Monday, April 30, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 30

So here we are, the last day. I haven't left my favourite song till last, just a song that I like and that has a line the I relate to. Halfway through is the line "Cathy I'm lost", I said, though I knew she was sleeping. "I'm hungry and aching and I don't know why". I've always thought that a powerful line and I feel the same and have for some time. Maybe it's just a midlife crisis, who knows. Anyway, enjoy the whole song.

America - Simon & Garfunkel

In addition, I get to take a book. It will be my favourite one, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

And as for a luxury, a piano, because surely if I had enough time I could finally learn to ply it with some measure of skill.

And that rounds off my month of Desert Island Discs. As for April, just so Masher doesn't worry about my sanity, I am returning to normal blogging as and when. Three months solid has been interesting but if I went any longer I'd be thinking about trying to complete a year and that would be madness!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 29

Today I am picking 5 records I am taking with me for one express purpose. If I become very frustrated with my lot on the desert island I shall want to smash things and what better than these five records. They all have one thing in common. They are records that my compatriots feel they have to dance to at a wedding or other social occasion. It is music for Dads to relive their youth to. They are;

We Are The Champions by Queen - I'm sure when they wrote this there was a very good reason and I'm sure it wasn't so that slightly inebriated 50 years olds had something to sway to and sing at the top of their voices.

Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones - Just what you need. Two dozen dads strutting round the floor like Mick Jagger, pouting their lips and punching the air.

Imagine by John Lennon - For when they have too much to drink and become maudlin.

Simply The Best by Tina Turner. More strutting I'm afraid, but in a vaguely feminine way.

And worst of the lot: Hi Ho Silver Lining by Jeff Beck. Dear God, whatever possessed the Muse of Music to allow this to be written. I have been known to walk out of rooms when this gets played. And I only get as far as that because three minutes doesn't allow me to escape the country.

I can put up with virtually any other piece of music rather than the 5 above. Stockhausen, thrash metal, the entire S Club 7 back catalogue, all can be suffered, but not those. I'd forgotten I am allowed to take a luxury with me, I shall decide what it is tomorrow, but a very large hammer to smash the above might be a good choice.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 28

I have to be careful here not to go into a major Grumpy Old Man rant but one of the things I reckon is wrong with life these days is that kids are treated as adults too early. One embodiment of that is that there is very little children's music about after nursery rhymes lose their appeal. One day it's Baa Baa Black Sheep, assuming that is still allowable, the next it's all shaking your booty and pimping lord knows what.

Back in the day though Saturday Morning's were set aside for Junior Choice, and I suspect before that it must have been Uncle Mac, but that's even before my time. There would usually be a piece of classical music, often The Dambusters, and a pop record by no-one more controversial than The Seekers or Marmalade. The rest would be records that were thought to appeal to a young audience. I'm a Pink Toothbrush by Max Bygraves, anything by Rolf Harris, Burl Ives' Ugly Bug Ball or Big Rock Candy Mountain and a record I cannot find which was The Mastersingers singing The Highway Code. There were a couple of big numbers though. One was Danny Kaye's version of Tubby The Tuba and the other was the one I've plumped for.

Sparky's Magic Piano - Henry Blair.

Tomorrow, a bit of a twist.

Friday, April 27, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 27

Growing up in a house that had more than it's fair share of Big Band music playing it would be hard not to be influenced by Frank Sinatra. The greatest exponent of Swing singing there has been. Swing is very under-rated. Technically very difficult to do as well as Frank did it. You only have to have witnessed Robbie Williams attempt to realise that just because you have Sinatra's band behind you it don't mean a thing. As in It don't mean a thing if it aint got that swing.

What track to pick though. In the end I chose one that I like singing. And I aren't much good at it either. More than a song, you can picture the scene as he goes through the verses. You can seethe bar, the smoke, the slouch on the bar and the bottle of scotch just by the empty glass.

Ol' Blue Eyes might never be back but whilst people appreciate great singers he'll never disappear either.

In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 26

If I had thought ahead I would have kept the track from the Sparks concert until today as the friend I went with celebrates his birthday on this very day. But I didn't. So that's that. But as he lurks on this site on a regular basis, and as I haven't sent him a card - Happy Birthday A.J.!

