Due to the oncoming end of the holiday year and a surplus of days to take, today has been one of those days off that I have simply spent at home. It's been brilliant. I've slept in a bit, read my book, popped to the shops for a haircut and to get my shoes re-heeled. I've gone to the gym nice and early for a swim, and in a bit I'm going to go out to a nice fish restaurant for a spot of dinner. Just what the doctor ordered, I reckon.
One important piece of business first..... earworms. This week's Guest Editor is a blogger of good standing around these parts, and he's always a welcome visitor here. I'll shut up and let him get on with then, eh?
Ladies and Gentleworms, without further ado, it is my great pleasure to present for your earworming pleasure....
Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #77 - Pynchon
Earworm time again, and lest I forget, thanks to Swiss Toni for letting me contribute one more time.
I have approached this grave responsibility differently this time. The rules that Swiss Toni outlined a couple of weeks ago have been taken very seriously. (Too seriously?) I have purchased a moleskin notebook ("The legendary notebook of Hemingway, Picasso, Chatwin.", fact fans!), and when a tune popped into my head and wouldn't let go, I noted it down. Good, bad or indifferent tunes. Didn't matter.
Ready? Here we go.
"Good Girls Don't" by the Knack.
I have no idea where this came from. I must have been listening to the radio, the Knack's most famous song "My Sharona" must have come on, and I must have started thinking about the equally good follow up single. "Good Girls Don't" is never played on the radio. On the album version, especially, "Good Girls Don't" errs spectacularly on the side of misogynism, but it also has a chorus fallen from pop heaven itself and I challenge anybody to not be singing it for days after hearing it just once.
"Come As You Are" by Nirvana.
As featured in the scene in the romcom "Definitely, Maybe" when kooky free spirit Isla Fisher bemoans the fact that her boyfriend wants to be "the next Kurt Cobain" and buttoned up political worker Ryan Reynolds asks the question, "Who's Kurt Cobain?". (The scene is set in 1991.) I had tickets for Nirvana's show at the Aston Villa Leisure Centre in 1994. Sadly the show did not happen. (No, I did not get a refund and No, you cannot touch the tickets and No, they are not for sale.) I really liked Nirvana. I sometimes wonder what would have happened to them if Cobain had lived. Cobain had stated that he wanted to see Nirvana progressing past rock and becoming more like R.E.M., circa the period of "Automatic For The People". Maybe the "Unplugged In New York" album was a glimpse of that potential future? I don't know. All lost, anyway.
And talking of R.E.M...
"Near Wild Heaven" by R.E.M.
Popped up on my MP3 player one night. God bless him, Mike Mills is hardly the best vocalist in the world, but "Near Wild Heaven" is a slice of sunny, Californian, harmony driven, Byrdsian pop and is a wonderful song. In fact it is one of my favourite R.E.M. singles. In defence of Mr. Mills, you could claim that it is impossible to imagine Michael Stipe singing lead on this, as it would not have suited him and somebody had to have a go. You can hear Stipe on the harmonies and the chorus. Sadly, R.E.M. were never as good once Bill Berry had left, but I do like their new single.
"Us Against The World" by Westlife.
Damn you Terry Wogan, morning DJ on BBC Radio 2. Many people believe so, but I do not think that Westlife are the source of all evil. I think they have made at least two great singles, ("My Love" and "Flying Without Wings"), but this is... Er... shit. Sorry, but it is. Westlife are Daniel O'Donnell for teenagers and bewildered housebound housewife's. One of my Sister's (38 this year and old enough to know better) would strongly disagree with me. She would run off with Nicky, Shane or Kian tomorrow. Not Mark, though. He likes boys.
"Falling" by Nitin Sawhney (featuring Aqualung).
I must have heard this song hundreds of times. It is on the CD that my local cinema plays before the lights go down and the adverts and trailers start. I made an effort to find out what it was and here we are. It is a beautiful, downbeat, atmospheric piece of music that builds and grows. I do not know how else to describe it. Piano, strings, trancey drums. Maybe it is chill out music? Brilliant vocal from Matt Hales.
"I'll Never Fall In Love Again" by Bobbie Gentry.
I bought a Top Of The Pops compilation, featuring tracks from 1969, and this song was track 22. Ms. Gentry is probably best known for the magnificent atmospheric and eerie single "Ode To Billy Joe" that was a worldwide hit for her in 1967. "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" was strangely never released as a single in the States, but was a UK number 1 in August 1969. It is a brilliant version of one of Bacharach-David's finest songs. I love the wicked rhyme of "pneumonia" with "never phone ya". It needs to be pointed out that Bobbie Gentry's version pisses all over Deacon Blue's soulless dirge. Ms. Gentry sings with such pain in her voice. Only a woman who has been messed around by love could sing like that.
"Run To Me" by the Bee Gees.
A number of the performers who failed to win Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Any Dream Will Do" reality show have formed a boy band called the Josephs. They have, or are about to, release an album of cover versions. I heard their version of the Bee Gees "Run To Me" on the radio. It is very nice, but the original is still the best. The Bee Gees were cool! Then they weren't. Then they were cool again! Then they weren't. Then they were cool again! Then they weren't. Then... Well, since Maurice Gibb's sad death there no longer is a Bee Gees. Barry and Robin Gibb have announced that the name will be consigned to pop history. Probably right. God knows, I am no musicologist, but there is a chord change in this song, just before the chorus, that always puts a lump in my throat. I took my Mom to see the Bee Gees live in 1988 and they were magnificent. They sang "Run To Me" that night and big, hard Pynchon had to wipe his eyes. I don't think that my Mom saw me doing it.
