A Flat Reunion, Danny Wilson (the Band) and ‘Aberdeen’ (the Song)

I spent a few days away from home last week but tried to keep all the plates spinning at the same time. Upshot is I got away with it, but I’m now exhausted, so a lesson learnt – in the future I will be pressing pause on our various business ventures when I’m out of town. On the blogging front, as I’m now more of a weekly/fortnightly blogger, I’ve missed the boat on various topics I’d have liked to have written about around here. The death of Bernard Cribbins, the final episode of Neighbours, the ongoing heatwave and the sporting achievements of the last fortnight. There may be a reason to mention these things down the line, but for now, I think I’ll write about my trip.

In the summer of 1982 I had just graduated from Aberdeen University and life in the real world beckoned. Last week I had a 40-year reunion in that same city with the girls (we will always be girls, whatever our age) I moved into a flat with that summer, and who became my urban family for the next five years. They have been written about often around here, this being a retrospective blog, and when we met up it was of course just like old times. The flat we moved into was a great find and only a stone’s throw from the city centre. We had a wander along to check it was still standing and needless to say, being built of hard-wearing (although somewhat radioactive) granite, it looked pretty much identical.

The top floor flat – scene of many a party and of many a drama

So, what did we do last week? Well it didn’t start off well as only 20 minutes away from arriving in the city, a pesky warning light popped up on my dashboard and I had no idea what it referred to. After a few panicked phonecalls, it was decided I should carry on to my destination and we could investigate when I got there. To my embarrassment it was only low tyre pressure and easily fixed but it made me realise I really need to be more self-sufficient when it comes to car maintenance. After that drama we headed off to revisit some of our old haunts and as the weather was glorious, much of the city looked beautiful. As for Union Street, the main thoroughfare, it has seen better days that’s for sure, but most towns and cities are the same nowadays with everyone shopping online and working from home.

We were all really glad we’d finally set the date in the calendar as it had been a long time. Our lives have gone in very different directions since we left that shared flat back in 1987 so there were many stories to tell. I have such fond memories of those years, but then I also said that recently about my schooldays. If I’m being totally honest it wasn’t always a bed of roses as we all split up with our long-term boyfriends during that time (yes, of course we googled them last week!) and changed jobs a fair few times, but fortunately we have selective memories and time seems to erase the bad stuff.

As for a featured song, I’m going to quite appropriately share this one called Aberdeen by the band Danny Wilson. The song was on their debut album called Meet Danny Wilson, released in 1987 after we all went our separate ways, but it has always been a favourite of mine. The band came from Dundee and are possibly best remembered for Mary’s Prayer, their big hit on both sides of the pond. Gary Clark, their lead singer and songwriter, went on to write songs for many of the biggest artists of the 1990s.

Aberdeen by Danny Wilson:

A bit of a sad song that one, but you don’t get many written about your home city so I really wanted to include it. One written from the songwriter’s personal experience I think, as all the best songs are.

I’ve gone way off tangent on this one, writing about my reunion with just a little bit of music thrown in, but I needed to get back in the saddle again after a bit of a break. Hope I’m excused. In case any of my followers from the Granite City drop by, here’s a puzzler for you. Where was my old flat (hint: it was on the Holburn Street side of town)?

Until next time…

Aberdeen Lyrics
(Song by Gary Clark)

Should you go to Aberdeen
Tell me what you find
A girl I know in Aberdeen
Who left her heart behind

Tho the northern lights
Have claimed her as their own

Tell her that I hope she’s well
Beg her to come home
Tell her that I hope she’s well
And beg her to come home

If the cost of living’s high
I can pay my way
With money that I had put by
For any rainy day

If left or right of two
Is all she understands

Tell her that I love her still
No matter what the plan
Tell her that I always will
No matter what the plan
Ba bai up dup baah

We had plans that we never
Saw come true but we can do
I took the time to remember
All that we did, we forget to

If you take a friend along
Take me in his place
Every piece of shit I own
We’ll pack into my case

