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From: Chalkhills <>
Subject: Chalkhills Digest #11-10

         Chalkhills Digest, Volume 11, Number 10

                 Monday, 28 February 2005


                  North America is dumb
          Gentle Giant? That takes me back.....
                    Hunter S. Thompson
                        Re: Blogs
                     Interesting link
                        RE: Blogs
      More fact straightening re: digital downloads
                 How to Write an Earworm


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Each watch I smash apart / Just bringing near the hour.


Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2005 17:21:33 +0100 (CET)
From: N TURNER <>
Subject: DID's
Message-ID: <32572708.1108916493658.JavaMail.www@wwinf3003>

I have pondered on the desert island disc thing and always said I'd
never fall into the trap of making a list. So, here it is:

1) XTC - Drums and Wires
2) Divine Comedy - Casanova
3) Stranglers - La Folie
4) Jellyfish - Bellybutton
5) Jeff Buckley - Grace
6) Icicle Works - Small Price of a bicycle
7) Psychedelic Furs - Psychedelic Furs
8) The Jam - All Mod Cons
9) Frank Black - Dog in the sand
10) Pink Floyd - Piper at the gates of dawn

It's a mix of things i brought with me from my schooldays - xtc,jam,
stranglers and some stuff i picked up along the way. It's in no
particular order apart from the top 3. By the way has anyone listned
to an  album call "Distant Plastic Trees" by the Magnetic Fields ?
it's starting to grow on me (like moss).

Bye Bye


Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2005 11:27:28 -0500
From: Benjamin Gott <>
Subject: North America is dumb
Message-ID: <>

Hi, all!

Duncan wrote:

> Why isn't XTC on iTunes? I know personally people close to the band
> have been looking into it. Could it be because they haven't found a way
> to do it without watering down the value of selling real CDs? Because
> with the new model of subscription-based streaming songs, there's NO

I don't think that's the case.  Just go to your American iTunes Music
Store, click "Choose Store," and choose...Well, you can probably choose
any of the other stores.  I picked Spain, just for giggles, and found
the following XTC albums available for 9.99 euros:

Chips from the Chocolate Fireball
English Settlement
Drums and Wires
Black Sea
Oranges and Lemons
The Big Express
White Music
White Music
The Compact XTC
Black Sea

Heck, they're even available on Greek iTunes!  And Austrian iTunes!
And probably every other European iTunes!  They are not, however,
available on American or Canadian iTunes.  And that's just STUPID.

Finally, Phil asks about blogs.  Well, I've just started one, and it's
boring unless you're interested in learning about the collaborative
project between me and fellow Chalkhillian Paul Culnane:

If you'd like to hear songs from said collaboration, a trip to will do the trick.



Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2005 20:53:16 -0000
From: "Steve Morton" <>
Subject: Gentle Giant? That takes me back.....
Message-ID: <000d01c5178e$335f36c0$>

Aaron Pastula said in his recent top 10:

> 4. Gentle Giant - Free Hand
> These guys never got the recognition they deserved.  Not only could they
> perform incredible vocal arrangements, but each member of the band could
> proficiently play no less than fourteen instruments at the same time.

I remember these guys from when I attended college on day release as
an apprentice. A few of us would visit a friends house at lunchtimes
and listen to all sorts of music, including GG, whilst eating packed
lunches, playing darts and generally being teenagers. I still have an
almost pristine copy of "Octopus" (which I no longer have a turntable
to listen to) but unlike my XTC collection, I have not yet replaced it
with a CD. The Shulman brothers, who were the core of the band, lived
for a while in Gosport, just across the water from my home town of
Portsmouth. Like Joe Jackson, they were local heroes to us kids in
bands who played the Portsmouth and Gosport pub circuit.

Aah, the memories! Coincidentally, Skylarking is probably my fave XTC
disc and ranks up there with Revolver (Sorry Al la carte!) which was
my first LP acquisition. These days, Snow Patrol and the Futureheads
feature on my playlist but mostly I terrorise (sorry, educate) my kids
with XTC on the car stereo. On one recent long journey, my teenage
daughter having just been blessed with a rendition of Skylarking,
asked "who is that country and western band that you keep making us
listen to?". Simon Cowell has a lot to answer for!

Back to Lurking.

Steve Morton, Portsmouth UK.


Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2005 01:03:52 -0700
From: "Thomas Vest" <>
Subject: Hunter S. Thompson
Message-ID: <BAY18-F227987AD9364E2A3510ABEA1610@phx.gbl>

Hello fellow chalkheads

This is totally off topic here but I sense the possibility that many of you
were Hunter fans so I thought I would pass along a bit of Hunter smartass
that I read from his book "Kingdom of Fear".

Man, I am bummed...



One Hand Clapping

I knew a Buddhist once, and I've hated myself ever since.  The whole thing
was a failure.

He was a priest of some kind, and he was also extremely rich.  They called
him a monk and he wore the saffron robes and I hated him because of his
arrogance.  He thought he knew everything.

One day I was trying to rent a large downtown property from him, and he
mocked me.  "You are dumb," he said.  "You are doomed if you stay in this
business.  The stupid are gobbled up quickly."

"I understand, " I said.  "I am stupid.  I am doomed.  But I think I know
something you don't."

He laughed.  "Nonsense," he said.  "You are a fool.  You know nothing."

I nodded respectfully and leaned closer to him, as if to whisper a secret.
"I know the answer to the greatest riddle of all," I said.

He chuckled. "And what is that?"  he said.  "And you'd better be right, or
I'll kill you."

"I know the sound of one hand clapping," I said.  "I have finally discovered
the answer."

Several other Buddhists in the room laughed out loud, as this point.  I knew
they wanted to humiliate me, and now they had me trapped-- because there is
no answer to that question.  The saffron bastards have been teasing us with
it forever.  They are amused at our failure to grasp it.

Ho ho.  I went into a drastic crouch and hung my left hand low, behind my
knee.  "Lean closer," I said to him.  "I want to answer your high and
unanswerable question."

As he leaned his bright bald head a little closer into my orbit, I suddenly
leaped up and bashed him flat on the ear with the palm of my left hand.  It
was slightly cupped, so as to deliver maximum energy on impact.  An isolated
package of air is suddenly driven through the Eustachian tube and into the
middle brain at quantum speed, causing pain, fear, and extreme insult to the

The monk staggered sideways and screamed, grasping his head in agony.  Then
he fell to the floor and cursed me.  "You swine!"  he croaked.  "Why did you
hit me and burst my eardrum?"

"Because that," I said, "is the sound of one hand clapping.  That is the
answer to your question.  I have the answer now, and you are deaf."

"Indeed," he said.  "I am deaf, but I am smarter.  I am wise in a different
way."  He grinned vacantly and reached out to shake my hand.

"You're welcome," I said.  "I am, after all, a doctor."


Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2005 13:01:55 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Blogs
Message-ID: <>


>Harrison's post about his blog makes me wonder if anyone else on Chalkhills
>has their own blog... I'd like to start a list.

>I've got two:


Not a blog but a FLOG... six new pictures a day with witty banter


Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2005 11:40:30 -0000
From: "Belinda" <>
Subject: Interesting link
Message-ID: <007d01c518d3$4fec00c0$d42a9b51@davidfoh4tm83a>

Anyone know anything about these guys dancing to an XTC song?

Belinda x


Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2005 10:05:01 -0800
From: "Kerry Chicoine" <>
Subject: RE: Blogs
Message-ID: <>

Phil Corless wrote:

>>if anyone else on Chalkhills has their own
blog... I'd like to start a list.<<

I'll throw my toupee into the ring:



NP: Jensen Bell -- Modern Dating Tips


Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2005 12:35:36 -0800 (PST)
From: Jay Gillespie <>
Subject: More fact straightening re: digital downloads
Message-ID: <>

> Why isn't XTC on iTunes? I know personally people
> close to the band have been looking into it.
> Could it be because they haven't found a way
> to do it without watering down the value of selling
> real CDs? Because with the new model of subscription-
> based streaming songs, there's NO WAY TO MAKE REAL

Actually, it's probably because iTunes hasn't made a
deal with Caroline Records regarding their early
albums yet.  iTunes used to have the Geffen collection
"Upsy Daisy Assortment" up though.  It's doubtful that
XTC has any say about how their material is sold apart
from their albums post Virgin.

Napster, on the other hand, Has 9 of their albums up
for paid download, including Apple Venus, Wasp Star,
and their respective demo albums. 7 of those are also
available for streaming.  So it seems doubtful that
your reasoning why XTC isn't on iTunes is correct,
especially considering that iTunes is one of the
download services that doesn't offer subscription



Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2005 17:12:37 EST
Subject: How to Write an Earworm
Message-ID: <>

(Adapted this from my blog...)

