Chic, “Le Freak” and Studio 54

We all experience those freaky coincidences from time to time don’t we, when we start thinking of a song we might not have heard in ages, only for it to pop up on the radio a few minutes later. I had such a freaky coincidence this week, which ironically involved the 1978 Chic song, Le Freak.   

Over at My Top Ten, Rol has resumed his Hot 100 Countdown. Every week he chooses a song to represent a number, counting down from 100 to 1. This week suggestions were sought for songs that mention the number 54 in the title or lyrics. As expected quite a few of these suggestions included Le Freak, as the lyrics include the lines: 

Just come on down, to 54
Find a spot out on the floor

A reference of course, to the legendary Studio 54 in New York City, which in the late 1970s was probably the most famous nightclub in the world, the home of disco, and frequented by A-listers from the worlds of music, film, art and fashion. 

As a suggestion for a 54 song, it was a good one, so I too offered it up in the comments boxes. I also left a lame remark about how I had loved Le Freak back in the day, but had no idea at the time what the reference to 54 meant, coming from rural Aberdeenshire as opposed to The Big Apple. Needless to say, once I had slept on it, I realised I could have yet again made a bit of a naïve faux pas, perhaps not realising the number 54 was code for the kind of hedonistic activities that went on there during its heyday (I have been caught out with this number malarkey before). I wasn’t even up yet, but I decided to do a quick Google search on my phone, to find out what the 54 in the song was all about. Yes, you’ve guessed it, just as I clicked on the first entry thrown up by the search engine, I hear the words “Ah…, Freak Out” coming out loud and clear from my new radio alarm. 

As a coincidence, I thought this was an extreme one, but Mr WIAA merely brushed it aside, saying these things happen all the time. Personally I think we have far more influence on the world around us than we will ever understand, and because some of us were collectively thinking of the song Le Freak for Rol’s countdown on Tuesday night, the gods of radio playlists picked it for the Wednesday morning schedules. Oh, and for the record, I hadn’t actually been naïve after all, as it turns out Studio 54 was located at 254 West 54th Street, so that’s how it got its name. But enough about freaky coincidences, how about we actually listen to the song?

Le Freak by Chic:

I think most of us have watched reruns of TOTP2 often enough by now to know the story behind the song, but it seems Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of Chic wrote it after being denied admission to Studio 54, even though they had been invited along by Grace Jones. Their earlier hit Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah) was played often inside, but they weren’t on “the list” so the doorman, who didn’t recognise them, turned them away. It was New Year’s Eve, 1977, but they now had nowhere to go, so ended up writing this song as a reply to the doorman. They called it “F**k Off” but when they decided to record it, to appease Bernard Edward’s sensibilities, they changed it to “Freak Out”. Incidentally, the “stomping at the Savoy” line in the song makes reference to Edgar Melvin Sampson, nicknamed The Lamb. He was an American jazz composer, arranger, saxophonist, and violinist born in New York City, his most notable composition being Stompin’ at the Savoy

The disco genre was massive between 1977 to 1978, when I was in my final year of school and heading out every weekend to socialise with my friends. Even in rural Scotland, the venues (local hotelier’s unused function suites) were transformed overnight into mini-Studio 54s, complete with a DJ, glitter balls and floors with flashing lights. We’d also now had the films Saturday Night Fever, and Thank God It’s Friday, which had kind of made disco go mainstream. Young people want to get together and meet other young people at the weekend, and this was a really easy and accessible way to make it happen. (Link here and here to my previous disco-related posts.)

The band Chic were probably the most stylish of all the disco acts at the time, and of course Mr Nile Rodgers is still doing his thing today, having worked with some of the most successful acts of the last 40 years. Back then, they were inspired by Bryan Ferry’s “look” after watching him with Roxy Music, but safe to say, nowadays Nile has adopted the look of a street hippie, and looks very comfortable in his skin I must say. 

Getting back to Studio 54 and its history, it apparently first opened in 1927 as the Gallo Opera House, but it was short-lived. After changing its name several times it eventually became a CBS radio and television studio. Then, in 1977, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager created the space that became the world-famous nightclub and discotheque. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on professional lighting design and kept many of the former TV and theatrical sets, creating a unique dance club that became famous for its celebrity guest lists and restrictive (and subjective) entry policies, based on appearance and style.

I am reminded of a scene from the film American Hustle when one of the main characters, Bradley Cooper, has a night off from his FBI duties and takes Amy Adams dancing at Studio 54. I remember being impressed at how many of the details they got right in terms of fashion and hairstyles for this movie. It reminded me that even in rural Aberdeenshire, back in 1978, the boys took to having their hair permed. A strange sight back on the building sites on a Monday morning (and no doubt a lot of teasing from their older workmates) but ’twas the times. Tough to find a suitable clip, but this one gives a feel for what it must have been like in its heyday.

