New Mood on Monday

I was watching an old football show the other day, and this tune came up as being the incidental music played in the background behind the Goal of the Month award, and I thought: I’m having that for Monday morning.

It’s a curious phrase, so I thought I’d go all Gyles Brandreth on you and find out where it originates from. And I found this, from The Phrase Finder:

“…There’s not enough evidence to be 100% certain of the origin of the phrase ‘the life of Riley’ but it is probable that it derives from the life of a real person – Willy Reilly of Sligo, Ireland…The phrase came into common usage around the time of WWI. The first printed citation of ‘the life of Riley’ (with the easy/carefree meaning of the phrase) that I have found is from New Jersey newspaper The News, May 1910

Quotation marks are usually added to phrases that the readership might be unfamiliar with. There are none in the above citation so it’s reasonable to suggest that ‘the life of Riley’ was known to the New Jersey populace in 1910.

It might seem strange that this expression originated in the USA rather than Ireland. However, there were probably more Rileys in New York then in Dublin at that date. Many of these would have migrated to look for a better life in America and some of them would have found it – and hence lived the life of Riley.

The phrase was much used in the military, especially in WWI. The first known citation in that context is in a letter from a Sergeant Leonard A. Monzert of the American Expeditionary Forces ‘somewhere in France’, an extract of which was published in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle on 26th May 1918. In the letter Monzert wrote that he and his pals were ‘living the life of Reilly’.

Other similar letters from US servicemen claimed to have been living the life of Reilly while at war in France. How much truth there was in the letters and how much was propaganda to reassure the folks back home isn’t clear. With hindsight we can be sure that any soldier’s life during the First World War was no picnic.

There had been various Victorian music hall songs that had referred to a Reilly who had a comfortable and prosperous life; for example, there’s the 1883 song, popularised by the Irish/American singer Pat Rooney – Is That Mr. Reilly? It included in the chorus “Is that Mr. Reilly, of whom they speak so highly?”. Like most other Irish songs of the era, it played to the Irish audience – this one with a dash of anti-Chinese racism thrown in for luck (the Chinese were ‘Reilly’s’ principal competitors for manual work in the USA at the time):

I’ll have nothing but Irishman on the police
Patrick’s Day will be the fourth of July;
I’ll get me a thousand infernal machines,
To teach the Chinese how to die,

Another Irish/American singer, George Gaskin, was popular in New York around the same time. He was called ‘The Silver-Voiced Irish Tenor”, although audiences must have been rather forgiving in those days, as surviving recordings of him sound like a knife being drawn across a plate. His 1897 song, The Best in the House is None Too Good for Reilly, elaborated on the whimsical idea of a wealthy Irishman being treated lavishly:

He’s money for to pay,
So they let him have his way,
The best in the house is none too good for Reilly.

So, while the idea of a notional Irishman living the high life was current in late 19th century Ireland and America, the phrase ‘the life of Riley’ isn’t found until the early 20th century.

The source of the expression ‘the life of Riley’ has been the subject of much etymological research, which had pretty much drawn a blank until the miracle of modern-day searchable databases came to the rescue.

A scan of a copy of the newspaper the Dublin Weekly Nation, Saturday 14 October 1899 shows that Reiley (and as it turns out it is Reilly, not Riley) was the hero of a popular folk ballad, living exactly the life that would lead to the coining of the phrase we have been seeking.

The lyric of the ballad is preceded by a reminiscence of the Irish nationalist politician Sir Charles Duffy:

Willy Reilly, says Sir Charles Duffy, was the first ballad I ever heard recited, and it made a painfully vivid impression on my mind. I have never forgotten the smallest incident of it. The story on which it founded happened some sixty years ago; and, as the lover was a young Catholic farmer, and the lady’s family of high Orange principles, it got a party character, which, no doubt, contributed its great populanty.

If we believe Duffy’s account that Willy Reilly was a living, breathing 1820s Irishman, then we have our man.

