Friday 30 June 2017

My Top Ten Pedantic Songs

I am well know for being a little bit of a pedant. It comes with being an English teacher... and a blogger. But at least I've never written a pedantic song. Unlike these people...

10. Weird Al Yankovic - Word Crimes

Good on Weird Al for parodying the hideous Blurred Lines... and turning it into a pedantic rant about grammar crimes.

Say you got an "I","T"
Followed by apostrophe, "s"
Now what does that mean?
You would not use "it's" in this case
As a possessive
It's a contraction
What's a contraction?
Well, it's the shortening of a word, or a group of words
By the omission of a sound or letter

9. Of Montreal - An Epistle To A Pathological Creep

Kevin Barnes has a pedantic mate he really doesn't like...

He'd explain to you but it would take too long
Why he is right and everybody else is wrong
He'd endeavor friend to make your mind correct
He'd try but he thinks it would take too long too long
It's probably simple math
That keeps him on his elevated path

8. Biffy Clyro - Born On A Horse

...whereas Simon Neil (least rock star name EVER?) doesn't like the way Americans spell and pronounce one particular kind of not-so-heavy metal.

I pronounce it aluminium
'cause there's an I next to the U and M
Now write it down slowly
And read it out fast

7. Harry Connick Jr. - Let's Call The Whole Thing Off

Yes, I know I should have gone with Fred & Ginger. Or Louis & Ella. But I have a special fondness for the HCJr version, even though he's arguing with himself. Seriously though, have you EVER met anyone who says 'po-tah-toe'?

6. William Shatner & Henry Rollins - I Can't Get Behind That

Two grumpy old pedants put the world to rights. I can get behind that.

5. My Life Story - If You Can't Live Without Me Then Why Aren't You Dead Yet?

Charming. You don't need to take things so literally, Jake. You might upset Father John Misty (below).

4. Dan le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip - Thou Shalt Always Kill

Scroobius Pip tells you how to live your life... and gets his knickers in a twist over how the Oxford English Dictionary spells the word 'phoenix'. (He's wrong though.)

3. Half Man Half Biscuit - National Shite Day
I defy you to find a more pedantic songwriter than Nigel Blackwell. This is just one example... there are many more available.

I finally managed to reach the station
Only to find that the bus replacement service had broken down

After wondering to myself whether or not it should actually be called a train replacement service...

2. Father John Misty - The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment

FJM gets rather bent out of shape about a lady friend's use of one particular word...

She says, like literally, music is the air she breathes
And the malaprops make me want to fucking scream
I wonder if she even knows what that word means
Well, it's literally not that

He does have a point. Quite literally.

1. Barton Carroll - Past Tense

Barton's girlfriend dumps him when she gets her Master's Degree. She's a grammar nazi too. He's probably better off without her. But the strict ladies do make him weak at the knees...

Now if I ask what's wrong
You say, "It's not you, it's me"
And if I ask who's him?
You say, "It's not him, it's he."
My sentence composition is so far from refined
My participles dangle
Like a fish on a line

OK, my fellow pedants... which pedantic song did I miss out?

Thursday 29 June 2017

June #1: Music To Watch Girls By

Thank you all for the kind words about my imminent sabbatical. I've never seen so many happy comments! Just to clarify though: I'm not going away completely. It'll just be one or two posts a week rather than five or six, until I've charged my batteries. In the meantime, we've reached #1 for June, so it's time for another song-based story. I originally titled this one Rockwell, which was a cleverer title, but Andy Williams has the far more obvious title. It was written nine years ago, so I've left the topical references as they were. I'm sure you can all remember George Bush Jr. What a great president he seems now, given the gift of Trumpian hindsight.

Anyway, today's story is about an age old quandary, and I'm not here to suggest any solutions, just tell the tale. I was amused to see some of the youtube comments about the "blatantly sexist" (from our present day perspective) video. The comments from men are often about how "feminists" will hate the video because of its portrayal of women. The comments from women tend to be more about how good the women in the video look and how all different kinds of body types were celebrated in days gone by. Make of that what you will.

1. Andy Williams - Music To Watch Girls By

Music To Watch Girls By / Rockwell

On Tuesday the 23rd of September, 2008, at precisely 10.45 in the morning, it happened. Every man on planet Earth went blind, and it all started with Dan. Daniel Tull, 27 years old, from Leeds, West Yorkshire. He was the first male to lose his eyesight completely – and then, in less time than it takes to butter a slice of toast, the blindness spread out from him like a shockwave. Like a bad CGI special effect, like the sudden blooming of a time-lapse stop-motion mushroom.

“Oh my god – this is like Day Of The Triffids, but for real, Keisha! What do you think’s gonna happen next?”

“Big tongued plants walking down the street zapping everyone with their evil phallic stamen, Jacs. Gotta be. Give it till nightfall, for the spores to start… sporing…”

Over in the corner of their Headingley flat, Lola sat shivering in that big, mouse-bitten sofa chair, the one they’d tried to throw out when they first got the place but hadn't been able to get down the stairs, even with the help of Jacqui’s ex, Ed. Lola was used to ignoring her housemates when they talked geek, a language she’d never taken at high school and could quite happily have gone the rest of her life without even hearing… but right now, she needed the distraction. Anything to take her mind off what she’d done.

“What are you two… on about?” she asked, pausing to clear her throat mid-question and stop her voice breaking like a spotty fourteen year-old lad. Like the ones who hung out around outside the Washeteria, shouting comments about her knickers through the glass as she dropped them into the machine.

“Classic John Wyndham novel—“

“Made into superior 1970’s BBC drama—“

“About an invasion of walking plants from another planet,” Lola’s housemates explained, tripping over themselves in their eagerness to engeek their normally geekproof sister.

“Before the Triffids attack, there’s this spectacular meteor shower which virtually everyone on the planet stays up to watch—“

“Only radiation from the meteor shower makes them all go blind—“

“Well, all the ones who watch it – there are some people who were either too pissed to get up, or living underground, or in hospital with bandages over their eyes or—“

“Just plain lucky, I suppose—“

“And they can still see, see—“

“A raggle-taggle group of survivors who lead the resistance battle against the Triffids until…”
Keisha scratched the stud on her left nostril and gave Jacqui a puzzled look. “What happens at the end?”

“I can’t… do the Triffids all catch, like, a cold or something?”

“No, you’re thinking of War of the Worlds.”

Jacqui and Keisha stared at each other, each scrunching their mouth over to one side of their face as a desperate-yet-futile memory retrieval aid.

“I can’t remember!”

