Sunday, 30 September 2012

My Top Ten 'How To...' Songs

Pop bands, eh? They're an endless source of wisdom for those of us struggling to negotiate the perilous rapids of L-I-F-E. If they weren't writing hit (and non-hit) songs, they'd be writing self-help books. Here's a sampling of the 'How To...' advice I've received throughout my listening years...

10. Everclear - How To Win Friends & Influence People

I love Everclear, but really...
It's a beautiful day, yeah
If you look up in the air, you can see the sky
It's a beautiful day, yeah
If you stare at the sun, you would burn your eyes
 It's hardly Dale Carnegie, is it?

9. The Fray - How To Save A Life

One of those big, earnest piano-rock ballads that could be Coldplay... but isn't, so we can just about cope with it. Can't we?

8. Future Bible Heroes - How To Get Laid In Japanese 

Good old Stephin Merrit, translating his chat-up best lines into Japanese so we don't have to. Not that I'd pay him much attention: his success rate can't be that good, based on this song from his other band, The Magnetic Fields.

7. ABC - How To Be A Millionaire

Of all the advice offered in this list, this could definitely be the most important. Unfortunately, Martin Fry has little in the way of answers.

6. Luke Haines - How To Hate The Working Classes
Dressed like that you're gonna get roughed up
You're like a benefit scrounger in a fun pub
I'll meet you on the corner of Amherst Road
Let's start a party of our own
 Don't worry, Luke hates the middle and upper classes just as much.

5. Band of Horses - How To Live

From their brand new album, Mirage Rock, the Horsemen show us how to write another beautiful slab of harmonic Americana. And they make it look so easy.

4. The Pernice Brothers - How To Live Alone

Surviving isn't enough for Joe Pernice. This longtime Smiths fan is struggling to find a way to get through all on his own-some.
Keep a foot out of the blacker end
Keep away the crush of years
But we prayed too hard and everything was ordinary
A life without the bitterness of years
3. The Melting Ice-Caps - How To Appear Well-Adjusted
Have a shower every day of the week
and look as if you mean it.
Gentlemen should keep their stubble short
and so should ladies.

Take the papers given out in the street;
sit yourself on the bus.
Turn the pages like the words hold any meaning.

Smile and say hello to all your colleagues,
sometimes stop to talk.
Steer the conversation clear of dangerous topics.
Count to ten before you send that email
or post an angry blog,
and if it’s already gone, be prepared to grovel.

That’s how to seem as if you’re a normal person,
how to look all right,
how to seem convincing and well-adjusted.
We are the experts, so we ought to know.
2. Radiohead - How To Disappear Completely

Something we all must feel like doing every now and then, Thom Yorke more than most. 

1. Elvis Costello - How To Be Dumb

The album Mighty Like A Rose contains some of my favourite Costello lyrics. The only advice he has to offer in this song though is How To Be A Misanthrope. And who needs any help with that?

Now you're masquerading as pale powdered genius
Whose ever bad intention has been purged
You could've walked out any time you wanted but 

Face it, you didn't have the courage
I guess that makes you a full time hypocrite 

Or some kind of twisted dilettante
Funny though, people don't usually get so ugly 

Till they think they know what they want
Scratch your own head stupid
Count up to three
Roll over on your back
Repeat after me

Don't you know how to be dumb?

Are you ready to take your place in the modern museum of mistakes?
Don't you know how to be dumb?
Like a building thrown up overnight in one of those reverse earthquakes.

My advice to you: leave a comment now.


  1. If someone has written a song called How To Win The Lottery And Never Work Again please could you point me in its direction?

  2. ABC are as close as I can get.


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