By which I mean, a Friday Night Music Club mix for Good Friday, as opposed to “At last! A good Friday Night Music Club!”
I’ve “ummed & ahhed” about posting this one to be honest; whilst I am not in the least bit religious – I’m firmly in the “religion is the opium of the people” camp – I do think it’s important to respect those who do have faith, no matter in which God, and I didn’t want this to come across as me taking the mick.
Besides, if I’m going to happily accept some extra days off work at Christmas and Easter, it would be rude to bite The Hand that feeds me.
That said, when you’re trying to find pop songs which in some way relate to the biggest Christian festival of the year, of which there are few, and whilst also trying to stay away from obviously religious songs, of which there are many, one does worry that what I’ve prepared may see disrespectful. Genuinely, it’s not meant to be, and I hope it isn’t.
See, I think I’ve dodged that particular pitfall by trying to make this mix so that it roughly follows the events of Easter weekend (as far as I can remember from junior school), starting a little earlier with Judas’s betrayal of Jesus, through Peter’s repeated denials, the crucifixion and resurrection, with some stuff about chocolate and bunnies thrown in to cover the Saturday, when nothing much happened. Apologies if I have misremembered the ‘true’ sequence. If only someone had written it down in some kind of, I dunno, good book that I could have referred to…
I also wanted to avoid including anything from obvious film or theatre portrayals, so there’s nothing fromAndrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar or from Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Oh ok, there is a teensy bit of Life of Brian in there, but don’t fret, it’s not Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.
For those of you pondering Dylan’s inclusion, he’s in there for two reasons: firstly, the song title seemed pretty apt, and secondly, because of the infamous moment when someone shouted “Judas” at him at a gig after he dared to start playing an electric guitar. This of course only makes him the third worst Judas that I’m aware of: there’s the obvious Iscariot chap at #1, and of course Sol Campbell at #2, for leaving Tottenham on a free transfer to go to play for Arsenal. (See, if I was religious, I’d have forgiven him by now.)
Anyway, as I say, I’m honestly not trying to offend with this mix (so there’s no need for an ‘effing and jeffing’ warning this week), rather the idea is to offer up a way that non-Christians can enjoy the weekend’s activities from a musical perspective, and who knows, perhaps even engage in a way they haven’t done for a long time.
Ok, they’re back with an album of cover versions, but given that their break-through album, The Trinity Session, wasn’t exactly short of covers, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Songs of the Recollection is a lot more polished than Trinity, and is chock full with songs by Bowie, Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot to name a few, along with a fair few that made me think “Oh that’s what that’s called, is it?” along with this Gram Parsons tune, which admittedly has been knocking around for quite a few years already, having originally surfaced on 1999’s Parsons tribute album Return of the Grievous Angel.
I mean, it was already gorgeous, but this is….also gorgeous:
Yes, I know this is where I usually post a Short Song. (That’s my definition of “usually” by the way, I could just have easily have written the phrase “when I can be arsed”.)
And no, I didn’t forget to post today’s song on Sunday morning, where Country tunes usually reside round these parts.
No, this is a song which I’ve loved for many years, and whilst musically it sits in the Sunday morning slot, lyrically it can only really be posted here, on a Tuesday morning.
Sun Comes Up, It’s Tuesday Morning, the opening track from Cowboy Junkies’ third album, 1990’s The Caution Horses, is a beautiful, sad, but ultimately empowering story of a woman who is, at first glace, getting used to a return to single-dom.
She lists the things she used to blame her ex for, but which still keep happening even though they’ve gone (“Guess you forgot to close the blinds last night. Oh, that’s right. It was me.”), the things she misses (…the smell of black coffee in the morning, the sound of water splashing all over the bathroom, the kiss that you would give me even though I was sleeping, but I kind of like the feel of this extra few feet in my bed…”), and the things she now feels free to do which she couldn’t before (“…Maybe tonight it’s a movie, with plenty of room for elbows and knees, a bag of popcorn all to myself. Black and white, with a strong female lead. And if I don’t like it: no debate, I’ll leave.”)
At the song’s bridge, we find our strong female lead floundering (“Here comes that feeling that I’d forgotten, how strange these streets feel when you’re alone on them: each pair of eyes just filled with suggestion. So I lower my head, make a beeline for home, seething inside”) before, safely ensconced back at home, she reflects once more – we get a repetition of the blinds being left open, the extra space in her bed.
It is, as described so far, the opposite of ABBA’s finest moment, The Day Before You Came. In that song, Agnetha describes the mundanity of her life on, as the song title pretty much gives away, the day before she met a significant somebody for the first time. But the reason I think that record is so brilliant, is because you’re never quite sure whether the person she met (and who presumably is no longer part of her life, hence the reflection) has been a good or a bad part of her life, nothing is given away. Yet the song is so melancholic – so anti-ABBA, if you like – that you can’t help thinking that she actually rues the day she met the titular You.
I wasn’t going to post this, because it most definitely does not sit in a Sunday morning Country slot even if it has been moved to a Tuesday, but I think if I’m going to make the comparison you should be able to hear them both without having to go off searching:
Incidentally, in what way is that an appropriate sleeve for that record? The Day Before You Came is an unexpectedly mournful slice of early-80s electronica, which is in no way appropriately represented by badly cut-and-pasted smiling headshots and a pink disco light.
