The Blues: Some Songs For Brian

Continuing to celebrate the life of my dear departed friend, I am presenting some of the original versions of songs he loved to listen to and sing.

Smokestack Lightnin’. Howlin’ Wolf.

Still Got The Blues. Gary Moore.

She’s 19 Years Old. Muddy Waters.


Bring It on Home. Sonny Boy Williamson.

Boom Boom. John Lee Hooker.

I am not a religious man. But if there is a Heaven, I like to think that Brian is there now, enjoying a raucous jam session with Howlin’, Gary, Muddy, Sonny Boy, and John Lee.

Rise Up! : Sign Language Version

My step-daughter Emma works here in Norfolk in a school for children with special educational needs. Because of Coronavirus, she is currently working from home on teaching projects. She decided to use her sign language skills to help and inspire the kids at the school, many of whom have great problems with communication. She worked hard to create a sign language version of the popular and inspiring song, ‘Rise Up!’

I don’t normally make such requests, but on this occasion I am asking all of you, wherever you live, to share this blog post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and on any other social media platform you are a member of.

Sign language is international. and so many people trapped at home during the current lockdown may be thrilled and inspired by Emma’s video. Let them know it will all be over soon, and that one day they will ‘Rise Up’ once again.

Pandemic Parodies ~ Jamiroquai

David Bowie, Jamiroquai, and ‘Let’s Dance’ reworked for Covid-19. I just had to reblog. (And Jay references that line ‘put on your red shoes’ too!)

By Hook Or By Book

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I have to admit I never heard of Jason Kay and Jamiroquai, until I became friends with Pete at https://beetleypete.com. He’s written several entertaining posts about this British band starting with this one: https://beetleypete.com/2016/09/04/whatever-happened-to-jamiroquai 

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I’ve shared a few creative song parodies over the last 2-3 weeks, but when I saw that Jamiroquai had reworked David Bowie’s classic Let’s Dance into a coronavirus anthem called Lockdown, well I knew I had to share it. This is for you Pete!

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The Pop Stars Moonlighting Blogathon 2020

Here is my entry in this month’s blogathon, hosted by https://weegiemidget.wordpress.com/
Gill has picked the theme of well-known music artists in acting roles, and I have chosen David Bowie.

This is actually a two-for-one post, as the film co-stars Ryuichi Sakamoto. He also composed the music for the soundtrack, and is a famous musician in his native Japan. To add a third musician to the mix, the theme song from the film, ‘Forbidden Colours’, was sung by David Sylvian.

As a lifelong fan of the music of David Bowie, I eagerly watched all of his acting roles too. When this film came out in 1983, I went to see it at a cinema in London.
***Plot spoilers included***

The story is set during WW2, in a Japanese prisoner of war camp for allied captives. As well as the two stars, we are treated to some excellent supporting actors, including Takeshi Kitano, Tom Conti, and Jack Thompson.

Soon after Major Celliers (Bowie) arrives at the camp, the commandant Captain Yonoi (Sakamoto) develops a fixation on him. Meanwhile, Celliers has become close to the senior British officer, Colonel Lawrence, (Conti) and soon develops a reputation as a troublemaker, and one of the spokesman for the poor conditions that the prisoners have to endure. Despite Celliers outward defiance and rebellious attitude, Yonoi fails to punish him, and it becomes obvious that he has an overwhelming crush on the attractive prisoner. This alarms the Japanese guards, and one urges his commander to kill Celliers, rather than face the shame of discovery.

But Yonoi is unable to do that, and is eventually replaced because of his lack of leadership. His successor is aware of what transpired between Celliers and Yonoi, and immediately informs the prisoner that he can expect no mercy from him. To punish him for disgracing his colleague, Celliers is buried up to his neck in sand, and left to die.

This film is beautifully shot, and the location convincing. As befits a film starring two international recording artists, the soundtrack is simply perfect, and so appropriate for the mood. Both the leads deliver excellent peformances, alongside those supporting actors who are always completely reliable.

Thirty-seven years later, it is still as powerful and interesting as it was in 1983.

Significant Songs (208)

Hey Mickey

There is nothing at all musically significant about this song. But when it was released by Toni Basil in 1981, it became part of the ‘pop video’ craze, started by MTV.

In England, we didn’t have cheerleaders, and hardly anyone had heard of the choreographer who had decided to release her own record. As well as that, she was 38 years old, rather late to make an entry into the mainstream music market at that time.

