Photo Challenges, Paul Heaton and The Beautiful South

Last Saturday, for my weekly blog post, I decided to just sit down at my keyboard and type, with no particular plan in mind. Most bizarrely I ended up back in the 1920s which I hadn’t anticipated happening at all, especially as I have a massive list of ideas sitting in ‘Posts Pending’. That’s often the problem though, you have so many ideas, you can’t decide between them and end up totally off piste.

Talking of piste, it’s been rather snowy around here of late and to make the daily walk (for exercise) more interesting, I’ve had a bit of a photo challenge going on with a friend who lives in Yorkshire. We choose a theme for the day and take some fitting pictures, exchanging them before 9pm. No prizes of course, and no prizes for guessing what the theme was on this particular day, but it has made the walks a bit more fun as even they are becoming a tad monotonous after ten months of lockdowns and restrictions.

Old Red Eyes Is Back by The Beautiful South:


Great excuse to include something by The Beautiful South as they don’t seem to have popped up around here before, which is odd as they were one of my favourite bands back in the day. But by back in the day I mean when I was in my thirties and forties, and as we all know, however much we appreciate and enjoy the music of our more mature years, it never affects us in quite the same way as when we are young and in our teens. I’m no psychologist, or neuroscientist, but there are certain songs from my teenage years that can still render me an emotional wreck, all these years later. Apparently it’s a neuronic command and no matter how sophisticated our tastes might become, our brains stay jammed on those songs we obsessed over during the drama of adolescence.

Here’s something I’ve never mentioned around here before but in 1989 I got my first VCR and over the next few years, just as we used to do with cassette recorders in earlier decades, I ‘taped’ my favourite songs from TOTP on a Thursday night. I still have many chunky VCR tapes in the loft with all this material, but a bit pointless keeping them really, as we now have access to pretty much everything we might want to watch at the touch of a screen. The reason I mention all that, is because the very first song I ever recorded on my new machine back in 1989 was You Keep It All In by The Beautiful South. Hundreds of songs would follow it, but you always remember your first. (Bit of a messy start to this clip but fine from 0:20.)

You Keep It All In by The Beautiful South:


The Beautiful South rose from the ashes of another band I have very fond memories of, The Housemartins. Former bandmates Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway, along with Briana Corrigan, formed The Beautiful South in 1988 and despite a frequent change in female vocalist over the years, kept going until 2007. In contrast The Housemartins were only in the spotlight for two years but who could forget this bit of animated fun, Happy Hour from 1986 – Don’t be fooled by the still, as a more lively video clip would be hard to find.

Common to all the songs shared today is that they were written by Paul Heaton who has been described in The Guardian as ‘one of our finest songwriters: his music reveals an exuberant ear for melody, his lyrics a keen eye and a brilliant wit‘. Paul has kept diaries throughout the years and I remember him once producing some of them when being interviewed on telly. They are a beautiful hand-written record of his years with the above mentioned bands complete with doodles. He certainly is a wordsmith which is reflected in his lyrics. Old Red Eyes Is Back is a play on words, from the Sinatra album Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back, and is about the curse of alcoholism. As for Happy Hour it apparently ‘hammers away at the hypocrisy and sexism of young British business types on the move‘. Very apt for 1986, the era of the ‘yuppie’, when it was written.

Paul Heaton

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I’ve gone and done it again. Like alphabetising your record collection rather than tackling a really tricky piece of work, my long list of Posts Pending has not been eaten into for a second week in a row. But, sharing my red-themed pictures has somehow led me to share some Paul Heaton songs, which is a bonus. I may never have had his poster on my bedroom wall, and his lyrics don’t hark back to my own teenage dramas, but he has provided me with a fine set of songs for my digital library, ones I really should revisit more often.

As for that box of old VCR tapes in the loft, I’m really going to have to do something about them aren’t I, but I think I’ll keep that very first one where You Keep It All In was the inaugural song. Being able to rewatch TOTP later in the week was quite something back in the 1980s and this new technology meant we could do that. Compared to what we have at our disposal nowadays it seems positively antiquated, like using a Charles Babbage computer to work from home. Yes, the youngsters of today really are spoilt but I have an inkling the joy I felt at being able to record my favourite songs on video, was as great as anything they might experience today. It’s all relative.

