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America's most popular stamp

Is this one:

At more than 124 million sold, it easily outperforms the next best placed, 2006's 'Wonders of America' collection at 87.5 million. More on philately Stateside here

"Thank you, thank you very much".
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Anonymous Anonymous said... 9:36 pm

He's not really dead you know. He just got fed up with being so rich and popular and having so many well-endowed young girls following him around all the time, so he faked his own death.

Actually, he is working as a stacker at my local supermarket. He has lived down here so long, he has forgotten how to speak English. I can prove this because one day, when he was stacking cans of tuna, I said to him, "You're really Elvis Presley, aren't you?" and he said, "Que?"

I thought he looked a bit scared.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 10:46 pm

Like "Indigo`s" Elvis related profile

……..Well, you think you're gonna win
Think she's givin' in
A stranger's all you find …

Yeah, it's hard to figure out
What she's all about
That she's a woman through and through

She's a complicated lady, so color my baby moody blue

Elvis , you gave us so much, I pray , on that late stacking shift , you are not lonesome tonight.


Blogger Croydonian said... 10:49 pm

Or if he's all shook up, it is in a good way.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 10:56 pm

I challenge any man with balls to listen to Elvis singing "Dixie" and not feel the need to slaughter some northern scum(Lancastrians excluded)nor picture himself riding on a charger ,sabre at the ready.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 11:08 pm

Amazing grace also floats the Hitchens boat  

Blogger Croydonian said... 11:23 pm

I tend to like his more bluesy things, then I'm sad old blues nut. Feel free to laugh.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 12:05 am

Woke up this morning
With my hand on my face
I said why can`t a Blue man
Sing the whites round this place

Howlin` newmania  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 12:05 am

*ahem* there is plenty of blues in the Hitchen collection , even worse "jazz" and not the magazine type )+:

Ella fitzgerald summertime

currently listening to mary j blige  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 12:10 am

woke up this mornin,
found out all my inlaws were inbred,
Damn wish I was at home in ma shed  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 12:12 am

now have
sylvester "you make me feel " on
Im not gay !
just a sad 43 yr old man (+:  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 12:24 am

I also love "Dixie" sung by Elvis. And Ella is the all-time greatest female singer in the world. Just as there will never be another Frank Sinatra, there will never be another Ella.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 12:27 am

They were of their time, as was Elvis. And that time had altitude in standards, and these guys were at the top of that vertiginous peak.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 12:45 am

that's not "our" Verity  

Blogger Croydonian said... 12:48 am

Good to see that the good taste of my readers extends beyond their politics. There is no voice like that of Ella.

As an indication of my blues problem, I've got CDs by five different Kings and eight different Johnsons. I think they still miss me at the blues forum I used to post on before I got into this malarkey. And agreed, American Trilogy is quite something - and apparently the most frequently covered 'Elvis' song because it is public domain.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 12:50 am

PH - the IP address etc tallies.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 1:09 am

Best female singer , I `d have a toss up between Karen Carpenter and Aretha Franklin.

Mz Blige is also not bad but hear them (She and Aretha) sing "Natural Born Woman" and ..ladies and gentlemen we have a winner. Carole King tune , of course , one of my favourite song writers.
I can play a bit of blues on the guitar and the piano , especially the latter. Not keen though , I prefer the gospel element of Soul. Speaking of Soul the "King of them all" James Brown is doing the great gig in the sky and I rank him alongside Elvis .So much is foot notes to Brown ..I saw him late on at the Fridge in Brixton. It was weird seeing all these awestruck white people picking their way through crowds of uncomprehending blacks off to hip and hop elsewhere.

That doesn’t sound like Verity to me either  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 1:50 am

take the IP
on trust and consider my insomnia  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 1:53 am

Mr mania
Ella wins
mary J good,
but she aint that good ! (+:
nor is she fit to lick nina simones boots.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 2:24 am

Being children of the 60s, we have a bit of perspective when it comes to popular culture. Much respect to the mighty Ms Franklin too, as mentioned earlier.Meanwhile, there is much entertainment to be had from the image challenge o' the week at B3ta - classic album covers gone wrong...  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 3:33 am

Frank Sinatra started off as a bar room singer, and you can hear the loneliness: "It's quarter to three; no one in the place left, 'cept you and me" as he sings in an empty bar - "one for my baby, and one more for the road" - to the bartender who you know is wiping the bar down and getting ready to leave.

Ella Fitzgerald also sang sad, lonely songs, "He's the kind of a man, needs the kind of a woman like me" and other bluesy heartbreakers.