Duffy goes on to indicate the widespread knowledge of the song in the north of the island of Ireland:

“There is no family under the rank of gentry in the inland counties of Ulster where it is not familiarly known. Nurses and semptresses [seamstresses], the honorary guardians of national songs and legends, have taken it into special favour, and preserved its popularity.”

Here’s the ballad, as printed in 1899, which recounts the story of Willy Reilly running away with his hieress lover only to be caught and tried for abduction, eventually finding freedom and riches in his lover’s arms – truly the life of Reilly:

[Note: ‘Coolen bawn’ is an Anglised version of ‘Caillin ban’, meaning ‘young, white girl’. The original ‘ban’ would make sense in the rhyming scheme, which rhymes it with ‘land’, ‘band’ etc.]

“Oh! rise up, Willy Reilly, and come along with me,
I mean to go with you and leave this counterie,
To leave my father’s dwelling, his houses and free land;”
And away goes Willy Reilly and his dear Coolen Bawn.

They go by hills and mountains, and by yon lonesome plain,
Through shady groves and valleys all dangers to refrain;
But her father followed after with a well-arm’d band,
And taken was poor Reilly and his dear Coolen Bawn.

It’s home then she was taken, and in her closet bound.
Poor Reilly all in Sligo jail lay on the stony ground,
‘Til at the bar of justice before the Judge he’d stand.
For nothing but the stealing of his dear Coolen Bawn.

“Now the cold, cold iron hands and feat are bound.
I’m handcuffed like a murderer, and tied unto the ground.
But all the toil and slavery I’m willing for to stand,
Still hoping to succoured by my dear Coolen Bawn.”

The jailor’s son to Reilly goes, and thus to him did say,
“Oh! get up, Willy Reilly, you must appear this day.
For great Squire Foillard’s anger you never can withstand,
I’m afeared you’ll suffer sorely for your dear Coolen Bawn.”

“This the news, young Reilly, that last night I did hear,
The lady’s oath will hang you or else will set you clear;”
“If that be so” says Reilly, “her pleasure I will stand,
Still hoping to be succoured by my dear Coolen Bawn.”

Now Willy’s drest from top to toe all a suit of green,
His hair hangs o’er his shoulders most glorious to seen;
He’s tall and straight, and comely as any could found,
He’s fit for Foillard’s daughter, was she heiress to a crown.

The Judge he said, “This lady being in her tender youth,
If Reilly has deluded her she will declare the truth;”
Then, like a moving beauty bright, before him she did stand,
“You’re welcome there, my heart’s delight and dear Coolcn Bawn.”

“Oh, gentlemen.” Squire Foillard said, “with pity look on me,
This villain came amongst us to disgrace our family,
And by his base contrivance this villainy was planned,
If I don’t get satisfaction I’ll quit this Irish land.”

The lady with a tear began, and thus replied she,
“The fault is none of Reilly’s, the blame lies all on me,
I forced him for to leave his place and come along with me,
I loved him out of measure, which wrought our destiny.”

Out bespoke the noble Fox, the table he stood by,
“Oh, gentlemen, consider on this extremity;
To hang a man for love is a murder you may see,
So spare the life of Reilly, let him leave this counterie.”

“Good, my lord, he stole from her her diamonds,
Gold watch and silver buckles, and many precious things,
Which cost me in bright guineas more than five hundred pounds,
I’ll have the life of Reilly should it cost ten thousand pounds.”

“Good, my lord, I gave them a token of true love,
And when we are a parting I will them all remove.
If you have got them Reilly, pray send them home to me.”
“I will my loving lady, with many thanks to thee.”

“There is a ring among them I allow yourself to wear,
With thirty locket diamonds well set in silver fair,
And as a true-love token wear it on your right hand,
That you’ll think on my poor broken heart when you’re in foreign lands.”

Then out spoke noble Fox, “You may let the prisoner go,
The lady’s oath has cleared him, as the Jury all may know
She has released her own true love, she has renewed his name,
May her honour bright gain high estate, and her offspring rise to fame.”

