Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Musical Reflections (and I still hate the Osmonds [not])

"Respect", just listening to the great and marvellous Aretha Franklin biopic on BBC Radio 2 and I got to thinking, dangerous I know, but it happens from time to time, and I couldn't help thinking while I listened to that and other songs by this wonderful lady that music so does, like books, play an important part in my life and I suspect lots of other peoples's lives too.

"Forever, Forever .... My darling believe me...  Say you love me too.... " not only are the lyrics supremely written by the various writers, Bacharach and Davis Ashford and Simpson, etc. etc.,  but they are then delivered with an intensity and passion that few of today's singers can match.

Have you also noticed, if you are of a certain age of course, that lyrics written back then, whether it was the 50's, 60's or 70';s that they had verses and choruses and not just endless repetition, O.K. some of it was repetition but not to the extent where in today's modern song you get three lines endlessly repeated throughout for three and a half minutes and in most cases you are even hard pressed to know what they are, unless they have been printed on the inside of the CD cover, or is that just me?

Don't think, because of those comments that I do not buy music today, I do and if you were to look at my collection it is fairly eclectic.  On my laptop in the office for example I have over 13000 tracks ranging from albums from Pop, to Classic, to Country, to Jazz to Blues, to Opera to Soul.  I have just about everything, and I listen regularly.

And in amongst that lot there are people today that I would (almost) sell my soul to listen to over and over again, much as poor put upon Ishbel (the other half you know) will testify to, as I endlessly replay a particular track.  Seal, The Highwaymen, Helen Reddy, Amy Winehouse, Cat Stevens, Carl Orff , Deacon Blue, Dean Martin, Duffy, Hans Zimmer, Gnarles Berkley/Ceelo Brown, John Lee Hooker, The Kooks, The Flaming Lips, Paulo Nuntini.....this is just a snapshot of what is on here and what I listen to and gives a little idea of my tastes.   But as I started to write this just in response to listening to Ms Franklin, you can see already that it is going on and on and .  And, I could easily go on and on for you for a lot longer than I do, as with my like for books, I could do an Olympic event on it and be in the medal list.

Repetition of tracks is of course not the same as repetitious lyrics and replaying a track or an album almost always means that you pick something up that may have missed the first time round, whether that was the way the lyric sounded or the pitch of the voice or the length of the musical note, there is always something different.

A particular singer or song can also evoke long forgotten memories as well. Or, as in the case of The Waterboys track, "Everybody Takes a Tumble" this can make you smile if you are a fan of cycling and in particular to the Tour de France coverage on itv 4.  It was 2007 and at the end of each programme the producers give you a montage of the tour, normally accompanied to a soundtrack. and The Waterboys were the artists who were in vogue that year.  Now I have no idea who thought of it but on this particular track every time The Waterboys say "Tumble" or  "Fell" TDF cyclists would go rocketing off their bikes.  Not funny in the least, to those involved, but the track mixed with the footage was inspired, so, Chapeau to that man or woman for putting the two together. Watch it here and see if you don't go ooh, aahh, but smile too!  Everybody Takes a Tumble

Other songs and artists also bring back memories, such as Barbara Streisand singing the title song to her and Robert Redford's movie The Way We Were This was the first movie that I ever took Ishbel to see when we were courting.  We were in Berlin at the time and it was showing in the American movie theatre Berlin Wall Maps - The American Sector. I can't really remember the story line too much, but I can sing you the song.  I was a big fan of Ms Striesand before the movie and still am today.  Here is a link to a 1975 rendition of the song Ms Streisand Sings "The Way We Were" And I can't hear this song without thinking of our first cinematic experience together (mind you I did also take her to see the original "Texas Chain Saw Massacre" a few years later so don't be thinking I'm a big softy)!!!!!!!!!! 

