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 try 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

The Autumnal Equinox, Neil Young and “Harvest Moon”

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, there could really only be one featured song for this month – Neil Young’s Harvest Moon. Having said that, the Harvest Moon can occur in either September or October, as it’s the name given to the full moon that lands closest to the autumnal equinox. This year we reached the equinox, that pivot point in the year after which we can expect more hours of darkness than light in our days, on Sunday the 23rd Sept. Had it not landed that way, it would have been called the Corn Moon, but no great songs as far as I am aware about corn (unless you know differently), so I’m mighty glad it’s worked out this way.

220px-Harvest_Moon_singleFor the Native Americans, this was the month when corn was supposed to be harvested. Also, due to a highly scientific quirk relating to orbital distances and other complex laws of physics, at the peak of the harvest farmers can work late into the night, as this moon rises at nearly the same time every evening giving them all that extra light. Fortunately I have no harvesting to be done, because for the second month in a row, there seems to be total cloud cover around the time of the full moon. I am still hoping for a miracle tomorrow night but not counting my chickens. (Wonder if the Native Americans also did that by the light of this brilliant Harvest Moon.)

But back to Neil’s wonderful song. I do have a couple of Neil Young anecdotes in my back pocket, but I don’t think this is the time or place to share them. Instead I just want to listen to the beautiful sound of his voice, those soft brush strokes, and the steel guitars.

Harvest Moon by Neil Young:

Something that surprised me when doing a modicum of research for this post was that the album “Harvest Moon” was released in 1992. I always associate Neil Young with a much earlier time, and although I recognised this song, I had never thought of it as being attached to the 1990s. That said, the year 1992 was an incredibly busy one for me, as in a five month period I got engaged, sold my flat, bought a house, organised a wedding and got myself betrothed…, so I probably wasn’t keeping up with any new album releases.

Listening to the song Harvest Moon, it is however perfect for a couple like us who have now been married for nearly 26 years. It was written as a tribute to Neil’s wife Pegi, and seems to celebrate longevity in relationships. Had we not lived in the North of Scotland, I think I might have suggested to Mr WIAA that we go dancin’ where the music’s playin’ tonight, but sadly it’s really cold out there, so a mug of cocoa and a boxset it’ll have to be instead. Easy to take each other forgranted once you’ve been together a long, long… time, but listening to this song reminds me that…, well, we really shouldn’t. Enough said.

…. there’s a full moon risin’
Let’s go dancin’ in the light
We know where the music’s playin’
Let’s go out and feel the night

Because I’m still in love with you
I want to see you dance again
Because I’m still in love with you
On this harvest moon

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The moon seems to be a big deal to Neil Young as it turns up in 28 of his songs. He uses it to guide him and is apparently more likely to take on a project if it coincides with a full moon. In a 2005 interview he explained: “Before there was organized religion, there was the moon. The Indians knew about the moon. Pagans followed the moon. I’ve followed it for as long as I can remember, and that’s just my religion. I’m not a practicing anything, I don’t have a book that I have to read. It can be dangerous working in a full moon atmosphere, because if there are things that are going to go wrong, they can really go wrong. But that’s great, especially for rock ‘n’ roll.”

I must admit, this moon series has been my favourite so far, and I would agree with a lot of what Neil says there. I really hope we do get to see the full moon on Tuesday night as I’m starting to get withdrawal symptoms, having missed out on last month’s lunar eclipse entirely and this month I seem to be dogged by cloud cover. If we do, I’m sure my friend with the all singing, all dancing camera will capture it perfectly. Cross fingers he does.

Until next time….

Harvest Moon Lyrics
(Song by Neil Young)

Come a little bit closer
Hear what I have to say
Just like children sleepin’
We could dream this night away.

But there’s a full moon risin’
Let’s go dancin’ in the light
We know where the music’s playin’
Let’s go out and feel the night.

Because I’m still in love with you
I want to see you dance again
Because I’m still in love with you
On this harvest moon.

When we were strangers
I watched you from afar
When we were lovers
I loved you with all my heart.

But now it’s gettin’ late
And the moon is climbin’ high
I want to celebrate
See it shinin’ in your eye.

