Musical Inspiration

Musical Inspiration


This is a list of the chapter titles that have inspired my debut novel, The Old Familiar Places.

They are set out in order.

Most often, the lyrics inspire the narrative; a couple of times it’s just a compelling chapter title.


If you read this before you read the novel, you will get to know the characters, the highs and lows, and the key moments in the book. The lyrics enhance the story for many, but you don’t need to understand them to enjoy the tale. They are the author’s inspiration; however, the story exists in its own right.

If you wish to buy the book in advance, please visit these LINKS

The book is called The Old Familiar Places, which is in the second line of the first verse. This line is the driving force behind Ruby and her desire to show Sonny how to get on in the world of music, her familiar places are open to him, her knowledge, her contacts, her passion.

I’ll be seeing you
In all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces
All day and through

Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal

Song lyrics     Watch

She’s got a ticket to ride
But she don’t care

Lennon and McCartney

Lyrics     Watch


Tragedy  Friday 17th October 1975

The first chapter introduces us to Sonny, the dreamer & arts lover, and he professes his desire to escape, just like the Bee Gees escaped Manchester.

Today is the funeral of Freddie Wilson. He was a music lawyer to the stars. Ruby, his young widow and Jess, Sonny’s mum, are best friends. The lyrics hint at the loneliness of Freddie despite an outwardly successful career.

Here I lie
In a lost and lonely part of town
Held in time
In a world of tears I slowly drown

The Bee Gees

Song Lyrics     Watch


Rebel Rebel  Friday 17th October 1975

On the same day as Freddie’s funeral, Sonny asks, ‘Why can’t he be proud of me like other Dads?’  The perennial battle between a dad, Pete, who thinks he’s lazy, and Sonny, who is a dreamer & loves the piano & reading. This song title is more of an inspiration than the lyrics, but two lines highlight the different attitudes between father and son.

 You love bands when they’re playing hard
You want more and you want it fast

David Bowie

Song Lyrics     Watch

Chrysanthemums Friday 17th October 1975

So many emotions are shown in Church at the funeral. We see Sonny moved by music he has never heard and Ruby, the widow mired in grief.

Sonny thinks about his sister Maisie, who died before he was born, and resolves to open up to his mum. The family tragedy we saw on page one of the novel is unravelling, and this elegy by Puccini is the perfect musical backdrop.

Puccini     Watch

Shelter from the Storm Friday 17th October 1975

We are still on day one of the novel, and despite Pete’s disdain for his son, we learn that the family unit can work and that Pete does know his music. The wall between them is built on layers of misunderstanding and grief.

Now there’s a wall between us something there’s been lost
I took too much for granted, I got my signals crossed
Just to think that it all began on an uneventful morn
“Come in,” she said
“I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

Bob Dylan

Lyrics     Watch

Paint It Black

This chapter shows Ruby as someone who likes to be in control.  We begin to understand the background of her wealth, and we meet the darkest of characters so far, Jimmy the Drums. The lyrics tell us that Freddie is not coming back, but also hint at a future where Ruby’s dark clouds are lifted.

I see a line of cars and they’re all painted black
With flowers and my love both never to come back

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colours anymore, I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by, dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

Keith Richards, Mick Jagger

Song Lyrics     Watch

Time after Time  Friday 17th October 1975

This is the first time we know that Sonny can thrive in a musical world, though he doesn’t know it yet. He’s mucking about on Freddie’s piano at the end of the day when Charlie Watts pops in. He’s roped in to form a quartet to play Freddie’s favourite song at the end of the wake. His Dad falls asleep due to too much beer, and Charlie calls him up for his first-ever jazz tune. Syd Lawrence, who had played in the church at the funeral, joins in. And Eric Haydock from the Hollies is on bass. Sonny is unaware of who they are and concentrates on getting through. He can’t believe he is having so much fun at a funeral.

Time after time
I tell myself that I’m
So lucky to be loving you

Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn

Lyrics     Watch

Brown Eyed Girl  Saturday 18th October 1975

We begin to get an idea about the closeness between Sonny & his mum. Sonny is dreaming of bigger things; his outlook is changed.

They finally discuss the loss of his sister before he was born, and Jess gives Sonny a passport photo of Maisie. He understands his mum and dad’s own dreams were shattered when they lost their brown-eyed girl.

Standing in the sunlight laughing
Hide behind a rainbow’s wall
Slipping and a-sliding
All along the waterfall
With you, my brown-eyed girl
You, my brown-eyed girl

Van Morrison

Lyrics     Watch 

Ticket To Ride Saturday 18th October 1975

Ruby is showing her controlling nature, her ability to manipulate & her anger at Jimmy the Drums for trying to get in on the act of luring Sonny to London. She wishes to be the leader, and she has identified her project. She’s only just said goodbye to Freddie, but she’s scheming already.

I don’t know why she’s riding so high
She ought to think twice
She ought to do right by me
Before she gets to saying goodbye
She ought to think twice
She ought to do right by me

She’s got a ticket to ride
But she don’t care

Lennon and McCartney

Lyrics     Watch

S for Sonny  Saturday 18th October 1975

Sonny’s home life is bought into focus, Jess comments on how he looks like his Dad when he is carrying his LPs home from Ruby’s. He is named after Sonny Clark the jazz pianist. His dad used to love listening live to all the jazz greats, and he can’t believe he fell asleep and missed Sonny’s first performance with Charlie Watts, Syd Lawrence  Eric Haydock. Mum, Dad and Sonny end up around the old upright piano, and Sonny’s confidence grows.

Sonny ends up playing for his parents, they share a laugh.

