rock and roll / pop music

Forever Young

If you like your pop music you may have heard of Bob Dylan.

He's had a lifetime in music, bringing us so many inspirational songs many of which were inspired by his own political beliefs, and which have become anthems of  civil rights and anti-war campaigns. I'm thinking Blowin in the Wind  and The Times They Are A' Changing for starters.

Bob is also an artist and author, apart from being described as one of the greatest song-writers of all time, and a cultural icon.

And when I was looking for an inspirational thought for today, I came across this lyric  from Bob which I love. It's actually the third verse of his song Forever Young ....  

Forever Young Bob Dylan
Bob wrote the song as a lullaby for his eldest son Jesse, and in my research I discovered that a demo version of the song was recorded in June 1973 which was included on Bob Dylan's compilation album Biograph in 1985.  But he subsequently recorded a live version of the song in Tokyo on 28 February 1978 which was released as a single in Europe on this day - June 22 - in 1979.

It's been recorded by many artists down the years but as an additional 'extra' today ... let's enjoy a rendition of the song from another iconic American singer, musician, songwriter and activist, Joan Baez, who is from the same 'era' as Bob Dylan and whose contemporary folk music often includes songs underpinned by social justice and protest.

Love love love this!

Have a great day everyone!

Stay Young!

 


A Little Respect

Today I'm thinking about a word ...

R E S P E C T 

And yes, if you know your music you'll know it's also the title of a song by the wonderful American R&B and soul singer Aretha Franklin.

In fact it was on this day - June 3rd in 1967 - that 'Respect' reached Number 1 in the Billboard Pop Singles charts. 

 

Respect aretha franklin"Respect" was originally written and released by the American singer-songwriter Otis Redding in 1965 but as I said before, it was two years later that it was a hit for Aretha Franklin.

I'm intrigued that in each version the stories are slightly different. Redding speaks from a man's perspective, obviously, who will give the woman in his life everything she wants, so long as he gets his due respect when he brings home the money.

In Aretha Franklin's take on the theme, she is shouting from the rooftops that she's a confident and strong woman who demands the 'respect' of the man in her life, including physical attention.

Aretha's 'Respect' was released at a time when the feminist movement was in the ascendant, and her song became an anthem for the feminist movement.

It's considered to be one of the best songs of the R&B era, and it earned her two Grammy Awards in 1968 for "Best Rhythm & Blues Recording" and "Best Rhythm & Blues Solo Vocal Performance, Female". The song was even inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1987.

In 2002, Aretha's version of the song received more honour when the Library of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry. In addition, it was placed at number five on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". And it was also included in the list of "Songs of the Century", by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Wow! What a song!

But it's also a challenging word, that word 'Respect'. 

Taking aside the interpretation in the song, I think it's a very important word.

'Respect' can mean different things. It can mean deep appreciation and admiration of someone else or something else.  I think we can all understand that. There are things we 'respect' because we recognise their value to us and the world.

But 'respect' can also be defined as having meaningful regard for the wishes, rights and feelings of other people. Being thoughtful, considerate, polite, civil, attentive, courteous.

Some people might say that 'respect' is something that could do with being revived in our modern day culture and I think I might agree with that.

When I see people being vile on social media, I understand that they don't have a concept of 'respecting' others, and other people's opinions. They think THEIR opinions are more important and the feelings and rights of others are irrelevant, or even to be mocked and 'disrespected'. People don't respect or consider that others might think differently, believe different things.

When I read about people vandalising property for no particular reason than just to make a mess and disrupt the lives of others, I think that if they 'respected' other people's space and belongings and lives, they would not be inclined to behave in such a manner.

When I see the way people leave litter about, and 'fly tip' all their rubbish and pollute the oceans and the natural environment with plastics and other trash, it's a sign that they don't 'respect' our environment. They're not considerate of the world around them and how their actions impact not just on others, but on the natural world. And that's sad.

So today I'm thinking about how we can create more 'respect'. Of course there's that's old adage that we need to 'earn respect' and that's important. But we also need to 'learn' respect ... we need sometimes to put our own needs and wishes and wants aside and consider others. We need to stop thinking that WE are the centre of the universe and that no one else matters and learn that other people are worthy of respect. And even if we don't agree with them, we need to understand they have a right to their opinions and lifestyles. If we disagree with someone, we need to do that with 'respect'.