Until next time…

You Keep It All In Lyrics
(Song by Paul Heaton, Dave Rotheray)

You know your problem
You keep it all in
You know your problem
You keep it all in

That’s right
The conversation we had last night
When all I wanted to do was
Knife you in the heart
I kept it all in

You know your problem
You keep it all in
You know your problem
You keep it all in

Midnight, a husband getting ready to fight
A daughter sleeps alone with the light
Turned on, she hears but
Keeps it all in

Just like that murder in ’73
Just like that robbery in ’62
With all these things that have happened to me
I kept them all in
Why do you keep on telling me now

You know your problem
You keep it all in
You know your problem
You keep it all in

That’s sweet
That conversation we had last week
When you gagged and bound me up to my seat
You’re right, I do
I keep it all in

Simon & Garfunkel, ‘Bookends Theme’ and Meeting Duncan, All Grown-Up

I have another blog which is really a fan site for my favourite local author, Jane Duncan, who died back in 1976 but still has a loyal following. Last Saturday the weather was glorious, so we headed across the Kessock Bridge to the Black Isle (it’s not black and it’s not an island, more a peninsula, but these old names take hold), which features in all her stories. The plan was to visit the cemetery where she is buried, and then head towards the village of Jemimaville where she lived for many years, in the house she built by the shore.

We had just wandered down one of Jemimaville’s many side lanes to visit Jane’s old house, when we spotted some people doing a spot of gardening, no doubt ‘the big tidy-up’ ahead of winter. Conscious of the fact travel restrictions are in place around the country at the moment, I wanted to reassure them we were local, so stopped for a wee chat. It turned out it was Neil, Jane’s nephew, who became immortalised in her books as one of ‘The Hungry Generation’. He and his lovely wife now live in the village, and were happy for me to take a picture.

Neil aka ‘Duncan’, with his wife

For someone who has a whole blog dedicated to Jane Duncan and her books, this was quite something, and an encounter I hadn’t expected when we headed off that fine day. Once home I revisited My Friends the Hungry Generation and remembered it had been signed by Neil and his siblings at the 2010 event, marking the centenary of Jane’s birth. Here is that book with its beautiful cover by Virginia Smith.

That’s ‘Duncan’ in the middle, pushing the pram

But this is a music blog, so what better song to feature than Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel from their 1968 album of the same name. It appears twice on the track listing, as the first and last song on side one. The song is a brief acoustic piece that ‘evokes a time of innocence’. Apt when writing about a book set in 1956, which recounts the adventures of a lively bunch of Scottish children.

Bookends Theme by Simon & Garfunkel:


As you may have noticed I have abandoned my attempt at becoming a daily blogger for a month, as I seem to have picked up an injury. You probably don’t consider blogging a dangerous pastime, but rather than suffering from writer’s block, I’m currently afflicted with writer’s neck (too much time sitting in front of the computer). I’ll carry on posting in short bursts, but it’s still not going to be easy. Hat’s off to those who manage it.

Until next time….

Bookends Theme
(Song by Paul Simon)

Time it was
And what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence
A time of confidences

Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you

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

California Dreamin’: Laurel Canyon, A Special Place In Time

Like many others I’ve not had a holiday this year, but I did spend much of last week in Laurel Canyon, that hotbed of creativity that became the epicentre of the late ’60s folk rock scene. First of all I watched the two-part series Laurel Canyon, A Place In Time and then I revisited Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, where much of the action takes place in the same location, at the same point in time. (Both can be found on Amazon Prime.)

I’ve watched many documentaries over the years about the music and lifestyles of those who resided in Laurel Canyon, but this was a particularly good one, as the only two ‘talking heads’ were photographers from those days (Henry Diltz and Nurit Wilde) who shared many of their candid shots. We saw Joni Mitchell looking all loved up with Graham Nash, Peter Tork larking around in Frank Zappa’s back garden, Jim Morrison on his bicycle and David Crosby hanging out with future sidekick Stephen Stills.

During my first year of blogging, as some regulars might remember, I kept returning to the year 1967, as for some reason there is a special place in my heart for the music from that era. Perhaps it’s because I was just a little too young to remember it from first time around, so still have many new discoveries to make, or maybe I’m just a bit of a hippie at heart and if I could hire an honest-to-goodness time machine for a day, I think I would head back to Laurel Canyon. In the early ’60s the music industry was still very much centred in New York, but by 1967 many Greenwich Village folk artists were moving west to California and setting up home in the houses and cabins which littered the hillsides of the West Hollywood district of Los Angeles. Doors were left unlocked, residents hung out and partied, but best of all, they made great music.

Laurel Canyon in the Hollywood Hills, a district of Los Angeles

As for choosing a featured song for this post, there are literally too many to choose from. I took notes whilst watching the first episode of the documentary and they stretched to six pages. The names of some of the people who lived in Laurel Canyon in the late ’60s are as follows:

The Byrds, ‘Crosby, Stills and Nash’, Love, Joni Mitchell, Brian Wilson, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Buffalo Springfield, Jim Morrison, Frank Zappa, Alice Cooper, Peter Tork, Mickey Dolenz and The Mamas & the Papas.