“We should check the book out of the uni library, they’re bound to have it.”

“Unless someone’s already got it out.”

“Some boy?”

“–who can’t even read it anymore…”

On the television: more crashed airliners, derailed trains, motorway pile-ups. Kate Adie interviewing a brave Sir Trevor McDonald about his first hours without sight. Deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman, standing in for the PM, urging everyone to remain calm.

“But it wasn’t just the men?” said Lola, sitting forward now but still hugging herself, still shivering, still semi-paralysed by the guilt. “It wasn’t just the men who went blind?” She was wearing what had become her uniform in recent weeks: a chunky Arran cardigan (despite the early Autumnal heatwave), baggy cargo pants, and heelless grey shoes. Her hair was cut short and not a lick of make-up tasted her face: the shadows round her eyes were entirely natural.

“No,” said Keisha, “in that regard, this is more like Y.”

“Oh yeah,” said Jacs, “very Y.”

“Why?” said Lola.

“Y, The Last Man,” Keisha explained. “Great comic—“

“Excellent comic—“

“Where all the men on earth are killed by this mysterious plague, except this one hot escape-artist bloke called Yorick, and his monkey—“

“Hot?” said Jacs. “You think Yorick’s hot?”

“Well, as pencil and ink cartoon drawings go—“

“Don’t you think that’s a little desperate, hon’?”

“What? Like you’ve never – little miss ‘I’ve Got A Puddle In My Pocket For John Constantine’!”

“Ahhh – get away from me – you said you’d never–! Not Keanu, let me make it quite clear, Lola – I never fantasised about Keanu!”

“Nobody fantasises about Keanu, Jacs. Even his fellow floorboards don’t get wood from Keanu—“

“How did it happen!?” said Lola, loud enough to make them both sit back in the collapsing sofa. On TV, George Bush was giving a speech about how Franklin Delano Roosevelt had served his country after being stricken with polio and Woodrow Wilson hadn’t let a series of severe strokes prevent him from seeing out his term in office, so nothing was going to stop him leading America in this time of international crisis. He did however question whether either of his potential successors were up to the job, and put it to the country that perhaps a change of leadership really wasn’t in the national interest at this time. ‘Perhaps this is a matter for the American people to decide,’ he concluded, before being led offstage by a disturbingly chipper Condoleezza Rice. The report cut to Hilary Clinton.

“The plague,” said Lola, when neither of her housemates seemed to understand the question, “in the story – what exactly caused all the men to die like that?”

“Oh,” said Keisha, “well, I reckon it was cloning. Once scientists had been able to successfully clone a human female, the entire male gender became obsolete – and in a Darwinian sense—“

“No way,” said Jacs, “it was the Culper Ring. Biological warfare gone way wrong, simple as that.”

“No, you see I prefer the interpretation that Gæa herself – the earth mother, who even in patriarchal Greek mythology is presented as a woman – chose to tackle head-on the infection blighting our planet—“

“Bollocks!” said Jacs.

“Exactly!” said Keisha.

“Wait a minute,” said Lola, “do you mean they never properly explained… I mean, there wasn’t actually a definitive—?“

“It’s open to interpretation,” said Jacs, “as so many things are in science and the natural…”

“So many of the theories on which we build our knowledge of the world are, in the end, unproven – it’s just, as yet, nobody’s been able to prove them wrong.”

Lola stared at them both for a very long time. It was the kind of stare that ruled out further conversation. Her eyes were tiny little bombs with the timers stuck on 00:01. The room held its breath.

Finally, Keisha broke. “Are you OK, Lol’? You look…”

“What about wishing?” said Lola, so quiet it was like listening to a mouse in another county. “Is there anything in any of your stories about wishing? Because that’s how it happened. They were always looking at me, wherever I went. Every day. Any time I stepped outside the house… I covered up, I stopped wearing anything that could be considered even remotely provocative… but still they kept on looking at me. Sometimes they’d try and be subtle about it, stealing glances as I walked by, watching my reflection in shop windows, rubbing their eyes but spying through the cracks in their fingers… but I always knew. I couldn’t go anywhere, do anything without…”

“People… looking at you?” said Jacs, her glasses making the frown in her eyes even bigger.

“Not – people,” said Lola, “not people – men! Men! Some of them were subtle, others… others were just so blatant! Staring – like, goggle-eyed, drooling…”

“Lols… you’re a pretty girl.”

“You’re a babe is what you…”

“I’d give my eye teeth to look like… and I don’t even know what my eye teeth are…”

“You say that that, yeah… but you’ve no idea. Neither of you. You don’t know what it’s been like for me, you don’t—“

“Yeah, well, we may not be total Heathers like you, Lols, but we do still get blokes eyeing us up, you know. Hard as that may be to—“

“Blokes really aren’t all that – I mean, I think they’re pre-programmed to pretty much ogle anything.”

“It’s genetic – really it’s back to that whole Darwinian—“

“You don’t see what I’m saying,” said Lola, “you don’t… This isn’t about me being a… I didn’t mean to compare myself to… I just meant, I caused all this. Don’t you see? I was in town this morning, and there was this guy off our course… Dan, Daniel something… guy with the glasses and that weird little moustache and…”

“Oh yeah, I know him—“

“I think he’s cute, actually—“


“What? I do. I wouldn’t mind him staring at my—“

“I did it!” said Lola, shouting now to make them understand, standing up and using her hands and everything. “I caught him looking at me, even though I wasn’t even wearing anything remotely… He was watching me as I… Staring at me like I was an animal in the zoo or… and that’s when I did it. I wished. Don’t you see? I wished they’d all stop. Every single one of them. I closed my eyes and clicked my fucking heels and wished, harder than I’ve ever wished anything before in my whole fucking life… I wished they’d stop staring at me! And they did. All of them. At exactly quarter to eleven… they stopped. And now look what I’ve done…”

Wednesday 28 June 2017

June #2: Tumbleweeds Ahoy!

So I'm cutting back a little bit as of next week. There are a number of reasons for this, which I will now bore you with. I'll try to put a nice tune at the end of the post to liven things up a bit. Feel free to skip ahead to that now.

