P is for…”Paris 1919″ by John Cale. A dense, cryptic (you might say nonsensical) song which hit me like a truck when I heard it. As somebody who likes to play cards so close to his chest their backs could be tattoos, I have a liking for love songs that are so knotted and abstruse they needn’t even be love songs. In the Paris 1919 original of its title track, though, the swirl of the orchestra and the lift in the chorus left me in no doubt what kind of song it was. Cale uses the words, meanwhile, to sketch an impressionist post-War world, crammed with strangeness and art.

In 1992, he included “Paris 1919” on Fragments Of A Rainy Season, one of the handful of live albums worth owning. Here he sings gruffly, and stabs the tune out on piano: his delivery is matter-of-fact, and though the “Efficiency, efficiency” lines ring truer than the chorus, the most perfunctory performance couldn’t fully erase the joy in this song.