Right, on with today. This is another track I became aware of through television. In fact if you read the blurb on the link it mentions it came to general prominence when it was used in Grey's Anatomy. I can't say I've ever been taken by any of their other songs. At one of our recent concerts someone sang this and murdered it. Luckily I have expunged his version from my memory!

Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 25

Whether it's because I grew up listening to music from the 40s and 50s I appreciate a good lyric. One of the best wordsmiths is Billy Bragg. politically we are on other sidss of a very wide divide but I admire his song writing abilities greatly. Today's song has two of my favourite ever lyrics.

I loved you then as I love you still,
Though I put you on a pedestal you put me on the p.ill


I saw a shooting star last night, I wished and wished but it was just a satellite,
It's hard to wish on space hardware, I wish, I wish, I wish you were there.

And the whole thing is here. Kirsty MacColl - New England

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 24

Today's track comes from the work of Elton John. With the amount of songs he has recorded there was bound to be a number making the shortlist. Sacrifice used to be my favourite although there was a track on his first album called The Greatest Discovery which is very good. He had a track called Empty Garden that he wrote about John Lennon that I like but I'm going for a recent song. He had a slight renaissance a few years back when he released Songs From The West Coast. From that cd is a track that Marj and I count as our song.

Original Sin - Elton John

Monday, April 23, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 23

The other day I linked to Boys of Summer but i have another song I like driving to. It's probably near the top of most peoples "driving songs". I defy anyone to be out in a car or on a bike, listen to Bat Out of Hell, and stick to the speed limit. That song is just made for ramping up the throttle to max + 1. It is probably the quintessential Jim Steinman composition. I wish they'd bring out a Jim Steinman compilation because there's some good stuff he's written for some diverse singers although his tie-up with Meatloaf is probably his most well known. And this version is even more overproduced and over the top than normal as it's live with full symphony orchestra backing.

I would reckon this is the nearest I ever get to rock music, the one genre that I just don't have any connection to. Well it's heavy metal I can't stand really and this is as heavy as I go.

Bat Out Of Hell - Meatloaf

Sunday, April 22, 2012

D. I. D. - Day 22

Well, it's Sunday, and what better to day to share my favourite hymn with you. It was a difficult choice. I recently sang a different version of my old school hymn "I Vow To Thee My Country" which I preferred to the original tune. "Cwm Rhondda", or "Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer" is another at the top of the list. But in the end this one has the edge. Once again I have managed to pick a piece of music which will be at my funeral, as it has been at many peoples.

The Day Thou Gavest Lord is Ended

Saturday, April 21, 2012

D. I. D. - Day 21

I haven't linked to anything recent so far. And as music these days seems so manufactured it isn't surprising. But last year I was impressed by Christina Perri who writes her own songs and plays the piano. At least she has some talent. This is the single that became my single of 2011.

Jar of Hearts

Friday, April 20, 2012

D. I. D. - Day 20

Back to the teenage years again tonight.

I chose this track for two reasons. One, I think it had the right amount of sadness and angst for my teenage years during which I suffered quite a bit of sadness and angst at the splitting up f adolescent relationships. And secondly because I think Karen Carpenter had a wonderful voice and I had a crush on her. Actually, the guitar solo was great for playing air guitar to as well.

Goodbye to Love.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

D. I. D. - Day 19

A few days back we had an Eagles track and tonight it's one by Don Henley. This is my favourite summer song for driving to. Even more so when we can have the roof down on the 307. I liked it before I ever really listened to the lyrics and then when I did I liked it even more.

For tonight's delectation I give you.....

The Boys Of Summer

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 18

Back to the world of opera today.

There is a trio in the Mozart Opera "Cosi Fan Tutti" that I really want to sing. I'm never going to get the chance to do it on stage for real so my best bet is to work it into a concert. Just so you know, I want to be the bloke!

Soave Sia Il Vento

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

D. I. D. - Day 17

My Auntie Hilda was Jim Reeves biggest fan. She must have had every record he ever made, including all the compilations. She absolutely adored him. When I was young I can't say I took a lot of notice of him but later on I started to appreciate what a good voice he had.

Today's choice is my favourite. If you're listening up above Auntie, this ones for you.

He'll Have To Go - Jim Reeves

Monday, April 16, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 16

Today's choice goes back to my youth club days where we danced only rarely. But there was one soul record that would get played and we would take to the floor and be white soul boys.

When one of us had our 50th we played it once more. Arms and legs went everywhere. People fell over. We got on down but the getting on up again was proving to be a problem. I don't think we'll be doing that again!

King Curtis - Memphis Soul Stew

Sunday, April 15, 2012

D.I.D - Day 15

Today's selection has no real story to it. It's just a track I like. Although I do particularly like the opening line.

The Eagles - The Last Resort.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 14

Like most people I probably became aware of Enya when she released Orinoco Flow as a single. We bought a couple of cd's of hers. The choice I decided to make was between two tracks, both for me which revolve round death. (He says, on a cheery note). The first is On Your Shore. A song I have picked for my funeral. I'm plumping for a cremation and this is the song I won't to go through the doors to. The track I have actually gone for was played on the radio one morning.

It was the morning of the Kegworth Air Crash in Leicestershire, on January 8th 1989. I herd it on the 7:00 am news whilst driving on the motorway to wherever I was picking up that morning. It was still a bit snowy and felt a little more Christmassy than Christmas did. Simon Mayo was on Radio 1 and as they came out of the news, he played this. No intro, just the report and without the three "vocal chords" it went straight into the vocal. I cried.

Oiche Chiun (Silent Night) - Enya

Friday, April 13, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 13

Back to the world of classical music for today's selection. I have no idea when I first heard this piece. I'm not a great lover of Schubert so t must have been as a stand alone movement on a programme or cd. But wherever I heard it first I'm glad I did.

There are a number of pieces I find emotional, but usually for one small part, like the last few phrases of the Mendelssohn and the Bruch Violin Concerto's. Nimrod is quite moving but that stems really because we use it in association with the War Dead s much as for the music itself. This choice though seems to be relaxing for most people but I just find it incredibly sad as well.


Schubert Quintet in C - 2nd Movement : Adagio

Thursday, April 12, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 12

No more chronological ordering. The rest will just be music I love.

I have no idea when I got into Barbra Streisand, if you know what I mean. Maybe it was being dragged along to the remake of A Star Is Born or from hearing her on the radio over the years, but I went out and got one of her LPs. An LP I had for a number of years until I left it one evening on top of a night storage heater. The next day it was a somewhat unusual shape.

There were a number of good tracks including New York State of Mind which I didn't know before and was very nearly my choice, but in the end I went for the title track. It's a great example of the dynamics of her voice and singing technique.

Superman - Barbra Streisand

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 11

Blackpool gave me the chance to do something else that I hadn't done before. No, not that. Although I had been to clubs when I was in Birmingham it wasn't the same as what I consider "clubbing". Heaven & Hell in Blackpool was brilliant. I love dance music and for me it was at it's best in the very early 2000s. What made Blackpool so good was that no-one bothered what age you were so I could just blend in and enjoy the music as it was meant to be, 120bpm and bloody loud. It was the first time since being a teen that I wanted to be back in my teens and enjoying the present day music. I've never taken any drugs, and didn't then even though I was offered them, but I knew if I was in my teens and in that environment I would have taken ecstacy. The only time I have ever understood how good a drug could potentially make you feel.

Anyway, the song that for me sums up that entire period, is.....

Castles In The Sky - Ian van Dahl

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 10

In 1999 I gave in to a mate who had been nagging me for years to go to Blackpool for the weekend, He promised me wine, women and song. And apart from the wine appearing to be mainly lager, he was pretty much right. I've blogged before about that weekend but due to blogger destroying old archives it no longer exists and to be honest I can't begin to go through it all again. What I can tell you is you've seen nothing until you've seen two or three hundred drunk young ladies go mad when they hear the first few bars of this

Man, I Feel Like a Woman - Shania Twain

This record, for me, is Blackpool and will bring back memories for ever. All of which I would have to say are good ones.

Monday, April 09, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 9

One of my favourite programmes on tv was Morse. I'd never read one of the books and still haven't because the book and the tv episodes have some major differences. We went to see performance of music from Morse by Barrington Pheloung, the composer of the theme music at which Colin Dexter, author, compered. From then on we spent as much time looking out for his cameo role in each episode as we did studying the story line.

My favourite episode was Masonic Mysteries. It revolves around a case that involves the Masons and more importantly for me, around a performance of The Magic Flute. Up until this point I had no interest in opera but one of the lines in the show referred to characters called Monastatos and Sarastro and I was interested to know who they were and how the story worked.

The next day I was down to the library and I borrowed a copy of The Magic Flute and read the English translation. Mozart in general is an easy listen and this proved the case as it isn't Grand Opera, where even the "spoken" parts are sung. Normal opera is a little more like a musical. The standout piece of music is a well known aria for a colleratura soprano. A fairly rare breed. Even if you don't like opera you can appreciate the skill. Listen and you'll see why!

The Queen of the Night Aria

Sunday, April 08, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 8

As I mentioned yesterday, I did a few things at work which didn't go down well with the powers that be. Or at least the powers at local level. After 3 years we decided to part company but not until I had three months of full on aggravation. I got through it by getting up each morning and before getting in the car putting todays record on the record player, plugging in the headphones, and turning up the volume.

Anarchy In The UK - Sex Pistols

For all the hype that went along with them they were actually a much better group than they were given credit for. The music theme here of staying on one note for quite long stretches repeated itself when John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten formed Public Image Limited which refined the process somewhat. Indeed, I love this song so much that had I only got the normal 8 discs to take this would have been one of them.

Anyone fancy a pogo?

Saturday, April 07, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 7

Moving on now to my work years, I had a couple of years with Nat West Bank and then moved on to General Accident, one of the big 7 insurance companys. I started out in Ealing but then moved to Birmingham to take up an assistant accountants role in that branch. This was in the first couple of years of the 1980s and The New Romantics were the fashionable music genre. Throughout my teenage years I had only done local school or youth club discos and never any of the local clubs so when I hit Birmingham that world opened up to me as part of my social life. There were two clubs we all used to go to. Faces, which was at Five Ways in Edgebaston and The Rum Runner on Broad Street. The former was much more mainstream chart music, though somewhat tinged with New Romanticism as were the charts, the latter was heavily New Romantic. And I through myself well into it. I had the clothing, the double breasted shirts, neck scarves, pixie boots, jodhpurs. And all the make-up went on as well. Luckily for me there are no photos remaining of that time!

The big groups of the time were Duran Duran, Human League, Visage, Ultravox, Heaven 17. I had my hair like Phil Oakey

Not seen by the powers at General Accident as suitable hairstyling for an accountant, more of which tomorrow.

The song I really liked from then was by Soft Cell, their biggest single being Tainted Love, but I preferred Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.

I never saw them live but, a couple of years back, at Jools Holland at Kew his special guest was Marc Almond. I amazed all the other 40 and 50 year olds round me by singing along with every word of all his hits. Half of them had never heard of him. For 20 minutes I was 30 years younger.

Friday, April 06, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 6

Moving on a few years and eventually I got engaged and then, on 21st July 1979, I was married to Gail. We'd been going out for 3 years when we got hitched and out friends supplied the Disco for the reception which our parents paid for at Daniels in West Ealing. We chose our song for our first dance. We both loved the record but was perhaps a strange choice as it revolves around a couple breaking up. Maybe it was a little portentious as our marriage actually only lasted 2 years in reality although it was a further 6 years before we divorced. I still love the song.

Stay With Me - Yvonne Elliman

Thursday, April 05, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 5

Whilst Sparks were my first live gig, they weren't in the end my favourite. I saw Queen play live three times, and good though they were, they still couldn't snatch my personal no 1 live gig spot. Nor could Procul Harum, Elton John, Kevin Coyne, Rick Wakeman nor even the fabled Bob Kerr's Whoopee Band. My favourite gig ever was at The Wembley Arena at the promotional tour for their Out of the Blue double LP. And they played my favourite track.

Wild West Hero - ELO.

Listening to this you can hear how my grounding in classical music and choral singing would draw me to it. This was released back in the day when albums were awaited with baited breath. Not then the idea of previewing tracks for months before so on the release date everybody knows all the tracks. This LP is famous for the fact that Kenny Everett had a radio show on Capital Radio on the day it came out. The only music he played that day was this LP, in it's entirety. Twice.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 4

Around the same time that I was making my way into the world of amorous liaisons I also went to see my first live gig. Well, first live gig for pop music having already been to the proms.

