January Man

I’m a little late with this, but wanted to space out my posts a bit, as this is the fourth in eight days. As has become my recent habit I’m giving you the chance to catch up on any posts you may have missed over the previous month. There were nine in total, so that is probably quite likely!

I began on 1 January with the appropriately named Songs For A New Year, which included tunes by ABBA, Counting Crows, Prescott-Brown, The Rescues, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Semisonic, Mindy Smith, and The O’Reillys And Paddyhats, plus an encore of the Radetzky March from the Vienna New Year’s Day concert. A real mixed bag!

The next post was the first of January’s four Tuesday Tunes offerings. These four were:

Tuesday Tunes 38: Some More Seventies Songs, which featured music by Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Neil Young, Jackson Browne and Jethro Tull.

Tuesday Tunes 39: Au Revoir Seventies Albums, which included Led Zeppelin, Free, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, The Moody Blues, and Stevie Wonder. As the title suggests, that was my final return to one of the best ever decades of music, but I did reserve the right to go back again at some point – it’s my blog, so I can do what I want, OK?

Tuesday Tunes 40: Phil Spector, which was a tribute to the music created by a very troubled soul, who had died a couple of days previously. The tunes came from Ike And Tina Turner, The Crystals, Ben E King, The Righteous Brothers, George Harrison, and John Lennon.

And last, but not least, Tuesday Tunes 41: Hope For The Future, which took its theme from the way I felt watching President Biden’s inauguration, an event offering hope that the previous four years’ horror might be ending. This proved to be a harder one than I was expecting for the selection of tunes, but I was ably assisted by Travis Tritt, The Farm, Bob Marley, George Harrison (again!), and Paul McCartney.

There were four further posts last month. I’ll remind you of them in chronological order, starting with my review of the previous year, 2020 Hindsight. An imaginative title, I’m sure you’ll agree! In this, I gave you a listing of the top ten posts in 2020, along with a little trumpet blowing about how well the blog had done last year. There really is something to be said for posting more often and regularly, isn’t there? If you’re at a loose end, or need a cure for insomnia, the post included links to all of 2020’s top ten, plus a couple of others, including my personal favourite of last year.

The next one was a reblog of a post from two years ago, which itself was based on a post from 2016. I’ve never shied away from mining my back catalogue, have I? The post was Icons And Lesser Icons Revisited and contained my thoughts on how some in the media treat the passing of famous musicians as an excuse to write utter crap. It also linked back to a piece including music by David Bowie and Walk Off The Earth, which just has to be a good thing!

My next offering was a piece in which I had a little bit of fun, and which was prompted by a comment from the lovely Yvette who had invented a new word. This was What’s In A Word? and it was the most viewed post of the month. It is still picking up regular ‘likes’ and is very close to making it into my all time top ten. I’ll be sorry to see the current #10 go – it is a post which means a lot to me, as I wrote I Hope You Dance to mark my granddaughter’s birth and my hopes for her future, but she has appeared in posts since then and I’m sure she’ll be back! I considered changing things but the widget doesn’t allow me to have a top eleven, though. WordPress need to work on that!

I brought my blogging month to a close with 500 Milestone which, as its name suggests, marked my 500th post on this blog (I can think of three on others, where they have been mad enough to invite me). In that, I celebrated the millstone milestone by sharing again the very first post I ever wrote, back in October 2012. It doesn’t have great literary merits, but we all have to begin somewhere! Having ‘borrowed’ the title in part from a song I felt I ought to include that too (any excuse), so you may have seen the version of 500 Miles by The Hooters, along with a much more recent clip from John Fogerty, his children and farm animals of a song with ‘500 miles’ in the lyrics. Shameless? Me? Probably.

That was where my January blogging ended, and I hope you saw at least one of those posts – and can now take the opportunity to catch up on what you may have missed. As is my habit I ‘borrowed’ this post’s title too, so I’m giving you the song from which I purloined it, to save you having to dig into your memory. It was written by Dave Goulder, who released it as the title track of his 1970 album, and it has since been recorded by many artists who form a Who’s Who of British and Irish folk music, including Martin Carthy, Karine Polwart and Lau, Jon Boden, Damien O’Kane and Steeleye Span. This has always been my favourite version, though, as the feel of melancholy in the song is a perfect match for Christy Moore’s vocal timbre:

This was on Christy’s third solo album, Whatever Tickles Your Fancy, released in 1975. As far as I can tell, his only chart success here as a solo artist was a week in the top 40 with the eponymous follow up to that album in 1976 – I think the British record buying public has let itself down! But this is still a lovely version of a great song, the worth of which is evident from the litany of cover versions.

See you again soon, both for the regular posts and/or for the next monthly round up, if that’s what floats your boat. TTFN.

500 Milestone

When I posted this week’s Tuesday Tunes piece I got a little badge from WordPress congratulating me on making my 500th post:

But as I had to post one of my pieces twice last year, thanks to WP mucking up the timing and relegating it to the lower reaches of the Reader, it only felt like 499 to me. So I thought about what I should do to mark my milestone, and here it is.

I considered giving you some kind of review of the past 8+ years that I’ve been doing this, but had no idea how to go about it. I looked back through the records to see if the categories in which I’d posted gave me any bright ideas, but what would you have made of this:

Thoughts – 236 posts

Music – 106

Mental Health – 47

Dates To Note 39

#SaturdaySongs – 18

My Story 8

Reblogs (of others) – 7

Probably as little as I did! My first puzzle was why the total only came to 461, when I know that every post has been attributed to one of my chosen categories, and in some cases to more than one. My default is ‘Thoughts,’ which WP chooses for me unless I change it, so that’s probably why it is the leader – but if I’ve only had 236 thoughts in the past 8 years it doesn’t seem as if I’ve been over-stretching my brain, does it! It probably speaks of a lazy mind, but if I started a new category for every post the menu would quickly have become like the filing system a secretary once set up for me, in which every new incoming letter or memo was given its own file! I would have expected to see more in the ‘Mental Health’ category, though probably quite a lot of those in the early days went under ‘Dates To Note’, when I was featuring a lot of those. Both ‘Retirement’ and ‘Memories’ added a few more, but not enough to fill the gap. To be honest, the stats were such a jumble that I quickly gave up on that approach, and decided I’d have to do something else instead. But what? A lengthy diatribe about what I have and haven’t liked about blogging, perhaps? Not really suitable for a ‘celebration,’ though, so that idea was consigned to the virtual dustbin. But what this milestone did encourage me to do was to look back on my posts, and I thought that maybe a good way to mark my 500th would be to re-share my very first post, which most of you won’t have seen.

From little acorns, great oak trees grow, eh? Or perhaps in this case, a stunted tree blown about in the wind. I made that first post on 2 October 2012, and here it is:

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HELLO AT LAST!

Hi!

I’ve had this blog set up for 6 weeks now and have somehow acquired 3 brave followers without having said anything, so I thought it was about time I introduced myself and told you what this is about (cue rapid exit of aforementioned followers!). So, I’m Clive (but you guessed that from the blog’s name, right?). I’m 59 (but only just!), divorced, living solo, and I have two beautiful grown up daughters who are the centre of my world. I work in the NHS, for a large Trust in London, and am planning to retire on my 60th birthday. I love books (on a Kindle), music (folk, rock, Americana, alt-country) both at home and live, I enjoy TV sports, especially football and cricket, and am a long-time supporter of Dover Athletic (home town team) and Spurs (someone has to!). All very ordinary then, so why am I telling you any of this?

Almost exactly a year ago, I was diagnosed with depression, along with a still unspecified sleep problem. This eventually kept me off work for nine months, and I went back in July, part-time working up to full-time after a month. As part of this process I was referred for counselling to help me adjust back into the real world, and I’m about two-thirds of the way through a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This has involved a lot of thinking and writing, in ways I’ve never really done before, about me, my feelings, hopes, self view and the whole experience of the past year. And this will continue into the future – I’m still on a high level of medication, barred from drinking and advised to be careful when driving, either separately or together, and still have big problems sleeping. But my counsellor has said that he finds my writing ‘inspirational’ and has encouraged me to start this blog, both because it will be good therapy for me to open myself up like this, but more importantly because others suffering from the same debilitating illness may see something they recognise in this and will hopefully draw some comfort and encouragement from it.

A subject like this could well be, erm, depressing really. But that’s not my way. I intend to write this from my perspective, of course, and I can’t do that for long before throwing in elements that could generously be considered to be ‘humour.’ In no way would I belittle the subject, I’ve experienced too much for that, but there’s no point doing this if people find it depressing or boring to read. And I’ll go off at tangents along the way too – things which strike me as interesting, usually but not necessarily related to my current experience of being ‘in recovery’ from the illness, which I hope you’ll find interesting too.

Enough for now, I’ll start the real posting soon. In the meantime, the three of you, I’m relying on you to help me spread the word and get me millions of followers. No pressure then! See you again soon.

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Some of that became the template for my ‘About Me’ page, and I should point out that the original blog name, to which reference is made there, was the incredibly imaginative ‘Clive’s Blog.’ The current name was chosen when I retired, to reflect how I intended to live my life from then on. Like many of my post titles, it was borrowed from somewhere else: that has become a habit that has stayed with me, whenever I think I can get away with it – like with this post. Those ‘tangents’ I mentioned have taken me to a variety of places, but there has, as you will have noticed, been a particular focus on music. It has been such an integral part of my life since I was very little, and I couldn’t be without it: that’s why I love sharing it with you. Have you ever looked back at your very first post and compared what you said then with the way your blog has developed? A potentially revealing exercise – or possibly downright scary! Go on, take a look – I’d love to know your reaction to seeing yours again.

It would feel remiss of me, given what I have just said about music, not to include a little to mark my milestone. As the title for this piece is partly borrowed from a song, that seems a good place to start. There are several songs with the same title as this one, and many versions of it, but this is my favourite:

If anyone is disappointed that I didn’t choose The Proclaimers, all I can say is that you should know me better by now! This track was released in 1989, with an extra verse included in support of the victims of the massacre in Tiananmen Square in Beijing and the iconic image of the man standing in front of the tank, which you can see in this video. I’ve posted a lot of music videos during the course of my 500 posts, but few have been as powerful as this one. This was on the Hooters’ fourth album, Zig Zag, which reached #115 in the US album chart. 500 Miles was released as a single, making #97 in the US. I loved the band and had all of their albums – I still do, in streaming form. I think the first version of this that I ever heard was the one by Peter, Paul and Mary, who provide backing vocals on this – a neat piece of symmetry. As a side note, the identity of Tank Man, as he became known, is still a mystery to this day. Time magazine named him one of their 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century.

To compound the disappointment of Proclaimers fans, here’s another song which isn’t by that pair of nerds, but also has ‘500 miles’ in its lyrics, if not its title:

That was one of a whole series of songs that John Fogerty recorded last summer, accompanied by his children Kelsy, Shane and Tyler – and on this occasion by a few of their farm animals too. It is in stark contrast to the Hooters video, but that just goes to show how music can fit so many moods and situations. And who wouldn’t welcome some good cheer and sunshine on a dismal day like we in the UK are ‘enjoying’ today?

I wonder if I’ll reach 1,000 posts? I didn’t have any expectation that I’d get this far, so who knows? Do stay around for the ride, though, as there is plenty more msucucao* on the way 😊

*See What’s In A Word? for an explanation, if needed.