Dusty Springfield, “The Look of Love” and Late ’60s Movies

I’ve decided that I might as well rename this blog A Nostalgic Journey Through the Works of Burt Bacharach, January to December 1967, as yet again I have found myself troubled by a pesky earworm from that year. All day yesterday I had the first few lines of The Look of Love by Dusty Springfield going round and round in my head but wasn’t sure where it had come from. I was pretty sure I hadn’t heard it on the radio or on television but here I was yet again revisiting my seemingly favourite year and favourite composer.

dustyspringfield_thelookofloveThe Look of Love, by Burt Bacharach and Hal David featured in the 1967 spoof James Bond film Casino Royale. Here is the scene in the movie where it appears and between Dusty’s husky vocals, the slow motion filming and the saxophone playing, Peter Sellers looks as if he is in for quite a time with Ursula Andress (the original Bond girl – Honey Ryder).

The Look of Love by Dusty Springfield:

Of all the songs featured in this blog, 1967 is the year I seem to keep coming back to and after thinking about it a bit more I have come up with a few reasons as to why that might be happening.

First of all I was only six at the start of ’67, so most of my personal musical memories are from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s (post turn-of-the-millennium is still classed as “new” music for me). My point is, there are many songs from the ’60s that are still fresh for me, as I haven’t yet reached the tipping point of having heard them just once too often. (Sadly the exception to that rule is now the song Alfie – After undertaking this project I hope I never, ever, have to listen to it again.)

Secondly, when you are six (just like in the world of A.A. Milne) you have no exam, work, money or relationship worries, so none of the songs from that era conjure up any unpleasant memories. If you were lucky like me and came from a stable family where you were loved and taken care of, life was sweet – The days of teenage angst were far off in the future.

Thirdly (is that even a word), the radio stations I now listen to (briefly in the morning when I get up, and when in the car) generally play older music so I am much more likely to hear something by Burt Bacharach than by Tame Impala in the course of the day, setting off one of those pesky earworms (although to be fair not pesky in the case of this song, more pleasurable).

Fourth, I am truly amazed at the sheer number of musical sub-genres, and in the last couple of weeks alone I have covered songs from the sunshine pop, baroque pop and champagne soul camps. Burt’s music was apparently from the orchestral pop camp and of the many sub-genres out there, I think this is the one I warm to most. In the late ’60s plenty of other arrangers and producers were championing this style of music such as George Martin, Brian Wilson and John Barry (of Bond theme fame) so lots of great stuff to listen to.

 

And finally, the big one, in my youth I absolutely loved old ’60s movies like Casino Royale shown in the clip. There is a delay of a few years before films made for the big screen can be shown on television and I am guessing that this one, and the non-spoof Cubby Broccoli Bond movie You Only Live Twice, first made an appearance on British television in the early ’70s. Perhaps all was hunky dory where you lived but my memory of early ’70s Britain is that things were a bit grim and depressing. We had economic and political unrest, three-day weeks and power cuts. The clothes were all droopy (midi/maxi skirts and flared trousers) and came in a variety of shades of brown and beige. Compare all that to the brilliant colours and exotic locations shown in those comedic, technicolor movies from the ’60s and I know which era I wanted to live in, albeit vicariously.

 

It is no coincidence that Peter Sellers popped up in the clip for The Look of Love – His output was prolific around that time and he had already starred in What’s New Pussycat? in 1965 and After The Fox in 1966, both films having title songs written by Bacharach and David. There can’t be many people who wouldn’t recognise Tom Jones’ version of What’s New Pussycat? but despite the fact that After The Fox by The Hollies (featuring Peter Sellers) is lesser known, it has now become one of my favourite Burt songs from that period. Again, when you listen to it, you just remember all those great films that usually had very funny cartoonised opening sequences and colourful movie posters designed by Frank Frazetta.

After The Fox by The Hollies (featuring Peter Sellers):

So, “What’s It All About?” – After writing this post, I worked out how the song The Look Of Love became an earworm yesterday. It turns out that it is being used in a new advert for tinned soup! That’s another song ruined then, as from now on it won’t be associated with the husky sounds of Dusty Springfield, it will be associated with tinned tomato.

I wrote a while back about how advertising companies have worked out that if they use music from the era their target market turned 16, they will be putty in their hands and mindlessly buy anything on offer. In the case of this song, it looks as if all those recent retirees aged around 65 who eschew spending a fortune on designer soup in cartons, are about to have a purchasing frenzy, buying up all their favourite tinned soups from their youth. (Oxtail anyone? No me neither.)