But it was a massive hit all over the world, including the UK, where it reached number two in 1982. The song was written by Chapman and Chinn, Australian and British songwriters known for coming up with massive chart hits. Toni’s version was a cover of an original 1979 release under the title ‘Hey Kitty’. She changed the name to ‘Mickey’, and choreographed a dance accompaniment that included ‘normal’ women backing her, unlike the usual sex kittens that featured in most pop videos then.

The result was a forgettable pop song that turned out to be unforgettable, because of the accompanying video.

It was played to death on every radio station, and featured heavily on TV music shows.

Toni jumped on the video bandwagon, and brainwashed us all into the bargain.

Here is the official release of that video.

Keith Jarrett : Somewhere Over The Rainbow (The Blue Hour)

Thom Hickey’s blog is a real gem. It is hugely popular, and you will see why if you look at his posts. This latest one is a prose poem of praise to the ‘Blue Hour’, an English love letter to twilight.
And he has chosen the perfect soundtrack too.

The Immortal Jukebox

Stars withdrawing from the night sky.

Buffeting winds blowing the heart open.

Old Winchester Hill.

The Blue Hour.

Iron Age Forts.

Bronze Age Barrows.

Ghostly legions marching by.

Corn Buntings and Lapwings.

Skylarks and Linnets.

Yellow Hammers.

Stone – curlews.

A glimmer of sunlight greeting the ghosts, the birds and me.

Butterfly flutterings.

Marbled White.

Meadow Brown.

Chalkhill Blue.

The Blue Hour.

Dreams that you dare to dream.

Clouds far behind.

Birds fly over the rainbow.

Once and forever in a lullaby.

Once and forever.

Keith Jarrett.

A meditative musician.

A perpetual pathfinder.

Rediscovering, reimagining, recreating, the almost, almost, forgotten land of the untroubled heart.

Soaring with Bluebird and Skylark.

The Song of The Blue Hour.

Hold it in your Heart.

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Lyrically Evocative (29)

Sometimes, song lyrics can make you think about something that you have never experienced. When I heard the first few lines of this song back in 1977, I found myself in total agreement with the sentiments expressed. But I had no children. I still don’t have any, but I still believe the song says it all.

Written by Linda Creed and Michael Massa, it is probably best known as a huge hit for Whitney Huston, in 1985. She undeniably nailed the song, with her famous power-ballad voice.
But ‘my’ version will always be the George Benson original, which sounds as good today as it did to me when I was 25 years old.

It was intended for the soundtrack of the Muhammad Ali biopic, ‘The Greatest’, and included in that film in 1976. George later went on to release it as a record, and had a substantial worldwide hit. His voice suits the song perfectly, and gets right to the heart of the meaningful lyrics.

Here are those lyrics. Words that made me think seriously about having children at the time.

Read them as poetry, they are that good.

The Greatest Love Of All.

I believe that children are our future;
Teach them well and let them lead the way.
Show them all the beauty they possess inside.
Give them a sense of pride, to make it easier;
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we use to be.
Everybody’s searching for a hero;
People need someone to look up to.
I never found anyone who fulfilled my need.
A lonely place to be, and so I learned to depend on me.
I decided long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadow.
If I fail, if I succeed.
At least I lived as I believe.
No matter what they take from me,
They can’t take away my dignity.
Because the greatest love of all is happening to me.
I found the greatest love of all inside of me.
The greatest love of all is easy to achieve.
Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.
I believe that children are our future;
Teach them well and let them lead the way.
Show them all the beauty they possess inside.
Give them a sense of pride, to make it easier;
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we use to be.
I decided long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadow.
If I fail, if I succeed, at least I lived as I believe.
No matter what they take from me,
They can’t take away my dignity.
Because the greatest love of all is happening to me.
I found the greatest love of all inside of me.
The greatest love of all is easy to achieve.
Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.
And if by chance that special place that you’ve been dreaming of
Lead you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love

And in case you have never heard that original, here is George singing them.

Friday On My Mind

It only dawned on me a few hours ago that today is Friday.

Are you old enough to remember this song from 1966?

No? What about this one, from 1992?

Both songs are celebrating ‘Friday’. That last day of the working week for most people. The day when school is finished until Monday, and the weekend begins in earnest.

Until I started working shifts in 1979, Friday was always something to look forward to. When I was young, I was allowed to stay up a bit later, as there was no school on Saturday. Then when I was old enough to have a regular girlfriend, it was the night to go for a drink with friends, getting a jump on the weekend activities to come.

