Friday 31 May 2019

The United Kingdom of Song #33: Coventry

After sending my former boss (and nemesis) to Coventry in yesterday's post, I figured I'd go there myself today.

Coventry is the 12the largest city in the UK, according to iffypedia, and it was the birthplace of yodeller Frank Ifield ("I remember hi-im!"), Hazel O'Connor, Clint Mansell from PWEI, Julieanne Regan from All About Eve, The Primitives, Paul King, Pete Waterman and Lee Dorrian from Napalm Death. Probably the most famous musical sons of Coventry though are Terry Hall, Jerry Dammers and Neville Staple - The Specials. The Selector also hail from Coventry so there must be ska in the water (a ska spa?).

Oh, and Lady Godiva famously rode through the streets of Coventry NAKED, which proved very exciting to this particular Californian...

Grant Lee Buffalo - Lady Godiva & Me

She rides unclothed through the streets of Coventry
Upon a great cockhorse hair to her knees
I wore a Minotaur's Mask and I played the Moon Cow
I was the last to see her anyhow

...not to mention these Jamaicans...

Boney M - Lady Godiva

She's a lady, Lady Godiva
The hero of Coventry
L-L-Lady Lady Godiva
She rode into history

Beyond that, there's obviously the Coventry Carol. And then, these...

The Men They Couldn't Hang - Going Back To Coventry

Old Gray - Coventry

Van Morrison - Got To Go Where The Love Is

Sent to Coventry feels like hell
This ain't no place to get well
Sent to Coventry once again
Break out of this empty shell

If I were doing this job properly (like Alyson does), I'd now be explaining to you the origins of the phrase "sent to Coventry" rather than just directing you here. Instead, here's someone who can give even Van Morrison a run for his money in the grumpy stakes...

Elvis Costello - Luxembourg

They're smiling sweetly while they're looking daggers
Kick you where it really matters
Send all your friends to Coventry
And look for your name in last night's obituaries

But the winners today are the hometown crew. Although they don't mention their native city by name in their biggest hit, drummer John Bradbury (another Coventry lad) says it's where the inspiration came from...
"When I think about Ghost Town, I think about Coventry. I saw it develop from a boom town, my family doing very well, through to the collapse of the industry and the bottom falling out of family life. Your economy is destroyed and, to me, that's what Ghost Town is about."
Still manages to sends shivers down my spine, this, every time I hear it...

Thursday 30 May 2019

Radio Songs #65: The Day I Almost Lost My Job Over Robbie Williams

In the mid-late 90s, my role at the station was split 50/50 between programming and commercial production. The programming side involved working on the phone-in, cataloguing music and attending playlist meetings. These were held weekly to decide which new releases should be put on the A list, B list, C list (evenings only) or restricted to "specialist shows" such as chart rundowns or our weekly "anything goes" indie/rock show. Usually present at these meetings were myself, D (drivetime presenter and "Head of Music", still a good friend of mine so many years later), J (deputy programme controller) and (occasionally) "Tim Allen", my nemesis (see previous post). The commercial production side involved writing (and occasionally producing) radio ads. I'll talk more about that in the future, but for now it's enough to say that while I worked in that department, I had three of the best managers I've ever had: P, M & I. Each was different, but each understood the fundamental nature of the business: writing radio ads is an utterly ridiculous job, so let's get it done as quickly and easily as possible and then have some fun. They were, each of them, the complete antithesis of Tim Allen, and I'll consider them close friends to the day I die (even though M has completely disappeared off the face of the earth and I doubt I'll ever see or speak to him again... but that was just M).

Anyway, the playlist meeting where I almost lost my job because of Robbie Williams... Iffypedia tells me this story must have taken place in early 1998. We'd spent a couple of years by this point fighting to get the likes of Blur, Oasis and Pulp daytime airplay, with occasional victories, but I'd never expected my greatest defeat to come via Robbie Williams.

This day, however, Tim Allen had elected to join the playlist meeting to contribute his own distinctive brand of ignorance. Bear in mind, for those of you who weren't present last time...

This man had NO INTEREST in popular music WHATSOEVER.

He also had no KNOWLEDGE or UNDERSTANDING of popular music WHATSOEVER.

And so we come to Robbie Williams - Let Me Entertain You.

