A Summer of Sport, Coin Collections and Songs from Simpler Times

Well, I don’t suppose I can write this week’s blog post without mentioning sport, as there’s an awful lot of it going on right now, and I’ve got caught up in all the excitement. Unlike many Scots I am always happy if any of our home nations does well in a big football tournament, as it extends the excitement that bit longer and you can experience it all vicariously via their fans. Although I am no longer a fan of club football, I do still love the big tournaments and there will be an awful lot of UK citizens tuning in on Sunday night for the final. Sadly DD and her boyfriend had chosen that one weekend to head off to a fancy-pants hotel for a bit of R & R. She is most definitely not a fan of football but her boyfriend certainly is. Their Sunday night “dining experience” will be cut short I fear.

An absolute dream for a fan of spreadsheets, lists and statistics – My ‘beflagged’, almost completed wallchart

But anyway, with tennis back at Wimbledon, the Tour de France in progress, our national football teams giving the country a much needed lift, and the Tokyo Olympics (sans spectators it seems) just round the corner, it feels like summers of old. Odd that everything is now out of sync in terms of the year though, UEFA Euro 2020 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics both being held in 2021. In the fullness of time, when we look back at those long lists of annual sporting achievements, the year 2020 will be erased from time, something that didn’t even happen during the two world wars. The pesky virus, invisible to the eye, has shut down international gatherings like never before in history.

There have been many football anthems over the years and I shared one from Scotland’s 1982 campaign a couple of weeks ago (link here). Time to focus on the home nation who will appear in Sunday’s final then. Over the years, England have had many songs recorded to accompany their football tournament journey, but only four have made it to the top spot on the UK Singles Chart. The first was this one, Back Home, from 1970, the year I first became invested in football and from the days when the actual team lined up for singing duties. (Bobby Charlton looking a bit sad there in the still, or is he embarrassed?).

I had been just too young to remember the 1966 campaign (down to a very early bedtime in those days I’ve now realised) but by the time I reached the age of 10, I could join my dad in watching the matches, and collecting those coins that were given out at petrol stations. I do still have some of the sticker books petrol stations gave away during the Olympics of that era, but sadly no longer have my coin collection. Fortunately I’ve found some sets online shared by people who have very sensibly held on to theirs. Some very familiar names there from the 1966 World Cup winning team, but sadly not many of them still with us. Bobby’s brother Jack Charlton died just last year, and so did Nobby Stiles. A great shame they didn’t live long enough to see their team reach another final.

So the song Back Home, written by top pop songwriters of the day Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart in May 1970. It took another 20 years for an England campaign football song to reach to top spot and this time it was a very different animal. World in Motion was written/performed by New Order and Keith Allen with the football squad joining in for the chorus. Footballer John Barnes took the song to a whole new level by very ably adding a rap section, and unlike Back Home, I think it has stood the test of time.

I had just starting going out with Mr WIAA and I remember watching much of Italia ’90 with him. This time there were no coins to collect, but many of us did find ourselves warming to opera, after being serenaded by Luciano Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma every evening ahead of watching the television coverage.

Luciano Pavarotti

The third No. 1 football song was of course Three Lions which seems to have become the unofficial anthem for every England campaign since. It was written back in 1996 for the Euros held in England so it made sense for the songwriters to add the line, “It’s coming home”. It didn’t as it turned out, but 25 years on there is the chance for that to happen on Sunday night. This time the song was written by comedians David BaddielFrank Skinner, and the band Lightning Seeds. Don’t know about you but it doesn’t feel like 25 years since that tournament, but then again DD was just a baby back then, and now she’s off to expensive hotels with her boyfriend. How time flies.

Scotland found themselves in the same group as England at Euro 96 and I remember well sitting with a piece of paper on the night of the final group stage matches, working out the changing goal difference between teams each time the ball found itself at the back of the net. For a time it was looking as if Scotland would progress, but a last minute goal by The Netherlands put paid to that dream. As they were playing England many of us thought they possibly let that happen, but that would be casting aspersions wouldn’t it.

For the sake of completeness I feel I should add the fourth and final anthem to have reached the top spot, Shout for England, but I can’t say I even remember it. It was written for the South Africa 2010 World Cup tournament and samples Tears for Fears Shout as well as sections of rap by Dizzee Rascal. James Corden also seems to have played a part on that one. This tournament largely passed me by, because of intense work pressures around that time, but who could forget the dreaded vuvuzela.

And so we come to now, and very oddly a song from 1969 has captured the imagination of the fans on the terraces. It has worked its magic in stadiums throughout the US, but who would have thought Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline would hit that sweet spot just as we reach Sunday’s final. All apparently because of its very particular lyrics:

Good times never seemed so good (especially if you’ve just won a big match)

Hands, touchin’ hands
Reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you
(rises to a rousing crescendo, and a fine sentiment for fans who have been kept apart for so long)

I always knew the name Caroline in the song was inspired by JFK’s daughter, but only found out today that it was because his wife’s name, Marcia, just didn’t work phonetically. After reading a magazine article about Caroline, he worked out the syllables in her name fitted better, so changed it.

Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I don’t think many music lovers who follow this blog are fans of football, so excuse me this little indulgence, but it’s been an exciting few weeks with three of our home nations doing really well in the Euros. I was sad when Scotland didn’t progress beyond the group stages, but we were all really proud of our team and can always say we held one of the tournament finalists (we don’t yet know who will win) to a draw. Many think we should have won that match.

As for the songs, just wanted to cover the ones that made it to the top spot in the singles chart but of course there are many, many more. If the England team do the business on Sunday night, and win their match against Italy, I’m sure 60,000 football fans will find their voices, and the sounds of Sweet Caroline will fill Wembley stadium.

Until next time…

Sweet Caroline Lyrics
(Song by Neil Diamond)

Where it began
I can’t begin to knowin’
But then I know it’s growin’ strong

Was in the spring
And spring became the summer
Who’d have believed you’d come along

Hands, touchin’ hands
Reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’ve been inclined
To believe they never would

But now I…

…look at the night
And it don’t seem so lonely
We fill it up with only two

And when I hurt
Hurtin’ runs off my shoulders
How can I hurt when holdin’ you?

Warm, touchin’ warm
Reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’ve been inclined

To believe they never would
Oh, no, no

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
Sweet Caroline
I believed they never could

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good

The Return of Beach Holidays, The Byrds and ‘Dolphin’s Smile’

Well, I don’t know about you, but the month of June has really perked me up. A birthday at the start of the month, being able to meet up with friends again, a big football tournament in progress, Wimbledon back on the telly and blow me down, a little holiday. Yes, for the first time in nearly two years we had a few days away and it was such a tonic. Sadly we picked the week with less than perfect weather, and had our trip been this week it would have been glorious, but despite that minor inconvenience we still had a great time.

