Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills Digest #6-259

         Chalkhills Digest, Volume 6, Number 259

                 Sunday, 3 September 2000


                     Re: fire on high
                       Re: Marriage
                      Re: Brainwash
             RE: Sad Songs Say So Much . . .
...Such a lot of fools tryin' to anesthetize the way that you feel
                      Turning point.
              Re: right and left in Swindon
                      The URGH video
               B-side lovers unite! + asst.
           Arancia Meccanica e El Dorado eb Ovo
                     Live And Kicking
               Tentatively Raising Hand...
                     mis-heard lyrics
                   mercy in this world
                     Wedding jitters
          switch hitters & sad songs salmadgundi


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Someone leans in my direction.


Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2000 08:17:54 -0700 (PDT)
From: John Relph <>
Subject: Re: fire on high
Message-ID: <>

Warren Butson <> wrote:
>In reply to Ned's query regarding the backward message on Fire on High by
>ELO, the answer is "The music is reversable but time turned back".


   The music is reversible but time is not.
   Turn back!  Turn back!  Turn back!

>latter material like don't bring me down hold on tight, xanadu and diary of
>horace whimp I think pigeonhole them into the embarassing class, that made
>it very uncool to like them (or admit to) as a teenager

Yeah, precisely why I still like "Diary of Horace Wimp" today.  The
only good song on that album.  And I heard "Xanadu" recently and it's
damn cool, even if it's really dumb.

	-- John

NP: nothing.


Date: Fri, 01 Sep 2000 10:09:46 EDT
Subject: Re: Marriage
Message-ID: <>

Christopher and Mole and others on the marriage thread. This is the
wife speaking. I'm with ya, boys. I've bored the bejeezus out of you
all, I'm sure, with my whining about my darling spousal unit shivering
with the hurls when I play XTC, so this is a topic close to my heart.

A typical exchange in my house:

"Honey, World Party is coming!!!!!," I screech, nearly throwing myself
down the steps in excitement. "Wanna go?" I ask.

"No Sweetums, I think you'll have a much better time if I stay home,"
he says.

I stop; not believing that this wouldn't be a priority in his
life. Then I gather myself, and snag a seat in row 2. YIPPIE.

I even asked if he would see XTC with me if the band  toured. "No,
Sweetums, I think you'll have a much better time if I stay home," he

I learned long ago I can have a great time by myself, and have seen
World Party, John Hiatt, Del Amitri, Don Dixon & Marti Jones, Marshall
Crenshaw (going Sept. 14 ... one ticket, great seat), and many
others. I DID get husband to see David Byrne with me and it is a
requirement in our marriage vows that we see Jimmy Buffett at least
once a year together. We usually do 2 or 3.

What I have learned about going to concerts alone:
1. One can get a great single seat when Ticketmaster releases seats
the week before the show.
2. You can go when you want and leave when you want.
3. You can hang around and chat with people, the musicians, if you
wanna, without someone tugging on your  pants that it's really time to
4. I am a fabulous date.

All that being said, I prefer, of course, to be with my unit. But this
has worked for us for just about 20 years, so I ain't messin' with

I see no one has mentioned Kevin Gilbert in a while, so I will!
Husband thinks KG is the cat's pajamas. I just put the stuff on and
didn't say a word. Cleaned the kitchen and whistled while I
worked. Finally, Joe says, "I really like this." Go figure.

Happy Labor Day weekend to all of us Yanks!


Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2000 12:53:51 +0100
From: "Smith, David" <>
Subject: Re: Brainwash
Message-ID: <>

Greetings dudes

Reading 255, Jan Harris spake thus of introducing her new
beau to XTC:

"AVI:  I'd Like That (he indicated that he didn't find AVI
accessible.  Ooooohhhh, I groaned)"

Dump him Jan - he's a loser!

On the other hand . . . brainwash him Jan - the fact that he's willing
to listen in the first place can only be encouraging.

Repeat after me . . .

We will achieve mind control.
We will achieve mind control..
We will achieve mind control...
We will achieve mind control....
We will achieve mind control.....

Smudge "I have achieved mind control" Boy


Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2000 13:27:34 +0100
From: "Smith, David" <>
Subject: RE: Sad Songs Say So Much . . .
Message-ID: <>


Joe Easter . . . Here Comes The Flood.

