Category Archives: Music

Did We Really Listen To This?

I was browsing YouTube over the weekend, searching for videos of music from my university days, and it made me ponder Did we REALLY listen to this?

My browsing old songs from YouTube was triggered when someone purchased a CD from one of my Amazon links the other day.  Since I didn’t recognise either the CD name or the artist, I thought I would look it up on Amazon, and the best description I can give is “Morris Dancing music where every track sounds the same”.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Morris Dancing, it’s a British form of street dancing that dates back hundreds of years.  You can find some examples on YouTube.

Anyhow, back to the plot, which involves my browsing through videos of songs from bands that were cult hits back in the 1970’s when I was at university, and it made me really wonder why we liked them.  My wife took one listen (barely 5 seconds is all it took) and proclaimed “What the heck are you listening to?”.

Well here are a couple of examples for you…

The first is The Galloping Gaucho from Stackridge. It’s a track from the album The Man In The Bowler Hat which I still have on vinyl (LP). If you feel the need to search for and listen to more Stackridge, you can find them on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

The second track I have for you is The Hedgehog’s Song by The Incredible String Band and it’s off their 1967 album The 5000 Spirits or the Layers Of An Onion.  Their songs evolved a lot over the years, and if you want to hear more, you can also find them on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Do you have any music styles or artists that you used to listen to years ago and where you now wonder what endeared you to them? If so, please leave a comment and let us know.

Midwives Wedlock And The Talking Folk Club Blues

Fred WedlockMy wife and I were watching a television series called Call The Midwife over the weekend. It aired in the UK earlier this year, but we were too busy at the time to watch it, and recorded it on our Sky Box.  We decided to watch the series over the weekend, and it’s nothing short of excellent, even though this is a guy saying this!

Call The Midwife is based on the life of a midwife in the East End of London back in the 1950’s, and the midwives are based in a convent. Some of the characters are eccentric, especially an elderly Nun who during the first episode happened to speak the lines “with beaded bubbles winking at the brim“, which instantly grabbed my attention.

I have only ever heard those words before as lines in a comic folk song by the late Fred Wedlock, a folk singer from Bristol in the West Country of England, and had no idea that they originated somewhere else.

A quick Google revealed that this is part of a verse from “Ode To A Nightingale” by John Keats:

O for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool’d a long age in the deep-delvèd earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country-green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South!
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stainèd mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim.

The context in which Fred Wedlock uses them is rather different, and the setting is a dimly lit and smoky folk club:

Then I seen this groupie standin’ there
All bosom, bum and long blonde hair
In a backless, topless boiler suit
And high heeled, hobnailed army boots

I said, “What you drinkin’ kiddo?”
She said “Something long and cool man”
I said “Beer or Scrumpy?”
She said, “Cider…”

“Cider, the distillation of the forbidden fruit of Paradise, full of the true, the blushfull hippocrene, with beaded bubble winking at the brim and purple stained mouth. Cider, loosens my libido, transports me into realms of ethereal delights and blows my cosmic mind – Yeah, whoa, too much”.

I said, “Bloody hell, How do you rate beer then?”
She said, “Oh beer’s a drag man, makes me fart”.

All of which brought back fond memories of my university days in the mid seventies, when I saw Fred Wedlock in concert several times, and he always put on a wonderful show.  I was saddened to learn of his death in March 2010, and I will always have great memories of singing along to his rollickingly funny comic folk songs, like this one, Talking Folk Club Blues.

Fred Wedlock is best known in the UK for hit hit single “The Oldest Swinger In Town”, although I personally find some of his earlier songs like “The Vicar And The Frog”, “Robin Head” and “Handier Household Help” funnier.

His albums (I still have my LP’s on vinyl) when converted to CD were for years hard to find online, but now you can obtain then via Amazon both in the UK and USA, and even better they are available as MP3 downloads.

If you enjoy comic folk songs, I think you might just enjoy Fred Wedlock.  You can find his music on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

We need sad songs

Sad Songs: why do we love them?

I think we all have our favourite sad songs – songs that we turn to when we’re miserable and songs that make us even more miserable – but we can’t stop ourselves. It might be a chance playing on the radio, a snippet overheard as a car drives by, a random selection on the iPod. It might be a deliberate playing – curled up with a mug of hot chocolate or a glass of wine, the door still shaking after the row and the lover walking out – we have to put on music that suits our mood – misery needs feeding and a sad song is the best food for sadness.

Mind you, a song doesn’t have to be about lost love, it can be about anything going wrong. From Eric Clapton’s tears for his dead son to a lament for a lost cause, it’s sad if it makes us sad, it’s good if it makes us cry. Memories get stirred up, sometimes old hurts are brought back to be picked at until the blood runs. We’re daft to do it but the soul needs misery as well as joy.

I picked my ten favourite sad songs for a blog a while ago. I chose Janis Ian’s At Seventeen, I chose That’s No Way To Say Goodbye by Leonard Cohen. There’s Harry Chapin on a father’s neglect of his son and the loss of any relationship, there’s Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand with a majestic You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore. They’re all about loss and they’re all about self blame – we failed to control a bad situation or we just let it happen. Perhaps that’s why we like sad songs: they let us pretend we were steamrollered by life when really it was our own fault for not spotting the signs and acting.

Or perhaps we just like a good wallow: it reminds us that our lives aren’t too bad after all, that we can turn off the music and let the sadness end. For a time anyway. For a while we had a partner in our misery, someone who’d suffered like us, now we’re moving on. Until the next time.

Time to rack up Leonard Cohen and Dory Previn, time to put Tracy Chapman on endless repeat, or to play “our song” until the neighbours complain. Break out the booze or the ice cream, slob out on the couch – misery wears a ratty dressing gown and slippers – leave me alone, I have my sad songs.

What Makes a Rock Concert Memorable

Going to see an artist whose music you love performed live on stage is always something to look forward to, and usually an event to be remembered, but some rock concerts are more memorable than others.

Is it just the music that made these concerts so memorable, or is there something else that enhanced the whole experience and turned it into an evening to be remembered forever.

Read the full story: What Makes a Rock Concert Memorable

The Kids Are Alright

Debbie had to go out shopping with her daughter this morning, so I was alone in the house with some paperwork to do.  It was awfully quiet, and as we bought a new DVD player yesterday and I can now play my Region 1 DVD’s from the USA, I thought it would be good to have some music to listen to.

I went to look at the collection of DVD’s, and my eyes immediately fell on my copy of The Kids Are Alright, a rockumentary on the legendary band The Who.

For any of you who love The Who, especially their older classic songs, this 2-DVD boxed set has some rare footage of interviews and performances, with plenty of guitar and drum smashing at the end, and it’s a great addition to any fan’s DVD collection. It is also the definitive collection of The Who with their original drummer Keith Moon, the likes of whom the world will probably never see again.

I thought about writing this while watching Baba O’Riley, the same version as the clip above, and arguably one of the most famous songs by The Who, especially having been used as the theme music for CSI New York.

Well I have my copy of this Boxed set and I am loving it. How about you?