Sunday Morning Coming Down

I was browsing through my music collection this week, searching for ideas for stuff to post. I have a bit of an inferiority complex when it comes to writing this, my longest running series (running since 2015, although some of the early posts weren’t Country records, just ‘nice’ tunes to hear of a Sunday morning): partly because I know that some of my readers are much more versed in Country music than I; that for others this series may well be their first introduction to the genre and I don’t want to give them a duff steer; and also that I may rely too heavily on some of the big hitters (Cash, Haggard, Kristofferson etc.), Country giants if you will.

Was there somebody I had omitted to mention completely? Or maybe someone that I hadn’t posted much of?

I alighted on Linda Ronstadt, who has only featured on these pages because of her nigh-on-perfect version of Different Drum, a song which, back in 2021 when the writer of it, Mike Nesmith (of Monkees fame) passed, I said “… if I absolutely had to name my top 5 favourite records, [Different Drum] would definitely, 100% nailed-on be in it.” I stand by that. (Ronstadt does also get a mention, of course, in a post about her collaboration with two other female icons of Country music, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, to which I will probably return soon.)

Time to redress that, so I plucked her Greatest Hits album from the racks, and was surprised to note that a) the majority of songs on it are cover versions, b) that (and, given that I had been drawn to her records by her singing talents alone, I feel I can say this without fear of accusations of being a pervy old objectifying sexist: she’s an absolute fox) and c) that I’d never noticed either of these facts before.

The Greatest Hits album includes covers of songs by Dusty Springfield (albeit when she was still part of The Springfields), Eagles, The Everly Brothers and two by Buddy Holly (there may be more, but those were the ones I instantly recognised as covers).

Since the anniversary of Holly’s death was at the start of the month – something which I don’t recall being mentioned anywhere, which, given his undoubted influence, struck me as a little surprising – I decided to plump for one of his tunes (ok, it was written by music legend and unfortunate rhyming slang Paul Anka) which surely needs no further introduction, other than to say that Ronstadt covered it on her 1977 album The Southern Belle, which I don’t own, but have included the artwork here to pretend that I do:

Linda Ronstadt – It Doesn’t Matter Anymore

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club Vol 24

Whilst I was off, towards the end of 2022, there was a sudden rush of celebrity/musician deaths. It almost seemed like they knew what 2023 held in store and just preferred to shuffle off this mortal coil rather than face it.

Although I easily could, it seems to me a little odd to write a eulogy to them this late after the event of their sad passing; so instead I’ve done a mix which includes the three I was most upset by, and some other tunes by (at the time of writing) musicians who are very much alive. God, I hope I haven’t jinxed them now..

So, here you go, this week’s mix. I do often have to rein myself in when I have a theme to provide a mix for/about, and I think I’ve managed it this time: a homage (but not exclusively limited) to Terry Hall, Maxi Jazz and Martin Duffy, at least one of whom some may need guidance as to their importance and why they should, and will, be missed:

Friday Night Music Club Vol 24

And here’s your track-listing with explanatory sleeve notes:

  1. Terry, Blair & Anouchka – Missing

I’m probably not alone in being most shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Terry Hall. I first remember encountering his dulcet tones on The Specials’ Too Much Too Young, a record which, when it came out in 1980, I was too young to understand. Similarly, the subject matter of Ghost Town was, at the time, way above my head – but I remember associating Terry with the lively, upbeat sounding bit in the middle (“Do you remember the good old days before the ghost town?/We danced and sang, and the music played in a de boomtown.“), so I was always slightly bemused by the popular opinion of him as a bit of miserablist.

Whilst I saw many tributes to Terry online after his very sad passing, very few of them featured anything from his brief Terry, Blair & Anouchka incarnation, so I thought I should redress that.  He teamed up with American actress Blair Booth and jeweller (!?) Anouchka Grose and began recording under the aforementioned moniker in 1989. Two singles were criminally ignored, both only scraping into the top 80 of the UK Singles Chart.  This, the first single, made it to #75. It deserved better.

2. The Lightning Seeds – Sense

Collaborations with Ian Broudie were plentiful, but for my money Terry’s vocals absolutely make this version (more so than his own version).

3. The Go-Go’s – Our Lips Are Sealed

Also recorded by Fun Boy Three (sorry, this version is just superior, if only because it allows me to imagine I’m in a sordid, secret relationship with Belinda Carlisle) this was co-written by Terry and Go-Go’s guitarist Jane Wiedlin. Possibly the greatest pop record ever made. If Terry Hall had done nothing else, his involvement in this alone should earn him our undying respect and love.

4. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down

Although Mr McManus had a C-word (not that one) health scare a couple of years ago, he’s still with us at the time of writing. Originally recorded by legendary soul act Sam & Dave, this appeared on Elvis’ 1980 Get Happy! album, which is worth 35 minutes or so of your time if you’ve not had the pleasure.

5. Dave Edmunds – Girls Talk

Also not dead (although I did have to check). From hereon in, assume the artiste in question is alive and kicking unless I say otherwise, otherwise it will get pretty tedious if I just keep saying they’re not dead. I’ve been wanting to post this tune, which I love, for a while now, and right here it just seemed to fit.

6. Moloko – Pure Pleasure Seeker

This is from the Things to Make and Do, the same album as The Time Is Now and Sing It Back (the latter admittedly tagged on with the smasheroo Boris Musical Mix version), which means this tune is often overlooked, unless you’re making adverts for beds (I think). Reclaiming this one back from the evil clutches of capitalism (right on, brothers and sisters).

7. The Steve Miller Band – Abracadabra

Shush. It’s a tune. And a mighty fine one, at that. Dislike it at your peril.

8. Cornershop – Brimful Of Asha (Norman Cook Remix)

Since watching the Fatboy Slim/Brighton beach documentary recently, I’ve been on a bit of a Norm-trip. A Cook-off, if you will. So this is included just as a reminder of how ace it is. (Around the time this came out, I remember seeing an interview with Norm, where he warned Jason Nevins, having success with a Run-DMC remix, not to spread himself too thinly with his remixes, which frankly seemed a bit rich…)

9. Wild Child – Renegade Master

…especially as Norm remixed this.

10. Faithless – Mass Destruction

Back to the death roll-call I’m afraid. Maxi Jazz and Faithless made mostly inspiring, upbeat, trance-based club records, and were an incredible live act that I had the pleasure of seeing a couple of times. I’m sure you’re mostly familiar with their biggest hits: Insomnia, We Come 1 and God is a DJ; they all featured highly in the post-passing articles and tributes I read, but less so this brilliant articulation of, amongst other things, dismay at disinformation that was, released in 2004, way ahead of its time, the term fake news not entering the zeitgeist until several years later. It’s still, sadly, just as relevant today.

11. Belinda Carlisle – (We Want) The Same Thing

I don’t really need to justify the inclusion of this, do I? Good. Thought not. It’s ace, and that will suffice.

12. Violent Femmes – Prove My Love

“Third verse, same as the first!”

13. Pixies – Head On

Ironically, or perhaps appropriately, given it’s title, a double-header with…

14. The Jesus & Mary Chain – Far Gone and Out

…this, who originally wrote and performed Head On, so it didn’t seem right to omit them from this mix.

15. Felt – I Will Die With My Head In Flames

Martin Duffy’s sudden death in December, as a result of a brain injury following a fall at his home, was both saddening and shocking. He had first come to prominence as keyboard player in the always under-rated indie band Felt. This, short but sweet, little beauty never appeared on an actual Felt album (compilations aside) and was the B-side (or possibly the 2nd track on an AA side, I’m not entirely sure) to 1986’s Rain of Crystal Spires, which, needless to say of all Felt records, and pretty much every record that Felt mainman Lawrence has been involved in, was unjustly ignored by Joe Public, the idiot.

16. The Colourfield – Thinking of You

As I believe I mentioned recently, it’s always nice to have your musical taste supported, and such was the case when I tweeted about how sad I was about Terry’s passing: my old mucker Heledd replied: “Thinking of You always reminds me of you – you were the first person I met who loved it as much as me.”

I can think of worse records to be associated with.

17. Primal Scream – Shoot Speed/Kill Light

After Felt disbanded/fell apart, Martin Duffy became a full-time member of Primal Scream. His passing inspired the band to release this statement: “We’re all so sad…Martin was the most musically talented of all of us. (He) could play piano to the level where he was feted not just by his peers in British music, but old school master American musicians such as James Luther Dickinson, Roger Hawkins, David Hood (and) producer Tom Dowd”.

