Relentless Realities Blog for Jul 2017
Updated: May 16
Many of you will know that I am trying to be a writer.
What you may not be aware of is that for the last year I have been toiling under the weight of writing a kind of autobiography about my life set around the music that I love.
Don’t get me wrong, I love most music, but I have gotta say that I am passionate about (in no particular order) Rhythm and Blues, Soul Music from the 60’s and 70’s, Blues, Jazz, Ska, Rock Steady and Reggae. And a bit of classical thrown in.
Also Love Funk, but only when James Brown plays it (You should have been in Singapore in 1967 and 68 to see Neil dance to “Cold Sweat” and “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” in the dance halls of the RAF bases. It was truly a sight to remember and is still almost touchable 50 years later).
Well, the book is nearly finished and is being edited as I write. Hopefully the Editor thinks it is wonderful and amazing and I do not have massive rewrites to do, mainly because there is another one rattling around in the brain and I have a collection of poems that I need to be getting on with.
The main reason for this email is to let you know that I have a website where you can follow my writing and additionally, from time to time I give away some free books, articles, poems and other interesting stuff and thoughts.
I am asking a big favour of my subscribers. I invite you to have a look at my latest musings and give me some feedback. Be as honest (brutal) and helpful as you want, but please no rude stuff, I have kids and grandkids who are encouraged to look at my site.
I would love you to join and subscribe to our site, to sign up, just click on this link:
Thanking you in advance,
ps: See below for a free peak at the new book. Don't forget to subscribe:
Excerpt from: Rhythms Of My Life
I mentioned earlier about Neil dancing to James Brown’s music in 60’s Singapore. Here is a excerpt from my new book: Rhythms Of My Life, which tells it as it was.
James Brown I feel Good album – 1968
By January 1969, the northeast monsoon had taken over dictating the weather in Singapore and the swimming pools in the Royal Naval Dockyard recreation area were empty again. By now all the black service men from the Navy, Marines, Air Force and the Army had met each other, either at dances in the airbase at Changi and Seletar, the Army base or the Naval base down at Sembawang. Some nights we would go along to house parties and have a great time with people from all nationalities. We could not understand that the same esprit de corps that we found at parties was not there the next day we turned up for work. By then we had gone straight back into being looked down on as if we did not belong. As if our lives were less important than everyone else’s.
It was in the dances at RAF Seletar that we heard James Brown being played loudly and enjoyed by everyone. At the time “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” had been around a while, It was off the album “I feel Good”, but in England I was not really a great James Brown fan. Yes, I had listened to the album “Live at The Apollo” like everyone else, but it was only on the lonely dance floors in Singapore, where we were in our triple ply mohair suits and our made to measure shirts with the silk handkerchiefs dancing a dance of their own, that the album made sense to me.
Us black boys who had called ourselves “The Untouchables” would pursue fun across Singapore as if our lives depended on it. We would beg the DJ to keep playing “Night Train”, “Cold Sweat”, and “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag”, “I Feel Good” and everything that James Brown had out, so that we could stay in the groove all night. We would dance. Neil would hold us all entranced as his small stature gave him the perfect balance to mesmerise everyone with the way his body translated what was in his mind and the mind of the musicians on the record.
There were times when Neil was so good, everyone else just stopped and looked. He had a way of flicking his handkerchief to “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” which was simply magical. The handkerchief seems to stay in the air as if it was suspended, whilst he did a double spin and the splits, then he would catch it as he was half way back up into the standing position. Simply breathless. We used to leave RAF Seletar exhausted.
Full copyright : Roy Merchant July 2017