“This is clearly a romanticised ballad and there are several variants of it, so we need to proceed with caution. In favour of it being a true account of real events, there was a wealthy Protestant Ffolliott family living in Sligo at the end of the 18th century and also a Luke Fox, who was a magistrate in the area at that time. There are also historical accounts of a minor landowner called Reilly, living nearby in county Sligo, who set his sights romantically on Helen Ffolliott, the daughter of the house and who was tried in the manner the song suggests. So, there’s good circumstantial evidence that the major characters referred to in the ballad were real people.

Counting against the veracity of the story is the fuzziness of the date and location. The details of the story, and of the ballad, appear in several variants. Duffy’s account for instance places Reilly as living in the 1820s, not the late 18th century.

Nevertheless, the thrust of the tale is consistent amongst the versions of it, that is, Reilly wooing/abducting Ms Ffolliott and later being united with her and her wealth and contentedly raising a family together. Some variation of the retelling of a romantic folk tale is to be expected (in Ireland more than in most places) and, all things considered I would say that the best contender we have as being first person to live ‘the life of Reilly’ was Willy Reilly of Sligo, Ireland.”

All of which is waaaay too much to take in on a Monday morning, so maybe just listen to this:

The Lightning Seeds – The Life Of Riley

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

This morning, something new-ish. Well, it came out in 2020, so new to me is probably a fairer way to describe it.

Caitlin Harnett sounds like Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval’s older sister who smokes 40 a day and hangs out with the cool kids, namely The Pony Boys, who sound like a well rehearsed bar room backing band, which is a good thing in my book.

They sound like this and I really like them:

Caitlin Harnett & the Pony Boys – All My Friends Are Dancers

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

Coincidentally, after she cropped up by way of vocalist on the One Dove track I included in one of my Friday Night mixes a couple of weeks ago, Dot Allison has a recently released a new album Heart-Shaped Scars, her first album of new material in yonks.

Don’t be mislead by the mention of One Dove though, for this is far from sounding anything like that previous incarnation. For where back then there was all electronica, dub bass and drum machines (made in collaboration with the late, great and much missed Andrew Weatherall, of course), now there are gently picked acoustic guitars and cooing breathy vocals to die for, like she’s showing the creators of one of my favourite albums from 2020, This is The Kit’s Off Off On, how it’s done.

In other words: it’s a beauty.

Listen:

Dot Allison – Can You Hear Nature Sing?

Told you.

More soon.

Rant

Let me begin with a disclaimer: I really like Boy George.

As a personality, as a celebrity, as an icon, as an inspiration, yes yes yes, I’m in.

But as a music artiste? Hmm. Well, I can’t think of a single record by Culture Club that I actually like. There’s a couple (‘Time (Clock of the Heart)’ and ‘Church of the Poison Mind’, if you’re asking) which I think are kind of alright. But mostly, Culture Club is a band name synonymous with the word ‘dreadful’ in my book.

Let me give you an example: there have been many, great, anti-war songs. Edwin Starr’s War; Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Fortunate Son; Billy Joel’s Goodnight Saigon; Springsteen’s Born In the USA; Kenny Rogers & The First Edition’s Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town; The Pogues’ The Band Played Waltzing Matilda to name but a few.

Somehow, George’s intellectual insight doesn’t really cut the mustard:

Culture Club – The War Song

It’s just vacuous and meaningless tosh isn’t it?

Ineffectual, much like the JohnsonOut hashtag currently swirling around on Twitter, gathering next to no traction, because they keep sticking a different number at the end of it.

Now, with the exception of #MeToo, hashtags on Twitter are largely pointless, They never bring about change, and have even less chance of doing so if you keep changing the hashtag everyday.

If you wish for a large showing of defiance on social media, then you have to at the very least have a solid, unwavering hashtag for all like-minded thinkers to get behind. Given that he’s the first PM to have been questioned by the police as part of an ongoing investigation, might I suggest that #CrimeMinister might be a more appropriate one to go with?

Speaking of ineffectual, the sanctions our #CrimeMinister (I’ll get this to stick, I’m sure) announced against Russia following their threatened invasion of Ukraine definitely fall into this category.

Now, in a spirit of transparency, I’m writing this, furious, on Wednesday night, and so there may have been a change of heart since, but the sanctions against Russia announced by our #CrimeMinister earlier today didn’t really cut the mustard.