Considering Mama Cass used to have an open house policy, and seems to have been one of the main figures of Canyon life, maybe this song would be a good choice. It was written when the Mamas & the Papas were still based in cold and wet New York, but were contemplating a move to California, which just like many others before them is exactly what they did.

All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey.
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day.
I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.;
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.

California Dreamin’ by the Mamas & the Papas:


But of course all good things come to an end and that’s kind of what happened to this free-loving, drug-fuelled community a few years later. Doors could no longer be left open after The Manson Family killings, and a couple of the key players died way before their time (Jim Morrison and Mama Cass). As we headed into the 1970s bands like the Eagles entered the frame, and the music became more about making money, which was a new direction for Canyon residents. One by one they started to head down to more salubrious residences in more upmarket districts such as Beverley Hills.

The film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is set in 1969, and is a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age. The main character is Rick Dalton (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), a star who fears his career is fading, and his stunt double Cliff Booth (played by Brad Pitt) who now acts as his gofer. As ever with Tarantino, the plot follows multiple storylines all coming together at the end. Rick’s house on Cielo Drive is right next to the one rented by Sharon Tate (a Manson Family victim) and her husband Roman Polanski. I won’t spoil the film for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, but suffice to say it was vintage Tarantino. Cielo Drive is not in Laurel Canyon but a bit further west, however it’s still located in the Hollywood Hills. With winter now approaching here in Scotland, I know where I’d rather be (without the murders of course).

I’ve long known about the community who took up residence in these hills, just a stone’s throw from downtown Los Angeles, but I never took the time to work out where on the map Laurel Canyon is actually located. Now I’ve got that sorted it’s time to revisit the good times, before it started to go wrong, and enjoy the music that was inspired by the place.

There was a lovely story in the documentary about how the song Our House by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young came about. Graham Nash and Joni Mitchell, both young and in love, had gone down into Los Angeles for some breakfast. On the way they’d stopped at an antique shop where Joni bought a simple, blue vase. When they got home, Graham suggested she stroll through the woods to pick flowers for the vase. Rather than build the fire he had promised, he sat down at her piano and began writing a song about their shared domestic bliss: “I’ll light the fire, you put the flowers in the vase that you bought today”. I’m an old romantic so really loved that story but find it hard to believe that by the time the song was released, they were no longer a couple. Makes me sad.

This one by Buffalo Springfield always sends shivers down my spine, and it has appeared in many a Vietnam War film. Although often considered an anti-war song, Stephen Stills was inspired to write it because of the Sunset Strip curfew riots in November 1966, a series of early counterculture-era clashes that took place between police and young people.

Of course we can’t forget about Joni Mitchell, that Lady of the Canyon.

Finally, something from Jim Morrison and The Doors, one of the most iconic and influential frontmen in rock history, who sadly died at the age of 27 in 1971. Jim was a true bohemian and poet who struggled to cope with his fame. Perhaps his brooding good looks were a hindrance to him, but he remains on many a deep-thinker’s bedroom wall to this day.

Until next time….

California Dreamin’ Lyrics
(Song by John Phillips/Michelle Phillips)

All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey.
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day.
I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.;
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.

Stopped in to a church I passed along the way.
Well I got down on my knees and I pretend to pray.
You know the preacher liked the cold;
He knows I’m gonna stay.
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray.
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day.
If I didn’t tell her I could leave today;
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.

The Bee Gees, “I Started A Joke” and Tribute Bands, Is It Ok?

The other day I was heading back from visiting my mum in the care home, when I decided to swing by our local theatre to find out what was on. I still had a gift voucher which ironically was acquired when I had to return my mum’s outstanding theatre tickets last year after her admission to the home. It was due to expire soon, so I needed to convert it into readies, and if not readies, bona fide tickets at any rate. When I discovered that a show called Jive Talkin’, championing the music of the Bee Gees was taking place that very night, it was a no-brainer that I would ask about seats. As luck would have it there were only two left, in a second circle box, so I snapped them up.

It took me a long time to admit to being a Bee Gees fan around here, as I know they have been heavily parodied over the years and Barry’s late ’70s falsetto has been the subject of much mirth, but only Elvis, the Beatles, and he who shall no longer be named, have outsold them. They wrote all their own songs, performed perfect harmonies and continually reinvented themselves “for the times”. I’ve written about them a few times and I suspect a new category on my sidebar will have to be set up after I press the publish button.

