Sunday Morning Coming Down

More from the folder marked “Titles You Would Only Find in Country Music” today.

I don’t think this needs any more introduction or explanation than that, except maybe to make it very clear that the opinions of the singer are most definitely not shared by me:

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Kinky Friedman – Get Your Biscuits In The Oven And Your Buns In The Bed

More soon.

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Late Night Stargazing

On the back of airing some of his recent rather unpalatable views, I’ve read several articles where the question has been posited: should Morrissey’s statements lead those who loved The Smiths should now take a long, hard look at themselves?

It’s a no-brainer for me. I’ve always tried hard to divorce an artist’s political viewpoints from the art that they make, as long as those political ideas don’t encroach into their art.

Let me give you an example. David Hockney is, undeniably, a very fine artist. And politically, I had thought his views broadly chimed. He declined a knighthood in 1990, something which almost always earns extra kudos points in my book. But then in 2017, he redesigned the masthead for The Sun newspaper, albeit for just one edition. To my mind, that’s an endorsement of the rag and all of that has been printed in it. Suddenly, I view his work with a little more suspicion.

As for Morrissey and The Smiths; well, you can look at the lyrics he wrote when he was in The Smiths and compare it to those he has composed in his solo career, and for me it’s very difficult to make a case that his lyricism hasn’t been in decline for quite some time now.

But look at some of lyrics from The Smiths days, and I’m still struck with just how achingly beautiful, evocative, poignant they could be.

Tonight’s song is one of those; they released two versions of this song – an acoustic version which appeared on Hatful of Hollow, and an electric version which pops up on the B-side of the What Difference Does it Make? single.

I’ve plumped for the acoustic version, albeit the 2011 version remastered by Johnny Marr. I don’t usually like to highlight specific lyrics, but these lines get me every time:

“When you cycled by, here began all my dreams

The saddest thing I’ve ever seen.

And you never knew how much I really liked you

Because I never even told you

Oh and I meant to.”

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The Smiths – Back To The Old House

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

More repeats, I’m afraid.

I first posted this back in December 2016, a couple of nights after I’d been to see the band in question for the umpteenth time. Back then, I described it as “guaranteed to make me and my lil group of Welsh buddies sing and hug each other whenever we hear it.” And that’s still true.

But tonight, it has a lot more poignancy for me.

See, not only is this an absolute favourite of mine and the newly married pair, but it’s also a favourite of Hel’s brother, and my best friend and former flat-mate, Llyr.

Sadly, Llyr could not be at the wedding today, for Llyr is a very ill man.

It’s not appropriate for me to go into details about somebody else’s health problems here. Regular readers may recall me going off-grid a couple of months ago, and then making a flying trip down to Wales one weekend, not something I’ve been in the habit of doing since I moved to London ten years ago. That was to visit Llyr, and I, along with some friends who I will have been celebrating with earlier tonight (and probably still am as you read this) drove down to Wales and back last Saturday to see him. You can probably fill in the dots as to why I’m – we are – trying to get to see him as often as I we can.

Ill-health prevented Llyr from making the journey from Brecon to London for the wedding, and I know he’ll be devastated not to have been there. It goes without saying that Hel and her family would also dearly have loved to be there too, and I…well…I’d have given anything to have the man I’ve often referred to as “the little brother I never had” in attendance.

When it became clear that Llyr was not going to be able to be there on her big day, some previously allocated roles had to be reassigned. I was extremely flattered and honoured when Hel asked me if I would be one of the witnesses to the signing of the register instead of him. I was surprised when she asked me, as she seemed to think I might say no.

Anyway, I doubt that Llyr will be able to read this, but I know that some of his friends and family will. And I want them all to know how much I wish Llyr could have been there yesterday, and that I love them all.

I’m going to stop now, before I start blubbing.

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Super Furry Animals – Hometown Unicorn

More soon.

Saturday Night Coming Up

And so to a song which reminds me, always, of Hel.

When I lived in Cardiff, there was – and probably still is, for all I know – a vibrant dance music scene, with a club night to cater for pretty much every and any taste. Like your shiny happy beats? Off to L’America with you. Fancy popping your trance-trousers on? Then it’s Time Flies for you, you furry boot wearing hedonist.

Looming prominently in those clubbing days for me was Hel, who used to visit Llyr before we started flat-sharing, and both of us after we did, and those nights would invariably coincide with a trip to a club night. Often these would be Old Skool nights (the mis-spelling is mandatory, I believe), generally held in what we believed to be the greatest club in the world, The Emporium – now, sadly closed having lost its ongoing battle with health, safety and fire regulations a long time ago.

Generally, these nights were great fun; a lot of people too old (or right on the cusp of it) to go clubbing anymore, mixing with those youngsters, showing them how it’s done, getting together to dance the night away to some songs from our mis-spent youth.

Except, most of the songs hadn’t really featured in my youth, having done my darndest to ignore the whole dance music scene due to its lack of any guitars.

