Friday, 27 January 2012

Musical Eccentricities 2

Time for another set of musical eccentricities, this time with a colour theme.

Rush – Red Barchetta A great rock song from Moving Pictures about the joy of freedom and one man’s defiance of overbearing government, having the temerity to drive a private car from “a better, vanished time” in the face of a total ban on doing so, even to the extent of engaging the forces of authority in a high speed chase. Now there’s a true NMFT who would definitely merit his place in Hatred, Ridicule & Contempt . The Rush “Time Machine” Tour from 2011 featured the whole of Moving Pictures and brought back many memories from previous tours when this song and its visual backdrop had been a highlight.

Doobie Brothers – Black Water Why choose this one rather than the more familiar Without Love or Listen To The Music? Well, partly because the song’s atmosphere of a Mississippi journey really came alive when visiting the Deep South for the first time last summer. And partly because of the rarity value, in rock music terms, of its harmonised acapella section “I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland/Pretty mama come and take me by the hand…” Ingenious.

Procol Harum: A Whiter Shade Of Pale I could refer to its unmistakeable Bach introduction on the Hammond organ, or its unfathomable lyrics. Or even to the recent legal dispute, many years since the song topped the charts. But here and now, remembering a light hearted radio quiz from 19 years ago where celebrities were invited to sing well known songs to different – indeed markedly different – tunes, I will refer to the fact that the late Willie Rushton achieved this for AWSOP to the tune of My Old Man’s A Dustman. No kidding. And it works just as well in reverse with the lyrics of MOMAD…

Blue Oyster Cult – Black Blade A touch of the Michael Moorcock influenced science fiction here – or might it have been Ray Bradbury’s The Scythe and its sinister message Who Wields Me, Wields The World? - as the bearer of a deadly weapon wonders out loud who’s in charge (“Keeps calling me its master/But I feel like its slave/Hauling me faster, faster to an early, early grave”) amid the background of a hard driving rock beat. No doubt the band could never have imagined, when the Cultosaurus Erectus album was released thirty years ago, the computer models that seem to enslave their writers and the population at large these days, just like the mythical Black Blade. Think of how and why governments react as they do to foot and mouth outbreaks, Icelandic volcanoes, scares about allegedly harmful man made global warming…

Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi Classic folk song, all about the loss of sources of pleasure in the face of progress comprising parking lots, tree museums, DDT and so on. Which here and now lends itself to a paradox parody, in the face of the wanton destruction of the English countryside by those monuments of extravagant uselessness – wind turbines. Let’s just put down the last verse of my own rewrite for now: -

“Late last night
I dreamt the Commons door went boom
And the men in white coats
Came and took away Chris Huhne
Don't it always seem to go
That they raise tax you ain’t got
‘Til it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a turbine plot…”

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