gerbie: (Default)
The audience was too big for the small room. We had to wait, a bigger hall was being prepared apparently. A bit later we walk silently to the other end of the building. On entering the hall, the music is booming over us. The quiet intro I heard in the background, when I was still outside. Now the song has really started. I notice that not everybody thinks this is appropriate. On the other side, that does fit the bill. I’m sure he didn’t pick the music himself though, but I think it is spot-on. There is a certain irony in the lyrics. He is in the front, as if the words are his. “If I lay here, if I just lay here, would you lie with me..” Nobody feels addressed. Nobody likes to be in a coffin. As much as nobody had expected him to be in a coffin. Mid-forties, not even a slightest hint that it could suddenly be over. In the meantime, Snow Patrol keeps filling the hall with noise. I know the song, but I had never actually listened to it properly. Now I have to. It is impossible not to. The lyrics fit the situation on more than one point. “All that I am, all that I ever was”. Around me I see everyone think about how he was for them.

The service is painful. Speeches cannot soften the blow, the loss. I have lost a friend. Not a friend I visited, not someone I spoke on a daily basis, but someone I played football with on the same team for a few years is a friend nonetheless. On a regular basis we talked about our matches together, with this one special match recurring every time. Mutual respect for our football skills, for the love of our club. A friend who shouldn’t have to die, as nobody at this age should just be in bed dead. The last song of the service, the song played to get us to leave the hall, has even more irony in it. “Where the streets have no name”. He was a U2 fan. But why pick this song for a mailman? As if he realizes that he will never deliver any mail again. As if streets exists after you've gone.

But I will certainly never forget the opening song from today. Ever since I have heard the song more often than before. Probably because I am more aware of the song, because I have this image in my mind from the coffin, the hall combined with these lyrics. I can never hear the song quietly, it will always thunder. And I just forget the world.

We'll do it all
On our own

We don't need
Or anyone

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

I don't quite know
How to say
How I feel

Those three words
Are said too much
They're not enough

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Forget what we're told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that's bursting into life

Let's waste time
Chasing cars
Around our heads

I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Forget what we're told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that's bursting into life

All that I am
All that I ever was
Is here in your perfect eyes, they're all I can see

I don't know where
Confused about how as well
Just know that these things will never change for us at all

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

32 songs. Thanx to Nick Hornby. A series about songs that have influenced my life in one way or another.

gerbie: (Default)
In 1987 the album Bring the family by John Hiatt was released. Great album, beautiful songs, a huge discovery for the teenage music fan I was back then. At home a video recorder still hadn’t entered our household, but on Sunday evening, while babysitting, I was able to use the machine there.I taped a documentary about Hiatt, in those days mainly popular in The Netherlands, but an unknown in his native US. Interesting back ground information, great songs, atmospheric images, live songs, compliments for the maker of the documentary.

That first tape was played on a regular basis, by the time we owned a VCR ourselves. A concert by The Nits, Joe Jackson live, but mainly that same documentary about Hiatt. Images from Nashville, a factory for singer-songwriters, though especially famous for its Country and Western music.

Not exactly my type of music. Not then, still not today. I can easily grow old without listening to Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton or Hank Williams. Twenty years later though, I have to bring some nuance to that idea. Johnny Cash and especially Guy Clark did manage to touch me. Clark in that documentary about Hiatt, with his famous song ‘Desperados waiting for a train’. Some Jerry Jeff Walker in 1973 already recorded it and had a small hit. Clark himself wrote the song, but recorded the song not until a couple of years later. The album ‘Old No1’ was released in 1975, I bought i talmost twenty years later. After years of searching to no avail, in Amsterdam I found it and immediately had to have it. Based on that one simple song, I had heard only a fragment of it. The album turned out to be a pearl in my extended collection. With the highlight this one song about the friendship from a small boy and an old man. Can’t hear that song too often.

And it seems I’m not the only one. 9 other artists have made the list covering the song. Also on YouTube many are inspired by this great song. Clark turns out to be a great songwriter, many of the greats of this earth have played a song by him, John Denver, Johnny Cash and The Everly Brothers to name but a few.

So time and time again I listen to this song. I’m very happy to encounter different live versions on YouTube. Thanks to one of those versions I now know this song has been written about his grandmother’s boyfriend. Not his own grandfather, yet someone who played the part convincingly apparently. Listening to this, even Country music can be tolerated. Nice vulnerable voice, but without the exaggerated howls that so many country songs have. The story would have fitted, but I’m glad Clark didn’t fall in that trap.

