Driving me Crazy

Pulp “Common People”

I love this track, it has everything going for it. A great tune, funny and at the same time interesting lyrics and no one can mug a video better than Jarvis Cocker. Jarvis was born  pulp-3-620x350in Sheffield in 1963, he and his sister were abandoned by their father when he emigrated to Australia, leaving his Mother to bring them up alone. The realism of working class life in the song doesn’t come from a book but from hard experience. Jarvis now works as a DJ on BBC Radio 6 Music.

The song tells the story of a posh girl who wants to experience what it is like to be working class.

Laugh along with the common people,
Laugh along even though they’re laughing at you,
And the stupid things that you do.
Because you think that poor is cool.

Have a read of the full lyrics here.

pulpI think this is a brilliant song and also a story of our times. Working class people seen as a curiosity by those who have privileged lives. What became Poverty Tourism or Poverty Porn in those dreadful reality shows like “Benefit Street”.

Jarvis said himself about the song “I’d met the girl from the song many years before, when I was at St Martin’s College. I’d met her on a sculpture course… I was studying film, and she might’ve been doing painting, but we both decided to do sculpture for two weeks… It would’ve been around 1988, so it was already ancient history when I wrote about her.”

Although never confirmed by Jarvis it is widely believed that the woman who inspired the song is Danae Stratou, wife of Yanis Varoufakis, a former Greek Finance minister. Stratou studied at St. Martins between 1983 and 1988 and is the eldest daughter of a wealthy Greek businessman.

Having read this week’s poem several times, I am struggling to find a connection between the song and the poem I wrote but that’s how it works sometimes. I listen to the song, I make notes, I write and sometimes the muse mocks me. 

Driving me Crazy

 

I want to cook like a poet

Seeking out the unusual ingredient

Combinations no one else has thought of before

letting each one compliment the other

The flame for just the right amount of time

Seasoned so that every note sings to perfection

 

I want to drive like a poet

Cocooned inside the cab alone with road

Thoughts wandering further than the car can ever go

Following different routes to the same place

Sometimes stopping to admire the view

The journey just as important as the destination

 

I want to write like a poet

Sure of each verse, every dot and comma

Picking the perfect word and placing it in the perfect place

Using a metaphor that young people will write on walls 

With a rhythm that vibrates across continents

And a last line that makes the reader

Cry

Laugh

Angry

Want to make the world a better place

 

© Jeff Price June 2018

 

 

 

 

Most Hated Things

Madness “One Step Beyond”

There is a salvation in Madness’s songs, they raises you up. I have never seen the band live but I imagine it is one of those gigs where no one can sit down and you come out feeling madness_7ten foot taller.

Music can do so much, it can move you to tears, it can make you angry with the world and it can bring you joy. Writing this blog and looking at the different types and styles of music that I have enjoyed over the years I can see why I love music so much. It’s an every day fix, it can change my mood, it can help me through difficult times. My only regret is that I have no singing voice and can not hold a note to save my life. My wife is in a choir and the people who organise it brag that they can take anyone and get them to sing. They haven’t heard my voice.

This week’s poem is a bit of fun like a Madness single it is designed to put a smile on your face. Save it for one of those days when nothing is going right or when you are feeling a little low. 

Most Hated Things

 

Raindrops on Mondays and Facebook kittens

Headphones on hippies and overweight Britains

Microwave meals and dogs on strings

These are a few of my most hated things

 

Back to front baseball caps and a cold bathtub

smokers in the doorways and deep fried pub grub

Mobiles in cafes and Paul McCartney’s Wings

These are a few of my most hated things

 

Charvers with pitbulls and girls with tattoos

Snowflakes on windscreens and pink Converse shoes

Sub zero winters that never become springs

These are a few of my most hated things

 

When a new born baby grins

when I count my lottery wins

When everything is as it should

I simply remember my most hated things

and then I don’t feel so good

 

© Jeff Price May 2018

 

 

The Fountain

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. “Tears of a Clown”

Another fab track. The group that later became the Miracles was formed in 1955 by five teenage friends from Detroit Michigan under the name the Five Chimes. Three of the founding members, Smokey Robinson, Pete Moore and Ronald White had been singing together since they each were around the age of eleven.  It must be because they know each others voices so well that you get those amazing close harmonies.

The lyrics are great as well. The song was written by Smokey with theundefined music coming from Stevie Wonder. After “Tears of a Clown” became a number one hit for Tamla Motown they toured extensively but Smokey wanted the home life in Detroit and he retired from the band to take up a management role in Motown Records.

Listening to the track it made me think how much I cry these days. When you are getting older you expect that your body will start to slow down and things will not work as well. Whilst you expect your bones to creak and your internal organs to rebel against the years of mistreatment, I was not expecting that my mental health would also begin to suffer. I have always been a bit of a softie and I never went in for that macho posturing that some Northern men think is a sign of manliness but I never thought I would start to cry at adverts or weep listening to a song. 

The Fountain

 

They stream down my face like a waterfall in flood

Brought to the surface by the most trivial of thoughts

I can ball during an advert for a building society

They can spring up at a story about a trapped chicken

Flow unbridled after a failed penalty in extra time

Watch me whimper like a baby at a picture of a distressed dog

My nasal passages snivel and snot in sympathy

I watch “Call the Midwife” through a misty veil of tears

Never stand next to me at a wedding or a funeral

 

©Jeff Price April 2018

Down to the Dozens

Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band “Big Eyed Beans from Venus”

The first question I always asked myself about this track and Captain Beefheart in

captain beefheart

particular is “What?” I know the lyrics really well and even after listening over and over again I have still no real idea. There are some obvious sexual references. for example:

Men let your wallets flop out,
And women open your purses

(If you want to read the full lyrics click here)
or just bizarre… how about:

Distant cousins, there’s a limited supply.
And we’re down to the dozens, and this is why:
Big Eyed Beans from Venus! Oh my, oh my.

clear spot

Either way I still loved his albums and “Clear Spot” and “Trout Mask Replica” are two favourites. I like the idea of stitching phrases together or just saying things because you like the way they sound.
Like a lot of writers the Captain (real name Don Van Vliet ) didn’t like to give too much away about the meaning of the lyrics and as he died of Multiple Sclerosis in 2010 we will never know. He was also universally disliked by nearly everyone he worked with and band members would often not get paid or receive credit for song writing. Being talented doesn’t make you a nice person.

The BBC had a program on Radio 4 recently hosted by Jim Moir about Captain Beefheart. Here is a link to the BBC Radio Iplayer or search your BBC Radio Iplayer app.

This song also means a lot to me because it was the name of a wholefood shop in Corbridge run by two friends Hil and Mel McHugh. The shop didn’t last long and then they both left the UK to live in France. It is a long time since I saw either of them but thanks to Facebook I can see that they are both still alive and well.

“Down to the Dozens” is a line from the song and I always took it to mean that supplies are low or things are running out. When I was a young man, time seemed endless and ideas and ideology were there to explore, experience and I was trying to gain some understanding of the world I was living in. As I approach seventy, the world is so much more unsure, confusing and full of doubt. Time is running out and I am down to the dozens, I do not want to end up as one of those cynical people who mock the youth for their idealism. I want to be one of those people who still “rage against the dying of the light”

Down to the Dozens

When I was young man
I poured over books
Discussed history and politics
Tub thumped and protested
Waving my clenched fist at the world
Sometimes mistaking knowledge for understanding
Now I am an older man
I still scour books for answers
Search web pages for understanding
Marvelling at science and progress
Despair at political indifference
Sometimes mistaking cynicism for wisdom

©Jeff Price March 2018