Posts from 17th January 2005

Jan 05

THE FT TOP 100 SONGS 96. Belle And Sebastian – “Sleep The Clock Around”

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96. Belle And Sebastian – “Sleep The Clock Around”

Dave Boyle says:

I wasn’t one of the participants in drawing up this list, so if you don’t like this song’s presence in it, i) don’t blame me and ii) tough. I’m very glad it’s here, as it’s my favourite Belle and Sebastian song. The first time I heard it in 1998 I was utterly enraptured. It’s the the way the music builds up. There’s an ethereal quality to the opening, and every verse adds some more noise. The dreaminess remains all the way through, with new sounds and more being added to three-quarters in, where it distills to a beat, then rises quickly, building to the moment when the bagpipes kick in.

Back in 98, for a reason I don’t know why, I got goosebumps all over when that happened. It was instantaneous and direct. I played it again and again, and was in tears at the end of it. I wasn’t surprised, as I love the sound. Maybe it was Mr Spock’s funeral in Star Trek II; maybe it was Mull of Kintrye. It didn’t remind me of anything, or of a time, or even a place – I’d not been to Scotland apart from briefly as a kid to Aviemore, and even more briefly to an NUS Scotland Conference.

A year later, I was in the pool room of the Strathclyde Student’s Association and saw it was on a juke box. This was amazing – B&S were barely known at the University I was at, so to see it on a juke box was fantastic.

Despite this, I’d never actually seen it performed live. I got my wish at Glastonbury 2004, where they closed their set with it. I was a bit drunk and in wellies but didn’t care, because I was finally seeing Belle and Sebastian. I was jumping around like an idiot (thanks to Carsmile who found my thumb ring in the mud after it flew off in a particularly exuberant bit of clapping) and despite there being no bagpipes I was in tears again. A few weeks later, I saw them again at Somerset House, and they finished with the song again. Cue more idiotic leaping and jumping, and if not tears, then certainly misty eyes (I only dropped my phone this time). And no bagpipes. Now it’s just the song. I’ve just listened to it again and I didn’t get any goosebumps, or misty eyed.

I couldn’t tell you what the song is about really to this day. I think it might be about a waster (you’re not likely to be much use to anyone if you spend the whole day in bed) and there might be some deeper in-joke meaning that only 23 people who used to be on Sinister get. I don’t know, and don’t care either. There are other Belle and Sebastian songs that I like that mean things to me because of other people or other events or times in my life. But Sleep the Clock Around is my song alone. I have no memories fixed in my mind about it, and the way I react to it has changed. But most of all, whatever I think is totally personal – it reminds me of nothing more or less than of my liking the song.

Day 5: North Atlantic Drift AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 LOUSY TUNES

I Hate MusicPost a comment • 707 views

Day 5: North Atlantic Drift

After the first days stormy sea, today we seem caught almost in the doldrums (except I know where the doldrums are). Captain Jack, a surprisingly young sea dog who has the most appalling personal hygiene has informed us that were are caught in the North Atlantic Drift, which will be carrying us for the next few days. I must admit I feel very nervous being a Drifter, not least because I get mild vertigo and Up On The Roof has always made me feel queasy.

Crispian seems to be enjoying himself playing with the ships cat, and once I broke the tannoy and CD player the whole ship has been a wondefully music free event. This is the life for me, just stopping into port to get a refill of alcohol. But I know it is not a sustainable way of life for many of the millions blighted by lousy music. Still, the quiet and near solitude has been a perfect place to plan my future attacks on sound. If only Crispian would keep it down with that cat.

Ocean Colour Scene: The North Atlantic Drift

A song, much like the geographical phenomenon. Seemingly endless, dull, bobbing. A long drag of tedium endulled by lyrics which thud in like huge tabs of Mogadon. What was the point of Ocean Colour Scene? What was the point of them recording a song like this? A classic piece of stream of consciousness rambling, when that stream is golden coloured and coming out the collective penis of OCS. Piss poor. Well, what did you expect.

Please please please please please

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Please please please please please let a bunch of teenagers and a strangely human-like dog have been instrumental in solving this mystery! What’s Polish for “meddling kids”?