Now I'd ask you at this point to put aside your own personal prejudices (whatever they may be) concerning Mr. Williams and consider the fact that, at this point in time, his career could not get much higher. After successfully escaping Take That, he'd build a solid repertoire of solo singles which were threatening to eclipse his former band. His previous single, Angels, had been one of the biggest selling songs of 2017 even though it was released in December and ended up selling even more copies in 2018. It had been A-listed by every radio station in the country, so playlisting its follow-up seemed a no-brainer to everyone in the meeting.

Everyone except Tim Allen.

Tim Allen did not like this song because it featured "heavy guitars". It was, he said, "too rock - verging on metal". It was not suitable for our station at all. "I wouldn't even want it playing on your little indie show, it's too loud for that."

(For the record, neither myself nor D would have considered playing Robbie Williams on the indie show... although we may have given his cheeky, rocked-up version of Back For Good a couple of spins.)

At this point, I rather lost my cool with Tim Allen. I tried to explain to him that given the success of Angels, Williams was guaranteed another big hit with the follow-up (and although it didn't sell more copies, Let Me Entertain You did eventually achieve a higher chart position than its predecessor) and we'd be foolish to ignore it.

"No," he insisted, "it's a godawful racket. He's a one hit wonder. Beyond Angels, nobody will even remember him in 6 months time. He'll be back in Boyzone before you know it."

OK, I made that last line up for effect, but the rest of it is verbatim. Even two decades later, I remember this bullshit word for word.

It was the "one hit wonder" line that did it for me. After that, I stopped listening to him.  I may have tried to point out that Williams had had four Top 20 hits prior to Angels, or I may have just put my head in my hands and given up. For the rest of the meeting, I treated him with the contempt he deserved. I refused to speak to him. I refused to make eye contact with him. I sent him to Coventry.

Looking back on it now, it wasn't the most mature reaction, and much as I still loathe Tim Allen and everything he represented, I feel I could have been a bit more grown-up about it. But I was a young man, full of piss and vinegar, and he was an idiot.

Only much later did I learn that my behaviour in that meeting almost lost me my job. Apparently, on returning to his office, Tim Allen was so incensed by the way I'd treated him that he got straight on the phone to P, my other boss at that time (in commercial production), to demand that I was fired immediately. (For some reason, Tim Allen couldn't unilaterally fire me as I worked for two departments; it had to be a joint firing from both my managers.)

P, however, wasn't in. He'd gone out on a call. (Not that P would have fired me, ever - he would have fought my corner to the end. He had very little time for Tim Allen. Few sane people did.) A colleague took a message for P to call Tim Allen back, which then got lost, so P never even had the conversation. By the next day, Tim Allen had calmed down enough to decide he didn't actually want my head on a platter, though relations were even chillier than usual between us for the next few months.

Some years later, when Tim Allen finally left the station for pastures new, he remarked to another colleague, "I bet Rol's throwing a party to celebrate". And do you know what, reader? I did.

Here's a song I've never been able to listen to in the same way since. For all its pomp and cheese, I love it... perhaps just because Tim Allen hated it. What better reason could there be?

Wednesday 29 May 2019

My Top Ten Songs About Killing Pop Stars

I've been planning this one for a while, but Charity Chic finally forced my hand.

Ten songs about killing (or at least seriously wounding) pop stars. Shoot!

Special mention to Mark E. Smith, who once memorably sang...

And if I ever end up like Bono,
Slit my throat with a kitchen knife...

10. Altered Images - Dead Pop Stars

An obvious place to start, although this one doesn't go so far as to name names. The rest aren't so coy...

9. The Cranberries - I Just Shot John Lennon

The most famous of all murdered pop stars. The Cranberries give a voice to his killer, Mark David Chapman, but their sympathies remain with the Walrus.

"I just shot John Lennon!"
He said, "I just shot John Lennon!"
What a sad and sorry and sickening sight
It was a sad and sorry and sickening night

8. Keith Top Of The Pops & His Minor UK Indie Celebrity All-Star Backing Band - Two of the Beatles Are Dead

My favourite line in this goes...

Don't count Stuart Sutcliffe or the original Paul

...which always makes me smile.

7. Chumbawamba - Slag Aid

I never quite got Chumbawamba's message here, other than that - in their opinion - famous pop stars are hypocrites for getting involved in charity appeals. (By their calculations, Live Aid, Band Aid and Sport Aid raised less than half of Michael Jackson's "personal amassed fortune", "or about the same as the world spends on arms every two hours, forty minutes".

Most of the lyrics just do what it says in the title, but they do nail Cliff Richard to a cross towards the end... and there's another version where they do the same to John Lydon, for balance.

