Monday 24 January 2011

News, Views and Music Issue 88: Home Towns In Song

Lindisfarne’s song about their home town ‘doon the Tyne’ set me thinking – how many other AAA bands have written about their home town – or adopted home town – in song? Now, this is a pretty big subject and takes in all corners of the globe (though no prizes for guessing that the UK and USA dominate the list as we have it here) so I’ll bet I’ve missed some AAA songs out along the way – let me know on the forum if you can think of any. For now, though, here, in order, of popularity is this week’s top five of the most mentioned home towns in AAA music (and I’ll be dead impressed if you guess which city/town/region/state comes first – I didn’t see that coming!):

5) London (four mentions): Homeland of The Kinks and The Rolling Stones, although surprisingly perhaps only the former have mentioned it in song. ‘Waterloo Sunset’ is the track that everybody knows, an eerie atmospheric ballad about two lovers that – as Ray admitted on the Imagine documentary over Christmas – was a private song he nearly didn’t release because he didn’t think anybody else would relate to it (the actual inspiration comes from a childhood illness that saw Ray in hospital, with a large window looking out onto the bridge his only companion for several days). There are two other Kinks-related song dedicated to London – ‘Muswell Hillbillies’ a countryish account of the district where the Davies brothers grew up (the band even appear in their local Muswell Hill pub on the cover) and ‘London Song’, Ray’s eccentric rock song about what it means to be a Londoner, born in the ‘cold, dark, mysterious place’ ‘between the four bells’ which can be heard in two very different arrangements on his live album ‘The Storyteller’. Paul McCartney and Wings, meanwhile, dedicate both a song and an album to ‘London Town’ (where ‘silver rain was falling down’) – something that must have come as a bit of a shock to his record company, as the album was recorded for the most part on two boats in the Bahamas!

4) California (four mentions): Homeland of The Beach Boys, who have of course mentioned it several times in song. ‘California Girls’ is the most famous, a song full of tribute to how the local girls are the prettiest anywhere in the world and a cover of close friends The Mamas and The Papas’ ‘California Dreamin’ is just as well known if not in this version (look out for the Beach Boys comp ‘Summer Dreams’ if you don’t already own it). However, a mention too for the band’s last great paen to their homeland – the three-part ‘California Saga’ from the album named, erm, ‘Holland’ of all things, which is dedicated to the multi-century history of the American state and how it was formed ‘from the beaks of eagles’ (or something like that – Mike Love’s monologue in the middle section usually puts me to sleep!) Finally, Brian Wilson has returned at last to the ‘California’ theme for his last album of original material ‘That Lucky Old Sun’ with a moving ‘Southern California’ ending his most autobiographical album to date with an emotional tale of getting back to your roots.

3) New York (four mentions): The adopted homeland of Simon and Garfunkel, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, among others. The latter pair even made an album called ‘Sometime In New York City’, but for the purposes of this review we’re sticking to just the songs. ‘Midsummer New York’ is a little-heard Yoko rocker about the town she moved to in her late teens, long before she met Lennon, and is filled with a raw edgyness and angst that works well with the retro backing. Simon and Garfunkel, meanwhile, made two songs about their nearest home town as well as two famous concerts in Central Park, announced as a ‘neighbourhood concert’ by the singers on stage. ‘The Only Living Boy In New York’ is Paul Simon alone, tying up the loose ends on the final S+G album ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and wondering where his partner has gone (he’s actually filming for the movie ‘Catch 22’), bemoaning the fact he has no one to relate to and is now ‘The Only Living Boy In New York’ (before you ask, Art is ‘Tom’ in the song – the pseudonym Garfunkel used in the pair’s earliest days as ‘Tom and Jerry’). Art solo, meanwhile, covered the Gallagher and Lyle song ‘A Heart In New York’ (on the album ‘Scissors Cut’ , 1981), a song of awe about the narrator’s surroundings on his first visit to the city. For a different view of New York, see 10cc’s pairing Godley and Creme lampooning what they see as the falseness and artificiality of the place on ‘An Englishman In New York’, where a tourist is badly out of his depth in a world of kitsch and people trying to pinch his money. I’m still waiting for a reply to this song spoofing 10cc’s home town: ‘An American in Stockport’! And remember, those ‘I Love NY’ t-shirts you keep saying are really worn by AAA fans declaring their love for Neil Young!