6b2c85848f18b8a704dbc9296987fbc0.jpg
The original Bee Gees line-up – Kind of obvious which of them is a Gibb brother!

But of course there is sadly now only one Bee Gee left, Barry, and I do feel for him if I ever catch him on telly, as he cuts a lonely figure without the rest of his brothers in tow. In view of the fact I will now never see them live, I had no difficulty in making the decision that it was ok to head along to our fantastic theatre, to watch this trio (plus backing band complete with string section) sing songs from the vast back catalogue at their disposal.

I wrote last year about a show called Fastlove, dedicated to the George Michael back catalogue. They took great pains to make sure that, we, the audience, realised this was not “A Tribute Act” but in fact “A Tribute” to George, so I was hoping this show would follow the same lines. As it turned out, there was a bit more of a pantomime quality to this one, but the voices were pitch perfect and from where I was seated in the second circle, they looked uncannily like the real Bee Gees.

I Started A Joke by the Bee Gees:

The first half was dedicated to their 1960s incarnation and they rattled through 16 classic hits such as Gotta Get A Message To You, To Love Somebody, Words, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart (written about here before) and my personal favourite I Started A Joke from the album “Idea” released in 1968. Apparently the melancholic melody of the song was inspired by the sounds on board an aeroplane. To quote Robin Gibb: “The melody to this one was heard aboard a British Airways Vickers Viscount about a hundred miles from Essen. It was one of those old four engine “prop” jobs, that seemed to drone the passenger into a sort of hypnotic trance, only with this it was different. The droning, after a while, appeared to take the form of a tune, which mysteriously sounded like a church choir. As soon as we landed and reached the hotel, we finished the lyrics.”

As for me, this era of the Bee Gees just reminds me of watching telly with my parents as a child. They were frequent visitors to the TOTP studio and there were always a few raised eyebrows in our house at Robin’s vibrato, as not many pop voices like that at the time. I only realised later that the twins, Robin and Maurice, were still teenagers – A massive amount of success for those so young, the pressure of which led to Robin leaving the band for a while.

beegees2.gif

So, we’ve had the first half where they were dressed in the classic late era Bee Gees’ uniform of black trousers, shirts and jackets, but what would the second half bring? As expected there had to be an element of pantomime, as the 1970s brought disco, and Barry’s falsetto rose to unnaturally new heights. There is nothing more unnerving than seeing a middle-aged man dressed in tight white trousers and a silver jacket revealing chest hair, but here we were. To be honest I don’t think many of the ladies in the audience cared however, we were all teenagers again, reminding ourselves of the time we heard these songs first time around – Night Fever, Stayin’ Alive, You Should Be Dancing and many more.

Up in my second circle box, no-one’s view would have been blocked if I stood up and danced along to the songs, so that was just what happened. Mr WIAA did not partake in the dancing, and was a bit bemused by the whole thing I think, but he was also aware I’ve been working really hard of late trying to support everyone, so if anyone needed to let their hair down, it was me (as he no longer has any).

Every now and again, when emotions are running high, it can only take a few bars of a familiar song, to make you feel quite overcome by it all. When the trio on stage sang More Than A Woman, I was right back in 1978, a year I’ve often mentioned in this blog as it was the summer I left school and went off to work in a country house hotel with my best friend Catriona, who sadly died at age 41. By day we were jack-of-all-trades, chambermaids, laundrymaids, barmaids (yes, still called that back then) but by night we were disco divas, trying out our routines in the local nightspots. At the start of the summer we were a novelty, new girls in town, but as the summer progressed there were a few romances that we knew would go nowhere, but still made the heart flutter. One of the songs that made the heart flutter was this one. The dancing looks tame now and frankly a bit comical, but funny how 40 years on, a warm glow came over me when listening to it – More than goose-bumps, but rather an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia for simpler times.

More Than A Woman by the Bee Gees:

I know tribute acts are the source of much derision, but sometimes an evening of honest to goodness nostalgia is just what is needed, and that’s what I experienced this week. Because of the ongoing situation regarding how to pay for my mum’s care, stress levels have been running high in our house of late, but funnily enough, my evening with the pretend Bee Gees has put paid to that. Mr WIAA will be really glad he (reluctantly) agreed to come along with me.

Until next time….

