Friday 5 February 2010

News, Views and Music Issue 53 (Top Five): Horoscopes

♫ Was there ever a more star-gazing band than the Moody Blues? (and Pink Floyd don’t count by the way – they hated their tag as a ‘space age band’!) As a fond farewell to this Moody special we look at five other bands who have recorded songs about astrology – and offer a (very) brief glimpse into the horoscopes of the bands themselves...

(A – less brief – word for you, dear reader. I’m amazed that I’ve lasted 53 newsletters without referring to another of my hobbies – and yet I don’t profess to be that good at casting anyone’s signs as yet. All of the birthdays included here come from the ‘British Entertainers Astrological Profiles book’ – there’s a sport stars edition too which I don’t own I’m afraid -  although the interpretations of what this all means are all mine. They are also very simple and stick to just a musician’s star sign rather than his lunar or ascending sign – mainly because I don’t know them for all the people on this list - although if you want to get into this hobby yourself it goes without saying that the more complex it gets the more detailed your answers and chance of understanding a personality in all its complexities rather than just the outline as showed here. And in case you’re wondering, yes I do have Mercury in Gemini which means that not only am I prone to writing things in my spare time I’m also likely to provide really long rambling explanations where four words would probably do).    

            THE MOODY BLUES’ HOROSCOPE SAYS: Surprisingly for such an ‘out-there’ band, the Moodies are dominated by earth signs, with a sprinkling of intellectual air and headstrong air for good measure.  The only horoscope that I have in any detail is for Justin Hayward, a Libran – hence all those Moodies albums about balance and his own particular writing style that pits quiet ballady openings against epic choruses (think ‘Question’) – with a Gemini moon sign (lots of thinking and an ability to put this into words) and a scorpion ascending sign (hence, perhaps, the rather long silence between band members in the mid-1970s). Justin is joined by his partner-in-crime John Lodge (a Leo – whose hair does make him look like a lion during its 1980s incarnation when its very long); air and fire generally help each other along and this pair certainly do that. Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas – born just a few days apart – are both earthy, practical Capricorns (hence Mike’s ability to get a Mellotron to work when practically all other musicians gave up using it after 1967 and Ray’s down-to-earth songs about reality – presumably he’s got some sort of pisces rising/lunar element too to account for all those airy-fairy songs he wrote too!) That just leaves Graeme Edge and I’m ashamed to say I’m not actually sure when he was born at all, although most drummers seem to be born in Taurus, Virgo or Capricorn I’ve noticed (steady enough to hold groups together whilst being unhinged enough to join in with everything else!)

5) Pink Floyd “Astronomy Domine” (Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, 1967): OK so this one’s a bit tenuous but if everybody else refers to the band as ‘space age’ then I’m not going to disagree! Change this song title to ‘Astrology Domine’ though and it would make a lot more sense about where Syd Barrett’s coming from with this song – ‘blinding signs flap, flicker flicker flicker..’ Must have been another one of those band rows then!   

THE BAND’S HOROSCOPE SAYS: A great deal of water signs here, with Scorpion Waters and Piscean Gilmour both trying to tug the other one into doing what they want to do (Roger noisily, Dave more subtley). Usually these two water signs are meant to get on quite well, understanding how the other one thinks without actually talking much about it, but once they do start having different opinions about things neither man feels it is his duty to compromise and co-operation suddenly gives way to fights. Roger’s inability to forget any hurt may also have had something to do with the amount of Floyd anti-war concept albums (his dad, a leading socialist of the day, died in WW II despite being a conscientious objector). Dave, meanwhile, is less likely to thrive on conflict and his early songs for the band in its (brief) peaceful years lend themselves more to escapism (‘Fat Old Sun’, etc). There’s also two air signs here that in other bands might have been the leaders, but here get suffocated by all that emotional blackmail from the water signs (Rick’s a libra, hence his quiet nature and need to keep things balanced in the band;  Nick’s an aquarius, hence his off-beat humour). The biggest surprise, however, is that Syd Barrett – that high-wiring dare-devil, taker and maker of all things psychedelic who got lost after one trip to other worlds too many – is a steady, reliable Capricorn! His sign would explain all his songs about his past and childhood, however...   

4) The Kinks “Full Moon” (Sleepwalker, 1977): “You see before you a truly broken man, ‘cause when it gets to midnight I don’t know who I am, the full moon’s a calling and it’s put its curse on me and it won’t ever let me be”. Yes Ray Davies speaks for lunar Cancerians the world over, pouring his soul into a moody song about his changing moods and his inability to fight off some unseen power pulling the strings for him. This song, like many other Ray Davies classics, also draws on his legendary insomnia – a Cancerian trait – while ‘All Of My Friends Were There’ from ‘Village Green Preservation Society’ (1968) reveals a lot about the insecure side of his Cancerian personality. 

