Love, Forever Changes and “Alone Again Or”

Well, my last post was a very long one so you’ll be glad to know that this is going to be a shorter, mid-week mini-post. I recently had a comment from a new visitor to this place who knew me from another blog we both frequent (that would be Rich’s KamerTunesBlog). It had come to his attention that I’d written a post called LOVE, Young People and “Don’t Look Back In Anger” and had assumed it was about the band Love. Sadly for him it wasn’t, it was about the One Love Manchester benefit concert that took place back in May, a couple of weeks after the city’s terrorist attack. In reply to his comment I mentioned that I didn’t really know the band Love but said I would definitely seek them out, which is exactly what I did next.

Wow, I am now in love with Love!

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Ever since starting this blog, the year I keep returning to time and time again is 1967, and here we go again. There are many reasons why I am so fond of this particular year and I have cited them many times already but now that I recognise the sheer number of musical genres out there, the ones I warm to most were all at their peak in 1967, orchestral pop, baroque pop, folk rock and psychedelic rock. Love definitely fell into the last camp and despite having poor sales back in the late sixties, their album “Forever Changes” received great critical acclaim and is now ranked 40th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It is also recognised as one of the finest albums to have come out of the Summer of Love.

Alone Again Or by Love:

The first track on “Forever Changes” is the song Alone Again Or which was written by bassist Brian MacLean although most of the other songs on the album were written by the band’s founder, Arthur Lee. I am pretty sure I know it from a soundtrack to a film or television show but can’t quite work out which one – Maybe someone could help me out? The song was apparently inspired by the memory of waiting for a girlfriend – The essence of it is the contrast between the upbeat tune and the sad lyrics, “And I will be alone again tonight, my dear”. Love‘s influences included folk rock, hard rock, blues, jazz, flamenco and orchestral pop so the addition of a string section and a horn part for a mariachi band seemed perfectly sensible. The song has become a true classic and has now been recorded by many other artists including The Damned.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Some bands just seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time so despite their obvious brilliance never really get the commercial success they deserve. Love were the hippest band in LA in 1967 but because they had two black front men playing music unlikely to appeal to a black audience, they were ill-equipped to take the place of bands such as The Byrds. They became overshadowed by The Doors and Jimi Hendrix in 1967 and their drug usage started to spiral out of control. As the year ended, Love splintered apart, never to regain the same momentum. Despite a period of incarceration for gun crimes, Arthur Lee continued to work with other musicians using the band’s name until his death in 2006.

But here we are 50 years on from the now infamous Summer of Love and I am discovering Love for the first time. That all sounds a bit odd actually, but it just goes to show that you are never too old, and I am going to enjoy every little bit of it!

Alone Again Or Lyrics
(Song by Brian MacLean)

Yeah, I said it’s all right
I won’t forget
All the times I waited patiently for you
I think you’ll do (just what) you choose to do
And I will be alone again tonight my dear

Yeah, I heard a funny thing
Somebody said to me
You know that I could be in love, with almost everyone
I think that people are the greatest fun
And I will be alone again tonight, my dear

Yeah, I heard a funny thing
Somebody said to me
You know that I could be in love with almost everyone
I think that people are the greatest fun
And I will be alone again tonight, my dear

Tartan Heart Festivals, Hippies and the Summer Of Love

Exactly 50 years ago, in 1967, the “hippies” of North America (and other parts of the world) converged on Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco, wearing flowers in their hair. It was the infamous Summer Of Love which has cropped up on these pages often as although I was only aged seven that year, it seems to be a year I have a great fondness for when it comes to revisiting the “tracks of my years”. All sorts of reasons for this which have already been covered but one that hadn’t really occurred to me until recently was that children of six and under generally have a very early bedtime (I know I did), so any opportunity to watch music shows of any kind on telly would have been an impossibility. Looking back now I have a pretty good memory for music from 1967 onwards as that would have been the year it would have been deemed reasonable for me to stay up “late” to watch shows such as Top of the Pops, an absolute must for kids of my generation.

Many songs were written that year referring to this mass migration of up to 100,000 young people to Haight-Ashbury, the most obvious being Scott McKenzie’s San Francisco. I don’t however seem to have that one in my digital library but I do have Let’s Go To San Francisco by British band The Flower Pot Men. As ever I have learnt something new, as I had always taken it forgranted that they were American – The song, a one-hit wonder, very much imitated the style of Brian Wilson, and could easily have been mistaken for a Beach Boys one.

