Key Largo, Kokomo and Yet Another Outrageous Musical Sub-Genre

I’ve not been a very productive blogger of late – only six posts over the last three months which is my publication rate since setting up this place over six years ago. I’d like to say it’s purely because I’ve been so busy, which I have, but in reality I think I’ve become a bit of a telly addict and come evening Mr WIAA and I are drawn to the many delights offered up on the small screen. That said, even when I sat down to write this afternoon, the words just wouldn’t come – Mr WIAA suggested I try some blogging prunes, but before I avail myself of these delicacies (I think we all need them from time to time), I’ll try and make use of this draft, put together straight after revisiting the song Ride Like the Wind by Christopher Cross. It’s been sitting as a draft because I decided it might be a bridge too far, even for this place, but in the absence of anything new coming to mind, I’ll try again.

It’s actually all Rol’s fault, but ever since this chap popped up on his regular Saturday Snapshots quiz feature, I’ve been wondering how to shoehorn his one-hit wonder into the blog. I very recently shared a song by Christopher Cross, whose music, back in the ’80s, fell into a sub-genre called Yacht Rock. Aha I thought, as a follow-up post I can finally share that spectacular example of yacht rock from 1982, Key Largo by Bertie Higgins. When I looked into it a bit more however, it turns out that Bertie’s song was attributed to yet another sub-genre called Tropical Rock, one I had never heard of before. Is there truly no end to the number of labels we attach to the three minute pop song.

Key Largo by Bertie Higgins:


The premise of Bertie’s song is that a romance is compared to the one between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, who famously fell in love and married after starring opposite each other in ‘To Have and Have Not’, when she was 19 and he was 44. The Hollywood couple went on to make many more films together, one of which being Key Largo set in the upper Florida Keys. Bertie himself was from Florida so it’s not a stretch to see how the inspiration for his song came about. Watching the video for the song now, in terms of style it just screams Miami Vice with all the boxes ticked: white clothes, jacket sleeves rolled up, gold medallion, patterned shirt with upturned collar, Barry Gibb hair and beard, a tropical breeze, speedboats, sunsets and cigarettes. The romance portrayed in the video also mirrors the Bogie/Bacall romance in that the age difference between Bertie and his co-star is obviously sizeable (20 years to be exact) but somehow this bit of tropical glamour from the early ’80s has not stood the test of time, and it ends up looking a bit comedic in 2022.

An on-screen couple who still look pretty cool today are the original stars of Key Largo, Bogie and ‘Betty’ (as he used to call her – her real name). I loved watching these old black and white movies when they popped up on telly when I was growing up and I had a pretty good knowledge of all the Hollywood greats and the films they starred in at a very young age. These oldies don’t crop up very often on our viewing schedules nowadays but if you ever seek them out on some of the streaming services, they are still well worth a watch. It’s a really difficult thing to define but if you want to know what ‘cool’ looks like on screen, watch some of Bogie’s films. He has that elusive quality in spades (Sam Spades – an in-joke). Bertie, not so much.


But what else can be attributed to this newfound sub-genre called Tropical Rock? According to the well-known online encyclopaedia, its main focus was on ‘escapism’ – a laid back lifestyle, tropical places, boating and having fun. (Well, that tallies with Bertie’s video). It is also usually associated with southern Florida and the Gulf Coast of the US.

The Beach Boys in 1988

Another perfect example of tropical rock must be that Beach Boys (minus Brian) song Kokomo then, I thought to myself, except it turns out Kokomo is not even an actual place but a fictional island off the Florida Keys. Whatever, the song about it featured in the 1988 film Cocktail starring a young Tom Cruise. I think I even went to see that film at the cinema when it came out, but yet again it perhaps hasn’t stood the test of time, because it was so very much ‘of its time’.


An awful lot of clips in this one already but my current addiction to telly means this scene came to mind when I thought of the song Kokomo. If you haven’t yet watched the American comedy drama Space Force, created by and starring Steve Carell, I would thoroughly recommend it. Whenever poor old General Naird is under severe pressure and is fast approaching a meltdown, the solution is to launch into a version of Kokomo and here we see the main cast all joining him in the final ever scene (not too much of a spoiler there).


So, ‘What’s it all about? – I seem to have managed to unblock the blockage without resorting to blogging prunes. I also seem to have found out about another sub-genre of music I had never encountered before. Despite being a supposed music blogger (although I never actually call myself that) barely a post goes by without me making some reference to a film, or television show, as that’s pretty much where I get all my inspiration from. I know a lot of you out there do probably sit in a darkened room, just listening to music, but nowadays I like mine to come with moving pictures too.

I always feel bad if I’ve been a bit dismissive about someone I’ve written about as that’s not what this place is about. It’s not lost on me either that an awful lot of the music made by George Michael, of whom I was and still am a great fan, could probably have come under the umbrella Tropical Rock – The Careless Whisper video was shot in Miami (where the humidity caused real problems for George’s naturally very curly hair) and the Club Tropicana video looks as if it’s a scene straight out of the film Cocktail. No indeed, if Bertie ever drops by to see what I’ve written about him, I can only congratulate him on having had his time in the sun (both literally and figuratively) and if I’m not mistaken he’s still going strong today, so good for him.

Any more outrageous musical sub-genres I should write about? There are certainly plenty of them out there so this one could run and run.

Until next time…

Key Largo Lyrics
(Song by Bertie Higgins/Sonny Limbo)

Wrapped around each other
Trying so hard to stay warm
That first cold winter together
Lying in each other’s arms

Watching those old movies
Falling in love so desperately
Honey, I was your hero
And you were my leading lady

We had it all
Just like Bogie and Bacall
Starring in our own late, late show
Sailing away to Key Largo

Here’s lookin’ at you kid
Missing all the things we did
We can find it once again, I know
Just like they did in Key Largo

Honey, can’t you remember
We played all the parts
That sweet scene of surrender
When you gave me your heart

Please say you will
Play it again
Cause I love you still
Baby this can’t be the end

We had it all (we had it all)
Just like Bogie and Bacall
Starring in our old late, late show
Sailing away to Key Largo

Here’s lookin’ at you kid (here’s lookin’ at you kid)
Missing all the things we did
We can find it once again, I know
Just like they did in Key Largo

We had it all (we had it all)
Just like Bogie and Bacall

Back to Business As Usual at the BRITS, Adele, Ed and Little Simz

It’s going to be a really busy few months for me, so I might not be posting quite as regularly. My college course has not been what I’d hoped for, mostly down to the pandemic. I’ve not been inside our local college for nearly two years and it seems they are more than happy to keep things that way. I’m therefore going to try and complete this semester’s module as best I can from home, and then pick up the resulting qualification, but an awful lot of research/reading/writing to be done before then. I’ve enjoyed all the modules so far but this one, quite rightly, is a highly academic one, so a bit more graft involved.

