Nancy & Lee, Lammas and “Summer Wine”

Well, I had really promised myself that I would no longer get tied down to a schedule of time-sensitive posts but I can’t ignore the fact that today is Lammas, one of the four Celtic fire festivals held to celebrate significant dates in the agricultural calendar. It was only last year at the time of the autumnal equinox that I discovered The Wheel Of The Year and I’ve made a point of writing a post on each of the dates as they occur – Today, the 1st of August, completes the annual cycle.

Lammas, meaning “loaf mass” is a festival celebrating the first harvests and is represented by those first loaves baked from the new year’s crops. Mr WIAA did pick up a nice crusty loaf from the supermarket this morning, but better than that, he also picked up a few punnets of strawberries and cherries which are ripe for being harvested at this time of year. The featured song to accompany this post therefore has to be this one:

Summer Wine by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood:

I don’t know how it’s happened, but it was not until I wrote about Nancy Sinatra earlier on this year (link here) that I discovered all the wonderful duets she recorded with Lee Hazlewood. It was Lee who wrote Summer Wine in 1966 but it was not a hit until he recorded it with Nancy the following year. I have always had a bit of a girl crush on Nancy, perhaps because that was the era of those highly unrealistic looking dolls we all “had to have” in the sixties, and Nancy certainly was doll-like.

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My girl crush!

As for Lee Hazlewood, he had a really distinctive baritone voice which I absolutely adore and his collaborations with Nancy Sinatra, as well as his solo output in the late ’60s and early ’70s, contributed to a sound often described as cowboy psychedelia. Check out that line, “Take off your silver spurs and help me pass the time“.

It has been a feature of these landmark dates in nature’s calendar for me to say that we are going to have a little soirée for friends and neighbours – Sadly today has been really wet so not suitable for doing anything outdoorsy, and to be honest, this date kind of crept up on me as it wasn’t one I was previously familiar with at all. There is apparently a bank holiday next Monday but today is a boring old work day so other than enjoying some of the bread and strawberries purchased earlier on today, it’ll be a quiet night in for us.

Highly relevant however is the symbolism of today’s date as only yesterday I handed in my notice at work and will no longer be bread-winner. Mr WIAA’s quota of summer wine will be curtailed, but he is ok with that (he says!). Yes, I discovered the wonderful world of blogging and like Chandler Bing, can no longer get my head round the relentless processing of sometimes meaningless numbers, in order to produce the WENUS reports (but you probably need to be a Friends fan to get that one!).

So, “What’s it all about?” – Sometimes we have to do something a little bit scary just to find the impetus to explore new avenues. Actually it’s more than “a little bit scary” and on the hour, every hour, I want to tell them I’ve changed my mind BUT I will then hurtle toward retirement without ever having put myself in the position of trying new things. It’s now or never (as Elvis sang).

As for Summer Wine – Sounds like a bit of a euphemism to me but when I offer some to Mr WIAA tonight it will most definitely be the kind that comes in a bottle. He can leave his silver spurs at the door thank you very much, as I’m going to be far too busy planning for the future.

Happy Lammas!

Summer Wine Lyrics
(Song by Lee Hazlewood) 

Strawberries cherries and an angel’s kiss in spring
My summer wine is really made from all these things

I walked in town on silver spurs that jingled to
A song that I had only sang to just a few
She saw my silver spurs and said lets pass some time
And I will give to you summer wine
Ohh-oh-oh summer wine

Strawberries cherries and an angel’s kiss in spring
My summer wine is really made from all these things
Take off your silver spurs and help me pass the time
And I will give to you summer wine
Ohhh-oh summer wine

My eyes grew heavy and my lips they could not speak
I tried to get up but I couldn’t find my feet
She reassured me with an unfamiliar line
And then she gave to me more summer wine
Mmm-mm summer wine

Strawberries cherries and an angel’s kiss in spring
My summer wine is really made from all these things
Take off your silver spurs and help me pass the time
And I will give to you summer wine
Mmm-mm summer wine

When I woke up the sun was shining in my eyes
My silver spurs were gone my head felt twice its size
She took my silver spurs a dollar and a dime
And left me cravin’ for more summer wine
Ohh-oh-oh summer wine

Strawberries cherries and an angel’s kiss in spring
My summer wine is really made from all these things
Take off your silver spurs and help me pass the time
And I will give to you summer wine
Mmm-mm summer wine

Shiny Boots, Nancy Sinatra and “Sugar Town”

Well, I’ve wanted to feature this song in the blog for a while, and today seems to be the day for a variety of reasons – Yes it’s a shoo-shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo, shoo-in (all will become clear).

