Five Years Of Blogging, Fun Statistics and Favourite Years

Oh the irony. Back in January 2020, after writing my first post of the year I decided to have a month off, as my blog had lost much of its joie de vivre. I’d decided that in the four years I’d been blogging, the world had gone to hell in a handbasket and although nothing to do with me and my little blog, maybe best to recharge the batteries before inflicting any more rants on you lovely followers. As it turns out, although each of them very different in flavour, those four years 2016 to 2019 will now be remembered as a bit of a golden age.

The WordPress Birthday Badge

I am really pleased however to have got to this point – It’s WIAA’s 5th birthday on Monday and I can’t believe I’ve actually kept it going through all the trials and tribulations the world has thrown at us, and through all the ups and downs closer to home. It started off just as the tagline says, “a nostalgic journey through the tracks of my years”, but of course it’s also ended up becoming a personal record of those five years, with many, many songs thrown in.

Heading into my 6th year of blogging I expect the direction of travel will be much the same. Every now and again I’ll have a bit of a rant about what’s going on in the world, but hopefully I’ll not veer too far from my original plan, to look back at the songs of my youth from this end of the conveyor belt of life, and find out so much more about them that was ever possible back in the day.

But first of all, some statistics. Despite having given up my very number-orientated job a few years ago to concentrate on other things (more wordy in nature), I do still love a statistic and I’ve put together a few relating to this blog. Here is a bar graph that shows the number of songs written about by year since WIAA’s inception back in January 2016. As expected, the year I seem to have returned to more than any other is 1967, for all sorts of reasons mentioned around here before. It was probably the first year I was allowed to stay up late enough to watch TOTP; I was a happy child from a comfortable home so no negative memories attached to the songs; I have a great affinity for the baroque, orchestral and sunshine pop of the era; and finally, all the rules changed around then and our parents who were not from the baby boomer generation were not part of it.

Or…, maybe it’s simply because that was the year I fell in love with Davy Jones from The Monkees. Oh yes, he was very much part of my 7-year-old self’s daytime thoughts. Cue Daydream Believer.

Daydream Believer by the Monkees:


Ok, so we’ve worked out that my favourite year to revisit is 1967, but my graph also shows that the median song (sorry to get all mathsy here), the one that ends up bang in the middle of the entire range, falls in the year 1977. Again I’ve written about the reason for this before. A study was carried out, and the findings were that if any company wished to target a particular demographic with their advertising, they should use music from the time that group was 16, which I was for much of 1977. Despite having to sit some heavy duty life-changing exams that year, life was anything but shabby. My material needs were all catered for; I had a tight regime to my day with school and a Saturday job; I saw my best friends daily; my social life was full-on; and we all had a reasonable level of independence, as helicopter parenting wouldn’t start for a few decades yet. Top that off with a few short romances that didn’t cause too much distress when they were over, no social media to mess with your head, and life was sweet. These giant corporations know that, and home in on our weakness for a pop song that reminds us of simpler times. Cue Hot Chocolate with the song that was at the top of the charts when I finished sitting my Scottish Highers in May 1977, So You Win Again.

So You Win Again by Hot Chocolate:


From the opposite end of the spectrum here is Elvis Costello with, quite aptly for this place, his song Alison from the album My Aim Is True. It was the album played most often in our newly commandeered 6th Year Common Room, after returning to school after the long summer holidays.

Alison by Elvis Costello:


But back to the statistics. I don’t know what the other blogging platforms are like, but here at WordPress we have access to some pretty amazing sets of charts as to how our blogs are performing. I’m a bit of a geography nerd, so the map showing all the countries you’ve had visits from is the one I’m most fascinated by. As at the time of writing, this is my map – It’s taken five years, but of the 197 countries in the world recognised by the UN, there are only 21 left where no one has dropped by this place. There are also of course lots of Dependencies and Territories, but I think I’m going to have to keep going until I get a visit from that last 21.

Come on in: Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo (Republic of), Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Kiribati, Liberia, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Niger, North Korea, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, your time is up.

To be fair, it’s quite obvious why some of the residents of the above-mentioned countries haven’t dropped by yet, but you do get a few surprises when you peruse your stats. See the last line in this list of Country Views. Wonder who’s been nostalgically revisiting the tracks of his years?

As for stats regarding my most visited posts, it has remained largely unchanged since my first year of blogging. Right at the top is the one I wrote about the Proclaimer’s song Sunshine On Leith and I can always tell when a documentary about them has been aired on television, or the film of the same name shown, as there is a dramatic spike in views. Of course there are a few newer releases now creeping up the chart, so in time there will be a few changes. (For the record, Elvis still seems to top all of those lists relating to Most No. 1s and Most Weeks at No. 1, and the way music is consumed nowadays, that’s unlikely to ever change.)