And love songs, "Embraceable You". And clever, knowing humour, "Give It Back to The Indians". [I think, without looking it up, it may have been Cole Porter.]

No one does this kind of adult music any more because exploitation of teenage, violent- emerging-hormone emotion has succeeded grown-up, knowing longing as the cash point. In Britain, that's all there is as the Labour government has nationalised emotion, grief, health, education, thinking.

Someone sent me a UTube the other day of a movie eight minute dance sequence by Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell, the whole eight minutes in one take ... and one thinks, when did that diamond-sharp elegance and adult emotion morph into the glop of Bono, Beyonce, boy bands (whoever they are)? The sheer discipline that sequence took is mind-boggling.

Popular culture has been reduced. And reduced from a very high level.

- Posted by me, that daft, aggressive "muslim" bint who broadcast an "alternative" to our Queen's message. Even the combined efforts of Cole Porter, Rogers and Hammerstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber and the producers of the new James Bond theme couldn't make me sound more interesting than an earthworm. [No offence to earthworms, who do worthy work.]

OK,the daft muslim bint wasn't smart enough to write this.

Therefore, the heavy lifting was done by ...Verity  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 6:56 am

I'll just put it down to a generation thing.

I'd rather listen to AC/DC  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 7:32 am


ACDC are a great rockin` band as are Motor head. First gig I ever went to was Motorhead and they opened with an outrageous version of Louie Louie (We gotta go Ai yai yai yai). It does not get better than that.

Fave track of the Ozzy pop sensation ACDC ...ooo Rock and Roll damnation takes some beating.

I shall be considering Verity`s suggestion that its all getting worse later.Not sure I agree  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 9:12 am

lambasting 'new' music is as old as the hills. I could make an equally good case for Elgar and Mozart being superior to the Blues.

With the exception of the X-factor money making machine of today, there is some very good new music.

We all end up trapped liking the music of our youthful adventures.

Execpet Gordo, he of course loves the Artex Monkeys.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 10:28 am

SLICKER-lambasting 'new' music is as old as the hills. I could make an equally good case for Elgar and Mozart being superior to the Blues.

Yes young slicker I was thinking rather the same thing and yet we shouldn’t abandon the idea that there is good music and bad music . It would be pretty hard to argue that British Pop music of the 50s was as good as the groovy 60s .
The problem is this , Music is unique in being a comprehensible “grammar” that is not based in language . Discussion of it therefore has natural tendency to veer of into everything but the subject. NME style journalism was often conducted by people with no interest whatsoever in their supposed material .

Allow me to tell you how clever I am ......(drum roll)

Western music is unique in the world in being based on harmony rather than the evolution of the melodic line. The Hellenes discovered the mathematical relation between tonic and dominant …. and this notion of mathematical harmony was preserved by monks into the middle ages where it was used in Plainsong , the earliest written music .From these beginnings harmony and polyphony evolved into the great tradition of “Classical” music , by which most people mean “Romantic music “ but …any way.It is quite distinctive in many ways . It is written, it is not aural “folk music” but high music and it is based on harmony rules and allows for great freedom of expression in the is formal frame work.

These very qualities that have made it the glory of the world make it remote and stiff . Jazz came from ragtime and naturally occurring entertainments but it often is allowed by classical musicians to be equivalent. It allowed the direct human expression of virtuosity and “feel “into the mix but it has a tendency not to understand its own merits. A lot of modern Jazz is as silly and cold as modern classical music.

Popular music is not the same it works by the accretion of a culture . Each thing within it only has its meaning for the flux of hearing and understanding in which it sits. Jazz no longer has much of a world to live in . Popular music on the other hand is a phenomenon of astonishing strength and creative energy . The mistake your “slicker” makes is to imagine that music exists out side the milieu of the listener.

This is why the infinitesimal space of a BB King guitar riff is as complex as a symphony and (incidentally having had a stab at both ) much harder to play.

As someone who loves song writing above all , the placing of melody with words I find it hard to disagree with Verity about the high moment of the 20th century. There are other types of pleasure though and I could also name ,many many song writers of recent vintage to set against the Cole Porter zenith.

VERITY I enjoy these plangent notes you sometimes strike to describe music or films . I don`t think the guitar playing white boy of these waters will ever leave us with a misery shortage though.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 11:04 am

I would take issue with there being many current good song writers - there just is not much lyrical wit or invention in contemprary songwriting, and has not been for decades, in part because song writing and singing are rather different beasts, and there is an expectation that singers sing their own material. I can name some song writers with insight and lyrical dexterity, but I do not think that say Leonard Cohen or Nick Cave are really in Cole Porter territory.

