May Day, Ella Fitzgerald and Summertime

Well, it’s May Day and I don’t know about you but up here in Scotland it’s been a wonderful sunny day. As ever I am celebrating this landmark date in the calendar with a few of the old customs. First of all I managed to do a symbolic washing of my face with morning dew – With any luck I may wake up tomorrow morning looking like a young maiden, but I’m not holding out much hope.

Next on the agenda was to gather some spring flowers for the little shrine I’ve got used to putting together on such days – Cherry blossom, narcissi and a few pink flowers I don’t know the name of. Along with a candle, some ribbon and some symbolic dew, it all looks very nice.

fullsizeoutput_44e

Holy wells are popular places to visit on May Day or Beltane as it used to be called here in Scotland. As luck would have it we have a clootie well a short drive away and as Mr WIAA and I were both on holiday, that seemed like a good plan. This ancient spring is dedicated to Saint Curetán where the rags, dipped in the water from the well, are hung on the surrounding bushes and trees. It was once thought to have had the power to cure sick children. The spring runs into a kind of basin and just as we got there a young maiden was indeed washing her face – Just as well we knew the significance of the day or it would have all been a bit weird.

Beltane marked the beginning of summer for the ancient Celts and that was when their cattle were driven out to the higher pastures and rituals were performed to protect cattle, crops and people. Bonfires were kindled, their flames, smoke and ashes deemed to have protective powers.

Most of us are no longer pastoral people with cattle, but suburban people with garden furniture and fire pits so instead of driving my cattle to high pastures today, I have just got the rest of the accoutrements of summer out of the shed and lit a symbolic fire to celebrate Beltane. A wee spot of Drambuie also slipped down nicely and was my toast to the coming of summer.

Whenever a fire is lit the young people all seem to want to congregate round it – Darling daughter did a bit of texting and we now have a garden-full. Perhaps a bit of a novelty that drags them away from their electronic devices – Whatever, we have now left them to it, so time for a quick post to celebrate this special day.

The song I’ve chosen could not be less Scottish if it tried, but one I have always loved. Summertime was composed in 1934 by George Gershwin for the opera Porgy and Bess. The one I have in my music library is by Ella Fitzgerald who would have last week reached the age of 100. For over half a century Ella was the jazz singer who commanded the largest popular following and her musical collaborations with Louis Armstrong were amongst her most notable. No long wordy post from me today then, just this lovely version of one of Gershwin’s finest compositions.

Summertime by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong:

Summertime Lyrics
(Song by George Gershwin/Dubose Heyward)

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush little baby, Don’t you cry

One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that morning, there ain’t nothin’ can harm you
With Daddy and Mammy standin’ by

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush little baby, Don’t you cry

One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing
And you’ll spread your wings and you’ll take to the sky
But ’til that morning, there ain’t nothin can harm you
With Daddy and Mammy standin’ by

Postscript:

It’s not an Oscar winner and I’m still learning how to do this, but here is my little film of our day out – It all ends rather abruptly I’m afraid but I will improve!

The Vernal Equinox, Nina Simone and Feeling Good

Today is one of my favourite days of the year. At 10.28pm tonight we reach the Vernal Equinox, one of only two points in the year when the number of hours of night and day are equal. Because it’s March, and I’m in the Northern Hemisphere, that means it’s just going to get lighter and brighter every day now for the next three months. Unlike when we reach the Autumnal Equinox, when the thought of all those extra hours of darkness makes me sad, this equinox makes me very perky – The montbretia flowers in my garden today definitely add to this perkiness!

fullsizeoutput_41a

Any regulars to this place will know that over the last six months I have been celebrating these markers in the calendar, and following some of the traditions from those days when nature dictated all that was important in life. In the pagan calendar today is Ostara, derived from the Old English goddess Eostre, later borrowed by Christians for Easter. This festival is therefore all about fertility, where seeds are blessed for planting soon after. It is traditionally the day of equilibrium, neither harsh winter or merciless summer (although never that merciless here in Scotland to be fair). Painted eggs and baskets of flowers are generally used to decorate the house so yet again I have created a little tableau of my own with eggs, spring flowers, a hare (not a real one) and a yellow candle.

6452a6aec8626ab29a8d2757244a705d.jpg

Yesterday, as it was Sunday, I went for a walk. I couldn’t seem to muster up the enthusiasm for blogging at all and thought I might find my lost mojo, which seems to have gone a-wanderin’ of late. Taking inspiration from C at Sun Dried Sparrows who took us on a walk with her recently, how about if I take you on my walk, which was up to the local duck pond. Also, will we find the missing mojo?

