Saturday, April 04, 2020

Letter From Springtime England Amid Covid: Allan Thompson

R&R 28: English Village Life | St George International
Amidst the hurly-burly of the Covid-19 disaster, a good friend from the green fields and valleys of ole England writes to me after some years of solitude. No, that's not true. He's been writing to me very often, so I asked if I could post one of his private mails on the blog. He agreed; Allan Thompson always does. So here goes, a short but refreshing description to brief us Singaporeans about the situation in suburban England.

Warnings over proposed 500% council tax rise in Yorkshire Dales ...
Dear Andy,

Glad to hear you are well and coping with the restrictions. We are having deliveries of vegetables and food generally. We both exercise at home a couple of times a day and I go for a long brisk walk every second day around the village which is quite spread out so it is easy to keep clear of any cyclists, joggers and other walkers.

It is good to hear the Spring birds singing while most people are closeted and not making human noise with traffic and machinery and loud music. We are permitted half an hour outside for exercise each day and are permitted unlimited fresh air in our gardens. 
IQBAR on Twitter: "English Oral Practice Topic: #Spring #season ...
We have a small garden and make full use of it with vegetables, flowers and herbs. The blossoms on the flowering currant bush attract all varieties of bees which make a soothing buzzing sound like an insect orchestra, and the birds sing loudly each morning to awaken us. 

It is pleasant when the sun shines but there is still a keen edge to the breeze which is forecast to change direction at the weekend and bring higher temperatures. 

I will be going for an extra walk in an hour's time and hope to tell you more about Springtime in England.

Afterwards:

I have just returned from my brisk walk around the village and I feel invigorated from the exercise. Not too many people around: three people jogging separately, a pair of cyclists, a lady riding a Clydesdale-cross work horse, two almost-empty buses, one or two essential delivery vans, and a few very sensible pedestrians keeping their distance. 
thoroughbred clydesdale cross for sale | Horses for Sale (With ...
On the negative side: an elderly man balanced on top of a tall, rickety wooden step-ladder, hosing down the plastic corrugated roof of his car-port. If he falls and injures himself, that will mean an ambulance and possibly hospital treatment when the National Health Service is working at full stretch already. 

There are too many idiots thinking they can flout the Government's advice, including the far-too-many private cars on the main roads making non-essential journeys. 
6 Steps to a No-Work Cottage Garden | Better Homes & Gardens
On a brighter note, it was lovely to see the cherry trees in full bloom and daffodils thrusting their golden heads towards the sun, while the wild birds sing their cheerful songs in the trees and hedgerows. Many people, including us, are taking advantage of the fine weather to plant vegetables, prune shrubs, and do some weeding. 

Ours is a fairly small garden but it is enclosed at the back so it is very private and is protected from late frosts by high wooden fences and bushes. We also have a small polythene greenhouse where Mary grows vegetables from seed and later in the Summer it is full of tall, bushy tomato plants which usually give us a good crop.

Well, I must go out and prune some more hydrangea branches.

Keep well, old friend. 

Regards, 
Allan Thompson.
'Out of Town' by Max Bygraves: Allan Thompson's song that uplifts him.

Spring songs - hmm. 

There is an instrumental called "Spring Is Near" by The Outlaws which came out on a 1961 single on HMV. (NOT the later country supergroup of that name, but the British guitar group produced by Joe Meek). 

"Spring! Spring! Spring!" from the film, "7 Brides For 7 Brothers". 

I've also cheated by Googling songs about Spring: 
"Younger Than Springtime" (various artists have done this); 
"Spring Fever" (Elvis Presley); 
"Spring Rain" (Pat Boone); 
"Suddenly It's Spring" (Frank Sinatra); 
"Spring" (Serendipity Singers). 
"Out Of Town" (by Max Bygraves remains, oddly enough, one of my favourite uplifting songs.)
Elvis Presley sings 'Spring Fever' from movie, 'Girls, Girls, Girls' where springtime is adequately and pleasantly dramatised.

