Months of the Year in Song: December Departed

Yet again I’m up against a deadline, sneaking the latest edition of this series into the tail end of the month, and what a month it’s been. I had fully expected this edition to be a really festive one, full of jollity and Christmas songs, but for me, December 2022 has been memorable for the sheer number of deaths there have been both in the world of celebrity and closer to home.

The latest tally ‘closer to home’ is now seven deaths since the start of the month. None of them family or really close friends, but people I knew through their offspring, through work, or from my neighbourhood. Out there in the wider world the obituaries just keep on coming. Last night we heard of the death of Vivienne Westwood (would punk have happened in quite the same way without her?), and yesterday we also lost Pele, whose playing style probably gave football the moniker, ‘the beautiful game’. On Christmas Eve we lost Maxi Jazz, lead vocalist of British electronic band Faithless. To be honest, until reading a comment about him on another blog just before his death, I wouldn’t have known his name, but there can’t be many of us who weren’t aware of him. Such a striking man whose struggle with Insomnia gave us the dance track that even those of us who missed the Ibiza boat knew well. I’ve already written tributes for Christine McVie and Terry Hall this month, but we’ve also lost Jet Black of the Stranglers, and many others from the world of music and entertainment.

In clockwise direction: Vivienne Westwood and pals, Christine McVie, Terry Hall, Maxi Jazz, Jet Black

Insomnia by Faithless:


But this is supposed to be a post full of December songs and appropriately I’m going to kick things off with George Michael, who himself died on Christmas Day, 2016. That year had been incredibly cruel for losses but his death was the one that hit me hardest as his music had accompanied me throughout my entire adult life up until that point. I’ve shared his December Song (I Dreamed of Christmas) around here before, but no reason not to share it again.

December Song (I Dreamed of Christmas) by George Michael:


It always seems a bit odd listening to Christmas songs after the 25th so apologies for the timing of this post. Hope everyone who visits this place had a good time over the peak festive period, but I am also aware it can be a tough time for many. For the second year in a row we went out for Christmas lunch as it seemed high time that DD and the new fiancé gave it a bash. I can report back that everything went really well and I think she got a lot less stressed than I usually do when juggling so many dishes at the same time. When we got back home in the evening though it was just the two of us, so very different from the years when we had our own parents, Mr WIAA’s siblings and DD to entertain. Just the place we’ve reached on the conveyor belt of life I suppose.

DD’s Christmas table complete with fancy napkins!

Before I get on with the song suggestions, here is the bit of trivia I found really interesting back in September, but now find a bit boring and repetitive. Yes, yet again the month of December is named after a Latin number, this time ten, or decem, all because the Roman calendar used to have 10 months with a gap for an ‘unorganised winter’. Phew, think we’re done with all that now, so it should get a bit more interesting once we head into a new calendar year.

The first suggestion last time came in from Rick who thought the line, ‘I wanted to assassinate Christmas’, in the Teenage Fanclub song, December, was a really good one. First time this Scottish band has put in an appearance around here, so thanks Rick, and yes, a sentiment many of us probably agree with.


Our next pick came from Ernie Goggins who suggested Merle Haggard’s song, If We Make It Through December. Listening to the lyrics I can’t help thinking there must be many, many families out there thinking exactly the same thing this year. Sadly, the way things are going, I don’t think there will be much respite in January, or February, and the current incumbent at No. 10 is not going to offer up any easy fixes. But thanks Ernie, a new song for me, and I do like Merle’s voice despite the sad lyrics.

Got laid off down at the factory
And their timing’s not the greatest in the world
Heaven knows I been workin’ hard
Wanted Christmas to be right for daddy’s girl

I don’t mean to hate December
It’s meant to be the happy time of year
And my little girl don’t understand
Why daddy can’t afford no Christmas here


Next up we have a suggestion from Khayem who for the second time in this series came up with something from the band The The (I think he must be a big fan). Here are his own words:

‘Unsurprisingly, lots and lots of December songs out there, so I’m just going to stick with one, although it’s been re-recorded and covered several times over. It’s DecemberSunlight (no spacing) by The The. The original version appeared on the 2000 album NakedSelf.’

Thanks Khayem, and anyone who wants to investigate some of the many covers can find them in last month’s comments boxes (link here).


Rol promised to be kind this time, with fewer suggestions to drown me with. As it turns out, a couple of the songs he mentioned, I would have included myself anyway. First of all, I can’t write a December themed post without including this song from the Four Seasons. I always used to think it was simply called, Oh What a Night, but the official title is December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night). This time the lead vocals came from drummer Gerry Polci, with Frankie Valli just singing the bridge sections and backing vocals. Whenever I hear this song I am transported back to 1975 when our newly minted community centre was the focal point for teenage social life (no iPhones in those days). Most of our year at school headed along every Saturday night for the ‘disco’, where the decks were manned by some of our enterprising classmates. Fun times played out to songs like this one, and as I’ve said around here before, I think the Four Seasons provided the backdrop to my first kiss!

December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) by the Four Seasons:


Another of Rol’s suggestions was this one, December, by Count Basie & the Mills Brothers. The Mills Brothers, originally known as the Four Kings of Harmony, were an American jazz and traditional pop vocal quartet who made more than 2,000 recordings that sold more than 50 million copies. They were active from 1928 to 1980 and were the first African-American artists to have their own show on national network radio in the US.

December by The Mills Brothers:


I am reminded of a Christmas several years ago when our blogging buddy Jez used to ask for suggestions for his very entertaining feature, The Chain. I’m not sure how it came about but I remember offering up this Mills Brothers song back then as I had it in my library, and no suggestions were ever rejected. As it turns out Jez isn’t very well at the moment, so if he reads this, we’re all wishing you well and hope you can get back to the important business of blogging soon. No pressure though, health comes first an’ all that.

A suggestion now from C of Sun Dried Sparrows fame. Here are her own words:

‘The first song that springs to mind for me is My<Dsmbr by Linkin’ Park featuring Kelli Ali – I know, you’d have thought they could have spelt it correctly, will it be disqualified on the grounds of having no vowels? I’m no Linkin’ Park fan usually, but I like Kelli Ali for her time with Sneaker Pimps and creator of some great solo material and there’s just something about this song that seems to fit the mood of the month.’

No, won’t be disqualified C, so lets give it a listen. Yes, I do hear what you say about it fitting the mood of the month. Thanks for this one.


This next song was alluded to by Rol, but it was left to Rigid Digit to come out and suggest it properly. December Will Be Magic Again, by Kate Bush from 1980. Kate, who now lives quietly in an English village, became the artist de jour this last summer after her 1985 song Running Up That Hill was used for an important scene in the hit television drama Stranger Things. After 37 years it finally made it to the top spot on the UK Singles Chart, Kate’s first No. 1 since Wuthering Heights in 1978. For some reason her Christmas song is not one of the staples you hear on the radio much nowadays, which is a great shame, as classic Kate Bush.


