‘Appy Days: The Mick Box Column (No. 15)
This week, Mick goes to the movies, sends his congrats to Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt and Jet Harris, celebrates New Year’s Eve (with a cold) and catches up on his reading…
I do not know how she did it, but Sheila, my wife, sourced some tickets to go and see James Cameron’s 3-D blockbuster movie Avatar at the London Barbican on Monday, December 27! Once in the cinema they issued us with 3-D plastic glasses, and from the opening scenes it was stunning. This movie really is a special effects extravaganza, and is set on the moon that is inhabited by the Na’vi humanoid aliens. Their world is under threat from human beings, who plan to plunder its natural resources.
It is a long film, being about two hours and 40 minutes, but it held your interest right until the end. The film had been in the making for 14 years, and is sure to be a box office hit, and the 3-D experience has really come a long way since Jaws 3D in 1983. The last film James Cameron directed was Titanic, and that was excellent, but Avatar is really something extra special, and a must see!
There was a mention of Uriah Heep in the Daily Mirror last Thursday, December 24, on the Stuart Maconie page. Thanks to Kev and Yvonne for bringing it to my attention. It was an article about Rage Against the Machine, up against the X-Factor winner Joe McElderry for download singles sales. Maconie is talking about Tom Morello, the RATM guitarist, whom he once interviewed. He says, and I quote: “I liked him a lot. Which is more than I can say for RATM’s music. It’s always sounded to me like being shouted at in a phone box by a Socialist Worker paper seller, with an LA accent, and a speeded-up Uriah Heep record in the background.” Now that is an interesting musical observation, indeed!
Sheila and I went to see another movie called Nowhere Boy which is about John Lennon’s childhood and adolescence. It is directed by Brit, Sam Taylor Wood, and she tackles the troubled teenage years of John, and the difficult time he spent between his Aunt Mimi, played by Kristin Scott Thomas, and his Mother Julia, played by Anne-Marie Duff. The sisters fight over John, using gifts and freedom respectively. Aaron Johnson is excellent as Lennon, and you really feel the frustrations rise as he kicks against his surroundings. He is raised by his Aunt Mimi, but when he eventually makes contact with his mother, the two of them hit it off immediately. She is fun, flighty and plays the banjo, which she also taught him to play. This is in stark contrast to the staid Aunt Mimi and her classical music. John is introduced by his mother to rock ‘n’ roll music and Elvis Presley, and from that moment on, that is all he wants to do.
It is an interesting movie that shows you just how John grows up into a man, showing all the passions and frustrations that come to a head, eventually letting his musical genius take over. There are also some interesting scenes involving his early relationship with Paul McCartney, played by Thomas Brodie Sangster. Brodie did not look a lot like Paul, but he had some of his mannerisms down pat! It was good to see a Hofner Clubman guitar around John’s neck, one that Aunt Mimi had bought him, because as you know if you have been reading my column, I play Hofner acoustic guitars on stage.
Well good old Spurs, my football team, drew 0-0 with Fulham and beat West Ham 2-0 over Xmas, and we are sitting fourth in the Barclays Premier Football League, so ‘appy days! I shall enjoy it while I can!
On our recent European tour, I went without a day of sickness, but now I am home I have a sinus infection. A quick trip to the doctors, and I am on antibiotics, so hopefully it will not last long. I could really do without it, but it is just one of life’s little hic cups.
I saw an interesting article in The Times on Wednesday about Don Black OBE, who is the songwriting master, having penned some of the most famous lyrics of the past 50 years. He gives the reader an insight into his creative process, like finding original things to say about the human condition. For example it is better to say, “You’ve lost that loving feeling” than say, “You don’t love me anymore”. Don’s work includes Born Free (Academy award), To Sir With Love, Sunset Boulevard (Broadway Tony Award) and a quintet of James Bond songs, namely Thunderball, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man WithTthe Golden Gun and The World Is Not Enough”.
