A Right Royal Affair, Barry White and “Just The Way You Are”

Well, it was a bit busy around here yesterday as we had to get our outfits organised for heading to a wedding…. down south…. near Windsor!! No, sadly it wasn’t that wedding but a bit of a coincidence that our young friends are to tie the knot amongst those very iconic surroundings so soon after the Right Royal Affair. No big crowds for them though, and no long carriage rides (I don’t think anyway) but looking forward to it all very much. I’ve mentioned here before that we live in a very sociable street, and as the bride-to-be is one of our own, having been brought up in the house next-door to us, all the neighbours are going. Even Albert, who celebrated his 90th birthday last year with a party in one of our gardens, is going to make the long trip south in his capacity as honorary granddad.

windsor

But I do also love a Royal Wedding and I will admit to having spent much of yesterday watching the build-up to it all and then the actual service itself. I know these events are not for everyone, and the family in question does come in for much criticism at times, but not from me. Luck was on Harry and Meghan’s side though, and the deep blue skies shining above Windsor Castle yesterday made that little corner of England look absolutely stunning – So much history, and just so scenic. Considering there was to be an estimated 2 billion people watching the event on television, I would guess that tourist numbers are going to be well up for the foreseeable future. In view of all the “exiting” that’s been going on around here of late, a bit of a relief that at least one aspect of the economy might have been given a fortuitous boost.

Who-Performed-Prince-Harry-Meghan-Markle-Reception

The actual wedding itself was certainly like no other royal wedding any of us have watched before, and despite the bride having had to contend with family difficulties in the build up to her big day, her mother, Doria Ragland, presented a highly dignified figure as the sole representative on the Markle side. A million miles away from her comfort zone no doubt, but how cool that for once, the mother of the bride sported dreadlocks and a nose stud. But of course for most of us who watched it, the unexpected star was the Reverend Michael Curry who treated the congregation to an evangelical-style sermon which to be fair did go on a bit, and caused several members of the royal family to exude nervous giggles (Camilla?), but even for non-believers this was rousing stuff. We had the usual musical offerings from the St George’s Chapel choristers, but lo and behold we also had Stand By Me from The Kingdom Choir. Who would have thought a generation ago, that the works of Ben E. King would feature so prominently at such an event.

Stand By Me by Ben E. King:

But the featured song today is going to be something else. I used to like the flow of it all when I linked each post in this blog to the one before – Last time I wrote about Billy Joel and his album “The Stranger”, so what better song to include here than another one written for it, Just The Way You Are. This time it won’t be Billy doing the honours however, but a man who recorded the song in 1978 and reached No. 12 in the UK Singles Chart, Mr Barry White – I do love a bass-baritone voice, and I also love the languid and sensual delivery he gave to all his songs, but also a very appropriate song for this post. Turns out that had he still been alive, he could have made the perfect contribution to yesterday’s very romantic royal wedding.

Just The Way You Are by Barry White:

“So, What’s It All About?” – Harry, unlike so many royal princes that have gone before him, has been allowed to choose his own bride and in Miss Markle he seems to have found the perfect match. If there was ever an actual form, complete with tick boxes, of the traits a potential royal bride should possess (and I suspect there will have been), Meghan would have failed spectacularly, but that form seems to have been quite rightly now torn to shreds. From a first date to the wedding day itself has been quite a speedy process, so they also seem to still exhibit the touchy-feeliness that comes with that first flush of romance. As a slightly more mature bride, Meghan has not been railroaded into having to adapt and change to fit in with the very unique family that are “The Windsors”. At some point Harry must have said to her, “Don’t go changing, to try and please me,” before adding, “I love you just the way you are”!

Until next time….

Just The Way You Are Lyrics
(Song by Billy Joel)

I never take anything for granted
Only a fool maybe takes things for granted
Just because it’s here today
It can be gone tomorrow
And that’s one thing that you
Never in your life ever have to worry about me
If I’ll ever change towards you because
Baby I love you
Yeah I love you
Just the way… You are…

Don’t go changing, trying to please me
You never let me down before
I don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore
I would not leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are

Don’t go trying some new fashion
Don’t change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care

I don’t want clever conversation
I don’t want to work that hard
I just want some someone to talk to
I want you just the way you are

I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew
What will it take till you believe in me
The way that I believe in you.

I said I love you and that’s forever
And this I promise from my heart
I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are

Post 201, Billy Joel and “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)”

Last time I pressed the publish button on this blog I got one of these from the WordPress people. It only took me 10 months to write my first 100 posts, but it’s taken another 17 months to mapost-milestone-200-2xke it to the 200 mark. I couldn’t really have kept up that pace long-term though and anyone who has followed this blog for a while now will know that there have been a few bumps on the road around here of late, but I plan to keep going, as I still love putting together these offerings that tenuously link to the Tracks of My Years. Also, the little blogging community I seem to have found myself part of has become really important to me, and if I’m not mistaken, it looks as if there might even be a real life meet-up down the line. Wouldn’t have expected that 27 months ago, no siree Bob.

But what to write about this time, for boring old Post 201 (I do hate veering away from a nice round number) – I remember suffering from blogger’s block when I reached Post 101, but then as if by magic, all sorts of ideas sprang forth. The number 101 led to thoughts of George Orwell’s Room 101 which in turn led to featured song choices. The binary number 101 converts to 5 in decimal, and no end of bands that incorporate that number into their name. Also, I decided that 101 is a palindromic number, which again inspired a song choice or two.