Then…

Both myself and Mr WIAA had many caravan holidays as children, usually at one of the great beaches that line the Moray Firth coast. Back in those days the caravans were spartan affairs indeed, complete with tables that converted into beds, tiny little gas stoves for cooking and convoluted dual-purpose cupboard space. But it really didn’t matter, as you spent most of your time outside, on the dunes, at the shoreline, or leaping from one Churchill Barrier to the next (that would be at Findhorn). Our parents didn’t even mind either, as for them it was a lovely break away from work and household chores.

and now!

Fortunately for us, our caravan last week was a much fancier affair with a fully fitted kitchen, an en-suite, comfy sofas and a smart telly. In terms of keeping safe, we had it all to ourselves, and also gave it a bit of an additional clean before taking up residence. All very reassuring for our first trip away since the pesky virus put in an appearance.

I have come back laden with pictures but first I’ll attach a link to the post I wrote in 2016, from the last time we visited the beaches of East Sutherland. It seems the same issue arose this time around as it did back then – we had withdrawal symptoms from the lack of Wi-Fi – but once you give in and accept the situation, it’s a great digital detox.

As we arrived on the 21st June, which this year was the day of the summer solstice here in Scotland, I persuaded Mr WIAA to come out for a walk after the sun went down. The problem with living so far north at this time of year is that it never gets truly dark, as these shots (and my early waking sleep patterns) prove. A happy coincidence was that June’s almost full moon was in the sky that night, as I would have missed the perfectly full version later on in the week due to cloud cover.

One of my favourite things to do on a beach holiday is to head off in search of wild flowers which is what I did on the second day of our little break. For once I used my actual camera instead of a phone, so was mighty impressed with some of the close-up shots taken with a macro lens.

Most of our time however was spent on and around the beach itself, and true to form Mr WIAA can still seek out a crab in less than a minute. Probably comes from having spent so much time on such endeavours as a boy.

Despite both being well into middle age now, in fact having just looked it up I am apparently now only four years away from entering old age (scary thought), we do still like building a sand sculpture when at the beach. The site shop fortunately had a good supply of buckets and spades, so, fully equipped, we embarked on this year’s creation. Much to the amusement of passers by, who told us to ‘play nice’, it only took an hour to build this large dolphin which from the air looks as if it’s leaping out of the ocean – A happy coincidence from having picked a spot just above the tide line. I don’t think it’s just me, but it seems to look concave right at the start of the film and then changes to convex as it pans out. An intriguing optical illusion.

As is our habit we built a sand sculpture, then filmed it from the air


But what the heck, this is supposed to be a music blog, so where is the music? To be fair I think you will excuse me rambling on about my holiday, and for sharing so many pictures, it having been such a bizarre 15 months. We seem to be deriving much more enjoyment from simple pleasures, which is a good thing perhaps. The reset button has been pressed which had it not been for such an awful reason, was probably needed anyway (although the airlines and travel companies will no doubt disagree).

When I did a quick search I found quite few ‘dolphin songs’ but here is one that surprised me. Olivia Newton-John recorded the song Physical in 1981, only three years after portraying the virginal Sandy in the film Grease. What I hadn’t realised was that on the B-side was this song, The Promise (The Dolphin Song). Olivia even puts in an appearance halfway through the video clip, swimming with the dolphins rather than Danny Zuko.

The Promise (The Dolphin Song) by Olivia Newton-John:


But for me the winner is this song, Dolphin’s Smile by the Byrds from their fifth album The Notorious Byrd Brothers. I often mention around here that my favourite year to journey back to, in terms of music, is 1967, and sure enough that was when this album was recorded. I also seem to have a great affinity for that late ‘60s blend of psychedelia, folk rock, baroque pop, and jazz championed by bands like the Byrds who had taken up residence in the Laurel Canyon area of LA. Ironically the making of this album was fraught with tension, resulting in the loss of two members of the band. David Crosby was fired in October 1967 and drummer Michael Clarke left the band midway through recording, returning briefly before finally being dismissed after completion of the album. 

Dolphin’s Smile by the Byrds:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – Life does seem to be getting back to a semblance of normality here in the UK but there is still seemingly a lot of confusion over rules and restrictions. Wembley Stadium is full of football supporters, yet fathers still have to walk their daughters down the aisle in a facemask in front of a very limited gathering of guests. I am busy hosting holiday-makers at my place, yet am still fearful about travelling myself.

The Byrds, looking very young indeed

But throughout all the confusion we still have music, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to my music device on holiday last week. I’ve also enjoyed discovering the featured song by the Byrds. It might be next year until we build another sand sculpture, but in the meantime at least we have our little film to remind us of our own dolphin’s smile. (Too much? Yes, I suspected so.)

Until next time…

Dolphin’s Smile Lyrics
(David Crosby/Chris Hillman/Roger McGuinn)

Out at sea for a year
Floating free from all fear

Every day blowin’ spray,
In a dolphin’s smile

Wind-taut line split the sky,
Curlin’crest rollin’ by
Floating free aimlessly,
In a dolphin’s smile

Rainbow’s end everywhere,
Full of light, free as air
Childhood’s dream,
Have you ever seen a dolphin’s smile

A Good Omen? – John Gordon Sinclair and ‘We Have A Dream’

I’m currently on holiday and we’ve just been sunbathing on a beach in Sutherland. Being able to do this in Scotland is a rare event, as is being able to watch our national football team take part in a big tournament, but lo and behold, today seems to be the day for both of these wondrous happenings. Imagine my delight therefore when the first song that popped up on my music device earlier, after pressing shuffle, was this one, written about last November after we qualified. Of the very many possible song choices, it was a long shot indeed, but I really hope it’s a good omen for tonight’s big match despite the pesky virus having depleted our team’s personnel – Come on Scotland, WE HAVE A DREAM.

What's It All About?

I come from a football loving family, and my dad played for our village team until he was in his thirties, but over the years I’ve kind of lost interest in following any particular team. Mr WIAA has never been a fan, and once DD’s boyfriend moved south, I stopped following the local side he used to work for.

