“In the End, It Took Me a Dictionary to Find Out the Meaning of Unrequited” #10

The thing about not posting stuff for a while, is that you – by which I mean me – start to investigate the various playlists you – by which I mean me – have made on your iPod, and are reminded of the many series I’ve started then either forgotten about or got bored with.

So it was with today’s post, sort of. A tune came on my iPod which I figured was ripe for this series, and then when I checked I found I’d not posted anything in this series since September 2017.

Ooopsies!

This should have been an absolute shoo-in, and would have featured long ago were it not for the fact that it’s title is annoyingly close to The Divine Comedy tune I previously posted.

Mention Juliana Hatfield to most people – and I fully expect to be corrected here – and most people will think of her backing vocal work with the Lemonheads, especially on their utterly brilliant It’s A Shame About Ray album. Sure, she’s had some success solo, and as part of Blake’s Babies, but it’s here that I always think of her.

She appeared less frequently on the follow up album, Come on Feel…, but blimey when she does (and please don’t confuse her with Belinda Carlisle’s appearance) she lights the place up.

This is from her early 90s solo period, lifted from her Hey Babe album, which I can heartily recommend. I think I first heard it on a compilation CD I borrowed from the local library, and I probably borrowed it because she was on it.

It’s a song that has stayed with me ever since, upbeat yet sad, exactly how I love my records to be (generally).

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Juliana Hatfield – Everybody Loves Me But You

More soon.

No, really. I’m kind of planning to go reinvigorate all of the series that I’ve started and then dropped, including one which was interactive and way more popular than I had ever thought it could be…Check your emails, in case there’s one nestling there from me begging for help with a tune (looks sternly at one Chain Ganger he has emailed but who hasn’t replied…)

Oh no! I’ve said too much.

More soon (again)

“In the End, It Took Me a Dictionary to Find Out the Meaning of Unrequited” #9

When posting songs about unrequited love in this series, it’s quite hard to overlook today’s selection.

And because of the straight-forwardness of the title, it also means I don’t need to say much by way of explanation.

So: taken from one of my favourite albums of the past ten years, this is Lykke Li:

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Lykke Li – Unrequited Love

More soon.

“In the End, It Took Me a Dictionary to Find Out the Meaning of Unrequited” #8

When I posted the Sandie Shaw track “Heaven Knows I’m Missing Him Now” in The Chain this week, I made reference to a track by The Smiths.

That track was, of course, “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”. Can you see what Morrissey, a massive fan of 60s female pop like Shaw, did there?

It would be too easy for me to post another song by The Smiths in this series, so instead, a song by an act who’s never featured here before, who I forever link to that song by The Smiths for two reasons.

Firstly, the lyrical content. Here’s the lyrics to “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”:

“I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour
But heaven knows I’m miserable now
I was looking for a job, and then I found a job
And heaven knows I’m miserable now

In my life
Why do I give valuable time
To people who don’t care if I live or die

Two lovers entwined pass me by
And heaven knows I’m miserable now
I was looking for a job, and then I found a job
And heaven knows I’m miserable now

In my life
Why do I give valuable time
To people who don’t care if I live or die

What she asked of me at the end of the day
Caligula would have blushed
“You’ve been in the house too long” she said
And I naturally fled

In my life
Why do I smile
At people who I’d much rather kick in the eye

I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour
But heaven knows I’m miserable now
“You’ve been in the house too long” she said
And I naturally fled

In my life
Why do I give valuable time
To people who don’t care if I live or die.”

Which, as you will see shortly, has much in common with today’s song.

The second reason is because in 1987, The Smiths were the subject of a full episode of arts program The South Bank Show. The programme, after Melvyn Bragg has nasalled his way through the introduction, begins not with a Smiths song, but with today’s choice, which then segues into “This Charming Man”.

Like this:

You can watch the whole program, split over seven parts, on YouTube, should you be so inclined (that link should allow you to watch them in sequence).

That show has special memories for me; in 1987 I was in the upper sixth form, and in the process of applying to go to college. One application required that I submitted a critique of a recent television program, and it was The Smiths’ edition of The South Bank Show that I wrote about.

On the strength of that, I was invited to an interview at the college in question, which I managed to make a right royal cock-up of, which I’ll go into another day.

So here’s the song in question, a more straight-forward lyric than the saucy innuendo-laden ones the singer is better known for:

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George Formby – Why Don’t Women Like Me?

Turned out nice again, ‘int it?

More soon.

