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I climbed on the back of a giant albatross... and ended up somewhere in Scotland

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List of Early Influence Favourites

My pre-rock era "early influence" list of favourite recording artists are below. It's the same as the 2010 version except the Carter Family has slipped from 2nd place to 5th.

1 Hank Williams
2 Woody Guthrie
3 Nat King Cole
4 Frank Sinatra
5 Carter Family
6 Dean Martin
7 Richard Wagner
8 Bill Monroe
9 Robert Johnson
10 Bing Crosby
11 Flatt & Scruggs
12 Billie Holiday
13 Huddie William "Lead Belly" Ledbetter
14 Al Jolson
15 Slim Whitman

The Girl That I Marry

Another for my list of Song HoF entries... "The Girl That I Marry" by Frank Sinatra

A while back, I was listening to some early Sinatra (1940's era) and this one came up on top as one of my favourites. It's from the musical Annie Get Your Gun, with words and music by Irving Berlin.

Marriage... a wonderful institution. But who wants to live in an institution?

The Cradle Song

Being added to my song list... "The Cradle Song" by Frank Sinatra

This one is for grand-daughter Ayla who's nearly 7 months old now. It's Brahm's Lullaby sung by a World War II-era Frank Sinatra...

True Love

For my Song Hall of Fame... "True Love" by George Harrison

It's the old Cole Porter song which was in the film High Society with Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly et. al. But this is the version sung by George Harrison in 1976. High Society is a favourite film of Linda's, and George is a favourite Beatle of mine, so there it is.

The video below is a bit of an odd one George made on the grounds of his Friar Park home... the quality isn't great.

In the video here, like in the film High Society, "True Love" is the name of a boat...

Twice thwarted

Well, today I drove Linda up to Glasgow to pick up a dress she bought and had alterations done to... It's for a wedding we're going to next week... Scott and Sarah's wedding. We also picked up some shoes that Jenny bought. They had gone up to Glasgow a few days ago and bought these things, but we needed to go up today to pick them up.

So, OK, while we were in Glasgow I thought it'd be good to go somewhere and see something... so I got out the 2 for 1 coupons I had torn out of the paper the other day and identified about four places up there we could go and take advantage of the deal the paper had...

First place was "House for an Art Lover" which is a Charles Rennie Mackintosh architectural and art museum exhibition house type thing in Belahouston Park. Thwarted! 'cause when we got there, a wedding was going to take place and it was closing early. We were able to eat there, though, and we had a very nice lunch out on the patio in the sunshine.

Then we went to Braehead Mall because Linda had to get some make-up... spent a little while in there.... Finally left and decided to go to another 2 for 1 coupon place I had in mind in East Kilbide... The National Museum of Rural Life...

Drove south but I got a little confused at where to turn off and I ended up going too far on the M77... and had to back-track and go back north a different way... got a bit lost. East Kilbride has SO MANY roundabouts, you would not believe it... I think it's nicknamed Polo Mint City (after a round lifesaver-type mint candy sold in Britain).... so I finally found the place but it was just passed 4:30 when we got there... and they close at 5. So, we decided to just skip it, as it was too late to properly go around the museum.

So not very successful in using my 2 for 1 coupons today, but otherwise had a decent day of travelling back and forth and getting some errands done... listening to Frank Sinatra.

August 2006

A Month in the Life.... August 2006.

- We had a lovely holiday in the USA and return to Scotland in early August. Here's what we did in the August portion of it:

Aug 1 - In Las Vegas... we go to see The Rat Pack ( no not the REAL ones, but they were really good). Also visit Sigfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, among other places.

Aug 2 - Exceedingly hot in LV... We are staying at the Sahara this time (this is the 2nd stay in Las Vegas during our trip to the States, as that is where we fly in and out of).

Aug 3 - Fly to Manchester, UK.

Aug 4 - Visit Liverpool. Go to see the childhood homes of Lennon and McCartney.

Aug 5 - Reach the current home of Linda and Darrin, thus ending our holiday. Exhausted.

Aug 9 - Jenny and Andy (who were also travelling around the USA) arrive back to Britain... flying into London from NYC. Their flight out of London back up north was cancelled due to a terrorist plot, so they get a train.

Aug 17 - Our PC is in being repaired around this time.

Aug 19 - Get a flat tire. Try changing it myself but am frustratingly foiled by a lock nut. Have to get it to a tyre place instead. Grrr.

Aug 23 - Jenny accepted an offer from University of Edinburgh's School of Education (after nearly not getting it due to a late reference)...

Aug 24 - I send in my absentee ballot for the Massachusetts Democratic Party state primary, voting for Deval Patrick.

Aug 26 - Helping Jenny move in up in Edinburgh. She'll be living with her friend Lisa.