6. Jackie Balfour - Sting's Dead

An amusing anecdote, if not an actual song. Still...

5. The Wonder Stuff - Rick Astley In The Noose

Poor old Rick Astley. Back in the late 80s, I hated him in his role as SAW poster-boy, but I've developed a weird respect for him over the years. Even Nick Lowe feels bad about writing these lines in All Men Are Liars now...

Well do you remember Rick Astley?
He had a big fat hit it was ghastly
He said I’m never gonna give you up or let you down
Well I’m here to tell you that dick’s a clown

4. Leonard Cohen - A Singer Must Die

Here's Leonard turning the gun on himself... in reaction to his own critics.
"This song is for my critics and for my judges and for those who give marks to us everywhere, who evaluate our performance whether it is in the courtroom or the cloakroom or the bedroom. This is for the judges."
3. Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott - When I Get Back To Blighty

Paul Heaton's trick is to get someone with a much sweeter voice to sing his most poisonous lines, hence Jacqui Abbott's the one who gives voice to this hugely topical song (even more so today than when it was written 5 years ago) about the perils of Little Britain's fake-nostalgic jingoism which ends up making a figurehead of Mr. Collins, esquire.

A white T-shirt and faded jeans
Just, just an ordinary guy
But prisoner to his tax returns
Oh, Phil Collins, Phil Collins must die

2. The Indelicates - Waiting For Pete Doherty To Die

Simon & Julia don't actually want the notorious Libertine to drop dead. This is more a comment on media vultures and a public over-obsessed with celebrity death. Apparently.

1. Chris T-T - Dreaming Of Injured Pop Stars

A similar sentiment powers Chris T-T's somewhat dated (pop-reference wise) yet still ESSENTIAL Number One (sorry, CC). Always raises a smile in this house anyway...

The bit about the Stereophonics is my favourite. Poor old Kelly Jones.

Got any pop star hit lists of your own? Share with the group.

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Hot 100 #38

38 Special are a Southern rock band formed by Donnie Van Zant, the younger brother of Lynyrd Skynyrd singer Ronnie.

As Martin identified in last week's comments, loads of songs make mention of the Smith & Wesson .38 Special, and though he chose not to mention them "in the spirit of gun control", that didn't stop the rest of you! I was metaphorically blown away by the following fully-loaded suggestions from...

Rigid Digit:

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Saturday Night Special

And as a man's reaching for his trousers
Shoots him full of 38 holes

Mark Knopfler - 38 Special


Warren Zevon - I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

I've got a .38 special up on the shelf
I'll sleep when I'm dead
If I start acting stupid
I'll shoot myself
I'll sleep when I'm dead


Robert Johnson - 32-30 Blues

She got a 38 special but I believe its much too light
I got a 32-20, got to make the camps alright

And Brian, who explains...
All roads lead back to Nick Lowe. Going with "Me and My .38" by Carlene Carter off of 'Blue Nun' from 1981. This one was co-written and produced by then husband Lowe. She's backed by Lowe's band at the time... Paul Carrack, Martin Belmont, James Eller and Bobby Irwin. Love this album. Tough broad. When she leaves the key under the mat, you better show up or you'll have a double date with her and her .38.
I wish I could find that somewhere online, Brian, because it sounds like a cracker. Sadly, the internet let me down. However, I'll see your Nick Lowe suggestion and raise you this...

Nick Lowe - Switchboard Susan

When I'm near you girl, I get an extension
And I don't mean Alexander Graham Bell's invention
Switchboard Susan, can we be friends?
After six, at weekends

Hey babe, your number's great
Oh you bring a smile to my dial
Oh you're great, operator's great

Sticking with the smut, here's C, who went all Gallic on us this week...

Charlotte Gainsbourg - Les Oxalis

Sa mère Marie-Camille
Repose à ses côtés
Elle survit à sa fille
Encore 38 années

I'm not putting that into google translate, but I bet it's mucky.

Back to Martin then, who clearly thinks he's identified a smart way of winning this game: just choose songs by my favourite artists. (Although Lynchie's still smarting that this tactic didn't work for him last week.)

Lloyd Cole and the Commotions - Her Last Fling

And now you're underweight
And overpaid
You will not be saved
And you're pushing 38

Billy Joel - Leningrad

I was born in 49 
A cold war kid in the McCarthy times
Stop 'em at the 38th parallel 
Blast those yellow reds to hell 
Cold war kids were hard to kill 
Under their desks in an air raid drill 
Haven't they heard we won the war 
What do they keep on fighting for?

