Soundtrack of My Life – Cracklin’ Rosie

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I don’t know quite what it is about Neil Diamond’s 1970 hit that does it but … Cracklin’ Rosie makes me smile.

From the opening seconds this song can change my mood from whatever it might be at the time to ‘happy’. There’s a sense of nostalgia in it that I don’t quite understand. It takes me back but not to a specific place or time, it just takes me back. It reminds me of years gone by, but again, nothing specific, just a sense that there was a simpler time, a time when I was younger, when it didn’t matter that it was a song about cheap wine, it was just a great song.

Cracklin’ Rosie is a type of wine drunk by a native Canadian tribe. Diamond heard a story about that tribe while doing an interview in Toronto, Canada and the story subsequently inspired him to write this song. Apparently the tribe had more men than women and Cracklin’ Rosie was the nickname they used for their homemade alcoholic brew, which the single men, who did not have dates, would sit around the fire and drink together. – wiki

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Soundtrack of my Life – Let the Day Begin

SoundtrackofMyLife.jpgThe Call were one of my very favourite bands and so when lead singer and bass player Michael Been passed away in August 2010 at the age of 60 it was a sad day indeed.

Although The Call were never megastars, you might remember some of their songs such as The Walls Came Down or Let the Day Begin.

Let the Day Begin is the title track from their 1989 album. The song reached number one on the US Mainstream Rock chart, by far their biggest hit. While none of their other songs reached those heights on the charts, they built a strong catalogue of stunning music.

The Call formed in Santa Cruz in 1980 by vocalist/guitarist Michael Been, Scott Musick, and Tom Ferrier. Been and Musick were originally from Oklahoma. Been was previously a member of Chicago band Aorta, and then, between 1969 and 1971, of Lovecraft, the successor band to the psychedelic rock group H.P. Lovecraft.

Beginning with their self-titled debut in 1982, the Call went on to produce a total of 10 albums by 2000. The eponymous premiere album was recorded in England, and Been later recalled that the band was in an exploratory phase at this point. Been noted in a 1988 interview, “The Call was a compassionate album, but it probably came out as anger.” Peter Gabriel liked the band so much that he asked them to open for him during his 1982 “Shock the Monkey” tour. – Wiki

They never classed themselves as a ‘Christian’ band but their music causes has always caused me to stop and think. It still causes me to re-evaluate my relationship with God and to feel deeply about stuff in a way that most ‘Christian’ music can’t. Here’s a snippet from an article run in Contemporary Christian Music Magazine quite some years ago.

Though the Call is marginally connected with Christian music, Been’s not given to aligning himself with it. In fact, he says he never even heard of the Cornerstone Festival before The Call’s slot on the fest’s Encore stage in July.

“I’m not even aware of that world, really,” Been explains. “I found the Christian market to be a whole different culture, and I didn’t care for it very much. It hasn’t been very exciting or interesting or innovative, although I love Over the Rhine, Bruce Cockburn and Mark Heard. I just find it sad that we make distinctions with music – to me it’s depressing that there’s even black music and white music.

“I [wish] Christian musicians wrote more about their life experiences instead of trying to be so ‘on the nose’ with spiritual language. It doesn’t give people room to be who they are at the stage they’re at in life. I like to write with the feel of parables, not in strict language. I’m attracted to people who tell me a story, and then I see what it stirs up in my own life. But putting Psalms to music? Taking 30 lines from the Bible for a song? That’s why I like religious books, for instance, rather than books on religion.”

Unfortunately, at least one recent development has further soured Been to Christian music. “Of the 10 major Christian market radio stations, six have refused to play the Best of The Call because of my involvement in The Last Temptation of Christ,” says Been, who played the role of John the Baptist in the film. “I never thought the movie was blasphemous. We were trying to do something important. Of course, if I publicly denounce and regret my involvement in it….

“It just doesn’t feel good, these rules and regulations and laws. There’s a whole lot of language you have to be hip to. I’m always asked, ‘Have you accepted the Lord?’ ‘Are you saved?’ All these codes and passwords. Well, you know, there was a different question asked many years ago in Ireland or Scotland, and it’s more to the point: ‘Do you believe in the blood?’ My answer? ‘Yes. I believe in the blood.’ I’m not quite sure what that other stuff means, but hopefully we won’t go ‘I got it! I got it!’ during our lives because once you say that, you’ve just proven that you haven’t got it.”

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Soundtrack of my Life – Ghost Ships

SoundtrackofMyLife.jpgI guess I was late to the party. I didn’t really get hooked on The Saints until I saw the video clip for Ghost Ships in the mid-eighties. It was after that I started exploring their earlier music and enjoying everything they produced from that point forward.

They’ve had more line-up changes than most people have had hot dinners, with the one constant being Chris Bailey.