It's hard. But I think if we all have a bit more respect for others, and for our environment, the world would be a much better place.

 


With a Little Help from My Friends

I am blessed in life to have lots of lovely friends.

I've lived and worked in lots of different places and along the way I've met some fantastic people who have really filled my life with lots of fun and happiness. They've also supported me at difficult times and hopefully I've been able to do the same for them.

Having friends in my life is so important. Because, in addition to my family, I always know there are people to whom I can turn when I need that extra support. 

With social media I've been able to reconnect with a lot of friends with whom I've lost contact, and that's lovely, but I also have a small cohort of really close friends who will always be there for me, and I for them.

Although we are separated by time and space, and that's especially been the case during the past year or so when the global coronavirus pandemic has prevented us from travelling to meet up, I know that when we do see each other again it will be like no time has passed at all.

There are those friends who as soon as we meet, we pick up from where we left off, and it's like we've never been apart. That, I think, is the measure of true friendship.

There are also some pieces of music which are a bit like friends. They make us feel safe and warm and they bring back lovely memories.

On this day, May 26, in 1967 a brilliant album was released which includes a fabulous song which celebrates friendship.

Sgt._Pepper's_Lonely_Hearts_Club_BandIt is, of course, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles and it includes some iconic songs, including the second on the album - With a Little Help from My Friends

The 'Fab Four' have gone down in history as pioneers of rock and pop but what we forget is that in the greater scheme of things they weren't around for that long as a band - they formed in 1960 and broke up in 1970. However, they packed in masses of work and songs and albums into their decade as a foursome. Sgt Pepper's was their eighth studio album!

By summer of 1966 they were no long touring or doing live shows, perhaps completely exhausted with endless schedules and 'Beatlemania', and they were developing more and more innovative music, including incorporating different kinds of musical genres and storytelling.

And there's no doubt that one of the albums that has ensured their legacy is Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band! 

It's an album I've been listening to for as long as can remember because I have an older brother who loved it. I can probably sing along to many of the songs, but ahead of writing this blog post I did a bit more research and discovered some interesting things about it. 

It was Paul McCartney who had an idea for a song involving an Edwardian military band and that was the basis of the fictional Sgt. Pepper band. But if you know the LP album you'll know that it includes lots of different sounds, including not just Western and Indian classical music but also some vaudeville, circus, music hall, and avant-garde sounds.

I was also interested to learn that when the band started recording in November 1966, they also recorded two other songs which are just simply brilliant - Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane - which in fact were released as a double A-side single in February 1967 and so were left off the LP.

Anyway, back to With a Little Help from My Friends. Not all the songs on albums like Sgt Pepper's have been recorded by other artists, but the second track on the LP HAS proved popular with bands and singers down the years. One of my favourite versions of With a Little Help from My Friends is from the Scottish rock band  Wet Wet Wet, who recorded the cover version in 1988 as a fundraising single for the charity ChildLine, and it became the band's first Number One hit in the UK!

But today, to mark the release of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and to celebrate the Power of Friendship ... let's enjoy the original version from those Fabulous Beatles.

Warning - the video is a a bit weird and has basic animation. 

But what I discovered was that these 'moving parts' were actually included in the Promotional Video for Sgt Pepper's Heart Club Band ... if you fancy watching that just click on the words

Have a great day Everyone!

And if you are one of my friends - THANK YOU!!!!  Thanks for all the love, and support and care, and prayer and fun.

You are very special! 




A Love Song

I'm sure you've heard the saying 'The Soundtrack of my Life' ?

Well today I'm talking about a song, an album and a group that really takes me back in time and which were and are part of my personal 'soundtrack'.

I was a little bit too young to be part of 'Beatlemania', although I do remember listening to the 'Fab Four' as a child ... my eldest brother being six years older than me, there was lots of pop music around.

When the Beatles split up Paul McCartney began creating his own music, solo, and eventually created a rock bang called Wings and they took me into my early adulthood. I even saw them 'live' in concert at the old Southampton Gaumont Theatre when I was in my first year at university. That would have been in late 1979 or thereabouts.