2) Liverpool (four mentions): Home town to the Beatles, obviously, as well as The Searchers, with mentions in song by three separate Beatles plus a song by our old friends Lindisfarne about the town they christened their ‘second favourite’ after Newcastle! The obvious Beatles song is, of course, ‘Penny Lane’, a typical McCartney song that might have a story in there somewhere but probably doesn’t, all held together with a wonderfully nostalgic tune that keeps walking it’s owner straight back to the starting point. John Lennon, meanwhile added Liverpool to his song for Yoko ‘You Are Here’ from the ‘Mind Games’ album, with the lovely line about how far the pair have come ‘From Liverpool to Tokyo – what a way to go!’ Ringo, meanwhile, is downright grumpy on his song ‘The Other Side Of Liverpool’ from 2010’s ‘Y Not?’, putting the backs of the people of his home town up yet again with the line ‘Liverpool is cold and damp – the only way out of there, drums, guitar and amp’ (I live near Liverpool and the animosity towards Ringo’s last two albums in the shops for his comments – where I was actually growled at by one shop assistant for daring to buy this album – is huge and fierce still). Lindisfarne’s mournful ‘100 Miles To Liverpool’ from their otherwise disastrous ‘Dance Your Life Away’ album, meanwhile, finds a tired and bored band embarking on a bus for their latest gig – only to meet with two Scouse long-term fans along the way and feeling inspired all over again. Aah.

1) Los Angeles (five mentions): Surprisingly Los Angeles (or L.A. as its most commonly referred to in song) wins by a nose – even though none of the AAA bands actually come from there! First up is The Beach Boys’ ‘LA Light Album’ (where light refers to ‘the awareness and presence of God, here in this world, as an ongoing, loving reality’ according to the sleeve-notes in case you were wondering!) Next is Art Garfunkel’s second song of Americana balladry ’99 Miles From L.A.’ (from our AAA classic album ‘Breakaway’ 1975), with the narrator desperate to get home. The Grateful Dead, meanwhile – the closest to an AAA band from LA although in truth they’re scattered from all over the place – went for the eerie ‘West L.A. Fadeaway’ on their 1987 ‘comeback’ ‘In The Dark’, with Jerry Garcia’s narrator looking for his hotel room and realising they all look the same. 10cc have plumped for hilarity again, sending up a town, on ‘L.A. Inflatable’ (from the album ‘Look, Hear’) where nothing is as it seems and everything is false. Finally, ending this list is Neil Young’s song from ‘Time Fades Away’, simply titled ‘L.A.’, which has veers from being eerie to being the sweetest song on a troubled album – ‘don’t you wish that you could be here too?’ indeed.

Towns and cities just bubbling under include: Paris (The Grateful Dead visit it, Stephen Stills spends midnight there and 10cc the whole of ‘eun nuit’) Mexico (Jefferson Airplane enjoy the ‘smoke’ during a drugs raid and Beach Boy Dennis Wilson names a breezy instrumental after the country), Cambridge (various Pink Floyd songs about Grantchester Meadows and Fat Old Suns), Kansas (as in Beatles cover ‘Kansas City’ and Cat Stevens’ Kanasas City Nightmare’), Amsterdam/ Holland (The Beach Boys name an album after the former and Jack The Lad a song after the latter), Tokyo (10cc sing it’s praises and Denny Laine the bad luck there when colleague Paul McCartney suffers a drugs bust there), there’s three visits to Hollywood with The Byrds (when Mae Jean goes to visit, whoever she may be), The Monkees (who simply name a song ‘Hollywood’ for no good reason) and 10cc (who are there ‘somewhere’!) and finally, how we could go without mentioning Cleveland just once? (The sheer hatred of the place from various Jefferson Starship songs – and as the possible inspiration for The Kinks’ ‘Welcome To Sleazy Town’ – makes me determined never to set foot there!)

Well, that’s it for another issue – wherever you live, wherever you’re reading this, we’ll see you next time!

