I said last week when I posted a Monday Long Song that it had been a while since I'd contributed to the long running series, so I've made doubly sure I wouldn't wait an age to drop my next one.
Czech composer Antonín Dvořák wrote his New World symphony whilst living in New York - where it subsequently premiered at Carnegie Hall on 6 December, 1893. Here's the delightful Symphony No. 9 taken from it. I absolutely adore it...
Veliki Simfonični Orkester - New World - Symphony No.9
I was in town a couple of Saturdays ago taking some photographs when out of nowhere the heavens opened. I quickly took refuge in the nearest shop - H&M (other shelters are available) - while it blew over. Fifteen minutes later I walked out of the store with a brand new winter coat under my arm. How did that happen? I suddenly felt like a proper grown up.
On the bus home I was trying desperately to place the song that had been playing while I was at the till paying for my swanky new garment; I knew it, but I didn't know it. You know the feeling don't you? That's what a brilliant cover does to you.
On the way home, just as I was about to get off the bus, I said "DEPECHE MODE!" (rather too loudly) to the driver. Seems I am that nutter on the bus.
I've noticed that one or two of my fellow bloggers are still posting their Monday Long Songs; I can't remember the last time I chipped in, so will make amends today. I recently discovered some tasty outtakes from the Stones' Some Girls album and was immediately taken with an 11+ minute version of Miss You. So, it being Monday...
I think I may have flagged it up on Twitter, but my last birthday - which I spent in Manchester, thanks for asking - went unmentioned on my blog; but then, looking back on previous years, it would appear I've never really recorded the event round these parts.
No matter. I'm old enough to know better; another candle on the cake = nothing to shout about these days. We're all circling the drain, right? (You can tell I was born on a Wednesday can't you?)
For what it's worth, I share my birthday with one of the greatest female vocalists of all time: Christine Collister was born exactly a year after me. Next time I see her I must ask her if she used to get her birthday presents wrapped in Christmas paper too.
I've talked about our Vinyl Sessions a few times around here so shan't bore you any further regarding its inner machinations; save to tell you that on Thursday 27 January we're playing an album that, for many, defined 1977. Despite being catapulted into a world of punk My Aim is True made perfect sense. It had just the right amount of new wave credentials whilst at the same time proudly wearing its pop sensibility on its sleeve; Buddy Holly meets the Damned. Costello really did have a foot in both camps. And of course both sides of this Stiff classic were chockablock full of raw and aggressive Elvis anthems with guitar riffs even snarling punks would have died for.
But it was when the pace relented slightly and the band dropped down a gear you could hear how good these songs were. And none better than Alison. I've talked about this song before and, yes, the jury is still out regarding the storyline's alleged murderous intentions. Talk of putting out the big light and 'my aim is true' would, some say, lead you to think that Alison's days on this planet are numbered. The guitar solo is played by John McFee who at the time was in Clover, an American country outfit who in 1977 found themselves adrift in the UK in a down at heel London recording studio. Combined with Nick Lowe's production, McFee's deft solo is, like the song itself, a thing of rare beauty...
On slow news days, not least slow news days* in January, I have been known to drop pictures of English starlets in their prime for no reason, and with precious little subtext, whatsoever. Today is one of those days: there was a time when Elizabeth Taylor was the most famous face in the world. Pictured above and below are eight stunning examples.
*The day I start writing blogs abut Royal paedophiles is the day I stop writing. Period.
Much has been written (and is still being written as we speak) about the year just gone; for once it won't just be historians who will end up poring over the events of 2021 - last year was a game-changer for so many of us. I only have to read my fellow bloggers' posts from the last 12 months to realise that for some they know, they actually know, their old lives will never come back. And it's true. You can't step in the same river twice.
And I'm no different. Like a lot of people, 2021 changed me. But I still go to bed each night and list three good things that have happened to me that day (I still like to chase rainbows); tho' some days are easier than others. As usual I sought solace in books: Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being and a bunch of Chekhov short stories have helped: like someone holding your hand on a long walk. And music; always music. Tunes - tons and tons of tunes - many of which have been played and talked about here in the last few months. A lot of you will know that I resurrected my vinyl sessions earlier this year* - two really successful nights in October and November followed by a break in December and we're back raring to go later this month. We'll be listening to - and talking about - Elvis Costello's debut from 1977 - 'My Aim Is True'. The orange vinyl below is a three track sampler we'll be playing as part of the Elvis night. It's an American 12" import and as well as Costello's 'Radio, Radio' it's also got Mink DeVille's 'Soul Twist' and Nick Lowe's 'Cruel to be Kind' on there. The yellow vinyl on the left was a Crimbo present: Curse of Lono's 'People in Cars'.
* Like something out of a Magnus Mills** novel, my old Sunday Vinyl became Monday Vinyl. And from January this year we will become, wait for it, Thursday Vinyl; I know, I think I've out-Mills'd Mills!
** I gave a copy of The Forensic Records Society to my good friend, Vladka, and scribbled in it: "It may not be Chekhov, but I think you'll like it." Turns out she does...
Shed Seven - Chasing Rainbows (1998)
It's customary at this point to offer up a huge thank you to everyone who stopped by last year; even if you don't leave a comment I'm so glad you took the time. I started this blog way back in 2010 (who remembers 'Even Monkeys Fall out of Trees'?) when the world was a completely different place. Twelve years later and, despite everything, I'm still here. I may not be as prolific these days (who is?) but I do still get that thrill when faced with a blank page and just half an idea about what my next 500 words will be about. And, as we all know, the future is unwritten...