SOTU 617: Bells And Whistles

Firstly, big thanks to everyone for your good wishes regarding my Dad. We were expecting to lose him last week, but he has defied medical opinion and seems to be making something of an unexpected recovery - so much so that he has now been discharged back to his residential care home (he has advanced dementia).

Secondly, I have done a song (a collaboration with Mel Meow) with (synth) bells this week, but it’s a Christmas song and has no uke, so doesn’t qualify - but if you wish to see it anyway it’s here. (That was too brazen for words - sorry folks!😬) Hoping to do something else by the end of the week.🤞🏼
I was having a hard time coming up with something to fit the bells and whistles theme when buried deep within my "songs to work on" file I found Whistle For The Choir by The Fratellis. I don't know if "Whistle for the choir" is some kind of phrase that I'm not familiar with but it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the song. My ability to whistle is pretty tragic so at two points during the song I substitute "doo-doo's" which may be reflective of this performance but it is what it is! 😄

As a little kid, I used to hear this song every morning on the school bus when it was released in September 1969, and quickly soared to #1 in November. When I had a few dollars of my own, I bought the album, and could continue hearing it daily, as well as all the other great songs on it.
At the time, 5th Dimension lead singer Marilyn McCoo and founder Billy Davis, Jr were engaged but hadn't set a date yet, and made much of that in presenting the song, the band's third Laura Nyro hit. They married soon after recording the song.

Today I learned that Marilyn is now 80, Bill's 85, and they've been married and performing together 54 years.

So I guess it worked!

Here's "Wedding Bell Blues" by the 5th Dimension via Laura Nyro.

Ever been to the Keswick museum? Me neither. But apparently if you do, you'll find the Musical Rocks Of Skiddaw, a xylophone (okay, it's a lithophone because it's made of rocks, but I wanted the title to begin with an X to fit a songwriting challenge...) made by a Great British Eccentric, Joe Richardson. And here is his story:

More details here, about the world's first rock band:

The song involves a cowbell, because of course it does, and a glockenspiel, because I don't have a xylophone, although I am reliably informed by the internet that glockenspiels can also be called "Bells" so I think this counts for both of those reasons.
Firstly, big thanks to everyone for your good wishes regarding my Dad. We were expecting to lose him last week, but he has defied medical opinion and seems to be making something of an unexpected recovery - so much so that he has now been discharged back to his residential care home (he has advanced dementia).

Secondly, I have done a song (a collaboration with Mel Meow) with (synth) bells this week, but it’s a Christmas song and has no uke, so doesn’t qualify - but if you wish to see it anyway it’s here. (That was too brazen for words - sorry folks!😬) Hoping to do something else by the end of the week.🤞🏼
Hi Del,
Glad to hear your Dad is doing better than the doctors' opninions.
I will listen to it once I've caught up with the entries from yesterday/early this morning. Christmas songs with uke and bells or whistles are welcome on crossover day (the controversial eighth day in the week ;) ).
Hey, Sabine! Hey, everyone!

I've been crazy busy the last few weeks but last night I was doing a few songs at a charity fundraiser in Sheffield and realised that one of the songs I was going to do contained the line, "So all you folks in heaven not too busy ringing the bell..."
Hey presto! Two birds, one stone...

A handful of folk (at my request) kindly filmed on their phones and sent me the clips so I could cobble them together when I should really have been working this morning.

Sorry I've not been around much. Hoping for a quiet couple of weeks starting after tomorrow! Anyway, must dash! I'm out again tonight. Work Christmas do! Expect carnage!

Grandfather's Clock is a Bluegrass staple that uses harmonics to depict clock chimes. I'm playing on a 5-string 17" tenor-scale nylon string banjolele. I bought this banjolele from Amazon during the recent Black Friday sales, because I too have UAS. My playing is even a bit rougher than usual, as I had an injury to my fretting hand a few days ago, and a resulting interruption in practice. You can read about my accident here, if you're curious. My hand is no worse for the wear now, and I used that very same hand to finger the banjolele in this video. I'll show it to you at the end of the video. It's as good as newish!