The final song for this post comes from our blogging pal The Swede, who has been conspicuous by his absence this festive period. I suspect he might be too jiggered for blogging after long shifts keeping the nation fed, but hopefully all is well with him. Here are his own words:

‘My suggestion for the next instalment in this series is Fred Neil’s cover of December’s Dream, a song that unfathomably remained unreleased in his lifetime. Fred’s voice can reduce me to a blubbering wreck at the best of times, but here he just about finishes me off. The original version of the song by John Braheny is also excellent.’

Crikey TS, I see what you mean about that song, it’s got me reduced to a blubbering wreck too. A new artist and song for me, but what a beautiful and pure voice he has. Thank you for that suggestion.


Right, that’s definitely your lot for this month, and for the 2022 segment of this series. The next edition will come out before the end of January so yet again I would be most grateful for any of your song suggestions for that month (but please be sparing as these posts take a lot out of a person – I was warned!).

It’s going to be a quiet Hogmanay for us this year as there has been a radical change in our neighbourhood over the last few years meaning that the people we used to party with have either moved away, suffered illness or sadly passed away. On a positive note, I went to visit my mum in her care home earlier today and despite many of them having come down with flu, she was in good spirits and sporting a hat made out of balloons in the shape of a reindeer. (They’d had a magician in to entertain.) The mum I used to know would never have contemplated wearing a balloon hat, but the mum I now have is much more fun-loving and up for anything, so a bit of a blessing really.

Whatever you do for Hogmanay, whether it be watching a firework display, heading off to a party, or cosying up in front of the telly, I hope you have a good one.

Until next time…

December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) Lyrics
(Song by Bob Gaudio/Judy Parker)

Oh, what a night
Late December, back in ’63
What a very special time for me
As I remember, what a night

Oh, what a night
You know, I didn’t even know her name
But I was never gonna be the same
What a lady, what a night

Oh, I, I got a funny feeling
When she walked in the room
And my, as I recall
It ended much too soon

(Oh, what a night)
Hypnotizing, mesmerisin’ me
She was everything I dreamed she’d be
Sweet surrender, what a night

And I felt a rush
Like a rolling bolt of thunder
Spinning my head around
And takin’ my body under
(Oh, what a night)

Oh, I got a funny feeling
When she walked in the room
And my, as I recall
It ended much too soon

(Oh, what a night)
Why’d it take so long to see the light?
Seemed so wrong, but now it seems so right
What a lady, what a night

Oh, I felt a rush
Like a rolling bolt of thunder
Spinning my head around
And takin’ my body under

(Oh, what a night)
Do do do, do do, do do do do
(Oh, what a night)
Do do do, do do, do do do do
(Oh, what a night)
Do do do, do do, do do do do
(Oh, what a night)
Do do do, do do, do do do do.
..

Bothy Ballads, Gaberlunzie and The Best Fun I Had All Week, Was in a Care Home!

During the darkest days of the pandemic, I often started my posts with the words, ‘How are we all doing?’. It was a stressful time for most of us what with all the uncertainty about how things would pan out. How soon we forget however, and once the vaccines became freely available, we thought life would get back to normal. In 2022 however, every ‘crisis’ imaginable seems to have hit us at the same time. My pandemic question again feels quite pertinent:

How are we all doing?

I’m not ashamed to admit that I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all that is going on in the world, and closer to home, and I am not the same relaxed person I was in 2016 when I started this blog. I should change my name to Anxious Alyson, someone who finds it quite hard to write entertaining and light-hearted posts at the moment, so apologies for that.

The modern-day care home – quite swish really

A most welcome relief from all the anxiety came in the unlikely form of a visit to a care home yesterday. Regulars around here will remember that four years ago we had to find a care home place for my mum, after a stay in hospital made it impossible for her to return to her retirement flat. It all started well but after only 15 months, due to the pandemic, the home closed to nearly all visitors and any non-essential personnel, like entertainers. For two and a half years it proved very difficult to visit at all what with tests being required, masks, much form-filling and social distancing. In the last month however all that has changed, and things have returned to how they used to be when she first took up residence. Sadly, those residents like my mum who have dementia, have deteriorated quite markedly because of the social isolation of the pandemic years. Yes, they were being ‘kept safe’ from the virus, as directed by our government, but time was not on their side, and many passed away during that period. My mum did make it through, but she no longer knows who I am, which makes my visits quite tricky at times, although you do learn how make them work.

Yesterday they had an accordionist in to entertain, a chap who came regularly prior to the pandemic and who is now being invited back again. I joined them all in the big lounge where he had set up shop, and what a joyous afternoon it turned out to be. One of the most bizarre aspects of dementia, and Alzheimer’s especially, is that you have no short-term memory at all, and you can’t remember anything about your previous life, but you do remember all the words to all the songs you grew up listening to. (Come the day, god forbid we music-bloggers end up in such a situation, we’ll be able to quote chapter and verse all the lyrics to all the songs mentioned in our blogs.)

Phil Cunningham, another well-known Scottish accordionist

It being Scotland, one of the most popular portable instruments for playing traditional music is the accordion, and Duncan, its very dextrous operator (just so many keys and buttons), has a lovely way of connecting with the home’s residents. The songs he plays are the ones I would have been mortified listening to as a teenager, as not the kind of fodder to ever pop up on ToTP or on prime-time telly (The White Heather Club being the embarrassing exception), but they are the songs that would have been played at my granny and grandad’s house on the radio, or via shellac 78s, so all very familiar. My mum, it’s safe to say, knew all the words to even the most obscure and forgotten-about traditional Scottish songs, and we had great fun singing along to them. The best bit was that the staff encouraged dancing, and after working out that if I held on to her at all times for support, my mum and I could entertain the troops with our waltzes, Gay Gordons (a Scottish country dance) and freestyle jigs. Every now and again I asked her if she needed a break but that was apparently not an option so we both had a great afternoon of song and dance. Bet she slept well last night.

I can’t believe I’m nearly seven years into this blog without sharing any of the Scottish songs of my youth but they’re definitely not for everyone and very niche. One of yesterday’s songs was a bothy ballad, called The Barnyards of Delgaty. A bothy is a very spartan farm outbuilding, where in the early years of the 1900s farm labourers in the North-East of Scotland would sleep after having been hired at the ‘feeing market’. Both my grandfathers worked as farm labourers in their youth and would have stayed in such places. My mum’s dad, whose songs I would have listened to as a child, himself worked at the farm called The Barnyards of Delgaty so I always think of him when I hear it. With no internet or large screen television sets for entertainment in the evening, bothy ballads were sung. Being a very male environment some of these songs were bawdy indeed, but this one is a story song really about how you could be deceived by the promise of a fine healthy horse to work with, only to find it was skin and bone when you got to the farm.

