SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter Nine)

A GUEST POSTING by FRIEND OF RACHEL WORTH

Hi Jim

Loving the above occasional series. I am a bit obsessed by a song’s lyrics. Some of my favourite songwriters can turnout an amazing phrase or concept but for me the skill of a song as a short story is where every word earns its place and not a phrase is wasted for the sake of scanning,

The examples you have shared so far all stand on their own two feet on the printed page.

Loads to choose from but gone for this , part character study and part story. Put out of your mind National Express and the arched eyebrow . I hesitate as wondered if a short story song could have a chorus and then realised that was giving this way too much thought.

The thing I love about this is that take out any line and the whole is diminished. The subtle changes in the chorus all add to the picture and only in a couple of places is the phrasing slightly forced. The only place where the words alone don’t quite have the full impact is that they miss the sadness of the way Neil Hannon sings the final “No , you couldn’t be”. Kind of a upper class sister song to Labelled with Love

David (Friend of Rachel Worth)

Lady of a Certain Age

Back in the day you had been part of the smart set
You’d holidayed with kings, dined out with starlets
From London to New York, Cap Ferrat to Capri
In perfume by Chanel and clothes by Givenchy
You sipped camparis with David and Peter
At Noel’s parties by Lake Geneva
Scaling the dizzy heights of high society
Armed only with a cheque-book and a family tree

You chased the sun around the Cote d’Azur
Until the light of youth became obscured
And left you on your own and in the shade
An English lady of a certain age
And if a nice young man would buy you a drink
You’d say with a conspiratorial wink
“You wouldn’t think that I was seventy”
And he’d say, “no, you couldn’t be!”

You had to marry someone very very rich
So that you might be kept in the style to which
You had all of your life been accustomed to
But that the socialists had taxed away from you
You gave him children, a girl and a boy
To keep your sanity a nanny was employed
And when the time came they were sent away
Well that was simply what you did in those days

You chased the sun around the Cote d’Azur
Until the light of youth became obscured
And left you on your own and in the shade
An English lady of a certain age
And if a nice young man would buy you a drink
You’d say with a conspiratorial wink
“You wouldn’t think that I was sixty three”
And he’d say, “no, you couldn’t be!”

Your son’s in stocks and bonds and lives back in Surrey
Flies down once in a while and leaves in a hurry
Your daughter never finished her finishing school
Married a strange young man of whom you don’t approve
Your husband’s hollow heart gave out one Christmas Day
He left the villa to his mistress in Marseilles
And so you come here to escape your little flat
Hoping someone will fill your glass and let you chat about how

You chased the sun around the Cote d’Azur
Until the light of youth became obscured
And left you all alone and in the shade
An English lady of a certain age
And if a nice young man would buy you a drink
You’d say with a conspiratorial wink
“You wouldn’t think that I was fifty three”
And he’d say, “no, you couldn’t be!”

mp3 : The Divine Comedy – Lady of a Certain Age

FoRW

 

6 thoughts on “SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter Nine)

  1. There is a brilliant Italian cover of this song, by Baustelle (maybe the best and most popular band coming from Italy’s late 90s alternative scene… very similar to Pulp). The singer Francesco Bianconi may not have a very good voice, but he’s an amazing lyricist and here he found a way to translate the subtle details of this short story. You can find it on the live album Roma Live! And in this video an amateur recording in a very peculiar location, a villa park on the mountains near Trento:

  2. Its good but is it really better than;

    My lovely horse
    Running through the fields
    Where are you going
    With your fetlocks blowing
    In the wind?

    I want to shower you with sugar lumps
    And ride you over fences
    Polish your hooves every single day
    And take you to the horse dentist

    My lovely horse
    You’re a pony no more
    Running around
    With a man on your back
    Like a train in the night

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