Posts from 9th August 2000

9
Aug 00

TWO MORE SONGS ABOUT WAR

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TWO MORE SONGS ABOUT WAR

To continue this freewheeling mindset which, once it has been stumbled upon is nagging like a horse, there are a couple of songs about War I would like to mention in passing. One is routinely noted as one of the worse songs of all time – the other generally accepted as a classic. They are both as bad as each other – and considering one of them is The War Song by Culture Club, that means they are both very bad.

Culture Club, like the film Fight Club, made a virtue of there not actually being any real examples of the clubs name in their work. While Norton and Pitt set to in perfectly choreographed play fights, Boy George and his band of half arsed chancers fannied around the charts in a wholly artless way. Much has been, and will be, said about Boy George looking a bit like a girl – but what is rarely remarked on is how their drummer, Roy Hay, looked a bit like a chipmunk. As if Roy Hay is a proper name anyway. It’s more like the battle charge of some Comanche warrior as he rides his steed into already doomed battle. “He have um big heap bow and arrow, they have um rifle. Roy Hay!” Ah such is war though. And as George will tell you – War is stupid. And why is that George?

Because people are stupid.

Right then. That’s war solved then. Just get rid of the stupid people. A problem many advocates of this kind of backdoor eugenics may come back with is how to spot stupid people. The Club du Culture have also helped you out here though. The stupid people are the people who bought The War Song. The really stupid ones thought it was deep. Kill them first.

Still, everyone admits, including the felt Stetson wearer himself, that The War Song was a pointlessly naďve pile of toss. A charge rarely levelled agin Edwin Starr’s War. You know, the one that asks rhetorically what is it good for. Or to be more precise “Huh! What is it good for”. Quick as a flash, before we can return ideas like protecting nationhood, settling international disputes and boosting arms sales, Edwin returns – forcefully – that it is good for absolutely nothing. So sure he is of this answer that he goes on to “say it again”.

I daresay Edwin was challenged by his producer to back up this somewhat ludicrous claim. Certainly I would agree that war is unfortunate, generally unpleasant and often excessive, nevertheless if it was good for absolutely nothing, you would think someone would notice. Did George Washington, post the War Of Independence, sit brooding, thinking – what was that good for. Absolutely nothing. (Actually, this is a bad example, he would probably be right.) Even if the stated aim of a war is futile – let’s say the Crusades in the thirteenth century, the unpleasant fact is that nothing improves technology like a war. World War Two gave us atomic power and jet engines – even if you find the war abhorrent you have to admit the knock on effects have been useful.

Instead though, Edwin suggest that war is friend only to the Undertaker. I assume they mean the profession of undertakers in general – rather than the WWF superstar of sports entertainment. Even so, my scant knowledge of wartime practices suggests that few armies had battalions of undertakers gleefully ripping between the trenches measuring corpses for coffins. Then Edwin goes on to backtrack, acknowledging that war also makes one man rich and another man poor. Well, therefore war is certainly good at changing prevailing economic paradigms. So frankly within two lines of saying that war is good for ABSOLUTELY nothing, he has already backtracked in favour of the undertaking profession and as a predicator of economic change. I think its best not to give Mr Starr’s argument much more time. And the public also gave Edwin little time too, this being his biggest hit. Instead he nipped off, much like fifty percent of the other soul stars of the day who got their faces laminated in 1969 and still rocks the dinner dance circuit like the living dead of Stax.

In conclusion, War may occasionally be stupid – but this is probably because the people commentating on the war are stupid. These are the people Culture Club are talking about. And War is good for absolutely nothing, except giving employment and potentially altering global economics. This is merely two songs about the general concept of War. Wait til we get to the specifics. You don’t want to know how many shitefest were written about Vietnam.

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Here’s a comment from Sundar Subramanian about the Cale/Conrad/MacLise/Young/Zazeela Day Of Niagara release, which I was raving about last week.:

“as a big fan of new york minimalism i was surprised that you seem to have got way more out of this release than i did and you made me want to give it another listen as i’ll do tonight). compared to dream syndicate boots of, say, “the fire and the mirror,” it seemed to me to have far less sonic depth and variety. struck me on my first three listens as a relatively simplistic squealing and gave me a headache each time. acoustic effects resulting from the tuning seemed barely audible unlike on, say, _the second dream_ or _the well-tuned piano_ where they were gloriously explored and exploited. i even thought early velvets boots (or “black angel” for that matter) were more interesting. i really will try to listen again tonight with a different perspective.

and the velvets were never indie.”