Wednesday, 18 October 2017

My Top 90 Mid-Life Crisis Songs #6: Remember when 37 was middle-aged?

At the age of 37
She realised she'd never ride
Through Paris in a sports car
With the warm wind in her hair
The chorus of Dr. Hook's The Ballad of Lucy Jordon (sic) is surely one of the saddest collection of words ever set to music. The song was written by poet and country songwriter Shel Silverstein, telling of a tired and jaded housewife who puts her husband and kids ahead of her own freedom and happiness... to the point that she's either driven insane... or to suicide, depending on your reading of the song's final lines.

One person who thought Lucy ended up in the loony bin was Marianne Faithful, who covered the song in the late 70s. You may prefer her version, but for me it's too much a product of its time and the tinny synths spoil Faithful's otherwise powerful vocal performance. (That said, I prefer the heartbreak in Dennis Locorriere's own vocal... that guy always sounded like he was on the verge of a breakdown, even when he was trying to get Sylvia's mother to persuade her daughter to take his call.)

6. Dr. Hook - The Ballad of Lucy Jordon

This is a song about realising that your best years are behind you, and in the 70s, that came at age 37, apparently.

What's the new 37 then...?

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Top Ten Songs I Hated When I Was A Kid #6: My Name Is Not Roland

Since Martin brought this one up in the comments a couple of days back, it seemed a good enough excuse to bring back this particular series which I've let slide a bit in recent months.

6. Roland Rat - Rat Rapping

I had no problem with Roland Rat. I was 11 when he made his TV debut and although I didn't really have time for Breakfast Television (still a relatively new innovation in those days), I found myself drawn to his humorous shtick, laughing along with Kevin the Gerbil, Errol the Hamster and Glenis the Guinea Pig. I was just the right age. So when Roland released his first single, I was up for singing along...



My name is Rol. In case you think that's a pseudonym I adopt for this blog, it's not. Although it's my middle name, Rol is the name I've always been called... by family, friends and even teachers. Except when I went up to High School and one particular teacher took umbrage at me telling her my name was Rol, saying she wouldn't be addressing students by their nicknames, and insisting I use the longer version.

The longer version being...

Well, it's not Roland.

However, as Roland Rat made his way into the pop charts with his familiar Fonzie-like cry of "Eyyyyyy", I soon found myself the butt of lots of rat jokes at school. My first year at high school, and suddenly I was "Roland - like the Rat: Eyyyyyyyy!"

But worse was yet to come: much, much worse, as the number one TV show for our genration, Grange Hill followed soon after by introducing its very own Roland... or should that be Ro-Land... in the shape of tubby miseryguts Ro-Land Browning.

What a gift to the playground wits... and what a dilemma! What would they shout as I walked by now? They were torn between a cheeky "Eyyyyyy!" and the far more unpleasant, "I only want to help you, Ro-Land" (the catchphrase of Roland's only real friend on the show, the wimpy and annoying Janet St. Clair). Ultimately, Roland Browning won out, and the cuter, cooler Roland Rat impersonations were dropped in favour of the much more cutting Roland Browning jibes. Things got so bad for the fictional Roland Browning that he chucked himself under a car. I missed that episode because I had a piano exam. This was in the days before even video recorders. How did we live!?! I had to tune in the following week and work out what had happened while Roland lay recovering in hospital, wimpy Janet at his side.

1983 was not a good time to be called Rol.

Even if Rol isn't even short for Roland...

(It's short for Rolston, but that really isn't important to this story.)

Monday, 16 October 2017

My Top Ten Ingrid Bergman Songs

Yes, it's the series nobody really likes, but I do it anyway. Indulge me!

Having done Bogie, it seems only fair I give some thought to his Casablanca co-star. Was that cannon fire, or is it my heart pounding?

10. Duran Duran - Notorious

When I started in radio, this record had been out a couple of years and so the jocks (who still had free choice back then... for a short time) would dig it out and give it a spin quite often. Mostly so they could make the same gag: Mo-mo-monotonous...

Still, good memories.

Notorious is a great Hitchcock film, with Ingrid and Cary Grant.

9. Serge Lama & Carla Bruni - Casablanca

Most of it's in French, so I don't understand a word of it... except when they sing about Bogart et Ingrid Bergman...

8. Bee Gees - For Whom The Bell Tolls

Hard to imagine that Robin, Maurice and Barry were big Hemingway fans, but they did steal the title of one of his most famous novels... made into a 1943 movie starring Ingrid & Gary Cooper.

