Goodbye To My Little Brother (Part 1)

It’s going to be quiet here for a little while again as of now.

Regular readers may recall that a while ago, before I was hospitalised, I went off-grid when I got some terrible news about the man I will forever refer to as “my little brother”, Llyr.

Back in 2005, after a series of truly terrifying episodes when we lived together, Llyr was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. He was in his mid-twenties at the time. No, you’re right, that’s no age at all.

The news I got last year was that we shouldn’t expect him to see 2018 out. Stubborn little loveable sod that he was, he defied that.

But on Sunday morning I got the call I’ve been dreading for thirteen years.

My best friend Llyr, my little brother Llyr, had passed away.

I need some time to compose myself and some words that do the man justice. It’s taken me this long to come up with this, so bear with me.

More soon.

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Sunday Morning Coming Down

Calm down, I haven’t forgotten about or dropped your Sunday morning dose of country music.

Truth is, I’ve been lacking a bit of inspiration for this series.

There are many things which trigger something in me and prompt me to post something, but I think without doubt there are two things which are more responsible than most for making me fire up the laptop to write something (Brexit aside, obviously):

a) something someone has posted on Twitter (as evidenced by my post yesterday morning),  and

b) the popular BBC1 tea-time quiz show Pointless.

And it is to the latter I turn this morning.

I love Pointless, but there are many things about it which annoy the tits off me. Hel and I had a text conversation about this many months ago, which I can’t refer back to as I’ve changed phones at least twice since then, otherwise this next list would be a whole lot longer. But here are the edited highlights:

  1. Contestants who clap their own answer (this isn’t confined to Pointless, to be fair)
  2. Contestants who say “I’ve got a few answers in mind, I’m just trying to work out which is the best one.” Of course you are, that’s the whole point of going on a quiz show. Get on with it.
  3. Contestants who say “I was going to give X as my answer (insert answer somebody else just gave which was really good), but now I’ve to got to think of something else…”. You don’t need to think out loud. You don’t need to show your working. This isn’t Eggheads (don’t get me started…). Stop stalling for time, give an answer and let them cut all of the silence and procrastination out in the edit.
  4. Contestants who say “I wasn’t born when most of these records came out”.

Again, to be fair, someone was called out for 3. on a show this week, and they are regularly shown yellow cards for saying 4.

Anyway, this week, one of the rounds on Pointless was “Number One” Records, or rather, records with the number one in the title, which had been a hit in the UK.

One of the answers was One Day at a Time by Lena Martell, a #1 way back in 1979, a record I remember well, partly because it featured on a thoroughly out-of-character compilation of religious songs called Peace in the Valley that my parents owned, partly because I remember the headmaster of the junior school I attended sanctimoniously extolling the virtues of a “proper song with a proper message” being a hit in an assembly one morning, but mostly because…well, it’s a record that was quite a big hit in the late 1970s and my brain is somehow wired to remember that kind of useless crap.

Mental note to self: update dating profile to read: “Handy for pub quizzes (and knowing where the (brackets) go in a song title), useless at putting shelves up, that’s me.”

What I didn’t know was that it’s a song which was co-written by Kris Kristofferson, a country artist regular visitors to this page will know I greatly admire, and who inspired the title of this series.

I literally had no idea that KK had any involvement in this song, so I checked it out on t’internet, and, unless Richard Osman got to the Wikipedia page first (and I wouldn’t put it past him), sure enough, there it is:

“One Day at a Time” is a popular Country and Western-style Christian song written by Marijohn Wilkin and Kris Kristofferson. It has been recorded by over 200 artists and has reached No.1 in several territories.”

Co-written, not written, you idiot, Osman! You really should make that laptop of yours, that you don’t even bother to pretend to refer to, actually work so you can check these things (now I mention it, actually, make a non-working laptop as a prop No. 5 on the list).

Anyway, putting aside my beef with Osman (who I actually quite like: he was once kind enough to respond positively to a Tweet I sent about the reboot of Porridge, which scores immense plus points in my book. See also: the Reverend Richard Coles) and with it being described as Country and Western-style as opposed to just Country (or Country Gospel, if you must), I decided to see if I could track down KK’s version. And as far as I can find, he’s never released his own version of it (citation needed). Which shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, given his early-days reputation as being a songwriter rather than a singer/performer in his own right (I’m talking Kristofferson now, rather than Osman or Coles, by the way).

So instead, here’s Merle Haggard’s not-too-shabby version, lifted from his 1981 album Songs for Mama Who Tried, which it turned out I have a copy of but have never really listened to (I have a lot of records that fall into this category. Which goes some way to explaining why I own an unplayed CD by a group called Fannypack, although I think you can probably work out the main reason for me owning that just from me revealing their name):

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Merle Haggard – One Day At A Time

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

I try (unsuccesfully, I might add) to avoid knowingly posting the same song twice here, but my lack of knowledge (read: I don’t like them) about tonight’s band demands I do so on this occasion.

I’m going to have to revisit my recent health issues, and particularly the arthritic-type pain I’m getting in my hand and arms.

Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to go to work this week, as I was physically unable to get dressed: I couldn’t do the buttons on my shirt, or tie my shoelaces. It’s a quite a liberal office, but turning up with my belly out and no shoes on would probably be frowned on, I think. Or at the very least generate some rather embarassing YouTube footage.