Yeah man, one of the all time saddest songs of all time mate!

Uh-oh, I feel a list coming on . . . sad songs, in no particular
order . . .

Here Comes The Flood - Peter Gabriel
Boxing - Ben Folds Five
Please Don't Ask - Genesis
The Wrong Child - REM
A World Without End - Crowded House
Creep - Radiohead

and, I'm afraid . . .

Leningrad - Billy Joel (I know, I know alright? I know!)

*Sigh* . . . flame on . . .

Oh, and Simon Curtiss - sign me up to your "keep fruit and
savouries apart" campaign please. I hate the fruit/meat combo,
esp on Pizza. Unless Olives are fruit, in which case I make a
token exception.

Oh, hang on, tomatoes are fruit aren't they. Oh, well, bang goes
my argument. Still think Liver and Banana is an abomination though.

BTW, on the Curry thread, any NYC chalksters out there who
can update me on how easy it is to get a good curry in NYC
these days. When I was living there in 1992/93 there was literally
ONE STREET (think it was E6th) which had a splatter of curry
houses and apart from that, NUTTIN!

Any improvement?

BTW, I've just re-read this and I'm very proud of coming up with a
"splatter of curry houses". That's almost as good as a "murder of
crows" IMHO!

Oh and the recent "minor slagging" of My Brave Face. Must be me
but I thought that was one of the best things Macca's done in years.
I humbly submit that if the line "I've been hitting the town and it didn't
hit back" had been penned by Mr Partridge people would be queueing
up to praise the latest example of his eloquent wit.


Smudge "In Her Soft Winds I Will Whisper" Boy


Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2000 08:28:16 EDT
Subject: ...Such a lot of fools tryin' to anesthetize the way that you feel
Message-ID: <>

Hi all!

As I sit hear reading your posts pleading that "Stupidly Happy" be released
as a single, I can't help but heave a great sigh of self-pity. You see, I'm
stuck here in Nowhere's End, Illinois, where the possibility of hearing
anything even remotely alternative on the radio is about as likely as XTC
coming to play at the local VFW hall. I can't even imagine being able to turn
on the radio and hear anything besides country, top 40, and "classic" rock.

Yesterday, I took another small step into the 21st century by finally
downloading the free Realplayer version onto my computer. Now, this is where
you come in. There are 2,500 stations listed on this thing. The one GREAT
station I know, Chicago's WXRT, is not there. So, I'd really appreciate
suggestions for stations to try. I trust your taste implicitly. E-mail me

With eternal gratitude,

Amy N.

"They don't give you any choice 'cause they think that it's treason" - EC


Date: 1 Sep 2000 17:47:00 +0100
From: "Robert Wood" <>
Subject: Turning point.
Message-ID: <>
Organization: Mutech Ltd

Carol said:

>> Someone here mentioned Skylarking as a turning point - I agree.
I think Todd bent everyone's brains into a new shape and forced
them to dig deeper and develop their ideas better. <<

Ah, sod it, I'm going to dip my toes in on this one; wasn't going to, but
Carol's piece *made* me! <g>

English Settlement, *is* and this is not open for discussion <BG> the point
at which XTC became more mature, it is definitely an album which shows a
*huge* leap in song arrangement, production and lyrics. Yes there are a few
"oh oh oh oh ohs" and "oy-oys" (please note lack of apostrophe for the
plural of "oh" and "oy-oy"!!) but the whole feel of the album makes a
massive, massive leap from what came before.

With the lamentable Steve Lilleywhite gone, the production has a mature
feel without being overproduced; the songs' subject matter tackle more
"grown up" subjects; the songs have gone from being three minute radio
friendly pop songs to better crafted peices of music. Andy sings about
pithy topics like taking in and appreciating life before it disappears;
racism (on more than one occasion); he makes wonderful analogies between
greek mythology and modern day life (what a *fantastic* lyric "Jason" is)
and generally suddenly finds a new level. Colin pitches in with weightier
matters too, like running away from home/violence at home; the tearing down
of people's homes in the name of "progress" and so on. Dave's guitar
playing suddenly has a new maturity, playing with a much larger variety of
sounds and guitars (eg 12 string Rickenbacker: mmmmmmmm jangly!)

