Last week I wrote about how our neighbours, who were also good friends, had moved on to pastures new. I was sad, as they will largely now be lost to us.
This week we lost Peanut, the hamster DD bought as a pandemic pick-me-up last year. I didn’t think we’d ever have another small rodent in the house (by choice), but he came along at just the right time, when things were still looking pretty grim. Of late we’ve just been needed for pet-sitting duties, so we didn’t see him as often, but his health had deteriorated fast over the last few weeks. Mercifully he went to sleep on Monday night and just didn’t wake up, thus avoiding that distressing final trip to the vet’s.
Another big change this week came about when I went to see my mum at the care home. I am allowed in once a week but our visits are still heavily policed in order to keep the residents safe. Far from ideal, but she seems content which is about as good as it gets. When the carer who supervises visits came to collect me, my mum told her I was an “old friend”. Once your mum no longer recognises you as her daughter, do you still have a mum, or is she now lost to you? It’s all very weird and distressing but we’re on an Alzheimer’s journey with her and have no idea how it will end.
Finally (long-term followers will probably remember my trilogy of posts), this was the weekend two years ago that my best friend lost her daughter to suicide, so a really tough one for her and her family. She not only lost her daughter, who is missed more with each year that passes, but she also lost her way of life, which now bears no resemblance to how it used to be. I miss my friend and all the fun times we used to have together.
A bit of a sad post this, for several reasons, and for once I don’t think it would be appropriate to balance it out with some jokey happening from the week. Instead, here is Nothing Compares 2U, a very sad song that has been shared around here before, but one that still wins the prize for featuring in my least visited post, a full five years on from when it was written. I have always found this unusual as the song, written by the genius that was Prince, was a massive world-wide hit in 1990 for Sinéad O’Connor. The lyrics are not particularly appropriate to any of the sad situations mentioned above but they do evoke that feeling of loss we experience, when things we take for granted are no longer in our lives. Here is that iconic video clip of Sinéad singing the song and an audio clip of the song performed by the man himself, Prince, this time featuring Rosie Gaines.
I’m hoping to get back on track by next time but just not the week for a jaunty upbeat post. The COP26 conference on climate change starts in Glasgow today so young people around the world will be hoping for a firm commitment from world leaders that their futures are not being jeopardised. I hope to return with positive news on that front. Early days yet but we might even have a new hamster in the family by then too. Amazing how a small desert rodent originating from Syria can bring such joy to both children and adults, but he did. RIP Peanut.
Until next time…
Nothing Compares 2 U Lyrics (Song by Nelson Prince Rogers)
It’s been seven hours and fifteen days Since you took your love away I go out every night and sleep all day Since you took your love away
Since you’ve been gone I can do whatever I want I can see whomever I choose I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant But nothing I said nothing can take away these blues
‘Cause nothing compares Nothing compares to you
It’s been so lonely without you here Like a bird without a song Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling Tell me, baby, where did I go wrong
I could put my arms around every boy I see But they’d only remind me of you I went to the doctor and guess what he told me? Guess what he told me? He said, “Girl, you better try to have fun no matter what you do,” But he’s a fool
‘Cause nothing compares Nothing compares to you
All the flowers that you planted, mama, in the back yard All died when you went away I know that living with you, baby, was sometimes hard But I’m willing to give it another try
Nothing compares Nothing compares to you Nothing compares Nothing compares to you Nothing compares Nothing compares to you
I don’t know if this applies to everyone, but because life hasn’t been ‘normal’ for such a long time now, I’ve almost forgotten what it used to be like. I do know that I miss it however, and what has replaced it just doesn’t cut the mustard for me, for all sorts of reasons. Compared with many, I have been spared some of the worst outcomes of the pandemic, and of our departure from the EU, but I can’t seem to curb that continual feeling of anxiety about what is potentially coming round the corner next. I was horrified to hear this week, that worries about climate change are really affecting children, even young ones – How sad is that. Lets hope COP26 in Glasgow goes some way to allaying their fears, but I’m not holding my breath.
WIAA: Whoa Alyson, you’re being a bit miserable in this one. Can we raise the mood a bit please?
ALYSON: Sorry WIAA. Of course, but sometimes we just get a bit overwhelmed by everything negative going on in the news and closer to home. I seem to have lost a lot of people from my life of late and last week our neighbours of 18 years, who were also close friends, moved away from the area.
WIAA: That’s a shame.
ALYSON: It’s good for them of course, as they have a whole new life planned for where they are going, but there have been many, many get-togethers over the years, and we’ll miss that. They specialised in Murder Mystery Parties when we all dressed up in costume, and coming out of lockdown last year when we were still only allowed two people in our gardens, they joined me for a (very pared down) 60th birthday bash.
WIAA: What can I say Alyson? Things change, but I’m sure you’ll keep in touch and your new neighbours might also become friends. Any songs you associate with them?
ALYSON: Many, but here’s one that became very relevant a few years ago after they booked a trip to Morocco. Whenever they mentioned their holiday destination, I had to give a few bursts of this gem of a song, Marrakesh Express by Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Yet again I am revisiting artists who set up camp in late ’60s Laurel Canyon but I have a great affinity for the music of those days, despite having been a bit too young for it at the time. The song came about after Graham Nash journeyed from Casablanca to Marrakesh on the ‘Express’. He soon realised there was little to interest him in his first-class compartment so moved down the train and experienced all the sights and sounds written about in the lyrics of the song. When he got back to England, his band The Hollies rejected the song for not being commercial enough, which precipitated him parting company with them and he headed to LA. Once there, he got together with Stephen Stills and David Crosby to form Crosby, Stills and Nash. The song became the first single from their debut album.
