By The Landlord
Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in silver feathered sleep
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream. – Silver, Walter de la Mare
Get you a copper kettle
Get you a copper coil
Cover with new made corn mash
And never more you'll toil
You just lay there by the juniper
While the moon is bright
Watch them jugs a-fillin
In the pale moonlight. – Joan Baez
“Behind every silver lining, there's a cloud.” – Glenn Gould
“Every crowd has a silver lining.” – P. T. Barnum
Like all the best things musical, they stand the test of time. They have strong individual qualities. They don't rust. And they are often recycled. They're attractive, precious, sometimes rare. So this week, wonderful and knowledgeable musical magpies, we're seeking out shining examples of songs that contain reference to non-ferrous metals, whether in literal or metaphorical terms, all that is, except gold, and of course this also excludes iron and steel both of which have been the focus of a previous topic.
Silver is somehow classier, and certainly more poetic than gold anyway, isn't it? It might have a coming-second reference, but you don't have a gold-tongued devil, do you? He'd just choke on his own bulky bullion. Silver is quick, and mercury is a miracle element. Gold is heavy and often troublesome. And tasteless power-hungry dictator types, such as Donald Trump, Muammar Gaddafi, Imelda Marcos, Turkmenistan's Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov,Vladimir Putin, King Midas or indeed Victoria Beckham, generally love, from thrones to curtain rails and self-effigies, to deck out their homes with gold, but don't have the good taste to opt for silver instead do they? Or even copper, or nice bit of brass over the fireplace. Far more tasteful, I'd say, is the garb of the great glam rock stars of the 70s. The Sweet, David Bowie and more, but perhaps the silver king was Dave Hill of Slade:
But non-ferrous metals don't just have a pretty face. They have talent. They have a purpose. They may be sturdy but also light, like aluminium, highly conductive, such as copper, clearly wiring sound to our ears, or be tough and heat conductive. And so if want is a proper cup of coffee, made in a proper copper coffee pot, tin coffee pots or iron coffee pots, they’re probably less good, you see. If you can’t have a proper cup of coffee from a proper copper coffee pot, perhaps you'd just have tea. Hot. Or not. They're also great for rhyming and timing too, especially if you dig out those more obscure beauties beryllium, bismuth, cerium, cadmium, niobium, indium, gallium, germanium, lithium, selenium, tantalum, tellurium, vanadium, and zirconium. Um.
Brass and a variety of metal alloys help make up a whole family of musical instruments. And of other non-ferrous metals you could include heavy and protective like lead, or contain use in all sorts of other ways, such as nickel, tin, titanium, zinc, tungsten or magnesium. So all in all, these metals are not only useful but inspirational in practical and metaphorical ways. As long as we don't run out of them.
The quality of these metals match all sorts of music in their ringing, clanging, banging, whistling, thrumming, twanging beauty. Syd Barrett's favourite guitar? "I never felt so close to a guitar as that silver one with mirrors that I used on stage all the time," he said.
But you may wish to not only pick out examples of such metals in music and lyrics, but also about their origin, the mining and all the political associations that lie dark and deep in how they are sourced. Pertaining to this in metaphor, Benjamin Franklin remarked: "Genius without education is like silver in the mine."
So then, crossing our collective palms with more than silver, this week's non-ferrous metal merchant, taking control of the big magnet and the massive grabbing machine is, I'm delighted to say, is the big tin man with far more than just a heart, the terrific TatankaYotanka! Place your non-ferrous metal songs (again, not gold, steel or iron) in the box below, as they pass on the conveyor belt of consideration for playlists published next Wednesday. The deadline, as ever is 11pm UK time on Monday. Let's get digging …
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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.