Very clever marketing The Heinz Corporation, but for me, they have just ruined another classic song from the ’60s…… for all of us.

The Look of Love Lyrics
(Song by Burt Bacharach/Hal David)

The look of love
Is in your eyes
The look your smile can’t disguise
The look of love
Is saying so much more
Than just words could ever say
And what my heart has heard
Well it takes my breath away

I can hardly wait to hold you
Feel my arms around you
How long I have waited
Waited just to love you
Now that I have found you

You’ve got the look of love
It’s on your face
A look that time can’t erase
Be mine tonight
Let this be just the start
Of so many nights like this
Let’s take a lover’s vow
And then seal it with a kiss

I can hardly wait to hold you
Feel my arms around you
How long I have waited
Waited just to love you
Now that I have found you
Don’t ever go

I can hardly wait to hold you
Feel my arms around you
How long I have waited
Waited just to love you
Now that I have found you
Don’t ever go
Don’t ever go
I love you so

Warm Winds, Burt Bacharach and “A House Is Not A Home”

Ahead of the onset of autumn, my plan for the weekend was, (perhaps foolishly, this being the north of Scotland) to organise an outdoors get-together for some good friends. Ever since writing about the England Dan & John Ford Coley song I’d Really Love To See You Tonight earlier in the year, I’ve been a tad obsessed with trying to recreate the ambiance it conjures up (there’s a warm wind blowing the stars around). This being Scotland it was never going to be easy as to see the stars it has to be dark, and earlier in the summer it barely gets dark at all. So, it really had to be right at the end of the season which meant there would be no warm winds, but if a fire was present at least there would be warmth. Other than a short shower of rain, when we conveniently decanted inside to eat, we were able to sit outside until midnight and although not many stars visible last night there was a lovely half-moon, so really pleased with my efforts.

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Late summer in Scotland – waiting for the guests to arrive!

Another real treat was that I took my new portable turntable outside which meant rifling through the old vinyl from back in the day. Rediscovered a lot of records I had forgotten about that have not been replaced in digital format, so a real added bonus to the evening. After writing about Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head recently, and how the scene where it appears in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid contains most of the ingredients I consider important for creating “the perfect day”, last night’s get-together contained most of the ingredients for the “perfect evening”.

You would think that would have been enough for one evening but no, after the guests left and some tidying up had been done, we discovered a wonderful show on BBC4 called Burt Bacharach, A Life In Song. Anyone familiar with this blog will know that I’m a great fan of Burt’s music and especially the songs he wrote with Hal David. This show had been filmed three years ago when Burt was 85 and although it was sad to see him looking so frail and aged, he still rose to the challenge of leading his orchestra and guest singers in a celebration of his music.

It was one of those shows where between the songs, Burt was interviewed by Michael Grade, who quizzed him on all aspects of his very lengthy career. What I found really interesting was that near the end, Michael asked Burt what his favourite song was and it turned out to be Alfie – This was obviously a pleasant surprise. Sadly, because I think I’ve listened to the song once too often this year, I have now become a bit tired of it but it was interesting to note that Burt chose it because he considered Hal’s lyrics to be “important”. A few months back I came to this conclusion also. There are earlier important lyrics in the song but near the end there are the lines:

I believe in love, Alfie
Without true love we just exist, Alfie
Until you find the love you’ve missed
You’re nothing, Alfie

Early on in this process of looking back nostalgically via song, it became apparent that “What’s it all about?” was indeed love – First for our family as children, then for our best friends as teenagers and finally for the people we form relationships with on the way to finding that special person. If you are lucky enough to have children, that is perhaps the greatest love of all and one from which you have no escape, although your patience may be tested at times. There is the old adage that nobody on their deathbed has ever said “I wish I’d spent more time at the office”- It is all about the people you meet on the way. In music and song, the subject of love is never far away, and what a wonderful thing to have in the world (I’m in tears here).

Of course there are many versions of the song Alfie (and it ended up being the Cher version used for the film) but when pressed, Burt very carefully sidestepped the issue of which one he preferred. He did however refer to the now infamous footage of Cilla Black being harangued into recording 41 versions, which suggests it wasn’t her one!

