Saturday 30 April 2022

Saturday Snapshots #238

Marlene watches from the wall
Her mocking smile says it all
She records the rise and fall
Of every mistaken Snapshots guess...

So don't give her the pleasure of mocking you this week! Identify the artists, then work out what their songs might have in common. It's easy!

10. Car-phones.

9. Man in hospital, sometimes mistaken for doctor.

8. Merry Hit CD.

7. Lecherous and Butch.

6. Binman cab.

5. Siblings of the silo.

4. Brokers.

3. Fruit favoured by Christ.

2. Used to get lots of letters from readers.

1. In December, Linda scores two points.

Mayday! It's another long weekend... but the answers will still be waiting for you when you get up tomorrow morning. Not that I think you'll need them...

Friday 29 April 2022

Mid-Life Crisis Songs #79: 50 Is The New 40

I keep harping on about turning 50, and I know to most of you that milestone is just a pebble in the past, so I'm sorry... but I don't know why, it's taking some coming to terms with. Maybe this really is the Mid-Life Crisis, and everything beforehand was just the warm-up act. God help me.

Tom T. Hall certainly isn't helping, with his song I'm Forty Now, released in 1975 when he was... well, 39, according to Iffypedia. 

There were barefoot dreams of catching outlaws
There were school dreams of catching footballs
There were young dreams of finding great romance
There were armies and I took the chance
There were avenues of glory and some deep despair
That put subtle shapes of silver in my hair

Well, I'm forty now and I'm a man 
But I can't resist the urge to put dreams in my plans
So many hopeless dreams and I broke some vows
Maybe life begins for me I'm forty now

I mean, the idea that I should have been listening to this ten years ago, that's blowing my mind. But half a century ago, forty was the same as fifty is today, I reckon. So really, this song is bang on for me right now. 

"ONCE upon a time, hitting the big 50 was seen as the first step to retirement. Now, it looks more like a passport to freedom, as youthful 50-somethings take advantage of better health, better finances and plenty of energy, to make 50 the new 40."

That's from the Daily Mirror Online, so take it with a pinch of salt. And it was written in 2007, when I was 35 so...

I think I'll quit while I'm ahead.

Thursday 28 April 2022

Mid-Life Crisis Songs #78: The Last Car Post (I Promise)

You'll be glad to hear that I think I've said everything I have to say about the ordeal of buying my new car. In recent years, this blog has become my therapist as much as anything else. It's cathartic to write this stuff down, even if it's not very interesting to read.

One final observation about buying a car though... something that always astounds me when I come to do it... is just how much of an investment it is, and how much more other people pay. I shelled out about 8K for this particular five year old vehicle, and for that I'll be paying the bank back for the next five years. And yet, all around me on the motorway, every day, I see thousands of people driving much bigger, much newer, much more expensive vehicles. It's not that I envy them. I'm happy with what I've got (and I'd have been happier still to keep the old one without any further expense), and I realise some people prioritise flash and luxury and speed and gadgets far more than I do. But how do they all afford it?

I receive a relatively decent wage as a teacher. I'm aware there are people out there who earn a damned sight more than I do... but there's also a lot who get paid far less. And yet, so many of them are off buying new cars, or huge 4x4s or, or evil, evil Audis... even Porsches, which used to be the extreme example of a prestige badge, now seem to be everywhere. I just don't get where the money comes from. 

Then again, most of them probably aren't buying CDs any more. Maybe that's it.

That's Pete Seeger at the top of the page. Here's a song of his about old cars... in simpler times.

Wednesday 27 April 2022

Record Collection Recollections #3: My Old Car's Taste In Music

That's my old car, photographed on the day we said goodbye. I shed a tear, but I cry at most things to be honest.

Although I'll miss that old girl now that she's gone to find her new travelling companion, I won't entirely miss her rather selective taste in music.

I mentioned yesterday how I keep Sam's music on CDs in the car, with my own current album selections on a separate memory stick, so I can toggle between the two. Over the past few months though, I'd begun to notice a rather unusual thing... the car would refuse to play certain tracks on the memory stick. For example, from the latest Billy Bragg record, the final track, Ten Mysterious Photos That Can't Be Explained, would never play. The mp3 was in the folder when I checked it on my pc, and would play fine in the house, but the car ignored it completely. 

