May 08

PUSSYCAT – “Mississippi”

FT + Popular119 comments • 5,433 views

#395, 11th October 1976

A few years ago, Channel 4 did a rundown of the Top 100 Best Selling Singles. My friends and I settled down to watch, cheer, shout at Kate Thornton, &c. And there, first up at No.100, was “Mississippi”, bringing a mighty collective WTF?? from everyone in the room – none of whom, I should add, were older than me. None of us had heard, or heard of, this song, which turned out to be the biggest-selling (in Britain) single to have made no mark whatsoever on pop history – at least as understood by us callow youngsters. To be honest we thought it might be a put-on.

This recent run of number ones bears our impressions out. We’ve had songs immortalised by dint of playground fame, dramatic symbolism, and wedding disco ubiquity, while Pussycat’s easy-rolling sermon on pop history has slipped behind time’s sofa. Top medieval rock critic Occam informs us that this is because “Mississippi” is shite: is he correct? Well, not completely – it’s mostly amiable nonsense sweetened by that sighing guitar; beyond the soaring chorus it doesn’t stick in the brain. I’ve tried to parse its description of musical development but I can’t really make it make sense, and anyway I keep getting distracted by that absurd little guitar run which I guess is intended to be the guitar player turning to rock and roll. The Roussos-esque strings just afterwards are probably him sunning himself in the Med on the proceeds. Overall, spark-free and a little too gooey, but there’s nothing actually unpleasant about it.



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  1. 101
    Kat but logged out innit on 19 May 2008 #

    That nice man who used to do Channel 4 breakfast news? I’d consent to him any day etc etc

  2. 102
    DJ Punctum on 19 May 2008 #

    As long as you don’t mind wall to wall Royworld, Feeling and Julian Velard.

  3. 103
    Matt DC on 19 May 2008 #

    Feeling what?

  4. 104
    DJ Punctum on 19 May 2008 #

    That’s showbusiness!

  5. 105
    Doctor Mod on 19 May 2008 #

    Last night I remembered something a psychologist told me years ago–the best way to deal with attention wh*res and bullies is to ignore them completely. That’s the one thing they can’t bear because they love to pick fights. It makes them the center of everything and thus gives them pleasure.

    I’m very selective about those I’m willing to pleasure.

  6. 106
    DJ Punctum on 20 May 2008 #

    I’m not sure I’d want to hire a teacher who can’t tell the difference between a noun and a transitive verb.

  7. 107
    Doctor Mod on 20 May 2008 #

    1. The state or feeling of being pleased or gratified.
    2. A source of enjoyment or delight: The graceful skaters were a pleasure to watch.
    3. Amusement, diversion, or worldly enjoyment: “Pleasure . . . is a safer guide than either right or duty” Samuel Butler.
    4. Sensual gratification or indulgence.
    5. One’s preference or wish: What is your pleasure?

    v. pleas·ured, pleas·ur·ing, pleas·ures
    To give pleasure or enjoyment to; gratify: Our host pleasured us with his company.

    1. To take pleasure; delight: The hiker paused, pleasuring in the sounds of the forest.
    2. To go in search of pleasure or enjoyment.

    [Middle English, from Old French plaisir, from plaisir, to please; see please.]

    pleasure·less adj.

    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

    (Used respectively as a noun [indirect object] and a transitive verb in an infinitive phrase in #105.)

    Sorry if this pleasures you; that was not my intent.

  8. 108
    Tom on 20 May 2008 #

    Should I toss a coin to see who gets the last word before I lock the thread?

  9. 109
    admin on 11 May 2012 #

    Discussion re-opened.

    Guardian review of Saint Etienne “Words and Music” – “that episode of The IT Crowd where Moss joins a society of exceptional Countdown contestants”

  10. 110
    punctum on 11 May 2012 #

    I’m kind of put out by AP’s latest excuse to have a jibe in this direction; I’ve not heard the St Et song yet but would suspect it amounts to something more than saying that Popular is only a sanctuary for hopeless chart geeks. I certainly don’t see myself as such (as opposed to the certifiable fuck-up I was back in 2008) and chart geekdom is not what TPL or my Popular comments are about (it’s amazing, the number of people who still think that Then Play Long is a blog about UK number one albums, as opposed to a blog about somebody writing a blog about UK number one albums, but there you go…)

  11. 111
    thefatgit on 11 May 2012 #

    Can we assume AP is a lurker then?

  12. 112

    Everyone on the internet reads Freaky Trigger all the time

  13. 113
    punctum on 11 May 2012 #

    Everyone on the internet??? Even Rupert Murdoch?

  14. 114
    Mark G on 11 May 2012 #

    esPEShially Rupert Murdoch!

  15. 115
    Jimmy the Swede on 11 May 2012 #

    Since I don’t read The Gruniad, I’ve not heard of this AP fellow but unlike Punctum, I’m not put out at all by the inference that we are all fucking tragic, smug, chart-obsessed, pen-mightier-than-the-sword fruit-loops with psychological issues, some going back to school days. Er…

    Great to see that someone thinks our Lineman is hot!

    I’m not sure that The Digger has ever lurked about on FT (and particularly Popular) but there’s not a doubt in my mind that Rebekah Brooks has and does. Ditto Louise Mensch!

  16. 116
    enitharmon on 12 May 2012 #

    Is AP really as ugly as his Guardian mugshot suggests he is? To me at least. I’ve often wondered,

  17. 117
    enitharmon on 12 May 2012 #

    Oh well, I put in my two penn’orth on his comment thread.

    I thought Saint Étienne was the down-at-heel sister city of Lyon but what would I know!

  18. 118
    DanH on 19 Jan 2013 #

    OH “How Do You Do?”! One of those ’70s songs that reminds me of the Muppets, probably because Mouth sounds like Jim Henson.

  19. 119
    Inanimate Carbon God on 23 Jan 2015 #

    You say this is why punk had to happen, but the sleeve looks like Marquee Moon’s in really bad wigs…

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