Alfie by Cilla Black:

But back to the show – When Burt was then asked what his second favourite song was, it turned out to be A House Is Not A Home. This show just kept getting better and better because earlier that evening, when getting ready for the party, I had thanked my lucky stars that due to circumstance we very much reside in a lived-in home as opposed to a show-house. I know that is not really the point of the song, but it had come to mind. By the time you reach your “middle-years” a lot of friends have invested heavily in their expensive, possibly cream-coloured furniture, fittings and floor coverings (the three Fs). All very nice but they are then terrified of ever hosting a social event in case anything gets spoilt or damaged. Having given up a good job when our daughter was born to be a stay-at-home mum, we’ve not had the luxury of constantly upgrading every few years – The upside of this however is that your house becomes a home, where the people in it are the most important thing and not the expensive furnishings. Our daughter’s friends were always welcome, pets were encouraged and social gatherings are a regular occurrence. I feel sorry in a way for those people trapped in the cycle of working so hard to buy all those lovely things that then can’t be enjoyed and shared, but hey, maybe that’s just me.

Yet again I have run out of words but I will end with a version of A House Is Not A Home from my collection which comes from the television show Glee, where it was sung very sweetly by the actor/singer Chris Colfer. I hadn’t really taken too much heed of the song until that point (previously recorded by Dionne Warwick, Brook Benton and many others) but it perfectly fitted the storyline and led me straight to iTunes after the show ended.

A House Is Not A Home by Chris Colfer:

So yet again I’m up far too late, just as happened last night when I was drawn to watching a late night show featuring Burt Bacharach. And of course this has been a very serious post, so apologies for that – I promise that a much more light-hearted one is to follow and it involves trousers. Watch this space.

A House Is Not A Home Lyrics
(Song by Burt Bacharach/Hal David)

A chair is still a chair
Even when there’s no one sitting there
But a chair is not a house
And a house is not a home
When there’s no one there to hold you tight,
And no one there you can kiss good night.

A room is still a room
Even when there’s nothing there but gloom;
But a room is not a house,
And a house is not a home
When the two of us are far apart
And one of us has a broken heart.

Now and then I call your name
And suddenly your face appears
But it’s just a crazy game
When it ends it ends in tears.

Darling, have a heart,
Don’t let one mistake keep us apart.
I’m not meant to live alone. turn this house into a home.
When I climb the stair and turn the key,
Oh, please be there still in love with me.

Alexander O’Neal, “Saturday Love” and Mix-Tapes

As is wont to happen, you sometimes start with a plan but then veer off in a different direction to what was originally intended. I started this blog right at the start of the year on the momentous day that David Bowie died. As my day job involves working pretty much exclusively with numbers, I felt in need of some writing practice and with a blog you have a good chance of sticking to the discipline of writing regularly.

david b

But what to write about? Well for a long time I had thought it would be a good idea to write about those memories conjured up by a random piece of music heard in the course of the day. Like most of us, I have ended up letting my grandparents and even my own dad pass away without ever getting their stories down on paper and as I live what I would call an ordinary life, no-one was ever going to ask me to write an autobiography. Even ordinary lives have extra-ordinary moments however and it has been a bit of a joy recalling some of my special moments.

Mans Zermerlow

So for seven months now I have been merrily tapping away on whatever device is available and have found that it does become quite addictive. There is also the temptation to continually check on your “stats” only to find them disappointingly low considering you have just published something you think is pretty damned good. Feedback is a gift they say, and even if you are working on a pet project mainly for your own benefit, it can still make your day. But as time goes by, you can become a bit too focussed on the desire to get followers, likes and views and lose sight of why you started the thing in the first place!

Time to get back to what was originally intended therefore and not write for any particular audience other than myself – If anyone does read my posts and enjoys them that’s a bonus but not why I’m doing it. I have discovered some excellent blogs written by real music buffs and enjoy them a lot but the music I write about is really just an anchor for the memory and I would not profess to being an expert on any of it.

So if I were to go back to basics and pick a random piece of music to write about, what would that be right now? Well I have just switched on my iPhone which is sitting here beside me, and the song that randomly started playing on the music app was Saturday Love by American R&B star Alexander O’Neal. It was a hit in 1985 and was written by that incredibly successful songwriting team Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis who also wrote for Janet Jackson, Usher, Boyz ll Men, TLC and many more.