18. The Charlatans – Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over

It wasn’t just the Primals who mourned him; following the death of founding member Rob Collins, Martin learned all of The Charlatan’s songs in three weeks so that he could appear with them supporting Oasis at their legendary and record-breaking gigs at Knebworth in 1996. He also contributed keyboard parts to the band’s fifth album Tellin’ Stories. Here’s Charlatans front man and National Treasure in waiting, Tim Burgess: “(Martin) stepped in to save the Charlatans when we lost Rob – he played with us at Knebworth and was a true friend. He toured with me in my solo band too – he was a pleasure to spend time with”.

This isn’t on Tellin’ Stories, but was the single The Charlatans had out at around the time of those Knebworth gigs, so undoubtedly Martin would have learned it.

19. The Specials – Enjoy Yourself

“Hello. My name’s Terry and I’m going to enjoy myself first.”

Enough said.

More soon.

50 Ways to Prove I’m Rubbish #35

Over at What’s It All About? recently, Alyson wrote (amongst other things) about how difficult it is to complete a series which us bloggers may start.

A first world problem, for sure, but one with which I can totally empathise.

Coincidentally, whilst on my recent medically-enforced hiatus, I went through a load of previous posts and identified lots of ideas I had for a series of posts, which faltered after just a few.

And so I vowed to resurrect those that I still thought had some interesting or entertaining (I can only hope that at least one of those applies) posts to write. (The Chain excepted – I currently have no plans to bring it back, so jog on.)

Nowhere was this more evident than ones where I had been stupid enough to state in the title how many posts one could expect there to be in the series.

Amongst my old posts was this series – which, for those who have started reading the guff I write here since I lasted posted in this series, way back in June 2022 (actually, not as long ago as I had thought), the original idea was to mark the impending event of my 50th birthday by picking 50 acts that I hated, or ignored, or dismissed, or simply didn’t ‘get’ when I first heard them, but now rather like.

The idea was to post all 50 before my 50th birthday.

I am now 53, and the series remains only just over half-way done.

So here we go again, and I’ll begin with a band that I didn’t dislike but who I just didn’t really give any time to when they were in their pomp, possibly out of embarrasment of a misunderstanding I wrote about back in 2015, here. The video link no longer works on that post, so I shall explain: basically, whilst the ‘cool kid’ in question was talking about, and extolling the virtues of, Seven Seas by Echo & The Bunnymen, I thought he was talking about Seven Tears by The Goombay Dance Band.

Oh, the shame.

This faux pas – coupled with my brother’s purchase of the band’s (The Bunnymen, not The Goombay’s) greatest hits album, Songs to Learn and Sing (so I didn’t need to buy anything by them) – probably contributed to the ridiculous delay in my actually purchasing anything by them until 1987.

I was reminded of this recently when I went for coffee with my old mate Richie the other day. I’ve mentioned him often on these pages, but to recap: I met Richie when I went to Sixth Form; we bonded pretty much as soon as we met – mostly because I held pretty much the same political views as he did – and although we did lose touch for some time, we’ve reignited our friendship in the past ten years or so. My decision to move back to Peterborough was largely fuelled not just by a desire to save money on rent, or to be closer to my family, but to be able to see him more often than I already did. We now try to meet up at least one a month, go for coffee (we’re too old to trust ourselves to go to the pub, it seems), and have a good old catch-up and, inevitably, put the world to rights.

As I’m not yet able to actually walk into town for a rendez-vous, when he suggested meeting up this week, I accepted, but explained he would need to pick me up and drive me home again. Which he did, without complaint, of course.

He was also the person who, without question, helped me move the last of my stuff from London to my new home, and also took me to A&E – twice – when my recent health problems kicked in.

As I climbed into his car this time, he was listening to The Bunnymen’s 1980 debut, the peerless Crocodiles and when this tune came on, I told him it reminded me of my 18th birthday. My parents had hired a local venue and a DJ; Richie and I turned up early, partly to check all was in order, but mostly to give a load of vinyl to the DJ with strict instructions that this was the sort of tuneage we wanted. We did not want your usual party fodder: no Agadoo, no Ooops! Upside Your Head.

I don’t know if the DJ put this one on to familiarise himself with our demands, or to show that he understood our instruction, but this was the first tune he played:

Echo & The Bunnymen – Rescue

I can’t remember which happened first: this, or my eventual purchase of a record by Echo & The Bunnymen. I suspect the latter might just edge it, but I bought what turned out to be the end of their first phase: a split happened shortly afterwards, with lead singer Ian McCulloch embarking on a brief solo-career, and the rest of the band plodding on and releasing the frankly quite dreadful Reverberation album in 1990, a phase of the band’s history which still causes me shudders to this day.