>> I haven't been able to warm up to much pre-Skylarking.  I was
introduced post-, so the early stuff sounds crude to me. <<

This seems both a shame (in not getting into pre Skylarking stuff) and also
spurious (in saying ES is cruder than Skylarking). I don't think *anything*
after Black Sea is crude, and even if Black Sea and Drums and Wires are
raw, they are still wonderful albums with songs of pure
brilliance. Complicated Game for example, although spikey is a real spine
tingler for me.

Crack open the pre Skylarking albums and enjoy. :-)



Date: Fri, 01 Sep 2000 12:21:04 -0500
From: Olof Hellman <>
Subject: Re: right and left in Swindon
Message-ID: <>

> Hi, Maddened Commuters, Following this link will take you to the
> Swindonian/Swindonite end of things, with a big, revealing pic of the
> roundabout, as well as his essay on modern Swindon:

Well, this is a must-see.  There's something natural and at once unnatural
about this.  Of course it makes perfect sense that the inner roundabout
should operate the opposite handedness of the outer ones, like many little
gears orbiting the main spinner in the middle. But my instincts ( and the
overabundance of warning signs and directions there) point to a fundamental
human discomfort with this breaking of convention.  And that's cool.  And
isn't that what I love about the music, too?

So there you have it: the root of Swindon Magic is the ability to
encapsulate what is right with the world and what is wrong with our brains
all in one little song... er... automobile freakshow.

- Olof


Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2000 14:21:25 EDT
Subject: The URGH video
Message-ID: <>

Harrison said of URGH: A Music War:

<< Seriously, this is like the BEST movie  that ever was made about New Wave
or whateverthefuck you want to call it, and  it's our generation's Hard Day's
Night/Woodstock/Hands Across My Butt SO DON'T MISS IT IF YOU GET THE SUNDANCE
CHANNEL. And if you do, TAPE IT FOR THE REST OF US!!!!  >>

I agree, Harrison, it is extremely entertaining, especially "Aerobics with
Toya" :o), that fantastic Gang of Four footage, and the unbelievably tight
Oingo Boingo tune! Wow!  It was the one amazing thing that happened here in
Nowhere's End, Illinois, back in the 1980s. We have a nonprofit alternative
cinema in town that was taking requests for movies to bring in, and I
suggested URGH because I was an insatiable XTC/Police fan. And they actually
brought it to town!! It sold out for two weekends, so I know there are a few
cool people here.

Anyway, I've owned the video for years, so if any of you missed the broadcast
or don't get Sundance, I can attempt to make a copy for you. I've never
tried, so I don't know if it will reproduce clearly, but I can give it a
shot. E-mail me off list.

Amy "Tooohhh-taaaaall E-clippppsssssse" N.


Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2000 10:52:21 -0700 (PDT)
From: Brown <>
Subject: B-side lovers unite! + asst.
Message-ID: <>

In digest #257, Wayne referred back to bands at the county fair (where
careers go to die.. or is that Vegas... Wes?)  Anyway, I thought this fair-y
tale was hilarious-

My brother was at the OC fair (Calif.), it was sometime in the
mid/late-eighties.... He heard a band playing and wandered over to see who
it was.. It was Steppenwolf (I don't know if it was with or without Kay)
bro said that they actually sounded pretty clean.. lots of friendly
exchanges between the band and the audience.  After a well received
rendition of Magic Carpet Ride (love that song!), they kicked into Born To
Be Wild.. natch, the crowd comes apart (for a state fair crowd..)  My
brother was standing at the back of the throng, so at the same time he could
hear the stream of announcements over the PA..  "Judging for the orchid
competition will begin in 15 minutes.." ..  "BORN TO BE W-I-I-I-LD!".. "We
have a lost child at the crafts tent.. " .."BORN TO BE W-I-I-I-LD!"...
Personally, I think a sequined, lounge-style death in Vegas would have been
more dignified.

Lady Jayne-aka-Worrier Queen confesses to being haunted by her very own
audible walking dead.. namely in the form of two songs..  well, my dear, as
long as schizophrenia has been ruled out <G>, do these sound like they may
be your tormentors?