Ooh... I tell you what, Martin, that came close. It really did.

Well, that almost takes care of your suggestions this week, so here's a few thrown up by my own hard-drive...

The Wonder Stuff - 38 Line Poem

Whiteout - Thirty Eight

ELO - 10538 Overture

(Yeah, I know that last one would get quickly disqualified if one of you suggested it, but it's still a belter if you like Jeff Lynne shamelessly ripping off the Beatles.)

And a couple of lyrical drops...

Johnny Cash - The Wreck of the Old '97

They give him his orders at Monroe, Virginia
Sayin', "Steve you're way behind time
This is not Thirty-Eight, but it's old Ninety-Seven
You must put her in Spencer on time"

Donald Fagen - Planet D'Rhonda

She’s from a small town somewhere upstate
I guess she’s somewhere between 19 and 38
She stays up all night – she drives too fast
I say easy baby- baby slow down
It’s never gonna happen
On Planet D’Rhonda

And finally, because I have no shame...

Bon Jovi - Social Disease

She's full of high grade octane
She could run the bullet train on 38 Double D's
Now you know for sure, she know the cure
To make a blind man see

But, I'm sure it comes with great relief that Douglas saved you all from having to listen to Jon Bon Jovi's boob-inspired lyrics this week by suggesting this cracking story song from his oft-requested Canadian heroes, The Tragically Hip. I have a weakness for story songs, particularly when they involve breaking out of prison.

37 next week. Any ideas?

Monday 27 May 2019

2019 Contenders: Inferno

As I've been listening to a lot of old  Go-Betweens records lately, I was tempted to check out the latest solo offering from surviving founder member Robert Forster. Pretty damned good it is too.

Here's a couple of fine tunes from it, firstly this upbeat offering which reminds me of Talking Heads... although perhaps that's just Robert's performance in the video.

Then, slower and more atmospheric, but with that very distinct Go-Betweens guitar sound... hell, fellow Aussie Nick Cave would be proud of this one as well, I reckon...

And if you enjoyed those, check out Life Has Turned A Page too, if you get the chance.

Sunday 26 May 2019

Saturday Snapshots #85 - The Answers

Thank you for Stayin' Alive long enough to come back and check out the answers to yesterday's Saturday Snapshots. Here's hoping You Win Again, without any Tragedy.

Lynchie just took the prize this week, with Rigid Digit failing to nail a draw by not working out the Happy Mondays song. If in doubt, go for the obvious one! Chris and Charity Chic shared out the rest of the points, although CC needed a little prompting.

Enough of my Jive Talkin'...

10. Lost kangaroo perplexes one-handed table tennis rulers.

Sultans of Ping FC - Where's Me Jumper?

"Dancing at the disco, bumper to bumper... wait a minute: where's me jumper!?"

One of Sam's favourites at the moment.

9. Thorny roller gets the full valet.

Rose Royce - Car Wash

8. Triceratots share the hurt.

"Triceratots". Geddit?

Dinosaur Jr. - Feel The Pain

7. Vulcan legend handles the crockery.

You can look up where T'Pau got their name from if you don't already know.

T'Pau - China In Your Hand

Wishing to dodge the shame of spotting this one, Rigid Digit revealed he'd seen them on an old TOTP repeat the night before. Alyson, ashamed to have not spotted them, replied, "I thought to myself, the only band I can think of with a long curly-haired female singer is T’Pau but it’s not a picture of Carol Decker. I was wrong!"

It did take me a while to find a photo of T'Pau where Carol Decker was not immediately recognisable. Then again, not everybody had quite the same teenage interest in that lady that I did.

6. Chimney struck by Murdoch / Hawke co-pilots.

Finally! One I get to explain!

Howling Mad Murdoch was the pilot in The A-Team.

Stringfellow Hawke flew Airwolf.

(Child of the 80s ahoy!)

Put them together and you get...

Howlin' Wolf - Smokestack Lightning

Apparently that was "a b**tard of a clue!", according to Lynchie. I just didn't want to go down the obvious "wild dog" route.

5. Amazon? Nestle? McDonalds? Never satisfied.

Bad Company - Can't Get Enough

4. Queasy, dizzy, teary... how much does the honeymaker charge to get across the river?

C wondered, "Is no. 4 the lovely Bee Bridgetoll with 'Pre-menstrual'? Sorry... but it should be, I'm sure it'd be great."