            THE BAND’S HOROSCOPE SAYS: All that inter-band feuding might not be simply down to Ray and Dave being brothers – their two signs of Cancer and Aquarius don’t really understand one another at all. Dave is into experiencing things and being in the middle of everything going on, flouting authority because he thinks he knows just as well (if not better) than those in charge and simply enjoying experiences for their own sake, rather than building them into a story that has shaped his life to date like Ray. The elder brother is more into understanding those around him, even to the extent of missing out on experiences himself, and its interesting to note that many of the Kinks’ albums are actually more about Dave’s life than Ray’s (1975 ‘Schoolboys In Disgrace’, for instance, is all about Dave being expelled from school for making the love of his life pregnant and the fall out this creates in his life). Dave’s autobiography ‘Kink’ is an illuminating read and among the most illuminating chapters are those about his brother’s less endearing character traits – money scrounging, hoarding, playing band members off each other and being generally grumpy – which all happen to belong to his star sign. They also reveal a lot about Dave’s own sign – off-beat Aquarians have their own set off rules to follow which they rarely let on to outsiders and its notable that Dave never actually challenges his brother on any of these points – he didn’t even let Ray in on the fact that he was writing a book! The pull-and-tug between these two very different characters is best summed up by Ray’s song ‘Two Sisters’ (‘Something Else By The Kinks’, 1967) who are clearly Ray and Dave; the former is a trapped housewife looking on enviously at his sister flouting herself at parties, only for the jealously to swap when she comes home to an empty house. In this context it’s amazing that bassist and Capricorn Pete Quaife – forever tired of being caught in the middle of the brothers – lasted four years in the band, while the similarities between Dave and fellow Aquarian’, Kinks drummer Mick Avory, probably had a little something to do with all their on-stage fights over the years.  

3) George Harrison “Pisces Fish” (Brainwashed, 2002): “I’m a pisces fish and the river runs through my soul” One of George’s parting messages to the world finally gave in to one of his own past-times of astrology and dealt head on with George’s multi-faceted personality. A spiritualist who loved motor racing and owned lots of companies, the Eastern anti-materialist Beatle who took the Beatles to the Maharishi in India whilst at the same time grilling manager Brian Epstein over money matters far more thoroughly than his three colleagues; this song is George to a tee.

            THE BAND’S HOROSCOPE SAYS: The Beatles’ collective horoscope is one of the most fascinating of all the AAA bands. They are ¾ water signs leaving ¼ air sign outsider– something that seems surprising at first glance for a band that for the most part got on very well and understood each other ‘almost psychically’ (a McCartney quote). But its actually Paul whose the odd one out, his Gemini sun sign sitting at odds with John’s Scorpio sign (no surprise there!), George’s Pisces and Ringo’s Cancerian ones. Paul’s duality and switch of moods only really comes into play big time in his solo career (has there ever been two more opposing releases than the adult ‘Hi Hi Hi’ and the written-for-under-fives ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’, singles released just three months apart?), although his quicksilver brain and ability to juggle different things at the same time came in very handy during his Beatles days. Lennon’s sheer magnestism played its part in the Beatles’ days too, attracting the attention of Brian Epstein in the first place and going on to dominate the Beatles’ early years with the fire in his eyes. Studying McCartney’s horoscope against Lennon’s is interesting too – each man desperately wants something the other has, whether it be Lennon’s charisma or McCartney’s charm – and work together well only if they have a common interest at stake; after that its all out war! (see Lennon’s sarky ‘How Do You Sleep?’ and McCartney’s almost-but-not-quite-as-sarky ‘Too Many People’). George and Ringo, meanwhile, want peace and harmony in which to think spiritual thoughts, with each backing the other up throughout the Beatles’ years and afterwards, always feeling what the other one is thinking (note that its ‘John and Paul living in the material world’ in George’s solo song of the same name – Ringo isn’t only excluded from the Beatle’s harrumphing, he’s even playing drums on the track – Ringo’s sweet B-side ‘Early 1970’ covers similar ground in its sense of confused hurt).    

2) The Beach Boys “Funky Pretty” (Holland, 1973)/ “Solar System” (Beach Boys Love You, 1977): She values flowers more than gold, thinks of her men as knights of old, she’s very spiritual I’m told, a-woah”/”Solar system brings us wisdom...” No less than two horoscope-focussed songs from the brothers un-grim, both from the pen of Brian Wilson and both dating from his most extensive ‘lying in bed’ period. The first, an epic arrangement with lyrics provided by manager Jack Riley is a hymn to the Pisces star sign and its very romantic artictsic-ness. Interestingly its not Brian but cousin Mike Love whose the Piscean in this band – and his general demeanour is nothing like the picture of delicate otgher-worldly Pisces written in this song! ‘Solar System’ is more general and yes, before you ask, it probably has a lot more to do with astronomy than astrology. But its description of each planet in turn (descriptions that also match the depictions of the star signs ‘ruled’ by each planet) and the lines ‘what do the planets mean?’ and ‘solar system brings us wisdom’ suggest Brain might have had both on his mind...

