Saturday, 30 April 2016

Crimes against rhymes in music

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t enjoy a misheard lyric. From ‘Into the loo, leaving it all behind me’ (Carpenters) to ‘How’s your boiled egg; how’s your boiled egg?’ (Odyssey). 
Travis: What happened when you were 17?
But I want to discuss something altogether more potentially sinister. With misheard lyrics, it’s the fault of the person listening. With words that are used purely-because-they-rhyme, the high-pressure nozzle of contempt must be thrust squarely in the direction of the lyricist. 

Take this, from the Police and 'Wrapped around your finger'. I'm so glad I'm finally writing this down, because for years the sheer audacity of what you're about to see has sent me trembling with a shock that can only be born of disbelief. Disbelief that someone actually thought they could get away with it. It got to number seven in the charts.

"I have only come here seeking knowledge
Things they would not teach me of in college."

A colleague tells me that it's not just popular music where this sort of crime-against-everything has occurred. It's happened on the West End stage. A lyric for Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat includes the lines:

"All these things you saw in your pajamas
Are a long range forecast for your farmers."

The song? Phaoraoh's Dreams. The effect? I closed my eyes. 

But there are also those artistes who take it on themselves to write a line and then 'sort of' make it rhyme with the next. I'm a great fan of Travis but really:

"Why does it always rain on me? 
Is it because I lied when I was seventeen?"

What did he lie about? Why was that date important? Or is it that the syntax just scanned in a seemingly trendy way? 

But, to my mind, by far the biggest, baddest, and, quite frankly the worse lyric of all time is by Wet Wet Wet. (The song was originally by the Troggs, but WWW repeating it is just as bad). I mean, they actually rearranged the words of a sentence just to make it scan and rhyme. No one speaks like this unless they're in a play at the Globe theatre, and even then Shakespeare would be aghast, forsooth. Love isn't all around...

"There's no beginning, there'll be no end
'Cause on my love you can depend."

Sunday, 24 April 2016

In praise of Rugeley, Staffordshire

In 1981 Mrs Steve was at a dinner / dance. They were all the rage as Soft Cell’s Tainted Love topped the charts. Mrs Steve and her sister grew up in Rugeley, Staffordshire. More of the dinner / dance in a moment...

Raised by Wolves - Channel 4
First though: Rugeley isn't well known. The town probably doesn't see the producers of property programmes turn up and do up people's houses. There was always Dr Palmer (no relation), the Rugeley poisoner. Or, as Wikipedia describes him: ‘William Palmer (murderer)’. Anyway, he was hanged and it sort of put Rugeley on the map; in 1856. It's been pretty sleepy ever since. 

So, we were watching the comedy 'Raised by Wolves' recently; set it Wolverhampton, the single Mum goes out on a less-than-glamourous date and, on her return, says rather ironically: 'He took me to Tesco in Rugeley - and back'. I know the shop well.

These days Rugeley hosts a massive Amazon depot; across the road from a soon-to-be-abandoned power station. A sort of old days / new days snapshot of modern Britain. Mrs Steve freely admits that, in the 1980s, until her sister's husband turned up and started to take them to clubs and gigs in Birmingham and Stoke, her social life was pretty mundane; it was either house parties, the social club at the power station or a conference suite at a nearby hotel. Edgy stuff.

Back to the dinner / dance, thirty-five years ago. This hotel’s function room had to have a shiny parkay floor.  It was mandatory. Or should have been. It was the eighties, after all. At a sixth form party in the function room, in front of her peers, Mrs Steve's sister went to the loo and returned to the table, only to turn on a heel and go arse over tit on the heavily-polished floor. Everyone laughed. The entire sixth form. 

Then Mrs Steve went to the loo and, on her return, did exactly the same thing. Arse. Over. Tit. Everyone laughed. Again. It’s the sort of déjà vu development that sisters don’t ever want repeated. They were forever remembered as the sprawling sozzled sisters. But they weren’t drunk. They were just unable to negotiate that slippery floor in heels.  

It's the sort of scene that could have ended up on Raised by Wolves.