I love the story behind this album cover. The band had been driving around with their photographer friend Henry Diltz when they saw an abandoned house with a sofa outside. They took the iconic picture and then went home. After finalising the name of the band, they realised they should change the seating order. Sadly when they returned to the same spot, the house had been reduced to a pile of timber, so the original picture stood.
So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Things change over time and it saddens me that we will never have the same experiences with new neighbours as we did with the ones who have moved. We’re just not in that age demographic any more. Fortunately they have not moved to Morocco, so we will hopefully be able to arrange a few visits over the coming months and years, but it’s not the same as living next door.
Life in late ’60s Laurel Canyon, where Crosby, Stills and Nash set up camp, really sounded idyllic. All these musicians and artists living in close proximity to each other, in those rustic houses overlooking downtown Los Angeles, formed a hotbed of creativity which has had a long-lasting impact. It too came to an end however, as all things must.
ALYSON: Hope I’ve redeemed myself, WIAA, by sharing a classic song?
WIAA: You have indeed. Chin up. The world leaders at COP26 will sort out all our problems in one fell swoop, I’m sure of it.
ALYSON: Let’s hope so, otherwise the North of Scotland might end up looking like Marrakesh. Strange times, as I often say around here.
Until next time…
Marrakesh Express Lyrics (Song by Graham Nash)
Looking at the world through the sunset in your eyes Traveling the train through clear Moroccan skies Ducks and pigs and chickens call Animal carpet wall to wall American ladies five-foot tall in blue
Sweeping cobwebs from the edges of my mind Had to get away to see what we could find Hope the days that lie ahead Bring us back to where they’ve led Listen not to what’s been said to you
Wouldn’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express Wouldn’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express They’re taking me to Marrakesh All aboard the train, all aboard the train
I’ve been saving all my money just to take you there I smell the garden in your hair
Take the train from Casablanca going south Blowing smoke rings from the corners of my mouth Colored cottons hang in the air Charming cobras in the square Striped djellebas we can wear at home Well, let me hear you now
Wouldn’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express Wouldn’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express They’re taking me to Marrakesh
Wouldn’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express Wouldn’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express They’re taking me to Marrakesh All on board the train, all on board the train All on board
I have many categories on my sidebar that haven’t been added to for some time. I keep meaning to head over to Delaware to rejoin my American Odyssey in Song, or to revisit more songs from the Awesome Mixtape given to me by a friend eons ago, but of course those posts take a fair bit of research, so tend to get side-lined.
There is another very well-known awesome mixtape that has been revisited several times around here however, one that had a bit of a starring role in the film Guardians of the Galaxy. I’m not usually a fan of superhero movies, but when DD introduced us to it a few years back we thoroughly enjoyed it, and I found myself smitten by the soundtrack. It contained many lesser-known, soft rock songs from the 1970s, played over and over on an old Walkman by the lead character, as a link to his dead mother and home in Missouri.
The success of the first movie meant there was a sequel a few years later, and of course there was a second awesome mixtape. I was reminded of one of the songs from it the other week, when it popped up as the answer to a clue on Rol’s excellent Saturday Snapshots feature. Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang by the band Silver was never a hit in the UK, which is why I wouldn’t have recognised them in a picture, but of course once I heard the song, it was immediately familiar from the film.
I do like my American country rock from the ’70s, and despite 1967 still wearing the crown as being my favourite year to revisit around here, 1976 is fast becoming a usurper. For the umpteenth time this year I seem to be writing about a song from that year. The band’s record company gave them the song as a single after deciding none of the other tracks on the album they had produced had single potential. Interestingly one of the members of Silver was Tom Leadon, brother of Bernie who was of course in the Eagles at that time (not that I can ever imagine the Eagles recording Wham Bam).
Before I go, I can’t ignore the fact that over here in Britain in the early ’70s we had another couple of hit songs that perhaps formed the inspiration for WhamBamShang-A-Lang, via their titles at any rate. Both bands below have been featured around here before, but not sure how well their songs stand the test of time. Sweet had started out as a bubblegum pop outfit but had just morphed into glam rockers for 1972’s Wig-Wam Bam, inspired by Henry Longfellow’s poem Hiawatha. Those tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh, the Bay City Rollers, were at their height when they released Shang-a-Lang in 1974.
I am being facetious of course, as neither song has anything to do with the Silver song, but nearly 50 years on it’s fun to revisit these old clips to remind ourselves what (some) music fans of my generation were buying in those days. As for the three songs, not sure if you have a favourite amongst them? I am inclined to think many visitors to this place might say, “None of the above”, in which case this offering from ten years later might be more your thing. Had forgotten how great they were right at the start of the Wham! years. I give you Wham Rap!
Until next time…
Wham BamShang-A-Lang Lyrics (Song by Rick Giles)
Starry nights, sunny days I always thought that love should be that way Then comes a time that you’re ridden with doubt You’ve loved all you can, now you’re all loved out
Ooh, ooh, baby, we’ve been a long, long way And who’s to say where we’ll be tomorrow? Well, my heart says no but my mind says it’s so That we gotta love, is it a love to stay?
