Monday Meh: Three Angry Men

Songs are poetry set to music. Some are the perfect marriage of sound and message while others are just wasted creative potential. Monday Meh is about presenting the best musical offerings and a little backstory to get you through to hump day.

The pen is mightier than the sword when it comes to songs about breaking up. It was quite a challenge having a listen to lots of music on this subject, so I included my hubby, the inimitable Captain Kirk in on the process to ensure he didn’t feel like it was all about us – it’s not, we’re good.

At the moment it seems people around me are going through the end of a significant relationship (or similar), and in the process of finding their ways through the storm. There is a lot of reflection going on as they encounter the reality of singularity in the present age. We’re not in Kansas anymore.

This week it was tough choosing. I found three great songs where I think that the music and lyrics work well together, told from the perspective of men and none of them are similar. It’s like Snow White turned three of her compadres into Happy, Shitty, and Guilty.

First up is Happy relating the best advice to extract the ultimate revenge – Living a Good Life with the happiest, danciest song I have ever heard relating to breaking up, it’s the Mavericks, founded by Raul Malo, with Dance The Night Away.

First released on their album Trampoline, the song went to number 4 in the UK and remained on the charts for eighteen weeks and I kinda wish it’d make a bigger revival on the easy listening wavelengths.

This one is good for light-hearted break-ups. You know, I wouldn’t ever recommend this kind of extremely happy music when you’re bawling your eyes out and your tears are the size of two pound coins. There’s something oddly surreal about wailing and blowing-nose to happy dance music that feels a bit too much like a Tarantino flick… or maybe that’s just me.

The Mavericks’s influences include Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and unsurprisingly, Los Lobos as they combine neo-traditional country music and latin into aural chicken soup. Here’s a live video of a gig at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the sound quality is excellent.

 

I just wanna dance the night away
With senoritas who can sway
Right now tomorrow’s lookin’ bright
Just like the sunny mornin’ light

And if you should see her
Please let her know that I’m well
As you can tell
And if she should tell you
That she wants me back
Tell her no
I gotta go

The Mavericks, 1998

Next up is Shitty, and this one has always conjured up the image of a dingy bar, a mountain of tequila shot glasses and a general fiery finger of fuck-you approach to dealing with heartbreak. This song kind of blew me away the first time I heard it at age 17… I had never really thought about it quite like this before! Rock and Roll! Use your Illusion had just come out and I’d gone through all the popular songs first on the cassette taped copy-of-a-copy, before just letting it run through a few hundred times until there was no magnet left. Use Your Illusion 1 and 2 were one of the first CD sets I ever bought when I finally earned cash by full-time employment.

The song was one of several written by the co-founding member of Guns N’ Roses, Izzy Stradlin, who along with Axl Rose enlisted Slash, Duff and Adler to create an awesome band that had its ups and downs. Axl Rose wanted to give it more kudos, to raise it up to the heights of Queen and co. But alas, t’was not meant to be, Axl believed he was possessed by John Bonham, and he accused Courtney Love of possessing him too –I’m still not quite sure what to make of that… and then Chinese Democracy, then poof. A whole other story.

You Ain’t the First is indeed the least Guns N’ Rosesy song being more bluesy, with an acoustic sound, Slash providing the atmospheric twang of the slide guitar-work – the man is brilliant. I always thought this song, along with the others written by Izzy Stadlin balanced out the album by creating a powerful aural contrast.

After Izzy left somewhere in the aforementioned mess, GNR included him as Easter eggs in post-Izzy work — like the sign that says “Where’s Izzy?” in Don’t Cry, and they used his picture on the milk carton in Live and Let Die. Make of that what you will.

Time can pass slowly,
things always change
You day’s been numbered
And I’ve read your last page
You was just a temporary lover
Honey you ain’t the first
Lots of others came before you woman
Said but you been the worst
Sa’ you been the worst

Izzy Stradlin, Founder of Guns ‘n Roses, 1991

As for Guilty, it’s the time-honoured classic that still sounds as good as it did in the eighties, Careless Whispers. George Michael is a legend and this well-covered song is so well known that it’s unlikely you’d meet anyone that hadn’t heard it at some point or another. Although most Wham! songs were written by George Michael, this one was also credited to Andrew Ridgeley.

George Michael said that he was taking the bus to his job as an usher at a cinema and BAM was inspired to write “the silver screen” in the first verse (I paraphrased). and it had nothing to do with anything he was going through at the time. He came up with “Guilty feet have got no rhythm,” demonstrating sophisticated song-writing skills. I still find it hard to believe that George wasn’t doing something he shouldn’t have been… (who George Michael? No!?! Okay.)

