Today’s song is ‘New Kid in Town’. This song is by the Eagles from their 1976 studio album ‘Hotel California’. It was written by Don Henley, Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther. Released as the first single from the album, the song became a Number-1 hit in the US and WAS Number 20 in the UK.
Souther would later say about the song, “It's about the fleeting, fickle nature of love and romance. It's also about the fleeting nature of fame, especially in the music business. We were basically saying, 'Look, we know we're red hot right now, but we also know that somebody's going to come along and replace us — both in music and in love.”
Eagles' biographer Marc Eliot would also state that “‘New Kid in Town’ captures ‘a precise and spectacular moment immediately familiar to any guy who's ever felt the pain, jealousy, insecurity, rage and heartbreak of the moment he discovers his girlfriend likes someone better and has moved on’”. He also suggests that it captures a more abstract theme of ‘the fickle nature of both the muse and the masses’.
In 2016, the editors of Rolling Stone rated ‘New Kid in Town’ as the Eagles 5th greatest song, describing it as "an exquisite piece of south-of-the-border melancholia" and praising its complex, "overlapping harmonies.".
I have always loved the Eagles, along with every song that they ever recorded. This song epitomises the undeniable truth that however good we think we are, in whatever we excel at, there will always be somebody else, somewhere, who is better than we are.
When I emigrated to Canada for a couple of years at the age of twenty-one years, my ego was only matched in size by my envisaged prospects of making it good on the singing scene before three months were out. I had always been a good singer all my childhood and teenage years.
I was due to emigrate to Canada in the Christmas of 1963 and in November of that same year, all my mates took me to Blackpool for a farewell weekend where much dancing, drinking and womanising took place.
Often, my mates would encourage me to get up and sing in whatever pub or club setting we were in and I’d usually oblige. On the evening in question, I got up and sung a song in this Blackpool Working Men’s Club. The upshot was that I was given a rousing cheer afterwards and before we left, the Club Secretary (whose job it was to arrange bookings for visiting singers) approached me and said he’d introduce me to a manager who'd get me as much for one night singing in the Northern Club circuit than I'd earn in a week at work in the mill. I thanked him and politely declined saying, ‘Thank you but I'm Canada bound next month and I intend to earn a living singing over there.”
As I crossed the Atlantic Ocean during the Christmas of 1963, I entered a talent contest which had a decent money prize for the winner. The bottom line was that I was clearly the best singer in the contest by a mile but lost out to a sugary-sounding Shirley-Temple lookalike aged around eight years old. She sang her song as though she’d toffee in her mouth. She’d been well trained by her mum as to how to elicit a warm protective response from an adult audience. As she stood there like a little lost girl, she twisted her curly hair with the sweet innocence of cherubim mixed with the coquettishness of an innocent nymphet. You know the kind of look I mean; the kind that an only daughter gives her loving father whenever she wants him to let her do something, he intrinsically doesn’t think she ought to do. I could have twisted her head until her simpering smile dropped off!
As I collected my second prize, my only thoughts were twofold. First, I knew that my Shirley Temple rival had managed to secure the ‘sympathy vote’ and wasn’t deserving of first place in the contest. Secondly, I couldn’t help but wonder if it had come around to my turn to be disadvantaged by the 'sympathy vote' instead of benefiting from it. I recalled how many times in a singing contest which I had entered as a young boy, I had beaten adult singers into second place? For a week after the contest, I even thought about limping onto the stage with a crutch under one arm, a pair of dark spectacles on and holding a guide dog in the other hand, the next time I entered a singing contest?
When I got to Canada and settled into my lodgings in Quebec, I managed to secure myself a job at a singing establishment called ‘The Last Chance Saloon’. I soon discovered that it was the kind of place singers worked in 'at the end' of their careers, 'not the start' of them. I only worked there a brief time (I think it was a matter of six weeks or so), before I left.
When I initially began singing at the Quebec Night Club, I estimated that within six months I’d be soon noticed by some manager who’d sign me up with a record contract before I’d even time to write a letter home to tell my family the good news. Thinking that I was the best singer in town, my pride took a battering after I was forced to admit to myself that I wasn’t. It was true that I was a good singer, but I wasn’t the best by a long chalk!
Given both the size and fragility of my ego at the time, my character flaw led me to conclude that if I wasn’t the best singer in town, then I didn’t want to sing anymore. I decided to take my bat home. I abandoned my long-dreamed-of singing career and the stardom I’d been sure would follow.
Between the ages of 21 and 75 years of age, I never sang in public again. When I think back, it was probably a response that I learned from my father as a child. He had played football for his County of Kilkenny before being drafted into the Irish National soccer squad. He played soccer for Southern Ireland when he was in his mid-twenties until two years into his marriage. This was at a time when footballers (even international footballers in Ireland) received no formal wages; only expenses.
When dad was 28 years old, his first three children had arrived on the scene and my mother was a penniless football widow. So, dad abandoned his unpaid football life and migrated to West Yorkshire, where he took up work as a miner. Only migration to England appeared to offer a secure future for himself and family. His withdrawal from the game of football was total. Thereafter, he never spoke about football, he never once took me to a football match, and he would never watch it on the television unless Southern Ireland was playing. In fact, I was 11 years old before my father first told me that he’s played soccer for County Kilkenny and also for the Irish National soccer team.
I recall the time in my life as an 11-year-old boy when I got run over and couldn't walk for three years. I started walking again but I never regained sufficient balance to play football again, and would instantly fall on my backside if I turned around fast on one leg to kick the ball. So, my response to this new situation that I found myself in was to borrow from my father’s behaviour, For the next 60 years, I never played football or watched football again until I was 71 years old. Nothing would induce me now to miss ‘Match of The Day’ every late Saturday and Sunday night (however much Sheila tries to induce me up the stairs to bed with her).
Not having sung in public for 64 years, I was reading an article about how singing can improve one’s lung capacity by increasing the oxygenation level in one’s blood during the spring of 2018. I had smoke cigarettes for fifty years before finally stopping at the age of 62 years. I'd had two heart attacks at the age of 59 years; the latter being so severe that I was unconscious for three days. My legs started to pack in on me when I was around 70 years old and I would frequently get breathless when I walked and climbed stairs. Then, when I developed a terminal blood cancer in my 71st year, the oxygenation level in my blood started to plummet. When I was last in hospital, my oxygenation level was around 82 (the level of someone who has COPD). It is now at the 97/98 level daily (the healthy normal maximum level is 99).
This progress in my improved lung capacity has been the direct result of 18 months of singing practice. I usually sing for two hours a day now and put my song up on Facebook. I sing, not out of pretence that I am a great singer, but for no other reason than to enhance my health by maintaining the oxygenation level in my blood that represents 'normality' in lung capacity. I must admit, however, that I thoroughly enjoy my daily singing practise and intend to carry on until I either lose my voice or have to sing for my supper in the next world.
From all the roles that I never wanted to enact as a romantic teenager, and thankfully never had to, was the role of playing ‘second fiddle’ to another young man or newcomer to town, wherever young women on the lookout for male prey were concerned.
I jointly dedicate my song today to my 15-year-old grandson Sam who lives in France, and whom I understand is a hit with all the young girls who attend his school. Have a smashing birthday, Sam, and take it from Granddad Forde, that “It’s okay to come ‘second’”. (I nearly gave way to vanity again by saying, “It’s okay to come second, ‘sometimes’”). Granddad Forde x
I also dedicate my song today to my Great Nephew Kelvyn Forde who also celebrates his birthday today. Have a smashing day, Kelvyn. Great Uncle Billy and Sheila x
Love and peace Bill xxx