Let’s Go To San Francisco by The Flower Pot Men:

As I’ve also mentioned many times, the Summer of Love never came to my small Scottish village, and if it had, my dad and his fellow civic-minded friends would probably have had something to say about it. It did however, infiltrate the student body of Aberdeen, a city we drove to every other Saturday so that my dad could watch his beloved Aberdeen FC and my mum could do some shopping (with me in tow – grrr). The car park we used was very near the University and right across the street was the building that housed the Students’ Union. It was the social hub of University life where there were bars, dining halls, venues for concerts and little shops selling supplies that are probably no longer needed for the modern-day student, such as pads of foolscap paper, pencils, pocket files and even, books.

This building had a steady stream of “hippies” leave and enter as we passed by and to me they looked just like the singers and groups I loved to watch on Top of the Pops. They had long hair, little round glasses, guitars, even Afghan coats – One day I thought to myself, I want to be just like them, although I definitely kept that plan to myself as my parents used to make it quite clear that come the hour, they wouldn’t want to see me stumble out of that door on Schoolhill a bit worse for the wear and high on plant life. As it turned out I did stumble out of that door frequently over a decade later but the hippie era was long gone by then and new wave had taken its place. Fortunately my parents didn’t see me however, as the black lipstick (it makes your teeth look awful by the way) and nail varnish, complete with leopard spot garments would not have gone down well. Don’t get me wrong, my parents were wonderful and I had a charmed childhood, but they were not what you would have called “open-minded”.

So, where is all this going I hear you ask? – Next weekend a mini Glastonbury (about a tenth of the size in terms of numbers) will be held just a few miles west of where we live and they have a Summer of Love theme going on this year. Darling daughter and her friends have all acquired “flowers for their hair” and are heading along for the whole camping experience. Mr WIAA and I on the other hand will watch on telly, BBC Alba to be precise, which means the presenters are Gaelic speakers and we won’t even understand what they are saying, but the music will still be great. I do feel a bit aggrieved in that I missed the whole Summer of Love experience first time around because I was too young, and just as there was a resurgence of interest in staging festivals, I was kind of too old and had responsibilities. I really don’t think my middle-aged bones and Mr WIAA’s bladder could cope with the whole camping experience now, especially if it rains, but we do enjoy experiencing it vicariously via the young people.

Our mini Glastonbury is called the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival and looking at the line-up, the band that jumps out at me first is the Pretenders. That would be because they appeared at our aforementioned Students’ Union in 1979, the week they were at No.1 in the UK Singles Chart with Brass In Pocket. A fortuitous booking had obviously been made some time before by the incumbent Union President – Oh yes, that would have been Sky News reporter Glen Oglaza. Back then however (and I really wish I could find a picture but I can’t) he looked just like Frank Zappa. It was 1979 but he was still sporting the look of a Summer of Love hippie. What happened to the hair Glen?

My friend Stuart worked on the student newspaper, The Gaudie, which is the oldest in the UK apparently and got the sought after gig of interviewing Ms Hynde before she went on stage. Chrissie Hynde is one of those timeless looking ladies, a rock chick whose style has changed very little over the decades. Sadly that evening she had decided to cut her trademark long fringe and it had all gone horribly wrong – She was not in the best of moods and the interview was not quite as exciting for the interviewer, as it should have been. A lesson was obviously learnt that night as I don’t remember ever seeing her with anything other the style shown below – She found her look early on and stuck with it.

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Chrissie Hynde with her trademark long fringe

As for darling daughter’s pick for the weekend, she is most looking forward to Twin Atlantic – Not so much psychedelic rock but alternative rock, of the Glaswegian variety. I was introduced to them by her this week and have to say, I am mighty impressed. Last year we had The Proclaimers at Belladrum, those heavily accented twin brothers from Auchtermuchty. This year we are going to have the heavily accented Twin Atlantic – Perfect. Their most successful chart hit so far has been Heart and Soul from 2014 and I look forward to watching them perform it from the comfort of my sofa next weekend!

