Sunday, 5 July 2015

My Top Ten Richard Songs

Ten songs about Richard... and not a dick in sight.

Special mentions to messrs. Wagner, Strauss, Hawley, Thompson, Ashcroft, Carpenter, Oakes, Reed Parry, Marx, Swift, Hell and Cheese... and, of course, Keef and Sir Cliff. Plus any other famous musical Richards you might think of.

10. The Faces - Pool Hall Richard

Hardly Ron and Ronnie's finest hour, here they lose at both pool and love due to the titular Rich. They may be the victims of their own dodgy lyrics though, not least the closing lines...
You're breakin' my heart
But you're stealin' my tart
Shut up
 There may also be more going on than just simple pool hall rivalry...
You make me jealous but I worship you
One day soon I'm gonna beat you clean
Wipe that smile right off your chin
...or that just could be my depraved mind.

9. The Lilac Time - Gone For A Burton 

Stephen Duffy pays homage to one of his celluloid heroes...
The night that Richard died
The newscasters cried...
I tried to google whether this was actually the case... google let me down.

8. First Aid Kit - Waltz For Richard

Great storytelling from the Söderberg sisters' debut album: a relationship falls apart, yet we're only given half the story...
On our last trip to the coast
We watched the boats sail the sea
'How effortlessly they float,'
You turned and said to me.

And sedately I sat there
In my quiet mist of rage
How I wanted to tell you
But I was hushed by my shame..
7. Titus Andronicus - Richard II or Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

The New Jersey titans delve deeper into their Shakespearian roots - and also paraphrase this week's top song in one verse - in this angry dissection of why people do really bad things in times of war.

6. Frank Turner - Richard Divine

Frank's Richard can't cope with life; Frank has little sympathy for folk who give up without a fight...
He said he's not for sale, 
Said that he felt hounded, 
Crowded and surrounded by this life he didn't choose. 

But everybody plays this game on a daily basis. 
They're not heroes, 
They're survivors, 
And its not Shakespearean if they lose.
5. Sun Kil Moon - Song For Richard Collopy

A typically personal song from Mr. Kozelek, this deals with the disappearance / death of the bloke who fixed his broken guitars. It seems to be asking the question: in a case like this, do we mourn the individual or the loss of what they did for us?

See also Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes in which Kozelek considers his own mortality following the death (from cancer) of an infamous serial killer on death row.

4. Simon & Garfunkel - Richard Cory

Based on a poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson, Richard Cory is a song about envying the rich and powerful... even when they're bloody miserable.
So my mind was filled with wonder,
When the evening headlines read:

'Richard Cory went home last night
And put a bullet through his head'

And I - I work in his factory
And I curse the life I'm living
And I curse my poverty
And I wish that I could be
Oh, I wish that I could be...
Richard Cory
3. Supergrass - Richard III

One of Supergrass's loudest and most in-your-face singles, this also became one of their biggest hits: released at the height of their popularity in 1997 (yes, 18 years ago). It has nothing to do with the king buried in a car park or Shakespeare's hunchbacked villain. Apparently the 'grass had a habit of giving their songs people's names before they settled on an actually title and this was the third song they'd christened Richard. They decided to stick with Richard III because it seemed angry and bitter like the king (is often portrayed) himself.

2. Joni Mitchell - The Last Time I Saw Richard

Another artist at the height of her powers, Joni's Richard comes from her seminal album Blue. Legend has it the Richard in question is actually her ex-husband Chuck Mitchell, though I'm not sure whether Joni has ever confirmed this. Amazingly evocative lyrics on this one...
Richard got married to a figure skater
And he bought her a dishwasher and a coffee percolator
And he drinks at home now most nights with the TV on
And all the house lights left up bright...
1. Billy Bragg - Richard

There's a raw beauty to the songs on Billy's debut album, and it's no wonder that they caught John Peel's ear... although the mushroom biryani Billy bribed him with certainly helped. It was originally recorded by Billy and Wiggy's band Riff Raff.

Richard comes from the lovelorn side of Billy's songwriting spectrum (rather than the politically charged) and it's the kind of bittersweet ode to rejection only a young man could / should write... though even old men like me can remember what it felt like.
I really love your style
Did you read it on the Look and Learn?
How long can we go on?
Do you think I only love you
Because you sleep with other boys?

So which is your Richard Burton... and which is your Richard Whiteley?


  1. 'Postcards From Richard Nixon' - Elton John. Both a Richard and a dick.

    1. It was in consideration. As was The Love of Richard Nixon by the Manics. But were just a bit too tricky though.

  2. Can't argue with the Bragg.

    1. I wouldn't want to try.

      Good to hear from you again, Swiss Toni. Hope you're keeping well.

  3. 'Open the Door Richard' by Jack McVea & his All-Stars, though if we're shortening the name to Dick you could go for 'Billericay Dickie' by Ian Dury & the Blockheads.

    1. I think there may be a Dick Top Ten somewhere down the line, and Mr. Dury is bound to pop up there. Thanks for the Jack McVea though.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...