I find it surprising that Joshua Kadison’s song Jessie has retained its Top 5 position ever since I first wrote about it nearly four years ago. It wasn’t even a song I remembered from when it was released in 1993 as I only discovered it when one of the entertainment team sang it on a family holiday about a decade ago. I have a feeling that depending on how you title your posts, search engines can home in on them more easily than some other offerings, but it still makes for fascinating reading (if you’re a stats nerd like me).

Jessie by Joshua Kadison:


So, “What’s It All About?” – I’ve loved my time on the blogosphere and still can’t quite believe WIAA is still going strong after five years. A lot of it is down to the interaction with my fellow bloggers (many of them on my sidebar) and visitors to the Comments Boxes. I think it would be tough to keep going if writing in a bit of a vacuum with no feedback whatsoever, so thanks for that.

As for the years mentioned above, have a look at your music library and if possible sort it by year – There is a pretty good chance a large chunk of it will centre on the year you turned 16. Hot Chocolate’s song was part of the soundtrack to my life during those busy months of study ahead of my big life-changing exams, and then the song we danced to when all the hard work was over. Looking at the lyrics now they’re not as upbeat as I remember, but they do reflect what our love lives were like back then. Fortunately we got over all the heartache relatively quickly.

As for me I’m off to switch on the telly, and if any adverts come up featuring the sounds of 1977, I’ll no doubt be putty in their hands.

Until next time…

So You Win Again Lyrics
(Song by Russ Ballard)

Just to admit one mistake
That can be hard to take
I know we’ve made them fall
But only fools come back for more
Being the fool I am
I figured in all your plans, darling
Your perfumed letters didn’t say
That you’d be leaving any day

So you win again, you win again
Here I stand again, the loser
And just for fun you took my love and run,
But love had just begun

I can’t refuse her
But now I know that I’m the fool
Who won your love to lose it all
When you come back, you win again
And I’m not proud to say
I let love slip away
Now I’m the one who’s crying
I’m a fool there’s no denying
When will my heartache end?
Will my whole life depend on fading memories
You took the game this time with ease

So you win again, you win again
Here I stand again, the loser
And just for fun you took my love and run,
But love had just begun

Postscript:

Hot Chocolate, a British soul band formed by Errol Brown and Tony Wilson, were incredibly popular during the 1970s and 1980s and had at least one hit every year from 1970 to 1984. Their 1975 song You Sexy Thing made the UK Top 10 three times over three decades, mainly because of its inclusion on the soundtrack to the British film The Full Monty. Here is Robert Carlyle trying to show them how to become Sheffield’s answer to The Chippendales.

And here is Erroll Brown, the epitome of “cool”, showing us how it should be done.

Peter Tork, The Monkees and “Shades of Gray”

Saddened to hear the news that Peter Tork of the Monkees has died. Since starting this project, where I journey back in time reminiscing about the music of my youth, it has become apparent that it all started for me at around the age of six, which in my case was 1966. Coincidentally that was when the Monkees first made an appearance on our black and white television screens, and although I was aware of other artists who popped up on the prime time slots watched by my mum and dad, the Monkees belonged to me.

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Peter Tork, RIP

I am sorry Peter, but the Monkee I was most infatuated with at age six, was Davy Jones, and one of the first posts I published on this blog was about him (link here). But you Peter, were the Howard Donald of the Monkees. You weren’t the cutest or the zaniest; you had a bowl haircut, didn’t wear a hat and were the oldest of the group; but like Howard of Take That fame, in time you became my favourite Monkee.

Despite being an accomplished Greenwich Village folk musician when you got the role in the sitcom that would change your life, at the start you weren’t even allowed to play your own instruments. That would change with time however, and you became the man in charge of keyboards and bass. You didn’t get the role of star vocalist very often, but here is a lovely song where you did share lead vocals with Davy Jones. Shades of Gray (American spelling of grey) is also very apt for this post, as it starts off with the lines:

When the world and I were young
Just yesterday
Life was such a simple game
A child could play, (yes, that would have been 1966 for me)

and ends with the verse:

But today there is no day or night
Today there is no dark or light
Today there is no black or white
Only shades of gray, (oh yes, as our politicians can testify, how complicated life has become in 2019)

Shades of Gray was another of those great ’60s songs written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. It was recorded by The Monkees for their 1967 album “Headquarters” and was the first song on which the group played all their own instruments.