Something I never knew before, were the names of the two girls who sang lead on Le Freak. For the record they were Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin but in the Chic Choir we also had future luminaries such as Luther Vandross and Jocelyn Brown. The Chic Strings completed the line-up.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I think I have opened a can of worms here, as there was just too much information to get through in order to write only one post on the whole disco phenomenon. If I have a rummage in the loft, I’m sure I’ll be able to find some pictures of me in my dancing gear (basically a leotard, footless tights and a wraparound skirt), and the diary entry reviewing my first night out in one of Aberdeen’s new nightspots. Most of the cinemas had seen better days by the tail end of the ’70s so they were being converted to places like Ruffles (on Diamond Street) and Fusion (on Bridge Place). I think I was unusual in that I truly went to dance, and could often be found hogging that sweet spot in front of the DJ, along with the boys who, like John Travolta, enjoyed a bit of “showboating”.

I will leave you with another Chic clip, this time featuring Norma Jean Wright on lead vocals. Everybody Dance got to No. 9 in the UK Singles Chart in April 1978. Enjoy.

Until next time…

Le Freak Lyrics
(Song by Bernard Edwards/Nile Rodgers)

Ah, freak out!
Le freak, c’est Chic
Freak out!

Ah, freak out!
Le freak, c’est Chic
Freak out!

Have you heard about the new dance craze?
Listen to us, I’m sure you’ll be amazed
Big fun to be had by everyone
It’s up to you, it surely can be done

Young and old are doing it, I’m told
Just one try, and you too will be sold
It’s called le freak, they’re doing it night and day
Allow us, we’ll show you the way

Ah, freak out!
Le freak, c’est Chic
Freak out!

All that pressure got you down
Has your head spinning all around
Feel the rhythm, check the rhyme
Come on along and have a real good time

Like the days of stomping at the Savoy
Now we freak, oh, what a joy
Just come on down, to 54
Find a spot out on the floor

Ah, freak out!
Le freak, c’est Chic
Freak out!

Now freak!

I said freak!

Now freak!

Celestial Phenomena, case/lang/veirs and “Supermoon”

Since discovering that all full moons have a name (given to them by the Native Americans who kept track of the months by the lunar calendar), I have written about each one as they appear in our skies. To accompany the post I always include one of the numerous songs that have been written about the moon and its many foibles.

Well, it’s that time of the month again – Yes, it’s time for the full moon to make an appearance in our skies, and this month it’s going to be a supermoon. When the moon is at perigee (coming as close to the earth as is possible), it looks disproportionally bigger and brighter, which can make it quite spectacular. Just to complicate things further, this month it will also be a blood moon, as the earth will line up with the sun creating a lunar eclipse.

If you live in the UK, you’ll have to be up at the crack of dawn on Monday the 21st to catch a glimpse, but I’m hopeful that both my alarm, and the clouds, won’t let me down. So far in this series I’ve not had much luck at spotting a lunar eclipse, but perhaps this time I’ll be lucky.

eclipse-2019-super-blood-moon-last-total-lunar-eclipse-2021-1693095And here is why I’ve had to continue with this series into another year. Although I covered 13 full moons last year, there were still many great songs left over which hadn’t been used yet. I discovered this next song song when watching the BBC documentary called Wonders of the Moon which aired just after that trio of supermoons appeared in the skies last year. The makers used all the usual suspects as background music for the show (most of them already having been covered here), but one song was new to me, and I kind of fell in love with it. It took a bit of effort but I later discovered it was by female supergroup case/lang/veirs, and was called Supermoon.

Supermoon by case/lang/veirs:

Although case/lang/veirs sound as if they should be a firm of solicitors or accountants, they were the Canadian-American supergroup made up of k.d. lang, Neko Case and Laura Veirs. I had of course heard of k.d. lang before (it seems she likes to use lower case for her moniker), and I have always liked her music, but I hadn’t heard of the other two members of the group before. They apparently formed in 2013 when Lang invited Case and Veirs to join her on a project. She had been considering retirement, but before that happened she wanted to be part of a band, a real collaborative effort. The group released their eponymous album in June 2016 and it apparently received “ecstatic reviews”. It was of an alt-country persuasion and used natural imagery. One of the songs on this album was Supermoon.

As for the ancient name for this month’s supermoon, January is usually the month of the Wolf Moon (link to last year’s post here), as it used to appear in the sky when the wolves were howling in hunger outside the villages. But for this series I’m using the alternate name, which this time can either be the Moon After Yule or the Old Moon. Because of the way it fell in December, we’ve actually had a full moon since Yule already, so The Old Moon it will have to be.