“In the End, It Took Me a Dictionary to Find Out the Meaning of Unrequited” #7

“A Short Album About Love”, a seven track record released by The Divine Comedy in 1997 was the first thing I ever bought by the band. I know, I know, late to the party as always.

I played it over and over again, causing my flatmate at the time to knock on my bedroom door to enquire if everything was alright. (It was.)

And this is the only single lifted from the album, and it sits perfectly in this series:

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The Divine Comedy – Everybody Knows (Except You)

The group have a habit of releasing live (often) orchestral versions of not just their own songs but others too. For example, “Everybody Knows…” got released on three separate CDs, each one featuring an extra three live tracks.

On CD1 was a cover of their breakthrough hit single:

The Divine Comedy – Something for the Weekend

…along with a cover of this Walker Brothers classic:

The Divine Comedy – Make It Easy On Yourself

I might post some more of those soon.

Or just: More soon.

“In the End, It Took Me a Dictionary to Find Out the Meaning of Unrequited” #6

Sometimes, it takes the object of your affection/obsession doing something extreme to make the point hit home.

And by something extreme, I mean something like…oh, I don’t know…marrying someone else.

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The Jam – The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow)

Arguably one of the greatest songs ever, that.

More soon.

“In the End, It Took Me a Dictionary to Find Out the Meaning of Unrequited” #5

Another indisputable classic tonight, but a song so often misunderstood, seemingly because the title contains the word “religion”.

I’ll allow the singer and lyricist to explain:

Michael Stipe explains…

As for the song in question…Well, those of us who had been fans for a while were well aware of how great R.E.M. were; when we heard this, though, we knew that pretty soon, everyone else would know too:

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R.E.M. – Losing My Religion

And it still sounds as great today as it did way back in 1991.

More soon.

“In the End, It Took Me a Dictionary to Find Out the Meaning of Unrequited” #4

Let’s be honest, if I’m going to post songs about unrequited love, then there’s a fairly healthy stash of tunes to choose from in The Smiths’ back catalogue.

This one has always been a favourite of mine, a tale of a boy and a girl, one consumed by the fear of rejection, frozen in the teenage terror of revealing to the other that they, y’know…erm…kinda…erm…y’know…think they’re pretty sweet, and the other confused about why he doesn’t just come right out and say it.

When I was a teenager, this was definitely a situation I experienced. Confession time.

I was set up on a date by a mutual friend once. Thing is, I didn’t know it was a date. What had been arranged was a few drinks with a friend, and then I’d crash on her sofa, but it turned into what I now know is one of those “OK, we’re all here, great! Oh no! I just remembered I have to be somewhere else, you two will be okay won’t you? Bye!!” kind of things.

But stupid teenage me, despite raging levels of testosterone, was too dumb to read the signs.

I was supposed to be crashing over at the mutual friend’s place that night, and so when my “date” said it was fine and I could stay at theirs instead, that’s all I assumed it was: me sleeping on a sofa or in the spare room.

See, at this young age, I didn’t know that women colluded like this. As far as I was concerned, it was all just terribly bad luck that our mutual friend couldn’t stay, and jolly good of her friend to step in to keep me company and let me crash over. 

And whilst I really did like the young lady in question (quite a lot), I had no idea that the feeling was reciprocated.

As we left the pub at chucking out time, to a chorus of “*****’s going to have sex tonight!” (her name removed, just in case) from a loitering group of lads, I remember thinking “Ha! Idiots! Course she’s not, this is nothing more than a convenient arrangement to save me getting a taxi home! I’m just sleeping on her sofa! Fools!!!”

And so it was that as we cosied up on the sofa, watching television as her parents slept soundly upstairs, that I utterly failed to recognise or act upon every advance she made, of which, she subsequently told me, there were many.

Whenever I hear this song, I think of that night, and shiver:

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The Smiths – Girl Afraid

More embarrassing revelations soon enough.

“In the End, It Took Me a Dictionary to Find Out the Meaning of Unrequited” #3

Boy, am I regretting giving this series such a long name.

Anyway, I had been planning on holding this one back for a couple of weeks to mark my brother’s 50th birthday at the end of July, but it seems about right to post it now.

The reason I associate this record with my brother has been documented on these pages before, but to summarise: in the 1980s, he went to stay with my Barb and Bill (hello, in the unlikely event that you still read this!), my aunt and uncle, who live over in the US of A.

Barb and Bill met when Bill, a USAAF man, was stationed in the UK, and when his tour was over, he went back to the states, and took Barb with him where they ran a blueberry farm. Chances are that if you’ve ever eaten blueberries (and if you haven’t, you should, they’re yummy), it was them what grew ’em.

