Tuesday Tunes 9: Friendship

I’m not sure if it is just a UK thing but this week is Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) here. I would have matched this week’s tunes to the MHAW theme but this year they have gone for ‘kindness,’ and I beat them to that, having done it for Tuesday Tunes 5. I might be posting separately for MHAW, but in the meantime I thought I’d choose something closely related as this week’s theme: so I’ve gone for ‘friendship.’

Acts of kindness aren’t restricted to things we do for friends but they are undoubtedly an essential part of a strong, long lasting friendship, so I hope you agree that my choice is appropriately sympathetic. In the current circumstances, friendships are perhaps even more important than ever: they can help us cope with being required to stay at home whenever possible, and technology has really come into its own in helping us stay in touch. Who would have thought, eight weeks ago, that the very thing which often took the blame for destroying social interaction would now be an essential for so many, and a potential lifesaver? And that is just one of the many things we have learned from lockdown. With the recent celebrations here to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day much has been said about how our predecessors coped with the deprivations of war: think about a time without the internet, television, mobile phones, computers and tablets, and consider how you would have coped – no 24 hour instant news coverage in those days to keep us informed! So friendships were quite possibly even more important back then to help people get by.

My first tune this week is from Free, a band who have long been a favourite of mine, and one which I was lucky enough to see play live in their early days. They were only together for around five years, which makes all the more remarkable the quality and number of albums they produced in such a short time: six albums released in just under four years. This is from what I think is their best album – Fire And Water – which, along with the single All Right Now, was the one that helped them really hit the big time. This may ‘just’ be an album track, but that doesn’t in any way diminish it – it is superb:

My second song for this week is my all time favourite song about friendship. It was written by Carole King in 1971 and featured on her hugely successful album, Tapestry. Simultaneously, James Taylor was recording his Mud Slide Slim And The Blue Horizon album, and recorded a version of the song. Joni Mitchell sang backing vocals on both versions. Carole credits James with the initial inspiration for the song, which she says was a response to a line in his Fire And Rain song: “I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend.’ The song was released as a single by James and was massive hit: no.1 in the US, no.2 in Canada, no.3 in Ireland and no.4 in the UK. Faced with choosing between their versions, I chickened out, so here is a live performance by them as a duo, from 2007:

As James says in the introduction to the song, he feels it was an amazing act of generosity on Carole’s part to let him release his version first. That, to me, is the heart of friendship, and you only have to watch the video to understand what it means for them both.

A personal note on that song: it was one of my Mum’s favourites, and last Friday was the twelfth anniversary of her passing. Whilst we do it in March, many countries mark Mother’s Day in May, so even though I don’t need the prompt I am always reminded of her by the barrage of coverage it receives. That makes this a particularly poignant choice of song for me, at this time of year, and emphasises for me what (and who) is really important in our lives.

I hope that you have friends, as well as family, to support you through these pandemic days. Gradually, restrictions are beginning to be lifted, and there have been a number of signs of growing frustrations on the part of some at being required not to go out and socialise (or to get their hair cut or their nails done.) The problem is that not enough is known about the virus to give us any sense of when and how the restrictions can safely be removed: there is a large element of trial and error in play. I just hope that governments can be sensible and grown up about taking the important decisions. I also hope that the impatient ones don’t allow their selfishness and stupidity to override everyone’s safety – but at least the demonstrations here last weekend weren’t full of people carrying assault rifles. Stupid comes in degrees!

Friends are important at any time. Enjoy yours now, even if that has to be at a social distance. Take care, be safe.

31 thoughts on “Tuesday Tunes 9: Friendship

  1. I agree with you on the importance of friendship and kindness, and I am so thankful for all my social media and blog friends. These are two beautiful songs Clive. What a lovely way to remember your mum. We live in very uncertain times, and it is so sad to read of people in countries where governments have not prioritized their citizens well being. May you and your loved ones stay safe and well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Brigid. I too am thankful for friends – of any kind. I almost didn’t include the piece about my Mum but I’m glad I did. Living in one of those countries which have been failed by their government I heartily endorse your comment! You take care too 😊💐

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great theme for today, Clive. If ever I miss my friends, it’s right now. I’m actually meeting a few of the old buddies tomorrow at the park. We’ll wear our masks and remain several feet away.

    Here’s another one following your theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voNEgCKzves
    I actually like his song Lonely Boy much better than this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Pete. It seemed the right time to do it. Hope your meet up in the park goes well – it will be good to get together again.

      I did consider the Andrew Gold song but, like you, I prefer Lonely Boy and it wasn’t right for this theme!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. clive – this post was completely uplifting.
    The James Taylor song reminds me of friends from 1992 – I worked at. palace that played this same playlist of maybe 600 songs – and this was in the loop – I can see some of the guys singing this. so thanks for that memory – ad had no idea of the King connection – love here.
    and Free song – good stuff.
    – I bet that was a great band to see live back in the day,

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m pleased it felt that way. It’s a song that attracts memories, isn’t it? You need to find Carole King’s Tapestry album – that and Mud Slide Slim were part of the soundtrack to my uni days.

