Tuesday 26 April 2022

Lost lyrics

If I ever hear the phrase "the world is your oyster" in my head I always add "but your future's a clam" because that's how the song goes, isn't it? A song I've heard so often, for so many years, that the lyrics are ingrained in me, a part of my subconscious mind. You're the same, no doubt, albeit with a different set of mind-invading songs.

So here's a bit of fun for the forthcoming bank holiday weekend - a quiz! Fifty little snippets of lyrics that have become lost from their songs ... all you have to do is identify them. There's a point on offer for the song and another for the artist, making a predictable one hundred points up for grabs.

Clues? Pfft! You don't need any. There's nothing particularly obscure here and, besides, if you've read this blog for a while you know the sort of artists I'm likely to feature. Oh, and if you're the sort of person who likes to print off a question sheet, there's one of those here. Other that that, answers will be published next Tuesday - have fun.

  1. The world is your oyster but your future’s a clam.
  2. Why am I soft in the middle? The rest of my life is so hard.
  3. I might walk home alone, but my faith in love is still devout.
  4. If I could only be tough like him, then I could win my own small battle of the sexes.
  5. I’m more impressionable when my cement is wet.
  6. You arrived like a day and passed like a cloud.
  7. You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
  8. I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all.
  9. Riding through the city on my bike all day, ‘cause the filth took away my licence.
  10. Tennis shoes, don't even need to buy a new dress, If you ain't there, ain't nobody else to impress.
  11. Jack, he is a banker and Jane, she is a clerk.
  12. Homo sapiens have outgrown their use.
  13. The boys all loved you but I was a mess.
  14. Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire couldn't conquer the blue sky.
  15. We’ll take the tide’s electric mind, oh yeah.
  16. When I am king you will be first against the wall.
  17. I'm flattered that you thought I make a good reward.
  18. Look at me, you know what you see? You see a bad mother.
  19. I've seen so much, I'm going blind and I'm brain-dead, virtually.
  20. With your feet in the air and your head on the ground.
  21. Have you forgot whatever it was that you couldn't stand about me?
  22. I am so lazy, don't want to wander, I stay at home at night.
  23. Jealousy is an essential part of love.
  24. I could be a lot, but I know I'm not.
  25. I'm so worried about my love - they say, "No, no, it won't last forever."
  26. It’s more or less the same as the things that you said.
  27. Each day living out a lie, life sold cheaply forever.
  28. Your tongue is far too long.
  29. I found an island in your arms, country in your eyes.
  30. Speech gets harder, there's no sense in writing.
  31. If you're in The Crown tonight have a drink on me.
  32. No longer riding on the merry-go-round, I just had to let it go.
  33. I just keep on laughing, hiding the tears in my eyes.
  34. If you don't answer, I'll just ring it off the wall.
  35. Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse. Still, it's so much clearer.
  36. I'm worse at what I do best, and for this gift, I feel blessed.
  37. His mind wanders to the office, his telephone, desk and chair.
  38. I don't know if you can hear me, I'm feeling down and can't think clearly.
  39. I heard you let that little friend of mine take off your party dress.
  40. I laid traps for troubadours who get killed before they reach Bombay.
  41. You lied about your status, you lied about your life, you never mentioned your three children and the fact you have a wife.
  42. Magically bored on a quiet street corner, free frustration in our minds and our toes.
  43. You spurn my natural emotions, you make me feel I'm dirt.
  44. I can gather all the news I need on the weather report.
  45. And now my fears, they come to me in threes.
  46. Stick or twist, the choice is yours.
  47. Well, I stand up next to a mountain and I chop it down with the edge of my hand.
  48. I wonder, do my tears of mourning sink beneath the sun?
  49. I must have kept on dragging through the business of the day.
  50. Smiles await you when you rise.

Here's an appropriate song for you, The Spirit of the Lyrics by Swedish four-piece The Slow Summits.

Monday 25 April 2022

More new to NA: Billy Nomates

Billy Nomates is actually a woman called Tor Maries. That's pretty much all I know about her, though you may find out more on your platform of choice at lnk.to/JlfS0aHS

In the meantime, I really like this, though I'm not sure I've decided quite why yet. It might be the whip-smart lyrics, or the way the backing track rhythms seem at odds with the vocal melody. Whatever, it doesn't really matter why I like it, does it? I just do, and maybe you will too.

Friday 22 April 2022

Blue Friday: Weltschmerz

Here's the penultimate track from Gavin Osborn's new album; it seems very apt for our time ... our polluted, burning, divided, Don't-Look-Up time. Anyway, if your German is like mine, this is what weltschmerz means.

The album has some corkers on it, so you might see more Osborn-related posts in the near future. After all, he is, in his own words, "like if Billy Bragg had swapped Barking for Bedford".