Here’s Lib Dem Layla Moran using Parliamentary Privilege to list 35 Russian oligarchs, unlikely to be affected by the sanctions, who perhaps should be:

And here’s how our #CrimeMinister reacted when Labour MP Chris Bryant attempted to ask him a question about one of those Russian oligarchs who would be unaffected by the sanctions he had just announced:

Probably off to find a nice fridge to hide in.

The problem Johnson has is that, much as he wants to come across all Churchillian, he can’t send troops to help Ukraine, because he knows that’s the first step to actual war with Russia, which nobody wants, especially the Ukranians. I would imagine that right now they are pining for quieter times:

The Wedding Present (aka The Ukranians) – Davni Chasy (Remaster)

(Yes, I have deliberately mis-labelled that; it’s just The Wedding Present but it made more sense in context to mention The Ukranians than to not mention them at all)

(And I deliberately chose that tune, given that the only lyric appears to be documenting Johnson’s career: “Lie Lie Lie Lie Lie Lie Lie Lie Lie” etc etc ad infinitum.)

But Johnson also can’t make sanctions against the Russians too severe, because the Conservative Party is mostly funded by Russian money. And if you’re not convinced as to just how deeply entrenched the party is with Russian lolly, you should note that Carrie Symonds, the current Mrs Johnson, and often rumoured to the real power behind the man, was a founder member of The Conservative Friends of Russia. They sound nice.

It’s no wonder that we still have not been allowed to see the report into Russian interfering with our elections and referendums, is it?

But Johnson’s probably quite happy about the invasion of Ukraine, because it stops everyone from talking about the ongoing Partygate enquiry, and his unfounded, incorrect and uncorrected claims that Labour leader Kier Starmer was in some way responsible for the failure to prosecute now notorious and, crucially, dead paedophile Jimmy Savile while he was still alive and rustling in a tracksuit.

Airing this lie in Parliament, and then refusing to retract it or correct the record, was a dog-whistle to the morons, and led to Starmer being abused in the street by a gang of knuckle-draggers. And you know they meant business because Starmer was with black Labour MP David Lammy, who they left alone for once.

It was a trick lifted straight out of the Donald Trump playbook.

Two serving MPs, Jo Cox and David Amess, have been murdered by extremists. Johnson’s words, reacted to with a despicable smirk when challenged in interviews, gives the impression he thinks two isn’t enough.

And let’s not forget what our PM once said, unprompted, about the police investigating historic sex abuse cases (which he later denied saying):

It’s almost like he’s an habitual liar, isn’t it?

Given the current Met Police investigation, it’s hardly surprising he was against the investigation of historic crimes of any sort, is it?

Actually, if you really want to link Savile to a particular political party, and decide who is culpable in the failure to make him face justice when he was still alive, then there’s plenty of evidence as to which one it should be:

Bucks Fizz – My Camera Never Lies

Paedophiles, Russian money-launderers: it doesn’t matter to this lot. As long as you’re loaded and have no morals, your money and support is welcome in the Conservative Party.

Watch him for the next few weeks dodge questions about Partygate by saying he’s determined and focussed on “getting Ukraine done”. No doubt he has an oven-ready solution up his sleeve, which, much like the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement he signed, he won’t have read either.

The Horrors – I Can See Through You

Back in the early 80s, Thatcher was glad of the Falklands conflict: her patriotic response (giving the order to torpedo Argentinian ships leaving an area of interest included) was a vote winner at a time when she needed it most. Johnson is banking on the Ukraine giving him the same wriggle room. Don’t be fooled by him again.

More soon.

Friday Night Music Club

Having finally polished off the six parts of Volume 6 last week to less than rapturous applause, we move swiftly on to Volume 7, and a return to the Indie disco and *gulps* a ‘theme’.

I would imagine that most of you will spot the theme when the first track drops. If you don’t, then I would suggest you’re probably the sort of person who should be out handing out Covid conspiracy and anti-mask leaflets with Piers Corbyn.

