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From: chalkhills-request@presto.ig.com
To: chalkhills@presto.ig.com
Subject: Chalkhills #372


                  Chalkhills, Number 372

                  Monday, 29 August 1994
Today's Topics:
           Twaddle - Meaningless and Otherwise
                       re:Dear God
                         Blur-ry
                       Clearer Blur
                       Re: Dear God
                         Dear God
                      Trish & Darin
                    A little more Blur
               Re: Two Chalkhillians meet..
                      Re:  Dear God
                  An introduction and...
                   Re: Chalkhills #371
                         Ecstasy
          real Dukes influences (Jackie & more)
      MWM 29 6'2" 1 kid seeks similar for xtc rants
          The requested introductory message...
          Why I Don't Like "Dear God" (Sorry...)

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Date: Wed, 24 Aug 1994 12:46:04 GMT
From: Ashley@apowell.demon.co.uk (Ashley Powell)
Subject: Twaddle - Meaningless and Otherwise

>From: "Stupid is as stupid does, sir" <MELINDA@delphi.com>
>Subject: What Joe Believes I Believe Andy Believes
>
>Joe asked:
>
>> Don't you just find him a little bit pedantic sometimes?  I mean,
>> Books Are Burning has got to be one of the most pointless songs to
>> write.  Why make the obvious so grandiose and overstated?  Think
>> about XTC's audience -- generally at least 20-something college
>> graduates based mostly in America.  Are we supposed to be
>> enlightened?  Moved?  I find that song unlisteneable.

>fingernails on a chalkboard.  I admit Andy goes a little overboard
>sometimes, and "Books Are Burning" makes me roll my eyes, too.

I think the song was probably inspired by the whole Salman Rushdie
affair with "Satanic Verses".  Many people remember what Hitler did
with books.  If one takes the view - as this song suggests - that nothing
has changed in 50 years, then I would argue that it is neither pointless
nor possible to overstate such a fundamental human right as free speech.

>Ashley: I don't want to start a flame war or anything, but I think
>*you've* rather missed the point.  I agree that I skim Chalkhills
>for what interests me (and I assume that what interests me may not
>interest someone else), and I don't read avidly every single word.
>This is still an Internet mailing list, though, with the character of
>an Internet mailing list.  It's in digest form, so it may seem more
>cumbersome (though someone else might argue that they don't want
>"meaningless twaddle" in their e-mailbox all day...can't please
>everyone, right?), but the main thing to remember is that an Internet
>mailing list is INTERACTIVE.  It's not TV, it's not an XTC journal,
>or The XTC Area (tm) on America Online (no, everyone, I'm making that
>up) -- it's an interactive forum in which everyone participates.  John
>administers, but he's not the author, or even the executive producer.
>Perhaps _The_Little_Express_ is closer to what you're looking for?

Of course it's interactive - that's the great thing about it, but my
point is that some people seem to interact for the sake of it (a danger
of which I am aware, so my contribution to this meaningless thread ends
here :) ).  Some mailing lists are specifically set up for people who
wish to talk rubbish (ever read alt.cows.moo.moo.moo?), and good luck to
them.  I would like to think that Chalkhills is bigger than that, and in
the main it is (sorry if I sounded more negative before, but I replied
in a rush as I prepared to go on holiday).  As an example of what I wish
people to avoid, I recently read a Jethro Tull list where several people
disagreed about which musical period was JT's best.  They then concluded by
agreeing, in response to an earlier article, that the great thing about JT
is indeed their musical diversity.  I'm all for free speech (see above),
but why spend time needlessly reiterating the same point?  'No reason at
all', is the answer, so now I shut up.

