One of several songs that came to mind while watching the Republican convention this week.
When you were a kid and grown-ups told you that school was the best years of your life you always thought they were talking rubbish. Didn’t they know how much you hated school and couldn’t wait to be an adult with all the privileges you thought came with it?
Now I’m a grown-up myself I understand that it was really just wistful jealousy on their part. They would have loved to go back to a time of no responsibility themselves (while also idealizing it) and were pissed off that we didn’t seem to appreciate how golden our existence was. That’s why George Bernard Shaw said “Youth is wasted on the young.”
So of course this Panorama documentary from 1977 looks like a transmission from a golden era to my adult eyes. I was 15 that year and this is almost exactly what my school was like — but without girls sadly — right down to the teacher who would bore us all shitless by playing classical music in morning assembly.
But I’m not too blinded by nostalgia not to notice how chaotic and rowdy the lessons are, and how frazzled and tired the teachers seem. I didn’t see those things at the time.
This is hardly the most obscure song I’ve ever posted here but over the years it has become one of my very favourite Paul Weller songs. I used to consider it a little throwaway but now I’m older I appreciate more how it captures the fleeting joy of being young before “you find out life isn’t like that”. Weller was only 21 when he wrote this. Was he wise beyond his years or has he always been an old man?
Download: When You’re Young – The Jam (mp3)
I’m back from my hols. Tanned and rested and cheesed off that I’m not still there.
Easing back into things with a sweet skanking number from 1967.
Download: On The Beach – The Paragons (mp3)
Speaking of summer holidays, I’m off for a week by the beach in Maine with the family. You might see me on that Twitter but there won’t be anything new here until I get back, so play among yourselves for a while.
Here’s a lovely bit of sunny pop The Zombies recorded in 1965 but amazingly never released at the time.
Download: Walking In The Sun – The Zombies (mp3)
Tony Christie must be thinking to himself “What the fuck am I doing in this dump?” He was too good for Wheeltappers, what a voice.
My kids finished school for the summer two weeks ago. The little buggers get nearly three months break here which is just insane, that’s a quarter of the year. We “only” got two months in England when I was a kid and even that felt too long. We pay for ours to go to a camp for most of the summer which keeps them busy and entertained. When I was their age our mum left me and my sister with a woman who lived around the corner that “took in” kids during the holidays and after school. We spent all our time playing in her back yard and tiny kitchen and weren’t allowed in the rest of the house. All I remember her doing is reading the paper and smoking, but I assume she must have fed us at some point.
When we were a few a years older — around 11 and 12 I think — our mum let us stay home and fend for ourselves while she went to work which was pretty bloody magic as you can imagine. As is usually the case with nostalgia I remember it being hot and sunny all the time though, this being England, it can’t have been. Great though the summer holiday was, we did get a bit bored and restless by the end of August. Not that we wanted to go back to school but we were definitely running out of things to do, even in London. There’s only so many times you can play football, go to the adventure playground, the swimming baths, the museums, or get shouted at by a scary old person.
But at least we had some good telly to watch in the mornings when the BBC would show old serial dramas like Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin, Robinson Crusoe, and Champion The Wonder Horse which riveted us all summer. Then the good old paternal Beeb would encourage us to get off our behinds by ending the morning with an episode of Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go and Do Something Less Boring Instead? which was all about creative things you could do with your spare time.
I used to love Why Don’t You? and think I actually wrote a letter to them once. Now it looks so innocent and the kids are so charmingly awkward with their stamp collections, pet ants, and terrible jokes. Hard to imagine a show these days telling kids to turn off their televisions, but we didn’t have a lot of choice back then because kid’s programs were only on at certain limited times and the BBC would often close down completely for periods during the day. We didn’t care though because we could always catch a bus, go to the pictures, buy a Jubbly on the way home and still have change out of 50p. Try telling kids today that and they won’t believe you.
Not going with the obvious Alice Cooper track, instead here’s the famous theme music to the aforementioned Robinson Crusoe. This tune might not mean much to some, but all over the world there are English people of a certain age clicking on this link and having a massive flashback.
Download: Theme From Robinson Crusoe (mp3)
Only a couple of weeks ago I was saying I still felt positive despite the ongoing parade of depressing news. While I haven’t quite revised that opinion, I must admit lately it does make you want to close your eyes and check out of reality for a while.
Here’s a perfect record for doing just that.
Download: Willow – Joan Armatrading (mp3)
Photo: London, June 1942
I shouldn’t group artists together simply because of their gender but it seems to me that female acts are just bossing it over the men at the moment. Maybe it’s just a personal preference — I like female voices more — but most of my favourite albums of the past few years have been made by the fairer sex.
Japan-born, Brooklyn-based Mitski is another name to add to the list. Her fourth album Puberty 2 is a terrific indie-rock record which sounds like St. Vincent with fewer arty trimmings and more crunchy guitar attack. Highly recommended.
Come on boys, you really need to up your game.