Other tracks have influenced me and given me some kind of enjoyment, and not always or necessarily for the lyrics.  The music on its own can be so inspiring or uplifting and I am particularly drawn to 'Big Band' sounds with brass and winds and drums, and speaking of drums if you ever get the chance to listen to Japanese Taiko drumming, it really is foot and finger tapping stuff and gets the old blood vessels moving around at a lively pace, take a look here, Taiko Drummers

Fleetwood Mac, "Oh Well part 1", great lyrics and great sound.  Starts of with those electric guitar riffs like a cat screeching and then talks about me today, " Can't help it about the shape I'm in......." Remember my Alter ego, Mr Fat..... I remember getting thrown out of a coffee bar in my hometown of Coatbridge.  I was about 13 at the time when this came out and was on the jukebox and I played it endlessly back then, and still do today, but the cafe owner got fed up with it and threw me out, he only let me back in once the rep had changed the discs, sorry 45's in the jukebox! Oh Well

Blasphemy here I suppose, but I was never a big fan of the Beatles back then, and still not today, although I do have a couple of their albums, well it wouldn't be a proper music collection without some stuff you might not particularly like, now would it?  The Stones though I remember even before Fleetwood Mac there was the Stones for me, or rather it was vicariously through my elder brothers. I remember sneaking into one big brothers room, had his own little portable record player, you know the one square box with a lid on it and well......  Anyway there was I just getting into my teens and noticing girls, now there's a thing isn't there, do you remember me blogging a couple of weeks ago about the moral problems of an 8 year old and her boy friend dilemma? And here I am remembering that I STARTED TO THINK ABOUT AND NOTICE GIRLS AS I ENTERED MY TEENS, was that just me and that I was sad, or was that what it was like for other 11 -13 year olds back in the late 60's, answers below please.

Now, where were we, Oh yes, The Rolling Stones and sneaking into Billy or Bobby's room can't really recall which one it was, but I do recall sneaking in and, and putting "Honky Tonk Woman" on the turntable and waiting for those words to come round, "I met a gin soaked, bar-room queen in memphis,
She tried to take me upstairs for a ride."  Wow, thirteen years of age and beginning to hear things at school and noticing the fairer sex, what could be more tantalising than these lyrics to someone just literally bursting out of puberty, I ask you?

Manfred Man, The Marmalade Reflections of My Mind How can you not love this musical arrangement and those voices, go on I dare you to say you don't like it, Gary Pucket and the Union Gap Young Girl   " With all the charms of a woman"  For gods sake that's what we wee lads growing up wanted a Young Girl who was all woman, Oh Dear, I had better calm down, getting excited at the thought...   We didn't exactly know what all the lyrics meant and we picked bits out for ourselves that seemed to be meaningful to us, but then I suppose many songs are like that.  You take bits out and apply them to your life and your experiences and you remember them for that, I suppose.

Moving on Gene Pitney, The Birds, The Yardbirds, before the split and we had the Small Faces , before the split, it goes on...., The Tremeloes, Amen Corner , The Flower Pot Men, Susan Maughn,, the list goes on and on 

I recall working on the dodgems at the fair, when they visited town and apart from pulling the birds, I was 12, or 13 then, it gave us pocket money, free rides and tons of music with every ride blaring out something different and as you moved from one ride to the other through the crowds with one song fading and the other one rising in tempo, it was a great feeling back then to be part of that.

Moving into the early 70's of course and a veritable wall of sound that developed in the 60's was threatening to overwhelm us in the 70's and it continued to sweep across the country, making rebels out of us as it had our big brothers in the late 50's and 60's proper, well they were older and knew what it all meant, didn't they? And we of course were just rebellious upstarts learning to shout along with our favourites and take their message of rebellion to school and the youth club with us.  When I think about it now, that period probably saw the start of the decline in the church youth clubs that were all over the place then. 

They had manfully withstood the onslaught of the 60's and the Beatles and tried to compete with them, allowing some of the music to be played in the halls, but as the 60's came to a close and music got even better, yes it did, don't argue, and we wanted more, although there was nothing more to be had.  Our parents had given us everything, what little that was, of what they had anyway and in working class towns that wasn't much and just like today money was tight for the majority of people in those towns and cities and of course we were only a few years away from the winter and summers of discontent.  Whole parts of the country were laid off from jobs that ceased to exist overnight, and the youth clubs and the youth leaders couldn't find a definitive answer to what it was we wanted, and neither, really did we actually know, It was more,  that was all we wanted, more; but god knows what it was we actually did want....!

