Jamiroquai: My ‘Five A Day’

Back in 2016, I wrote a post about the British band, Jamiroquai. This was it.
https://beetleypete.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/whatever-happened-to-jamiroquai/

Regular readers will remember that it became something of a beetleypete blogging phenomenon, attracting the most views ever on my blog, and continuing to do so for months on end. I continued the theme with no less than eleven more posts about the effect it had on my blog, and how it continued to attract so many views even after the band reformed, and released a new album.

After writing so much about it, and becoming aware that it was boring the pants off many of my most loyal followers, I called a halt to those posts, and gave the band a well-deserved rest from this blog. But a recent skim through my stats revealed that the original post remains a stalwart on my blog. Ever since I posted it, it has been viewed continuously, for over two years now.

This past month, it has been viewed at least five times every day, seven days a week. Even on the rare days when I post nothing at all, you can bet it will still get those five views, or more.

Sometimes, the experience of blogging can throw up something surprising. And this is one of those.

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Significant Songs (200)

Why Do Fools Fall In Love.

I have reached the 200th song in this series, so I am going all the way back to when I was just four years old. Of course, I was too young to even know about the song then, let alone appreciate it. But my older cousins, aunts, uncles, and family friends all loved it, and carried on playing it for years.

Once I was old enough to enjoy family gatherings and weekend parties, I soon became accustomed to hearing this old favourite played many times; watching my relatives dancing around, singing along, and doo-wopping to the music. To say that this is an infectious song would be an understatement, as it is well-nigh impossible to resist the youthful exuberance bursting from the vocals and backing. And I still love it as much today, sixty-two years after it was released. Not long after my fourth birthday.

Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers formed in New York City. When they had a huge hit with this song, lead vocalist Frankie was just fourteen years old. The following year, Frankie split from the group and became a solo artist. Like many before and since, his decision to embark on that solo career proved to be a big mistake, and further success eluded him. He turned to drugs, and started to use heroin. He died of a drug overdose in 1968, aged just twenty-five.

But his song lives on. It is still popular on film soundtracks, and even gets played on the radio.

Lyrically Evocative (16)

There are times when a song sounds so good, and is such a huge hit, it is actually quite easy to overlook the lyrics at first. And when it comes along with an outstanding video to promote it, I can find myself lost in watching, rather than listening properly. This was pretty much the case in 1990, when Sinead O’Connor released her version of Prince’s song, ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’. Written over six years earlier, Prince had never released the song himself, though he had performed it at some concerts.

Sinead’s version was a powerful and emotional rendition, stripped bare, and accompanied by one of the best pop videos ever made. It was a worldwide hit, and has become so associated with her that many people believe she actually wrote it. But she did something important, she made me listen to the lyrics, and be affected by them. This is a song about love and loss, and one that will endure.
It is so much more than the chart hit that it became.

Here are Prince’s lyrics.

It’s been seven hours and fifteen days
Since you took your love away
I go out every night and sleep all day
Since you took your love away

Since you been gone I can do whatever I want
I can see whomever I choose
I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
But nothing
I said nothing can take away these blues
‘Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares to you

It’s been so lonely without you here
Like a bird without a song
Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling
Tell me baby where did I go wrong

I could put my arms around every boy I see
But they’d only remind me of you
I went to the doctor and guess what he told me?
Guess what he told me?
He said boy you better try to have fun
No matter what you do, but he’s a fool
‘Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares to you

All the flowers that you planted mama
In the back yard
All died when you went away
I know that living with you baby was sometimes hard
But I’m willing to give it another try
‘Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares to you

Nothing compares
Nothing compares to you
Nothing compares
Nothing compares to you

“Nothing Compares 2 U” as written by Prince Rogers Nelson
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management

And here is Sinead singing them, in that great video.

(If you can’t see the clip, try refreshing the page)

Lyrically Evocative (15)

This is one of my all-time favourite songs, and if I think about it, definitely in the top three. It has featured on this blog before, but I consider the lyrics to be worth inclusion in this series. It was written by Leon Russell, and I first heard it a long time ago, in 1970. I was only 18 then, but I got a chill up my back, and knew this was something special.

The following year, I heard a new version from the soul singer, Donny Hathaway. As much as I liked Leon’s original, this new one really hit the spot for me, adding a soulful feel, and slipping sweetly inside my brain. It has since been covered countless times, by an incredibly diverse range of singers. When you see the lyrics, you will understand why.
It breaks my heart, every time.

A Song For You.

I’ve been so many places in my life and time
I’ve sung a lot of songs
I’ve made some bad rhymes
I’ve acted out my life in stages
With ten thousand people watching
But we’re alone now
And I’m singing this song to you
I know your image of me is what I hoped to be
I treated you unkindly
But darling can’t you see
There’s no one more important to me
Baby can’t you see through me?
‘Cause we’re alone now and I’m singing this song to you
You taught me precious secrets
Of a true love
You wanted nothing
You came out in front
When I was hiding
But now I’m so much better
And if my words don’t come together
Listen to the melody
‘Cause my love is in there hiding
I love you in a place
Where there’s no space or time
I love you for my life
You’re a friend of mine
And when my life is over
Remember when we were together
We were alone
And I was singing this song to you
I love you in a place
Where there’s no space or time
I love you for my life
You’re a friend of mine
And when my life is over
Remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singing this song to you
We were alone
And I was singing this song to you
We were alone and I was singing this song
Singing this song to you

Songwriters: Leon Russell
A Song for You lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

And here is Donny Hathaway, singing my own favourite version.