So, What’s it all about? – One of these days I will have to bite the bullet and head along to Belladrum, just so that I can tick it off the bucket list. I may well need that bucket along with me however as it does have a history of being quite a rain-soaked festival. I could collect water in it to make tea and to wash my hair. It could also be handy for Mr WIAA’s middle-aged bladder (although not all at the same time of course).

I doubt if many of the young people know much at all about the Summer of Love of fifty years ago but no matter, they are young and need to experience everything for the first time, their way. Mobile phones feature heavily at festivals nowadays which would have been inconceivable 50 years ago – No selfies with Frank, Janis, Jimi or Grace back in the day but who knows, maybe Glen Oglaza did get a picture taken with Chrissie Hynde in 1979, before she cut her fringe. Wonder if they keep in touch.

Let’s Go To San Francisco (Belladrum?) Lyrics
(Song by John Carter/Ken Lewis)

Let’s go (let’s go) to San Francisco (let’s go to San Francisco)
Where the flowers grow (flowers grow)
So very high (so high)
Sunshine (sunshine) in San Francisco
(Sunshine in San Francisco)
Makes your mind grow up to the sky.

Lots of sunny (lots of) sunny people
Walking hand in hand(walking hand in hand)
Then a (then a) funny people (funny people)
They have found (they have found) their land.

Let’s go (let’s go) to San Francisco (let’s go to San Francisco)
Where the flowers grow (flowers grow)
So very high (so high)
Sunshine (sunshine) in San Francisco
(Sunshine in San Francisco)
Makes your mind grow up to the sky.

Lots of sunny (lots of) sunny people
Walking hand in hand(walking hand in hand)
Then a (then a) funny people (funny people)
They have found (they have found) their land.

Bicycles, Sgt. Pepper and “The One on the Right is on the Left”!

I don’t quite know what happened this week but my blogging mojo left me. First of all I had intended to write a few age-related posts ahead of my birthday next week but that old chestnut time, or the lack of it, got the better of me. I then spent a couple of hours last night looking at the screen, unable to string a coherent sentence together. My long list of “posts pending” and my American Odyssey series both require a fair bit of research and to be honest, at the moment, I’m just not in the mood. I blame the fact that this week has been especially spreadsheet-heavy at work, where the numbers side of my brain has obviously encroached on the space usually left for words. In situations like this, for the second week in a row, it will have to be a web-diary type of post.

On Wednesday evening we went along to the local college where Mr WIAA “works” in the art department (although it all sounds a bit of a lark to me). There was a year-end exhibition of the student’s work and it usually makes for an interesting evening where we also get the chance to buy some pieces at very reasonable prices – Who knows, maybe one day these young artists will become famous and their pieces will be worth something. For one group of students, yarn bombing was something that had featured heavily this year, and I did like this bicycle.

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A bicycle of the knitted variety

This week has also of course been politics-heavy ahead of next week’s “snap” election and although most bloggers steer away from such topics, I cannot deny that the issues at stake have infiltrated my thoughts a lot over the last seven days. The television debates (or non-debates actually) have not been particularly effective and as usual I end up warming most to the Green Party leaders and candidates, but they are never going to be able to form a government (can you imagine them having a special relationship with Mr Trump after his withdrawal from the Accord de Paris this week), so the best alternative it will have to be. Like the Greens, Jeremy Corbyn is against nuclear weapons of any kind but of course he is continually hectored and harangued about whether he would ever actually “press the button” if the need arose. I’m with the young lady from the Question Time studio audience who shook her head in dismay at how so many in the room seemed bent on, in effect, killing millions of people. If things get that bad, it’s curtains for us all anyway.

In the meantime, my employers, as well as creating a new paper-less environment have also created a car park-less environment. This has led to the initiation of a cycle-to-work scheme, where eco-bikes are now at our disposal – The Greens would be proud of them although it’s not always easy being of that persuasion and Andy Hallett sang all about it back in 2001!

