Posts from 16th August 2005

Aug 05

DAY 41: Route 66

I Hate Music1 comment • 803 views

Sitting in the back of the car while Crispian is driving is a little bit like stepping into a time warp. That and the gin made it feel like three months had passed, when actually it was only a day. Yes, Amarillo had been as depressing and as horrible as I had expected, but when we saw the on-ramp, I just got a bad feeling.

Route 66. America’s main street. So famous (and rubbish) there is a song about it. I had a bad feeling as soon as our black vehicle hit the asphalt. Yes, it was the fastest way to LA and therefore out of America which had taken up half of our allotted time. But it was just so long, nasty and – as I found out to my chagrin – lacked any shops which sold tonic water. I like neat gin, but not 18 hours a day.

Still it took us out of Texas, which was something, and New Mexico also whizzed by. It was only by the time we got to Arizona I noticed the slightly shady truck that had been following us for the last hundred miles.
“Crispian, is that truck following us?”
Apparently he found it hard to understand my cut glass (full of Tanq) accent.
“The truck, he seems to be signaling us.”
“Oh, you mean like the film?”
“Convoy. I hate that film. I hate the song, and especially the risible Convoy GB by Laurie Lingo and the Dipsticks. Dipsticks indeed. I tell you if I get my hands on that Dave Lee Travis I’ll show him what a dipstick is, and I’ll give you one guess where I’ll be dipping it -”
My tirade was interrupted by the truck ramming us in the rear, much like I was suggesting I would do with Dave Lee Travis and a dipstick.
“No,” said Crispian. “More like Duel.”


Considering pop music had been around for two weeks when Chuck Berry came up with covering Route 66, it is a pitiful display of how moribund the artform was and still is. List records have always existed, and have always been terrible: I always think of Its The End Of The World As We Know It by REM, and point out that had it been the end of the world it would have been a release for anyone listening to it. Route 66 is a list of places that the road goes to. It is a summary of off-ramps, or junctions if you will. I suppose it might be useful as a kind of aural journey planner: except even there it is no good as it does some of the junctions out of order.

Route 66 has been covered hundreds of times, because it only has one chord and the lyrics as a list are easy to remember. The Rolling Stones and Depeche Mode are two who spring to mind (for interment) and I suppose one could suggest that names like Flagstaff and Winona were in some way exotic to them. It is even more indicative of the lack of imagination in pop that they covered a song about an American road than wrote one themselves about a British Road. The Stones could have written about the Kings Road. And I am sure Ver Mode could have happily written about the A127 from London to Southend-On-Sea (bypassing Basildon to the north). I can just hear it now, to the strains of a weedy eighties synth,

“Going from Gallow’s Corner, up to Squirrel Heath
Cross the M25 into good old Essex
Then East Horndon passes, Laindon, Basildon
Thundersley* thunders by, up to the A1015,
Cuckoo Corner flies by and before you know
Southend Municipal Airport flashes by to window
Coming up infront is Southend On Sea
Get Your Kicks on the A127”

See, just cos its easy, does not make it good!

*Does anyone else think it is a coincidence that Depeche Mode live a stones throw away from Thundersley, the home of the turquoise disablist chariots the Thundersley Invercar. And that even something as moribund and mundane as the Invercar has a song written about it.

Like A Crippled Cat With A Crippled Mouse

TMFD1 comment • 443 views

Okay, the Australians forced a hard earned draw with England in the Third Test. They will be pleased with that, and not pleased that they ever got into the situation. There has been much less noise from the Australian camp, even though they stymied England’s opportunity to pull ahead in the series. And rightly so. They will be worried that Vaughn and Strauss are now making big scores. Their top order batsmen are getting battered and out by the English strike bowlers. But they will be most worried about how spot on England’s tactic were in the third test.

I did not expect to win at Old Trafford. Even when we got to the final day. Bowling the Aussies out to order is not been our strong point, and their tale has wagged more than their front end. That said I was very impressed by the maths done by Vaughan on the declaration. Yes, it would have been a record breaking final innings if Australia had beaten us, but despite scoring well it was always slightly out of reach. We maximised bowling time without ever putting ourselves in danger of losing. This kind of captaincy seems to be at the heart of England’s resurgence. Confidence and cleverness.

Last week on Test Match Special there was much talk of the most exciting finishes ever, after England’s two run victory. Not much was made about how exciting a well fought draw can be. But what yesterday reminded me of was test series, Ashes series even, of the Nineties where getting a heroic draw was the highpoint for England. It is not a situation Australia have been used to, and while they got the draw, the fact that the final day required a lot of effort for a neutral result will sap them. The crippled mouse may yet find a mouse sized, manga style robotic power suit…

Celebrity “BBC Talking Point”

Do You SeePost a comment • 243 views

“The former Nine O’Clock News presenter told the Radio Times: “Life is lived in accordance with women’s rules” and men are now merely “sperm donors”.

His views are to be screened in a new channel Five series Don’t Get Me Started! which gives some of the UK’s leading opinion-formers a chance to sound off on the issues they feel most strongly about.”


DUSTY SPRINGFIELD – “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”

Popular24 comments • 6,170 views

#213, 30th April 1966

How to deal with a great voice? It’s a pleasant problem for an arranger, but a problem all the same. Nowadays the answer is often tied up in a wider question – how do you market a voice as great? For every imaginative answer there’s a boutique of off-the-peg settings to choose from – the ‘Nelson Riddle’, the ‘Muscle Shoals’ – which can reinforce the claims of a new voice as inheritor of past genius.

