The easy listening sounds of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

He went, like one that hath been stunne’d

And is of sense forlorn:

A sadder and a wiser man

He rose the morrow morn.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Here’s a small cinematic gem of a music video – an autumn afternoon of pale sunlight, the air perhaps smoky with bonfires, and the trees open up onto some easterly, estuaried coast… where some bloke sits absorbed in his copy of the Ancient Mariner, studiously ignoring the society beauty in a ballgown to his left, singing away by herself to the rocks. This is not rocks and roll.

Described by the band themselves as a cross between the theme from Midnight Cowboy and the signature tune from Last of the Summer Wine, ‘Forever Blue’ could have been written by Burt Bacharach and scored by Jimmy Webb (of Wichita Lineman fame and various easy listening favourites) to make it a hit from 1968 that never was.

It’s actually from 1989, and was scored by Jimmy Webb, for Swing Out Sister’s LP Kaleidoscope World, a defiant reclamation of easy listening that echoed the panoramic split-screen world of the film The Thomas Crown Affair and vintage Martini adverts. Back then I used to think it sat uneasily next to my Smiths and New Order records but recently Swing Out Sister performed Morrissey’s ‘This Charming Man’, in French, and seem perfect bedfellows.

Swing Out Sister are playing at this year’s Vintage Festival at Boughton House, Northamptonshire, alongside Nouvelle Vague and Saint Etienne on July 15th.

Oh, just discovered someone’s already blogged a bit of an appreciation of Swing Out Sister, and this song in particular.

It turns out this video was filmed in the Quantocks, another path on this blog that by accident ends up towards Somerset and Exmoor – so nothing easterly or estuaried about it… The church is All Saints at Aisholt; the pub is the Carew Arms at Crowcombe; and the road at the beginning is at Holford Combe. And that explains the Coleridge connection too, as he lived nearby. The coastal scenes may be around Kilve.

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4 comments

  1. thewitchspromise · March 25, 2012

    I wonder if that was Morwenstowe church in North Cornwall?

    • whistlesinthewind · April 1, 2012

      It’s all around Somerset, but it looked a bit Cornish or Norfolkish…

  2. Eden · April 11, 2012

    Simply because something is “easy listening” doesn’t make it less deep (as you have noted). Oddly, a lot of the “easy” stuff came out at the same time as some of most violent protests and self-destructive behavior of a generation of people. It was simply a differnt side of the same coin, just as the upbeat “big bands” of the late thirties and fourties were often the counter to the drums of war….

    (well, that’s my guess at least)

    • whistlesinthewind · April 12, 2012

      Completely agree. There’s some really interesting and innovative music that came out of that time and ‘easy listening’ just doesn’t describe it all. Thanks for comment!

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