We got a wham bam shang-a-lang And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing Wham bam shang-a-lang And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing
Looking at you, I wanted to say I think a little emotion goes a long, long way Careful, now, you don’t get caught in your dreams Look out, baby, this is not what it seems
Ooh, ooh, baby, you’ve been so good to me But please don’t make it what it’s not Well, I thought we agreed on what we need So, listen to me, I’ll tell you what we’ve got
We got a wham bam shang-a-lang And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing Wham bam shang-a-lang And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing
I think you’re seeing what I’ve been saying Because I hear you singing to the tune I’m playing Now that it’s said and we both understand Let’s say our goodbyes before it gets out of hand
Bye bye, baby, I’d really like to stay But we’ll remember the best time in our life
We had a wham bam shang-a-lang And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing Wham bam shang-a-lang And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing
Wham bam shang-a-lang And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing Wham bam shang-a-lang And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing
A bit of a niche post this, for those in the know, but I can’t let the occasion pass without a mention. I don’t know about you, but heading into autumn 2021, I’ve been finding there’s not much going on in the news to raise our spirits. Combine that with the fact life is most definitely not back to normal, nor going to be for some time, and you need to find things that give you a bit of a lift – Things that get you out of the house, meeting up with people again.
Little did I think this week’s lift would be a meetup with long-time blogging buddy CC, from Charity Chic Music. He likes his October holidays does CC, and this year he and his wife were going to be staying in a cottage not far from my home town. When he suggested a get-together over lunch with our other halves, it was a no-brainer we would head through to the beau lieu (beautiful place) written about here recently.
Of course despite having visited each other’s blogs for over five years, there is a large element of anonymity amongst the music blogging community and I wondered how we would identify each other. To avoid any confusion at the restaurant, I made a small sign out of A4, and wrote my blog’s name on it. Having a diner hold up a bit of paper in front of her with the words, “What’s It All About?”, must have alarmed the serving staff at 12.30pm on a Tuesday – Was I having some sort of existential crisis, and would they have to deal with the fallout? Fortunately, I didn’t have to hold my sign up for long, as at the appointed hour, in walked CC holding a newly acquired charity shop album with the lovely Mrs CC by his side.
Of course as happened with blogging buddy C (no relation) when we met up in London, the conversation flowed freely as we’ve known each other virtually for years. Mr WIAA very proudly admitted to never reading my blog, which is good of him, as he likes giving me the freedom to write freely. It wasn’t lost on me however that in some ways our blogging pals know more about us than our real life family, as when you revisit the tracks of your years, as I do, all manner of anecdotes come out. The veil of anonymity means we can do that…, until it comes down that is. Anyway, thankfully CC didn’t spill any beans (as we all went for soup and a sandwich!).
I’m not sure if CC’s purchase, Absolutely by Madness, is really his thing, but as he said, at only a pound he couldn’t not buy it. Madness have popped up around here a couple of times, as they most definitely are my thing. I loved the ska and rocksteady revival of the late ’70s and of course had to go and see them live in 1979 when they came to town as part of the 2 Tone Tour (written about here). Exactly 40 years later they came north again, and I was lucky enough to see them then too (also written about here). They have a vast back catalogue of hits and are still happy to perform them with all the humour and energy they deserve. Lead singer Suggs may be a grandad now, but I never think he has changed that much over the years – Another artist who found his style early on and stuck with it.
The single releases from Absolutely were, Baggy Trousers, Embarrassment, and this one, The Return of the Los Palmas 7. It’s mainly an instrumental with a bit of ad-libbing at the beginning from Chas Smash and it reached No. 7 in the UK Singles Chart in 1981. Whether you are a fan of Madness or not, the videos for their songs were always a lot of fun and as well as being seen in both a greasy spoon and a posh restaurant in this one, the boys also took on the persona of another set of magnificent seven chaps, albeit this time in Kenwood Park, London and not Mexico. If you concentrate, you will also get a potted history of just about every big event in politics, science, sport and entertainment that took place over the previous few decades, via the many clips interspersed throughout the short video. Blink and you’ll miss some of them.
No lyrics this time so it would have been good to end with a picture of us both at our meet-up. Sadly, as I hadn’t taken an album with me, I was woefully unprepared for a Swedey McSwedeface which was a shame. Should I ever meet up with a fellow-blogger again, I’ll be much better prepared.
Did you see it? Last night it was time for the Harvest Moon to put in an appearance and I was lucky enough to catch sight of it before heading to bed. The moon in the picture I took on my phone is a bit blurry, but what with the clouds and the treeline, I thought it looked a bit like a celestial scene from an old master painting.
Harvest Moon by Neil Young:
So, September’s full moon appeared in our skies last night, and today is the Autumnal Equinox, one of only two dates in the annual calendar when there is an equal amount of night and day. Regulars around here might remember two of the series I’ve put together since starting this blog, the Full Moon Calendar in Song and nature’s Wheel of the Year in Song. Although both are now complete, I still take enjoyment from marking the relevant dates.
September by Earth, Wind & Fire:
I would like to say we’re planning a wee soiree tonight to give thanks for the harvests and the fact crops have yet again been stored for the coming winter, but I can’t, for two reasons. I don’t know about where you live but our supermarket shelves are all looking a bit empty. I had never thought much about supply chains until recently, as in the 21st century we are used to being able to quite easily source whatever we need. Now, not so much.
The national shortage of lorry drivers is causing real problems, especially for us here in the North of Scotland. With the anticipated CO2 shortage coming into play as well, it sounds as if fresh meat and vegetables will become a bit of a rarity. Will we have to be issued with ration books and queue up for a few under-the-counter sausages?
The second reason for the lack of a soiree is that my house looks as if a bomb has dropped. Who knew that putting in a new bathroom would cause such chaos (well I didn’t anyway) and if you have a smallish house it’s disruptive indeed. Again, because of supply chain issues we had to order the bits and bobs early to avoid problems with delivery, so currently have a bath in our living room and a toilet sitting in DD’s old bedroom (not plumbed in of course!).
With dustsheets and other bathroom paraphernalia spread liberally throughout the house, a get-together with friends really isn’t an option. I shouldn’t use wartime analogies yet again, as really not in the same league, but with the water and electricity also turned off for much of the day, you do need to muster up a bit of Blitz spirit.