I once saw a CD single of "Wrapped in Grey", and as it was hugely
overpriced at four and a half quid I didn't buy it (fool!).  Does anyone
know where I can get a copy, as I believe it had more 'previously
unreleased' songs on it?
--
Ashley Powell

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Date: Wed, 24 Aug 1994 22:18:20 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Karen E. Lewis (ba amst)" <klewis1@umbc.edu>
Subject: re:Dear God

Hi everyone!  I've been lurking for a few issues now, and thought that
perhaps I'd introduce  myself and express an opinion all at once.
I fell in love with XTC during their trendy Oranges and Lemons period,
when they were getting lots of MTV air play.  But I can remember seeing
the video for  Dear God way before that, and being mesmorized by it.  I
got a CD player for my 15th birthday, and the first CD I got was
Skylarking, a gift from my best friend who hates XTC, but had added many
an XTC CD to my collection as gifts. :)
The XTC songs that have touched me the most are The Mayor of Simpleton,
Poor Skeleton Steps Out, Knuckle Down, and Dear God.  I agree with the
person in the last Chalkhills (forgive me, I forgot your name!) who
stated that Dear God takes you through a whole range of emotions in 3 and
a half minutes.  That song also even makes me feel guilty, because I
question God every time I hear it, even if only for a second.  It was
also stated that "the only embarrassing thing about Dear God is the child
singing."  I totally disagree with that.  I think that the child singing
is a brilliant idea.  That is what drove the song home for me the
most-the innocence of a child looking at the world around him, and
wondering why God lets people suffer.  For me, the childs voice at the
beginning and the end is what touches me the most.
Karen

********************************-DreamAttack-********************************
  "All day afternoon taking things as they come and then so gently watching
                them go..." -Jeff Heiskell of the Judybats
*****************************-klewis1@umbc.edu-******************************

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Date: Thu, 25 Aug 94 22:19:49 PDT
From: Steve Schechter <sschech@157.133.43.4>
Subject: Blur-ry

First I should mention that (today anyway) Blur is my favorite current
band.

Anyway, I think that to judge these guys solely on the basis of the
song "Girls and Boyss" really misses the point of the band.  Yes,
it's filled with synths and a dance beat.  But it's about the only
song they've ever recorded with this type of arrangement, and I
think that the lyrics really call for this.  One might almost say that
the song pokes satiric fun at the people who like this kind of music.
Then again, one might not ....

Anyway, here's some excerpts from a current article in SPIN,
which says it better than I could:

" ... this version of Blur has gone and concocted a stunner of a third
album.  Back in Blighty, they're hailing Parklife as pop album of the
year.  They're calling it another All Mod Cons, an Ogden's Nut Gone
Flake, a My Generation even, and they're calling Blur the best
British band since the Smiths.

" ... Blur bears out the grandiose claims made on its behalf.  Parklife
is like discovering a bunch of your favorite old British 45s.  Punk,
pop, mod, electro-pop (the Brit-abroad knees up of Girls and Boys),
and the vaudevillian psychedelia of the title track (a jaunty narrative
on the life of leisure, delivered by one Phil Daniels, who is best known
as Jimmy the Mod in Quadrophenia) nestled side by side, all of them
resonating with the rainy romance of a British upbringing."

So, like, put on the CD at track 2 instead, ya know?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Steve Schechter          | Sybase Professional Services New York
 212-596-1156              | "In all matters of opinion, our adversaries
sschech@sybase.com   |             are insane."  -- Oscar Wilde

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From: Fshbwlhead@aol.com
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 94 03:00:17 EDT
Subject: Clearer Blur

I like the Blur song because it's silly and sing-songy.  The sounds in the
song are obviously dated and I think meant to be taken in good humour.  I
certainly like it better than that atrociously repetitive song by Andy on
Skylarking, "Earn Enough For Us."

Those that take the context of the Blur song as something more serious or
issue-driven seem to be making a mountain out of a cute little pop song.  The
rest of the album is definitely more interesting, but I find myself chuckling
and singing along with Girls and Boys (or whatever its called, the Jewel box
is in my car.)

-- Joe

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From: ST55J@Jetson.UH.EDU
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 1994 02:45:20 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: Dear God

>From: Mikewheel@aol.com

>From: "Stupid is as stupid does, sir" <MELINDA@delphi.com>

I think "Dear God" is one of XTC's best songs.  It is one of the songs I
liked A LOT the first time I heard it.  Granted it isn't perfect, the idea of
a child singing the first verse and conclusion is silly and makes the song
seem like a joke.  But that kid was Todd Rundgren's idea.

