Without wishing to start the day on a morbid footing, there have been many deaths this year, some of them celebrities, some of those ones that I cared about.
Like John Prine, for example.
Thankfully, his Atlantic and Asylum albums have all been re-released in one 7-CD boxed set, comprising of: John Prine (1971), Diamonds In The Rough (1972), Sweet Revenge (1973), Common Sense (1975), Bruised Orange (1978), Pink Cadillac (1979) and Storm Windows (1980), albums which capture the genius of the man whose songs were recorded by the likes of Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, Carly Simon, George Strait, Norah Jones, John Denver, Miranda Lambert, The Everly Brothers, Bette Midler, Paul Westerberg, Tammy Wynette and Dwight Yoakam.
And here she is again, this time with Ernest Tubb on a song which you may find listed in some places with the incorrectly added brackets at the end (When I’m Dead And Gone?) – incorrect not just because that’s not the song title, but also because those aren’t words which feature in the song:
Some of you may recognise this from a cover version the late, great John Prine released in 2016 on his For Better, or Worse album, with Iris DeMent taking on the Loretta role:
And so, the return of the series which more than any other, when a song I don’t recognise has popped up on my iPod when on shuffle has made me go “What the feck is this…?” (sometimes in a nice way, often not).
Yes, it’s the very long awaited (be modest, it says here – Ed) return of the greatest thing on the internet (oh, don’t bother then – Ed): The Chain. And hopefully The Chain Gang are all assembled, like slightly nerdy versions of The Avengers, except all hot, bothered, and ready to rock and maybe even ‘n’ roll a bit too.
For the unitiated, this is the series where I blatantly nick an idea off Radcliffe & Maconie on BBC 6Music, and ask for suggestions for songs linked to the next in a series of songs. But here’s the rub: free from the constraints of time and the length of a radio programme, instead of picking just one, I’ll post all of them, then ask for suggestions linked to the next in the official series. This way, we (ok, probably just me) gets a hell of a diverse playlist to while away our days, and a whole lot more fun than usual compiling it.
And did I mention there are points to be earned?
Well, yes there are. Totally meaningless points; you won’t be winning a prize or anything, but points nonetheless. And here’s how your suggestion can win them:
Correct Guess: 3 points (fairly self-explanatory, this one – guess the song which is the next in the official 6Music sequence and these could be yours)
Double Linker: 2 points (for a suggestion which works on two levels, and definitely not a sex toy)
Showboater of the Week: 2 points (for the most convaluted link between the source record and your choice)
Worst/Cheesiest Suggestion of the Week: 1 point (again, I would hope this category needs no further expansion).
Up until this reboot, points have been awarded and then discarded, but whilst the series has been laid off, I’ve gone through all the old posts and where I have specifically said that points were being awarded, I have totted them all up and will continue to do so. And if you don’t believe my accuracy, go ahead, check for yourself, my stats could do with a boost.
So we’ll start off by having a look at the league table as it stands
1: George 17
2: Swiss Adam 13
3: Alyson 9
4=: Charity Chic 8
The Robster 8
6=: The Swede 7
8=: Dirk 6
Rigid Digit 6
10= Alex G 5
The Great Gog 5
13= GM Free 3
17 The Beard 2
And so George would appear to be the Liverpool FC of the group, romping into a twenty-two four point lead as he has, although it should be noted that at least one of the point-winning categories was invented as a result of a particularly breath-taking bit of bullshit linkage by him way back in the day.
So where were we? Oh yes – asking for your links to this record:
Now I figured this was a really easy way to restart the series: just send me any song which has some sort of drug reference involved. Pop music, and music in general, is quite literally littered with them.
Look, here’s one, and it seems a particularly appropriate place to start:
I only mention this because I was somewhat underwhelmed by the amount of suggestions I received this time. I’m putting this down to two things: firstly, the amount of time it’s been since the last post in this series, and secondly, me moving the suggestions to email rather than via the Comments Section.
I think the latter is the biggie here, so screw it, we’ll go back to suggestions via the Comments at the end of the post again.
I had a bit of a moan about this to Kay at work the other day, as she hadn’t suggested anything – not behaviour fitting of someone equal 13th in the league table of dreams, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Her response was that she couldn’t think of anything other than the theme tune to Wizbit.
In case you’re confused, or one of those annoying young people, or both, Wizbit was a 1980s children’s TV show about a magic alien, shaped apparently like a wizard’s hat, but to these eyes as a fully unpeeled Dairylea triangle:
And now I’ll hand the reins over to the newest member of The Chain Gang, Pat, who gives me several thoroughly decent suggestions, although I’ll need to explain this first one a little.
The E in the title of the Pulp song refers to Ecstacy, a party/clubbing drug also referred to colloquially as “pills”, for that is the form in which they are swallowed (as opposed to smoked, injected or sniffed). Who needs Susie Dent, amIright Countdown fans?
I’m glad you made that distinction, because the drug referenced in that song is more likely to make you visit an all night garage to buy a Twix or a pastry product at 4:00 am than it is to lead to illicit dancing…
Now, have you ever found yourself wondering whether your favourite bloggers prefer their orange juice smooth or with the bits, as I believe it’s technically referred to on most packaging, left in? Well, wonder no longer, for here’s Alyson from What’s It All About to answer that nagging doubt for you:
“There is Pulp in Orange Juice (and I usually prefer mine with it left in). Will therefore go for the band Orange Juice and the obvious song, Rip It Up.”