It would be great, though if that were an actual song, I'd have been more likely to go with a clue about stabbing your other half with a bread-knife because they'd slightly burnt the toast. Not that I'm talking from personal experience or anything.

With an extra clue about this lady also working in a Community Centre, Charity Chic was able to solve this one.

What's the bee's fee? To take you across the bridge?

Phoebe Bridgers - Motion Sickness

3. Flatulation coalition.

The Association - Windy

2. Join the escalator and think about what the Boomtown Rats never had.

The Boomtown Rats never had a happy Monday, obviously.

You're twisting my melon, man!

The Happy Mondays - Step On

Call the cops!

1. Explain to your mum how you boil jelly.

Boil jelly was an anagram.

How has it taken me 85 weeks to get to this gent? Doesn't he look a smart young man? I wish I could have found a photo of him in the boxing ring.

I've Gotta Get A Message To You... Saturday Snapshots will return next week.

Saturday 25 May 2019

Saturday Snapshots #85

Hello again, hello...

You know what they say: money talks, but it don't sing and dance... and it certainly don't play Saturday Snapshots.

You can though - identify ten top tunes and the artists behind them from the clues below, please. Play it now - play it now, my baby!

10. Lost kangaroo perplexes one-handed table tennis rulers.

9. Thorny roller gets the full valet.

8. Triceratots share the hurt.

7. Vulcan legend handles the crockery.

6. Chimney struck by Murdoch / Hawke co-pilots.

5. Amazon? Nestle? McDonalds? Never satisfied.

4. Queasy, dizzy, teary... how much does the honeymaker charge to get across the river?

3. Flatulation coalition.

2. Join the escalator and think about what the Boomtown Rats never had.

1. Explain to your mum how you boil jelly.

Answers tomorrow morning. Until then... Good times never seemed so good!

Friday 24 May 2019

The United Kingdom of Song #32: Antrim

Looking to pay another visit to Northern Ireland on this feature, I figured Shane MacGowan would be a good person to ask.

Sure enough, he directed me to Antrim Town in County Antrim, a town that doesn't appear to have any famous musical sons and daughters... unless you known differently... although Liam Neeson does hail from just a few miles up the road in Ballymena.

When he last stepped up that street
Shining steel in hand
Behind him marched in gray array
A stalwart earnest band
For Antrim town, for Antrim town
He lept into the fray
Now young Roddy McCorley goes to die
On the bridge of Tuam today...

Sounds a bit like the plot of a Liam Neeson movie, that.

Thursday 23 May 2019

2019 Contenders: Jenny, Jenny, I've Got Your Number...

I've no idea why Jenny Lewis chose to be photographed from the next down on her latest album cover, other than that the image is a direct follow-up to her last album cover which looked like this...

With another artist, you may wonder whether they were making a subtle comment about men who talk to / focus on a lady's boobs rather than her face. With Jenny, it's anybody's guess. She's very hard to predict / understand / pigeonhole... and maybe that's why she's become one of my favourite artists over the past few years.

On The Line continues a fine traditional of literate, sunny LA pop/rock records, with Lewis's uniquely detailed storytelling lyrics and her gorgeous vocals working together to mesmeric effect. Here's a fine example from the opening track, Heads Gonna Roll...

Took a little trip up north
In a borrowed convertible red Porsche
With a narcoleptic poet from Duluth
And we disagreed about everything
From Elliott Smith to Grenadine
He fell asleep and I put up the roof

And he took me to a graveyard
I thought he'd kill me there
And he kissed me on the corner
While the nuns of Harlem stared

The title track is my favourite at the moment - it's the Ronettes meets Karen Carpenter, built around a lyric that vintage Elvis Costello would have been proud to pen...

Before you let her under your sweater
Listen to my heart beating

On the line

Surely a contender for track of the year?

(If anyone's wondering about the title of this post, it's a reference to this... which I'm really hoping will make an appearance in Charity Chic's Double Initials TT post this Saturday... but it probably won't.)

Wednesday 22 May 2019

My Top Ten Evil Estate Agent Songs

As I mentioned last week, things are particularly fraught here as we prepare to move house. Again. I'd hoped to stay in our current home a little longer as it's the best home I've ever paid a mortgage on, but circumstances conspired to make us realise that if we could move now, we might save some money in the long-term. (The move is inevitable at some point in the next 4-5 years in order to get Sam into the High School we want him to go to... not the one I went to!)