Do you know what an earworm is? It's a song so damned catchy that all you
have to do is hear it once and it will stick in your head until you either
a) drink yourself blind, b) get smacked in the head with an eight-iron, or
c) die.  I'm given to understand there are other cures (a nice example can
be found at, but at exactly this moment I'm
really not in a hurry to try them out.

I've been having a nice long wallow in Andy Partridge's Fuzzy Warbles
demos-and-lost-tracks series, and I've gotten the happiest earworm infection
I've had since 1989, when I first heard XTC's "Mayor of Simpleton."

The tune in question is called "I Can't Tell What Truth Is Anymore," on
Volume 6. Lyrically, you might be tempted to read it as an anthem for our
defeated and disgusted times, but really it's just a boy-loses-girl song. It
couldn't be a simpler bit of bubblegummy fluff -- I can easily imagine it
tootling along during the Obligatory Slapstick Chase Scene in an early
Scooby-Doo cartoon.  It's one of those dangerously sticky-sweet cinnamon bun
that Partridge easily tosses out endlessly in his sleep (think "Cherry in
Your Tree," or the above "Mayor of Simpleton"), a talent he sometimes
disparages as beneath his dignity, not knowing what it's like to spend your
life wishing you could write just *one song* that catchy.

Even though it's only a demo, a candidate for an album (Nonsuch) that never
made it past the winnowing process, the thing is as expertly crafted, as
architecturally perfect a bit of candyfloss as you're like to come across
this year.  Ergo, earworm.

So why's this particular song so damned skillfully done? What's the formula,
Mister Wizard?

    1. Start with an introductory phrase that twists the melody very
slightly. In this case, the hook phrase is rendered in a minor mode, so one
note is different from the way you'll hear it in the rest of the song. A
deft application of a cliche. (Cliches are often exactly what's called for
in this particular artform.)

    2. Repeat that slightly twisted melody only twice more: Once to
introduce the instrumental passage, and once to end the song. Symmetry.

    3. It certainly doesn't hurt to stick to primary-color I-IV-V chords in
your verse and chorus. Meat and potatoes. Predictable. Solid.

    4. But in your middle eight, go ahead and throw in an F#dim7 chord
(under "And if you've gone for good"...) to suggest incompletion and
anxiety. And of course write your lyrics so that the most significant word
in the whole song, the revelation of the cause for our narrator's anxiety --
"gone" -- falls exactly on that diminished chord. You do this because you're
a f*cking pop-songcraft god.

    5. End your middle eight on that protracted V chord. Oh, absolutely,
yes.  Again, a cliche, but this is a bubblegum song, not the Coffee
Cantata. When you play the song live, you can stretch that suspension out
over, hell, 32 bars, before crashing back down to the tonic to start the
next verse -- just like the rising ahhh's in "Twist and Shout." They'll have
to disinfect the theater seats.

    6. Hint *forward*. In literature, it's called _foreshadowing._ Listen to
the lovely little chiming arpeggiated twin-guitar figures under the main
melody. It will assume more importance later.

    7. Harmony vocal below the melody. Think late Beatles, think "Come
Together," think "The One After 909." Partridge does this as a matter of
habit, believing that the highest voice is the one that stands out. It's
pretty rare, especially in late XTC records, for vocal harmonies to ride
over the lead vocal like a bluegrass duet. And oh man, is it used to cool
effect here.

    8. The guitar solo isn't really a solo at all; it's a carefully composed
instrumental passage, as formal as a minuet. Needless to say, it's an
absolute knockout. The Clapton-voiced guitar states a new melody as the
little chiming figure revolves. Then a small male choir picks up the figure
that had been played by the twin guitars under the verse (see why that
foreshadowing was so important?) as the Clapton guitar now begins to play
the verse melody. The two figures twine beautifully together, to end with
both entities playing the title line, the male voices taking the low harmony
and the guitar the melody.  Subtle, understated, classically symmetrical --
did you ever think you'd hear those words describing a passage in a
*bubblegum song*?

    9. In the outro, have the male voices pop back up with the same figure
they sang in the instrumental passage. More symmetry.

It looks so simple from the outside, but once you tease it open, its insides
are as finely wrought and carefully balanced as an expensive watch. A thing
of incandescent beauty.

Harrison "Wanna buy a hot Rolex?" Sherwood


End of Chalkhills Digest #11-10

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