Saturday Love by Alexander O’Neal & Cherelle:

And that is why I think I stopped writing randomly – There is very little I have to say about this track other than that it was one of these smooth night-clubby numbers that I probably heard a lot whilst out with the girls in the mid-eighties (sporting big hair and earrings). I was never a particular fan of the ’80s night club however as it was all smoke and mirrors (literally) and not enough room for the serious business of dancing which is one of my passions. But then again it is a long time since dancehalls and night clubs have been for the sole purpose of dancing – No they have survived for decades for a very different purpose and I think we all know what that would be.

I think this is common to all girls but I do remember having quite a collection of mix-tapes made for me in the mid ’80s by potential beaus! Some of these tapes had fantastic collections of music on them and one had quite a few very seductive Alexander O’Neal tracks. Needless to say, when I met my future husband he was quite jealous of these “love letters in song” and tried to compete by making his own. Sadly he had sold most of his record collection to pay for essentials (like food) when he was a student so didn’t have a great base to work from. His answer was to use my record collection and although it was a really lovely thought, it’s just not the same when a mix-tape is compiled from your own well-loved, but well-worn, tracks. As it turns out we are still together all these years later and I hear him working away on his latest DIY project as I type, so the secret of a long-lasting marriage is obviously not the quality of the mix-tape, just perhaps, it’s the quality of the DIY!

Saturday Love lyrics
(Song by Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis)

It’s been a long time

I didn’t think I was
Going to see you again

See you haven’t changed
It’s good to see you anyway

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
Thursday, Friday, Saturday love
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
Thursday, Friday, Saturday love

When I think about you
My feelings can’t explain
Why after all this time
My heart still feels pain

When I look at you
Memories of love
Like no one before
You’ll stay on my mind

Always so special
(I was yours and you were mine)
Made for each other
(All the good I won’t forget)
You will stay on my mind
(Saturday, the day we met)

Petula Clark, “Don’t Sleep In The Subway” and The Music of 1967

Yesterday’s foray into the musical output of Andy Williams, has reminded me of some of those other great songs from the 1960s. Turns out that many hits from that era were recorded by a whole host of other artists and Petula Clark often released songs previously recorded by Mr Williams.

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A good few years ago after discovering iTunes, we went a bit mad revisiting the “tracks of our years” and probably down to the nostalgia element of remembering happy times as a child with my family, I ended up purchasing quite a few songs from 1967, which was probably the first year I really started to take heed of anything from the world of grown-up music. One of these songs was Don’t Sleep In The Subway by Petula Clark simply because it summed up the sound of my 1960s. The whole hippy thing was happening on the West Coast of America but flower power and psychedelia definitely didn’t come to my Scottish village so the kind of music listened to by families like mine, who watched mainstream television, came from people like Pet Clark, Cilla, Dusty, Lulu and The Seekers. The song was written by Tony Hatch (along with his wife Jackie Trent) and the relationship he had with Petula was likened to the one between Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick. They also worked together on Downtown, I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love and The Other Man’s Grass Is Always Greener.

Don’t Sleep In The Subway by Petula Clark:

Listening to this song again, it is about a couple having a “domestic” so not really the jaunty, upbeat number I had always considered it to be. There are a few lyrics in there that I find vaguely amusing and don’t quite fit the rhythm of the music (’cause it hurts when your ego is deflated, um-m-um-um-um-um) but I don’t profess to be an expert at this kind of thing and it did sell an awful lot of records so who am I to pick holes?

As a matter of interest, a couple of the other songs I purchased from that year were Georgy Girl by The Seekers and To Sir With Love by Lulu. Neither of the films that these songs came from were about particularly jaunty, upbeat topics either but they are still great songs, so well worth another listen.

Georgy Girl by The Seekers:

To Sir With Love by Lulu:

As it turns out my rose-coloured spectacles regarding the 1960s were severely tested this week as I watched the 1966 Ken Loach television play Cathy Come Home starring Carol White and Ray Brooks. It was a landmark piece of broadcasting at the time and told the harrowing story of an initially happy young couple with children, who due to unfortunate circumstances suffer the trauma of unemployment, poverty and homelessness. It was filmed in a doumentary-style which made it all the more poignant but for me the worst aspect was that fifty years on, many young couples with children still suffer the same problems today. It does sadden me that although we have made amazing advances in certain aspects of life (having the technology to amuse ourselves with all this malarkey), we still have people sleeping in subways, and that just can’t be right.

