Lyrically Evocative (11)

In 1982, I heard a song on the radio. It was sung by Robert Wyatt, and the tone was plaintive, with a haunting lyric. During the Falklands War, shipbuilding returned to the industrially-depressed areas of Britain, fuelled by the need to replace ships lost or damaged as a result of that pointless war. At the same time, many of the young men from those same areas were serving in the armed forces, and being killed or wounded in the same war that was providing employment for their communities.

With music from Clive Langer, Elvis Costello wrote some poignant and meaningful lyrics, and called the song ‘Shipbuilding’. It got into my heart and soul at the time, and still sounds as powerful today.

Here are the lyrics.

Is it worth it?
A new winter coat and shoes for the wife
And a bicycle on the boy’s birthday
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
By the women and children
Soon we’ll be shipbuilding
Well, I ask you
The boy said “dad, they’re going to take me to task
But I’ll be back by Christmas”
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
Somebody said that someone got filled in
For saying that people get killed in
The result of this shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
A telegram or a picture postcard
Within weeks they’ll be re-opening the shipyards
And notifying the next of kin
Once again
It’s all we’re skilled in
We will be shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
It’s all we’re skilled in
We will be shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
When we could be diving for pearls
When we could be diving for pearls
Songwriters: Elvis Costello / Clive William Langer

And here is the song sung by Elvis Costello, rather than the Robert Wyatt version.

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Lyrically Evocative (10)

Another from the pen of Ian Dury. This 1981 song was banned by the BBC as ‘offensive’. They obviously missed the point entirely. Here is an explanation, from another blogger.

“Ian Dury’s audaciously offensive take on disability, inspired by his own experience with childhood polio that left him crippled for life.
The song was written as a protest towards the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981, which Dury saw as patronising. The BBC didn’t see the joke and banned the song”.

Here are the lyrics.

I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus
I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus
I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus

I wibble when I piddle
‘Cause my middle is a riddle

I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus
I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus
I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus

I dribble when I nibble
And I quibble when I scribble

Hello to you out there in Normal Land
You may not comprehend my tale or understand
As I crawl past your window give me lucky looks
You can be my body but you’ll never read my books

I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus
I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus
I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus

I’m knobbled on the cobbles
‘Cause I hobble when I wobble, swim

So place your hard-earned peanuts in my tin
And thank the Creator you’re not in the state I’m in
So long have I been languished on the shelf
I must give all proceedings to myself

I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus
I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus
I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus

54 appliances in leather and elastic
100 000 thank yous from 27 spastics

Spasticus, spasticus
Spasticus autisticus
Spasticus, spasticus
Spasticus autisticus
Spasticus, spasticus
Spasticus autisticus

Widdling, griddling, skittling, diddling
Fiddling, diddling, widdling, diddling spasticus

I’m spasticus, spasticus
Spasticus autisticus
Spasticus, spasticus
Spasticus autisticus
Spasticus, spasticus
Spasticus autisticus

Spasticus, spasticus
Spasticus autisticus

I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus

And here he is, singing them.

Significant Songs (197)

What A Fool Believes

In 1979, I bought an album by the American band, The Doobie Brothers. It was called ‘Minute by Minute’. I had become more interested in the group once Michael McDonald joined them in 1976, as I really liked his distinctive vocal, and he had already toured as part of Steely Dan. The new release had some standout tracks, including this one, and ‘Minute by Minute’. ‘What A fool Believes’ won a Grammy, and was a number one hit in many countries.

The song stuck in my head, and fast became my favourite track, as well as enduring down the years. Michael still sings the song in his solo concerts, and it has been covered over twenty times by other singers, including a version from Aretha Franklin. Great piano, McDonald’s vocals, and the overall sound make this one of my classic 70s records. Wonderful stuff, and great memories.

The group broke up in 1982, and Michael went on to a successful solo career, still performing and writing songs today, at the age of 66. (Same age as me!)

Lyrically Evocative (9)

Back to the poetic and very British Ian Dury for another evocative lyric. A track from the 1978 album ‘Straight From The Desk’. This was Dury’s take on the mean name-calling applied to slow learners and educationally ‘backward’ people at the time. By hammering home the point, he hoped to shame those who didn’t understand. At least that was how I heard it.

Here are the lyrics.