So, seconds out, it is Dylan is better than Keats, or vice versa....  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 11:14 am

Byron would have written great show-songs  

Blogger Rigger Mortice said... 11:24 am

how you could call keats a great poet I do not know.

sure he was famous and they teach his ode to autumn in the gcse syllabus but so what. Shelley shits on him for purposefulness and depth  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 11:26 am

I think you are right on Lyrical invention but not for decades just the last few years . The sort of lyrics that PG Wodehouse wrote in his spare time are not so popular but that is only one rather theatrical sort of lyric . Pop Lyrics operate in a much more rigid structure in which stress and musicialty are more importnt that meaning ...

"You can tell by the way I use my walk I `m a woman`s man , no time to talk " Perfect  

Blogger Croydonian said... 11:30 am

I have been working on a song called 'Locked out from the lock-in again' for quite some time now, not that it has got very far.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 11:33 am

Rigger -Shelley shits on him for purposefulness and depth .

Hysterical but wrong , Shelley is a painted harlot , a glittering facade disguising poxy mediocrity.
Coleridege arse-fucks the both of them for ambition and subilmity .

And anyone who says other-wise is a cunt and I `ll kick the crap out of them.


Anonymous Anonymous said... 11:33 am

What is it lacking, C - wurds or tune?

Rigger - stand by for an anti-Shelley blast from Mr Mania. Then I shall enter the lists on your side.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 11:34 am

Damnation - he beat me to it!  

Blogger Croydonian said... 11:46 am

N - you have gone into anglo-saxon overdrive. Not projecting because the relatives were a bit much, are you?

ND - I haven't even attempted the music. Just an opening verse and a refrain thus far....  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 11:54 am

C, you have tantalised us, and to my eternal shame I am now unable to get out of my skull the David Brent masterwork "Hot Love on the Free Love Freeway".

NO! NO! now you will never let us hear the rest, wot have I said...  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 11:59 am

C No no I just thought Rigger`s , contrasting lexical resource was funny

"You have the fucking nerve to suggest Tennyson`s verse technique sacrificed imagary for phonic effect.. you cheeky fucker etc."

Pythonesque isn`t it.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 12:15 pm

Socrates himself was permanently pissed.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 1:45 pm

Whoever wrote, somewhere in the stream of bad language above (which proves my point about the paucity of imagination and the tiny vocabularly of people today; I realise it's pretended irony, but actually, it's laziness and poverty) that "we all admire the music of our youth" ... some may.

But Ella Fitzgerald was not part of my youth. In fact,I don't think she was even recording any more during my youth. Popular in my youth was rock 'n' roll, which I have always loathed. I would pay good money not to be forced to go to a Rolling Stones concert - or that of any other rock group. I absolutely hate them. And I hated them during my "youth".

But I like elegant tunes and intelligent, witty lyrics that fit the melody. Read Mark Steyn (www.steynonline.com)on some of the great songwriters and then ask yourself, "what happened"? How did it all diminish and evaporate so quickly? I'm not saying there are no good songwriters with the sensitivity to create a mood, but there aren't many.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 2:42 pm

I like the pussycat dolls (+:  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 3:42 pm

Sorry Verity the bad language was mine. I couldn’t resist the idea of two yoofs screaming obscenities at each other on the subject of the relative merits of romantic poets. I am a bad person and if further proof was need I also like the Pussy cat Dolls .I`ll watch that in future

I have tried to discuss the sort of song writing you are talking about which was often theatrical .Pop music has far stricter rules and exists in the context of other music. You are comparing mountains and snow flakes but my own preferences are not disimiliar.

I think you are probably right over all thought that the actual art of song writing is less well practiced than it was.


Burt Bacharach and Hal David

You see this girl
This girl`s in love with you
Yes I `m the one

That look at you the way I do
I can see

We know each other perfectly
My hands are shaking
My heart keeps breaking

I need you love….etc.,

This sort of lyric writing makes great demand on elegance economy and stress . Wit , imagination and so on are not important .

Elvis Costello is a great chronicler of the the attractive misery of being a a man

Why do you talk such stupid nonsense
When my mind could rest much easier
Instead of all this dumb dumb insolence
I would be happier with amnesia

Alison is a great song as well….I `m heading of down self indulgence creek without a paddle here aren’t I.

Oh well of for mnore feasting tommorow and will be without a computer. Ulp !  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 4:05 pm

Burt Bacharach and Hal David! Good grief! Teen angst.

Elvis Costello reads like twerpy graffiti. There is no cleverness, no surprising thought or rhyme.

I am not referring to show business tunes, although Rogers and Hammerstein and Rogers and Hart were wonderful. Just popular music.