Dial S for Sonny, Sonny Clark


Satisfaction Saturday 1st November 1975

The story develops as Ruby has a knack of manipulating deeper and further than she thought possible. She is still afraid that Sonny will not comply, but when Jack and Karen, Sonny’s best friends and bandmates, announce that their planned trip to Germany is off, Ruby is triumphant. She turns from fear to celebration and offers Jack a key to the house and the use of Freddie’s grand piano. She is satisfied.

Keith Richards, Mick Jagger


Under Milk Wood  Sunday 2nd November 1975

Pete begins to take an interest in music with Sonny, which he welcomes. They plan to see Stan Tracy together in Manchester, and Sonny is amazed to hear the jazz suite is inspired by a play he is reading at college by Dylan Thomas. His love of literature and music meet for the first time.

Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas

Stan Tracy’s Under Milk Wood


Love Me Do   Friday 28th November 1975

The plan is moving fast, with Ruby helping Sonny out in more ways than he knows. He is putting in the effort, but Ruby manipulates the boys. She gets him his first proper gig, tries on clothes with Karen and agrees to buy suits for Sonny and Jack. Her grief subsides when Sonny is around.

 Someone to love
Somebody new
Someone to love
Someone like you

Lennon and McCartney

Lyrics     Watch 

Night and Day  Friday 5th December 1975

The suits are picked up, the gig day has arrived, and Ruby gives Sonny the gem that had bought her so much luck, the original Ruby given to her by Freddie. She is in her element, showing off her musical prodigy to all who will listen. Mum is impressed, but Dad can’t stand the idea of drinking champagne in a jazz pub. He calls Ruby Lady Muck.

Night and day, you are the one
Only you beneath the moon and under the sun
Whether near to me, or far
It’s no matter darling where you are
I think of you,
Night and day

Cole Porter

Lyrics     Watch 

We’ve only just begun Friday 19th December 1975

After the high-speed piano tuition and the audition in London, Sonny fails for the first time. He doesn’t get the immediate passport to freedom and the escape from suburbia he craves. On their train trip to the big smoke, Ruby starts to open up about Freddie’s duplicitous life. How he inhabited two worlds and kept them apart. Even though Sonny fails, Ruby knows this is just the beginning, and her friend Alphonso, who is head of jazz, will make sure that Sonny will make it to music college. Behind the scenes, unknown to Sonny, she sets him up for success at his next audition.

Before the rising sun we fly
So many roads to choose
We start out walking and learn to run
And yes, we’ve just begun

Roger Nichols, Paul Williams

Lyrics     Watch

The Very Thought of You  Friday 19th December 1975

In the evening, after the knockback at the audition, Ruby still has the desire to control, and Sonny is desperate to escape the humdrum. Ruby tries to explain that he hasn’t failed, he just needs to return with more experience. They are all going to Ronnie Scott’s, and Sonny finds himself introduced to Tommy Flanagan, Ella Fitzgerald’s pianist.

At the end of the night, Ruby makes an offer that stuns Sonny, he can move in with her and just relax and study without the hassle of his Dad. He thinks she is going to lean in for a drunken kiss, but she steadies herself and says goodnight.

There was another song vying for the chapter title, as Tommy Flanagan played the piano intro on ‘In your own sweet way’ by Wes Motgomery, take a listen here. These musicians become increasingly important to Sonny as he progresses.

The Very Thought Of You

Ray Noble, Maxime Le Forestier

Lyrics     Watch

Cheek to Cheek  Saturday 20th December 1975

The novel changes, and we see Sonny growing up and taking decisions. He doesn’t sleep after Ruby’s kind offer, but she doesn’t mention it again on the train home. Sonny thinks Ruby has changed her mind, Ruby thinks Sonny is going to say no, they are misreading each other. Just before Manchester, he agrees to move in, and Sonny tells Ruby he will square it with his mum. Ruby is very happy, her plan has worked, and she’s going to have company in Waverly, the house that Freddie built. 

Heaven, I’m in heaven
And the cares that hung around me through the week
Seem to vanish like a gamblers lucky streak
When were out together dancing cheek to cheek

Irving Berlin, Ken Naylor

Lyrics     Watch

Julia  Monday 12th January 1976

The story begins to change as another young lady enters Sonny’s life, his new piano teacher and mentor, Julia. She has been to the same college with the same tutor, Alphonso, a few years ago. She has been hired by Ruby to make sure Sonny is ready for his second audition. Ruby cannot be seen to fail. Julia and Sonny get on well, she fills him in on London life, and they play together. Julia’s demeanour changes when Sonny asks her about Jimmy the Drums, she leaves in tears.

Lennon and McCartney

Lyrics     Watch

You’ve Got A Friend  Thursday 15th January 1976

Sonny and Julia are starting to bond, and he is dreaming of the big escape to London. He apologises for upsetting her on their first meeting and Julia says she graduated despite Jimmy. Although he bought her down, introduced her to drugs and nearly killed her, Alphonso was there to step in and save her. Ruby blushes at the mention of Alphonso.

If the sky above you grows dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind begins to blow
Keep your head together and call my name out loud
Soon you’ll hear me knocking at your door.

Carole King

Lyrics     Listen

Crocodile Rock  Wednesday 21st January 1976

We are starting to see the difference between Sonny as a student and an adult, at Waverly he’s calm and studious, at college, he’s still mucking about with his best mate. Jack visits the house when Ruby goes to London and tells Sonny, ‘You’ve landed on your feet.’ They laugh about playing Crocodile Rock during their music lesson and getting into trouble.

