Monday, 22 March 2010

Two-Chord Plinky-Plonk.

Does anybody ever feel like putting the quality control back into singer-songwriters? God, they don’t half whinge on. They’ve obviously mistaken me for someone who gives a rat’s arse about their stupid, pointless lives. Oh, my aching heart? Still never mind, here’s a few more million quid and the prospect of a life spent porking supermodels and snorting nose-candy out of Kate Moss’s cleavage and doing exactly what you want to for a living instead of stacking shelves in Tesco with “Hi! My name’s Newton Faulkner. Ask me how I can help you!” written in biro on a temporary nametag on your fucking overalls, which is what you fucking deserve, you irritating, whiny CUNT. These days the women are much better at it anyway, now that Alanis Morrisette has finally shut the fuck up (unless the rumour started by Thom Yorke is true and she’s actually restructured herself as Alan Morris.)

So whose fault is it that the air is polluted with the outpourings of neurotic, rich pretty-boys? Let’s travel back through time. Where did all this singer-songwriter shit start? Mediaeval bards, I suppose, who mutated into traditional folk singers. Those seventeenth-century twats who put a finger in their ear, assumed a constipated expression and warbled tunelessly about spying young maidens out walking one morning in May. Well, here is the news: THEY’RE DEAD, THANK FUCK. And if anyone tries to sing me a ninety-six-verse song about Sir Patrick fucking Spens, they’ll be fucking dead too. Fucking middle-aged wooden-music enthusiasts with beards but no moustaches. Fuck off and die. Or get modern. “As I was in my limo one morning in May, I spied a dead groupie in Simon Cowell’s parking bay.” It’s a step in the right direction.

Maybe the blame lies with the old blues players. Who is this mysterious first person narrator? Who is the “I” who “woke up this morning”? Why should I invest my care in this person? Would I mind very much if they didn’t wake up this morning, but instead were found dead in bed in their little one-room country shack over on the wrong side of the tracks in the suburbs of Dogpiss, Mississippi? Would the needle on my own little personal give-a-shitometer twitch if they were found hanging from a burning cross one day, surrounded by men of limited intelligence wearing pointy bedsheets? No, not really. Unless of course I knew more about them. Where’s OK magazine when I need it? We get the true story behind Robert Johnson’s crossroads! Did he sell his soul to the devil? Exclusive pictures of the Johnson home! Our interior design teams give the shack a makeover! Chitlins and grits, cornbread, peas and black molasses! We explore the new southern diet fad! Sonny Boy Williamson shows off his great new six-pack!

It’s all in a name, anyway. People’s surnames often reflect what their parents did for a living, which is fine if you’re a Smith or a Turner, but probably goes some way to explaining why John Lee Hooker had the blues (unless his Dad played rugby, of course).

But the real blame lies with hippies. How can you exercise any quality control when you’re permanently off your tits? Thank fuck Simon Cowell’s in charge now. So if you want to see where it all went wrong for singer-songwriters, ignore Jameses Blunt and Morrison, go back, back to about 1970. Stephen King got it right. He once wrote that he heard side one of the first Crosby Stills and Nash LP, took it off the turntable, broke it in half across his knee and put the Stones back on. There. There’s your blame; thank you, Mr King. It doesn’t lie with Dylan or Lenny “Chuckles” Cohen, nor with the Stevens Brothers (Cat and Shakin’) nor even with all the Taylors that weren’t James. It’s pre-Neil Young Crosby Stills and Nash’s fault. No, hang on a minute. Crosby was OK. He did a solo album once and I still listen to it. And Stills had a bit of anger left after he got rejected when he auditioned for the Monkees and they gave his part to Peter Tork instead. The man could hold a tune, and he was quite good in Buffalo Springfield, although at the end of Four and Twenty, when he says “I find myself just wishing that my life would simply cease” I find myself agreeing. So what are we left with? Yes, that’s it, there he is, the worst singer-songwriter of all time, step forward and take a bow, Graham Nash.

“Sit yourself down at the piano
Put all your fingers on the black notes
Sing along, write a song
And understand that you can play.”

Gosh, there’s a thought. What philosophy! What profundity! We’re all going to be stars! Works for novel-writing too (see peer-review websites for examples.)

Or how about this…

“Can’t you see I’m riding on the Marrakesh Express-ly taking me to Marrakesh?”

- see what he did there? Golly, the benefits of a British grammar school education. The train is taking him to Marrakesh, and it’s doing it on purpose! The man’s a genius at wordplay, no? OK, time to jettison the sarcasm. If you haven’t ever heard Chicago, go to YouTube if you have a strong stomach. If not, try to imagine a plinky-plonky two-chord singalong piano refrain with lyrics delivered in an accent that wouldn’t be out of place on Coronation Street:

“Though you brother’s bound and gagged
And they’ve chained him to a chair
Won’t you please come to Chicago just to sing?”

Right, you ignorant, vapid, banal, tedious, shallow, talentless twat; you foolish, pointless, puerile, risible, politically naive ignoramus who gives Gary Barlow a false sense of comparative depth, just FUCK RIGHT OFF. Crosby, Stills and Trash, more like. For trash get Nash.