I played the Red River Valley
He'd sit in the kitchen and cry
Run his fingers through seventy years of livin'
And wonder, "Lord, why has every well I've drilled gone dry?"

We were friends, me and this old man
We's like desperados waitin' for a train
Desperados waitin' for a train

He's a drifter, a driller of oil wells
He's an old school man of the world
He taught me how to drive his car when he was too drunk to
And he'd wink and give me money for the girls
And our lives was like, some old Western movie
Like desperados waitin' for a train
Like desperados waitin' for a train

From the time that I could walk he'd take me with him
To a bar called the Green Frog Cafe
There was old men with beer guts and dominos
Lying 'bout their lives while they played
I was just a kid, they all called me "Sidekick"
Just like desperados waitin' for a train
Like desperados waitin' for a train

One day I looked up and he's pushin' eighty
He's got brown tobacco stains all down his chin
Well to me he was a hero of this country
So why's he all dressed up like them old men
Drinkin' beer and playin' Moon and Forty-two
Jus' like desperados waitin' for a train
Like a desperado waitin' for a train

The day 'fore he died I went to see him
I was grown and he was almost gone.
So we just closed our eyes and dreamed us up a kitchen
And sang another verse to that old song
(spoken) Come on, Jack, that son-of-a-bitch is comin'

We're desperados waitin' for a train
Was like desperados waitin' for a train

32 songs. Thanx to Nick Hornby. A series about songs that have influenced my life in one way or another.

gerbie: (Picton)
Summer 1997 I worked on Menorca for First Choice as resort representative, better known as Holiday Rep. Even the BBC made a series about us that summer. My area was the part of the island where anything grey automatically arrived, not much under 60’s around. But I had a great season, plenty of fun, especially with the international crowd working there in car rental companies, in bars, animation or selling excursions, we had a nice group.

A big disadvantage of the resort 's Algar was the non-existence of a decent pub, a nice watering house. The only place to go to after 10 PM was the Karaoke bar. Not really my choice normally but it did end up as the place to gather after a hard day’s work, where those who worked there ended, when the tourists who we worked for had gone to bed (remember the average age?). Being the only punters there was not an exeption. We did grab the microphone then and sang sungs we hardly knew, just for the sake of it. One example I didn’t know up until then, nor have I heard it ever since, was Al Partir by Nino Bravo, a Eurovision entry for Spain somewhere in the seventies, according to some of the Spanish workers amongst us. At the end of the summer, we had heard the song so often, we (three Dutch amongst a crowd of Brits and Spanish) sang the song without the aid of the monitor with the lyrics.

One evening there were quite a few visitors when we entered late after work. Not only the amount surprised us, also their choice of songs. Not the ever so predictable 'My way', 'Hey Jude', 'You'll never walk alone' or another hopelessly attempt at 'Cotton Eye Joe'. Halfway through the evening someone came up and sang a song I did recognize, but hadn’t heard for a while. “I wish I was special”, we heard, the singer appeared to be at ease and confident on stage. A spectacular version of 'Creep' was sung for a small crowd that evening. Many visitors seemed not to have heard the song before, even though it was already four year old at the time.

To me Radiohead was only known through that particular song. Later I started following them better, read about them, heard more albums and ended up being impressed by Paranoid Android, No Surprises, Karma Police en High and Dry. Their album OK Computer was released later that same year and soon turned out to be one of my favourite albums of all times.

But regardless of the class of that album, still that one song hits me most. Their first hitsingle. The song where Thom Yorke seems to suffer from the beginning to the end, singing as if his life depends on it. Obviously YouTube has an array of 'Creep's'. Someone playing the song on an ukelele, a cover by Natural Disasters, someone else in the tube with a street musician or 456 amateurs doing an acoustic version of the song.

The song keeps its power, regardless of how often I hear the song. I like a song with a build up, changes of pace and volume. U2 often made songs like that, Queen's best songs are in the same league, Radiohead turns it into a trademark. Very quiet start. The chorus sees a guitar entering the song. The until then near-ballad, suddenly turns into a rock anthem. The change is returning throughout the song, soft, loud, almost whispering then almost howling with a very long: 'rùùùùùùn'.

Apart from the music, the lyrics also touch me. Sympathy for the underdog, the outsider, is not a weird sentiment for me. Is there anyone more an outsider that the main character in 'Creep'? While most songs (rap!) are about self conscious people with plenty of self esteem, the singer (Yorke autobiografical?) is a creep, a weirdo. “I don't belong here..”, at the end of the song almost sounds like surrender.