I do enjoy the big tournaments however, like The World Cup and The Euros. Maybe it’s the geographer in me, but from a young age I was fascinated by this coming together of teams from around the world, with their different strips and flags. You could kind of work out a nation’s history from its football squad and the names were often so exotic sounding – Eusébio, Maradona and Jairzinho, so different from those of our homegrown players. Also, for a few weeks there is usually a frisson of excitement…

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Photo Challenges, Simon & Garfunkel and ‘Scarborough Fair’

I am going to have to admit defeat today as neither of the posts I’ve started have worked out – It happens, and I’m sure some of my blogging pals will recognise that feeling. Just too much going on I think, after over a year of very little going on at all. Our senses are being overloaded.

Time therefore to resort to the sharing of a photograph, which is exactly what some of the music blogging fraternity have been doing of late. I will first refer you to The Swede over at Unthought Of, Though, Somehow, to check out his excellent Friday Photo, and then to John over at Are We There Yet? for his equally excellent, but very different, Two of a Kind photographs.

Here is my photo, taken just yesterday evening when we decided to make the short trip through to a nearby village for an ice-cream. The village, called Beauly because French-speaking Mary Queen of Scots called it a beau lieu (beautiful place), has a very old Priory which in the evening sun looked striking. Needless to say, the locally renowned fish and chip shop where we got our very delicious Mr Whippy ice-cream, is called The Friary. Love it.


But what song to include in a picture post such as this? As we wandered round the inside of the ruined priory licking ice-cream (probably a sacrilege), we couldn’t help but notice the dates on some of the tombstones, a few going as far back as the 15th century. It will therefore have to be a very old song, and off the top of my head this one comes to mind, Scarborough Fair by that duo who have appeared around here often, Simon & Garfunkel. To be fair (no pun intended), it’s a traditional English ballad, but it does seem to have a lot in common with a Scottish ballad called The Elfin Knight, so not too unreasonable.

The lyrics are about trying to attain true love by performing impossible tasks. In Medieval times, the herbs mentioned in the song represented virtues – Parsley was comfort, sage was strength, rosemary was love, and thyme was courage. As I often say around here, every day’s a school day.

The song was released as a single in 1968, after it was used on the soundtrack to one of my all-time favourite films, The Graduate. Paul Simon learned of the song whilst on tour in England, after hearing it performed by folk singer Martin Carthy. Martin Carthy in turn had learned the song from a Ewan MacColl songbook.

Scarborough Fair/Canticle by Simon & Garfunkel:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – When you’re stumped for inspiration, or suffering blogger’s block, resort to a picture post. A song will surely follow as it has done for me here.

As for this flurry of photo sharing amongst the community, I’m also up for the challenge and look forward to seeing what the others share next.

I have been very careful (until now) to avoid any mention of the momentous football match which will take place tomorrow night between Scotland and England. It’s 25 years since we played each other in the Euros, but I still remember that night well. DD was a just a little baby so the return match has been a long time coming. Talking of Scottish/English rivalry, I’ve just shared an English ballad which was based on a Scottish ballad, but not sure which is best. Time perhaps to share a version of The Elfin Knight, on this occasion by Kate Rusby. Personally I’m torn, as both very different in style, but would be interested to hear your thoughts.

As for who will fair best on the football pitch tomorrow night, we have yet to find out, so I’m glad I got this one in ahead of kick-off. I’m not a massive football fan, but I do like the big tournaments and used to watch them all with my dad as a girl. I’m Scottish, but Mr WIAA is English – Could make for an interesting time in our house tomorrow night.

Until next time…

Scarborough Fair Lyrics
(Traditional)

Are you going to Scarborough Fair:
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.

On the side of a hill in the deep forest green.
Tracing of sparrow on snow-crested brown.
Blankets and bedclothes the child of the mountain
Sleeps unaware of the clarion call.

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt:
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
Without no seams nor needle work,
Then she’ll be a true love of mine.

On the side of a hill a sprinkling of leaves.
Washes the grave with silvery tears.

A soldier cleans and polishes a gun.
Sleeps unaware of the clarion call.

Tell her to find me an acre of land:
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
Between the salt water and the sea strand,
Then she’ll be a true love of mine.

War bellows blazing in scarlet battalions.
General order their soldiers to kill.
And to fight for a cause they’ve long ago forgotten.

Tell her to reap it with a sickle of leather:
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme;
And gather it all in a bunch of heather,
Then she’ll be a true love of mine.

Six Years of Birthday Blogging and the Phrase, ‘We All Now Know How That Turned Out’

I had a birthday this week, my sixth since starting this blog, and it occurred to me to look back at what I was writing about in each of those years at this time. It made for interesting reading, as although there is always a song around here, from the get-go it has also been my web-diary, and I’ve been pretty honest about all the ups and downs that life has very naturally thrown my way.

2016 – Back then I was still concentrating primarily on the music, and for my birthday post I decided to write about music from the year of my birth, music that certainly didn’t feature in my own musical memories, but it might have done for my parents had they not been quite so busy coping with a new baby in the house. My next post was all about that momentous decision we were about to make, which could possibly take us out of the EU. (Well, we all now know how that turned out and a right hullaballoo it’s still causing all these years later, this week regarding the humble British banger.) But getting back to the year of my birth, here’s a bit of Adam Faith for you.

What Do You Want by Adam Faith:

2017 – This was the summer of terrorist attacks and tragic fires. The Manchester Arena and London Bridge attacks and then the horrors of Grenfell Tower. At the same time our new PM Theresa May decided to hold a snap election to consolidate her majority in The House of Commons ahead of Brexit negotiations. (Again, we all now know how that turned out.) On a more positive note, a very successful benefit concert called One Love was held in Manchester shortly after the atrocity at the arena, and we also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ seminal album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles:

2018 – By this time I was really getting into my blogging stride and in early June I wrote a couple of wedding posts, one a very royal affair (we all now know how that turned out – there’s a pattern forming here) and one for a girl from our neighbourhood. To challenge myself I also embarked on a whole week of blogging which culminated with me posting 7 in 7 (seven posts in seven days). I was very proud of myself but now realise whenever I set myself these kind of challenges I understandably lose followers along the way, as overkill really. It certainly does help flex the blogging muscles though. On a positive note, my Full Moon Calendar in Song series was really gathering pace and is still my favourite because of all I discovered, both about our only satellite, and about the many moon-related songs that were included. I thought Carly Simon’s version of Moonlight Serenade was just perfect for June’s Strawberry Moon.