I’m reminded of a section from my favourite ever episode of the much-missed Dave Gorman’s Modern Life is Goodish, which aired on the TV channel Dave for a few years. Dave (the channel) is more renowned for showing repeats than making original content, but when it does stray into the realms of producing new content, it has had some success (Modern Life... being an example, along with the consistently hilarious Taskmaster, which has now been sold to Channel 4). I read today that the BBC has announced that, since they haven’t been able to make any new programmes since the Covid-19 lockdown, they’re now starting to run out of repeats to show. They should perhaps take a leaf out of Dave (the channel)’s book, and just keep pumping out old episodes of QI, Have I Got News For You and Top Gear rather than draw attention to it. Besides, there must be heaps of old BBC dramas which haven’t had a re-airing, even on the BBC iPlayer. The Buddha of Suburbia, for example, or TuttiFrutti. Some of the old Dennis Potter’s like The Singing Detective, Pennies From Heaven or even Blackeyes. Or some of the old Hancocks, Steptoe & Sons, The Likely Lads, Monty Python for Gawd’s sake. Anything must be better than showing Peter Crouch’s Save Our Summer on Saturday night and then repeating it two days later, surely?
But back to Dave Gorman’s Modern Life is Goodish. This is probably my favourite episode of that show; the bit I’m referring to comes in at around the 07:24 mark, where he discusses inappropriate magazine covers. You might want to watch it from the start to give it some context, and if you happen to have 45 minutes to spare I’d thoroughly recommend you watch the whole episode:
But I digress.
Whilst The Day Before You Came and Sun Comes Up, It’s Tuesday Morning appear to be the same song written at different ends of a relationship, The Day… keeps you guessing about what happened next, but Sun Comes Up most definitely alludes to something bad having happened, not just in the final lines where the singer reminds herself “…there are some things that can never be forgiven…”, but in a middle section where she pops out of her house to buy breakfast from Jenny’s.
“She’s got a black eye this morning, ‘Jen how’d ya get it? ‘ She says, ‘Last night, Bobby got a little bit outof hand’.”
It’s tossed away like this is a normal occurance in the lives of Jenny and Bobby, and that’s what makes it stand out: the utter mundanity of the long-term abuse that Jenny has suffered at the hands of her partner.
So when that “…there are some things that can never be forgiven…” line comes in at the end, although it hints at something dark, you kind of feel a little cheer being supressed when our strong female lead quickly reminds herself that she kinda likes the extra few feet of room she now has in her bed.
And I mention this now, in the wake of my recent ranty post about the easing of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions because….well, my own, purely selfish, preference would be that restrictions shouldn’t be eased until we’ve beaten the virus, not when we’ve nearly beaten it. And that might seem closer at the moment than it did both globally and nationally, but we’re not there yet. South Africa now has over 100,000 infections, the highest on the continent; Brazil has passed 50,000 deaths, whilst in the United States (where two more members of President Trump’s staff who attended the campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday have tested positive for the coronavirus, which from the photos and footage I’ve seen seems to be 50% of attendees) the death toll has passed 120,000. Global cases have reached 9 million, not least because our own border checks are so pathetically insufficient that we allowed two infected UK citizens to travel to New Zealand. Truly, we are the Plague Rats of the world.
But I also acknowledged in that post that getting the balance right between starting to get back to normal and maintaining public safety is difficult,and certainly not one I’d like to be responsible for.
This dilemma is made all the tougher when you consider that during the pandemic crisis, there’s been a 20% global increase in reported domestic abuse. The UN have described it as “the shadow pandemic”. In April, it was announced that in the UK alone there had been a shocking 49% increase in calls to national domestic abuse helplines, where the abused were literally trapped at home with their abuser.
If you’re in the UK and have been or continue to be affected by domestic abuse, please reach out to somebody. And if you don’t feel able to reach out to someone you know personally, then perhaps consider some of the people you can find here: Information and Support: Domestic Abuse.
Back to 1988 tonight, and to a wonderful album named after the church in which it was recorded.
“The Trinity Sessions” by Cowboy Junkies is a thing of beauty; recorded with the band circled around a single microphone, it features a mix of original material, cover versions, and, in the case of tonight’s tune, a combination of the two.
Johnny Cash covered this one on his wonderful Rick Rubin produced American Recordings series, and his version is top-notch of course. But for my money, you can’t beat Ol’ Blue Eyes’ version. And any mention of Frank always makes me think of the much over-looked Fast Show character you can find here at 09.08. The whole episode is worth a watch if you have time; Series 3 is when Whitehouse, Higson, Thompson et al were at their absolute peak, in my book.
From their absolute dog of an album “Around The Sun”, the opening track and frankly, you can eject the CD as soon as you’ve listened to this one. (Do people still play CDs..?) Archetypal R.E.M., it’s all gorgeous harmonies and backing vocals to die for. As I mentioned in a previous post, when I used to share a flat with Heledd (although I don’t think I actually mentioned her name. Consider that rectified. And hello Hel!), our Fridays would often involve a playlist I had prepared. Apart from laughing at my attempts to sing along to “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It”, Hel is not a big fan of Stipe, Buck, Mills (and Berry), but this tune caught her ear, and as a result cropped up regularly post-playlist when we were both in “a bit pissed and ready for a sing-song” mode. Right after we’d played Max Boyce, usually. Many songs remind me of many people, but as a result of those Friday nights, this song more than any other reminds me of Hel. She doesn’t own it, yet she totally owns it. Cheers!
A Lou Reed cover, as you no doubt know, and if you ever want an example of a song being re-worked so far it almost sounds like a completely different song, this is it. Better than the original, in my opinion. There. I’ve said it.
Taken from the first Stevie Wonder album I ever bought, and as the premise behind me writing this blog stems from the book High Fidelity (see Introduction, Explanation, Justification for my mission statement), it seems appropriate that I get things back on track by posting the song which is played over the end credits of the film adaptation of the novel.