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Legend has a name.

February 18, 2014
... as Mrs sss always says

Good morning, afternoon, evening or night. And welcome to what I would like to describe as


Ok, ok, that’s overstating it. But it has been so long since I last posted that I was worried this blog was in danger of becoming simonseldomsays, or even simonstoppedsaying. The importance of this may have been rather exaggerated in my own mind but it feels nonetheless like a significant moment has arrived as I once again embark on the SS sss. A moment which (again in my mind) calls for a grand musical introduction with full naval honours; so let’s get that out of the way and resume normal service. Howard Hanson’s Sea Symphony should serve splendidly. Hanson is one of a number of marvellous 20th Century American Composers, and this is a modern and majestic piece.

I come before you a changed man. Since last we were together I have undergone a professional watershed (see I’m Still Standing), the loss of my youth (my forties) and the sad but gentle death of my father. I am untroubled by the first, strangely liberated by the second, and – though it is perhaps a little odd to say so – at peace with the third, disturbed only occasionally by the worry that my response to it could make an interesting study in selfishness. I do not accuse myself of self-interested conduct or avoidance of responsibility, or of failing to acknowledge the extraordinary generosity and support of everyone; but it is possible that one can spend too much time thinking about the effect of events on oneself.

So let’s change the subject, and make it not about me. Instead, let’s talk about Something Else. Or indeed Something Else. NB: be warned, if Sid Vicious in the glory of his underpants is not for you, go for the Eddie Cochrane version which is the first of the two links. Those two artists have more in common than that song. A generation apart, their rebellious postures and early deaths earned them widely differing kinds of iconic status. And although there is little doubting which was the more accomplished musician, it is probably fair to say that more legend has grown up around Sid Vicious than around most.

I would have more to say about that, but I find myself suddenly diverted – by the word “legend” to a classic. The Legend of Xanadu – by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich. What a name for a band, but what problems it stores up for potential changes in line-up, unless future members are prepared to be known as Dozy  or Beaky just to maintain the integrity of the name. I mean, look at the confusion with Crosby, Stills & Nash (Southern Cross) vs Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (Long May You Run). Is there no consideration for the poor listener who does not have the hours (or software) to unearth the provenance of a band’s musical pedigree? Anyway, where were we?



Yes, Xanadu. Immortalised in Coleridge’s Kubla Khan; and in song by Olivia Newton John/ELO (and covered by Sharleen Spiteri) and by Rush. Give yourself seven minutes for this amazing live performance – down from eleven – 35 years after the song was released: the vocal tone may not be to everyone’s taste but the musicianship is undeniable.

What’s more I learn from the Great Brain in the Cloud that a little-known 20th century American composer, based an even littler-known ballet on the legend. Her name was Mildred Couper, which she changed unaccountably from Mildred Cooper. If that change was an attempt to disguise her true identity it fell short of success; and if it was in the hope that the more exotic spelling might appear more artistic it was also inadequately thought through. If you want to change your name, do it with conviction; do it with confidence. Do it like John Legend.

And it seems right to finish with another moment of legend, signalling the resumption of what I am sure will be a prosperous partnership.

The arrival of Mrs simonsometimessays from Sheba

Thanks for reading, and in the words of Dave Dee et al: Zabadak.

* I can’t find the originator of this image, but will happily acknowledge it if ever I do


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  1. Anne-Marie Hetherington permalink

    Welcome back!

  2. A big welcome back. The blogosphere was a less interesting place without you. 🙂

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