7. The Alan Parsons Project - Call Up

If Alan had a time machine, he'd use it to rescue a bunch of dead stars. Ingrid would be among them, in excellent company.

6. Siouxsie & The Banshees - Spellbound

More Hitchcock, this time with Gregory Peck. Siouxsie is a huge Hitchcock fan.

5. Sleeper - Lie Detector
She's a movie star arrangement
Got a touch of Bergman to her face
She wears suits and buys him flowers
Smokes his cigarettes and bakes him cakes
He says uh oh I love you
But I'm not sure I trust you
Weird thing is, I reckon Louise Wener had a touch of Bergman to her face too. 

4. Richard Thompson - Jerusalem On The Jukebox
In the bathroom mirror they try that Joan of Arc look again
Two parts Ingrid Bergman to one part Shirley MacLaine...
3. The Beautiful South - Good As Gold (Stupid As Mud)
I want my sun-drenched, windswept Ingrid Bergman kiss...
Don't we all?

2. Pulp - The Day After The Revolution

The closing track on the greatest album of the 90s, and the one that killed Britpop. I loved Britpop, but it needed killing.

Fair enough, the Bergman that Jarvis claims is over may well be Ingmar (no relation to Ingrid), but it's my blog and so I'll pretend he was singing about Ingrid just so I get to play this amazing track.

1. Billy Bragg - Ingrid Bergman

I know I featured this a few weeks back in My Top Ten Innuendo Songs, but it's worth giving it another spin without the phnarrs... because it's beautiful. Woody Guthrie lives, through the Bard of Barking.

Play it once, Sam. For old times' sake.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Neverending Top Ten #5: Ratrap (sic)

Sam has taken to writing words on the bathroom wall with his stick-on road bath toys. It started with his own name, then worked through the names of his friends at nursery, then on to the names of his favourite characters from Disney's Cars, Paw Patrol and Transformers: Rescue Bots. This has been going on for a while now and while we do have to help him with the spelling, it's still pretty impressive for a 3/4 year old.

Imagine my joy when one night I came home from working late to find he'd chosen to write a song title on the bathroom wall, one of the ones we'd been listening to in the car earlier that weekend...

(Yes, fellow pedants, I know there's a 't' missing, but I blame his mother for that.)

5. The Boomtown Rats - Rat Trap

Many people will tell you that this is Bob Geldof's finest moment, and they'd probably be right. Many of those same people might even tell you that they're not Bruce Springsteen fans... which is ironic, since Rat Trap is possibly the greatest Springsteen tribute song ever written. I mean, come on: this is Born To Run, the Dublin version. Right down to the sax intro that wants to be Clarence so very, very badly. Watch the video though and tell me if, for even one second, you really believe Bob Geldof knows how to play the saxophone...
Billy don't like it living here in this town
He says: traps have been sprung long before he was born
He says: hope bites the dust behind all the closed doors
And pus and grime ooze from its scab-crusted sores

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Well, that didn't take you long, did it? Well done to all who took part - a true group effort this week. Although poor old Brian didn't even get a look in. Maybe I'll start later in the day next Saturday. I like to think I'll make it harder next week, but every time I think that you all raise your games anyway.

Here's the answers, and a brief explanation of the answers... plus ten top tunes. Check them out if you're not already familiar with them. Guaranteed: no lemons.

10. This Russian waterway gets metafictional.

I didn't actually know that the Okkervil River is in St. Petersburg until I researched this. Apparently the band take their name from a short story by Russian author Tatyana Tolstaya set on that particular waterway. Lynchie's suggestion of The Okkervil River Song was pretty metafictional, but Charity Chic named the actual tune...

Okkervil River - Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe

Love that song.

9. Trump's toothpaste visits a flying citadel.

CC got this one, and didn't even know the song. Here you go, CC: hope you like it as much as I do...

Don McLean - Castles In The Air

8. An American Oasis song inspires the hangman.

Martin recognised Liam Lynch, but couldn't work out the song. Like Liam Lynch had any other hits? To be fair, Liam did have some other pretty good songs. And it's not as though I'm sticking only to chart hits on this quiz. But still... d'oh, indeed, Martin. Glad the penny finally dropped.

Liam Lynch - The United States of Whatever

Still makes me laugh, even after all this time.

7. Brian Jardine, backwards on the beach: what a charmer! 

Well done to Lynchie for puzzling this one out.