That's funny, I thought that the child set the perfect mood for
Dear God.  It starts as this note from an innocent asking per
what children on occasion ask:  tough questoins that can be
difficult to answer for even the most intelligent of us.
how could you, God, let so many of us suffer?  The
transition from child to adult is startling, but maybe he's
saying that we don't really grow out of those childhood
questions and that all we really learn is to use more
words to say what we mean.  The transition back to the
child to close Dear God is appropriate because it is a child's
letter to god that opens the song.  It makes it a more cohesibve
work.

Leoanrd
(well, Leonard... my typing is awful at 3am)

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From: djb@maths.bath.ac.uk
Subject: Dear God
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 94 10:53:52 BST

> The only thing embarrassing about "Dear God" is the child singing.

Doesn't embarrass me -- I think it makes it all the more chilling;
the innocent child's accusing logic, damning the adult world. OK,
so it's a gimmick, but I think if it had been Andy singing that
first verse the second verse wouldn't have the same aural impact.

Duncan.

__ Duncan Batey _____________________________ School of Mathematics, __

__ Postgraduate Research Student ______ University of Bath, England. __

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From: Wade Thompson <Wade_Thompson.LOTUS@crd.lotus.com>
Date: 25 Aug 94  8:19:49 ES
Subject: Trish & Darin

Any XTC\Dukes fan in or around Texas might watch for a band called Trish &
Darin, who absolutely floored me with a great cover of the Dukes' "Shiny
Cage" last time I saw them.  They also play Beatles, "Happiness is a Warm
Gun" a highlight.  Their own songwriting is alright, but they are better
performers.

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From: GOOSENMK@ctrvax.Vanderbilt.Edu
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 1994 08:56:21 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: A little more Blur

Just to further muddy the waters, thought I'd weigh in with my two cents:

I can't believe ANYONE would say Blur's "Girls and Boys" was disco!  Not
that I have anything against disco at all, but you've seriously got your
genres crossed if you think the overt new wave/New Romantics homage of
"Girls and Boys" is DISCO!  Dancable, yes, just like Duran Duran, Soft
Cell, Human League, etc., were more dancable than their punk predecessors.
But disco?  Believe me, if you were around in 1979 and 1980, you could tell
the difference between "Ring My Bell" or "Funkytown" vs. "Life During
Wartime" or "You Say You Don't Love Me."  John Relph has already pointed in
this direction with his comparison of the sound of "Boys and Girls" to the
Buzzcocks (now THERE'S a band!), Gang of Four, and Human League, but I
thought I'd reinforce his point.

As for "Tracy Jacks," I immediately saw why Chalkhillians would be in love
with this album--the backing vox and drums immediately call into mind our
boys.  But I also hear a serious Jam influence as well--think of "Billy
Hunt" or "Smithers-Jones."  So I guess if we step back a generation from
XTC and the Jam, "Smithers-Jones."  So I guess if we step back a generation
from XTC and the Jam,we get the Beatles, Kinks ("David Watts"), and Who
slugging it out.  Good stuff no matter what.

AND _The Big Express_ doesn't suck!  So there!  Nyah, nyah, nyah...

_Skylarking_, now that's a whole 'nother story...

;->

Later, all,

Miles Goosens
goosenmk@ctrvax.vanderbilt.edu

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Date: Thu, 25 Aug 94 12:22:12 EDT
From: jlamy@sweat.ess.harris.com (Joe Lamy)
Subject: Re: Two Chalkhillians meet..

Hello...

Well, I must say it was a pleasant surprise to read Chalkhills and see
Derek's kind words about my band Ghostbeat...and even before the check had
cleared!

>         Here in Orlando, FL, they've played a coffee house (the Yab Yum)
> a few times, and Joe claims their more-acoustic, "coffee house" sound is
> not like their usual stuff, but I like it. Joe and the guitarist Bryan do

We play mostly the same songs in our electric show (with all the same
harmonies, etc.) but the feel is much different. Hard to say which I like
better...with a full drum kit and more amplification, the energy level is
definitely higher, but unplugged, you can hear the subtleties of the music
much better, and our drummer Ken really pulls off some great stuff.