The Barnyards of Delgaty by Gaberlunzie:


Another song we sang along to yesterday was this one, The Bonnie Lass O’ Fyvie which is all about the unrequited love of a captain of Irish dragoons for a beautiful Scottish girl. The place names are all so familiar as from our neck of the woods, so another one my mum really enjoyed. Both these songs are performed by the Scots folk duo Gaberlunzie who started out in the late ’60s and were still touring in 2018. Turns out their name is from the medieval Scots word for a licensed beggar.


Duncan the accordionist finished off with The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen, a bit of a shmaltzy one this time, which all these years later still makes me homesick for my old stomping ground. I have such fond memories of living in Aberdeen during my late teens and twenties and of course I had my flat reunion there back in the summer (link here). My mum loves this song, so we did a little waltz, and I have to admit it all got a bit emotional for a myriad of reasons, but I quickly pulled myself together by the end. There are worse ways to spend a wet Thursday afternoon in November. Interestingly the first comment attached to this clip on the video-sharing website is very relevant to this post. It comes from kem10:

In my old job I used to help at a coffee morning which was run to help older adults who were socially isolated – in particular individuals with dementia. We would always play music and it was great to see folk light up and join in. This song was a particular favourite that EVERYONE got involved in and still knew all the words to.

‘It was great to see folk light up and join in.’ Exactly that.

The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen by the Mill Weavers:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – The power of music, eh? If the worst comes to the worst, my generation will be listening to a very different set of tunes in the care home, but they will bring us much joy and we will no longer worry about the really big issues of the day as they will be for the next generation to sort out. We will of course be blamed for having caused them in the first place, and they’ll have a point. People often avoid going to visit relatives with dementia as it can be quite distressing, but it can also be great fun as I found this week. Use music as a tool to connect with them.

Folk music comes and goes in popularity, but it has always been around as it tells the story of our cultural and regional identity, as is the case with bothy ballads. I’ve only shared songs here from the North-East of Scotland but such songs are attached to all parts of the country. Do you have any local favourites you might not have warmed to as a youngster at all, but have come round to as you’ve ‘matured’?

The music of folk duo Simon & Garfunkel has appeared often around here, so I’m going to end with their version of the bothy ballad Pretty Peggy-O. Soldiers from Highland regiments often ended up in bothies, and encounters between soldiers and ‘innocent maids’ were commonplace, thus songs were written about them. The Peggy in this song taken from the Bonnie Lass ‘O Fyvie lyrics and the tune not dissimilar to the Barnyards song either. Lovely stuff.


Until next time…

The Barnyards O’ Delgaty Lyrics
(Song by Unknown – Traditional)

As I came in by Turra Market
Turra Market for to fee,
I fell in wi’ a wealthy farmer,
From the Barnyards O’ Delgaty.

Linten adie toorin adie,
Linten adie toorin ee,
Linten lowrin, lowrin, lowrin
The Barnyards O’ Delgaty

He promised me the two best horses
Ever I set my eyes upon;
When I got home to the Barnyards
There was nothing there but skin and bone.

When I go to the church on Sunday,
Many’s the bonnie lass I see,
Sitting by her faither’s side
And winking ower the pews at me.

Well I can drink and not be drunk
And I can fight and not be slain.
I can lie wi’ anothers man’s lass
And aye be welcome to my ain.

Months Of The Year In Song: Orange October

Welcome to this second instalment of my new series, where I plan to share songs relating to all 12 months of the year. I didn’t start in January but that’s ok as the months just keep rolling by in a continual loop, or so I thought until last month’s discovery that the calendar year used to have 10 months with a gap for an “unorganised winter”, which is why October is confusingly named after the Latin word for eight. In time that got sorted out and we now have the calendar we are familiar with where October is the 10th month, and what a month it is for those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere. I don’t know about you but over the last couple of weeks I have been privileged to witness the leaves changing colour all around my neighbourhood and what a treat it’s been.

Last month in the comments boxes there was a bit of debate about September being the first month of autumn, as although meteorologically it is, it still feels like the tail end of summer (again I’m referring to those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere – sorry if I’m alienating my Southern Hemisphere followers). But October is ‘proper autumn’ and what with the colour of the leaves, our warm woollen clothes back on rotation and Halloween making its presence felt at the end of the month, a very orange one indeed in terms of the hues.

But this is a music blog so where are the songs? Last month it became obvious that September songs are quite nostalgic and melancholy, but mainly because the month’s name rhymes with the word ‘remember’. October doesn’t rhyme with much so by default there are less songs that mention it. No matter, some great suggestions were put forward in the comments boxes last time, so I still have plenty of material.

First of all, both Lynchie and The Swede came up with this song for inclusion, October Song by the Incredible String Band. It wasn’t until I watched a recent documentary about the history of popular music in Scotland that I discovered this band. All the usual suspects were included, from Lulu to the Proclaimers but the Incredible String Band were new to me as from a bit before my time and not the kind of band that would have ever popped up on prime time telly when I was growing up. But despite sounding as if they had San Francisco origins, they actually hailed from Edinburgh, and were really successful during the period 1966 to 1974. As you will hear, they were pioneers of psychedelic folk and by fusing a wide variety of traditional music styles and instruments, helped develop world music. October Song was from their first album released in 1966 and it certainly is full of the imagery of autumn. Beautiful in its way but maybe not my thing.

The fallen leaves that jewel the ground
They know the art of dying
And leave with joy their glad gold hearts
In the scarlet shadows lying


Another suggestion came in from Rol who offered up October Swimmer by JJ72. The period that gets mentioned least around here is the turn of the millennium, as I think I was just so busy working, and being a mum to a small child. This could explain how I have absolutely no memory of this song or band at all despite the fact they did really well with it in 2000 and appeared on ToTP. No imagery of autumn this time just quite bleak lyrics, so thanks, but again not really my thing. The band was from Dublin and lead singer and songwriter Mark Greaney (he of the somewhat unusual voice) for a time lived next door to Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy. Wonder if the young Mark had been inspired to get into music by Phil?

The splash of October swimmers
The cheers of Helsinki winners
My barbed bones of futility
Leaking marrow of ability


Another new discovery in this next clip and this time it came from Darcy. Here are his own words:

“Regarding October songs the only one that immediately comes to mind is Outubro by Azymuth. The album’s title track is very relaxing and fits the northern hemisphere September and early October vibe very well. There are no words, which you may want, and Azymuth are a Southern Hemisphere band which may mean they are going for a Spring feel, but I think it works for us Northerners too.”