For in 1990, I was the Social Secretary at the Student’s Union at the college I attended and we had decided to throw the first ever Summer Ball at the end of my tenure. We needed a band to perform at the event – held in a massive marquee – and, as I recall, we had narrowed it down to either Echo & The Bunnymen, or Pop Will Eat Itself.

Whilst actually booking the bands that played the college was not my responsibility – that fell to the Entertainents Manager, with whom I had, shall we say, a fractious relationship, and thus won’t be named here – I was often consulted (and usually ignored) on which bands to book.

The Poppies were much more expensive, and, I thought, probably not well known enough at the time to justify the amount we were charging, so my vote went to The Bunnymen – they’d had hits, right? – completely missing the facts that a) McCulloch was no longer on the scene, and b) they had their not-very-good new album (which I hadn’t heard at this point) to promote.

Cue the most internimably dull set played in the history of human kind, devoid of anything that wasn’t on the new album or anything approaching a hit record and rightly ignored by the attending masses. If it wasn’t for the fact that 95% of the attendees had hired in tuxedos on which they didn’t want to lose their deposits, I swear there would have been a riot that night.

Anyway: here’s the opening track and lead single from the first Echo & The Bunnymen record I actually parted with my hard-earned cash for, 1987’s (at the time) swan-song eponymous Echo & The Bunnymen:

Echo & The Bunnymen – The Game

More soon.

Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner

A post title guaranteed to annoy and disappoint fans of a certain fim involving Patrick Swayze, which holds an embarrasing memory for me. The full story is here.

Whatever. The other day on Pointless, there was a picture round about multiple Grammy winners, where there was one photo I knew I should know, but couldn’t identify. Turns out it was (spoiler alert) Alison Krauss, and I was bloody annoyed for not having recognised her. And it was a Pointless answer (I think), so doubly annoying.

Serendipitously, long time friend of the blog, and regular contributor to The Chain (back when I could be bothered to write it), babylotti seems to have finally got their house in order and started actually posting on their own blog for the first time since a one-off post ten years ago.

If you like obscure tracks from 80s stalwarts like Soft Cell and 90s electro-pioneers Sheep on Drugs, give them a visit, here: Livin’ Out Rock’n’Roll.

I’m torn between two songs to post to celebrate the proper arrival of babylotti on the blogging scene, so here’s both of them. Firstly, a tune which I suspect is unlikely to ever feature over there:

Alison Krauss – Baby, Now That I’ve Found You

…and then this….:

The Lemonheads – It’s About Time

Welcome, babylotti, all power to your elbow.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

A classic this morning, which I can’t believe I’ve not posted before. Given it’s a bit of a feminist anthem, it’s a little disappointing that it was written by a man (Tom T. Hall); there have been many versions recorded, but I’ve plumped for the most well-known performance by Jeannie C Riley (who later became a born-again Christian and tried to distance herself from it).

Harper Valley PTA tells the tale of Mrs. Johnson, a widow whose daughter is sent home from school one day with a letter, signed by the secretary of the aforementioned PTA (Parent-Teacher Association), which berates her for wearing her dresses way too high, claims she is running around with multiple men, drinking too much and basically claims she’s an unfit mother, setting a bad example to her daughter. 

The lyrics are mostly Mrs. Johnson’s words as she unexpectedly attends the next PTA meeting, picks out multiple members of the board, exposes their hypocrisy and in so-doing, tears each of them what I believe is called ‘a new one’.

It’s just….


Judge for yourself:

Jeannie C Riley – Harper Valley PTA

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club Vol 23

And, as promised/threatened (delete as applicable), we’re back with one of my self-proclaimed ‘eclectic’ mixes.

This one clocks is at just shy of 90 minutes, as opposed to the usual 60-ish, which is partly to celebrate the return of the mix, but also as a reference to an NHS employee I encountered when I had my recent consultant with a rheumatologist.

As this was my first visit, I had to have the usual checks (height, weight, blood pressure) and as I entered the examination room the chap about to perform these tasks (he did introduce himself, but I’m terrible with names) commented that he liked my t-shirt.

I was wearing one which was a homage to the retro, and had depictions of nine cassette tapes on it. This one, in fact:

I pretended I wasn’t absolutely delighted to have someone commend my sartorial taste.

