January – Go! Don’t go!

What does one do when the creative writing well seems dry? Find a topic? Pick something?

It’s nearing the end of the first week of January. I could talk to you about howJanuary feels to me? It feels like a month of 62 days! Most of the time…

But this time may just be different. We are almost one week in to this (usually) most arduous of months. At this rate it will sail by! But that is the trap January usually sets. It starts out fleeting and then seems to grind to a laborious halt around midway through. 

It’s definitely a northern hemisphere affliction, the long, arduous January. I have no recollection of Januarys lagging while I was growing up. In fact it was very much the opposite. Januarys were all too fleeting. It’s the height of summer in the southern hemisphere and for kids on the east coast of Australia, it’s summer holidays. Schools break up a few days before Christmas, and when I was growing up we had a six week break from school. We didn’t return to school until the second week of February. Yay!! It’s a little different down there now as there is an extended break over Easter that didn’t happen when I was going to school. At Easter back then it was just Good Friday and Easter Monday off school. Now there is a full week off school which means summer holidays are now generally five weeks long and the school year starts at the end of January in New South Wales, at least. 

So, as you can appreciate, the Januarys of my childhood felt like they were only maybe a week or two weeks long. And the end of January was dreaded! It meant the return to school was imminent. Now – the end of January is to be celebrated! The days are getting incrementally longer and, at long last, the month is done with! There is light at the end of the bleak, mid-winter tunnel. Hurrah!

This January is different. There are things to look forward to! My university study begins in just over two weeks time. And a few days after that, the new book on Simple Minds – Themes For Great Cities gets released. I’m looking forward to hearing everyone else’s thoughts on that. Also, Sarah Brown is releasing the debut single off her new solo album. That will be fantastic to hear.

What other news to come of Simple Minds? I pray there are some! March quite literally marches on and we are still quite deep into this Covid thing. Is the fear of it now vastly exceeding its threat to our lives? I feel we have turned that corner due to the vaccine rollout. It is very obvious the vaccines have done an incredible job by and large by reducing the severity of symptoms and effects, of not necessarily severity and rate of contagion. 

I am as doubtful of the prospect of seeing Simple Minds in Paris in March as I was by mid March of 2020. But then I had the gratitude of having just seen them in Copenhagen and the blind optimism that the Covid pandemic would be over in a few months at worst. 

April is a more promising prospect. And all within the UK, so perhaps even if on a personal level Paris proves a no-no, I am…mildly confident I will see the band come April.

But what else is there on the horizon to look forward to? Jim’s posts of late have been more on the personal, or of band history, not much of what’s to come – which is incredibly odd for a forward thinker like Jim. I guess he’s just as flummoxed as the rest of us about what the imminent future holds? There was talk of new music last year, but little of that has been discussed since. No news (from the next world) is good news? We’ll see in due course, I guess.

Perhaps I am better at this “writing from scratch” with a blank page in front of me than I give myself credit for?!

It bodes well for the study. Over the weekend I looked at the breakdown of my course. I could see what the whole academic year looked like. The topics we’ll be covering every week and what is required for each assessment during the year. I am excited. The Arts and Humanities is so broad. We’ll be looking at many things, from Cleopatra, to Elizabeth I, Gothic Architecture, painting and Greek and Roman sculpture, Mozart, The Blues, Philosophy, poetry, art from central and southern Africa. I am champing at the bit to dive in.

Today, January is flying by and I am welcoming its end for vastly different reasons than I normally would be. 

Let the year begin!

In the meantime…a nod to January…

New Release: Sarah Brown – I’m On My Way

There was new music news yesterday. Sarah Brown shared details of her debut solo album. The album is a tribute to the music of the wonderful and inspirational Mahalia Jackson.

The first single off Sarah’s album, I’m On My Way, will be released on the same day as Themes For Great Cities, January 27th. The date is significant to Mahalia, as it is the 50th anniversary of her death.

The album is set to be released later in 2022 and will be titled “Sarah Brown Sings Mahalia Jackson”. When talking about the song on her social media, Sarah said as follows…

The seed that grew ‘I’m On My Way’ and then the album was planted back some 20 plus years ago, when I was singing backing vocals on the Roxy Music reunion tour.

Waiting for soundcheck, I stood on the stage as Roxys’ pianist Colin Good was warming up on an old blues tune by Ma Rainey. And as he played I was immediately transported back to when I was eight and in church on a Sunday and these matriarchal figures, these big black mamas dressed like Audrey Hepburn, were bellowing out their Mahalia Jackson hymns, they were crying out from their very souls and as I listened to Colin I was crying too, lost in the music and I vowed I’d pay my own homage to Mahalia one day…..

I am really looking forward to hearing this music from Sarah. You can keep up-to-date with Sarah by following her on social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Photo of Sarah by Andrew Cotterill.

Seeing Through The Eyes Of Love

It’s now 4 years since this happened and I know Jim will be utterly bloody bored with it, so I’ll just keep the memory here on the blog.

This anniversary I find myself back in Oz, so this year feels just a little more special, yet painfully sad.

Kyoto might well still be in snow, but most of the Eastern seaboard of Australia, as well as parts of Adelaide and Perth, have been aflame this summer.

