Whenever I pass by Lennon’s Barin Onslow Road in Southampton, I think of the song “Those Were the Days”. So for my Music Monday today, I present 5 different versions, so click on any of the underlined blue names to hear a YouTube track with video:
I first heard the song sung by Mary Hopkinwhen it went to No1 in the UK Charts in 1968. The Welsh folk-singer was one of the first to record on The Beatles‘ Apple label and it was produced by Paul McCartney. The words on this version are credited to Gene Raskin.
However the tune was originally from an old Russian folk song called “By the Long Road”(Dorogoi Dlinnoyu). Composed by Boris Fomin with words by the poet Konstantin Podrevsky. It deals with reminiscence upon youth and romantic idealism. So more-or less about the same thing and why it haunts me. The most popular version sung in Russian, is by Sergey Lazarev. The first recording of the song was made by Alexander Vertinsky in 1926.
After the Berlin wall came down in November 1989, I went to visit some British and American friends of mine working in Berlin. We went to a nightclub in East Berlin and Those were the Days by Mary Hopkin was played repeatedly after every few records.
Later in 1992, while I was working on the Algarve in Portugal, I went to a festival in Portimão and saw The Leningrad Cowboys, a Finnish rock band, perform their version in English.If you click on their name the short video that accompanies it is a real treat.
I think my favourite version has to be by The Paganini Duo, a gypsy band in Australia who play the traditional folk version with a violin.
A more recent cover, is sung movingly by Cynthia Lennonwith a backdrop of Beatles photos. So, we have come full circle now to Lennon‘s – I doubt if you will find me in the club now, but “those were the days”.
My Music Monday choice this week is:Police and Thieves , which is my favourite reggae song of all time. First recorded on Island Records by Jamaican falsetto singer Junior Murvin in 1976. Every rebel must have bought the single and Murvin did many re-releases and there have been many cover versions in Jamaica, USA and Britain.
1976 saw one of the hottest recorded temperatures in the UK and that same year this song became an anthem in the UK after London’s Notting Hill Carnival erupted into a riot between blacks and police.
This led to an independent enquiry lasting many years that eventually meant a recruiting drive for more blacks and other ethnic minorities as well as gays and lesbians joining the Metropolitan Police Force, especially in roles where decisions were made.
A big effort was made to keep the carnival peaceful in the years to follow and nearly every press photo showed white police and scantily-clad black women dancing together in bump and grinds. Notting Hill quickly became a trendy place to live and as white upper-middle classes moved in. House prices escalated, forcing many black families who had lived in the area since the 50s out.
In 2015 with police on high alert for terrorists, the Carnival saw around 100 arrests, mainly for agitators and people with drugs or weapons.
No-one knows what the atmosphere will be like this year. Brexit has brought about a number of racist groups in clashes with anti-fascist ones and people are worried about terrorists and that the happy days collaboration between police and crowds is long over. It is still a big pull for tourists to Britain, but like most things here – so much may depend on the weather.
Music Monday is the second post in my series of tracks: where I put in a link to a piece of music that leaves me thinking.
I saw the US band Public Enemy at Bestival’s Common People Festival in Southampton last week. It wasn’t until they played their last number “Harder Than You Think”that I recognised it from the 2012 Disabled Olympics.
The track is also used as the theme tune on Britain’s Channel 4’s spin-off series from the Olympics: The Last Leg – a comedy chat-show with news about celebrities and politics in relation to disabilities.
It got me thinking, then I listened to a few of the versions of this on YouTube. Here’s the link:
British artist Jessica Harrison sources traditional ceramic figurines and gives them a new lease of life with delicate, hand-painted tattoos. I have been meaning to focus on a series of artists that exhibited at Dismaland Arts Festival in Weston-Super Mare in 2015 – Harrison is the first artist in this series.
See her facebook for more information.
PHOTO CREDITS: Southampton Old Lady
Street art causes a reaction. It is effective. I have been appalled and moved to tears by various street artists. So this is an important category for this blog.
Street art has been around since streets started. Early frescos are being preserved in countries like Italy and Mexico. To me street art is especially important — when we are bombarded with advertising posters and commercial signs that we have no control over. I feel that gifted people who have no money to advertise or exhibit should be allowed to display their images too.
I had planned to do quite a bit on street art. However, it seems to be pretty well covered by the people I follow on WordPress, especially by my favourite, world-wide, street-art hubber Frankie Bean, who devotes time to finding the latest, greatest street art to share almost daily with web surfers. To visit: https://frankiebeane.wordpress.com
So eventually I will cover historical aspects of street art, but for now, here are some offerings with a few thoughts on street art in Southampton, where I live…
I have no time for graffiti artists who just draw penises or badly scrawl their team’s name. However one street artist assured me that people’s tags are a way of saying, “I am here!” However they do not move me as much.
And the minute someone paints something in a public place, someone will want to destroy it. Banksy usually times how long one of his works lasts before it is scrawled on, de-tagged or whitewashed over. This does not seem to bother him that so long as a few people get to see it he gets to take a photo first.