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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 famouspoem 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 official video from the time does display a degree of casual sexism though.

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

Reelin’ In the Years 148: Lonely Days

Another outing for the word nonchalant in a lyric; except here its inclusion is a little more forced.

The harmonies on the verse of this are sublime.

The Bee Gees: Lonely Days

Friday on my Mind 164: When You Walk in the Room

Another song which has the word nonchalant in its lyric, When You Walk in the Room was written and performed by Jackie DeShannon but is more familiar to Britons via the cover version recorded by The Searchers which got to number 3 in the UK 1964. The song’s title is never actually sung in its entirety during its course; only its last four words.

The Searchers: When You Walk in the Room

Here also is Jackie DeShannon with the song on US TV:-

Jackie DeShannon: When You Walk in the Room

Reelin’ In the Years 147: Wherewithal

Clifford T Ward was an unusual pop star. Who else would have based a popular song around a Robert Browning poem in Home Thoughts from Abroad? (See here track 7.)

Not only did Ward use the word wherewithal in this song, he made it the title.

And I doubt you’ll find non-pareil in any other song lyric. (Granted, nonchalant is less rare.)

Clifford T Ward: Wherewithal

Something Changed 4: Hello

A song packed full of cultural references from around 1990.

I especially liked the line, “Leslie Crowther, Come On Down.”

The Beloved: Hello

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