It was back in 2014 that I wrote these words about this particular song:-
“…a truly astonishing single that remains my particular favourite from the band. A soap-opera in just under three minutes. Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Boy and girl have sex…baby gets created. Parents of the boy and girl react with anger and horror…and completely ostracize their own offspring.
Their crime wasn’t to become unexpected parents. Their crime was to create a mixed-race baby.
Based on a true story. The teenage sister of saxophonist Lee Thomson had a black boyfriend and became pregnant, only to be horrified by the fact that many in her family shunned her.”
I do think that the lyric makes for a great short story….one that is particularly shocking, even back in that less enlightened and intolerant era:
Received a letter just the other day,
Don’t seem they wanna know you no more,
They’ve laid it down given you their score,
Within the first two lines it bluntly read.
You’re not to come and see us no more,
Keep away from our door,
Don’t come ’round here no more
What on earth did you do that for?
Our aunt, she don’t wanna know she says,
What will the neighbours think they’ll think,
We don’t that’s what they’ll think, we don’t,
But I will, ’cause I know they think I don’t.
Our uncle he don’t wanna know he says,
We are a disgrace to the human race he says,
How can you show your face,
When you’re a disgrace to the human race?
No commitment, you’re an embarrassment,
Yes, an embarrassment, a living endorsement,
The intention that you have booked,
Was an intention that was overlooked.
They say, stay away,
Don’t want you home today,
Keep away from our door,
Don’t come ’round here no more.
Our dad, he don’t wanna know he says,
This is a serious matter,
Too late to reconsider,
No one’s gonna wanna know ya!
Our mum, she don’t wanna know,
I’m feelin’ twice as old, she says,
Thought she had a head on her shoulder,
‘Cause I’m feelin’ twice as older,
I’m feelin’ twice as older.
You’re an embarrassment…
mp3: Madness – Embarrassment
The real life story turns out to have had a happy ending, with the family seeing sense after the baby girl was born. I’m guessing the existence of the song also played its part….
As I’ve used a copy of the 7″ single to supply the mp3, I thought it would be OK to also offer up its b-side:-
mp3:Madness – Crying Shame
Madness clearly had such an abundance of riches back in 1980 that this could be disposed of, almost as an afterthought.
9 thoughts on “SOME SONGS MAKE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 51)”
Great song. I had absolutely no idea of the backstory. Makes it that much better.
My friends and I are were talking about Madness the other day. Firstly how did they manage to pack so many brilliant singles into the early years. Secondly that the later singles (post 82) were almost seen as a disappointment in the day and we listened to ‘One Better Day’ and ‘Sun and the Rain’ and just those two are perfect pop songs (much better than Our House IMHO..)
Totally agree with Mike , some of their later more melancholic songs are just perfect
I didn’t know the back story and agree it makes a great short story. I played the first Madness LP to near death but I felt, with success, came a cartoony Madness. I didn’t ever re-engage.
Fantastic song by a fantastic band !
Behind the jokey exterior, many Madness songs had interesting messages, particularly as their career drew on. This is one of their finest.
My eldest son has amassed pretty much everything they’ve ever done – and his introduction wasn’t via the whimsical videos but from actually listening to the songs.
Nice post, JC. They were quite a band for singles. Up there with
The Jam and The Smiths. And ABBA…
Pretty sure I had the pull-out lyric poster from Look-In or Smash Hits Blu Tacked to my bedroom wall. Quite an education for this 9 year old at the time.
Probably not a favorite at the palace