But this is a music blog, so time for the song. It’s astronomical autumn as of today so it’s getting pretty dark early on in the evening. Although it’ll now be starting to wane, the moon will still look pretty full for a couple of days yet, so hopefully you’ll catch sight of it, cloud cover permitting. A moon-related song that failed to make the cut for my series first time around is this one by LeAnn Rimes, Can’t Fight The Moonlight. Here’s the official video clip showing Ms Rimes doing her thing standing on the bar, in the film Coyote Ugly.
The song was the film’s main theme and did really well in the charts, reaching the top spot in the UK Singles Chart in November 2000, and it did the same in another 12 countries. The rom-com got its inspiration from an article written about a real-life bar, the Coyote Ugly Saloon, which in the late ’90s became a favourite with New York’s Lower East Side hipsters. The film seems to have become a bit of a cult classic, an icon of early-2000s fashion and culture, but if I watched it again now I think I would be troubled by it. Twenty years on, is it still ok to enjoy a film about girls dancing on a bar, in wet T-shirts, for tips – It was supposed to be about female empowerment, but really, are we still buying that? As it turns out the ‘saloon’ is still in operation today and has spawned a franchise model that seems to be working well for them, so what do I know.
As for the song, it was written by that most prolific of songwriters Diane Warren and was produced by Trevor Horn, so it almost couldn’t fail. Just like most other moon-related songs, it’s all about being out at night in the moonlight with the one you love.
You can try to resist Try to hide from my kiss But you know But you knowthat you can’t fight the moonlight
I’ve seen the day, but being quite honest, if Mr WIAA suggested we go out in the moonlight tonight I think I would find it quite easyto resist. It’s suddenly got quite cold around here so a mug of cocoa and a box-set it’ll have to be. The plumber has just left for the day but will be back in the morning so I need to get all those jobs out of the way that require water and power – That would be just about everything. Only a week of this still to go – Argh.
Until next time…
Can’t Fight The Moonlight Lyrics (Song by Diane Warren)
Under a lovers’ sky Gonna be with you And no one’s gonna be around If you think that you won’t fall Well, just wait until ‘Til the sun goes down
Underneath the starlight, starlight There’s a magical feeling, so right It’ll steal your heart tonight
You can try to resist Try to hide from my kiss But you know But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight Deep in the dark You’ll surrender your heart But you know But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight No, you can’t fight it It’s gonna get to your heart
There’s no escape from love Once a gentle breeze Weaves its spell upon your heart No matter what you think It won’t be too long ‘Til you’re in my arms Underneath the starlight, starlight We’ll be lost in the rhythm, so right Feel it steal your heart tonight
You can try to resist Try to hide from my kiss But you know But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight Deep in the dark You’ll surrender your heart But you know But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight No you can’t fight it No matter what you do The night is gonna get to you
Don’t try then You’re never gonna win
Underneath the starlight, starlight There’s a magical feeling, so right It will steal your heart tonight
You can try to resist Try to hide from my kiss But you know But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight Deep in the dark You’ll surrender your heart But you know But you know that you can’t fight the moonlight No, you can’t fight it
I was away from home last week which explains my blogging absence. We’ve been lying low this summer so as not to jeopardise any of our business ventures by having to self-isolate, but it was time to emerge from WIAA Towers to visit one of my oldest friends who has moved from London to ‘God’s Own Country’, Yorkshire. She has been mentioned around here often, whenever I’ve written about my flat-sharing years in Aberdeen. Between 1979 and 1987 we lived in a total of five different abodes (with up to four others depending on the size of the flat) before finally parting company and heading off in totally different directions, both figuratively and geographically.
We didn’t know each other very well when we moved into that first student flat in 1979 and we were studying very different subjects. As the years go by however, your flatmates become your ‘urban family’ and you form a very special bond that can only come from living in the same shared space for so long. (Oh yes, there were many, many dramas over exams, jobs and boyfriends.) It was lovely to be able to spend time with her last week, sampling the delights of the North Yorkshire Dales, nearly 42 years on from that first flat-sharing experience.
But this is a music blog so what song to share? Back in 1979 we didn’t have laptops, Netflix or Amazon Prime but we did have a black and white telly that sat on an alcove shelf to the right of the bulky gas fire (never serviced of course but thankfully we lived to tell the tale and didn’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning). My musical memories always lead me back to the show that aired on a Thursday night at 7.30pm, and despite the lack of colour, it was great living somewhere again with a telly. The year before we had been in halls, with no access to telly at all, so for a music lover like myself this was a step up in the world indeed.
As it turned out, only being able to view our favourite music show in black and white was not a problem in the autumn of 1979, as that was just when the 2 Tone phenomenon started to grip the nation – Pork pie hats were even spotted on the heads of Aberdonians. Suddenly ska and rocksteady, a genre we had been too young to appreciate first time around, really started to resonate with a new generation of young people. A tour was put together and in November 1979 I went along to a local nightspot with another music-loving friend to witness the stars of 2 Tone in action – Link to post about that night here. The Specials topped the bill and by then we knew all the songs from their eponymously named debut album. Too Much Too Young rattles along at a fair old speed, giving this late ’70s version of ska a whole new punk sensibility.