Last September, I upped the postings on this blog because I wanted to start writing about the songs I was listening to right now, rather than just the random tunes that were thrown up by my topic of the week. To keep with the blog's Top Ten theme, I decided to do a monthly Top Ten of the songs (new and old) that I was listening to that month. This was all very well until I also decided to kick off a few new series like Kenny Wednesdays / Randy Tuesdays, My Top Ten Songs I Hated When I Was A Kid and My Top ∞ Radio Songs. And suddenly I was writing almost a post a day and struggling to keep up (I don't know how JC and CC do it). Plus, I was finding that ten posts a month just on stuff I was listening to at that moment was proving a bit of a struggle... particularly as money's been pretty tight lately and I've only bought one new CD over the last 6 weeks (which hasn't arrived yet!). The (completely unnecessary) necessity of writing ten such posts a month was also preventing me from writing more of the posts I found myself enjoying (such as the series mentioned above, and some others I've had planned for ages but never found the time for... like The Top Ten Songs I Bought Because I Fancied The Singer, which will plumb new depths of embarrassment if I ever get round to it).

The obvious answer is just to drop the monthly Top Ten and concentrate on the other stuff, right? Except I know that if I do that, as soon as I get a new CD... or hear something on the radio that I haven't heard in years but brings back a particularly set of memories... I'll end up wanting to write about it.

Luckily, I think I've come up with a solution to all of this... but first, I need to take a breather. Summer's here and the time is right. I have a couple of weeks off work coming up, and I don't want to spend all my time sat at a computer screen. (Not when there's DIY to be done!*) So don't be surprised if there's tumbleweed blowing through these parts once July arrives. I'll be back. Eventually.

2. Sons of the Pioneers - Tumbling Tumbleweeds

*I loathe DIY.

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Randy Tuesdays #10: The Downtown, Downbeat Guy

Like our very first Randy (Mr. Newman), the last on the list has made a successful career for himself in Hollywood composing scores for films such as Ghostbusters II, Twins, Kindergarten Cop, My Cousin Vinny and Vin Diesel's XXX. He even wrote the theme tune to MacGyver.

Prior to this, back in the 70s, he was a songwriter whose work was recorded by The Carpenters, Barry Manilow, Dionne Warwick and Olivia Newton-John, among others. He also had a big solo hit covering Unit 4+2's 60s hit Concrete & Clay.

But it's his lesser-known "hit" single (it just scraped the UK Top 30 in 1976) which has scarred itself onto my subconscious. To the point that I was truly amazed when so many of you failed to guess his identity. Really! How could you forget...?

10. Randy Edelman

Why do I love Uptown, Uptempo Woman so much? It fits my love of 70s piano balladeering, scratching my Billy Joel itch. It spins a moving, finely detailed yarn like Harry Chapin did so well. It's another Wogan song, I guess. It must be Terry who planted it in my brain. It tells a complete love story, from infatuation through to passion, cooling off to loathing. When the protagonist tries to leave, to avoid a bitter confrontation... that's the day his lady comes home early. Really, it breaks my heart. To me, it's a true story. I feel honest emotion every time I hear it.

I know. I'm weird.

Plus, it's got one of those lyrics that I always amusingly misunderstood as a kid. In the opening verse, when Randy first meets his Uptown, Uptempo Woman in New York, he tells us...

A thousand people crammed in one place
But the only face was you
I grabbed your hand and we raced out
Hardly said a word
I’d only seen you for a minute
But I was roundin’ third

That last line is obviously the popular American romance/baseball metaphor, but I didn't hear it that way as a kid. I thought he actually sang, "But I was round in third" and I always wondered why he couldn't get his car up to fourth gear? Was his gearbox knackered? Was that a metaphor? No, no, don't spoil this song with innuendo too...

All of which brings us to the end of Randy Tuesdays. Thank you for sticking with it. I hope your favourite Randy had their moment of glory. I don't know what I'm doing next... or even if I am doing another one of these for the time being. Haven't made my mind up yet, and I'm going to be shaking things up here from July, probably cutting down the number of posts I wring out every week to give you all a break. We'll see.

Friday 23 June 2017

My Top Ten Innuendo Songs (Volume 1)

That's Gary there. He's getting down to business, apparently. Like this.  Kind of reminds me of Jermaine in Flight of the Conchords. It was Business Time For Him too. But only on a Wednesday.

When I were a lad, pop songs used to allude to matters sexual. Subtly. You know, like My Ding-A-Ling. Subtle. You listen to what the young people are listening to these days and they're doing it in the kitchen, in the hall, in the back of a Vauxhall Astra... they've got no shame. And they just come right out and say it! Where's the fun in that? Where's the phnarr? Honestly, things were so much better back in the day...

Anyway, here's ten songs that would have Kenneth Williams crying, "Matron!"

10. Adam Ant - Goody Two Shoes
You don't drink,
Don't smoke,
What do you do?
Subtle innuendos follow...
There must be something inside
All very well, Adam, but I'm not sure how subtle it is if you have to tell us it's a bloody innuendo!

9. Diana Ross - Chain Reaction

I'm really not sure I believe this one or if it's all just an internet myth, but apparently, the lyrics to Chain Reaction are really, really smutty. Barry? Maurice? Robin? DIANA!?

Say it ain't so...

(Investigate this one at your peril.)

Cards on the table though, I love Chain Reaction.

The song. I mean the song!

8. Aerosmith - Love In An Elevator

The opening to this song / video is puerile, offensive and ridiculous. I feel ashamed for admitting it makes me laugh every time I hear / see it. Actually, there's very little innuendo here, it's just pure smut. But Steven Tyler is such a rock star caricature, it's hard to be offended by it.

7. The Who - Squeeze Box
Mama's got a squeeze box
She wears on her chest
And when daddy comes home
He never gets no rest
'Cause she's playing all night
And the music's all right
Mama's got a squeeze box
Daddy never sleeps at night
From the same band who were just looking at their Pictures of Lily, nothing else.

6. Prince - Chocolate Box

Not one to use an innuendo when he can be Prince (Gett Off, Cream, Come, etc. etc. etc.), Chocolate Box is actually Prince at his most restrained. It's not about a box of chocolates.

5. Billy Bragg (via Woody Guthrie) - Ingrid Bergman

Who knew Woody Guthrie was such a dirty old man?

4. Grace Jones - Pull Up To The Bumper

I will hold my hand up and say that for years, I had absolutely no idea there was anything remotely sordid about this track. It's just about a traffic jam, isn't it? Isn't it?

3. Cinerama - Quick, Before It Melts

David Gedge is on about a one night stand here, not an ice cream. And the perils of doing that when you've reached a certain age... or had too much beer, I guess.

He stole the title from a dodgy 60s farce, by the way...