I Started A Joke Lyrics
(Song by Barry Gibb/Maurice Gibb/Robin Gibb)

I started a joke, which started the whole world crying
But I didn’t see that the joke was on me, oh no

I started to cry, which started the whole world laughing
Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me

I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes
And I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I’d said

Till I finally died, which started the whole world living
Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me

I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes
And I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I’d said

‘Till I finally died, which started the whole world living
Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me

Yesterday, The Delights of Suffolk and “She’s Leaving Home”

Yesterday, I went to see Yesterday, the new Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis film where the premise is that in the blink of an eye (well, during a 12 second global power cut actually), an alternate universe has come about whereby the Beatles never existed. This being the case, no-one has ever heard any of their songs. No-one that is except a certain Jack Malik (excellently played by Himesh Patel), who during the power cut was hit by a bus and rendered unconscious for the pivotal 12 second period.

Yesterday_(2019_poster)

I have probably given too much of the plot away already for those who have not yet seen it, but needless to say, there is much comedy to be had from an alternate universe where throwaway remarks such as “will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64” are met with blank faces. The film was directed by Danny Boyle, whose films I always really enjoy, and the screenplay was by Richard Curtis whose films I also always really enjoy, so it was a no brainer I would go and see it twice, once yesterday (with Mr WIAA) and once last week (with a cinema buddy).

A strange coincidence has come about however in that I’ve spent the last week or so coming down from the high of travelling to London to meet up with my Suffolk-based blogging buddy C, and this film is set in Suffolk. I’ve spent much of the last fortnight hearing about Suffolk, eating produce from Suffolk and watching Jack and his manager Ellie travel the highways and byways of Suffolk in her little Mini Clubman. Apparently the film is already having an effect on the East Anglian tourism industry with visitors wanting to see more of this corner of the English countryside. Lowestoft here we come!

Of course with the film being set in Suffolk it made sense that local resident Ed Sheerin would put in an appearance. This was no cameo however (remember him in Game of Thrones?), he had a full blown part, and whatever you think of Ed it worked well for the whole premise of the film. With someone like Jack effortlessly coming up with songs such as Yesterday, The Long And Winding Road and In My Life, he had to admit that his songwriting crown should now transfer to this new kid on the block, or kid on the beach in this case, it being Lowestoft an’ all.

The great thing for me about this film is that it has made me fall in love with all those great Beatles songs again. I think they had almost become over-familiar to my ears so the appreciation I should have had for them left me for a while. I tried to find my copy of The Red Album last night and it’s not even downstairs amongst the vinyl, so it must be upstairs in the loft, mouldering away in some box of long-forgotten memorabilia I no longer visit. How can this have happened? It was the first album where I poured over the lyrics on the inner sleeves and could see the progression made from Love Me Do in 1963, to Eleanor Rigby in 1966. Only three years apart, yet even at age 12 I could tell the songwriting style had evolved so much.

Beatles 1

Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles:

Another Beatles song I’m going to have to include here is She’s Leaving Home, because as of this weekend, DD will be doing just that. I’ve written a post using this song before (link here) but the theme that time was of a very different nature. The years roll by however and here we are again. It’s been lovely having her back in the house for the last few weeks helping her prepare for the big move south. She hasn’t actually lived “at home” for quite a while now, but she has always been a mere ten minute drive away, so this is a very big change for both her and us. The time is right though, and we wish her all the best. The lyrics are not really relevant to our situation this time around (thankfully), but there is still a tear in my eye as I listen to them. As I said above, the film has really awakened that dormant part of my hippocampus where the Beatles songs hang out.

She’s Leaving Home by the Beatles:

For those of you who haven’t yet been to see the film, but want to, I hope I haven’t included too many spoilers. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it seems both Richard Curtis and Ed Sheerin are marmite figures around here, so it might not be your bag. A wonderful thing however to imagine a world where we are just hearing all those great songs for the first time. As soon as I get the chance, I will fight my way through the contents of my loft (now added to somewhat, in light of DD’s pared down move south) in order to seek out “The Red Album” and enjoy pouring over those lyric-strewn red inner sleeves, second time around.

Until next time….

She’s Leaving Home Lyrics
(Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

Wednesday morning at five o’clock as the day begins
Silently closing her bedroom door
Leaving the note that she hope would say more
She goes downstairs to the kitchen clutching her handkerchief
Quietly turning the backdoor key
Stepping outside she is free

She (We gave her most of our lives)
Is leaving (Sacrificed most of our lives)
Home (We gave her everything money could buy)
She’s leaving home after living alone for so many years. Bye, bye

Father snores as his wife gets into the dressing gown
Picks up the letter that’s lying there
Standing alone at the top of the stairs
She breaks down and cries to her husband
Daddy, our baby’s gone
Why would she treat us so thoughtlessly
How could she do this to me

She (We never thought of ourselves)
Is leaving (Never a thought for ourselves)
Home (We gave her everything money could buy)
She’s leaving home after living alone for so many years. Bye, bye

Friday morning at nine o’clock she is far away
Waiting to keep the appointment she made
Meeting a man from a motor trade

She (What did we do that was wrong)
Is having (We didn’t know it was wrong)
Fun (Fun is the one thing that money can’t buy)

Something inside that was always denied for so many years
She’s leaving home, bye, bye

Postscript:

Anyone reading the comments boxes will spot that I wrongly labelled this place as Lowestoft (where the film is set) when I first pressed the publish button – It was quickly pointed out by TS that it’s actually Southwold. Duly corrected.

