Retro Music 54

Over 50 years ago, I heard a song on my car radio and knew immediately that I had to buy the single that day. It was undoubtedly American, and bordered on ‘Easy-listening’, but it played in my head for the rest of the day until I stopped at a shop to buy the record. I had heard of the singer before, but only for his collaboration with other bands.

It still sounds good today, in my opinion.

Doctor, my eyes have seen the years
And the slow parade of fears without crying
Now I want to understand
I have done all that I could
To see the evil and the good without hiding
You must help me if you can
Doctor, my eyes
Tell me what is wrong
Was I unwise to leave them open for so long?
‘Cause I have wandered through this world
And as each moment has unfurled
I’ve been waiting to awaken from these dreams
People go just where they will
I never noticed them until I got this feeling
That it’s later than it seems
Doctor, my eyes
Tell me what you see
I hear their cries
Just say if it’s too late for me
Doctor, my eyes
They cannot see the sky
Is this the prize
For having learned how not to cry?
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Jackson Browne
Doctor My Eyes lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Retro Music 26

I was 20 in 1972, and heard a lovely song on the radio. I didn’t know the performers, an American duo called Seals and Crofts, but I bought the record. In 1974, The Isley Brothers released a cover version as a single, and I bought that too.

Even now, I am not sure which version I prefer, so I choose to like them both equally.

See the curtains hangin’ in the window
In the evenin’ on a Friday night
A little light a-shinin’ through the window
Lets me know everything’s alright

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine
Blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine
Blowing through the jasmine in my mind

See the paper layin’ on the sidewalk
A little music from the house next door
So I walked on up to the doorstep
Through the screen and across the floor

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine
Blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine
Blowing through the jasmine in my mind

Sweet days of summer, the jasmine’s in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune
And I come home from a hard day’s work
And you’re waiting there, not a care in the world

See the smile a-waitin’ in the kitchen
Food cookin’ and the plates for two
Feel the arms that reach out to hold me
In the evening when the day is through

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine
Blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine
Blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Writer/s: Darrell Crofts, Jimmy Seals
Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

London In Colour: 1972

Fifty years ago, an American tourist went on a trip to London and took lots of photos. In 2016,those photos were discovered, and put in an online article. Sadly, the photographer was not named.

Denmark Street. This is known as ‘Tin Pan Alley’ and was the home of many record companies and shops selling musical instruments.

Underground public toilets in Great Marlborough Street.

Carnaby Street, the place to shop for fashion at the time.

Caledonian Antiques Market, Bermondsey.

Oxford Circus at the junction with Regent Street and Oxford Street.

The famous Selfridges department store, Oxford Street.

Piccadilly Circus.

Police officers near Whitehall. Check out the trendy uniforms of the policewomen back then!

The Serpentine Cafe, by the river Serpentine in Hyde Park.

Strand, close to Charing Cross Station.

A snack bar window. See how cheap the sandwiches were 50 years ago!

Retro Music 12

In 1972, I heard a record on the radio by a singer I didn’t know. I liked it enough to go out the next day and buy the single, which I played over and over.

Fifty years later, I still enjoy listening to it just as much as I did then.

It was late last night
I was feeling something wasn’t right
There was not another soul in sight
Only you, only you
So we walked along
Though I knew that there was something wrong
And a feeling hit me, oh so strong
About you
Then you gazed up at me
And the answer was plain to see
‘Cause I saw the light
In your eyes (in your eyes)
In your eyes (in your eyes)
Though we had our fling (we had our fling)
I just never would suspect a thing (suspect a thing)
‘Til that little bell began to ring (began to ring)
In my head, in my head
But I tried to run (I tried to run)
Though I knew it wouldn’t help me none (not help me none)
‘Cause I couldn’t ever love no one
Or so I said
But my feelings for you
Were just something I never knew
‘Til I saw the light
In your eyes (in your eyes)
In your eyes (in your eyes)
But I love you best
It’s not something that I say in jest
‘Cause you’re different, girl, from all the rest
In my eyes
And I ran out before
But I won’t do it anymore
Can’t you see the light
In my eyes? (In my eyes)
In my eyes (in my eyes)
In my eyes (in my eyes)
In my eyes (in my eyes)
In my eyes (in my eyes)
Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Todd Rundgren

Todd Rundgren is still working today, at the age of 74.

