One of the things which seems to be exercising many as we gradually crawl out of lockdown is when, where and how we will be allowed to travel. I’ve never been a great one for travelling, especially so since health has prevented it, but there is much talk here at present about whether foreign holidays will be possible this year. The rules are supposedly changing on 17 May to permit this, but with a restricted set of destinations: either the ones that our government will allow us to visit or those countries which will have us, though there is still some uncertainty around this date. It seemed a good theme for a post in this series, though, so this week I’m giving you: travel. As usual, I aimed to give you six tunes and, as often, I missed the target, so you’re getting seven again. They are a mix of the hopeful, the despairing, the idyllic and one which borrows the usual holiday postcard sentiment.
After a long time waiting in hope, I suspect many might be thinking this:
Not strictly a song about going on holiday, this is one of those songs hoping for a better life in a better place, but I think the sentiment will be valid for many right now! Apparently that clip comes from a movie that included The Animals: I’ve no idea what the movie was, but it’s still a great song! The IMDb lists a 1965 movie (ie. it matches the date on the video) called The Dangerous Christmas Of Red Riding Hood, described as a ‘revisionist fairy tale.’ The band are all listed as cast members – lead singer Eric Burdon plays the ‘Leader of the Wolfpack’ – so I guess this might be the one, though the song isn’t listed on the soundtrack. Sorry to be so imprecise! As for the song itself, it was written by Barry Mann and his wife, Cynthia Weil, and was originally intended for the Righteous Brothers, but The Animals’ record producer, Mickie Most, got hold of it first. It was released as a single in summer 1965, and reached #2 in the UK and #13 in the US, and became very popular among American troops in Vietnam, for obvious reasons. There have been many cover versions, including one by The Partridge Family – I couldn’t bring myself to seek that one out!
Back to the theme of my story I hope that, when they made their escape from that place, they found a better route than this:
Again, this is a song about metaphorical travel rather than the real thing, but it is another which reflects the mood of 2021 as much as it did that of 1985, when it was first released. This was a track on Talking Heads’ sixth album, Little Creatures, which made #20 in the US and #10 here in the UK. It was also released as a single: it didn’t make the top 100 in the US but got to #6 here. I still love the song, though – one of their best. And there is an interesting snippet that gives an insight into a songwriter’s mind in this quote from David Byrne:
“The front bit, the white gospel choir, is kind of tacked on, ’cause I didn’t think the rest of the song was enough… I mean, it was only two chords. So, out of embarrassment, or shame, I wrote an intro section that had a couple more in it.”
On a more optimistic note, how about a song to mark the getaway? This one, perhaps:
On second thoughts, maybe that isn’t so optimistic after all – it looks like I’m back in ‘miserable old git’ mode this week! The song was written by John Denver in 1966, and recorded by Peter, Paul And Mary for their 1967 album Album 1700, which was a #15 hit in the US. Not much more was heard of the song until it was released as a single in 1969, when it got to #1 in the US and #2 here. It is a very emotional song, as you can see from Mary Travers and from some of the audience shots in the video, which is taken from a 1986 concert marking the band’s 25th anniversary together. This was also a song which resonated with US troops and their families at the time of the Vietnam War. The video is still an emotional watch, a further 35 years on.
This next tune is one about the frustrations of travel, especially when you have a good reason to be excited about your journey:
The video is a reworking, not an original, and it bears its creator’s stamp, but there don’t seem to be any other live videos of the band playing this one from their heyday. I think you’ll see why I wanted to include this, though: you get a real feel for the energy CCR created in their live shows. Sadly, I never got to see them, but I’d have loved to! This song was on the band’s fifth album, Cosmo’s Factory, released in July 1970, which topped the album charts in both the US and the UK, and in several other countries. The song was originally released as a single in January 1970 – in the US it was a double A-side with Who’ll Stop The Rain? which was also on the album. It peaked at #2 in the US and #8 in the UK.
Having cranked up the fun factor, I’m now taking it a little further with this joyous song about the delights of travel:
A happy, infectious song, a brilliant video, and the gorgeous Kate Pierson – what more could you want? The B-52s could always be relied on to add some fun into their music, and they shared the approach too: if you don’t already know it, check out the video for R.E.M’s Shiny Happy People to see Kate bringing joy there, too. This was a track on the B-52s fifth album, Cosmic Thing, released in June 1989, reaching #4 in the US and #8 in the UK and by far their most successful album. This was also a hit single, peaking at #3 in the US and #17 in the UK. The video is still fun to watch over thirty years later.
I’m taking things back down again now. I mentioned that one of this week’s tunes reflects an idyllic mood, and this is it. It is a song about a journey taken at a leisurely pace, enabling its protagonist time for reflection on his life and prompting the joy of knowing his reason for wanting to reach his destination:
To me, that is a musical masterpiece, from a band I’ve loved ever since they formed in the late Sixties. You may recall that I featured it in the original Under The Covers post, back in 2019. Beautiful harmonies, a wonderfully crafted song, some great guitar work: about as close to perfection as you can get, and yet it is just one of many wonderful songs they have given us! The song features on Crosby, Stills And Nash’s 1982 album Daylight Again, which reached #8 on the US albums chart. It was also released as a single, peaking at #18 in the US. Neither the album or single made the UK charts: an omission I regard as criminal! An additional snippet about this song: harmony vocals on the record were also provided by Art Garfunkel (of Simon And…) and Timothy B Schmit (of The Eagles).
I’m closing this week with the song which shares its title with the words which have probably been written more often on holiday postcards than any other. Picture the scene: you’ve finally managed to escape the drudgery of everyday life, are sitting on the beach or by the pool, cocktail in hand, and write these words on a postcard going back home. Do you really want them there, though? Answers on a postcard, please…:
I somehow suspect that the sentiments in the song are more keenly felt than a few words on a postcard! That live performance dates from 1994, from the days when the band wasn’t in contact with Roger Waters, but the song was originally the title track of a Pink Floyd album from 1975, which reached #1 in both the US and the UK, and in several other countries. This song was written by Dave Gilmour and Roger Waters, though Gilmour took lead vocal on the record. It was one of the five songs they played at the Live 8 concert in 2005, after they had been persuaded to play together again by the unique negotiation skills of Bob Geldof. That was a wonderful show, and I’ll admit to shedding tear to see them together again after so many years apart.
That’s all for this week, and I hope I haven’t put you off travelling when we’re allowed to, if that is what you’re hoping to do. Hopefully the weather will soon be drier and warmer too! Take good care, and keep watching for the next exciting episode in the BBC saga (Boris Bungles Control). 🤞