As we are now in the month of February, we are well and truly into Awards Season. I was pleased to see that the film Belfast, written about last time, is up for many BAFTAs and Academy Awards. Hope it does well although I have a sneaking suspicion it might hog the runner-up spot in most categories. We’ll have to wait and see. This week (here in the UK) we had the BRIT Awards back on telly in all their former glory. Unlike last year, the word ‘pandemic’ wasn’t even mentioned, and not a mask or a socially distanced performance graced our screens. After the last couple of years where such shows have had to be either cancelled altogether or held in a limited capacity in open spaces such as Railway Stations (93rd Academy Awards), it was the biggest sign that life is hopefully going to return to a semblance of normality this year.

Unlike Mr WIAA, who is not a fan of award shows, I have always watched the BRITs as that’s when I find out about some of the new artists/bands who would otherwise never have crossed my radar. This blog is very much a retrospective one, where I revisit songs from my youth, but important not to get totally stuck in the past and over the last few years I’ve been blown away by some of the live performances on the show – Stormzy in 2018 and Dave in 2020. As a middle-aged female living in the North of Scotland I know nothing of what life must be like for young, black, urban males but when you watch these guys in action, they definitely help you understand.

This year, the performance that stood out for me most was by Little Simz – She won the award for Best New Artist (although she has been around for a while it seems). The actress Emma Corrin also appeared on stage with her in a very spectacular hat. Together they gave us Introvert and Woman.

Introvert and Woman by Little Simz:


The big change this year was that the awards were gender neutral with no Best Male or Best Female categories at all. This made room for some new categories which included Best Dance Act (Becky Hill), Best Rock/Alternative Artist (Sam Fender), Best Hip Hop/Grime/Rap Act (Dave) and Best Pop/R&B Act (Dua Lipa). I’m afraid when it comes to genres such as these I come a bit unstuck and would probably fail spectacularly if it came to categorising songs in such a way myself, but the winners of these new awards certainly were pleased, some deliriously so (Becky Hill?), so in turn I was pleased for them.

Another big change this year was that I managed to persuade Mr WIAA to watch the show with me. “There’s always a really big memorable moment,” I told him. “From Jarvis Cocker’s very justified storming of MJ’s stage, to Madonna in her cape falling down those steps, to Geri’s Union Jack dress, to Freddie’s last appearance…”. Yes, lots of memorable moments over the years, but as luck would have it, not this year, so I had to eat my words.

The really big winner was Adele, so a lot of the industry ‘suits’ as she called them at a previous BRITs would have been happy, but all a bit safe and predictable. She lives in LA now, stages big shows in Las Vegas (although that’s a whole other story) and looks nothing like the Adele we first saw on the show back in 2008. Was all a bit disappointing and samey, in my humble opinion.

The girl’s come a long way, but I miss the old Brit School Adele:

Although I totally agreed with the move to gender neutral awards (needs to happen in the world of film too I think), one key difference between the vast majority of men and women at the BRITs was the footwear they chose to wear on the night. I couldn’t help but notice that many of the women were sporting shoes that were detrimental to their health. Adele’s spikey heels got caught up in her long dress when climbing the steps to pick up her first award and poor Anne-Marie fell down some steps in her platform boots whilst performing Kiss My (Uh-Oh). Not quite as spectacular as Madonna’s tumble a few year’s back but she still took a tumble, and landed on her Uh-Oh. She was a trooper however and carried on as if nothing had happened. We’re still a long way off from equality in footwear it seems, which is a shame, as at my age I regret many of my younger self’s footwear choices. My younger self would of course have ignored my older self’s advice, and there lies the rub.

Poor Anne-Marie took a tumble

Like Adele, he’s been around a long time now, and he’s not for everyone, but I do still have a soft spot for Ed Sheeran. He too looks a bit more polished than the lad who first rolled up at the BRITs back in 2012, but whatever you think of his music there’s no denying he knows how to write a successful pop song. He didn’t win big on Tuesday night like Adele, but he did win the award for Songwriter of the Year and I enjoyed his performance of The Joker and the Queen. Many a metaphor/pun can be found in a pack of cards it seems. I was trying to work out what it reminded me of, and of course it’s music from a classic film score, which is what was intended.

The Joker and the Queen by Ed Sheeran:

I really should be doing college work today but procrastination came along in the form of this blog post. Exactly what used to happen first time around, although there weren’t blogs back then, or an internet, or Netflix, just lots and lots of fellow students to be distracted by. Changed days. I’ve just heard back from my course tutor who tells me I can keep going with the course one module at a time – I really thought there was a time-limit on it but they don’t want to lose any students it seems, even ancient ones like myself. Decisions to be made.

I enjoyed the BRITs this year, for the many performances, but also because it felt as if things are truly getting back to normal again. Lord knows we all need that.

Until next time…

The Joker and the Queen Lyrics
(Song by Ed Sheeran/Johnny McDaid/Samuel Elliot Roman/Fred Gibson)

How was I to know?
It’s a crazy thing
I showed you my hand
And you still let me win

And who was I to say
That this was meant to be?
The road that was broken
Brought us together

And I know you could fall for a thousand kings
And hearts that would give you a diamond ring
When I fold, you see the best in me
The joker and the queen

I was upside down
From the outside in
You came to the table
And you went all in

With a single word
And a gentle touch
You turned a moment
Into forever

And I know you could fall for a thousand kings
And hearts that could give you a diamond ring
When I fold, you see the best in me
The joker and the queen

And I know you could fall for a thousand kings
And hearts that would give you a diamond ring
When I folded, you saw the best in me
The joker and the queen
The joker and queen

Postscript:

Before I started writing this one I looked back over the years to my previous BRIT Awards posts. It seems I wrote something about all of them except the 2019 show. Remiss of me but perhaps also a bit of an unremarkable one that passed without incident.