Getting too maudlin now so will leave it there for today but realising as I revisit the tracks of my years, that those seemingly happy, up-tempo songs often told a very different tale, and one which I am only now appreciating.

Don’t Sleep in the Subway Lyrics
(Song by Tony Hatch/Jackie Trent)

You wander around
on your own little cloud
when you don’t see the why
or the wherefore

Ooh, you walk out on me
when we both disagree
’cause to reason is not what you care for

I’ve heard it all a million times before
Take off your coat, my love, and close the door

Don’t sleep in the subway, darlin’
Don’t stand in the pouring rain
Don’t sleep in the subway, darlin’
The night is long
Forget your foolish pride
Nothing’s wrong,
now you’re beside me again

You try to be smart
then you take it apart
’cause it hurts when your ego is deflated
um-m-um-um-um-um
You don’t realise
that it’s all compromise
and the problems are so over-rated

Good-bye means nothing when it’s all for show
So why pretend you’ve somewhere else to go?

Katie Melua, Mike Batt and “Nine Million Bicycles”

Last time I wrote about the great punk-rock beauty Debbie Harry. Roll forward to the mid noughties and another rare beauty came along in the form of Katie Melua. Although born in Georgia (the former Soviet Republic one) she had moved to Northern Ireland with her family as a child, before heading across to London to attend the BRIT school in her late teens. She has been one of its most successful attendees along with the late Amy Winehouse and of course Adele.

Unlike Debbie Harry however, Katie did not give us punk attitude, instead she gave us…… Really annoying lyrics! I have written before about songs that I had hitherto quite enjoyed because I had never really listened to the lyrics properly (Rupert Holmes’ Pina Colada song – grrr) but it didn’t take long at all for some of Katie’s songs to really grate.

Exhibit A – Nine Million Bicycles which charted in September 2005. I know I am probably being pedantic here but every time I heard her sing about “the fact”, “the thing we just couldn’t deny” (those nine million bicycles traversing the streets of Beijing), I kind of had to say to myself – Really? Could it not possibly be nine and a half million, or perhaps a bit less than nine million now that car ownership has risen? But no, Katie was emphatic in her song that nine million was the exact number.

Nine Million Bicycles by Katie Melua:

Of course we then get on to the next verse and now she tells us that “we are twelve billion light years from the edge” but that “it was a guess and no-one could ever say if that was true”. As it turns out they could, and no, it wasn’t true. Cosmologist Simon Singh took to writing an article for the Guardian pointing out that scientists had pretty much worked out after much research and careful measurement that the universe was actually 13.7 billion years old. A playful spat ensued with Katie re-recording the song with this new information contained within – Needless to say it wasn’t a howling success and both parties had a bit of a laugh about it and agreed that a modicum of poetic license was needed for the song to work, but just shows how hot under the collar we can get when faced with incorrect facts.

I put it all down to the “fact” that the song was written by Mike Batt who despite massive success in many different strands of the music industry will, for me, always be “Head Womble”. There can be no-one of my age who will not have occasionally dipped into an episode of The Wombles on television after coming home from school in the afternoon. They were way ahead of their time with all their recycling, now part of our modern day lives, but back in the 1970s a bit of a novelty and a cue for entertainment.

When Mike Batt got the job of writing the theme song for the animated show, rather than accept a flat fee he chose to acquire the character rights for The Wombles and formed a pop group, releasing a string of top-selling singles and albums between 1973 and 1975. Must have been very hot work “Wombling Free” around BBC Television Centre but quite liberating, as the costumes could be worn by whoever was available on the day. It turns out this was often members of Steeleye Span or the guitarist Chris Spedding (he of Motor Bikin’ fame) whom Mike worked with frequently.

So when Mike discovered Katie in the mid noughties, I think he was so thrown by her amazing beauty that his old Wombling song-writing skills momentarily left him and he put together odd lyrics juxtaposing “facts about love” with erroneous “scientific facts”.

Just one more bone of contention however about a line from the song before I move on – Katie sang about how she would “never tire of the love she would be given every night”. Written by a man indeed as I don’t know of any of my female friends, however happy with their other halves, who would not tire of being given love every night! Sometimes a mug of cocoa and a good book is all that is required – Just sayin’…..

