My song today is, ‘Got My Mind Set on You’. This song was written and composed by Rudy Clark and was originally recorded by James Ray in 1962, under the title, ‘I’ve Got My Mind Set on You’.
In 1987, George Harrison released a cover version of the song as a single and released it on his album ‘Cloud Nine’, which he had recorded on his own ‘Dark Horse Records’ label.
The first time Harrison heard the song was during a visit to his sister in the United States in 1963–five months before the Beatles first appeared on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’. His sister lived in the countryside of Illinois. While there, Harrison visited record shops and bought a variety of albums. One was James Ray's 1962 album that contained the song ‘I've Got My Mind Set on You.’
Of Harrison's three number-one singles in the USA, it was both the only song not written or composed by Harrison himself. Not only was it the last US Number 1 hit by Harrison, but, as of 2019, the last from any of the ex-Beatles in the US. When the song hit Number 1, it broke a three-way tie between Harrison, John Lennon, and Ringo Star, all of whom had two Number 1 hit singles as solo artists (discounting Paul McCartney’s work with his group ‘Wings’). It also happened to be the Number 1 single in the US the week immediately preceding the induction of ‘The Beatles’ into the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’, making Harrison one of the few inductees to have an active single on the US record charts at the time of induction. Billboard ranked the song as Number 3 for 1988. In 2010, AOL radio listeners chose ‘Got My Mind Set on You’ as one of the ’10 Best George Harrison Songs’, appearing at Number 4 on the list.
Whenever disappointments strike, they come hardest when a person’s mind is so determined that they believe there are no acceptable options open to them other than the one on their mind.
I recall as a young child my mother would take me to the Picture House (cinema) in Cleckheaton every mid-week. We would walk two miles down the fields to the Picture House and catch the bus back home. I recall one occasion when I was in my eighth year of life. I wanted to see a particular film one mid-week which had been trailed for two weeks beforehand. The film was called, ‘The Fighting Kentuckian’ and was about a soldier returning home from the War of 1812. The militiaman falls in love with a French exile, involving two of my favourite film ingredients, adventure, and romance.
The film was due to be shown on a Wednesday evening, and ever since I had seen the trailer two weeks earlier my excitement had started to mount as the Wednesday of its showing drew closer. I was simply mad about westerns and any war films, and I considered this film to be ‘unmissable’. Sometime during the Wednesday afternoon, I must have done something wrong which my father found wholly unacceptable when he came home from work at the colliery, and so he punished me.
My father had been brought up in a strict Irish Catholic household and environment, and he carried his strictness all the way through his life from his own childhood to manhood, applying its rigid discipline code to his seven children. Although dad was not known as being a ‘thinking man’, he certainly knew how to ‘think up’ the best punishment he ever needed to apply. This was invariably the punishment which hurt the most; the one with the greatest lasting effect. My father believed that for any lesson to be highly meaningful, it needed to be memorable; not one to be so easily forgotten. He also believed that for any punishment to have a lasting impact, it needed to hurt the penitent sufficiently where it mattered most (either physically, psychologically, or emotionally). In this way, the punishment would become a lesson for life.
Knowing how much I had built up my expectations for seeing ‘The Fighting Kentuckian’ film, on the evening of it showing, instead of going to see the film with my mum, I was sent to bed early. I still recall crying bitter tears in my pillow. I wept so long and hard that one listening at the door of my bedroom would have thought the world had ended. Indeed, for that Wednesday night, my world had! For about two weeks after this event, I fell out with my father and refused to speak with him, unless I was absolutely obliged to reply to any question he asked.
As I grew older, the lesson my father had taught me years earlier remained with me, but it did not produce the precise impact on my future behaviour as he had hoped it might. Indeed, initially, it had an opposite effect on my behaviour, as anything or anyone I ever wanted or desired, I became more determined to acquire. This philosophy of mine applied more to ‘personal’ and ‘behavioural things’ more than any specific ‘material possession’. Essentially, I had built up a level of ‘personal resistance’ never to be emotionally affected again because of the absence of any ‘material thing’ or ‘whimsical want’.
I also determined (even as a child) that although my dad could physically restrict my actions should he choose to do so, there was no way that he or anyone else could restrict my thinking and influence my beliefs against my will!
Within a couple of years following this incident of my film disappointment, I was to incur a life-threatening motor accident at the age of 11 years which left me with multiple injuries, the most serious being a damaged spine. My legs had also been badly mangled after the wagon that knocked me down and ran over me, twisted my body around its main drive shaft. I can recall the doctor telling my parents (when I was in a semiconscious state) that I would be dead by the morning. I told myself, “Oh no I won’t!” Then, a month or two later, because of my damaged spine (which left me with no feeling below my waist), the doctors told me and my parents that I would never walk again. However, when the medics offer one no realistic prospect of ever living a normal life again, one tends to choose a different mental option. I chose to believe that I would walk again, and although it took nine months for my below waist feelings to return (plus another two years before I could hobble about on my feet again), I did eventually managed to realise my own beliefs and walk again.
And so, it has proved to be ever since. Whatever hardships or medical operations I have experienced, especially over the past fifteen years when I have had at least as many serious operations for heart attacks, leg and hip replacements, and cancer treatment, I know that my strength of mind has been a major factor of my coping mechanism.
Ever since my adult years from 30 onwards, I have seen too many people who ‘got their mind set on’ one person or another as an ideal mate or marriage partner, that when it didn’t happen as they wanted, they became emotionally distraught, deeply distressed and bitterly depressed. It was as though their world had ended. They were experiencing what I termed as ‘The Fighting Kentuckian kick in the gut’.
Often, folk might ask me to explain my strange terminology, and I simply say, ‘It’s a long story that I’ll tell you some other time’. But don’t forget that you heard it here today.
Love and peace Bill xxx