“If you’re smart and you get old, all you know is that everything changes. You’re not in control of anything. If you don’t learn that early, you’re going to be fucked,” – Ian McShane
“I still derive immense pleasure from remembering how many hod-carrying brickies were encouraged to put on lurex tights and mince up and down the high street, having been assured by know-it-alls like me that a smidgen of blusher really attracted the birds.” – David Bowie
Topping and tailing this week’s list, Pink Floyd have sometimes been accused of making sterile, emotionless music. Not too sure about that. Whether or not Shine On You Crazy Diamond is about Syd Barrett, it is undoubtedly heartfelt and almost uplifting.
“Well you wore out your welcome with random precision, rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!”
P.P. Arnold was 20 when she bought The First Cut is the Deepest for £300 from a 19-year-old aspiring songwriter. Cat Stevens had written the song as a world weary 17-year-old. A resolve to try again following unhappy love affair.
“I still want you by my side
Just to help me dry the tears that I've cried
But I'm sure gonna give you a try.”
Loved by sensitive young indie fans at the time, Orange Juice’s first single (here re-recorded for You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever) remains an entrancing listen. Edwyn Collins has written many a great song, but this is one of the best.
“So I'm standing here so lonely
What can I do
But learn to laugh at myself”
The Brilliant Green, a group of young Japanese Beatles fans, formed in the mid-90s and are still going strong. Their most recent album The Swinging Sixties was released in 2014, indicating their continuing fascination with the era. From early melancholy, Rainy Days Never Stay resolves into a joyous declaration
"Raining all day" going away
Can't wait to go and spread my wings
Blowing a kiss to me, hello amazing day!
They Might Be Giants’ Good to be Alive was described thus by one half of the band, John Flansburgh:
“I guess the best explanation of "Good to Be Alive" is the simplest — the song isn't a metaphor for another thing — it really is about the burden of physical injury and the strange, slowly-evolving pleasure of recovery. Maybe we should let the mystery be, but that's it!”
I only dimly remembered Susan Cadogan before hearing again her take on Hurt So Good. Great voice, great song.
“Cause, baby, these
Things you're doing to me
It hurts so bad but
It's worth all the misery”
I did not expect to like Noah and the Whale’s The First Days of Spring, having previously heard only their first album. But it’s a real grower and, again, almost optimistic. At least until the payoff:
“If I'm still here hoping, that one day you may come back.”
Kevin Rowland has been through many a dark night of the soul. Wonderful that the reformed Dexys are doing so well. Here, from Too-Rye-Ay (so much more than a few hit singles), punish the body Until I believe in my soul.
“(That's all there ever is) oh yeah yeah yeah?”
Antony and the Johnsons The Cripple and the Starfish is another remarkable performance. As reader severin indicates in his nomination, it is not an easy listen, describing submitting to an abusive relationship as the price of love, though there is a hint of redemption in the repeated mantra
“I’ll grow back like a starfish.”
The extraordinary Karen Dalton was part of the Greenwich folk scene in the early 60s. According to Dylan, "Karen had a voice like Billie Holiday's and played the guitar like Jimmy Reed". Something On Your Mind is a haunting song, staying with you long after the needle has left the groove.
“Well, you know, you can't make it without ever even trying.”
The Folk Implosion’s My Ritual ruminates on life an’ all that stuff. “It’s getting easier not to suffer all the time” states Lou Barlow.
“My sense of humor might have narrowed with my age
But happy anarchy is all I really crave.”
Meanwhile, the Boss continues doing what he does best. My favourite of all his songs, Racing in the Street pulls you right into the story. The deadbeat job, the escape, however brief, offered by drag racing. Oh, and that pulsing music. Nowadays it would be sepia toned, but what a thrill it was back in the day.
“Tonight, tonight the highway's bright
Out of our way, mister you best keep
'Cause summer's here and the time is right
For racin' in the street.”
Thanks all for your nominations. A relatively quiet week, but some real beauties in there.
The Oooh! Ahhh! It's OK! A-list Playlist:
Pink Floyd – Shine On You Crazy Diamond (#1)
PP Arnold – The FIrst Cut is the Deepest
Orange Juice – Falling and Laughing
The Brilliant Green – Rainy Days Never Stay
They Might Be Giants – Good To Be Alive
Susan Cadogan – Hurt So Good
Noah And The Whale – The First Days of Spring
Dexys Midnight Runners – Until I Believe In My Soul
Antony & The Johnsons – The Cripple and the Starfish
Karen Dalton – Something On Your Mind
The Folk Implosion – My Ritual
Bruce Springsteen – Racing In The Street
Pink Floyd – Shine On You Crazy Diamond (#2)
The Bloody Hell ... Oh That's Better! B-list Playlist:
Curved Air– Backstreet Love
Bruce Springsteen – The River
Nazareth – Love Hurts
Fairport Convention – Pleasure and Pain
REM – Everybody Hurts
M.A.S.H. theme – Suicide Is Painless
Richard Thompson – She Twists The Knife Again
Mary Coughlan – Whisky Don't Kill The Pain
Dusty Springfield – Your Hurtin' Kind of Love
Propaganda – Duel
Culture Club – Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?
Jackie Leven – Extremely Violent Man
Judas Priest – Pain and Pleasure
Alter Bridge – Addicted To Pain
Eric Clapton – Tears in Heaven
Florence and the Machine – Kiss With a Fist
The Sonics – Strychnine
The B-list is drawn from the most popular upvotes (or ‘best’ in Disqus jargon) this week. A distillation of Song Bar’s collective wisdom, if you will.
Guru's Wildcard Pick:
Belle and Sebastian – Lazy Line Painter Jane
1) I’ve been using the Opera browser this week as have had problems with both Firefox and Chrome in the past on Disqus. I’ve been really impressed and those still having problems accessing the Bar might find it useful.
2) How (not) to approach the write-up, courtesy Brian Bilston:
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: Hurt so good: songs that channel mental and physical pain. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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