It’s the 4th of December and time to open yet another door on my Advent Calendar musical extravaganza. As it is a songs with numbers in the title theme this year it is obviously number four today. I have two very different but excellent songs for you today.
First it’s the Boomtown Rats with “Mary Of The Fourth Form” or “Mary Of Year 10” as it would have to be called nowadays. The song was released in 1977 and became the band’s second hit. It reached number 15 in the UK and number 12 in Ireland. The band broke up in 1986 and reformed earlier this year with great success. Albeit without two of the original members; Gerry Cott and Johnnie Fingers. Singer Bob Geldof once wrote for the NME. The band also number a few famous people among their fans, including Jane Horrocks, J K Rowling, Jim Kerr off of Simple Minds and Courtney Love.
Second song of the day today comes from the late, great country star Faron Young. It is a song that was originally released in 1971 it reached the number 3 spot in the UK the following year. It only made it to number 92 on the Billboard chart in the US. However it did become Faron’s first number one on the country music charts. A live clip of Faron Young singing the song was the first song to be played on the Country Music Television (CMT) cable channel when it was launched in 1983. The song has been covered by Tom Jones in the 1980s. It is also heavily referenced in the fabulous “Faron Young” from Prefab Sprout which was a UK single in 1985. Disappointingly it only made number 74 in the UK charts. The cat owned by Frieda in the Peanuts cartoon strip was named Faron as Charles Schultz admired the singer.
Those of you that are regular readers of this blog will know that I really don’t like UKtabloid newspapers and I hold a particular disdain for The Daily Mail and the Mail On Sunday. However I was watching a review of the papers on TV this morning and a wonderful Mail On Sunday story was referred to.
It concerns the senior German NATO official who had a bit of a fling with Russian spy Katia Zatuliveter. The paper has been banned from revealing his name. All they are able to print is that he is a 56-year-old grandfather and a picture of him dressed as a banana.
Zatuliveter is also alleged to have had an affair with a Liberal DemocratMP; Mike Hancock. Is this not a brilliant story? A German NATO official gets it on with a young blonde Russian spy and he wears a Banana costume. Who would have Geest it! Could it be more fruity? read the Mail coverage by clicking here. As usual let me get back to music, here are three banana related songs to honour this hapless German bloke!
Getting closer to the big day by the hour now and behind one of the few remaining perforated cardboard door flaps on my UK Christmas Number Ones Advent Calendar today, December 23rd, is a song that has been the Christmas number one on three separate occasions and technically by different acts each time. It was number one firstly in the Christmas of 1984, then in 1989 and most recently in 2004. It was the last UK Christmas number one before the X Factor winners had four years in a row, finally broken last year by Rage Against The Machine. You have probably guessed that the song is “Do They Know It’s Christmas” originally by Band Aid in 1984, then Band Aid II (1989) followed by Band Aid 20 (2004). Maybe it’ll be top again for the 30th anniversary in 2014.
It was number one fora total of 12 weeks; 5 weeks in 1984, 3 weeks in 1989 and 4 weeks in 2004. The song was written by Bob Geldof off of the Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure off of Ultravox after they had seen the news coverage of the 1984 famine in Ethiopia. They had aimed to raise money for famine relief and the single and subsequent Live Aid concert probably went way beyond their initial expectations. It sold more than a million copies in its first week alone and went on to sell 3.5 million copies. It remained the fastest and highest selling UK single until Elton John’s rerecording of “Candle In The Wind” following the death of Princess Diana in August 1997. The song was recorded on November 29th 1984 at SARM Studios in London after Geldof gathered the great and good of pop music at the time. The opening line was originally written for David Bowie, who was unfortunately unable to make it, so it was done by Paul Young. The single was released just 4 days after the recording on December 3rd 1984 and remember this was way before the days of downloads.
Midge Ure produced the original version, it was offered to Trevor Horn but he was not in the UK at the time. Stock, Aitken and Waterman produced the 1989 version. Some artists such as David Bowie and Paul McCartney were unable to be at the recording of the original so provided messages that appeared on the B-Side. Members of Bananarama appeared on the 1984 and 1989 version whilst Bono sang the same line in 1984 as he did in 2004; ‘Well, tonight, thank God it’s them, instead of you’. On the 2004 version Dizzee Rascal also added some new lyrics.
The artists that appeared on each version are listed below;
BAND AID (1984)
Bono, U2, Phil Collins, Bob Geldof, Boomtown Rats, Tony Hadley, Spandau Ballet, Midge Ure, Ultravox, Simon Le Bon, Duran Duran, Paul Young, Heaven 17, Marilyn, Bananarama, Jody Watley, Paul Weller, Kool & The Gang, George Michael , Status Quo, Boy George, Culture Club, Sting, Holly Johnson, Big Country
BAND AID II (1989)
Bananarama, Big Fun, Bros, Cathy Dennis, D Mob, Jason Donovan, Kevin Godley, Glen Goldsmith, Kylie Minogue, Pasadenas, Chris Rea, Cliff Richard, Jimmy Somerville, Sonia, Lisa Stansfield, Technotronic, Wet Wet Wet
BAND AID 20 (2004)
Bono, Daniel Bedingfield, Natasha Bedingfield, Vishal Das, Busted, Chris Martin, Dido, Dizzee Rascal, Ms Dynamite, Skye Edwards, Estelle, Neil Hannon, Justin Hawkins, Jamelia, Tom Chaplin, Tim Rice-Oxley, Beverley Knight, Lemar, Shaznay Lewis, Katie Melua, Róisín Murphy, Feeder, Snow Patrol, Rachel Stevens, Joss Stone, Sugababes, Thrills, Turin Brakes, Robbie Williams, Will Young, Francis Healy, Danny Goffey, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Paul McCartney, Francis Healy, Andy Dunlop, Dougie Payne
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Back in the days when everyone knew me as Billy, now it’s more like Old Bill
This may seem a bit self-indulgent, but is it just me or is there anyone else out there who either loves or loathes songs that include their name? My name is William, but these days most people know me as Bill. As a boy I was known as Billy and some of my Scottish relatives called me Willie, or Wullie as it sounds in a strong Glaswegian accent. I also suffered from being called Little Billy for quite a few years as my Dad and grandfather were fellow Williams. So at the top there was my Grandad, Bill then my Dad, Billy and finally me, Little Billy. Perhaps that is one of the reasons my son is not called William.
