NaPoWriMo, The Crusaders and “Street Life” (Or Rather The Lack Of It)

Well, how are we all doing? A whole new collection of words and phrases has entered our vocabulary (self-isolation, social distancing, on furlough et al) and it somehow feels as if they’ve always been with us, but they really haven’t, it’s just that everyone seems to have adapted overnight to “the new normal”.

I’ve already been for my daily walk and fortunately timed it just right, as yesterday we did not, and ended up striding along the banks of the Caledonian Canal in sheet rain. I was wearing one of those coats with a complicated hood full of channels for cords and toggles. By the time we’d worked out how they kept sheet rain out it was too late, but no matter, I certainly wasn’t going anywhere important where I had to look smart and coiffed, just back home.

Home.

hsh

I spend a lot of time at home in my normal life, so not a big change for me. The big change is that economically I now have no purpose, as my purpose was to help Mr WIAA run his business and to prepare for guests coming to stay in the holiday hideaway. Neither of these businesses can operate in this strange new world of staying at home and social distancing, so all a tad disconcerting. I know we have to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives, but my goodness, the fallout will be with us all for many, many years to come and I fear for the younger generation whose job it will be to navigate this brave new world.

napofeature2
Spread your wings, but not for a while it seems

A very pleasant distraction that came along yesterday was the start of NaPoWriMo – National Poetry Writing Month. Although I am currently a lapsed student, I am still part of a NaPoWriMo FaceBook group, and a fair few efforts have already come in. I shared some of my fellow students’ work last year (link here) as I was really blown away by their poems, having quickly realised it was not a discipline I had any talent for at all. Whenever I did post something it tended to be a comedic tum-ti-tum kind of affair, and true to form, my first contribution this year seems to have gone along the same lines.

A Loo Roll Dystopia

Handed in a story once upon a time
Up for an assessment, thought it would be fine
Looked forward to the outcome, but ’twas a massive fail!
“Too far-fetched… , dystopian” was deemed to be my tale

But that was then, and this is now
And I find myself with furrowed brow
I had foretold what might come to pass
But missed the obsession we’d have with our ass

Paper products stripped from the shelves
Even those in a pack of twelve
When the threat recedes of what came from Hubei
We’ll be trapped inside, by Triple Velvet 3-ply

(I’ll get my coat!)

No mention of music yet in this post, but I am inclined to share a song I heard on the radio last night before heading to bed. When Randy Crawford started to sing Street Life, the song she recorded with American jazz band The Crusaders, it really hit home that street life as we know it has all but gone, and we miss it. The song reached No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart in 1979 and represented the peak of the band’s commercial popularity. Randy has appeared around here before, a couple of times, as I have always had a great fondness for her voice.

I usually share an audio clip of the featured song but it seems I don’t have The Crusader’s Street Life in my library. What I do have however is another Street Life by Roxy Music, this time from 1973. He certainly was a very dapper chap that Bryan Ferry wasn’t he? Again the lyrics about a world I now know nothing of, bar the suburban streets that run adjacent to the place we call home.

Street Life by Roxy Music:

I hope you and those you love stay safe and well. It hasn’t really hit home what we are up against yet here in the North of Scotland, but for any of you who are key workers caught up in the eye of the storm, you have my immense admiration and gratitude for what you are doing.

Until next time….

Street Life Lyrics
(Song by Will Jennings/Joe Sample)

I play the street life
Because there’s no place I can go
Street life
It’s the only life I know
Street life
And there’s a thousand cards to play
Street life
Until you play your life away

You let the people see

Just who you wanna be
And every night you shine
Just like a superstar
The type of life that’s played
A temptin’ masquerade
You dress you walk you talk
You’re who you think you are

Street life

You can run away from time
Street life
For a nickel or a dime
Street life
But you better not get old
Street life
Or you’re gonna feel the cold

There’s always love for sale

A grown up fairy tale
Prince charming always smiles
Behind a silver spoon
And if you keep it young
Your song is always sung
Your love will pay your way
Beneath the silver moon

Street life

Street life
Street life
Oh street life

I play the street life

Because there’s no place I can go
Street life
It’s the only life I know

Street life

And there’s a thousand cards to play
Street life
Until you play your life away – oh
Street life
Street life
Street life
Oh street life

Ewan McGregor, Elton John and “Your Song”