Right here we go, anti-clockwise or clockwise round the pond? Yesterday I chose anti-clockwise and didn’t even realise how much birdsong was in the air until I played this back. So far however, no sign of the missing mojo. Hmm… Where can it have gone?

Ok, so now we’ve got to the other side of the pond but thank goodness I went to the loo before I left or I’d be in trouble with the sound of all this running water! Loads of bikes been this way by the looks of things so a bit muddy but time perhaps for a wee sit down and another good look round for that pesky missing mojo.

No still nothing, but wait a minute, I see a few ducks out on the pond, maybe they’ve seen it.

“Hi guys, you haven’t happened to see my missing mojo have you? It was around until a couple of weeks ago but seems to have gone a-wanderin’.”

“Oh, hi Alyson, lovely day isn’t it. Yes we have seen it actually, it’s over by the Pet Cemetery.”

“Cheers guys, I’ll go and take a look.”

Got it!  It was hiding out amongst those tiny little gravestones marking the resting place of long gone, but much-loved pets.

What with the birdsong, the ducks, the blue skies and the forest, the perkiness brought on by the coming of today’s vernal equinox really hit me yesterday on the way back from my walk. What kind of song would suit a day like this I thought to myself and it turned out to be Feeling Good by Nina Simone.

Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by you know how I feel

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life for me yeah

Feeling Good by Nina Simone:

Feeling/Feelin’ Good (take your pick) was written back in 1964 by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the Broadway musical The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd. Nina Simone recorded the song for her 1965 album “I Put a Spell on You” and it has kind of become a standard and been covered by many other artists including George Michael, Muse, Michael Bublé and American jazz musician John Coltrane. I would of course be lying if I said I remembered it from back then – Oh no, as often happens Nina’s version was used by a car company for a 1994 television advert, which in turn led to it re-entering the UK Singles Chart in the July of that year. Thankfully I couldn’t have been over-exposed to it at that time, as sometimes happens when song is used in that way, as I still enjoy listening to it and it is of course my very aptly chosen featured song for today, the day of the Vernal Equinox

It is not often that I revisit anything from the 21st century in this blog but I do also have a soft spot for the version by Muse which was originally recorded for their 2001 album “Origin of Symmetry” but was again used for an advert (must be good for sales), this time for an airline company. Until next time, I give you Muse with Feeling GoodHappy Ostara!

Feeling Good Lyrics
(Song by Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley)

Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by you know how I feel

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life for me yeah

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me
Oh
And I’m feeling good

Fish in the sea, you know how I feel
River running free, you know how I feel
Blossom on the tree, you know how I feel

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good

Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, don’t you know
Butterflies all havin’ fun, you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when day is done, that’s what I mean
And this old world, is a new world
And a bold world for me

Stars when you shine, you know how I feel
Scent of the pine, you know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me

And I’m feeling good

Imbolc, Love Unlimited and It May Be Winter Outside (But in My Heart It’s Spring)

Well, all winter I’ve been trying to work out how to fit this song into the blog as although there are loads (and loads) of Christmassy songs, there aren’t that many about winter per se. But today seems to be the day as it’s the 1st of February and on nature’s “wheel of the year”, it is Imbolc. Ever since last year’s autumnal equinox, or Mabon as it is also called on the pagan calendar, I have been taking a key interest in these landmark dates, creating a little display, and hopefully finding an appropriate song to post that day.

imbolc

Imbolc was one of the cornerstones of the Celtic calendar as for them, the success of the new farming season was of great importance. As winter stores of food were getting low, rituals were performed to ensure a steady supply of food until the harvest six months later. As darling daughter pointed out last September however, we don’t really have to perform such rituals nowadays as we go to the supermarket where you can acquire raspberries in December and Brussels sprouts in June, but I would like to at least acknowledge the old ways before we get just too out of touch with nature in our busy 21st century lives.

So today is the day that we celebrate the passing of Winter, and make way for Spring. The featured song may not really be about the world of nature but I have always loved Barry White and his Love Unlimited Orchestra and so far in the blog, no Barry. As it turns out still no Barry, but this song was written by him and then released in the UK in 1975 by the group Love Unlimited who provided backing vocals for him on his albums and concert tours but who then went on to find success in their own right. (Takes around a full minute to get going, but bear with it.)