What I do remember about that show however was that Scottish DJ Calvin Harris (along with Dua Lipa) won the award for British Single of the Year. He appeared on the night and it occurred to me that had he not, I wouldn’t have known what the world’s highest paid DJ, a Scot, looked like. Remarkable how anonymous DJs can be. The standout collaboration that year was when Calvin manned the decks whilst Dua, Sam Smith and Rag’n’Bone Man sang. Only three years too late but I give you a medley of Giant, Promises and One Kiss.

One Kiss by Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa:

Nostalgia, The Monkees and RIP Mike Nesmith

Nostalgia.

That was to be the theme of today’s post as it’s something many of us feel acutely at this time of year. When I started this retrospective music blog nearly six years ago, I hadn’t yet realised that writing about old Christmas songs can really pull at the heart strings. You remember happy Christmases with your family as a child, you remember happy Christmases with your friends as a young adult, and then happy Christmases with your own children when they came along. (Link to previous festive posts here.)

From this end of the conveyor belt of life it’s all a bit different – Many of the people in those memories are no longer with us and this year DD will be with her boyfriend’s parents on the big day, which seems only fair after having bagsied them for two years in a row because of last year’s sudden change in ‘the rules’. I am still hopeful we might have grandchildren some day, which would really perk things up around here, but of course a grandchild is not just for Christmas so I’ll have to be patient on that front.

But back to nostalgia, defined as, “the pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again”. Looking at various examples of its use in a sentence, nostalgia can be either a good thing or be somewhat crippling, as in reality we can’t go back in time. Best to just remember it all as it was and enjoy the memories.

It soon became apparent that my first musical memories were from 1966 when I was aged six. I was already aware of the Beatles, and of many of the singers who appeared on the prime time shows my parents watched, but when the Monkees television show (also called The Monkees) hit our screens that year, I was immediately smitten. Their scheduled slot in the UK was teatime on a Saturday, so perfect for family viewing. I was therefore saddened to hear of the death of Mike Nesmith last night before going to bed, the third Monkee to leave us.

(Theme From) The Monkees by the Monkees:


I have written about both Davy Jones and Peter Tork around here before, and now it’s going to be Mike Nesmith. Let’s hope it’s a while before Micky Dolenz puts in an appearance.

Anyone who remembers those days will know that Mike was the tall Monkee with the woolly hat and the Texan drawl (although at age six I wouldn’t have known what a drawl was). He was one of the older Monkees and was primarily a musician rather than an actor. The show ran for two seasons, between 1966 and 1968, and followed the adventures of four young men trying to make a name for themselves as a band. Ironically, because of the success of the show, they became one of the most popular bands of the 1960s, but got increasingly frustrated at the control exerted over them by the show’s creator. They were acting out their roles and were never expected to actually play their own instruments or write their own songs. In time that changed however and some of their own songs, many written by Mike Nesmith, proved to be the most popular of all.

Mike Nesmith 1942 – 2021

It sounds as if Mike hadn’t been well for some time but he had been well enough to head out on one last Farewell Tour which ended only last month. He was no longer the young man in the woolly hat, and had to stay seated for the first few shows of the tour, but made it through to the bitter end. A fitting conclusion perhaps to his life.

My favourite fun fact about Mike Nesmith is that his mother invented Liquid Paper (known to others perhaps as Tippex or correction fluid). She went from being a ‘single mom’ to being the owner of a multi-million dollar company. As someone who went through a lot of Liquid Paper working in offices over the years, I thank her for helping us keep our paperwork looking tidy. I’m guessing in these days of paperless offices, it is no longer needed.

Since starting this blog I’ve made a lot of new song discoveries and one of my favourites is Different Drum by Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys. It was written by Mike Nesmith back in 1964, long before his years with the Monkees so thank you Mike for that amazing song. Time to hear what it sounded like in your hands.

Different Drum by Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I suppose it was inevitable that if I started to revisit the music of my youth, there was a fair chance many of the associated artists would already be no longer be with us, and many more tributes have been written around here over the last few years. The upside however is that you get a chance to revisit their back catalogue of songs and enjoy listening to them all over again. Keeping nostalgia in check is a tough ask at this time of year for those of us no longer in the first flush of youth, but there is definitely a pleasurable side to it too.

Until next time… RIP Mike Nesmith

Different Drum Lyrics
(Song by Mike Nesmith)

You and I travel to the beat of a diff’rent drum
Oh, can’t you tell by the way I run
Every time you make eyes at me Wo oh
You cry and you moan and say it will work out
But honey child I’ve got my doubts
You can’t see the forest for the trees

So, don’t get me wrong it’s not that I’m knockin’
It’s just that I’m not in the market
For a boy who wants to love only me
Yes, and I ain’t sayin’ you ain’t pretty
All I’m sayin’s I’m not ready for any person
Place or thing to try and pull the reins in on me
So Goodbye, I’ll be leavin’
I see no sense in the cryin’ and grievin’
We’ll both live a lot longer if you live without me

Oh, don’t get me wrong it’s not that I’m knockin’
It’s just that I’m not in the market
For a boy who wants to love only me
Yes, and I ain’t sayin’ you ain’t pretty
All I’m sayin’s I’m not ready for any person
Place or thing to try and pull the reins in on me
So Goodbye, I’ll be leavin’
I see no sense in the cryin’ and grievin’
We’ll both live a lot longer if you live without me

An Emotional Week, The BRITS and ‘It’s A Sin’

I wish I could say my paucity of blogging was down to telly watching, but it’s really not. Now that we’ve had that revelatory finale to Line Of Duty (NOT), and with a few other things having come to an end, we’re looking for something new. I am missing my Hastings-isms though (and the wee donkey).

