My song today is ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ which Rod Stewart sang in his 1978 album ‘Blondes Have More Fun’. The song was written by Stewart, Carmine Appice and Duane Hitchings, though it incorporates the melody from the song ’Taj Mahal’ by Jorge Ben Jor. It spent one week at the top of the British charts in December 1978 and four weeks at the top of the ‘US Billboard Hot 100’ chart in February 1979. Billboard ranked it Number 4 on its ‘Top Singles of 1979 Year-end chart’. It also topped the charts in Australia for two weeks. Royalties from the song were donated to the ‘United Nations Children's Fund’ (UNICEF) and Stewart performed the song at the ‘Music for UNICEF Concert’ at the ‘United Nations General Assembly’ in January 1979. Rolling Stone ranked the song at Number 308 in its list of the ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’.
It has been noted that Stewart created parts of the song through musical plagiarism. A copyright infringement lawsuit by Brazilian musician Jorge Ben Jor claimed the chorus of the song had been derived from his song "Taj Mahal". The case was ‘settled amicably’ according to Jorge Ben Jor, in Ben Jor's favour. Stewart admitted in his 2012 autobiography to ‘unconscious plagiarism’ of the Ben Jor song, which he had heard while attending the Rio Carnival in 1978.
When this song was first released, I was aged 35 and was probably at the height of my good looks and honed body. If I recall correctly, I then had a 40-inch chest, measured 30 inches around my waist and displayed a muscular six-pack in the solar plexus region of my stomach that most bodybuilders would die for. My good looks were still intact and despite having been married for 9 years, I still had to fend off unwarranted advances from good-looking women at parties and dances whenever my wife’s eyes were elsewhere.
When this 77-year-old man (next month) now looks in the full wardrobe mirror as I dress and undress these days, there is much of which I once held so proud that I can no longer see, and far too much of which I do not like being able to see. My manhood, which once stood proud from beneath a muscular six-pack stomach, is now concealed in shrunken shame between ‘Good Year’ folds of flesh that hide it from the eyes of the world (including myself). Instead of displaying a muscular six-pack stomach, my tummy area now resembles three empty shelves with nothing to show in between.
Until two years ago, despite being the oldest of seven siblings, I could boast of having all my own teeth and a full head of hair, in a family who’d long ago lost most of theirs. Then, two lots of chemotherapy (six months at a time) softened my teeth and shattered six of them, requiring their removal at the hospital over three sittings. After these shattered teeth had been taken out, thereby necessitating a denture, the price of this new dental work was to cave in my mouth again in sheer astonishment. Having acquired my denture, which I rarely wear (six times maximum during the past six months) they now sit in pride of place in my bathroom like a Damien Hirst piece of art, positioned above the toilet bowl, in a glass of Formaldehyde (a substance that preserves the teeth of sharks and cows, similar to Steradent denture tablets).
That indignity was compounded recently when after two skin cancer operations on my skull, the plastic surgeon needed to put a skin graft over a large area that had been opened up to remove all deadly cancer deep down. That operation was subsequently followed two months later by twenty sessions of radiotherapy to mop up any remaining cancer that the operation might have missed removing. The surgeon; a Scottish woman in her mid-thirties smiled sweetly in her nonplussed medical manner as she told me that my hair would not grow back over the skin graft area again. At the time, knowing that I was 76-years-old and with a limited time span remaining, the good looking surgeon no doubt quickly glanced at the rest of my unsightly body mass and misshapen torso and silently thought, “ I don’t know why he should worry about the loss of a wee bit of hair no larger than the area of a wee orange. He’s lucky he’s still got his eyesight to see a bald patch any size smaller than a football!”
As I get older daily, I find that I don’t stand too close to the long mirror in the bedroom anymore when I have no clothes on. I find the wrinkled folds of my ageing body too cruel to compare with the man I once was when Rod Stewart first sang this song. Fortunately, my loss of teeth (three from each side of my mouth) are not my middle teeth and I am still able to sing and smile without being conscious of the unseen toothless gaps. As for my hair, I told myself initially that I would not give into vanity by falsifying the real image at the top right-hand side of my bald scalp, but even that promise has fallen foul to the unfettered vanity of an old man trying to look younger than his years.
I have recently noticed when I comb my hair on a morning, an unconscious tendency to brush a few long strands of hair over the bald patch at the side of my forehead. Any astute followers of my daily songs on my Facebook page will not be fooled by my recent inclusion of many Country and Western songs of choice to sing; all of which enables me more naturally to wear my cowboy hat of conceited concealment.
I dedicate my song today to my Facebook friend, Monty Scargill of Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire.
Cleckheaton was one of the most significant areas in my life before my first marriage, even though it was situated two miles away from where I lived on Windybank Estate. My father bought my first bicycle (costing ten shillings) from the old Market Place. It was a rusty second-hand contraption with no brakes or mudguards, but I loved it! My father worked at a Cleckheaton foundry at the time and I worked at ‘Bulmer and Lumbs’, a Cleckheaton mill. The Doctor’s surgery which the family attended was in Cleckheaton, and unless we had a house call, we would have to walk two miles each way to attend the doctor’s surgery when we did not have the bus fare to ride. Every Sunday, the Forde Family would walk one and a half miles each way, from Windybank Estate, down Hightown Road to attend the Catholic Church service in Cleckheaton. I drank my first underage pint of beer in a Cleckheaton pub (The Commercial). All my favourite drinking spots were in Cleckheaton pubs, and all cinema attendances were either at the Savoy or the Palace picture houses, opposite the Cleckheaton branch of the Yorkshire Bank. I have had an account at the Cleckheaton branch of the Yorkshire Bank for fifty-one years. Never once between the ages of 6-21 years of age, did I miss attending the annual Fair down Peg Lane, Cleckheaton. I was even there on that night a chap fell off the Big Wheel and landed on a girl below, instantly killing her!
During my wild teenage years of romance and hanky panky, Cleckheaton was the happy hunting ground of this ‘sexy’ teenager. I would visit the Town Hall every Saturday Night to dance and romance the rest of the night away after going on a Cleckheaton pub crawl with my mates, and whoever I escorted safely home from the dance, would not leave my sight until she had walked back inside her parent’s house. The last bus ride home was always preceded by having a final goodnight kiss and teenage fumble behind the Cleckheaton Bus Shelter. There would usually be about six courting couples alongside each other in various forms of partial undress, whose actions were wholly concealed by the darkness. Then, as a bus entered the depot, there were around five seconds when its headlights would catch sight of all the ‘goings-on’ between the couples holding up the bus-shelter wall. Knowing how best to catch an eyeful, the envious bus drivers would deliberately slow down as they crawled entry back into the bus station, not forgetting to leave their headlights on full beam as they did so.
Then, in my mid-twenties, I committed my first cardinal sin when I wholly ignored some of my mother's wisest advice she ever gave me! I actually went and married a girl who was brought up in Heckmondwike but who later lived in Cleckheaton. If only I’d have followed my dear mother’s advice, I would have spared myself so much heartache in the years that followed. When I was a growing teenager, my mother would often tell me as I left the house to have a good night out dancing, “Take heed, Billy Forde. Don’t dishonour the family name. Never trust a word those girls from Heckmondwike tell you and steer clear of any girl who comes from Cleckheaton if you don’t want to be trapped in an unhappy marriage!”
My song today is dedicated to my Facebook friend, Monty Scargill who lives in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire. Have a nice day, Monty, and thank you for being my Facebook friend. Bill.
Love and peace Bill x