A NOW COMPLETE List Of Top Five/Top Ten/TOP TWENTY  Entries 2008-2019
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2) Songs For The Face Of Bo

3) Credit Crunch Songs

4) Songs For The Autumn

5) National Wombat Week

6) AAA Box Sets

7) Virus Songs

8) Worst AAA-Related DVDs

9) Self-Punctuating Superstar Classics

10) Ways To Know You Have Turned Into A Collector

11) Political Songs

12) Totally Bonkers Concept Albums

13) Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

14) Still Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

15) AAA Existential Questions

16) Releases Of The Year 2008

17) Top AAA Xmas Songs

18) Notable AAA Gigs

19) All things '20' related for our 20th issue

20) Romantic odes for Valentine's Day

21) Hollies B sides

22) 'Other' BBC Session Albums

23) Beach Boys Rarities Still Not Available On CD

24) Songs John, Paul and George wrote for Ringo's solo albums

25) 5 of the Best Rock 'n' Roll Tracks From The Pre-Beatles Era

26) AAA Autobiographies

27) Rolling Stones B-sides

28) Beatles B-Sides

29) The lllloooonnngggeesssttt AAA songs of all time

30) Kinks B-Sides

31) Abandoned CSNY projects 'wasted on the way'

32) Best AAA Rarities and Outtakes Sets

33) News We've Missed While We've Been Away

34) Birthday Songs for our 1st Anniversary

35) Brightest Album Covers

36) Biggest Recorded Arguments

37) Songs About Superheroes

38) AAA TV Networks That Should Exist

39) AAA Woodtsock Moments

40) Top Moments Of The Past Year As Voted For By Readers

41) Music Segues

42) AAA Foreign Language Songs

43) 'Other' Groups In Need Of Re-Mastering

44) The Kinks Preservation Rock Opera - Was It Really About The Forthcoming UK General Election?

45) Mono and Stereo Mixes - Biggest Differences

46) Weirdest Things To Do When A Band Member Leaves

47) Video Clips Exclusive To Youtube (#1)

48) Top AAA Releases Of 2009

49) Songs About Trains

50) Songs about Winter

51) Songs about astrology plus horoscopes for selected AAA members

52) The Worst Five Groups Ever!

53) The Most Over-Rated AAA Albums

54) Top AAA Rarities Exclusive To EPs

55) Random Recent Purchases (#1)

56) AAA Party Political Slogans

57) Songs To Celebrate 'Rock Sunday'

58) Strange But True (?) AAA Ghost Stories

59) AAA Artists In Song

60) Songs About Dogs

61) Sunshiney Songs

62) The AAA Staff Play Their Own Version Of Monoploy/Mornington Crescent!

63) What 'Other' British Invasion DVDs We'd Like To See

64) What We Want To Place In Our AAA Time Capsule

65) AAA Conspiracy Theroies

66) Weirdest Things To Do Before - And After - Becoming A Star

67) Songs To Tweet To

68) Greatest Ever AAA Solos

69) John Lennon Musical Tributes

70) Songs For Halloween

71) Earliest Examples Of Psychedelia

72) Purely Instrumental Albums

73) AAA Utopias

74) AAA Imaginary Bands

75) Unexpected AAA Cover Versions

76) Top Releases of 2010

77) Songs About Snow

78) Predictions For 2011

79) AAA Fugitives

80) AAA Home Towns

81) The Biggest Non-Musical Influences On The 1960s

82) AAA Groups Covering Other AAA Groups

83) Strange Censorship Decisions

84) AAA Albums Still Unreleased on CD

85) Random Recent Purchases (#2)

86) Top AAA Music Videos

87) 30 Day Facebook Music Challenge

88) AAA Documentaries

89) Unfinished and 'Lost' AAA Albums

90) Strangest AAA Album Covers

91) AAA Performers Live From Mars (!)

92) Songs Including The Number '100' for our 100th Issue

93) Most Songs Recorded In A Single Day

94) Most Revealing AAA Interviews

95) Top 10 Pre-Fame Recordings

96) The Shortest And Longest AAA Albums

97) The AAA Allstars Ultimate Band Line-Up

98) Top Songs About Sports

99) AAA Conversations With God

100) AAA Managers: The Good, The Bad and the Financially Ugly

101) Unexpected AAA Cameos

102) AAA Words You can Type Into A Caluclator

103) AAA Court Cases

104) Postmodern Songs About Songwriting

105) Biggest Stylistic Leaps Between Albums

106) 20 Reasons Why Cameron Should Go!

