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SF Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times (iii)

Another for Judith Reader in the Wilderness‘s meme.

This week, the remainder of my SF hardbacks. Click pictures to enlarge them.

More Ian McDonald, China Miéville, Christopher Priest, Keith Roberts, Kim Stanley Robinson, Robert Silverberg, a book of Art Deco posters which fits in nowhere else.

Science Fiction Hardbacks (iii)

On another shelf entirely, standing next to the above. This contains books by my not so secret SF vice, Harry Turtledove, plus one Gene Wolfe, among others. Above, on its side, is a book containing illustrated Bernie Taupin lyrics for early Elton John songs:-

Science Fiction Hardbacks (iv)

Friday on my Mind 188: But You Know I Love You. RIP Kenny Rogers.

The usual output of Kenny Rogers who died last weekend, The Gambler, Coward of the County etc, isn’t really my cup of tea. It is undeniable however that he had a big following.

I had been toying with the idea of using this group’s second UK hit in this spot for some while and this would have been an ideal opportunity but I decided its title might be a little insensitive in connection with someone recently deceased. (It was also from 1970.)

Here’s one that wasn’t a UK hit at all but whose refrain has stuck in my mind for all those years – without me really remembering who had sung it.

The First Edition: But You Know I Love You

I note that Kenny’s Guardian obituary (see link above) says Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town, the group’s first UK hit, was written from the viewpoint of a Vietnam veteran. At the time the story was that “the crazy Asian war” of the song’s lyric was actually the Korean War.

Kenneth Donald (Kenny) Rogers: 21/8/1938 – March 20/3/2020. So it goes.

Live It Up 63: The Winner Takes it All

This has an unusually grown-up lyric for a pop song, dealing as it does not merely with a teen break-up, but divorce, with the viewpoint partner obviously still enamoured of her departed husband.

“But tell me does she kiss/Like I used to kiss you?
Does it feel the same/When she calls your name?”

ABBA: The Winner Takes it All

Reelin’ In the Years 167: The Things I Should Have Said

This is a track from Lindisfarne’s first album Nicely Out of Tune, my favourite track on there, but I’ve not been able to feature it before as I couldn’t previously find an embeddable example.

I have a thing about lyrics. You know this. (Maybe I’m a frustrated song-writer.)

I particularly like the rhyming in this one but the overall lyric has some great lines.

Who hasn’t been in the situation, “So we sat and watched each other through the fading firelight
Each one waiting for the silence to be broken”? Those lines just ache for resolution.

“The spittle from his twisted lips ran down to his bow-tie,” (and bow-tie rhymed with ‘eye’ and ‘deny’) is nothing short of inspired as is also in the last verse, “Teachers from whose hallowed mouths great pearls of wisdom crawl,” where the emphasis provided by the internal rhymes in, “The joke is on the bloke who never spoke a word at all,” hammers the song’s point home.

Add in the fact that the last line of each verse is not just foreshadowed but fore-ordained by the word immediately preceding, “And the things I should have said,” and you have a lyrical masterpiece.

Lindisfarne: The Things I Should Have Said

Live It Up 60: Luka

There aren’t many pop songs which deal with the subject of domestic violence, but this one does. I heard Vega on the radio many years after it was a hit saying she took the name from that of the boy who did indeed live on the floor above her. She subsequently found he was playing on the fact that it had been used in the song as a chat-up line!

The first video below is the official one, the second a “live” performance.

Suzanne Vega: Luka


Something Changed 27: National Express

It’s an unusual song, to say the least, that hymns the delights of a cross-country method of public transport. Yet that is exactly what this jaunty, tongue-in-cheek number from 1998 does.

It is also a statement of sorts to name your band after a famous poem by Dante Alighieri even though it is a bit of a pisstake.

The song contains one of pop lyrics’ immortal lines in, “It’s hard to get by when your arse is the size of a small country.”

The Divine Comedy: National Express

Friday on my Mind 178: Jackie

One of the most distinctive and influential songers of the 1960s and 70s (and beyond) left us this week. Scott Walker.

In the Guardian there were no less than three pieces about Walker and his legacy in the Monday issue (25/3/2019).

Had he only been a member of The Walker Brothers his memory would have been secure via that string of huge hits they had in the mid-60s. Then there was their monumental cover of Tom Rush’s No Regrets in their “comeback” in the 1970s to which his phrasing made such a difference.

The clarity of his voice can be heard in his solo recording of Joanna, a Jackie Trent and Tony Hatch song to which he contributed some of the lyric and which managed to reach no 7 in the UK charts.

His dissatisfaction with simple balladeering though led him to wider and wider experimentation and a uniqur place in pop history.

Among his many signature moments was his version of the Jacques Brel song Jacky in a translation by Mort Shuman.

Scott Walker: Jackie

Noel Scott Engel (Scott Walker): 9/1/1943 – 22/3/2019. So it goes.

Live It Up 51: Robert de Niro’s Waiting

This is one of those songs whose jaunty sound hides a darker underside in the lyric. The video here more than hints at that but undercuts it at the end.

Live It Up 51: Robert de Niro’s Waiting

Live It Up 48: Good Tradition

Tanita Tikaram had an unusual background for a 1980s pop star, born in Germany to a Indo-Fijian father and Sarawakian mother, moving to England in her teens.

This is one of those jaunty-sounding pop songs which has a lyric that hints at something darker.

Tanita Tikaram: Good Tradition

Not Friday on my Mind 50: Elenore

This song’s lyric is surely the only pop song to include the word etcetera. Or at least to attempt to rhyme it.

The Turtles: Elenore

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