“Thanks,” I replied, “but you realise you’re showing your age, right?”

So, anonymous NHS chap, this mix is designed to fit on a C90 in your honour. Yes, I’d rather you had a decent pay rise too, but sadly that is beyond my control.

Anyway, since this mix includes a bit of actual mixing, it’s admin/disclaimer time: any shonky mixes are down to me; any skips or jumps are down to the mixing software or the uploading process; all song choices are mine.

Ready? Good, then let’s begin:

Friday Night Music Club Vol 23

And here’s your track listing, complete with sleeve notes:

  1. Spinal Tap – Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight

Regulars will know that I like to kick these mixes off with a pace-setter, and this week I was torn between four different tunes. Unable to decide which to use, I’ve included all of them. I was, as you will have gathered from the image at the top of this post, unable to resist starting proceedings with something from one of the funniest films ever made (and I don’t mean Big Momma’s House).

2. Led Zeppelin – Rock and Roll

Second song which could’ve been the opener. Since this is the first mix I’ve posted since October, the “been a long time” lyric seemed too appropriate to ignore

3. The Jim Jones Revue – High Horse

Whatever happened to this lot? Like Jerry Lee Lewis meets the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, this is fecking great.

4. The Vines – Ride

Potential opener number 3. Instead: consider it an invitation.

5. Ride – Like a Daydream

I couldn’t resist the theme. Sue me. Also: I was there Part 1. The video for this was filmed at That London’s ULU, and I was there. Sort of. A story for another day, I think (if I haven’t written about it before, that is…)

6. Helen Love – Power On the Music

Potential opener number 4. Helen Love are ace, even better now they’ve moved on from their original obsession with Joey Ramone to release a swathe of top-notch indie-pop records (not that the Ramone-fixated years weren’t also great). This little beauty is simply a call to play music loudly, and contains one of the few Super Furry Animals samples that I’m aware of.

7. The Lovely Eggs – Don’t Look at Me (I Don’t Like It)

Short of some decent insults? There’s loads in this absolute belter. Lovely stuff.

8. Fatboy Slim – Right Here, Right Now

At the time of writing, there’s a documentary on Sky/NOWTV which covers the events of July 13 2002, when Fatboy Slim threw Big Beach Boutique II, a free entry gig on Brighton beach which was expected to attract around 60,000 people, but which actually found the seaside town over-run by closer to 250,000. One of whom was me (I was there Part 2). I’ll be writing about it when the time is appropriate (i.e. come the 21st anniversary later this year…).

9. U2 – Even Better Than The Real Thing (Perfecto Mix)

Look, I know it’s not the done thing to like U2, and I would certainly not consider myself a fan. But, as the saying goes, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. It’s possible to think that this remix is great, but retain the belief that Bono is a prick. Lose the sunglasses, mate, you’re not Edgar Davids.

Edgar Davids: Not Bono.

10. The Tamperer feat. Maya – Feel It

Some dumb but great pop from 1998. At the time this was riding high in the charts, I was working at Boots the Chemist in Cardiff, and remember going to local dodgy night-spot Zeus with some of the store’s weekend staff – students, predominantly – and trying to explain to one them that the riff this is based on is a Jacksons sample. She didn’t know the original, nor who The Jacksons were for that matter, and I’ve rarely felt older until I just looked up the date when this came out.

11. Tim Deluxe (Feat. Sam Obernik) – It Just Won’t Do

Fatboy’s opening tune from the aforementioned Big Beach Boutique II gig and an absolute “choon”.

12. Danny Tenaglia + Celeda – Music Is The Answer

In the words of Frank Sidebottom: “You know it is, it really is.”

13. The Prodigy – Breathe

It’s really hard to overstate just how massive The Prodg were way back then, but perhaps this best explains it: in 1998 (two years after this was released) I visited some friends in Nottingham and, as is the law there, we ended up at Rock City, where the DJ broke two golden rules: 1) he played two tunes by the same artists in the same set, and 2) he played them right next to each other, Firestarter followed immediately by this. Rather than point out his faux pas, I danced my legs down to the knees, as did pretty much every one else there that night.

14. Oceanic – Insanity (99 Radio Edit)

Still a tune. Whilst I’ve been off work, I’ve watched all the Top of the Pops recaps of the years on the BBC iPlayer, and the two members of Oceanic continue to argue to this day as to whose idea it was to include the key change in this. Doubtless, Louis Walsh will step in and claim credit at some point.