It’s Not Easy Being Green by Andy Hallett:

Still thinking fondly of the knitted bicycle from earlier in the week, Mr WIAA and I went to a local café today where they also show you how to fix and repair your bike. It is right next to the college so a frequent pit stop for staff and students alike. Called Velocity Café, it is run by enterprising youngsters who have created a great little hub for like-minded souls right in the centre of town. We sat at one of the long tables where you can have a chat with fellow diners or catch up with the newspapers. And this is where I had a bit of an emotional moment over my butternut squash and red lentil soup. In today’s Review section of The Guardian there was an excellent piece by the author Ian McEwan (link here) which really got to me. Right at that moment in time, I wanted nothing more than to live in a land full of Velocity Cafés, and not one where people who are reluctant to launch nuclear weapons are lampooned.

Fortunately I pulled myself together and we even had one of their award winning granola slices for which Mr WIAA managed to get the secret recipe last year. He has attempted to make them a few times now but they never turn out quite like in the café – Methinks they perhaps left out some of the key ingredients, as a secret recipe would no longer be secret, if given out willy-nilly to customers.

Not a lot of music so far included in this post and funnily enough, when it comes, it’s not going to be bicycle related although that does seem to have become the theme for this post. Whilst having lunch, BBC 6 Music was playing on the radio and it was a programme about the Beatles album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” which was released 50 years ago this week. I am not remotely qualified to write knowledgably about this ground-breaking album, so I’ll stick to the facts. It was their 8th album release and spent 27 weeks at the top of the UK charts. It was “lauded by critics for its innovative approach to music production, songwriting and graphic design and was probably the first album to bridge the divide between popular music and legitimate art“. Peter Blake’s album sleeve is arguably the most famous of all time, consisting of a collage of 88 figures which included the Beatles themselves. Copyright was a major problem as Brian Epstein had to locate each person in order to get permission to use their image out of context. Looking closely at some of those figures, this can’t have been easy. Today sitting in the café I think I found a renewed affection for this album as it is one of those that has perhaps become a bit over-familiar to my ears. Time maybe for a proper re-visitation over the coming week to mark its landmark birthday.

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Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles:

So, “What’s It All About?” – We’re heading to our polling stations again next week and although I have been very good at predicting the results of the last few elections and referendums, I have tended myself to always back the losing side. I often visit Jez’s site over at A History of Dubious Taste and he has put together some very good posts on the political goings on (read shenanigans) over the past few weeks – Informative but funny too, so I would thoroughly recommend a visit. This also reminds me of a song he featured a couple of weeks ago which is perfect for tonight’s post. I’d never heard it before but it has become a guilty pleasure over the last fortnight. I will leave you with Johnny Cash and The One On The Right Is On The Left and will return next week once we all know the outcome – Politically charged times indeed!

The One On The Right Is On The Left Lyrics
(Song by Jack Clement)

There once was a musical troupe
A pickin’ singin’ folk group
They sang the mountain ballads
And the folk songs of our land
They were long on musical ability
Folks thought they would go far
But political incompatibility led to their downfall

Well, the one on the right was on the left
And the one in the middle was on the right
And the one on the left was in the middle
And the guy in the rear was a Methodist

This musical aggregation toured the entire nation
Singing the traditional ballads
And the folk songs of our land
They performed with great virtuosity
And soon they were the rage
But political animosity prevailed upon the stage

Well, the one on the right was on the left
And the one in the middle was on the right
And the one on the left was in the middle
And the guy in the rear burned his driver’s license

Well the curtain had ascended
A hush fell on the crowd
As thousands there were gathered to hear the folk songs of our land
But they took their politics seriously
And that night at the concert hall
As the audience watched deliriously
They had a free-for-all

Well, the one on the right was on the bottom
And the one in the middle was on the top
And the one on the left got a broken arm
And the guy on his rear, said, “Oh dear”

Now this should be a lesson if you plan to start a folk group
Don’t go mixin’ politics with the folk songs of our land
Just work on harmony and diction
Play your banjo well
And if you have political convictions keep them to yourself
Now, the one on the left works in a bank
And the one in the middle drives a truck
The one on the right’s an all-night deejay
And the guy in the rear got drafted

Postscript:

As this was a very bicycle-heavy post it does seems wrong to leave without sharing anything musically related to bikes. Here is a clip that I revisit often as from that impressive London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. The song Come Together was very appropriately for this post a Beatles one, but in this case was performed by the Arctic Monkeys. I loved those guys on the bicycles and from what I have just heard this morning on the news, the sentiment of the song is more relevant than ever.