Because I’ve been away from the office so much recently, I feel terrible about not being there, partly because it puts an added pressure on my colleagues who are there, but also, selfishly, worries about the safety of my job start to arise.

So tonight, I wanted to place on record my thanks to my boss – and friend (and historically it’s not often I say that about fellow employees, let alone bosses) – Kay, who has been typically wonderful, helpful and understanding thoughout all of my recent hardships.

She has not only had to work loads more hours than can reasonably be expected of any normal human being, doing her own extremely cumbersome workload whilst also trying to sort my stuff out whilst I’ve been off, but has also made it very clear to me that she values me as a work colleague and will do as much as she possibly can do to ensure nothing bad employment-wise happens to me.

I only own one tune by this lot, who she loves and I think rather dull, so I hope you’ll forgive this repost. But Kay: I probably don’t say it enough but thank you for everything you’ve done, you have no idea how much it’s appreciated.

This is for you and, if you must, Minelli, your sodding cat that you never shut up about:

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The XX – Night Time (Greg Wilson Remix)

More soon.

Saturday Night Coming Up

No real explanation or introduction is required for tonight’s tune.

Suffice it to say, a a tune which, as my energy was flagging, encouraged me to stay to the bitter end more than any other. I have lost count of the amount of times I was knackered, ready to collect my coat, when this tune got dropped, and suddenly, I’m going nowhere.

There’s not a single part of my being that doesn’t think this is utterly brilliant – the coming together of a new (fairly) radical electronic dance act with an old school punk icon in pre-butter endorsing days – but my god I wish I knew what a three ring circus was to invoke such venom:

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Leftfield/Lydon – Open Up (Full Vocal Mix)

More soon.

I Can’t Help Myself

Time to resurrect an old series.

Here, I post songs which provoke an involuntary response, where you hear a word or phrase and suddenly find yourself shouting the words to a song which have some vague link to the word or phrase you just heard.

There once was a footballer called Joao Alves de Assis Silva, who played for Manchester City and later (on loan) for Everton. Because his name was a bit of a mouthful for us Brits (and probably because when paying by the letter, even if all the words fitted on there, nobody was ever going to buy a football shirt with that name emblazoned on the back) he was known as Jo.

Consequently, whenever he appeared on Match of the Day and the commentator informed the audience he had the ball by saying “Jo”, I found myself spasming into chorusing: “The street life is my home.”

To my eternal pride, when Hel and I shared a flat, I managed to get her joining in. You see why I mention her so often, right?

I mention this now because my niece recently got engaged to a chap called Joe, who I met for the first time over Christmas when I was staying with my parents. I really liked him, although I hated myself for wanting to scream the words to this song whenever he spoke (I resisted, you’ll be pleased/relieved to hear):

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Inspiral Carpets – Joe

More soon.

La Singe est sur la Branch

A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far, far away, I used to post a thing on a Friday night called Friday Night Music Club.

The intent was to try and recreate some playlists I made when times were hard and staying in (and drinking, maybe dancing but hopefully singing-a-longing) were the only goals.

I stopped writing it when it metamorphised into ten tunes with a linking theme, and I realised that Rol over at My Top Ten already did pretty much the same thing, much better. Props to the originator and all that.

Anyway, one of the themes I focused on way back then (for way too long, if memory serves) was song titles with a question in it. And looking back, I find it bordering on incredible that I missed out today’s tune, which I was reminded of when 6Music tweeted this the other night:

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This one:

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The Wedding Present – Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now?

Not least because it would have been an opportunity for me to bang on about Remain and illustrate it by posting the French version, which popped up as an extra track on the CD single version:

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The Wedding Present – Pourquoi Es Tu Devenue Si Raisonnable?

Still, now I get to sound bilingual (which I’m not) and a fan of Eddie Izzard (which I am):

Plus a venir. (More soon)

La Resistance!

There’s some songs I love which I don’t really know the words to.

One such song is today’s pick, which a brief t’internet search tells me are these:

“Though this world’s essentially an absurd place to be living in, it doesn’t call for bubble withdrawal

I’ve been told it’s a fact of life, men have to kill one another

Well I say there are still things worth fighting for: La resistance!”

It’s not your typical One Direction (or whoever is the current flavour of the month is) lyric, is it?

Whilst I’ve been stubbonly not commenting on recent political events (you all know what I think, I’m not going to change anybody’s mind here, so I choose not to bang on), I can’t ignore that Tory (Remain) MP Anna Soubry (amongst others) was recently cajoled and confronted by a group of right-wing (Leave) gammons as she tried to attend a television interview and then go to work. The group, clad in yellow hi-vis jackets, bombarded her with insults, shouting that she was a Nazi.

Putting aside the irony of them calling her a Nazi for a moment, this was totally unacceptable, of course, and I’d be saying the same thing were it a left wing group who had hassled her, or anyone else. The fact that I’m bothering to defend a Tory MP should tell you enough.

But allegiances beside, there’s an interesting point here: the gang, and subsequent protestors, have worn their yellow hi-vis jackets seemingly as an homage to, or to display unity with, the recent working class gilete-jaune French protestors.

That’s France, who are part of the EU.

Nice of these pro-Leave, anti-EU idiots to point out a further similarity with our brothers and sisters in the EU…..

Time for a tune from that notoriously tolerant bequiffed chap we all used to like, but now feel rather conflicted about:

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Morrissey – I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris

And, for balance, the song I quoted earlier:

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Stereolab – French Disko

More soon.