I invited Rol, as I think I did to all who submitted suggestions, to feel free to send more, and sure as eggs is eggs, he came back with the following:
“…whizz is an example of onomatopoeia…”
Whoa, there tiger! A clarification is required here: although not in the context we are talking about whizz – I’ve never known a drug to make any kind of noise, onomatopoeiac or otherwise, although I’ve made a fair few odd ones when ingesting the same – think Billy Whizz from The Beano and you get where Rol is coming from.
“…so you could have the song with that name by either John Prine…”
Over now to The Great Gog, who frankly had me flummoxed by the very matey tone of his email, which came from someone called Dave. A quick explanation later and needless to say we all saw the funny side, and he came up with not one but two suggestions.
Floor’s yours The Great Gog/Dave:
“I’ve always been intrigued by the line: ‘Mother, I can never come home again ‘cause I seem to have left an important part of my brain somewhere in a field in Hampshire’.
Basically, why Hampshire? I can’t think of any other song that mentions it by name, although two of its cities have been the subject of Top 5 hits.’
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why The Chain exists: not so you can propose songs you like by some contrived link you’ve struggled to come up with (although, that’s fine if you do, hence the Showboating award), but to suggest songs which link to the source material, regardless of whether they’re any good or not.
“Why? Pulp front-bloke Jarvis Cocker co-wrote Walk Like A Panther for All Seeing I. Jarvis has said that the song was written specifically for Tony Christie to sing, and he was instrumental in getting Christie on-board – even flying out to Spain to meet him and convince him.”
Oh go on, then. Don’t mind if I do. (I’m trying out new catchphrases):
Now, you’ll recall that we left Jules from Music From Magazines hanging with an odd Dallas clip. Shortly after receiving that, Jules sent me an actual suggestion, which…well, since it wasn’t by Lambchop, as Jules’ suggestions usually are, let’s just say it took some deciphering.
But we got there in the end, despite Jules’ insistance not to bother, and here we go:
…which is included because of the lyric: “Go out and get me another roll of pills.” I think.
Sorry George, we almost made it.
And finally, as they used to say on The Two Ronnies, one last contribution from The Great Gog, who is still wittering on about Hampshire:
“The rather marvellous British Sea Power popped up on random play and the song referenced a field in a county adjacent to Hampshire – I’m guessing it is potentially unique. Said county was Wiltshire and the track was….”
Which seems far too classy a way to bow out, so let’s end as we began, if for no other reason than it will look like I know what I’m doing, with a supplementary conversation with Kay.
“What about ‘Magic E’?” she said, which isn’t exactly the kind of proposition one expects from their boss.
Turns out she was talking about this, of which I have no memory whatsoever:
Magic E (Look & Read)
Wait a minute. I recognise that voice. That’s your actual 70s/80s TV kids presenter/legend Derek Griffiths, isn’t it?
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:
A popular song was “Magic E”, originally written in the mid-70s for Words and Pictures to demonstrate the silent E and the change in pronunciation of preceding vowels — for example: “cap” becomes “cape” with me, “tap” becomes “tape” with me. The song’s simple lyrics about changing the words with “magic E” were memorable and simple to learn.
“…most of the songs were sung by Derek Griffiths.”
Which means I can end on a note much more befitting of the nonsense that goes on here:
Except, of course, to reveal the identity of the next record in the official Chain, chosen because Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker once caused a bit of a fuss at the Brit Awards. So did frontman Danbert Nobacon.
Who’s Danbert Nobacon, I hear you ask.
Well, he’s in this band, and this is the next song in The Chain:
So, you’re suggestions please for songs which link to Tubthumping by Chumbawamba, along with a brief explanation of the link, either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the Comments section at the bottom, whichever you prefer.
Oh so many Country artists have squeezed a Christmas album or two out in their time, where should the focus fall this year?
John Prine is a legend of Country music, and in 1994 he released A John Prine Christmas, an album dominated by Prine original compositions, but I’ve picked one of the few cover versions from it for today.
Originally recorded by Jimmy Boyd back in the 1950s, this has been covered more times, and more famously, by many others, but here’s Prine’s take:
A year or so ago, I went to see Evan Dando, he of Lemonheads fame, play at Union Chapel in Islington, probably one of my favourite venues, and which I mentioned in my recent post about Supergrass and Billy Bragg.
Dando’s set comprised of the usual mix of Lemonheads classics, stuff from his solo album, and a whole load of covers of Country songs, which I decided to track down.
I came away from the gig with a strange feeling relating to that song. I didn’t think I’d heard it before, and didn’t think I knew anything else by Prine, yet there was something familiar about it that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
A little internet research told me that Nanci Griffith had done quite a famous cover of it:
A sweep of YouTube revealed an awful lot of people had recorded cover versions of varying quality. Pick of the bunch is this, not because it’s a particularly good version (it really isn’t), but because of the performer’s decision to apparently perform it minus clothes:
He’s really feeling it by the end of that, isn’t he? The song, I mean.
Just be grateful he doesn’t take a bow at the end.
Once the general sense of nausea had passed, a little more digging found this cover version, by a band most famous for providing the theme tune to The Sopranos, and a band my brother is always banging on about how great they are. Warning, they’ve authenticated their Brixton roots by adding a bit of effing and jeffing:
Nope, not that either. Although, that would seem to be an example of Country trip hop, not a genre I even knew existed. Maybe I should pay attention to my brother a bit more often.
Anyway, eventually I gave up trying to work out what was bugging me about the song. I concluded I’d definitely not heard it before, and was pretty sure I didn’t know anything else by John Prine. I figured it was just one of those songs that seems familiar the first time you hear it, even though you’ve never heard it before.
And then, a few months later, I had a Eureka! moment, when this came on my iPod: