Those of you outside these shores may not be aware that our government is going to remove virtually all of the remaining pandemic restrictions next Monday in England – the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland make their own decisions on this. Whilst I would normally welcome the removal of government restrictions on what we do, I am apprehensive about this one. It comes at a time when daily infection rates are increasing rapidly, and are at their highest level since February, so in my view it is questionable if now is the right time to do this. Given that their own predictions are that those daily rates could rise from yesterday’s level of 34k to more than 100k over the summer, and given that our esteemed Prime Minister has been quoted as saying that he would be happy to ‘let the bodies pile up’ if that were the price to be paid for ‘freedom,’ perhaps you can see my caution. They are yet again ignoring their declared aim to ‘follow the science,’ but I have long since given up believing anything they say. Yesterday, the Dutch government apologised for lifting their restrictions too early and reinstated them, after a large rise in infection rates: I fear that we are being set up for something similar. At best, this is one hell of a risk to take with our lives, but it gives me my theme for this week’s tunes: if the government is taking such a huge chance, why shouldn’t I feature some songs about it?
This week’s first tune appears to have been in Johnson’s mind on many occasions, as he has been a major chancer throughout his personal and political life:
This was a track on Steve Winwood’s second solo album, Arc Of A Diver, which was released on 31 December 1980. The album reached #3 in the US, #13 in the UK, and made #1 in Canada. This was the first single taken from the album, in February 1981: it peaked at #7 in the US and at #45 in the UK, but again did better in Canada, where it reached #3. I’ve always found it an uplifting song, both musically and in its lyrics.
That one may well have been a song that you know, but I suspect that several of this week’s selections will be new to many. However, they are all songs that I like, so I hope you will too. This next one is by one of my all-time favourite singer-songwriters. Last year, Mary Chapin Carpenter ran a series on her Facebook page of Songs From Home, which gave an intimate look into her own favourites from a wonderful catalogue of the music she has produced in her 30+ year career, and I thought it would be good to share one of these with you, rather than the official audio only version or one of the several other live performances available on YouTube:
Just a singer and her guitar, in her own home, with her warm voice of welcome, complete with a couple of endearing little stutters in the guitar playing – what’s not to like? This stripped down version really brings out the beauty of the song for me, and MCC’s sincerity in her work shines through. The original can be found on her fourth album, Come On Come On, which was released in June 1992, reaching #31 in the US, but wasn’t a hit here in the UK. It also reached #6 on the US Country albums chart, and #4 on the Canadian one. Seven songs were released as singles from the album, all of which made the top twenty in the US Country chart. This was a #2 there, as it was in Canada, but again it wasn’t a UK hit.
This next one is one which may well have gone under many people’s radar:
As the audio only video shows, that song was on Bob Seger’s album The Fire Inside, which was released in August 1991, peaking at #7 in the US and at #54 in the UK. His albums had been hugely successful through the Eighties in the US, and several had reached the lower/middle parts of the UK albums chart too. This was the opening track on the album: it was released as a single, but wasn’t a hit on either side of the pond, though it did get to #10 in the US Rock chart, which is compiled by Billboard based on radio airplays.
Another one which I have no doubt will be known to just a few of you is up next:
As befits its status as only having been released on an album, I’m afraid that also has to be an audio only clip. As it shows, this one comes from America’s album Here And Now, which was released in January 2007, reaching #52 in the US. You may well know them from their hugely successful 1971/2 debut – their self-titled first album was a US #1, and their single A Horse With No Name topped the charts in the US, Canada and France, and made #3 here. They were originally a trio, but have been a duo since 1977, and are still making music: every few years has seen another album released. I’ve always enjoyed their close harmonies, and they write good tunes, too: this one is no exception.
I recall featuring this next artist previously in this series, and when I checked back I found that was in Tuesday Tunes 46: Winning. Completely by coincidence that piece also included a song by Mary Chapin Carpenter, and also one by the next act after this one. It’s almost as if I planned these, isn’t it? At that time, I mentioned that Chris Rea had received almost no attention in the States, and that I was surprised at this, as I would have thought him suited to their market. I guess that just proves how little I know! Here’s another chance to enjoy his music:
That is, as the video shows, a track on Chris’ album Santo Spirito Blues, which was released in September 2011. It reached #13 in the UK albums chart, and made the top forty in a further ten countries across Europe, but did nothing in the Americas or Antipodes. To me, that is very much their loss, as he has made a lot of great music in his twenty five albums over the course of a forty three year career. You guys have some catching up to do!
I mentioned just now that a third band had also been in #46 of this series. Displaying the breadth of my musical tastes, which do occasionally take in pop music – as long as it is good – I couldn’t really leave this one out of a set of chance songs, could I:
This was a track on ABBA: The Album, which was released on 12 December 1977 in Scandinavia. It was scheduled for release in the UK then too, but the record pressing plants couldn’t keep pace with its massive pre-orders, so it was released here in January 1978. The short delay doesn’t seem to have done it any harm though: the album was #1 here in the UK and in seven other countries, made the top ten in a further seven, and peaked at #14 in the US. To date it has sold over 5m copies, of which 1.3m have been in the US despite that apparently low chart ranking. This was the second single taken from the album, and it reached #1 in the UK and #3 in the US, selling over 2m copies in the process.
That completes my usual self-appointed complement of six songs, though I have strayed from that a bit lately. There is, however, another song which has been nagging at my brain while I write this, whispering in my ear ‘pick me, pick me.’ Never one to avoid the voices in my head, I’m leaving you with this as an extra for this week, as it is the kind of chance I wish more people would take:
That was released more than fifty years ago – in July 1969 to be precise – and it is a sad reflection of our times that so many still need that reminder, a good many politicians among them. It reached #2 in the UK and #14 in the US, and became an anthem in the US for the anti-Vietnam war movement during the 1970s. It may not be the most ambitious song ever made, in musical terms, but I make no excuses for including it: we all need to hear its message.
That’s all for this week, and I hope you’ve enjoyed some songs which may have been new to you. I’ll be back next Tuesday, providing we haven’t all been swept up in a tsunami of infections by then. Stay safe, keep well, and if you think your government are a bunch of idiots use your own common sense instead of their ‘advice.’ Take care.