All together now, "I'm not fine, you're not fine, don't tell anyone ... once more round the sun ... "

Monday 18 April 2022

Monday long song(s): Ranking Full Stop / Mirror In The Bathroom

A bit of a cheat here, because although this live rendition of Mirror In The Bathroom is nearly long enough on its own to make the Monday long song threshold, it takes the seamless prequel of Ranking Full Stop to make sure. So two songs, run together, rather than one, but my gaff, my rules ... and I really wanted to post this, because it's fantastic. Featuring the late, great and much-missed Ranking Roger, and his son, with their version of The Beat (Dave Wakeling has his own version too).

So much to love here, aside from the brilliance of the music and the performance. Did you spot the kid standing motionless in the crowd throughout, whilst his parents and their generation do their best middle-aged skanking all around? And the guy holding his empty plastic beer glass in his mouth so he can applaud at the end? Such sights are common at gigs for people of my age, seeing bands that were popular in their youth but are no longer the next big thing. We might not be able to skank for quite as long, or as energetically, as in days gone by, but it doesn't matter - the nostalgia is every bit as important as the music and the band ...

Sunday 17 April 2022

Sunday shorts: All By Myself

From Green Day's 1994 breakout album Dookie. What could this song be about? A lyric change in live renditions leaves no doubt.

Sod it, since it is also a short video, here's the actual backstory to this strong, straight from the horse's, i.e. Tré Cool's, mouth:

Saturday 16 April 2022

"Politician is rubbish" shocker

It's ten weeks since I wrote to my MP to bemoan Johnson's mendacity around #Partygate. To be absolutely sure he got it, I sent it by post and email.

To date, I have received no reply by either means, not even an email autoresponder.

Who's surprised, because I sure as hell am not.

Friday 15 April 2022

Blue Friday: O Children

I still have a bit of a Nick Cave blind spot - I like a few individual songs, but own no albums by him. Anyway, this is one of those individual songs that I do like. Film fans might recognise it from the Harry Potter franchise, the apparent theme of the track (the messed up world the singer's generation have left for the kids) fitting the sombre mood of the seventh film.

Wednesday 13 April 2022

Sci-fi foundations! Or, the worlds of Gerry Anderson

I found a copy of the Look-in annual from 1977 in a charity shop a while back. This two-page article on Gerry Anderson is from that. You might think his supermarionation heyday was behind him by 1977, but flicking through the rest of the annual you get a clear reminder of how big his live-action offering Space 1999 (starring none other than future Oscar-winner Martin Landau) was at the time.

Clicking these images should magnify, and make them a bit more readable.

What strikes me here, given the youth of the target market, is the absolute lack of dumbing down. I can't imagine it would be written the same way, or take up two whole pages of narrow-spaced Times New Roman, for the kids of today.

Anyway, what better way to end this post than with Cliff Richard Jr from Gerry's 1966 film Thunderbirds Are Go. Listen at your peril.

Tuesday 12 April 2022

Tube Tuesday: The Cure

Following on from my earlier post enthusing about the YouTubing of The Tube, here's another in an occasional series plucking gems from the back catalogue.

Today it's from the last ever Tube, episode 24 of series 5, broadcast 24th April 1987; they closed in some style, Paula bookending a three-song set from The Cure: Catch, Why Can't I Be You and Hot Hot Hot. It would be almost nine years until The Tube's spiritual successor, TFI Friday, debuted. A big hole, largely unfilled.

Monday 11 April 2022

Monday long song: I've Had Enough

It may only be 7.30 on Monday morning but I've already had enough.

And if Daltrey's last desperate howl hasn't got you visualising Jimmy's scooter going over the cliff, we should probably talk...

Sunday 10 April 2022

Sunday shorts: Lot 105

Forget anything I might have said previously; when my plywood box rolls along the squeaky conveyor belt and through the brittle velour curtain, this really ought to be playing... loud.

Friday 8 April 2022

Blue Friday: Lonesome Ocean and The Million Things That Never Happened

I've been listening to Billy Bragg's album from last year, The Million Things That Never Happened, a lot lately. It's a real grower. I don't know if it makes me feel any better about all the shit that surrounds our lives in 21st Century Britain, the downward trajectory of everything, the seemingly unstoppable race to the bottom ... but it certainly makes me feel a little better about feeling bad, if that makes sense.

Here's two for the price of one, because I can't choose between Lonesome Ocean and the title track...

Wednesday 6 April 2022

I can't remember a worse time

Remember how I posted recently about unnecessary covers, and lamented those that slavishly aped the original, without trying something different? Well, this is different enough for me. The K's first came to my attention courtesy of The Man Of Cheese but they are not, contrary to what this video might suggest, an acoustic two-piece - rather, they are a sharply-dressed unsigned band of impossible youth who are not afraid to show you their influences. Here's an example of more typical fare from The K's ... but I am rather partial to this, their cover of one of Jarvis's finest moments.

And I really can't remember a worse time.