Last month, as we had moved into 2017, I decided to look back at the first chart listing from 50 years ago which seems to have become, in the course of writing this blog, my favourite year to revisit. Back then the song that jumped out at me was Sitting In The Park by Georgie Fame, so I decided to write about it. Looking at the same 1967 chart a month on, the song that jumped out at me this time was indeed Sugar Town by Nancy Sinatra. I have written about Nancy before as she still tops my personally ranked list of “Favourite Ever Bond Themes”, with You Only Live Twice but I wasn’t really familiar with Sugar Town until recently. As sometimes happens with the music of 1967, I am smitten.

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The second reason for today’s pick is that I have been curious of late as to how my blogging buddies got started so I’ve gone back to have a look at their very first posts, some from quite a few years ago. Lo and behold, over at Charity Chic Music, one of CC’s first picks in 2012 was Sugar Town by Nancy Sinatra whilst C (no relation) at Sun-Dried Sparrows also wrote about Nancy in her second ever post (as an accompaniment to showcasing a very shiny new pair of boots!). A lot of synchronicity going on at the moment in our little corner of the blogosphere, first with posts about songs from the world of psychedelic rock and now it seems with Nancy Sinatra!

Sugar Town by Nancy Sinatra:

Of course most people will remember Nancy for her 1966 hit record These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ and although I could only have been about five at the time, one of my very first memories is of watching Nancy and her troop of “go-go dancers” perform this song on television. It was catchy indeed and was definitely one of the songs even my mum and dad could be caught singing along to whilst doing the housework or a bit of DIY.

You rarely saw Nancy without her boots and they kind of became her signature item of clothing. Like Kylie, she was very petite and doll-like, but with the help of Lee Hazelwood did well to carve out a successful career for herself despite being the daughter of the icon that was Frank. As for me, all through Junior School I coveted those white shiny boots but of course I never did get a pair – It was always a pair of sensible, fur-lined (it was Scotland after all), leather boots carefully fitted by those expert foot-measurers at the Clarks or Start-rite shop.

As I mentioned above, there have been quite a few posts regarding the world of psychedelic rock of late and I myself wrote about White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane last week. It was one of the first songs to get past the radio censors with its “Alice In Wonderland-esque” lyrics. Sugar Town also was an LSD song if ever there was one and Lee Hazelwood, the songwriter, freely admitted it. The song was directed at a young audience but was outwardly innocent enough to receive radio play.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I never did get a pair of white shiny boots and somehow I don’t think now that I ever will. I did buy a pair of very bright red ones recently however and people at work, who have never spoken to me before, have stopped to admire them – A great conversation starter and now that I think of it, perhaps how to get ahead in the modern day workplace.

Nancy it seems knew exactly what she was doing!

Sugar Town Lyrics
(Song by Lee Hazelwood)

I got some troubles, but they won’t last
I’m gonna lay right down here in the grass
And pretty soon all my troubles will pass
‘Cause I’m in shoo-shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo-shoo
Shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo Sugar Town

I never had a dog that liked me some
Never had a friend or wanted one
So I just lay back and laugh at the sun
‘Cause I’m in shoo-shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo-shoo
Shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo Sugar Town

Yesterday it rained in Tennessee
I heard it also rained in Tallahassee
But not a drop fell on little old me
‘Cause I was in shoo-shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo-shoo
Shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo Sugar Town

If I had a million dollars or ten
I’d give to ya, world, and then
You’d go away and let me spend
My life in shoo-shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo-shoo
Shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo, shoo-shoo Sugar Town

Postscript:

Anyone who visited this post earlier today may have noticed that the music clip I first included was not indeed by Nancy Sinatra but one that I found in my library by another artist. It turns out that darling daughter once got a CD from the Lush soap people which included Sugar Town by the Fresh Handmade Collective, a group of singers and musicians put together to create promotional CDs for the company. Quite different lyrics and Southend-on-Sea substituted for Tennessee. Still a sweet version though and well worth a listen.

Sugar Town by the Fresh Handmade Collective:

Bond Themes, Nancy Sinatra and “You Only Live Twice”

Yesterday I wrote about Rise Like a Pheonix, the song that won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014, and how it was very much in the style of a James Bond theme song. Led me to think about all those great (and some not so great) themes from over 50 years of Bond films and I have put together my own list, ranked by personal preference. There are many such lists out there and it seems there is mixed opinion on which is the best theme song ever but at the moment, for me, it is You Only Live Twice by Nancy Sinatra from the 1967 film of the same name.

You Only Live Twice by Nancy Sinatra:

The song has a really beautiful intro which Robbie Williams cleverly used for his recording of Millennium in 1998. In the video for Millennium, Robbie, dressed in a tuxedo parodies James Bond and references many of the early Sean Connery films. Turned out to be a great way to get back on top after his departure from Take That.