Images from Google.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Corona Virus Covid-19: No April Fool Joke

Bob Dylan's 'Murder Most Foul' is a 17-minute new song about JFK ...
Bob Dylan:
For Times They Are A Changin'
Come Senators, Congressmen... 
Please heed the call.

50 Years of 'Peanuts' Specials Ranked
PEANUTS: Charles M. Schulz.
Peppermint Patty: 
What surprises you most about this Corona Virus predicament?
Charlie Brown:
It has done what no woman has been able to do. Cancel all sports,
shut down all bars and keep men at home.
PNG Fat Man Transparent Fat Man.PNG Images. | PlusPNG
"They're kidding me. It's gonna take more than 14 days to flatten the curve."
When High Noon Strikes - The Catholic Thing
Cary Cooper during a scene in 'High Noon' (1952). Looks somewhat familiar today.
Stunning cliparts | Husband And Wife Fighting Clipart Images| (45)

Husband:
We are told to stay safe, stay home!
Wife:
Yes, so keep your social distance!  10 metres away!
VINTAGE SHEET MUSIC 1961 ~ Corrine - Corrina ~ Ray Peterson ...
It's Corrine, Corrina by Ray Peterson and not Corona, Corona. She's another.

Seriously? It's not an April Fool joke. So listen to what the authorities and health specialists are telling you. Stay home because the times are a changin'.
The Seekers: A World of Our Own. YouTube Video by awhwong. Thank you.
Some good advice from this 60's group:

Close the door, light the lights
We're stayin' home tonight
Far away from the bustle and the bright city lights
Let them all fade away, just leave us alone
And we'll live in a world of our own...
(Composer: Tom Springfield)
Boy Dylan: For Times They Are A Changin' YouTube

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.
(Composer: Bob Dylan)

Images: Google, pluspng.com

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Corona Virus: Stay Home, Don't Travel, Keep Distance: Wouldn't it Be Loverly

YES
All I want is a room somewhere
Far away from the cool night air...
(Stay home)
A TEACHING SONG FOR CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19)
'WOULDN'T IT BE LOVERLY'

Negative advice if it's in RED 👎 NO

Positive advice if it's in BLUE 👍 YES

It's rather dull in town, I think I'll take me to Paris, hmm 👎
The mistress wants to open up the castle in Capri, hmm
Me doctor recommends a quiet summer by the sea, hmm, mmm
Wouldn't it be loverly?

All I want is a room somewhere 👍
Far away from the cold night air
With one enormous chair
Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?

Lots of chocolate for me to eat 👎             

Lots of coal makin' lots of heat 👍
Warm face, warm hands, warm feet
Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?

Oh, so lovely sittin'
Abso-bloomin'-lutely still
I would never budge till spring
Crept over me window sill

Someone's head restin' on my knee 👎
Warm and tender as he can be
Who takes good care of me
Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?
NO
(Don't Travel)
250+ Great Paris Photos Pexels · Free Stock Photos
I'll take me to Paris, open a castle in Capri and have a quiet Summer by the sea.

Source: LyricFin
Sung by Julie Andrews
Songwriters: Alan Jay Lerner / Frederick Loewe
Wouldn't It Be Loverly lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc
Julie Andrews: 'Wouldn't It Be Loverly' from 'My Fair Lady'. Thank You.

Images: Google
Video: YouTube
NO
(Social Distancing)
Loving Man Lying On Woman's Lap In Bed by ALTO IMAGES - Romance ...
'Someone's head resting on my knee.' No! It's the surest way to get Covid.

YES
'Lots of coal, making lots of heat.'
(Relax at home)
HDR Photo Of Hot And Cosy Fireplace Stock Photo, Picture And ...