2. Alison Moyet - Love Resurrection

One of those songs which got away with it for years because nobody really listened to what Alison was singing.
Show me one direction
I will not question again
For a warm injection
Is all I need to calm the pain

What seed must I sow
To replenish this barren land
Teach me to harvest,
I want you to grow in my hand

Let's be optimistic,
Let's say that we won't toil in vain
If we pull together
We'll never fall apart again...
Phew. Cold flannel, anyone?

1. Squeeze - Pullin' Mussels From A Shell

What goes on behind the chalets should stay behind the chalets.

Everybody knows that this is a nudge-nudge, wink-wink song... but have you EVER heard anyone use the title as innuendo in real life? Iffypedia tells us, "the phrase 'pulling mussels' is British slang for sexual intercourse, mainly used in England". Really? Not where I live, mate.

I have a load more big ones if anybody wants to see them.

Your suggestions are always welcome...

Thursday 22 June 2017

June #3: Comedy & Errors

3. Father John Misty - Pure Comedy

The way I feel about the third Father John Misty album is exactly the way I felt about the last one. I absolutely love... about 60% of it. The rest, particularly in the case the latter half where J. Tillman dispenses with any pretence of a traditional verse-chorus structure and just sings whatever he wants to whatever tune fits at that moment... well, I find that a bit harder to get on with.

Still, Tillman is a unique voice in the music industry, he's exactly the kind of artist we need at the moment. He reminds me of Mark Kozelek sometimes, though he's a lot more tuneful and not quite as ornery. Not quite as funny or engrossing either, but when FJM gets it all right... as on the "isn't the entire human race just very, very silly?" title track... well, he just can't be beat. The fact that he manages to cram lyrical observations like those below into a smooth, 70s-sounding piano ballad makes me want to love him more...

Oh, their religions are the best
They worship themselves yet they're totally obsessed
With risen zombies, celestial virgins, magic tricks, these unbelievable outfits
And they get terribly upset
When you question their sacred texts
Written by woman-hating epileptics

Their languages just serve to confuse them
Their confusion somehow makes them more sure
They build fortunes poisoning their offspring
And hand out prizes when someone patents the cure
Where did they find these goons they elected to rule them?
What makes these clowns they idolize so remarkable?
These mammals are hell-bent on fashioning new gods
So they can go on being godless animals

Wednesday 21 June 2017

June #4: The Longest Day

It's the longest day of the year. High time for my shortest post of the year, and a song about passing the midsummer point in your life and starting to feel the nights drawing in...

4. John Mellencamp - Longest Days
All I got here
Is a rear view mirror
Reflections of where I've been
So you tell yourself I'll be back up on top some day
But you know there's nothing waiting up there for you anyway

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Randy Tuesdays #9: The Runners Up

Not The Village People.

And so we reach the penultimate Randy post, and - as has become traditional - I get to count down the runners up. Thanks for your suggestions... a couple of which I hadn't considered at all.

10. Randy Jackson

No, not the Randy Jackson I featured last week. Not the one from The Jacksons. An entirely different Randy Jackson who I came across higher in the rankings on google after searching for last week's RJ.

As well as being a former judge on American Idol, Randall Darius Jackson has worked as a bass player, backing singer and producer with a wide range of acts - from Journey and Boston to Mariah Carey and Paula Abdul. He's also worked with Keith Richards, The Divinyls, Madonna, Jean-Luc Ponty... and, in the early 90s when the E Street Band were having a rest... he played bass for Bruce. Click the link for one of my favourite Randy Jackson basslines... no surprises.

9. Randy Rhoads

Former Quiet Riot guitarist who then hooked up with Ozzy. Might not be your thing, but dude can play guitar.

8. Randy Howard - Suddenly Single

Cheesy 80s country balladeering which probably didn't improve this particular Randy's romantic prospects.

7. Earl Jean - Randy, You're Quite A Guy

The Cookies were a short-lived r 'n' b trio in the 50s who went on to become backing singers for Ray Charles (The Raelettes). A new version of the band was formed in the early 60s featuring Earl Jean McCrea, younger sister of original Cookie Darlene. Earl Jean also recorded a couple of solo singles (minus her surname), including the Goffin / King composition above. I have this track on a Cookies compilation, but I didn't know it was actually released as a solo recording until today. Well, you learn something new...

6. Randy Brecker

I can honestly say I'd never heard of The Brecker Brothers until The Swede suggested this guy. Further investigation is definitely required.

5. Randy Scruggs

Son of legendary bluegrass banjo picker Earl Scruggs, this particular Randy followed his pop into country music, working with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Waylon Jennings and Emmylou Harris, among others.

4. Randy Travis

Arguably the most successful and famous of the runners up. Much as I like country music though, I've never really been drawn to Randy Travis. A bit too slushy for me... plus there's the whole driving naked while intoxicated thing to take into account.

3. Randy Jones

Thanks to Alyson for this one. I can honestly say I never knew any of The Village People by their first names... but I think I'd like to...

2. Randy California

Founding member of California rockers Spirit, who may or may not have "inspired" Jimmy Page to write Stairway To Heaven. Their Orwellian single 1984 was banned by American radio in 1970 for being a bit too political. C suggested this one.

1. Randy Bachman

For a while there, Smashie & Nicey may have killed You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet, but I think enough time has passed for us to now reassess this as a classic. Randy was the lead guitarist and songwriter of this hugely successful Canadian rock band (even though they only had one hit in the UK). The lead singer, Mr. Turner, was called Fred. (Fred Mondays, anybody?) Sadly, there was no one in the band called Julian Overdrive.

There we go. Only one Randy left. That must be obvious now, surely? (No, Swede, it's not Randy Fuller of The Bobby Fuller Four. Sorry.)

Monday 19 June 2017

My Top ∞ Radio Songs #11: It's Just The Same Old Show...

As I’ve mentioned here before, I was late coming to music, but when the bomb finally hit, it blew my life apart… and thirty years later, I’m still piecing together the shrapnel. I never had a solid idea growing up about what I wanted to do with my life, or at least nothing more solid than the old “become a writer” dream which I’d been toiling at since I first set pencil to jotter. But even at an early age, I knew that was going to be a struggle. So what else could I do? What else did I love… besides telling stories?

As I've explained in my blog before (and also in the n*v*l promoted in my sidebar), as a child I used to run my own TV and radio station. My young imagination knew no bounds. And while the TV side of things was merely an extension of my interest in storytelling, my fascination with radio was different. I’m not sure if I was a lonely child, but I was a solitary one. My brother and sister were both a lot older and had already left home by the time I started growing up. I had friends, but none of them lived nearby, so while I saw them at school and sometimes on weekends and holidays, I also spent a lot of time by myself. That didn’t really bother me because I always had things to do, games to play, books and comics to read and write… and later, records to listen to. Still, it was nice to occasionally hear someone talking to you, besides your parents, and that’s where the radio came in.

