Friday 20 July 2007

but heroes often fail...

Straight in? Why not?

Earworms of the Week

> “Sometimes” – James

As I write this, it is absolutely bucketing it down outside the window, and apparently 2 months of rainfall is forecast to fall in the next 24 hours. It’s been a wet summer of “endless rain, endless rain”. This song reminds me of being in the kitchen of the flat upstairs from mine in Venice. I spent many happy hours sat around the dinner table listening to music with my friends Olly, Mark and Dom. At the time, I was completely obsessed with “The Holy Bible” by the Manic Street Preachers and “Dog Man Star” by Suede, but Olly introduced me to the pleasures of James in general and of this song in particular. I used to love the intimacy of that line in the chorus:

”Sometimes when I look into your eyes, I swear I can see your soul”

At the time, I held out absolutely no hope that I was ever going to be capable of forming a meaningful relationship, and somehow that line gave me a yearning for something I hadn’t ever really experienced and desperately wanted to.

Do I look into C’s eyes now in search of her soul? Hmmm. Perhaps I should do it more often. She’s got nice eyes.

> “The River of Dreams” – Billy Joel

Yes, yes. Clearly it’s a ridiculous song. Clearly it’s far from being amongst BJ’s best… but can anyone around my age tell me that they don’t have a soft spot for this song?

I bought the single, as I recall.

> “Shake Your Blood” – Probot feat. Lemmy

Probot is Dave Grohl’s heavy metal side-project, and it does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin: each track features a different guest vocalist from an 1980s metal band that Grohl adored, and makes an attempt to imitate that band’s style, which usually involves Grohl going ballistic on the drums. This one features Lemmy F. Motorhead himself… and as you might expect, it rocks…

Not everyone’s cup of tea, I shouldn’t thing, but I like it.

> “City of Blinding Lights” – U2

I’m very much in two minds about U2 generally, and I don’t really listen to them very much by choice. Having said that, they certainly know their way around an earworm, and when I started talking to someone about how when I signed up to an Oxfam text message campaign once, I started receiving spam texts from people like Chris Martin, Kofi Annan and Bono himself. It was bloody annoying.

For some reason, I equated all of that with this song.

Don’t ask me why. I don’t know how my brain works.

> “Black Mirror” – Arcade Fire

People rave about the Arcade Fire, but I’ve always been a touch underwhelmed by them, to be honest. I like “Funeral” well enough, but was it the best album I’d ever heard? No it was not. “Neon Bible” was greeted by the music press with even more superlatives, but I haven’t even really been bothered enough by it to listen to it through more than about twice. I’m sure that’s my loss, but I only got to track 3 the last time I tried earlier in the week. This song is the album opener though, and I reckon that the fact that it has stuck in my head could be a good sign, right? I don’t think they’re the future of rock, but I do think that they deserve a fair listen.
At some point.

I actually saw about half of the Arcade Fire’s set at Glastonbury before heading off to watch the Arctic Monkeys on the Pyramid Stage. From what I saw, they seemed to be pretty good, and I reasoned that I was more likely to be able to pick up a ticket for the band’s winter date at the Nottingham Arena than I was to be able to get tickets to watch the Arctic Monkeys anywhere in the next couple of years. I was right too – I was able to snap up some tickets a couple of days after I get home.

Perhaps I was looking to be critical of them, given how they seem to be flavour of the month. Although they sounded good, my lasting impression of the bit of the set that I saw was that their fans were incredibly rude as they pushed past me in the mud in front of the Other Stage to get to the front… perhaps they’ll be a little nicer at the Arena.

Perhaps they won’t.

Perhaps I shouldn’t hold a thing like that against the band?

> Theme from Battlestar Galactica

“The Cylons were created by man.
They evolved.
They rebelled.
They look and feel human.
Some are programmed to think they are human.
There are many copies.”

We’ve been busy trawling our way though the DVDs of the new version of this hoary old classic, and we’ve now got about halfway through the second series. As well as being the main theme used over the opening credits, this is also played on a loop over the DVD menus, which I left playing in the background as I read the paper the other day. I pretty much tuned it out, but I think it must have sunk so deep into my subconscious that I will never shake it out.

What do I think of the series? It’s pretty good. I have my reservations about some of the religious overtones that seem to be becoming more prominent with every episode, but there’s still plenty here to keep me interested.

> “Personal Jesus” – Depeche Mode

I think this must have been on my iPod when I was out running the other day. I have absolutely no recollection of hearing this song at any point in the last few days, but here it is playing on my internal jukebox.

I’ve had worse.

> “Hush” – Deep Purple

Let’s be clear: the version of this that has been on a loop inside my head is absolutely, categorically and definitively the Deep Purple version. My brain is very much a Kula Shaker free zone, and long may it remain so.

One thing I love about Deep Purple is the keyboard solos. Utterly ridiculous and utterly brilliant all at the same time.

> “Island in the Sun” – Weezer

Hip Hip.

> “Life Becoming A Landslide” – Manic Street Preachers

Gold Against the Soul” is certainly not their best album, but it does contain a number of excellent songs – including this one. I think I love it for the ambition of the lyric that links the howl of childbirth to the cry of anguish at the meaninglessness of life and your own inevitable death.

As I keep saying, they don’t make bands like that any more. Does Kate Nash write lyrics like that?

> “If You Could Read My Mind” – Johnny Cash

This song never, ever fails to move me. Gordon Lightfoot’s lyrics on their own tend to lurch into the saccharine, but the cracked and broken gravitas of Cash’s voice never lets the song slip down that path. This is just a raw, beautiful song of love and loss. “Hurt” was one hell of a legacy to leave the world, and that video brilliantly splices footage of the younger Cash with the old man he became… but for me this is the way that I will remember Cash. It’s the sound of a man who is at the very end of his life, singing to the dead wife he will soon be joining. Saying it’s intense doesn’t do it justice.

Right to the very end, he was an immense talent.


Incidentally, the podcasts are now back online..... recent additions include C, Planet Me, The Ultimate Olympian and my Glastonbury earworms. Go check it out. It's very easy to use, and you can even subscribe through iTunes.

Thanks as always to my Mexican correspondent for these.

Next week, perhaps I'll even have pulled my finger out and got us a Guest Editor for this slot.

Any volunteers?


  1. I have that James chorus playing in my head now... I'm always up for a bit of Earworming, although it's not long since I last did it.

  2. Funny you should mention Deep Purple's keyboards. I've got a story about that involving a family member which will keep until next week.

    (Ooh, the suspense...)

  3. The probot disc is definately a bit of an acquired taste. When I first bought it I wasn't too thrilled, but it grew on me to where I listened to nothing but probot for a week straight.

    Anytime you need a guest for earworms, I'm available.

    Yes, I get a bit obscure, as I live in my own special musical world, but its fun to confuse people with a person who's current favorite band is a gothic metal group from Milan, Italy.

  4. I always felt that 'City of blinding lights' was a dead ringer for the theme tune form blakes Seven. Its that the main guitar line has exactly the same melody!