Jacks asks who’s paying for university if he passes. Julia visits to get a prescription she left behind, and Jack asks who pays for the lessons. Sonny is left questioning everything, especially when Alphonso calls, ‘where’s Ruby?’ He realises he knows nothing.

The boys ending going into the out-of-bounds garage during the storm to look for a torch. Freddie’s gleaming Jaguar is there, and Sonny notices it has some crime scene tape still attached.

Ruby arrives home, surprising them, and is upset that they have been in the garage.

Elton John, Bernie Taupin

Lyrics     Watch

La-La Lies Wednesday 21st January 1976

Sonny realises adults lie and deceive, and this shocks him. Mum and Dad arrive to see if the power is back on, only to discover Ringo the dog, has smashed a vase, and knocked Ruby over, there is blood everywhere.

Jack is taken home, Jess comforts Ruby, and Sonny starts to tidy up. He is also sent home in disgrace. He tells Ruby about Alphonso’s call, she lies to his face.

I don’t insist that you feel bad

I just want to see you smile

Don’t ever think you made me mad

I didn’t listen to your lies

Pete Townshend

Lyrics     Watch

Heaven’s Door Wednesday 21st January 1976

This chapter is all about loss, everything can be taken away in seconds. Ruby lost Freddie, Mum lost Maisie, and Sonny thinks he may lose Waverly, Ruby’s house with the peace and quiet and the grand piano.

How well does he know Ruby? The crime scene tag is bothering him. Will Ruby be ok? Jess says she is 100% sure she will be and lets Sonny know that it is highly likely Freddie killed himself, and we may never know why. The police had been in the garage. Sonny is growing up before his mother’s eyes. 

It’s gettin’ dark, too dark for me to see
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door

Bob Dylan

Lyrics     Watch

Melancholy Man  Monday 9th February 1976

Things aren’t quite how they seem, Ruby is paying for Sonny’s lessons and insists on him returning, saying, ‘I’ve lost Freddie, I refuse to lose you.’

Julia lets Sonny know that Freddie had his demons, he could get quite low.  Julia mentions her cancer, and Sonny asks her straight, ‘How are you?’ He is far better at talking to her than other men. He cuts a deal where he will play if she sings at his 18th birthday.

I’m a melancholy man, that’s what I am…
And yet, somehow, he will not feel the same

His life caught up in misery

He doesn’t think like you and me

‘Cause he can’t see what you and I can see

(Moody Blues) Mike Pinder

Lyrics     Watch

What Kind of Fool  Thursday 19th February 1976

Ruby has gone to London to finalise a deal with Jimmy, who needs paying off, this protects Ruby’s future income.

Julia visits on her way to an awards evening for Stephen’s business, she’s dressed up, and Sonny speaks from the heart. ‘You are beautiful.’ There is tears, laughter and dancing, these two are becoming very close, and they have an easy understanding because of the music.

Jack visits, and they chat about their childhood he asks, ‘why was your Dad always so angry?

For the first time in his life, Sonny admits, ‘Maisie died,’ and the story pours out of him. He has never spoken about it before.

 What, what kind of fool
Tears it apart
Leaving me pain and sorrow
Losing you now

Wondering why
Where will I be tomorrow ?

Barry Gibb, Albhy Galuten

Lyrics     Watch


Outward Bound  (Inspired by Homeward Bound) Friday 20th February 1976

We are reminded that Sonny is still just shy of his 18th birthday, and although he is relaxed with Julia, he stumbles when telling Ruby she looks fantastic after a makeover. When his friends visit, Debbie makes her debut at Waverly. Although Sonny’s buddy in English, Ruby is immediately jealous until she learns that she has a girlfriend. They end up having a great evening, Sonny is very relaxed in Ruby’s house. Jack tells him he has noticed Ruby’s behaviour, but Sonny can’t see it.

Arm in arm on the doorstep to say goodbye to Sonny’s friends, Ruby breaks the news that his second audition has been brought forward, it is now before his birthday party.

Tonight I’ll sing my songs again,
I’ll play the game and pretend.
But all my words come back to me
in shades of mediocrity
Like emptiness in harmony
I need someone to comfort me.

Paul Simon

Lyrics     Watch


Twenty Four Little Hours   Thursday 4th March 1976

This is the first time we see Sonny as a successful musician, he has got his head down and studied hard. He meets Donna at London Jazz School, and it is the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Ruby declares that she fancies going back to college too, so they may be coming to London together.

He passes easily, Ruby says she will keep paying for the lessons, and they celebrate that night. Sonny even gets a scholarship, something he hadn’t asked for.

It’s heaven when you
Find romance on your menu
What a difference a day makes
And the difference is you

Neil Sedaka

Lyrics     Listen

Scattered Pictures  Sat 6th March 1976

Ruby is organising Sonny’s 18th birthday party, she is in charge, although Sonny has arranged a musical surprise. Ralphy, the hairdresser, arrives, and they both begin the transformation for the party. Ruby shows him a photo of Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford from the film The Way We Were. In the evening, Ralphy is introduced to Pete as Sonny’s hairdresser, and his apoplexy rises. He humiliates Sonny verbally and receives a slap from his wife, and leaves, another gig missed.

Scattered pictures,
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were

Marilyn Bergman, Alan Bergman, Marvin Hamlisch

Lyrics     Watch

A Nightingale Sang  Sat 6th March 1976

We are heading to the mid-point of the novel, Sonny’s 18th birthday party. Sonny can finally show off, the audition is over, he’s got his mates round, and he persuades Julia to sing with him. Jack spies Sonny and Ruby chatting in the garden at the end of the night, and as Ruby leans in, he interrupts. On their own, he tells Sonny, ‘She was going to kiss you.’ This time Sonny agrees and asks, ‘What am I going to do?’