Just cos I ain’t never ‘ad, no, nothing worth having
Never ever, never ever
You ain’t got no call not to think I wouldn’t fall
Into thinking that I ain’t too clever
And it ain’t not having oen thing nor another
Niether, either is it anything, whatever
And it’s not not knowing that their ain’t nothing showing
And I answer to the name of Trevor, however

Just cos I ain’t never said, no, nothing worth saying
Never ever, never ever, never ever
Things ‘ave got read into what I never sad, ’till me mouth becomes me ‘ead
Which ain’t not all that clever
And it’s not not saying one thing nor another
Neither, either is it anything I haven’t said, whatever
And it ain’t not proving that me mind ain’t moving
And I answer to the name of Trevor, however

Knock me down with a feather
Clever Trevor
Widebrows wonder whether Clever Trevor’s clever
Either have they got
Nor neither haven’t not
Got no right to make a clot
Our of Trevor

Why should I feel bad about something I ain’t ‘ad
Such stupidness is mad cos nothing underfoot
Comes to nothing less to add to a load of old toot
And I ain’t half not half co there’s nowhere to put it
Even if I ‘ad I’m a bit of a Jack the Lad

Knock me down with a feather
Clever Trevor
Widebrows wonder wether Clever Trevor’s clever
Either have they got
Nor neither haven’t not
Got no right to make a clot
Our of Trevor

Also, it takes much longer to get up north, the slow way.

And here is Ian, singing them.

Lyrically Evocative (8)

In 1969, I was 17 years old. I had never been to America, and I had no desire to be a surfer. But I was a teenager, at a time of great change all over the world, and I was definitely thinking about breaking away from the life that seemed to be planned out for me. Then I heard a new song from The Beach Boys, and it seemed to sum it all up.

Here are the lyrics to that song.

Break break shake away, break breakaway
Now I’m free to do what I want to do
Time will not wait for me, time is my destiny
Why change the part of me that has to be free
The love that passed me by, I found no reason why
But now each day is filled with the love, that very same love
That passed me by and that is why
I can breakaway from that lonely life
And I can do what I want to do
And breakaway from that empty life and my world is new
When I laid down on my bed I heard voices in my head
Telling me now hey it’s only a dream
The more I thought of it I had been out of it
And here’s the answer I found instead
(Baby baby) found out it was in my head (baby baby)
(Baby baby) found out it was my head (baby baby)
(Baby baby) found out it was in my head (baby baby)
And I can breakaway to the better life
Where the shackles never hold me down
I’m gonna make a way for each happy day
As my life turns around
Come on we’re free to breakaway (oh boy you jump for joy)
Now won’t you come on (when you breakaway)
You’re free to breakaways (breakaway)
Come on you’re free to breakaway (breakaway)
Now won’t you come on (breakaway)
You’re free to breakaways (breakaway)
Feel the vibrations in all the sensations, breakaway
Feel the vibrations in all the sensations, breakaway
Songwriters: Donald Dennis / Phillip Burrell / Sheldon Campbell / Sly Dunbar
Break Away lyrics © Royalty Network Music Publishing Ltd.

And here is the group, singing it.

Lyrically Evocative (7)

This hot summer has put me in mind of one of the best ‘summer songs’ ever recorded. In 1972, I heard a nice record by a duo called Seals and Crofts. I couldn’t imagine the Jasmine, but everything else about the song just oozed summer. I liked it a lot, but never got around to buying it. Two years later, I heard a new version by the wonderful Isley Brothers, and bought it immediately. This had taken that original to a new level, and has since become the definitive version for many of us.

Here are the lyrics.

See the curtains hangin’ in the window, in the evenin’ on a Friday night
A little light a-shinin’ through the window, lets me know everything is alright
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind
See the paper layin’ in the sidewalk, a little music from the house next door
So I walked on up to the doorstep, through the screen and across the floor
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Sweet days of summer, the jasmine’s in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune
And I come home from a hard day’s work
And you’re waiting there, not a care in the world
See the smile a-waitin’ in the kitchen, food cookin’ and the plates for two
Feel the arms that reach out to hold me, in the evening when the day is through
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Songwriters: Darrell Crofts / Jimmy Seals
Summer Breeze lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Universal Music Publishing Group

And here are the Isley Brothers singing them.

Lyrically Evocative (6)

When the British group The Communards split up, two of the girls formed a duo, and called themselves Banderas. They only released one album, in 1991, and this single came from that. I was a fan of the vocalist, the crop-haired Caroline Buckley, and the record had a great pedigree; featuring Johnny Marr of The Smiths, Bernard Sumner of New Order, and backing vocals from Jimmy Somerville.

But it was the lyrics that really got into my head, especially the lines “This is not a story, this is not a book, this is your life”. I couldn’t stop playing it, and the message really hit home.

Here are those lyrics.

Where is the purpose in your life
Where is the truth
Do you remember your hopes? Your dreams?
They are no longer your own
This day is for living your own life
Don’t let this world capture your heart
Your passion lost to a thousand themes
Surrendered to the screen
This is not a story
This is not a book this is your life
And this is not a play some TV show you’ve seen
This is real life
You know that
This is your this is your life
This is your this is your life
You act like a child playing games now
Play and pretend the art of disguise
Alone and lost in all your lies
This is not a story
This is not a book this is your life
And this is not a play some TV show you’ve seen
This is real life
You know that
This is your this is your life
This is…

And here they are, performing the song.