Tuesday Tunes 4

As you can see from my handy free counter (in the title) we in the UK are now going into week 4 of lockdown. I think I’ve escaped most of the problems so far, the only real change to my lifestyle was having to stay up until midnight to try and book a Tesco delivery slot as soon as they made another day available. It was 10th time lucky, so until the goodies arrive I’ll just have to make do with a full freezer and more tinned and packet meals than I’ve ever seen in my life before. Then, I’ll have to do it all over again to get another delivery slot to replenish the fresh foods, unless a miracle happens and shopping becomes easy again. Who knew it would come to this? But of course I can reassure you that I haven’t been panic buying: I’m just taking sensible precautions in case my home should ever come under siege. It’s at times like this that I could almost yield to the blandishments of all those helpful people on Farcebook, Twitter and in blogs who are encouraging us to use the time we have on our hands creatively, by taking up something new. At my most honest, I would admit that I and ‘creative’ rarely, if ever, appear in the same sentence but I guess I could always think about changing the habits of a lifetime?

Maybe tomorrow…

But this did get me thinking about a possible theme for this week’s two Tuesday Tunes. So, instead of trying something new myself, I’ve chosen a couple of songs that tell the stories of those who aspire to creative greatness. Either that, or the untold riches that success would bring. The first is from 1966, from a little band you might have heard of before:

A ‘dirty story’ of a ‘dirty man,’ whose ‘clinging wife doesn’t understand’ – I think there have been a few of those over the years! But rest assured, dear reader, I won’t be joining those ranks any time soon. It’s all I can do to string a thousand words together, let alone a thousand pages!

My second song for this week is another story of aspiration, which is even further from my abilities than the first. As one who struggles to produce the most simple landscape picture my artistic talents could be deemed to be ‘limited.’ Little wonder, then, that I studied the History of Art for my degree, rather than actually doing it myself! But in my youth I had my dreams, rather like this:

As it says on the video, that is a Bob Dylan song. He and The Band have had a long association and this was far from being the first of his songs that they recorded. It appears on Cahoots, their fourth studio album, and was released in 1971. I prefer their version: I think the late Levon Helm’s plaintive vocals really suit it. If you aren’t familiar with them, The Band made several great albums in what would today be termed Americana-style, and Levon himself also had a successful acting career, in addition to being a solo musician and leading his own band (small ‘b’). And a little piece of additional trivia for you: he was the inspiration for the song Listening To Levon, which is on Marc Cohn’s Join The Parade album. I recommend you check that out: it’s a lovely song of love and reminiscence, on a great album (like everything Marc Cohn does!).

So, that’s a wrap for this week. I hope that, however you are spending the time – maybe working from home or, like me, lounging around doing nothing, as usual – you are taking sensible precautions to avoid the horror that is Covid-19. I see from today’s paper that our esteemed government is suggesting that they will be continuing the lockdown for at least another three weeks and will be announcing their decision on Thursday. We all know that’s coming, so why the suspense? JFDI! But it does mean that there will be at least another three weeks of Tuesday Tunes posts, after which I will, like the government, review whether I can release you from lockdown. I just hope I make a better job of managing that than the clowns in charge here – at least, unlike Dominic Raab, I do know my derrière from my elbow.

Take care, be safe, stay well.

Tuesday Tunes 3


As week 3 of the UK lockdown begins, here I am again with my handy little counter to keep you abreast of the situation: you may have forgotten what day it is but at least you know that it is now the third week of our BC days (Boris Coronavirus, in case you’re wondering). And you also know that today is Tuesday, unless you’re catching up with this on a later day, in which case I apologise for confusing you completely.

Having given last week’s tunes a (very) loose theme, I thought I’d do that again. If you cast your mind back three months you may recall my annual round up post – That Was The Year That Was – in which I, in (I intended) rather tongue in cheek fashion, followed the growing trend for nominating a WOTY for my blog (Word Of The Year, for the uninitiated). Having given this a modicum of thought (maybe even two modicums) I had settled upon my WOTY: Whatever. Given that we’re now into the fourth month of the year I felt it was perhaps about time that I began to take this seriously (as if….whatever….) and post something for it. So today’s theme is ‘Whatever’ songs. You’ll probably be pleased to know that I’m sparing you the whiny Oasis song which has that one word title. The point of this series is, after all, to entertain and amuse you in these difficult times, or perhaps to get you thinking a little about what matters in life. Making you puke over Liam Gallagher’s nasal crooning isn’t on the agenda.