Line Of Duty, cottagecore-style

I did however watch a doc on Channel 4 last night and it caused me to shed a tear – I’m not even a fan of hers, but Davina McCall did future generations of women a massive service by lifting the lid on something that affects half the population, yet is still a strictly taboo subject. It turns out I am much more likely to suffer dementia and broken bones in later life because of a scare story that was widely circulated 20 years ago, but was deeply flawed. I am beyond angry at the lack of support and advice we were given, but too late now to turn back the clock. As it’s such a ‘taboo subject’, and because of my male readership, I don’t even feel I can name it here (oh the irony), but to all those men out there who care about their wives and partners, do your research. My own life, and Mr WIAA’s, could have been a lot easier over the last decade if we’d both had all the genuine facts at our disposal. Rant over.

I’ve been having a bit of an emotional week to be honest. The BRIT awards were aired on Tuesday night, and after all this time it was amazing to see thousands of people in the O2 arena again, enjoying live music. An experiment it seems, using key workers as guinea pigs, but the results will help us get events and mass gatherings up and running again post-pandemic.

The theme of the show was Community, Kindness and Giving (After a Difficult Year) so there was a lot of love in the room for those key workers, but the winners of the colourful little statuettes were predominantly women, just like at the Grammys. A bit of a backlash against the gender disparity amongst the previous year’s nominees I think. Dua Lipa was the big winner (Best British Female and Best Album) but there were also awards for Arlo Parks, Little Mix, J Hus, HAIM, Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, Griff and Taylor Swift. In fact it was a very colourful and feminine event, with some very flamboyant outfits worn by both men and women (but not by Lewis Capaldi who just came as himself). There is always a standout collaboration on the night, and for me, this year, it was this performance of the Pet Shop Boys’ song It’s A Sin by Elton John and Olly Alexander.

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Olly as he reminds me of some the boys in DD’s friendship group when she was growing up. (I think I just want to mother him, and make sure he’s eating properly.) The song choice was very much derived from the success of another drama aired earlier on this year, also called It’s A Sin. Olly Alexander played Ritchie Tozer, one of a group of gay boys who came to London in the early 1980s and formed a friendship group. Sadly, the fast developing HIV/AIDS crisis impacted all of their lives and it made for a powerful and emotional (that word again) watch. Anyone who remembers those days will know how much fear, ignorance and stigma there was attached to that particular virus at the time, but the scientists eventually came up with a treatment, and now it can be controlled with one tablet a day. The drama covered the period 1981-1991 when boys were dying alone, sometimes in locked wards, having been disowned by their families. Here’s a very young looking Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe with the original version of It’s A Sin, which made it right to the top of the UK Singles Chart in 1987. (A single of the version from the awards show is being released to raise money for the Elton John Aids Foundation.)

It’s A Sin by The Pet Shop Boys

Just to top things off, another heart-wrenching drama aired earlier this week (currently available on the BBC iPlayer) called Three Families. Again a controversial subject was dealt with, and again women were not always able to get the support they needed. Yes, it’s been a bit of a ‘heavy’ and emotional week, with a recurring theme it seems.

But to end this post, I’m going to add some pictures of a very happy live music event I witnessed this week. No, I wasn’t able to head down to the O2 for the BRIT Awards, and I’m not a key worker, but joy of joys a group of performers set out their stall in my mum’s care home car park. I was supposed to be there for a visit but I knew she couldn’t miss out on all the fun, so I socially distanced on the other side of the car park to let her enjoy their show. Needless to say most of the residents had to watch from the windows of their rooms, but a few hardy souls like my mum braved the elements and headed outside. We’re obviously cut from the same cloth as there was no holding her back and she was out there in front dancing along to their repertoire of mostly 1960s songs (many of which have appeared around here, which is a tad scary). One of the singers came to speak to me at the end, and yes, you’ve guessed it, I got all emotional again when thanking her for the show.

Not expecting much feedback on this one as touched upon a lot of taboo subjects but good to get my thoughts down, as ever.

Until next time…

It’s A Sin Lyrics
(Song by Chris Lowe/Neil Tennant)

When I look back upon my life
It’s always with a sense of shame
I’ve always been the one to blame
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too

It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin
It’s a sin
Everything I’ve ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I’ve ever been
Everywhere I’m going to
It’s a sin

At school they taught me how to be
So pure in thought and word and deed
They didn’t quite succeed
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too

It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin
It’s a sin
Everything I’ve ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I’ve ever been
Everywhere I’m going to
It’s a sin

Father, forgive me
I tried not to do it
Turned over a new leaf
Then tore right through it
Whatever you taught me
I didn’t believe it
Father, you fought me
‘Cause I didn’t care
And I still don’t understand

Outlander, The Association and ‘Never My Love’

A new song came into my life last week which I have just discovered is one of the most listened to of the 20th century. Why am I only finding out about it now, as for me, it ticks all the boxes?

  • Released in 1967
  • Recorded by a band of the sunshine pop persuasion
  • Made with members of the legendary Wrecking Crew (that group of session musicians based in Los Angeles who worked with Sonny & Cher, the Mamas & the Papas, the 5th Dimension, the Monkees, the Beach Boys and many others)

The Association were until last week unknown to me, however according to the well-known online encyclopaedia, they hit the No. 1 spot in the charts in October 1967, and had four other top ten hits in the late 1960s. Ah…, but not here in the UK, in America (as I would have called it then). That would explain it, as it seems they largely bypassed the notice of the great British public. The song I have become quite smitten by is this one, their version of Never My Love.

Never My Love by The Association:


The reason I stumbled upon this beautiful song from over 50 years ago was because it featured in the final episode of the historical television drama Outlander, which we have just finished binge watching for the second time. Overkill perhaps I know, but we needed something to fill the gaps in our viewing schedule and the storyline is about events and people from our neck of the woods. It’s also one of the reasons why we’ve been getting so many visitors to the Highlands over the last few years (pre-pandemic), as what with time-travel and romance as well as drama, the Outlander books and television series have quite the cult following.