Going a bit left field with this one, and an instrumental, but it follows on nicely from my last post which featured Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’66. Azymuth are also from Brazil and are a jazz-funk trio that formed in 1973. Outubro is Portuguese for October, and as this series of songs relates to months of the year, not seasons, quite appropriate to include it. Very mellow and pretty like the theme music to many a ’70s television drama.


The final suggestion I’m going to include came from C of Sun-Dried Sparrows fame. She had done a bit of research and found something by Amy Winehouse called October Song. I too found that one but hard to work out if it has any connection to the month. Here’s what C came up with:

Amy Winehouse had a track called October Song which was apparently written in memory of her pet canary… or was it about her use of marijuana? … both have been suggested!”

Sadly, we will now never know, and it can be hard to watch clips of the supremely talented Amy looking so healthy when we now know she only lived another seven years after this was filmed. Tragic, but like watching something in slo-mo, we could almost see it coming.


To be honest I’m not entirely sold on any of the above, but they do fit the remit of this series so happy to include them. Something that doesn’t fit the remit at all is this song by Bobby (Boris) Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers but as Halloween is almost upon us, time for a little Monster Mash I feel. This is the kind of song that popped up on Ed (Stewpot) Stewart’s Junior Choice when I was growing up and actually reached the No. 3 spot on the UK Singles Chart in 1973. Bobby Pickett co-wrote Monster Mash with Leonard Capizzi in May 1962. The song was a spoof on the dance crazes popular at the time, including the Twist and the Mashed Potato, which inspired the title. The song also featured Bobby’s impersonations of veteran horror stars Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. This must be one of the few novelty records I haven’t tired of as I still find it quite good fun. Maybe just me though?

Monster Mash by Bobby (Boris) Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – October is not it seems a month that lends itself to the writing of songs. There were plenty to choose from for September but kind of all over the place this time, what with psychedelic folk, alternative rock and jazz-funk putting in an appearance. Not all the lyrics even mention the month and only one song mentions nature and the falling of leaves.

For me, October is all about the falling leaves and the spectacular colour show natures gives us, but I suppose if you are a city dweller, the month might not conjure up those images. For some, October is all about Halloween, which isn’t a big deal for us nowadays but at DD’s abode she still likes to put up spooky decorations and invite friends over for a themed party. Why I decided to include that old favourite of a song.


Hopefully November will turn out to be a bit more inspirational when it comes to the writing of songs. As ever, your suggestions will be invaluable and gratefully received.

Until next time…

Monster Mash Lyrics
(Song by Bobby Pickett/Leonard Capizzi)

I was working in the lab, late one night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight
For my monster from his slab, began to rise
And suddenly to my surprise

He did the mash, he did the monster mash
The monster mash, it was a graveyard smash
He did the mash, it caught on in a flash
He did the mash, he did the monster mash

From my laboratory in the castle east
To the master bedroom where the vampires feast
The ghouls all came from their humble abodes
To get a jolt from my electrodes

They did the mash, they did the monster mash
The monster mash, it was a graveyard smash
They did the mash, it caught on in a flash
They did the mash, they did the monster mash

The zombies were having fun
The party had just begun
The guests included Wolfman
Dracula, and his son

The scene was rockin’, all were digging the sounds
Igor on chains, backed by his baying hounds
The coffin-bangers were about to arrive
With their vocal group, ‘The Crypt-Kicker Five’

They played the mash, they played the monster mash
The monster mash, it was a graveyard smash
They played the mash, it caught on in a flash
They played the mash, they played the monster mash

Out from his coffin, Drac’s voice did ring
Seems he was troubled by just one thing
Opened the lid and shook his fist and said
“Whatever happened to my Transylvania Twist?”

It’s now the mash, it’s now the monster mash
The monster mash, and it’s a graveyard smash
It’s now the mash, it caught on in a flash
It’s now the mash, it’s now the monster mash

Now everything’s cool, Drac’s a part of the band
And my Monster Mash is the hit of the land
For you, the living, this mash was meant too
When you get to my door, tell them Boris sent you

Then you can mash, then you can monster mash
The monster mash, and do my graveyard smash
Then you can mash, you will catch on in a flash
Then you can mash, then you can monster mash

Wah-ooh, argh, monster mash, wah-ooh
Easy, Igor, you impetuous young boy
Argh, mash good, mm, argh
Monster mash, wah-ooh, monster mash, wah-ooh

A Flat Reunion, Danny Wilson (the Band) and ‘Aberdeen’ (the Song)

I spent a few days away from home last week but tried to keep all the plates spinning at the same time. Upshot is I got away with it, but I’m now exhausted, so a lesson learnt – in the future I will be pressing pause on our various business ventures when I’m out of town. On the blogging front, as I’m now more of a weekly/fortnightly blogger, I’ve missed the boat on various topics I’d have liked to have written about around here. The death of Bernard Cribbins, the final episode of Neighbours, the ongoing heatwave and the sporting achievements of the last fortnight. There may be a reason to mention these things down the line, but for now, I think I’ll write about my trip.

In the summer of 1982 I had just graduated from Aberdeen University and life in the real world beckoned. Last week I had a 40-year reunion in that same city with the girls (we will always be girls, whatever our age) I moved into a flat with that summer, and who became my urban family for the next five years. They have been written about often around here, this being a retrospective blog, and when we met up it was of course just like old times. The flat we moved into was a great find and only a stone’s throw from the city centre. We had a wander along to check it was still standing and needless to say, being built of hard-wearing (although somewhat radioactive) granite, it looked pretty much identical.

The top floor flat – scene of many a party and of many a drama

So, what did we do last week? Well it didn’t start off well as only 20 minutes away from arriving in the city, a pesky warning light popped up on my dashboard and I had no idea what it referred to. After a few panicked phonecalls, it was decided I should carry on to my destination and we could investigate when I got there. To my embarrassment it was only low tyre pressure and easily fixed but it made me realise I really need to be more self-sufficient when it comes to car maintenance. After that drama we headed off to revisit some of our old haunts and as the weather was glorious, much of the city looked beautiful. As for Union Street, the main thoroughfare, it has seen better days that’s for sure, but most towns and cities are the same nowadays with everyone shopping online and working from home.

We were all really glad we’d finally set the date in the calendar as it had been a long time. Our lives have gone in very different directions since we left that shared flat back in 1987 so there were many stories to tell. I have such fond memories of those years, but then I also said that recently about my schooldays. If I’m being totally honest it wasn’t always a bed of roses as we all split up with our long-term boyfriends during that time (yes, of course we googled them last week!) and changed jobs a fair few times, but fortunately we have selective memories and time seems to erase the bad stuff.