Wings produced masses of great music and I'm sure I'll mention them again. I'm thinking 'Band on the Run' among other albums - some of my very favourite music was produced by Paul and his band in this era. But today I'm remembering a lovely song which was on Paul McCartney and Wings' second studio album, released on this day in 1973.

Wings _Red_Rose_Speedway_(1973) (1)

'Red Rose Speedway' was preceded by the release of the lead single - a beautiful ballad entitled "My Love", which came out a couple of weeks earlier as a taster.

The album and the song topped the US Billboard Hot 100. In the UK it received more mixed reviews and the song peaked at Number 9 on the UK Singles Chart, with the album reaching Number 5 on the UK Albums Chart.

It's a love song written by Paul for his wife and Wings bandmate Linda, and in my opinion, it is beautiful.

And I LOVE it!

SO today ... I simply share it with you. 

Enjoy!

 


A London memory

I worked in London for many years and so commuting into the City and across the metropolis was a great part of my life for a good deal of time.

At one point and for many years I often passed through one particular London Underground (Tube) Station - Baker Street - almost daily, and I got to know it very well.

It's a fascinating place. It's where lots of different underground lines converge, and it's a labyrinth of platforms and interlinking corridors. 

And it's historic - Baker Street is one of the original stations of the Metropolitan Railway,  the world's first underground railway, which opened on 10 January 1863.  When I was working in London, the Bakerloo Line, which gets it's name because it links Baker Street and Waterloo among other stations, celebrated it's centenary. The line opened in various stages between 1906 and 1915.

Baker Street is also famous because of its links with the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock holmes baker streetHis creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had Holmes living at a fictional address - 221B Baker Street - which back at the time when the novels were being written, would have been a high class residential area. Today the Sherlock Holmes Museum is at the address and there's a statute of Sherlock Holmes outside Baker Street station which also draws masses of visitors to the tube stop.

The platforms are decorated with tiles bearing an iconic silhouette of Holmes - pipe and all ! I love the way the powers that be have embraced the mystery of a fictional character, and woven it into a place of historic value.

But I'm thinking about this particularly today because, LONG  before I knew about the Tube station at Baker Street, I was aware of the name, thanks to a fantastic song which bears the same title.

Not that it has anything to do with the story of the underground station, but today is the birthday of Gerry Rafferty, the Scottish singer/songwriter and the creator of  'Baker Street'. Born this day - 16 April - in 1947

I've loved this song since it first made the charts in 1978, and I have to say, often when I passed through the actual station I found it ringing around in my head!

So - in celebration - here it is ... 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A musical debut

There are some things in life that you think have been around forever. 

Think about things you enjoy -  maybe a cup of tea, or coffee? What about cake? Sandwiches? Spaghetti Bolognaise?

Well, now I'm just talking about things I like ... but you know what I mean?

Recently we've been thinking about Easter and that's been around forever hasn't it? Well no ... there was the first Easter, that day when Jesus was resurrected. That amazing, outstanding day in history.

There was the first time someone picked tea and made a cuppa or the first time someone put two pieces of bread together with something in between to create a sandwich. Most things had a 'first time'. Right?

Ever heard of ABBA?

If not - where have you been?

Growing up, ABBA was one of the soundtracks of my teenage and early adult life. They were massive. I listened to them on the radio, bought the albums, danced the night away to the sounds of AgnethaBjörnBenny and Anni-Frid.

They still are massive! Their award winning music has stood the test of time down the years. They are legends in their own lifetimes across the world and if you've watched the movie or seen the stage show 'Mamma Mia' you'll know the tunes. ABBA just keep going on and on. They've brought so much joy to so many people. How great is that?

But, believe it or not, there was a time when the world was unaware of ABBA.

Abba waterlooAnd, in fact, it was on this day, April 6th, in 1974 that they first appeared on our radar.

If you're not aware, they won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, with their song 'Waterloo'. A weirdly wonderful song that just made us all laugh and want to get up and dance and sing along.

When millions tuned in to watch the performance on TV that night, we had no way of knowng that very soon ABBA would become part of all our lives!  Who could have imagined that when the obscure and colourful band from Sweden stepped onto that stage that there would soon be a time when we could hardly think of life without their music?

So - to celebrate - let's wind the clock back to that night in Brighton on the south coast of England, and the beginning of history...

Enjoy!

