Friday 10 May 2024

There's Eurovision and then there's Rock and Roll!

Being born in the 1960's, I grew up with certian major TV events throughout the year. In Sporting terms, we had the Grand National, The Cup final and the Boat Race. All were massive events in our household. At the time, the Cup final was the only match live on telly, so I loved it. I also loved the Grand National, winning ten bob (which my Dad placed) on Red Alligator in 1968. I can't recall why we loved the Boat Race, but we did. Then there were the 'events'. The ones that spring to mind was Miss World and The Eurovision Song contest. Miss World, in hindsight was a rather strange event. Young ladies on a stage in swimming costumes. They'd have a chat with the compare and express their ambitions, have families, save the world, become doctors, sleep with the Rolling Stones (I made the last one up). 

And then there was the Eurovision song contest. The whole family would watch togethe rand get terribly excited as the votes rolled in. My mum fancied herself as a great spotter of winners and was usually right. I usually favoured the song that came last, apart from the UK's entry. The first one I remember was when Sandy Shaw won with Puppet on a String in 1967. My sister Catherine was a bit of a fan. We were still in the Black and White era. Two years later, Lulu won, with Boom Bang a Bang. It was an awful song, but hey, it was Lulu and we won, so we loved it anyway. The follwing year, 1970, a new decade and much celebrations at ST Vincents School when Dana won for Ireland. All of my mates from Nationalist backgrounds decided this was a clear demonstration of Irish cultural superiority. In 1974, we had, for the first time, a truly global act launched by Eurovision. ABBA won with Waterloo. I thought ABBA were pretty good. It is a stonking song and the band was fronted by two rather attractive young ladies. 

What caused much hilarity with my sisters was that the two blokes looked like the guy on the front cover of "The Joy of Sex" (possibly the first sex manual widely published). I had nicked it and had a look through. I was at Finchley Catholic High School and realised my education had been somewhat lacking. For some reason, there was a myth that the Swedes were highly promiscuous and into all manner of naughtiness. Something I realised was not entirely true when I moved to Sweden to see my girlfriend in 1981. 

The thing about Waterloo was that it was the first non Anglo world song on Eurovision that was vaguely listenable. It had never really occurred to me that Johnny Foreigner, as we liked to think of them at the time, could make decent music. Abba dominated the charts for most of the 1970's. The next and final time I watched Eurovision, was for the Brotherhood of Man's win with Save All Your Kisses for Me. It was the worst of the UK's entries that I can recall. In 1977, I discovered Punk Rock and the concept of watching Eurovision seemed completely alien to me.  I've not really paid much attention to the whole thing since. 

I've never fully understood why the UK didn't put proper bands in. We did try Cliff Richards, with Congratulations in 1968, but he came second. Maybe that scared the likes of The Beatles, Rolling Stones and The Who off. The only time we really tried was with Katrina and The Waves, in 1997, who had previously had a hit in 1995 with Walking on Sunshine. Needless to say, she won. Following Brexit, I started to wonder whether we'd still lose if we resurrected John Lennon and George Harrison and reformed the Beatles to put an entry in. I suspect that if we'd got Paul McCartney to do a song, it would be more Mull of Kintyre/The Frog Chorus than a banger like Jet or Live and Let Die.

Over recent years, The False Dots have considered putting our hat in the ring, for the fun of it. I've come to enjoy doing songs that are a tad more left field than we'd consider in our heyday. I was joking with Fil Ross, our bassplayer, who is Portuguese, that we could do a verse in Portuguese, at least that way we'd get a few votes! Having heard our entries on the radio over the last few years, I think we'd do a decent job. We'd get in a guest singer or two for the gig! There was a time, when even muttering such thoughts would have seen me unceremoniously slung out of the Rock and Roll fraternity, but now we are old and losing our marbles, such things may be joked about. It was suggested that we submit our latest single "We all love a party" as the entry. I am not sure that the Germans and Italians would get the references to the North London party culture of the 1970's though!

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