Anyway, I won’t give too much away in terms of spoilers in case anyone hasn’t reached the final episode of season five yet, but the main character Claire returns to her own time, the late 1960s, in a surreal, dream-like set of scenes. The song Never My Love would have been chosen because it fitted the era, as well as the love story that runs through the whole plotline. Here is a clip that uses some of that footage, as well as footage from the mid 1700s, where she goes back in time and meets her handsome Highlander, Jamie Fraser.

It was a strange coincidence then that we reached the end of a series that all kicked off with the build up to the Jacobite Rising, just as we were about to mark the 275th anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, the last pitched battle held on British soil. As most people know, the Jacobite army led by Charles Edward Stewart was decisively defeated by government troops on 16th April 1746, and over 2000 Highlanders were killed or wounded.

Although 275 is not a particularly round number for anniversaries, a large event had been planned at the visitor centre for last Friday, but sadly, due to continuing pandemic-related restrictions, it all moved online. The battlefield was still open for walks however, and as we are local we decided to go up with our new camera equipment, hoping to make a little film. I’ve shared a few dashcam films around here before, but this time all credit goes to Mr WIAA who put this effort together. A few Outlander fans were there on the day looking for the Clan Fraser stone (Jamie’s clan) and as usual it had a few floral tributes in front of it.

Culloden Battlefield – Site of the last pitched battle fought on British soil

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I love that I’m still making lots of new discoveries from the late ’60s as I do seem to have a real affinity for the music from that time. More often than not it comes from having heard it on a film or television soundtrack, and as there is nothing like an older song to evoke the era, film-makers usually choose wisely.

As for the Outlander phenomenon, not so many visitors for us over the last year, but I am hopeful that by summer we will be able to open up again and welcome people back. My little holiday hideaway is being prepped and made appealing for bookings as we speak. I know we won’t get many from abroad this year (nor should we), but hopefully we’ll get some guests from other parts of the UK. I hate the word ‘staycation’ which keeps being bandied about – For someone like me brought up in the ’60s and ’70s we never went abroad, and all our great ‘holidays’ were in Scotland. A staycation would have happened during one of those summers when for one reason or another we had to stay at home, and just had day trips instead – Something quite different to my mind.

Jamie Fraser from Outlander

Anyway, whatever it’s called, all being well we will be able to travel more freely this summer and you would be made very welcome if visiting the Highlands. Hopefully the visitor centre at Culloden will be open for business again and I can thoroughly recommend it – You can even dress up in a kilt, just like the one worn by Jamie in Outlander. As for the term Outlander, it apparently means foreigner, or more specifically an English person (used to describe Claire) although I’d personally never heard it before and am more familiar with the word Sassenach which essentially means the same thing. But again, whatever it’s called, you would be made very welcome, so what are you waiting for? The midges await!

Until next time…

Never My Love Lyrics
(Song by Don Addrisi/Dick Addrisi)

You ask me
If there’ll come a time
When I grow tired of you
Never my love
Never my love

You wonder
If this heart of mine
Will lose its desire for you
Never my love
Never my love

What makes you think love will end
When you know that my whole life depends
On you?
On you

You say you fear
I’ll change my mind
I won’t require you
Never my love
Never my love

How can you think love will end
When I’ve asked you to spend
Your whole life
With me?
With me

You ask me
If there’ll come a time
When I grow tired of you
Never my love
Never my love

Never my love
Never my love

Never my love
Never my love

Ten Months of Telly, My Top Ten and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’

I’m going to hold my hands up and admit to having watched an awful lot of telly over the last ten months. I don’t think I’m alone here as we haven’t exactly had many other avenues open to us for entertainment since the virus hit our shores, but…, you still feel a bit guilty about perhaps not having spent your time engaged in something more productive.

I have a little side table next to my spot on the sofa with a basket of handy things like glasses for distance (the telly), glasses for close-up (sewing), hand cream, scissors, and most importantly, a notebook & pen set. At the start of lockdown last March I decided to keep a record of all the dramas we were watching, just to keep track, and quite shockingly we seem to have completed 53 seasons of all manner of things. Crikey I thought, that’s one a week on average, until I realised that it’s happened over only ten months which makes the average even higher. Again, I don’t think I’m alone, and all down to the way we watch things nowadays, binging on something in a single week, as opposed to over a period of a few months.

What our mums used to tell us, but so far so good

I’m still wondering when we’re going to run out of new things, as most of what we’ve watched must have been made before the first lockdown, but so far not much sign of it. Mr WIAA is fed up of me saying, ‘You couldn’t do that nowadays,’ or, ‘Do you think we’ll ever be able to do that again?’ when we see mass gatherings of happy people, just going about their lives as we all used to do.

But hey, here is my list taken from that now very dog-eared little notebook. I have highlighted my Top Ten in bold in case you haven’t yet seen them and trust my judgement. Some were on Netflix, some on Amazon Prime and the others on the BBC iPlayer, so most still easily accessible.

Outlander S5, Better Call Saul S5, Westworld S1, Belgravia, Killing Eve S3, Life On Mars S1&2, Unorthodox, After Life S2, Upload, Space Force, White Lines, The Woods, Noughts and Crosses, The Fall S1-3, Hannah S2, The Luminaries, Game Of Thrones S8, Schitt’s Creek S1-6, Normal People, Annika, A Suitable Boy, The Rain S2&3, Strike, The Affair S1-5, Us, The Singapore Grip, Ratched, Life, Roadkill, The End of the F**king World S2, The Crown S4, Queen’s Gambit, Small Axe, Industry, Black Narcissus, Bridgerton, Traces, The Sepent, The Teacher, Lupin.

Last time I got all science-y around here and wrote about that feeling we get when we hear certain songs from our youth, and how they can still elicit such strong emotional responses all these years later. It’s called a neuronic command and it seems our brains never forget those songs we obsessed over during the drama of our teenage years.

I don’t know about you, but I also experience neuronic commands when watching certain coming-of-age films or drama on television. None more so than when I watched last year’s BBC adaptation of the Sally Rooney novel Normal People (one of my Top Ten mentioned above). The Sligo in the drama felt very like the rural Aberdeenshire I grew up in, and many of the storylines resonated. I went to a school that punched above its weight in terms of academic success for its pupils and many of us from what I would call a working class culture headed off to university. Not always easy to assimilate though and I strongly identified with the male character Connell. No, not easy when you find yourself straddling two worlds but not really fitting into either.