But this post was supposed to be about the reunion with my old friend and I don’t remember her being a particular fan of ska in 1979. By the time we parted company in 1987 our musical allegiances were much more aligned and one of the albums I bought that year really did resonate with her. We gladly shared any new acquisition and took advantage of the flat ‘music centre’ to (very illegally) record a copy on cassette tape. Here is a song from the album Baby, the Stars Shine Bright by Everything But The Girl, one that apparently always brought a tear to her to eye whilst driving around the North of Scotland in the new company car she had just been given (which unbeknownst to her bosses became the Flatmobile). We had started flat life with steady boyfriends, but by 1987 they had long gone, and we were singletons again ready to start the next chapter.
So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I seem to have mislaid a lot of local friends of late so was feeling a bit lonely. This pandemic has put paid to many of my regular routines and several of the friends I used to do things with are now finding themselves either busy with grandchildren, or are retiring, and moving away from the area. Thank goodness for old friends of 42 years standing. I had a lovely time last week and our 2021 ‘digs’, unlike our old flat, were most definitely 5 Star.
Until next time…
Come On Home Lyrics (Song by Tracey Thorne/Ben Watt)
Baby come home, I miss the sound of the door Your step on the stair’s not there to wake me no more And every day’s like Christmas Day without you It’s cold and there’s nothing to do
And it’s mighty quiet here now that you’re gone I’ve been behaving myself for too long ‘Cause I don’t like sleeping Or watching TV on my own So please come on home
Baby, what’s keeping you all this time You’re wasting your days out there in the sunshine And who can I turn to if you believe still That England don’t love you and she never will
For it’s mighty quiet here now that you’re gone And I’ve been behaving myself for too long I don’t like drinking or painting the town on my own So please come on home
Baby come on home Please
For it’s mighty quiet here now that you’re gone And I’ve been behaving myself for too long ‘Cause I don’t like sleeping Or watching TV on my own So please come on home
As you may have noticed there hasn’t been much from the Rolling Stones shared around here. I can’t say I’ve ever been a big fan, but I can’t let the death of Charlie Watts go by without a mention. When the band formed back in the early ’60s, I doubt very much if anyone expected them to be still touring and recording new music almost 60 years later, but that’s exactly what’s happened. Doing the maths, it means the original – and even the unoriginal – band members are getting on in years. Charlie made it to the grand old age of 80 and by all accounts he was a very nice man, a jazz drummer who joined a blues band and quietly got on with the job, leaving the front of house stuff to the Glimmer Twins, and Ronnie. It seems chestnut hair-dye, gaudy silk shirts and pirate-esque garb was not for Charlie, and instead he developed a penchant for fine tailoring. A good move, and very smart he always looked too. He was married to wife Shirley for 57 years, almost unheard of in the rock world, so good for them. She will be bereft.
I’m not quite sure why the Rolling Stones haven’t featured more in the ‘tracks of my years’ but much of it down to the fact I was just too young for them back in the early days and by the time I understood more of what they were about, and the themes they covered in their song lyrics, my allegiances lay elsewhere.
I do like some of their ballads however and Wild Horses has been shared around here twice before, both by them and by the The Sundays (link here). Another favourite of mine is Fool To Cry from, yes you’ve guessed it, 1976. I did say I wasn’t going to return to that year for a while but it is a beautiful song and although not too much input from Charlie on that one, I’ve enjoyed listening to it again. I remember it being one of the songs played at our local youth club as it had reached No. 6 in the UK Singles Chart that year. The good friend I’ve often mentioned around here always had to leave the hall when it came on. Perhaps it was teenage hormones, or maybe she’d just had her heart broken, but at age 16 Fool to Cry always made her cry.
There will no doubt have been a fair few tears shed by the remaining Stones today, and understandably so. They’ve had the longest of journeys in an industry where longevity is a rarity. It won’t ever be quite the same again.
Until next time…, RIP Charlie Watts.
Fool To Cry Lyrics (Song by Keith Richards/Mick Jagger)
When I come home baby And I’ve been working all night long I put my daughter on my knee, and she said “Daddy what’s wrong?” She whispered in my ear so sweet You know what she said? She said
“Daddy you’re a fool to cry You’re a fool to cry And it makes me wonder why.”
“Daddy, you’re a fool”
You know, I got a woman (Daddy, you’re a fool) And she live in the poor part of town And I go see her sometimes And we make love, so fine I put my head on her shoulder She said, “Tell me all your troubles.” You know what she said? she said
“Daddy you’re a fool to cry You’re a fool to cry And it makes me wonder why.”
Daddy you’re a fool to cry Oh, I love you so much baby Daddy you’re a fool to cry Daddy you’re a fool to cry, yeah
She said, “Daddy you’re a fool to cry You’re a fool to cry And it makes me wonder why.”
She said, “Daddy you’re a fool to cry Daddy you’re a fool to cry Daddy you’re a fool to cry Daddy you’re a fool to cry”
Even my friends say to me sometimes I make out like I don’t understand them You know what they say? They say, “Daddy you’re a fool to cry You’re a fool to cry And it makes me wonder why.”
I’m a fool baby I’m a fool baby I’m a certified fool I want to tell ya Gotta tell ya, baby
I’m a fool baby I’m a fool baby Come on I’m a fool I’m a fool I’m a fool
My last two posts have seen me hark back to 1976, the year of The Long Hot Summer, and I think I even came out and said I keep doing that because it was the last time I was truly happy with no worries of any kind.
What a load of tosh!
We definitely have a selective memory when it comes to revisiting the music of our youth and somehow forget the upset caused by a missed homework deadline, or the feeling we get when the boy we have long admired becomes romantically involved with our best friend.