When all the guests have departed, they walk up the stairs together, but no turning left for Sonny. They kiss and make love for the first time.

I may be right, I may be wrong
But I’m perfectly willing to swear
That when you turned and smiled at me
A nightingale sang in Berkley Square

Manning Sherwin, Eric Maschwitz

Lyrics     Watch

North, South, East, West  Monday 5th April 1976

Sonny practises at Julia’s once a week, and it is clear that her husband, Stephen, disapproves of his new relationship, as does Julia. He has been told to tell no one, but they know. Julia tells him to be careful, and the potential move to London will help them keep it quiet and to see if it works out.

Despite all the advice, he ends up at Jacks’s, he just has to tell someone his explosive news. He runs home late, Ruby is worried, and he finally realises that he is the one who has to reassure her, not the other way around.

What are you doing the rest of your life?
North and South and East and West of your life
I have only one request of your life
That you spend it all with me

Alan Bergman / Marilyn Bergman / Michel Legrand

Lyrics     Watch

Autumn Leaves Tuesday 12th October 1976

A level’s done, the audition passed, Ruby and Sonny are in London as a couple. Life feels good, and they look good together. Ruby has bankrolled a flat, and they settle into a domestic pattern. One night Sonny mentions that they don’t use contraception, and Ruby gets angry but finally admits she can’t have children. The discussion is over.

The falling leaves
Drift by the window
The autumn leaves
Of red and gold                 

Johnny Mercer, Jacques Prevert, Joseph Kosma

Lyrics     Watch

Ipanema  Friday October 15th 1976

Ruby returns to Manchester, leaving Sonny free for the weekend. He accidentally tells Donna he met Ruby at her husband’s funeral, so the story is out. Donna takes him to a lecture in the afternoon, and Jimmy the drums is the guest. He recognises Sonny from the funeral and takes the mick in front of all the students. Donna wants to go to the gig in the evening, and they descend into a jazz bar and then end up in Jimmy’s emporium, where the multiple strands of the story become apparent. In the music room are photos of Julia & Freddie, shedding light on relationships that Sonny knew nothing about. The soft Latin music playing as the hip young things smoke dope and sniff coke is an album made by Freddie and Jimmy. Jimmy sneers, ‘She bought you, Sonny.’

In anger, Sonny & Donna take coke, and then he steals photos, the album and drugs and paraphernalia and escapes. Sonny & Donna spend a lost weekend getting high until the door creaks open on Monday morning as Ruby returns.

Ooh But I watch her so sadly
How can I tell her I love her
Yes I would give my heart gladly
But each day, when she walks to the sea
She looks straight ahead, not at me

Antônio Carlos Jobim Norman Gimbel

Lyrics     Watch

Ain’t No Sunshine  Saturday 23rd October 1976

Sonny returns home a failure, but he tells his Mum he is on a break. He visits Julia and tells her the truth, letting her know about Jimmy’s place and the photos on the walls. She knows the reasons, she was Jimmy’s girlfriend for a while, and he coerced her into a destructive relationship which she only just escaped. When Sonny mentions the album and the cover with Freddie and Jimmy on, she drops a bombshell – they were lovers. Through Sonny’s disbelief, Julia reminds him about love, his love for Ruby.

And then she turns up, Julia had been part of the plan to re-introduce them, They talk about Jimmy & Freddie and his double life.

They leave hand in hand; Sonny is determined not to hide any more. Sonny says, ‘I haven’t told Mum yet’

‘She already knows’

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
It’s not warm when she’s away
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
And she’s always gone too long
Anytime she goes away

Bill Withers

Lyrics     Watch

Many Rivers to Cross  Saturday 23rd October 1976

It is now time for the truth to show Ruby’s past, which informs the present. Ruby was a Mum but can never be again. At Waverly, Ruby says she has recently seen her therapist, and she leads Sonny to a room in the house that has always been kept locked.  It is a nursery, and photos of Matilda adorn the walls. She explains the loss of their baby had wrecked Freddie and left her unable to have any more children.

Donna had been to see Ruby, so she knows all about the weekend and how Jimmy had upset Sonny. In the past, Jimmy had beaten Julia, and it was Freddie who had saved her. The link between Ruby and Jess is the child loss centre where they first met, and it all becomes clearer.

Many rivers to cross and it’s only my will
That keeps me alive

Jimmy Cliff

Lyrics     Watch

Search for Peace   Friday December 17th 1976

Julia and Stephen visit London, and it all appears normal. As they broke up at college earlier, Donna wanted to have some fun and was trying to persuade Sonny to return to Jimmy’s for more drugs. Sonny explained that he couldn’t, as they had guests.

The evening meal was interrupted by a call from Donna in trouble at Jimmy’s. Whilst others dithered, Julia showed her warrior qualities, jumping into a taxi and racing to save Donna. Ruby smashes Jimmy, Julia batters him, and they escape with Donna.

Back at the flat, Julia tells Ruby she recognised Freddie from the album cover that Sonny removed from the wall, and Ruby tells her it was Freddie who called the ambulance all those years ago.


Search for Peace, McCoy Tyner


On a Clear Day  Saturday 18th December 1976

The very next day, the group visit Ronnie Scott’s for a gig, as Sonny knows the musicians. They offer Sonny a chance to sit in, but he has a better idea. He persuades the band to let Donna take the bass, and then Julia is introduced, and she shines. Her potential career was destroyed by Jimmy, but the day after she enacted some revenge, she sings her heart out, she was born to this.