That said, there were plenty of tunes which I knew and which I realised I really liked and had just forbidden myself from liking at the time. Such as tonight’s tune.

This got dropped at one such night; Hel had gone to visit the ladies’ room and manged to get back to us on the dance floor just as it mixed into the next one.

And this became a recurring theme. The tune didn’t get played that much, but just like you can be sure your team will score the moment you pop to the loo, so it was that you could guarantee that if it did get played, Hel would be otherwise engaged.

And so it became something of a running joke. When at home playing tunes, I would often wait until she had just locked the bathroom door, estimated when she would be just taking up position, before skipping to play it.

I don’t think we ever got to dance to it in a club environment, although a few years ago, the singer did appear at a mini-festival thing in South London. She did three songs: her other hit (which I didn’t recognise), a cover version (of something I don’t remember), and this – a stone-cold classic if ever I heard one.

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Alison Limerick – Where Love Lives (Perfecto Remix)

More soon.

Most Predictable Song of the Day

No explanation needed for this one (if you’ve read my posts from earlier today, which I suppose constitues as an explanation of sorts):

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ABBA – I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do

Don’t worry, this is as close to Pierce Brosnan singing as we’re going to get.

More soon.

“Like a Rolling River…”

Okay, I have a small confession to make. Some of the songs I’m posting this weekend have featured on the blog before. Some of those, have appeared in the same section as they are this weekend. Some have not. This one sort of has.

In my book, there’s no finer compliment to pay someone than to tell them that whenever you hear a song, you think of them. No matter how good or bad the song is, it’s the context in which the link is made. Generally, they remind you of people that you like, of good times you had.

This song – although granted, not this version; I thought I’d post this just so you got something slightly different to the last time I posted it – reminds me Groom of the Day (not to be confused with Groomer of the Day), Neil.

When Neil properly came into our lives – and I say properly, because I have a sneaking suspicion that our paths probably crossed at some house parties I used to habitually attend – shortly after I moved to London. I definitely remember he and I discussing the virtues of Ride at the end of one New Year’s Eve night out in Camden. He’d been a long-time friend of Jo and E, long-time friends of Hel and me. Hel and I were sharing a flat in North London at the time, and as the two of them began to date, so Neil would be round at the flat more and more often.

His visits were always a pleasure – for a start, he’s a bloody amazing chef, likes his football (an Everton fan, but not everyone can be perfect) and a music buff. Friday nights began to be a regular thing, and I would often compile a tediously long playlist, often three or four hours long, and the three of us would sit, get drunk, listen to the tunes and slag off our flatmates (in case any of them are reading this, I don’t mean you, I mean those other fuckers. You were just fine.).

As you would probably expect from a playlist I’d put together, the content varied, from the cool, to the not-so-cool, to the definitely-not-cool, and back to the cool again, popping in to check how the not-so-cool were doing, my intent being for us to hear the latter framed in a different way to normal, to reappraise and maybe not to be ashamed to say that actually, that’s not a bad record at all. Pretty much the blueprint for what I try to do here (sometimes, when I can be bothered), I suppose.

One night, as Neil and Hel popped open their second or third bottle of red wine, and I staggered back from the kitchen having made myself another pint of White Russian (yes, you read that correctly – a pint), a song by this band came on. It’s not the one that I’m (re-)posting today, but Neil’s little ears pricked up at the sound of it.

“Jez…..” he began, a little warily. “Do you like Dire Straits…?”

“Yup.”

“I like some Dire Straits…but I’ve never met anyone else who does. Or who admits they do anyway.”

A chance to test him, I thought.

“Oh right, what do you like by them?”

“Do you know Telegraph Road?”

Test passed with flying colours.

“Never heard of it,” I said, watching him visibly deflate. “Only joking! ‘Course I do!”

Yes indeed folks, I’m that funny in real life. I blame the heady but deliciously more-ish mix of Vodka, Kahlua, Milk and Ice on this occasion.

And so, my copy of Love Over Gold was dug out, and Telegraph Road played in all it’s fourteen minutes, eighteen seconds-long glory. I lost count of how many times a non-plussed Hel checked her watch in that time. Neil and I were already friends, but now we were friends with a Knopfler-shaped, headband-wearing secret.

Last year (or maybe the year before, I’m lousy at remembering how old people are, mostly because I hope they’ll return the favour), when Neil turned 40, having received a new turntable from Hel,I bought him two albums on vinyl. One – Ride’s Nowhere – he had asked for. The other – Dire Strait’s Love Over Gold – he did not. I’ve never asked him which he plays most. I suspect much will depend on how long Hel’s out of the flat for.

Anyway, here’s the version from their double live album Alchemy. It may not be edgy, but it is monumentally marvellous. If you’ve never heard this, go make yourself a brew, sit back and take it all in. (Not you, Neil, get your tie on.)

And Hel: fear not – this version is only thirteen minutes, thirty-seven seconds long. It’s no less glorious, mind:

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Dire Straits – Telegraph Road (Live)

More soon.