40 years on from 1976 was the year 2016 which was a really happy one for me as I launched What’s It All About? Looking back at my stats for that year I published 109 posts and wrote over 110,000 words. I don’t know how I did it now as I still went to work every morning, ran the family business in the afternoon and looked out for my elderly mum who was still living semi-independently. DD even came back home to live in the middle of that year. I definitely didn’t watch a lot of telly in 2016 (I seem to have become an addict since Lockdown 1) and Mr WIAA was probably somewhat neglected, but I had this new hobby and was loving all the interaction with my fellow bloggers. To call me a ‘music blogger’ is probably a stretch, but people were kind and added me to their sidebars which helped this place build up a following that’s kept me going ever since.
Perusing the pop charts of 2016, I definitely wasn’t writing about current music back then, as once the BBC called time on TOTP, I kind of lost track of new chart artists and their output. Oh no, instead I was revisiting decades past and strangely enough discovered a new affinity for the music of 1967 which I had been too young to truly appreciate back then. It all made me very happy.
One song I do remember well from 2016 however was Can’t Stop the Feeling! by Justin Timberlake – A really happy song written for the film Trolls.
I got this feeling, inside my bones It goes electric, wavy when I turn it on
I got that sunshine in my pocket Got that good soul in my feet
I can’t stop the feeling So just dance, dance, dance
Justin got to perform it as part of the interval act at the grand final of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden, watched by an audience of around 180 million. Regulars around here know I am a fan of Eurovision and even went to the live event in Vienna in 2015. A year too early to witness Justin in action but he probably made a lot of new fans, as the Eurovision audience is broad indeed. Prolific Swedish songwriter/producer Max Martin was behind the making of the song which might also have had an influence on his selection.
I was too old to really appreciate Justin when he first appeared with boy band NSYCH in the late ’90s, but over the years his music kept popping up on DD’s compilation CDs and even I couldn’t fail to notice he was becoming a bit of an all-round sensation. He could sing, dance, act and had a real charisma on stage which can’t be manufactured (although many try). He is now aged 40 and is apparently referred to as the President of Pop by contemporary journalists. Until I looked up his bio for this post I really don’t think I’d appreciated how big a star he has become and is already a contender for ‘Best Male Pop Star of the 21st century’. Who knows, as still nearly 80 years to go until decision time and I won’t be around to see it, but quite something.
So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Apologies for having been a bit miserable around here of late. It’s been a tough couple of years and like most of us I’ve had my ups and downs, and mood swings, which can come through in the blog. Still plenty of happy songs out there though and we don’t always have to go back to the 1960s to find them. I went to bed last night thinking yesterday had been a really good day, a happy day. In this post-pandemic world that’s about as good as it gets.
Until next time…
Can’t Stop the Feeling! Lyrics (Song by Justin Timberlake/Max Martin/Johan Shuster)
I got this feeling inside my bones It goes electric, wavy when I turn it on All through my city, all through my home We’re flying up, no ceiling, when we’re in our zone
I got that sunshine in my pocket Got that good soul in my feet I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops I can’t take my eyes up off it Moving so phenomenally Room on lock the way we rock it So don’t stop
And under the lights when everything goes Nowhere to hide when I’m getting you close When we move, well, you already know So just imagine, just imagine, just imagine
Nothing I can see but you When you dance, dance, dance Feeling good, good, creeping up on you So just dance, dance, dance Come on All those things I shouldn’t do But you dance, dance, dance And ain’t nobody leaving soon So keep dancing
I can’t stop the feeling So just dance, dance, dance I can’t stop the feeling So just dance, dance, dance Come on
Ooh, it’s something magical It’s in the air, it’s in my blood, it’s rushing on Don’t need no reason, don’t need control I fly so high, no ceiling, when I’m in my zone
I can’t stop the feeling So just dance, dance, dance I can’t stop the feeling So just dance, dance, dance I can’t stop the feeling So just dance, dance, dance I can’t stop the feeling So keep dancing, come on
Justin’s Eurovision performance also featured the song Rock Your Body which I have in my digital library courtesy of one of DD’s Pop Party CDs from 2003. She’s all grown up now, and such CDs have long gone, but her mum obviously had the foresight to load them onto her computer in the event she might someday start a music blog. Probably didn’t expect to write about this song, but just goes to show, ‘the tracks of our years’ are rich and varied indeed.
In case anyone visiting this post hasn’t experienced the phenomenon that is the Eurovision Song Contest, here is the other item from that interval break in Sweden in 2016. Touted as being one of the best fillers ever, and showing that the contest really doesn’t take itself too seriously, here is Måns Zelmerlöw (the winner of the 2015 contest) and Petra Mede giving us a pastiche of past Eurovision songs. Love, Love, Peace, Peace was very funny indeed and possibly formed the inspiration for the Will Ferrell film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga written about here last year. Enjoy.
Considering I go back to college in less than a month’s time, I really need to get back into the swing of putting pen to paper, or rather, typing words on a screen. It’s a very wordy course and this blog used to keep me limbered up so to speak. Going to hold my hands up and admit to being a bit off my game at the moment however, and although not for any one specific reason, a slew of minor anxieties all coming along at the same time can do that to a person. I’m sure I’ll get back on track soon, once we can re-emerge from WIAA Towers having avoided all contact with other humans for the last month in case we’re “pinged”. Both being self-employed it had to happen, but it does get a bit monotonous, especially as life returns to a semblance of normality for everyone else.
The Olympics did raise my spirits for a while but the live events often happened during the night due to the time difference and I’m coming round to the realisation (why has it taken so long?) that akin to football, where you end up on the medals table is down to how much money has been spent. As most of the funding comes via the National Lottery, I can’t help thinking some of it hasn’t given a great rate of return and could have been diverted to initiatives that help more of the people who buy those lottery tickets in the first place. Having said that, I am full of admiration for those who have worked hard in their chosen discipline and won medals, but by now we know it never turns us into a nation of superfit athletes. We’re great at sitting on our couches watching others swim, row, cycle, run and jump, but not so great at partaking ourselves.
