The NaNoWriMo Challenge, Julie London and ‘November Twilight’

A big number in that title, but I’m going to attempt something new around here. For one month only, I’m going to set myself the challenge of becoming… A Daily Blogger. Argh, what am I doing to myself?

I’ve tried 7 posts in 7 days before, and succeeded, although the plan to make them shorter didn’t quite come off, so it was quite a task. This time I’ll be kinder to myself and probably use a few shortcuts. If you are a regular visitor, don’t feel any pressure to populate the comments boxes (although always nice), as this is really just a personal challenge tied in with my college course.

I’ve shared poems around here before from the NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) challenge, but now it’s time for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and we’ve all been encouraged to join in. The idea is to throw down 1650 words per day for the whole of November, and by the end of it all you’ll have a novel. It will probably be rubbish, and just the seed of something to work on in the future, but for many writers it’s a wonderful wordy workout.

Of course I have no illusions about being a writer myself, I’m just an enthusiast who likes using this place as her web-diary, and as somewhere to share the music she has enjoyed over the years. I am never going to write a novel, as that’s just not my thing, but I’m hopeful the ‘essays’ I post around here could be turned into some sort of volume down the line. Something for the grandchildren, if I ever have any. (The way this pandemic is playing out, our single offspring are finding the dating game nigh impossible at the moment, so any future grandchildren might end up being of the virtual variety.)

So, in solidarity with some of my classmates, there will be something new here every day until the end of the month, always including a featured song. Hopefully I will end up with a few gems, but at this stage who knows, it might be an epic fail. I suppose that’s going to be the fun of it.

As today is the first day of November, and as I am a fan of Julie London, here is something liberated from Charity Chic’s blog last year, when he very kindly shared a song at the start of every month from her Calendar Girl album. The song for today is November Twilight.

November Twilight by Julie London:


Looking at the album cover, it does seem to fit the remit well, Julie sporting some very skimpy outfits indeed and not the kind of thing for a dark and dreich November night here in Scotland. Julie was of her time however and always oozed glamour, so in 1956 I imagine this went down well with her fanbase. She has appeared around here a couple of times before (link here) as I’ve always loved her sultry voice, especially when singing her signature song, Cry Me A River.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I’ve ended up being too wordy already and it’s only day one of my challenge, but I will, by necessity I’m sure, have to ease up on the wordcount as the days go by. Thanks again to CC for sharing Julie’s wonderful album last year as we now have a go-to track for the start of every calendar month, should we need it. Looking at the first line of the song, it bears out what’s been happening around here this weekend – What with all the wind, the trees are looking very bare indeed, stripped of all those beautiful autumn colours.

As it looks as if it’s going to be another tough month for the country, I’ll try and make this a fun place to visit for the next 30 days. Always plenty of good music to share (it won’t always be from 1956) and I will avoid mentioning the pesky pandemic as much as possible. By the time Julie is ready to sing Warm In December (that Santa suit doesn’t look very warm at all), things might be a whole lot brighter.

Julie London

Until next time….

November Twilight Lyrics
(Song by Pete King/Paul Francis Webster)

The branches of the trees are bare
The smell of burning leaves is in the air
November twilight steals across my heart

At five o’clock the streets are dark
Across the empty bandstand in the park
November twilight softly falls again

So still that you could hear a voice
If one were calling
So quiet that you could hear a tear
If one were falling

And April’s laughter steals once more
Across the dark pavilion of my heart
And then I miss you most
Miss you with the ache of long lost things
Of sunburnt hours and garden swings
When life was beautiful
And love was young and gay
November twilight must you stay?

“Wives and Lovers”, Mad Men and Julie London

Since giving up work a few weeks ago, my life has taken a serious turn for the better – Suddenly there is enough time for everything I need to do in my life and joy of joys there is also enough time for some things that I don’t really need to do, but am enjoying immensely. One of the frivolous things I don’t really need to do, has been to binge watch one of my favourite television shows, Mad Men, set in the 1960s at the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency on New York’s Madison Avenue. Season One begins in March 1960, just before I was born, and it’s almost worth watching it for the clothes alone. Totally impractical but incredibly beautiful.

The show won many awards over the years and has been lauded for its historical accuracy. For fans of music, the song choices for each episode were spot on in terms of evoking the era and how they related to a particular scene or storyline. This song, Fly Me To The Moon by Julie London, featured in the first season of Mad Men. I have always loved her languid voice, especially when singing her signature song Cry Me A River, and Julie’s look and sound were totally appropriate for this glamorous show.

Towards the end of the first season, the upcoming presidential elections feature highly as the agency was to work with Nixon’s team to help him secure that win. They think it’s a foregone conclusion but of course we all now know it turned out very differently back in 1960 and Nixon ended up being pipped at the post by a young Jack Kennedy. Mad Men depicts the American society and culture of the 1960s, highlighting cigarette smoking, drinking, sexism, adultery, homophobia and racism. It kind of reminds us that although we have a nostalgia for the past, we also sometimes have a selective memory.

A song I have in my digital database by Julie London is this one, but not easy to listen to nowadays. Despite the fact I love the songs of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, the lyrics to Wives and Lovers are just so at odds with how a 21st century woman would think, or more importantly how a man would expect her to think, that they become quite laughable. However if you watched only the first episode of Mad Men, set in 1960, they suddenly seem frighteningly accurate:

Hey! Little Girl
Comb your hair, fix your makeup
Soon he will open the door.
Don’t think because there’s a ring on your finger
You needn’t try anymore   (?!)

Day after day
There are girls at the office
And men will always be men.
Don’t send him off with your hair still in curlers
You may not see him again   (?!)

Wives and Lovers by Julie London:

There is a lot of talk in the media at the moment about certain “unsolicited actions” and “inappropriate behaviour” having been carried out by people in power. Our blogging buddy Jez has written a very good piece about it this weekend (link here) which I would thoroughly recommend. As he says, time and time again we hear the defence that the accused is “a dinosaur”, that their behaviour was acceptable “back in the day” – No, it really wasn’t.

Until next time….

Wives and Lovers Lyrics
(Song by Burt Bacharach/Hal David)

Hey! Little Girl
Comb your hair, fix your makeup
Soon he will open the door
Don’t think because there’s a ring on your finger
You needn’t try anymore

For wives should always be lovers too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
I’m warning you…

Day after day
There are girls at the office
And men will always be men
Don’t send him off with your hair still in curlers
You may not see him again

For wives should always be lovers too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
He’s almost here…

Hey! Little girl
Better wear something pretty
Something you’d wear to go to the city and
Dim all the lights, pour the wine, start the music
Time to get ready for love
Time to get ready
Time to get ready for love

Postscript:

Just in case anyone hadn’t heard of her before, Julie London was an American singer and actress, whose career spanned over forty years. She released 32 albums of pop and jazz standards during the 1950s and 1960s, her signature song being the classic Cry Me a River. Julie’s 35-year acting career began in 1944 and included roles co-starring with Rock Hudson, Gary Cooper and Robert Mitchum. She achieved continuing success in television in the 1970s, appearing in the show Emergency! with her husband, Bobby Troup.