Friday, 19 October 2018

The United Kingdom of Song #7: Inverness


You join us today at the mouth of the river Ness in the Highlands of Scotland, birthplace of Karen Gilan from Doctor Who & Guardians of the Galaxy; one of my favourite contemporary writers, Ali Smith; Runrig guitarist Malcolm Jones; and the Loch Ness Monster.

We're steering clear of Nessie today though and sticking to the city itself, which you'll find mentioned in Mike Scott's Long Way To The Light...

I spent the night in Glasgow
Flew to Inverness
I found the Place and at the first
I was not impressed
Nobody said hello
The faces left me cold
Back then how was I to know
All that would unfold?

Tough crowd there, Mike?

You'll also find Inverness mentioned in the sequel to Hank Snow's I've Been Everywhere... gloriously titled I Ain't Been Anywhere...

I ain't been anywhere Joe, ain't been anywhere Joe
I didn't want to go so I guess I'll never know Joe
An old stick in the mud Bud
I ain't been anywhere.

Kumquat, Limerick, Inverness, Loch Ness
Swansea, Cuanda, Colombia, Gold Coast
Edinburgh, Singapore, Galveston, Okinawa
Blarney, Killarney, Karachi, Pyongyang
Warsaw, Tarancon, Down, Libya
Goose Bay, Labrador, Outer Space, no place.

However, surely the greatest lyrical mention of Inverness comes in another song that gets about a bit... even visiting the small Norfolk village where I went on holiday last year. (And now I'm kicking myself for using this track for Inverness... what chance do I have of ever finding another song about Cley-next-the-Sea?)

Land's End at dusk
A day of churches
Her getting her hair cut
A windswept walk to Dunnet Head
Boarding a north-bound train at Inverness
A rainy Cley-next-the-Sea
Her swinging on a tyre
Me taking her picture
A station frozen in time
March stars in a Norfolk sky



407 miles down the country next week, back to my home county, but a little bit further south... it ain't New York City, that's for sure!


Thursday, 18 October 2018

My Top Ten < 40 Second Songs


Time has gotten away from me again this week, so here's another ten short songs as a follow up to My Top Ten < 30 Second Songs... this time, all of them lasting somewhere between 30 and 40 seconds in duration.

10. Dee-Lite - Mind Melt

If my mind ever melts, and it sounds like this, I won't be too worried.

9. The White Stripes - Passive Manipulation 

And this is why Meg left the singing to Jack. Still, good message...

Women, listen to your mothers
Don't just succumb to the wishes of your brothers
Take a step back, take a look at one another
You need to know the difference...
Between a father and a lover

8. The Legend! - Boredom (Is)

Not the first time Creation oddity The Legend! has featured here, but this seems like a pretty good definition of boredom... Dave Lee Travis is involved!

7. Frank Turner & John Snodgrass - Styx: The Man, The Band

They met a bloke who had the same name as the Babe band. No, really.

6. The Pastels - Over My Shoulder

I guess they'll never learn.

5. The Streets - Who Dares Wins

Not the Clint Eastwood movie.

4. Willie Nelson - My Love For The Rose

A song. A prayer. A regret.

3. Da Vinci's Notebook - Face Like Billy Joel

I love Billy Joel. You know that. But I bet even he has a laugh at this one.

2. Spearmint - My Birthday Present To Myself

A complete indie anthem in 40 seconds. Take that Noel!

1. Half Man Half Biscuit - Vatican Broadside

Suggested by Jim in Dubai last time we did this, and the only reason I didn't include it last time is that according to my music player, it clocks in at 31 seconds.

Ever wondered what happened when the singer out of Slipknot went to Rome to meet the Pope? The answer lies within...


Your suggestions of songs between 30 and 40 seconds in length will be gratefully received. Usual rules apply.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Mid-Life Crisis Songs #33: Yesterday, When I Was Young


I had one of those moments yesterday. One of the moments when you realise something about your life.

Yesterday, when I was young
The taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue
I teased at life as if it were a foolish game
The way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame
The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned
I always built to last on weak and shifting sand
I lived by night and shunned the naked light of the day
And only now I see how the years ran away

I have been a part of the working world now for 30 years. I started my first job (as detailed here in my early Radio Song posts) when I was 16. I've been working for 30 years, and I've probably got another 20 to go.

Yesterday, when I was young
So many happy songs were waiting to be sung
So many wild pleasures lay in store for me
And so much pain my dazzled eyes refused to see
I ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out
I never stopped to think what life was all about
And every conversation I can now recall
Concerned itself with me and nothing else at all

This all coincided with hearing a song on the radio that I hadn't heard in years. The song has been recorded by many people, and has kept cropping up in my record collection over the years. Here are just a few of the versions out there...






