Linda Ronstadt

Why, when I write now about characters set in the late 50s and early 60s, do I listen to so much Linda Ronstadt?

My first memory of her was from back in the 1970s when I was attracted to her looks like so many other teenage boys. Her music didn’t interest me at the time; it was all Bowie, prog rock, glam rock, so the singing of a beautiful young woman didn’t really hit the mark. Then, just a few months ago I discovered her early singing with a group called The Stone Poneys. I’m not sure how this came about. It may have been I heard one particular song on the radio or it was just one of those ‘recommended’ videos that appear on the righthand side when you choose to watch something on YouTube. Some choice of mine must have brought up this song, ‘Different Drum’. And, wow, what an impact that song had on me. Yes, there was this stunningly beautiful young woman from the late 60s; yes, there was this wonderful song by Mike Nesmith of The Monkees; but it was the voice that caught me lock, stock and barrel.

A little research and I found out about The Stone Poneys and their folk song background. Linda’s vocals on their songs is very precise, full-vowelled and very English in its presentation. Yet on ‘Different Drum’ she lets go and gives us the hint of what could be lying underneath all that wholesome sound. I later discovered that the song was recorded not with The Stone Poneys but other musicians, which may explain why she felt freer to express herself. They had a minor hit with the song and it saw the launch of Linda’s career.

 

Further research, helped by more ‘recommendations’ on YouTube, took me to more songs of Linda’s. A visit to a local HMV store gave me a CD full of her hits. A few more were downloaded from iTunes. And I am well and truly captivated by Linda’s voice.

A few songs in particular stand out.

First, this version of ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?’. Firstly, what an epic song. And what an individual version by Linda. The band seem to be playing a very loose tune, some people commented it almost seemed like they were playing another tune! On CD I wonder if it was a recording of a live version, it sounds so natural. And Linda’s vocals and interpretation are incredible.

Next, ‘Stoney End’. I’m not sure I had ever heard this song before finding it on Linda’s list of recordings. It’s another wonderful version by the woman, really letting go with her vocals, such a balanced, piercing voice.

 

And lastly, or I will list all her songs, ‘A Long, Long Time’. Here her vocals are so melancholy, so powerful. What a voice she has, on all her songs. And so now I find these are the songs I play when writing about my PI in New York in the 50s and 60s, along with the Frank Sinatra ones I’ve written about before.

Linda is now battling a terrible illness, but at least we have all her fabulous recordings to listen to and watch.

 

 

 

 

 

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Jack in the Green

This traditional event was alive and well in Hastings, East Sussex, England over the May Day Weekend. Four days of festivities involving parades, dancing, singing, drumming and eating were carried out in the highest temperatures known at this time of year for a couple of decades.

A bit about the tradition, from Wikipedia:

Jack in the Green, also known as Jack o’ the Green, is an English folk custom associated with the celebration of May Day. It involves a pyramidal or conical wicker or wooden framework that is decorated with foliage being worn by a person as part of a procession, often accompanied by musicians.

The Jack in the Green tradition developed in England during the eighteenth century. It emerged from an older May Day tradition—first recorded in the seventeenth century—in which milkmaids carried milk pails that had been decorated with flowers and other objects as part of a procession. Increasingly, the decorated milk pails were replaced with decorated pyramids of objects worn on the head, and by the latter half of the eighteenth century the tradition had been adopted by other professional groups, such as bunters and chimney sweeps. The earliest known account of a Jack in the Green came from a description of a London May Day procession in 1770. By the nineteenth century, the Jack in the Green tradition was largely associated with chimney sweeps.

The tradition died out in the early twentieth century. Later that century, various revivalist groups emerged, continuing the practice of Jack in the Green May Day processions in various parts of England. The Jack in the Green has also been incorporated into various modern Pagan parades and activities.

Enjoy the very amateurish photos taken while juggling cap, drinks, food and sunglasses…

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Music to cry by

As I continue to try and edit my short novel, if that’s what you call a 58,000 word story, I feel like writing something different. So here are three songs that I have discovered or rediscovered via YouTube recently and have today finally got around to downloading from iTunes. It’s a bit embarrassing to say ‘discovered’ when they all date to the 1960s or early 1970s. At that time I was listening to Bowie and Genesis and Yes so two of these songs passed me by. In the 60s I was only interested in chasing a football on a muddy pitch.

Song One: Different Drum by the Stone Poneys

This is one I only came across recently on YouTube, probably from that ‘recommended’ list down the right hand side. I must have been following up some other tune I’ heard on the radio and stumbled across Linda Ronstadt singing this masterpiece. I remember Linda more from the 1970s as a solo singer and a hell of a beautiful young woman. I love the opening line of this song – ‘You and I travel to the beat of a diff’rent drum’. That reads like the synopsis of a novel about a couple’s relationship throughout their lives. I’ll try and write it one day. The song was written by The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith. It has such a simple but heart-rendering tune I could listen to it on repeat for hours.

 

Song 2: Rose of Cimarron by Poco

I think I chose this song as one of my ‘Music to write by’ tunes so I may repeat myself here. Another one I missed the first time around and only came across after hearing it on a radio program. The song is based around a real character, a heck of a lady if her story is true, Rose Dunn waiting for the man she loved. The song has a fantastic hook line and the version with Timothy B. Schmit is incredible, he has a wonderful high voice which is perfect for this song. Some versions also have beautiful guitar solos.

 

Song 3: Traveling Boy by Art Garfunkel

Now this one I bought back in the 1970s. It was on Art’s album ‘Angel Clare’, a real eclectic mix of songs. This is a very commercial song which suits Art’s voice perfectly. The lyrics have been accused of seeing a passing relationship solely from the guy’s point of view but I guess you have to remember it was written in different times. And, interestingly, it was more recently covered by Rumor, a wonderful British female singer. But Art’s version just builds and builds, a delight.

 

So, get your tissues ready…

 

 

 

 

 

George Michael: literary giant?

Well, the title might have got you here anyway.

I was watching the video of ‘Last Christmas’ a few days ago and although I have seen it many times before and heard the song many times before for some reason the opening two lines stuck in my mind on this occasion.

‘Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away’

That first line, there’s a whole story waiting to be told to explain those simple words. Had the two people just met? Had they known each other for months, years? What happened to make one of them give the other their heart? Did the other appear to feel the same way on that day? Were they only pretending? There’s a novel there.

And the second line, what made the person give the heart/love away? Did they meet someone else and suddenly realise they had made a mistake? Had they been pretending all along to reciprocate the love offered to them? Again, a story waits to be written.

So in just two lines of writing the author has presented us with a myriad of alternatives.

George Michael: literary giant?

 

 

 

Sunday in the Park

‘Sunday in the park, I think it was the 22nd of October…’

You can see what I’ve done there, if you’re into your Chicago tunes from the 70s.

9 a.m. and just a few walkers and joggers were around, a beautiful alternative to the seafront for an early morning walk.

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And it you don’t get the Chicago link here’s the song…