Nine Million Bicycles Lyrics
(Song by Mike Batt)

There are nine million bicycles in Beijing
That’s a fact,
It’s a thing we can’t deny
Like the fact that I will love you till I die.

We are twelve billion light years from the edge,
That’s a guess,
No-one can ever say it’s true
But I know that I will always be with you.

I’m warmed by the fire of your love everyday
So don’t call me a liar,
Just believe everything that I say

There are six billion people in the world
More or less
and it makes me feel quite small
But you’re the one I love the most of all

We’re high on the wire
With the world in our sight
And I’ll never tire,
Of the love that you give me every night

Postscipt:

And in case anyone can’t remember how much fun it was to be a Womble in 1974, here is a clip from Top Of The Pops to remind you (just try to avert your eyes from Noel Edmonds’ revealing shirt and medallion during the introduction). All members present and correct I think – Orinoco, Madame Cholet, Great Uncle Bulgaria, Wellington and Tobermory. Didn’t even have to look it up, such is the power of a childhood memory.

Glen Campbell, Jimmy Webb and an American Trilogy

I hope I haven’t caused confusion – Yes Elvis Presley recorded the song An American Trilogy in 1972 and it became a bit of a showstopper for him when performed during the massive event that was “Elvis—Aloha from Hawaii” broadcast in 1973. But no, the songs I want to revisit today are the three Jimmy Webb compositions recorded by Glen Campbell in the late ’60s.

pheonixIn the UK at that time London was “Swinging” and we were listening to Sandie Shaw, Cliff Richard and Lulu, but in the USA, the average “Easy-Listening” aficionado would have been enjoying Glen Campbell. He was now in his early thirties and had served his apprenticeship in the music industry working first with his uncle in Albuquerque and then by moving to LA to work as a Wrecking Crew session musician with some of the biggest artists of the day. He even became a Beach Boy for a short while, filling in for the man himself, Brian Wilson, on one particular tour. He definitely has the look of a Beach Boy about him and I can just imagine him in his twenties sporting the short-sleeved stripy shirt that was their trademark.

In 1967 he recorded By The Time I Get To Phoenix, in 1968 it was Wichita Lineman and in 1969 Galveston. I have just revisited a map of the Southwest USA and these places are in Arizona, Kansas and Texas respectively. Glen himself was from Arkansas (born in a town called Delight – lovely) and went on to star in the western True Grit, so he was the perfect choice for this material. Elvis was ultimately a man for all of the USA but Glen was the man for these country-music-loving states. Each artist had their own American trilogy, and Glen had these three songs.

By The Time I Get To Phoenix by Glen Campbell:

I have written about Jimmy Webb before as he also wrote MacArthur Park, successful twice in the charts but with lyrics universally regarded as a bit bizarre. The song used the “cake left out in the rain” metaphor to symbolise the wasted demise of a relationship. With By The Time I Get To Phoenix, here he was again apparently inspired by the same break-up, but this time with much less bizarre lyrics. The timings of his journey across the country are tight, but at a push it turns out the timeline is possible, not that I would recommend trying. Best not to split up in the first place – Just sayin’.

Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell:

And so we move on to song number two – Wichita Lineman tells the tale of a blue-collar worker in the heart of prairie country, alone with his thoughts. Again Jimmy was inspired by a relationship that had not turned out well for him so that’s three songs now we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy had his love-life run smoothly. Moving on to the third song, Galveston, the story-telling this time is about a soldier about to go into battle who is thinking of his hometown and the girl he left behind. Written in 1969 it was perceived to be an anti-war song but the inspiration was supposedly a soldier from the Spanish-American war and not the Vietnam war – Perhaps, but a third beautifully put together song featuring a place name in the title.

Live version of Wichita Lineman/Galveston/Country Boy (You’ve Got Your Feet in LA) by Glen Campbell:

I don’t quite know why, but I just love these story-telling American songs featuring place names. Probably because they just wouldn’t work over here. Substitute Phoenix for Felixstowe, Wichita for Widnes or Galveston for Galashiels and the romance is lost. As for 24 Hours From Tulsa, you are never 24 hours from anywhere in Britain unless you have had the misfortune to suffer multiple delays on public transport. Show Me The Way To Amarillo or Show Me The Way To Aberystwyth – I know which one I’d go for. San Jose or Sandbach – It’s a no-brainer.

