Songs in the key of Lou – #7

mirror-louise-wener-006

And now, the end is near.

So we face the final instalment.

My friends, I’ll say it clear…I’ll state my case, of which, of course, I am certain.

This then is the last entry on the songs mentioned in the wonderful memoir from Louise Wener; “Just For One Day”.

If you haven’t read it then…you should.

You can pick a copy up here and you could bring it along to one of the forthcoming gigs, hang around at the stage doors and maybe, just maybe Louise would sign it for you.

Or you could just get the Kindle copy and get home quick to let the babysitter get home.

Her exams are just around the corner so probably best you don’t keep her too late.

Here we go then.

 

Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead

A lot of people really love Radiohead.

Usually boys of a certain type.

Earnest.

Scraggy beard.

Clothes that are almost, but not quite, cool.

You know in Alan Partridge whenever he tries to join in with something fun but always ends up making it less fun?

That is the very essence of the Radiohead fan.

Arguably it is the very essence of Radiohead.

I saw them support Blur before Britpop was a thing and when Thom Yorke had a hairstyle that made even the most strident atheist reconsider…after all if the Devil exists then God must also exist and that haircut was the work of Satan himself.

yorkie

See.

I am sure that “Fake Plastic Trees” is very clever and that the watering can, the polystyrene man and the fake plastic earth are all metaphors for the suffering of mankind or something but, honestly, it is all delivered with such a roar of indifference that I don’t know why anyone cares.

I know I don’t.

Superstition/Living for the City/Uptight/He’s Misstra Know-it-all/Happy Birthday/Ebony and Ivory by Stevie Wonder

Now.

We.

Are.

Talking.

Look at this for a second…

Blind.

Raised in a country where people of his race couldn’t drink from the same water fountains as white people, subjected to a level of intolerance and hatred that we genuinely cannot begin to understand…recorded about a year after the Voting Rights Act and the ending of the Jim Crow era…

Listen to the passion in his voice.

Listen to the joy.

Feel the fire.

Just a boy.

Then listen to his response to the question he is asked.

Just a boy…delivering pure wisdom.

Stevie Wonder is one of a handful of artists who goes beyond genres, who transcends labels, who defies definition…the only constant in his career has been that joy and passion.

Soul.

Funk.

Pop.

R ‘n’ B.

An influence on singers, songwriters, musicians and artists across the worlds of pop, rock, soul, blues and hip-hop.

Try looking at this and turning off the sound.

Just look at the way the crowd moves, smiles, reacts…feels.

Wonder is a totemic figure.

A hero.

A voice raised against violence, discrimination and hate.

A voice raised in praise of peace, harmony and love.

A voice to bring people together.

A voice to lift your spirits.

The voice?

Make no mistake he is worthy of consideration as the greatest.

Hell, he even managed to make watching James Corden tolerable when he appeared on Carpool Karaoke.

Glass Onion/Piggies/Blackbird by The Beatles

I think Travis were called Glass Onion before they were called Travis.

Hold on, I’ll go check.

 

 

Yeah.

I was right.

I love Travis.

I saw them in concert at the end of last year and it was magnificent.

Losing my Religion by REM

When I went to America in 1989 I discovered Neneh Cherry.

I bought “Raw Like Sushi” on cassette and I still play it today…thirty years later.

I bought another album on that trip.

“Green” by R.E.M.

I don’t know why.

I didn’t know who they were before I went on that trip.

Maybe I heard something on the radio as we drove around the desert of Utah.

Whatever.

That one album started a love affair.

With the band for sure but, more specifically, with Michael Stipe.

He was intelligent, creative, crafty, eccentric, quite, angry, passionate…all of the things I wished (wish) that I was.

When I got home I went straight to Sleeves on Kirkcaldy High Street and bought “Document” and “Fables of the Reconstruction” on tape.

Before too long I was listening to R.E.M to the exclusion of almost everything else.

When they stopped making music a bit of me died.

I cried.

I hadn’t ever managed to see them play live and now I never would.

Even now, so many years later, that still hurts.

What do I do Now? by Elvis Costello (cover)

If Elvis Costello said my name out loud I would weep.

Weep.

Arguably the greatest songwriter in English popular music and, much like Kevin Rowland, never really afforded the respect he deserves.

Quite how Louise and the other Sleepers felt when they heard this I cannot begin to imagine.

You’ve written a song, you feel pretty good about it…then Elvis Costello covers it and you realise that you, yes you, have made it onto the radar of a bona fide genius and he is singing your song.

At about two minutes twenty when he sings “Oh I miss you…” you can actually feel your heart break into a thousand pieces and then put itself back together again.

Beautiful.

Angels by Robbie Williams

Jon Ronson spent a bit of time with Robbie Williams attending a UFO conference in Nevada or somewhere.

He wrote about it.

Strange cat.

See for yourself here.

Interestingly I would rather be abducted by aliens and spend the next few millenia being probed in various orifices than listen to this dirge.

I know that’s not a particularly original position to take when it comes to “Angels” but it is true nonetheless.  It really is a hideous song.

An anti-anthem.

A love song for people who haven’t ever been in love.

Pop music for psychopaths, incapable of experiencing genuine human emotion and using this as a substitute.

True by Spandau Ballet

I have a bit of a fantasy involving “True”.

Nothing kinky.

Are you disappointed?

Pervert.

I really want to hear Mark Morrisson of them Bluetones cover it.

I just think it would sound lovely.

Shall we start up a petition?

I Don’t Like  Mondays by The Boomtown Rats

This is tricky.

How best to put this.

Let’s see.

Right.

Got it.

Awful.

Just awful.

The Tide is High by Blondie

New York pop-reggae.

Who would have thought something so gloriously, maybe dementedly, strange and utterly perfect would crawl out of the seedy environs of the CBGB’s punk scene?

Nobody.

That’s who.

There are very obvious parallel lines between Blondie and Sleeper of course…dizzy pop tunes, female singer, a-tea-chood by the bucket load.

And “Atomic”.

Of course.

Poker Face by Lady Gaga

Before I get into this let me save some of you a bit of time and give you a handy “copy ‘n’ paste” reaction for use on Twitter;

“Lady GaGa!  FFS!  She’s awful.  Utter rubbish.  Music for tweenagers.  Give me (insert group of white men with Paul Weller approved haircuts and wardrobes here) any day over this”

Help yourself.

Now for those of you who have a soul…

She’s brilliant right?

Weird.

Affected.

Affecting.

Cool.

Talented.

Creative.

Shocking.

Inspiring.

The sort of pop star the world needed but didn’t have…so she created herself and took over the world.

In an era of streaming and Twitter where there are no mysteries left and where trying to create something that people care about is increasingly difficult and where building anything even remotely resembling a career in the arts is almost impossible, GaGa burned bright like a diamond for a short while and then she stepped back, moved on and decided to become something else.

We need to cherish people like GaGa.

They are few and far between.

There we have it then.

Every song mentioned by Louise Wener in “Just For One Day”.

Not every song is one that she adores or that was an influence on her, but by listening to them all, multiple times, as I’ve written these articles I feel like I have had a glimpse into the world of Wener that would be denied me without having done so.

Here are, most of, the songs that have featured over these seven pieces…

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/mozzer1973/playlist/33c68qcdvOZmqIXtjNlKDL

 

 

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