From my pre-teens listening to Radio 2 with my parents through to my eventual discovery of Radio 1, I took a lot from the intimate relationship between presenter and listener. It’s trite to say I saw these people as my friends while growing up, but it’s also true. And sooner or later it occurred to me that there really couldn’t be a better job (except telling stories for a living) than sitting around playing your favourite records while talking to everyone and no-one all day.

It was around this time I first discovered local radio. It wasn’t half as exciting or glamorous as National Radio 1, but it was a lot more real. And a hell of a lot more realistic an option for a boy from nowhere. These people were living the dream – not in London, not for the BBC… but right on my doorstep. Remember, this was long before the homogenization of ILR, this was back when – for the most part – local jocks really did say and play whatever they wanted. I’m not saying that always made for unmissable listening – often it was cheese-on-a-stick claptrap sandwiching together Joan Armaplating and Lionel Richtea or segueing The Captain & Toenail into Olivia Neutron Bomb.

Still… they were obviously enjoying their work - and they were only on air three or four hours a day! Even with a couple of hours show-prep, that left them loads of free time to pursue other career opportunities. (Even back then I must have realised that a lot of professional writers also had a day job to pay the bills.) So I made up my mind. I had to get into local radio. You can imagine how well that went down with my school Careers Advisor.

Neverthless... slowly, but surely, I drew the plans for my future…

11. The Selecter - On My Radio

For years, whenever I heard On My Radio by The Selecter, when Pauline Black (real name Belinda Magnus, fact fans) sings, "He said he loved me but he loved the beat", I thought she meant The Beat. I thought she'd been dumped by her man because he preferred Ranking Roger.

Sunday 18 June 2017

June #5: A Few Words From Alan...


Just finished reading the above Booker Prize contender, whch made me LOL on a number of occasions. (Of course I'm using LOL ironically. Just like Alan.) Two of my favourite quotes follow...
"I try as far as possible to keep my radio show apolitical but teachers really are blithering scum, and whatever they disagree with, I agree with."

"In 2008 I spotted Haddway in a hotel steam room. I strode over, introduced myself and said I wanted him to sing on a jingle I'd written. The sessions went badly, and it was only when I visited the same hotel and saw him dredging the pool that I realised he wasn't Haddaway, just a man who worked for Jurys Inn."
I could, of course, play you some Haddaway after that, but I do have some standards. Instead, here's Roachford... with thanks to Jez.

"Your fog lamps are on! There's no fog!"

Friday 16 June 2017

My Top Ten Shower Songs

Time to take a shower... oh, wait, there's already someone in there...

10. Stockard Channing - There Are Worse Things I Could Do

Stockard Channing could wait home every night and wait around for Mr. Right, take cold showers every day and waste her life away... but she chose not to. No wonder she ended up as First Lady in The West Wing.

9. Jane's Addiction - Standing In The Shower... Thinking

Frankly, Perry, there's a litte too much detail about what you get up to in the shower in this song.

That said, it's preferable to the shower story Julian Cope told in his autobiography, Head On. Anyone who's read that will, I'm sure, know what I'm referring to.

8. Lefty Frizzell- Shine, Shave, Shower (It's Saturday)

You may never have heard of him, but William Orville Frizzell is considered one of the most influentuial artists in the history of country music. He was a bit of a wild one too, by all accounts.

7. PWR BTTM - Dairy Queen

More high camp garage punk tomfoolery from these goofballs...
We can do our make up in the parking lot
We can get so famous that we both get shot
But right now
I'm in the shower
6. Sheena Easton - Modern Girl

Sheena fixes his coffee while he takes a shower. How modern.

No, I have no shame. You should know that by now.

5. Juliana Hatfield - Singing In The Shower

I apologise for being in the grip of my own desperately sad mid-life crisis. As I type these words, I find it awfully hard not to think about Juliana Hatfield singing in the shower.

4. Prince - Xtraloveable

Originally recorded in 1982, this track finally emerged 30 years later in two slightly different versions. This is the version taken from the last Prince album released in his lifetime, Hit n Run Phase 2, which I've been listening to quite a bit of late. It's pretty damned good, too.

If ever honey you need someone to take a shower with girl
Call me up and scream
Extra lovable, honey don't you wanna, don't you wanna
Take a bath with me?

3. The Smiths - The Headmaster Ritual

Morrissey has painful memories of P.E. lessons at school... don't we all?
Please excuse me from the gym
I've got this terrible cold coming on
He grabs and devours
Kicks me in the showers
and he grabs and devours
I wanna go home
I don't want to stay
2. Teddy Pendergrass - Turn Off The Lights

Lenny Henry based his character Theophilus P. Wildebeeste on Teddy Pendergrass (with a bit of Barry White). Tonight, Teddy's in a sexy mood... and when he is, he makes Prince look like a Benedictine Monk.
Let's take a shower, shower together, yeah
I'll wash your body and you'll wash mine, yeah
Rub me down in some hot oils, baby, yeah
And I'll do the same thing to you...

1. Jason Isbell - Songs That She Sang In The Shower

Jason Isbell has a new album out today. I'm waiting for my copy to arrive. I hope it's as good as his last one. What a storyteller...
On a lark
On a whim
I said there's two kinds of men in this world and you're neither of them
And his fist
Cut the smoke
I had an eighth of a second to wonder if he got the joke
And in the car
Headed home
She asked if I had considered the prospect of living alone
With a steak
Held to my eye
I had to summon the confidence needed to hear her goodbye 
And another brief chapter without any answers blew by
And the songs that she sang in the shower all ring in my ear
Like "Wish You Were Here"
How I wish you were here.
And experience robs me of hope
That she'll make it back home
So I'm stuck on my own
I'm stuck on my own

Who's in your shower?

Thursday 15 June 2017

June #6: Thanks For The Information

6. The Rainmakers - Information

A recent Top Ten reminded me of this bunch, so I dug out their eponymous 1986 debut album and was surprised by how good it still sounds.

The Rainmakers will mostly be remembered for their UK Top 20 hit Let My People Go, Go. They had less success in their native USA, but were inexplicably huge in Norway, which kept them in new album sales throughout the 90s. They then reformed in 2011 (25 years after their debut) and have released three albums since. I've only heard brief snatches of their new material, but although it appears Bob Walkenhorst's vocals have deepened, the chunky guitars and sharp lyrics remain. I will be investigating further.

