Saturday, May 31, 2008

There Is Always Hope

It's been very quiet on the 'Spill recently - where is blimpy??? Are we all quizzed out? Have we had enough of reading other people's rambling thoughts on life, the universe and everything, including (occasionally) music! I hope not, because it's time to present my own five reasons to be cheerful (and, indeed, optimistic).

First up, it's the fabulous Lindy Stevens with 'Pennygold'. I know nothing about Ms Stevens - I discovered this song on one of those old Kent Northern Soul albums (which are full of hidden gems). I fell in love with it and still can't get enough of it - at only two and a quarter minutes long it's difficult to do so. I have one particular memory of listening to it while driving through the wooded hills of southern Germany (the beautiufl Pfalz for those who know it). Listen and enjoy.

Second up, is 'Power Of Your Tenderness' by Jad Far. Again, I don't know too much about this and I only discovered it (and the wonderful album from which it's taken) because my beloved Teenage Fanclub are the backing band. It's a lovely song and it makes me laugh - a lot!

Donald Fagen's 'I.G.Y.' is an intriguing take on optimism - it's a sort of reverse approach, looking back at the (false?) optimism of youth. If The Nightfly did nothing else it showed that it was possible to make a concept album without mentioning Middle Earth!

Another interesting look at optimism comes from Death Cab For Cutie's 'Someday You Will Be Loved'. It's about a man who is quite convinced that he's not good enough for his former partner:
You'll be loved you'll be loved, like you never have known,
The memories of me, will seem more like bad dreams,
Just a series of blurs, like I never occurred,
Someday you will be loved.
Any excuse to hear Death Cab For Cutie...

Finally, Jonathan Richman's 'Morning Of Our Lives'. The song was recorded live at The Hammersmith Odeon in the summer of 1977 - Roadrunner was in the UK charts and that was about the only Jonathan Richman song that most people in Britain knew at the time. As the track starts Jonathan says that it's going to be the last song and everyone starts screaming for Roadrunner. Now, although Roadrunner was a UK hit (and quite possibly the reason that most people were at The Odeon that night) it had originally been written at least seven years earlier and Jonathan was basically sick of it. And being the sort of man he was (and indeed still is) he wasn't going to pander to the audience's desires - he had already decided that he was going to play 'Morning Of Our Lives' and he wasn't about to change his mind. Nevertheless, you can hear the uncertainty in his voice as he introduces it, as if he's wavering slightly. The calls for Roadrunner continue - even as late as 1 minute 54 seconds into the track someone shouts it out but by the end the whole audience has been won over and when Jonathan says 'We're Young Now' you can almost feel the whole building rising up as one - and the sustained applause at the end speaks volumes. "No need to fear, 'cos now is the time for us to have faith in what we can do. Goodnight."


CaroleBristol said...

You are right ToffeeBoy, it really has quiet.

Love the Donald Fagen song. Nightfly is a wonderful album, one of my favourites. I played it to death when it first came out and it got left on the shelf for a very long time, but it really is a classic.

saneshane said...

love that Jad Far and teenage fanclub..only thought they had done the 'my life is started over' cover.

and that death cab is one of my favourites.

Think I need more Jonathan Richman..that is great.

Anonymous said...

ToffeeBoy - sourpus here (technologically challenged) to say thanks for reminding us of Jonathan's power to charm.

All the more curious then, the decision of Matthew Kaufman at Berserkely records to re-release Road Runner - calling it "Road Runner (Thrice)" - since it had already been released as Roadrunner (Once)/Roadrunner (Twice) double A side, but this time with 'Morning of our lives' on the flip. Or was that the A side? Ah, who cares? Two great records, by two quite different but equally inspirational bands with one great lead singer.

Ive converted so many people over to Jonathan's music over the years, mostly by taking them to gigs like this one. You always leave feeling taller - he's like a pair of platform shoes bless him.

As if that weren't enough, he is also a lovely bloke with loads of time for his genuine fans. I proudly retain a postcard he wrote to me once in the mid-eighties, in response to a fan letter I had written, thanking me personally. It has a picture of some Hopi indians on it and remains one of my prized possessions.


ToffeeBoy said...

@ sourpus

I went to see Jonathan a few weeks ago at the Shepherd's Bush Empire. He was just as brilliant as ever but he was mainly doing stuff from his last few albums which I have to confess I'm not so familiar with - I really must get hold of them!

It was just him and a drummer (Tommy Larkins) and they were on fine form. Great songs, great singing and some fantastic dancing from Jojo!

By the way, The Morning Of Our Lives was the A side - Roadrunner (Thrice) the B side - I have the single in my hand right now. I suspect the release of Roadrunner as the B side was simply an effort to increase sales.