George Michael has previously stated that he’s had more compliments on his writing of the sax solo than anything else, and it’s likely because it is undeniably distinctive and an amazing piece of music.

George Michael once said, “I’m still a bit puzzled why it’s made such an impression on people… Is it because so many people have cheated on their partners? Is that why they connect with it? I have no idea, but it’s ironic that this song – which has come to define me in some way – should have been written right at the beginning of my career when I was still so young. I was only 17 and didn’t really know much about anything – and certainly nothing much about relationships.”

I’m never gonna dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
Though it’s easy to pretend
I know you’re not a fool
I should have known better than to cheat a friend
And waste a chance that I’ve been given
So I’m never gonna dance again
The way I danced with you

Wham!, 1984

If you’re looking for a lot more break up songs, do a google, bing or duck… there’s more out there for the sad and lonely than you realise. If you have any other information about these three songs, or similar recommendations, other videos of the same quality… y’know… pop them in the comments underneath. I’d also appreciate a heads up if you find any broken links. Follow me for future updates.

Mwah!

 

Monday Meh: In No Particular Order

Songs are poetry set to music. Some are the perfect marriage of sound and message while others just wasted creative potential. Monday Meh is about presenting the best musical offerings, and a little backstory and sample lyrics, to get you through to hump day. 

In no particular order

First up is Spandau Ballet with Through the Barricades which is a song about love hindered by the political and religious ideology separating Northern and Southern Ireland. Politics is fairly complex to gain consensus about at the best of times, but when coupled with the dogma of religion, impossible to reconcile.

Through the Barricades was written by Gary Kemp, inspired by the killing of Tom Riley who was a friend of the band. Although not specifically about him, his death had such an impact on Kemp who said, “I was living in Ireland about a year later, and Through The Barricades came to me in one evening. About two in the morning, lyrics started appearing in my head and I picked up a guitar – this has never happened to me before. I felt the song was leading me itself.”

And now I know what they’re saying
It’s a terrible beauty we’ve made
So we make our love on wasteland
And through the barricades

Spandau Ballet, 1986

Next pick, is a song that doesn’t fail to induce Saltwater. Go on, I dare you not to feel something. The lyrics ring true about the state of the Planet and our inability as a species to prioritise the important issues. It is a sad state of affairs that it did not chart in the US, though it achieved significant success in other parts of the world.

Julian Lennon co-wrote the song with Mark Spiro, and John Waite. George Harrison was supposed to perform the slide guitar for the song but as he was unable to attend, he sent Julian the samples instead — the old fashioned way, as the Internet had a long way to go before delivering seamless remote working.

“I write exactly the same way as I always have. It’s whatever comes to mind first, whether that’s musical or lyrical or an emotion. Generally it’s down to whatever I’m feeling, at that point in time, strongest about. And it’s generally to do with everything and anything that we all share in life emotionally.” – Julian Lennon

We light the deepest ocean
Send photographs of Mars
We’re so enchanted by how clever we are
Why should one baby feel so hungry she cries
Saltwater wells in my eyes

Julian Lennon, 1991

And last because it’s all been on our collective minds recently with the death of David Bowie, I have to round off the musical triumvirate with Under Pressure, a collaboration of the sublime duo, Freddie Mercury and David Bowie.

I highly recommend that to truly appreciate the full song this song, you need to find someone with Rockband 3, guitar controller and a microphone, and really play and sing it, loud and proud. Oh and do do yourself a favour, have a sniff around for the version where the music has been stripped away completely revealing the combined power of Mercury and Bowie – Magic!

John Deacon came up with the bass line, but Freddie Mercury wrote most of it – with collaboration from everyone else, at an impromptu session in Switzerland.

Brian May said, “It was hard, because you had four very precocious boys and David, who was precocious enough for all of us. David took over the song lyrically. Looking back, it’s a great song but it should have been mixed differently. Freddie and David had a fierce battle over that.”

I think whatever happened, they all won, and it’s still a brilliant song that rings true with currency, thirty-five years later! Thirty-Five Years!

Insanity laughs under pressure we’re cracking
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can’t we give love that one more chance?
Why can’t we give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?..

‘Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure
Under pressure
Pressure

Queen and David Bowie, 1981

Some mainstream choices to start off with – I figured I’d slide in easy like George Harrison’s guitar. I’d love to hear from you. If you have any other information about these three songs, or similar recommendations, other videos of the same quality… y’know… pop them in the comments underneath. I’d also appreciate a heads up if you find any broken links. Follow me for future updates.