I really enjoyed putting this mix together, and had a good old sing-a-long to it when listening back to it to check for ‘quality’ purposes (feedback and training, y’know the sort of thing).

Not that you should take that as me likening it to telephone hold music, far from it: here you’ve got 22 songs crammed into 70 minutes, only two of which dare to outstay their welcome by venturing past the four-minute mark. There’s the usual mix of songs you may have forgotten about, scattered amongst the ones you’ve never heard before, and maybe some you never want to hear again, there’s pop, there’s balls-out rockers (or whatever the female equivalent is….realises that L7 feature, and they literally showed us when they appeared on The Word), there’s a couple of tremendous cover versions. Something for everyone, in other words.

So without further ado – and look: not even a disclaimer this week! (although their are a couple of skips, but you know why that is by now) – here we go:

Friday Night Music Club Vol 7

And here’s the track listing. Look away if you want to avoid spoilers:

  • Maxïmo Park – Girls Who Play Guitars
  • The Breeders – Cannonball
  • Veruca Salt – Seether
  • The Runaways – Cherry Bomb
  • L7 – Pretend We’re Dead
  • PJ Harvey – Dress
  • Girls at Our Best! – Getting Nowhere Fast
  • Lush – Ladykillers
  • The Long Blondes – Separated By Motorways
  • The Flatmates – Happy All The Time
  • The Pretenders – Middle of the Road
  • The Go-Go’s – Can’t Stop the World
  • Vanessa Paradis – Be My Baby
  • `Voice Of The Beehive – Don’t Call Me Baby
  • Dua Lipa – Levitating
  • Stereolab – Wow And Flutter
  • Belly – Feed The Tree
  • Suzanne Vega – Left Of Centre
  • The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Young Adult Friction
  • Asobi Seksu – Never Understand
  • Toquiwa – Kennedy
  • Pixies – Gigantic

Hope you like!

More soon.

New Mood on Monday

This morning, a song which is guaranteed to put a smile on my face whenever I hear it.

That’s mostly because it’s a gloriously life-affirming, if ramshackle, bit of indie pop, but also partly because the band hail from Cardiff, and the fountain they mention it being a good idea to go paddling in on the way home was outside City Hall and therefore on my route home for most of the time I lived in Cardiff. I can’t put my hand on my heart and say the thought never crossed my mind after a night out.

Anyway, this is the version from the exclamation mark fans’ six-track Sticking Fingers Into Sockets EP from 2007:

Los Campesinos! – You! Me! Dancing!

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Posting a tune by Gordon Lightfoot a couple of weeks ago proved remarkably popular, so I thought I’d share another one this morning.

This is from his 1978 Endless Wire album, which I recently picked up a copy of on vinyl. It reminds me of the late, great and much missed Terry Wogan, as I remember him often playing this on his Radio 2 breakfast show as I was wolfing down my Ready Brek before heading off to school:

Gordon Lightfoot – Daylight Katy

If ever they make a biopic about Lightfoot, then surely Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston is a shoe-in for the lead role. And you never see them together, do you?

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

One of the things I love about writing this blog is when people recommend an artist who has never strayed across my radar before.

Such is the case with Bill Callahan, who I had never heard of until my friend Cat suggested him.

Callahan has just released an album with Bonnie “Prince” Billy which I probably wouldn’t have bothered to check out were it not for that recommendation.

But I’m so glad to have received it, because “Blind Date Party” is an odd but wonderful delight.

For example:

Bill Callahan & Bonnie “Prince” Billy – OD’d in Denver

Thanks Cat, and belatedly, happy birthday.

More soon,

Friday Night Music Club

Well, folks, we made it: not just to another Friday, but to the final part of my six hour long(ish) Friday Night Mix.

This week, though, I’m not going to wang on with anecdotes about why I’ve picked certain tunes or what they remind me of. I’m simply going to slip my usual disclaimer in – any skips and jumps in the mix are down to the mixing software; any mis-timed mixes are down to me; all record choices are mine – and then add to it. A bit.