The Beach Boys backwards... Brian (Wilson) and (Al) Jardine. Charming snakes...

Al Wilson - The Snake

6. An Eagle and some sexy Stewarts. Please yourself!

Top work from Alyson.

Eddie The Eagle + (Hot) Sexy (Rod) Stewarts. Please yourself?

Eddie & The Hot Rods - Do Anything You Wanna Do

5. Are these guys getting spiritual... or are they just full of hot air? God above knows.

The 5th Dimension is the spiritual one, apparently. Hot air balloon, obviously. Written by Jimmy Webb, who the Boo Radleys and I both agree is God. Above? Up...

The 5th Dimension - Up, Up & Away

Another winner for Alyson.

4. Keeping you warm by the bay, with a nice drink and a message of self-improvement.

Finding a picture of Nina Persson with dark hair was essential here.

Cardigans keep you warm, especially at Cardigan Bay.

Well done to Chris for seeing through my ruse.

The Cardigans - I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer

One of the best song titles ever written.

3. Never play cards with Charles Dickens in an outdoor swimming pool.

Boz was an early pseudonym of Dickens.

The rest is pretty straightforward.

Well done, C.

Boz Scaggs - Lido Shuffle

2. It was North vs. South when these two fell into a depression over Special Dick.

(The international version of that clue may be harder: substitute Hawkeye for Special Dick.) 

NvS = The Civil War. A depression in the earth is a hollow. Dick Barton was a Special Agent. Hawkeye in the Avengers (not M*A*S*H*) is Clint Barton.

I should have known Charity Chic would get this one straight away...

The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow

1. She's like a wonder of time, poised on the cusp of Just Janis.

Stevie... like a Wonder? In the Nicks of time? On the cusp = edge of Just Seventeen (teen girl's pop mag from back in the day). Janis... not Joplin, but Ian, who sang At Seventeen.

Well done, C.

By the way, the video for this is even madder than Stevie Nicks herself...

Right, enough of the quizzes. Maybe tomorrow I'll write an actual post...

(Don't worry, the snapshots will be back next Saturday.)

Saturday Snapshots #4

It's back to back quizzes round here at the moment, sorry for that. Or perhaps you prefer it. Hellabusy at work at the moment, too exhausted when I get home to thread complete sentences together. Apologies also if I've not called round your place as frequently as usual. Worst time of year for having no time at all.

Here's another ten band photos and cryptic clues... can you name artist and song title?

10. This Russian waterway gets metafictional.

9. Trump's toothpaste visits a flying citadel.

8. An American Oasis song inspires the hangman.

7. Brian Jardine, backwards on the beach: what a charmer! 

6. An Eagle and some sexy Stewarts. Please yourself!

5. Are these guys getting spiritual... or are they just full of hot air? God above knows.

4. Keeping you warm by the bay, with a nice drink and a message of self-improvement.

3. Never play cards with Charles Dickens in an outdoor swimming pool.

2. It was North vs. South when these two fell into a depression over Special Dick.

(The international version of that clue may be harder: substitute Hawkeye for Special Dick.) 

1. She's like a wonder of time, poised on the cusp of Just Janis.

Let's see if anyone can beat Brian's missus to the answers this week...

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The Glorious 10th: Gimme...

This month's Glorious 10th challenge is to find ten songs which begin with the word 'Gimme'. Some of them will be obvious. Some of them will be obscure. Some of the really obvious ones won't make the ten at all.

First rule: the titles must begin with the word 'Gimme', NOT 'Give me'. So I'm really sorry, but you can't have this

Points will be allocated thus...

  • 1 point for every song in my Top Ten you correctly guess.
  • 2 points for being the first person to guess that song.
  • 3 points for guessing the song's position in my Top Ten.
  • 5 points for guessing my Number One song and correctly identify it as such.
  • 1 bonus point for any song I have in my collection which I couldn't squeeze into the Top Ten (the 'long list').
  • 1 bonus point for any new songs you suggest which I like.
  • Points will be deducted for really bad suggestions... and there are a couple of really bad ones I'm waiting to blow my klaxon at this month.

  • Final rule: you're only allowed TEN guesses each. (Otherwise, Martin just lists his entire record collection.)
Choose wisely then, because there were lots I had to miss out. And give each of your guesses a number, then you might score big points. 

Oh - and I'm sorry, but you can't have anything by these guys...

Off you go. I'll see you back here in a month.

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