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HELP MY THEORY. I am probably wrong, so help me out before I make a big fool of myself. Has Clint Eastwood ever died in a film? Watching Million Dollar Baby yesterday it struck me that old actors are a wee bit wary of actually dying in films (unlike gung-ho youngsters who love the moment in the sun). Considering the number of Westerns he was in, you’d think Clint would have been blown away a few times. But I don’t remember a death scene for him. Is this the secret to his spriteliness?

In other actor news, there does seem to be a slight trend all of a sudden for actors to play characters older than themselves. It can be forgiven perhaps in The Aviator where Leonardo Di Caprio has to span from 22 to 40 (relatively unconvincingly it has to be said, last gasp moustache acting notwithstanding). Hilary Swank in MDB ranges from one to four years her senior, whilst Scarlett Johansson acted up five years. Usually it is the other way round of course, teen movies being stuffed to the gills with thirty year old. Why is no-one acting their age?


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Okay, here is one of my benign, pointless resolutions revealed.

I have been sleeping the other way round in my bed since Jan 1st. Apparently a change is as good as a rest, and since I have been resting as well as making the change, it should have been doublely relaxing. And waking up to look out of the window instead of at my wardrobe does seem to give me more of a zing on sunny mornings. On horrible, grey, is it even light yet mornings I am less sure.

No trouble keeping it up at the moment.

Set yr videos.

Do You SeePost a comment • 331 views

Set yr videos. Just a quick reminder (mainly because I know I’ll forget). The BBC is repeating The Power OF Nightmares this week on Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday after Newsnight. And handily just before you go to sleep and have actual nightmares.

Videoplus codes: 639895, 536703, 386759.
(More on this soon…)


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ok i am all but finished going through my ridiculous wall of 20 years videotapin off the TV, to see what i have forgotten i have that might be um useful to future procrastination book-finishin

apart from the now bizarre-seeming fact that back in the day i taped EVERY episode of cheers, most roseannes and even a handful of early friendses – out of ingrained habit? i have always hated it and always watch the repeats – there are only a very few things i found that i REALLY can’t explain, chief among them a sunday morning’s full of kid’s C4 (saturday has always been when the good stuff is: the um HIGHLIGHT here wz an ep of “sonic the hedgehog”, and it also included “stunt dawgz” (what hell this?)), preceded by a complete ep of HOME TO ROOST featuring JOHN THAW and REESE DINSDALE! There is a lot of competition for most wanly depressing sit com ever committed, but i think this muscles – if that’s the word – its way into the play-offs (maybe this is why i recorded it: research) :\

Crisis upon crisis

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Crisis upon crisis: Arsenal running out of shirts.

Refurb Update

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Refurb Update

Pre-Christmas I noted that one of my locals had undergone a substantial refurbishment. The Shaftesbury, in Upper Holloway, had been shut for four weeks – which is why I tagged it substantial .On further examination though they have merely lightened the decor, put some pine in (oh no) and put some decking out front. The rather moribund small crowd that used to frequent it appears to have been replace by an equally moribund but slightly smaller crowd. This refurb might be said to have been a bit of a failure.

So what new gimmicks are they trying to woo the punter in. “Free Wireless Broadband” was advertised on the window. The publog has been involved in net in pub trials before (standalone booths) and were not completely sold. Would you drag your laptop to a slight rough pub to browse? It seems unlikely, but as ever a watching brief has been set up.

Maths Vs Music!

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Maths Vs Music!: computer program predicts hits by number science and comes up with Norah Jones and Maroon Five OH NO! The article gets a bit muddled over what the mathematics of HSS can actually do (I doubt for example it can recommend ‘mathematical rhythms’ to beef up your song) – and of course there are lots of questions you’d need answered before you’d know if it was any good or not. How subtle is its analysis of rhythm? How does it deal with singers’ inflections? How, for that matter, does it cope with lyrics? And the big one – what are some examples of the 5% of hits it didn’t predict?

My guess is that widespread reliance on this system would be a fad rather than an incipient industry standard – all it would take are a few smashes that don’t get high scores and people will smell the snake oil. Or rather – people won’t actually use it to base decisions on, they’ll use it as another influencing factor in their decisions. Boringly enough.