In his 2003 book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson congratulates the reader for having made it to page 1, explaining the improbable, almost impossible, chain of events and coincidences that led to the creation of the universe, our galaxy and solar system, Earth, life and man’s evolution. I’d like to add my own congratulations to you, dear reader, for having made it even further and found this haven of musical enthusiasm and good cheer known as the Song Bar. The Miracle of You (or Us All) – an unbelievably valuable gift as pointed out by the stranger in The Streets' On The Edge of a Cliff who manages to talk the protagonist out of committing suicide.
This may not be exactly the series of Accidents being celebrated by Peter Hammill, but he makes just the sort of noise that makes me very glad to be here and able to enjoy my three score and ten.
There was a lot of head scratching on this week’s thread as to the nature of coincidence and what differentiates it from fate. No such doubt appears to trouble Dory Previn as she happily lumps the two of them together, along with chance, in Children of Coincidence. It all seems to be about being in the right place at the right time. But I thought that was Serendipity. Well, it is and it isn’t if we’re to take Barenaked Ladies' word for it; apparently it’s much more about being in the right place to find out you’re with the wrong person but it’ll all work out right in the end. Or something.
Not to worry. Getting back to being in the right place at the right time, who’d have thought being stuck up a bell tower mending a bell could lead to eternal domestic bliss and harmony? In the song that tickled me most this week (new unnofficial Song Bar category if anyone’s asking), Jake Thackray’s The Blacksmith and the Toffee Maker, our hero takes advantage of this very situation to convince his beloved that he is God and that she should marry him. Anyone who wilfully rhymes “butterscotch and caramel” with “type of clientele” is going to get my vote most weeks. The 12-year-old in me is still trying to find the lewd metaphor hidden in the line about boiling her sweets in his fires but maybe I’m overthinking things a bit here.
I think we could also accuse Lise Hvoslef of overthinking things a little while she’s Mapping the Coincidence too and poor, dear George does seem a little overwrought as he ponders what might have or might not have been had he turned a different corner. How I wish the one he turned Last Christmas had been left for a lot, lot later. Sometimes we're better off not thinking about things and getting up off our behinds to make our luck and find the coincidences life has in store for us. Even if that does mean going halfway round the world to meet your next door neighbour! Get out there! Go Ring Them Bells! You tell 'em, Liza!
“That’s a likely story” is something that’s been said to me on more than one occasion as I tried in vain to pull the wool over a teacher or parent’s eyes. Buffy Sainte-Marie seems equally sceptical of history as it’s told and as we’re meant to see it. Too much Disinformation it would seem. Another group who are reluctant to roll – with it as our dear Landlord invited us to do at the beginning of this journey (or was that with dice?) – are Public Enemy who don’t believe that the way things are is as random and coincidental as we are asked to believe: the title, Coinsequences, says it all really.
"But what of chance?" I hear you ask. What indeed. I’ll take mine with Big Country. Even if it doesn't turn out well. Because, just like Megson, I'm always going to believe that the Long Shot is possible, no matter what the odds.
“I’ll take the long shot if that’s all there is,
And put it in a very safe place where your doubt can’t get to it.
‘Cos once you’re certain that all hope is gone, a long shot is better than none.”
Not entirely accidental A-list:
The Streets – Edge of a Cliff
Peter Hammill – Accidents
Dory Previn – Children of Coincidence
Barenaked Ladies – Serendipity
Jake Thackray – The Blacksmith and the Toffee Maker
Lise Hvoslef – Mapping the Coincidence
George Michael – A Different Corner
Liza Minnelli – Ring Them Bells
Buffy Sainte-Marie – Disinformation
Public Enemy feat. Paris – Coinsequences
Big Country – Chance
Megson – The Long Shot
Believe it or not, it happened B-list:
Al Stewart – Modern Times
Silver Jews – Random Rules
dB's – Happenstance
John Martyn – Serendipity
Momoiro Clover Z – Mahoro Vacation
Grateful Dead – Scarlet Begonias
Guy Clark – The Guitar
Brother to Brother – Chance with You
Funkadelic – Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts
Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers – Take a Chance
Strangelove – Chances
I Am Kloot – Coincidence
Guru's wildcard pick:
U2 – Drowning Man
The theme tune to this week's coincidence number three in comments on the topic launch. Not so much about coincidence as taking one's chances and serendipitous in that the lines:
"Take my hand
You know I'll be there
If you can
I'll cross the sky for your love."
… fitted the way we felt perfectly.
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: Of all the bars, in all the world: songs about chance and coincidence. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
New to comment? It is quick and easy. You just need to login to Disqus once. All is explained in About/FAQs ...
Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist from songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.