Ah, “Pretty Baby”. The song that made me fall in love with Debbie Harry more than any other Blondie song. I became a Blondie fan at college and it progressed into a full-blown obsession during my first year at university. I was lucky enough to be right at the front to see Blondie perform live in Manchester in July 2007. I don’t listen to Blondie as much as I used to but my love for them is still strong, even if it’s a more mature love. “Pretty Baby” could’ve been about Debbie herself and I think of her when I listen to this song. How beautiful she was (and still is) and how her image and icon captured my heart when I was 18. “Pretty Baby” is all dreamy lyrics and vocals – but it still retains that wonderful New Wave-punk-rock sound that made Blondie famous. The album it is taken from, “Parallel Lines”, remains my favourite record of all time.
A slight cheat today – I didn’t shuffle my iPod for this song, but today is an important day for me. Bruce wrote this for Terry Magovern, who was his bodyguard and assistant for 23 years. He passed around the time Bruce was writing the ‘Magic’ album. This beautiful, elegiac song sums up a lot of my feelings about death and grief.
Today is Tuesday 5th March 2013. My Dad passed away suddenly on Tuesday 5th March 1996, aged just 46. I was only 8-years-old and my brother was just 12. Today marks the 17th anniversary since his passing. It’s a difficult day of mixed emotions. Sadness, emptiness, a lingering inability to understand why he was taken from us. But also happiness that we had him even for just 8 years. So many kids grow up in broken homes with absent fathers and unhappy fathers who won’t or can’t give them the love and care they need and yearn for. I am thankful that I had 8 years of love, fun and memories to cherish.
I miss you, Dad, always.
They say you can’t take it with you, but I think that they’re wrong
‘Cause all I know is I woke up this morning, and something big was gone
Gone into that dark ether where you’re still young and hard and cold
Just like when they built you, brother, they broke the mold
There’s very little I can say about this song and what it means to me. The person who comes to mind when I hear this song could possibly see this (but probably won’t). Needless to say, listening to this song is not easy for me and it’s one I usually skip. It’s about young love, lost love, decisions you regret but couldn’t have changed anyway, the lies we tell ourselves about the people we have to let go, and ultimately moving on and being happy for them.
There are some songs that slip quietly into your favourites list. Then there are the songs that crash and explode into your life and have a profound effect. Kirsty MacColl’s version of the Billy Bragg song, ‘A New England’, made such an introduction. I guess it came at the right time… like many ignorant folks missing out on a wealth of amazing music, I only knew Kirsty MacColl from the Christmas classic, ‘Fairytale of New York’ with the Pogues. Then at some point in 2008, I was fortunate enough to hear this song. The exact details escape me but what does it matter – the sheer luck of getting this song into my life is all I care about.
I was struggling through my second year at university in 2008. I was deeply troubled. Going off the rails, drinking too much, making a lot of people in my life unhappy, but mostly making myself unhappy. This song came into my life with this turmoil as a backdrop. The jangly guitars, the bass, the beat…. and Kirsty’s beautiful interpretation of Billy Bragg’s lyrics. The lyrics spoke to me about isolation, problematic relationships, lost love and loneliness. I needed this song at a time when my own life was rudderless and tormented.
I saw two shooting stars last night
I wished on them, but they were only satellites
It’s wrong to wish on space hardware
I wish, I wish, I wish you’d care
So much of this could have been describing my life at that point. Some days I’d wake up and say, “yes this is where it changes. It starts here – a new day, a new life” but before I knew it, I’d be back in the same patterns of destructive behaviour. Wishing on stars, looking for signs and symbols, all those superstitions and fallacies we allow ourselves to cling to when we feel adrift and out of our comfort zones. “…but they were only satellites” summed it all up perfectly.
Once upon a time at home
I sat beside the telephone
Waiting for someone to pull me through
When at last it didn’t ring, I knew it wasn’t you
And relying on others to sort your own shit out when deep down you know, only you are capable of making those important changes. I did my fair share of waiting for others – friends, family members – to help me out of the hole. And they did as much as they could. But I was waiting for a miracle cure to my problems that was never coming. I was my problem; I was the only one who could alter my predicament. “I knew it wasn’t you” – it had to be me.