Monday 4 April 2022

Monday long song: Fragile

I could probably do the rest of the year's Monday long songs with tracks from The Blue Aeroplanes, such is their tendency to "go on a bit", but I won't. This, though, is from their 1994 album Life Model, and apart from a few dummy endings actually goes on for the best part of seven minutes. Atypical backing vocals too.

Blimey, if you'd asked me off the top of my head, I'd have said that album was relatively recent. Tempus fugit, eh?

Sunday 3 April 2022

Sunday shorts: I’m In Love With A Girl Who Doesn’t Know I Exist

It's a good job I only came across this song in my fifties. If I had heard it in 1988, when it came out, I probably would have spent an inordinate amount of time with a notebook in one hand and acoustic guitar in the other, writing out the lyrics and working out the chords. Because, of course, it would have spoken to me, forever smitten with unobtainable girls as I was back then. But I can't recall ever hearing of Another Sunny Day back then, even though this apparently got to number twelve in the indie chart for them. Oh well. Lost time, and all that.

Saturday 2 April 2022

Twenty-two in '22: Kiss Kiss

I've set myself modest reading targets in each of the last three years and failed every time (I managed 17 books in '19, 11 in '20 and 18 in '21), so I'm determined to read twenty two books in 2022. I'll review them all here.

Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl

4/22: Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl

The blurb: In Kiss Kiss you will find eleven devious, shocking stories from the master of the unpredictable, Roald Dahl.

What could go wrong when a wife pawns the mink coat that her lover gave her as a parting gift? What happens when a priceless piece of furniture is the subject of a deceitful bargain? Can a wronged woman take revenge on her dead husband?

In these dark, disturbing stories Roald Dahl explores the sinister side of human nature: the cunning, sly, selfish part of each of us that leads us into the territory of the unexpected and unsettling. Stylish, macabre and haunting, these tales will leave you with a delicious feeling of unease.

The review: first off, I'm aware of the criticisms of Dahl that have emerged in recent years: racist, anti-Semite, misogynist. I'm not here to review the man though, and even if I was I'm not really sure how you can judge a man born in 1916 by today's standards. Maybe it's just as well that I'm only here to review the book.

Lucky for us all, then, that it's a fine book. Eleven short stories, all told with the relaxed prose style and eye for detail that made his children's fiction so memorable. But these are very much stories for adults. One of Dahl's "rules" for his stories was that bad things happen and they certainly do here, ranging from the "Oh no!" variety right through to the murderous. Lovers of a twist ending will be well sated by this collection, and it will come as no surprise to learn that many of the stories featured here made it onto television as Tales of the Unexpected.

Some of the more memorable Tales featured here include William and Mary, the excellent Way Up To Heaven and the darkly comic Mrs Bixby and the Colonel's Coat, all of which his detractors might say shine a light on, if not misogyny, then at least Dahl's unusual perspective on women. But that's rubbish, frankly; they provide an equally skewed view of men (especially in Edward the Conqueror). Maybe he was a misanthrope, rather than a misogynist.

Whatever. There's dark humour here too, none more so than in Parson's Pleasure, and the plain unsettling - I remember Royal Jelly vividly from the television adaptation, and it is equally effective on paper. And interestingly, the book ends with a short story entitled Champion of the World, wherein lies the kernel of an idea that, sixteen years after this was written, would grow into the children's novel Danny, the Champion of the World, my favourite as a kid.

I should give a special mention to The Landlady, which open this collection; what started life as Dahl's attempt to write a ghost story ended up without a supernatural aspect, but ticks every other Tales of the Unexpected criteria: macabre, unsettling, and with an uneasy twist ending. From a writer's perspective, it's an object lesson, with detail drip-fed, a real sense of place, and only as much detail as is necessary. A joy to read too, albeit a dark joy that lingers long in the mind...

What else can I tell you? Some of these tales may feel a little dated in setting and dialogue, but the essentials plots and themes are timeless. Dahl knew his way around a short story, and the eleven contained herein demonstrate that time after time. A harsh critic might argue that some of the twist endings are telegraphed a little too much, but really that's just about the only criticism of this collection ... and it is being harsh. There is so much to enjoy here, and so what if you guessed an ending - well done you. It was still fun getting there though, wasn't it?

The bottom line: a short-story masterclass that will suit anyone with a taste for the unsettling or macabre, and lovers of twist endings.

Since everything online is rated these days: ★★★★★☆

Friday 1 April 2022

I wish this was an April Fool

From today, the unit cost of electricity from my energy supplier goes up 40%. The unit cost of my gas goes up 81%. And of course the standing charges go up too, a frankly incomprehensible 58% and 4% respectively.

I know I'm far from alone in suddenly feeling boracic, but this is messed up, isn't it? Especially when you compare the pitiful so-called help from Sunak to the government responses in France and elsewhere in the EU.

Here's an old Panic Brothers track in a futile attempt to make me feel better that ultimately makes me feel worse.