Once I was older, and married, it was often the night we would go out to eat. A Friday night Indian meal, or perhaps a Chinese. Something spicy and different, after a week of home-cooked food. Alternatively, it might be a trip to the Cinema, on a night when it wasn’t as busy as it would be on the Saturday.

Whatever we did, it always came with that ‘Friday Feeling’, knowing we had two clear days ahead to do what we wanted, even if we didn’t actually do anything with them.

By the time I was just 26, I was working three out of four Fridays, and the same with Saturdays too. It didn’t take long for Friday to start to feel like any other day for me. But I didn’t forget that good feeling from before, and 42 years later, I can still recall the excitement of a Friday night.

I hope you all have (or already have had) a wonderful Friday!

Lyrically Evocative (28)

I wasn’t born until 1952, so a song written in 1935 might be considered to be an unusual inclusion in this series.

But I knew various versions of this song in my early teens, and by the time I was in my mid-thirties, I was certainly relating to every line.

Originally performed on the BBC Radio in 1936, the song was later recorded by the wonderful Billie Holiday, who had a huge hit with it. Although a 1936 recording by the famous ‘Hutch’ also got some attention.

Over the following decades, it was recorded by almost every famous singer you could think of. Including Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and Sam Cooke.
Even now, at the age of 67, it sends shivers up my spine when I hear it.
I have chosen the much later recording by Brian Ferry, from 1973.

His rather melancholy tone, and deliberately stylised rendition, seems to suit the song perfectly.

Here are the lyrics.

Oh! Will you never let me be?
Oh! Will you never set me free?
The ties that bound us
Are still around us
There’s no escape that I can see
And still those little things remain
That bring me happiness or pain
A cigarette that bears a lipstick’s traces
An airline ticket to romantic places
And still my heart has wings
These foolish things remind me of you
A tinkling piano in the next apartment
Those stumbling words that told you what my heart meant
A fair ground’s painted swings
These foolish things remind me of you
You came you saw you conquer’d me
When you did that to me
I knew somehow this had to be
The winds of March that make my heart a dancer
A telephone that rings but who’s to answer?
Oh, how the ghost of you clings!
These foolish things remind me of you
First daffodils and long excited cables
And candle lights on little corner tables
And still my heart has wings
These foolish things remind me of you
The park at evening when the bell has sounded
The “Ile de France” with all the gulls around it
The beauty that is Spring’s
These foolish things remind me of you
How strange how sweet to find you still
These things are dear to me
They seem to bring you near to me
The sigh of midnight trains in empty stations
Silk stockings thrown aside dance invitations
Oh, how the ghost of you clings!
These foolish things remind me of you
Gardenia perfume ling’ring on a pillow
Wild strawb’ries only seven francs a kilo
And still my heart has wings
These foolish things remind me of you
The smile of Garbo and the scent of roses
The waiters whistling as the last bar closes
The song that Crosby sings
These foolish things remind me of you
How strange how sweet to find you still
These things are dear to me
They seem to bring you near to me
The scent of smould’ring leaves, the wail of steamers
Two lovers on the street who walk like dreamers
Oh, how the ghost of you clings!
These foolish things remind me of you

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Bob Stanley / Peter Stewart Wiggs / Sarah Cracknell

And here is Bryan, performing the song.

Still heartbreaking.

Lyrically Evocative (26)

Before the name change to New Order, the British band Joy Division built up a large loyal following, and had a few minor hits. At the time, they were fronted by the troubled lead singer, Ian Curtis. His suicide in 1980, at the age of 24, stopped the band touring the USA. The other band members later reformed under the new name.

Curtis had problems adjusting to the routine of married life, as well as suffering from Epilepsy. His fragile mental state caused issues with his colleagues in the band as well.

The culmination of those events resulted in the song ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, released as a single from the second album, shortly after he killed himself.

He may not have been a great singer, but the lyrics of the song show a talent for expressive poetry that resonated very much with me.

Here are the lyrics.

When routine bites hard
And ambitions are low
And resentment rides high
But emotions won’t grow
And we’re changing our ways
Taking different roads
Love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear us apart again
Why is the bedroom so cold?
Turned away on your side
Is my timing that flawed?
Our respect run so dry?
Yet there’s still this appeal
That we’ve kept through our lives
But love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear us apart again
Do you cry out in your sleep?
All my failings exposed
Gets a taste in my mouth
As desperation takes hold
And it’s something so good
Just can’t function no more?
Love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear up apart again
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Bernard Sumner / Ian Kevin Curtis / Peter Hook / Stephen Paul David Morris

This is Joy Divison performing the song, on the official video.