Lyrically Evocative (14)

In 1972, I was twenty years old. I had already been in love a couple of times, or so I thought at the time. One thing I had learned already, was that relationships are never easy, and that they are often very different to how you see them in your mind. Forty-six years later, and many more relationships and marriages behind me, I now know the truth. I never learned anything, and wonder if anyone else ever did too.

That year, I heard a short song on the radio, by Todd Rungren. It was called ‘I Saw The Light’, and it got to me immediately, seeming to sum up lots of my feelings at the time. I went out and bought the single, playing it over and over on my old record player.
A lifetime later, it is just as relevant today.

Here are Todd’s lyrics.

It was late last night
I was feeling something wasn’t right
There was not another soul in sight
Only you, only you
So we walked along,
though I knew there was something wrong
And the feeling hot me oh so strong about you
Then you gazed up at me and the answer was plain to see
‘Cause I saw the light in your eyes
Though we had our fling
I just never would suspect a thing
‘Til that little bell began to ring in my head
In my head
But I tried to run,
though I knew it wouldn’t help me none
‘Cause I couldn’t ever love no one, or so I said
But my feelings for you
were just something I never knew
‘Til I saw the light in your eyes
But I love you best
It’s not something that I say in jest
‘Cause you’re different, girl, from all the rest
In my eyes
And I ran out before but I won’t do it anymore
Can’t you see the light in my eyes

Songwriters: Todd Rundgren
I Saw the Light lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

And here he is from 1972, singing them.

By coincidence, this very song was featured on The Immortal Jukebox yesterday, the wonderful music blog of Thom Hickey, not long after I had written this up as a draft. His far superior post features other versions of the song too. I cannot recommend his blog highly enough, and any music lovers would do well to give it a look.
Here’s a link.
Todd Rundgren, Barb Jungr, Hal Ketchum & Mari Wilson : I Saw The Light

Significant Songs (199)

Ain’t No Pleasing You

Another death prompted this tribute. Today we heard the news that Charles ‘Chas’ Hodges has died, at the age of 74. He was half of the popular duo, Chas and Dave, who have been well-known around the English music scene since 1975. They brought a particular sound to prominence, and if you were from London, you could recognise the distinctive Cockney accents, the Pub-singer style, and the use of common slang in their lyrics.

They could be classed as a ‘novelty act’, but still had significant chart success. For me, their slower songs reminded me of nights in family pubs, house parties when I was a child, and relatives singing, as others played the piano. I doubt they had much attention internationally, as their sound was targeted specifically at a British audience, perhaps even just a London one. But there is no denying that they became an institution; with their trademark scruffy style, memorable singalong songs, and numerous TV appearances on everything from mainstream chart shows, to trendy chat shows.

Lead singer and pianist Chas will be missed, and is unlikely to ever be replaced. Even though they usually appeared as a three-piece with a drummer, the two front men were the essence of the group, and I doubt anyone could name the third member. As well as performing in their own right, they continued respected careers as session musicians too, appearing on the recordings of many well-known artists. They even gained a name for their unique musical genre. By combining Cockney and Rock, we got ‘Rockney’. This song from 1982 may not mean much to an international audience, but it gets right inside my heart every time I hear it.
If I could sing, that’s what it would sound like.
R.I.P. Chas Hodges. 1943-2018

Great Albums: The Soul Sessions

In 2003, I heard a track from a new album by a young British singer, Joss Stone. I thought her voice sounded amazing, and I was very surprised to discover she was only 16 years old. I asked about it in a record shop, and was told the debut release was called ‘The Soul Sessions’. It was an album of song covers, with the originals recorded by a diverse assortment of singers and groups. It covered everything from Waylon Jennings, to Aretha Franklin and The Isley Brothers. I bought a copy, wondering if she had been too bold to take on such giants of the industry.

But I needn’t have worried. Right from the start, I heard that she was up to the task. And track two kept the good feeling going.

Track three was her version of a more modern song, the White Stripes hit from 2001.

By track six, she was all the way back to 1967, with a song I remembered from The Soul Bothers Six.

Her good taste extended to track eight, with a wonderful ballad written and recorded by John Sebastian.

Track ten finished off the CD with a great (almost-accapella) version of the Isley Bothers hit, ‘For The Love Of You’.
I played the whole thing again, straight away.
The following year, it won The Mercury Music Prize, for Best New Album.

Joss is still very much around on the scene. As well as releasing six more albums, she turned to acting too, with well-received parts in TV series like ‘The Tudors’ on BBC, and the film ‘Eragon’.