15. The Osmonds – Crazy Horses

I was DJing once, opening slot (so I could get home on public transport) when the chap following on from me decided to guide me through the records he had brought and especially drew my attention to an Osmonds Greatest Hits album he had in his record satchel.

“Do you know what I’ll be playing off of this, Jez?” he asked.

I gave him my best “do-you-know-who-you’re-talking-to?” look and replied innocently: “Love Me For a Reason?”. Twat.

16. Billy Bragg & Wilco – Hoodoo Voodoo

If I could find a clip of Vic & Bob performing their voodoo song – “Do you do voodoo?” – then I’d include it here, but I can’t so….tough.

17. El Goodo – Feel So Good

Apparently, I’ve met at least some of this lot, friends of friends, who have made the mistake of making themselves incredibly hard to find via a Google search, given that their name is derived from a very wonderful tune by icons-to-cool-indie-kids Big Star.

18. Django Django – Default

You can tell it’s getting near the end when all I can think of to say is that this is great. Next!

19. Cracker – Movie Star

Because your Friday night wouldn’t be complete without a song about a decapitated celebrity, right?

20. The Dandy Warhols – Bohemian Like You

Okay, so I know it’s an obvious pick from this band’s back catalogue, and also it was used in *shudders* an advert back in the day, but, at the risk of sounding patronising, I figured a tune most of you will know was needed. My apologies if I’ve underestimated you. This reminds me of dancing in a packed Cardiff’s Barfly with my buddies Llŷr, Mike, Vicky, and the two Claires. Happy days.

21. The Stylistics – Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love)

I’ve had this in my brain for ages, a forgotten 70s classic. It’s another beauty, which probably would have sounded pretty great next to The Tamperer, but it’s getting late and I can’t be arsed with redoing the whole mix. Here is just fine.

22. The Divine Comedy – Everybody Knows (Except You)

And so we fade further into end-of-night sing-a-long territory. Probably my favourite Hannon composition (although, to be fair, that changes fairy regularly).

23. The Lemonheads – Bit Part

More sing-a-long stuff which, I’ll be honest, has been squeezed in for no other reason than I realised I had room.

24. Baby Bird – Goodnight

Night BB, thank you for not singing You’re Gorgeous. And that’s it, right?

25. R.E.M. – Afterhours

Wrong. I flim-flammed between this and The Velvet Underground’s original (and indeed We Are Scientists identically-named belter) as the final tune, before ultimately plumping for Stipe & Co’s rather shambolic version, deciding the applause to wrap things up was egotistically appropriate, if ill-deserved on my part. This is lifted from a rip of the band’s Tourfilm video which showed them on the tour to promote the Green album back in 1989 – the first time I ever saw them (at the Newport Centre, support from the Blue Aeroplanes), and to this day my favourite gig I ever went to. With thanks and much love to the much missed The Power of Independent Trucking blog for providing.

Now I’m off to put my hands, fingers and wrists in ice to recover.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I had intended to post again before now; I’ve probably mentioned already that since a large part of what I do for work involves typing – something which I’ve been unable to do with any great speed and/or without experiencing pain in my hands/wrists/fingers – I’m using writing here as physical therapy for my hands.

To that end, I’ve spent much of my spare time recently building up the strength in my dominant right hand (no smutty jokes please!) by trying to use the mouse more frequently (I’ve never got on with the mouse pad on laptops, so insist on using an old school mouse, albeit a wireless one, check me out), and since the posts which (initially) demand more mouse-work than typing (until I come to actually writing the post itself) are my Friday Night Music Club series, that’s where my focus has been.

As background: my recent consultation with a rheumatologist was incredibly heartening: she thinks I either have psoriatic arthritis (that is, arthritis brought on by my recent psoriasis flare-up), or, more likely she thinks, given the symptoms I presented with, rheumatoid arthritis. I’m told that both are treated the same in the first instance: a steroid injection, and then, assuming they decide I’m unlikely to have a reaction to it, going on to a course of medication (methotrexate, if you’re interested). Before I can start on this course, I had to have a load of blood tests and a respiratory capacity check, which I’ve now done and keenly await the results of (again, if you’re interested, I’ll learn my fate at the start of March).

In the meantime, the steroid injections – plus the draining of 35ml of gunk from my left knee – has had quite remarkable results: I’m a lot more mobile and steady on my feet, am able to get up and down from my sofa/my bed and, for that matter, the stairs way better than I’ve been able to since I became unwell.

