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Friday on my Mind 171: (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman – RIP Aretha Franklin

Another giant of 60s (and later) music has gone.

Aretha Franklin was undoubtedly the best purveyor of the branch of music she excelled in. Not for nothing was she known as the Queen of Soul.

(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman wasn’t a hit in Britain. I’m not sure if it was ever released as one in the UK but her expression in this recording is the epitome of soul.

Aretha Franklin: (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman

Her biggest solo hit in the UK in terms of chart placing was actually I Say a Little Prayer, in 1968:-

Aretha Franklin: I Say a Little Prayer

But only one word suffices to describe her achievements.

Respect.

Aretha Louise Franklin: 25/3/1942 – 16/8/2018. So it goes.

V S Naipaul

I note the passing of V S Naipaul, whose Guardian obituary is here.

His work seems to be highly regarded but he is one of those authors to whom I have never got round so I am in no position to say. Nevertheless a Nobel Prize is not to be sniffed at.

It does seem though, as is mentioned in the obituary in the link, that in his personal life he was less than saintly, to put it mildly.

Alan Gilzean

So Alan Gilzean, whom Jimmy Greaves said was the greatest foootballer he had ever played with, has gone.

I never saw him play in the flesh, his time in Scotland being before I started watching football regularly and he was in any case in a different division to Dumbarton but he was a byword for accomplishment.

Before his move down south to Tottenham Hotspur Gilzean played for a great Dundee team, so great it won the championship of Scotland in 1962 and a year later reached the semi-finals of the European Cup. That was, of course, in the time when other Scottish clubs could compete almost on a level playing field with the two Glasgow giants. That success came in a remarkable 17 years when Hibernian (1948, 1951, 1952,) Aberdeen (1955,) (Hearts 1958, 1960,) Dundee (1962) and Kilmarnock (1965) became Scottish Champions. An incredible sequence: between the wars only Motherwell, in 1932, had broken the monopoly of Rangers and Celtic on the League Championship and subsequently only Aberdeen (1984, 1985) and Dundee United (1983) have performed the feat.

The power of money and the lucrative nature of European competition for the big two brought all that to an end. We’re unlikely to see anything like it again.

I’ve strayed somewhat from the point.

Gilzean was a great player, one whose movement on the pitch (from televisual evidence) was deceptively effortless looking, he seemed to glide over the ground in that way that only accomplished players manage to achieve. His scoring record isn’t too mean either; 169 in 190 games for Dundee, 93 in 343 for Spurs, 1 in 3 for the Scottish League and 12 in 22 for Scotland.

Alan John Gilzean: 22/10/1938 – 8/7/2018. So it goes.

Peter Firmin

I was sad to hear of the death of Peter Firmin over the weekend.

Along with Oliver Postgate, who died nigh on ten years ago, he produced some of the most loved children’s animations of the 60s and 70s, including my personal favourite of theirs The Saga of Noggin the Nog though others may prefer The Clangers or Bagpuss or even Ivor the Engine.

Noggin the Nog is best appreciated in black and white I feel.

The Saga of Noggin the Nog. The King:-

Peter Arthur Firmin: 11/12/1928 – 1/7/2018. So it goes.

Harlan Ellison

Yesterday’s print edition of the Guardian contained the obituary of Harlan Ellison, one of the most influential Science Fiction writers of the 1960s and 70s.

Much of his most imporatnt work came in the form of short stories ‘Repent Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream and A Boy and his Dog being only three which immediately spring to mind. He also wrote an award winning Start Trek episode, The City on the Edge of Forever (but was unhappy with alterations the show’s controllers made to the script) and many other TV episodes .

He won no fewer than eight Hugo Awards plus four Nebula Awards and many more nominations.

He was also the begetter of the anthologies Dangerous Visions and Again Dangerous Visions which promoted the Nrew Wave style of writing. A third book The Last Dangerous Visions was projected and stories sought – and submitted – but it never appeared, leading to some acrimony.

He could be hard to get along with and indulged in many quarrels. His personal behaviour was certainly far from beyond reproach raising the question as to how is it possible to separate the personality of an artist from his or her work.

But his work will linger in the memory.

Harlan Jay Ellison: 27/5/1934 – 28/6/2018. So it goes.

Hugh Harra

I was saddened to see on the club website that Hugh Harra has died.

A player for Dumbarton from 1962-1967 (appearing 163 times) he was therefore a member of the earliest Sons side I can properly remember. His photo in the link shows that gold shirt with black pin stripe Sons used in the 1960s and I remember so well.

In my memory he was an uncompromising half-back (they weren’t called midfielders in those days) with a reputation that more than matched that description. A good asset to have in a side in those “it’s a man’s game” days.

Hugh Harra: 29/3/1936-6/2018. So it goes.

Gardner Dozois

I found out from George R R Martin’s blog this week that sometime Science Fiction writer, editor and anthologist Gardner Dozois (editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine for 20 years from 1984-2004 and of the annual The Year’s Best Science Fiction anthologies 1984-2017 – in other words every single one of those so far – has died.

His influence on the field was therefore enormous.

I never met him but did send him a story or two (which he rejected graciously.)

His presence will be greatly missed.

Gardner Raymond Dozois: 23/7/1947 – 27/5/2018. So it goes.

Kate Wilhelm

I discovered yesterday that SF author, antholgist and encourager of others through the Clarion workshops and Milford Writers’ Conference, Kate Wilhelm, died earlier this year.

She was one of the few women who published Science Fiction under her own name in those far off days of the 1960s. And she was good, nominated for many awards, winning several including the Hugo for best novel in 1977 for Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang.

The only one of her books I have featured on my blog is Somerset Dreams and Other Fictions.

Kate Wilhelm: 8/6/1928 – 8/3/2018. So it goes.

Philip Roth

I heard on the radio news this morning that Philip Roth has died.

I must confess I have not read much of his work, apart from the (ahem) seminal Portnoy’s Complaint – which I was moved to sample partly because of the attention it received – and My Life as a Man which covered much the same ground. Anything you ever wanted know about living as a young(ish) male Jew in the USA was here.

I do remember being intrigued by a long ago television programme about him which featured, as I recall, his creation Nathan Zuckerman fantasising about Anne Frank surviving the Holocaust and making a new anonymous life for herself in (I think) the US, which may have been another spur to reading him.

I can’t say I much took to what seemed from the evidence of those two books to be his perennial subject matter but he was obviously an important US novelist of the second half of the twentieth century whether I favoured his work or not and his ability as a writer shone through in any case.

Much Later I read his Altered History novel The Plot Against America which I reviewed on this blog here. The impulse behind his decision to write it was admirable – and arguably necessary – but I felt that overall it was an opportunity missed, that the punches the book threw were somewhat pulled.

Sadly that impulse might be even more necessary in today’s political climate than it was when he published it thirteen years ago.

Philip Milton Roth: 19/3/1933 – 22/5/2018. So it goes.

Shocked! Shocked!

The Australian PM is reported to be shocked and disappointed about the recent ball tampering by his country’s cricketers.

Has this guy never heard of sledging? As far as I’m aware it’s an Australian invention – or at least its designation is. And it’s essentially a form of cheating.

I can’t help feeling he’s coming over a bit Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca.

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