Monday, March 23, 2020

Kenny Rogers: A Tribute From Henri Gann (The Trekkers)

Life has a way of simplifying things. Just when we were mesmerized by the news day after day with the spread of the Corona virus and states and countries lockdown to prevent the pandemic, stock market crashes that robbed us of our paper wealth, our thoughts are halted by the news of Kenny Rogers death last night.

I have never been a fan of Kenny but when I went through his list of hits, I find myself listening to music that was once my favorite. Just listen to 'Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town' (1969) which to this day still rhymes in my head when I think of Kenny. How about 'Islands in the Stream' (1983) with Dolly Parton. I remember hearing from others or even finding myself singing to the high pitch portion of the tune. 
And in my quiet moments sitting in an airport lounge or restaurants or driving my car through the busy traffic of the LA Freeway, I would find myself humming to the tune of 'Lucille' (1977), 'We've Got Tonight' (1983) with Sheena Easton, a song which best described as will bring tears in your eyes and likewise with 'Through the Years'(1981) and 'Don't Fall in Love' with a 'Dreamer' (1980) with Kim Carnes.

Kenny had his hit with Sheena when she was at her peak career, an unusual combination for two rock stars at that time. Dolly in 'Today' (2017) said Kenny was always like a brother to her. Kim Carnes multi Grammy journey and famous for her hit 'Bette Davis Eyes' took her duets further by doing a duet  with Kenny Rogers after a successful hit of 'Make No Mistake He's Mine' with Barbara Streisand.
Here's his family farewell release on Kenny Rogers who passed away at the age of 81 late Friday, March 20, 2020.

"Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family..

The family said they were planning a small private service out of concern for the national COVID-19 emergency."

His songs have endeared music lovers and touched the lives of millions around the world," said the statement posted by his representative Keith Hagan.

A three-time Grammy winner who sold tens of millions of records

He went on to have 24 number one hits and was a six-time Country Music Association Awards winner.


AFP News March 21, 2020.
Image result for kenny rogers
In 2013 Rogers was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

RIP KENNY ROGERS & CONDOLENCES TO HIS FAMILY AND LOVED ONES.

This tribute was written by Henri Gann (L.A. California).


Watching him live by Joey Koh.
https://singapore60smusic.blogspot.com/2016/08/kampong-boy-meets-kenny-rogers-sheena.html

Sunday, March 22, 2020

J.D. Salinger: 'Catcher In The Rye' Inspired Songs

UP TO 900
READERS  

One of my favourite books, Catcher In The Rye, written by J.D. Salinger in 1951, has long been inspirational for songwriters. 

Salinger, (previous blog posting January, 28th, 2010) who died on January 27th, 2010 aged 91, has his book as reference when these 10 songs were written:


1) Catcher In The Rye - Guns n Roses
2) Six Minutes - Jonas Brothers
3) Get It Right - The Offspring

4) Roller Shake Skinny - Old 97's

5) Shadrach - Beastie Boys
6) Le Pastie de la Bourgeoisie - Belle n Sebastian

7) Who Wrote Holden Caulfield - Green Day

8) We Didn't Start The Fire - Billy Joel (image)
9) Warning Shots - Rick Springfield
10) Good Year - The Refreshments

Holden Caulfield was an anti-hero who spoke like a real teenager and rebelled against conformity. With his conclusion that successful people were phonies, Caulfield was punk rock long before punk rock existed (Spinner Staff).
'We Didn't Start The Fire': Billy Joel. VEVO from YouTube Grammy Nominated 'Storm Front' Album

Summary:

The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield recounts the days following his expulsion from Pencey Prep, a private school. After a fight with his roommate, Stradlater, Holden leaves school two days early to explore New York before returning home, interacting with teachers, prostitutes, nuns, an old girlfriend, and his sister along the way. 

Salinger's classic illustrates a teenager's dramatic struggle against death and growing up: pitting the innocence against the authenticity of childhood.