As for a featured song, I’m going to quite appropriately share this one called Aberdeen by the band Danny Wilson. The song was on their debut album called Meet Danny Wilson, released in 1987 after we all went our separate ways, but it has always been a favourite of mine. The band came from Dundee and are possibly best remembered for Mary’s Prayer, their big hit on both sides of the pond. Gary Clark, their lead singer and songwriter, went on to write songs for many of the biggest artists of the 1990s.

Aberdeen by Danny Wilson:


A bit of a sad song that one, but you don’t get many written about your home city so I really wanted to include it. One written from the songwriter’s personal experience I think, as all the best songs are.

I’ve gone way off tangent on this one, writing about my reunion with just a little bit of music thrown in, but I needed to get back in the saddle again after a bit of a break. Hope I’m excused. In case any of my followers from the Granite City drop by, here’s a puzzler for you. Where was my old flat (hint: it was on the Holburn Street side of town)?

Until next time…

Aberdeen Lyrics
(Song by Gary Clark)

Should you go to Aberdeen
Tell me what you find
A girl I know in Aberdeen
Who left her heart behind

Tho the northern lights
Have claimed her as their own

Tell her that I hope she’s well
Beg her to come home
Tell her that I hope she’s well
And beg her to come home

If the cost of living’s high
I can pay my way
With money that I had put by
For any rainy day

If left or right of two
Is all she understands

Tell her that I love her still
No matter what the plan
Tell her that I always will
No matter what the plan
Ba bai up dup baah

We had plans that we never
Saw come true but we can do
I took the time to remember
All that we did, we forget to

If you take a friend along
Take me in his place
Every piece of shit I own
We’ll pack into my case

Tho the northern lights
May have claimed her as their own
I could move to Aberdeen
Make the place my home
Not the finest place I’ve been
But I’ll make the place
Make the place my home

RIP Les McKeown: Revisiting the Rollermania Archive

Another Bay City Roller left us this week. Despite getting very little airplay nowadays, the announcement of lead singer Les McKeown’s death made it onto the national news, a nod to the phenomenal success the boys had in the early 1970s.

It took me a long time to admit to having been a fan of the Rollers around here, but a few years ago I finally bit the bullet after having a rummage through my box of teenage memorabilia. As someone who became a teenager in 1973 I was the perfect demographic for these tartan teen sensations. They were Scottish, like me, so looked a lot like the boys we went to school with (a bit pasty and undernourished) but their catchy, feelgood pop songs kept on coming and they became for a time the biggest ‘boy band’ in the world.

RIP Les McKeown

Les was my favourite Roller – He was the lead singer with a great voice, and also had a swagger that belied his age, only 17 when they first found success. As I was very shallow back then, I also thought he was the best-looking of the band. Their success was short-lived, but for those of us who were fans we will never forget those days of Rollermania. I first shared the post below back in April 2018, only a few months before the death of Bay City Rollers founder member Alan Longmuir as it turned out, but in view of this week’s news, I think it deserves another outing.

RIP Les McKeown

Alyson’s Archive – “Rollermania” and Me

“It’s a teenage dream, to be seventeen”, sang Les McKeown back in 1975. But no, I beg to differ Les. Back in 1975 it was a teenage dream to be fourteen, and have pictures of you and the rest of the boys staring down at me from my bedroom wall. Had I been a year or two older, or a year or two younger, it just wouldn’t have happened but I was the perfect demographic for these “tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh”. My generation had missed out on Beatlemania, and Osmondmania was on the wane, it was time for something new and luckily for me the band that inspired this latest mania came from Scotland.

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The humble author’s teenage collection of Bay City Roller pinups!

(I have shared a display like this once before, of David Cassidy pinups. I would just like to reiterate that I honestly don’t spend my evenings pouring over such teen-dream fodder, because that truly would be weird, it’s just that if you’ve ever had to clear out your parents loft when they downsize, it kind of becomes redistributed to your own loft, which fortunately for this blog is where it remains today.)

Anyway, getting back to the Rollers, the band’s founder members were brothers Alan and Derek Longmuir but after a few changes along the way, in late 1973 the classic line-up fell into place, consisting of guitarists Eric Faulkner and Stuart “Woody” Wood, singer Les McKeown, bassist Alan and drummer DerekTam Paton, their (highly controlling) manager was the man in charge, they got a record deal with Bell, and they came up with a unique “look” which consisted of cropped trousers, skimpy V-neck sweaters and plenty of tartan – What could go wrong?

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That’s me on the left in brown corduroy!

All through the year 1974 they were never far from the UK Singles Chart and when we heard the band were coming to the Capitol Theatre in Aberdeen, of course my friends and I (aged only 13) went to see them. This tour was to promote the album “Rollin’” where most of the songs were written by those champions of the short and catchy pop song, Phil Coulter and Bill Martin. First of all we had Remember (Sha-La-La-La), then we had Shang-A-LangSummerlove Sensation and finally All Of Me Loves All Of You. The album went to No. 1 in the Album Chart – The boys were adored by hordes of teeny-bopper fans and were well and truly on their way.

And here are a few personal memories of that time. I don’t know about elsewhere in the country but here in Scotland, back in the 1970s, many young lads left school at 16 after (half-heartedly for many of them) sitting their “O” Grades. They all had apprenticeships lined up and work was plentiful, so why not? There was however the technicality that if you turned 16 later on in the calendar year, you couldn’t leave school until Christmas. As a group they were called “The Christmas Leavers”. They didn’t want to be there and the concept of abiding by strict school uniform rules went out the window. One by one, in 1974, they started to adopt Bay City Roller style clothing wearing trousers with tartan down the side, the cropped jumpers and the short-sleeved shirts. They had Les, Eric and Woody style haircuts and of course had similar accents – For girls like us in the lower grades they became our big crushes. We all had our favourite Roller (mine was Les, quite the showman back in the day) and there were definitely boys in our school who started to look like him – Unlike the clean-cut Osmonds, who kind of came from an alien planet as far as we were concerned, the Rollers were the “boys next door”.

By 1975, Rollermania had really taken hold, and after putting together their second album “Once Upon A Star”, another tour was announced. Again my friends and I persuaded one of the mums to take us into Aberdeen to see them. Their cover of the old Four Seasons song Bye Bye Baby was at No. 1 in the Singles Chart and ended up being the biggest selling record of the year.

