“Any intelligent person knows that life is a beautiful thing and that the purpose of life is to be happy," said my father as he watched the three beauties. "But it seems only idiots are ever happy. How can we explain this?” Orhan Pamuk – The Museum of Innocence
Whatever you think intelligence might be, Tom Tom Club are in no doubt as to its relative importance in our lives. As stated in the mighty Genius of Love:
“Who needs to think when your feet just go?”
Kell Osborne offers sympathy to members of the weaker sex, telling them You can’t outsmart a woman, to a majestic backing track.
Channelling my inner BBC Radio1 DJ, another bangin’ tune follows. According to some, the brain is the most erogenous of zones, including the Bratmobile in Gimme Brains
“Gimme brains for breakfast baby
And gimme more for lunch
Throw me a bone for dinner yeah yeah
A girl could starve on a boy like you.”
Although, not all agree:
(The Big Lebowski)
“I'm a genius
A demon at Maths and Science.”
Which leads to the following wise words from Mary Schmich (of the Chicago Tribune) in her essay “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young”,
“If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.”
And it has been set to music by Baz Luhrmann, Everybody’s free to wear sunscreen.
Many of the late lamented Lord Upminster’s heroes are immortalised in There ain’t half been some clever bastards, including
“Einstein can't be classed as witless.
He claimed atoms were the littlest.”
I found it easy to get lost (in both senses) in the labyrinthine Little does she know by the Kursaal Flyers, staple of many a disco back in the day.
“Little does she know that I know that she knows
That I know she's two-timin' me”
Let’s just call it a score draw and move on.
Possession of intelligence doesn’t always lead to a happier, more fulfilling life. I hadn’t heard the Trash Can Sinatras's Circling the circumference for many a year. Here it is in all its glory, the lyrics showing a painful self-awareness:
“I'm the man who missed a sitter
The pearly-gate crasher
The king's new clothes hanger
Skeptic kind of sucker.”
Next, a cautionary tale from the Long Blondes. Too clever by half details the unexpected response of a pair whose adulterous partners have run away together:
“While you were making plans I was going with her man
Then we left you to be clever
To be clever together.”
Tom Lehrer introduces us to the man who made him the man he became, the great Lobachevsky:
“Who’s the Professor that made me that way?
The greatest that ever got chalk on his coat.”
On now to another story of a man and his clever(er) friend, the National’s Brainy.
Into the home straight, now, with the amazing(ly unzedded) Wonderful World, showcases Sam Cooke’s mighty voice and makes the point:
“But I do know that one and one is two,
And if this one could be with you,
What a wonderful world this would be.”
To close, perhaps Eric Idle’s finest three minutes. The Galaxy Song completes my baker’s dozen on the following, comforting note:
“So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth;
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere out in space,
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth!"
Another week in which events got in the way, hope you like the lists.
“I believe there is something out there watching us. Unfortunately, it's the government.”
Adroit A-list playlist:
Tom Tom Club – Genius of Love
Kell Osborne – You can't outsmart a woman
Bratmobile – Gimme brains
Emily Browning – Act of the Apostle Part 2
Baz Luhrmann – Everybody's free to wear sunscreen
Ian Dury and the Blockheads – There ain't half been some clever bastards
Kursaal Flyers – Little does she know
Trash Can Sinatras – Circling the circumference
Long Blondes –Too clever by half
Tom Lehrer – Lobachevsky
The National – Brainy
Sam Cooke –What a wonderful world
Monty Python – The Galaxy Song
Jimmy Cliff – I can see clearly now
Beverley Knight – Whatever's clever
Beastie Boys – Sounds of science
Super Furry Animals – Hermann loves Pauline
Jolly Brothers – Conscious man
King Radio – Man smart, woman smarter
Family Fodder – Savoir Fare
Undertones – Smarter than you
Peter and the Test Tube Babies – Student wankers
Morphine – You look like rain
Elliot Smith – Pictures of me
Robert Glasper Experiment – Calls
Naomi Rose – The Genius
Guru's wildcard pick:
Bach – Cello Suite no. 1 (Prelude) – played by Yo Yo Ma
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic Think on: songs about intelligence. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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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.