I am not familiar with most of the songs but some singers are familiar:

Billy Joel - Piano Man - 1973 

Rick Springfield - Beginnings - 1972; Jessie's Girl - 1981. 
Rick Springfield: '3 Warning Shots'. About Mark David Chapman who shot John Lennon. 

Many songs and pieces of music are inspired by William Shakespeare's plays. Are you familiar with any song inspired by a book that you have read? It could be in Chinese, Malay or any other language. Possibly a 60's song or novel?

Images: Google. 1) Book cover 2) Rick Springfield 3) Billy Joel.
Information: Cliff Notes.
Image result for rick springfield

Monday, March 16, 2020

Of Covid-19, China, Europe, U.S. & Pop Music Decadence


Up to 500 viewers 
since 16 March '20

My blog is not a political boxing ring and never will be but when a good friend writes so convincingly to defend a strong belief, which includes music artistes from the 60's and 70's, I have no option but to publish this very short paper, with the writer's permission of course. Andy.

When A Civilisation Declines Everything Declines

This Covid-19 has revealed how efficient China has become and conversely how lax and inefficient the West has become. The Westerners are now at the final stage of  their decline - same as Rome was around the 4th Century when St Augustine was bishop in a town in North Africa. 


What a pity. They are losing their influence, power and culture, everything European. Pity, their music is so rich and beautiful (not American music, especially their pop songs and dance by people like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and others).  Our descendants may not be able to appreciate the classical music that we are privileged to enjoy.

Andy, I am not condemning all things American or all their music and dances. Some of them are just plain vulgar. I mean just listen to the music of the last few decades.  There were many artistes, composers especially in the first half of the last century - composers like Romberg, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lowe and Lerner, etc.

If I have written biased, sweeping statements that offended you or are contradictory to your favourite singers, music, please accept my apologies. When a civilization declines everything declines.  This is my first and last experience of witnessing the signs of a decadent civilization.  

I remember you once told me that America is 'plastic' while Europe is not. You were so right. In the last century America made so much progress in science and technology and medicine. However many of the people who made this possible were Jews and Europeans. The great Irvin Berlin was a Russian immigrant. Romberg studied music in Vienna and was from there. 

Sometimes I think that if I had been educated and raised in China I would have had learnt and be able to appreciate Chinese poetry, music. But I might not have become Catholic - the most important thing in my life.  Of course I would have suffered terribly the evils of communism under Mao and the terrible Cultural Revolution.  Sadly, China will one day also decline like the West but unlike the West the Chinese civilization has remained intact after going though so many dynasties and systems of government.

My mentor, a French priest who spent 18 years in China, told me that it was the family that helped the Chinese to remain intact. In the midst of the present prosperity, I don't know whether they can preserve the family as Confucius so wisely taught the Chinese to preserve because if the family is destroyed the civilization will be destroyed. This has happened in the West.

The Catholic church has taught the same thing. Although many Catholics divorced, the Church has stood firm on the indissolubility of marriage. I think it's very wise. This is God's law, not a man-made law.

Sorry for boring you. Thanks for reading the rambling of an old man, Andy.


We welcome comments from readers.

(The writer wishes to remain anonymous but I'd like to thank the person for  views and ideals presented so truthfully and sincerely.)

Images: Google (1/2) China/US flags (3) Bernhard Romberg (4) Michael Jackson; (5) Confucius (6) Irving Berlin. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Rock and Roll Comes To Singapore: Michael Bangar

Rock n Roll Comes To Singapore by Michael Bangar, Professional Musician.

Hi Andy! 

I just want to share with the blog readers, my version of how the British music invasion of the 1960's forever changed Rock & Roll and Pop Music throughout the world.

