Cultureguru's Weblog

Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy

Leave a comment

Running ahead of the herd

Nothing much to do today
I think I’ll do my hair today
Can’t do a thing with it, look at it, this way and that..
Then we’re on the phone, hear the news
It’s all grief and gloom!
Yes, things are bad, really bad
We’re clearly immune
We lead charmed lives

Charmed Lives, Boomtown Rats (songwriter: Bob Geldof)

Been doing a bit of binge-listening to The Boomtown Rats lately. “Charmed Lives” was written in 1982, so is in no way is commenting on the world of 2020–21. But the lyrics certainly struck me in a differently than they had previously. Here we are, all empty social calendars and overgrown hair and terrible news, and yet…

Cathy with band aid and vaccinated bracelet
Post-vaccination photo (the bracelets were part of a hospital fundraiser)

… On our way to immunity, and all the charms that can bring.

I recently received my second dose of the Pfizer COVID19 vaccine. I won’t get into why this is so, but I did qualify for it, no lying or cheating. The timing of both my doses made me something of an outlier at the vaccine clinic. First visit, it was me and a bunch of 80 year olds. Second visit, I was a second dose person in a first dose world: Agreeing to complete a post-vaccine survey only to find I didn’t qualify for it, because my first dose was too long ago. Having to stop the person checking me out from booking me for yet another vaccine appointment, 16 weeks hence.

For what’s it’s worth, I do agree with the delayed second dose strategy, but also wish they’d get a bit more of a move on now in doling them out to those who qualify (like frontline healthcare workers) and in offering them sooner to more people, notably those over 80. Still, it really looks as though enough supply is on the way that few will actually have to wait a full 16 weeks for dose 2. Most will likely get it within 3 months—which studies are indicating is actually better than getting it after only 3 weeks.

In the meantime, what difference does being fully vaccinated make to me? Well, mentally it’s nice, knowing that I’m building even better immunity and becoming less likely to infect others. But otherwise, not much has changed. I still can’t go to a restaurant, salon, movie theatre, or concert hall, because none of those places are open yet. Travel’s not really a practical option, either. And any indoor spaces that are open, masks are still mandatory for all.

So, I’m not relating to all those American articles on the challenges of rejoining society. (Though for the record, when the time comes, I won’t have to adapt to brushing my teeth and taking showers again, or to wearing jeans and other zippered pants and shirts with buttons, because I never stopped doing those things, and can’t really comprehend why anyone else would have…?!? I even kept up with makeup most days—that one, I’ll admit is bizarre—but it’s fun for me, and I don’t care that it doesn’t impress my cats much. On the other hand, wearing shoes with heels, or wearing any sort of fancy dress at all, is something of a distant memory…)

Is this the new evening wear?

But you know, I agree with the slow reopening, because I want this one to stick. What’s true now is what’s been true all pandemic: no one can beat this thing alone. There’s little benefit to being vaccinated if everyone else around keeps getting ill. It’s a group effort. And fortunately, it’s going well.

1 Comment

On being a fan of Bob Geldof’s music

Apparently it’s quite weird that I want to go see Bob Geldof in concert. (For the third time, no less.) People seem to find it as strange as if I said–I don’t know–that I had tickets to see Bill Clinton. Play saxophone.

In that, it’s not as if Bob Geldof isn’t famous. He’s the Live Aid guy; the one who gets interviewed about African issues; who is an occasional guest editor of national newspapers; who won the knighthood decades before Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bono, and Mick Jagger did; and who is the father of all those girls with weird names (Pixie, Fifi, Tigerlilly, Peaches…).

It’s just that he’s no longer thought of as a musician.

A friend of mine kind of summed up what the world thinks: “Really interesting guy. But I don’t like his music.”

To which I say, Oh, really?

Because it appears to me that most North Americans know exactly two Bob Geldof songs:

  1. I Don’t Like Mondays
  2. Do They Know It’s Christmas?

And that they love both of them. One is the prototypical 1980s song; the other one the prototypical pop Christmas song. When Electric Thursdays does 80s music; “Mondays” is the big encore everybody is thrilled about. At their Christmas concert? Yes, the Band Aid song gains the standing ovation at the end.

I heard this song first via this video–on TV Ontario, of all things

But people have no idea what else Bob Geldof has done (musically).

So this is how I became a fan.

I stuck with The Boomtown Rats longer than most

This seems largely forgotten now, but everywhere except the US (where, thanks to “Mondays” getting banned, the Rats weren’t even a one-hit wonder), the Boomtown Rats were a very popular band in their time. They spent 123 weeks on the UK charts, including two songs at number one (the other being “Rat Trap”). In Canada, they played hockey arenas, and appeared on SCTV.

I became a fan of the Rats the same way everyone else did—after I heard “I Don’t Like Mondays”. It’s just that I stuck with them longer than most. I was not deterred by the “world music” sounds of Mondo Bongo (the album after the “Mondays” one), nor the dark themes permeating the amazing V Deep, VI Shallow. Judging by sales figures, others were a little put off by this. But I remained a fan to the end (that being the sixth and last album, In the Long Grass.)

One of my favorite songs from V Deep VI Shallow: Talking in Code, live

I saw Bob Geldof live

Bob’s first solo album, Deep in the Heart of Nowhere, in wake of Live Aid and all, was something of a success, with the hit single, “This Is the World Calling”. I got that at the time (my favorite song was “Pulled Apart by Horses”), but honestly, like most people, I then lost track of his musical career. “The Great Song of Indifference” was a big hit most places, but Canada followed the States in ignoring it.

A live version of The Great Song of Indifference

So when I went see him in concert in 2002, it was mostly due to Boomtown Rats nostalgia. And he did a reasonable sampling of those tunes, but also quite a few from the solos albums I had missed, and therefore didn’t know: the Irish jig-infused Vegetarians of Love and The Happy Club.

The fun My Hippie Angel, from The Happy Club

But no matter: I loved the show. As I wrote at the time, it was–and remains–one the best I’ve ever seen.

I bought all his solo albums

After that show, I picked up the two albums I’d missed, and I listened more to the one I’d picked up shortly before the show: Sex, Age, and Death. It would prove to become one of my favorite albums by anyone, ever.

One for Me by Bob Geldof, clearly inspired by now late but then merely former Mrs. Geldof, Paula Yates

And when his new one, the hilariously titled How to Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell came out last year, I bought that. It’s quite varied in style, but consistent in high quality.

Why I’m fan

It’s pretty simple, really. I’m a fan of music of Bob Geldof’s music because I listen to it.

You are not a fan only because you do not listen to it. It is not played on radio, it is no longer a big hit, you have seek it out.

If more people listened to it,  more would like it. Not everyone, obviously, but more. His tunes are catchy. They have intelligent lyrics. His band is fantastic. There’s plenty to like. (And Ontarians, please note: You have an exceedingly rare opportunity this week and next week to see him play live, in Hamilton, St. Catharines, Oshawa, Ottawa, and Brockville. They’re small venues, not expensive, and if it’s anything like the two shows of his I’ve seen, you won’t regret it.)

Closing out with Bob’s life in song, in the amusing hidden track from his latest album, Young and Sober. “In the year of 75, that’s when I sang myself alive.”