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Alternate names for my 2019 series

Above is a chart of all the alternate names I’ll be using for the series this year. As ever, if anyone has a cracking moon-related song that could fit any of the names, feel free to offer it up as a suggestion. I do like writing to order, which I think is unusual, but I like the challenge of it all. Quite a few good prompts here, although mainly weather or food & drink related it seems – Could get interesting!

Until next time….

Supermoon Lyrics
(Neko Case/k.d. Lang/Laura Veirs) 

Supermoon
Where all the diamond deals are made
We never used to live this long
We’re pioneers my dear press on, move along

And if my smile
Seems painted on once in awhile
I can count on you
To notice and to take me out

Would you like to start a river
And ride it like a painted carousel
Our life savings aren’t enough
Have to lobby hard and make it up
Make it up

Supermoon
We never used to live this long
We’re pioneers my dear
Pioneers we’re pressing on, move along
And if my smile
Seems straight as the Tropic of Cancer it’s because
Nature isn’t magic it’s just a mystery to us

Would you like to start a river
And ride it like a painted carousel
Our life savings aren’t enough
Have to lobby hard and make it up
Make it up

Tell me if you feel it
And we’ll mine it to reveal it
From the dams up to the turbines

Tell me if you feel it
And we’ll mine it to reveal it
From the dams up to the turbines
They’re running much too hot
Too many

Black and It’s A “Wonderful Life”, Isn’t It?

Well, look what just dropped into my inbox from the WordPress people. It’s the little badge to signify you’re celebrating an anniversary, and in this case, it’s my blog’s third birthday. Still little more than a toddler then with lots more time to grow, hopefully.

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I still remember the excitement of publishing my very first post, on what was the first back-to-work, non-festive Monday, of 2016. It was a no-brainer that I would write about David Bowie (link here), as we had just woken up to the shock news he had died the day before. For a short number of weeks I became a “daily blogger”, as I had kind of fallen in love with this new hobby where I could indulge in my love of rock and pop trivia, and record my memories of the times.

But that was then, what about today? Now that I have become a weekly, as opposed to a daily blogger, it can get tricky. If you post daily you can write topically, but if you leave it for few days, the moment has passed. Likewise, an earworm that may have formed at the start of the week will have been replaced by the end of it, so no longer relevant. Best to perhaps stick to the tried and tested notion of linking to the previous post.

Last week I featured the song You by Ten Sharp. I don’t know if it’s because the video for Wonderful Life by Black was similarly filmed in black and white, or because it’s a song performed in a similar style, from a similar era, by a male vocalist, but that’s what came to mind. Sadly, once I started to find out a bit more about the song, and the artist called Black, it turned out his life wasn’t quite so wonderful after all.

Wonderful Life by Black:

Although the Liverpudlian band Black started life as a trio, when vocalist/singer-songwriter Colin Vearncombe became the last man standing, he decided to retain the name. Back in 1985 things weren’t going too well for Colin. He’d been in a couple of car crashes, his mother was seriously ill, he’d been dropped by his record company, his first marriage was over and he was homeless. So, what do you do if you’re an artistic type? Why you write an ironic song about just how wonderful life can be. The song was originally released in 1986 but it wasn’t until Black got signed by A&M Records in 1987 that it was re-released and became a massive worldwide hit. He was pretty sure however that few people back then understood the meaning behind his lyrics.

As for the great black and white video, I initially thought it was shot in Mid-West America, but no, those clever cinematographer-type people shot it around Southport, Merseyside, as well as Wallasey near Colin’s hometown of Liverpool. Maybe it’s because of the clothes and haircuts, but we could be back in the 1950s. It also featured New Brighton Lighthouse, the Looping Star rollercoaster, the Galleon fairground ride, the shrimping boat and local shops. A fine video that won an award at the New York Film Festival in 1988.

black32But here’s is the tragic part – Although he happily carried on working in the music industry for the next 30 years, in early 2016 Colin was involved in a car accident near Cork in Southern Ireland. He sustained serious head injuries and died two weeks later aged only 53, leaving behind a wife and three children. He was born two years after me, but died just as this blog was starting to pick up steam, three years ago. Gave me a bit of a jolt when I found that out, despite the fact I hadn’t thought of him in years.

It was inevitable I would stumble upon Frank Capra’s classic fantasy-drama Its A Wonderful Life when trying to find out a little more about the featured song for this post. I’ve watched the film many, many times as it’s always shown around Christmastime, and I never fail to shed a tear. (Seems to be a lot of that going on at the moment in my little circle.)

Most of us will know the story well – George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) is a small-town man whose life seems so desperate he contemplates suicide. He had always wanted to leave Bedford Falls to see the world, but circumstances have led him to stay. He sacrificed his education for his brother’s, kept the family business afloat against all the odds, and protected the town from greedy banker Mr Potter, so for him, it hasn’t been such a wonderful life. As he prepares to jump from a bridge, his guardian angel intercedes, showing him what life would have become for the residents of Bedford Falls had he never lived.

