we should have another look at Doris playing Calamity Jane. She was a right wee bundle of energy and it certainly worked wonders this week in terms of raising my spirits. Hopefully it will raise yours too.

The Band, “The Weight” and a Bit of a Puzzler.

A while back I featured this song by Abba in one of my posts, and it led to a new discovery for me. I wouldn’t have spotted it myself, but in the comments boxes at the time, The Swede pointed out that one of the albums Agnetha was sadly, post-divorce, storing away in her new abode, was Music From Big Pink recorded in 1968 by The Band (all happens very quickly at 0:58).

Back in 1968 I definitely wouldn’t have known about The Band and to be honest even in 1981 when the Abba video came out, all I knew of them was that they used to play with Bob Dylan and made a documentary movie called The Last Waltz.

Since having their great album cover pointed out to me however, I have been bombarded with references to it, especially after asking for song suggestions for the state of Pennsylvania for my American Odyssey series. Turns out their song The Weight, written by Band member Robbie Robertson, is about a traveller’s experiences arriving, visiting, and departing a town called Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Robbie chose this town  because it was the home of Martin Guitars, and he had written the guitar parts for Music From Big Pink on a 1951 Martin D-28. The Weight has been named as one of the best songs of the ’60s and is named as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

The Weight by The Band:

The song was also featured the other week over at Rich Kamerman’s place, his Satur-debut post having been dedicated to Music From Big Pink. I of course had to point out my discovery that the album puts in an appearance in that 1981 Abba video, but after checking the exact location (0:58 as it turns out), I noticed that Agnetha places a second album on the shelf straight afterwards. For the last fortnight or so I have been driving myself mad trying to work out what it is, so if anyone can help me out I would be most grateful? At one point I thought it was Boz Scaggs Silk Degrees, but on closer inspection, definitely not. A bench it seems, and people in white clothing, but other than that I’m stumped. It has to be from earlier than 1981 otherwise we would be having a weird wibbly wobbly timey wimey kind of thing going on, but as I say, any help in identifying it would be much appreciated.

As for the title of the album Music From Big Pink, I have now discovered it’s because the music was composed partly in “Big Pink”, the house shared by several of the band members in West Saugerties, New York. The cover artwork is a painting by Bob Dylan. I am no art expert, so it could either be a work of genius or the daubs of a child, but whatever it is considered to be, it certainly does make for memorable cover art.

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Big Pink with its pastel siding

So, “What’s It All About?” – So many songs make reference to other songs in their lyrics but it also seems that reference is made to other albums in videos. Makes sense as in the giant oak that is rock and pop’s family tree, everyone is influenced by someone else. Where did it all begin? Who knows, but like human life itself, I suspect it all came Out of Africa.

Bit of a heavy ending there so going to add some footage from the Martin Scorsese film The Last Waltz, the song this time being The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. The Last Waltz was originally the name of a concert held on Thanksgiving Day 1976, at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. It was advertised as The Band’s “farewell concert appearance”, and they were joined by more than a dozen special guests, including Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Ronnie Wood, Muddy Waters, Neil Young, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Dr. John, Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell, and The Staple Singers. The event was filmed and made into a documentary of the same title, released in 1978.

Before next time, I hope someone can help me out with the puzzler?

The Weight Lyrics
(Song by Robbie Robertson)

I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin’ about half past dead
I just need some place where I can lay my head
“Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?”
He just grinned and shook my hand, “no” was all he said

Take a load off, Annie
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Annie
And (and, and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)

I picked up my bag, I went lookin’ for a place to hide
When I saw Carmen and the Devil walkin’ side by side
I said, “Hey, Carmen, come on let’s go downtown.”
She said, “I gotta go but my friend can stick around.”

Take a load off, Annie
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Annie
And (and, and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)

Go down, Miss Moses, there’s nothin’ you can say
It’s just old Luke and Luke’s waitin’ on the Judgment Day
“Well, Luke, my friend, what about young Anna Lee?”
He said, “Do me a favor, son, won’t you stay and keep Anna Lee company?”

Take a load off, Annie
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Annie
And (and, and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)

Crazy Chester followed me and he caught me in the fog
He said, “I will fix your rack if you take Jack, my dog.”
I said, “Wait a minute, Chester, you know I’m a peaceful man.”
He said, “That’s OK, boy, won’t you feed him when you can?”