 


Happy Talk

I was listening to the radio the other day and heard a song which brought back so many memories.

First, this version of 'Happy Talk' was released in 1982, the year I left university and started work.  It was a time of great excitement and promise - my whole life lay ahead of me.

Second, it was sung by a chap called 'Captain Sensible' - it was an ironic pseudonym because he was far from 'sensible'. He was not just quirky but rebellious. He had set up the punk band 'The Damned' which had been one of the soundtracks to my late teens.  

South PacificAnd finally, this quirky song wasn't an original. It was actually a tune and a song from a brilliant musical, a stage show called 'South Pacific' which premiered on Broadway in New York 1949. In 1958 it was made into a movie of the same name and by the 1970s I was listening to the soundtrack and learning all the songs.

Interesting point here - we didn't have a 'South Pacific' LP or vinyl record. We actually had the movie sound track on a reel-to-reel audio tape recording which we played on a tape machine. So I listened to 'South Pacific' accompanied by the whirring sound of the tape running through the machine. Classic.

And I hadn't even seen the film! It was years later, maybe a few years after Captain Sensible sang that song that I would have hired a VHS from 'Blockbuster' ... the video hire shop. It's the way we got to see loads of movies at home at the time. 

 'Happy Talk' was always one of my favourites songs from the show - it's sung by the character Bloody Mary and that was the nearest I got to using a swearword when I was a child! I knew it off by heart, so when Captain Sensible appeared on BBC Top of the Pops - I could sing along.

And the words I loved the most?

You gotta have a dream, if you don't have a dream, How you gonna have a dream come true?
If you don't talk happy and you never have a dream, Then you'll never have a dream come true.

It's nearly 40 years since Captain Sensible released 'Happy Talk' and around 50 since I first learned those words. It still rings true for me. 

Be Happy. Talk Happy. Have a Dream! Or maybe ... more than one!

As I said before, in 1982 I was standing of the threshold of life and was at the start of my career as a journalist with all the excitement of what could be. Some of my dreams - personal and professional - have come to pass, others not. 

These days I'm nearer the end of my full-time working life but I'm still excited about what might be. Later this week I will start a new adventure, as I leave working for the BBC and go back to being a freelance writer/broadcaster/PR + communications 'guru'. More of that later !

And although it's a bit scary ... I'm excited.

And I have this song going round in my head. 

Which for me is a GOOD thing! It makes me smile!

 

 


A Favourite Song

Do you know what a 'crossover' song is?

No?

Well - it's a song from one genre which makes it into the popular charts.

In the USA there are so many different music genres, all popular in their own right - I'm thinking blues, and country and western, jazz, bluegrass, R+B, soul, funk, techno ... etc etc ... you get my drift I'm sure! 

And then there's the Gospel and the Contemporary Christian Music scenes - all incredibly popular with very successful artists, many of whom may never make it into the 'Pop' download lists but who have brilliant careers, millions of followers and fans, downloads and sales. Radio stations galore playing all types of music.

In the UK it's a bit different, with a much more limited 'pop' scene and fewer opportunities for radio play on our most popular stations, but there's a growing number of online stations playing different kinds of music.

But back to my first thought. Every now and then there's an artist who successfully manages to 'cross over' ... someone from one genre who 'makes it' in the pop world.

One of those brilliant singers is Carrie Underwood, born on this day in 1983.

I remember seeing her on TV, winning the fourth series of 'American Idol' in 2005. Apparently during the programme run, 500 million votes were cast in her favour and for the final - 37million votes were recorded. That gives you an indication of the numbers of people who enjoy music ... just in the USA ... and why it's possible to be a star there whatever your style of music.

Carrie was just 21 when she appeared on American Idol and she was described as a 'farm girl' from Oklahoma. Musically she came from a 'country' background and although not everyone who wins these TV talent shows goes on to great success, in the case of Carrie Underwood, she's gone on to become a seven-time Grammy-winning country megastar. 

Carrie apparently takes her musical inspiration from many different types of music, but she's also released songs and albums with Christian themes.

So today I'm just going to share with you one of the Carrie Underwood's songs that I love - 'Jesus, Take the Wheel'. When I used to present on BBC Radio Jersey it sometimes popped up in my playlist especially on a Sunday morning, but also at other times of the day.