The likes of Black Sabbath, Rod Stewart, Slade, Alice Cooper, Bay City Rollers, The Osmonds, yes the Osmonds, They will get a special mention a little later, sub titled, "Stupid things we do when we think we are in love, and live to regret"! intrigued, well you'll need to wait. 

So, 1969, 1970  - 13, 14 and moving up to fifteen and there was so much music around.  Do you remember, we didn't even have walkmans back then let alone CD players and Ipod thingyme bobs, no, it was 45's and portable record players and portable radios and then we got our 'ghetto blasters' imported from America and you needed one of these with the tape deck and radio so you could record your songs of the radio from Caroline of Luxembourg, straight on to tape, Mind you you also needed to develop strong arms and muscle to carry them around, how we laugh at our selves now looking back , prats I think is one of the words that springs to mind, but then again we weren't because we were just doing what every must have kid today is doing, when they want the latest smart phone or  Iphone model only they don't need the muscles of a body builder to carry theirs around like we did, wimps.......

 I really don't want to put you off, and I could go on and on for a lot longer just looking at my catalogue of music and the memories that it bring back to me but instead I'll jump forward to the mid seventies and put you out of your collective inquisitiveness over the intriguing question of the Osmonds.

As I have mentioned in a an earlier blog I joined the Army at 15.  When I was 17 and a bit it was time to join my Regiment, they were in Berlin at the time and that was in 1973.

Now as you can imagine, the Army, as do all of the services, feed you fairly well, mind you the Army was the poor relation in that respect compared to the Navy and the Air Force, no, no, don't let me go off on one again. Anyway we were pretty well fed, but we did burn a lot of calories off and so individuals always found some way to supplement their calorie intake, my particular craving was for chocolate digestive biscuits, by the packet and orange fanta.  Where did I get these in Berlin, well the NAAFI shop of course.  And that is where I met Ishbel.  Well, no not really that is where I met Ishbel's mum who was working in the shop.  Long story short, she had a photo of her two kids on the wall behind her and I asked, "who's the bird" for those not in the know, Scottish vernacular for, "Excuse me Madam, but who is that terribly attractive young lady in the photograph behind you?"

"That's no bird, that's my daughter", "That's o.k. if she is free on Friday, she can come out with me".  Thirty eight years later I'm stuck, I should have listened to my Sergeant Major when I was a boy soldier and he said to me, "Stronach, you do know what your problem is, don't you"? " No, Sergeant Major" I replied meekly!  "It's your mouth Stronach, it's too bloody big and your brain aint quick enough to moderate what comes out of it. SO I suggest you keep it shut"!

Never listened/  So anyway, managed to meet up with the 'bird' and one of those little things you learn
about teenage girls in 1973, 74, 75, they were all in love with Donny Osmond.  So to woo the 'bird' what did I do, I bought every Osmonds LP that was already out and every one that came out for the next few years.  See what I mean about,  Stupid things we do when we think we are in love, and live to regret!

Best Wishes 


  1. the best blog yet it was brilliant. ishbel.

  2. I liked that blog Tom, partly because the mention of your music at different phases of your life got me thinking back to my own teen years! I was a late 'grower' not interested in opposite sex til I was 15, strict parents... my music was Buddy Holly and Elvis, followed this with some folk stuff and rock'n roll, never a Beetles fan nor a Cliff aficionado, liked blues at college then opera and big sound operatic rock, These days most 'old' music I hear has a memory attached, whether its a cord structure or a phrase or lyric that sticks. Agree that much modern stuff has very repetitious lyrics and you cant understand the darn things until you read them! why else does it sound like 'I feel like Chelsea...'

  3. Hey Pebbleing, thanks for stopping by, glad you enjoyed my little stroll through musical time... Tom

  4. I'm sure I remember seeing you singing away at the Osmonds Concert in Berlin Tom ;-)

    1. No, you and Ishbel may have done so, I was getting drunk in some club somewhere over in the French Sector xx


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