It May Be Winter Outside by Love Unlimited:

The symbol of Imbolc is the snowdrop but having had a good recce of the area at the weekend, so far no snowdrops. In the garden today however I was pleasantly surprised to see a little clump popping through in the rockery but just a bit too early for us here in the North of Scotland it seems. I looked back at my folder of pictures taken in 2010 when I manfully tried to take a shot of the natural world every day for a year – Back then this snowdrop shot was taken on the 11th of February so in about 10 days they will no doubt be plentiful.

92-11th-feb-first-snowdrops-of-the-year
The first snowdrops of the year

Coincidentally last weekend I wrote about Johnny Cash and how his deep bass baritone voice was something you don’t often hear in music nowadays. Of course another person who had a very deep bass baritone voice was aforementioned, three-time Grammy Award winner Barry White, also known for his romantic image (but I’ll not mention his nickname here as not very becoming). Barry’s music was of a soul/funk/disco/R&B persuasion and his greatest success came in the ’70s both as a solo singer and with his Love Unlimited Orchestra. Looking at his discography, he was barely out of the UK Singles Chart between 1973 and 1979, his biggest hit being You’re The First, The Last, My Everything.

I am constantly amazed when blogging how everything suddenly comes together by the end of the post and when I started to write about today’s special date in the Celtic calendar I didn’t think I would end up with Barry White, but the symbolism around Imbolc is all of the colour white – snowdrops, ewe’s milk (oi-melc) and St Bride – so very apt in an odd kind of way. Perhaps my subconscious was being cleverer than I was.

Just the Way You Are by Barry White:

I will finish with Barry’s version of the Billy Joel song Just the Way You Are. Again there is a bit of a preamble so bear with it but if anyone knows of a performer with a deeper voice, I’d like to know who? Poor Barry died in 2003 after a few years of health problems but again he has left a massive body of work, much of which is in my music library and I have sadly not been brave enough to admit to that yet. Perhaps appropriate then, on this the first day of Spring (in certain calendars), to come clean – As for me I’m off to light my white candle set amidst the little pot of white crocuses I had to buy as a substitute for snowdrops, and listen to a bit more Barry White!

It May Be Winter Outside (But in My Heart It’s Spring) Lyrics
(Song by Barry White/Paul Politi)

When the temperature dips
I miss my baby’s arms
His tender finger tips
Knows just how to keep me warm

It may be zero degrees
With the snow falling down
But I’ve got warm and tender love
Just as long as he’s around

It may be winter outside
But in my heart it’s spring
How much joy and pleasure, baby
Can one guy bring me

Winter nights can be awful cold
Without someone to hold
But when I have him next to me
Baby, I’m in ecstasy

Throughout my life
I’ve had my share of guys
But he’s been the only one
Who can make my temperature rise

Things are just not the same
When he’s not by my side
But yet, I shouldn’t complain
But be waiting with my arms open wide

Music from Love Actually, Part 2 – Joni Mitchell and Both Sides Now

Well, it has been known for me to partake in a bit of tipsy blogging and here we are again. Despite the lateness of the hour (with work tomorrow) I have to get this one out of the way in order to…. well, move on, as they say in psychobabble parlance.

What I hadn’t realised earlier this year when I decided to have a nostalgic revisitation of the “tracks of my years”, was that when we got to Christmas it would all get a bit emotional. Emotional partly because it has, I think we all agree, been one of those years; emotional because I am reminded of all the people who are no longer with us especially my darling dad who crops up on these pages often; emotional because this is the first year my daughter won’t be with us (I hadn’t considered that at some point we would have to share her with her boyfriend’s parents) and finally; emotional because of all the seasonal music my fellow-bloggers are posting.

th5ei6cdn0

But this is only Tuesday so still time to pull myself together, once I get this effort done and dusted. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that last time, the title of my post was “Music from Love Actually, Part 1”. This then, is to be Part 2.

Since watching the film Love Actually last week I have since re-watched it (overkill maybe), just to remind myself of how significant a role today’s featured song plays in the storyline. Those of you who know the film well will also know that Emma Thompson‘s character, who is married to Harry (played by Alan Rickman RIP), has inadvertently found a beautiful gold necklace she fully expects to be given as a present for Christmas. Upon opening the square shaped box with expectant glee, she discovers that it is instead a Joni Mitchell CD, a great present as she is a big fan, but in that split second she realises that the gold necklace was for someone else, and she has to quickly extricate herself from the room. An emotional (that word again) scene then takes place where she has to pull herself together before re-emerging to join the family.