Similarly, I didn't even know that the first track on the new Half Man Half Biscuit album was I'm Getting Buried In The Morning, since I've only ever listened to that record in the car, and the old car always started the album at track 2.

There are other examples (and I'm left wondering how many albums over the past six years I've not actually listened to in their entirety), but the most egregious omission was the old car's refusal to play The Mauritian Badminton Doubles Champion, 1973, by Hamish Hawk, arguably the best track on last year's album Heavy Elevator. I eventually fooled the car into playing that by re-recording the song as a separate mp3 and inserting it as an additional file into the folder. But that was a lot of hard work to get around my car's musical prejudices.

Thinking that the problem might lie in a faulty memory stick, I even bought a new one and copied all my current music onto that... only to find the very same tracks left on the hard shoulder. I'd just about convinced myself it must be a problem with the ripping process, and that certain tracks just weren't being ripped well enough for the car's USB to read...

...until I got my new car and inserted the same memory, only to discover that every track now plays fine. 

The Billy Bragg song mentioned above is all about the dangers of wasting your life on internet rabbit holes. Ironically I've just dug another one and, if  you've read this far, your time has probably been wasted too. So why not waste a little more and listen to the song...?

And ten mysterious photos that can't be explained
Are draining away the best of my day
And fragments of songs that I never wrote
Are rotting in the pockets of my winter coat   

Tuesday 26 April 2022

Neverending Top Ten #4.8: What I Was Really Looking For In My New Car

Put aside the low mileage and high reliability, because what I really wanted from my new car - and the thing that swayed me away from buying anything newer than a 17 plate - was a CD player. 

Yes, call me old-fashioned... but there's more to it than that. My own music, which I listen to on the long commute, is all on memory stick. But what about Sam's music? 

For the last six years, I've been switching to CD whenever he's in the car, and listening to one of the carefully compiled compilations I've created to ensure he reaches adulthood (or at least becomes a teenager) with the widest taste and knowledge in (old man) music possible. 

We're currently up to Sam CD 123... and yes, that does mean I've made him one hundred and twenty-three 80 minute compilations to date, with no sign of stopping. And he's grown to know and love a huge swathe of my record collection in that time... so I really didn't want to consign those CDs to the attic... or have to transfer them all to a second memory stick.

Maybe the CD revival really will kick in, and by the time I have to buy my next car, they'll be retro-fitting them into newer models... or maybe I'll just have to keep this current car forever. 

(I'd settle for a cassette player as a viable alternative.)

Also, you can't make a decent compilation on a memory stick. Here's one of his favourite tracks from Sam 123...

Monday 25 April 2022

2022 Contenders: Extreme Witchcraft

The fourteenth Eels album (16th if you count the two solo E albums that preceded the "band's" debut disc) was the first CD I bought this year. I always buy E's records, because even though they sometimes take a little bit of getting into, they never disappoint in the end. After living with this one on rotation for a couple of months, I'm hard-pressed to single out a favourite track. Could it be What It Isn't, E's jaunty riposte for anyone who overuses the term "It is what it is"?  Could it be lead "single" The Magic, in which E seems to be shouting out to anyone who doesn't like his band, perhaps with a plea to give them another try?

I get it, don't sweat it, I'm not your cup of tea
Believe it or not, not everyone loves me
But try me, you'll find me, a personality
That you can't get enough of once you can feel
The magic

At the moment, I'm caught between the two big Prince-influenced tunes (E has never been shy about declaring his love for Prince), Strawberries And Popcorn (which I imagine goes very well with Starfish & Coffee) and the ultra-funky Grandfather Clock, with its perfectly purple guitar licks, just before the chorus kicks in...

Sunday 24 April 2022

Snapshots #237: A Top Ten Weather Songs

To keep all you football fans happy, I asked the owner of National League club Wrexham to introduce this week's answers. Mainly because I couldn't find any pictures of weather men or weather ladies holding cameras. No, not even John Kettley

10. Found in a citrus trifle.

Lemon Jelly - Nice Weather For Ducks

9. Twice as much bother for a Wonder, a sunbeam and a Williams.

Stevie Wonder, a Ray of sunshine and Vaughan Williams... lead to Double Trouble.