201 though….

Hmm….

2… 0… 1…

Much, much trickier, so time to resort to the vast resources of the world wide web. First up is this interesting snippet – It turns out that the North American Area Code for Hackensack, New Jersey, is the number 201. This is not the first time Hackensack has been mentioned in this blog, as one of the New Jersey suggestions for my AmericanthDZ2ELYSU Odyssey series was the song Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) by the Piano Man himself Billy Joel. There is much wordplay and a distinctive use of rhyme in this song, and that particular place, Hackensack, fitted the lyrics perfectly as Billy was also singing about heart attack ack ack ack acks and Cadillac ac ac ac acs. Personally I wouldn’t be that keen on living in a place with such an ugly sounding name (apologies to the residents of course), but as ever, it started life as something totally different. The Native American tribes who first inhabited the area called it Achinigeu-hach, or Ackingsah-sack, meaning stony ground, but along the way it became the more anglicised Hackensack.

For the record, my favourite place names in the UK are Westward Ho! (don’t forget that exclamation mark), Mousehole in Cornwall (just so cute) and Ashby-de-la-Zouche (all very post-Norman Conquest). It can’t be denied however, that there are some pretty unattractive place names here in Scotland, and up there with the best of them would be Auchtermuchty in Fife – I will give it a pass however as that is where those bespectacled singing twins The Proclaimers hail from, and without them and their songs this blog would have a much reduced number of visitors per month, so thanks guys for writing that love letter to Leith and for the Sunshine that falls upon it.

But back to the song, and in case anyone has absolutely no idea what I have been wittering on about above, here is an extract from the lyrics that make sense of it all:

Who needs a house out in Hackensack?
Is that what you get with your money?
It seems such a waste of time
If that’s what it’s all about
If that’s movin’ up then I’m movin’ out

Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song):

Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) was one of the singles released from his 1977 album “The Stranger”, which is generally considered to be his magnum opus. For me it was one of the soundtracks of my student years, as yet again it was an album owned by the boyfriend-of-the-time’s older brother (who was also incidentally responsible for making me fall in love with the music of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Carole King, but that’s been covered here before).

thYUT9VDV0Billy felt very strongly it seems, about the prevailing blue-collar immigrant work ethos, whereby it was important to work long hours at sometimes back-breaking work just to acquire the trappings that proved you had “made it in America” – The house out in the suburbs and the Cadillac on the drive. He made his character Anthony question it all, as he felt too many people were wasting their lives and talents because they felt pressured into taking a job to take care of the family.

Well, has anything changed in the intervening 40 years I wonder? Too many of us still seem to be pressured into taking jobs that waste our talents, because at the end of the day there are bills to be paid and mouths to feed. In fact I would even suggest that nowadays the vast majority aren’t even doing these kind of jobs to upgrade to a fancier car or a luxury house in the suburbs, but merely to keep afloat. But hey, let’s not end this post on doom and gloom, as the upside is that artificially intelligent robots will take over most of the jobs in the next few decades anyway, so a universal wage and life of leisure awaits us all. Or will it? Time will tell.

As ever, I’d love to hear from you and I always reply.

Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) Lyrics
(Song by Billy Joel)

Anthony works in the grocery store
Savin’ his pennies for some day
Mama Leone left a note on the door
She said
“Sonny, move out to the country”

Oh but workin’ too hard can give you a heart attack
You oughta know by now
Who needs a house out in Hackensack?
Is that all you get for your money?

And it seems such a waste of time
If that’s what it’s all about
Mama, if that’s movin’ up, then I’m movin’ out

Sergeant O’Leary is walkin’ the beat
At night he becomes a bartender
He works at Mister Cacciatore’s down on Sullivan Street
Across from the medical center

And he’s tradin’ in his Chevy for a Cadillac
You oughta know by now
And if he can’t drive
With a broken back
At least he can polish the fenders

And it seems such a waste of time
If that’s what it’s all about
Mama, if that’s movin’ up, then I’m movin’ out

You should never argue with a crazy mind
You oughta know by now
You can pay Uncle Sam with the overtime
Is that all you get for your money?

And if that’s what you have in mind
Yeah, if that’s what you’re all about
Good luck, moving up, ’cause I’m movin’ out

I’m movin’ out

Postscript:

It was inevitable that I would revisit other songs on “The Stranger” whilst writing this post and what a joy it’s been listening to this work of genius again. Scenes from an Italian Restaurant is effectively a mini opera with three distinct “acts” rolled into one. It begins with a gentle piano ballad, and sets the scene for two old classmates meeting up in an Italian restaurant. The next section is jazz-influenced and up-tempo, featuring a clarinet, trombone, tuba and saxophone solo. Here the two update each other on how their lives have turned out. It ends with a rock ‘n’ roll section telling the story of Brenda and Eddie, a couple of popular “jocks” from their schooldays whose life kind of peaked too early – We all know a Brenda and Eddie and even if we don’t come from Long Island like Billy Joel, most of us of a certain age can probably identify with this song. It was never released as a single but it’s still my favourite track on the album. Enjoy.

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant by Billy Joel: