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Friday, 16 March 2018

A First Basket of Quotations

"It's cute how food labels think there are 
eight servings in a pie!"
I do like a pithy quotations and I collect them from all sorts of sources and store them in a word document which I keep on my desktop. I run a once-a-month charity walking group and send out emails to about 150 people and, on each mailing, I use a different quotation; a few of them are my own (but I usually describe them as 'anonymous' but the ones here not mine - I think....). There many categories of  types - wisdom, humour, thought-provoking etc. Often I relate the quote to something relevant to the particular post or time of the year and so on. Sometimes I add a cartoon but, as drawing them takes so long, I don't do that too much nowadays.
Here is a selection of some that I have used and some that I have waiting in the wings:
"I would challenge you to a battle of wits, but I see you are unarmed." - William Shakespeare, (As You Like It) (Apparently 'Good Reads' was wrong about this being by Shakespeare!) 
When Winston Churchill was asked to cut Arts funding in favour of the war effort he replied “Then what are we fighting for?”
“Of course I can keep secrets. It’s the people I tell them to that can’t keep them.” - Anthony Haden-Guest
I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, 'Where's the self-help section?' She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose - Anonymous
"If Jesus was a Jew, how come he has a Mexican first name?" - Billy Connolly
"God endowed a woman with keener judgement than man" - The Talmud
“Always be sincere, even when you don’t mean it.” - Irene Peter
Never laugh at your wife's choices..... you are one of them!
“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud”-Maya Angelou
“If your brains were made of gunpowder they wouldn’t blow your hat off!” – Anonymous
"My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's eighty-six now and we don't know where the hell she is." Ellen Degeneres
“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” – Aesop
“I’ve written a book about DIY First Aid. It’s called ‘Suture Self’ - Anonymous
“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” - George Carlin
Last year I joined a group for procrastinators, We haven't met yet...- Anonymous
“If you light a lamp for someone it will also brighten your path.” - Buddhist saying.
“No one has ever become poor by giving.”-Anne Frank

I'm listening to the late JJ Cale 
singing his own song, City Girls
Very laid back and charming, listen here.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Painting of the Month (80) March 2018: W. Heath Robinson

William Heath Robinson, 1872-1944, was a British painter, illustrator and cartoonist who achieved a level of fame in the First World War with his humorous drawings of incredibly complicated machines which were designed to perform extremely simple tasks. In the USA you may be familiar with the term Rube Goldberg machine which gives you an idea of what he was all about. These days the expression "a Heath Robinson machine" refers to something that seems to be over complicated. You may be aware of the machinery in the Wallace and Gromit animated films. That.
The Rescue
Putting holes into Double Gloucester cheese using the Gruyere method
William Heath Robinson was an illustrator of books of poems by Edgar Allen Poe and Rudyard Kipling and of other children's books in an Art Nouveau style similar to that of Aubrey Beardsley. His talent as an artist is sadly overlooked due to the continuing popularity of his other work.
I couldn't argue if you said he was an illustrator rather than a fine artist but I still think he deserves to be considered for artistic skills.
For Poe's The Raven
"So full of shapes is fancy" from Twelfth Night
     Illustration for A Song of the English 1909                           The artist in his studio
I'm listening to Miley Cyrus who made a surprisingly good cover of Dylan's You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.
Listen here, it's hugely enjoyable!

Friday, 2 March 2018

Love is not all by Edna St Vincent Millay

Edna St Vincent Millay 1892-1950
The American poet, Edna St Vincent Millay, was born in Rockland, Maine in 1892, one of three sisters. She specialised in lyric poetry that spoke directly to the senses and brilliantly made use of the Shakespearean 14-line sonnet form. That usually means three quatrains of four lines concluding with a couplet of two lines coming after a pivotal point (known as the 'Volta'), where a stark conclusion is made. This differs in structure from the Petrachian form, that is two stanzas of eight then six lines. This particular poem is actually a bit of a mix of both forms.

Love Is Not All by Edna St Vincent Millay
Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain; 
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink 
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone; 
Yet many a man is making friends with death 
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone. 
It well may be that in a difficult hour, 
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release, 
Or nagged by want past resolution's power, 
I might be driven to sell your love for peace, 
Or trade the memory of this night for food. 
It well may be. I do not think I would. 

So what's going on here? What is the poet saying to us with her eloquent iambic pentameter? Clearly she is making the case that, given the basic needs of mankind - food, shelter and health, love is further down the list of wants. It can't provide that roof or clean the blood nor can it "set the fractured bone". The reference to the filled lungs and cleaning of blood is probably a reference to tuberculosis which was prevalent at the time of publication, which was in 1931 during the Great Depression. 
There are, however, elements of the Petrachian sonnet form here. In the eighth line the perspective changes sharply to the first person but then (back to Shakespearean) the final couplet expresses some doubt about what she has previously declared. She might, if necessary, swap this night of love for food but she doesn't think she would. After swaying to and fro she has ended on an ambiguous note.
You can listen to the actress Tyne Daly (of Cagney and Lacey fame) reciting the poem here. There is also a clip of Edna herself reading the poem but her over-dramatic reading is almost too funny for me!

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

New Portraits Quiz ANSWERS

Here are the answers to last weeks portraits quiz.
Rosa Parks was, of course famous as a civil rights activist who moved forward her cause by insisting on keeping her seat on a segregated bus. Alan Turing was the English scientist who kicked off the computer revolution and solved the Enigma Machine problem. He was gay at a time when that was illegal in Great Britain. He took his own life and a poisoned apple with a bite taken out of it was found next to his bed. Steve Jobs always denied that it was the original of Apple's Trademark. I'm not convinced.  Machiavelli has lent his name to an adjective which reflects poorly on his true worth as an adviser to princes and politicians. Marie Curie was a double Nobel Prize winner (in different disciplines). She was the first person to achieve this; there have been three others since.
Paul McCartney is a former Beatle. Emily Dickinson, born in Massachusetts in 1830, was hardly recognised for her poetry during her lifetime. JRR Tolkien was the author of The Lord of the Rings, beloved reading for every schoolboy. Richard Feynman was the quantum physicist who led the enquiry into the Challenger disaster and a wonderful popular promoter of science. He once said, "If you think you understand quantum theory then you don't understand quantum theory".
Maya Angelou was the author of I know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a touching autobiography of her childhoodKaty Perry is a singer-songwriter famous for I Kissed a Girl. Franz Kafka was a deeply troubled Czech writer and Bryan Cranston is pictured five years before he began making Breaking Bad.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

New Portraits Quiz

Can you name the twelve subjects in these portraits? It's a real mix - many of the subjects have a name more famous than their face.  Five of them are famous primarily for their writing, three are famous for science and there are two singers. Some of them are not shown as they usually are seen. Six of the twelve are European. Answers in a week.
Have a go; no one will get them all!
I'm listening to the rough and raw original version of Let's Stick Together by Wilbert Harrison, recorded in his garage. It needs to be played loud! Click here.
There are some excellent cover versions by Bryan Ferry, Canned Heat, KT Tunstall and Bob Dylan but I like this one best.
Incidentally Harrison re-recorded it later as Let's Work Together - not nearly as good as the first version... Canned Heat also used that title.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Sonny, my grandson!

I don't usually post much personal stuff but today is an exception. Long-time followers of this and my previous Blog may remember that seven years ago my grandson, Sonny, was rushed into Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma; a very aggressive cancer. He was in the hospital for four months and has made a full recovery after comprehensive life-saving treatment. Many of the readers of this Blog were wonderfully supportive at the time which proved to be a great help.
Sonny has been in full remission for several years now and his annual appointment is to seek out any damage done by the chemo-therapy and none has been found.
Well, this weekend is his Bar Mitzvah (akin to a Confirmation) when, according to Jewish law, he becomes a man and responsible for his actions. He is a popular, kind, loving and very funny soccer-mad boy. Naturally it will be a very emotional day and there will be a big family celebration on Sunday. The picture above was taken a couple months ago at another function. His one will be very informal. Below he is pictured with his younger sister Lois aged ten going on 30!
I'm listening to The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Verdi's Nabucco. Very fitting and very moving. Listen here.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Painting of the Month (79) Feb 2018: David Bomberg

David Bomberg, In The Hold, 1913-14, Tate, London
David Bomberg (1891 - 1957) was a British artist, a student of the Slade School of Art and a member of the 'Whitechapel Boys'. This cubist-influenced painting was made before the First World War, and like so many others, when he returned from war his outlook and style changed.
In this picture he has retained the lines from where he had squared up his preliminary work leaving a grid of cubist-type patterning and has dissolved the image into fragments.. However the work is not abstract; left of centre a figure in blue can be clearly seen working in the hold of a ship in London docks and lower-right a ladder can be observed leading out of the hold. You have to work to see it!
There is actually a cross depicted in every single square and strong diagonals in both directions across the whole surface. In fact the longer I look at this painting the more things I see. It's a monumental piece - more than six feet along each edge.
The Whitechapel Boys were a group of Jewish artists in the East End of London during the first quarter of the twentieth century, a place of ever-changing immigrant populations. A remarkable group of artists and writers emerged from the group which included Mark Gertler.
David Bomberg: Two self-portraits and a photograph
I am listening to Linda Ronstadt's version of Neil Young's Birds. It's a lovely song which I always seem to prefer sung by a female vocalist. There is a delicate vulnerable version by the English singer Kathryn Williams here.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Great Popular Songs (6): Into The Mystic

"And when that foghorn blows I want to hear it, I don't have to fear it."
Van Morrison wrote Into The Mystic for his 1970 album Moondance. It has a beautiful poetic lyric which, like many songs of it's type, is open to various interpretations. After nearly fifty years it shows no sign of sounding 'dated' and has already been featured in at least half a dozen movies.
You can listen to it by clicking here

Into The Mystic. Words and Music by Van Morrison:
We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic
And when that foghorn blows I will be coming home
And when that foghorn blows I want to hear it
I don't have to fear it
I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
Then magnificently we will float into the mystic
And when that foghorn blows you know I will be coming home
And when that foghorn whistle blows I got to hear it
I don't have to fear it
I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And together we will float into the mystic
Come on girl
Too late to stop now...
So, lean and spare lyrics which are melded to the melody in a  grip so strong that a permanent atmosphere is created. The mood is mystical, magical and spiritual in feel. The words are open to several differing meanings via homophones such as "We were born/borne before the wind". Van Morrison himself expressed doubt about which meaning he intended. As with so many lyrics and poetry you can take your own interpretation.  Too late to stop now.......

Monday, 29 January 2018

The Orient Express

Picture this: my wife and I wearing T-shirts and jeans sitting on a bench at St Anton Railway Station in the Arlberg Pass in Austria. Waiting in the station is the Orient Express. Crowds of tourists, mostly British, have come to see the famous train leave. A lady turns to me and says, as the guard blows his whistle, "Don't you wish you were on the train?"
We stand up and jump onto the train seconds before it moves off. "We are on train!" I say waving from the steps. I don't know why but we both enjoyed that moment for years!
We had booked a fourteen day holiday in Italy and shortly before we left my father had lost his eldest brother and we were all feeling quite low. My lovely wife, with out telling me, had booked the outward journey to Venice on the Orient Express. It was going to be a very last minute surprise for a big birthday (one of those that ends in a zero) but she wanted to pack a dinner-suit (tuxedo). "The hotel isn't that posh" I told her so she had to tell me about the train just two days before we left. She also arranged for a friend who had a Rolls Royce, that he used for hire-work, so at London's Victoria Station you can drive straight on the platform.
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The Orient Express waiting to leave Calais

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The Orient Express Lounge
The Orient Express Service was created in 1883 and ran continuously until the service was suspended during the First World War and again in the Second World War. Routes have varied across Europe over the years but London to Venice is the most popular one now. Original destinations were to Budapest, Bucharest, Istanbul, Vienna and Athens. The Great War Armistice was signed in a railway carriage in a forest in Compiègne, France. That carriage was eventually restored and became a part of the current train.
Every carriage has its own designs and Art Deco patterns which are often repeated in the carpets, curtains, marquetry and floor tiles. There is steward for each carriage who looks after the wood-burning stove which provides hot water to the individual cabins which have a couch which transforms into a double bunk-bed overnight.
The first leg of the journey was on the Brighton Belle Pullman service from London to Dover then onto the cross-channel ferry in the private Orient Express lounge to Calais. From there it was onto the overnight sleeper to Venice. Next morning we woke up travelling alongside the southern shore of Lake Zurich in Switzerland. 
The train crosses the lagoon over to Venice from the Italian mainland almost at sea level and the impression through the haze is as though the train is floating on the water's surface.
At the railway station all of the crew including stewards, engineers, chefs and cleaners line up as we cross the red carpet to board the water taxi on the Grande Canal and we were off to our hotel, The Metropole.

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Leah told me after we had returned home, that the thirty-six hours on that train had cost as much as the rest of of two week holiday in Venice and Lake Garda.
You may think rail travel is expensive but it's murder on the Orient Express.....
I'm listening to Pachelbel's Canon in D played by the Academy of St Martin's in the Field, London. This music is equally enchanting when played on a solo acoustic guitar. Listen here.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Winston Churchill in Downing Street

This is the third in a trilogy of posts about Winston Churchill's residences.
10 Downing Street, the official residence of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has been voted the most famous address in the world. The well-known black door is made of reinforced steel and has no keyhole; the door can only be opened from the inside!
So it was the official residence of Sir Winston Churchill from early summer 1940 until July 1945 (and again from 1951 to 1955) but, although he had never been PM before, he had lived in Downing Street previously. In 1924 he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer (Minister of Finance) and the official residence of that post is number 11 Downing Street.
Number Ten, as it was colloquially known,  was originally three separate houses built by Sir George Downing in 1682. The current property contains over 100 rooms including the Cabinet Room which has sound-proofed doors.
However, for much of the war Churchill did not live at Number Ten after it was bombed by the German Luftwaffe. He lived instead in The Annexe nearby in Whitehall. Underneath this building were the Cabinet War Rooms, now a very popular museum.

Churchill at his desk at Number Ten
He spent a lot of his time there in meetings (although he only ever slept in the bedroom on three occasions), and ran it on ‘Winston time’; colleagues were expected to adapt to his way of working, staying up late at night to respond to his demands for updates on the war situation, analyzing reports and taking instructions (often with ‘Action this Day’ labels attached). He was swept from office in the General Election of 1945 but was returned in 1951.    I'm listening to the very jolly Arrival of the Queen of Sheba by Handel from his oratorio Solomon. Listen here. It's three-and-a-half minutes to lift your spirits!

Monday, 8 January 2018

William McGonagall

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Sir William Topaz McGonagall (1825 - 1902)

The nineteenth century Scottish poet William McGonagall was known as "The world's worst poet" with formidable justification. Many of his poems are still very popular and there is a website devoted to his works. There were autobiographies and some anthologies were published. One of the autobiographies begins thus: 
"My Dear Readers of this autobiography, which I am the author of, I beg leave to inform you that I was born in Edinburgh". That book, which sets the standard for what is to follow, was inscribed by the author as "Dedicated to himself, knowing none greater."
The fact that McGonagall has long since departed this life makes me feel a little less cruel at laughing/groaning at his work - but it can be hilarious! He was a contemporary of Queen Victoria and she greatly admired him.
This little snippet from A Tale of Christmas Eve will demonstrate his hopeless ignorance of metre:
'Twas Christmastide in Germany,
And in the year of 1850,
And in the city of Berlin, which is most beautiful to the eye:
A poor boy was heard calling out to passers-by. 

"Who'll buy my pretty figures," loudly he did cry,
Plaster of Paris figures, but no one inclined to buy;
His clothes were thin and he was nearly frozen with cold,
And wholly starving with hunger, a pitiful sight to behold.
This next gem is the opening two stanzas of Beautiful Torquay. Torquay is a resort on England's south coast.
All ye lovers of the picturesque, away
To beautiful Torquay and spend a holiday
'Tis health for invalids for to go there
To view the beautiful scenery and inhale the fragrant air,
Especially in the winter and spring-time of the year,

When the weather is not too hot, but is balmy and clear. 
Torquay lies in a very deep and well-sheltered spot,
And at first sight by strangers it won't be forgot;
'Tis said to be the mildest place in ah England,
And surrounded by lofty hills most beautiful and grand. 
His most famous poem is The Tay Bridge Disaster. The dreadful events of 28th December 1879 somehow made McGonagall famous after his poem was published. I have resisted showing all of the piece but, should you feel strangely drawn, shows all of his works. Here's how it starts:
Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time. 

‘Twas about seven o’clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clouds seem’d to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem’d to say-
“I’ll blow down the Bridge of Tay.”