Moonlight Serenade by the Glenn Miller Orchestra:


2019 – By the time my birthday came around two years ago I was already headlong into greeting guests at the holiday hideaway we had taken on earlier in the year, but having worked in an office for 35 years it turned out I wasn’t ‘match fit’, and my back, neck and shoulders were already giving me gyp. I wrote about the sleepless nights that ensued, compounded by the sheer number of troubling television dramas that filled our screens of an evening. One BBC drama called Years and Years portrayed a worrying picture of what life might be like in only five years time, with everyone working from home at their kitchen tables, communication all being done virtually via screens, and everything we consume being ordered online. (Well, well, well – Again, we all now know how that turned out and it didn’t take five years, just one.) On a really positive note however, I finally made it down to London that month to meet long time blogging buddy C from Sun Dried Sparrows. As we used mock-ups of our first albums to recognise each other this song by the Clash seems appropriate (for C anyway – my first album wasn’t quite as ‘cool’).

London Calling by the Clash:

2020 – This is the big one isn’t it. I had reached a milestone birthday but couldn’t celebrate it with anyone as we all had to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. Not complaining of course, as there seemed little other choice at the time, but by June it was becoming apparent there would be no V-shaped bounce back to the economy and that restrictions could be in place for another few weeks yet (a year on, we all now know how that turned out). DD’s life in Glasgow was in disarray and there would be a complicated manoeuvre to get her home safely – It was going to be a Cruel Summer, I could tell. One positive thing from that time was that our country’s entertainers rallied round, and I enjoyed a fair few online concerts cobbled together via the wonders of modern-day technology. One was by Take That which aired just before my birthday. I had been a bit too old for the Take That phenomenon when they first appeared on the scene in the early ‘90s, but they are now a middle-aged man band as opposed to a boy band, with a great back catalogue of songs, so it was a real treat to watch them in action when everything was still looking very bleak. The song that always ends their shows is Never Forget, and I think we can all agree, unlike Y2K which came and went with very little drama, none of us will ever forget the year 2020.

Never Forget by Take That:


2021 – So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – It has become apparent from writing this post that life can throw us some pretty spectacular curve balls and from one year to the next we find it impossible to predict how things might turn out. I wasn’t able to celebrate my big birthday much last year, but the +1 version was a whole lot better – Afternoon tea at a posh hotel courtesy of DD. Very nice indeed. Who knows what next year’s birthday will throw up, but let’s hope it will be that life is a whole lot better for all of us.

Until next time…

Never Forget Lyrics
(Song by Gary Barlow)

We’ve come a long way
But we’re not too sure where we’ve been
We’ve had success we’ve had good times
But remember this

Been on this path of life for so long
Feel I’ve walked a thousand miles
Sometimes strolled hand in hand with love
Everybody’s been there

With danger on my mind
I would stand on the line
Of hope and I knew I could make it

Once I knew the boundaries
I looked into the clouds
And saw my face in the moonlight

Just then I realised what a fool I could be
Just ’cause I look so high I don’t have to see me
Finding a paradise wasn’t easy but still
There’s a road going down the other side of this hill

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Safe from the arms of disappointment for so long
Feel each day we’ve come too far
Yet each day seems to make much more
Sure it’s good to be here

I understand the meaning
Of “I can’t explain this feeling”
Now that it feels so unreal

At night I see the hand
That reminds me of the stand
That I make the fact of reality

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

We’ve come so far and we’ve reached so high
And we’ve looked each day and night in the eye
And we’re still so young and we hope for more
But remember this

We’re not invincible, we’re not invincible, no
We’re only people, we’re only people
Hey we’re not invincible, we’re not invincible
So again I’ll tell you

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Never
Never forget babe
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Friendships, Bob Dylan and ‘Baby, Stop Crying’

Last time I announced that Thursday was to be my new regular day for blogging, but last week’s Thursday came and went without anything new from me at all and unless I quickly get my act together, the same will happen again this week. I have the will, it’s just that with the easing of restrictions many of us feel the need to catch up with those friends who have been neglected over the last 15 months, and I am no exception. There have been many visits, lunch dates, film nights, and a sneaky wee Eurovision get-together (something so utterly uncool that it has almost become cool by default), so I have been somewhat time poor. Not complaining, of course, just offering up an explanation for my absence.

Last week Bob Dylan turned 80 and much was made of it on the various newsfeeds and on social media. Who would have thought back in 1961, when a young folk singer called Robert Zimmerman rolled up in Greenwich Village, New York, he would still be touring and making new music 60 years later. Many of his generation have sadly fallen by the wayside, but he is one of a small band of artists from that time who seem to have been able to just keep on going.

Two of Bob’s songs have appeared around here before, performed by other people for television soundtracks (here and here). His son Jakob has even appeared (link here), but so far no Bob. Time therefore to right that wrong. There are many songs I could feature but I’m going to pick Baby, Stop Crying from 1978 because it was on the album Street Legal owned by the girl who was my best friend back then. I’ve written about her here before because she features in so many of my musical memories. Between the ages of 17 and 20 we were joined at the hip and together we experienced the final years of school, first romances, holiday jobs, heading off to university, Interrailing, and so much more. When I hear this song I am transported to her mum and dad’s little back sitting room which housed the music centre and the sofa bed I often availed myself of after a night out. It was dated (the sofa bed) and had come from the front living room of the house they had recently moved from, but when you are 18, having such a space to hang out in with friends, is priceless.

Baby, Stop Crying by Bob Dylan:

I think it’s because I’ve been making a really big effort to catch up with people of late that I’ve been thinking of my old friend so much. I can no longer catch up with her because she died 20 years ago at the very young age of 41, which still makes me really sad. The shared memories of those formative years can never again be discussed, and laughed about, but for the time being at least I still have them, and hold them dear.

As for the song, I knew it had made it to the Top 20 of the UK Singles Chart, as back in 1978 that was how girls like us found out about new music. I can’t say I have ever been a fan of Bob’s voice, but my friend obviously had no problem with it, as I know she went on to buy more of his albums. As a student of English Literature she perhaps also admired his lyrics, him being a future recipient of that Nobel Prize for being clever with words.

At face value it seems to be a simple song about trying to get a woman to stop crying, but then a gun puts in an appearance, which adds a sinister dimension. Is the narrator the ‘bad man’ or is it someone else? Commenting on the content of this song, Bob once said, ‘The man in that song has his hand out and is not afraid of getting it bit.’ If anyone has ever worked out the meaning, please share your thoughts.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I don’t know about you but I know I have been overly cavalier about friendships in the past, casting them aside for new ones when life changes occur, not realising that some come along only once in a lifetime. That’s how I still feel about my old Bob Dylan-loving friend, and when she died I wrote to her parents telling them as much.

