Friday 9 October 2015

beer is not death, beer is not life...

Earworms of the Week

"Strangers in the Night" - Frank Sinatra
"Every Other Freckle" - Alt-J

“Doobie doobie doo” has, a little disturbingly, become something of a default earworm for me. I’ll be minding my own business when, apparently out of nowhere, “Strangers in the Night” begins playing in my head. Only, instead of the actual words, it just comes out as “doobie doobie doo”. I was running at Long Eaton parkrun last weekend. It’s a fast and flat course and I was pushing fairly hard over the last km or so of the course. I was starting to struggle a little bit, feeling the fatigue, when I noticed that my breathing had settled into a rhythm and that it was working in time to a 5 second snippet of a tune that was now playing over and over in my head. Guess which bloody tune? Yup. Annoying doesn’t really even begin to cover it. Quickly joining “Doobie doobie doo” as a default earworm is this “sexy” track by Alt-J. When you earworm this one, it has to be the bit about “I’m going to bed into you, like a cat beds into a beanbag / turn you inside out and lick you like a crisp packet”. And you have to do it in that slightly weird voice too, for the full effect. Magical. I’m seeing them at Nottingham Arena in December, and I’ll probably use the same voice when I’m singing along to some of the least sexy lyrics ever written.

"I Wanna Be Yours" - Arctic Monkeys

John Cooper Clarke’s lovely poem set to music by the Arctic Monkeys on “AM”, my favourite album of theirs. They’ve tweaked the words a bit, but it’s basically all there and it’s wonderfully romantic, in its own way.*

*may not actually be your vacuum cleaner.

"Ladykillers" – Lush

I used to love this record. I wasn’t entirely sure what the tone of the lyrics was meant to be, or if they even made any sense…. But I used to think that, as a song, it worked brilliantly. I bought the album, and there are a few good tracks on it, but this was always my go-to listen. They’ve reformed, apparently and are playing a few gigs at the places like the Roundhouse. Well, like them well enough, but I’m not about to make a pilgrimage down there in the way that I did last year when the Manics were performing The Holy Bible…. But maybe that’s an unfair comparison.

"Master of Puppets" / "Battery" - Metallica

I was in the pub on Wednesday evening, enjoying the company of the runners who I have spent most Wednesday evenings with for the last six months. After completing 27 sessions of interval training, we declared week 28 as “pub week”. I raced back from work, showered and slung on a t-shirt. It was my Metallica t-shirt. When I got to the pub, Stu… who has only previously seen me wearing my running gear, clocked the t-shirt and asked me if I was wearing it because it was a cool t-shirt or because I liked Metallica. Both, of course. This led to a very happy couple of hours of conversation about old school metal (Stu is a little bit older than me, and he bought “Master of Puppets” back in the day. He was telling me that finding Metallica killed stone-dead his interest in some of the less direct metal bands of the time. He also loves “Battery”, and anyone who loves that song can’t be entirely bad. A happy evening. Runners are great people, apparently even when they’re not running.

"Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" - Abba

I’ve already spoken about how I’ve made a somewhat belated discovery of Abba. Well, perhaps ”discovery” isn’t really the right way to put it. Laying aside my own demons to be able to enjoy a pop alchemy that has always been there for anyone who takes the time to listen for it. I listened to them when I was out running the other day, and given that they’re generally best known for their catchy tunes and for being pretty and Swedish, some of the lyrics are quite surprising:

Half past twelve
And I'm watching the late show in my flat all alone
How I hate to spend the evening on my own
Autumn winds
Blowing outside the window as I look around the room
And it makes me so depressed to see the gloom

It’s not that these lyrics are dark exactly, and we’re certainly not into the divorce songs that came later, it’s just that the chorus is so upbeat that it’s easy to overlook that the song is about a lonely woman (well, I assume it’s about a woman, although it was written by Benny and Bjorn) wanting some male company. It’s a fascinating juxtaposition and I really like it. I just need to not think of the godawful tv show of the same name when I listen to it.

"Hey Boy Hey Girl" - The Chemical Brothers

The Chemical Brothers must have been going for a good 20 years now, if not more. I heard their most recent single on the radio the other day, and they really are remarkable: able to crank this sort of stuff out year after year, different and yet somehow the same. I like lots of their stuff, but for some reason, my head always comes back to the refrain in this song. “Hey Boy. Hey Girl. Superstar DJs. Here we go!”. Simple and yet brilliantly effective. Interestingly, I’ve never felt the need to buy and album, and for all the times that they’ve played Glastonbury when I’ve been there, I’ve never once been to see them play. I don’t actually even own this song (although I do have a couple of their tracks). I suppose that says I like them, but not *that* much.

"We Built This City" - Starship

Now we’re talking. On the mix CD I made for the 7 year old, I thought that rolling the tracklist from “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift into this song worked really really well. Great song. This song can be in my head any time!

"Let's Get It On" - Marvin Gaye

I started singing this at my desk. The colleague sitting next to me picked up the tune immediately and joined in. That’s when you know that you’ve recruited the right people into your team. Not just the ones that don’t think you’re weird when you burst into song at your desk, but the ones who join in.

"Waving Flags" - British Sea Power

This is my favourite British Sea Power song, but when it popped up on shuffle the other day, it seemed to resonate even more than usual. When you’ve spent the last several weeks watching footage of desperate refugees pouring out of boats and into Western Europe, and some of the ferocious debate this has provoked, it’s nice to listen to such an open-hearted, open-armed appeal to migrants.

Are here of legal drinking age, on minimum wage
Well, welcome in
From across the Vistula, you’ve come so very far
All waving flags
Were all waving flags now
Waving flags but don’t be scared

If you get a chance, and you haven’t already seen them, I’d highly recommend having a look at Humans of New York’s feed on Facebook. Over the last few weeks, Brandon has been telling the stories of refugees and aid workers in Greece and elsewhere in Europe. Some of the stories are horrific, but it feels so important to be able to put a human face onto the tragedy and to see these refugees as human beings. Well worth a look.

Right. Have a good weekend, y’all. See you on the other side.

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