For there is one technical thing I would like to point out: all of the mixing on all of the playlists has been done without the aid of a set of headphones. And whilst that’s fine if you’re just fading from one song to the next (as I did on the predominantly Indie mix last time out), when you’re trying to beat match – as you have to with dance tunes as featured exclusively this week – that makes it really difficult.

See, the headphones are not just there so you can line up the beats, they’re also there so you can monitor the transition from one track to the next, make it as seamless as possible.

Not using headphones is not me deliberately trying to make things hard for myself, and I do own a pretty decent pair; if there’s a way that I could use headphones on the software I use I would. But as the mixes are done on my laptop as opposed to actual decks, and I haven’t managed to work out how to use headphones with the software I have, sans headphones it is.

Which also means I’m reliant on the cursor/mouse to cue, play and mix each track, as opposed to in real life where I would undoubtedly use both my hands rather than just one.

See, I’ve listened to this mix God knows how many times, and every time I have, I’ve heard one or two mixes where I think “Hmmm…I could have done that better”, have gone back and redone the whole thing, only to encounter a similar disappointment somewhere else in the mix.

I even dropped one tune from the mix entirely last night, substituting it for a different one, despite having listened to it a good three or four times in the week and deciding it all sounded, not perfect, but fine.

And I already know there’s one mix in this that I make a right hash of. You’ll spot it too, there’s no need to tell me about it.

What I’m trying to say is: be gentle with me. I don’t need to know if you think my mixing is dreadful. I’d love to know if you think it’s even…y’know…just alright.

But enough of my First World Problems: what have we got for you this week? An 80 minute mix of what we used to call ‘City Hall Classics’ back in the day, along with some Cool House End-of-Nighters (frequenters of the Cardiff clubbing scene from around twenty years ago should get both references) by way of a track which sounds like it samples voice of Shaggy from the Scooby Doo cartoons, host of American Top 40 (which used to air in the UK TVs at around 3am), and walking advert for fake tan and Just For Men hair dye, Casey Kellem, culminating in my attempt to mix “the hardest song to mix in or out of” that I mentioned last week, via one of the filthiest songs I own.

Which reminds me, I’d better slap one of these on it:

Here you go then, for the last time Volume 6 (although, as previously mentioned, I will be back next week with Volume 7):

Friday Night Music Club Vol 6.6

  • Donna Summer – I Feel Love
  • Drive Red 5 – Yours Sincerely, Lionel (Dirty Dream)
  • Dirty – Dirty (E-Dancer Remix)
  • Samantha Fu – Theme From Discotheque (Soulwax Remix)
  • Mylo – Destroy Rock & Roll
  • U.S.U.R.A. – Open Your Mind (Classic Mix)
  • Moby – Go (Vitalic Remix)
  • Underworld – Rez
  • Roger Sanchez – Another Chance
  • Daft Punk – Around The World [Radio Edit]
  • The Chemical Brothers – Star Guitar
  • Laurent Garnier – Man with the Red Face (original)
  • Felix da Housecat – Silver Screen Shower Scene (Thin White Duke Mix by Jacques Lu Cont)

More soon.

An Open Letter

You know what I miss about pop music these days? Pop stars slagging off other pop stars, that’s what.

I don’t want to encourage a culture of bitterness, jealousy and unpleasantness, nor do I wish to sound like a wizened old hack moaning about how they don’t write songs like they used to, “is that a boy or a girl singing?”, etc etc, but pop stars were much more interesting in the 80s, before they all had media training so as to be sure they never said anything likely to offend their potential market.

So it was with great amusement that I read of a recent mini-spat between two former bandmates: Morrissey and Johnny Marr. Some of you may have missed it, so I will explain.

On 25/01/22, in a post entitled: “OPEN LETTER TO JOHNNY MARR.” (his use of caps, I should add) Morrissey posted these words on his website:

“This is not a rant or an hysterical bombast. It is a polite and calmly measured request: Would you please stop mentioning my name in your interviews?

Would you please, instead, discuss your own career, your own unstoppable solo achievements and your own music?

If you can, would you please just leave me out of it?