Personal Favorite Rock Artists List

A website I look at asked people to compile their lists, so I spent some time this morning arranging it thusly  (as well as a short early influence list at the bottom):

ranking of my 100 favorite "rock" artists (Oct 26, 2010)

1 The Beatles
2 Bob Dylan
3 The Doors
4 John Lennon
5 Ramones
6 The Beach Boys
7 Leonard Cohen
8 The Kinks
9 The Clash
10 Johnny Cash
11 Neil Young
12 George Harrison
13 T.Rex
14 Donovan
15 Chuck Berry
16 The Sex Pistols
17 Run-DMC
18 Nirvana
19 Frank Black
20 Weezer
21 Brian Wilson
22 Joni Mitchell
23 Elvis Costello
24 Pink Floyd
25 Bruce Springsteen
26 Big Audio Dynamite
27 Gang of Four
28 Public Enemy
29 Van Morrison
30 The Rolling Stones
31 The Who
32 Elvis Presley
33 The B-52's
34 Sly & the Family Stone
36 Creedence Clearwater Revival
37 Derek and the Dominoes
38 Jerry Lee Lewis
39 Eddie Cochran
40 Jackson 5
41 Paul McCartney
42 Led Zeppelin
43 James Brown
44 REM
45 Byrds
46 Pixies
47 Ike and Tina Turner
48 Janis Joplin
49 Richard and Linda Thompson
50 Michael Jackson
51 Paul Simon
52 Devo
53 Jimi Hendrix
54 Blondie
55 Talking Heads
56 Al Green
57 The Muffs
58 James Taylor
59 Marvin Gaye
60 David Bowie
61 Prince
62 Beck
63 Moby
64 The Jam
65 Curtis Mayfield
66 Stevie Wonder
67 Temptations
68 Grateful Dead
69 Squeeze
70 Steve Miller Band
71 Cat Stevens
72 Radiohead
73 NWA
74 Alice Cooper
75 Jimmy Cliff
76 Green Day
77 Arctic Monkeys
78 The Hives
79 The Mamas & the Papas
80 Neil Diamond
81 Isley Brothers
82 Rod Stewart
83 Keith West
84 The Band
85 Everly Brothers
86 Buddy Holly
87 Cheap Trick
88 Otis Redding
89 The Damned
90 Madness
91 Manic Street Preachers
92 Barry White
93 Shonen Knife
94 Sweet
95 Eric Clapton
96 Dead Milkmen
97 Alanis Morissette
98 The Waterboys
99 Adam Ant
100 Norman Greenbaum

early influence:
1 Hank Williams
2 Carter Family
3 Woody Guthrie
4 Nat King Cole
5 Frank Sinatra
6 Dean Martin
7 Richard Wagner
8 Bill Monroe
9 Robert Johnson
10 Bing Crosby
11 Flatt & Scruggs
12 Billie Holiday
13 Huddie William "Lead Belly" Ledbetter
14 Al Jolson
15 Slim Whitman



Poll Winners

NME (New Musical Express) is a music magazine in Britain since the '50's, and they do a readers' poll every year... Here are some poll results:

Top Female Singer:

Doris Day (1955, 56, 57)
Connie Francis (1958, 59, 60, 61)
Brenda Lee (1962, 63, 64)
Dusty Springfield (1965, 66, 67, 69)
Lulu (1968)
Diana Ross (1970, 71, 73)
Maggie Bell (1972)
Joni Mitchell (1974, 75)
Linda Ronstadt (1976)
Julie Covington (1977)
Debbie Harry (1978)
Kate Bush (1979)
Siouxsie (1980, 81, 82)
Liz Frazer (1984, 85, 86)

Top Male Singer:

Frank Sinatra (1955, 56)
Pat Boone (1957)
Elvis Presley (1958, 59, 60, 61, 62, 64, 65,
66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72)
Cliff Richard (1963)
David Bowie (1973, 77, 78, 81)
Robert Plant (1974, 75, 76)
Sting (1979
Paul Weller (1980, 82)
Bono (1984)
Morrissey (1985, 86)


Phil Spector was convicted of murder. Here are some excerpts from the Telegraph:

It has taken six years finally to bring to a conclusion the saga that began on the night of Feb 2, 2003, when Spector walked into a Hollywood night club, the House of Blues, and invited the VIP hostess, 40-year-old Lana Clarkson back to his mansion in the nondescript Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra for a drink. Less than three hours later, Clarkson died from a single gunshot to the mouth.


Dictatorial, quixotic, driven by an unswerving belief in his own genius and an unquenchable hunger for success, Spector became, uniquely, a bigger star than any of the artists he produced - 'the first tycoon of teen' in the memorable phrase of the writer Tom Wolfe. And he played the part to the hilt, acquiring the obligatory Hollywood mansion, a retinue of bodyguards, and a reputation for wayward eccentricity.