Again for most of the outer suburbs of Sydney, up to Newcastle, and down to the south coast, past Wollongong (where regional coastal towns are on high alert as fires threaten to ravage the area again, having only just gone through the devastation just 72 hours ago) and into country areas of New South Wales, temps are set to be a minimum of 40 degrees Celsius – with the average being 44 tomorrrow.

After Saturday’s extremes, the temp. drops away and falls by 20+ degrees for a high of 25 in Sydney on Sunday and 22 on Monday.

Four years ago, the weather was unusually cool for the time of year – 21 degrees and drizzle. A rare overcast and rainy day.

Well the days I’ve had here I’ve hardly seen the sun but for vastly different reasons.

Also this time four years ago, I was spending – what I feared would turn out to be – my final months with mum.

And so I say it time and again, my Hunter And The Hunted piece will forever be the most special thing to me. I don’t know how much I can express all that is wrapped up in it.

The significance of the song… it really is just about the finest thing Simple Minds ever produced – and as a consequence how enamoured I am with Jim. He is just beautiful… the lyrics to the song and just him… body and mind. Intelligence. Beauty.

And I still feel that my piece on it compliments the beauty of the song.

And there’s mum and those precious final months with her. I never wanted those months to be the final ones😔💔

I knew time was running out.

This silly mind is still waiting for us to travel to Busby to go and see her… wondering why we haven’t been yet. Pulling into Liverpool Station on the train and not getting off the train there feels really wrong.

The anniversary will be more special every year.

Jim, thank you. I will love you always for this. 💕😚

The Bard’s Tale – Live At Celtic Connections

The uber talented Ged Grimes had, very recently, not only been making music and playing with Simple Minds, but he had been busily composing music for a “video” game (in this day and age, do we still call them “video” games?) called The Bard’s Tale.

Sarah Brown interviewed (quizzed?) Ged on this event to do with it, as part of Celtic Connections.

It’s at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow on January 31st, 2019. Now…it just so happens that John Grant is playing in Glasgow the following night as part of Celtic Connections…and I already have a ticket, so I am thinking perhaps I should go up a day earlier and experience The Bard’s Tale live?

I’ve never been a big gamer and I can’t claim to be into The Bard’s Tale…but I have liked what I’ve heard of the music and it would certainly be an interesting experience to see it performed live…esp. as it sounds like it could be quite an interactive experience. I’ve got to say, I’m intrigued, and interested.

I will let Ged explain more (with the help of Ms Brown). Click here for ticketing details…

UPDATE: Ticket booked. Going! 👍🏻

Simple Minds – RAM Magazine – Jan 20, 1984

There isn’t much to it, really. A review of a Barras gig from Adam Sweeting, then a short one page interview about Sparkle In The Rain.

On the back page was an ad for the Narara festival. There are two previously unseen (by me at least!) pics of Jim within the spread, which I scanned closeups of.

Enjoy!

The closeup pics have been filtered to try and produce optimum picture quality. Photographers are: Tasso Taraboulsi, and Mark Green (Jim closeup).

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The Birth Of “Wan”?

Looking at eBay, I noticed this fanzine for sale (at a ridiculous price! Considering what most fanzines are like, and how they were produced). I could see that they were gracious enough to show what was inside with some low res pics (of an already poor quality printed magazine. Rare…but I would not pay £50 for it myself). It dates from January 1979. Probably just about one of their first interviews, I would think.

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I can only read certain bits of the content. The questions being asked are quite personal and…probing. This one had me in stitches!

Interviewer: “It’s always struck me that your hand is near your penis a lot, as though you were wanking on stage – I don’t know if you’re noticed it…”

Jim: “That’s the first time anyone’s said that, but the band have mentioned it too, they’ve been having me on…no, I don’t wear particularly tight trousers or anything like that. I can honestly say I don’t think much about that at all. If I see a nice bird in the audience, perhaps…”

Lol. Such direct questioning! If one can deem that a question, rather than a pondering. 🤔🤔🤔

Billy’s Best Gigs

I am now quite a regular listener to Billy Sloan’s show each week on BBC Radio Scotland. This week was a fascinating show, with him asking the big names of music, sport and politics what their favourite gig of all time was.

At the 1 hour, 36 minute mark, you can hear Sir’s choice…won’t spoil it for you…but there is that little undercurrent of PURE FILTH attached to it. Lol (Only just alluding to something Charlie said about the title of this song, once…those dirty, DIRTY boys…I heartily approve!). He even uses the word “ogled” at one point…hmmm. I think I can hear something akin to Hunter And The Hunted now…”The Ogler And The Ogled” – seeing through the eyes of love (as opposed to hate) OH, JIM!

THEN…right towards the end of the show, we hear Sharleen Spiteri talk of her favourite gig:

SIMPLE MINDS AT TIFFANY’S IN 1981! OMG! THE ENVY! THE SHEER RAGING JEALOUSY! YOU LUCKY, LUCKY COW, SHARLEEN!!! You can hear about her “gig of gigs” from the 2 hour, 47 minute mark.

Click the image of Billy below to listen to the show. Hopefully it’ll be listenable to those overseas as well. I may extract those two bits from the show to keep for good, as the “listen again” option is usually only available for 30 days.