Unfortunately, the issues with my right foot (which feels kind of solid and dead), my arms (which both feel like somebody has punched me and given me a dead arm), and my loss of grip and movement in my hands/fingers, whilst marginally improved, remain a barrier I’ve not yet managed to get over. Hence the mouse-work.

So, there was very nearly a post on Friday, but having done the mix, I wasn’t able to write the post in time. Normal(ish) service on that series will be restored shortly, I’m sure you’ll be delighted to hear.

Because whilst I’m still finding typing difficult, or have pain during or afterwards, I have been able to knock up three or four mixes to post here, so it seems my self-physio plan may be working.

Which leads me to today’s post, because having pieced together one mix, I noticed the phrase “crocodile tears”, or some derivative thereof, cropped up a couple of times, and that led me to today’s tune.

Over at the consistently wonderful No Badger Required blog, mainman SWC invites his readers to contribute articles on “Someone Else’s Near Perfect Album”; were it not for the facts of a) my current condition, and b) I can’t decide which album to choose, then Martin Stephenson & The Daintees’ 1986 debut Boat to Bolivia would probably end up as my choice.

I mention this because the opening track is called Crocodile Cryer, which, from the album’s sleeve notes was written shortly after his grandmother’s funeral, and which “…describes the aftermath, the phoney relatives with their so-called ‘crocodile tears’ the fairy cakes, the rum, the whisky which helped relieve their pathetic grief.”

Which all sounds like perfect fodder for a country song but, alas, great though that tune is, it doesn’t sound particularly country. As we know from Kris Kristofferson’s spoken intro to Me & Bobby McGee: “If it sounds country, man, that’s what it is: a country song.” And so, conversely, if it doesn’t sound country, man, then it isn’t.

Track 5 on the album, Running Waters, however, very much sounds country (man) and the subject matter does too. This, also from the album’s sleeve notes (which make more sense once you’ve heard the song): “A true story – the gun was plastic and the old man at the garage died of heart failure. Expected prison release: 1989.”

Because I’m super-cool (or was, back in 1986), I own this not just on the aforementioned album, but also on a 7″ single, called Inferno! EP, and here it is and it’s a beauty:

Martin Stephenson & The Daintees – Running Waters

Ace, right?

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I’m still here.

For those that are interested – and once again, I thank you all for your kind messages of support – I thought it about time I gave you a health update.

But first, a little background for the non-regular, non-long-term readers.

Back in 2018, I had a psoriasis flare-up which resulted in me being admitted to hospital, after it was found I had a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot) in my left lung, and pneumonia in my right (amongst other things). Should you wish to, you can read (or remind yourself) of my time in the Royal Free Hospital in London starting here.

If this ever happens again, I was told upon discharge, don’t bother with your GP, just go straight to A&E.

And so, when my psoriasis ‘went nuclear’ again at the end of last year, that’s exactly what I did. Twice.

I’ll (probably) go into this in waaaay too much detail another time, but suffice it say that I wasn’t admitted to hospital, I was given some anti-biotics and sent home, where, unable to look after, I eventually went to stay with my parents.

Now. Other than visiting at Christmas/Easter/birthdays, I’ve not lived with my parents for longer than a couple of days since I left home at the sweet and tender age of 18. Can you imagine having to do it now, at your age? Thought not.

I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn when I say that whilst it was lovely – and needed – to have that family touchstone, at times we all found my stay there rather trying, especially my mother who already cares for my father, and who suddenly found herself saddled with another invalid (no offence, Dad) to clean up after.

I’m here to tell you that she was amazing, and I could not have asked for more, infuriating as I probably was. And yes, I have told her so.

But come January, I had decided that it was about time that I struck out on my own to continue my recovery. And that meant going home and seeing how I coped fending for myself.

I’m happy to report that there is progress – of which I’ll update you some other time – but I don’t think that would have happened – not yet, anyway – without me coming home and, crucially, without the care and assistance my folks gave me when I was staying with them.

This morning’s tune has been in my head as a restart for this series for a while, even though I’ve been home for a few weeks now. I hope it doesn’t come across as disrespectful: it’s meant with love, thanks and gratitude to my parents for the help they gave me, even though it may sound like a relief to be away from them (which it kinda is, but I’m pretty sure they feel the same way):

John Denver – Back Home Again

More soon.

Oh, and thank you, again, to my Mum and Dad.