I have been a Radiohead fan since 1997. 'Creep' was the culprit and remains one of my favourite songs ever since.



When you were here before,
Couldn't look you in the eye
You're just like an angel,
Your skin makes me cry

You float like a feather
In a beautiful world
I wish I was special
You're so fucking special

But I'm a creep,
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doin' here?
I don't belong here

I don't care if it hurts,
I wanna have control
I want a perfect body
I want a perfect soul

I want you to notice
when I'm not around
You're so fucking special
I wish I was special

But I'm a creep
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doin' here?
I don't belong here, ohhhh, ohhhh

She's running out the door
She's running out
She run run run run...

Whatever makes you happy
Whatever you want
You're so fucking special
I wish I was special

But I'm a creep,
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doin' here?
I don't belong here

I don't belong here...

32 songs. Thanks to Nick Hornby. A series about songs that somehow have influenced my life.

gerbie: (Default)
In the mid eighties Dutch national radio station Radio 3 was still a progressive music station. I loved listening on tuesday and wednesday, the days the best shows were on. On tuesday afternoon during the Verrukkelijke 15 (an alternative chart with plenty of good music) I discovered many new bands and artists. Many of the artists I discoverd then, I still listen to these days. In my car on my way to work I often play tapes from those days.

One of my new discoveries was a new band from Australia called Do re mi. They managed a top five hitsingle Down Under with the song Man Overboard. In Europe it became known as well, though if I remember well, never a hit. Obviously I bought the LP record with that song on it, later a CD as well. Nice, but never as outright brilliant as this one song. The term 'one hit wonder' is correct in this case, but they are a bit special anyway. They were not the product from a producer who did things right, but they were just a band from Sydney who were lucky once.

Singer Deborah Conway, film lovers might know her as Juno in Prospero's books by film legend Peter Greenaway, is tellng is in the song about a relation that is about to burst. Pubic hair on a pillow (controversial in those days, even singing about it), stubble in the sink, her discontentment about her man is fairly obvious. Him flirting with other women, showing up in the middle of the night, it doesn't help. The first minute the song does not seem to start, instead of singing, it appears that she is almost quoting the lyrics, reading them out, but then there is suddenly the outburst: "You're not the only one", one recognizes the power of her voice, she can actually sing. Immediately the bass takes over, the bass run that makes the song recognisable.

Even these days, over twenty years later, the song hits me. One feels the pain in her voice. Doors being shut so hard that wall paper is peeling, the ironic, almost sarcastical comment "Jealous wifescenes raise a smile at parties, like anal humour". What a great song, I still sing along, from front to back. Three times in a row, it never gets boring, happy like a little child discovering the video on YouTube, I hadn't seen the clip before.

Do re mi - Man Overboard

I try not to stand too close to myself

I try not to listen to the things I say

They say there's no such thing as self-abuse

But you wonder how I can be trusted

If I'm finely tuned or well adjusted

Oh, pity about you

Oh, pity about me

Mostly pity about her

Every time she comes inside

You – had to run

You had to run

You wish that crush would go away

You're not the only one !

Squinting at broad daylight

Drumming up a conversation

Parson's brass is pealing / appealing

Drumming up a congregation

Hands reaching for a glass of water

Dry socks and razor rash

Your shoes under my bed

Dandruff, doona, cigarette ash

I've tried to play it open-handed

I've tried to make a fist of this

Even when the questions are candid

My arrows miss

I've heard about your fragile ego

Your shield, your sword

What am I expected to do ?

Shout Man Overboard ?

Come around when I'm asleep

Roll around, try to wake me

That's all right, you've got to go now

Words overtake me

Your pubic hairs are on my pillow

Your stubble rings the sink

Your words under my sing

Your table manners stink

I paddle in the things I love

You wallow in a swamp of trivia

In a vase with insincere I love you's

Next door's camellias

I'm sick and tired of this position

Hatched underneath your arm

Crotch under stress

You're little and it's come

I'm bored – staring at the ceiling

While you point out my faults

I've watched the wallpaper pealing

From slamming doors

You talk about penis envy

Your friends applaud

What am I expected to do ?

Shout Man Overboard ?

Come across to other girls

Look around and start a rumour

Jealous wife scenes raise a smile a parties

Like anal humour

Are you addicted to attention ?

Do you do it for effect ?

You're wet, out of control, misunderstood and hen-pecked

32 songs. Thanks to Nick Hornby. Columns about songs that have touched my life in one way or another.


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