On a clear day, rise and look around you, and you’ll see who you are

Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner

Lyrics     Watch 

Looking At The Peaches   Monday 4th July 1977

Sonny and Ruby are back in Manchester for the summer, and Sonny has a summer job with Jack at the factory. He is talking about training and emigrating with Karen.

Sonny has tea with his mum and tells her of his doubts about the relationship, Jess reassures him that time will tell. Pete has learnt about the relationship, but Jess says to leave it to her to calm him down. Sonny rushes home after his first day at work to chase Ruby upstairs. As mum said, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Coz you and me woman
We got a lotta things on our minds (you know what I mean)
Covering everything
Walking on the beaches looking at the peaches

Hugh Cornwell, Jean Jacques Burnel, David Paul Greenfield, Brian John Duffy

Lyrics     Watch

Wonderful World  Saturday 16th July 1977

A summer BBQ in the garden and Mum and Ruby, best of friends again, Ruby has given Dad the keys to Freddie’s Jaguar, and he and Sonny go for a drive to collect ice for the party.

Ruby has been counselling Dad, and after years of blocking his feelings, Mum tells Sonny all about it. As the party kicks off, a black cab arrives, Donna, her new boyfriend Stevie and Alphonso are here, and the atmosphere is brilliant.

The colours of the rainbow
So pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces
Of people going by
I see friends shaking hands
Saying, “How do you do?”
They’re really saying
“I love you”

When the toast goes up ‘To absent friends,’ Julia starts crying, and Sonny cannot persuade her to join the singalong.

As Sonny climbs the stairs, he finds Ruby in bed, crying.

‘It’s Julia, she’s found a lump.’

George David Weiss, George Douglas

Lyrics     Watch

Higher and Higher  Saturday 3rd September 1977

Sonny visits Julia regularly as she undergoes treatment and helps with her young son Michael, it really becomes the focus of his days. Before he leaves for London, he gets Julia a very special present, a photograph of her on stage at Ronnie’s. Julia asks Sonny to look after her son if she doesn’t make it this time. He can’t breathe. Ruby is great as a counsellor, helping others, it’s this role in which she excels.

Your love, lifting me higher
Than I’ve ever, been lifted before
So keep it it up
Quench my desire
And I’ll be at your side
Forever more

Carl Smith, Gary Jackson, Raynard Miner

Lyrics     Listen

School Days  Friday 9th December 1977

Sonny’s parents visit London, and as the train pulls in, all Sonny wants to know is how Julia is. Jess reassures him she is looking stronger. As soon as they settle in, Pete suggests a beer, he needs to apologise for years of antagonism towards his son. We see how his dad is changing and understanding as Sonny matures.

All four go for a very nice meal at Mirabelle restaurant, Pete thinks it is too expensive and highlights this to Sonny, wondering how he manages to live on Ruby’s account.

He offers money to Sonny for the first time, he says to call him if required.

Mum says she’s loving studying again, and they are happier than ever now Pete is having therapy.

With the one you love you’re makin’ romance
All day long you been
Wantin’ to dance
Feelin’ the music from head to toe
‘Round and ’round and ’round you go

Chuck Berry

Lyrics     Listen

Love and Affection  Saturday January 7th 1978

Sonny is around at Julia’s, he wakes every day thinking of her.

When she says, ‘Will you play that one at my funeral?’ he can’t breathe.

They even joke about they would have been good together in different times. That evening Sonny tells Jack he has fallen in love with Julia.

Sing me another love song
But this time
With a little dedication
Sing it, sing it
You know that’s what I like
Once more with feeling
Give me love

Joan Armatrading

Lyrics     Video


The Meaning of the Blues  Saturday January 21st 1978

After big arguments in Manchester, Ruby gave a lot of money to Julia, so Stephen could stay home to look after her. Sonny is now on the train returning to their flat, he has bought flowers.

There are empty bottles of wine outside, and jazz is playing in the background. Alphonso and Ruby say hello and go out, she can’t bear to be alone.

Sonny calls his mum for advice and invites Donna around, they both tell him to stay calm.  Donna says she is going to New York and invites Sonny. A fire has been lit.

When Ruby returns, they make up immediately, she has missed him.

You don’t know what love is
Until you’ve learned the meaning of the blues
Until you’ve loved a love you’ve had to lose
You don’t know what love is

Don Raye, Gene De Paul

Lyrics     Video

Bye Bye Love  Thursday March 23rd 1978

Sonny had made up his mind and rang dad to open an account and get some money, his first act of independence. There were huge arguments with Ruby as she loses the ability to control him.

Donna and Stevie are at the airport waiting for him.

Bye bye love
Bye bye happiness
Hello loneliness
I think I’m-a gonna cry

Boudleaux Bryant, Felice Bryant

Lyrics     Video

But Beautiful Saturday 1st April 1978

Sonny loves visiting his new world, New York is the best. Donna has auditioned, and her boyfriend Stevie and Sonny get roped in to play at college too.

Sonny falls in love with Jazz again, plays in college, and they get invited to support Donald Byrd at BlueNote with a couple of guys from Juilliard. The music and the nightlife are intoxicating and he forgets all about the home until Tommy Flanagan, who is in the club, asks after Julia. Sonny is sad because he had forgotten her for a week

As they return to the hotel in post-gig euphoria, the night porter gives Sonny a message.