> darn good "Senses Working Overtime." Sometimes the drummer, Ken, will
> strap on a bongo-ish drum (what is it Joe?) and step out front. They did

It's called (hope I spell this right) a dhoumbek, and it's from Egypt. It's
really great because you can get so many different sounds out of the same
drum. Ken uses a pair of brass ones (dhoumbeks that is :) plus a kick drum
and hi hat as his unplugged kit, and occasionally steps out front with a
ceramic dhoumbek. He uses a bunch of handheld percussion as well.

And now for something completely different...
Check out the new Adrian Belew CD, "Here". It's great...

Joe Lamy                     "The opinions expressed by me are not those of
Harris Corporation            Harris Corporation. They are in fact culled from
jlamy@sweat.ess.harris.com    the pages of Tiger Beat Magazine."

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Date: Thu, 25 Aug 94 12:52:44 EDT
From: dabl2@nlm.nih.gov (Don A.B. Lindbergh)
Subject: Re:  Dear God

> From: Mikewheel@aol.com
>
> I think "Dear God" is one of XTC's best songs.  It is one of the songs I
> liked A LOT the first time I heard it.  Granted it isn't perfect, the idea of
> a child singing the first verse and conclusion is silly and makes the song
> seem like a joke.  But that kid was Todd Rundgren's idea.

Hmm, I disagree completely.  I think the child singing is absolutely brilliant
and disarming.  It really grabs your attention to hear a child singing those
words.  Yes, it is perhaps contrived, I prefer 'artistic license' to have
a child singing these words about a very un-childlike theme.

...some wildly interpretive opinion deleted...

> get here? Where am I?) "I won't believe in heaven and hell..." with this huge
> beating of a drum, but that beating isn't coming from a drum, it's coming
> >from the singer as he screams, releasing his pain, and yet his pain is
> building up. The beating goes on and on as the singer is banging his head
> against the wall trying to make people see the truth, and the listener starts
> beating his head against the wall with the singer, with the infectous beat.

Always interesting to see how differently people will interpret music or any
art really.  I really think you're reaching putting that much meaning into
these fairly common pop sensibilities and performances but I do see what you're
getting at.  It's a bit too NY Times music critic to me (no offense intended,
really) but I'm a musician,  I never read that much into a musical performance
though I may feel that the music/performance transcends mere words.  To me,
that is what great art is all about, reaching for that higher thing that
cannot be expressed in words.  Anyway, it is interesting to read your thoughts.

> "Dear God" is a masterpiece.  A masterpiece of pop music.  When is the last

I agree.

> The only thing embarrassing about "Dear God" is the child singing.

Well, you know by now we disagree here, but that's what makes the world go
around in'it?  This is why an artist should not throw out some piece of (old)
work which may have become irrelevent to him/her.  It may have a very
significant relevence/meaning/use to another human.  Hell, it may even save
somebody's life.  No joke.

--Don
dabl2@lhc.nlm.nih.gov

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Date: Thu, 25 Aug 1994 14:39:39 -0400
From: SIMPSONK@opsusa.sms.siemens.com (Simpson, Kevin----Siemens Calgary Canada)
Subject: An introduction and...

HI, my name is Kevin Simpson, from Calgary Canada. I was put in touch with
Chalkhill thru a friend. I have been an XTC fan for about 15 years, but my
favorite works are Skylarking and NonSuch. I've been reading Chalkhills
for about 2 days now and it looks great, but these comments quickly come to
mind.

        It seems a bit late to be debating the moral meanings of Dear God, I
would havse thought that there would have been better things to do/talk about,
but I guess given the length between XTC albums people do get restless....

        On XTC touring, I have often said that seeing XTC live is one of my
great desires, but if they deceide never to tour again, I guess that's their
own choice. It reminds me of what people said about Lennon when he announced
he would never play live with the Beatles a few years before they broke up.
Maybe people should just be happy
that XTC is still together making music, intead of designing reasons in their
heads why Andy refuses to go out on tour or not.
........
..until then...kevin

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From: "Frank Preuss" <PREUSSF@artsciserver.artsci.csus.edu>
Date:          Thu, 25 Aug 1994 12:27:53 PST8PDT
Subject:       Re: Chalkhills #371

wow,

I'm new to all this (lists, nets, etc), but not XTC.   Been reading comments
about blur, Elvis, etc.   Just a few wierd things to say.