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble - Couldn't Stand The Weather

8. Samantha.

Samantha was the witch in Bewitched. Of course.

B*witched - Blame It On The Weatherman

7. Scully catches Christian.

Gillian 'Scully' Anderson played a police detective tracking down Jamie 'Christian from Fifty Shades' Dornan in a TV series called The Fall.

The Fall - British People In Hot Weather

6. Conceited peacocks.

The Popinjays - Thinking About The Weather

5. Furcula & Wheeler's band.

A Furcula is a wishbone. Tim Wheeler's band is Ash.

Wishbone Ash - Bad Weather Blues 

4. Talk in tuts.


KT Tunstall - Under The Weather

3. Rowan & Vangelis.

Rowan & Martin, Jon & Vangelis.

John Martyn - Bless The Weather

2. Home for deceased Corvidae.

Crow-dead house?

Crowded House - Weather With You

1. Piper's vacation.

Billie Piper goes on Holiday.

My favourite version of this song...

Yes, in case you were wondering, that is Ryan 'Deadpool' Reynolds at the top of the page, and yes, he and one of his Hollywood mates did buy Wrexham. Who are doing very well this year, by all accounts. See how my football knowledge increases every day?

More Snapshots next week. Weather permitting...

Saturday 23 April 2022

Saturday Snapshots #237

Here's a Pretty Woman to welcome you to this week's edition of Snapshots.

Now work out who the pretty people below are, and what connects their songs.

I'm thinking you'll find this one easy...

10. Found in a citrus trifle.

9. Twice as much bother for a Wonder, a sunbeam and a Williams.

8. Samantha.

7. Scully catches Christian.

6. Conceited peacocks.

5. Furcula & Wheeler's band.

4. Talk in tuts.

3. Rowan & Vangelis.

2. Home for deceased Corvidae.

1. Piper's vacation.

Eat. Prey. Love. Three things you can do on a Sunday. Make sure you also check out the answers...

Thursday 21 April 2022

Cnut Songs #13: Buying A Car Part 2

Reliability, then. My old car, when I bought it, was top of the pops for small car reliability, according to the review websites. (I don't read them, but Louise loves 'em.) Not anymore, it seems... so she steered me towards the current Number One instead. Extra points because these cars come with LONG warranties, so if I buy, say, a five year old one, there's still a couple of years left on on it.

One catch.

For the warranty to be valid, the car has to have a full service history.

Dealer #1. Car advertised with FSH.

"So, I understand it's got a full service history. Can I see that?"

"Yes. Absolutely. Just wait here... Oh... actually... we can't find that. I'm sure it had one. I took the car in part-ex myself. Yes, I'm sure it... it must have gone missing..."

Very shortly afterwards, I went missing from that showroom.

Dealer #2.

"So what about the service history?"

"Well, it's got very low mileage, so the previous owner only had it serviced once every two years, which makes perfect sense under the circumstances, and really isn't anything to worry about because the car is in excellent condition..."

"But if it's not been serviced every year... doesn't that invalidate the warranty?"

"No, no, I'm sure it doesn't. I mean, I could check, but really, I wouldn't worry about that, because it's in excellent--"

"How about you check?"


"OK, I've spoken with the service history people, and apparently it's... well, it's to do with the oil change... because it's not had an oil change every year, there is a slight effect to the warranty..."

"By 'slight effect' you mean...?"

"Well, it's anything to do with the oil, really.* Anything that uses oil won't be covered by the warranty, but other than that - the electrics, for example, they're all still covered."

"Anything to do with the oil? So... you mean... THE ENGINE!?!"

"Well, yes, but the electrics--"

"So if the radio breaks, you'll fix it?"


At this point, Dealer #1 calls me back.

"Great news! We found the service history! And it's full - it was serviced in our garage every year since purchase! I've got it right here in front of me?"

"Cool. Has the ink dried on the stamps yet?"

(*A third dealer told me this was bollocks, by the way. You can't invalidate part of the warranty. Either the whole thing's valid or it isn't. End of.)

