What we didn’t know back in the 50s and 60s, but know now, was that his music was set to capture a generation of teenagers, some of whom were to kick start their professional careers by playing and recording their versions of his songs.
And through them his music has become as much of part of our cultural DNA as Beethoven’s ever was.
No, roll on …
Here’s a selection from my archives of cover versions of his songs by 60s British groups.
“World Sleep Day is an annual event ……. energized by sleep professionals all over the world.”
Discovering that today is World Sleep Day surprised me.
Did that mean that I could spend the time in dreamland?
I explored the website, and discovered that there are a host of sleep disorders apart from snoring, tossing and turning, and ‘Er Indoors moving over to my side of the bed. There’s a downloadable toolkit. Not being a fool, I knew that a physical bed wouldn’t be included, but I did check.
The 10 Commandments of Sleep Hygiene for Adults only had these two mentions.: –7. Use comfortable bedding. 10. Reserve the bed for sleep and sex.
Don’t use the bed as an office, workroom or recreation room.
I ticked them off my mental list, although I did wonder if recreational sex is a no-no.. Actually I was able to tick all the others too, with the minor transgressions of not having “an awakening time” and “not smoking”. The avoidance of “excessive alcohol ingestion 4 hours before bedtime” is too rare to really count.
So I wondered how I could contribute, and there was only one answer.
I did what I’ve learned to do in my sleep: produce another compilation.
01. Incredible String Band – No Sleep Blues 02. Richard Thompson – O Sleep Fond Fancy 03. Jenifer Smith & Musicians – Looking For Sleep 04. The Durutti Column – Sleep Will Come 05. Anja Garbarek – Sleep 06. Valentina Lisitsa – Deep Sleep Playing 07. Mike Keneally – David Lynch’s Curtains>Sleepwalk With Me 08. Zhongyu – Sleepwalking the Dog 09. David Sylvian – Silver Moon Over Sleeping Steeples 10. Steve Jansen – Sleepyard 11. Rain Sounds – Sleepy Sleep 12. Paul Schutze – Sleep2 13. Claire Hamill – Winter Sleep
This is a list of the instruments played on one album: accordion, adufe (Moorish tamborine), aulos (Greek flute), autoharp, bass, bombo (Argentine drum), cuatro, electric guitar, mandolin, sicu (Andean panpipes), sitar, slit drum, oud, sanfona (Argentine hurdy gurdy), darbouka (goblet drum), tar (North African drum), violin, cymbal, synthesizer.
Oh, and there’s nothing but wordless vocals on this exceptional album by Claire Hamill.
My quotation is from a Church of England hymnal: it’s the kind of message which lasts a lifetime, even though I used it as motivation to explore the world outside ritualism. Trying to stay on an even keel in this fast changing, topsy-turvy and decaying world that humanity has created for itself is difficult.
I reckon that I’m smart, so I don’t want, or need to be part of the topsy-turvy world of selebritis and selfies. That’s an imaginary conceit: those hand held devices used to fix one’s place in that illusion can detonate bombs which remove you from the reality.
So, being perverse, I’ve put together this compilation.
You may not be like the Born Loser, in which case you’ll have to skip the one track I’ve included in my compilation. Your grandparents would have liked that track back in their day, but you may find that they also enjoy the others I’ve had buried in my archives until now.
01. Frank Sinatra – The September Of My Years 02. Polly Bergen – When The World Was Young 03. Taj Mahal – Annie’s Lover 04. Frank Sinatra – There’s A Flaw In My Flue 05. Cindy Wheeler (Caulfield Sisters) – Old Man 06. Bo Diddley – Look At Grandma 07. Plainsong – All Around My Grandmother’s Floor 08. Siren (Kevin Coyne) – Old Age 09. Randy Newman – Old Man 10. Ray Conniff Singers – As Time Goes By 11. Simon & Garfunkel – Old Friends 12. Simon & Garfunkel – Voices Of Old People
Folk who know me and my taste in music would probably sum me up as a jazz and pro-rock fan. Yet being of a certain vintage and English means that there’s a pop culture that I cannot dismiss, one that encapsulates ‘values’ and traditions which are of my youth and my parents’ generation.
Peter Skellern, from the north of England who sadly died yesterday aged 69, wrote songs and sang standards, usually with his own piano accompaniment, which my parents liked. And so did I.
He had a way with words, much like Noel Coward. Both were romantics whose songs are a comfort blanket which can tug at one’s heart strings, or, as in his covers of songs made famous by Fred Astaire, generate a nostalgia for peaceful times. Yet there were times when innuendo and double-entendres were recalled from the seaside postcards of the 50s and 60s.
But they’re not in my compilation, perhaps because that’s not my kind of humour. Or maybe I really am a romantic. If you are too, download my compilation, and when you get a moment to relax, sit back in your favourite armchair, and chill. (I doubt that last word was in Peter Skellern’s vocabulary.)
Mediafire / Zippyshare 1972. A Sad Affair 1973. No More Sunday Papers 1974. The End Of The News 1975. Hold On To Love 1975. Make Love, Not War 1977. Save Me 1979. Isn’t It A Lovely Day 1980. Raining In My Heart 1981. Slow Down 1982. All Or Nothing At All 1987. All The Things You Are
When I was at uni., a fellow student (Hi, Bob) was learning classical guitar. While others were raving about Hendrix, I would be sat at Bob’s feet. Discounting the descant recorder, on which I was really proficient as an elementary pupil, I’ve never mastered a musical instrument. However, apart from jazz, my favourite genre is the classical guitar, and I’ve sat in bliss at concerts by Andrés Segovia, Julian Bream(interview), and John Williams(interview).
I got to recognise many ‘classic’ classical compositions by Isaac Albeniz, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Malcolm Arnold et al . But there’s been just one constant since then: the composer Joaquín Rodrigo (1901 – 1999). His 1939 composition Concierto de Aranjuez and, in particular the Adagio, the Second Movement.
Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez is arguably one of the most popular concertos of all time, thanks in no small measure to the extraordinary beauty of its central Adagio, which has been arranged for everything from mouth organ to brass band(video).
Rodrigo wrote: “I heard a voice inside me singing the entire theme of the Adagio at one go, without hesitation.”
There can be few who haven’t heard it and been moved. Jazz fans have Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain and Jim Hall’s Concierto, but may not have heard the versions by Dorothy Ashby or MJQ. Rock fans are unlikely to have heard the version by Dutch guitarist Jan Akkerman, formerly of Focus, nor that of Manfred Mann – with vocals.
There are seven tracks in the compilation from my archives: download from MediaFire or Zippyshare.
The first version I heard, and bought, was by Spanish guitarist Narciso Yepes.
“What can I say about Narciso Yepes? What can I say about the guitarist to whom we owe the international success of the Concerto de Aranjuez? Yes, it was in Paris in 1947 where Ataulfo Argenta, Yepes and the Spanish National Orchestra met to illuminate my unique opus at a time when no one knew its true future. From then on, the Concierto de Aranjuez took on a new nature, and it is for this same reason that I am grateful to Narciso Yepes for the fruit of an intense collaboration that has brought us to travel our musical trajectories side-by-side. I will not say that Yepes was the best nor the worst. He has simply been my guitarist par excellence. My guitarist.”
(Joaquin Rodrigo in ‘El Mundo’ May 4, 1997)