Sunday, 28 July 2013

Musical royalty


 This is a special post to celebrate the birth of Prince George of Cambridge, in which I am going to discuss musical royalty. 

 I don't mean amazing musicians who may be described as musical royalty; no, I mean royals who exist within songs. Perhaps they exist in real life, too, but a song was where I first met each of them. 

 An example is the the Queen of the Slipstream, in the song by Van Morrison, which is the first song I am going to share with you.

 From when I first heard this song I have regarded it as one of the most beautiful love songs ever written. The album it features on, Poetic Champions Compose, is also an exceptionally great album in my opinion; other well-written songs on it include I Forgot That Love Existed and Did Ye Get Healed?.

 This song is important to me as a memory holder, as listening to it invariably brings back very clear memories of listening to it in our car on the way to badminton practice when I was about sixteen. 

 We would drive past Trencherfield Mill, Wigan's big old cotton mill, with the sky beautiful; sunset or dusk or just turning to night time. I love badminton but have recently been too busy to play; hopefully I can find the time to play again some day soon.


 The second royal song I want to highlight is King of Wishful Thinking by Go West.

 I had heard and liked this song without knowing what it was called or who sang it. Quite recently my father played this song and I heard it and thought, "Finally! I can find out what it's called." 

 I was pleasantly surprised at it being Go West; I was always underwhelmed by We Close Our Eyes, which is probably their biggest hit. I think King of Wishful Thinking is a lot better, just pure eighties - even though it was released in 1990 - and something you can really dance to.


 The third royal song is The King of Rock 'n' Roll by Prefab Sprout.

 My mother for some reason always pairs this song in her head with Somewhere in My Heart by Aztec Camera, and one time I was listening to the latter and she said, "What's that other song, the one about Albequerque?" So we looked it up and found The King of Rock 'n' Roll, and I like it. 

 It's one of those songs I often forget about, then when I remember and listen to it, I think, "How could I forget this?" I really need to listen to it more often; it can put you in a good mood. 

 Listening to good music is always a mood-lifter, and the madness of the video really helps: a lot of songs try to do the "completely mad video" thing and it fails because they're making too much of an effort. 

 While I acknowledge that a lot of effort probably went into this video, it just emits such a chilled vibe; like the madness was accidental. Maybe it was. Either way, it's one of the most iconic and well-done videos I've seen.


 The fourth song I want to share is Dancing Queen by ABBA. 

 When planning this post I'd been intending to leave Dancing Queen out on grounds of cheesiness, but then it came on one of the music channels on telly and I realise it's a lot less cheesy than I'd remembered; in fact, it's actually very sophisticated for a seventies song.

 Something else that struck me when watching the video was how the two women carry themselves: they seem completely confident and in control and enjoying performing the song, and they both seem so happy in their own skin. 

 Compare this to a lot of female artists today who seem so insecure and seem to think the only way to sell records is to submit to men - either with skimpy outfits, or provocative dance moves, or by having some male artist say degrading things while they dance devotedly around them, or saying degrading things themselves. 

 A lot of these women are essentially selling their bodies when they sell records - whereas Frida and Agnetha clearly had no time for that sort of rubbish and just sold songs, songs they sung brilliantly. I think modern female artists should aim to be more like Frida and Agnetha.


 The final song I want to celebrate is Queen of the New Year by Deacon Blue, which of all these songs is probably the first I discovered, when I was young and we had a mix tape made for car journeys that featured a lot of Deacon Blue.

 I always heard this song as a country music, barn-dance type thing to be performed in cowboy get-up with a dance routine and spectators standing around in the barn and cheering and joining in.

 Having seen the video and learnt more about Deacon Blue, it's more Scottish folk than barn-dance, but other than that my mind's eye view of it performed seems accurate enough; they have a dance routine of sorts and a delighted and dynamic crowd.... They're just missing the cowboy get-up.

 I always liked the line, "All the stars in Heaven go dim," although I did used to hear it as "All the stars in Heaven go down," which left me with images of lots of stars falling beautifully to earth and sparkling around the lovers in the song. I still find that this song conjures up that image even now I know what the actual lyric is.

 While I love music videos and seeing live performances, I think it's nice with some songs to hear them for a while before you see them, if you know what I mean, so that you can create your own music video in your head; come up with your own interpretation of what the song means without a video telling you.


 Well, I hope you liked this post about royal songs and the kings and queens in them. I like how apart from possibly Dancing Queen, which may have been written for the Queen of Sweden at the time, none of the songs refer to actual kings or queens - as far as I know - nor do they use "king" or "queen" in the literal sense, meaning monarch. 

 They mean them figuratively, and are used to describe a lover (Slipstream and New Year), or someone who's the best at something (Dancing Queen, Rock 'n' Roll, Wishful Thinking) or who epitomises something (New Year). It shows how words can evolve; that they can be used to mean so many different things, and also how important kings and queens can be in culture.

 I wish the British Royal Family, and especially Prince George, the very best for the future.

 Thanks for reading,

 Liz x

Queen of the Slipstream - Van Morrison - 1988
King of Wishful Thinking - Go West - 1990
The King of Rock 'n' Roll - Prefab Sprout - 1988
Dancing Queen - ABBA - 1976
Queen of the New Year - Deacon Blue - 1989

1 comment:

  1. Queen of the Slipstream is one of Van's very best!