Before I got side-tracked by other things, like writing my landmark 100th post (still basking in the afterglow of having reached that momentous number), I had revisited the Randy Crawford song One Day I’ll Fly Away which is featured in this year’s John Lewis Christmas ad. It led me to share the version performed by Nicole Kidman in Baz Luhrmann’s lavish movie Moulin Rouge!. Her male co-star and love interest in that movie was Ewan McGregor, my favourite Scottish actor. In fact no, my favourite actor full stop. I am currently eagerly awaiting the sequel to the 1996 film Trainspotting which is due to come out early next year where he very memorably played the character Renton, a young man caught up in a world of addiction and squalor in, ironically, “culturally rich” Edinburgh – Harrowing scenes but also scenes of great humour and on some lists, it is ranked Best Scottish Film of all time.

His role in Moulin Rouge! could not have been more different as in this one he plays a writer/poet who has come to live amongst the Bohemians of Montmartre during the period of La Belle Époque. It is not long before he falls in love with Satine, the star courtesan of the Moulin Rouge nightclub played by Nicole Kidman and for me, the whole film was an absolute spectacle, with fantastic music throughout.

mr2
Ewan and Nicole sing their Love Medley

I hadn’t realised until going to see that film in 2001 that both Nicole and Ewan were such great singers, but they were, and one of their very memorable duets, Elephant Love Medley, was compiled from 13 different Love Songs – If you are around my age, you will recognise all of them. They came just too thick and fast when I watched this song being performed first time around but once home, and with the newly purchased CD in the player (it was 15 years ago now), it was easier to identify and remember all of them. Here is the clip followed by the list, in the correct running order, of all 13 songs from which snippets were plucked. Very aptly for this year, I think my favourite segment is when they sang a few lines from the David Bowie song Heroes.

Elephant Love Medley by Ewan MacGregor and Nicole Kidman:

Medley compiled from:
Love Is Like Oxygen – Sweet
Love is a Many-Splendored Thing – The Four Aces
Up Where We Belong – Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
All You Need Is Love – The Beatles
Lover’s Game – Chris Isaak
I Was Made For Lovin’ You – Kiss
One More Night – Phil Collins
Pride (In The Name Of Love) – U2
Don’t Leave Me This Way – Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
Silly Love Songs – Paul McCartney and Wings
(Repeated) Up Where We Belong – Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
Heroes – David Bowie
I Will Always Love You – Dolly Parton
Your Song – Elton John

The final song used for the medley was Your Song by Elton John. It was originally released back in 1970 and although I knew it well, I had been too young back then to really appreciate those great lyrics by Elton’s long-time collaborator, Bernie Taupin. By the time I was a teenager in 1973, Elton John was one of the biggest singer/composer/musicians on the planet, his albums “Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” receiving massive critical acclaim. But, at that time my focus was very much on my oh so good-looking teen idols, the Donnys and the Davids. Elton by this time had embraced the full glam-rock persona with ever more outrageous outfits, glasses and footwear, but not someone I saw as a potential teen idol.

elton
One of Elton’s outrageous outfits!

This is a roundabout way of saying that it was not until going to see Moulin Rouge! in 2001 that I truly appreciated the sentiment of Your Song, and actually dug out a really old cassette tape from the loft that, amongst others, contained my new favourite song. Again maybe it’s the old romantic in me, but what a wonderful thing I thought, to have a song written specially for you which includes the line: How wonderful life is, while you’re in the world”. Unlike Pattie Boyd, who seems to have had oh so many songs written about how wonderful it was to have her in the world, I am pretty sure no-one has ever written a song for me. At best there may have been a limerick or rhyme (of the non-smutty nature) in a Valentine card at some point, but still perhaps time if Mr WIAA decides to take up the art of song-writing in later life. The really ironic thing is that hubby’s real-life profession is actually mentioned in the song, but in a bit of a derogatory fashion. Yes it is a great source of mirth in our house that one of the lines from Your Song goes as follows: “If I were a sculptor (bit of aside laughter at the ridiculousness of the suggestion), but then again, no”. It turns out that Bernie Taupin decided that it would be preferable being “a man who makes potions in a travelling show” than to be a sculptor although I beg to differ!