John Claridge: East London In The 1960s/1970s

Photographs copyright © John Claridge

I found some more of John Claridge’s photos online. They date from 1962-1972 but seem to come from a much earlier time. Hard to believe I was aged from 10-20 years old when these were taken. There are few captions, as most are self-explanatory.

An ex-boxer, well known in the area.

John’s Parents, 1968.

Lyrically Evocative (14)

In 1972, I was twenty years old. I had already been in love a couple of times, or so I thought at the time. One thing I had learned already, was that relationships are never easy, and that they are often very different to how you see them in your mind. Forty-six years later, and many more relationships and marriages behind me, I now know the truth. I never learned anything, and wonder if anyone else ever did too.

That year, I heard a short song on the radio, by Todd Rungren. It was called ‘I Saw The Light’, and it got to me immediately, seeming to sum up lots of my feelings at the time. I went out and bought the single, playing it over and over on my old record player.
A lifetime later, it is just as relevant today.

Here are Todd’s lyrics.

It was late last night
I was feeling something wasn’t right
There was not another soul in sight
Only you, only you
So we walked along,
though I knew there was something wrong
And the feeling hot me oh so strong about you
Then you gazed up at me and the answer was plain to see
‘Cause I saw the light in your eyes
Though we had our fling
I just never would suspect a thing
‘Til that little bell began to ring in my head
In my head
But I tried to run,
though I knew it wouldn’t help me none
‘Cause I couldn’t ever love no one, or so I said
But my feelings for you
were just something I never knew
‘Til I saw the light in your eyes
But I love you best
It’s not something that I say in jest
‘Cause you’re different, girl, from all the rest
In my eyes
And I ran out before but I won’t do it anymore
Can’t you see the light in my eyes

Songwriters: Todd Rundgren
I Saw the Light lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

And here he is from 1972, singing them.

By coincidence, this very song was featured on The Immortal Jukebox yesterday, the wonderful music blog of Thom Hickey, not long after I had written this up as a draft. His far superior post features other versions of the song too. I cannot recommend his blog highly enough, and any music lovers would do well to give it a look.
Here’s a link.
Todd Rundgren, Barb Jungr, Hal Ketchum & Mari Wilson : I Saw The Light

Significant Songs (149)

Storm In A Teacup

Many years ago now, I used to enjoy ‘music evenings’ with my dearly-departed great friend, Billy O’Neill. We shared our favourites, and introduced each other to new singers and songs, not always agreeing of course. On occasion, we would relish a night of playing our ‘guilty pleasures’. These were unfashionable cheesy songs, lacking in street cred, or wider appeal.

Very rarely, we both loved the same one, and this was just such a record, released by the British group The Fortunes in 1972. It was written by the talented singer/songwriter Lynsey de Paul, who later recorded her own version. Whenever either myself or Billy wanted to hear it, we just had to say “Pitter Patter, Pitter, Patter”, and we both knew. Fond memories, of happier days…

This one’s for you, Billy. R.I.P. old friend.

Significant Songs (1)

When I say significant songs, of course I mean that they have a significance for me. For many of you, they might be just annoying, or not to your taste. That is fine, as music is nothing if not subjective, and this occasional series of posts is not intended to convert anyone to a particular song, or style of music. Consider it nostalgia; as you may already know, I like the occasional wallow in that.

All The Young Dudes (1972) Mott The Hoople

When I heard this song played over a car radio, I thought at first, that it was by David Bowie. This turned out to be a reasonable assumption, as I later found out that he had written it. In 1972, I was far from being a Dude, in the sense of ‘a cool dude’. I wasn’t even an apprentice Dude, and did not so much as possess a single element of ‘Dudeness’. I was 20 years old, and a very straight South London boy; with a normal job, and a normal girlfriend. I did have varied music tastes though, and immediately liked this song, buying it on a vinyl single, the next day. It seemed to have something for everyone, and I liked a lot of the lyrics. As a city dweller, the line, ‘Is that concrete all around, or is it in my head?’ especially resonated. It even had some Cockney rhyming slang in there-‘Boat Race’.