The thing that makes McGonagall totally ridiculous is his belief that he really was a great poet. He was self-styled as a "poet and tragedian". He loved giving recitals and failed to be put off by much contemporary mockery and derision but the odd thing is that most parodies of his poems fall flat; they just aren't bad enough!
And it's not as if we have only recently discovered how bad he was; his audiences threw rotten fish at him! Rather sadly he died the death of a pauper and ironically his books are all still in print.

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I am listening to some early Elvis Presley recordings. Currently The Girl of My Best Friend is playing. It was recorded 4th April 1960. Listen here for a treat!

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Painting of the Month (78) Jan 2018: Beryl Cook

Beryl Cook: Twins
The English artist Beryl Cook (1926 - 2008) did not take up painting until in her 60s. Her work is instantly recognisable depicting scenes of, mainly large, ladies out enjoying themselves in pubs, out shopping or on a hen night. She depicted couples dancing the Argentine tango in Buenos Aires or gambling in Las Vegas. She never had any formal training and her naive style is immensely pleasing. I hugely enjoy these pictures; they never fail to make me smile. In the picture above I like the ambiguity of the title because there are two pairs of twins on display! 
Beryl was a shy and very private person, possibly putting her wish to be more extroverted into the themes in her work. She admired and was influenced by the work of Stanley Spencer (see my previous Painting of the Month here) and her style of depicting unfashionable 'everyday' things can be seen as similar to Spencer's work. The late English comedienne, Victoria Woods, described her social realism as "Rubens with jokes".
Her work fills me with joy and she is featured in many UK galleries. More of her paintings are shown below.

I'm listening to the vastly under-rated British singer Helen Shapiro, who had hits in the 1960s while she was still at school. 
Click here for Little Miss Lonely.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

A Warning on Spontaneous Combustion

This charming little verse is written in the Scottish vernacular by Stuart Mclean. I can find nothing about the author. A Google search consistently brings up the late Canadian Broadcaster of the same name or Alistair Stuart McLean the author of thrillers.

A Warning on Spontaneous Combustion by Stuart McLean
O whisky is the king of drinks,
Renowned the world o'er,
But here's a word o' caution,
Tae think of when ye pour.
There's a certain combination,
That tastes so very good,
But when it hits your tummy,
And mixes with your food.
That's when the trouble starts,
For yer pleasure hits overload,
And half an hour later,
Ye'll suddenly explode.
So there ye are in the pub,
Completely engulfed in flames,
And yer good wife's dashing home,
Tae lodge insurance claims.
Well now that I have told ye,
Don't say ye've no' been warned,
So don't try it oot yersel',
Or ye'll soon be bein' mourned. 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Painting of the Month (77) Dec 2017: Stanley Spencer

Sir Stanley Spencer (1891 – 1959) was born in the Berkshire village of Cookham which sits by the bank of the River Thames. Kenneth Grahame was inspired to write The Wind in the Willows by that beautiful and serene stretch of water. In a sense Spencer never really left the village. Many of his paintings are set there, including some of his various religious works especially of The Resurrection, a theme he returned to throughout his career. He turned the streets of Cookham into visions of holiness using family and neighbours as his models.
In an age that was beginning to be heavily imbued with the influence of Darwin, Spencer held on to his faith throughout his life. He produced his best work between the two World Wars when church attendance in Great Britain was drastically falling but he saw Cookham as heaven on Earth, a paradise invested with mystical significance.
Sir Stanley Spencer: The Resurrection, Cookham 1924-1927. Tate Britain
In this monumental work (it's 2.7m by 5.5m in size) Spencer has set the scene in Cookham Churchyard where the dead are risen and can be seen, top left, being transported up to heaven by the Thames pleasure steamers, which were plentiful at that time. In the painting Spencer can be seen naked, right of centre, while his fiance sleeps on a bed of ivy. The figure of Christ sits in the church porch. Click on the picture to enlarge or hold down 'Ctrl' and press '+' several times.
Spencer compared his emotional approach to his work with Moses seeing the burning bush and taking his shoes off; "I saw many burning bushes in Cookham. I observe the most sacred quality in the most unexpected places".
Below are some of his other paintings, showing his great range which had the unifying quality of seeing the sacred in everyday life:

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And a selection of his self-portraits

The English artist Beryl Cook was inspired by the work of Stanley Spencer and she will feature in my next Painting of the Month in January 2018

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Winston Churchill at Blenheim Palace

This is the second of a series of three themed posts about 
Sir Winston Churchill
Blenheim Palace near the village of Woodstock in Oxfordshire, England, is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill (1874 -1965).
Blenheim Palace had been built for John Churchill, who was created the first Duke of Marlborough after he had secured victory in the battle of Blenheim in the War of Spanish Succession (fought to halt Spain and France uniting against the other European powers).  John Churchill was the son of the first Sir Winston Churchill (1620-1688) and a direct ancestor of the twentieth century one.

