Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Dedicated: Wizzard: "Rock 'n' Roll Winter (Looney's Tune)"

If there is one thing that I sometimes think music writers tend to discount a bit, it's sentiment.  Sentiment is all over music; strong feelings can be the cause of music (and its cure - having a passion can be exhausting too)...so to find out that a song is for a certain person can make the song more poignant, but I do wonder sometimes what the Other in this case feels.  What is it like to have a song about you be a huge hit?  Is it still for you, or it is suddenly for everyone else who needs it as well?  I guess it depends upon the individual and the song, too*.

This song must have sounded like a big hug at the time, a hug given to Roy Wood's girlfriend of the time, the late Lynsey de Paul.  In their dare-I-say-it-legendary performance on TOTP (the only time a vacuum cleaner has been played like a cello), Roy Wood looks utterly calm and also in love; with his mass of multicolored hair and multicolored face, he appears to be trying his best to hide, to put on a mask, but love cannot be hidden.  The song is addressed to De Paul (who is crying), perhaps because she now has the notorious Don Arden as her manager; who knows.  But this song is huge, complex, rock 'n' roll taken up to some new degree - as big as their previous hit

There is something a little intimidating to have all this dedicated to you, I would guess, but the sheer riches on offer (Wood played almost all parts himself) in the wintertime...well it is like Christmas all over again, in part.  The Glam Slam isn't just about flash and trash; it's also about cheer and joy and merriment as well, which in 1974 was otherwise in short supply.  "If your most important things don't go your way" he says to her, then just ignore it, as his "teenage heart" is in love with her, and her music sustains him through the ice and snow; so this song is not just about their relationship but also about the ability of music - their music, all music - to sustain them.  He could dedicate any song to her, he says; though exhausted, too tired to speak, the music does the talking for him.  And so the song gallops through its chorus, then comes up to the end, stopping as a friendly horse would at the door. 

I don't know if de Paul loved this song, or even how long she was with Roy Wood; but I can say that this song (late in being released as, well, Wood wanted it to be just so) could easily be addressed to the general audience as well.  Yes, we know 1974 started badly, even the spring can feel cold, dreadful times are upon us - but the eternal promise of rock 'n' roll is going to keep things afloat.  At this time Wood wasn't really part of ELO anymore**, but Wizzard were still a parallel to them; I would rather listen to this than ELO's concurrent hit "Ma-Ma-Ma-Belle" at any time. 

This song, however, is utterly normal compared to the next one...

Next up:  They came from Los Angeles.   

*It's called "Looney's Tune" as that was de Paul's nickname, given to her by Spike Milligan; it was #2 on the Radio Luxembourg chart.  It was kept off the top by "Waterloo," which is clearly a Wizzard-inspired song. 

**That said I can't help but think he had a hand in Out of the Blue.



MikeMCSG said...

I don't think Roy and Lynsey's liaison was very significant. He'd been engaged to Anglo-Indian TV presenter Ayshea Brough the year before and she appeared with Wizzard on Top of the Pops. Lynsey was associated with just about everyone in the 70s and she was with Ringo by 1975.

Bob Stanley said...

It may only have been a brief union, but I'm sure Roy thought it significant or he wouldn't have gone to all this trouble.