Alice, Jefferson Airplane and “White Rabbit”

After getting into the routine of writing very long posts which need a fair bit of research, I really enjoyed putting together a much shorter one last week where the featured song was married up with a set of pictures. This week I’m going to try and do the same, albeit using a very different subject matter:

The tickets are now booked and towards the end of next month we’re off to the Big Smoke, or That London as I’ve heard it called recently, to attend an awards ceremony for those who work in Mr WIAA’s industry. We went for the first time last year and it all worked out so well we have replicated our travel plans exactly. He has apparently won an award, but they very cunningly don’t tell you what it is until the actual ceremony, to leave an element of surprise they say, but img_0319more likely to ensure that as many of us attend as possible. As it turns out you pretty much know what you have or haven’t won the minute you arrive, as last time those of us seated in the “body of the kirk” were the runners up, whereas those who got aisle seats had won the top prizes, the gold awards, and had to go up on stage to receive them. There is no monetary value to the award, just the prestige of being the best in the country at what you do (or perhaps the best of those who have entered but much the same thing), but all very swish and a chance for us country bumpkins from the North of Scotland to experience such a thing. Last time I was happy just to have the chance to put on my posh frock and admire the amazing venue where the ceremony took place. Once the schmoozing started there was even wine and nibbles and being one who very rarely drinks nowadays due to designated driving duties, I got quite tipsy, quite quickly (oops), and therefore made lots of new friends! Wonder if they’ll remember me this year?

The subject matter for his entry this time was the marrying up of sculpture with literature and after a few false starts due to copyright issues it was discovered that Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland was fair game for inspiration. Now I think this book was one of the very first hardback novels I ever owned, and I still have it as it was a present from my grandmother. Back then I read it as a children’s story but of course being from the fantasy genre it has had a lasting popularity with adults as well. I give you, Mr WIAA’s 2017 entry:

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And if you go chasing rabbits

 

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And the Red Queen’s off with her head

Today’s featured song could therefore be none other than White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane, that ’60s band from San Francisco who pioneered psychedelic rock. They headlined at all three of the very memorable (but perhaps not for those who were there) rock festivals of that era, Monterey, Woodstock and Altamont and when I think of 1967’s Summer of Love, I think of them.

White Rabbit:

The very beautiful Grace Slick wrote White Rabbit and brought it with her when she joined the band. It uses the imagery from 1865’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its 1871 sequel Through the Looking-Glass and her references include Alice, the hookah-smoking caterpillar, the White Knight, the Red Queen and the Dormouse. For Grace Slick, “The White Rabbit” was your curiosity and of course at that time drugs were very much a part of mind-expanding and social experimentation. With its enigmatic lyrics, in 1967 (that year again) White Rabbit became one of the first songs to sneak drug references past censors on the radio.

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As for Mr WIAA’s interpretation of the works of Lewis Carroll, it is a lot more literal, physical and 3-dimensional so I’m pretty sure he’ll sneak his way past the Craft Council’s board of censors. At his age his drugs of choice tend to be for indigestion or hayfever and sadly there haven’t been too many Summers of Love for him lately, so I think he’ll be ok – Hopefully he’ll do well with it in this year’s competition, the Oscars of the Craft Industry.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Sadly most of the craftspeople who will enter the competition are now of a certain age, and no-one is coming up behind, so these skills are being lost in our country forever. There has been a lot of talk about globalisation recently and we have seen it first hand in our industry as one by one the centuries-old casting companies of Sheffield and Birmingham shut up shop for good, unable to compete with the new technology and prices offered by the Far East. This will be Mr WIAA’s last vanity project as they are expensive to make and he has now been replaced by 3D photocopiers. It is sad, but a fact of modern day life in the Western world. I do wonder about what would happen if one day the machines rebel and refuse to work for us any more – Would anyone even be able to write in longhand any more, one of the most basic of life skills?

But hey, I don’t want to end this very pictorial post on a downbeat note so here is a montage of some of the other beautiful things that were presented at last year’s awards. As for us, we’ll be down at the end of the garden with our hookahs, looking for a rabbit hole, the voice of Grace Slick ringing in our ears!

White Rabbit Lyrics
(Song by Grace Slick)


One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small

And the ones that mother gives you, don’t do anything at all

Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call

And call Alice, when she was just small

When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving low

Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head, feed your head