2 Shades of Grey

Songs from the soundtrack of your life


I was in Vilnius and I heard Lily was here

Walking through the back streets of Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, on my last visit I heard the strains of “Here Comes the Rain Again“. It sounded like the Eurythmics but not quite them.

DSC00256On my way back I heard it again and realised it was coming from an artist’s studio. I went in and met Cica, the artist, playing a vinyl record by Dave Stewart and Candy Dufler over and over again, particularly the haunting track “Lily was here”.

As we chatted about his art, his visits toLondon, his disillusionment with the way things were being run in Lithuania, and his aspirations for a better Lithuania for his children he just kept re-playing this track. It got into my head. I knew I knew the tune but where from?

DSC00262He called me Big Mike, offered me a coffee and his philosophy on life and art. He thought Beatlemania had been a force for change; something a Ukrainian composer, Sparinsky, also told me in Kiev a few years ago. Strange what we take for granted but then we were never under soviet occupation.

I later discovered the tune was released in November 1989, from the the soundtrack of a Dutch film De Kassière.

David A. Stewart wrote the soundtrack and invited Candy Dulfer, who had not previously released any of her material, to play the saxophone on this instrumental. The single became a major hit and stayed at the No 1 position for five weeks in The Netherlands.

Because of its success, the single was then released in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States where it also became a hit, reaching No. 6  in the UK and No. 11 in the U.S..

His vinyl record had three tracks; “Lily was here“, “Here Comes the Rain again” and one other I can’t remember – possibly “Lily robs the bank“.

But it was “Lily was here” which haunted me for the rest of my stay.

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Stan the Man

No not Stan the Man of Burnley FC fame but Stan Wolarz.

He’s an Edinburgh-born blues guitarist who lives in the Czech Republic.

sc0002b990I was in Prague on a conference in May 2001, it was late and a group of us had done the obligatory Czech cultural experience ie sampling a range of local beers, and wanted something a bit more adventurous.

We were walking around the town centre and could hear music. It seemed to be coming from an underground public toilet with the white tiles in the entrance and down the curving stairs.

The women in the party weren’t too sure so they sent a couple of the men down to check it out. We went down to the kiosk at the bottom, checked out the entry price and the price of beer and conformed it was a club.

So we all piled into this darkened basement room with a spotlight in one corner, just in time to catch the end of Stan the Man and his Bohemian Blues Duo’s set  on stage.

The duo comprised Stan playing a Fender telecaster (a Thinline from memory) and his band colleague Anton Duratny playing an upright double bass. It was a great sound, played in a smokey cellar drinking czech lager. What could be better (apart from the smoke)? Classic songs like “Bright Lights, Big City” and “Rock me Baby“.

We asked him to play some more but the licensing laws were strict and the management just pulled the plug and put  on all the lights!

sc0000ab46I chatted with him about guitars and blues and bought one of his CDs, “Two Sides to Every Story” while one of my colleagues made a bee-line for the double-bass player and shared a smoke.

sc0000ab46 - Version 2He told me he’d been touring round Eastern Europe for years including during soviet times.

He was an interesting person and a great blues player and is still going strong over there.

He’s about 63 now so if he can still do it so can I!