Great harmony vocalist, though. But remember, when the backing singer says “can we do one of my songs?” the only possible response is enough double-ought buckshot to turn their face into the equivalent of an unravelled Big Mac. Unless the backing singer in question is female and pretty, in which case some kind of accommodation might possibly be reached (yes, Donald Fagen and Rosie Vela, holding hands at the back, it’s you I’m speaking of. It was a Steely Dan album with tits instead of Walter Becker, wasn’t it? And it wasn’t very fucking good, either, was it? Eh? EH?) Too many fucking drugs, that’s the trouble. And too much artistic freedom. So, next time you strangle your children in exasperation or stamp repeatedly on the kitten when you hear Paolo pissing Nutini wittering on about bloody new shoes, or James fucking Blunt’s fucking falsetto cracking with faux-emotion, remember who lowered the bar in the first place. I’ve been seething with fury since 1973, when I went to see Frisbee, Pills, Hash and Dung at Wembley Stadium and I had to sit through the Graham Nash bits in order to get to the Neil Young songs.

And remember, CSN&Y might have wowed them at Woodstock, but they also played at Altamont at about the same time that Dennis Wilson was trying to get Charles “Charlie Don’t Surf” Manson into the Beach Boys. And they were a bunch of po-faced, politically correct wankers who called their bassist “Fuzzy” because he was a black man with curly hair. Gosh, what a hoot they were. They were just Neil Young in his slumming-it phase. And Graham Nash was the worst of the lot.

There. That’s better.

Jack the Dripper.

Imagine if you will, two surgical consultants at leisure on the golf course…
‘I say, old chap, you’ll never guess who I had on the table the other day.’
‘Olly Murs?’
‘Wally Morse? No, but you’re surprisingly close. Think of a name that would be perfect for rectal surgery.’
‘Oh, that writer fellow, Perry Iles. Lives in Marbella with Girls Aloud, doesn’t he?’
‘Got it, old chap. P Iles. We all had such fun. I had to rein the nurses in. They were pointing at the poor fellow and laughing. I swear the man was nearly in tears.’

That’s how I’ve spent the last few weeks. Do a Google image search for Pilonidal Sinus, and you’ll have some idea of the fun I’ve been having. Do it on an empty stomach, mind. Too late? Oh well, not to worry. And of course it went wrong. There I was, pure of arse and mind, now my farts have gone from alto-sax to tuba, and whenever I fart in the bath my arse obituarises Edward Woodward. It’s really quite unpleasant now that the MRSA and the flesh-eating bugs have set in.

So look, I’ll give you something better to think about: Jordan’s tits. There you go. Feel free to Google them, gents, I’ll just hang on here with the ladies while you pop off for ten minutes’ quality me-time. Actually, I’d better be politically correct and more inclusive here, hadn’t I? Ladies, those of you who are wearing comfortable shoes and thinking about booking Wimbledon tickets in between hiking holidays can also think about Jordan’s tits. Other ladies can think about Captain Jack out of Pirates of the Caribbean, and those gentlemen who are still left can think about Captain Jack out of Torchwood. There, have I got everyone?

Dum de-dum. Dum, dum. [FX: Lift music…]

OK, everybody back with me? Good. Zipper up at the back, please. Thank you. So, I’m trying to imagine Katie Price’s bedroom. It would be decorated in the height of good taste. I can picture zebra-striped wallpaper and an oval bed done out in bubblegum-pink satin. And hanging on the wall by the bed there’s a perfectly exquisite ice-pick, crafted by Versace in gold, bearing pink rubies in a cloverleaf pattern. This is positioned next to a transparent screen, with “In case of emergency, please break glass,” written on it, covering a recess inside which is a bicycle pump and a puncture repair kit. Now that Peter Andre has fucked off, Jordan will be at the mercy of less experienced suitors. Imagine her flying about the room, deflating rapidly like a balloon that’s escaped when you were trying to blow it up, her flattened Essex Girl vowels dopplering and gaining as she passes over your head.

‘I told you to be careful. Why do you think they call it a prick, you fucking idiot?’

So the poor man (who was only trying to give her a pearl necklace in return for a sausage in a bun, which seems like a bargain to me) grabs her, repairs her and pumps her up, but doesn’t know when to stop. Now imagine Jordan’s dressed in a peasant blouse with laces through the front. A bodice, I suppose, like on the front cover of the sort of books people like us don’t read. That bodice is now under extreme stress (a bit like this metaphor) as her tits are pumped up beyond even their usual 32ZZ size. Listen, you can hear the laces creaking as they take on the sort of poundage normally experienced by the suspension cables on the Forth Road Bridge.

Right, start thinking about my arse again. The stitches they put into my arse-cleavage are under similar pressures as the infection that’s taken hold causes my buttocks to swell and expand like a huge great big pair of hairy ginger tits. Behind the stitches, the broken, festering skin is holding in something that resembles five litres of putrid custard shot with lime jelly and raspberry jam. If the stitches break, whatever is within ten feet of my ringpiece will shortly resemble a Jackson Pollock painting.

Meanwhile, I’m on the sort of painkillers junkies will sell their firstborn for, coupled with double-strength antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, diazepam and hash cookies for the stress, Zopiclone for the insomnia and Jack Daniel’s because it’s there. So it’s a race. Will the antibiotics stop the swelling before the stitches give up under the increasing pressure and drench the surrounding area like the exploding Mr Creosote in that Monty Python film? Will I infect everything? My wife called me to a sweet family vignette yesterday morning. The dog was licking my sleeping daughter’s face, waking her up, laughing, to welcome the day. I pointed out that ten seconds earlier I had chased it from the bathroom where I’d discovered it eating yesterday’s discarded arse-dressing out of the bin. My daughter’s face is now rotting off, my wife has leprosy and I’m going to sue the NHS for all the funds they think they’ve allocated to kidney machines and childhood leukaemia. And next time I sit down there’s going to be a fucking great big bang and I’ll find myself up to my waist in pus, on a sofa that suddenly needs re-upholstering.

On the whole, I’ve had better times than these. But thank you for sharing them.


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