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

Well, emotional times indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody Does It Better by Carly Simon:

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

Until next time….

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

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

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

And nobody does it better

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

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

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

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

Peter Sarstedt, A Trio of Brothers and Where Do You Go To My Lovely?

Well, it’s over a week since my last post but after tweaking the title and look of my blog last weekend there has been a fair bit of editing to do on older posts – Also a great chance however to check that all the links are still working and sure enough a few had to be fixed but all in all, a profitable week.

What to write about today then? Last year the plan was to write randomly about a song I’d heard in the course of the day but that didn’t last long – The news of the day trumps this random approach and with so many deaths last year from the world of music there was a steady stream of tributes to be written. Also I quite enjoyed writing about songs that related to the seasons, what was going on in my own life, and sometimes, ones that had formed a pesky earworm in the course of the week.

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None of those situations have arisen this week however so time to refer to my trusty blogging notebook (it’s a thing) in order to check out the long list of “ideas for future posts” that has developed. Now this list is growing faster than I can keep up with the writing, but I am drawn to a post idea that I had last June, around the time of my birthday, when I wrote about those artists who were really big around the time I was born. I always think it’s a bit silly to receive a gift with songs from the year of your birth as you will have no memory of them, or affinity to them at all, as it is not until you around six or seven that you really start to take heed of such things and remember them in later life.

Back then my chosen featured artist (from 1960) was Adam Faith but included in the long list of his contemporaries was Eden Kane. I had no idea until that point that Eden Kane was in fact Richard Sarstedt who was the older brother of Peter and Robin, both of whom I did remember from the “tracks of my years”.

The Sarstedt brothers, like Cliff Richard and many other shiny stars from the world of entertainment (is there a connection I wonder?), were born in India in the 1940s. Sadly their father died quite young after which they came back, with their mother, to live in the UK. Richard was first off the mark and formed a skiffle group. Like that other group of three brothers, the Bee Gees, he included his younger siblings but after winning a talent contest changed his name to Eden Kane and went onto solo success. His 1960 song Well I Ask You even reached the No. 1 spot in the UK Singles Chart.

Eden/Richard’s career was on the wane by 1964 as groups such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones started to take over the airwaves. On a stopover in Los Angeles later that year however he met journalist Charlene Groman, the sister of American actress Stefanie Powers, whom he went on to marry. He has lived and worked in LA ever since, and they are still happily married today.

Peter Sarstedt was the next brother to pick up the mantle of singing stardom. Although another pop artist, his music was more derived from traditional folk music. He is best known for writing and performing Where Do You Go To (My Lovely) which again was a No. 1 hit in the UK Singles Chart, this time in 1969, and even won an Ivor Novello Award. It is very much a “story song” about a fictional girl called Marie-Claire who grows up on the poverty-stricken backstreets of Naples, but soon becomes a member of the international jet set and goes on to live in Paris. The lyrics are from the perspective of a childhood friend but the rhetorical question of the title suggests that her glamorous lifestyle may not have brought Marie-Claire happiness or contentment. The lyrics of the song reflect the fact that we seemed to be having a bit of a love affair with all things European that year, what with Jane, Serge and Jacques Brel also making a massive impact. Oh dear, how things change.

Here is a great clip that not only showcases Peter, his lovely song, and stupendous moustache, but also Simon Dee whom some of us of a certain age will remember well from late ’60s Saturday night telly. Sadly Peter Sarstedt died in January this year at the age of 75 and as happened last year, I am only now getting round to writing about him, after his death. The artists who have formed the “tracks of my years” are leaving us faster than I can get round to writing about them – Will have to pick up the pace.

Where Do You Go To (My Lovely) by Peter Sarstedt:

The third brother, Robin Sarstedt (whose actual name was Clive) had a one-hit wonder in 1976 with the Hoagy Carmichael-penned My Resistance Is Low. I remember this song well as it was from the era when I probably listened to more chart music than at any other point in my life. In the mid ’70s we seemed to be having a love affair with these old classics, possibly because there were quite a few films around at that time set in earlier decades and I know that girl’s clothes and hairstyles also had a distinct retro feel to them. I should know because I had a couple of dresses which were very much in the style of the ’30s and ’40s. ‘Twas the times.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I really will have to pick up the pace. If I am getting older so are my musical heroes and it’s much nicer writing about them when they are still alive as opposed to after they have died. I see that Joni from Sister Sledge died yesterday and last month it was Al Jarreau – Both are linked to “posts pending” in my blogging notebook so again it will have to be a “posthumous post” (so much alliteration).

And, although I don’t really do politics here, this of course is the month when the Triggering of Article 50 happens. Back in 1969 we weren’t even in Europe yet and here was Peter Sarstedt writing songs about girls called Marie-Claire from Naples, Sasha Distel, Marlene Dietrich, Zizi Jeanmaire, Balmain and Picasso. Somewhere along the line something has gone horribly wrong.

Until next time….

Where Do You Go To My Lovely Lyrics
(Song by Peter Sarstedt)

You talk like Marlene Dietrich
And you dance like Zizi Jeanmaire
Your clothes are all made by Balmain
And there`s diamonds and pearls in your hair
You live in a fancy apartment
Of the Boulevard of St. Michel
Where you keep your Rolling Stones records
And a friend of Sacha Distel

But where do you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head

I’ve seen all your qualifications
You got from the Sorbonne
And the painting you stole from Picasso
Your loveliness goes on and on, yes it does
When you go on your summer vacation
You go to Juan-les-Pins
With your carefully designed topless swimsuit
You get an even suntan, on your back and on your legs
When the snow falls you’re found in St. Moritz
With the others of the jet-set
And you sip your Napoleon Brandy
But you never get your lips wet

But where do you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do

Your name is heard in high places
You know the Aga Khan
He sent you a racehorse for Christmas
And you keep it just for fun, for a laugh haha
They say that when you get married
It’ll be to a millionaire
But they don’t realize where you came from
And I wonder if they really care, they give a damn

But where do you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head

I remember the back streets of Naples
Two children begging in rags
Both touched with a burning ambition
To shake off their lowly brown tags, yes they try
So look into my face Marie-Claire
And remember just who you are
Then go and forget me forever
`Cause I know you still bear
the scar, deep inside, yes you do

I know where you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed
I know the thoughts that surround you
`Cause I can look inside your head