Yea, Elvis does put out a lot of albums and the majority tend to be good, but
I'd rather have an artist put out one good album than a million medicore
ones. Although I'd like to see more XTC albums I'd rather have them be up to
standard or none at all.  There's enough garbage around without adding more
to it regardless of who is doing it.

As far as blur goes: I have an album of thiers that I picked up from a friend
and I listened to it a year ago and don't really remember it unfavorably, and
I've been too lazy to listen to it, I geuss I should give it a listen since
there is quite a debate about them going on.

As far as disco goes, it's interesting stuff, I like a lot of other things
better but I have fun lisning to it.  Sounds like rave music to me.  Basslines
and rest of rhythm traks are
great.  Yea, it's cheesy a lot of the time, but a least it's not pretentious.

Primus covering  XTC?   That sounds amusing, I'll have to check it out.  I'd
rather listen to disco than bands like primus, pixies, soundgarden, nirvana,
etc.  Not that they don't have their positive points.

well I'd better read some more.   thanx.

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Date: Fri, 26 Aug 94 10:34:21 BST
From: etlcnkl@deep-thought.ericsson.se (Colin Kidgell)
Subject: Ecstasy

Hello

I've enjoyed lisening to XTC for a number of years now, since English
Settlement when I would have been around 14 years old. I now have a
collection spanning all of their major works and a number of odd'n'sodes
including an early solo album by Andy and an album of early 'B' sides. I
stumbled across 'Chalkhills' when scanning the music newsgroups of the
'Net' to try an find out the latest news on XTC.

Regarding the current 'Blur' discussion, I have the CD which I think is
very good, but by no means do all of the tracks sound like XTC. As I
beleive it has already been pointed out, it is very much a mixture of
styles done in Blur's own quirky way. I would hardly call the track 'Girls
and Boys' disco, although you could certainly dance to it.

What is the record 'Though the Hill' / Budd, Partridge !? Is this a recent
recording ?

Chow
Colin

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Date: 28 Aug 94 17:22:13 EDT
From: Steve Levenstein <70750.1117@compuserve.com>
Subject: real Dukes influences (Jackie & more)

   Hello, Chalkhillers & Chalkhillettes, I'll continue with the
Little Express's interview with XTC from the fall of 1987;

L.E.: The next track, "Have You Seen Jackie?"...... Pink Floyd?

ANDY: Yes, a mixture of Pink Floyd and Keith West's "Tomorrow", and
Jackie is one of the sort of characters that you could have had in
Excerpt from a Teenage Opera, had it been finished.

L.E.: It's also necessary to get the accent with Pink Floyd, a
sort of cockney?

ANDY: Cambridge, I think, old Syd Barrett came from Cambridge,
that's in the London area. Jackie is... well you don't know what
it is... it's not a boy and it's not a girl, much like Arnold
Layne. The song "Arnold Layne" was about this chap who stole
women's underwear off the washing lines, so I thought to get
the right feel we'd better have a story about somebody with a
"is it a boy or is it a girl?" type sexuality.

COLIN: That song was going to go on 25 O'Clock, wasn't it?

ANDY: Yeah, it was virtually ready for the other one, but we
didn't have enough money for 25 O'Clock to do more than six
tracks, so we thought ah well, we'll have to put Jackie on
the shelf. It was originally called "Have You Seen Sydney?",
loosely pertaining to Syd Barrett, but I changed it at the
last minute to Jackie which is a boy/girl name and also the
name of the '60s British magazine Jackie. In England there was
a big advertising campaign that was very popular and "Have you
seen Sid?" became a national catch phrase, so I thought I'd
better not use that and we changed it to Jackie a couple of
days before we went into the studio. Colin's playing the
backward autoharp, a funny sort of sucking noise; he had to
play it forwards over the top of the whole track, everything
going backwards, then you turn the track around and what he's
done becomes backwards. The instrument is a little box, this
one's about two foot wide by about one foot, theres a hole
in it with a couple of bridges either end and then you just
have like thin piano wire that you literally tie to the thing
and you then tune it.