He has worked with many of the world’s leading composers – such as John Barry, Andrew Lloyd Weber, Quincy Jones – and written songs for Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson, Meat Loaf, Michael Jackson and our own Lulu. He is a Hall Of Fame inductee and an Oscar winner, and says that when he writes a song, he hopes that many singers will sing it, rather than artists who just generally write for themselves. He is always looking for universal themes and has a great love of the shape and the meaning of words. The article ends with declaring that he has a great sense of the vernacular, as it sounds like you have heard it before, but you haven’t. What a fantastic and productive life as a writer he has had.
Hearty congratulations go to Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt of Status Quo for their OBE insignia. It is a real mark of honour, and something for which I am sure, they will feel really proud. Not bad from meeting each other in Butlin’s way back in 1965, and forming a partnership that has gone on to have such mega success. From their first singles Ice In The Sun and Pictures Of Matchstick Men, they have become a British Institution. They are in excellent company, with Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Mick Jagger. Congratulations go out as well to former Shadows bass guitarist Jet Harris, who was awarded the MBE at the age of 70.
It is New Year’s Eve, and to be honest with my sinus infection, I will probably opt for a quiet one. I will have a sip of that 30-year-old Armenian brandy that we brought back from our Armenian trip, sitting in front of the fire, with my family. Probably with a smile on my face, akin to a dog scraping his bottom along the floor in ecstasy.
Now I have a good recipe for keeping fit in the New Year. All the equipment that you need is one dog and one eight-year-old boy! Since being home from touring, I have walked with Romeo and our dog Elvis for miles, through parks, forests and woods. t really is a nice way to get fit, and you also get the bonus of an abundance of fresh air into your lungs. If you can top that off with a trip to the gym three times a week, then you are on to a winner.
A good friend of mine called Robert Fields has just had his book published called Minstrels, PoetsAand Vagabonds and he has sent a copy to me. It is about five decades of rock music in Glasgow. Robert is a true historian of the Glasgow music scene, having been a manager of bands, a club owner, a promoter and a DJ. He kindly asked me to write the forward to the book, and there are some cracking pictures inside too. It is well worth a read.
My next door neighbour Alan went to his daughter’s school fete and found a book called Rocking The State, which is about rock music and politics in Eastern Europe and Russia. He gave it to me, and we are mentioned in it a number of times. It mentions that various Western rock stars had made a dramatic impact on the young people of Europe and the Soviet Union, quoting artists such as Tina Turner, Elton John, Madonna and Uriah Heep.
It is an interesting book, and covers a lot of the music scenes and bands that were in place under the communist regime. On the subject of Alan my neighbour, when we played the Garage for the 2009 Classic Rock Awards week, I walked out on to the stage, and I had a bit of a spin out, as Alan was in the front row. It is not often you walk out on stage, and your next door neighbour is standing in front of you, I can tell you. He said he had great fun telling everybody that he was my neighbour, and the fans loved it. Another story about Alan and his wife Sengal, was that before they even moved in next door, they were on holiday in Las Vegas, and checking into the hotel, when Alan found one of my signature guitar picks on the floor. Quite how it got there I have no idea, but he is a music fan, and a guitar player, so he put the pick in his pocket and kept it. Then can you believe it, they bought the house next door, and started renovating it, eventually moving in. You can imagine their surprise when they found out that they had moved next door to me, and he couldn’t wait to tell me the story, and show me the guitar pick. Spooky eh?!
See you next week!
Tags: Anne-Marie Duff, Beatles, Don Black, Elton John, Elvis Presley, Francis Rossi, Frank Sinatra, James Cameron, Jet Harris, Joe McElderry, John Lennon, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lulu, Madonna, Meat Loaf, Micael Jackson, Mick Box, Mick jagger, Paul McCartney, Rage Against The Machine, Ray Charles, Rick Parfitt, Robert Fields, Sam Taylor Wood, Smokey Robinson, Status Quo, The Shadows, Thomas Brodie Sangster, Tina Turner, Tom Morello, Uriah Heep