It’s a year since I launched this blog, and this is my 50th post.
I’ve written about The Beatles, Mott The Hoople, Scott Walker, The Wombles, Driver 67 (of course!), Yewtree’s investigations and Simon Cowell.
And which post got the most readers?
I’d give you 50 guesses and you’d finally get there.
Wonderful thing No 1: Kokomo – they were the subject of my most read post. A band most people have never heard of.
Those who have, though, are passionately devoted. As am I. So it was wonderful to get a rush of attention for writing about artists who have never hit the charts, or sold a million.
And it didn’t happen just the once. When, a few weeks later, I recounted an incident that ended with several of the band in A&E, the numbers peaked again. Maybe I should just start a Kokomo blog!
Wonderful thing No 2: Because I wrote about Kokomo, Nick Hornby read my blog. Say no more.
Wonderful thing No 3: If this blog says anything about me, it’s that I have half a foot in the past, but most of me is in the present. Using computer technology and social media to create and promote my own new songs caught the eye of a book publisher.
He wanted a book which would guide young music hopefuls through the maze of the digital age.
So I was commissioned to write that book. Nearly done. Out by Spring, we hope.
Wonderful thing No 4: In my fifth post, I wrote about being backstage at a Bob Dylan concert in 1978 with my friend Heather.
Completely coincidentally – nothing to do with the blog – she contacted me last week. We hadn’t heard from each other for almost 35 years.
She asked if I remembered her. The usual response is, “Of course I do!” whilst searching your mind for some clue. But I was able to point Heather back to my post last February, and there she was.
We’ve since been reminding each other of escapades we got up to, including leaving the fabled Wembley ELO spaceship gig after just two songs. We weren’t much for the grandiose, Heather and I. Although we did go to a party Barry Manilow threw for Bette Midler. That doesn’t count as grandiose, does it?
Wonderful thing No 5: I was invited to join the Illuminati. Yes! I was!
And what had earned me this privilege? Last September I wrote about the ‘Paul Is Dead‘ conspiracy and talked about the current online obsession with the Illuminati.
I had an offer from illuminati.com to get (notice that: ‘get’) $2,500 every three days, and $1,000,000 ‘membership blessing for doing what you love to do best’.
“Change your life for the better, We holds the world.”
Those mistakes are not mine – that is verbatim how the invitation was put. I don’t care how much money is involved. Where grammar and punctuation are concerned, you can’t buy me.
Wonderful thing No 6: In November last year, I wrote about mental health. It was a slightly nervous post – not the happiest of things to admit to, being bipolar, or to talk about.
But the post attracted attention from outside the music sphere, and ended up in my Top 10 posts of the year. That’s pretty wonderful, don’t you think?
Wonderful thing No 7: One of my (very small) band of Twitter followers, @maxkelp tweeted “You are responsible for the Beta Band. Thank you.”
I was baffled. I had never heard of The Beta Band. I had certainly never imagined a one hit wonder inspiring anyone. So I took his ‘Thank you’ to mean, ‘You git’.
I replied: “Sounds like you don’t think that’s a good thing!”
And he replied: “No, they’re good, but they sound like you.”
So of course, I had to check them out. Seems the main guys would have been at primary school when Car 67 was a hit. So I guess it’s possible that Driver 67 became part of their cultural subconscious.
But I’m not claiming it. They remind me more of The Grease Band or Black Rebel Motorcyle Club, and I suggest if you like your music more on the acoustic and interesting side, The Beta Band is well worth a YouTube visit.
Wonderful thing No 8: Did I mention – Nick Hornby read my blog?
Wonderful thing No 9: I sent a box of 40-year-old tapes off to be digitised and received back a treasure trove of memories. Sessions I’d produced in some amazing studios: Apple, Air, CBS (mostly CBS, to be fair – I did work for the company!), Olympic.
As a result, I wrote my Kokomo post, wrote about South African Tony Bird, and about some completely bonkers sessions I did with crooner Vince Hill. Sadly, I haven’t heard from Vince, but Tony called me from New York and we talked for over an hour.
I have to say again, if the wind had been in the right direction, you would not now be needing me to tell you that Tony Bird is one of the greats.
Wonderful thing No 10: A couple of weeks ago, comedian Tim Vine Tweeted: “Hey who likes Car 67 by Driver 67?”
I love Time Vine (my favourite line: ‘Velcro. What a rip off!’). I like him even better now.
His Tweet resulted in a sequence of tweets mostly consisting of lines from Car 67. Even for an old cynic like me, that was heartwarming.
Wonderful thing No 11: In May last year, I wrote about my friend John Howard, and how the powers that be at Radio 1 deliberately stifled his career in the mid-70s.
I put up a video of John singing My Beautiful Days. It describes a trajectory where today, if you’re attractive enough, being camp is a career move (think Graham Norton, Rufus Wainwright).
But back then, his handlers were trying to make him more ‘butch’. My Beautiful Days is a very affecting song. I’ve seen people reduced to tears by it.
One Very Famous Person emailed me to thank me for introducing him to the song, which he had duly downloaded from iTunes. “What a should-be classic!” is how he put it.
Wonderful thing No 12: The Driver 67 catalogue (all 21 songs!) was reissued (online only) – after 35 years languishing in the vaults – by Cherry Red Records.
This year, I will release the follow up (!) album, called The Return Journey. This old cab still has some fuel in the tank.
I’m going to indulge myself here (it is the blog’s birthday!) and show you a performance by Lisa Hannigan, whose videos kept popping up while I looked for The Beta Band.
Lisa achieved some prominence as part of Damien Rice’s band. But solo, she is a revelation. Not since Joe Cocker have I seen anyone whose movements and facial expressions suggest such total immersion in the music. Except in Lisa’s case, it’s sexy. (Sorry, Joe).
Thanks for a year of engaging, entertaining and thought-provoking articles, and your help in the resurgence of Kokomo. Did anything happen about those 6 tracks you have?
Tony O’Malley has them. Not sure what he plans to do with them. Thanks for those kind words.
As a fellow sufferer, I’m glad your mental health blog made the top 10 . There are numerous other singer/songwriters with the same illness including Sinead O’Connor which might explain some of her dafter outbursts
PS – I have a suspicion Lisa Hannigan is Irish. I’ll Google her
Lisa Hannigan is, as you will have found out by now, Irish. She is a wonderful talent. There was a concert tribute to Nick Drake in 2010 called Way To Blue. Lots of clips on YouTube, and many great performances. And I mean great. Lisa’s performance of Black Eyed Dog is one of them. And of course Sinead O’Connor is a fellow sufferer, and we should all be glad our own daft outbursts aren’t being inspected by millions, as are hers! Love her, though. True and honest talent.