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.