My good friend Dave Dyment recently sent me a sublime mix of great music, mostly based on what we were listening to in our formative years in the suburbs of Toronto. He made the great choice of including some interesting covers of some well adored classics.
One of the standouts is a cover of "Jeane" by the Smiths, performed by Sandie Shaw. This b-side has always been one of my favourite Smith's songs, and Shaw's version is equally sublime.
Apparently Morrissey and Johnny Marr were big fans and wrote her a letter stating "The Sandie Shaw legend cannot be over yet — there is more to be done". This lead to an eventual collaboration with Shaw, and her covering "Hand In Glove" (backed by the Smiths) as well as "Jeane" as the b-side.
In a similar vein to the Rolling Stone's "Angie" the song tells a tale where the promise of happiness between two souls remains unfulfilled due to circumstances that are seemingly thrust upon them. These lyrics provide a snapshot of how the reality around a person and their internal state are inextricably linked;
There's ice on the sink where we bathe
So how can you call this a home
When you know it's a grave ?
But you still hold a greedy grace
As you tidy the place
But it'll never be clean
It expresses how the search for fleeting beauty and connection manifests itself within the shadow of oppressive fatalism. These could easily be characters in a Thomas Hardy novel. We are thrown into the moment only to imagine what the circumstances were that lead to the union of these two people.
One can picture two young people in some blue collar ghetto trying to escape their fate through their union, only to have circumstances reign them in to the point where Morrissey is compelled to sing "and I don't believe in magic anymore".
My friend mentioned that he would like to one day write a book about the song "Angie", and I would have to say if any song would inspire a story or lengthy exposition it would be this one. In many ways it is the poetry of the ordinary, of the gulf that exist between two people, and the reality that thrusts itself upon us forcing us to reevaluate the promises we once thought to be a sure thing.
What is the one song that has a embedded itself inextricably into your imagination? Is there a story there?