Throughout this scene in the bedroom, we hear the plaintive sounds of a more mature Joni Mitchell sing Both Sides Now from the album of the same name, released in the year 2000. Maybe it’s just because I’m a lady of a certain age, but it gets me every time. Like Emma’s character in the film, my life for many years was one of putting family first. I ran the school board, organised fund-raisers, took my daughter (and all the kids whose parents worked full-time) to after-school activities, completed courses with the OU and was chief cook and bottle-washer. If I had a pound for every time someone told me I was lucky that I “didn’t work” and was a lady of leisure, I would be a very rich woman! Anyway my point is that poor Emma found herself in the situation where Harry had made, she felt, a fool of her, and the life she had chosen. Fortunately for me, Mr WIAA is self-employed and I have been his (unpaid) secretary for years, so if anyone was going to get a gold necklace it was going to be me (but I didn’t, because I perhaps stupidly keep a tight control on the finances).

Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell:

But of course most people will know the song Both Sides Now from the 1967 Judy Collins version (there it is again, my favourite year). Joni had written the song earlier that year inspired by a passage from a novel by Saul Bellow. A quote from her goes as follows:

“I was reading Saul Bellow’s “Henderson the Rain King” on a plane and early in the book Henderson the Rain King is also up in a plane. He’s on his way to Africa and he looks down and sees these clouds. I put down the book, looked out the window and saw clouds too, and I immediately started writing the song. I had no idea that the song would become as popular as it did.”

Judy Collins won a Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance in 1969 and it has become one of her signature songs. What I find remarkable is that I wrote very recently about how Judy Collins recorded Leonard Cohen’s song Suzanne in 1966 and that it was she who persuaded the reluctant poet Cohen, to get out on stage to perform his own songs. Here we are again, with Judy being the catalyst who perhaps made a couple of Canadian songwriters international artists of great renown, in their own right.

Before I go I just want to revisit the passage from my Leonard Cohen post, about how I discovered Joni Mitchell. It was 1979 and I had just started going out with someone whose older brother had been Head Boy at our school a few years earlier – I’d had a massive crush on him back then but of course once into adulthood things change and in this new situation we became good friends.

“Also, the great thing about having a boyfriend 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 fell in love with the music of Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Carole King and last but not least, Leonard Cohen.”

As this post is a kind of exorcism in getting all the emotional baggage out of the way before Christmas, here is anther bit of baggage – Despite the fact we had great times back in 1979, the former Head Boy had such a weight of expectation on him that it all became too much. The smartest, most capable and high-achieving boy of his generation spent his nights walking the streets unable to sleep. His subject at University was a very scientific one and he just couldn’t switch off. He turned to alcohol and never did finish his degree. I sadly lost touch a few years later but the awful thing was that the very same thing happened to the Head Boy from my year. In 1978 my lovely friend Gus headed off to Edinburgh to study Law but addiction issues got in the way and after a very difficult life he died of alcoholism at the age of 42. This has been an awful year for loss in music and entertainment circles but perhaps because of that it has really focussed my mind on all the people from my life who are no longer with us.

Very few of my real-live friends know about this “place” but one who does told me that she liked it, because it wasn’t one of those depressing blogs – Oh dear, I think I may have just disappointed! Hopefully got it all out of my system now but oh my, listening to the mature Joni Mitchell again, really tugs at the heartstrings.

thY6YMZXOZ.jpg

I have decided that on Christmas Day, as darling daughter will not be with us, we will have a festive lunch and then take food out for the homeless. Mr WIAA is not convinced we will find them, as they will probably already be well catered for, but I have my doubts – Even up here in The Highlands, last weekend we had girls my daughter’s age sleeping in doorways, and in 2016, that just can’t be right. Tomorrow is the winter solstice however, where the day is the shortest of the year and the night the longest – We are at the cusp of something astronomical, looking at both sides now, one side has been getting darker and one will be getting lighter. Very apt song therefore for this post.

I will return in a cheerier mood before the big day. Merry Christmas!

Both Sides Now Lyrics
(Song by Joni Mitchell)

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere,
I’ve looked at clouds that way.

But now they only block the sun,
They rain and they snow on everyone
So many things I would have done,
But clouds got in my way.

