A GUEST POSTING by THE FRIEND OF RACHEL WORTH
Please hear my confession.
Growing up in the 80s I was a bit of a Little Britainer as far as music was concerned and especially snobby when it came to anything out of the states. There was only really Talking Heads who i had anytime for and like most early teens had a bit of a crush on Debbie Harry. I had an especially big distaste for anything that sniffed too much of rock n rawl.
However, one track came along which I really should have hated but became a secret vice that even today raises a smile on the rare occasions it pops up on shuffle. At the time i was a compulsive compliation tape complier and would force them onto anyone who I knew. I can safely say that this track has never appeared on any of these tapes.
The whole thing is a tad ridiculous to the point of parody (college football star and debutante! , I ask you) and it is by a man who felt the need to insert an animal between his first and surnames.
I have a secret love for Jack and Diane by John “Cougar” Mellancamp.
The thing gives me strange small pleasures such as a first line “ a little ditty” not story , not song , not tale but ditty. There was the other worldliness of the Tastee Freez ( I had no idea what this was was , but it sounded like a wonderful place) and what an earth was a chilidog. It is easy to forget in this time of access to everything how mysterious some American references were.
There’s the weird choral, gospelly bit in the middle , the fact for years, I thought it was the Bottle bank and not the bible belt that would come and save my soul. I kind of love the fact that the thing would all fall apart with out the handclaps
There was also the thrill of sex. I wasn’t sure what Bobby Brooks were but as a 15 year old I could certainly imagine what “Let me do as I Please” was all about
“Hey, Diane, let’s run off behind a shady tree
Dribble off those Bobby Brooks
Let me do what I please”
This was 1982 when I was into anything with a synth and I tried to kid myself that that bit of electronic percussion in this meant that it was okay. I must have known that this was a bit desperate as on endless afternoons round friends listening to the new Soft Cell or OMD single I never said “Hey I’ve bought that great John Cougar single with me to listen to”
Reading up on the track for this post (okay I’ve looked on Wikipedia) I’ve found out that that the whole thing was based on Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams and that Mick Ronson played on and helped to arrange and produce it. If I had known that in 1982 it may have given me a bit more courage to champion the song. Actually maybe I should have just focused on one of the bleakest lines in pop music which just felt so true to a pretentious teenager and held its own with anything Ian Curtis et al have come up with “Oh yeah life goes on , Long after the thrill of living is gone”
Thus ends my confession and I am off to listen to angst filled thin men with guitars as penance, and make myself a chillidog