If I may, I’d like you to picture a scene from the early hours of Monday morning.
I’m on my way to work.
It’s just a few hours after I’ve got back into Glasgow after three and-a-bit days making an annual summer visit to Ireland, an occasion which involves a lot of emotion and a ridiculous amount of imbibing beverage of an alcoholic nature. It is also an occasion that is increasingly involving a lot of laughter, especially as I’m now being accompanied across there by some age-old friends while I get to hook up over there with some people who, through what were initially tragic circumstances, have become new compadres.
The mother of all hangovers is kicking just in time for me heading into the office. Yup, I’m old and experienced enough to know I should have added Monday to the period of leave and recuperated at home but I’ve made a dreadful error.
My mood has most certainly not been improved by the rail operator deciding to muck everyone about and so I’m now facing a 20 minute sit-down in a draughty and smelly station underneath the surface having raced down the stairs, foregoing some food and drink, in an effort to make a timely connection. I am extremely pissed off.
I elect to press auto-shuffle on the i-pod as I really am unsure of what I’m in the mood for.
What comes on is one of the tracks from the LP Nineteeneighties, which was recorded by Grant-Lee Phillips in 2005. Eleven well-known songs by the likes of The Smiths, The Cure, Pixies, R.E.M., Joy Division, Nick Cave, and The Psychedelic Furs given fairly radical makeovers, often with an upbeat, electric/electronica style in the original being replaced by one man and his acoustic instruments. Given he’s gone for some songs which will be among the favourites of fans of the bands, this really shouldn’t work, but thanks to the blend of smooth vocals and a gentle playing of the guitar, he delivers a truly wonderful record. There’s real evidence of a huge amount of respect for the tunes but what is most striking is that Grant-Lee’s singing and the arrangements he’s given the songs really enables the lyrics to shine and impress in a way that didn’t always occur on the originals:-
This is my favourite New Order song of all time.
Since 1983, this killer tune has always got me moving every part of my body on the dance floor. I never really paid too much attention to the lyrics, especially given that Bernard Sumner isn’t really famed for the quality of the words he writes. Even looking at the words written down on paper doesn’t give any indication that this is in fact a rather stunning song about a loss; it could be, and probably is, about a romance gone wrong but it could also be interpreted as an ode to someone who has died….or indeed, killed themselves. I’m not saying it was penned with Ian Curtis in mind, but the way that Grant-Lee delivers the ‘lost you, lost you, lost you’ refrain is very haunting and incredibly moving.
It also seemed appropriate to come up randomly after my trip to Ireland…and after listening to it this morning while sitting in the railway station, my anger at the rail authorties eased somewhat…..and as anyone who is familair with my Facebook account can tstify, that is not something which happens all the time.