Thursday, July 24, 2008


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?


Dean Wormer said...

The song that really moves me these days is the Foo Fighters song Everlong. I especially dig the acoustic version

And I wonder
When I sing along with you
If everything could ever feel this real forever
If anything could ever be this good again

The only thing I'll ever ask of you
You've got to promise not to stop when I say when
She sang

Breathe out
So I could breathe you in
Hold you in

or Rise Against's Swing Life Away

Am I loud and clear or am I breaking up?
Am I still your charm or am I just bad luck?
Are we getting closer, are we just getting more lost?
I'll show you mine if you show me yours first
Let's compare scars I'll tell you whose is worse
Let's unwrite these pages and replace them with our own words

We live on front porches and swing life away
We get by just fine here on minimum wage
If love is a labor I'll slave 'til the end
I won't cross these streets until you hold my hand

I've been here so long; think that its time to move
The winter's so cold summer's over too soon
so let's pack our bags and settle down where palm trees grow
I've got some friends, some that I hardly know
But we've had some times I wouldn't trade for the world
We chase these days down with talks of the places that we will go.

Both songs speak of a sort of realistic, gritty more realistic love between two people who've had a tough time of the world.

They're a little more pop rock than Morissey but I dig 'em just the same.

Allison said...

I had not heard that song before. Thank-you for posting it. Very powerful.

Anaïs Nohant said...

I'm not sure if you were one of my victims that I've prattled on about my Thesis on "All I Need" by Radiohead but if not...I could write a novel 'bout this cut. It's not just about the lyrics, it's also the musical composition. Like the way the song's crescendo leads to "It's All Wrong, It's All Right" as if the debate goes on in his head if he's truly OK with waiting in the wings for her attention when SHE is all HE needs. Not quite as depressing as Jude the Obscure but highly emotive.

Lately though my heads been reeling about The Arcade Fire's "Black Mirror". I know there's a great story could be told from this gem.

Randal Graves said...

Oh man, so many stories, none I think I want to tell. But I dig the sentiment.

Anonymous said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.