Our house sold very quickly, which has meant there's been a mad rush over the past few weeks to find a suitable new home. We've had some pretty outrageous experiences viewing properties over the years (scarily, this will be the FOURTH house Louise and I have bought together over the last 11 years), and often that's been down to the estate agents selling them.. or the owners still residing in them.

There have been houses with dripping dungeons in the basement, houses with dead squirrels in the garden, one hi-tech Jetson's House with a bright orange shower room and the computer system from War Games in its garage... and our personal favourite, the house that was owned by Keef Richards' hippy brother, who told us: "You can't go upstairs, man - Rosie's in the bath!"

Here's ten songs that remind me of looking for a new house... and the estate agents lies that try to sell you homes you don't want.

10. Shakin' Stevens - This Ole House

Had to start with a bit of Shaky, didn't I?

This ole house is getting shaky
This ole house is getting old
This ole house lets in the rain
This ole house lets in the cold

9. Fionn Regan - Bunker or Basement

Bunker or basement the bills pile up
The sea view never was an option
Below street level, it's a mining disaster
The options are blocked

Try getting a mortgage on that.

8. Reverend & The Makers - Noisy Neighbour

The first home we owned together. A lovely house with stunning views. Spoiled by the arrival of the family from Hell next door.

7. Guns 'n' Roses - Right Next Door To Hell

Just in case you didn't get the message first time. Most of our moves have involved this kind of thing, one way or another. "L'enfer c'est les autres."

6. The Beautiful South - Woman In The Wall

We've definitely looked at a few properties that might have had somebody buried in the walls.

5. John Mellencamp - Little Pink Houses

Nobody wants an interstate running through their front yard, do they?

4. Malvina Reynolds - Little Boxes

Here's the problem with so many modern houses too... tiny little boxes made of ticky tacky!

3. Chumbawamba - Ugh! Your Ugly Houses


2. Lloyd Cole & The Commotions - Four Flights Up

I was woken up at four a.m. by your screams and anguished cries
Your mother was singing in the bathroom, she will never be my child
Oh baby talks in her sleep so loud
We're living four flights up but I swear right now it feels like underground!

Love to meet the estate agent that sold Lloyd this one!

1. The Four Tops - 7 Rooms of Gloom

I see a house, a house of stone
A lonely house, 'cos now you're gone
Seven rooms, that's all it is, seven rooms of gloom
I live with emptiness, without your tenderness
"But, on the plus side, there is an en-suite..."

Any songs in your collection the estate agents must have lied about?

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Hot 100 #39

I'd initially thought I'd just chuck the above image on top of this week's post to see if anyone could work out why I'd done it.

Then I discovered this lot who rather gave the joke away...

Anyway, number 39 on our countdown. Thankfully not as busy as last week's entry. (But not far off.)

C started the ball rolling with a slice of post-punk goodness...

Television Personalities - Hard Luck Story Number 39

Followed soon after by Lynchie, who went all weird on us...

Primer mi carucha (Chevy '39)
Going to El Monte Legion Stadium
Pick up on my weesa (she is so divine)
Helps me stealing hub caps
Wasted all the time
The above are the opening lyrics to "Dog Breath, in the Year of the Plague" by The Mothers Of Invention. The vocals are stupendous, especially Nelcy Walker's soprano voice backed by Ray Collins & Roy Estrada. This track led me to purchase "Cruising with Ruben & the Jets" - an earlier Mothers' album which has some of the best doo-wop songs ever recorded.
Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention - Dog Breath, in the Year of the Plague

Lynchie's second suggestion was a bit more down-to-earth... and surely a shoe-in for this week's winner as it comes from one of my favourite albums...

A friend of mine became a father last night
When we spoke in his voice I could hear the light
Of the skies and the rivers the timberwolf in the pines
And that great jukebox out on Route 39

Bruce Springsteen - Valentine's Day

Then again, much as I love The Boss, it's only two weeks since he last claimed the top spot in this countdown. Would I really give it to him again?

Our Canadian correspondent, Douglas McLaren, was pretty sure I would...
Darn. Got beaten to the Boss, which I am guessing is the "shoe-in". Oh well. Though Valentine's Day is (in my opinion) the better song, Springsteen's "Stand On It" is a rollickin' great-balls-of-fire b-side belter that also refers to Route 39.
Bruce Springsteen - Stand On It

Nope. Not this week, Douglas. What else have you got for me?
A few other offerings as outside chances. For starters, there is last week's poster boys, UB40, with "Hold Your Position, Mk3". Not the biggest UB40 fan, but that one sits in the record collection. Lyrics mention "39 Acker Tree, Frontline"...not sure if that is an address or what?
Hardly a desirable residence, by the sounds of it.