Yes it’s a classic alternate reality movie where we see glimpses of another world that could have been. Marty McFly much preferred the Hill Valley where his father had biffed Biff, and in the Buffyverse, Sunnydale was a much happier place because the slayer had come to town (as opposed to heading to Cleveland), but they are fictional realities. Real life is never quite as saccharine.

 

 

We all probably contemplate our own alternate realities from time to time, but best not to dwell on it too much as I have a sneaking suspicion life turns out pretty much how it’s meant to be because of the kind of people we are, and the decisions we make along the way. I read a great book recently called The Versions Of Us by Laura Barnett, where the characters inhabit three different storylines with chapters that run in parallel. I won’t give too much away, but yes, they pretty much end up where they are meant to be, despite the different routes taken to get there.

“It’s a great life if you don’t weaken”, is a phrase my family used to bandy about quite a lot. Something taken from a cartoon by the writer John Buchan I believe. It was always meant in jest, although incorporating an element of truth. Now and again, like George Bailey, we do weaken; now and again, like Colin Vearncombe, we have a run of bad luck; but invariably life has a wonderful way of turning itself around.

quote-it-s-a-great-life-if-you-don-t-weaken-john-buchan-304055

Yesterday however, we heard of the death of a girl DD met at college a few years ago. Before Christmas I wrote about a local charity called Mikey’s Line which offers support to young people who suffer from depression and chronic loneliness. The high rate of suicide amongst young men in the Highlands means that many families have lost a son or brother in recent years, but it seems families are now losing their daughters too. I had a look at the girl’s Facebook page where the tributes were flooding in. She was absolutely beautiful, but in that unreal way, where the pictures had obviously been heavily “photoshopped”.

Is it that some of our young people can’t cope with real life nowadays? Is that that they prefer their unreal, online personas and those of their so-called online “Friends”? Yes, life can be wonderful, but it can also have its slumps when we have to dig deep and “not weaken”. I can’t say that last year was great for me at all, but I am entering 2019 in a better place. At the time I couldn’t see an end to what was going on, but of course a resolution did come about, and we now have a new reality.

As the mother of a young woman, I am constantly on the lookout for signs that all might not be well. I know this is something my own mother never even had to contemplate, but a sign of the times. Fortunately DD seems to be in a good place at the moment, but I will never, ever, let down my guard.

Millennials are called the Snowflake Generation which I find deeply offensive. Yes they have been raised in a totally different manner from the previous generation, which can lead to difficulties in facing some of life’s realities, but it has also furnished many of them with a self-esteem I wish I’d had back in the day. They are entering a world that will be much tougher to navigate than the one I’ve lived through. Let’s do more to support them and not criticise them. The young people I know are AMAZING.

Until next time…

Wonderful Life Lyrics
(Song by Colin Vearncombe)

Here I go out to sea again
The sunshine fills my hair
And dreams hang in the air
Gulls in the sky and in my blue eyes
You know it feels unfair
There’s magic everywhere

Look at me standing
Here on my own again
Up straight in the sunshine
No need to run and hide
It’s a wonderful wonderful life
No need to laugh and cry
It’s a wonderful wonderful life

The sun’s in your eyes
The heat is in your hair
They seem to hate you because you’re there
And I need a friend
Oh I need a friend to make me happy
Not stand here on my own

Look at me standing
Here on my own again
Up straight in the sunshine
No need to run and hide
It’s a wonderful wonderful life
No need to laugh and cry
It’s a wonderful wonderful life

I need a friend
Oh I need a friend
To make me happy
Not so alone

Ten Sharp, “You” and 2019, What Are You Going to Deliver?

Happy New Year to everyone who visits here. I am conscious of the fact many of you visit without ever leaving a comment – Don’t be shy about joining in with the discussion that often arises. It might sometimes seem as if we have a whole private members thing going on, but trust me, it’s not like that at all. I for one just like writing about the music that’s formed the soundtrack to my life, and when you do that, the stories just start to pour out.

What to write about today though? I did wonder at the end of 2018 whether I could carry on as I have done for yet another year. My posts do tend to be quite wordy and often require a lot of research. The received wisdom however is just to do what feels right. I don’t think I’ll ever get back to writing as many posts as I did in this blog’s first year, as all I did in 2016 was go to work and blog – Amazing Mr WIAA didn’t find himself a new wife really. Fewer posts from me in 2017, as that was the year of big changes at my workplace, which resulted in me throwing in the towel. Would I have done that if I hadn’t become so besotted by blogging? Not sure. As it turns out, my mum’s deteriorating health in 2018 would have probably necessitated my leaving anyway, so just hastened my departure.

