Tuesday, 6 October 2015

My Top Ten Gene Songs

No, this isn't my Top Ten Songs by the band Gene... although I was tempted, because they were amazing. (And isn't it about time Martin Rossiter released another solo album? The first one was a belter.)

Instead, it's the logical (to me, anyway) conclusion of my Jean / Jeans / Gene trilogy. Most of the songs below are about blokes called Gene or Eugene... a couple of them might be a bit more genetic.

Special mentions to Gene (obviously), Genelab, Geneva, Gene Kelly, Gene Pitney, Gene Watson and... er, Genesis. Plus a number of the gentlemen mentioned below...

10. Foil - Reviver Gene

OK, so it might not be about a bloke called Gene, but it's a forgotten Britpop gem and I wanted to give it a quick play.

Can't find much out about Foil other than that they came from Edinburgh and made a good racket. What else do you need to know?

9. Sufjan Stevens - Eugene

A starkly beautiful cut from Stevens' latest record, the autobiographical Carrie & Lowell.
Emerald Park, wonders never cease
The man who taught me to swim, he couldn't quite say my first name
Like a Father he led community water on my head
And he called me “Subaru”
And now I want to be near you
8. The Monkees - Papa Gene's Blues

Unlike a lot of Monkees songs which were written by other people (including Neil Diamond and Carole King), this is an original Mike Nesmith composition. Nesmith went on to have quite an impressive solo career post-Monkees... I hesitate to say he was the Gary Barlow of his day, because, obviously, he wasn't a wet git.

7. Walter Becker - Selfish Gene

The Steely man who isn't Donald Fagen pokes playful fun at a particular selfish Gene, with typically arch Dan-esque lyrics.

6. Catatonia - My Selfish Gene

Oh, Cerys - such a voice. Heartbreak in every breath.

OK, strictly speaking, this one isn't about a bloke called Gene either... but it is glorious.

5. Teenage Fanclub - Gene Clark

The Fannies pay their dues to Gene Clark, chief songwriter of The Byrds, one of the band's biggest influences. Some fantastic guitar work on this one... ironically, with nary a Byrdsy jangle in sight.

4. Johnny Cash - Daddy, Who's Gene Autry?

To answer Johnny Cash Jr.'s question, his dad reveals that Gene Autry was the singing cowboy... an actor who made almost 100 singing cowboy films between 1934 and 1953. Although he retired in the early 60s, he enjoyed a good old retirement, living until 1998 when he died at the grand age of 91.

Fun fact: the guitar Johnny plays in the video of his gutwrenching version of Hurt was signed by Gene Autry. 

3. Ian Dury & The Blockheads - Sweet Gene Vincent

We discussed Gene Vincent in the Top Ten Jeans Songs - and here's Ian Dury mourning his decline with some Thunderbird wine: possibly the sweetest thing Ian ever recorded... for the first minute twenty... until the rock 'n' roll kicks in. Vincent died in 1971 and has been immortalised in a number of tribute records, including Gene & Eddie by the Stray Cats and Luke Haines' masterful Gene Vincent (Rock 'n' Roll Mums and Rock 'n' Roll Dads).

2. Pink Martini - Hey Eugene

I have to confess that Hey Eugene is the only song I know by Pink Martini - and although it's a cracker, I kinda thought they were one "hit wonders until I did a little digging for this post. Turns out they've released 7 albums since 1997.
Hey Eugene do you remember me?
I'm that chick you danced with two times through the Rufus album Friday night at that party on avenue A:
Where your skinhead friend passed out for several hours on the bathroom floor and you told me
You weren't that drunk, and that I was your favourite Salsa dancer you had ever come across in New York city..
I obviously need to investigate further...

1. Frank Turner - Wherefore Art Thou, Gene Simmons?

As Frank explains in his intro here, he was inspired to write this tribute to the elastic-tongued Kiss frontman after reading his biography and discovering that The Demon (real name Chaim Witz) claims to have slept with 4600 women... and taken a photo of every one. What a... Romeo.
A mother said, "Beware of boys in bands
And certainly don't let them write you songs
For they will come to you on bended knee and kiss your pretty hands
When the singing's done, and the suns up they'll be gone."
While her mother has a point, I might resent the implication.
That every boy who plays guitar plays women like Gene Simmons.
Though, as Frank confesses later in the song, he's not entirely innocent himself...

Which is your Gene Hackman?


  1. No sign of another Rozza solo album just yet, unfortunately, but he is currently active with the band Call Me Jolene (though not on vocal duties).

  2. Funny you should say that - how about 'Don't Talk to Me About Gene Hackman', a 'hidden' track at the end of the 'Jewels For Sophia' album, by the mighty Robyn Hitchcock.

    1. Sounds like one to listen out for... I've been meaning to hear some more RH (since we share initials).


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