Cole Porter's intro to 'Just One of Those Things' - "As Dorothy Parker once said
To her boyfriend, "Fare thee well".
As Columbus announced
When he heard he was bounced,
"It was swell, Isabelle, swell."
"It was just one of those things ..."
(You have to know that in the Twenties, everyone quoted Dorothy Parker all the time.)

Or consider the lyric to 'The Folks Who Live on The Hill'.

"Our veranda will command a
View of meadows green.
The sort of view that cries aloud to be seen.
And when the kids grow up and leave us
We'll be alone with that same old view
Just we two
Darby and Joan, who used to be Jack and Jill.
And we'll be proud to be called
What we have always been called:
The folks who live on the hill."

An entire, vivid lifetime encapsulated in just a few clever, piercing lines. And there are so many songs like that - written for adults who know something of life. They just don't write pop music for adults any more. (I'm not saying there isn't room for vacuous teenage music; just that that is all there is now.) Actually, Bob Seeger writes rock for adults.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 4:48 pm

Well I think you may be right that there is less popular music for adults or perhaps it is swamped by the rest of the rubbish. I feel there is an even better point on Films to be made although there are always exceptions.

Your ideas will not deal with a Wilson Pickett or a James Brown or even Otis Redding where the Lyrics are a matter of style and the development is rhythmic or at least generic lyrically . I would hate to be forced into a position where a search for sincerity , sex , anger or excitement always thought of as childish. It is difficult to achieve such things within a context artful knowingness .

It is also about how the word fits with the music of course and some that of music will fair badly on that score alone .

Having said that I do love your examples.


Blogger Croydonian said... 5:30 pm

Lyrics have always been key to me, as music is generally something I listen to rather than dance to. So, no matter what manner of rhythm is cooked up, if the words do not amuse or intrigue, my interest is limited.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 5:33 pm

Newmania writes: It is difficult to achieve such things within a context artful knowingness . Err. Yes. That is the point. It takes genius to write a clever song, or even write the lyric to someone else's music and ensure that it conveys what the music is also conveying.

Wilson Pickett's lyrics are teenish and over dramatic. Compare with Cole Porter's In The Still of The Night. There's no comparing them, in fact. They're not even on the same planet. Cole Porter simply assumed a certain level of sophistication in his listeners - a level of worldliness. As in "You're The Tops" (again, written in the '20s and 30s):
At words poetic
I'm so pathetic,
That I always have found it best
Instead of getting 'em off my chest
To let 'em rest,
I hate parading
My serenading
As I'll probably miss a bar,
But if this ditty
Is not so pretty,
At least it'll tell you great you are.

You're the top, you're the Coliseum,
You're the top, you're the Louvre Museum,
You're a melody from a symphony by Strauss,
You're a Bendel bonnet, a Shakespeare sonnet, you're Mickey Mouse.
You're the Nile, you're the Tower of Pisa,
You're the smile on the Mona Lisa,
I'm a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop,
But if baby I'm the bottom, you're the top.

You're the top you're Mahatma Gandhi,
You're the top, you're Napoleon Brandy ...

and so on, with one stunning rhyme after another just pouring out of the song.

I said earlier there is plenty of room for stupid adolescent, over-dramatic rubbish with obvious rhymes - I used to love it when I was a teenager myself.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 5:44 pm

There is an additional verse to 'Tops' here. The writer thinks it was Irving Berlin parodying Porter, although I read somewhere it was a Porter addition for more louche occasions.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 5:44 pm

The poetry comes first; the music is written for the words. I'm not sure why some songs have their poetry called lyrics, it sounds less hard to do, less moving, expressive, accurate, but all are poems. Lieder, and English or Italian song cycles have such famous poets' words but 'lyrics' are up there with the best and, consequently, so is the music.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 5:44 pm

Croydonian - If you have never read Mark Steyn on popular music - his deconstruction of the way Frank Sinatra tackled a song is heart-stoppingly impressive - you should do so. He's a political columnist/analyst and author, but he also loves the history of popular music and has some remarkable insights.

www.steynonline.com He usually has one piece on popular music on the page, the rest being political analysis. And he's written a book on it, too.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 5:48 pm

what is you opinion of the "Cheeky girls" and their seminal work
"touch my bum"?  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 5:52 pm

Hatfield Girl - The poetry comes first? Not necessarily. Hoagy Carmichael wrote 'Buttermilk Sky' to a tune someone else wrote. I believe he also wrote 'Skylark' to someone else's melody. Jule Steyne, too. And Steyn (Mark, that is) wrote about a woman working in, I think, the '40s, who was a lyricist who generally wrote to other people's tunes, and how she captured the meaning of the melodies and enhanced them.

