Monday 14 August 2017

I dwarf the rooftops; I hunchback the moon; stars dance at my feet...

I am, by now, such a hopeless blogger that I actually wrote this last week and never got around to posting it over the weekend.  Well, if you'll pardon the (almost) unprecedented folly of talking about earworms of the week on a Monday.... here they are!

Earworms of the (last?) Week

"Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" - Aerosmith

I don’t seem to do this very often any more…. earworms specifically, but actually blogging in general. Back in the day, time was that you would get 4 or 5 fairly meaty posts from me every week. Now you’re lucky to get one of me banging on about running. Sorry about that (not sorry). Why not start this week’s earworms with a song from a band that I loved dearly when I was a teenager. There was a long period in 1987/88 when I listened to Aerosmith and Guns N’Roses to the exclusion of almost everything else. I’m talking literally months when the only things I played were “Appetite for Destruction”, “Pump” or “Permanent Vacation”. That Guns n’Roses record sounds pretty much as fresh and exciting today as it did back then, but I haven’t listened to either of those Aerosmith records for a whole now and I wonder how they’d hold up. This was the song that introduced me to the band, and from here onto those two albums and then an almost disbelieving journey back through their magnificent back catalogue, with albums like “Toys in the Attic” and “Rocks”. it somehow seemed impossible to believe that this band had already had a massively successful career and that this was very much a second-flush at (what everyone assumed would be) the back end of their career. They are also, of course, linked to Guns n’Roses by the cover of “Mama Kin” on the “Lies” album. This song till sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? As Bastion said on YouTube 7 months ago, "I'm trying to find a deeper meaning but its genuinely just Steve being surprised that a dude looks like a lady". Truth.
Songs about asteroids and ridiculous, overly-produced love songs were still in the band’s future at this point, and this leering little beauty is how I would probably choose to remember them. Dammit. It’s too late. Now I’m earworming that bloody song too.

"Rasputin" - Boney M

It is one of my favourite discoveries of all time to learn that almost every Austrian of my acquaintance of a certain age can all do “(Rock Me) Amadeus” off by heart and will just instinctively start rapping along with Falco as soon as the song comes on. My wife is currently trying to learn it, but I find it hard to get past the fact that he seems to call someone a “mango cu*t” in the second verse. Anyway. One of my friends surprised and delighted me the other day by turning out to know all of the words to this song. I was equally delighted when the 24 year old in my team had never heard of this song and I was able to persuade him to give it a listen immediately on Spotify. He was suitably impressed. Oh those Russians.

"My Lovely Horse" - Ted and Dougal

Where are you going with your fetlocks blowing in the…..wind? I'd tell you why I'm earworming this song, but like the worst kind of tease, I'm simply going to have to tell you that I've signed a non-disclosure agreement and I can't.  For real.

"If You Leave Me Now" – Chicago

Cheese. Pure and simple. Ooooo, ooooo, no.... Weapons grade earworm.

"Autumn Almanack" - Kinks
"Harvest Moon" - Neil Young

As I got on my bike at 7 this morning (Friday, for those keeping score on this somewhat chronologically confused post) to ride to work, although I was delighted that it wasn’t raining and that I was going to cycle to work in the morning sunshine… there was a distinct tinge of Autumn in the chilly air and condensation on all the cars. It’s 10th August: I’m not sure I’m entirely ready for it to be autumn quite yet. The seasonally appropriate earworms are fine, however… just to be clear.

"Gonna Fly Now" (theme from Rocky) - Bill Conti

Because training montages should be a thing in real life. The long, slow build of marathon training would be a whole lot more enjoyable if it could be experienced in a 3 minute highlight reel with some inspirational music. Can we make that happen?  Who doesn't need a montage?

The hour's approaching, to give it your best
And you've got to reach your prime.
That’s when you need to put yourself to the test
And show us a passage of time
We're going to need a montage (montage)
Ooh it takes a montage (montage)
Show a lot of things happening at once,
Remind everyone of what’s going on (what’s going on)
And with every shot, show a little improvement
To show it all would take to long
That’s called a montage (montage)

"Barbie Girl" – Aqua

Someone at work mentioned that plastic was fantastic, and that was it: we were all doomed to this for the rest of the day. Brilliant song though, eh? Dr. Jones was another little cracker too. Don’t knock a good pop song.

"Marz" - John Grant
"The Amorous Humphrey Plugg" - Scott Walker

The Scott Walker prom the other day was a real delight. Walker is a real touchstone artist in my music collection, introduced to me in my first year at university by an impossibly old seeing mature student called Mark (he was about 25!) and I will forever be in his debt for introducing me to this and to a host of other musicians who have massively enriched my life. I was a little bit worried by Jarvis Cocker’s somewhat wobbly start and worried if any of them could really hold a candle to the unalloyed majesty of Scott Walker’s baritone… but in the end, they all did really well and inhabited these wonderful songs with their own personalities. John Grant’s voice is probably the closest to Walker’s, and he did a cracking version of “The Seventh Seal”, which was the first Walker song that I really loved. In an interview that he did with Jarvis the Sunday before the prom, when he was asked how he adjusted moving to a rainy London from sun-drenched California, Walker answered that he was always a huge fan of European cinema and always saw himself ending up here somehow. Is there a more Scott Walker song than one that takes its inspiration from an Ingmar Bergman film about a knight playing chess with Death? Listening to Grant singing these songs sent me scurrying back to listen to my John Grant albums, and “Marz” is just a wonderful song. When asked by Cocker how he felt about the prom (which he actually attended), Walker simply said that he wanted the artists to not be afraid to add their own interpretations because he wasn’t interested in karaoke. Mostly, I think he would have been pleased. I was especially taken with Susanne Sundfør, who obviously added something different to the songs by dint of being a woman, and did a great job with this song. But just listen to the lyrics to “The Amorous Humphrey Plugg”. Wonderful. If you haven’t taken the trouble to listen to those first four, self-titled albums by Scott Walker… please, do yourself a favour. Absolutely splendid.

Will that do you for now? I’ve barely mentioned running, and as I’ve got marathon training looming on the horizon again and will be pumping for sponsorship (I’m selling bobble hats this year), then make the most of me talking about something different for once.

Have good weekends, y’all. I’ll be running.


Well, it's Monday now and I did run.  I also wrote a Harry Potter themed run report for parkrun, and you might want to head over there to give that a read too.  I might not be blogging with any real enthusiasm around here any more, but I can't seem to shake the urge to write.


  1. You've signed an NDA related to Neil Hannon? OMG, etc.

  2. I've been reading your blog for.... certainly more than five years, I stumbled on it as a link from one of Nick Parkhurst's (is that his name?)I don't know you or Nick, I'm just one of those people who lurk anonymously. Except that I don't think I'm that creepy, I enjoy good writing, feel guilty about appearing to stalk others on social media, miss buying printed newspapers brimming with good writing, feel guilty about contributing to the collapse of the business model for printed newspapers, (how does a good writer get paid these days?
    I normally dip in every few days, been away on holiday for a while and returned to no new posts. I've enjoyed reaading your blog, learnt lots, been encouraged to think, seen some of my loose poorly resolved thoughts rounded into shape and put into coherent sentences. Don't know how many other lurkers you have, but if you are to move away from blogging here, this one is appearing from the shadows to doff his cap and say thanks for the writing. It has been appreciated.

  3. Thanks for those words. I'm not giving up, but the frequency is certainly dropping at the moment. I'm off work for a couple of weeks after an operation, so I'm going to make a real effort to put some thoughts down. I've always said that I don't write for readers, only myself, but knowing someone is out there is a definite bonus.