In the meantime, here's one of my favourites from that debut disc: a fine repost for any gossips or nosy parkers you might know...

Wednesday 14 June 2017

June #7: Gig of the Year?

My gig of the year? Well, Justin Currie (and The Pallbearers) at Holmfirth Picturedrome on Sunday the 28th of May is likely to be my only gig this year, so I think we can probably call that.

Justin and his former band, Del Amitri, divide opinion in the blogosphere. I never quite understand why, because, despite enjoying a fair bit of chart success in the late 80s and early 90s, their lyrical content is mature, thoughtful - and at times, pretty damned dark. And Justin's songwriting has got even darker since he went solo, ramping up the implicit misanthropy of Nothing Ever Happens to Swiftian proportions on the glorious No, Surrender (which has now firmly replaced Nothing... in his set list). Best use of a comma in a song title ever. (For some reason, this track is split into two halves on youtube. The second half is here if you're interested.) Apparently, Justin describes his solo output as "suicide in a saucy shirt", which is pretty apt, if you ask me.

Anyway, Justin recently released his fourth solo album to absolutely zero fanfare - if I hadn't seen he was touring and decided to investigate whether or not there was a record to go with it, I think it would have passed me by completely. I should have checked out his website, which opens with the exhortation to "Buy my record before you die." and describes our hero thus: "Attention-seeking desperado punting inoffensive balladry". Frankly, it is the most entertaining artist website I have ever visited, including wry blog posts about every stop on the tour (Holmfirth here) and even a Complaints section. Here's on of the songs from the new record, This Is My Kingdom Now. Try not to hate it.

7. Justin Currie - Crybabies

Tuesday 13 June 2017

Randy Tuesdays #8: The Most Insane Thing You'll See Today

OK, confession time. When I started this feature, I had EIGHT definite Randies... and a whole load of potentials. Posts #1 - 7 and #10 were the ones I was certain I HAD to feature. The others... I'm still not sure who the other two should be.

So this morning I sat down and went through the list of remaining Randies and having listened to music featuring all of them, this is the Randy I chose...

8. Randy Jackson

Mainly because of the video to today's featured song, which I'd never seen before, but it is utterly, utterly insane. If you think Michael only developed his messiah complex around the time of Earth Song, think again. The video to Can You Feel It? must make Jarvis Cocker's backside twist every time it gets played on youtube. That said, being someone who likes utter, utter insanity (I'm a Jim Steinman fan, after all) I found it very entertaining. And Can You Feel It? is a great song, so why not? Your mileage may vary.

Steven Randall was the youngest boy in the Jackson clan. That's him stood behind Janet (his only younger sibling) in the photo above. He wasn't in the Jackson 5, but replaced Jermaine when the band moved from Motown to Sony and Jermaine chose to stay behind. At 16, he co-wrote Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) with Michael, the band's biggest international hit... which surprised me, because Show You The Way To Go, Blame It On The Boogie, and the song below are all a lot bigger in my mind.

Randy could apparently play more instruments than any of the other Jackson boys, presumably because by the time he came around, Mummy & Daddy Jackson knew they were onto a good thing with those darn kids, so Randy was taught piano, guitar, bass and congas while still in the womb.

After the Jacksons finally called it a day in the early 90s, Randy formed another short-lived band that I won't name here because it features some very bad pluralised spelling.

I'll shut up now and cut to the crazy shit:

Yes, that does look like Russell Brand. Scary, isn't it?

All of which leaves me with one Randy left to fill. Remember, #10 is already set in stone. He's not that big a name, but those regularly confounded by what I laughingly call my "taste" in music will probably be able to work out his identity. Therefore, your suggestions / recommendations for Randy #9 will now be gratefully received. I'll try and count down the runners up next Tuesday.

Sunday 11 June 2017

My Top ∞ Radio Songs #10: Halycon Days

I miss radio. I was lucky enough to work in local radio when there were still opportunities. For creativity. For individuality. For fun. I don't know, maybe there still are some ILR stations out there that allow such things, but from where I'm sitting they all seem a pretty homogenised mass.

I was asked this weekend to record a message for one of my former colleagues, someone who worked at the station where I worked long before I got there (in 1988) and is only getting around to retiring now. 40 years in the same workplace is quite a record for anyone, and I know I was getting pretty instutionalised when I left... but I guess she must have enjoyed it. Looking back now, I only remember the good times. Those are the ones that come to the surface, anyway. If I think about it a little harder... well, I can smile about it now, but at the time it was terrible.

I realise I'm kind of dancing around talking about my time in radio. Working my way up to it. I'm not really sure why that is. Maybe I'm scared of scratching the scab off a few wounds...

Through rose-tinted glasses, I miss that job so very, very much. The friendships I made there were stronger than any others I've made in my life. The laughs were louder. We had fun... although we whinged a hell of a lot while we were having it, as in most workplaces. It was a thousand times easier than being a teacher. I'd go back in a heartbeat... if I thought it could be like it was.

This week's radio song, from the brand new British Sea Power album, seems particularly apt...

10. British Sea Power - Electrical Kittens

Kitten, this universe is electric now
You still dream about the things you've seen
You feel like you've been away
But you don't know where you've been
And we'll all hold hands as the radio plays
Say a little prayer for halcyon days
Silently submit to the radio waves
And hope that we'll be safe

Saturday 10 June 2017

My Top Ten Batman Themes

Atomic batteries to power!

Turbines to speed!

Keaton. Kilmer. Clooney. Bale. Affleck.

There have been good Batmen and there have been terrible Batmen, but there was only one Adam West.

The gentleman's Batman.

There really is only only one to say goodbye to him...

10. The Surfaris - Batman

9. The Kinks - Batman

8. The Ventures - Batman

7. Iggy Pop - Batman

6. Sun Ra - Batman

5. Link Wray - Batman

4. The Flaming Lips - Batman

3. The Who - Batman

2. The Jam - Batman

1. Neal Hefti - Batman

Holy Bat-Shark Repellent, Batman!

Friday 9 June 2017

June #8: What A Difference A Day Makes...

So I had a post all set to go this morning, and I was just going to play the song without further comment. In case you're wondering, it would have been this. Not the most original choice, I know... but definitely the best.

Then something unexpected happened. It wasn't the very best outcome, but it was a lot better than many of us had hoped for. What it means for the country is anyone's guess. Who the hell are the DUP for a start? A party that thinks homosexuality is immoral, opposes abortion and shares Donald Trump's views on climate change, apparently. Oh yeah, that's just what we need!