I love this song and I always will. It spoke to me then and on my bad days it still speaks to me. A wonderful bonus of discovering ‘A New England’ was that it opened the door for me to find more of Kirsty MacColl’s music. When Kirsty was tragically taken 13 years ago in a boating accident, the world of music lost a supreme talent. I feel blessed to have found her music and I hope those who read this will perhaps go on that same journey through her discography. You won’t be disappointed.
I don’t want to change the world / I’m not looking for a new England / are you looking for another girl?
Ah, the ultimate feel-good song. Guaranteed to get anyone dancing at a wedding.
In the late 80s/early 90s, my family holidayed every year in the south of England. For one week in the height of summer, we would do the 3-hour drive to Gloucestershire and stay at the Hoburn Cotswold Family Holiday Park in one of their many caravans. My aunt, uncle and cousins would usually join us. This was the best week of my whole year. Memories are too numerous to mention here (I’d be here forever) but I guess a few come to mind: my Dad wading out into the fishing lake to rescue his escaped rod, my cousins peddling their pedalo boat back to shore as if their lives depended on it when a sudden storm emerged over the park, watching the 1994 World Cup Final in our caravan before my Dad proceeded to fight me and my brother with an inflatable hammer… oh, and dancing to ‘Come On Eileen’ every night in the park’s clubhouse.
On New Year’s Eve 2012, me and my Mum danced around our living room to this song as it was played live on Jools Holland’s Hootenanny programme. It was a lovely mother-daughter moment that harked us back to those great holidays so many years ago. Glorious, wonderful memories. Things you can never get back – but you know that even if you could get them back, it never could or would be the same.
This first blog post on my 365 Days of Music project comes from my bed. This isn’t that unusual. Most Friday nights I’m in bed at 8pm. But today I have been off work sick after coming down with some viral nastiness over the last few days. I’m going to a big gig tomorrow night so I’m praying for a miracle overnight cure this evening.
Part of the reason I am doing this blog is to take a look through the variety of genres on my iPod. The range of music I enjoy is thanks in no small part to my parents. Therefore it’s quite apt that the first song on this project should be Buddy Holly. He’s one of the first artists I remember my Dad playing to me in my childhood and perhaps formed the basis of my love for 50s and 60s rock and roll from an early age. I remember it very clearly, actually. My Dad bought a CD player in the early 1990s. It was a fairly hefty thing, as were most CD players back then (it’s bizarre to think that the CD itself is dying out). I remember a few of the first CDs my Dad owned – ‘Crossroads’ by Bon Jovi, a Tina Turner greatest hits record, one of the first Puremoods compilations, and yes, Buddy’s greatest hits. It had a blue-ish cover if I remember correctly. My memory, as you can see, is quite impressive.
But that’s where the intricacies of this particular memory end. I remember Buddy and I remember loving his music. And this song was the first track on the CD. As soon as the guitar riff kicks in, you’re back in 1957. My Dad would have been 8-years-old at that time. It’s a great song and one that served me well in trivia quizzes later in life. I specifically remember one of those end-of-the-school-year quizzes in my English class in year 9 and the answer being ‘That’ll Be The Day’. I don’t recall the question – but I know I got it right. I was the only one who knew that answer too, a testament to both my memory and the longevity of my love of “old music” even at 14-years-old and now at 25.
Anyway, here is the song itself. And RIP to my dear Dad, whose 17th anniversary falls on Tuesday (5th March). I love you and miss you. Thanks for the music. x
Listening to my iPod at the weekend, I realised how remarkably varied my music tastes are. From Springsteen, to ABBA, to British Sea Power, via Prince, and through to Tiesto. Each song on my iPod has personal meaning or memory attached to it.
From Friday 1st March, I am going to write a blog post every day for a year about 1 song I find on my iPod shuffle function. This is something I’m doing for me in as much as I am doing it for my followers/readers. I don’t expect hundreds of comments or likes. It’ll be interesting to see what my iPod throws up and what stories come from this.