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The Rollin’ Tour programme and Once Upon A Star, complete with pull-out pics

Unlike the previous year when we went to see them, this was a far more hysterical concert with girls screaming constantly throughout – I probably went hoarse myself, shouting LES at the top of my voice every time he came near the front of the stage. But strangely, my most vivid memory of that night is of a particular member of security staff, who for one night only had been given free rein to manhandle young girls. This is not a #MeToo confession but I did come home with a whiplash that night, as suddenly, out of nowhere, a pair of hands had grabbed my shoulders and firmly shoved me back down into my seat. Everyone in the entire theatre was standing, but for some reason this one “bouncer” had decided he would go up and down all the rows forcing us back into our seats – I took some time out to watch him, and even at that young age, could tell he was enjoying hurting us. Of course I didn’t tell my parents, as we didn’t in those days, but this was a new concept for me and one I have obviously never forgotten.

But back to the Rollers – In 1976 they were kind of lost to us as they secured a record deal with Arista and were heavily promoted in America. They appeared on Saturday Night Live and ended up at the top of the Billboard Chart with a song that had been a flop in the UK but obviously hit the spot in the US. Saturday Night started off with a chant that also struck a cord with New York band the Ramones – It is no coincidence that their record Blitskrieg Bop starts in the same way. They had watched the Rollers on telly and decided to copy their winning formula of a catchy three minute song, a “uniform” and a football-style chant. Hard to believe I know, but part of rock and pop folklore.

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Most of us by this time had moved on to “real boys”, so we were happy to forget about the Rollers and leave them to their success in other parts of the world such as North America, and strangely enough Japan, where they still have a following today. I have never had any inclination to see them perform as part of a reunion tour, as for me, they were very much of their time. I do however feel very sorry for them sometimes, as it is well known that despite their global success they ended up with none of the money – 300 million albums sold worldwide (in an era where the revenue came from such sales) and no spondulicks. Tam Paton was of course blamed, and he went to his grave taking the secret of where the money went with him. The Rollers were not highly educated and they came from families that were ill-equipped to deal with their fame, so became one of the many financial casualties of that era.

Give A Little Love by the Bay City Rollers:


I am going to end this post with some extracts from what has turned out to be the most interesting part of rifling through old teenage memorabilia – The words that were on the back of the pinups. Prior to being in a band, Alan used to get the horses ready for the local dairy’s milk round (yes really). Eric and Derek (has a nice ring to it) were apprentice joiners and Woody and Les were only 16 when they found fame – Not the best backgrounds from which to go on and “take care of business”. Despite it all falling apart in the late ’70s, it sounds as if the Rollers still have happy memories of their heyday, their time in the sun. The Beatles had a mania, and so did these five boys from Edinburgh – Who would have ever thought it possible?

Lesley's bio from the Rollin' tour programme
Leslie’s stats – Some shockers there!
Magazine feature on the Rollers
Hanging out with the band
The Rollers’ Story Part 1
The Rollers’ Story Part 2

Until next time….

Give A Little Love Lyrics
(Song by Phil Wainman/John Goodison)

It’s a teenage dream to be seventeen
And to find you’re all wrapped up in lo-o-ove
And I found that you made a dream come true
Now I do believe in what they say-ay-at

You’ve got to give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do-oo

Give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do

When I walk with you there is just we two
And the world goes by and I just don’t care-are
And I know one day I will find a way
To be safe and sound within your hear-eart

So until I do, gonna give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do-oo

Give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do

Film Nights, The Waterboys and ‘How Long Will I Love You’

I wrote a bit of a depressing post last time, so want to follow it up with something a whole lot lovlier. With trips to the cinema no longer happening in my neck of the woods I have gone old-school and am hosting a socially-distanced weekly soiree at the holiday hideaway (now sitting empty for obvious reasons) where we take turns in picking a DVD to watch. With so much choice out there nowadays via the various streaming services, it’s sometimes more satisfying to just pick a single film and run with it, a bit like when we all went to the local arts centre on the last Thursday of the month to watch whatever was on at 8.30pm. (Made some amazing new discoveries that would otherwise have been missed.)

It was my turn to pick and as the only customer in our local HMV last Saturday I felt duty bound to buy something, so started looking at the section for films starting with the letters A-D (I’m a great fan of alphabetisation). I know he’s not for everyone, but I am also a great fan of Richard Curtis movies so went for this one, About Time from 2013. Mr WIAA is not and never has been a member of Film Club, so the fact it was a very girly movie didn’t matter as he could stay home and watch Movies For Men. Despite finding common ground most of the time, we do occasionally like to veer off to the extremes of the genre spectrum.

As it turned out, the film was not vintage Richard Curtis, and seemed to have been written to a very familiar formula. Plenty of posh middle class Englishmen and smart American women, but somehow not as funny as the other films I’ve written about here and a basic premise that was slightly ridiculous – Time travel effected by standing in a wardrobe and clenching your fists (not quite the Tardis or a DeLorean). One aspect that did work for me however was the soundtrack, and I have been afflicted by yet another earworm this week because of one particular song choice. In the film it was sung by a group of tube station buskers (played by Jon Boden & Friends), who also provided the version for the end credits, but for me, the best version is still the original – How Long Will I Love You by The Waterboys.

How Long Will I Love You by The Waterboys:


It’s a love song, but a low key and not overly sentimental one. A simple proclamation of undying love written by band member Mike Scott for their 1990 album, Room to Roam. I am a great fan of The Waterboys and they have appeared around here before as I shared their 1985 masterpiece The Whole Of The Moon as part of my Full Moon Calendar in Song series. Back then they were proponents of “The Big Music”, anthemic rock popularised by many Scottish and Irish bands of the time, but by 1990 they were more of a folk rock band. Surprisingly this song was never released by them as a single, which is a shame, as 23 years later Ellie Goulding reached the No. 3 spot in the UK Singles Chart with it, no doubt because of the publicity it received from its connection to the film.


Not sure why this song has affected me quite so much this week – Touch wood Mr WIAA and I are still good, despite his occasional foray into the world of Movies For Men and my fondness for the odd rom-com. With DD back living at home I am once again involved in the lives of her friends, and really feel for them trying to navigate this brave new world filled with anxiety, and hurdles to be overcome. Finding love has never been tougher, and I doubt very much if Mike Scott considered a global pandemic when he wrote his beautiful lyrics back in 1990. No, I doubt it very much indeed.

Until next time….

How Long Will I Love You Lyrics
(Song by Mike Scott)

How long will I love you
As long as there are stars above you
And longer if I can

How long will I need you
As long as the seasons need to
Follow their plan

How long will I be with you
As long as the sea is bound to
wash upon the sand

How long will I want you
As long as you want me to
And longer by far

How long will I hold you
As long as your father told you
As long as you are

How long will I give to you
As long as I live to you
However long it you say

How long will I love you
As long as are stars above you
And longer if I may

Lockdown Recipes, Gerry Rafferty and “Baker Street”

Here’s a little present for you. Two in fact.