If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body (would you hold it against me)- The
Bellamy Brothers (AMG)

AMG has Kissing With Confidence (are you sure it's not a slogan for a breath
mint, Jayne?) listed on an album entitled Dancing For Mental Health- by Will
Powers (?)  The song was written by
Brackman/Goldsmith/Rodgers/Rundgren/Winwood.. Lynn Goldsmith is listed as
the artist (under Will Powers)..she also did the vocals.. I'm not familiar
with either of these songs.. I should be grateful, I suppose?

..and while we're on the subject of Mummer (huh?).. The original album
tracks are F*CKING BRILLIANT, and you'll never hear me say otherwise.. but
is there anyone out there who adores the B-sides as much as I do?  Please
step forward.. I feel like a leper... sniff-sniff..oops! there goes my nose
again.. could ya grab that for me?..  thanks, you're a dear!

bossa-bumble-nova-ly yours,

Debora Brown

--Re:Marshall Crenshaw..   oooowww! the ever so pretty, Whenever You're On
My Mind.. I think there might have been room on WS for that one--


Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2000 14:47:40 EDT
Subject: Arancia Meccanica e El Dorado eb Ovo
Message-ID: <>

> n reply to Ned's query regarding the backward message on Fire on High by
>  ELO, the answer is "The music is reversible but time turned back".
 For those who haven't checked out this under rated band, .pick up  both Face
the Music and El Dorado on the 20bit gold discs. Sound quality is quite
astounding.  Let's not forget Lynne's contributions to the last two Move
albums. Both are spectacular. I don't think Roy Wood ever got any better as a
songwriter. Still love Shazam (and Brontosaurus in particular). By the way,
the boxed set released two years ago is well worth picking up--also pretty
inexpensive for an import (I think I paid $43 for the four CD set).

> I've just seen clockwork orange for the first time (released mid70's but
banned in the uk until this year). In it the lead role mentions fuzzy
warbles referring to music speakers.Is this where the proposed demo project
title originates, I can't believe its a common term.

You would be right about it not being a common term. Don't have the novel in
front of me but Burgess used Russian along with a couple of sources to create
slang for "the future" (which, by the way, folks has arrived. Just look
around you. It isn't quite as extreme as Burgess imagined it but his
cautionary tale, sadly, has merged with reality).

Don't know if Andy used it as the basis for the demos project but it would
make sense. He's a well read man.

> Best Concert: Peter Gabriel, Austin Coliseum, 1982. Opening act? WHO
>  CARES? Several Points: 1. Tony Levin is GOD. 2. I've never seen a
>  performer control an audience like Gabriel. With a wave of the hand,
>  EVERYBODY sang, with another wave, EVERYBODY stopped. 3. During Lay Your
>  Hands on Me, he laid down on the hands of the crowd, who politely passed
>  him around for about two minutes, and as the song neared its end,
>  politely passed him back to the stage. 4. At the end, he played Biko,
>  and got the audience singing the chant that the song fades on. One by
>  one the band members discreetly left the stage until the only music left
>  was emanating from the crowd. He effectively TRANSFERRED CONTROL of the
>  song from the band to the audience. T

That sounds like a typical Gabriel concert! Saw him in 80 (or was it 81?),
83, 86 and 91. He's always created concerts that are interactive and
involving. Loved one bit in particular in 86. He played with the core
audience's perceptions. Throughout the the first third of the show I kept
wondering who the2  long haired musicians were backing him up on guitar &
bass. Know I knew Levin and Rhodes were bald (well Rhodes had wisps of hair
but not much). I was impressed that these two new guys were playing as well
as Levin and Rhodes but wondered where they were. Had Gabriel gone Hollywood?

At the conclusion of the third song Gabriel stood between the two of them and
pulled their hair off! It was, of course, Levin and Rhodes the whole time.
He's one of the few performers I go to see every time he comes to tour (the
others are the Kinks, King Crimson, Warren Zevon, Elvis Costello, The
Pretenders and Suzanne Vega--glad you asked!)

>You'll be warm in the arms of the man of simple tongue....

Thanks Jan, I haven't had a laugh out loud moment in a couple of weeks....