2019.jpgSo, here we are entering 2019, and as yet we have no idea what the hot topics will be this year in the blogging world. Three years ago, we were just days away from hearing of the death of David Bowie and for the following twelve months, the tributes just kept on flowing for other iconic artists. It was a brutal year in terms of loss.

It has been a relief, that very few bloggers around here have mentioned the “B” word over the last year. We are all sick and tired of the political shenanigans that dominate the news channels, and fortunately we had a welcome respite from it over the festive period. I have a feeling it’s about to ramp up to a whole new level however, so watch this space, as I do feel a one-off rant coming on!

In the meantime here is a heart-warming picture. No Hogmanay parties for us this year as most of the neighbours were either away or had grandchildren to stay. Changed days indeed, but time for the younger generation to take over perhaps, so DD and her boyfriend decided to host their very own shindig to bring in the New Year. In this digital age she has gone old skool, and now takes most of her pictures with a Polaroid Instax. In the years to come there will be tangible evidence of what they got up to back in the day, as opposed to having tens of thousands images lost in some virtual cloud.

49203393_10211962280643559_8668616275443843072_n And here is where I made a wonderful observation. Looking as this array of pics, I realised most of the local friends had managed to come along, and these local friends included people she has known since school-days along with more recent friends made through college and work. Amongst them, there was a brother and sister from Poland, the brother’s Lithuanian fiancée and two forestry students from The Netherlands. It may well be getting ugly out there, but I know for my daughter and her friends, they will remain staunchly European whatever. Many in her group have lived in the Highlands since junior school, and despite the challenge of studying in what would essentially have been a foreign language, they have already achieved great things both academically and professionally. A massive asset to our community. 

My featured song is therefore going to be this one – My earworm of the week. Mr WIAA has taken to watching YouTube music clips whilst having his morning coffee, and sometimes falls down that rabbit hole, ending up far from where he started. One day last week he ended up listening to this song – You by Ten Sharp. It was from the time when we were still just “dating”, so it conjured up memories of a more carefree time. Back then, like DD, we had a big circle of local friends, but none of them were from anywhere other than Scotland – Changed days indeed. 

You by Ten Sharp:

But the main reason for choosing You as my featured song, is because it’s by a Dutch band, something I hadn’t realised back in 1991 when the song became a big hit for them peaking at No. 10 in the UK Singles Chart. The two Ten Sharp band members are Marcel Kapteijn (vocals) and Niels Hermes (keyboards). The song itself was produced by Michiel Hoogenboezem (almost worth writing this post just to find an excuse to mention that great name).

My American Odyssey in Song series seems to have stalled, so perhaps it’s now time to champion some of the music made by our European neighbours over the years. DD’s Dutch friends were able to arrange a welcoming committee for her ahead of her trip to Amsterdam last year. Meant she spent a few days with a lovely couple of girls who have now become firm friends. Let’s hope none of that camaraderie will be jeopardised by what is to happen in the first few months of 2019.

Until next time….

You Lyrics
(Song by Ton Groen/Niels Hermes)

It’s all right with me
as long as you
are by my side

Talk or just say nothing
I don’t mind your looks never lie
I was always on the run
finding out, what I was looking for
And I was always insecure
just until I found

Words often don’t come easy
I never learned
to show you the inside of me
Oh no my baby

You were always patient
dragging out what I try to hide

I was always on the run
finding out what I was looking for
and I was always insecure
until I found

You, you were always on my mind
you, you’re the one I’ve been living for
you, you’re my everlasting fire
you’re my always shining star

The night’s always a good friend
a glass of wine, and the lights are low
you lying beside me, me full of love and…
and filled with hope…

You, you were always on my mind
you, you’re the one I’ve been living for
you, you’re my everlasting fire
you, ooh
you’re my always shining star
always on my mind
you, you’re the one I’ve been living for
you, you’re my everlasting fire
ooh, ooh
you’re my always shining star
you’re my always…
you’re my always shining star

George Michael, The Isley Brothers and “If You Were There”

Well, look what I found in my Christmas Stocking. Not strictly in the stocking as not the best shape to fit, and, not strictly a surprise present from the big man in the red suit (as I had bought it for myself), but a full two years on from his death, I still have a yearning to collect more George Michael goodies. When I saw this glossy mag in our local branch of WH Smith last week, I just knew it had to be mine, all mine…. .

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Christmas Day for us this year was very chilled, and the first of a new regime where we have none of the older generation around any more to join us. A bit strange, but meant there was none of that manic preparation that goes into hosting a formal Christmas lunch complete with all the traditional accompaniments, accoutrements and accessories. A visit to the care home took place in the morning to exchange presents with my mum (DD had ordered a very special bear for her that plays a Jim Reeves song), followed by a mid-day bacon sandwich and the opening of our own presents. Then there was a Facetime call to DD’s boyfriend at the other end of the country, and a virtual first meeting between the two sets of parents (landmark moment). Once we’d had an afternoon walk along the river, followed by a bit of telly, I leisurely prepared a turkey dinner with all the trimmings which we simply ate in our new kitchen this year – Yes, all very chilled indeed.