Yeah, take a load off, Annie
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Annie
And (and, and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)

Catch a cannon ball now to take me down the line
My bag is sinkin’ low and I do believe it’s time
To get back to Miss Annie, you know she’s the only one
Who sent me here with her regards for everyone

Take a load off, Annie
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Annie
And (and, and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)

Christmas Ads, “Your Song” and Music from Moulin Rouge!

A couple of years ago I decided to write about the Randy Crawford song One Day I’ll Fly Away (link here) which featured in the 2016 John Lewis Christmas ad. It led me to share the version performed by Nicole Kidman in Baz Luhrmann’s lavish movie Moulin Rouge!. Her male co-star and love interest in that movie was Ewan McGregor, my favourite Scottish actor.

One of the film’s very memorable duets was Elephant Love Medley, compiled from 13 different love songs – If you are around my age, you will recognise all of them. They came just too thick and fast when I watched the song being performed first time around, but once home, and with the newly purchased CD in the player (it was 17 years ago now), it was easier to identify them. The final song used for the medley, later on performed in full by Mr McGregor, was Elton John’s Your Song. Lo and behold, it’s the song the John Lewis people have used for their newly released 2018 Christmas ad. Two songs from the film Moulin Rouge! in three years – I’m starting to suspect the agency that put these things together are fans!

As luck would have it, I also wrote about Your Song two years ago, as it followed on nicely because of the Moulin Rouge! connection. Long term visitors to this place might recognise what is to follow from back then, but worthy of another outing I feel:

Originally published November 2016

Your Song was originally released back in 1970, and although I know it well, I had been too young back then to really appreciate those great lyrics by Elton’s long-time collaborator, Bernie Taupin. By the time I was a teenager in 1973, Elton John was one of the biggest singer/composer/musicians on the planet, his albums “Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” having received massive critical acclaim. But, at that time my focus was very much on my oh so good-looking teen idols, the Donnys and the Davids. Elton by this time had embraced the full glam-rock persona, with ever more outrageous outfits, glasses and footwear, but not someone I saw as a potential teen idol.

elton
One of Elton’s outrageous outfits!

This is a roundabout way of saying that it was not until going to see Moulin Rouge! in 2001 that I truly appreciated the sentiment of Your Song. Maybe it’s the old romantic in me, but what a wonderful thing I thought, to have a song written specially for you which includes the line: “How wonderful life is, while you’re in the world”. Unlike Pattie Boyd, who seems to have had oh so many songs written about how wonderful it was to have her in the world, I am pretty sure no-one has ever written a song for me. At best there may have been a limerick or rhyme in a Valentine card at some point, but still perhaps time if Mr WIAA decides to take up the art of song-writing in later life! The really ironic thing is that his real-life profession is actually mentioned in the song, but in a bit of a derogatory fashion. Yes it is a great source of mirth in our house that one of the lines from Your Song goes as follows: “If I were a sculptor (bit of aside laughter at the ridiculousness of the suggestion), but then again, no”. It turns out that Bernie Taupin decided it would be preferable being “a man who makes potions in a travelling show” than to be a sculptor, although I beg to differ.

Your Song by Elton John:

So, “What’s It All About?” – It’s good in later life to revisit songs you may not have truly appreciated first time around, because you were just far too busy swooning over your latest teen idol, who happened to have great hair, teeth, waistcoats and headwear. (That would be Donny Osmond in his trademark purple cap then!) I sadly did not appreciate Your Song first time around, so was glad to rediscover it properly after watching Baz Luhrmann’s lavish film.

Until next time, here is the Moulin Rouge! version of the song, Baz Luhrmann style. Both have their merits but it’s the simple pared down version by Elton for me now – Unlike Pattie Boyd I may never have any songs written for me, or about me, but in the meantime a nice piece of sculptural jewellery will do nicely. The man who makes potions in a travelling show is not the one for me!

Your Song Lyrics
(Song by Elton John/Bernie Taupin)

It’s a little bit funny this feeling inside
I’m not one of those who can easily hide
I don’t have much money but boy if I did
I’d buy a big house where we both could live

If I was a sculptor, but then again, no
Or a man who makes potions in a traveling show
I know it’s not much but it’s the best I can do
My gift is my song and this one’s for you

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world

I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss
Well a few of the verses well they’ve got me quite cross
But the sun’s been quite kind while I wrote this song
It’s for people like you that keep it turned on

So excuse me forgetting but these things I do
You see I’ve forgotten if they’re green or they’re blue
Anyway the thing is what I really mean
Yours are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world