I have done a lot of catching up over the last few weeks, which has been nice, but having moved geographically half way through my life, and having changed jobs a fair few times before finally calling it a day, I no longer have really old friends in my everyday life, which is not the case for a lot of people I know. Mr WIAA is of course my very best friend but perhaps I take him for granted, living with him on a day-to-day basis. (Note to self: must remember not to do that.) Funnily enough, since starting this blog I seem to have made many new friends of the virtual nature, whom I’m in regular contact with via the comment boxes – A lovely little bonus from this hobby of ours. If I keep going, you may one day become some of my oldest friends. A nice thought to end on, and with the easing of restrictions, that long-awaited bloggers summit might finally become a reality.

Until next time…

Baby, Stop Crying Lyrics
(Song by Bob Dylan)

You been down to the bottom with a bad man, babe
But you’re back were you belong
Go get me my pistol, babe
Honey, I can’t tell right from wrong.

Baby, please stop crying, stop crying, stop crying
Baby, please stop crying, stop crying, stop crying
Baby, please stop crying
You know, I know the sun will always shine
So baby, please stop crying ’cause it’s tearing up my mind.

Go down to the river, babe
Honey, I will meet you there
Go down to the river, babe
Honey, I will pay your fare.

Baby, please stop crying, stop crying, stop crying
Baby, please stop crying, stop crying, stop crying
Baby, please stop crying
You know, I know the sun will always shine
So baby, please stop crying ’cause it’s tearing up my mind.

If you’re looking for assistance, babe
Or if you just want some company
Or if you just want a friend you can talk to
Honey, come and see about me.

Baby, please stop crying, stop crying, stop crying
Baby, please stop crying, stop crying, stop crying
Baby, please stop crying
You know, I know the sun will always shine
So baby, please stop crying ’cause it’s tearing up my mind.

You been hurt so many times
And I know what you’re thinking of
Well, I don’t have to be no doctor, babe
To see that you’re madly in love.

Baby, please stop crying, stop crying, stop crying
Baby, please stop crying, stop crying, stop crying
Baby, please stop crying
You know, I know the sun will always shine
So baby, please stop crying ’cause it’s tearing up my mind.

The Eclectic Mix of Abba, S’Express and Fred Astaire

Well, things seem to be cautiously opening up again around here, as I imagine they are where you are. A lot of empty units in our local shopping centre though, what with Debenhams, Top Shop and a few other high street stalwarts having shut their doors for good, but still a reasonable vibe about the place. I was chuffed to see that our local HMV is still open for business, as I do love a good browse up and down their aisles. It seems half the store is now given way to vinyl, either classic albums reissued in those beautiful original sleeves, or new stuff by artists who were probably born a good decade after vinyl ceased being the primary vehicle for music consumption.

The inspiration for this post was a clear-out. Yes, Mr WIAA and I have restarted our efforts into clearing some space in our loft and cupboards, but it’s tough, as I get sentimental about keeping things. This morning when tidying out a drawer I found something that reminded me of 7-inch singles, or 45s as they were called. For music lovers this image will probably cause apoplexy, but a few years ago, after a visit to a craft fair, DD presented me with a gift. Someone had set up a stall selling plant pots and little dishes made from old vinyl records. I think we’ve all probably melted some of our vinyl by accident (for me it involved a cold 1970s night in rural Scotland and the close proximity to our stylish 2-bar electric fire), but now it feels like sacrilege to deliberately render a 45 unplayable. Of course I thanked DD very much for her gift at the time, which looked remarkably like an impractical ashtray (not that I’ve ever had need of one).

Take A Chance On Me by Abba:

The little dish/ashtray was made from an Abba single. The song on the A-side was Take A Chance On Me from 1978, one of their many top 10 hits. It occurred to me to check out the B-side and found it was a song called I’m A Marionette, not one I’d ever heard of so time to find out more.

Hmm…, not sure about that one but it seems it was a song from a mini-musical called The Girl With the Golden Hair performed as part of their 1977 concert tour along with Thank You for the Music and The Name of the Game. Now it makes sense.

I don’t have many 45s still in my possession, but the little dish/ashtray made me want to seek them out. What a mixed bag. Really old stuff belonging to my mum and dad, some soppy songs by my teen idols, a few singles given as presents (probably had deep meaning attached at the time), purchases from bargain bins and a few from the dying days of ‘the 45’ as a music format.

Somehow my copy of Queen’s Somebody To Love got accidentally “ironed” (see nick out of top left) when sitting on a table in our student flat, so the first minute was lost to us!

I’m sure many of you will recognise some of the names there, as pretty mainstream stuff, but each piece of vinyl has a story behind it and some of the songs have already put in an appearance around here. Something I had forgotten all about was the single in the middle of the picture called The Brits 1990 (Dance Medley). The medley went down really well on the night of the awards show that year and was released as a 7 inch single straight after. It made it to the No. 2 spot in the UK Singles Chart. I was a bit long in the tooth for such fodder by 1990, but as an avid dancer, who often invited everyone ‘back to mine’ after a night out, it was good to have it for the turntable. Bit of S’Express anyone? Yes please, along with some Double Trouble and the Rebel MC, A Guy Called Gerald, The Beatmasters, Jeff Wayne, 808 State, D Mob and The Cookie Crew. Hard to believe it’s from over 30 years ago now as the video clip (although a bit cringifying in places) doesn’t look as dated as something from 1960 would have looked in 1990. A very different kind of 30 years in terms of the evolution of music and dance (and of course in colour).

Theme From S’Express by S’Express:

All this talk of dancing has reminded me of another clip I have been meaning to share for a while but not got round to yet, going back much, much further in time. The video clip has been doing the rounds for some time but it has been excellently edited and really showcases the talents of some of Hollywood’s greatest dancers. Bruno Mars was just a toddler when Fred Astaire died at age 87, but somehow his 2014 rendition of Uptown Funk (a Mark Ronson song with Bruno on vocals) lends itself well to a medley of some of the best-choreographed dance sequences in film history, many of which inevitably involve Fred.

I think Fred Astaire was my first crush, as I spent so much time watching him in old black and white movies when I was a child. Yes he was balding, yes he wasn’t that strong a singer, but boy could he dance and he had a certain boyish charm. In the 1930s his films were adored by audiences who craved escapism. Maybe why I went on to have such a love for dance, and why I was always the one who took over the dancefloor should the occasion arise (much to the chagrin of my friends who always said I put boys off asking us to dance). But hey, it was my thing, and fortunately I found a willing partner in Mr WIAA when he came into my life.