Your Song by Elton John:

So, “What’s It All About?” – It’s good in later life to revisit songs you may not have truly appreciated first time around because you were just far too busy swooning over your latest teen idol, who happened to have great hair, teeth, waistcoats and headwear. (That would be Donny Osmond in his trademark purple cap then!) I sadly did not appreciate Your Song first time around so was glad to rediscover it properly after watching Baz Luhrmann’s lavish film. Yet again, the subject matter for both the above songs is that old chestnut love but as I have mentioned here before (just a few times), that is indeed what it’s all about. We seem to be living in a bit of a troubled world at the moment but I will remain positive and hope that love will win out in the end.

Until next time here is the Moulin Rouge! version of the song, Baz Luhrmann style. Both have their merits but it’s the simple pared down version by Elton for me now – Unlike Pattie Boyd I may never have any songs written for me, or about me, but in the meantime a nice piece of sculptural jewellery will do nicely. The man who makes potions in a travelling show is not the one for me!

Your Song Lyrics
(Song by Elton John/Bernie Taupin)

It’s a little bit funny this feeling inside
I’m not one of those who can easily hide
I don’t have much money but boy if I did
I’d buy a big house where we both could live

If I was a sculptor, but then again, no
Or a man who makes potions in a traveling show
I know it’s not much but it’s the best I can do
My gift is my song and this one’s for you

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world

I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss
Well a few of the verses well they’ve got me quite cross
But the sun’s been quite kind while I wrote this song
It’s for people like you that keep it turned on

So excuse me forgetting but these things I do
You see I’ve forgotten if they’re green or they’re blue
Anyway the thing is what I really mean
Yours are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world

Christmas Ads, Randy Crawford and “One Day I’ll Fly Away”

You know the festive season is just around the corner when John Lewis comes up with another of their “heart-warming” Christmas ads. I first watched it properly a few nights ago and much to my chagrin, this year they are using one of my all-time favourite songs, One Day I’ll Fly Away. The version for the ad is by South London band Vaults (no The apparently) but the version I fell in love with many years ago was by Randy Crawford. Incredibly, despite being from Georgia, she didn’t ever crack the Billboard Hot 100 in the US but achieved great success in Europe and the UK, making it to No. 2 in our Singles Chart in 1980 with the song.

One Day I’ll Fly Away by Randy Crawford:

My chagrin comes from the fact that a song I have always loved, will by the end of the festive period, have lost all its charm due to having been listened to just once too often. One upside of blogging however is that it does leave very little time for television, so what I do watch nowadays tends to be very carefully cherry-picked from recordings or on-demand services (that would be Netflix then) – With any luck I might be spared the over-exposure. To be fair however, the ad, featuring a very excited Buster the Boxer joyously jumping up and down on a trampoline from Santa, is a great one, and not the sadvert they were accused of putting out last year. I do wonder whether it actually does lead to a hike in sales nowadays, when so many of us do our Christmas shopping online, but they have kind of set the bar for this new artform and as yet have seen off the competition. A lot of course is down to the song choice, and I certainly can’t fault Vaults performance in this one (One Day I’ll Fly Away – John Lewis style).

But back to the song itself – In 1979 Randy Crawford sang with The Crusaders, providing vocals for their excellent hit Street Life. Joe Sample and Will Jennings from The Crusaders then wrote One Day I’ll Fly Away specifically for Randy. The song is apparently about emotional bondage and the longing to be free of it. Coincidentally it came to mind the other Sunday (the same day I took to “tipsy blogging”) on my drive to the supermarket when I felt I had just too much to do that day. How wonderful I thought it would be to get off the hamster wheel and just keep on driving, flying away to a new less busy life. (Just to be clear no emotional bondage to be free of, as Mr WIAA is a great other half, just wouldn’t mind there being a bit less “to-do-list” bondage in an average week.) Needless to say I didn’t fly away that afternoon but did the shopping and then went home to cook the Sunday dinner as per usual!

But the video clip I’m going to share today is actually from the sumptuous 2001 Baz Luhrmann musical Moulin Rouge! where Nicole Kidman turned in a great performance playing Star Courtesan Satine. Who knew she could sing so well (I didn’t anyway) and the scene in the amazing “Red Room Elephant” where she sings One Day I’ll Fly Away was my favourite of the whole movie. Satine is not particularly yearning to be free of emotional bondage or even to-do-list bondage, but she longs to leave the life she is living at The Moulin Rouge, and become a “real” actress.