Anyway onto the songs, I have always thought that derivations of my name feature in a hell of a lot of songs, but that is probably because I listen out for it. I’m not sure which the most common names used in songs are but I reckon possibly Johnny for the boys and perhaps Susan/ Sue/ Suzie for the girls. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as well. I was also surprised to find that there are far more William/ Billy songs that I like than those I don’t like
Now onto those William related songs. I have put them into three categories; The Good (those that are ok), the Bad (those that I really don’t like) and the Ugly (reserved for the one William or Billy song that I really, really do not like) I have included songs where my name is included in the lyric and not necessarily in the title.
“William It Was Really Nothing” – Smiths. Probably one of my most favourite William songs. This clip is the famous Top Of The Pops appearance from 1984 where Morrissey pulls open his shirt to reveal the words ‘MARRY ME’
“Wedding Bell Blues” – 5th Dimension. This act featured Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Junior who went on to have a massive hit in 1976 with “You Don’t Have To Be A Star”
“All The Young Dudes” – Mott The Hoople. Simply for the ‘Billy rocked all night about suicide’ line. This is the song that Bowie gave to Mott to ensure that they didn’t break up. Apparently they turned down “Suffragette City” and Drive-In Saturday”. This version is from the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert at Wembley in 1992 and features the remaining members of Queen, David Bowie, Ian Hunter and the late, great Mick Ronson
“Rat Trap” – Boomtown Rats. This one is here as one of the songs main protagonists is Billy. Apparently when Bob Geldof was unsure about releasing this song. He played a demo of it to Phil Lynott off of Thin Lizzy who said that if Geldof didn’t do it he certainly would
“My Girl Bill” – Jim Stafford. This song has a great twist and check out the amazing shirt collar on Mr Stafford
“Billy” – James Blunt. I never have liked James Blunt, I just don’t like his voice, so I guess there was no chance for this song with me
“Little Willy” – Sweet. I have grown to like this a bit more over the years. But to have a song like this out when you’re going through adolescence is no fun. A great opportunity for other kids to diss the size of one’s budding manhood!
“Which Way You Going Billy?” – Poppy Family. A Canadian act with what for me ranks as one of the most insipid songs of the sixties
“Billy Don’t Be A Hero” – Paper Lace. What can I say? I really, really, really, really dislike this song. It was a UK number one in 1974 for Paper Lace, but the US hit was by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods
To paraphrase the words of the Beatles, “it was 25 years ago today that Mr Geldof got the bands to play!” Yes folks 25 years ago this very day (July 13th 2010) the event that was Live Aid took place featuring most of the great and good in music at that time. Looking back on it now it was a fantastic achievement engineered by Bob Geldof. I watched the whole of the live broadcast on the BBC which kicked off at midday with Status Quo performing “Rocking All Over The World”. It really launched a couple of acts into the stratosphere for me, notably U2 and Queen, although Freddie and the boys were close to it anyway. In my opinion there were some obvious disappointments as well; Bob Dylan’s performance, no Jacko appearance, no Prince appearance, Simon Le Bon’s vocals and Spandau Ballet’s suits.
Phil Collins played on both sides of the Atlantic having flown to the USA in Concorde. Sting performed with Dire Straits. Mick Jagger performed with Tina Turner. Paul McCartney’s microphone failed to work and David Bowie gave up one his songs to allow a short documentary to be shown, which helped raise even more money. The total raised was around £150 million toward famine relief in Africa, especially Ethiopia. The Wembley leg of the concert was attended by 72,000 people and the Philadelphia leg by 99,000 people. Click on Wembley or Philadelphia in the previous sentence for the set lists at each show. But more than 2 billion people watched it around the world! In a strange little incident at the Wembley gig the helicopters carrying the artists were allowed to land at a London Transport Bowling Club near the stadium. The interesting thing here is that there was a wedding reception being held there at the time. So the happy couple might have been inconvenienced but they did have a string of music superstars appearing in their wedding pictures!
Will anything like this ever happen again? Well there was Live 8, but that was small by comparison. Live Aid was a tremendous event that was very much of its time and to me it seems like a lifetime ago. Will it need to happen again? I think it will for the sake of Africa and other parts of the Third World. But for now enjoy some of the finest Live Aid moments below, including the heartbreaking CBC video introduced by David Bowie and soundtracked by the Cars “Drive”