Earworms of the Week
Black Sabbath – “Iron Man”
The band are touring again and this song will no doubt be featured at some point in the forthcoming Robert Downey Jr Blockbuster… (by the way, have you seen the trailer for the new Superman film? I really like it, and I’m not normally a fan of the man of steel)… This isn’t sophisticated music, by any stretch of the imagination (and looking at Ozzy, you wouldn’t really expect anything else, would you?) but this song is extremely satisfying at a very basic level. WHAT. A. RIFF.
Rage Against the Machine – “Bombtrack”
I guess this popped into my head because of all the fuss made over the death of Thatcher. I’m with Billy Bragg on this one and I’m not going to exult in the death of an old lady, whoever she was. I’m pretty sick of the endless arguments on both sides of the debate around her politics and her legacy too. Both sides are entrenched and unlikely to change their minds and the truth is inevitably lost somewhere in the middle. I was going to avoid to funeral altogether, but unfortunately we have big screens up all over the place in my office, and I caught a bit as I was making a soothing cup of mint and liquorice tea. The coffin was processing somewhere and there was a soldier marching solemnly in front, carrying his bearskin. Somewhat to my surprise, the sight made me furious. It’s not so much a result of my views on Thatcher herself, it was more about the saturation, wall-to-wall coverage by a complicit media that made me sick to my stomach. This sort of pageantry is supposedly what Britain does anywhere else in the world. Weddings and funerals. This is how we choose to let the rest of the world view us. Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me.
Also this week, Stuart posted a link to this in Hansard. It’s a speech by the Labour MP David Anderson, and I think it’s well worth a read. Here’s a bit of it.
“As a former coal miner who became a care worker in the 1980s, looking after frail elderly people—particularly frail elderly women suffering from dementia, incontinence and the inability to bathe and dress themselves—I have nothing but empathy for the family of Margaret Thatcher. They will feel an immense sense of loss that will almost certainly be tinged with a sense of relief. They will feel guilty about that relief, but they should not; it is a normal, healthy attitude when a loved one has been brought low by the reality of our mortality.
As a former miner and trade union leader and as the Member for a constituency whose history was built on the hard work of ordinary men and women, it would be remiss of me not to record the reality of life for people in such constituencies because of policies promoted by Margaret Thatcher. She came to power promising to bring harmony where there was discord. I can safely say that in mining communities up and down the country she brought the opposite. Most mining areas were stable, secure and safe communities where we worked hard and played hard. We did not complain about the difficult conditions in which we worked. All we asked for was the chance to carry on doing that work.”
Dignified and powerful, I thought. Read the whole thing though.
The Muppets – “Man or Muppet?”
Bret McKenzie is a musical genius. I personally think that “Life’s a Happy Song” is a better song, but the lyrics here are so clever. Well worth an Oscar, even if he does rhyme “muppet” with “muppet”.
Rodriguez – “Crucify Your Mind”
“Searching for Sugar Man” opened up a whole new musical door for me this week. I’ve been really enjoying listening to the soundtrack all week. Lots of great songs, but this is the one that’s really stuck. Really great lyrics.
“Were you tortured by your own thirst
In those pleasures that you seek
That made you Tom the curious
That makes you James the weak?”
Clash – “Safe European Home”
I’ve now pretty much permanently shifted my breakfast radio listening from BBC 5Live to BBC 6Music. When they play stuff like this as I have my first cup of tea of the day, it’s surely not that hard a decision to understand.
Sting – “Fields of Gold”
Someone mentioned Sting at work this morning, and for some reason it triggered the memory of a dream from last night that I’d otherwise completely forgotten. I was in an auditorium somewhere when they started to play “Roxanne” over the PA system. It’s a decent song, if you ask me, but the crowd around me started to boo vigorously. As the boos got louder, Sting himself appeared on the stage and started telling people off for their disapproval of his song and shouting at them to stop booing. Nobody stopped. Now can anyone tell me where the hell that came from?
Survivor – “The Eye of the Tiger”
We have an open area just around the corner from my desk at work and they sometimes use this for what they call “Pavillions”. Today, we’ve been graced by a set of static exercise bikes on which our marketing team are setting off on their attempt to cycle around the world to raise money for charity. Fine. What I could live without though is the loud, pumping and repeating soundtrack that they’ve been playing: Daft Punk, Rihanna, The Feeling…. And this. On a 20 minute loop. Really? Riding a static bike in a big office is hardly Rocky, is it? I’ve put my headphones on and I’m listening to Rage Against the Machine. LOUDLY.
The National – “Castamere”
From the end credits of last week’s episode of “Game of Thrones” (episode 2, season 3)– it’s an adaptation of a folk song from the books ("The Rains of Castamere") used in the episode. They did the same thing again this week with the Hold Steady (and if my eyes don’t deceive me, the episode also featured an appearance - singing a folk song - by Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol), but I’m more of a National man myself, to be honest. Good series this. They're doing a cracking job.
Neil Diamond – “Sweet Caroline”
Once this song is in your head it is nigh on impossible to shift. Picture the scene: we’re sat in a pub in Whistler Village quietly having a pint after a long day on the piste. The place is quite busy but also reasonably quiet. The PA isn’t on too loud and I don’t really notice what’s playing. At some point, this record comes on, and when we get down to the chorus, everyone in the whole place interrupts their conversations to spontaneously go “BAH BA BAAAAH!” and then look around as they realise that they did that out loud and that everyone else in the pub did it too. Very funny. How many songs can achieve that, eh?
The Specials – “Ghost Town”
Another gift from breakfast radio. I hadn’t even had my breakfast. TUNE.
Scott Walker – “My Death”
Some of the contractors in my team have surprisingly turned out to be MASSIVE music fans, and I’ve had great conversations this week about David Bowie, Johnny Cash and Scott Walker. Everyone else in the team looks at us with absolute bemusement on their faces, but to be able to talk to someone about how Scott Walker gave it all up to sing songs of existentialism and death and to create percussion by slapping a side of pork almost makes me glad that I made the effort to come to work this week. Almost. Coincidentally, Scott Walker was also the answer to one of those linked records things that Marc Riley did on 6Music when I was cooking my tea the other night. Two of the links in the chain were Pulp doing “Bad Cover Version” and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band doing Brel’s “Next” before Riley gave the answer and played “My Death”. Ah. Now that’s radio.
That’s your lot, kids. Be excellent unto each other. It’s been a difficult week, but as the late, great Kurt Vonnegut said:
“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’”
So it goes.
Have a good weekend, y’all.