This week’s first song is from a band whose first incarnation began around 1967. They are still going today – give or take a few deaths in the ranks – and have somehow managed to make a very long career, having sold truck loads of singles and albums, by the simple trick of reworking the same tune ad infinitum (well, until the final extant member shuffles off to meet the immortal choir, anyway). I’d be happy to take a bet that very few with even just a passing interest in rock music won’t have heard of Status Quo: even their name is a clue to the fact that their tunes stay the same, after all. I jest, of course: I can tell their songs apart. Well, most of them (And for the avoidance of doubt I’ll just add that I love the Quo). As a ‘Whatever’ tune that rouses generations of dads to dance, this one really takes some beating:

My second tune for this week is very different. As a counterpart to the Quo’s rabble rousing, I’ve gone for a quiet, reflective piece which carries a message that I think is perfect for these troubled times. Many will know Gerry Rafferty from his massive hit Baker Street, but may not know much more of his catalogue of beautifully written songs. I was one of the few to buy his first solo album Can I Have My Money Back? in 1971. This album is notable for a delicate song called Mary Skeffington, which is about the abuse his mum used to suffer from his dad. Nearly 50 years on, I still can’t listen to it without a tear in my eye. If you don’t know it, do seek it out – you won’t regret it. The song I’m sharing today – Whatever’s Written In Your Heart – is also delicate and beautiful, and is so apposite for our quieter, more reflective moments. We are probably having more of those than normal, of late. This is a live performance which I feel really brings out the simple beauty and power of the song:

Whatever’s written in your heart, that’s all that matters.

So true.

Take care, be safe and keep well. More tunes next Tuesday…

 

Tuesday Tunes 2

One of the comments on last week’s first Tuesday Tunes post suggested that I should make this a regular feature. This seemed like a good idea, so I’m going to do it at least for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis – the number of each post will serve as a useful count at the start of each week the UK has been in lockdown, even if it serves no other purpose! I dipped my toe into this water last week by sharing two songs and, as I don’t intend these to become magnum opuses (opi?) – I’m going to stick with that format. Though, knowing how well I ever keep to a plan, there is no guarantee of that!

This week’s two songs are, in title at least, my little response to Covid. The first is from a man whose music I’ve loved for over 50 years, going right back to his days as a founder member of Fairport Convention. I have just about every album he has ever made (does anyone know where I can get Sunnyvista without breaking the bank?), and have seen him play live as part of the Fairports, with his then girlfriend – and later wife – Linda, solo and with his own band. I never tire of listening to the great Richard Thompson, a man who has written so many wonderful songs. This one gives us all a suitable message for these strange times in which we find ourselves:

Yes, I know it’s about a love affair and not a virus, and yes, I know I posted it as a #SongOfTheDay on my Facebook page recently, but so what? It’s a great song, deserves to be heard again, and the message transfers well!

Continuing my (very) loose theming, my second song this week is also about doomed love, rather than a virus, But the message could easily apply: it’s what we’re all wishing we could do to Covid-19, restrictions on our lives, and worries about whether we’ll be caught short of toilet paper. The band Del Amitri had a few years of success in the pop charts, and should, I feel, have had more. Derided by some as a ‘pop band,’ and somehow unworthy of the attention of serious musos (or pseuds), they produced some seriously good songs, and Justin Currie, their leader, wasn’t given the credit I felt he deserved for his songwriting abilities. This is what we all wish we could do to Covid-19 right now:

I hope you’ve enjoyed these two Tuesday Tunes. They may not really have anything to do with viruses, pandemics, incompetent governments or lockdowns, but they have, I hope, brought a little enjoyment into your life and brightened your day. We could all do with that right now!

Stay safe, isolate if that’s what you’re required to do – it makes sense – and be well. I’ll see you again next Tuesday for some more tunes that have nothing to do with Covid-19.