Tho the northern lights
May have claimed her as their own
I could move to Aberdeen
Make the place my home
Not the finest place I’ve been
But I’ll make the place
Make the place my home

Danny Wilson, “Mary’s Prayer” and More Late ’80s Scottish Bands

Following on from my post yesterday about Deacon Blue and how the late ’80s were a very fertile period for bands hailing from north of the border, today’s featured song is one of my all-time favourites – Mary’s Prayer by Danny Wilson which reached No.3 in the UK Singles Chart in 1988. Like Ricky Ross of Deacon Blue, the band Danny Wilson were from the great city of Dundee (famed for Jam, Jute and J…. Jackie Magazine!). Ironically this record might not have come about at all if not for the fact that founder member Gary Clark decided to return home to Dundee from London, after quite sensibly noticing that bands from his neck of the woods were really starting to get noticed by talent scouts and journalists.

Mary’s Prayer by Danny Wilson:

Apparently their brand of pop music is a sub-genre, called sophisti-pop, which includes highly polished arrangements, makes use of keyboards & synthesizers and is influenced by soul and jazz. Whatever it is (and I am truly becoming troubled by the myriad of sub-genres out there), it was fantastic to listen to and I ended up buying their first album called “Meet Danny Wilson”. On it were some very localised songs telling tales of happenings in the places I had lived, and knew so well. I am pretty sure Gary Clark’s brother and fellow band mate Kit was with me at University, but as is wont to happen, it is difficult in later life to remember what they were like back then.

danny wilson

So, I had come to live in the Highlands and suddenly all these great bands were emerging from Scotland. Fortunately for us they were more than happy to tour the north of the country, even the Highlands, so we got to see quite a few live in concert. This is a terrible admission as I pride myself on having a good memory for happenings back in the day but unlike the fine detail I remember from the early ’70s when I was a young teenager, in the late ’80s I was in my twenties and perhaps because alcohol now played a part in my social life, I cannot quite remember which of these bands I did see live. I have racked my brain however and am pretty sure I saw Deacon Blue perform at our local ice centre where the rink used to be covered with temporary flooring for events such as concerts. Still very troubling for the tootsies though if you hadn’t worn the appropriate footwear.

Sadly I never did see Danny Wilson perform live and they had quite a short lifespan as a band before calling it a day and going on to other things. Gary Clark went on to be a prolific writer of songs for some of the biggest artists of the ’90s but after living in London and Los Angeles for some time he has recently returned home to Dundee. Ged Grimes, the third member of the band, is currently the bass player with Simple Minds but has also in the past, played with Deacon Blue.

Before I finish, a little bit of trivia about the band name – They were just about to release their first album under the name Spencer Tracy when there was an objection from the late film star’s estate. To avoid any unpleasant legal wrangling they had to quickly think of another name and that turned out to be from the title of a Frank Sinatra film called Meet Danny Wilson. (Stuck with the film theme though and also the slightly confusing singular name, whereas in reality a band of three people.)

Danny Wilson film

This was supposed to be a week where I revisited my favourite tracks from that great late ’80s era of Scottish bands and already, on day two, I have doubled back to Deacon Blue via Danny Wilson – Plenty of material to choose from however, that’s for sure, so will find another band with ease but always open to suggestions if you have one?

Mary’s Prayer Lyrics
(Song by Gary Clark)

Everything is wonderful,
Being here is heavenly
Every single day she sends,
Everything is free
I used to be so careless,
As if I couldn’t care less
Did I have to make mistakes,
When I was Mary’s prayer?

Suddenly the heavens rolled,
Suddenly the rain came down
Suddenly was washed away,
The Mary that I knew
So when you find somebody you keep,
Think of me and celebrate
I made such a big mistake,
When I was Mary’s Prayer

So if I say, save me, save me,
Be the light in my eyes
And if I say, ten Hail Mary’s,
Leave a light on in heaven for me

Blessed is the one who shares,
Your power and your beauty, Mary
Blessed is the millionaire,
Who shares your wedding day
So when you find somebody you keep,
Think of me and celebrate
I made such a big mistake,
When I was Mary’s Prayer