By 1966, Spector's reign at the top of the American charts was over, his 'Wall of Sound' an anachronism. When his most grandiloquent and extravagant production ever, Ike and Tina Turner's River Deep Mountain High, failed to dent the American charts, he was crushed. He retired to his mansion to brood; married his protege Ronnie Bennett, the lead singer of the Ronettes, and, consumed with jealously, kept her a virtual prisoner in the home. According to Ronnie, he would pass the days, watching over and over again Citizen Kane, Orson Welles' parable of ambition, hubris and spiritual desolation, weeping at the climactic moment when Rosebud, Kane's sled, the symbol of childhood joy and innocence, is incinerated.

It seemed that Spector's career was over, but In 1970, his career was briefly given a new lease of life when he was invited to finalise production on the Beatles' last album, Let It Be. He went on to produce George Harrison's multi-million selling All Things Must Pass and to co-produce three solo albums with John Lennon, including the classic Imagine.

Through the Seventies, Spector worked only intermittently, producing albums by Leonard Cohen, Dion DiMucci and, finally, in 1979, the Ramones. By now his reputation for waywardness had all but eclipsed any acknowledgement of his extraordinary accomplishments as a producer. Stories abounded of his drinking, of scenes in restaurants, of, most ominously, of his predilection for guns. He would habitually wear a shoulder-holster around the home, and he seldom left home without one. 'Phil wanted to be Elvis and Sinatra combined', one friend would remember. 'The cool, aloof thing, the entourage, all that protected crap.'

Recording with John Lennon he let off a live round into the ceiling of the studio. Recording Leonard Cohen, he approached the singer clutching a bottle of Jewish ritual wine in one hand and a pistol in the other, which he shoved into Cohen's neck, whispering 'Leonard, I love you.'

Cohen with admirable aplomb, simply moved the barrel away, saying 'I hope you do, Phil'.


Dean Martin

Linda and I (maybe Linda a bit more than me) both like the old-time crooners of the 40's and 50's time period.  People like Sinatra, Crosby, Como and the next inductee into my Recording Artist Hall of Fame...  Dean Martin.

Here are a few little tidbits about him that you should memorize:

 - His real name was Dino Paul Crocetti, and before becoming Dean Martin he called himself Dino Martini.

 - During his partnership with Jerry Lewis in the late 40's and early 50's, more than a few people dubbed them "The Organ Grinder and the Monkey."  They were the hottest act in America in the early 50's but critics underestimated Dean's contribution to the team, as he had the thankless job of the straight man.  The act broke up in 1956, 10 years to the day from their first official teaming.

 - Elvis Presley was said to have been influenced by Martin, and patterned "Love Me Tender" after his style.

 - He Suffered from claustrophobia and almost never used elevators.  Later in life, he managed to cure himself of his claustrophobia by reportedly locking himself in the elevator of a tall building and riding up and down for hours until he was no longer panic-stricken.

 - Like The Beatles, he could not read music, but he recorded more than 100 albums and 600 songs. His signature tune, "Everybody Loves Somebody", knocked The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night" out of the number-one spot in the United States in 1964.

 - He made a public reconciliation with Jerry Lewis on Lewis' Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon in 1976. Frank Sinatra shocked Lewis and the world by bringing Martin out on stage. As Martin and Lewis embraced, the audience erupted in cheers and the phone banks lit up, resulting in one of the telethon's most profitable years.

 - Martin's son Dean Paul (formerly Dino of the 60s "teeny-bopper" rock group Dino, Desi & Billy) was killed when his jet fighter crashed while flying with the Air National Guard.

 - Dean Martin died on Christmas morning 1995.

 - At the time of his death, he was reportedly the single largest minority shareholder of RCA stock.

 - Dean Martin has not one but three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame... one each for movies, recording and television.

 - Martin is to posthumously receive a Grammy lifetime achievement award in February 2009.


Frank Sinatra

For induction into Darrin's Recording Artist Hall of Fame......     Frank Sinatra
Ol' Blue Eyes, The Chairman of the Board, The Voice...  Frank Sinatra was one of the greatest vocalists of all time.  A favorite of my wife, Linda, I'd always had a healthy respect for him but not really listened to that type of music overly much.  But nowadays, whenever we play music together, it's usually the crooners like Sinatra that we have on. 
Aside from the music, he had an interesting life.  We' ve bought a bunch of Sinatra DVD's through the years and we often stop to watch things about him on the Biography Channel or wherever else there are programs on about him.  One of the highlights of our trip last summer was going to a Rat Pack tribute in Las Vegas, which was really great.  Sinatra also reminds us of Linda's father who passed away a couple years ago.

from Linda

Here's an email from Linda to Aunt Kathy, who we stayed with in Washington State. ('cause I'm too lazy to write my own journal entry):

Hi there,

We are home!!! I would have written sooner but...