I mean, I could go on, but... you get the picture.

Here's Jimmy's boys...

Tuesday 19 April 2022

Cnut Songs #12: Buying A Car Part 1

I've been dreading having to change my car for the past 9 months, ever since I stopped paying back the loan I took out five years ago to buy my last one. To be fair, that's been one of the most reliable cars I've ever owned, but with well over 80 thousand miles on the clock, I knew I couldn't rely on it much longer. I didn't want to wait till the next MOT (which was due in July), because it was going to cost me...    

For me, a car is a necessity, not a luxury item. I'm not interested in speed or flash, fancy spec or a cool badge. I just don't want it to cost any more than it has to, and I don't want to have to keep taking it into the garage. Reliability and economy are key, and, because my has commute doubled since I started working in Leeds, low mileage is important too. I'll be racking them up over the next few years.

The reason I've been dreading this for so long is that I despise the motor trade. Car sales people are by and large liars and con artists and it makes me sick to the stomach to have to deal with them. As you may know, my dad was a car auctioneer when I was a boy. But he just talked fast, took the nodded bids and ultimately the auctioneer's commission. I'm not saying the auctions business is flawless, and I think ultimately my dad left it with a nasty taste in his mouth, but also a deep-seated mistrust of the car sales industry, which he passed onto me. Especially when he accompanied me in buying my first few cars. He's too old to come along with me now, and that's probably for the best. The only time I ever heard my dad use the F-word ("bloody hell!" is otherwise as foul as his language ever gets) was during a conversation with one dealer who was trying to rip us off. I was only in my 20s at the time, but it made a lasting impression...

Now my ma she fingers her wedding band
And watches the salesman stare at my old man's hands
He's telling us all about the break he'd give us, if he could, but he just can't
Well, if I could, I swear I know just what I'd do...

Now mister the day the lottery I win
I ain't ever gonna ride in no used car again

Monday 18 April 2022

2022 Contenders: My Sister Is A Butcher

I'm going to see Sonic The Hedgehog 2 today. I haven't seen Sonic The Hedgehog 1 and the only thing I know about 2 (beyond what everybody knows about Sonic The Hedgehog) is that it features Jim Carrey as the villain and (Eternal Sunset of the Spotless Mind excepted, because there's always an exception) I hate Jim Carrey movies. Such is the parent's lot. I console myself with the fact that at least James Corden isn't in this one. Those Peter Rabbit movies really were a trial.

Anyway, here's a tune I like by Canadian artist Sarah Swire, who I can find very little information about on the information superhighway, but I heard this song on the radio a few weeks back and it's dug into my brain. Not much digging required, it's a very shallow seam.

Hope you all had a nice Easter.

Sunday 17 April 2022

Snapshots #236: A Top Ten Songs Named After Characters From Disney Movies

What sort of Mickey Mouse quiz is this? Ten songs named after Disney Characters and no room for Grinderman!?

Well done if you worked this one out. If you dis'ney... don't feel too bad.

10. Flaming Space Invaders!

The Arcade Fire - Peter Pan

9. Open the doors to some Southern Comfort, Hal.

Matthews Southern Comfort.

Dave asked Hal to open the doors. (In 2001.)

Dave Matthews Band - Rapunzel 

8. You need to stop watching Monica and Chandler over and over.

You're watching Friends, again!?

Friends Again - Snow White

7. The King of Cool gets sauteed.

Dean Martin was The King of Cool. He was never a Fried Man.

Dean Friedman - Ariel

6. Gal in haircare lust.


Christina Aguilera - Genie In A Bottle

You'd think I actually liked that song, given that it's the second time it's appeared here. Not really.

5. Sack Mark E. Smith.

Fire (the) Fall.

Firefall - Cinderella

4. Suspect cleric.

(The Reverend) Al Green - Belle

3. Ugly, in one.


Neil Young - Pocahontas

2. How Alexander Graham was known to his mates.

Oy! Belly!

Belly - Gepetto

1. Holds back the river with his colonies.

A dam is used to hold back the river. Colonies of ants.


Next week's link will be easier.

I promise.

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