While their early work was early and influential punk, their music changed regularly providing some amazing variety and some great listening.

The Saints is an Australian rock band, which formed in Brisbane in 1974. Founders were Chris Bailey (singer-songwriter, later guitarist), Ivor Hay (drummer), and Ed Kuepper (guitarist-songwriter). Alongside mainstay Bailey, the group has had numerous line-ups. In 1975, contemporaneous with United States’ Ramones, The Saints were employing the fast tempos, raucous vocals and “buzz saw” guitar that characterised early punk rock. With their debut single, “(I’m) Stranded”, in September 1976, they became the first punk band outside the US to release a record, ahead of better-known acts including the Sex Pistols and The Clash. They are one of the first and most influential groups of the genre, according to Bob Geldof, “Rock music in the seventies was changed by three bands—the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and The Saints”. – Wiki

If you’ve never heard of The Saints, or you just want to enjoy some great memories, check out the video below then go searching for some of their other music … but be warned, their tracks aren’t always as ‘gentle’ as Ghost Ships.

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Soundtrack of My Life – You Are in My System

SoundtrackofMyLife.jpgYouTube is full of memories. The video below of Robert Palmer takes me back over 25 years to the days when I’d walk into Happy Granny’s at Scarborough Beach sometime after midnight with a couple of good friends. It was a hamburger place and even before I got to the counter Ursula would be calling my order into the microphone. “One Tri-Burger, no salad, large chips, and a caramel thick shake.” Yes, I was really that predictable and I really did eat that badly.

Once I’d paid for my late night munchies I’d walk over to the video juke box and put in my money so that I could play Robert Palmer’s You Are in My System. I could watch it over and over again.

Back in those days we would sometimes be sitting around at home at 1:00 a.m. and decide to head off to Happy Granny’s for a burger. For the life of me I can not work out why any more. Back then 1 or 2 in the morning seemed like a perfectly reasonable time to grab something significant to eat. These days, the idea of being awake, let alone eating anything, at 11:00 p.m. seems completely unthinkable.

If I could swap one day from 2010 to revisit those times I’d probably do it, but I certainly wouldn’t want to go back there permanently. I’ve got great memories of those times but life is so much better here and now.

As for the song, I’ve never even owned a copy. I’ve got a couple of Robert Palmer CDs but neither contains You Are in My System. Maybe I should find a ‘best of’ that has it some day or maybe it’s just one of those songs that will remain a memory that I can find online every now and then when I want to wander down memory lane.

What songs make up the soundtrack of your life? What memories come flooding back when you hear a particular song?

Robert Palmer died way too soon in 2003 at the age of just 54 from a massive heart attack. An enormous loss to the entertainment world.

Enjoy watching the video …. and make sure you turn it up really loud.

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Soundtrack of My Life – Come on Home

SoundtrackofMyLife.jpgWhat are the songs that make up the soundtrack of your life?

This is the first of what I hope to be a regular series of posts about some of the music that I love and the part it has played in my life.

I’d encourage you to get involved too. Let me know about some of the songs that are etched in your mind. What are the tunes that bring back a flood of memories every time their opening notes start cranking out on your stereo? Are there songs you love for their music and others that speak deeply through their lyrics?

The song I want to highlight this time around is Come on Home by Everything But The Girl.

Back in the late 80s I was watching a music video show on TV when I saw the video for this song. It was the first time I’d seen or heard anything of Everything But The Girl. While the song itself doesn’t really speak about any situation with which I could really identify, the sound of the orchestra and Tracey Thorn’s vocals had me from hello.

Since then I’ve collected quite a number of EBTG CDs and many of their songs have meant a lot to me at different times. I’ll probably feature some more of their music in coming weeks because they truly are amazing. I very easily get caught up in the lyrics of the music I listen to and Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt, who make up EBTG, have written some great ones over the years.

If you’re not familiar with them you can check out this video.

The album that Come on Home came from, Baby the Stars Shine Bright, also played a significant role in my most significant relationship. I won’t say any more than that but here are the lyrics to the song that caught my heart and well and truly earned its place in the soundtrack of my life.

Come on Home

Baby come home, I miss the sound of the door
Your step on the stair’s not there to wake me no more
And every day’s like Christmas Day without you
It’s cold and there’s nothing to do

And it’s mighty quiet here now that you’re gone
I’ve been behaving myself for too long
‘Cause I don’t like sleeping
or painting the town on my own
So please come on home

Baby, what’s keeping you all this time
You’re wasting your days out there in the sunshine
And who can I turn to if you believe still
That England don’t love you and she never will

For it’s mighty quiet here now that you’re gone
And I’ve been behaving myself for too long
I don’t like sleeping
Or watching TV on my own
So please come on home

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