‘Come home urgently, It’s Julia’

Love is funny, or it’s sad
or it’s quiet, or it’s mad
it’s a good thing or it’s bad
but beautiful…

Jimmy Van Heusen

Lyrics     Listen

Funky Junkie by Donald Byrd


Trying To Get Home  Monday 3rd April 1978

Sonny calls Ruby and asks if Dad drive the car to London, she says she’ll do better than that and books Freddie’s old driver, she knows this is so important to him.

Donna and Stevie get into Juilliard, and they will be coming back in September, but all Sonny can think about is his flight home and whether he will get to see Julia.

Donald Byrd


Ruby Tuesday  Tuesday 4th April 1978

Phil the driver is waiting, and Sonny is soon in the car and heading North.

Charlie Watts told Phil Ruby Tuesday was named after Ruby, but she was really called Susan until she changed her name and released a record. Freddie believed in her, but she gave up when he offered marriage. He learns more in two hours than Ruby has ever told him.

She would never say where she came from
Yesterday don’t matter if it’s gone
While the sun is bright
Or in the darkest night
No one knows
She comes and goes

Keith Richards, Mick Jagger

Lyrics     Watch

Someone to Watch Over Me  Tuesday 4th April 1978

Sonny arrives at Julia’s; she is in a hospital bed in the music room.  She has been hanging on and manages ‘How was New York?’

Dad picks Sonny up, and he can finally relate to what his dad went through over twenty years ago.

Julia is surrounded by love.

There’s a somebody I’m longing to see
I hope that he, turns out to be
Someone who’ll watch over me

Won’t you tell him please to put on some speed
Follow my lead, oh, how I need
Someone to watch over me

George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin

Lyrics     Listen

These Foolish Things  Friday 7th April 1978

Sonny is at his lowest point as Julia fades. He is in the music room with Michael. As Sonny plays the piano, Julia slips away. Sonny learns that Ruby is back in Manchester and had been to see Julia as he was lost in his music. He can only think of Julia.

Oh! Will you never let me be?
Oh! Will you never set me free?
The ties that bound us
Are still around us
There’s no escape that I can see
And still those little things remain
That bring me happiness or pain

 A tinkling piano in the next apartment
Those stumbling words that told you what my heart meant
A fair ground’s painted swings
These foolish things remind me of you

Jack Strachey, Harry Link, Holt Marvell

Lyrics     Listen

Fire and Rain  Saturday 8th April 1978

Sonny wallows in grief. He plans the funeral with Stephen, and on his walk back, he visits the graveyard. Mum & Dad are on the bench. He collects his things and buys flowers en route to visit Ruby.

Alphonso opens the door, once again getting in the way. Sonny decides to leave, he knows Ruby & Alphonso were very good friends to Julia.

Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone.
Suzanne, the plans they made put an end to you.
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song,
I just can’t remember who to send it to.
I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I’d see you again

James Taylor

Lyrics     Video

Three Little Birds  Monday 10th April 1978

Sonny is getting more depressed, staying in bed all day, but sleep brings no peace. He mooches into town and ends up in a record shop where Cindy the assistant, recognises his struggle and takes him to the staff room. She chats to him and helps him see a glint of a way through.

Rise up this mornin’
Smile with the risin’ sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Sayin’, “This is my message to you”

Bob Marley

Lyrics    Watch

Ascension  Friday 14th April 1978

Sonny descends into chaos & anger, starts on dad’s Scotch and then buys more as he heads to town for drugs. He gets accosted on a bus and ends up fighting his corner, losing his mind as pummels a complete stranger. He is still angry about Julia. The police are involved, but he hit the bus seat hard, damaging his right hand, which lands him in the hospital for 3 days. Jack plans to rescue Sonny with Karen & Debs, he needs help.

John Coltrane


In Dreams  Monday 17th April 1978

Jack & Karen get Sonny and take him to Edinburgh, where his old English buddy, Debs, is studying. One night she finds him in the bath underwater and is convinced he is thinking about drowning himself. Sonny still feels guilty, he can’t believe Julia has gone.

Jack and Sonny walk up to Arthur’s seat, high above the city, and Sonny admits he loves Julia and says he’s ready to leave Ruby and college, maybe Germany. It’s too late for Jack, he’s grown up now and has plans of his own.

Sonny is left dreaming of Julia.

But just before the dawn, I awake and find you gone.
I can’t help it, I can’t help it, if I cry.
I remember that you said goodbye.

It’s too bad that all these things, Can only happen in my dreams
Only in dreams In beautiful dreams

Roy Orbison

Lyrics     Watch

New York State of Mind  Tuesday 18th April 1978

Debs forces Sonny out for a walk, and they reminisce about their shared history, they were mates who never quite got it together. She gets Sonny to talk enthusiastically about Julia, music, performing and then the night in New York at Blue Note.

Debs can see the passion in Sonny’s eyes, but he crashes emotionally again, so she marches him to the Uni medical centre, where he is prescribed 3 days  of Valium for complete brain rest, and it works as he is surrounded by the love of his friends. He dreams of New York and live music.

It comes down to reality
And it’s fine with me ’cause I’ve let it slide
Don’t care if it’s Chinatown or on Riverside
I don’t have any reasons
I’ve left them all behind
I’m in a New York state of mind

Billy Joel

Lyrics     Watch

Let it Be Friday 21st April 1978

At the end of the week, Debs takes Sonny back to the Medical Centre, and he is discharged and can return home. Jack and Karen are planning their future too.

Debs reminds Sonny how passionately he spoke about the music and wills him to return to Edinburgh as a professional. She says she will be watching him, and so will Julia, and Sonny is just starting to believe he can live with his thoughts about Julia. 

