Sunday, 16 August 2009

Desert Island Discs

Another glory of our civilisation if not as, ahem, diverse in its choice of guests as it once was, is Desert Island Discs.

Some of the tunes involved may very well get me kicked off the Cultural Conservatives’ Club top table at the International Theodore Dalrymple Awards for Western Culture, but as I’m certainly the only blogger who always posts with his hair Brylcreemed into the gun-metal dome of a scarab’s carapace and in full evening dress, I’ll still be able to feel intensely and silently superior to those above the salt as the port passed.

I still haven’t worked how to post video that’s not already posted onto someone else’s blog yet, so it’s links and waffle only for now.

Oh, and if you like anything and want a copy, I hope you bloody well buy the music and pay its proprietors for the privilege.

Shine on you crazy diamond. Pink Floyd.

Notorious for biting with varying degrees of savagery the commercial hand that fed them (such as in ‘Mudmen’ and ‘Have a Cigar’ as well as the dreadful ‘The Wall’ with which they tried to demoralize us as we were setting about winning and ending the Cold war), Pink Floyd were capable of great rock music and this famous track with its long, eerie opening chord always has me on the edge of my musical seat in anticipation. And when that deep first deep guitar chord arrives I’m prepared to forgive much. Glorious stuff.

Disappointingly little of Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield features in the film of The Exorcist, but here it is in all its highly dated glory with its “Grand piano; reed and pipe organ; glockenspiel; bass guitar; double speed guitar; two slightly distorted guitars; mandolin! Spanish guitar, and introducing acoustic guitar, plus...tubular bells”.

A relic: but still highly representative of the majestic, overdone, distinctive and pompous sort of thing that grew to maturity in the 1970s.


Christianity has its Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar …and The Messiah now that I think of it, and Judaism or at least Jewish history has Nabucco and Prince of Egypt (a great musical film), but what about poor old heathenry, huh? What about all us tax-paying yet freaky devotees of Odin and Thor, Frey and Freya: don’t we get a musical of our own?

Well, there was this one piece…but a bad man liked it, and even when impeccably liberal Hollywood used it, it still somehow managed to tick the Left off. And if you’re all worried that Wagner don’t surf, here’s the fluffy bunny version for all you Angora Wiccans out there…

Stay calm. There was once upon at time a very funny radio series about aliens and Surrey (despite HG Wells having done it first), and having recently listened to the BBC version of Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy when then this came on I Iaughed my socks off at the silliness of the Eagles’ Journey to the Sorcerer – as overblown a bit of fluff I’d ever heard, and still fun today. Not sure of this is the Eagles and it’s surely not the album version, but it gives an idea how the Beeb in its late prime managed to put the musical cherry on the top of the funny, first ever broadcast of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

You want punkabilly?

I can’t hear you! Do you want punkabilly? DO YOU WANT PUNKABILLY?

Thank you, Castle City!

I’ll swear that this started off as a joke back in the 1980s (I know that I did), but I’m told that Tenpole Tudor says good things about our troops at his various reunion tour gigs. I’ve danced to this song at weddings and birthdays and Goth nights and rock nights, and they do say that on a moonlit night whenever two or more unashamed Englishmen are gathered together in the presence of premium-strength pints of anything and a weak-willed DJ, then the shirts come off and they play Swords of a Thousand Men in that fine old utterly anachronistic crusading spirit we all know and love.

Some songs are the voice of a generation.

The era of punk and the New Wave came in just as Old Labour’s last government was dying and making way for the purifying fire that Mrs.Thatcher and I would bring to scour the corruption from the land and rededicate Britain to its ancient destiny of making a quid or two. In that freelancing spirit of let’s make lots of cash by getting a novelty record cut and then scarper when the sales fall, Jilted John in 1978 came out with his eponymous song. If you’re familiar with the track you’ll know what’s coming, but if you’re not then wait until 120 – 125 seconds of its lovely melody and haunting lyrics have gone by to realise as we all did only last autumn that this is the song, not of my generation, but of my daughter’s generation. And her children’s generation. And theirs…

I’d refer my right honourable and honourable friends to a post I’ve already made this week, but why schlep? Here, in all its high, angelic beauty is Lux Aeterna; complete with a picture show that’s strongly reminiscent of fermented milk, but Elgar’s music itself is still in my opinion the Carlsberg of church music.

‘Do you think the Welsh can do better than that, Owen?’

‘At one hundred yards, volley fire by ranks present. Present. Aim. FIRE!’

Beats Delilah, doesn’t it boyo?

And if it came down to taking one record only, it’d have to be Lux Aeterna.

And this is the perfect novel, believe it or not. Awesome.


James Higham said...

I’m certainly the only blogger who always posts with his hair Brylcreemed into a gun-metal dome like a scarab’s carapace and in full evening dress, I’ll still be able to feel intensely and silently superior to those above the salt as the port passed.

The last of the breed.

North Northwester said...

The broke the mould when they made me. And burned the pieces. And shredded the blueprints. And shot the designer...

CherryPie said...

The Pink Floyd album (Wish you were here) the one that features Shine on you crazy diamond, is one of my favorite albums of all time.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Wish You Were Here, my favourite Floyd album,

Thanks very much for starting the meme, made me think a lot, mine own contributions are here Saturday , Sunday

BTW I tend to blog dressed in pajamas, silk dressing gown, harem slippers, smoking hand rolled turkish cigarettes ans sipping absinthe.

One has to maintain standards

North Northwester said...

Cherry Pie, you are very wise. I'm listening to it now.

PC, hi again.
I'm doing a thank you and goodnight post at teatime and will shout it from my rooftop then. Thank you for participating; it's been a pleasure.
Now I'm off to your place to see what's new with what is old.

JuliaM said...

That's a very Catholic suggestion, as I believe the phrase goes... :)

Haven't heard the Jilted John track since, well, forever, it seems.

'Zulu' - another brilliant score by John Barry, and a film enlivened considerably by the knowledge that the ranks of the Zule warriors were bolstered by student doctors and scientists, happy to slap on the ancestral costumes for a bit of spare cash...


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