UB40 - Hold Your Position, MK3
I feel I should mention Canada's Own Gordon Lightfoot again this week, as his offering for "40" went down fighting. The song "Drink Yer Glasses Empty". A typically Lightfoot song, semi-autobiographical I suppose given that he was in fact born in 1938, but timeless considering the world today: 
Better drink yer glasses empty now
It's time to rise and shine
There's one less cause in the world
To be leaving for
It was back in 39
When I was one year old
Sitting by the backyard fence
And the world had turned so cold...

Gordon Lightfoot - Drink Yer Glasses Empty
Another one that actually sits in the collection since I picked up a vinyl copy at a charity shop, but I am not actually all that fond of myself (outside chance perhaps?) is World Party, "The Ballad of The Little Man". The Latin Teacher in me appreciates the Classical allusion in the lyrics, though:
He's an animal but he thinks he's God
Gets him mixed up with him
And we're all at the mercy
Of this little man within
He was doing fine in 39
Thank God he did not win
He kept playing on his fiddle
As he watched old Rome cave in...

World Party - The Ballad of the Little Man

Blimey - a Latin teacher! That'll put a lowly English teacher like me in my place. But no, not World Party this week, Douglas. Anything else?
Alright, the most outside outside chance of all?
Weird Al Yankovic - The Biggest Ball of Twine In Minnesota

Well, we crossed the state line about 6: 39
And we saw the sign that said, "Twine Ball exit, fifty miles"
Oh, the kids were so happy they started singing
"99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall" for the twenty-seventh time that day...
It reminds me of my summer vacations as a kid. Every last one of them. And at least by mentioning in now it pre-empts its obvious chances of being a take-all winner in 12 weeks time when number 27 comes up.
Yeah, that's the winne... oh, no, sorry, it isn't. Nice try though.

Who else do we have? Ah, George...
Of course Spanish Bombs will not be featuring.........
Well, it will be featuring, George. It just won't be winning. Nothing against Mr. Strummer and co. I'm just not cool enough to worship them in quite the same way many other venerable bloggers do.

The Clash - Spanish Bombs

Spanish songs in Andalucia
The shooting sites in the days of '39
Oh, please, leave the vendanna open
Fredrico Lorca is dead and gone
Bullet holes in the cemetery walls
The black cars of the Guardia Civil
Spanish bombs on the Costa Rica
I'm flying in a DC 10 tonight

Next up was Rigid Digit, with three fine suggestions...

The Cure - 39

White Stripes - Hotel Yorba

I said 39 times that I love you, 
To the beauty I had found

That's just harrassment, Jack. You want to watch that sort of behaviour in this day and age.
And for the third and final time:
AC/DC - Whole Lotta Rosie

42 39 56 - you could say she's got it all

God loves a trier.

Our final suggestion this week comes from Deano, my old pal from the land down under...

Paul Kelly - You're 39, You're Beautiful and You're Mine
A beautiful ballad where Kelly shows that love songs don’t just have to be about the young ones…
That is pretty special. Thanks, Deano.

And you all for playing, as ever. Before we get onto this week's winner (as immidiately identified by Martin, and seconded by Deano), here's a few more offerings from my hard-drive...

Lloyd Cole - 39 Down

Hank Williams III - 7 Months, 39 Days

The Handsome Family - Emily Shore - 1819 - 1939

Larry Jon Wilson - July 12th, 1939

Al Stewart - Laughing Into 1939

Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsborough - 18 - 39

Tenacious D -39

Jeannie C. Riley - Slippin' Shirley Thompson

Sippin' Shirley Thompson doesn't care
She's 39 and feelin' fine and not much up to goin' anywhere
Her husband is a bible salesman and at 39 his hair fell out
She said there's not a hair between him and the heaven that he talks about

All good songs, but the songs from our teenage years often leave the biggest impression, don't they? And that's certainly the case with this tune from Queen's A Night At The Opera album, a favourite of mine was I was 15 (even though it was released 12 years earlier). I never had much of an idea what the song was about, I just thought it was a pretty tune and Brian does a good job on vocals. Iffypedia reveals the lyrics go back to Brian's days as an astrophysicist...
The song tells the tale of a group of space explorers who embark on what is, from their perspective, a year-long voyage. Upon their return, however, they realise that a hundred years have passed, because of the time dilation effect in Einstein's special theory of relativity, and the loved ones they left behind are now all dead or aged.
You don't get that from Ed Sheeran, do you?