It was, of course, originally written by Charles Aznavour, under the French title Hier Encore (Yesterday Again). The lyrics were translated into English by Herbert Kretzmer (the man who wrote the lyrics to Les Miserables) and the song was re-recorded by Aznavour... who also apparently recorded versions in Italian, Danish, Spanish, Japanese and Finnish. Or so says iffypedia, and who am I to doubt? The reason I heard it played on the radio was obviously as a tribute to the man Terry Wogan always used to affectionately call "Charles Az-no-voice", but hearing it again yesterday, I might as well have been hearing it for the first time.

Yesterday the moon was blue
And every crazy day brought something new to do
I used my magic age as if it were a wand
And never saw the waste and emptiness beyond
The game of love I played with arrogance and pride
And every flame I lit too quickly, quickly died
The friends I made all seemed somehow to drift away
And only I am left on stage to end the play

30 years in the world of work, another 20 to go. The thing is, I'm terrified of the prospect of another 20 years as a teacher. I've only been in the job seven or eight years, but it gets harder and more pressured every year. I'm aware that in another 20 years I'll look back and wish I was 46 again rather than 66... just as I wish I was 26 again, knowing what I know now. And 46 may well actually be the best years of my life, because I'm getting to watch Sam grow up and nothing else in my life has even come close to that. I'm trying to cling onto that, to appreciate every moment of it, because I know how fast it will go and the loneliness that will follow... I just wish everything else was easier so I could appreciate it more.

There are so many songs in me that won't be sung
I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue
The time has come for me to pay for
Yesterday, when I was young

Still, we'll always have Charles. RIP, sir. Thanks for the song...



Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Hot 100 #62


An unsigned band from Edinburgh give us our opening image this week. Check them out on Soundcloud.

But what about songs with 62 in them? Let's jump straight into your suggestions...

C started us off with a song we already had 4 weeks back...

Route 66 - whose ever version you like best!

"get your kicks on Route 66 and I'll meet you on Route 62"

...but sadly no double-week-winners on this series.

Next up was The Swede...


"The last goal he ever scored won the Leafs, the cup, 
They didn't win another till 1962, 
The year he was discovered..."

It's a marvellous song telling a fascinating story.

Can't really argue with that.

Next up was Martin, who offered this gem...


"Just like that murder in '73 
Just like that robbery in '62 
With all there things that have happened to me 
I kept it all in"

Certainly wins video of the week... and any other week would probably clinch the title.

But Martin wasn't done there...


"Well, it musta been about '62
I heard you on record, you were brand new"

(Really, I love this song.)

And how could he not? As Loudon admits, Bob was "hipper than Mitch Miller... and Johnny Mathis put together!"

Then Lynchie popped up with a heartbreaking slice of classic country...


And Alyson kept it country, knowing my love for Brad Paisley...


Except that's not really a song, just a snip of JFK's famous moon speech set to music... a lengthy intro to this song, which is rather timely since the new Neil Armstrong movie starring Ryan Gosling appears to have left the American flag back home, much to the chagrin of a certain Mr. Trump. Still, I never really took Brad's song as jingoistic, far more hopeful... plus I'm a sucker for songs featuring 5 year olds talking to their dads. 

(Actually, what I find most interesting about listening to that JFK speech is how much he sounds like the great Pete Postlethwaite in Brassed Off. Without the swearing. Just me?)

Rigid Digit, meanwhile, came to kick out the jams...


What a racket. (In a good way.)

But this week's winner was...

...well, I know what you're all thinking.

You're all thinking this week's winner will be this, as originally suggested by The Swede and then seconded by Martin and Brian...

Sir leads the troops
Jealous of youth
Same old suit since nineteen sixty two

And certainly, it is one of my favourites from the early days of The Smiths. However, I'm going to throw a curveball this week and go with Jim from Dubai's suggestion... some classic 90s powerpop all the way from Sweden. A big favourite of mine back in the day...
 


Next week... 61. Any ideas?

Monday, 15 October 2018

Radio Songs #45: The Love Zone


The other type of show I drove for extra cash back in the early 90s wasn't on tape at all. Or not all of it, anyway.

Nowadays, radio presenters can record all the links for an entire 3 or 4 hour radio show in under an hour and get a computer to play them in over the songs along with all the ads, jingles and promos so there doesn't even have to be anyone in the studio... or in the station at all. Many of the late night or early morning shows you hear on local (and even national) radio will be recorded like this. Guy Garvey makes no secret of the fact that he records the links for his 6Music show wherever he is and his producer knits them all together for broadcast on Sunday afternoon. Often though, shows such as his go out "as live" with the presenter pretending to actually be there when really they're tucked up at home in bed... or out on the lash.

20+ years ago, such technology was not available, so if presenters did want to pre-record their show, they either had to put the whole thing on reel-to-reel (like the Rick Dees show I talked about last week) or put just the links on tape. Either way, there'd be some lackey like me sat in the studio threading them all together and doing their best to make it all sound live.