When it got to evening, George of course beckoned, and by the time I went to bed I think I’d read right to the end of the magazine. Just in case I’d missed anything, I re-read it again from cover to cover on Boxing Day, and although it contained nothing particularly new that I didn’t already know, a few lines jumped out at me, and I took notes: 

George, as we all know, was one of the key vocalists on the 1984 Band Aid charity single Do They Know It’s Christmas?, however on the day of the recording he said he felt really uncomfortable, as Wham! were treated as a bit of a joke by their peers, with (careless?) whispers and in-jokes being made at their expense. By this time Wham! had left their baby-biker image behind, and now sported blond highlights, gold hoop earrings and Day-Glo shorts, but George found it hard to believe people couldn’t see past the image and appreciate the music they were making. He was still only 20, but was writing, producing and arranging these records that jumped out of the radio. If that is true, shame on you fellow Band Aid participants. (Also, did you know that having released Last Christmas shortly before the Band Aid single, they donated all the royalties to the Ethiopia Appeal?)

Band Aid - 1984
Band Aid (George just left of centre)

Something else I learnt from the magazine, was that Wham! would never have come about if not for Andrew Ridgeley, who was the driving force behind forming a band. George was the geeky songwriter, and a career in music was very much frowned upon by his strict father, who wanted him to join the family business. The Wham! image therefore belonged to Andrew, who was outgoing, sociable and loved going out dancing with girls. George lived vicariously through Andrew, but after being impressed by the confidence exuded by the character Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever, he decided to lose weight, acquire some contact lenses and threw himself into the local disco scene. Without Andrew Ridgeley there would have been no George Michael.

During his career George had to face hostility from artists who attacked him for his appropriation of black music. He fought back, and ended up joining forces at various stages of his career with artists such as Aretha Franklin, Mary J Blige and Whitney Houston, who held him in high regard. His earliest musical influences however had come from artists such as Stevie Wonder and The Isley Brothers. In fact one of my favourite Wham! songs is If You Were There, which was not for once penned by George Michael, but was an Isley Brothers cover included on their second album “Make It Big”. 

If You Were There by Wham!:

If You Were There was also the title of the 1997 Wham! “Best Of” album, which of course I had to buy. DD was a mere toddler back then, but I remember well dancing around the living room with her whilst listening to it, recreating the moves. We were now nearly 15 years on, but yes, I had been there and yes, I did know… .

So, “What’s It All About?” – Whenever I think I’ve written my last George Michael post, something else comes along, and prompts another one. In this case it was the magazine I bought myself as a treat for Christmas (other gifts did appear in my stocking by the way).

I am often embarrassed by some of the songs I share around here, as they are unashamedly of the pop persuasion, but time and time again I have been vindicated (the Bee Gees, the Carpenters et al). George Michael himself proudly championed great pop music as true art. Here is a quote from him:

“If you listen to a Supremes or a Beatles record, which was made in the days when pop was accepted as an art of sorts, how can you not realise that the elation of a good pop record is an art form? Somewhere along the way, pop lost all its respect. And I think I kind of stubbornly stick up for all of that.” 

I don’t think I’ll be back again until the New Year – Can it really be almost 2019, the last year of this decade we didn’t know what to call. Is it “The Teens”? – Not sure. Whatever it’s called, hope your Hogmanay celebrations go well. For one night at least, we can forget all the political shenanigans that surround us at the moment, and just enjoy ourselves. The first few months of 2019 will be interesting, that’s for sure! 

Until next time….

If You Were There Lyrics
(Song by The Isley Brothers)

You’re the one that makes my day a dream come true
They might just be the last
Yet and still you wonder if
I think of you
You ought to see how the other girls behave when you’re not around
And only then you would know that it’s on your finger I’m wound

I you were there you’d know
I you were there you’d know
I you were there you’d know
I you were there you’d know
That I care

There’s no need for you not to have faith in me
‘Cos it’s by your side girl that I long to be
Yes there are times with my friends when I don’t know have to much to
say What you don’t know is with you could never act that way

I you were there you’d know
I you were there you’d know
I you were there you’d know
I you were there you’d know
That I care

I care for you baby, I
Swear that I care
There’s no need for you
Not to have faith in me
‘Cos it’s by your side girl
That I long to be
Yes there are times with
my friends when I don’t know
have to much to say uh, uh
What you don’t know is
with you could never act that way

I you were there you’d know
I you were there you’d know
I you were there you’d know
I you were there you’d know
That I care

I care for you , I
Swear that I care for you
Baby
I do
Have faith in me
I care for you baby

Postscript:

Although not much was made of the circumstances that surrounded George’s death in the magazine, after reading the single page that documented the last four years of his life, it appears a premature death was almost inevitable. He dodged a bullet in 2012, after becoming seriously ill in Vienna during the Symphonica tour, but he was also unwell in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Best to remember him in his prime – How he would have wanted it, I’m sure.

