A GUEST SERIES
31. Birdhouse In Your Soul – They Might Be Giants (1989 Elektra Records)
Released as a single in March 1990 (Reached Number 6)
A song that reminds me of being a school and in particular about a girl who I’m going to call Lucy. Lucy was the first girl I ever kissed. A rather fumbled affair which took place on the corner of the road that leads to my dad’s house. About ten people inadvertently witnessing this embarrassment, including a lad who lived three doors down, Paul, who took great pleasure in telling literally everyone in the street what he’d witnessed. I didn’t mind really, my social status climbed about three rungs that week.
Another witness was Danny. He actually managed to break the kiss up (which lasted about ten seconds) by crashing his bike into us and laughing at me. Danny was an arse, and I am confident, that, despite not speaking or seeing him for 29 years, he is still an arse right now. I think he will still have the same high pitched squealing laughter and will probably have the same rubbish haircut and still be wearing chinos that are took small for him. Two years from that kiss, by the way, and it’s not relevant, I’m just sort of proud of this fact, my brother beat the shit of out Danny in a park. I say ‘the shit’ he hit him three times, once, in the stomach, once on the shoulder and third one in the face, before Danny ran off crying for his mother. I forget the reason why, it was probably something to do with football. That or the fact that my brother just didn’t like him.
Anyway, back to Lucy. We got to together on a school trip to a farm, about seven days before that kiss. It was dead romantic, I stood in a barn full of cows and shit whilst Lucy’s best friend, Penny, asked me the question. This was because Lucy had lost her voice. She genuinely had. I hadn’t really ever been out with girls at that stage, I kind of shrugged my shoulders and said “If you like”. For the next few days at school we walked around holding hands, and stuff, quickly shoving them in our pockets when the teachers ambled past.
One evening, the evening before the kiss, we went on our first (and last) date. This was to the Ice Rink, the place where everyone in the Medway towns goes on a date. We had a burger (or a cheese sandwich in my case, as I was proudly pushing my new found status as a vegetarian) and then held hands as we tip toed around the ice rink, trying not to fall over and trying not to embarrass ourselves. We had both ignored the fact that neither of us could ice skate or had any interest in it.
Eventually we gave up and we sat together in the little café on those rubbish plastic chairs that make it sound like you are farting when you wriggle around, we talk about life, parents, school, music, as I nervously pushed the tomato shaped sauce bottle around on the table.
It was then that I realised that Lucy’s favourite band on the planet was Bros. Something which you can’t ignore even when you are 14 and trying to be cool. I mean I don’t think Bros had been in charts for a good six months at this stage. Still she was my girlfriend and I could probably change rubbish tastes. I told her that Bros were shit and that there were a million better things to listen to (even back then I was a wannabe music critic)
When I got home after the date at the ungodly hour of seven pm, I made her a tape, with all my favourite songs on it – I mean that’s what you do when you have a girlfriend – right?
Side One – Track Two – was this song, because at the time it was one of my favourite songs in all the world. The next day I proudly handed the tape to her – which had a crappily drawn heart on it or something and she hugged me. After school I walked her home and the kiss happened.
The next day in the middle of a history lesson about Florence Nightingale, she sat behind and handed me a note. It said “Sorry, but it’s over.”
That is exactly what it said. Still eight days was my new record for how long I’d had a girlfriend for.
Let’s fast forward a bit.
Lucy for her sins, moved away at the end of 1991 (and I barely spoke to her after she dumped me in double history) but she stayed in touch with Penny. One lunchtime, towards the middle of 1992 Penny came up to me in the common room at school and handed me a tape and a little letter. It was from Lucy. I was surprised because I’d literally not given her a single consideration since she left the school.
The mixtape contained some fairly decent indie bands and such like (ok, it had The Mission and the Sisters of Mercy on it, but you know decent enough). The letter said (amongst other things), ‘I never got the chance to say thank you for the mixtape, it changed my taste in music totally. Bros were shit.” And there on Side One – Track Two, was ‘Birdhouse In Your Soul’.
This was also on the cassette, can’t remember exactly where though.