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Southwold beach

Earworm of the Week #1 – Motown Supergroups and “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”

In my last post I mentioned that I now had 83 ideas backing up in my list of “posts pending” and needed some help in making inroads. C from Sun-Dried Sparrows stepped up to the plate and randomly picked no. 63. That turned out to be an idea added only last week (as this list is in spreadsheet form and is sorted by category then alphabetically). It was also potentially going to kick start a new series called Earworm of the Week.

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We all know what an earworm is – That catchy piece of music that continually repeats in your head long after you’ve heard it, and apparently a calque (a word or phrase borrowed from another language via a literal word-for-word translation) from the German Ohrwurm. Two weeks ago my Earworm of the Week was Tony Christie’s Avenues and Alleyways, but the moment passed for me to write about it, despite having done the research (the theme tune to the TV show The Protectors I discovered). This last week, the earworm was I’m Gonna Make You Love Me by Diana Ross & The Supremes and The Temptations.

Not sure if this part of the song is the “hook”, if fact I’m pretty sure it’s not, but the line that keeps going round and round in my head is this one:

“I’m gonna use every trick in the book”

Having studied such things as part of my course this last year, poets and lyric writers make great use of the sound patterning of words, and both trick and book end with the hard letter k, which means that line exhibits the sound pattern called consonance. Perhaps that’s why it has really taken hold this last week. Whatever, lets have a listen to the whole song, a wonderful example of what can happen when two of Motown’s top groups get together for a recording. The song was incidentally written not by Holland-Dozier-Holland in this case, but by that wonderful team Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff who went on to form Philadelphia International Records as a rival to Berry Gordy’s Motown.

I’m Gonna Make You Love Me by Diana Ross & The Supremes and The Temptations:

The song peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100 in the United States and at No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart in January 1969. Putting those two groups together was a masterstroke, but long delayed, as they had known each other since their Detroit school days. The Supremes were originally called the The Primettes, the sister group to a singing group known as The Primes formed by Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks who would go on to become The Temptations. As a Motown supergroup however, the name is a tad cumbersome what with the word “and” featuring twice. At least one is an ampersand, but still, a bit of a mouthful.

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Gamble and Huff

From experience, earworms don’t usually last longer than a week, which is fortunate as although this is a fairly pleasurable one, they can be really annoying. Around the time of the Eurovision Song Contest it’s important to avoid catching the 1981 winner Making Your Mind Up by Bucks Fizz on the radio, as once it’s in there, impossible to budge.

So, “What’s It All About?” – My long list of ideas is going to take a fair while to eat into, as it keeps being added to at a faster rate than I can keep up. I think I can knock two ideas off the list now though, as poor old Tony Christie doesn’t look as if he’s going to be written about now, although a shame, as I had no idea he’d had such a long and interesting career, continually reinventing himself. I had also assumed when I was young that he was American, as he always seemed to sing about places in the US such as Amarillo. Not so, he was a product of the Working Men’s Clubs of the North of England and lived most of his life in Sheffield.

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Tony Christie – Still going strong

Thanks C for the prompt. Happy to oblige if anyone else wants to throw me a few numbers between 1 and 81? You can take the number cruncher out of the workplace, but you can’t take the number crunching out of the girl!

Until next time….

I’m Gonna Make You Love Me Lyrics
(Song by Kenny Gamble/Leon Huff/Jerry Ross)

I’m gonna do all the things for you, a girl wants a man to do.
Oh, baby (Oh, baby)
I’ll sacrifice for you, I’ll even do wrong for you.
Oh, baby (Oh, baby)

Every minute, every hour.
I’m gonna shower you with love and affection.
Look out it’s coming in your direction.
And I’m… I’m gonna make you love me.
Oh, yes I will.
Yes I will.
I’m gonna make you love me.
Oh, yes I will.
Yes I will.

Look it here.
My love is strong, you see.
I know you’ll never get tired of me.
Oh, baby (She’ won’t) (Oh baby)
And I’m gonna use every trick in the book.
I’ll try my best to get you hooked.
Hey, baby (Take me I’m yours) (Hey, baby)

And every night, every day.
I’m gonna say.
I’m gonna get you, I’m gonna get you.
Look out boy, ’cause I’m gonna get you.