Because I’m still in love with you
I want to see you dance again
Because I’m still in love with you
On this harvest moon.

The Kingdom of Fife, James Yorkston and “Woozy With Cider”

A few weeks ago, right at the end of my Seven in Seven challenge, I threw down the gauntlet and asked followers to come up with ideas for future posts. Whenever I’ve done this in the past it’s been quite easy to come up with something reasonably entertaining, as a fairly mainstream song has been suggested. This time…., not quite so easy. This third reply post was always going to be tricky, as I hadn’t actually heard of the artist or song when it was first suggested by Mr Medd, whose Are We There Yet? blog is one I visit often. My proviso for this challenge was that I had to have heard of the artist, so by rights I could have wriggled out of it, but that would be a bit lame so here goes:

Woozy With Cider by James Yorkston:

Woozy With Cider was recorded by singer/songwriter James Yorkston in 2007. It’s a spoken word kind of affair and apparently falls into the electronic/folk rock camp. As I said above, both James and his “song” were new to me, so before hitting the keyboard I was going to have to do a bit of serious listening. Lots of imagery in this song but what comes across loud and clear is that Mr Yorkston is neither a fan of big cities nor city folk and their sometimes patronising attitude towards those of a more countrified nature. He kind of yearns to be back in the place he feels most comfortable, “a village the size of a teacup”. There has been a wedding though (oh no, another wedding post – I can’t get away from them), which is the reason for the trip to the big smoke, but it is now the day after where there is time for reflection, relaxation and just enough cider to cause a bit of “wooziness”.

I really liked this spoken word song right from the off, and I think I worked out why pretty early on. Once I’d done a bit of research into James Yorkston, I discovered he came from the Kingdom of Fife in Scotland, which is a peninsula situated between the Firth of Tay and Firth of Forth (and home to the ancient Pictish kings). He became part of something called the Fence Collective set up by Kenny Anderson (aka King Creosote) where a group of Fife-based musicians got together and released music on their own record label with little more than a CD burner and the use of a local bar’s unused “back room”.

Looking at a map of Fife it looks remarkably like the Black Isle peninsula where I reside. From experience, these are beautiful places to live – Great scenery (water on three sides), picturesque villages, clean air and not too many people or cars. Like James, I would find life in a big city nowadays nigh impossible and find the best mix for me is kind of what is implied in the first line of the lyrics, “I hear you softly sleep amongst the cars and saluting songbirds”. It is now evening and the sound of the traffic has died down so the birds can be heard in equal measure. That’s my ideal – To be near enough civilisation to hear the sound of cars in the distance, but also to be able to hear the sound of birds (as I type I am listening to a hooting owl). It’s not for me the cacophony of city life with only the odd squawking seagull – I know where I’m supposed to “be” and like James Yorkston, I very fortuitously found it when I was relatively young, in my late twenties.

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black isle

So, I only found out about James Yorkston when the suggestion for this post came in but since then I have been bombarded by references to Fife and Fence Records. There is a name for this phenomenon (more than just coincidence) which currently eludes me, but we all experience it from time to time – In our house, whenever it happens it’s always accompanied by a quick burst of the Twilight Zone music.

First of all, as per my previous post, we ended up having a spontaneous wee break last week in the city of Dundee, which is just on the other side of the Tay Bridge from Fife. It was a no brainer therefore that we would head across for a visit. By this time I knew all about the Fence Collective based in the East Neuk of Fife, so what better place to visit in order to get “woozy with cider”?

Secondly, a couple of night’s ago I caught the final episode of the BBC2 documentary series Rip It Up which was ostensibly about how Scots have had to overcome obstacles, and blaze a trail, in order to make the music they love. This episode featured those independent labels such as Fence Records who decided to follow a different path and not head to London, but to remain in Scotland and be inspired by their surroundings – They would make music primarily for the love of it and not just to make lots of money. We even had a lengthy interview with Mr Yorkston (whom I warmed to greatly) and I’ll no doubt look out for him now that I know the background to his, and the Collective’s, aims.

Before I go, here is something I found when trying to find out a bit more about the man. It was from an interview he gave after having written his second book (yes it seems he’s multi-talented, also being an author – not jealous honest, grrr…).