One of the songs used in the drama was this one, Love Will Tear Us Apart, performed by Nerina Pallot. I don’t think I would be giving too much away in terms of spoilers if I said it was a perfect choice.

Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division:


Love Will Tear Us Apart was written by the band Joy Division, its lyrics inspired by lead singer Ian Curtis’s marital problems, struggles with epilepsy and mental illness. As the band’s popularity grew, Curtis’s condition made it increasingly difficult for him to perform and he occasionally experienced seizures on stage. The single was released in June 1980, a month after his suicide, aged only 23.

Joy Division, Ian Curtis on the left

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I’ve ended on a bit of a downer haven’t I whereas my intention was to highlight all the great telly we’ve had at our disposal during these tough times. Inevitably, if it’s been well-made, some of this telly will make us cry and that’s certainly happened to me at times, although there has been much laughter too (Schitt’s Creek a definite recommendation).

What’s been your favourite thing to watch over the long, long period of lockdown and restrictions? Do any of my choices match your own? I’d love to hear from you, and as you know by now, I always reply.

Until next time…

Love Will Tear Us Apart Lyrics
(Song by Ian Curtis/Peter Hook/Stephen Morris/Bernard Sumner)

When routine bites hard,
And ambitions are low,
And resentment rides high,
But emotions won’t grow,
And we’re changing our ways,
Taking different roads.

Then love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

Why is the bedroom so cold?
You’ve turned away on your side.
Is my timing that flawed?
Our respect runs so dry.
Yet there’s still this appeal
That we’ve kept through our lives.

But love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

You cry out in your sleep,
All my failings exposed.
And there’s a taste in my mouth,
As desperation takes hold.
Just that something so good
Just can’t function no more.

But love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

A Bit of a Festive Ramble, Not Dreaming of a White Christmas and ‘Medicinal Compound, Most Efficacious in Every Case’

Well, last month I tried to become a daily blogger for a time but all that momentum left me when I called time on my challenge. At times like this it’s sometimes a good idea just to sit down and write ‘something’, to unblock the blockage, so it’s going to be a bit of a web-diary kind of affair I’m afraid with some songs thrown in.

How are we all doing? Back in Spring/Summer I did mention the pandemic a fair bit around here (an understatement) but as time went by I decided to leave well alone as people come here to escape all that negativity. Also, the awful truth is that this new way of living – with masks, social distancing, working from home and being apart from friends and family – has kind of become normalised and I’ve almost forgotten what my old life was like. If we do ever manage to get back together again in large groups, will we have lost all our social skills? What will we do with all the books that seem to have been acquired for Zoom call backdrops and will wearing comfy indoorsy trousers at all times become the norm?

But here we are coming up to Christmas and it’s all getting a bit complicated. We’ve been given the green light to get together in Festive Bubbles, but in some ways it makes things more difficult. We are trusted to be sensible and not put our elderly relatives in danger, but being realistic, sitting outside for Christmas dinner or even inside with all the doors and windows open is not a very appealing prospect. No-one will be ‘dreaming of a White Christmas‘ in my neck of the woods this year. Cue Bing Crosby, or alternatively, the Darlene Love version courtesy of Phil Spector.

White Christmas by Bing Crosby – The teen idol who smoked a pipe!

White Christmas by Darlene Love – That’s her at the back in the yellow cardi


As it turns out we will be on our own for the first time ever. After having lived at home with us for the last six months, DD has now decanted to the holiday hideaway and set up a ‘new household’ with her significant other who has given up his glamorous but all-consuming job and returned to the Highlands. The pair of them have had a really tough year but perhaps things are now looking up and with any luck they will both get back on track in 2021. We had them with us for Christmas last year, so it’s the other set of parents’ turn this year which seems entirely reasonable. On the upside, I think our relationship with DD will improve, as make no mistake, having your adult offspring back living with you is the ultimate test. After six months I think we were all more than ready for a change in living arrangements!

The cottage from the Christmas film The Holiday

My little mum always used to join us for Christmas dinner, but she of course is imprisoned in her care home, being kept safe. To be fair, she has stayed upbeat and smiling throughout this whole sorry situation as her condition means she pretty much lives in the moment. I have been able to visit indoors until recently (under super-strict conditions) but the home has now been shut for a couple of weeks after a scare that some staff might have contracted the virus (they hadn’t). Due to an admin error on their part, I also seem to have slipped through the net for a Christmas Day visit. It’s almost tougher not being able to see your loved ones now than at the start of the crisis and somehow more distressing at this time of year. You remember happy times as a child when your parents seemed invincible and could fix any problem. Sadly, I can’t fix the problem of not being able to visit, as totally outwith my control.

It has become customary for me to share a song that would appeal to my mum around this time. In the past it has often been something by Jim Reeves but I also remember her watching the Andy Williams Christmas shows on telly when I was growing up so how about something from him. We don’t call the festive period ‘The Holidays’ here in Scotland, but hey, let’s roll with it this once. (At least I’ve not shared the song that is bound to make someone who is NOT having the most wonderful time of the year, feel even worse. Oops, did it anyway.)

Andy (with three doppelgangers it seems) and the Osmond Brothers – Whatever became of them?


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I’m quite early around here with a Christmas post but somehow writing about anything else just didn’t seem right. Let’s hope all this festive bubbling doesn’t leave too many people taking needless risks. Apparently the messaging is going to be strong on what is advisable. With vaccines just round the corner it seems Easter 2021 is being touted as the best time to celebrate Christmas 2020. Let’s see how that goes?!

