Songs in the Key of Lou #3



Here we are again for another trip through the musical memories of Sleeper front-woman Louise Wener.  Each of the songs in this series of articles was mentioned by Louise in her memoir “Just for One Day”.

Hungry Like the Wolf by Duran Duran

Shoulder pads.

Blitz kids.



The wonder of Duran Duran is that they manage to embody so many of the worst aspects of the eighties and yet avoid being anything other than an unstoppable pop machine.  Where the stench of naff hangs heavy over so many of their contemporaries the boys from DD are never anything other than immaculate…musically and in their image.

Pop perfection.

Wherever I Lay my Hat (That’s my Home) by Paul Young

Did someone say “naff”?

That’s not fair.

I’m being mean for the sake of it.

Young was a fine singer.

That’s about as far as I can go.

Addicted to Love by Robert Palmer

I am fairly confident that Robert Palmer is viewed with open hostility by certain groups in modern society…his use of “sexy ladies” evidence of the patriarchy and the omnipresence of misogyny and sexism.  Those people may, of course, be right in their progressive critique.  I’m no expert.  In anything.

I am viewing this solely through the eyes of the teenage me.

My lived experience.

I thought Palmer, and particularly, this song/video were the epitome of style, sex and glamour.

I would like to apologise.

I didn’t know any better.

Moving on…

Three Times a Lady by The Commodores

Lionel Ritchie in Commodore mode.

A beautiful, last dance of a song.

Space Oddity/Life on Mars/ Ashes to Ashes/Starman/Heroes/Modern Love/Changes by David Bowie

I never got the hype about Bowie.


I’m joking.

I couldn’t carry on with that even at my most mischievous.

Bowie is the single most important character in British pop music history.

Oh yes he is.

Yes, even more so than…them.  Collectively or individually.

From Mod roots, through glam, soul boy and everything else he was the arch re-inventor, the ultimate style icon, a chameleon, a magpie, a star.

His influence stretches beyond pop music and into fashion, film and art.

At his worst he was better than almost everyone else at their best.

It’s that simple.

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep by Middle of the Road


Let me preface this by acknowledging that I have never had a hit record.

I’ve never even had a record deal.

Which, when you consider that Middle of the Road did is, frankly, insulting.


I acknowledge the success and the talent of everyone involved in this record.

This awful, abomination of a record.

A song that he who walks backwards is fearful of.

A song so dreadful that it, literally, fills the hearts of the happiest of souls with dread.

Utter rubbish.

Love me Do by The Beatles

I like the harmonica at the start.

Thunder Road/Born to Run/The River by Bruce Springsteen

I haven’t ever listened to a Bruce Springsteen song all the way through.

I don’t mean an entire album, I mean a single song.

Not one.

Not even “Born in the USA”.

Lots of people with infinitely more talent than me (not difficult I’ll grant you) and who actually know something about songwriting have a real thing for “The Boss”…so there must be something behind all the fuss.

I just don’t hear it.

Hold on.

I’m going to listen to all three of these all the way through.

OK…”Thunder Road” is so American that it might actually be America.  It’s more American than when Starsailor started singing about “freeways” despite their living in a country with motorways and dual carriageways.  It’s more American than a room full of Americans on the fourth of July singing “Thunder Road” and eating pumpkin pie…which I know they don’t eat on the fourth of July but you get the general idea right?

I’m watching the video for “Born to Run” now.

Bruce Springsteen has no sleeves on his shirt.

He looks like he has been carved out of a might oak tree…he’s so rugged.

I like this.

It’s also very American but in a much more relatable way.

Maybe Starsailor listened to this before the whole “freeway” thing?

“The River” tells a story about a boy and a girl called Mary…which is strange because “Thunder Road” had a girl called Mary in it too.

Is Springsteen married to a girl called Mary?

Does he have a thing for Mary’s?

That is a very specific fetish right there.

I’m not feeling this.

It’s all very…earnest.

Shaddap You Face by Joe Dolce

The eighties were great.

Don’t let anyone tell you anything different.

In the eighties something this miserable could be a global hit single…

You might think this is a bad thing but, if like me you are a talentless nobody, this song gives hope that one day you might also have a global smash hit record.

God bless you Joe.

Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan

I was given tickets to go and see Dylan once.

I didn’t know too much about him before I went.

I mean, I knew this song and the one about being a rolling stone but I wasn’t one of those slightly sinister Dylan obsessives.

The thing I liked about the Dylan songs I knew was the fact that he couldn’t sing.  I couldn’t sing either and that made me think that if I could just become a lyrical genius then, like Joe Dolce, I could become a legend.

I’m not comparing Dylan to Dolce.


Anyway, I went to see Dylan and I lasted less than twenty-five minutes before I left.  It was awful.  His voice, which in those early days may well have been weak at least had character, was nothing more than a guttural growl.  It made me feel queasy.

Also there was a very drunk Glaswegian man in front of me who kept shouting out “Bobby Fuckin’ Dylan…yir a GOD.”  Not once.  Over and over again.  Nobody else seemed to mind.  It might be a part of the Dylan experience.  Maybe he travels with the band.  I just found it irritating.

This is all a bit sad because now I really love Dylan but nothing, and I mean nothing, would entice me to go and see him in concert again.


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