I was reminded of this song when writing yesterday’s post about politically appropriated songs.
Not that this was one, but because of the mention of my all-too-brief period working at the Virgin Megastore in Cardiff.
I had landed the job – a Christmas position – because of my old mate Ian, who I knew from college, and with whom I’ve sadly lost touch. We had met because we lived on the same floor in the halls of residence in our first term; later, when I rose to the giddy heights of Social Secretary, I taught him to DJ and gave him work doing that and other (paid) menial tasks, which should have stopped when he finished his course, but he hung around for a while, and nobody ever asked, so I carried on giving him a bit of cash-in-hand work as often as I could. Shhhh!
Getting me the job at Virgin was him paying me back, and that was, well, really quite lovely of him, because it got me back to Cardiff, and into a job that I really loved. What music geek wouldn’t love being in an environment where you could constantly show off your knowledge?
You know that bit in High Fidelity, where Jack Black’s character berates a father for wanting to buy Stevie Wonder’s I Just Called To Say I Love You for his daughter? This bit (excuse the quality):
Well, I did something very similar when somebody asked me for the Mr Blobby single. Which earned a standing ovation from my workmates. Ithankyou.
Anyway, shortly after I started working there, Ian sidled up to me and said: “I’m really sorry, but I’ve told them all that you love Quo.” I recognised this as being not so much an apology, more of a warning.
And sure enough, one of the bosses approached me shortly afterwards and sneered “So…I hear you’re a Status Quo fan…?”
And look, I know how they’re viewed – three chords, all the songs sound the same – and that’s why whilst I may mention them in passing, I rarely post anything by them.
But here’s how I see it: every band has a sound, and when they try something different, their fanbase is always up in arms. Nobody complains about every Coldplay record sounding the same, do they? Ok, that’s a bad example.
But bear with me here.
“Yeh,” I replied, “Up to a point.”
This was not the expected answer, it seems.
“What point?” he asked.
Anyone who knows me, knows not to get me started, because I could quite literally go on for hours. But he asked, right?
“Well, I think by the 80s they’d pretty much become a pastiche of themselves. I’d probably say the cut-off point, where it all started to go dodgy, was around 1976, but there’s the occasional thing I like after that.”
I could see him glaze over.
“Do you want examples?” I asked.
After we had closed, as we were cashing up and tidying up the racks, I was very aware that Ian had some input into what was played, for tonight’s tune was pumped out, and got an enthusiastic reaction, especially from the Jethro Tull fans, which I’m not sure is much of an endorsement.
Ian told me afterwards that people kept asking him what the record was, and he just answered: “Ask Jez,” Turned out he remembered me playing it to him once and he loved it, so he dug it out and gave it a spin that night, in a show of solidarity.
It doesn’t sound anything like you expect Quo to sound, so do me a favour and push the barriers back and give it a go will you?
Ian Drake from Northampton: if you’re out there, say hello.