Festive bubbles

As for us, I really can’t complain as this pandemic has come along when we were both working from home anyway, and although our business ventures have brought in little this year, I come from the kind of family where having a ‘rainy day fund’ is engrained. In 2020 it’s been torrential. I really do miss socialising with my friends and going to the cinema but I’ve experienced less FOMO via social media, because no-one is doing anything – No exotic holidays, fancy nights out or festivals in my social circle this year, and if anyone does share something they are quickly pulled up on it. ‘When was this taken?’ ‘Where did you go?’ ‘You’re awfully close to each other’ (The ‘Rules Police’ are out in force – grrr…)

2020 has been a year of just trying to tick over, walking and watching television, an awful lot of television. Watching breakfast news this morning a government minister (today’s lamb to the slaughter) was asked about the vaccine that is being rolled out and he replied that it was efficacious. Crikey I thought, last time I heard that word being used was in the song Lily the Pink. Got me thinking, that’s where we’ve been going wrong. What we all need is a hefty dose of ‘Medicinal Compound’ – Cue The Scaffold.

The Scaffold – Mike McGear (Macca’s little bro), John Gorman and Roger McGough


I remember this song well as it reached the No. 1 spot in the UK Singles Chart for four weeks around Christmastime 1968. I know my mum would still remember it if only I was allowed in to see her. What I hadn’t realised was that it’s based on an older folk song called ‘The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham’. She was the inventor of a herbal-alcoholic women’s tonic which is still on sale today in a modified form. Pinkham’s Medicinal Compound was aggressively marketed and became the subject of a bawdy drinking song chronicling its efficacious cures. Hard to believe I know but the backing vocalists on The Scaffold record included Graham Nash, Reg Dwight (the future Mr Elton John) and Tim RiceJack Bruce (of Cream) played bass guitar.

I shall return before Christmas Day but in the meantime I hope your plans for the big day pan out. I suspect many of us will be deferring the whole shebang until Easter.

Until next time…

Lily the Pink Lyrics
(Song by John Gorman, Mike McGear, Roger McGough)

We’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

Mr. Frears
had sticky-out ears
and it made him awful shy
and so they gave him medicinal compound
and now he’s learning how to fly.

Brother Tony
Was notably bony
He would never eat his meals
And so they gave him medicinal compound
Now they move him round on wheels.

We’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

Old Ebeneezer
Thought he was Julius Caesar
And so they put him in a Home
where they gave him medicinal compound
and now he’s Emperor of Rome.

Johnny Hammer
Had a terrible stammer
He could hardly say a word
And so they gave him medicinal compound
Now he’s seen (but never heard)!

We’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

Auntie Millie
Ran willy-nilly
When her legs, they did recede
And so they rubbed on medicinal compound
And now they call her Millipede.

Jennifer Eccles
had terrible freckles
and the boys all called her names
but she changed with medicinal compound
and now he joins in all their games.

We’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

Lily the Pink, she
Turned to drink, she
Filled up with paraffin inside
and despite her medicinal compound
Sadly Picca-Lily died.

Up to Heaven
Her soul ascended
All the church bells they did ring
She took with her medicinal compound
Hark the herald angels sing.

Oooooooooooooooo Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’ll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the Pink the Pink the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case
.

Postscript:

I didn’t think of googling it at the time but yes, it didn’t take long to find some Medicinal Compound for sale online. Had never thought to look before, but all these years later it’s still going strong.

More TV Themes: The Persuaders and Hill Street Blues

Well, I didn’t expect this to be the stumbling block in my challenge to become a daily blogger, but my left shoulder is aching from too many hours spent in front of a computer this week. I also have business and domestic admin, and my college course, so maybe a bridge too far for the poor shoulder that has just recovered from the physical strain of running a holiday let for the whole of last year.

Anyway, all this is really just to explain the brevity of today’s post (hurrah I hear you cry, as I can be a bit wordy at times). It’s obvious from the amount of comments received on my White Horses post, that we love looking back at the telly of our youth, and many other suggestions rolled in from visitors to the blog.

A good few years ago, when we first discovered iTunes, Mr WIAA and I spent some time collecting the themes from our favourite television shows. The music that brought back many happy memories for Mr WIAA was this one, Theme From The Persuaders starring Tony Curtis and Roger Moore. (As a boy he wanted to be Danny Wilde.)


For me, it was either Angela by Bob James from the show Taxi, or this one, Theme From Hill Street Blues. As Angela has appeared here before when I visited New York for my American Odyssey series, I’ll include the other wonderful theme, this time written by Mike Post. Hill Street Blues was kind of ground-breaking in its day in its style, and although a police procedural, it also followed the private lives of its main characters via a story arc.

Young people today are often accused of just lounging around watching Netflix in their spare time, consuming takeaways. Well back in the mid 1980s I can confirm that in my shared flat we often got together with the boyfriends on a Saturday night to watch Hill Street Blues. In winter, combined with a takeaway from the Slow Boat Chinese at the end of the street, and the curtains pulled tight to keep out the cold wind coming off the North Sea, we were happy bunnies.

If you remember the show, you will know it always began with roll call (‘Let’s be careful out there’), and ended with Captain Frank Furillo and public defender Joyce Davenport in their bedroom, recounting their day.

Theme From Hill Street Blues by Mike Post:


What’s your favourite TV theme? Neil mentioned in my last TV theme-related post that his was from Bonanza, as it was ‘pretty rousing’. You’re right there Neil. As ever, I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time….

Balm For The Soul #2 – Theme From White Horses

Well, it’s all looking a bit fraught across the pond today with the election result in the balance and the votes still being counted (very legally). All a bit tense here in the UK too, with a new lockdown due to start at midnight. As an antidote to all that real world nonsense, let’s head back in time to a country that doesn’t even exist any more, and spend some time with Julia and her beautiful Lipizanner horses.

I started a new series recently called Balm For The Soul and I think this next song fits that category perfectly. If like me you were born at the start of the ’60s, you will remember kids telly featured many European dramas, such as Belle and Sebastian (the Scottish indie band took their name from it) and the wonderful White Horses. It was made by a Yugoslavian television company and followed the adventures of Julia and the Lipizanner horses raised on her Uncle Dimitri’s stud farm outside Belgrade. It came to our shores in 1968, dubbed into English, and soon became a firm favourite with horse-loving girls. The best bit of the show however was the theme song, White Horses sung by Jacky. Some pieces of music just can’t help but make you feel good and this is most definitely one of them, often coming at the top of polls for the best TV theme song ever.

