Posts from 5th February 2002

Feb 02


I Hate MusicPost a comment • 1,103 views

Like many people I firmly believe that music has a social responsibility. Where I and – say Bono – differ is in what that social responsibility is. The ironically challenged U2 lead singer may say that the role of pop music in this day and age is to hold up a mirror to the injustices of the world and to open the eyes of the privileged few to a conscience they may not have realised they had. Bono would say something like that, he wrote Sunday Bloody Sunday which is about as deep as GCSE History piece of empathy coursework.

“January 28th 1972, Derry

Dear Mam,
I have just been caught in a terrible street battle in Derry – though some people call it Londonderry cos they are Unionists. The army shot at us and lots of people dies. I am very sad, and angry about the injustice of it all – as I have some strange knowleidge that justice will probably not be done by the inquiry in thirty years time and the knobnose James Nesbitt will be in the filum about us.
Your Loving son
PS Larry wants to come round and borrow Dad’s snare drum as he says any deep and meaningful song about warfare always has a snare drum in it and he saw that dirty toerag Jim Kerr buy the last one in the shop last week.”

Sunday Bloody Sunday was written in a period of U2’s career when they thought it was important to be earnest. In rock music terms this usually comes through in frowning lots, wearing black and shouting. It is often followed by a period of getting to the roots of their music and patronising old Blues players. The highpoint of this period occurred when the literally stopped the traffic when they played on the roof for a video. Of course they stopped the traffic, have you ever seen fifty cars all simultaneously trying to throw a U-turn and put their feet on the accelerator. Where was your social conscience then, Bonio?

The song has been very successful in spreading the story of the Bloody Sunday massacre around the world. Why, who cannot help be transported to those Ulster streets when the evocative chorus comes up: “Sunday Bloody Sunday/ Sunday Bloody Sunday/ Sunday Bloody Sunday/ Sunday Bloody Sunday”>/i>. For all Johnny Appleseed in Arkansas knows this is a song about Bono being pissed off that he has to go to church early in the morning. Or that Songs Of Praise is on at that part of the day which reminds everyone that they have to go to work/school the next day and that hymns really are fucking terrible.

Are U2 really saying anything serious about the events of January 1972, or have they hit upon a subject which will sell records. If he was treating the subject with anything like half a brain he certainly wouldn’t have had a penny whistle on it. If he was truly being socially responsible he would never have written the tune in the first place. Then this is where our views on the social responsibility of music differ though. Music should not document tragedy – for it is a tragedy in its own right. And U2 make a lot of money out of that tragedy as well.

Publoggers Deadly Sins No. 1: Not drinking.

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 460 views

Publoggers Deadly Sins No. 1: Not drinking. So in the midst of a pre / post Xmas / New Year fug I decided to quit drinking for the month of January. Then I chickened out and plumped for 2 weeks taking it one day at a time. Then I realised this was too AA and returned to Plan A. So for the whole of last month I touched not a drop of booze.

I still went into pubs and bought rounds. But I did it all sober. The first time I was in a pub I totally forgot the round which never happened when I drank proper drinks. The worst part of it was realising how rubbish pubs are at providing for non-drinkers, which I suppose is fairly logical, I mean gyms don’t make provisions for people without legs. I got heartily sick of sweet icky soft drinks. Fizzy drinks – too sweet and gassy; fruit juice – too acid; tomato juice – too Dot Cotton; lime and soda – yuck; water – too puritanical. Thank God I’m now back in the world of alcohol and white wine which was what my poor body craved for 31 long days. But now I am armed with a terrifying insight into the world of My Mates When Pissed, and I fear things will never be the same again…

A note on architecture,

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 285 views

A note on architecture, since we are being all erudite and general today. There is a school of thought that says that pubs built in the sixties are bad. Especially if they were attached to an equally impoverished (architecture wise) housing estate. And there is much to be said for this thesis. However I have a different view. There is no reason why such pubs should necessarily be bad. That said if a squat sixties red brick joint pretends it is an olde worlde pub on the inside it will never work. Plenty of them end up as dingy, fag burned pubs that only the very local and only a few of them like. The dark multi-coloured carpet belongs to the high ceilinged, many roomed pubs of old. If you’ve got large plate glass windows and the general ambience of someone’s front room run with that instead.