You US residents be careful on the road this weekend....

Vee--finally finished the "Black Soup" transfer. I'll send you an email off
list about it...
Oh, and my spellcheck keeps trying to change Zevon to Zen--interesting.



Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2000 16:10:39 EDT
Subject: Concerts...
Message-ID: <>

Hey Chalkfolk -

The best concert indeed ever seen my mine eyes were:  Midnight Oil!!!

Yes, the Oil were on their Earth, Moon and Sun tour in Chicago at the World
Theater.  Peter Garrett (lead singer and former Barrister) was so energetic,
and the entire band was so tight and alive that made it incredible.  They
played their music verbatim but would extend their middle 8's to like 16's or
32's.  They played that entire plus 15 other songs from other records, that
pulled all the stops out at this show!  They were indeed hot!

Peter was all over the stage and his high energy really drove the band, which
in turn drove the crowd.  Their light show was awesome, as were their Easter
Island back-drop props on stage...giant carvings of Island Faces and
watersheds aft of the drummer's kit.  Speaking of drummers, he was awesome,
dynamic, colorful, tight, athletic and theatrical.  The guitarists and
bassist too were just so incredible.

Superb show; better than Genesis, which I loved seeing, better than Peter
Gabriel, and better than the Who.

Long live the Oil!

Regards from Chicago, soon to be in Ireland,
John Gardner


Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2000 22:24:25 +0200
From: "Mark Strijbos" <>
Subject: Live And Kicking
Message-ID: <>

Dear Chalkers,

Much ado recently about live shows...

> The upshot of all this is, as Mr P has told us, and I concur:
> despite everyone's best hopes and wishes, concerts are a bare
> approximation of what you hear on record.

Which only goes to show that even our beloved Mr. P sometimes
doesn't know what he is saying.
Andy seems to forget that recording is always at best an
approximation of the actual performance. Coz that's where it all
started of course... with musicians making peculiar sounds in a
cellar full of noise.

The fairly recent concept of a recording studio has of course opened
up a lot of possibilities, even allowing for something alien as a
"studio band" to evolve. But IMHO it's a bit of a stretch to suggest
that the studio is the natural habitat of popular music

Anyway, on to a recent and refreshing thread :

> Concerts that both Dane and I were at:
this one is easy: none.

> My first concert:
My first "real" big concert was Frank Zappa & the Mothers at the
Rotterdam Ahoy' in what must have been 1976.
I also wanted to go to see Macca that year but my mom wouldn't let
me without an escort. Can't really blame her, i was only 13 at the

> Most recent concert:
" An evening of genius" at Dingwalls on August 8th

> My favorite concert:
Farewell concert of local Dutch heroes The Tapes at the Amsterdam Paradiso,
when they played their final song "Stay Home" and dedicated it to yours truly
(still one of my faveroute songs of all time)

>  concert highlights & Concerts that I'm glad I went to:
Ramones, Nico, John Cale (2 times), Specials, Joe Jackson, Nick
Cave, Comsat Angels (lots of times)

> Concert lowpoints:
--Van Halen
- Rush
Both seen at a festival. Nuff said.

> Concerts that I wished I'd went to
- the various shows of XTC that i could have seen

And finally, my bonus actegory: the LOUDEST concert ever
- Siouxie & the Banshees at the Amsterdam Paradiso, probably in
1981 or 82...
Anyway, the band had brought along just a little too much PA gear
for the small church hall the Paradiso actually is. My ears hurt and
kept ringing for at least three days after and i assure you i wasn't
standing in front of those menacing speakers!

Still, it was a great show. Very "professional", cold and stand-offish
but those were the early 80's... the bomb could drop any minute and
nobody was supposed to be having any fun

yours in xtc,

Mark S. @ the Little Lighthouse


Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2000 20:15:22 +0100 (BST)
From: Rory Wilsher <>
Subject: Tentatively Raising Hand...
Message-ID: <> shame.

I like "Never Ever" by All Saints.

Is there a twelve-step programme to cure me of this?

Rory "South London Chapter" Wilsher

p.s. Visiting Swindon on business in November - where
should I go? What should I see?


Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2000 21:07:43 EDT
Subject: mis-heard lyrics
Message-ID: <>

this is truly embarassing -

You'll be warm in the arms of the man of simple tongue......

That is EXACTLY what my girlfriend heard. She also heard "Napalm".
        Adoo,  Roger
p.s. Anyone else a fan of "Family Guy" on FOX?


Date: Fri, 01 Sep 2000 22:16:00 -0500
From: Ned <nedrise@MNSi.Net>
Subject: mercy in this world
Message-ID: <>

Hi folks

Simon says:

<<<<<<<<Ned <nedrise@MNSi.Net>

One more entry in the bad lyrics thread -sorry, no rhyme:

"I've been hitting the town, and it didn't hit back."
                      -Paul McCartney - My Brave Face

I think the song is aptly titled.  He'd need to have a brave
face to go out in public after writing that.>>>>>

I think you'll find that that is a Costello Couplet - sounds like his style
of lyric and the song was a collaboration between the two, and It's not that
bad IMO.>

Elvis huh?  Well I do apologize for not knowing it's his tune. I don't want to
slag Paul off, but he's got so many fantastic performances on record and
My Brave Face isn't really among them, IMHO.

Warren Butson says about ELO:
<Again the early albums are far better drumming wise, it was during Face the
music that Lynne began to double track the drums and create that Lynne
production we all hated on Free as a bird. This meant Bevan had to perfectly
record his drums twice and consequently avoided any fancy drumming as a

Thanks for filling us in on that.  I did not know that.  But wasn't the
backward message "The music is reversible, but time is not."?

Chris Vreeland says:
<Best Concert: Peter Gabriel, Austin Coliseum, 1982. Opening act? WHO
CARES? Several Points: 1. Tony Levin is GOD. 2. I've never seen a
performer control an audience like Gabriel.>

Wasn't the opening act The Electric Guitars?  I seem to recall them coming
back out and dancing on "Kiss of Life".  I saw them do a solo show
in Detroit a year or two later.  It was pretty good.  What ever happened to

A sad song:  "Song of Bernadette" by Jennifer Warnes. She wrote it with
Leonard Cohen and it's on her album of his songs, Famous Blue
Raincoat. I came to associate it with my Mom, as she was dying last
year.  It's exquisitely sad but it soars way up high on the strength of
her beautiful voice:

there was a child named Bernadette
I heard the story long ago
she saw the queen of heaven once
and kept the vision in her soul

no one believed what she had seen
no one believed what she heard
that there were sorrows to be healed
and mercy, mercy in this this world

Ciao, I'm off to the Detroit Jazz Festival.  All free!!



Date: Sat, 2 Sep 2000 13:46:59 +0900
From: "John Boudreau" <>
Subject: Wedding jitters
Message-ID: <001101c01499$ddefb580$685791d2@johnboud>

Chalkboarders ,

Dug " Skylarking " vinyl out of the closet this afternoon ... Really never
understood why Andy didn't like the mix ... Anyway , I bought this in Tokyo
as soon as it was released in autumn 86 . I had just proposed to my
girlfriend ( now wife ) so " Earn Enough For Us " and " Big Day " were
particular favorites at the time and will always hold a special place in
my heart .  " Summers Cauldron " has to be one of the best opening tracks
ever ( and River Of Orchids ) .

Sun is out so I am off to cycle up 20 km of mountain roads
 to Kurokawa Hot Springs . Have a great weekend all !



Date: Sat, 2 Sep 2000 11:13:52 EDT
Subject: switch hitters & sad songs salmadgundi
Message-ID: <>

Attracted to various odd threads, like a moth to the flame:

re. bands that switch instruments:
      Talking Heads, in "Naive Melody" (that was the point of the song).
      King Crimson's Adrian Belew switches from guitar to drums occasionally,
and does a damn good job!
      The Beta Band has turned this sort of versatility into one of their
trademarks.  They don't even indicate on their discs who's playing what
instrument....  Pretty interesting, user-friendly stuff, too!