It was the 1950's, and most of us were probably in school. Those who owned Radiograms (Hi-Fi Sets in today's terms: image 3 right) were quite well off. Most of us grew up listening to the radio, and the radio stations were Radio Singapore & Radio Malaya, broadcasting in our four languages. Some even owned Rediffusion sets (if you recall those cute rectangular shaped black audio-box sets with a speaker built-in: image 2 left). Rediffusion had The Silver Network in English (few hours in the morning were allotted daily for the Malay listeners) and The Golden Network in Chinese (few hours were also allotted daily for the Indian listeners).
TV only arrived on our shores in 1962! The music that came out of those music contraptions played by the DJ's from that period, would mostly be classified as Standards today. Songs by artiste such as Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Perry Como, Johnny Ray, Andy Williams, Vic Damone, Frankie Lane, etc. and female artistes like Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Debbie Reynolds, Jo Stafford, Cleo Laine, Kaye Starr and even Marilyn Monroe.

Then in the year 1955, a new kind of Beat Music was slowly sweeping across the USA. It took the youngsters by storm and they were all dancing to the beat. A young DJ named Allan Freed was watching all this action. He dreamt the phrase Rock and Roll because these kids were rocking and rolling to this music and that was how that genre came about. This new music landed on our shores in 1956.

I had just started school. Primary One to be exact, at Telok Kurau Primary School in Lorong J, Telok Kurau Road (image: last below). Almost all of the young kids on this side of the world, including myself were suddenly taken over by this new music called Rock & Roll. To some extent with some of us, our school work took a back seat. I used to cut out and even collect photos and features of these new music stars from newspapers and magazines.
First to arrive here via vinyl records (78's and a bit later 45's and 33's - remember) were Pat Boone, Bill Haley and His Comets, Ricky Nelson, Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, etc. The King, Elvis Presley took a little longer to get here but when he did - it came down on us like a ton of bricks. WOW!

All of a sudden, our airwaves were invaded by songs like, Love Letters In The Sand, Rock Around The Clock, Poor Little Fool, Be-Bop-A-Lula, Peggy Sue, Summertime Blues. The King then took us by storm with Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, Teddy Bear, Jailhouse Rock and the list goes on. Then Great Britain gave us their Rock and Roll Stars: Tommy Steele, Marty Wilde, Frankie Vaughn, Billy Fury and a year or so later Cliff Richard accompanied by The Shadows. What A Time It Was! Life was never the same after that.
B.B. King, Albert King and Freddie King: The 3 Kings of the Blues.

They were all Caucasian artistes and their music was classified as Rock and Roll. The African American Artistes like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Ray Charles and Bo Diddley, didn't quite make it big time over here. They were classified as Rhythm and Blues but they were a huge influence across the Atlantic, in Great Britain especially. 

Other Blues artistes like Muddy Waters, Albert King, Howling Wolf, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Freddy King, etc. were the heroes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Spencer Davis Group, The Searchers, Gerry And The Pacemakers, Freddy And The Dreamers. These were artistes that were involved in the so-called Great British Music Invasion of the mid 1960's, and that changed popular music forever.
Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps sings one of his biggest hits, 'Be-Bop-A-Lula'.

In the mid 1950's over in the U.S.A., the people in charge were not too pleased with the arrival of this new music categorized as Rock and Roll (calling it the black man's music and even the music of Satan) and tried their best to suppress it even to the point of destroying it. They didn't like the way the young were absorbing the music and grooving to the rhythm and the beat. Prime movers to this notion were the heads of religious organisations and church leaders. They were of the opinion that this music was corrupting and would eventually destroy all the American Youth. Looking at it now, and how it turned out, they were so wrong! Even church hymns and songs have incorporated Rock and Roll rhythms into their music. 