I think I’ve mentioned around here before that I have another blog set up as an homage to my favourite Scottish author, Jane Duncan. I’ve not updated it for a while but today decided to check if anyone had visited recently. Turns out they had, and all because I’d included a recipe for Girdle Scones a fair while back. In these days of staying at home, it seems more and more of us are trying our hands at baking, and girdle scones couldn’t be easier to make. Just to be clear, I’ve not made a typo there, I do mean girdle and not griddle, as that’s just what it’s called around here.

I had included that recipe after paying a visit to MacDonald’s Hardware in Dingwall (click on the link to see what their very Scottish best-selling item is), where I’d spotted a girdle just like the one my granny used to have. Most mornings, especially during the long summer holidays when her grandchildren were around, she would mix together a few ingredients and make some pancakes or scones. I absolutely had to buy one for myself, and soon found the perfect recipe, ironically on a website set up by a lady in Dunedin, New Zealand. Considering Dunedin (Dùn Èideann) is the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, and considering the fact that New Zealand is awash with the offspring of former Scottish immigrants, I thought it was quite fitting.

In case you want to try them out for yourself (a heavy frying pan can be substituted for a girdle), here is that recipe. Very easy indeed, and quick to make. I took some pictures last time I made some and you must admit, they do look tasty, especially if spread with homemade strawberry jam.

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Girdle Scones

Ingredients:

1 cup plain flour
2 tspns baking powder
1/2 oz butter
pinch of salt
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup milk

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl.

Rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Stir in the currants (or sultanas if you prefer) and then add just enough milk to make a soft dough. Don’t add all the milk at once though, in case you don’t need all of it. If your dough looks a little sticky don’t be afraid to add a little more flour.

Roll out to roughly 1/2 an inch thick and cut into six wedges.

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Grease the girdle then place on a hob until hot. Carefully transfer the “snuggled up” wedges onto the girdle and wait until golden brown and cooked in the middle. Takes roughly 5 minutes on either side. When turning your wedges, be careful to place them gently on the hot surface, and try to turn them only once.

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Transfer to a cooling rack and enjoy.

But of course this is supposed to be a music blog, so where’s the song? At first I was a bit stumped, as not many songs about baking out there and I’ve already exhausted my stash of kitchen songs for an earlier post. All seemed lost, then a light bulb moment, and I was reminded of this classic from 1978, Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty.

Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty:

Named after a street in London which had no doubt housed bakeries centuries earlier, the song was included on Gerry’s album, City to City. It came along during my last year at senior school and although it didn’t make it to the No.1 spot, it certainly did hang around the charts for an awful long time. The song had apparently been written when he was commuting between his home in Glasgow and his lawyers in London, trying to disentangle himself from the contract he’d had with his previous band Stealers Wheel. “I knew a guy who lived in a little flat off Baker Street,” he said. “We’d sit and chat or play guitar there through the night.” Of course for most of us, the most memorable part of the song is the prominent eight-bar saxophone riff played as a break between verses.

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So, “What’s It All About?” – It’s a funny old business being on lockdown isn’t it, and although I’ve been on a real roller-coaster of emotions over the last few weeks (as can be seem from the material in my blog posts), today I think I just let it go. It’s been lovely and sunny, so our morning walk (for exercise) took in a really picturesque part of town and I made a little film when I came home with the shots taken on my phone. In the afternoon I rearranged the furniture to create a comforting little nook in the now redundant dining room that overlooks the garden. No-one will be coming to visit for some time, so we can live just how we want at the moment. I think we are all appreciating our food a lot more, and valuing where it comes from, so spending time in the kitchen is less of a chore and more of a joy.

Having said all that, if you are a frontline or key worker, or indeed trying to work from home whilst home-schooling children, I know your experience of lockdown will be a totally different one. I do feel guilty that the way things have landed, neither Mr WIAA or myself are currently of much use to anyone, but hopefully our time will come. Tomorrow I might fall to pieces again, but until then, I will enjoy Gerry and enjoy my scones. Should you choose to accept the mission of making them, you will not be disappointed.

Until Next time….

Baker Street Lyrics
(Song by Gerry Rafferty)

Winding your way down on Baker Street
Light in your head and dead on your feet
Well, another crazy day
You’ll drink the night away
And forget about everything
This city desert makes you feel so cold
It’s got so many people, but it’s got no soul
And it’s taken you so long
To find out you were wrong
When you thought it held everything

You used to think that it was so easy
You used to say that it was so easy
But you’re trying, you’re trying now
Another year and then you’d be happy
Just one more year and then you’d be happy
But you’re crying, you’re crying now

Way down the street there’s a light in his place
He opens the door, he’s got that look on his face
And he asks you where you’ve been
You tell him who you’ve seen
And you talk about anything
He’s got this dream about buying some land
He’s gonna give up the booze and the one-night stands
And then he’ll settle down
In some quiet little town
And forget about everything

But you know he’ll always keep moving
You know he’s never gonna stop moving
‘Cause he’s rolling, he’s the rolling stone
And when you wake up, it’s a new morning
The sun is shining, it’s a new morning
And you’re going, you’re going home

Rock & Pop Family Trees, The Easybeats and “Friday On My Mind”

When I was young, and worked in offices, I couldn’t wait for the weekend to come. From this end of the telescope I really want time to slow down a bit more, as the weekend comes round just too quickly (although always a treat to have another edition of Rol’s Saturday Snapshots). Last year I dashed off a quick poem about this phenomenon for my writing class and it made reference to three songs. As I was the most mature (chronologically) of all the students in my group, no-one recognised the songs, but I’m pretty sure regular visitors to this place will pick them out easily.

I Don’t Like Fridays

Always used to have Friday on my mind
Start of the weekend
The promise (often unfulfilled)
of exciting times ahead

Now it comes round too quickly
Another hundred and sixty eight hours gone
Whoa time, slow down,
you move too fast

Boomtown Bob didn’t like Mondays
Now I want Mondays to last forever
So much left to do
So little time…

Friday On My Mind by the Easybeats:

Back then I realised I knew very little about Australian group the Easybeats who had a big hit in 1966 with Friday On My Mind, so I did a little research, and as often happens around here, I discovered a fascinating rock and pop family tree.

This winter has been quite mild here in Scotland but back in 1962-63 we had what was called The Big Freeze, the worst winter on record with snow lying eight feet deep. A TV advert at the time offered assisted travel to families who fancied a new life in Australia, and 15 members of the Young family from Glasgow moved there in June 1963. One of their sons was George Young who went on to form the Easybeats. His younger brothers Malcolm and Angus went on to form AC/DC a decade later. The Easybeats disbanded in 1969 but then in 1976 George got together with his old bandmate Harry Vanda to form new wave group Flash and the Pan.