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see

There will be an answer, let it be

Lennon and McCartney

Lyric     Watch

Wish You Were Here  Saturday 22nd April 1978

Sonny heads back to Manchester and stops off at park for some air and to think. Mrs Wolstenholme, both his and Julia’s piano teacher, passes by and they end up sitting on the bench together, She tells Sonny how she her lost husband in WW1.

That love has sustained her all her life and Sonny realises he has got grief wrong, it won’t consume him, he can move forwards with memories of Julia.

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl ,
Year after year

David Gilmour, Roger Waters

Lyrics     Watch

Take Five  Saturday 23rd April 1978

Donna brings Sonny a brew, Jess had called her because she feared Sonny’s breakdown and realised he might need support.

She gets straight to the point, ‘Is Ruby a problem for you?’

‘How do you tell the woman who gave you everything that you want nothing?’

Donna wants to rehearse, and they go to Waverly whilst Ruby is out. Sonny enjoys playing again, and on the way home they go to Stephen’s to meet Michael, Julia’s son. When she sees the photo, Donna retells the Ronnie Scott’s night as a fairy tale ending with Sonny finishing his studies and graduating. Stephen agrees.

Dad offers to help after Sonny tells him about Donna’s offer for him to move into her flat. He has had his break with his mates, and the tide is turning.

Take Five, Paul Desmond


Once I Loved  Monday 24th April 1978

Sonny rises early, refreshed and ready and heads off to Ruby’s. He can’t get the words right, but Ruby knows where this is going. Ruby tells him about her grief in the past.

Sonny says he’s going back to study, ‘I owe it to you and Freddie.’ And he lets Ruby know he has arranged to move into Donna’s place. They part amicably.

Once I loved
And I gave so much love to this love
It was the world to me

 Because love is the saddest thing
When it goes away, goes away

Antonio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius De Moraes

Lyrics     Watch

Call Me  Wednesday 26th April 1978

Dad drives Sonny & Donna to London, and once again, Pete opens up and talks about his grief, they look at photos of Maisie. Dad says at the time he thought he had nowhere to go.

Sonny pops into college, and Alice is in reception and welcomes him back. Eloise, another tutor who had also taught Julia, is there, Alphonso too, and they all talk about  Julia, it’s very emotional.

Alphonso mentions the challenges but tells Sonny he can make Juilliard like Donna. ‘I’m on your side, Sonny.’ That night back in the flat and on his own for the first time, the phone never stops ringing.

They all call Sonny to tell him he is loved. Ruby knows they will find a way through.

Now don’t forget me
‘Cause if you let me
I will always stay by you
You gotta trust me
That’s how it must be
There’s so much that I can do

Call me, don’t be afraid, you can call me
Maybe it’s late, but just call me
Tell me and I’ll be around

Tony Hatch

Lyrics     Watch

Giant Steps  Thursday 31st August 1978

In August, Ruby and Sonny taxi to Heathrow to say bye to Donna & Stevie, who are setting off to start their new life in New York.

Ruby drops a hint about Alice, always following Sonny to gigs and looking on in awe, he hadn’t noticed. Back at Ruby’s flat, he spontaneously asks Ruby if she can swim.

They end up in Hampstead pool, then ice cream, and relaxing together. Summer is coming to a close and Sonny is on the road to graduating, and they are learning to co-exist. On the way home, Sonny takes Ruby’s advice, nips into college and asks Alice out, the very first time in his life he has done this.

Giant Steps


St James Infirmary  Monday 8th January 1979

Sonny joined his friends in the USA over Christmas but refused to take Alice, he knew she wouldn’t fit in with the musicians. She goes off to work, and despite him feeling very ill and jetlagged, his first thought it to visit Ruby. Sonny talks about Christmas in Manchester and then New York, but he finds it difficult to talk about Alice.

Ruby tells Sonny about Alphonso’s wish to move their relationship to a new level.

Sonny’s head is spinning, and as he leaves the flat, the cold air hits him, and he collapses and is taken by ambulance to the hospital. He shouts for Ruby when he comes around, Alice hears and gets upset and leaves. Ruby had called Jess, and she had rushed to London, fearing the worst after Ruby saw him leave the flat upset. She put two and two together, but Sonny says no, he never would he think of killing himself. Diagnosed with pneumonia, Jess calls Ruby and agrees to stay and nurse Sonny, with Ruby moving into Alphonso’s.

Let her go, let her go, God bless her
Wherever she may be
She can look this wide world over
But she’ll never find a sweet man like me

St James Infirmary, 1929, Old Folk Song

Cab Calloway

Lyrics     Watch

Lean On Me  Saturday 13th January 1979

Sonny is back at Ruby’s after 3 days at St James, he finishes with Alice, and he knows that the relationship is wrong. Mum looks after Sonny, and when Ruby pops in, she is shy about staying with Alphonso. When Jess has to return to Manchester

Ruby offers to look after Sonny ’till he’s up and running. She’s glad to get back home.

He gets back to the piano practice but is worried about missing so much college. Eloise feels guilty for not supporting Julia all those years ago, she calls around regularly and helps Sonny.

Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on

Bill Withers

Lyrics     Watch

Both Sides Now  Thursday 13th April 1979

The team are there to help Sonny. Donna returns, and Sonny fills her in about Eloise helping him and Alphonso threatening to add a year on to Sonny’s studies. Mum and Dad arrive, and they all sit down to a meal with Ruby saying Sonny has been a model pupil.