      Free were incredible. It was before they broke big, which means it has to be 1969 or early 1970, when I’d have been 16. A friend’s big brother took us in his van up to London – a big trip in those days – and I still have no idea how my Mum was persuaded to let me go! All I can recall is that it was a small venue and that I was blown away by their music.

      Liked by 1 person

      • oh that memory is awesome Clive.
        Something about concerts were when we are young that permeates the soul more than when we age – not that we stop enjoying – but that young outlook and freshness.
        that was how it was for me seeing Van Halen in 1984 and Triumph in 1985.
        and your mother sounds awesome to have trusted them to bring you.
        my husband’s mother brought him to see Ozzy when he was in like 3d grade. hahahaha
        imagine that!

        and regarding Carole King – I will add it to my list –
        a special song for me from her is “will you still love me tomorrow” as done live with Willie Nelson in his outlaws and angels concert.
        my dad loved willie nelson (and looks a bit like him as he aged and let his beard grow)

        anyhow, one day – around the annveray of my dad’s passing – the Outlaws and Angels concert was on – I recorded it and had this connection with my dad.
        that was cool – but back to the Carole King part – I sorta overplayed her song and my children teased me about it – hahah
        ahhh – good times with music –
        thanks for inspiring us with music Posts Clive

        Liked by 1 person

      • The more I look back on it the more amazing it seems. Free had released their first two albums, which is how we knew their music, but it felt even more special later that year when they were all over radio, tv and the charts. My Dad left home around my 16th birthday and I guess Mum felt that as I was now the ‘man of the house’ she could cut me some slack. Mind you, she did put her foot down very firmly later in 1970 when a mate and I were planning to go on our motor scooters to the Isle of Wight festival! There’s a blog post about that somewhere in my back catalogue. As you say, we look back on those memories with real affection, don’t we?

        I love that Carole King song, from her earlier hit record production line days – the Shirelles, if memory serves me correctly. You really do need to look up Tapestry – her slowed down, stripped back version on that album reveals the song’s beauty and takes back ownership of it. I don’t know the Willie Nelson version but I’m guessing it is closer to her template than the pop version.

        Thank you for your kind words, they’re much appreciated.

        Liked by 1 person

      • well I enjoyed comment chatting today, Clive.
        I will keep you posted when I check out Tapestry. and no prssure – but check out Willie Nelson’s Outlaws and Angels live conference – it is on Youtube and it has so many guest artists – good stuff
        have a good day

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Yvette, I’ve enjoyed it too. I’ll look out that video, as I quite like Willie Nelson. Enjoy the rest of your day too – only 40 minutes or so left of mine now 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  4. great point about how people were complaining that technology was ruining relationships, and how now it’s helping to keep them together.

    I’ve never heard of Free, but I am listening to Be My Friend while I type this, and they remind me a bit of Bad Company…

    And You’ve Got a Friend is one of the all-time great songs, both versions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a little ironic, isn’t it!

      Not heard of Free? You’ve missed out! A good spot, though: Paul Rodgers, the vocalist, and Simon Kirke, the drummer, moved on to form Bad Company after the demise of Free. Those Rodgers vocals are unmistakeable.

      Glad you like the other one, too. As I said in the post, it is a song with meaning for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I can’t imagine what it must be like for those who find themselves on their own during this pandemic and lockdown, Clive. I know of two friends who are struggling with the whole concept of not being able to see other people to socialise with. Both are going through a bad time because of it, yet both also knowing why lockdown has been put in place.
    Unfortunately, I think the current health crisis is only going to lead to much more mental health issues for many people. I hope that when the time comes, our government will be there for them.

    Thanks for the songs about friendship. As humans, we’re sociable creatures and need friendship in our lives. Many, though, don’t like asking for help. This is why we should all know the signs of when somebody is silently calling for the help of friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, Hugh, as ever. It must be awful to be alone at any time, let alone a time like this when fear has been added to the list of things we are feeling. I share your hope but have little or no confidence in the government’s ability or desire to provide that help, after they have spent 12 years underfunding health services as a prelude to selling them off. I also agree that we need to be alert to those who are silent but may need our help, but they are often the most difficult to recognise.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree with you that friends are important, especially when the going is a bit tough like right now, Clive. I love these songs and think it is lovely that one of them reminds you of your mom. I hope my boys remember me fondly one day too. Stay well and keep sharing the music. PS We don’t have mental health week here.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Like your mom, You´ve Got a Friend, is one of my favourite songs. I love this live version of both of them performing it. Thanks. Made my day. And yes, I have many kind and wonderful friends who have helped me through this time. I am forever grateful for all of them.

    Liked by 1 person

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