A Fine Romance by Fred Astaire:

The thrill of dance has always stayed with me, until now of course. Pre-pandemic there were few opportunities left for us ladies of a certain age to exercise their love of dance, but the odd wedding or party sufficed. In the last 15 months there has been no dancing at all for me and as I still seem to be recovering from the broken ankle I suffered a few months ago, I fear George Michael’s lyrics may become a reality – I’m never gonna dance again… the way I danced with you. Let’s hope not, as I don’t think I’m quite ready to hang up my pumps yet.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – A bit of a strange ramble this one, so apologies for that, but I’m trying to be more disciplined about my blogging and Thursday seems to be my new regular day. This week the stream of consciousness flowed from old 45s, to dance medleys, to Fred Astaire. You just never know where it’s going to go, which is part of the fun of it.

Until next time…

A Fine Romance Lyrics
(Song by Dorothy Fields/Jerome Kern)

A fine romance, with no kisses
A fine romance, my friend this is
We should be like a couple of hot tomatoes
But you’re as cold as yesterday’s mashed potatoes
A fine romance, you won’t nestle
A fine romance, you won’t wrestle
I might as well play bridge
With my old maid aunt
I haven’t got a chance
This is a fine romance

A fine romance, my good fellow
You take romance, I’ll take jello
You’re calmer than the seals
In the Arctic Ocean
At least they flap their fins
To express emotion
A fine romance with no quarrels
With no insults and all morals
I’ve never mussed the crease
In your blue serge pants
I never get the chance

This is a fine romance

A fine romance, with no kisses
A fine romance, my friend this is
We two should be like clams in a dish of chowder
But we just fizz like parts of a Seidlitz powder
A fine romance, with no clinches
A fine romance, with no pinches
You’re just as hard to land as the Ile de France!
I haven’t got a chance, this is a fine romance

An Emotional Week, The BRITS and ‘It’s A Sin’

I wish I could say my paucity of blogging was down to telly watching, but it’s really not. Now that we’ve had that revelatory finale to Line Of Duty (NOT), and with a few other things having come to an end, we’re looking for something new. I am missing my Hastings-isms though (and the wee donkey).

Line Of Duty, cottagecore-style

I did however watch a doc on Channel 4 last night and it caused me to shed a tear – I’m not even a fan of hers, but Davina McCall did future generations of women a massive service by lifting the lid on something that affects half the population, yet is still a strictly taboo subject. It turns out I am much more likely to suffer dementia and broken bones in later life because of a scare story that was widely circulated 20 years ago, but was deeply flawed. I am beyond angry at the lack of support and advice we were given, but too late now to turn back the clock. As it’s such a ‘taboo subject’, and because of my male readership, I don’t even feel I can name it here (oh the irony), but to all those men out there who care about their wives and partners, do your research. My own life, and Mr WIAA’s, could have been a lot easier over the last decade if we’d both had all the genuine facts at our disposal. Rant over.

I’ve been having a bit of an emotional week to be honest. The BRIT awards were aired on Tuesday night, and after all this time it was amazing to see thousands of people in the O2 arena again, enjoying live music. An experiment it seems, using key workers as guinea pigs, but the results will help us get events and mass gatherings up and running again post-pandemic.

The theme of the show was Community, Kindness and Giving (After a Difficult Year) so there was a lot of love in the room for those key workers, but the winners of the colourful little statuettes were predominantly women, just like at the Grammys. A bit of a backlash against the gender disparity amongst the previous year’s nominees I think. Dua Lipa was the big winner (Best British Female and Best Album) but there were also awards for Arlo Parks, Little Mix, J Hus, HAIM, Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, Griff and Taylor Swift. In fact it was a very colourful and feminine event, with some very flamboyant outfits worn by both men and women (but not by Lewis Capaldi who just came as himself). There is always a standout collaboration on the night, and for me, this year, it was this performance of the Pet Shop Boys’ song It’s A Sin by Elton John and Olly Alexander.

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Olly as he reminds me of some the boys in DD’s friendship group when she was growing up. (I think I just want to mother him, and make sure he’s eating properly.) The song choice was very much derived from the success of another drama aired earlier on this year, also called It’s A Sin. Olly Alexander played Ritchie Tozer, one of a group of gay boys who came to London in the early 1980s and formed a friendship group. Sadly, the fast developing HIV/AIDS crisis impacted all of their lives and it made for a powerful and emotional (that word again) watch. Anyone who remembers those days will know how much fear, ignorance and stigma there was attached to that particular virus at the time, but the scientists eventually came up with a treatment, and now it can be controlled with one tablet a day. The drama covered the period 1981-1991 when boys were dying alone, sometimes in locked wards, having been disowned by their families. Here’s a very young looking Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe with the original version of It’s A Sin, which made it right to the top of the UK Singles Chart in 1987. (A single of the version from the awards show is being released to raise money for the Elton John Aids Foundation.)

It’s A Sin by The Pet Shop Boys

Just to top things off, another heart-wrenching drama aired earlier this week (currently available on the BBC iPlayer) called Three Families. Again a controversial subject was dealt with, and again women were not always able to get the support they needed. Yes, it’s been a bit of a ‘heavy’ and emotional week, with a recurring theme it seems.

But to end this post, I’m going to add some pictures of a very happy live music event I witnessed this week. No, I wasn’t able to head down to the O2 for the BRIT Awards, and I’m not a key worker, but joy of joys a group of performers set out their stall in my mum’s care home car park. I was supposed to be there for a visit but I knew she couldn’t miss out on all the fun, so I socially distanced on the other side of the car park to let her enjoy their show. Needless to say most of the residents had to watch from the windows of their rooms, but a few hardy souls like my mum braved the elements and headed outside. We’re obviously cut from the same cloth as there was no holding her back and she was out there in front dancing along to their repertoire of mostly 1960s songs (many of which have appeared around here, which is a tad scary). One of the singers came to speak to me at the end, and yes, you’ve guessed it, I got all emotional again when thanking her for the show.

Not expecting much feedback on this one as touched upon a lot of taboo subjects but good to get my thoughts down, as ever.

Until next time…

It’s A Sin Lyrics
(Song by Chris Lowe/Neil Tennant)

When I look back upon my life
It’s always with a sense of shame
I’ve always been the one to blame
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too

It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin
It’s a sin
Everything I’ve ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I’ve ever been
Everywhere I’m going to
It’s a sin

At school they taught me how to be
So pure in thought and word and deed
They didn’t quite succeed
For everything I long to do
No matter when or where or who
Has one thing in common, too

It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin
It’s a sin
Everything I’ve ever done
Everything I ever do
Every place I’ve ever been
Everywhere I’m going to
It’s a sin

Father, forgive me
I tried not to do it
Turned over a new leaf
Then tore right through it
Whatever you taught me
I didn’t believe it
Father, you fought me
‘Cause I didn’t care
And I still don’t understand

Sérgio Mendes, ‘Mas Que Nada’ and Being Chivvied Up By WIAA

WIAA: Alyson…? Oh Alyson…? Where are you?