Sonny & Donna plan to return to her flat, they need to get back to normal. When they leave Donna and Sonny alone, he jumps on the piano to play a new tune. Ruby & Alphonso have sneaked in and applauded, but Sonny breaks down when he talks about the inspiration for it, his Dad talking about Maisie and having nowhere to go, the title of the new song.

Donna lies down next to Sonny, and he admits, ‘You’re like a sister to me.’

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day

Joni Mitchell

Lyrics     Watch

Detour Ahead   Friday 18th May 1979

Auditions for Juilliard in New York take place in London, and Sonny forms a trio with Tom from year 2, plus Donna. The performance is perfect, then the interview falls into disarray. Alphonso sent a report form just after the hospital visit saying Sonny will not graduate, he doesn’t have the time to catch up.

Sonny is crestfallen, this is the first time he has put in so much effort, and he thinks he has been stabbed in the back. Donna tries to pick Sonny up, saying a one-year delay is ok, but he is crestfallen. They visit Eloise at the college who promises to help, but Alphonso is in Italy for his sister’s funeral and is not in contact. Sonny didn’t see this coming.

The farther you travel
The harder to unravel the web he spins around you
Turn back while there’s time
Can’t you see the danger sign?

Herb Ellis, Johnny Frigo, and Lou Carter

Lyrics     Listen  Mark Murphy’s version is just sublime

Darn That Dream  Monday 21st May 1979

The dream is falling apart, Sonny visits Ruby, who agrees to talk to Alphonso when he calls. Donna tries to lift Sonny, unsuccessfully, but offers him the get out of staying with her in New York if he has to wait a year.

Darn that dream and bless it too
Without that dream I never have you
But it haunts me and it won’t come true
Oh, darn that dream

Jimmy Van Heusen Eddie DeLange

Lyrics     Video

Autumn in New York   Thursday 24th May 1979

The trio are off to college to rehearse for the graduation concert, but Alice knows something and gives it away with her enthusiastic greeting. She sends Sonny & Donna to Eloise’s office. Cecile from Juilliard tells Sonny the telex has come through, confirming he will graduate in June and can attend in September.

‘See you in New York.’

It’s autumn in New York that brings the promise of new love.
Autumn in New York is often mingled with pain.
Dreamers with empty hands may sigh for exotic lands;
It’s autumn in New York;
It’s good to live it again.

Vernon Duke

Lyrics     Listen

Shadows Who Dance  Friday 1st June 1979

We are here, the graduation concert, Sonny has come a long way in just over three years. They have a final Practice for graduation, and Alice wishes Sonny good luck. Sonny is on his own when Eloise comes in to wish him well. She says she has regrets about Julia and her lack of support.

The auditorium is packed with so many friends and family. Sony begins his three-song set, ‘This one is for Freddie & Ruby’

The second tune features Franco D’Andrea, a favourite of Alphonso.

The third tune is an original, the introduction mentions Julia, and he announces the tune called ‘Nowhere To Go,’ the song inspired by his dad’s reaction to the loss of his sister Maisie. Stephen and Michael are in the crowd, everyone is in tears.

From the Last Tango in Paris,

To a theme we tore from their past
To a tango we swore was their last
We are shadows of dance

Gato Barbieri

Lyrics     Watch

No Greater Love  Friday 1st June 1979

The party starts back at the hotel and Sonny tells Mum & Dad he is going to New York in September. Michael tells anybody who will listen about his Mum as he waves a copy of the photo of Julia on stage at Ronnie’s. Eloise lifts him onto her knee and says she was there on the night it was taken.

As they toast, ‘absent friends,’ Ruby sneaks to bar to pay but Sonny spies her and catches her up.

Sonny tells her, ‘Everybody is happy because of you.’

She asks, ‘Can I have that as my epitaph?’ They have so much love from their journey together.

You’re the sweetest thing
I have ever known
And to think that you are mine alone…

There is no greater love in all the world
It’s true
No greater love than what I feel for you

Isham Jones, Marty Symes

Lyrics     Listen

Rise  Thursday 30th August 1979

The final night in London, and they return to the Mirabelle an Sonny wears his suit that Ruby bought all those years ago. She understands the importance of it.

He holds hands with Ruby under the table and she says ‘it’s time to rise Sonny.’

At the end of the meal she gives Sonny the envelope with strict instructions not to open it before taking off.

Donna shouts, ‘New York, New York’

You will follow every mountain, sea and shore,
You will see from far and near a world you’ve never seen before.
On a clear day, on a clear day, you can see forever, and ever, and ever more.

Inspiration is On a Clear Day (again)

Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner

Lyrics     Watch

Here’s to Life  Friday 28th June 2019

We are brought right up to date, 44 years after Freddie’s funeral. The hearse pulls up at Waverly. Sonny has a wife, Sylvie, a daughter Maryanne and a granddaughter Georgie.

Ruby became Godmother to Maryanne, and after all her troubles, having ‘Mother’ in her title was so satisfying. It is a small family funeral.

Sonny had been called by Ruby before Christmas and had spent a week in London with her. Ruby was frail when she arrived back at Waverly, she regained some strength and was 77 in April. She loved being back at the house which Sonny had bought with money he had earned from his song, ‘Nowhere To Go.’ The envelope that he opened on the plane was lyrics written by the ex-singer Ruby, and Sonny read them and cried all the way to New York.

At the end of the service, Pete tells Sonny, ‘I am proud of you.’

‘That’s all I ever wanted.’ 

So here’s to life,
And every joy it brings
Yes here’s to life
To dreamers and their dreams

Lyrics     Watch

 And that’s it. If you have read this far, you have done well. Thank you.

Now go and buy the book and find the stories within the story.