Still, things could have been much worse. We could have had another landslide. And at least my home constituency has gone back to labour. It never felt right having a blue MP.

Anyway, I've had to think of an alternative song to mark the occasion. Now, obviously, this song cannot be directed at the lady above, since she has made it very clear, in no uncertain terms, that she has no intention of resigning. And let's face it: her word is her bond. If she says something, she sticks by it.

How long do you give her?

8. Marine Girls - Don't Come Back

I reckon JC and Brian will approve of my choice, at least.

Thursday 8 June 2017

My Top Ten Election Day Songs

It's Election Day. Get out and vote. For someone who can make a difference.

Now over to Number Ten for the results...

10. Arcadia - Election Day

Let's get this one out of the way, shall we? The link above is to the full 8 minute version, which features dry ice, cocktails, bombast, writhing girls in short leather dresses with too much make-up, soulless boardrooms, big hair, shoulder pads, meaningful glances, wine bars, pig-headed shadowplay, Freudian tunnels, trenchcoats, bad dancing... and smug, millionaire Tories.

Truly, it's everything that was wrong with the 80s in one horrendous video.

Although it does contain the lyric...
Will you embrace
His penis is reckless?
No, really, it does - have a listen! If you can bear it.

9. Rory Gallagher - Smear Campaign

One for Jeremy, I think...

The Dirty Tricks department,
Is working overtime.
Trying to stop the candidate,
From getting in this time.
The wheels are now in motion,
All the traps are set.
Under the commotion,
He'll walk into this net.

The state's intoxicated,
They're at the starting gate.
He may never make it,
To the planned T.V. debate.

He can't fight off the big bucks,
Of the old brigade.
He's gotta watch his step,
In this Smear Campaign.

They called a snap election,
In the summer heat.
This town is reeling backwards,
Like a drunk man on the street.


Feed those lies, bend those minds,
At any price.
Foul or fair, as long as he's not in there, Election Time.


Smear Campaign.
8. Bic Runga - Election Night
On the night of the election
Ancient stars will fall into the sea
And the ocean floor sings her sympathy
Sounds like Bic's predicting another Tory landslide.

7. The Replacements - Election Day

Paul Westerberg doesn't care who gets elected until he finds someone to love...

6. John Wesley Harding - Election Night

...while JWH finds temporary romantic solace in the arms of another loser.

I met you on election night
As we cried over our beers
Nothing you could do would cheer me up
We broke up later that year
How come you and I aren't winners?
Why weren't we born the other side?

5. Marvin Gaye - You're The Man

Vote Marvin.
Better hear what they have to say
'Cause the tables just might turn against you, brother
Set around Election Day
Politics and hypocrites
Is turning us all into lunatics
4. Radiohead - Electioneering

I will stop, I will stop at nothing.
Say the right things when electioneering
I trust I can rely on your vote.
When I go forwards you go backwards
and somewhere we will meet.
When I go forwards you go backwards
and somewhere we will meet.
Ha ha ha

Screaming Lord Sutch gets Thom's vote.

3. Skunk Anansie - Yes, It's Fucking Political

I'll vote whichever way Skin tells me to. She scares me. (Not as much as Theresa though.)

2. Alice Cooper - Elected

If Alice Cooper had stood against Trump, it would have been a very different story.

1. Billy Bragg - Ideology

Yes, the final word obviously has to go to Billy...
When one voice rules the nation
Just because they're on top of the pile
Doesn't mean their vision is the clearest
The voices of the people
Are falling on deaf ears
Our politicians all become careerists
They must declare their interests
But not their company cars
Is there more to a seat in parliament
Then sitting on your arse?
And the best of all this bad bunch
Are shouting to be heard
Above the sound of ideologies clashing

Outside the patient millions
Who put them into power
Expect a little more back for their taxes
Like school books, beds in hospitals
And peace in our bloody time
All they get is old men grinding axes
Who've built their private fortunes
On the things they can rely
The courts, the secret handshake
The stock exchange and the old school tie
For god and queen and country
All things they justify
Above the sound of ideologies clashing

God bless the civil service
The nation's saving grace
While we expect democracy
They're laughing in our face
And although our cries get louder
Their laughter gets louder still
Above the sound of ideologies clashing

Which MP3 gets your vote?

Wednesday 7 June 2017

My Top ∞ Radio Songs #9: The DJ Sucks

In case you're wondering, I'm not going to even try to write these posts in chronological order, so this week's post is about stupid things DJs say, inspired by a news story I read last week. I wouldn't have believed it - as one commentator remarks, it's beyond even Alan Partridge - except... having worked in radio for as long as I did, it doesn't surprise me at all. You really should click the link and read it.

You put a microphone in front of anybody for a few hours a day, five or six days a week, and sooner or later they're going to say something stupid. You have to accept that. DJs regularly lose their jobs for saying stupid things on air without considering the consequences. I used to work with Chris Moyles, long before his Radio 1 days, and I was there in the studio with him one New Year's Eve when he made a daft remark "about the station's previous programme controller" which cost him his job at that station. I quote from Iffypedia to show I'm not revealing anything here that isn't already in the public domain... or wasn't referred to in Moyles' 2006 autobiography... which I only read because I wanted to see what he said about said incident. Despite the fact that he often comes across as an arrogant knob on air, I always found Moyles to be quite the opposite off air, and I felt bad when they got rid of him... but I digress. The point I'm trying to get to is that sometimes DJs say or do daft things on purpose, even becoming notorious for it, and their career often goes from strength to strength as a result. It's a gamble, but it can pay off.

My first experience of this came in December 1988, shortly after the death of Roy Orbison, when the first jock I ever worked with in local radio landed himself in the tabloids for the following gag (and the "storm of controversy" it created)...

Q: What's definitely not getting plucked this Christmas?

A: Roy Orbison's guitar.

I only worked Saturday mornings at that time and I remember a friend of my mum's calling us up and saying, "Isn't that the DJ Rol works with? Do you think he'll get in trouble? Will he lose his job?" I was worried, because I'd only been there a few months at the time and who was to say if my job might have gone with his...

So it was with some trepidation that I ventured into the studios the following Saturday morning, only to be greeted with the reality of radio. Everybody in the station thought the press coverage was great: on air, they were playing it up as "he's had his wrists slapped for that gag and he won't do it again"... off air, he was a hero.

It was still a terrible joke. It wasn't even funny.