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There was no daily write-up yesterday as I was out playing baroque music with a group of friends. The viol player had brought a 7 string viol she's trying out (and she's probably buying it as she likes it quite a bit).

The summary is therefore longer, as it covers two days. There were sixteen new additions over the last two days, thanks to the following seasonistas.
Jon covered Give A Little Whistle, as I'd hoped he would, after Joo brought it earlier this week. Unfortunately, no whistle just then, but beautiful nevertheless.
Brian (UkeFoote) did manage to whistle on his entry Bells (we all expected him to, right?) despite still recovering from covid.
Wendy disguised herself as a cow, and brought cowbell and the very infectious You Can Ring My Bell.
Val got in character with a fine hat as she sang and played innocent: I Didn't Know The Gun Was Loaded, but the police blew his whistle.
Paul opted for the Monty Python's Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, we all knew we'd get at least one version this week.
Ylle brought us a quickie of well under a minute, but it packs a lot of fun, among other things nose flute!
Paul was back with an original, Teach Me How To Whistle, for which he wrote fun lyrics and a great little tune with a nice decending run.
Joko wrote new lyrics to a well loved song and presented them as Don't Worry Be Merry. He kept in the whistling though!
Chris D. sang one of my favourites, Dream A Little Dream Of Me, with some great whistling at the end.
Scott played and sang a fabulous version of a song I've seen in a few songbooks, Whistle For The Choir, but I'd never really listened to it. I did check out a live version by the Fratellis and Scott sounded so much better that the singer.
Wendy also managed to bring a song today, Wedding Bell Blues, another new song I want to check out later.
Edwin often finds inspiration in places I don't expect it. He wrote an original Xylophone Mountain about musical rocks.
Chris in Arizona picked 500 Miles, a popular song that mentions a train whistle many, many times; and he roped in his friend who happened to come by.
Rob entered his cover of Don't Worry Be Happy, and who could stay sad after that?
Bob brought SOTU to the masses (or at least a small to medium live audience) as he realised Whip-Poor-Will, one of the songs he'd prepared for his set mentions a bell. The phone footage recorded by his fans was used to put together his YouTube video, so Bob also brought a bit of the charity fundraiser to UU.
And Renaissance Man is still recovering after his unfortunate injury on his fretting hand. Seeing as his hand has healed enough to play his new 5 string banjolele for us, he shared his instrumental version of Grandfather's Clock, and like Ale, invoked bells or chimes with the harmonics.

This brings the playlist up to 42 songs, all of them a pleasure to listen to. Thanks again everyone. It's bedtime for me, but I'll see you soon!
Thanks for hosting, Sabine. :)

This was the 1983 debut solo single by Nick Heyward after leaving Haircut One Hundred. There’s ‘whistle’ in the title and I’ve used some synth dreamy bells in the mix, as well as adding some synth bass and strings.

Evolution of a song: Heaven in my view
Bo Weavil Jackson:
Carter Family:
Kevin Coyne:
Old Gardener Guy: with whistling
There were bells all around, but I never heard them ringing. I'm kind of surprised no one's done this yet. With whistled interlude, and frogs chorus.

"Till There Was You" from Meredith Willson's The Music Man, via the Beatles.

I've just remembered this one that I wrote last year after spending many many hours on hold to my bank and then having to give up. You'll see why it fits...

My very talented New Jersey friend Mike Agranoff likes to deliver a hilariously clever one-verse mashup he created of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" with the old traditional song "I've Been Working on the Railroad".

He always stops after the one verse, saying something apologetic about discretion being the better part of valor. If you've been around here for a while (even just this week!), you probably know discretion is not a thing I'm known for. So of course I ignored him, and assembled two more verses to complete the song.