The Winter Solstice, “Fly Me To The Moon” and A Very Merry Christmas

Since discovering that all full moons have a name (given to them by the Native Americans who kept track of the months by the lunar calendar), I have written about each one as they appear in our skies. To accompany the post I always include one of the numerous songs that have been written about the moon and its many foibles.

Well, it’s all coming together at just the same time! Today is Yule, the day of the winter solstice, that pivot point in the year after which the days will start to get longer again. Tomorrow is the day of the December full moon, very appropriately called both the Cold Moon, and the Long Nights Moon. Last but not least, we are also right in the middle of Christmastime, that annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, which seems to have become a cultural phenomenon celebrated around the world by billions of Christians and non-Christians alike.

But this is my Moon Series, so what song to feature this time? Unbelievably, I have yet to share a Frank Sinatra song in this series, which is bizarre, as the Chairman of the Board was known to record a fair few songs with the word moon in the title over the course of his career. I shared a version of Fly Me To The Moon by Julie London just before I started this series, but now that we’re into its second calendar year, time to revisit the song I think, and time for a bit of Francis Albert at Christmastime.

Fly Me To The Moon by Frank Sinatra:

Fly Me To The Moon was written in 1954 by Bart Howard, but originally had the title “In Other Words”. Kaye Ballard recorded it first, but since then it has become a jazz standard, often featured in popular culture. Frank Sinatra’s 1964 version was closely associated with the first Apollo missions to the moon.

A few great moon shots have again been captured by my friend with the all singing, all dancing camera over the last week. Here are a few of the best.

I’ve mentioned this often since starting the blog, but the year I seem to warm to most when revisiting the tracks of my years, is 1967. Lots of reasons for that, but the main one seems to be that it’s the year I was just starting to take an interest in the music I heard on the radio and on television – I was a kid, I was happy, loved and nothing bad had yet happened in my young life. For this reason I took to retuning one of the car’s digital radio stations recently to Absolute60s. I figured that whenever I tuned in, there would be a one in ten chance something from my favourite year would be playing, which would in turn take me to my “happy place” (if I was having a bit of a stressful day).

As luck would have it, the first song played on this new retuned station was Somethin’ Stupid by Frank & Nancy Sinatra from, yes you’ve guessed it, 1967. This of course reminded me that in 2001, Robbie Williams & Nicole Kidman recorded a great cover version of the song which became the Christmas No. 1 hit that year. Both artists were at the top of their game in terms of their respective careers, and the video for the song, although obviously staged, still makes me feel all Christmassy. If I had to choose one year other than 1967 to take me to my happy place, it would be 2001, a time when DD herself was just a kid and starting to take an interest in music. She was old enough to enjoy all the wonderment of this time of year without yet being taken in by the commercialisation of it all.

Somethin’ Stupid by Frank & Nancy Sinatra:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I suspect I won’t return with anything new now before the big day, so to everyone who visits here, have a wonderful Christmas. Remember to look out for the full moon that should appear in our skies on Saturday night, and look forward to the fact the days are now lengthening again.

Just one more thing. Last night, Mr WIAA and myself headed into town to take part in an awareness raising event for a local charity. The high rate of suicide amongst young men in the Highlands means that many families have lost a son or brother in recent years. Mikeysline has been set up to offer support to people who suffer from depression and chronic loneliness. Yes, it may well be “the most wonderful time of the year” for some, but keep a close eye on those who could well be feeling even lonelier than usual.

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We lit up the bridges for Mikeysline

An added bonus to last night, was that we managed to take a few pictures whilst walking through the town centre, and of course, our almost full moon made it’s way into the shot.

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The moon peeping over the top of our Townhouse

Merry Christmas from all of us at WIAA. Hope you have a good one.

Fly Me To The Moon Lyrics
(Song by Bart Howard)

Fly me to the moon
Let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On a-Jupiter and Mars

In other words: hold my hand
In other words: baby, kiss me

Fill my heart with song
And let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore

In other words: please, be true
In other words: I love you

Fill my heart with song
Let me sing for ever more
You are all I long for
All I worship and adore

In other words: please, be true
In other words, in other words: I love you

Another Kind of Chain – Gene Pitney and “Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa”

Don’t panic, I’m not about to highjack that most excellent of features, Jez’s “The Chain”, but I seem to be experiencing blogger’s block, and want to find a way of kick starting things again around here. 