I’m gonna make you love me.
Ooo, yes I will.
Yes I will.
And I’m gonna make you love me.
Ooo, yes I will
You know I will.

Every breathe I take.
And each and every step I make.
Brings me closer, baby.
Closer to you.

And with each beat of my heart.
For every day we are apart.
I’ll hunger for every wasted hour.

And every night and every day.
I’m gonna get you, I’m gonna get you.
Look out ’cause I’m gonna get you.

And I’m gonna make…
I’m gonna make you love me.
Oh, oh. (Yes I will)
I’m gonna make you love me.
Ooo, yes I will. Yes I will.
I’m gonna make you love me.
Yes I will. (Yes I will)
Ooo, I’m gonna make you love me.
Yes I will.
Yes I will.

Janis Ian, “At Seventeen” and The Fate of the Ugly Duckling

One of the pitfalls of writing a bit of an “uncool” post around here, is that for the next few days, the title appears in all its glory on the sidebars of the blogs whose hosts have been kind enough to create a link to our own. My last post was a “moon-related” one, as the March full moon appeared in our skies on Wednesday night. Although I love all those old movie songs sung by people like Doris Day, they are not the staple of the blogging community, so best to move on to another a featured song perhaps.

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As I am heading off shortly to meet a cousin who only in the last few years returned to live in Scotland after over 40 years of living abroad, the song I’m going to chose is Janis Ian’s heart-rending At Seventeen. Having just referred to the long list of “posts pending” in my trusted blogging notebook (which hasn’t been referred to for quite some time as it turns out), it was the most obvious choice, as the aforementioned cousin set sail for a new life in South Africa at that very age, 17. I was a mere 13-year-old back then, so she seemed really grown up to me, and ready for it, but looking back that was a really brave thing to do. She was going to live with an aunt and uncle for a start, so not totally entering the unknown, but back in the early 1970s the world was a much bigger place, and for most of the next 40 years all we exchanged was the occasional letter.

But back to Janis’ song. In 1970s Scotland, most 17-year-old girls were not doing brave things like leaving their families to head off for a new life on the other side of the world. Oh no, most of us were instead having massive crises of confidence, and having our hearts broken, just like the girl in this song.

At Seventeen by Janis Ian:

The song was a big hit for Janis in the US in 1975, and although it never appeared in the UK charts, it soon became a staple of the airwaves. The song is about a girl who is somewhat of a social outcast in high school, and so it became a kind of anthem. She was inspired to write the single after reading a newspaper article about a young woman who believed her life would improve after a debutante ball, and her subsequent disappointment when it did not.

All these years later nothing has changed, and with social media to muddy the waters, if anything, things have got worse. I remember the year my daughter and her friends turned 17 and were experiencing the kind of anxieties as recounted in the song. I got them to listen to this song, as I think it summed up how they were feeling. Many nights were spent bemoaning the fact they were not one of The Populars, that group of girls with “clear skinned smiles” who always seem to get the boy.

I would argue that my daughter and her friends may well have been the ugly ducklings at school, but a few years on, they have now emerged as swans (but I would say that wouldn’t I). Janis Ian herself was even quoted as saying: “To me it’s never been a depressing song. It says ‘ugly duckling girls like me,’ and to me the ugly duckling always turns into a swan. It offers hope that there is a world out there of people who understand.”

Before I go, I feel I should add this second version of the more mature Janis perform the song. In a lovely preamble she tells the audience how blessed she feels that she has written a song that truly resonates with so many people, from all genders, races and cultures. One song, one time, that touches everyone who hears it, and they make it their own – Has made it a life worth living.

Until next time….

At Seventeen Lyrics
(Song by Janis Ian)

I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired
The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth

And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone
Who called to say come dance with me
And murmured vague obscenities
It isn’t all it seems
At seventeen

A brown eyed girl in hand me downs
Whose name I never could pronounce
Said, “Pity please the ones who serve,
They only get what they deserve”
The rich relationed hometown queen
Marries into what she needs
With a guarantee of company
And haven for the elderly

Remember those who win the game
Lose the love they sought to gain
In debentures of quality
And dubious integrity
Their small town eyes will gape at you
In dull surprise when payment due
Exceeds accounts received
At seventeen

To those of us who know the pain
Of valentines that never came
And those whose names were never called
When choosing sides for basketball
It was long ago and far away
The world was younger than today
And dreams were all they gave for free
To ugly duckling girls like me

We all play the game and when we dare
To cheat ourselves at solitaire
Inventing lovers on the phone
Repenting other lives unknown
That call and say, come dance with me
And murmur vague obscenities
At ugly girls like me
At seventeen

Postscript:

Incidentally, the reason this song appeared on the “posts pending” section of my blogging notebook in the first place, was because it very aptly put in an appearance on the soundtrack of the excellent but very dark comedy-drama The End of the F***ing World, which Mr WIAA and myself binge-watched in one evening last year. The episodes were all under half an hour in length so although we are not usually prone to such behaviour we got hooked in and just kept going.