My brother went over there one summer and worked on the farm, returning with a) longer hair than he’d ever had before, b) a denim jacket, a pair of cowboy boots and, if I remember correctly, a pair of red jeans, and c) a whole clutch of vinyl.

This must have been how those working in the docks in the 50s and 60s felt when visiting Americans brought over records you simply couldn’t buy in the UK, except instead of rare Soul and Motown records which would go on to be rare, vakuable Northern Soul tunes, my brother brought with him albums by The Go-Go’s, The Fixx, and today’s musical choice, amongst others.

This series is about unrequited love, and can there be any worse kind than that which you know can never happen, not because the other party isn’t interested, but because they’re already going out with your best friend?

Here’s a man in a vest to explain:

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Rick Springfield – Jessie’s Girl

Fans of Breaking Bad will know (spoiler alert!) there’s not much point in getting too attached to Jessie’s Girl, of course…

More soon.

“In the End, It Took Me a Dictionary to Find Out the Meaning of Unrequited” #2

If I were more organised, then:

a) this would have been the first post in the series, and

b) I would have posted it on a Saturday.

Such is life.

I can’t really go any further in this thread without posting the song that the thread title is lifted from. I wish I’d chosen something else, for two reasons:

  1. I’ve posted this song before, and
  2. As the title of the series, it takes ages to type out every time.

But here you go: the greatest song ever about unrequited love. A song we can all identify with, I think, set as it is in school years, when we all had a crush which wasn’t reciprocated.

Didn’t we…? Can’t just have been me, surely?

Mine was with a girl called Fiona. Adored her from the moment I clapped eyes on her. But she really wasn’t in the least bit interested.

And then, one day in double English, I was messing about and as a punishment was made to sit on “the girls’ table” for the rest of the term. Right in between Fiona and the equally admired Tammy.

This was no punishment, thought I (and several other boys in my class). This was an opportunity.

Twice a week, I got to show her that I was not just really quite good at English, but also that I was the funniest, most charming bloke they could ever meet. A catch!

It seemed to work for a while. I distinctly recall her relaying a joke that I had made to some of the other girls. A joke about carrots. And not even a rude joke about carrots.

Hey! Don’t judge me! Root vegetables was the subject matter I was handed, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I ran with it.

Alas, Fiona remained impervious to my charms, and shortly afterwards her family moved away, shifting her to a different school.

I like to think me moving seats and her moving school weren’t linked in anyway, but you never know. It’s possible.

It wasn’t even a particularly good joke about carrots, if I’m honest.

It’s all downhill from here.

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Billy Bragg – The Saturday Boy

If ever I think someone needs some Billy in their life, that’s the song I go for. 100% conversion rate so far. If you’ve always steered clear of Billy because you don’t like his politics, pop that prejudice away for a moment and give that a listen.

More soon.

“In the End, It Took Me a Dictionary to Find Out the Meaning of Unrequited” #1

If someone were to analyse the subject matter of songs, I think it’s a fairly safe bet that it would conclude that the most written about topic is **drum roll**……… **dramatic pause**…..love.

That’s reciprocated love, of course. I love you and you love me, isn’t it great, everyone’s happy, la la la, repeat to fade.

Life’s not always like that though, is it? For every successful relationship or love affair, there must be at least, conservative (with a small c) estimate ten failed ones.

So, I imagine the second most popular subject would be that of unrequited love, or that of a lover spurned. Because while we all know what it feels like to be in love, we also all know what it’s like for that love to be totally unsuccessful, unappreciated or unwelcome.

And that’s where music really steps in.

Who amongst us hasn’t, frustrated by a potential partner’s utter failure to acknowledge our obsession with them, or dejected by rejection, turned to our best friend for companionship, solace and verification. Our best friend being our record collection, of course.

Unless you’re an idiot like me (and many of my peers, judging by the Comments on a recent post) who has sold or given away records and instantly regretted it, then your music collection is probably the one true constant in your life. Those records never leave you, they’re just there, waiting for the time to be right for you to blow the dust off them again.

And so to this, one of the most honest, visceral, downright fucking angry and upset lyrics you’ll ever hear. And, I’ll wager, one of the greatest records of the 21st century:

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The Walkmen – The Rat

Before you ask, I’m fine. I’ve not been dumped recently (chance would be a fine thing), it just strikes me this is a rich seam worth digging into.

 More soon.