Interviewer: James, what’s your guiltiest music pleasure?

James: I think I’ve grown out of that stuff now. When I was a kid, I was very much involved in genre, so I’d only like punk rock or dub reggae, say. Fortunately, as I’ve aged, I’ve thrown off such daft shackles and I no longer feel guilty about anything I like. I feel guiltier disliking things, especially if it’s music by people who I like as people. Guilty Music Displeasure, perhaps.

A great place to end, as since starting this blog I have had massive crises of confidence after writing about songs from my collection that others may well class as “a guilty pleasure”. I know everyone is usually very kind about it, but when James Yorkston also comes out and admits to now feeling more guilty about disliking music, I think I’m ok.

Until next time…

Woozy with Cider Lyrics
(Song by James Yorkston)

I watch the park quieten from the hotel window, I hear you softly sleep amongst the cars and saluting songbirds,
For a city whose size had scared me for years right now it’s a feeble evening row, not un-similar to a beach evening ending.
On the table to my left there’s a magazine with a picture of dead money, making a mockery of what I’d call art
But what would I know about the scene in the city that has swallowed up friends lovers and family,
Just give me a village the size of a teacup

You’re happier here spread out with your eyes closed,
I feel I should order a drink in celebration to welcome the summer, whose first day is ending
Should you wake you’d catch me of course and ask me the wisdom of drinking once more
I cast my mind back to yesterdays wedding where we got drunk and fell over
I did my best to be polite to a family I’d never met, but on numerous occasions, I guess, I could have tried harder
Of course by the end of the night I was a best friend with everyone and every ones wife but right now I couldn’t remember their names no matter how hard I try

As the sun glares through the hotel window I wonder of our future and where it will lead to,
I wonder if you’ll be laying there 10 years 20 years 30 years down the line
I’ll still be staring out at the street confused about love and life,
It’ll be interesting to see if anyone every bought those songs of mine if anyone heard those words that I never got quite right,
I think I can be honest in presuming the world is not exactly going to be leaping out of its bed to make me rich using my songs in adverts selling oranges or lemons

Who knows I may end up owning the whole street, or more likely sleeping under tree in the park opposite
Would the runners keep me awake or would I keep them asleep
I’d hope I have the sense to move back home, as lovely as today is, I‘d imagine the winter would be rather cold

I’d been told for years that the devil had the best tunes and that the devil lived down here whereas us country folk weren’t worth the salt from the road
Ex pat magazine editors who choose to loose their temper on the easily persuaded northern town dwellers
And sure enough 99 percent of the people I meet have scant regard for entertaining me, it seems I’m too old too slow too quiet and just wrong
And I’m glad. In their cocaine fuelled electronic cabarets I’ll be the man at the bar drinking overpriced whiskey from a bar maid who’s too good to catch my eye
She only works here two nights a week, the rest of the time she’s a singer in a rock and roll band
I bet she’d change her tune if I told her my album had peaked at number 172 and that I also had friends who worked in bars and that didn’t define who they are
Though it certainly helps their capacity to drink.

But I’ve strayed off the subject
Now I’ll be leaning over and waking you up, and you’ll squint at me through the cracks between your eyelids, woozy with cider
As if you’re asking exactly where we are and exactly what I wanted.
And I’ll be happy because we won’t be taking anything too seriously.

An Awfully Serious Post, Boz Scaggs and “We’re All Alone”

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week. Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, this year’s focus was on stress. Research has shown that two thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes, and stress is a key factor in this.

MHF

Here in the Highlands we have had an epidemic of young men taking their own lives – In one case two best friends committed suicide within days of each other, and in response one of their uncles set up a local helpline, hoping to reach out to other young men who may also be vulnerable. Darling daughter has many friends who have suffered from mental health problems over the years, and even today, because of chronic stress at her workplace, she is going to hand in a letter of resignation. Something has gone horribly wrong along the way. The government tell us that more people are in work than ever before, but these jobs do not offer the security and support that we used to associate with the world of employment.

