25
Mar 09

THE FT TOP 100 TRACKS OF ALL TIME No. 30: White Town- “Your Woman”

FT7 comments • 1,007 views

I think this is the last track I made go to number one.

Sorry, I’ll clarify that before hubris catches up with me. Your Woman, by White Town (or officially the Abort, Retry, Fail?_ EP) is the last single I bought which, in the week I bought it, went to number one. There aren’t many of these in my record collection at all, my single buying habits going from a slight ripple in the early eighties of pop, then album buying (singles were a waste of money) and then buying indie, and then dance singles to DJ with. Both genres rarely got to number one, I have Blur’s Country House and the odd KLF number one. But the charts we desperately important to me in the nineties, where every extra place you could bump Common People up by made the week so much better. We would probably have imploded if Pulp had actually gone to number one.

So to White Town. At this point I wasn’t really DJ-ing and my single buying was as moribund as the single scene at the time (I got my Spice Girls on vinyl). Every now and then I would come across something weird that could only be bought on single and I would grab it. Which is exactly how you would describe “Your Woman”, a sweet Pet Shop Boys offcut with M vocals and a subdued trumpet sample. A bubbly, effervescent piece of experimentation that even its own author seemed surprised with. It was, when you look at the history of the charts, one of those occasional aberrations when a great one hit wonder wriggles out of the pop depths and suddenly everyone recognises its genius – perhaps via its strangeness. It was bedroom pop at its best.

When it went to number one I was genuinely surprised. And part of me thought “I did that”. And equally made me wonder about all the other people who made it go to number one. This is the communal power of the charts, it makes you consider the musical tastes of others and see where in that pop song Venn diagram we all intersect. I am sure very few of the other buyers liked it because they saw it as the pop song sung buy someone on the other end of that phone in Clouds Across The Moon (something I remember trying to drunkenly articulate in ’97). It may well be the major chart legacy of the Mark Radcliffe Radio One Breakfast Show*, they championed it and perhaps it showed the power of whatever show is in that slot. But Jyoti Mishra’s bedroom funk still is a terrific single. And it even has a film named after it**.

This is also quite a good time for this track to come up, with our ten year celebrations going on. Because Jyoti Mishra was the first person Tom ever interviewed for Freaky Trigger. And as far as I remember, he may also be the last! Read the interview here though.

*The less said about The Shirehorses the better.

**Which I can’t believe I haven’t written about at greater length. I mention it here in the Role Models chat where I posit its lack of success on not including the White Town track.

Comments

  1. 1
    Matthew on 26 Mar 2009 #

    I bought Country House but I don’t think I made it go to number one – because half an hour later I felt guilty at what I’d done on the grounds that I quite liked one of the Oasis B-sides, and went back to HMV and bought Roll With It as well.

    Your Woman was jolly good, wasn’t it, but as far as I can recall nothing else he ever did was any cop at all. Much in the vein of Clearlake, whose genius debut Winterlight Mark & Lard also championed, to little avail. I mention this because I was in a cafe in Seattle the other day and they put on the first Clearlake album, I almost fell off my seat at the sheer unlikelihood of those odds.

  2. 2
    glue_factory on 28 Mar 2009 #

    Oddly enough I heard this for the first time in ages last night, in a bar in New York. The staff got quite excited when it came on, which pleased me, as I’d imagined it had remained firmly a UK phenomenon.

    I could have sworn it was on Mark and Lard’s *evening* show that they championed it. I have a distinct memory of drunkenly tottering around Docklands while listening to Radio 1, which I hope wasn’t at 7:30 in the morning.

  3. 3
    fivelongdays on 29 Mar 2009 #

    “When it went to number one I was genuinely surprised. And part of me thought “I did that”. ”

    Same here!

    I think Glue Factory is right – Mark & Lard played it on the Graveyard Shift* and it got picked up by (I think) Simon Mayo. IIRC Chris Evans was still doing the Breakfast Show when this got to number one.

    *Seminal listening under the bedcovers on my radio walkman when I was 14.

  4. 4
    Pete on 29 Mar 2009 #

    I think I have worked it out. It was Mark & Lard when they sat in for Evans had it as their single of the week. If I remember correctly they sat in for two weeks and the second week their single of the week was Wannabe.

  5. 5
    Alan on 29 Mar 2009 #

    uk.music.alternative exploding in delight in January 1997. For it was January.

  6. 6
    Lex on 30 Mar 2009 #

    I remember being really annoyed with this when it got to No 1, as it replaced Tori Amos. And then years later being really surprised to discover that it was considered any sort of classic by anyone.

  7. 7
    lonepilgrim on 30 Mar 2009 #

    there’s more about the song (and others) here:

    http://aceterrier.com/?p=1259

    that site allowed me the chance to listen to this tune and realise thatI recognise it although I didn’t know what it was until now.

    I like it – particularly for the 1930s/Pennies from Heaven vibe of the vocals and horns

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