"Kiss Me (1985)" by Stephen Duffy.
Circa 1985/1986 I absolutely adored Stephen Duffy's music. I was happy to discover recently that his two albums of that period ("The Ups And Downs Of Stephen 'Tintin' Duffy" and "Because We Love You") were available to buy on download. So, I did that, and was re-introduced to the genius of "Kiss Me (1985)". It kind of makes a nonsense of my much stated comment (when drunk) that the 80's pop scene was just awful, being nothing but a combination of bad hair, bad makeup and a bad drum sound. "Kiss Me (1985)" is very much an 80's record, as it was partially produced by J. J. Jeczalik of the Art Of Noise fame. It's still a great track. Really nothing else to be said. I never got into any other Stephen Duffy music after 1986, but I am glad that he has had success in recent years as Robbie Williams' co-writer on the latter's later albums.
"Please Read The Letter" by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.
Another track, courtesy of that man Wogan. Weeks before I had also heard a really interesting interview that Robert Plant did with Johnny Walker about the genesis of this particular project. I would be hard pressed to comment intelligently on any of Robert Plant's solo work. I just do not know much about any of it, ditto Alison Krauss. But I do like this track an awful lot. It sounds nothing like how you would expect Robert Plant to sound if you only know him through the heavy side of Led Zeppelin. I have read enough about Robert Plant, admittedly without much of an inclination to buy his music, to totally admire his complete refusal to live off the legacy of Led Zeppelin. He does not appear to have stood still. He has pushed into new areas of music. I really should take the plunge and buy some of his recent music, shouldn't I?
"The Village Green Preservation Society" by Kate Rusby.
That man Wogan, again. This song was recorded for the Jennifer Saunders TV series "Jam & Jerusalem". I have never seen that TV series. Other than the first couple of series of "Absolutely Fabulous" I have never found Jennifer Saunders (or Dawn French, come to that) remotely funny. I would rather have a stick poked in my eye than waste a second in watching French and Saunders. That aside, "The Village Green Preservation Society" is a great version of the Kinks classic, sung in Kate Rusby's broad Barnsley accent. It really works. A clarion call to protect the traditions of an England that, maybe, never existed. Village fetes, tea and crumpets, strawberry jam, Sherlock Holmes, Moriarty and ... Dracula??? Also, was Donald Duck British? We should be told.
All done. Cheers Swiss! Roll on next time.
Thanks JP, as interesting and as eclectic a list as you are likely to find. I wouldn't say that I have rules as such... I prefer to think of them as guidelines... but there's certainly nothing wrong with keeping a list as you go along. Far better than trying to make them all up at the end of the week, eh? You can't go far wrong with a Moleskine either: I use one at work. It's the A5 squared version, and although I've been using them for years and am on about book 8, for some reason people find it endlessly fascinating that I work in this way. No, I've no idea either. They seem to get especially excited when I write with a fountain pen. Yes, perhaps they are all remedial.
Anyway. Thanks for playing mate, and look forward to having you here again soon.
Coming up: Briskate (29/2), me (7/3 - my birthday!), Craig Cliff (14/3), fiery little sod (21/3), Cody Bones (28/3 TBC), the lovely J (4/4), then you? Drop me an email and it could be you up here with your name in lights. Or something.
Have a good weekend, y'all.
[Previous Guest Editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah, Le Moine Perdu, clm, Michael, Hyde, Adem, Alecya, bytheseashore, adamant, Earworms of the Year 2005, Delrico Bandito, Graham, Lithaborn, Phil, Mark II, Stef, Kaptain Kobold, bedshaped, I have ordinary addictions, TheCatGirlSpeaks, Lord B rides again, Tina, Charlie II, Cody Bones, Poll Star, Jenni II, Martin, Del II, The Eye in the Sky, RussL, Lizzy's Hoax, Ben II, Earworms of the Year 2006, Sarah, Flash II, Erika, Hen, Pynchon, Troubled Diva, Graham II, Cat II, Statue John II, Sweeping the Nation, Aravis II, Olympian II, C, Planet-Me, Mike, Michael II, Eye in the Sky II, Charlie III, The Great Grape Ape, asta, Ben III, Earworms of the Year 2007, Cat III, JamieS & Wombat]
A quick piece of pimping before I go. Last year, Shaggy Blog Stories, Mike T-D's brainchild, raised over £2000 for Comic Relief with a compilation of stories by various bloggers. This year, Peach has picked up the baton and (with a couple of other bloggers) has come up with an idea to raise some more money for a very good cause: Warchild.
They need your help:
We would like you to submit (to us at email@example.com) a written piece about something you've been through from any aspect of your life that you want to share. It can literally be about anything: your relationships, your past, a road not taken, being a parent, an illness or your regrets etc. We've called it "You're Not The Only One" to reflect the camaraderie of blogging.
Full details are here. The deadline for submissions is Friday 29th February, so you've still got a week to have a trawl through your archives for something that you could submit.
I know there was some excitement about how the pieces got selected for Shaggy Blog Stories, so please try to remember that the objective of this is to raise money for charity.... I've popped something in for consideration, but even if that doesn't get put into the book, I'll still be buying a copy.
OK. End of pimp.
Have a good weekend y'all.
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