One Day I’ll Fly Away by Nicole Kidman:

This was a typical Baz Luhrmann, over-the-top production with many great songs but with a very simple boy-meets-girl storyline. Enter poet/writer Christian, played by my favourite Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, who falls in love with Satine. Who knew he could sing so well either, but the pair of them performed many memorable duets in that movie some of which I will leave for another day.

No great light-bulb revelation with this post other than a pleasant revisitation of a song I have enjoyed over the years, albeit prompted by a Christmas ad. It is my abiding hope that it doesn’t get ruined for me over the festive period through over-exposure. One mini revelation however was finding out that the main hook in the song (its title) was based on the opening sequence from Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers – Every day’s a school day!

One Day I’ll Fly Away Lyrics
(Song by Will Jennings/Joe Sample)

I follow the night
Can’t stand the light

When will I begin?
To live again?

One day I’ll fly away
Leave all this to yesterday
What more could your love do for me
When will love be through with me
Why live life from dream to dream
And dread the day when dreaming ends

One day I’ll fly away!
Leave all this to yesterday!
Why live life from dream to dream!?
And dreamt the day when dreaming end

The Wee Small Hours, Randy Crawford and a “Rainy Night In Georgia”

Having a bit of a break from writing my long (sometimes too long) posts, so here is what I’m listening to in the wee small hours of Sunday morning – Of late, this has become my favourite time of the week. Everyone else has gone to bed so I have the house to myself and can read, write, catalogue (yes really) and listen to whatever takes my fancy. Of course the next morning I suffer for such “night owl-ish” behaviour but still worth it for the feeling of having done something slightly irresponsible, but yet highly enjoyable – Another guilty pleasure which is a phrase that crops up a lot around these parts, but usually in relation to song choices (of an easy-listening persuasion).

ea591cda63e183d78d2d974bc435e8ee

This soulful song, Rainy Night In Georgia, was written by Tony Joe White who had moved  from Louisiana to Marietta, Georgia after leaving high school, to live with his sister. He wrote this song based on his experiences of driving a truck for the highway department. When it rained he didn’t have to go to work so he stayed home, played his guitar and simply “hungout”, all night. The song is an ode to loneliness, as it finds the narrator outside in the rain with nowhere to go and with no-one to love them.

Rainy Night In Georgia by Randy Crawford:

This song was of course first popularised by Brook Benton in 1970 but my favourite version is by Randy Crawford – It reminds me of a time in the mid ’80s when all my friends’ relationships were crumbling, never to recover. Long evenings were spent listening to Randy’s dulcit tones on her 1981 “Secret Combination” album, this song being my favourite. Thirty years on and the same thing seems to be happening at the moment amongst my daughter’s friendship groups. A lot of relationships that have survived since schooldays are crumbling, and there has been a flurry of activity tonight with cars coming and going trying to work out how best to support the latest “victim”. They will survive, but not in that triumphant Gloria Gaynor way, but because they are young and time is a great healer.

images

As for me, I’ll stay up for a while yet in case I am needed. I probably won’t share this song with them but boy does it remind me of what they are going through. Not too keen on this getting older malarkey, but being young isn’t always easy either on this, ironically, very rainy night….. in the Scottish Highlands.

Rainy Night In Georgia Lyrics
(Song by Tony Joe White)

Hovering by my suitcase
Trying to find a warm place
To spend the night
Heavy rains are falling
Seems I hear your voice calling
Alright

A rainy night in georgia
A rainy night in georgia
I believe that it’s raining all over the world
I feel that it’s raining all over the world

Neon signs are flashing
Taxis, cabs and buses passing
Through the night
A distant moment of the train
Seems to play a sad refrain
To the night

A rainy night in Georgia
Such a rainy night in Georgia
I believe that it’s raining all over the world
I feel like it’s raining all over the world

How many times I’ve wondered
It still comes out the same
No matter how you look at it often
It’s life and we’ve just got to play the game

I shake the rain from my sweater
Take out your letters to pass some time
Late at night when its hard to rest
I hold your pictures to my breast
And I feel fine, fine

It’s a rainy night in Georgia
Such a rainy night in Georgia
I feel that it’s raining all over the world
Lord I feel like it’s raining all over the world

Rainy night
Such a rainy night

It still comes out the same