The fact is: you don’t know me.  You know nothing of my life, my intentions, my thoughts, my feelings.  Yet you talk as if you were my personal psychiatrist with consistent and uninterrupted access to my instincts.  We haven’t known each other for 35 years – which is many lifetimes ago.  When we met you and I were not successful.  We both helped each other become whatever it is we are today.  Can you not just leave it at that?  Must you persistently, year after year, decade after decade, blame me for everything … from the 2007 Solomon Islands tsunami to the dribble on your grandma’s chin ? 

You found me inspirational enough to make music with me for 6 years.  If I was, as you claim, such an eyesore monster, where exactly did this leave you?  Kidnapped?  Mute?  Chained?  Abducted by cross-eyed extraterrestrials?  It was YOU who played guitar on ‘Golden Lights’ – not me.

Yes, we all know that the British press will print anything you say about me as long as it’s cruel and savage.  But you’ve done all that.  Move on.  It’s as if you can’t uncross your own legs without mentioning me.  Our period together was many lifetimes ago, and a lot of blood has streamed under the bridge since then.  There comes a time when you must take responsibility for your own actions and your own career, with which I wish you good health to enjoy.  Just stop using my name as click-bait.  I have not ever attacked your solo work or your solo life, and I have openly applauded your genius during the days of ‘Louder than bombs’ and ‘Strangeways, here we come’, yet you have positioned yourself ever-ready as rent-a-quote whenever the press require an ugly slant on something I half-said during the last glacial period as  the Colorado River began to carve out  the Grand Canyon.  Please stop.  It is 2022, not 1982.

Morrissey.  January 2022.”

There’s a lot to unpack there, isn’t there? (You can read it here if you so wish to do.)

For a start, anyone who feels the need to begin making their point with the words “This is not a rant…” is clearly about to do exactly that. It’s why when I write my occasional Saturday morning posts commenting on the comings-and-goings in UK politics I deliberately call them Rants. Call it what it is, don’t pretend it’s something its not.

This also completely overlooks or wilfully misunderstands the interview process. I doubt very much that Marr goes into every interview relishing the prospect of being able to stick the boot in; quite the opposite, in fact. Not only is there an eternal interest in the prospect of The Smiths reforming, Morrissey has a history of doing or saying something controversial, so of course, when interviewed, the journalist is going to ask Marr for his thoughts on both. From what I’ve read, Marr is always tactful, diplomatic, and a little weary of being asked. Or, as Swiss Adam said in a recent post over at the ever brilliant Bagging Area:

“In interviews he is thoughtful, considered, enthusiastic and well read, deftly trying to avoid spending every interview talking about his first band and that band’s singer, when he’d clearly much rather talk about other topics – science fiction, modernism, Aldous Huxley, The The or the Bhagavad Vita.”

Which leads me on to the ever-lasting question: will The Smiths ever reform?

I hope not, and I say this as a massive fan of the band.

Don’t get me wrong: I would love to see them live, but I’d love to see them live as they were circa 1985, at the top of their game, not cashing in on, and thereby cheapening, their legacy, for that’s exactly what them reforming would be. We all know that there’s no love lost between them, especially after bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce successfully sued Morrissey & Marr for an equal share of the royalties from their halcyon days.

You’ll know all about Morrissey’s opinion on the case (which he lost) if you’ve ever read his autobiography (wittily titled Autobiography – for a wordsmith that’s either an extremely arrogant title, or it shows a distinct lack of creativity; wouldn’t it be better titled “I’ve Got Everything Now”, or “Half a Person – The Story of My Life”?) – where he wangs on about the Court case and his perceived injustice for, as Stewart Lee would say, “…too long”:

Sparks, of course, put this all far more succinctly:

Sparks – Lighten Up, Morrissey

Sparks also have a history with Morrissey, having done this frankly brilliant remix of an already fine song (see? I can say nice things about him) which I have on a rather great remix compilation album called Future Retro, but which doubtless exists elsewhere:

Morrissey – Suedehead (Sparks Remix)

It turns out, of course, that Johnny had the perfect response to Morrissey’s missive:

Nuff said.

More soon.