COLIN: You can either hit them or play it with a plectrum.

ANDY: And if you rushed the plectrum over the whole thing you
get that real corny "and now the drugs take effect" neeooowww-
-wwgrhhh sound.

L.E.: "Little Lighthouse", the foghorn at the beginning is
an obvious connection.

ANDY: I thought the best bit of the Steve Miller Band's "Sailor"
album was the beginning with all the foghorns and stuff on it,
and I've got a funny feeling, I haven't heard the album for
years, but I've got a feeling they probably used the BBC library
tapes, and we did as well, so it's probably even the same foghorn.
But the actual song is one we started with Todd for Skylarking.
We did a drum track and a little bit of guitar and it never got
any further. I wasn't happy with it, nor was he; it sounded a
bit too industrial, the lyrics were too psychedelic or whatever,
too flowery or brainpowered, it just wasn't the right sort of
track, and I thought I'll leave it. But when we came to do this
new Dukes thing I thought ah, a place for this track at last.
When we started doing it, we tremoloed about three or four
guitars, and they're all tremoloed at different speeds so you
get that funny, hazy sort of sound, like on "I Had too Much to
Dream Last Night" by The Electric Prunes - the whole track
shimmering. That's a really easy psychedelic effect, just
plugged in the old tremolo thing, set each one at a different
speed and you get that kind of mass shimmering sound. I forced
Colin to do the "19th Nervous Breakdown" bass line at the end.
It sounds like the American bands that used to copy The Stones
on the West coast or the East coast even, like Blues Magoos,
they would have the sneery, Jagger-y vocals, clunking guitar,
and lots of maracas.

   ... next time, Albert Brown +                  ---> Steve

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From: john%elsouth@ncren.net
Subject: MWM 29 6'2" 1 kid seeks similar for xtc rants
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 94 9:17:58 EDT

John Relph suggests that I do an introductory post to the Chalkhills list.
I was on the list three years ago, but a change of jobs took me away from
the net for a while.

I've noticed XTC since Making Plans for Nigel, but it was Generals and
Majors that made me a fan. I taped that album, then purchased Big Express.
Since then I've become a completist. I like the soft, pretty stuff like
Chalkhills and Children, Ballet for a Rainy Day, etc.

My fandom runs in streaks. Right now I'm actually away from XTC, (I'm more
into the 4ad sound: Cocteau Twins, Slowdive, etc), but I saw the post to
alt.music.alternative and had to rejoin. Never know when I'll go rabid
again. Besides, I've made some bad choices when purchasing "off the beaten
track" XTC stuff. Maybe y'all could have stopped me from dropping $20 on
a garbage video.

Glad to be back. Looking forward to mining the archives for lyrics.

- John White   CIS Manager   Electrical South Inc.   john%elsouth@concert.net
"I've forgotten more than I ever knew." - someone else, I forget who.

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Date:         Mon, 29 Aug 94 15:33:29 EDT
From: Pete Dresslar <PDRESSL@CMS.CC.WAYNE.EDU>
Subject:      The requested introductory message...

Hi everyone... My name is - well, I guess you already see it.  I'm new here,
and I thought I'd oblige the administrators by telling you all who I am.

I heard about Chalkhills in the Internet Yellow Pages, which I just happened
to be cataloging at my job.  I am a library technician (it's really not as
bad as it sounds) in Detroit, MI (it's really as bad as it sounds).

My favorite album is probably Black Sea, although I admit Os & Ls is
probably their best.  My favorite song by XTC is Yacht Dance, but there are
several others I would pick depending on my mood.  My least favorite album
is Go 2, and I actually dislike one of the Christmas Songs on Rag & Bone,
but there were so many tracks on that disc I can't really complain.  I first
bought Oranges & Lemons in '89, and now I have all the albums and one
single.  I'd imagine this is less than many of the other subscribers to this
list, but hey, my resources are finite.  Very finite...

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Date: Mon, 29 Aug 1994 17:30:51 -0400 (EDT)
From: Everybody mambo! <MELINDA@delphi.com>
Subject: Why I Don't Like "Dear God" (Sorry...)

> Are you the same Melinda that posts alot to the Elvis list?