I had no idea what the strange name of the band signified, if anything, and still haven’t bothered to find out, to this day. Although they were being marketed as a ‘Glam Rock’ band, I didn’t buy that at all. Ian Hunter, anonymous behind his signature shades, and mass of curly hair, was far too cool to be a Glam Rocker. This was a genre associated with The Sweet, Slade, Gary Glitter, and many others; they were not in Hunter’s league. His conversational singing style, almost like he was chatting to the listener, appealed to me immensely, and there was a real power behind that voice, that you just knew had the potential to roar. I liked the asides, left in after the recording, and the reference to spotty faces, Marks and Spencer, and the obvious English accent, made this single stand out from so much of the imported American music of the period.

At the time, I was going through a transition in my life. My old friends were still going to the South London pubs, listening to all our favourite stuff, suited and booted, drinking beer, and driving decent motors. My new friends were a little older. They had long hair, some had beards, they played in a band, and understood music. They weren’t bothered about cars and pubs, and their musical tastes were different. I felt myself beginning to be drawn to their spliff-smoking lifestyle, and relaxed attitudes to everything. Not that I was about to grow my hair, or to stop wearing suits and ties; I couldn’t quite go that far.

This song, along with many others, seemed to sum up how I felt at that age, at that time in the world. I took lyrics and ideas from it, and moulded those into representations of my own thoughts and issues. In retrospect, it seems I was completely wrong. Bowie later told how he wrote the song as a warning of the impending apocalypse, that he believed would be just around the corner. The news that the Young Dudes were carrying was that of Armageddon, apparently, and not the lifestyle and social upheaval that I was reading into it at all. I don’t mind getting that one wrong. The world didn’t end, despite Mr Bowie’s prophecy, and I still enjoy the song as much today, as I did almost 42 years ago.

Here is a clip of a good version of the song, billed as Glam Rock, unfortunately.

And here is Bowie performing the song himself. Less frantic perhaps, but still good.

If any of you have never heard it, then I hope that you enjoy it. If you don’t, well that’s life.

Me and Barry in the rain

Today, I had to walk Ollie early, as I had somewhere to go later. We set off just before midday, in rain that is best described as torrential. I like to think of it as ‘second chance rain’, as it bounces so high, it gets a second chance to fall. I even gave my new rain hat its first outing. This is a budget item, waterproof on the outside, warm on the inside, with a fold-down section for ear and neck protection. The weather must have been bad for me to wear it, as it makes me look like someone with ‘special needs’, or an escapee from some remote institution. Luckily, my waterproof parka was enough to keep the water off my body, and with the new hat, I was reasonably dry. As always, Ollie paid scant regard to the conditions, just happy to be out and about.

Nonetheless, there are few experiences less enjoyable, or more demoralising, than walking over muddy ground, for almost one hundred minutes, in constant, heavy rain. The meadows were awash, the small river growing in stature as I watched. I carried on trudging into the gloom; Ollie scampering, as happy as he always is. I was given to reflection, as there was little else to catch the eye, or to stimulate the mind. Many times before, I have mentioned that Norfolk is the driest county in England, according to records of those things. Since moving here twenty months ago, I have seen rain like never before, and experienced days of downpours previously unknown, in my (almost) 62 years on this planet. I want to find the person who claims that Norfolk is the driest county, and then drown them. In rainwater.

During the relentless, pointless trudging, the words of Barry White, and The Love Unlimited Orchestra, found their way into my head, for some reason. In 1972, ‘Walkin’ in The Rain (With the one I love)’, was a pop hit, on both sides of the Atlantic. The gargantuan soul maestro was one of my favourites during his heyday, and I have fond memories of this particular song. Regrettably, he died in 2003, so I cannot ask him if he ever walked a dog over muddy fields in Norfolk, as the inspiration for that song. My best guess, is that he was talking about a soft, evening rain, in Southern California. I doubt he had ever donned his wellies, and tried Beetley Meadows in a ninety minute downpour.

Here it is anyway, see if you agree with me.