White Horses by Jacky


Looking at my trusty Guinness Book of British Hit Singles, it seems White Horses reached the No. 10 spot in April 1968. Jacky was actually Jackie Lee from Ireland who had another hit in 1971 with Rupert, the song from the show based on the famous cartoon character, Rupert Bear. She certainly seems to have cornered that sector of the market.

I remember once feeling incredibly stressed ahead of a particular set of exams. One morning, rather than hitting the books, I took myself along to the only television lounge in our student Halls of Residence and spent a good few hours watching kids telly. By lunchtime I felt refreshed and ready to pick up my revision timetable again (as you expect, I had many). Of course I can’t now remember if White Horses was one of the shows I watched, but it is highly likely as it was repeated often, right through the ’70s. That theme song, and the whole nostalgia aspect, would have got me right back on track I’m sure. Let’s hope it does the same for us now.

Until next time….

White Horses Lyrics
(Song by Michael Carr/Ben Nisbet)

On white horses let me ride away
To my world of dreams so far away
Let me run
To the sun.

To a world my heart can understand
It’s a gentle warm and wonderland
Far away
Stars away

Where the clouds are made of candy floss
As the day is born.
When the stars are gone
We’ll race to meet the dawn

So when I can only see the grey
Of a sad and very lonely day
That’s when I softly sigh
On white horses
Snowy white horses
Let me ride away

More From Laurel Canyon, Fiona Apple and ‘In My Room’

Thankfully I’ve managed to keep most of my pandemic related thoughts to myself around here of late. I’m all pandemicked-out, so instead have been enjoying writing about some new musical discoveries. Most of these discoveries have come about via telly, which I seem to have been watching an unhealthy amount of recently. It feels wrong, but my regular trips to the cinema/theatre are in abeyance, and trying to meet up with with friends is becoming a bit of a logistical nightmare. With the nights drawing in and the weather getting a tad colder, it’s quite comforting to curl up on the sofa with a cuppa and a full set of remotes – Hopefully I’ll not start morphing into a Maris Piper anytime soon.

Before the rules changed (yet again), I’d been regularly meeting up with my friend Eve, as we are working our way through The Affair, that award winning drama starring Ruth Wilson and Dominic West. Somehow I’d missed it when it aired first time around, but it had been mentioned in the comments boxes around here in relation to a particular song, so I got curious and thought I’d give it a whirl. I should have known from the title there would be many, many scenes of a sexual nature, and although I’m no prude, it can be a bit awkward watching such shenanigans with your ‘walking buddy’. Now that we can no longer meet indoors here in Scotland, my blushes will be spared for the foreseeable, but as we both intend to carry on watching it independently, we’ll still be able to discuss the latest twists and turns when we meet up for our weekly walk outdoors. Such times.

And here is where a wonderful bit of synchronicity has kicked in. I have really been enjoying the show’s theme song, Container, but only took note of who recorded it last week. It was Fiona Apple, an American singer-songwriter who was new to me, as I seem to to be firmly stuck in the last millennium when it comes to such things.

Fiona Apple

How good is that? Fiona also wrote the song and in the first line she is ‘screaming into the canyon’. Over the last week I have spent much of my time revisiting the music that poured forth from the artists who lived in California’s Laurel Canyon in the late ’60s and as well as the documentary written about last time, I’ve also watched Echo In The Canyon fronted by Jakob Dylan, son of Bob.

The young Bob and Jakob

He looks and sounds uncannily like his dad at times during the film, where he and a selection of other musicians cleverly intersperse candid interviews with performances of some of the most memorable songs from the era. One of these guest musicians was my new discovery, Fiona Apple. I was bowled over when they got up on stage to sing the Brian Wilson song In My Room. Short, but oh so beautiful.

In My Room by Fiona Apple and Jakob Dylan:


Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys had been a Laurel Canyon resident in the late ’60s and despite starting out writing songs that represented the youth culture of southern California (basically surfin’, surfin’ and more surfin’) it soon became obvious that Brian was a bit of a musical genius, the like of whom doesn’t come along very often. Their album Pet Sounds, written and produced by Brian, was released in 1966 and is often cited as having inspired the Beatles to make Sgt. Pepper.

Apparently Brian had been an agoraphobic during his teens and had refused to leave his bedroom for some time. The song was written from the perspective of a teenager who felt safe and comfortable there. I’m pretty sure DD doesn’t have agoraphobia, but the amount of time she has been spending in her old school bedroom since returning home is concerning me. She is studying, and possibly doesn’t want to interfere with our routines, but as for many other young people who may not have work right now and can no longer be with friends, it just doesn’t feel very healthy at all. Maybe why I’ve been affected by the song so much.

Although it’s the Fiona Apple/Jakob Dylan version that I’ve fallen in love with this week, I can’t go without sharing the original by the Beach Boys themselves. Lots of screaming from the girls in the audience, but I think we still get the sense of it (and a lovely boyish smile from Brian at 0:35).

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I may have over-egged the pudding about how much television I’m watching, but with many other leisure-time activities still unavailable to us, it has become a bit of a saviour. I’m trying to avoid watching rolling news channels nowadays and instead am finding escapism in quality dramas and documentaries – Why so many people flocked to the cinema during the war to watch Hollywood musicals I suppose.

As for DD, she is currently ‘in her room’, but hopefully she’ll join us to watch Gogglebox later on, which always raises a smile. The world in 2020 – We work from home on laptops, socialise via Zoom, and sit in our living rooms watching television programs about other people sitting in their living rooms watching television programs. Like a wacky hall of mirrors, it really doesn’t sound healthy at all does it?

The ‘Stars’ of Gogglebox

Until next time….

In My Room Lyrics
(Song by Brian Wilson)

There’s a world where I can go and tell my secrets to
In my room, in my room
In this world I lock out all my worries and my fears
In my room, in my room

Do my dreaming and my scheming
Lie awake and pray
Do my crying and my sighing
Laugh at yesterday

Now it’s dark and I’m alone
But I won’t be afraid
In my room, in my room
In my room, in my room
In my room, in my room