A 100 years ago they trained by running along the beach. Mo performed in front of a home crowd in 2012 but this time, because of the pandemic, the stadiums were empty.
I’ve been reminiscing about the year 1976 a lot of late – First of all because of the Long Hot Summer mentioned around here last time, secondly because it was also an Olympic year (Montreal) but mainly because it was the last time I remember having absolutely no worries or anxieties. Sounds dramatic I know, and it doesn’t mean my life has been riddled with anguish since (I’ve had the odd year off!), but in 1976 when I was aged 16, life was indeed sweet.
Time for a family anecdote. My dad inevitably loved watching the 1976 Olympics as he had been quite an athlete in his youth and excelled at many different sports. I on the other hand was no athlete, and despite being encouraged by him to try lots of disciplines I could tell I was a bit of a disappointment when it came to my sporting prowess. Then he had an epiphany – Tennis. The village tennis courts where he had played as a youngster were in a state of disrepair and had long been out of use. He would rebuild the courts and perhaps, just perhaps, his daughter might become the next Wimbledon champion.
As was my dad’s way he simply went down to the courts every evening for a week sizing up the job to be done and taking measurements. People in the community gradually became interested and many of his friends started to join him. Materials were acquired to create a new clay court and the fences were repaired. The pavilion next to the courts was also refurbished and then painted, so the wives joined in too. For us teenagers it became a great place to hang out during that long hot summer. A coach was hired from the city to come and give us lessons, but yes, you guessed it, although I loved the social scene around the pavilion, tennis turned out not to be my thing either.
But what were we listening to in the summer of 1976? By good fortune I have just found my copy of Words magazine from the August of that year. This periodical has appeared around here before as I was a subscriber and as well as sharing song lyrics, the mag kept teens like myself up to date with all that was happening in the world of pop music. Here is the contents page from that issue along with the front and back covers. Lots of songs there that have really stood the test of time along with a surprising amount of reissues from the ’60s. Not sure if you can read from the picture, but how many of the artists would you identify from this list of songs without looking them up?
As for the cover star, it was Peter Frampton, who was becoming a bit of a big cheese in America around that time and had just released his Frampton Comes Alive! album. To be honest his previous role as frontman of the band Humble Pie had passed me by and I’m sure it was quite some time before I realised he was actually British, but there is no denying that 1976 was a good year for him.
The song Show Me the Way had reached No. 10 in the UK Singles Chart in the May of 1976 as the lead single from his new album. Peter was also one of the first artists to make extensive use of a talk box .
But what else were we talking about whilst hanging out in our newly refurbed pavilion (rather than playing tennis). On the back page of the magazine was a picture of some of the characters from the new film Bugsy Malone. I have nothing but fond memories of this film – Great acting from its incredibly young cast, great songs and a lot of slapstick humour. I seem to remember I went to see it at our local cinema with a potential beau once the schools went back after the summer holidays. At the interval I dropped my ice-cream on the floor after falling over a single seat that had been left down in the row. Very much in tune with the slapstick nature of the film however, so thankfully the date was saved. Once DD came along she loved watching our video recording of the film on telly, but always called it Bugsy Alone (poor Bugsy).
So, a trip down memory lane for me and hopefully for some of you too. Out of interest here are some of the other bands that were written about in that particular edition of Words. Hard to imagine that some of them were just starting out, so the writers had no idea yet of what was to come.
I’m going to end with another song featured in my magazine. Kiss and Say Goodbye was a massive worldwide hit in 1976 recorded by American R&B vocal group The Manhattans. I had another listen to it this week and it reminds me of so many other songs coming out of America at that time. It was written by Winfred Lovett, the bass singer, who also got the job of intoning the spoken work introduction. A love affair was coming to an end it seems for these reasons:
Because of my obligations, and the ties that you have…
Well, if you both have obligations and ties that will happen, but at age 16 I always thought it was a very pragmatic and unlikely line to have included in such a beautiful but sad song – Shows what I knew about love triangles back then. I was still dropping my ice-cream on the cinema floor on my dates.
I seem to have gone way over my usual wordcount which is good for me in terms of getting in some writing practice, but maybe not so good for you. Having said that I love revisiting these old magazines and reading the contemporary reviews, so hope you do too. Some turn out to be prophetic, but not all of them, as some music journalists got it horribly wrong.
As for me, I might look out my old tennis racquet – I’m going to have to spend more time on sport and less time sitting in front of a computer it seems if I’m to keep these old bones in tip top shape. I might have let my dad down back in 1976 by not becoming a Wimbledon champion, but to fair, I’m sure he always thought of it as a long shot. As it turned out, because of his efforts, the whole village had a thoroughly good summer down at our previously neglected tennis courts. Nice one Dad.