A mate and I, one who I've mentioned here before went off to see Sparks at Hammersmith Odeon, now the Hammersmith Apollo. Strangely enough, having seen them in concert, I saw Ron & Russell Mael on Oxford Street a couple of days later. I'm pleased to say I didn't make a fool of myself and run up and ask for an autograph. I went to the gig on the strength of their "Kimono My House" LP but within a couple of years I had started going out with my future wife and she introduced me to their earlier catalogue when the line up for the group was the wonderfully monickered; Mael, Mael, Mankey, Mankey, Fienstein. A better name for a firm of Solicitors or Theatrical Agents I have yet to discover. However, the track for today is the one they are probably best associated with.

Sparks - This Town Ain't Big Enough.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 3

So, from 1968 to 1972 I pretty much only listened to classical music. But then I started drifting in to the world of Radio 1 and Top of the Pops. By now I was going out with the odd girl or two, some being more odd than others. We had started a youth club when I was 14 and so there were records playing most of the time and a bit of dancing now and then. Not that I was one to be seen on the dance floor. But when it came to slow dances, assuming I could pick up enough courage to ask someone to dance, preferably female, there was one record that stand out in the memories of all my friends. It was our slow dance.

Me & Mrs Jones - Billy Paul.

Monday, April 02, 2012

D.I.D. - Day 2

The next major musical influence of my life came when I hit Grammar School. My music teacher, Neville Bower was an ex concert pianist and composer. Everyone supposedly has one teacher who influenced them greatly and for me it was him. I absolutely worshiped him. And so started my love affair with classical music, but in particular, choral works. Within a year of joining we performed Handel's Messiah. In the subsequent years we also performed Beethoven's Mass in C and Brahm's German Requiem. Not bad going considering our age.

There was, I discovered in later years, something else about out performance of The Messiah that was important. Being an all boys school we had to swell our numbers with some of the girls from two other schools. Although I didn't meet The Magnificent M until we were in our late 40's we had in fact been very close to meeting 35 years earlier.
This picture is a crop from the official picture of our performance. I am below the white arrow, M to the left of the pink arrow as you view it, not 5 foot away. But what makes it even more unlikely that we didn't meet was because the girl to the right of M had been a close childhood friend of mine until we hit secondary school. We didn't see each other then but she became M's best friend. Had I have kept in touch I would almost definitely have met M then. Although it's probably as well I didn't cos we woldn't have been together now, and I suspect we wouldn't actually have got together then.

Anyway, the seeds that were sown for singing then remain with me now. So what to choose. I was very tempted to go with a section of The German Requiem called "Behold, All Flesh Is As The Grass" but it's quite heavy going and lasts 15 minutes so I thought I'd go for something shorter from The Messiah. Not The Hallelujah Chorus which I wish they'd stop playing at every opportunity but the last piece of all from the Oratorio, The Amen Chorus.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

D. I. D. - Day 1

As is customary with Desert Island Disc I shall start with the earliest memory I have of listening to music. Indeed, so early is it in my musical memories that I only have fleeting glimpses of that time.

I would have been no more than three or four. My maternal grandparents still had their greengrocers shop in Hyde Park, Leeds. My mind remembers only two things about that shop. The first being that I would spend hours sat in the vegetable bins helping myself to fresh peas from the pod. The second is that on the landing upstairs was a tall gramophone unit. The turntable was on top with a cupboard underneath which held my grandparents collection of 78s. My favourite, one that my mother tells me was the only thing I wanted to listen to, incessantly, was Magic Moments by Perry Como. It was to this song that I first started singing. And annoyingly for those around me, that singing consisted of just the two words of the title. How delighted they must have been as I started my recital, for the first 5 seconds, and then I suspect the novelty wore thin very, very swiftly.

Born Pierino Ronald Como, he soon had the nickname Perry. This would have been his centenary birthday but he died in 2001, just short of his 92nd birthday. He was a remarkably successful career. One of Americas biggest recording and tv stars, you can read more here should you so wish.

Altogether now.... Magic Moments.....Magic Moments......Magic Moments....... Or click here for the real thing.