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The song At Seventeen was an obvious contender for the show as the storyline follows James, a 17-year-old who believes himself to be a psychopath, and Alyssa, his rebellious classmate. We watched it on Netflix but I think it can be found elsewhere too. I hear a second series is due to come out later on this year – One to look out for.

Celestial Phenomena, case/lang/veirs and “Supermoon”

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

Well, it’s that time of the month again – Yes, it’s time for the full moon to make an appearance in our skies, and this month it’s going to be a supermoon. When the moon is at perigee (coming as close to the earth as is possible), it looks disproportionally bigger and brighter, which can make it quite spectacular. Just to complicate things further, this month it will also be a blood moon, as the earth will line up with the sun creating a lunar eclipse.

If you live in the UK, you’ll have to be up at the crack of dawn on Monday the 21st to catch a glimpse, but I’m hopeful that both my alarm, and the clouds, won’t let me down. So far in this series I’ve not had much luck at spotting a lunar eclipse, but perhaps this time I’ll be lucky.

eclipse-2019-super-blood-moon-last-total-lunar-eclipse-2021-1693095And here is why I’ve had to continue with this series into another year. Although I covered 13 full moons last year, there were still many great songs left over which hadn’t been used yet. I discovered this next song song when watching the BBC documentary called Wonders of the Moon which aired just after that trio of supermoons appeared in the skies last year. The makers used all the usual suspects as background music for the show (most of them already having been covered here), but one song was new to me, and I kind of fell in love with it. It took a bit of effort but I later discovered it was by female supergroup case/lang/veirs, and was called Supermoon.

Supermoon by case/lang/veirs:

Although case/lang/veirs sound as if they should be a firm of solicitors or accountants, they were the Canadian-American supergroup made up of k.d. lang, Neko Case and Laura Veirs. I had of course heard of k.d. lang before (it seems she likes to use lower case for her moniker), and I have always liked her music, but I hadn’t heard of the other two members of the group before. They apparently formed in 2013 when Lang invited Case and Veirs to join her on a project. She had been considering retirement, but before that happened she wanted to be part of a band, a real collaborative effort. The group released their eponymous album in June 2016 and it apparently received “ecstatic reviews”. It was of an alt-country persuasion and used natural imagery. One of the songs on this album was Supermoon.

As for the ancient name for this month’s supermoon, January is usually the month of the Wolf Moon (link to last year’s post here), as it used to appear in the sky when the wolves were howling in hunger outside the villages. But for this series I’m using the alternate name, which this time can either be the Moon After Yule or the Old Moon. Because of the way it fell in December, we’ve actually had a full moon since Yule already, so The Old Moon it will have to be.

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Alternate names for my 2019 series

Above is a chart of all the alternate names I’ll be using for the series this year. As ever, if anyone has a cracking moon-related song that could fit any of the names, feel free to offer it up as a suggestion. I do like writing to order, which I think is unusual, but I like the challenge of it all. Quite a few good prompts here, although mainly weather or food & drink related it seems – Could get interesting!

Until next time….

Supermoon Lyrics
(Neko Case/k.d. Lang/Laura Veirs) 

Supermoon
Where all the diamond deals are made
We never used to live this long
We’re pioneers my dear press on, move along

And if my smile
Seems painted on once in awhile
I can count on you
To notice and to take me out

Would you like to start a river
And ride it like a painted carousel
Our life savings aren’t enough
Have to lobby hard and make it up
Make it up

Supermoon
We never used to live this long
We’re pioneers my dear
Pioneers we’re pressing on, move along
And if my smile
Seems straight as the Tropic of Cancer it’s because
Nature isn’t magic it’s just a mystery to us

Would you like to start a river
And ride it like a painted carousel
Our life savings aren’t enough
Have to lobby hard and make it up
Make it up

Tell me if you feel it
And we’ll mine it to reveal it
From the dams up to the turbines

Tell me if you feel it
And we’ll mine it to reveal it
From the dams up to the turbines
They’re running much too hot
Too many

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

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

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

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

Originally published November 2016

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

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One of Elton’s outrageous outfits!

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

Your Song by Elton John:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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