Take The Founders Arms – Ythe oung’s pub by the Tate Modern. About seventy percent of the clientelle will be tourists at any given moment. The building goes back to the late sixties. It is a nice pub, plenty of tables, comfy seats and a generous bar. If you tried to dinge it down, put nasty furniture and dark walls on it would not work. Equally the Mrylebone Tup as mentioned last week was shaped like a proper London pub, so don’t go putting in stripped pine. Decor is part of the plan – and if the architecture demands it, do it.

And so – as Sarah notes below

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 378 views

And so – as Sarah notes below – surely the fact that Johnny Henshall is dating Lisa Steps – would make the world cry out FIX. Can we really be led to believe that Johnny (pro dancer that he is and ex-member of top tweny no marks Boom!) queued up for his audition? Of course not, he was let in through the back door and probably had the job last week. Hear’say’s management of course know no depths when it comes to wringing cheap publicity out, but the fact that no-one is buying their records must slowly be dragging them down. The sales shot in the arm of a new, let us say more traditionally attractive male, will last how long? Probably as long as Jade’s replacement in Bucks Fizz.

And of course they have some many male fronted tracks… Hear’say – gone’tomorrow?

Welcome Johnny Shentall to Hear’Say

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 1,619 views

Welcome Johnny Shentall to Hear’Say! Or don’t cos he looks EVEN ORANGIER than Ricky Martin and Enreekie Iglesias (that’s what they call him in Scotland) sharing the Love That Dare Not Speak It’s Name! Urgent and Key Facts. Johnny Shentall is dating Lisa EX-Steps, he’s 23, and from… Doncaster. Doncaster? If that bugger made Steps split up so he could have a poxy pop career himself I shall be JOLLY MAD.

It was easy. It was cheap….

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 312 views

It was easy. It was cheap….: well, free, actually – a bunch of music apps that YOU TOO can use to produce joke IDM versions of popular rap hits!

From weekly to weakly

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 298 views

From weekly to weakly: Observer overview of the music press which really infuriated me when I read it on Sunday but now doesn’t, making this rather a feeble way to start a day’s NYLPM posts I suppose. Not that this is a good article – it trots out its received wisdoms with no discernable enthusiasm – but the overall thust is hard to disagree with.

This Heat – “Cenotaph”

New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 398 views

This Heat – “Cenotaph”

Cliches For A Reason: Not Knowing What Else To Do, Singers Sing Songs About 9/11 is an article @ the Village Voice by Douglas Wolk about sifting through a mountain of tapes culled from a call by the Voice for “love songs” about NYC. The results – as you can probably imagine – are all over the map, from cod-professionalism to the most charming of art brut. But also – as you can probably imagine – 99% of them seem to be about the 9/11 attacks, even in passing. I have no idea who made the final cut, but I’ll be looking forward to the compilation CD (it’s out in March) with the nervous twitch of a schoolkid about to deliver an assembly speech.

I had been avoiding talking about 9/11 until now. The words just wouldn’t come, and who wants to use their own fear and inability as fodder for their work? The words, in a sense, had been filled already. And those words go:

“History/History/Repeats itself/History repeats itself/Remembrance Sunday/A war to end all war/And the war that came after that/To keep freedoms flag flying/Unless/We forget/The glorious dead/Poppy day/Remember/Poppies are red/And the fields are full of poppies/And when the lights go back on/All over the world/And when the boys come home/All over the world/Rain and snow will be all that fall/From out of the sky/A kiss won’t mean goodbye/When Johnny comes marching home.”

Now there’s a knee-jerk reaction – because these are dour post-punks, because its parent album is a song-cycle about nuclear war – to take the above as sarcasm, as typical punk rock anti-patriotism. I don’t think so. It’s uneasy and uncertain, yes. But the sentiments are real; in a sense, how can they be argued? That unease, uncertainty…it’s how I live at least once every day now, tethered to a sense of community I had never felt before, itself only born out of the face of presupposed imminent destruction. It perfectly captures the mood for me of living in a country where the Record of Historical Buildings still uses the phrase “Indian Fighter” along with “Revolutionary War Hero” on the sign marking the birth home of Gen. Anthony Wayne (which sits across from a Taco Bell, viewed at a stoplight last night listening to, yes, this very song.) But yes, people are using other people for bombs (to quote the people’s poet), something even the strongest of individuals can’t defend themselves against.

Not knowing what else to do, writer hits the post & publish button on a weblog.