Friday, August 12, 2022

Musical Youth

The Seekers - Morningtown Ride (HQ Stereo, 1964/'68) - Bing video

Last week saw the passing of Judy Durham, the lead singer of the Seekers.

Not to be confused with the New Seekers who  had one more voice but were more of an Antipodean, Scots, English mix. 

Judy always had a very distinctive vocal sound, perfect clarity and diction. But as she was born with a lung condition,  I don’t think she ever had the ability to belt it out; she just sang beautifully with a very restrained power. 

In the early 60s  world of Twiggies and Shrimps, she was a very normal looking young woman who struggled with her weight a bit. She was five feet two in her socks. Her rather frumpy frocks became as much of the image of the group as Athol Guy's dark rimmed glasses and double bass.  In the video above, they stroll through the trees, up to a large house,  like a hit squad from Little House On The Prairie.

During the week we’ve been chatting about her passing, folks  favourite seekers song, and how many of their hits Ricky Springfield wrote (Dusty’s brother). 

And in some cases a right good argument ensues about whose version was best; ie Island of Dreams.  Feel free to vote here!

For people my age, their best known song is probably Morningtown Ride, it was the theme music for a kiddies show on the radio in the late 60s, early 70s when we didn’t have a telly and busy mums sat their kids round the wireless to get some peace and quiet.

Most people either sang that song to somebody, or had someone sing it to them. Some people still sing it to their grandchildren today. One patient said that her dad used to stick his head through the curtains of the bed recess and sing it while her 7 brothers and sisters did all the actions. So that would be ten human beings living in the same room. The two adults would have a double bed sized hole in the wall, closed off by a curtain and the kids would be dispersed on every available surface. The baby would be in the bed with the adults, the toddler would be in a bottom drawer somewhere. 

Bed recesses were good places to play hide and seek and the bed could sometimes double for a stage.

Morningtown Ride brought back a long forgotten memory for me. My gran and grandad lived in Priesthill which was a rather 'interesting part' of Glasgow. I use the word interesting as in people cheered when it was knocked down as part of the slum clearances. There was a sign on the way out that said 'Well done on surviving but we'll get you next  time.'

The neighbourhood there was 'lively'.

Billy Connolly talks about the parties in the tenements in those days, folk with a 'carry out' (some cans of lager) would just walk the streets listening. If they heard loud music and the sounds of laughter, they’d be up the close and chap on the door. The phrase "Jimmy said it was okay" was the golden ticket for entry. Those parties would have been raucous and alcohol fuelled. 

Not so in our family. Our parties consisted of cups of tea, egg sandwiches and pancakes – Scottish pancakes - I think they are known as drop scones in some parts of the world, but they are small, like a flat scone.

Anyway, our 'parties' were a musical event, no TV in those days. The wireless was back in its box.  My gran was playing the accordian or the piano, there was another accordian that my dad usually played. It now sits in my writing room. I can't play it. To be honest, I can't even lift the thing up.

My mum played the lute harp, Uncle Gordon was on the spoons with Uncle Lesley ( if he was behaving himself) would be on the saw and fruitbox. And if I was behaving myself, I would have the washing board and thimbles. Bearing in mind I’d be about 4 at the time.

I think my sister turned the pages of the sheet music, and cousin Stuart was on paper comb.  Granddad  had a harmonica.

 Uncle Robert was the clever one and made sure he was always busy and elsewhere on those nights. Infact it makes you wonder, we didn’t have any phones in those days, so these spontaneous get togethers must have been put in the diary weeks ahead. 

From what I can remember, the music of the night went a bit like this;

Morningtown ride obviously.

Daddy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow. We'd all do the impersonations and then my dad would say rabbit and you couldn’t sing that bit because no one knew what noise a rabbit made. 

The quartermaster's store ; clean version

The Wild Rover; shouting loudly at the 'no nah never' bit.

The Killiecrankie song; killiecrankie is a place, not a disease. Here's a wee clip from the 60's!

The Corries Killiecrankie 1966 - Bing video

Somewhere in amongst all that was The Lord's My Shepherd sung to either Crimond or Amazing Grace both of which my dad played in waltz time.

Sometimes I think its amazing I grew up as normal as I did.


1 comment:

  1. "Sometimes I think its amazing I grew up as normal as I did". Ahem, indeed.

    An evocative recounting of simpler days. Perhaps an inspiration for some murderous behaviour, set in the 70's (or via flashback).