Blenheim is in fact a huge country house and the only building in Great Britain to be styled a ‘Palace’ that is neither Royal nor the residence of a Bishop. Currently the Palace is still the home of the 12th Duke of Marlborough. Interestingly the title ‘Duke of Marlborough’ is the only aristocratic one deemed suo jure which means it can be inherited through the male or female line.
Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, his grandfather’s home, on 30th November 1874. When aged seven he was sent to boarding school where he massively under-achieved and “misbehaved”. These were to be characteristics of his continuing education. His parental contact with his father was virtually non-existent and with his Brooklyn-born mother Jenny,  it was “distant”. From this distance in time it does not  surprise me that he was difficult! Blenheim is located in the delightful historic market town of Woodstock and makes for a very lovely place to visit. It's full of Churchill memorabilia and is now a World Heritage Site.
When a British Prime Minister steps down it is customary for them to be offered an earldom but Churchill had the offer of the special privilege of being created Duke of London in 1955. He turned it down because, at the time, it was not possible to renounce any kind of peerage and the hereditary title would have prevented his descendants from sitting in the House of Commons.
Aerial view of Blenheim Palace
I’m listening to Sissel Kyrkjebø, the utterly fabulous Norwegian soprano, showing her effortless talent when singing Puccini's 
O Mio Babbino Caro. Listen here

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Great Popular Songs (5): Waterloo Sunset

Sir Raymond Douglas Davies, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE), better known as Ray Davies, singer and songwriter of the very successful UK band The Kinks, wrote and self-produced Waterloo Sunset in 1967. In Great Britain it is relatively rare for songs to feature geographical locations, especially when compared with the USA.
Waterloo Station is one of several major railway termini in London being named after Waterloo Bridge which was itself named after the famous British victory at the Battle of Waterloo. It is located on the south bank of the River Thames.
The wistful lyrics of the song were a Ray Davies speciality. They are a bit mysterious, describing a scene from the point of view of a person apparently content to be a 'loner'. Or is he? Are Terry and Julie figments of his imagination or is he Terry. It's a strange and intriguing mix of perspectives. Ray said in a recent interview, “Of course, everyone thought “Terry and Julie” was a reference to Terry Stamp and Julie Christie, since they were immensely famous because of Far From the Madding Crowd. But actually, the image I had in my mind was of my sister and her boyfriend walking into the future”. But this was said nearly fifty years after the record was released.
Many of Davies's song have a strong social element and he is a keen observer of his world; Sunny Afternoon, Dedicated Follower of Fashion and Well Respected Man are typical of this vein of writing.
The song is so iconic that it hasn't been covered very often. David Bowie is a notable exception but I find his version doesn't add anything new to it.
Originally the song was to be called Liverpool Sunset because Ray Davies had a strong affinity to that city bit realised he should "write what you know" and changed the title. The guitar sound as heard in the introduction was achieved by using a tape-delay device.
Listen to the song HERE
Dirty old river, must you keep rolling
Flowing into the night
People so busy, makes me feel dizzy
Taxi light shines so bright
But I don't need no friends
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset
I am in paradise
Every day I look at the world from my window
But chilly, chilly is the evening time
Waterloo sunset's fine
Terry meets Julie, Waterloo Station
Every Friday night
But I am so lazy, don't want to wander
I stay at home at night
But I don't feel afraid
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset
I am in paradise
Every day I look at the world from my window
But chilly, chilly is the evening time
Waterloo sunset's fine
Millions of people swarming like flies 'round Waterloo underground
But Terry and Julie cross over the river
Where they feel safe and sound
And they don't need no friends
As long as they gaze on Waterloo sunset
They are in paradise
Waterloo sunset's fine