Now whenever Mike performs his verse at a song circle, I play the rest of the song. He always cringes when I introduce it, but afterward begrudgingly admits that I have indeed mined some additional gold from his clever concept. Sometimes, I guess, indiscretion can trump valor.

Here's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right on the Railroad".

("I've Been Working on the Railroad", and my verse 3, includes the line "Can't you hear the whistle blowing?", which qualifies it for this Season.)

A bit late this week; it has been a busy time.

I can't whistle to save my life, but I can just about play the Irish Whistle, so here is a song which includes that.

I wish I still had another instrument that would have been great for this recording. It was a series of "bells" that I struck with "hammers" during the show I describe here. The "bells" were in fact old fire alarms of different sizes that I had cadged from a junk yard. Choosing those that gave off particular notes (a pentatonic scale) they were then rigged up on a board as an instrument.

There were three groups of players on this project performing three different shows. There was a "Women Only" group, a "Men Only" group and I was in the "Mixed Men and Women" group. Between the three groups we not only performed in villages, but also visited several peace camps over the period and performed for the people there. I wrote a few songs on the Peace Theme that I have revived of late.

Sadly, I can't offer you exact images from the performance because they are on slide and I haven't gotten around to transferring them to a digital format, yet.

I hope you enjoy:

Yay, we can do holiday songs now! But wait, they're all about snow and sleigh bells and reindeer and wintery things ... and it's sweltering here!

So how about some Aussie Jingle Bells to cool you down in this summer holiday season?

Here's an Aussie-to-American glossary to translate it for you:
  • The bush = woods or any undeveloped wild land
  • Holden * = Australian-made GM car 1948-84
  • Ute = pickup truck
  • Esky = cooler
  • Boot = trunk of a car
  • Kelpie = common Aussie dog
  • Singlet, shorts, and thongs * = tank top, shorts, and flip-flops
  • Beaut = awesome
  • Swaggie = swagman = a hobo / itinerant worker who carries a swag (bedroll, or sack) - in the original video, Bucko & Champs point at Santa Claus in the backseat of the ute
  • Washing up = work, time to go!
* My first Australian car, in the early '90s, was Goldie the Golden Holden. She was a 1975 Kingswood sedan (not a ute), and she was a terrific car. Her bonnet (hood) was never quite the same after we hit a kangaroo in the outback one early morning on the Stuart Highway up the middle of the country. Both Goldie and the roo survived the encounter though. I hope the roo fared a well as the car did.

* I moved here from the US primarily so I could dress in singlet, shorts, and thongs at least 75% of the year. I kid you not - that was my #1 reason for leaving my otherwise great life in New Jersey, and my #1 criterion for choosing my new location. I hit the jackpot here.

The day is coming to a close and here's a quick summary of the songs, eight in total, that were added to the playlist over the weekend. Thank you all for the new brings!

Del put together a beautiful production of Whistle Down The Wind with dreamy bells in the mix.
Rob treated us to more of his outstanding whistling on Heaven In My View.
Wendy first brought us Till There Was You, which mentions bells in the lyrics, and she included a whistled intermezzo.
Edwin too had whistled breaks in his original song, Your Call Is Important To Us.
Wendy, Queen of Mashups, entertained us with Don't Think Twice, It's Alright On The Railroad, where we hear the train whistle blowing again.
Berni blew the cobwebs from his Irish whistle and sang and played us his original, Signs Of Life.
Wendy, who'd patiently been waiting all week, was finally able to share her Aussie Jingle Bells.
Tom dusted off some old banjo sheet music for The Chiming Bells Waltz and arranged it for plectrum tuned uke. He's also shared his arrangement here if you want to give it a try and experiment with alternative tunings.

We currently have 50 songs on the playlist, and there's just under 12 hours left to take part in Season 617. There are many Seasonal songs that mention bells, so if you're time poor (who isn't around Christmas?) you can kill two birds with one stone. Come to think of it, I might do that myself...
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