So, last year I threw in the towel, and this year it is to be DD. Unlike me she does have a plan however so I am hopeful all will turn out well for her in the end. Until my ongoing parental care situation is resolved (after four months we are still on a waiting list to get the official diagnosis) I am in limbo, unable to commit to anything other than helping out with our online business and boring old domestic stuff. It’s a lonely life, especially as the other half isn’t around much any more, having had to pick up on the bread-winning side of things.

By my own admission I spend far too much time in a day sitting in front of a computer screen and too many hours can slip by, falling down that rabbit hole – The Web was essentially designed to function in this way because of how the hyperlinks work, but boy can it steal your time to no purposeful end. Facebook was something I had all but abandoned after discovering blogging, but of late I have taken to carrying out a daily browse, finding out what my friends and family are sharing. The other week, the awful news came through that Scott Hutchison of the Scottish Indie band Frightened Rabbit, who had been missing for several days, had been found dead. He had taken his own life. Despite having helped so many others through dark times, telling them “they were not alone”, when it came down to it, he was indeed alone.

Many of my Facebook “Friends” offered condolences – They had been big fans of Scott’s music so were understandably saddened by this news. Many added the hashtag, #youarenotalone which I took to be the offer of a helping hand to those who might be in need. An opportunity to test the water I thought, so I put together a short post along these lines: “Like most of us, I am constantly in awe of the dazzling lives my Facebook friends seem to lead. I am also fully aware that life is not quite as dazzling as portrayed, all the time. As someone who is currently working from home/looking after a parent with dementia, I miss the buzz of meeting lots of people every day – If any of my FB friends are in a similar position please feel free to PM me as you might have a few ideas on how to both fit everything in, but still have “real life” people to connect with. A First World problem I know, and not complaining, but just thought I’d throw it out there!”

Needless to say, this post led to a tumbleweed moment. A few acquaintances “liked” it but I don’t think they had actually read the words, and were just liking the pretty picture of some cherry blossom I had added to take the edge off the sombreness of the post. I had suspected however that this would be the case, as at the end of the day, most of us don’t want to be “brought down” by other people’s troubles. I myself have been very wary over the years of DD getting too involved with kids who have mental health issues – It’s not contagious but it can impact on their lives, spectacularly so, like the two best friends mentioned in my opening paragraph. Sad but true.

Another water-testing moment came along last week when a get-together with old friends was organised, the kind of friends who all lead the kind of dazzling lives I mentioned in my FB post. This time I decided we would turn in the performance of a lifetime – We would be bubbly, joyful and interested in all their adventures. No mention would be made of parents with health issues, offspring with career dilemmas or money worries, and of course it worked a treat. The night was great fun and the conversation flowed freely, but of course it was all an act, and the next day I went back to being a bit sad and lonely….

Was Mental Health Awareness Week a success? I’m not sure, but I do know that my little experiments did confirm what I have long suspected – At times of crisis, those who have previously maintained they would always be there if we needed them, were suddenly found wanting. People are busy, and have their own troubles. Fortunately for me, my situation is a cause and effect one, and once things start happening in terms of getting professional help, life should get a bit less lonely.

But this is supposed to be a music blog, and so far not much music around here today. I had a lot I wanted to say however and sometimes our blogs provide the perfect forum, us being essentially anonymous after all. Not looking for comments here, but just glad I got my thoughts down – I wish it wasn’t the case, but at the end of the day I think We’re All Alone, (courtesy of Mr Boz Scaggs).

We’re All Alone by Boz Scaggs:

We’re All Alone Lyrics
(Song by Boz Scaggs)

Outside the rain begins
And it may never end
So cry no more
On the shore of dreams
Will take us out to sea
Forever more, forever more

Close your eyes and dream
And you can be with me
‘Neath the waves
Through the caves of hours
Long forgotten now
We’re all alone
We’re all alone

Close the window
Come alive
Honey, we’ll be alright
No need to bother now
Let it out
Let it all begin
Learn how to pretend

Once the story’s told
You can’t help but grow old
Roses do
Lovers too
So cast your seasons to the winds
And hold me dear
Oh, hold me dear

Close the window
Come alive
And it will be alright
No need to bother now
Let it out
Let it all begin
All’s forgotten now
We’re all alone
We’re all alone