Therefore, when Rock and Roll was sweeping the US, they went on a rampage to destroy the first generation of Rock & Roll stars. They charged Jerry Lee Lewis and eventually imprisoned him for marrying his 13 year old niece (daughter of his bassist). Chuck Berry was also jailed for income tax evasion. Worried that he might be next Little Richard (Richard Penniman) took up religion and became a pastor. Apparently, he threw all his jewellery into a river. Ricky Nelson took a step back away from the spotlight. 
B.B. King sings with his guitar called, Lucille. From YouTube Video

The King, Elvis Presley, was drafted into the Military and sent away to Germany. A few years later, when he returned he toned down and lost a bit of his raw Rock And Roll edge. In 1957 Eddie Cochran, died in Bristol, UK, while on tour when the taxi he was in collided with another vehicle. Then in 1959 while on tour, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper were killed when their plane crashed into the side of a mountain. Almost all of the first generation rockers were out of action.

It was then that the record companies in the US created this new breed of pop of stars who were very marketable, clean cut and wholesome and they took over the pop music scene. Frankie Avalon, Fabian Forte, Brian Hyland, Johnny Tillotson, Bobby Vee, Bobby Rydell, Bobby Vinton, etc.. That probably inspired Jerry Lee Lewis’ famous quote, "Suddenly there was a whole lotta Bobbies!" Ha Ha Ha! Good one Jerry! Soon after, an exciting 5 piece band called, The Beach Boys came on the scene and enjoyed a string of hits with their surfing songs.
Image result for gif chubby checker twist
In 1962, Chubby Checker came along with The Twist (above) and had a string of hits, which also sparked a new dance craze. So while real and exciting first Generation Rock and Roll was watered down in the US, it made a great impact across the Atlantic in the UK on the young English people. Through records, movies and television the British were influenced by what is now termed Classic Rock and Roll.

Meanwhile in the year 1957 in the US, The Ventures started The Guitar Instrumental Band trend with their first hit Walk Don't Run. The following year, Britain gave us The Shadows with their massive hit Apache (now voted The Best Guitar Instrumental Song of all time) and they became stars in their own right. Just a year before, they were known as the backing band for one Cliff Richard (now Sir) who gave the world his first hit Move It followed by Please Don't Tease, Living Doll, Travelling Light, etc.

Best regards,
Michael Bangar

Written by Michael Bangar (image 1).
Copyrights Reserved.
 Telok Kurau Primary School in the 1960's on the east coast of Singapore.

Michael has written nearly 2 dozen postings for this blog and they all stem from his first-hand experience as an established and professional musician in Singapore since the 1960's when he was very young. 

Please go to the Content Column on the right of this page, scroll down, look for MICHAEL BANGAR and click. His stories are ripe for readin'.

Thank you very much Michael.
Michael Bangar, with his trade mark sunglasses during one of his concerts at a famous tourist spot on Sentosa Island, Singapore in May 2017. Image from Fabian Foo. Thanks Fab.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Covid-19: Singapore: Only The Strong Survive: Elvis


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A song written by Jerry Butler, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and originally sung by Jerry Butler in 1968, released on his album The Ice Man Cometh.

Because of the world crisis today, I thought the title would be inspirational enough. The song had not been in the limelight, even though it was sung by the King, but the chorus is a great war-cry against the virus.

With much support and help from Singapore Front-Liners, all will survive. So psych yourselves everyone! 

Be strong, think positive, believe in the people who are in charge.

Thanks again to the doctors, nurses, hospital assistants, security people, attendants and other front-liners who face the patients.

Partial lyrics below: Elvis Presley's version - 1969. 

"Oh, there's gonna be, there's gonna be
A whole lot of trouble in your life
Oh, so listen to me, get up off of your knees
Cause only the strong survive"

That's what she said:
"Only the strong survive, only the strong survive
Oh, you've got to be strong, you'd better hold on
Don't go all around with your head hung down"

And she said it:
"Only the strong survive, only the strong survive
Oh, you've got to be a man, you've got to take a stand
Only the strong survive, only the strong survive..."
'From Elvis In Memphis' - LSP 4155 RCA VICTOR (17.06.1969) Rockaway Pressing  US -vinyl record.

Images: Google.
Image result for elvis presley in hospital