Dina Carroll, “The Perfect Year” and a Happy New Year!

Well I think that all of us who blog about the world of entertainment, be it music, film, comedy, theatre, or any other category I might have missed, will agree that 2016 was a pretty desperate year. I don’t know if anyone has done the stats yet, but compared with 2015, never a week seemed to go by without a major name (and I mean really major) leaving this mortal coil. I doubt if any mathematician out there could have produced a formula that would have predicted such things. As we are now into 2017 (well hello new year), I am going to hope that things become a bit more normalised again – Steady as she goes.

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I may be a day too late by the time this gets published but I thought of this song on New Year’s Eve, or Hogmanay as we call it here in Scotland, when I was writing the second part of my George Michael tribute. The two pieces of music (primitive cassette tapes actually) we took into hospital with us to while away those long hours in the Labour Suite awaiting the birth of darling daughter (fortunately selective memory kicks in and I can’t really remember the pain now), were by George and Dina Carroll.

I also can’t remember all these years later, if my daughter was born to the sounds of George, Dina, or neither, as we were probably well and truly sick of both of them by the time the end game came along. Also, I was a bit preoccupied with averting my gaze from the man holding the most enormous pair of forceps I had ever seen in my life, to really take note of which tinny sounds were emanating from the very basic player in the corner of the room. It is appropriate however to feature this lovely song at the birth of this brand new year. Let’s hope it’s going to be a better one, in every sense of the word.

Ring out the old, bring in the new
A midnight wish to share with you

The Perfect Year was actually a song written for the stage musical Sunset Boulevard which opened in July 1993 although it was of course originally a very successful 1950 American film noir directed and co-written by Billy Wilder. The film Sunset Boulevard was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 3. It starred William Holden as Joe Gillis, an unsuccessful screenwriter, and Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond, the faded silent film star who drew him into her fantasy world.

But 1993 brought us the musical, and the music for it was written by that most prolific of impresarios Andrew Lloyd Webber, with the words being written by Don Black and Christopher Hampton. At the end of that same year Mr WIAA and myself ventured quite far afield on holiday, and to my shame, we returned home with quite a lot of music that was perhaps not of the entirely legitimate nature. Looking now at legitimate copies of the “Five Live EP” (mentioned last time) and the “So Close” album by Dina Carroll, the ones we had acquired on holiday in 1993 contained an awful lot of additional material, which is why they probably saw us through the long night in the Labour Suite. The upshot of this tale is that The Perfect Year was actually on our copy of “So Close”, and has always been my favourite track. A beautiful song, sung beautifully, with a sentiment that appeals to an old romantic like myself.

The Perfect Year by Dina Carroll:

Dina Carroll was born in Suffolk in 1968 and if I remember correctly, she is another of those artists with an American Forces father and a British mother who somehow seem hard to place, and could fit in equally well on either side of the pond. Dina started singing at the age of five and won a talent competition at thirteen. Between 1989 and 1993 she had great chart success and carried out a British tour in the November/December of that year supported by the then unknown Eternal (one of whom was little Louise Nurding now Redknapp who reached the final of last year’s Strictly Come Dancing – bit of trivia).

To round off this highly successful 1993, Dina recorded her version of The Perfect Year and released it in the December which is how it must have come to be on our (dubious) copy of “So Close”. The song reached No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart and Dina was to become the only British female to have two singles simultaneously in the Top 10 that decade, with Don’t Be a Stranger still riding high when The Perfect Year entered the charts.

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So, “What’s It All About?” – It is indeed a new calendar year and we humans do like to compartmentalise time in this way, although really it’s still just the day after yesterday. We like to use this time of the year for fresh starts, and I hope your fresh starts work very well for you.

This time last year I had no idea this place existed and had hitherto mainly shared my thoughts with my friends on Facebook, much to their chagrin – It was time to move to a better medium and this one has been great. I will admit to making a few mistakes along the way and am still prone to sometimes making comments on other blogs, then changing my mind, but finding it is too late. Sorry if you have been the recipient of one of my ill-thought-out comments. I will do better in 2017.

Goodbye then to a sorry 2016, and Hello to a hopefully superior 2017 (although I’m not holding my breath).

Until next time, enjoy the beautiful sounds of Dina Carroll who in 1993 thought she was about to have, The Perfect Year.

The Perfect Year Lyrics
(Song by Don Black/Andrew Webber/Christopher Hampton)

Ring out the old, bring in the new
A midnight wish to share with you
Your lips are warm, my head is light
Were we in love before tonight?

Oh, I don’t need a crowded ballroom
Everything I need is here
If you’re with me next year will be
The perfect year

No need to hear the music play
Your eyes say all there is to say
The stars can fade and they can shine
Long as your face is next to mine

I don’t need a crowded ball room
Everything I need is here
If you’re with me next year will be
The perfect year

We don’t need a crowded ballroom
Everything we need is here
If you’re with me next year will be
The perfect year

It’s new year’s eve and hopes are high
Dance one year in, kiss one goodbye
Another chance, another start
So many dreams to tease the heart

We don’t need a crowded ballroom
Everything we need is here
And face to face we will embrace
The perfect year

Oh, we don’t need a crowded ballroom
Everything we need is here
So face to face we shall embrace
The perfect year