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels,
The dizzy dancing way that you feel
As every fairy tale comes real,
I’ve looked at love that way.

But now it’s just another show,
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know,
Don’t give yourself away.

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud,
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds,
I’ve looked at life that way.

Oh but now old friends they’re acting strange,
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day.

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life
I really don’t know life at all

Halloween, K’s Choice and Virgin State of Mind

Couldn’t really let tonight pass without mentioning that it’s Halloween and we’re just back from a bit of a “do” at our neighbour’s house. The local kids who dropped by for some trick or treating were rewarded with a bit of old-fashioned “bobbing for apples”, which pretty much no-one does any more, so it was great fun for them. Of course when I was a youngster here in Scotland it was called guising and there were certainly no pumpkins in those days – Oh no, it was a case of hollowing out turnips, which if you were not careful resulted in the loss of a digit.

1dd0fd2dccd25ff25c89f49d702a5ba5

My dad once helped me create a pretty spectacular one for a Brownie Halloween party, but unfortunately on the way there, it got dropped (in those days we walked everywhere unaccompanied, even at night). Being a root vegetable it pretty much fell to pieces, so when it came to the prize for the best “neep lantern” it was in a bit of a sorry state and did not fare well against other, initially lesser, neeps! When I got back, I of course told the parents it had befallen an accident on the way home from the party, so as not to have made the making of the lantern a waste of time – One of the rare lies of my childhood and I felt bad about it for years. Funny how those things stick.

But of course Halloween is now big business and pop-up shops appear on our high streets during the build up to the 31st selling nothing but OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAghoulish dressing-up outfits, scary masks and very realistic, gory make-up. Our daughter had two events at the weekend and needed a different outfit for each one. In fact the town was so busy with Halloween revellers on Saturday night that the ATMs ran out of money in the early hours of the morning. With no access to cash for taxis home, there were many SOS calls to parents, us included!

Most of this commercialisation of Halloween has come from across the pond but there is no point in trying to fight it anymore, so I did indeed buy myself a pumpkin this year. Unlike with the “neeps” of my youth however, faster than you can say Jack Robinson he became the fine Jack-o’-Lantern you see above.

So, what song comes to mind when you think of Halloween? – Far too many to mention actually so instead I am going to pick something, yet again, from one of our favourite television shows – Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This song, Virgin State of Mind by Belgian band K’s Choice, featured in the 1999 episode “Doppelgängland” where the vampire alternate of Willow Rosenberg arrives in Sunnydale. The Bronze nightclub was the meeting place of choice for Buffy and her pals, and it was usual to have bands playing there. If you watched all seven seasons, as we did, you were treated to some excellent music and this song by K’s Choice is the one I enjoyed most.

Virgin State of Mind by K’s Choice:

K’s Choice have been around since the early ’90s and their music can be described as guitar-based, singer-songwriter rock or folk-rock. Sarah Bettens’ husky voice is the band’s most distinctive characteristic. Sarah and her brother Gert write all the songs for the band and although most of the lyrics are easily understood, some are strange and incomprehensible. This led Gert to comment on this song, Virgin State of Mind – “Listening to the lyrics for the first time, you may find it hard to understand their meaning. When you listen to them a second time however, you may sense a basic truth in those cryptic words. If you do, please let me know.” – Will do Gert!

As it turns out, by the time I finish this post and publish it, Halloween will be over and we will have moved into All Hallows’ Day. Time to blow out the candle in my Jack-o’-Lantern then, but before I go I will share a clip featuring the the scariest group of characters from aforementioned seven seasons of Buffy – “The Gentlemen from Hush”.

“Hush” was the tenth episode in the fourth season where creator Joss Whedon set out to write a silent episode, almost completely devoid of speech. Only about 17 minutes of dialogue is presented in the entire 44 minutes. In “Hush”, a group of fairytale ghouls named “The Gentlemen” come to town and steal everyone’s voices, leaving them unable to scream when they cut out their hearts. The episode was highly praised when it aired and was the only episode from that season to be nominated for an Emmy Award. Prepare to be afraid!