9. REM - Radio Song

This week's radio song is no stranger to a bit of controversy itself, since it was criticised by musos at the time for its mix of rock and rap (from guest vocalist KRS-One), as though REM were trying too hard to be hip. I don't think they were, and Stipey himself claims this song was a bit of a piss-take, aimed at lightening the band's image. Which I think it did wonderfully...
What are you saying?
What are you playing?
Who are you obeying?
Day out day in?
Baby, baby, baby, baby
That stuff is driving me crazy
DJs communicate to the masses
Sex and violent classes
Now our children grow up prisoners
All their lives radio listeners!


Tuesday 6 June 2017

June #9: No Time For Randiness Today...

...because today is the first of two brand new GCSE English exams that I've been preparing my students for over the last twelve months. A parting gift from the wonderful Mr. Gove (remember him?), the new GCSE is a very tough course, suitable for those who want to pursue English to a higher level and becomes novelists, copywriters, bloggers of merit et al... yet not entirely appropriate for those tens of thousands of students for whom an English qualification is mandatory to allow them to progress to a higher level qualification in a field such as health, accountancy or engineering.

Personally, I find the new GCSE fascinating because it's all about words, their power, their connotations, how they can be used to influence, persuade and even brainwash readers. But I do understand why 75% of my students find it difficult, and why many employers might find it irrelevant for their needs (though you do still need it to get a good job!). And let's not even start on the new grading system, which nobody understands at all. You won't be getting an A, B, or C anymore... but a number between 1 and 9. Even the Department of Education can't decide what a passing grade will be: at the start of the year, they told us 5... now, in a blind panic over the expected results, they've revised their pass to a 4. I have no idea how many of my students will achieve that... but I know it'll be a damned sight less than got a C or above last year.

So, I'm just not feeling Randy today. We'll get back to that next week. In the meantime, here's Loudon...

9. Loudon Wainwright III - Final Exam

Best of luck to anyone taking the new GCSE English exam today. You'll need it!

Sunday 4 June 2017

June #10: Getting Seduced By The Roches

10. Maggie & Terre Roche - Underneath The Moon

I mentioned a few weeks back my accidental discovery of New Jersey folkies The Roches. Since then, I've been doing a little digging into their back catalogue. The first thing I came up with was the 1975 debut album by two of the three Roche sisters, Maggie & Terre. Lyrically, there's a cheeky wit underlying many of the songs (even the heartbreakers) which makes them stand out all the more to me. It's reminiscent of Paul Simon - no surprise, since the ladies provided backing vocals for his third solo album just prior to their debut. He was obviously an influence.

The battle of the sexes, interracial romance, loneliness, the perils of songwriting... it's all here, with a sound that also reminds me of the contemporary queens of quirky folk, First Aid Kit.

I overheard a wise gal say
Whose gentleman was her ruin
"Sweetness gets me nowhere
'Cept, underneath the moon."

Good men want a virgin
So don't you give yourself too soon
'Cept in an emergency
Like underneath the moon.

Friday 2 June 2017

My Top Ten Stalker Songs (Volume 1)

There should be a question mark in that.
But maybe the fact that there isn't... 
making it more of an imperative than a question...
is actually quite apt.

This is one of those Top Tens I've been wanting to do since I started this blog... the only problem being, there are way too many songs about stalkers and stalking people to only choose ten. Because songwriters are a bunch of creepy, obsessive weirdos. So this is Volume 1... of, quite a few, probably. I have loads more saved up for future volumes, but feel free to make suggestions.

10. The Police - Every Breath You Take

Let's start with the obvious one. Iffypedia says that this one song is "estimated to generate between a quarter and a third of Sting's music publishing income". Stalking pays for the Popo.

9. Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart

I don't know what's more creepy about this song: the lyrics or the bassline.
There are days when outside your window
I see my reflection as I slowly pass
And I long for this mirrored perspective
When we'll be lovers, lovers at last
8. Eels - Restraining Order Blues

Here's one stalker you almost feel sorry for...

Life goes on

Nothing is new

Judge made it clear

I can't be near you

Everybody knows that I'm not a violent man

Just someone who knows he's in love...
7. Doobie Brothers - What A Fool Believes

This is one of those amiable radio hits that everybody knows... but nobody really knows what it's about. I have to confess, I didn't realise just how creepy it was until recently.

Ladies... So this guy turns up from your past. You remember him, you act friendly towards him. But there was never anything between you. Except... he thinks there was. And there's no point trying to tell him otherwise...

But what a fool believes

He sees

No wise man has the power

To reason away

What seems to be

Is always better than nothing...
Weirdly, there's another story connected to this song which makes those lyrics take on a different meaning entirely. When Michael Jackson claimed to have sung uncredited backing vocals on the track, the song's writers, Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, went, "Eh? We don't recall that, Michael..."

6. Badly Drawn Boy - Everybody's Stalking

When self-confessed Springsteen obsessive Damon Gough sings, "strap your hands across my engines" in the opening verse of this stalker song, maybe it's time for Bruce to keep an eye out for a weirdy-beardy in a Benny hat who might be following him home...

5. Lydia Loveless - Steve Earle

Dedicated to a creep who used to stalk Lydia... he looked just like Steve Earle. (Thanks to Charity Chic for bringing this one to my attention.)

4. REO Speedwagon - Keep On Loving You

If you think this is just a harmless, slushy soft rock ballad, then you've obviously never listened to the first verse in detail... or watched the ultra-creepy video in which lead singer Kevin Cronin goes all Norman Bates.... brrr.
You should've seen by the look in my eyes, baby
There was something missing
You should've known by the tone of my voice, maybe...
But you didn't listen
You played dead
But you never bled
Instead you lay still in the grass
All coiled up and hissing...
When he said that he loved you, he meant that he loved you FOREVER.

3. REM - Losing My Religion

Consider this, the hint of the century: Michael Stipe compared REM's breakthrough hit to Every Breath You Take...

That's him in the corner. Coo-eee! I can see you!

2. The Four Tops - Walk Away, Renee

Originally by The Left Banke, yes, but for me, nobody beats Levi and the boys...
Just walk away, Renee
You won't see me follow you back home
Now as the rain beats down upon my weary eyes
For me it cries
Although Billy Bragg's completely different Version (with Johnny Marr on guitar) comes damned close. Luckily, Billy doesn't get arrested for stalking though, even when Renee starts going out with Mr. Potato Head. She cuts her hair and he stops loving her...

1. Soko - I'll Kill Her

Because stalking isn't just something men do. Don't mess with Soko's bloke: she'll keel you.

That's volume one done. There'll be another ten following very soon. You won't know where or when, but they will be coming after you...

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