Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pulp Fiction

Clearly, I’ve turned the Song of the Day into a hollow mockery of its name. And of course, if you’ve been paying attention, you absolutely knew that would happen sooner rather than later. Makes me think of something I read a while back, in Robert Stone’s memoir, Prime Green. (Sort of disappointing book, actually. From a guy who produces such harrowing, blood-drenched novels, it was a pretty laid-back, jokey affair. Stone just finds his own life vastly amusing, which I guess is healthy.) Anyway, Stone devotes a good chapter or two to his memories of his friend, the late countercultural icon, Ken Kesey, which is all very entertaining, even though I’ve never read anything Kesey wrote or much cared to. But in particular, Stone quotes a bit of self-justifying doggerel that Kesey used to recite: Of promising more than what I can deliver / I have a bad habit, it is true. / But I have to promise more than I deliver / To be able to deliver what I do.

Yes, Ken, exactly. You speak for us both. (Except I would never recite epigrammatic rhyming verse to my friends, you hippie hack!)

But anyway, here’s the next song in line. Not a Song of the Day. Just…a Song, I guess.

Some Words About a Random Song


Uh, is that title even a word? I dunno, but it's poetic justice that this is the song to come up for the post immediately following my enthusiastic Anglo-bashing. Which anybody who knows me had to find laughable anyway, since they know that I don't just own Coldplay albums, I own Travis albums. As well as the complete works of Morrissey.

And of course, it goes absolutely without saying that I own Different Class, surely one of the most English albums this side of the Village Green Preservation Society. Along with Oasis' Definitely Maybe and Blur's Parklife, it makes up one third of the Holy Trinity of Nineties Britpop. Though of the three, it's probably the least well-known in this country, since Oasis had their Arena Rock swagger and their tabloid headlines, and Blur, well, Blur had "Girls and Boys." Just try to get that shit out of your head.

So here you've got the opening blast off of the defining record of one of the quintessential Englishmen, Jarvis Cocker, who would soon become a hero to millions through his instantly-legendary public mocking of Michael Jackson. Like any British rock singer worth your time, Jarvis is just as useful as a character as he is for anything he's actually sung. Equal parts brainy misfit, swoony romantic, and leering seducer, and thinner and gawkier than seems physically possible. If he didn't exist, we'd have had to invent him.

Conveniently, this song is something of a call to arms, or manifesto—a wannabe generational anthem for all the "mis-shapes, mistakes, and misfits" who are destined to rise up and overthrow the ignorant, musclebound louts who are running things. Say what you like, the man knows his audience. "What's the point in being rich?" Cocker muses, over the jaunty music-hall verse, "if you can't think what to do with it? / 'Cause you're so bleeding thick?" Then the chorus—a little bit intense, a little bit scary. This guy's pretty witty, but is he really in control of his actions? "We want your homes, we want your lives / We want the things you won't allow us…" Yeah! I'm with the skinny guy!

…and I checked—"mis-shapes" is indeed a legitimate noun, though the OED calls it "obsolete." Shoulda known that overeducated maniac would've done his homework.

1 comment:

I got an "A" in Crazy Beeyotch said...

Now now--I thought One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was a delightful read!