Yes, it looks as if I have indeed been brain-washed from years of watching American films and television, and listening to all these great songs. As the GI Brides discovered however, when they went stateside after the end of the war with their new husbands, all that glittered was not gold and many found that the deprivations of war, experienced in a small terraced house in Britain, were nothing compared to life in a wooden shack in the Smokey Mountains. But it’s all relative and I am sure that the tourists who flock to my neck of the woods in summer just love songs with our place-names in the title – I did write about Runrig’s live version of the traditional song Loch Lomond a while back and I expect that the Caledonian Societies of North America feel the same way about that song as I do about Galveston.

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One last thing – I did consider calling the appreciation of these songs a “guilty pleasure” but have decided against using that term any more. They are indeed a pleasure, so why feel guilty about it? I have always been a fan of music from the easy-listening camp and have had to tell some porkies in my time to explain the ownership or purchase of such material. But why does music always have to be difficult? It boils down to the fact that we never want to feel embarrassed in front of our “cool” friends. No more of this nonsense I say, be loud and proud about what you enjoy and I am pretty sure that if they were being perfectly honest, our “cool” friends would agree with many of our choices.

Wichita Lineman Lyrics
(Song by Jimmy Webb)

I am a lineman for the county and I drive the main road
Searchin’ in the sun for another overload
I hear you singin’ in the wire, I can hear you through the whine
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line

I know I need a small vacation but it don’t look like rain
And if it snows that stretch down south won’t ever stand the strain
And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line

And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line

Student Life, Carole King and “It’s Too Late”

Following on from my last post, I mentioned that 1979 was my last disco-dancing year as around that time I met a boy and morphed into a full late-70s student. We dressed in interesting clothes from charity shops (they weren’t called vintage in those days), hung around dingy bars and listened to “The Songs of Leonard Cohen” (in between attending lectures of course). Looking back, the tracks of my years had up until then, revolved around what was on Top of The Pops, what was played on BBC Radio 1 and the music from film soundtracks so this was a whole new branch of music that I hadn’t really experienced before. Artists like Cohen didn’t release singles that would appear in a chart show run-down, but whole albums of songs to be listened to late at night, in a soporific condition with preferably, a significant other.

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Also, the great thing about meeting a boy who flat-shared with an older brother, was that you immediately had access to their record collection as well. Being of the opposite sex and having a few more years’ worth of vinyl, his collection was vastly different to my own and so it came about, that in late 1979 I discovered and formed a relationship with Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Mr Cohen mentioned above, and last but not least, Carole King.

One of the albums we listened to a lot at that time was “Tapestry” which had been Album of the Year in 1972 and went on to sell over 15 million copies. I wasn’t that familiar with Carole King until this time but a lot of the tracks on the album were indeed familiar, as she had been part of that amazing team of Brill Building songwriters who prolifically churned out songs for ’60s artists such as Aretha Franklin and The Shirelles. She wrote, or co-wrote, all of the songs on Tapestry and in doing so created a truly amazing body of work, most of the songs becoming standards in their own right. I think my favourite is It’s Too Late, a really sad song about the end of a relationship and of course by this time King’s marriage to Gerry Goffin, her songwriting partner and high school sweetheart was over, so bittersweet. Interesting also that during this intensely successful period of her career, Carole King had moved to Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles and was hanging out with the likes of James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. I have mentioned Laurel Canyon before in relation to The Eagles, Jackson Brown and Linda Ronstadt – Must have been quite a place back in the day.

It’s Too Late by Carole King:

Not really a coincidence that it’s Tapestry I’m writing about today however – I noticed earlier on social media that it’s the 45th Anniversary of its release. Any artist releasing an album today will have to wait until the year 2061 to celebrate the same anniversary. What will our world be like then? Who knows but I am optimistic that good music will still be around and perhaps we may still enjoy listening to the dulcet tones of Carole King, and Tapestry!

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It’s Too Late Lyrics
(Song by Carole King/Toni Stern)

Stayed in bed all morning just to pass the time
There’s something wrong here, there can be no denying
One of us is changing, or maybe we’ve just stopped trying

And it’s too late baby, it’s too late
Though we really did try to make it
Something inside has died and I can’t hide
And I just can’t fake it

It used to be so easy living here with you
You were light and breezy and I knew just what to do
Now you look so unhappy and I feel like a fool

There’ll be good times again for me and you
But we just can’t stay together, don’t you feel it too
Still I’m glad for what we had, and how I once loved you