107) The AAA Pun-Filled Cookbook

108) Classic Debut Releases

109) Five Uses Of Bird Sound Effects

110) AAA Classic Youtube Clips Part #1

111) Part #2

112) Part #3

113) AAA Facts You Might Not Know

114) The 20 Rarest AAA Records

115) AAA Instrumental Songs

116) Musical Tarot

117) Christmas Carols

118) Top AAA Releases Of 2011

119) AAA Bands In The Beano/The Dandy

120) Top 20 Guitarists #1

121) #2

122) 'Shorty' Nomination Award Questionairre

123) Top Best-Selling AAA Albums

124) AAA Songs Featuring Bagpipes

125) A (Hopefully) Complete List Of AAA Musicians On Twitter

126) Beatles Albums That Might Have Been 1970-74 and 1980

127) DVD/Computer Games We've Just Invented

128) The AAA Albums With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

129) The AAA Singles With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

130) Lyric Competition (Questions)

131) Top Crooning Classics

132) Funeral Songs

133) AAA Songs For When Your Phone Is On Hold

134) Random Recent Purchases (#3)

135) Lyric Competition (Answers)

136) Bee Gees Songs/AAA Goes Disco!

137) The Best AAA Sleevenotes (And Worst)

138) A Short Precise Of The Years 1962-70

139) More Wacky AAA-Related Films And Their Soundtracks

140) AAA Appearances On Desert Island Discs

141) Songs Exclusive To Live Albums

142) More AAA Songs About Armageddon

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159) A (Not That) Short Guide To The 15 Best Non-AAA Bands

160) The Greatest AAA Drum Solos (Or Near Solos!)

161) AAA Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speeches

162) AAA Re-Recordings Of Past Songs

163) A Coalition Christmas (A Fairy Tale)

164) AAA Songs About Islands

165) The AAA Review Of The Year 2012

166) The Best AAA Concerts I Attended

167) Tributes To The 10 AAA Stars Who Died The Youngest

168) The First 10 AAA Songs Listed Alphabetically

171) The 10 Best Songs From The Psychedelia Box-Sets ‘Nuggets’ and ‘Nuggets Two’

172) The 20 Most Common Girl’s Names In AAA Song Titles (With Definitions) 

180) First Recordings By Future AAA Stars

185) A Tribute To Storm Thorgerson Via The Five AAA Bands He Worked With

188) Surprise! Celebrating 300 Album Reviews With The Biggest 'Surprises' Of The Past Five Years Of Alan's Album Archives!

190) Comparatively Obscure First Compositions By AAA Stars

193) Evolution Of A Band: Comparing First Lyric With Last Lyric:

200) The Monkees In Relation To Postmodernism (University Dissertation)

202) Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain': Was It About One Of The AAA Crew?

217) AAA 'Christmas Presents' we'd most like to have next year

221) Dr Who and the AAA (Five Musical Links)

222) Five Random Recent Purchases

223) AAA Grammy Nominees

224) Ten AAA songs that are better heard unedited and in full

225) The shortest gaps between AAA albums

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227) Top ten AAA drummers

228) Top Ten AAA Singles (In Terms of 'A' and 'B' Sides)

229) The Stories Behind Six AAA Logos

230) AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!! The Best Ten AAA Screams

231) An AAA Pack Of Horses

232) AAA Granamas - Sorry, Anagrams!

233) AAA Surnames and Their Meanings

234) 20 Erroneous AAA Album Titles

235) The Best AAA Orchestral Arrangements

236) Top 30 Hilariously Misheard Album Titles/Lyrics

237) Ten controversial AAA sackings - and whether they were right

238) A Critique On Critiquing - In Response To Brian Wilson

239) The Ten MusicianS Who've Played On The Most AAA Albums

240) Thoughts on #CameronMustGo

241) Random Recent Purchases (Kinks/Grateful Dead/Nils Lofgren/Rolling Stones/Hollies) 

242) AAA Christmas Number Ones 

243) AAA Review Of The Year 2014 (Top Releases/Re-issues/Documentaries/DVDs/Books/Songs/ Articles  plus worst releases of the year)

244) Me/CFS Awareness Week 2015

245) Why The Tory 2015 Victory Seems A Little...Suspicious

246) A Plea For Peace and Tolerance After The Attacks on Paris - and Syria

247) AAA Review Of The Year 2015

248) The Fifty Most Read AAA Articles (as of December 31st 2015)

249) The Revised AAA Crossword!

251) Half-A-Dozen Berries Plus One (An AAA Tribute To Chuck Berry)

252) Guest Post: ‘The Skids – Joy’ (1981) by Kenny Brown

254) Guest Post: ‘Supertramp – Some Things Never Change’ by Kenny Brown

255) AAA Review Of The Year 2018

256) AAA Review Of The Year 2019 plus Review Of The Decade 2010-2019

257) Tiermaker

258) #Coronastock

259) #Coronadocstock

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