ALYSON: Sorry WIAA, I am still around, just not had much time for blogging of late.

WIAA: What’s been happening with you?

ALYSON: Well, last week marked the end of the semester for my college course and we had to get our assignments in. Turns out none of the 373 posts I’ve written here provided much in the way of inspiration, which was disappointing, but fair. It even sparked a discussion with our class tutor, about how using lines from song lyrics in our writing, or the name of a musician for a character, is a big no-no. Copyright issues, obviously.

WIAA: Thank goodness for the niche world of music blogging then, where anything goes. ‘You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave’. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

ALYSON: Just realised Rol will think I’m stealing his Conversations With Ben feature. But no, you’ve popped up around here before to drag me out of a blogging fug and of course you’re not real, like Ben, you’re just a blank page on my blogging platform.

WIAA: Blank page…, on a blogging platform. Not showing much loyalty there, Alyson, after all we’ve been through.

ALYSON: Sorry, WIAA, you’re right. We’ve been through a lot these last five and half years and if I can get my ass in gear there will be more stories to tell, and more songs to write about. As well as submitting my assignments last week, I also had to get the holiday house ready for my first set of guests. They had a lovely time and I got a glowing review, but with no tourists from abroad yet, and the idea of ‘staycations’ (hate that word) in towns and cities not quite taking off yet, it could be another quiet season. There’s also the issue of the snow.

WIAA: The snow?

ALYSON: Yep, this is what we woke up to this morning. Only a month and a half until the Summer Solstice, so we live in hope Spring might briefly put in an appearance before then.

WIAA: Gosh, I wouldn’t have known, me just being a ‘blank page on a blogging platform’. If I’d been real, like Ben, you could have compared notes about the weather in his neck of the woods. Excuse me for not being a bit more corporeal.

ALYSON: You know I love you, WIAA. It’s just that I’m finding the idea of getting back to some semblance of normality tough after a year of being holed up at home. I’d love to meet up with friends and do fun things, but after not seeing them for so long, it’s tough reconnecting. A touch of social anxiety I think. Also, the things I love most, like cinema, theatre, cosy country pubs, are still kind of out of bounds for the older, not-yet-fully-vaccinated individual. Doesn’t leave much to write about.

WIAA: I’m sure you’ll do it, Alyson. In the meantime, have you thought of a song to share, as if I’m not mistaken this is supposed to be a music blog?

ALYSON: You are right of course, Mr (now not so) Blank Page. And can I just say thank you for drawing me back in today, as I couldn’t seem to unblock the blockage around here. I have my new Tribute Series to add to, and another few ideas in the pipeline, so good to be back. Here’s something to cheer us both up though – No, not the full six and half minutes of the song you alluded to above, but something quite different. I don’t know if it was the sight of the snow this morning, but when the other half fired up his computer at 9am, he went straight to YouTube for a fix of something from warmer climes. I give you Sérgio Mendes and Brasil ’66 (sounds like a football tournament, but no, we’ll never be allowed to forget who won that one), with his signature song Mas Que Nada, the first time a song in Portuguese became a hit all over the world.

Mas Que Nada by Sérgio Mendes and Brasil ’66:

WIAA: Brilliant stuff, Alyson, and right up your alley as your visitors often say. They do look a bit hot and sweaty in that clip, not something that’ll be troubling you today by the sounds of it, what with all the snow. Not sure how the group of singers coped in that rainforest though, dressed as they were.

ALYSON: Ah, I did love a cute little crocheted dress with some matching clacker earrings. I’ve been loving my cottagecore crafting of late, but I think my days of wearing a crocheted dress are now definitely over, so I won’t be fashioning one for myself. I googled Sergio straight after watching the clip this morning and was pleased to see he is still with us, and still making new music. He apparently specialises in ‘bossa nova heavily crossed with jazz and funk’, and it seems he is still married to Gracinha Leporace, who has performed with him since the early 1970s. Good for Sergio.

Sérgio Mendes and Brasil ’66

WIAA: Are you going to include the lyrics on this one? Not sure if we’ll know ‘what it’s all about’ otherwise.

ALYSON: Good point. I’ll see if I can find a translation. It’s bound to be something really deep and meaningful. A torrid love story laced with danger. Or…, maybe not as it turns out, maybe more suited to a disinterested teenager. I give you the translated lyrics to Mas Que Nada, or rather, Whatever.

Until next time…

Whatever (Mas Que Nada) Lyrics
(Song by Jorge Ben)

Oari rai
Oba oba boa
Whatever
Get out of my way
I wanna pass
Because samba is really exciting
And I wanna dance [samba]


This samba
That is mixed with maracatu
Old black samba
Black samba you
Whatever
A samba like this is so nice
You don’t want to it to end

Postscript:

We do like a compare and contrast around here so it would be remiss of me not to also include the version of Mas Que Nada that Sergio recorded with The Black Eyed Peas back in 2006. How things change in 40 years.

RIP Les McKeown: Revisiting the Rollermania Archive

Another Bay City Roller left us this week. Despite getting very little airplay nowadays, the announcement of lead singer Les McKeown’s death made it onto the national news, a nod to the phenomenal success the boys had in the early 1970s.

It took me a long time to admit to having been a fan of the Rollers around here, but a few years ago I finally bit the bullet after having a rummage through my box of teenage memorabilia. As someone who became a teenager in 1973 I was the perfect demographic for these tartan teen sensations. They were Scottish, like me, so looked a lot like the boys we went to school with (a bit pasty and undernourished) but their catchy, feelgood pop songs kept on coming and they became for a time the biggest ‘boy band’ in the world.

RIP Les McKeown

Les was my favourite Roller – He was the lead singer with a great voice, and also had a swagger that belied his age, only 17 when they first found success. As I was very shallow back then, I also thought he was the best-looking of the band. Their success was short-lived, but for those of us who were fans we will never forget those days of Rollermania. I first shared the post below back in April 2018, only a few months before the death of Bay City Rollers founder member Alan Longmuir as it turned out, but in view of this week’s news, I think it deserves another outing.

