Ok, so it’s been a while since I did one of these. Admittedly, I’ve been struggling to come up with songs which mentioned famous people – not singers, that’s Charity Chic‘s patch – in their song titles to post here.
And then my beloved iPod gave me today’s song, which doesn’t have any famous people in the title at all (unless the title refers to Piers Morgan, which I wouldn’t want to rule out), but does name-check an Oscar winning actress and one of them there intellectual types that Michael Gove says we’re all fed up with.
Looking back, I can see this record as a stepping stone to me adoring bands like The Smiths, who I didn’t fully appreciate until their time was almost done. Bands who referenced intellects and authors; as my youthful thirst for intellectual stimulation expanded, so I began to listen to records which at the very least pointed me in the right direction. But by now, I wanted something a little less ham-fisted than The Police’s reference to “the old man in that book by Nabakov” on “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”, and Lloyd Cole and The Commotions seemed to be able to provide everything that I needed.
“Rattlesnakes”, for that is the record I’m talking about, references French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher, political activist, feminist and social theorist Simone de Beauvoir. As I realise that paragraph above makes me look a little wanky, I should stress I have never read anything by Nabakov or de Beauvoir, but at least I knew who they were, and aged 16 that seemed to be enough somehow.
Similarly, it makes mention of Eve Marie Saint in “On The Waterfront”, a film she won an Oscar for (Best Supporting Actress), and a film I’ve never got round to watching. But I know she’s in it.
My life is full of these little bits of half-knowledge. When I was younger, I watched “Apocalypse Now” and found it was based on “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad, which I rushed out and bought. And there it still sits, thirty-odd years later, unread and dusty on my book shelves.
What I’m trying to say is: I’m a pretty handy person to have on your pub quiz team.
When you’re a teenager, struggling to work out who you are, to assume your own identity, you clutch and grab at these things. To my mind, it didn’t matter that I’d never read de Beauvior or Conrad, or never seen Marie Saint act; what mattered was that I knew who they were, which many of my peers did not.
What’s spectacular about that record, is that as well as referencing a fixed point in cinema, there’s something cinematic about the record itself: you can picture Jodie, looking like Eve Marie Saint in “On The Waterfront”, speeding down the freeway, trying her luck with the traffic police. David Lynch directing, I think.
I didn’t buy the “Rattlesnakes” single or the album when they came out, but I remember my mate Paul having the album, and loving this song, along with “Perfect Skin”, and “Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?” from it. Of course, when I finally got round to buying the album, I realised that every song on it is utter perfection.
If you already own the Rattlesnakes album, I would hope the mere mention of it would entice you back to listen to it again. Just writing this has made me do so.
And since I mentioned “Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?”, here it is:
Since I’m posting that, I may as well post a bloody wonderful record which references Mr Cole and that song (CC: sorry if I’ve nicked this one off your toes!!):