It is with good grace that I return to this series with another edition. Last time I had complained that such series can end up not being as much fun as was anticipated at the outset. It has come to my attention several times this week however that this is very much a First World problem. Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it occurred to me that if any of the displaced Ukrainians being put up locally in hotels stumbled upon my post, they would not be impressed. They have lost everything. I have just temporarily lost my enthusiasm for something which in the grand scheme of things, is a bit of light-hearted fluff and nonsense. With that it mind let’s get on with it.
The name February apparently comes from the Latin term februum which means purification. The Roman ritual Februa was always held on February the 15th to ‘purify the city’, promoting health and fertility. Hmm…, interesting, NOT. I don’t know about you but I feel these Latin names used for the months of the year have well and truly lost their meaning in today’s world, but they’re too engrained now to be changed or updated. Valentine-uary or Snowdrop-uary anyone? No, that definitely wouldn’t work either, for all sorts of reasons, so we’re stuck with them. A safe and familiar pair of hands I suppose. Let’s look at the songs that reference February.
I’ll start off with a song suggested by two of last month’s visitors. First of all we had C who remembered a song she has never been too keen on, but which fits the remit. Here are her own words:
I can’t think of anything at all, apart from January February by Barbara Dickson which as I’m sure you know is not my cup of tea at all, but for some reason I seem to know it very well – it must have had a lot of radio play at the time.
Rigid Digit also came up with Barbara’s song as a suggestion, ‘a Scottish MOR Folkie Two For The Price Of One’, he said. Sadly I had forgotten about it for the January edition so a lost opportunity, but happy to include it now as I quite like Scottish MOR Folk. She’s had a long career Barbara Dickson and I feel a certain loyalty to her as first of all she’s Scottish, but also she used to work for a good friend’s dad way back in the day before she got her big break. Yes, Barbara used to be a humble civil servant in Rosyth where she grew up. A lot less glamorous than the world of West End Theatre, where she ended up.
I look at Barbara in that clip and remember a perm I had in 1978 (and in 1979, in 1980…) that looked just like her one. That was a really popular style for girls back then and although it looks very dated now, and a bit poodle-like, it was a great low-maintenance style that just needed to be washed and left to dry naturally. A bit of a fluff up with one of those afro combs and you were good to go. My middle-aged hair needs much more maintenance, so I look back at those days fondly, although I now realise there was an element of cultural appropriation going on. The afro comb became recognised as a way of saying no to oppression, and wearing it in the hair led to a kind of comradeship amongst those whose hair grows up and out, not down. I was definitely not aware of this back in 1978 when I headed along to our local salon.
But this is supposed to be all about February songs so what else was suggested last time. Rick dropped by again:
Not a ton of great February songs but Xmas in February by Lou Reed is a good one, pretty sad tale though it is.
Crikey Rick that really is a sad tale – what a song though. It often occurs to me that had some of the American bloggers who visit this place been born a few years earlier, Vietnam would have beckoned. Not lost on you either I imagine.
Next up we have Ernie Goggins whose blog I have just discovered (apologies for the delay Ernie). Here are his own words:
Only a couple of suggestions for February, both of them as miserable as Rick’s suggestion – Cold Days of February by Edinburgh’s own Incredible String Band and Sad February by The Unthanks.
I had started this series with September songs and they were pretty sad but February seems to be upping the ante. Here are Ernie’s suggestions.
Martin from the New Amusements blog offered up this song by Billy Bragg, The Fourteenth of February. This is the studio version but Martin also added a link to a lovely, simple, live version. What a beautiful love song. Unlike Billy I do remember everything about the first time I met Mr WIAA but just down to the kind of memory I have. He, needless to say, remembers nothing.
Rol decided he couldn’t beat Martin’s suggestion, but offered up February by Dar Williams as an ‘also-ran’. Hope Dar never drops by as not an ‘also-ran’ song at all, although September by now has well and truly been usurped by February in the sadness stakes.
Neil came up with another Two For The Price Of One suggestion – Van Morrison’s March Winds In February. Thanks Neil, a new one for me from Mr Grumpy of Belfast, a Mr Grumpy who delivers sublime songs.
Nearly at the end of the suggestions now but Rigid Digit did come up with a second one. Here are his own words:
From the Foo Fighters The Colour & The Shape – is it the best Foos album? – comes February Stars. Actually, writing out that album title, I’ve just noticed – The Foo Fighters spell “Colour” properly, not the US English version sans U.
Yes Neil and Rick, funny that an American band used the British English spelling as opposed to the American English version, or as RD calls it, the proper version! Here is their February song.
Finally, we have Khayem’s pick for February:
My February suggestion is a lovely little instrumental ditty by Australian musical collective Architecture In Helsinki. One Heavy February is the opening song of their debut album (Fingers Crossed) from 2003, just under a minute long but with a fun video.
He goes on to say:
I own a different version from 2008 on the Like It Or Not EP. No video for this one (though an image pops up around 0:38) but it’s a veritable extended club banger, with a handy run through of the calendar towards the end, all done in under three minutes. That’ll blow the cobwebs away!
It certainly will Khayem, so thanks for suggesting that Australian collective with a Scandinavian capital in their name. Having just looked it up they apparently got their name after cutting up a newspaper and re-arranging the words. Was it a Finnish newspaper I wonder.
So, that brings our February edition to a close. All new songs for me apart from the Barbara one but regulars to this place would probably have expected that. A lot of sad songs amongst them, but personally I’ve quite enjoyed February this year. In the Celtic calendar, Spring starts on the 1st of February (Imbolc, written about here), and the lighter nights and flowers in my garden would attest to that.
Imbolc was one of the cornerstones of the Celtic calendar, as the success of the new farming season was of great importance. Winter stores of food were getting low and rituals were performed to ensure a steady supply of food until the harvest six months later. This year, it seems that however many rituals are performed, supermarkets are still going to be low on supplies of certain fruits and vegetables. All to do with climate change and politics though. Compared with what the people of Ukraine have been through over the last year I think we can forego our raspberries and cucumbers this month without too much complaint.
Next month is definitely a Spring month (if you live in the Northern Hemisphere) and it also means we are now half way through this series. If you have any March songs you would like to see included, please add them to the comments boxes. I couldn’t do this one without you.
Until next time…
Xmas In February Lyrics
(Song by Lou Reed)
Xmas in February
Sam was lyin’ in the jungle
Agent orange spread against the sky like marmalade
Hendrix played on some foreign jukebox
They were praying to be saved
Those gooks were fierce and fearless
That’s the price you pay when you invade
Xmas in February
Sam lost his arm in some border town
His fingers are mixed with someone’s crop
If he didn’t have that opium to smoke
The pain would never ever stop
Half his friends are stuffed into black body bags
With their names printed at the top
Xmas in February
Sammy was a short order cook
In a short order black and blue collar town
Everybody worked the steel mill
But the steel mill got closed down
He thought if he joined the army
He’d have a future that was sound
Like no xmas in February
Sam’s staring at the vietnam wall
It’s been a while now that he’s home
His wife and kid have left, he’s unemployed
He’s a reminder of the war that wasn’t won
He’s the guy on the street with the sign that reads
“Please help send this vet home”
But he is home
And there’s no xmas in February
No matter how much he saves