But here is another great song from that era, the clip this time in colour, where the boys are wearing those iconic dark red shirts with the silver buttons. Of course back in 1966 we wouldn’t have known their shirts were red, would we, because we watched telly in black and white? But here is where I beg to differ. Our local football team, Aberdeen FC played in red, and whenever their matches were aired on television, the grey of their shirts matched the grey of the Monkees shirts. At age six I was obviously pretty good at working out what the colours should be, based on the shades of grey of the various team shirts. Living in a football loving household meant you developed all sorts of useful skills of a televisual nature.

Last Train To Clarksville by the Monkees:

Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart wrote Last Train To Clarksville as a protest to the Vietnam War but had to keep that quiet in order to get it recorded. It is about a guy who gets drafted, and the train is taking him to the army base. He knows he may die in Vietnam, and at the end of the song he states, “I don’t know if I’m ever coming home.”

Peter Tork was one of the many artists of my youth to have been born in 1942, right in the middle of a World War, but yet a vintage year for the birth of future musical legends (what was that all about?). Unlike in 2016, when I started this blog, I haven’t actually written any tributes so far this year. Cross fingers there won’t be too many more, but considering the span of time I write about here, I suspect there will be. A great chance to revisit the music though, and I have a feeling that a lot of people who had all but forgotten about the Monkees, might have had a sneaky peek at an old clip of Daydream Believer yesterday – I know I did.

the monkeesUntil next time…

Shades of Gray Lyrics
(Song by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil)

When the world and I were young
Just yesterday
Life was such a simple game
A child could play
It was easy then to tell right from wrong
Easy then to tell weak from strong
When a man should stand and fight
Or just go along

But today there is no day or night
Today there is no dark or light
Today there is no black or white
Only shades of gray

I remember when the answers seemed so clear
We had never lived with doubt or tasted fear
It was easy then to tell truth from lies
Selling out from compromise
Who to love and who to hate
The foolish from the wise

But today there is no day or night
Today there is no dark or light
Today there is no black or white
Only shades of gray

It was easy then to know what was fair
When to keep and when to share
How much to protect your heart
And how much to care

But today there is no day or night
Today there is no dark or light
Today there is no black or white
Only shades of gray
Only shades of gray

Davy Jones, The Monkees and “Daydream Believer”

Day two after news broke of the death of David Bowie (Jones) and the media still awash with trubutes and commentaries about the icon.

Got me to thinking about that other David Jones who also died prematurely in his sixties – Davy Jones of The Monkees. My first big crush. Their television show (also called The Monkees) ran from 1966-68 and I was an avid viewer. Bright clothes, great pop songs, psychedelic sets and anarchic, slapstick behaviour – What not to like for a seven-year-old. Their scheduled slot was teatime on a Saturday night so perfect for family viewing.

davy jones

They very cunningly managed to highjack Neil Diamond’s best songs from that era and made them their own, no doubt contributing handsomely to Mr Diamond’s royalty cheques. My favourite was this one however from November 1967 and not a Neil Diamond song as it turns out – Daydream Believer. You only have to hear the first few notes on the piano to recognise what is about to come and boy are you in for a treat (starts at 0:20).

Daydream Believer by The Monkees:

Again, it makes me sad to think of those days nearly 50 years ago watching the impossibly cute Davy Jones leading the rest of the boys with his tamborine in hand. His diminutive size meant that he never really seemed to grow old and was a very handsome man right up until his death. After a spell of acting as a youth (Ena Sharples’ nephew in early Coronation Street) he became an apprentice jockey, but after taking up the role of the Artful Dodger in the West End, his show business path was set. He contined to have a lifelong love of horses however, and died aged just 66 after being out riding.

The Monkees never really did reunite properly although there were a few mini reunions over the years, the last being in 2011 to celebrate their 45th anniversary. The main reason was that they could never get Mike Nesmith on-board. His mother had invented and patented correction fluid, “Tippex”, so he inadvertently became a Tippex millionaire who didn’t really need the money and preferred to concentrate on his own projects – Very Rock ‘n’ Roll!

So from one David Jones (a Londoner turned Berliner turned New Yorker) to another David Jones (a Mancunian turned Angeleno turned Floridian) in two blogs. And both dead by the age of 70 – Far, far too young.

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Daydream Believer Lyrics
(Song by John Stewart)

Oh, I could hide ‘neath the wings
Of the bluebird as she sings
The six o’clock alarm would never ring
But it rings and I rise
Wipe the sleep out of my eyes
The shavin’ razor’s cold and it stings

Cheer up, sleepy Jean
Oh, what can it mean
To a daydream believer
And a homecoming queen

You once thought of me
As a white knight on a steed
Now you know how happy I can be
Oh, and our good times start and end
Without dollar one to spend
But how much, baby, do we really need