Snuggled up in my hi-tog, military class, sleeping bag, bought by my father from a travelling salesman visiting a neighbouring office in 1975, I was suddenly struck by the thought, that when the Mod movement was reprised in the late 1970s, The Jam, replaced The Who, as the new talismen [sic] behind which youthful dancers found common cause. And they, like The Who, were a noisy, incongruous, aberration from the professed soulful tastes of the movement’s adherents.
It all goes to show that the uniform always trumps all.
They were also very shouty, which is not surprising given that all their songs were about the army, and getting beaten up, and milk floats; making only the occasional concession to a softer side, which came by non sequitur, faux intellectual, one-off lines, like, two lovers missing the tranquillity of solitude, in the middle of a song about police and trains. These thoughts strike me, as I try to come up with a killer set of lyrics for the remaining couple of songs for the pageant. It seems to me, that to craft the perfect pop song, you have first to be thick, and then you must have a go at writing something that appeals to the appetite for profundity that exists in uneducated teenagers. And the other string you must have to your bow, is to be reckless as to tense.
I’ll give you a couple of classic examples of the latter to get you going, then you can listen out for it in all sorts of songs that you previously mistakenly enjoyed.
Up the Junction, by Squeeze.
… This morning at four-fifty
I took her rather nifty
Down to an incubator
Where thirty minutes later
She gave birth to a daughter
Within a year a walker …
Where to start, right? But let’s unpack the obvious first – within a year a walker, and yet we’re still on This morning? And then he adds, And now she’s two years older, to which, were we not still on this morning, you might reply, ‘We’re all two years older mate.’ He should at least have gone, And now it’s two years later, not least because then he would then have had a rhyme for pater.
But while we’re here, what of the rest? I mean, four-fifty? Not quarter to five, or just before five, but actually ten-to; four-fifty precisely.
‘I had to get up early for work today.’
‘Oh yeah, what time?’
Who says four-fifty? Perhaps only those, who half an hour later, at five-twenty in fact, are going to be present at the first incubator birth in the UK. All that for the rhyme with rather nifty. Was it worth it? If they’d gone with quite smartish instead, they’d have had far more options with the half-rhyme to six.
Then move on to this:
Picture This, by Blondie.
… I will give you my finest hour – future tense
The one I spent,
Watching you shower – past tense
There is just no excuse for that. I mean, she could have easily fixed it by turning it into a simile, and yet couldn’t even be bothered to do that. And even if fixed, what does it mean? That her finest hour was spent sitting on a chair in the bathroom while he had a shower? Utility room, even. Perhaps he’d been gardening all morning, and she’d already finished preparing lunch, allowing her, in the time remaining, to squeeze in what turned out to be her finest hour?
Anyway, I need to acknowledge, that it may be me that is missing the point, and so, over the next couple of days I am going to come up with some lyrics to an established tune that both: a) make basic grammatical errors regarding tense; and b) exhibit a non sequitur, faux profundis moment, in an otherwise unimaginative description of urban decay and/or oppression.
You’ll only see it here. Don’t forget to tune in.