Posts from 20th May 2003

May 03

Beck-Golden Age

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I like this new genuine heartbroken Beck, where his bricolage and fake hipster poses can no longer protect a broken heart, and he stops being anything but real. This is supposed to be the new authenticity, we are supposed to be real, and the realness is still fake-I don’t believe a word of our new rock and roll heroes, but I believe every word of this.

Hearing the supreme ironist talk of a golden age, in a sun burnished California drawl, and having that golden age be nostalgia that seeps in like contact poison is difficult. It means that what we assumed could protect us (the studio, artifice, stage craft, play, fun, love) cannot.

From the first notes of the singsong acoustic and the soft weeping keyboards and percussion, this is going to be a lament – and the words don’t betray; a road song with country starkness. A love song about moonlight, open roads, desert winds-it could be a series of clichés that he loves (like the underrated Midnite Vultures) but by the second chorus, just by intonations of certain words he destroys us.

It is the song that Dylan or Graham Parsons wanted to write, and the one that Dolly or Emmy Lou should cover, not that they ever will. (Though Johnny might and even if he doesn’t, it’s something to play as elegy in his funeral.)

Some current lip-flapping in the UK

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Some current lip-flapping in the UK centred on the current collapse in singles sales and the imminent doom of the charts – here’s the Guardian’s laughable contribution courtesy of Dave Lee Travis, who once shocked John Peel by admitting he didn’t own any records. Perhaps he’s been downloading them all! Or perhaps not, given his ‘grip’ on the pop matter – “Daniel Bedingfield is a good new artist, Kylie is doing some great stuff, and Eternal, too” – except they’ve split up, Dave (he’s right about Bedingfield, though). The choice of genial old twat DLT to comment on the ‘situation’ shows one of the UK pop charts’ (and pop’s) real problems, though – they’re trapped in their own myth. Jimmy Saville on Top of The Pops, breathless Sunday afternoons gathered round the wireless, hairy cornflakes, Guinness Books, the awful weight of history.


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I’ve not been listening to music much the last couple of weeks and seeing as what I want to hear is this kind of syrup-sluiced corn-hop you’re doubtless thinking that’s NO BAD THING, anyway I’ve not even put the radio on, not even heard the Girls Aloud record so Bone Thugs featuring Horrible Tory Phil must be reckoned my favourite single of May 03! I don’t have a copy of this magnificent pop artefact to hand so close analysis is impossible – Bone Thugs rap very fast over some plinkety backing and it’s manipulative like being tickled and then it swoops into a bit of Phil from some rotten old record. It sounds cheap and grand.

Black-Eyed Peas’ record is even more winningly groansome. Of course it’s notable that J-Tim’s credibility grab has worked to the point where he’s now the featured rather than the featuree – his contribution is some dove-mouthed mush on the chorus, a moment’s work but it gives the Peas’ folksy positivity a big lift. The Peas’ world is a troubling one, full of fear and war, but you feel it’s nothing a few string samples won’t cure.