Posts from January 2003
I have now lived in the drab world of the non-smoker for two long and sorry years. I promised myself when I gave up that I would not become one of those dreadful converts, whining about their clothes stinking of cigs after five minutes in the pub (of course your togs don’t smell of the ALE you’ve drunkenly poured down yourself, do they? You could wear them tomorrow if it wasn’t for that cigarette’) If you don’t like a smoky boozer then I’m sure there’s an All Bar One or a Starbucks or a Body Shop to suit your requirements perfectly.
Two years on and I have an update: I’m still pro-smoker. I haven’t lapsed back into smoking and I haven’t gone over to the darkside of the anti-smoke brigade.
The other night, however, I found myself in the glamourous West End of London (well, the Glasshouse Stores). I was appalled to see a publogger stub out her cig butt on the carpet, on the grounds that the ashtray was at least a yard away. That, my friends, is deeply antisocial pub behaviour, it contributes in an entirely negative way to the process of a boozer becoming tatty and it should be frowned upon.
Of course, it hardly compares to the other piece of very bad behaviour I saw recently, in which a piqued punter threw his freshly-bought drink to the floor in protest at some (real or imagined) issue. That he lost his own drink was well-deserved. That some entirely innocent and unconnected bystanders had their stuff drenched with booze was not. Certainly the damp innocents will have had more to worry about than a slight smell of tobacco on the tube home.
The worst thing about this incident was that I had broken my rule about not entering a pub with a bouncer on the door. And the miscreant in question still wasn’t ejected. What use is that?
I don’t drive. I’ve never even taken a driving lesson. This in itself is not of any great interest, but it means that I rarely have the experience of hearing music I like in the car: when I do travel in a motor, I tend to be subjected to the listening choices of the driver.
But one night I’d been to a folky / country benefit show in Hammersmith with my brother. I went to see Emmylou Harris and came away wildly impressed with John Prine. In the car on the way back home to South East London, through Chelsea and onto the Embankment. I was long-term ill and feeling drained, desperate for my bed but with that over-tired awe of London’s wonderland. The brother flicks over to some dodgy country station.
I didn’t know what it was at the time, but they played ‘Drive’ by Alan Jackson. Modern-trad epic country: I couldn’t work out whether it was a come-to-me or a run-away song, but it didn’t matter. It sounded like the greatest, hackiest thing ever, sentimental, spot-on. Dry as dust, maybe not going anywhere much but moving anyway. For that moment, perfect.
More than a year later, bits of the song are still stuck in my head. The next day, the internet told me what the song was, but I decided not to buy it. I couldn’t — can’t — see how I could hope to get anything more from familiarity with the record. As Daniel Williams wrote on Tangents (probably at around the same time), it’s not often one remembers particular instances of listening to recorded music. I decided I wanted to hang on to this one.
One Line Dismissals of Country Videos, Part One
Daddy songs, no matter how hackish, make me lose all critical skills, and Country has too many of them.
Dean Tuftin-I’m not so little
A bully comeuppance story,
Alabama-I’m in a Hurry
The best selling country group of all time, which proves that danger is not a virtue in Nashville.
Tim McGraw-Cowboy in Me
He’s vain, and the images of him half naked throughout distract from the music.
Willie Nelson -Maria
The latin women dancing throughout the honky tonk is a cliche, but
Luke Wilson as bearded drifter, fucking hot.
When the Lights Go Down-Faith Hill
Darling, CMT means country, take your banal Celine stealing, interchangeable pseudo diva, big haired nonsense to VH1
If he’s so full of poetic wonder and awe, why does he sing these lyrics like he’s reading an encyclopedia? What woman is going to be flattered by having lecherous lyrics unemotionally intoned at her by someone who gives the impression that they’d rather be watching football than sing to her as she stretches out naked on the bed before him?
(Further discussion should probably happen in the comments or on ILXOR, I’m guessing.)