Had the winter of 1962-63 been a mild one none of these bands might ever have existed. The family initially stayed at Villawood Immigration Detention Centre on the outskirts of Sydney which was where George Young met and became friends with another migrant, Dutchman Harry Vanda, and together they formed the Easybeats. Malcolm and Angus Young then developed the idea for their band. The name came about after their sister Margaret saw the initials “AC/DC” on her sewing machine. The brothers felt this name symbolised the raw energy and power-driven performances of their music. It was she who also came up with the very memorable schoolboy outfit for Angus Young.

I can’t pretend to be a fan of AC/DC but of course I know of their musical output, although probably attributed more to having watched the film School of Rock several times. I can’t pretend to be a fan of Jack Black either, as he always comes across as just a bit too manic for my liking, but that kind of characterisation was just what was needed for this film. (Fast forward to 2:30 for the best bit in this clip.)

The song Waiting For A Train by Flash and the Pan (George and Harry’s new wave band) was the one that did best in the UK Singles Chart. It reached the No. 7 spot in 1983.

So, “What’s It All About? – I know there are lots of you who still long for the weekend but trust me, once you get to my age, you do want the week to slow down a bit more.

As for the song Friday On My Mind, Harry Vanda described it as reminiscent of the days when the band members lived in hostels in Sydney as “new Australians”. They longed for the end of the week because that’s when the fun began. The song has quite a build-up and after the opening cymbal crash, its just a staccato guitar for the next 20 seconds where the lead vocalist runs through the days of the week, explaining why Monday to Thursday doesn’t excite him. The bass finally comes in as he gets closer to the weekend. 30 seconds into the song we hit Friday, and the drums come in to play.

Well, that’s Saturday Snapshots played and my Saturday blogpost written. Better head off now and achieve meaningful things, as before we know it, it’ll be Friday again. Argh.

Until next time….

Friday On My Mind Lyrics
(Song by George Young/Harry Vanda)

Monday mornin’ feels so bad
Ev’rybody seems to nag me
Comin’ Tuesday I feel better
Even my old man looks good
Wed’sday just don’t go
Thursday goes too slow
I’ve got Friday on my mind

Gonna have fun in the city
Be with my girl, she’s so pretty
She looks fine tonight
She is out of sight to me
Tonight I’ll spend my bread, tonight
I’ll lose my head, tonight
I’ve got to get to night
Monday I’ll have Friday on my mind

Do the five day grind once more
I know of nothin’ else that bugs me
More than workin’ for the rich man
Hey! I’ll change that scene one day
Today I might be mad, tomorrow I’ll be glad
‘Cause I’ll have Friday on my mind

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

That Final Journey, Gerry Cinnamon and “Belter”

Didn’t intend this to be the third post in what has turned out to be a trilogy, but still in shock over the tragic loss of my friend’s daughter, and on Friday the funeral took place in a church right in the centre of our town. An emotional event as expected, which threw our highly efficient local undertakers into a spin, as they’d never before had to try and seat so many people at one service. It was standing room only, which again makes me question what on earth we are doing to our young people. How is it they can feel just so alone, yet have so many people who care about them? Far too complex an issue to go into here but it has left many of us fearful for our own brood.

After a heartfelt poem written by and read out by a family friend, a reading by her sister, and the eulogy covering all the amazing achievements racked up during her brief 18 years, it was time for Holly’s wicker coffin to leave the church. Once outside, the town’s pipe band of which she had been a member, marched in front of the hearse to the cemetery for a private burial. People who didn’t know her or her family came out of their homes and shops to pay respect to this local girl who’d had just far too short a time on the planet. None of us noticed it at the time, but because of the rain that was falling, a rainbow had formed in the sky.

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That very rainbow

But as I always say around here this is a music blog and amongst all this sadness I have made a new musical discovery. I have been tardy as ever, but Gerry Cinnamon, a Scottish singer-songwriter and acoustic guitarist, has been slowly building up a following over the last few years and tickets for his latest stadium concert apparently sold out on Friday in three minutes. Like The Proclaimers before him, he sings using his local accent and has come to prominence purely on the back of word of mouth and social media, his first album “Erratic Cinematic” funded via the PledgeMusic platform.

My friend’s daughter and her buddies were fans of Mr Cinnamon and I have no doubt, had things turned out differently, they would all have been heading to Hampden next summer to see him. For this reason, his song Belter was the one her family chose to accompany that wicker coffin leaving the church. A moment of levity amongst all the sadness. The song was apparently written about that moment at the start of a relationship when things can go either way, trying-to-be-cool and not wanting to let your guard down for fear of rejection, but your heart doing exactly what it wants to do. A realistic, tongue-in-cheek love song.

Belter by Gerry Cinnamon:

Sorry to have written yet another really sad post around here but this is the place where I can share my thoughts anonymously without the real world getting involved or having an opinion, so a great outlet really. As for Mr Cinnamon, he is very unhappy at how those tickets got sold to “corporate goons” just so quickly and are now appearing online at highly inflated prices. He also however realises that if the biggest bands in the world can’t stop it happening or do anything about it, he is likewise stymied.

I hope my friend and her family will be able to come to terms with what has happened in time, but it’s not going to be easy. Listening to the song shared here will never be the same again, that’s for sure, but it will certainly always hold a special place in their hearts.

Until next time….

Belter Lyrics
(Song by Gerry Cinnamon)

She is a belter, different from the rest
Diamonds oan’ her finger and she always looks her best
She is a gangster, with a hundred-mile stare
When she walks her feet don’t touch the flare

She is a belter

She plays wae’ lightning
I’m a hundred miles high
Dishing out the thunder like a god inside the sky
She is a dancer and she dances in my dreams
Reminds me that the world is not as evil as it seems

She is a belter

No happy endings; unless fairytales come true
But she looks like a princess and there’s not much else to do
I think I love her
She gets underneath my skin
But I’ve been stung a few times, so I don’t let no one in
No even belters!

She is a belter
She is a belter
She is a belter

How can she reach me when I’m high above the shelf?
Lost inside a smoke ring
While I ponder tae’ myself
Is she the answer, to the question in my mind?
Is happiness an option, or has love just turned me blind?

Is she a belter?

No happy endings; unless fairytales come true
But she looks like a princess and there’s not much else to do
I think I love her
She gets underneath my skin
But I’ve been stung a few times, so I don’t let no one in
No even belters

She is a belter
She is a belter
She is a belter