RIP Les McKeown

Alyson’s Archive – “Rollermania” and Me

“It’s a teenage dream, to be seventeen”, sang Les McKeown back in 1975. But no, I beg to differ Les. Back in 1975 it was a teenage dream to be fourteen, and have pictures of you and the rest of the boys staring down at me from my bedroom wall. Had I been a year or two older, or a year or two younger, it just wouldn’t have happened but I was the perfect demographic for these “tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh”. My generation had missed out on Beatlemania, and Osmondmania was on the wane, it was time for something new and luckily for me the band that inspired this latest mania came from Scotland.

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The humble author’s teenage collection of Bay City Roller pinups!

(I have shared a display like this once before, of David Cassidy pinups. I would just like to reiterate that I honestly don’t spend my evenings pouring over such teen-dream fodder, because that truly would be weird, it’s just that if you’ve ever had to clear out your parents loft when they downsize, it kind of becomes redistributed to your own loft, which fortunately for this blog is where it remains today.)

Anyway, getting back to the Rollers, the band’s founder members were brothers Alan and Derek Longmuir but after a few changes along the way, in late 1973 the classic line-up fell into place, consisting of guitarists Eric Faulkner and Stuart “Woody” Wood, singer Les McKeown, bassist Alan and drummer DerekTam Paton, their (highly controlling) manager was the man in charge, they got a record deal with Bell, and they came up with a unique “look” which consisted of cropped trousers, skimpy V-neck sweaters and plenty of tartan – What could go wrong?

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That’s me on the left in brown corduroy!

All through the year 1974 they were never far from the UK Singles Chart and when we heard the band were coming to the Capitol Theatre in Aberdeen, of course my friends and I (aged only 13) went to see them. This tour was to promote the album “Rollin’” where most of the songs were written by those champions of the short and catchy pop song, Phil Coulter and Bill Martin. First of all we had Remember (Sha-La-La-La), then we had Shang-A-LangSummerlove Sensation and finally All Of Me Loves All Of You. The album went to No. 1 in the Album Chart – The boys were adored by hordes of teeny-bopper fans and were well and truly on their way.

And here are a few personal memories of that time. I don’t know about elsewhere in the country but here in Scotland, back in the 1970s, many young lads left school at 16 after (half-heartedly for many of them) sitting their “O” Grades. They all had apprenticeships lined up and work was plentiful, so why not? There was however the technicality that if you turned 16 later on in the calendar year, you couldn’t leave school until Christmas. As a group they were called “The Christmas Leavers”. They didn’t want to be there and the concept of abiding by strict school uniform rules went out the window. One by one, in 1974, they started to adopt Bay City Roller style clothing wearing trousers with tartan down the side, the cropped jumpers and the short-sleeved shirts. They had Les, Eric and Woody style haircuts and of course had similar accents – For girls like us in the lower grades they became our big crushes. We all had our favourite Roller (mine was Les, quite the showman back in the day) and there were definitely boys in our school who started to look like him – Unlike the clean-cut Osmonds, who kind of came from an alien planet as far as we were concerned, the Rollers were the “boys next door”.

By 1975, Rollermania had really taken hold, and after putting together their second album “Once Upon A Star”, another tour was announced. Again my friends and I persuaded one of the mums to take us into Aberdeen to see them. Their cover of the old Four Seasons song Bye Bye Baby was at No. 1 in the Singles Chart and ended up being the biggest selling record of the year.

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The Rollin’ Tour programme and Once Upon A Star, complete with pull-out pics

Unlike the previous year when we went to see them, this was a far more hysterical concert with girls screaming constantly throughout – I probably went hoarse myself, shouting LES at the top of my voice every time he came near the front of the stage. But strangely, my most vivid memory of that night is of a particular member of security staff, who for one night only had been given free rein to manhandle young girls. This is not a #MeToo confession but I did come home with a whiplash that night, as suddenly, out of nowhere, a pair of hands had grabbed my shoulders and firmly shoved me back down into my seat. Everyone in the entire theatre was standing, but for some reason this one “bouncer” had decided he would go up and down all the rows forcing us back into our seats – I took some time out to watch him, and even at that young age, could tell he was enjoying hurting us. Of course I didn’t tell my parents, as we didn’t in those days, but this was a new concept for me and one I have obviously never forgotten.

But back to the Rollers – In 1976 they were kind of lost to us as they secured a record deal with Arista and were heavily promoted in America. They appeared on Saturday Night Live and ended up at the top of the Billboard Chart with a song that had been a flop in the UK but obviously hit the spot in the US. Saturday Night started off with a chant that also struck a cord with New York band the Ramones – It is no coincidence that their record Blitskrieg Bop starts in the same way. They had watched the Rollers on telly and decided to copy their winning formula of a catchy three minute song, a “uniform” and a football-style chant. Hard to believe I know, but part of rock and pop folklore.

bay2.jpg

Most of us by this time had moved on to “real boys”, so we were happy to forget about the Rollers and leave them to their success in other parts of the world such as North America, and strangely enough Japan, where they still have a following today. I have never had any inclination to see them perform as part of a reunion tour, as for me, they were very much of their time. I do however feel very sorry for them sometimes, as it is well known that despite their global success they ended up with none of the money – 300 million albums sold worldwide (in an era where the revenue came from such sales) and no spondulicks. Tam Paton was of course blamed, and he went to his grave taking the secret of where the money went with him. The Rollers were not highly educated and they came from families that were ill-equipped to deal with their fame, so became one of the many financial casualties of that era.

Give A Little Love by the Bay City Rollers:


I am going to end this post with some extracts from what has turned out to be the most interesting part of rifling through old teenage memorabilia – The words that were on the back of the pinups. Prior to being in a band, Alan used to get the horses ready for the local dairy’s milk round (yes really). Eric and Derek (has a nice ring to it) were apprentice joiners and Woody and Les were only 16 when they found fame – Not the best backgrounds from which to go on and “take care of business”. Despite it all falling apart in the late ’70s, it sounds as if the Rollers still have happy memories of their heyday, their time in the sun. The Beatles had a mania, and so did these five boys from Edinburgh – Who would have ever thought it possible?

Lesley's bio from the Rollin' tour programme
Leslie’s stats – Some shockers there!
Magazine feature on the Rollers
Hanging out with the band
The Rollers’ Story Part 1
The Rollers’ Story Part 2

Until next time….

Give A Little Love Lyrics
(Song by Phil Wainman/John Goodison)

It’s a teenage dream to be seventeen
And to find you’re all wrapped up in lo-o-ove
And I found that you made a dream come true
Now I do believe in what they say-ay-at

You’ve got to give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do-oo

Give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do

When I walk with you there is just we two
And the world goes by and I just don’t care-are
And I know one day I will find a way
To be safe and sound within your hear-eart

So until I do, gonna give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do-oo

Give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do