This isn’t the wonderland you’d find a hyperactive grade-school kid pinballing through — sure, the kid’s happy to pull on pant leg & dress hem screaming MOMMY DADDY LET’S GO HERE I WANNA SEE MICKEY WHERES MICKEY MOMMMMMY!, but what about their flagging enthusiasm? Undoubtedly, their once-boundless happiness at seeing little Horatio geek over Captain EO for the 15th time becomes subsumed by sore legs and crotchety financial concerns and those ever-so-brief thoughts to distract their bundle of joy with nice animated rodentia while exiting stage left for a quick soak and a quicker snog.
JOHN MAYER – “Your Body Is A Wonderland”
I decided this morning that i would take on the following challenge; I’d pick a song I didn’t particularly like and write about it without going off on a ranting screed. Dear readers, if only you knew how hard this is for me! Even now, I sit here with finger trembling, every nerve in my body aching to type invective and derision as if I was psyching myself up for a pit fight. But NO I SHALL NOT SUCCUMB.
So, this song has been making its way up the top 40 for some time now. What can you really say about it? John Mayer has a passable singing voice, I guess; he doesn’t hit any wrong notes, even though his nasal burr is slightly less soothing than having porcupine quills lovingly stuck in you arms by an evil witch- WOAH I am breaking my rules. Let’s try this again.
To Mr. John Mayer: Really, would it have killed you to invest some energy in the song? From what I can tell, the fact that this lovely lady’s body is a wonderland laid out for your enjoyment excites you as much as looking up the oil company in the phone book. Everything about the song screams “safe middlebrow music”. There’s no bite, no hook, no ANYTHING for the listener to engage with besides vaguely pleasant, forgettable guitar and vaguely unpleasant, forgettable singing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this song, partially because they play it to death on Boston morning radio (and BOY do I regret that our bathroom radio is stuck on KISS 108), but mostly because despite the countless times I’ve heard it, I only have a vague recollection of how it goes. All I really remember is deep irritation and pain while it’s playing; once it’s over, I find myself somewhat puzzled as to why I was so irritated. Perhaps I should give the song points for giving some insight into what it’s like to live the life of the main character of “Memento”, but I’d much rather hope and pray that I never ever ever ever ever ever ever EVER had to hear it again.
When I heard Stephen Patrick Morrissey in high school he was the boy I always wanted. Fey, elegant, prone to word play, sensitive and maybe even homosexual. His stories were autobiographical in a way that could be constructed to comfort me. I wanted the stories to be lonely heart tales about the pretty boys on the album covers, so they were. I wanted the sensitivity to be playground reactions to masculine men and it was. It wasn’t only me though, generations of boys who weren’t sure exactly who they were listened to the Anglo-Irish lover on cassette tapes in their lonely bedrooms. The lad had legions of fans, all of whom took him as a bit more than a rock star.
Every time I do a Pop-Eye (and it has been a while) I learn something new. This time I have become increasingly sure that despite the idea that this is a rundown of the most popular records in the country, the top three are a bit of an anomaly because by far the worse songs in the top ten are the occupying those slots. That means David Sneddon is still at the top. But even though he came out of that awful Fame Academy thing – its okay – he wrote this song himself. Which may explain why no-one has slagged off this sub Del Amitri mid-tempo blah tune as much as they should Hence he is literally living the lie that he is a good songwriter. David, back to the streets with you.
Ah happy daiz. I used to work in a dodgy Local Pub which catered to Local Squaddies, visitors from surrounding more middle clarse villages for our ‘3.99 meals (extremely good value if I say so myself and OOH the curly cumberland sausage – why o why have all pubs stopped serving them??) and old meng – the landlady was a bleached blonde lady who gave me the job waiting on without asking any questions – HOORAY!
Then one day came an UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT sign – no-one told me – and the first sign of new management that I got was the sight of New Landlady sharpening a huge knife and larffing to herself over a sizzling hot plate.
I got the fear – I did not last a lot longer whilst Under New Management.
And she was the one who got rid of the curly circular cumberland sausage.
May I recommend you visit Crackling and purchase a sossidge of your own?
‘ You know someone said that the world’s a stage
And each must play a part.’
Someone said that did they? Just some old Joe Soap knocking around so that you Elvis Presley, self styled King Of Rock’n’Roll and the man a well known burger chain was named after, could quote it in a song. That someone was fucking Shakespeare you illiterate, greasy, corpulent dead guy. And you got the quote wrong.