Until next time…
Kiss And Say Goodbye Lyrics (Song by Winfred Lovett)
This has got to be the saddest day of my life I called you here today for a bit of bad news I won’t be able to see you anymore Because of my obligations, and the ties that you have We’ve been meeting here everyday And since this is our last day together I wanna hold you just one more time When you turn and walk away, don’t look back I wanna remember you just like this Let’s just kiss and say goodbye
I had to meet you here today There’s just so many things to say Please don’t stop me ’till I’m through This is something I hate to do We’ve been meeting here so long I guess what we done, oh was wrong Please darling, don’t you cry Let’s just kiss and say goodbye
Many months have passed us by (I’m gonna miss you) I’m gonna miss you, I can’t lie (I’m gonna miss you) I’ve got ties, and so do you I just think this is the thing to do It’s gonna hurt me, I can’t lie Maybe you’ll meet, you’ll meet another guy Understand me, won’t you try, try, try, try, try, try, try Let’s just kiss and say goodbye
(I’m gonna miss you) I’m gonna miss you, I can’t lie (I’m gonna miss you) Understand me, won’t you try (I’m gonna miss you) It’s gonna hurt me, I can’t lie (I’m gonna miss you) Take my handkerchief, wipe your eyes (I’m gonna miss you) Maybe you’ll find, you’ll find another guy (I’m gonna miss you) Let’s kiss and say goodbye, pretty baby (I’m gonna miss you) Please, don’t you cry (I’m gonna miss you) Understand me, won’t you try (I’m gonna miss you) Let’s just kiss And say goodbye
Having a heatwave over the summer used to be seen as a good thing, but of course nowadays it’s happening so regularly it’s seen as a rather worrying trend. Up here in the North of Scotland we’ve not yet had the really high temperatures that makes sleep impossible, but there are of course all sorts of other downsides. If you are a fair-skinned person like myself you know full well that sunbathing is a big no-no, but we never learn do we, and over the years I’ve had a fair few bad cases of sunburn. The damage caused comes home to roost however and I’m off to the skin clinic next week to be checked out.
If you are British, and of my demographic, the summer we always hark back to is The Long Hot Summer of 1976. There have been summers just as hot since but they didn’t happen when I was aged 16, just about the best age to enjoy a heatwave with friends. Once the sunburnt skin had peeled off we did start to turn a nice shade of golden brown, with the help of some cooking oil, or if you could afford it, some Ambre Solaire. As for SPFs, they didn’t exist yet. Dressed in our Brutus jeans, wedge sandals and skimpy cheesecloth shirts we thought we looked the bees knees.
But what were we listening to back in the summer of 1976? Well I’ve written such a post before (link here), so most of the really memorable pop hits by the likes of Elton & Kiki, The Real Thing and Candi Staton have already been covered. Time therefore to revisit another song, one I heard on the radio the other day, and one that seems to have lodged itself in my head as an earworm.
As it turns out Moonlight Feels Right by Starbuck was never a hit in the UK, so although I know the song well it must be from hearing it on the radio over the years. It was however a big hit in the US, Canada and Australia, so wonder why it didn’t strike a cord over here. To me it just screams 1976 America (as we called it back then), and reminds me of another song from across the pond I also like from that era. Yes, one of the very first songs I ever wrote about around here was I’d Really Love To See You Tonight by England Dan & John Ford Coley. In Scotland, even during a heatwave, it is never warm after dark, so back in 1976 I just loved the idea of those “warm winds blowin’ the stars around”. Likewise, in Moonlight…, we are painted a picture of warm summer evenings by the coast, with the moon and stars shining brightly in the night sky. With foreign travel off the cards for most of us at the moment, I will have to content myself with song lyrics for the time being.
I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean And drop the top at Chesapeake Bay Ain’t nothin’ like the sky to dose a potion The moon’ll send you on your way
We’ll lay back and observe the constellations And watch the moon smilin’ bright I’ll play the radio on southern stations ‘Cause southern belles are hell at night
After hearing the song on the radio this week I realised I had never taken the time to pick up on the artist’s name, so had to google it. Inevitably when I found out it was a band called Starbuck I just pictured a coffee cup, such is the ubiquitous nature of that name nowadays – Back in 1974 when Starbuck formed, the large coffee chain had been trading in Seattle for just three years, purely as a wholesaler of beans. It’s now their 50th anniversary year and how things have changed.
Moonlight… was promoted as the first rock song ever to feature a marimba and if you fast forward to 1:50 on the video clip you will see a jumpsuited Bo Wagner performing his instrumental solo. As mentioned before in my post about the England Dan & John Ford Coley song, back in 1976 we had often no idea what the artist behind the song looked liked. Without being cruel, I think for 16-year-old girls, it was good that some songs remained a radio staple only.
So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – After writing 23 full moon related posts, I don’t know how I missed including this song, but as luck would have it July’s Buck Moon should appear in our skies tonight. For those of you whose sleep patterns are affected by the heatwave, you might be lucky enough to witness it. A tiny upside.
As for me, on top of the skin clinic visit I have a screening appointment (much delayed due to the pandemic), a dental visit (also much delayed) and as a result of my recent fractured ankle, a bone density scan, all in the next 10 days. Like buses, they all come at once but sadly goes with the whole process of getting older. Until I get the all-clear I am going to keep my time in the sun to a minimum which makes life difficult when you live with a dedicated sunseeker. To all my fellow fair-skinned followers out there, as Sergeant Phil in Hill Street Blues used to say, ‘Let’s be careful out there’.
Until next time…
Moonlight Feels Right Lyrics (Song by Bruce Blackman)
The wind blew some luck in my direction I caught it in my hands today I finally made a tricky French connection You winked and gave me your O.K. I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean And drop the top at Chesapeake Bay Ain’t nothing like the sky to dose a potion The moon’ll send you on your way
Moonlight feels right Moonlight feels right
We’ll lay back and observe the constellations And watch the moon smilin’ bright I’ll play the radio on southern stations ‘Cause southern belles are hell at night You say you came to Baltimore from Ole Miss Class of seven-four, gold ring The eastern moon looks ready for a wet kiss To make the tide rise again
Moonlight feels right Moonlight feels right
We’ll see the sun come up on Sunday morning And watch it fade the moon away I guess you know I’m giving you a warning ‘Cause me and moon are itching to play I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean And drop the top at Chesapeake Bay Ain’t nothin’ like the sky to dose a potion The moon’ll send you on your way