I'm afraid so ;-)

> And, by the way, the Big Express most certainly DOESN'T suck.

Amen!

I said a while back:

> >I think there is a very fine line between simple honesty and grandiose
> >overstatement. . .
> >I think "Dear God" is embarrassing.

and Mike Wheeler took exception, saying:

> First of all how there can be a very FINE line between "simple" and
> "grandiose" is beyond me.  They are quite different.

Well, I used the terms "simple" and "grandiose" to refer to phrases
someone else had used here in this discussion (I'm afraid I don't
remember to whom I was replying).  If it makes you feel better, let me
say there is a fine line between honesty and overstatement.  One might
try to write very simply, for an effect of honesty (which is not to say
the author is not *being* honest, but rather that simple words connote
honesty in a different way than "flowery" (for lack of a better term)
words do -- it's a more visceral effect.  The author can go so far with
the simple language before he/she goes slightly too far and sounds more
like a junior-high lit mag than an artist with heart on sleeve.

Think of this fine line in terms of, say, painting: I could make a
drawing on white paper, using a black crayon, a red crayon, a blue
crayon, and a yellow crayon, making abstract shapes and lines.  When
I do it, it looks like (a) someone who is clearly an amateur, and/or
(b) someone who's pretentious.  When Alexander Calder did it, it was
(and is) art.  I don't want to get into a big discussion of art, here,
but I hope my example is clear.

"Dear God" has always rubbed me the wrong way for 2 connected reasons:

(1) The lyrics sound too simple -- as Andy has said himself, it's just
too big to capture in a 3-4 minute song, and in my opinion it comes off
sounding like 15-yr-olds who call everyone "fascist" (don't flame me
for that, I used to *be* one of those 15-yr-olds).  Much of the song
sounds like a playground taunt, particularly the nyah-nyah-I-have-the-
last-word-and-it's-gonna-hurt-you bit at the end, "it's YOOOOOOOOOUUUU..."
Not only that, but it doesn't make any sense.  If the singer *doesn't*
believe in God, why the spitting anger?  Why address God at all?  Yeah,
I know, "you're always letting us humans down", right?  Well, that's a
different idea altogether, theologically speaking, than "If there's one
thing I don't believe in, it's you."

(2) Because I think it's not one of XTC's better songs, it irks me that
it's one of their most popular, and one that finally got XTC some
airplay and notoriety.  I tried to get people to listen for years, and
what finally gets people to take notice is a "gimmick" song.  One of my
co-workers wrote a great book called _The_Worst_Rock-and-Roll_Records_
Of_All_Time_.  No, "Dear God" is not in there, but at Number One, he
has listed Chuck Berry's 1972 single "My Ding-a-Ling", and he explains
that it's not necessarily the worst song ever, but the fact that this
lackluster recording of a dumb masturbation-themed novelty song (hey, I
love "Pink Thing", but this one is bad) was Chuck Berry's only #1
single -- not "Maybelline", not "School Days", not "Johnny B. Goode",
not "Rock and Roll Music".  This is exactly the way I feel about "Dear
God."

> the beating has stopped, but his mind feels full.  The listener knows
> something significant has happened to him in the past few minutes, but he

I'm glad you get an emotional buzz from this song, and I don't mean that
facetiously; obviously, everyone can't think the same way or have the
same tastes.

> can't identify it. Then there is just something beating, is it the singer's
> heart or the listeners heart? It can't be a simple meaningless beat it must
> be a heart. It doesn't beat like a heart, but then again your heart isn't
> beating normally either.  And this beating just continues the rest of your
> life and all the way through "Dying".

This part I can't agree with, because when I first bought _Skylarking_,
it didn't even *have* "Dear God" on it, so the idea of "DG" leading into
"Dying" seems arbitrary to me.

> "Dear God" is a masterpiece.  A masterpiece of pop music.  When is the last
> time you have experienced such incredible emotions in just three minutes and
> thirty-four seconds?  The closest I have come is Brian Wilosn's "Good

Um, I'd say Elvis Costello's "Beyond Belief", but I think it's shorter
than that...maybe "Pidgin English" from the same album...

Melinda :-)

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