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

 

IT’S COVERS WEEK ON T(n)VV : DAY 4

MI0001715865

S-WC outlined all sorts of reasons why cover versions are recorded.  As he mentioned, sometimes it can be for a tribute album.  From wiki:-

The Smiths Is Dead is a tribute album to the 1980s’ English alternative rock band The Smiths, released in 1996. It was compiled by the French cultural magazine Les Inrockuptibles and released to celebrate the 10th anniversary of 1986’s The Queen Is Dead. The album was released at the height of the Britpop phenomenon and contained covers by many popular Britpop acts such as The Boo Radleys, Supergrass, Bis and Placebo.

It’s very much a mixed bag and I think it’s accurate to say that none of the covers improve at all on the originals, but that would have been a near impossibility to begin with. The other biggest problems are that too many of the tracks fail to digress all that much from how The Smiths themselves recorded the songs or that the band asked to do the cover do so in a way that even Morrissey’s backing band would have been embarassed by the efforts.  However, an honourable mention must go to Boo Radleys for what is a hugely different take on the title track…..one that too me many years to really appreciate but nowadays is the only one I have on the i-pod :-

mp3 : Boo Radleys – The Queen Is Dead
mp3 : The High Llamas – Frankly, Mr. Shankly
mp3 : The Trash Can Sinatras – I Know It’s Over
mp3 : Billy Bragg – Never Had No One Ever
mp3 : The Frank & Walters – Cemetry Gates
mp3  : Placebo – Bigmouth Strikes Again
mp3 : Bis – The Boy with the Thorn in His Side
mp3 : Therapy? – Vicar in a Tutu
mp3 : The Divine Comedy – There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
mp3 : Supergrass – Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others

Enjoy.