Now if you've been reading this blog for a bit, you'll know that I'm a Christian, and I love especially the first few lines of the chorus of this song ...

"Jesus, take the wheel
Take it from my hands
'Cause I can't do this on my own
I'm letting go..."

For me, that's a bit of a prayer.

Enjoy!

 

 

 


Ordinary Miracles

I work at the BBC ... BBC Radio Jersey to be specific, in the Channel Islands.

I'm the Communities Journalist, so part of my job is to engage with our local community and help people to share their stories. Not just to contribute to 'news stories' but to share their life experiences and talents.  

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic BBC local radio stations across the British Isles have been highlighting the good that is happening in communities through a campaign called 'Make a Difference'.

Every day we hear about people who are making their world, their communities, better places. Initially it was just really a response to the impact of the pandemic and to highlight how people were helping those who could not get out, and those assisting directly in response to the pandemic restrictions we are living under.

Now it's extending beyond that and we love to hear from people who are just helping others in all sorts of ways, helping to make the environment better, coming alongside those who need help. We've had stories about fundraisers for charities that are struggling to survive in these Covid19 days. We hear about those doing beach cleans, we highlight jobs that are in caring roles. As well as the ongoing direct response to the pandemic - charities and individuals offering food parcels, clothing, and general day-to-day help to those who continue to be affected.

I'm sure I'll talk a lot more about this down the line ... but it has got me thinking about my life.

What do I do to 'make a difference' to the lives of others? I'm not talking about saving the world, inventing something that will change the course of human history or intentionally setting out to be an inspiration.

I'm just talking about the kinds of things that our 'making a difference' people do every day.

Reaching out a hand of friendship, caring enough to smile at someone (even with a mask on), picking up a phone to chat to someone, dropping them a message on social media, doing a little kindness that will bring a little joy to another. 

There's a song by the fabulous Barbra Streisand which, I think says it all. It's one of my favourite songs. I love the sentiment that we can all be 'ordinary miracles' just changing the world quietly, not drawing attention to ourselves, even by sharing our efforts and stories on the local radio station.

Enjoy and be inspired!

Change can come on tiptoe 
Love is where it starts
It resides, often hides,  deep within our hearts
And just as pebbles make a mountain, raindrops make a sea
One day at a time change begins with you and me
Ordinary miracles happen all around
Just by giving and receiving comes belonging and believing

Every sun that rises
Never rose before
Each new day leads the way through a different door
And we can all be quiet heroes living quiet days
Walking through the world changing it in quiet ways
Ordinary miracles like candles in the dark
Each and every one of us lights a spark

And the walls can tumble
And the mountains can move
The winds and the tide can turn

Yes, ordinary miracles
One for every star
No lightning bolt or clap of thunder
Only joy and quiet wonder
Endless possibilities right before our eyes
Oh, see the way a miracle multiples

Now hope can spring eternally
Plant it and it grows
Love is all that's necessary
Love in its extraordinary way
Makes ordinary miracles every blessed day

 

 


Don't Like Mondays?

If you're as old as I am,  you might remember the 1979 Boomtown Rats hit 'I Don't Like Mondays'.

If not - maybe look it up?

It was the band's second hit and it was Number One in the UK charts for four weeks during that summer.

For me it was an iconic sound of my youth. But it was a song born of tragedy, because it was written by  Bob Geldof and Johnnie Fingers following a dreadful event on January 29th of  that year - the Cleveland Elementary School shooting in San Diego, USA. 

Geldof is quoted as saying he wrote the ballad after he heard that the shooter who fired at children in a playground, killing two adults and injuring eight children and a police officer, explained herself by saying "I don't like Mondays...."

Appalling!

Now, I have to say, many of us might admit that Monday is not our favourite day of the week ... back to work/school after the weekend and all that. 

But I read something recently that helped me put a new spin on Mondays. It's a quote attributed to David Dweck, entrepreneur, investor and speaker ... and I love it.

Just by thinking of Mondays in a different way, putting a more positive spin on the day ... well this says it all really.

SO - Happy Monday!

2016-02-15 16.07.20 - Copy

Oh, and by the way, if you're wondering ... the photograph is one of mine.  It's St Ouen's Bay in Jersey in the Channel Islands.