The Love Zone was one such show. Every Saturday night from 10 till 2 (the only night the phone-in took a break), our station ran a late night love show. The presenter was a lady from Bermuda was a smooth transatlantic drawl, perfectly suited for such late night Barry White-athons. After a while though she became a little jaded with sitting alone in a radio studio on the most exciting night of the week and decided to go out and live her life instead... while still picking up the paycheck.

Here's where I came in. She would pre-record a set of (mostly generic) links on either tape or cart, and leave me pretty much free rein to put them together with whatever love songs I saw fit. In the early days she gave me a playlist, but that soon became too much hassle, so then it'd just be a stack of Classic Love compilations. Lots of 80s soul, mostly, but once I realised she wasn't even listening to the show (and neither was anyone from management), I started to vary the playlist a little more and throw in a few of my own favourite love songs... particularly after 1am. Sadly, I can't remember what any of my own choices were, and it'd be hard to even guess now since my tastes were not quite as eclectic back then, but I wouldn't be surprised if the odd Springsteen, Costello or Queen ballad crept in there among the Atlantic Starr, Teddy Pendergrass and Peabo Bryson... perhaps even the odd new discovery from the chuck-out box, like some early Aimee Mann. The links were rarely track specific... that kind of planning would have eaten into the presenter's weekend.

So this was how I largely spent my Saturday nights in my early 20s. Alone in a radio station till 2am... while everyone else I knew was out getting drunk, having sex and doing things I couldn't even imagine... playing songs that sounded a lot like this.




Sunday, 14 October 2018

Saturday Snapshots #54 - The Answers


This Is Love that makes you come back to play Saturday Snapshots, I know it is. Whether you're Man-Size or a 50 Ft Queenie, you know This Mess We're In can only be solved by working out the answers... and you never let me down. Early bird prize goes to No-Lie-Ins Lynchie, with Alyson & Walter both sharing a respectable two and a quarter in joint second place. Although if I was being really mean, I might knock a smidgen of Alyson's mark off for not getting the full title of our Number One (including parenthesis). Charity Chic and Rigid Digit mopped up the rest this week.

Thanks for playing, as always.



10. Untie 6-E = foundations x 2.


Untie untie 6 and take away the e and eventually you might end up with...

Unit 4 + 2 - Concrete & Clay

Video of the week!

9. Tough stereos are invincible.


A tough stereo would be a hard-fi.

Someone invincible is hard to beat.

Hard-Fi - Hard To Beat

8. Get beaten up riding up to the top of the mountain.


You ride to the top of a mountain on a chairlift.

Getting beaten up leaves you with bruises.

Chairlift - Bruises

Yes, Lynchie, there is a band called Chairlift.

7. Sad stoat greets early Wham! song.


Sad stoat = blue mink.

The Wham! song is Freedom.

An early greeting would be Good Morning.

Blue Mink - Good Morning Freedom

6. How do I feel about an open, honest pickett?


Open & honest is frank.

Pickett is Wilson.

Frank Wilson - Do I Love You? 

5. No chance of parole in a French prison when Chamberlain left Take That.


If you've no chance of parole, it's life. What's that in French?

Robbie left Take That.

Chamberlain was Neville.

Robbie Nevil - C'est La Vie

4. Noel and Liam stay up late thinking deeply about miserable faces.


Mull over dour faces.

Maria Muldaur - Midnight At The Oasis

3. Hunky monks go jogging alone.


All-man brothers. Geddit?

The song was a little harder.

The Allman Brothers - No One To Run With

2. Adolescent admirers meet a philosopher with a heart of gold.


Teenage Fanclub, obviously.

Neil Jung, obviously.

Teenage Fanclub - Neil Jung

1. Definite & indefinite TV girls try to remember a tragic heroine.


The definite article is The.

The indefinite article is A.

The Gilmore Girls was an American TV show.

Juliet was the tragic heroine.

(Try to remember = Keep That In Mind.)



Saturday Snapshots will return next week. You can't get Rid Of Me that easily.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Saturday Snapshots #54


Welcome, Old Men and Cinammon Girls, to the latest edition of Saturday Snapshots.

Identify ten artists and ten top tunes from the clues below, please - I'm expecting you to fly!


10. Untie 6-E = foundations x 2.


9. Tough stereos are invincible.


8. Get beaten up riding up to the top of the mountain.


7. Sad stoat greets early Wham! song.


6. How do I feel about an open, honest pickett?


5. No chance of parole in a French prison when Chamberlain left Take That.


4. Noel and Liam stay up late thinking deeply about miserable faces.


3. Hunky monks go jogging alone.


2. Adolescent admirers meet a philosopher with a heart of gold.


1. Definite & indefinite TV girls try to remember a tragic heroine.


Answers tomorrow... After The Gold Rush.
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