Virgin State of Mind Lyrics
(Song by Sarah Bettens/Gert Bettens)

There’s a chair in my head on which I used to sit
Took a pencil and I wrote the following on it

Now there’s a key where my wonderful mouth used to be
Dig it up, throw it at me
Dig it up, throw it at me

Where can I run to, where can I hide
Who will I turn to now I’m in a virgin state of mind

Got a knife to disengage the voids that I can’t bear
To cut out words I’ve got written on my chair

Like do you think I’m sexy
Do you think I really care

Can I burn the mazes I grow
Can I, I don’t think so

Can I burn the mazes I grow
Can I, I don’t think so

Where can I run to, where can I hide
Who will I turn to now I’m in a virgin state of mind
Virgin state of mind
Virgin state of mind
Virgin state of mind

Earth, Wind & Fire, September and The Autumnal Equinox

Did a bit of an unusual post last time so something a bit more conventional tonight. So, what song came to mind in the course of the day? Why September by Earth, Wind & Fire of course.

Do you remember the 21st night of September?
Love was changing the minds of pretenders
While chasing the clouds away…..

ewf

This song tends to make people happy and it certainly has that effect on me. It was actually a hit for them, not in September, but in the December of 1978 and although Maurice White (who sadly died earlier this year) denied that the date had any other significance than it “sang really well” and was “phonetically fantastic” (not a phrase you hear every day), I find that really hard to believe. He was however a man who put great emphasis into the groove and feel of a song so it could have been the case……but now we’ll never know.

September by Earth, Wind and Fire:

Having read quite a bit about Maurice White after he died (he essentially was EWF as he wrote the songs, sang the songs and produced the songs), I learnt that the name of the band came from his star sign, Sagittarius, which has the elemental quality of Fire and the seasonal qualities of Earth and Air. Earth, Air & Fire quite rightly didn’t sound right, so Air became Wind (no schoolboy jokes please) and the rest as they say, is historyMaurice had a great interest in astrology and Egyptology and their costumes and album cover designs certainly bore that out.

Because of Mr White’s strong spiritual nature, it is entirely appropriate therefore that today’s song should relate to the autumnal equinox. I had a really interesting talk today with a woman at work, who every year celebrates these important dates in nature’s calendar with her sisters. This is the time of year when there is an equal amount of day and night and its Pagan name was Mabon – The harvests are now over and the crops have been stored for the coming winter so it is time to give thanks for the things we have, whether it be abundant crops or other blessings. Well I’m afraid I haven’t contributed to bringing in the crops personally but I am mighty glad that there are others out there who have. A lot of dark nights to look forward to now in Scotland, so traditionally a time to get together with friends and give thanks for the grains needed to conjure up a spot of the old “water of life” or “uisge beatha” (whisky to you and I).

pagan-wheel-of-the-year

But back to the song September, it turns out that Barack Obama is a fan of Earth, Wind & Fire and in 2009 the group became one of the first musical acts to play at the White House after he took office in late 2008. Being probably the “coolest” president there has ever been, I can just imagine him and Michelle “getting down” on the dancefloor to the sounds of EWF after one of those Presidential Dinners. Tricky Dicky or Dubya he ain’t, and come the new year I’m going to really miss some of his cool Obamaisms.

barack-obama-dancing

Until next time – Happy Mabon!

September Lyrics
(Song by Maurice White/Alee Willis/Al McKay)

Do you remember the 21st night of September?
Love was changing the minds of pretenders
While chasing the clouds away

Our hearts were ringing
In the key that our souls were singing.
As we danced in the night,
Remember how the stars stole the night away

Ba de ya, say do you remember
Ba de ya, dancing in September
Ba de ya, never was a cloudy day

Ba de ya de ya de ya
Ba de ya de ya de ya
Ba de ya de ya de ya de ya

My thoughts are with you
Holding hands with your heart to see you
Only blue talk and love,
Remember how we knew love was here to stay

Now December found the love that we shared in September.
Only blue talk and love,
Remember the true love we share today

Ba de ya, say do you remember
Ba de ya, dancing in September
Ba de ya, never was a cloudy day

Ba de ya, say do you remember
Ba de ya, dancing in September
Ba de ya, golden dreams were shinny days

Love bells was ringing
Our souls were singing
Do you remember, never a cloudy day

The Fresh Prince, Summertime and Seasonal Lag!

My last post reflected my negative mood at the time and a lot of it was down to the fact that I usually think of the month of June as being the start of summer, and for one reason or another, it just hasn’t felt very “summery” yet this year.

Time to reload the start of summer therefore and I have just discovered a term I hadn’t heard of before – Seasonal lag! Although for meteorologists, the summer starts at the beginning of June, apparently “astronomical summer” is defined as starting at the solstice. As it turns out, the solstice was a day early this year because of the leap year and here in the North of Scotland this meant that last night was very short indeed. Today, the 21st of June, is therefore the start of astronomical summer and this year I will roll with that definition. The garden was tidied yesterday, the BBQ cleaned and the gazebo put up – All set to go.

th1U2OVK3N

As for “seasonal lag” mentioned above, it confirms what I have always tried to tell my daughter and her friends over the years – Just because the sun’s out, it’s not necessarily time to slip into sundresses and strappy tops (such a mumsy thing to say). There is a Scottish phrase “Ne’er cast a clout ’til May be oot and for good reason – It turns out that average maximum temperatures occur several weeks after the time of maximum hours of sunshine. Perfectly reasonable to go with this very scientific looking graph therefore, and view real summer as starting today.

Phases_of_the_Sun_(NHemi)

The first song that came to mind when rethinking all of this was Summertime by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. It came out in 1992 when I was in my early thirties so not really one of the “tracks of my years” – Had I been a teenager around then I would have known Will Smith well from his television show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air but I wasn’t, and I didn’t. We still watched TOTP on a Thursday night however and despite the fact I have never really been a fan of rap, this was just a great sounding song, summing up what summertime means for young people.

Will Smith has gone on to great things since and has starred in 21 movies to date with a couple of Oscar nominations under his belt. He is also widely thought of as being the “nicest” A-list movie actor around, always patient with interviewers despite having probably been asked the same question hundreds of times whilst on press junkets promoting a new film.

For now however, I will just enjoy watching the young Will, hanging out with his friends, DJ Jazzy Jeff (Jeffrey to his mum), and coming up with some very entertaining rhymes!

Summertime by DJ Jazzy Jeff  The Fresh Prince:

Summertime Lyrics
(Song by Will Smith and too many more to mention!)

Drums please, summer, summer, summertime
Time to sit back and unwind

Here it is, the groove slightly transformed
Just a bit of a break from the norm
Just a little somethin’ to break the monotony
Of all that hardcore dance that has gotten to be

A little bit out of control, it’s cool to dance
But what about the groove that soothes
That moves romance, give me a soft, subtle mix
And if ain’t broke then don’t try to fix it

And think of the summers of the past
Adjust the base and let the alpine blast
Pop in my CD and let me run a rhyme and put your car
On cruise and lay back ’cause this is summertime

Summer, summer, summertime
Time to sit back and unwind
Summer, summer, summertime
Time to sit back and unwind

School is out and it’s a sort of a buzz
But back then I didn’t really know what it was
But now I see what have of this
The way that people respond to summer madness

The weather is hot and girls are dressin’ less
And checkin’ out the fellas to tell ’em who’s best
Ridin’ around in your jeep or your Benzos
Or in your Nissan sittin’ on Lorenzo’s

Back in Philly we be out in the park
A place called the plateau is where everybody goes
Guys out huntin’ and girls doin’ likewise
Honkin’ at the honey in front of you with the light eyes

She turn around to see what you beepin’ at
It’s like the summer’s a natural aphrodisiac
And with a pen and pad, I compose this rhyme
To hit you and get you equipped for the summertime

It’s late in the day and I ain’t been on the court yet
Hustle to the mall to get me a short set
Yeah, I got on sneaks but I need a new pair
‘Cause basketball courts in the summer got girls there

The temperature’s about 88
Hop in the water plug just for old times sake
Creak to ya crib, change your clothes once more
‘Cause you’re invited to a barbecue that’s startin’ at 4

Sittin’ with your friends ’cause y’all reminisce
About the days growin’ up and the first person you kiss
And as I think back, makes me wonder how
The smell from a grill could spark up nostalgia

All the kids playin’ out front, little boys messin’ ’round
With the girls playin’ double-dutch
While the DJ’s spinnin’ a tune as the old folks
Dance at your family reunion

Then six ‘o clock rolls around
You just finished wipin’ your car down
It’s time to cruise, so you head to
The summertime hangout, it looks like a car show

Everybody come lookin’ real fine
Fresh from the barber shop or fly from the beauty salon
Every moment frontin’ and maxin’
Chillin’ in the car they spent all day waxin’

Leanin’ to the side but you can’t speed through
Two miles an hour so, everybody sees you
There’s an air of love and of happiness and this is
The Fresh Prince’s new definition of summer madness