Oh, final trivia bit. This was George Michael's favourite Queen song, and apparently he used to play it as a busker on the London Underground. I bet the police moved him on if he gathered a crowd this big.

38 next week. I bet Douglas has a suggestion. Anyone else?

Monday 20 May 2019

2019 Contenders: Dumb Fun

Pure country today - or Ameripolitan if you want to get genre specific - from an artist I first came across about 20 years ago when he released an album of Truck Driving country songs that caught my attention.

A former trucker himself, Dale Watson carved a niche for himself in the big-rig country sub-genre but he's steered away from that in recent years to embrace a broader, Johnny Cash-influenced sound. At 56, with over 30 albums under his belt, there appears to be no slowing him down... despite all those dumb vices he just can't shake.

Mid-life crisis be damned!

Great quiff too.

Sunday 19 May 2019

Saturday Snapshots #84 - The Answers

It's Sunday morning, and though you may all be wishing to Enter Sandman for another couple of hours' kip, it's important you get up and check your answers to Saturday Snapshots. Nothing Else Matters!

Another close-fought battle yesterday morning with Lynchie & Ramone tying on two and a half points each, but Charity Chic pipping them both to the post with an impressive three - largely down to his expert knowledge of women with balls. Congratulations and thanks to all for playing.

10. Discrimination is beneath the construction crew.

(Beneath = down under.)

Men At Work - Down Under

9. Queen of chefs grows a pair.

Elizabeth Cook - Sometimes it Takes Balls to be a Woman

8. Abnormal abilities are impossible.

Freak Power - No Way

(Yes, that is Norman Cook. That's why this is so damned catchy.)

7. Captain Kirk meets a Doctor Who for S&M.

Captain James T. Kirk was Jim to his friends.

The Doctor Who before the current one was Peter Capaldi.

Jim Capaldi - Love Hurts

6. Ridiculous me tells unbelievable stories.

I, Ludicrous - Preposterous Tales

(Lynchie missed the I comma, but I'll let him have it.)

5. In the afternoon, rappers and angels love a rut.

Afternoon delight.

Angel Delight.

Rapper's Delight.

A rut is a groove. What were you thinking of?

Dee-Lite - Groove Is In The Heart 

A photo finish between George and Ramone for that one.

4. Mirror. Cognac. Snap!

A mirror is a looking class.

Cognac is a brandy.

Brandy snap.

Looking Glass - Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)

Well done to Mr. C - I expected Alyson to get that one.

3. Kennel Club holds a hot lead... which would be my preference.

KC has a sunshine band. Sometimes these clues are pretty straight foreward. That's the way I like it.

Always reminds me of this amusing 80s comedy routine, from Rondell Sheridan.

KC & The Sunshine Band - That's The Way (I Like It)

2. A racist nanny prepares for a hike.

"A racist nanny" was an unfortunate (if irresistible) anagram.

Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Are Made For Walking

1. Shoeless dating incredulity.

Shoeless Joe Jackson was an American baseball player, as immortalised in the movie Field of Dreams. Makes me blub every time.

Still one of the greatest opening lines of any song ever...

Obey your master! Master of Snapshots, I'm pulling your strings!

(This One is dedicated to all the Metallica fans out there.)

Saturday Snapshots returns next week. You'll be Unforgiven for missing it.

Saturday 18 May 2019

Saturday Snapshots #84


Oh, no, sorry, it's not, is it? But Mama, We're All Crazee Now about Saturday Snapshots, the quiz in which you all fight amongst yourselves to be first to identify artists and titles from the silly clues below.

Here's ten more to have a go at... Coz I Love You.

10. Discrimination is beneath the construction crew.

9. Queen of chefs grows a pair.

8. Abnormal abilities are impossible.

7. Captain Kirk meets a Doctor Who for S&M.

6. Ridiculous me tells unbelievable stories.

5. In the afternoon, rappers and angels love a rut.

4. Mirror. Cognac. Snap!

3. Kennel Club holds a hot lead... which would be my preference.

2. A racist nanny prepares for a hike.

1. Shoeless dating incredulity.

Look Wot You Dun (in terms of scores on the doors) tomorrow morning. Until then.. Gudbuy T' Jane.

(The English teacher in me would like to apologise for Mr. Holder's spelling. He'll be staying behind again after class this week.)

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