Tuesday, 22 July 2014

My Top Ten Decapitation Songs

"Orf with their 'eads!" as the Queen of Hearts would have it...

10. They Might Be Giants - Till My Head Falls Off

Classic TMBG. If you don't like it, you might need a check-up from the neck-up.

9. Maxïmo Park - The Night I Lost My Head
Why did we have to meet on the night I lost my head?
A decent little tune from MP's debut album... also good for those of you who are still learning to count.

8. Angelica - Bring Back Her Head

Lost 90s bitter indie-pop classic from the band that would become The Lovely Eggs.

Take out the carving knife and cut
Cut off her head.

7. Morrissey - Margaret On The Guillotine

Mozzer's subtle-as-ever anti-Thatcher drone, briefly resurrected last year when its central question was finally answered.
And people like you make me feel so old inside...
6. Elvis Costello - Tear Off Your Own Head (It's a Doll Revolution)

A single from possibly the last truly great Costello album - When I Was Cruel - though I do keep trying to find the time to give his later offerings a reappraisal. It's tough, because he was one of my favourite songwriters throughout the 90s, but his insistence on paring down the lyrical barbs in favour of a purer, more universal kind of songwriting following this album left me largely cold. Doll Revolution still carries plenty of the infamous Costello spite though... and was covered later by The Bangles in an attempt to get back to their own rock 'n' roll basics.

5. The Magnetic Fields - Chicken With Its Head Cut Off

From the magnificent 69 Love Songs, the only truly essential triple album in my record collection, this is Stephin Merritt at his camp and catty best... this guy knows how to extend a metaphor till it crackles!
Well my heart's runnin' round like a chicken with it's head cut off
All around the barn yard falling in and out of love
Poor thing's blind as a bat
Gettin' up, fallin' down, gettin' up
Who'd fall in love with a chicken with its head cut off?

It ain't pretty!
4. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll

Probably my favourite Yeah Yeah Yeahs song - Karen O makes a perfect Queen of Hearts. Having a hard time believing it's already five years old though.

3. Frightened Rabbit - Heads Roll Off

I'll dedicate this one to my old pal JC, The Vinyl Villain, who came back from a terrible tragedy last year when his original blog (years of work) was merciless destroyed by the Blog Police. Many bloggers would have called it a day after that, but JC came back fighting with a new TVV - still one of the best blogs on the internet.(And he was kind enough to give me a plug the other day, so I thought I'd return the favour.)

Over the years, JC has introduced me to many fine records and bands - Frightened Rabbit are one of his very best recommendations. And this song's kind of apt as a tribute, as it's all about not giving up.
When my blood stops,
Someone else's will not.
When my head rolls off,
Someone else's will turn.
And while I'm alive, I'll make tiny changes to earth.
Here's to you, JC... I'm sure you'll be horrified by my #1.

2. Warren Zevon - Roland, The Headless Thompson Gunner

I've had this one as an earworm a lot lately, a stand-out track from Zevon's outstanding Excitable Boy album. It's the grimly hilarious story of a Norwegian mercenary targeted by the CIA who becomes a vengeful ghost with a submachine gun that just keeps shooting.

Tragically, this was the last song Zevon ever performed live, on the David Letterman show in America, shortly before his death in 2003.

1. Queen  - Don't Lose Your Head

The album A Kind of Magic wasn't particular well-received with the critics, being largely a soundtrack to the (not-very-good - sorry, 80s fans, but it isn't) movie Highlander. And this isn't even one of the best songs on that album. So why do I love it, why do I give it Number One above all the excellent records that preceded it on this list?

Because it's very special to me. Although Queen's Greatest Hits was the first LP I bought (or I might have asked for it as a Christmas present), A Kind of Magic was the first of their studio albums I got into. I'd have been about 15 or 16 (so a couple of years after it's release, but I was a late developer in all things musical... I've been making up for that ever since) and I often spent my evenings baby-sitting for my sister or brother, both of whom are a good sight older than me, married young, and had kids (my nephews) who ended up being just a few years younger than their Uncle Rol. Much of that time I'd spend listening to their record collections, and I think both of them had copies of A Kind of Magic on vinyl... it was probably one of the few albums their collections had in common. I wore the grooves off this record, and eventually bought my own copy on which to do the same.

Don't Lose Your Head, then, isn't one of the great Queen songs. It's an average Roger Taylor album track (hence the drums are more prominent than any other instrument), distinguished slightly by Joan Aramatrading on guest vocals. But it's one of my formative musical experiences and, thus, irreplaceable.

Those were my headless chickens. Which is your Marie Antoinette?


  1. Yay. Finally. Finally I can drag something out of the Killing Joke back catalogue. The Hum - for the lyrics "bow the head or grip the saber / vernichten regenerate".

    I thank you.

  2. Well this is a pleasant happy go lucky one. http://youtu.be/Xp-LhxaN_Ic bless 'em!

    1. Now don't you be trying to blame that one on your other half... I know you're a big fan.

  3. Hi Rol

    You are having a lot of lists recently where I don’t have much to contribute.

    Yesterday I flicked through the bargain bin of a second hand CD shop near work, and found The Shins – Wincing the Night Away.

    First listen of it now, only up to track two, but the first track, “Sleeping Lessons”, contains the lyrics

    And if the old guards still defend,
    They got nothing left on which you depend,
    So enlist every ounce of your bright blood,
    And off with their heads

    1. And here's me thinking everybody had a favourite decapitation song!

      Thanks for the further investigations, Deano!

  4. I must be off my head to think no-one would even have songs in that genre!!

    1. For every subject, there are ten songs. ;-) Good to hear from you again, Sag, hope you're doing well with the rebuilding!

  5. Why does this list make me have 'Stand and deliver' go round in my head?

    1. The devil take your stereo, AND your record collection!


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