            THE BAND’S HOROSCOPE: Brian Wilson’s sudden interest in astrology during his most major ‘staying in bed’ years of 1973-77 may have been in an attempt to understand the role both his family and his band members had played in his life, a situation which had got increasingly out of his control during those years. Born to one of the most archetypal grumpy and wronged-in-childhood Cancerians on the planet (father Murray), eldest son to two younger brothers including a fiery Sagittarius (a sign which the wanderlust Dennis Wilson fits to a tee) and a perfectionist Virgo brother (ditto Carl Wilson), Brian’s multi-faceted star sign did its usual thing when under heavy pressure and promptly collapsed, leaving him ‘characterless’ (Gemini’s are many things to many different people and often ‘forget’ their own characters when stronger elements are around to pull them out of shape). Brian’s Gemini sign is also traditionally meant to cope with circumstances only on an artificial level and – while that’s not true of any Geminians I know – it is true that this star sign more than most relies on escapes from their troubles and worldly matters more than most, always looking for new ideas from new exotic places too (hence both Brian’s drug taking c. 1966, back when the rest of the group had yet to try them and his ‘escape’/retreat back to his bedroom). Cousin Mike Love is the surprise of this band’s star signs (a fiery Piscean Mike – like Roger Daltrey – started his music career as an angry out-of-control teenager and ended it as a peace-loving spiritualist; not quite the huge life change it sounds – they both just learned to trust others and let go a bit). Al Jardine, meanwhile, is – I think but I read this a long time ago and I might be wrong – another Virgo, who understandably feels a bit lost with the amount of tension within the rest of the band.

1) Stephen Stills “Fishes and Scorpions” (Stephen Stills II, 1971): “Gemini lady, did you see me chasing you? I don’t think I did, I only tried to get through”   Love in the stars? Don’t tell that to Stephen Stills who spends most of this song looking at each of the horoscopes in a detached way before a killer surge of emotion in the middle eight makes it clear that he’s dabbling in this new hobby merely to try to work out what makes his mysterious loved one tick and how he should handle her. As the person in question is the flighty Geminian Rita Cootlidge, a singer-songwriter present in many of Stills’ songs and who is eventually lost to charismatic Aquariun Graham Nash – the answer is that there isn’t an answer – the Geminian he talks to one day isn’t the same as the one he speaks to the next. Note too Stills’ adamance that he wasn’t actually doing the chasing – that’s his stubborn Capricorn goat side coming through even though his narrator is desperately trying to denounce the whole astrology thing as nonsense. Listen out too for the mention of various CSNY star signs: ‘lovers of lions stay away at feeding time’ – ie avoid Crosby when he’s in one of those hurt moods or you’ll get your head bitten off; fishes and scorpions meanwhile – Young being the latter – dance to the changing seasons, much to the confusion of this straight-laced reliable Capricorn. Interestingly aquarius – Nash – is missing. Perhaps his secretive sign meant that Stills never actually found out his birth date in all those years of working together? Well, I don’t know if its fantasy either, like it says in the song, but there you go.

            The four members of CSNY each represent a different ‘element’ and to my knowledge they’re the only group that does this. Hence the fact that each of them is so different to the others: Crosby is a fiery Leo (hence that lion’s mane of hair again), sure of his place in the universe and the importance of his contribution to the world, whoever it shocks (see ‘Triad’); Stills is an earthy Capricorn, a workaholic who thrives on deadlines and homely pleasures (and secretly worries that if he doesn’t work hard enough he’ll end up like the homeless OAP in his song ‘4 and 20’) ; Nash is an airy Aquarian, one with a certain nobility but also a slight rebelliousness, always living to his own set of rules and, despite a certain diplomatic air, carries a certain anger for those who don’t play fair (hence the amount of girlfriend stealing that went on in the 70s!) (see various protest songs from ‘Wind On The Water’ to ‘Dirty Little Secret’ and beyond); Young is a watery scorpio – a triple scorpio if rumour is to be believed though I don’t have enough details of his birth to work that out - going wherever his muse and feelings take him with a dark, secretive side that enables him to cut off those nearest to him when his heart takes him in a new direction (hence the band changes that have taken place on every single album since 1969 without fail!) Taken all together, its no wonder this band had so many fights – spectacular four-way fights at times – and often went years without speaking to each other at all. But its easy to see that they have a common bond too: each of the four is equally concerned with spiritual matters and the importance of unity, peace and harmony; they just go about achieving their goals in different ways, often to the obliviousness of the fact that the others aren’t following their methods.

♫ Well, that’s it for another issue – tune in for news views and music 54 where business will be resumed as normal! We just leave you with news from Philosophy Phil who has pointed out two rather large mistakes in the Labour and Conservative UK election manifestos this year: Labour’s current NHS slogan, via swine flu, is ‘catch it, kill it, bin it!’ whilst the Conservatives have gone with the snappy ‘it can’t go on like this!’ Apt messages both! See you next time!

A NOW COMPLETE List Of Top Five/Top Ten/TOP TWENTY  Entries 2008-2019
1) Chronic Fatigue songs

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

226) The longest gaps between AAA albums

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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