I wrote last time about how I have very nearly completed my third year on the blogosphere. It’s been a joy, and although each year has been totally different for me in terms of what’s going on in the real world, this virtual world has been my anchor, my constant amongst all of life’s ups and downs.

Something that has kept me going more than anything else however, is that I seem to have become part of a little community, which I hadn’t bargained for when I started out in the blogging world. I suspect I would have never found this little community had I not discovered Jez’s place back in the early days, when I pretty much only wrote about the music (with a little anecdote thrown in). One of my early posts featured the three Jimmy Webb songs recorded by Glen Campbell in the late 1960s. One of these  songs was Galveston, and back then I used to perform a quick search before pressing the publish button, to check whether anyone else had written about it recently. Someone had, Jez, and as usual he had included a very funny story.

Many of us around here know that Jez has been a bit poorly of late, but after being absent for a wee while he seems to back firing on all cylinders in terms of his blogging output. I suspect there are a few more chapters to go in terms of what happened, but as ever, he has made what must have been a pretty awful time, very entertaining. Cross fingers he’s well and truly on the road to recovery.

Back in my early days of blogging, I used to find that each post linked to the previous one in terms of the thought process. I sometimes ended up with a string of posts all connected to each other in some way, as is wont to happen when you revisit older songs. Davy Jones followed on from David Bowie, for obvious reasons. Seals and Crofts followed on from the Isley Brothers, for possibly less obvious reasons, but great fun for me to delve into the respective backstory to their songs.

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Linked posts

Suggestions for Jez’s Chain were creative indeed. In fact there used to be a prize for the most tenuous link of the week, which led to a fair bit of “showboating”. Anyway, we all still miss The Chain, but respect the fact it took an awful lot of time and effort to put together, so no pressure to see it make a comeback. No indeed, no pressure at all!

But back to my chain and Galveston – What song links to it in terms of the thought process for me? Well I don’t know about you, but my immediate thoughts turned to Gene Pitney’s 1964 hit, Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa. We’ve moved across the state line from Texas into Oklahoma, but we’re still in the Southern States of the USA, we’re still in the 1960s, and it’s another song about leaving a girl behind. Oh yes, it wasn’t until I checked it out properly, that I came to realise the lyrics were about a chap finding himself just 24 hours from home, but falling head over heels in love with a woman he meets after stopping at a motel for the night. Apparently he “lost control as he held her charms“. This woman must have had stupendous “charms”, as hitherto, Gene had been looking forward to being back in the “arms” (not charms) of his wife.

Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa by Gene Pitney:

As a kid of course, back in the 1960s, I would never in a month of Sundays have worked out the meaning behind those lyrics when I first saw Gene perform the song on British telly. I do remember however that my dad used to do quite a good impression of him, as he did have quite a distinctive style. Oh how our little family of three laughed. But that was over 50 years ago, and for the first time ever, Mr WIAA and I will have none of our parents with us on Christmas Day. Only my mum left now, and she will have lunch in the care home. It really hit me this week, as I finally got round to doing some festive preparation, that our family has shrunk somewhat in the time we’ve been in our current house. The year we moved in, we had to hire a table and chairs to accommodate everyone, but over time we have lost a mum, two dads, an auntie and a best friend. Only ourselves and DD now, until the next generation make an appearance (and not quite ready for that yet, so will be patient).

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I hoped this post would kick start the writing juices again, and it seems it has. A whole week to go until Christmas Day, so time to return with something festive before then I think. And, another full moon post to fit in as well – Will have to exercise the act of brevity when blogging, something I’m not great at delivering on. Good luck with all the last minute shopping, and again, all the best to Jez for his continued recovery.   

Until next time….

Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa Lyrics
(Song by Burt Bacharach and Hal David)

Dearest darling
I had to write to say that I won’t be home any more
For something happened to me
While I was driving home and I’m not the same any more

Oh, I was only twenty four hours from Tulsa
Ah, only one day away from your arms
I saw a welcoming light
And stopped to rest for the night

And that is when I saw her
As I pulled in outside of the small hotel she was there
And so I walked up to her
Asked where I could get something to eat and she showed me where

Oh, I was only twenty four hours from Tulsa
Ah, only one day away from your arms
She took me to the café
I asked her if she would stay
She said, “Okay”

Oh, I was only twenty four hours from Tulsa
Ah, only one day away from your arms
The jukebox started to play
And night time turned into day

As we were dancing closely
All of a sudden I lost control as I held her charms
And I caressed her, kissed her
Told her I’d die before I would let her out of my arms

Oh, I was only twenty four hours from Tulsa
Ah, only one day away from your arms
I hate to do this to you
But I love somebody new
What can I do
When I can never, never, never go home again?