Black Friday

As I have taken to doing for Thanksgiving Day – and did so again yesterday – I have also posted several times for Black Friday. They go together as companion pieces, I think. Last year I posted a fairly typical piece, again borrowing from previous years and, as yesterday, I thought I’d do something a little different this year. There was one song in last year’s piece, which I think is worth sharing again:

As I said last year, I don’t think Rusty Cage is likely to make it as a world class singer, but he has rather nailed today, I think!

Despite its adoption as the name for today’s shopping bonanza, I first came across the phrase – as I suspect many others did – as the opening track on Steely Dan’s album Katy Lied:

As you will have seen from that helpful lyric video, the song is nothing to do with shopping. The excellent Songfacts site says this about it:

“Long before the term came to denote the shopping frenzy on the day after Thanksgiving, Steely Dan released this song about the original “Black Friday,” when on Friday, September 24, 1869 a failed ploy left many wealthy investors broke. The investors tried to corner the market on gold, buying as much of it as they could and driving up the price, but when the government found out, it released $4 million worth of gold into the market, driving down the price and clobbering the investors.”

And for good measure they also clear up the Australian reference:

“While the song is about events in the US, it mentions a town in Australia: “Fly down to Muswellbrook.” Muswellbrook is a rural town two hours North of Sydney that is full of kangaroos (thus the line, “Nothing to do but feed all the kangaroos”). It’s possible that Walter Becker and Donald Fagen selected the name of Muswellbrook from an atlas, mainly because it worked well with the next line, “I’m going to strike out all the big red words from my little black book.” They also wanted a place far away from Los Angeles.”

So now you know!

Nowadays we all know the name as being synonymous with sales and the search for bargains, and it seems to begin earlier every year: I’ve been receiving emails announcing Black Friday sales since the start of this month, although they have intruded a little on the annual Christmas promotion (which begins in September, of course). But at least it will all be over by the official start of the Easter shopping season on 26 December, and the return of Cadbury’s Creme Eggs and their poor spelling. There are songs about the dangers of bargain hunting, and today is as good a day as any for them. Here’s one you may know:

I leave it to you to decide what ‘bargains’ Dolly may have been offering, but as the song was banned in some of the more prudish places it isn’t difficult to work out! It’s a pity that her bargains were all used, though finding anything amongst all that hair would have been fun…

Some bargains come with unforeseen costs, however, so beware:

Sadly, Charlie Daniels passed away in July, but that is a great song for which to to be remembered. His fiddle playing is incredible, though I don’t think he’d done a deal…

I’m going to leave you with another cautionary tale about the dangers of becoming addicted to shopping:

As lockdown restrictions are making instore shopping much harder this year I guess many of us will be taking to the interweb to seek out our bargains. I just hope you don’t do it like Weird Al! Watching that puts me in mind of those antique shows that are often on tv, when people spend silly money on rusty old rubbish – and then someone else pays even sillier money for it at auction. If I were looking for used bargains I know which of these videos I’d want to follow up – I’m pretty sure the return on my investment would be better.

In case you think Black Friday is inescapable there are some places where there aren’t any bargains to be had, as not everyone takes part…

I hope you have fun hunting your bargains, and don’t then find that you could have bought the same thing for less when the ‘sales’ are over – check the small print as it can happen! I’ve already made the one purchase I was planning to make, so I should be safe from the advertisers’ blandishments. As long as I don’t open my emails, that is…

Songs Giving Thanks

“The First Thanksgiving” (1915), by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (American painter, 1863-1930).

Several times in the past I have posted to mark Thanksgiving Day. Although we don’t celebrate it here I recognise that many of you who read my posts come from across the water, and it is my way of showing some respect for your culture and traditions. Last year’s post was For Thanksgiving Day and you can see in that a typical example of what I’ve been saying (not least because I have recycled some of the words over the years!). This year I thought I’d do something a little different to mark the day: I have posted a great deal of music this year and that is set to continue, so it struck me as a good idea to post a few songs on the theme of giving thanks. Only one of them is specifically about today, but the others mine a similar seam.

In this strange year, I guess that many celebrations will be different from what you usually do. A theme that runs through the day, and which I think is particularly appropriate in the blogging community, is friendship. We are all grateful for our friends, I think:

That could have been in my Tuesday Tunes series, as I’ve dedicated the two most recent posts to Seventies albums, and I bought the album that came from – All This And Heaven Too – at the time of its release in 1978. You may well recognise it as the theme tune from the long-running tv show The Golden Girls, although they used a cover version by Cindy Fee for that. If we are going to be thankful for anything on any day – not just today – friends and family top the list for me.

My next choice is very much a gift from English folk music to my American friends:

Fairport Convention were one of the two main leading lights in the development of the English folk-rock music movement, along with Steeleye Span. That clip is remarkably well-preserved, being fifty years old, but watching it takes me straight back to my youth: I was 17 then. The song was released as a single in September 1970: I bought it on the 1972 compilation album The History Of Fairport Convention, the first of many such albums in the band’s lifetime. They continue to this day, and guitarist Simon Nicol is still with them. The song was written by Dave Swarbrick, who takes lead vocal, and Richard Thompson, who provides the main harmony. Swarbrick is sadly no longer with us but Thompson is still producing wonderful music to this day.

My third song is also nothing to do with today, but is a heartfelt ode to being thankful for love:

You may recall that I included this song in my Tuesday Tunes 31 post, but it is so good that I just had to share it again! If you want to know what I said, do please follow the link back to that post. For today, all I want to say is that, as an expression of love, and of being grateful that someone is in your life, you can’t really do any better than that.

My final song for today is the one I promised you that is actually about Thanksgiving Day:

If you followed the link back to last year’s post you will know that I also shared this song then. I know there are other songs by American singers about today, but anything by Mary Chapin Carpenter is going to be high on my list. The warmth and beauty of her voice and her lyrics give me comfort, and the video that someone has made for this song is a perfect fit. You can find this one on MCC’s 2008 album Come Darkness, Come Light, a fabulous collection of songs for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year: highly recommended, as is the lovely version she put up on YouTube a few days ago – the latest episode in the Songs From Home series that she has been running this year.

Wherever you are, if you are celebrating today I send you my best wishes for a wonderful day, hopefully spent in the company of those you love. In these pandemic days, it isn’t easy to get together with loved ones, but I hope you have managed to find a safe and officially-approved way of doing so. Enjoy your special day.

Under The Covers

I wasn’t planning on posting again today, after yesterday’s Tuesday Tunes post and having plans for tomorrow and Friday. But then Timehop reminded me that it is the first anniversary of this post. It hasn’t scored highly on the ‘like’ count, but for some reason it has consistently picked up views: it is my most viewed individual post so far this year, by a distance. I’ve no idea why, but as I rather like it I thought I’d give it another airing for its birthday.

Take It Easy

An intriguing title, I think. But I’m afraid I might be about to disappoint you (at least I didn’t put ‘bed’ or ‘sex’ in the tags for this piece!). Look at the tag line for my blog: yes, this one is about music, and specifically cover versions of songs.

As you may have noticed, I’m given to recycling older posts that I think may well have slipped under the radar with current readers, who wouldn’t have been following this blog way back when. I use an app called Timehop, which is great at reminding me of post anniversaries. Recently it has given me Look What They’ve Done To My Song, Ma which originates from November 2015 and shared some of my favourite parody versions of songs. That year was the second, following on from 2014, when I took part in National Blog Posting Month – aka #NaBloPoMo – and committed…

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