But back to my list – Nancy up there at the top at the moment but like any list it changes all the time, especially with oft-heard songs such as these. There seems to be a tipping point at which a song has just been listened to just once too often and it goes from being a joy, to something you have become a bit tired and weary of hearing. I hate when that happens and rush to turn off the radio if one of my all-time favourites comes on as I just don’t want to reach that point any sooner than need be.

nancy

All Bond Theme Songs – Personal Ranking (feel free to disagree)

1. You Only Live Twice – 1967 – Nancy Sinatra
2. Live and Let Die – 1973 – Paul McCartney & Wings
3. For Your Eyes Only – 1981 – Sheena Easton
4. The Spy Who Loved Me – 1977 – Carly Simon
5. The Living Daylights – 1987 – A-ha
6. The World Is Not Enough – 1999 – Garbage
7. From Russia with Love – 1963 – Matt Monro
8. Goldfinger – 1964 – Shirley Bassey
9. Skyfall – 2012 – Adele
10.We Have All the Time in the World – 1969 – Louis Armstrong
11.Diamonds Are Forever – 1971 – Shirley Bassey
12.All Time High – 1983 – Rita Coolidge
13.Licence to Kill – 1989 – Gladys Knight
14.A View to a Kill – 1985 – Duran Duran
15.Thunderball – 1965 – Tom Jones
16.GoldenEye – 1995 – Tina Turner
17.Tomorrow Never Dies – 1997 – Sheryl Crow
18.Writing’s on the Wall – 2015 – Sam Smith
19.Die Another Day – 2002 – Madonna
20.The Man with the Golden Gun – 1974 – Lulu
21.Another Way To Die – 2008 – Jack White & Alicia Keys
22.You Know My Name – 2006 – Chris Cornell
23.Moonraker – 1979 – Shirley Bassey

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I still think the Golden Age of Bond movies was the Sean Connery era or perhaps it is just that I am reminded of watching them on television as a child. By the early ’70s they were a staple on high days and holidays and because the world was a much bigger place then, with foreign travel something very few of us experienced, it was worth watching them for the glamorous locations alone. Although the age of feminism and bra-burning had well and truly started by then, it really didn’t filter through to Bond movies until the Timothy Dalton era and for many of us, that was a low point in the franchise. To try and make Bond politically correct was a stretch but with the latest batch of movies starring Daniel Craig as Bond, they seem to have found the right balance.

And if you want to compare intros, here is a clip of Robbie playing Mr Bond – Don’t think he’ll ever get the main gig but it was great fun watching him in those videos from his album “I’ve Been Expecting You”. A wonderful homage to those glamorous films of the ’60s.

Millennium by Robbie Williams:

You Only Live Twice Lyrics
(Song by Leslie Bricusse/John Barry)

You only live twice or so it seems
One life for yourself and one for your dreams
You drift through the years and life seems tame
Till one dream appears and love is it’s name

And love is a stranger who’ll beckon you on
Don’t think of the danger or the stranger is gone

This dream is for you, so pay the price
Make one dream come true, you only live twice

Postscript:

Just in case anyone else has “anorak tendencies” like myself, yes there have been 24 Bond movies to date (and two by other production companies) but the first one, Dr No in 1962, did not have a title song. Monty Norman did however compose the now infamous James Bond theme for it which has been used in all the films since.

For the 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service starring one-time Bond George Lazenby, John Barry was the composer of the opening theme of the same name but Louis Armstrong’s song We Have All The Time In The World was a secondary theme, played at the end of the film. The only other exception to the rule was that Matt Monro’s vocal version of From Russia With Love was not played for the opening titles to that film but used for the closing credits.

I wonder who will get the task of writing the next Bond title song? Who knows but they will probably be British, and have won quite a few Grammys as this seems to be the main qualification for the job nowadays.

Sounds as if Daniel Craig will be bowing out of the franchise now so whoever gets the role next will dictate the direction the films go in – Each Bond actor definitely has their own very unique style and at the moment I think my favourites have been Sean and Pierce. Sean just because he was the original and I love the look of ’60s movies (also you get a fantastic lesson in the history of political incorrectness). Pierce I think got the balance just right, all action hero one-minute but always there with a playful quip if need be.

When in 1961, Cubby Broccoli acquired the film rights to Ian Fleming’s books about a secret agent working for MI6, I doubt very much if he would have believed how successful they would become. Cubby died in 1996 but his daughter Barbara has now taken over production of the films so for over 50 years the Broccoli family have been responsible for bringing Bond to the big screen – quite a legacy to leave.