1) We were exhausted

2) Computer blew somehow and we had to connect up Jenny's old one (she got a new laptop) so I could write.

Strange feeling being home. It is lovely to be with my Mum and all the furry babies, but we also miss all you folks too (especially you!). We especially enjoyed our time in Oregon/Washington - the best bit of the trip! It was so great to meet you and all your family. It felt so easy and as if I'd known you forever. Sad that you stay so far away from us as I'd love to meet up more often, but emails will have to do...You'll have to come visit us sometime and we'll be back one day and we'll stay longer up North.

Vegas was a nice end to our trip, although not really relaxing! :-) We went to see the tribute to 'The Rat Pack' who were amazing. I got goosebumps when they came on stage. They looked like them but sounded even more so. They also brought on 'Marilyn' and she was fantastic. We got to meet them all after the show and they hugged me!

We then went to a Karaoke and got chatting to two struggling wannabe rock stars. They were really sweet - one was Jenny's age (made me warm to him straight away!) and from Texas (fab accent). Darrin kindly bought them a couple of beers and we gave them our email so they can tell us when they get famous!!!!

Next day we went to MGM Grand and saw the lions. There is a whole ranch of well treated lions and a few get brought each day (in 2 shifts). These 3 were 17 months old (named Frank and Jesse James and Nugget) and they were having such fun with their trainers and were behaving like big kitties, rubbing heads with their trainers, chasing balls, licking them, rolling over to get their tummy rubbed. They looked so happy.

We also went to see 'The Secret Garden' (Seigfried and Roy) with the white lions and tigers and dolphins, which was really nice too. The MGM ones were better though, and they were free!

We got back to Manchester on Friday morning, absolutely exhausted. We got into our hotel early and showered and felt a bit better. We then went to see John Lennon's house (more goosebumps - he actually TOUCHED things there!) and Paul McCartney's house (we'd been there before). We drove back on Saturday and we've been readjusting since. My body clock is haywire - I was wide awake at 4am this morning!

Darrin went back to work today (boo hoo) and I miss him. We have been together virtually 24 hours for over a month and it seems really strange to be on my own. A bit sad.

My Mum and the furries are fine. They were all so glad to see us, and we them. My Mum has been naughty, working in our garden, which was nice of her. She is someone who is always busy. She is tired but looks very well! She says that Nala (one of our little kitties) was starting to pine a little last week, although she is very close to my Mum.

Once again, it was so wonderful to meet you at last and to have been able to spend so much time with you (but never enough!). Thank you so much for having us to stay and being so good to us. You are a very, very special person.

Take care and keep in touch.

Love always,

Linda and Darrin xx


The Rat Pack were fantastic last night. Frank, Dean and Sammy were all in top form and that Joey Bishop really cracks me up.

After the show, we got 2 for 1 drinks and kept getting them until it was 2 for 1 too many I think. We were up doing karaoke and Linda was inviting some homeless people back to Scotland. She's a bit fragile today.


We're lounging by the pool at the Sahara right now. Earlier, we walked around a few casinos we hadn't seen the first time around. The mood today is a bit tense as it's been exceedingly hot... Thus we decided to get back to the hotel to lounge. Later, we have tickets to go see the imitation Rat Pack.
Just a quick weekend update...  The Christmas season has officially begun.  Linda and I put up our tree and Xmas decorations this weekend... and played Perry Como and Frank Sinatra Christmas music, as well as the Smurfs Christmas Album.   So, putting up our Xmas stuff involves me going up into the attic to get all the boxes of stuff down, including the fake tree for the living room and a few other small fake trees for the bedrooms, as well as bits and bobs that get hung from the ceiling and the walls...  Then my job is to put the blinking lights on the blinking tree and plug it all into a blinking power strip...  and hope it all blinking blinks. 
So, that got done.  We also went on a shopping trip over to Gretna where there's an outlet mall place.  It was a pretty successful trip as Linda found just about everything she wanted to buy for people.  I mostly followed her around and went for coffee breaks.
Gretna, as you may or may not know, is the Marriage Capital of the World... or at least of Britain.  It's the place young lovers used to go (actually they still do) to get married because it's just over the border from England and the marriage laws in Scotland were more lenient than in England.  Read about it here on this link.
Also, this weekend, we got the blacksmith up to see Meggie the horse and get her shoes done.  With the darker evenings now, it meant we ended up doing it by the light of a stable...  The blacksmith also had a headlamp on.   We had to boot out Sky, another horse, from the stable while this was being done so it was my job to hold onto Sky as there weren't any empty stables to put her...  so I mostly just stood outside, gave her some hay and bonded with her.

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