But that was now, and this is 1966, and a voice like Dusty Springfield’s finds itself not in the care of a pop heritage industry, but in the hands of Scott Walker’s hitmaking arrangers, who know just what it takes to get a ballad to the top. Strings, volume, and then more strings, and greater volume. And it worked. But does it work?

When I sat down to write this I thought that maybe vulnerability was a speciality of Dusty Springfield’s. (And I’m no expert, by the way – a hits album, Dusty in Memphis, a handful of lovely MP3s, those Pet Shop collaborations…I’m not on first name terms.) “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” is a vulnerable song, alright – in fact, it’s abject. Treat me however you like, it says, my love for you is unconditional. But I don’t like the song. I appreciate it, I could fumble towards an analysis of Dusty Springfield’s impeccable performance, and yes, she sells the song. But it lacks…. what, exactly?

The song brings to mind another Dusty Springfield song I know, “Breakfast In Bed”, where she sings “Breakfast in bed, and a kiss or three / You don’t have to say you love me”. Same words, different weight: despite being a cheater’s song, it’s healthier, more joyful, more intimate. And it makes me realise that it’s intimacy, not vulnerability, that I prize in Dusty Springfield songs. Moments of contemplation, stillness, the solitude of one or two. “Windmills of Your Mind”, of course, but also the still-life “I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today” and her marvellous interruption in “What Have I Done To Deserve This?”

There’s no intimacy in “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”. There can’t be: intimacy is the very concession the singer is having to make, the thing she is offering to give up for the sake of simple presence. But there’s also no room for intimacy – the production, all effect and bluster, makes sure of that. It’s a curious decision – in a song about powerlessness, demand power from your singer. Dusty Springfield could do powerful, of course, but it’s a shame she had to this time.

Blog Rendered Pointless By Thread

Blog 7Post a comment • 1,087 views

Blog 7 has been a little bit quiet this month, as we have found it difficult perhaps to unload about our childhoods. What do we mention, what are we willing to admit to? And then I came across an ILx thread which pretty much renders the whole of Blog 7 this month defunct. I must have been on holiday when it was started as I did not contribute (I might later) but it pretty much is the last word on plenty of peoples childhoods.

Tell Me All About 10-Year Old You


Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 386 views

And we drank…

… in alphabetical order

  • Lee GB Mild (tasting note [TN] == “num)
  • Wells Banana Bread Beer (TN = “tastes like banana antibiotics!!”)
  • York Bitter (“from the North East, TN = “refreshing”)
  • Alcazar (TN = “citrusy” by Steve, “has no middle eight but still good”, by Pete)
  • Ale Fresco (Greene Kinga, now available on draught in the Mayflower @ Rotherhithe, VERY nice)
  • Iceni Raspberry beer (tasting notes now abandoned due to being drunkz0r3d)
  • Robbie’s Unicorn
  • Buffy Mild
  • Bartram’s Stingo
  • Reepham Rapier Pale
  • Fyne Vital Spark
  • Exe Valley Barron’s Dark
  • Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde Mild
  • Arundel Summer Daze
  • Edwyn Taylor’s Extra Stout
  • Bargee
  • First Light
  • Rhuuhmmm Mumuus (by now the 2nd last drink of the evening – Pete?)
  • … and finally… Hop Devil (although the writing first led me to think “Mop Devil”)

YOUR TASK: which of these have I MADE UP???

Nun Prays For Divine Retribution Against The Da Vinci Code

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 854 views

It is unclear what effect a nun praying outside a building containing Tom Hanks will do. Nevertheless it does seem the reasons for her protest are not those which would spur others into action. The nun seemed a bit miffed that the book suggests that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a kid. Where was she when the equally poor Kevin Smith film Dogma came out with the same plot. Or indeed why has she not been seen praying in Borders up and down the country? It does seem a bit late now to protest over the Da Vinci Code when one in every two books in THE WORLD is a copy of it.

We Can All Bee Critics

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 436 views

Bees prefer pictures of flowers. Even if they have never seen a flower before. This is because bees are more a fan of pictorially representative art, rather than abstract art, as they have very little capacity for extrapolating the way they feel about the art. And flowers is food.

A similar study is now going on to find out what literature and music bees prefer. A Taste Of Honey seems to be going down well amongst the literary bee set, and it seems the bees also have a fondness for the work of The Jesus And Mary Chain.

Dear Lars and Thomas

Do You SeePost a comment • 207 views

Thank you for your clever and insightful treatise on the American love of guns, Dear Wendy. I think most people will see through the artfully constructed gunfight at the end, lovingly tailored and easily the most cinematic part of the movie as the sham it really is. That this section of your film is easily better than the juvenile dicking about in period clothes is just a trick any cineaste will see through. The tedious wankery about pacifism and the clumsy “don’t notice the race of the bad guy” is just a clever piece of slight of hand for us to realise that guns are bad. Admittedly it must have been risky doing this by giving various period guns silly names and attaching them to loser characters who could not exist in this, or any other world. Not even Denmark. After all, as we know, the central states of the US are identical in every way to a disused factory on an industrial estate in Copenhagen.

I would also like to thank you for pointing out facts about guns (they kill people) that anyone too close to America would never have noticed. And that in getting your youthful cast of no given age to speak in a realistic manner (aping the idiom of Brideshead Revisited) that will bring the message in your film to the heart of every child. Your film is a resounding success in every way: except the minor matter of it being tedious to watch. And stupid.