So, it all depends.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 5:57 pm

I will seek out Steyn's cultural writing - I've long admired his politics. That he is no longer writing for The Spectator is a symptom of its decline.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 5:59 pm

Well, certainly, Cole Porter did not want for louche occasions in his life, but this has too many references to female sexuality for the late Mr Porter to have been inspired. Or even be familiar with.

I suspect the culprit was Irving Berlin - as a joke. I'm sure there was plenty of rivalry at the time between the two of them.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 6:01 pm

There's always one piece about the movies or songwriters on his page, Croydonian.

Yes, I agree about the Speccie. I don't even bother to go to the site any more, and I speak of one who used to look forward to Thursdays. They say they didn't sack him, but given that he also left The Telegraph and that he went immediately after those ghastly Barclay brothers took over, I think they're lying.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 6:23 pm

(Break in transmision, the Gannets have been for lunch)

Verity is right, tunes often come first. It ain't necessarily so had a working title of Tomorrow's the 4th of July, and Yesterday was Scrambled Egg. (And as for All By Myself it was an entire concerto that came first.)  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 6:34 pm

Yes, it must be that there is word response to music as well as the other way round, and both interacting too.

I was thinking about Britten's reactions to Blake, for instance, and then wondering why the lyrics of truly great songs are not published as is the poetry of the 'classical' songs and song cycles, as poetry. I'd like a collection like that;

I've asked for the Steyn book for the Epiphany.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 6:38 pm

So HG, your nominations for the anthology?  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 6:51 pm

Hatfield Girl - Yes. Interesting thought. There will be a word response to music. A slow and langorous tune may suggest sultry words, for example.

The tune of The Darktown Strutters' Ball just came into my head. Certainly, that music couldn't be about anything other than dancing! And the lyric fits so perfectly: "I'll be down to get you in a taxi, honey.
"Better be ready 'bout a half past eight.
"Now,baby, don't be late - I want to be there when the band starts playing
"Twosteps - we're gonna have a ball.
"I'm gonna dance on both of ma shoes
"When they play those Jellyroll Blues
"Tomorrow night at the Darktown Strutters Ball!"

A happy song fully of the anticipation of having a good time at a dance.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 6:53 pm

The book's already written, Nick Drew. Steyn nominates his choices himself.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 7:14 pm

You're getting to be a habit with me.

Willow weep for me.

It costs me a lot but there's one thing that I've got, it's my man.

Verity's quotes with the wonderful intros. and fellow intro'd songs.

I've always admired I read the news today oh boy,
the English army had just won the war.

You try it ND , songs flood into your mind and then you have to check through the words to make sure they can stand up, (which sometimes they can't, the song's strength is the tune not the words and their fit).

And they fall into different sorts of poetry. I think I want to think about groups of poems; for instance George Melly used to sing a truly improper song about the right key, and a section on meaning and suggestion would be good.

Or female frailty in the face of love -lots of those. Or the expression of sadness, even despair....
But the one's I've nominated here are definites.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 7:26 pm

I think Steyn usually has a guiding thought, or thread. For example, one of them was Ladies Don't Write Lyrics - and then he discussed the talented women who did and do.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 7:33 pm

I think I'll write and ask him to do a piece on Bob Seeger and The Silver Bullet Band. He writes rock for adults - sort of wistful and knowing, but still rock and roll. "It Was Real at The Time" is quite piercing. He lives in Detroit or somewhere.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 8:00 pm

On the edge of a slippery slope here, or bottomless pit, or somesuch.

HG, your stand-up test is a good and necessary one.

But, strong tune or no, it must be possible that poetry (sometimes) arises from setting words to the music. After all, much conventional poetry arises from following at least a pre-set metre, and indeed many second verses follow the pattern of the first. Whatever gets the show on the road - does it matter?

(We may need to migrate to the Conservatism in Art thread)  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 8:51 pm

Slip sliding away to supervise the dinner and get on with the ten days of Christmas Gordon Brown RANT (sorry, didn't mean to shout).  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 9:10 pm

Cant say I agree with steyns politics, however , he did come out with one of my all time favourite one liners after the murder of Pym Fortune by an animal rights nutter..

"The first time in history a fruit Aryan has been killed by a fruitarian"  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 9:12 pm

I should say one of my all time fav one liners, non specific to the slaying of Mr fortune.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 9:18 pm

PH - Now that was /good/...  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 12:09 am

Just read the whole thing brilliant stuff from all.. and two of PHITCHES best ever one liners.

Clap clap clap clap  

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