Saddest songs [non-XTC division]:
       The Db's:  "From a Window (to a screen)".  Titular punning aside, this
slow-shuffle, with its exquisite vocal harmonizing, limpid Rhodes synth,
acoustic guitar, and pensive lyrics is a quiet, still-life masterpiece.  A
subdued, traumatized electric guitar solo kicks in, crying, in the end.
Lyrically, it's oblique and impressionistic to a fault.  "I will tell you
everything/Where do I begin?  Some would say we were friends/I won't make
that mistake again" and "Careless at the start/Cautious at the end" capture
the "plot" of this mood piece.  Simply stunning.  The Db's also did "Lonely
is as Lonely Does," another lovely number about loss, if jubilant by
       Love's "Alone Again Or," esp. as covered by The Damned.  This one
works better musically than lyrically, although it is a decently
bathos-soaked unrequited-love song.  If the original is a razor blade flicked
lightly to wrist, flamenco-style, the cover is.... the attempt that succeeds.
       Prefab Sprout's "The King of Rock 'n Roll".  A song that
simultaneously celebrates and mourns the pathetic narcissism of its narrator,
a still-young janitor working at his high school, who dreams of stardom while
pushing a broom and who is sustained by his capacity for self-delusion.  What
makes this one so great is its musical irony:  the song conveys the man's
schizophrenia by being very upbeat, bouncy, and happy-sounding, while its
tragic story hits you solidly in the solar plexus.
        And, last but not least, Lennon's "Double Fantasy," for obvious
reasons.  I know, it's not sad for the same criteria, but "Beautiful Boy,"
"Watching the Wheels," and "Woman" are sometimes too poignant to hear.

Sad & poignant XTC songs:  so many to choose from, running an astonishing
gamut of topics and styles, but my fave would probably be "Seagulls Screaming
Kiss Her, Kiss Her".  Lyrically, this is one of Andy's best-written songs,
capturing with Chuck Close-like close-up precision a tortuous moment in, let
us hope, adolescence.  Every aspect of this song -- even the way it was
recorded -- reinforces the distorted point of view of that indecisive young
man.  The mood is largely established by the heavy Mellotron part, intended
probably as an oppressive distortion of a more-typical fair calliope.  This
organ is central, and reminds me of the church-organ-playing female
protagonist in the cult indie '60's B&W horror flick "Carnival of Souls,"
another meditation on an indecisive life not fully lived.  (Will someone ask
Andy someday about this movie -- was he familiar with it and was it a
conscious influence?)  The euphonium part and Colin's bass bounce along
cruelly; like time they cannot stand still, and threaten to foreclose on the
crucial moment, the precious opportunity for a kiss.  The intrusive
tambourine crashes with the regularity of a throbbing vein.

Lyrically, the story is revealed gradually, with the pivotal moment rendered
explicitly.  Nevertheless, "Seagulls" remains open-ended, tapering off
unresolved with the fade-out, its dilemma (does he find the courage to kiss
the girl, or not?) technically unanswered.  But can there be any doubt that
he failed?  The final line is "He who hesitates is lost," and the whole
minor-key, dischordant, oppressive, claustrophobic, compressed sound remains
unrelievedly consistent to the end -- and this from a guy who even then was
playing like Paul McCartney with key and time sig changes to convey mood.  I
like to think that if Andy Partridge had written this song with a happier
ending in mind (even if not explicitly stated), he would have signalled his
intent in musical terms.

Another way to interpret "Seagullls" is that despite its observant lyrical
impressionism (sheer poetry, those para-sensory lyrics!) and use of present
tense, that it could also be a crystallized, tortuous memory recalled even in
middle age, in the manner of "Charlie Brown" creator Chuck Schultz's real
infatuation for a red-haired girl he spotted once, but lacked the courage to
speak to (enshrined ever after as Charlie Brown's "little red-haired girl").
Such highly-pitched emotional moments, contrary to the poet Wordsworth's
soothing prescription of "emotion recollected in tranquility," may continue
to sting throughout one's life, even with the complete sensorium of details
-- the sights, sounds, smells, etc. -- which this song painstakingly
encompasses, remaining as fixed and immutable in memory as a bug in amber.

When it comes to sad songs, explicit can be effective, but elliptical is more

Stephanie Takeshita
"It's sad (so sad)/It's a sad, sad situation...." --  Bernie Taupin/Elton
John     ; )


End of Chalkhills Digest #6-259

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