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In Memoriam – September 2011

October 3rd, 2011 4 comments

The headline death this past month was that at 75 of Sylvia Robinson, who featured on this blog before with her 1973 hit “Pillow Talk”, a song taught Donna Summer all she needed to know about pleasured moaning to a disco beat. But Robinson was much more important than that. As the founder of Sugar Hill Records, she produced and released the first ever rap hit (“Rappers’ Delight”). Robinson’s label also released what I still regard as the greatest rap record of all time, Grandmaster Flash’s monumental “The Message”.

Also notable is the death a day later of Marv Tarplin, who was something of a shadow member of Smokey Robinson’s Miracles: he was always listed as a member, but rarely pictured as one. Tarplin co-wrote many great songs with Smokey, including Tracks Of My Tears, Going To A Go-Go, Ain’t That Peculiar and I’ll Be Doggone (both for Marvin Gaye), and later Smokey solo hits like Being With You and Cruisin’, on many of which he played guitar (including that exquisite intro of Tracks Of My Tears).

Most probably, few will know Wardell Quezergue, but many have heard the music he arranged and/or produced on records by the Dixie Cups, King Floyd, Robert Parker, Jean Knight, Stevie Wonder, The Spinners, Dorothy Moore, Eddie Bo, Paul Simon, Neville Brothers, Dr John and Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown. A New Orleans native, he lost almost everything in Hurricane Katrina.

In August we lost Pinetop Perkins; in September his long-time collaborater Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith passed away at 75, just over half a year after winning a Grammy for his work with the Legendary Blues Band (whom you might have spotted as John Lee Hooker’s backing band in The Blues Brothers).

The romantic in me was sad to learn of the death of Johnny Wright, who would have celebrated his 75th wedding anniversary with the country legend Kitty Wells in October 2012 (they got married on 30 October 1937!).

Wright wasn’t the month’s oldest music casualty; that was Wade Mainer, who had been recording music since 1936 and reached the age of 104. On the other hand, two musicians in their 20s departed: DJ Medhi, who died at 24 in a freak accident, and British electronica muscian Joel Devers, apparently of suicide at 25.

Suicide is also a suspected cause of the death of soul singer Vesta Williams. Bottles of prescription drugs were found with her body in a hotel room. And, to reiterate, I tend to mention suicides not to titilate: to my mind, few things are more tragic than suicide, and few deaths as stigmatised. By mentioning suicide, I hope to offer a little contribution towards its destigmatisation.

Fans of Beatles covers will note the death of collage artist Richard Hamilton, who designed the poster that appeared in the White Album, and that double LP’s cover (in as far as it was designed). A week later, Robert Whitaker died. He was The Beatles’ in-house photographer in the mid-’60s, and most famously took the butcher cover pic for the group’s 1966 US album release Yesterday And Today. The photo, which was intended to communicate that the Fab Four were just ordinary human beings of flesh and blood, caused a huge outcry among people who cheerfully defended the Vietnam war (possibly even Johnnie Wright), and was quickly pulled from circulation.

Tom Hibbert, 59, English music journalist (Smash Hits, Q), on August 28
Brothers Johnson – ‘Q’ (1977)

Orangie Hubbard, 77, rockabilly musician, on September 1

McKinley ‘Bug’ Williams, percussionist and founding member of Maze featuring Frankie Beverley, on September 3
Maze feat Frankie Beverly – The Look In Your Eyes (1980)

Ray Fisher, 70, Scottish folk singer, on September 5
Ray Fisher – Far Over The North (1965)

Albie Wycherley (aka Ed Trent/Jason Eddie), 68, frontman of The Centremen, client of Joe Meek and brother of Billy Fury, on September 5

Wardell Quezergue, 81, New Orleans bandleader of Royal Dukes of Rhythm, arranger and producer, on September 6
Robert Parker – Barefootin’ (1966, as producer)
Jean Knight – Mr Big Stuff (1970, as producer)

Eddie Marshall, 73, jazz drummer, on September 7

Graham Collier, 74, British jazz bassist and composer, on September 10
Graham Collier Sextet – Down Another Road (1969)

Wade Mainer, 104, bluegrass singer and banjo player, leader of The Sons of the Mountaineers, on September 12
Wade Mainer’s Mountaineers – Just One Way To The Pearly Gates (1936)

Don Wayne, 78, country songwriter, on September 12
Lefty Frizzell – Saginaw, Michigan (1964, as songwriter)

DJ Mehdi (Mehdi Favéris-Essadi), 34, French-Tunisian hip hop end electro musician/producer, on September 13
DJ Mehdi – Signatune (2007)

Richard Hamilton, 89, British artist (designed The Beatles’ White Album cover and poster), on September 13
The Beatles – Good Night (1968)

Wilma Lee Cooper, 90, country singer, on September 13
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper – Highway To Heaven (1974)

Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, 75, blues musician (with Muddy Waters, Legendary Blues Band), on September 16
Bo Diddley – Diddy Wah Diddy (1955, on harmonica)
Legendary Blue Band – Blues Today (1992)

Cora Vaucaire, 93, French singer, on September 17
Cora Vaucaire – La complainte de la butte (1955)

Asnaqètch Wèrqu, 76, Ethiopian singer and actress, on September 17
Asnaqètch Wèrqu – Endègèna

Vesta Williams, 53, soul singer and actress, on September 20
Vesta Williams – Congratulations (1988)

Joel Dever, 25, multi-instrumentalist in English electro trio Battant, on September 20

Robert Whitaker, 71, photographer who took The Beatles’ famous butcher photo, on September 20
The Beatles – I’m Only Sleeping (1966)

John Du Cann, 66, singer and guitarist of British prog rock band Atomic Rooster, on September 21
Atomic Rooster – The Devil’s Answer (1971)

Jumpin’ Jack Neal, 80, bassist with Gene Vincent’s Blue Caps, on September 22
Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps – Wedding Bells (Are Breaking Up That Old Gang Of Mine) (1956)

John Larson, 61, trumpeter with The Ides of March, on September 22
The Ides Of March – Vehicle (1970)

Paul Kirby, 48, singer-songwriter and member of roots rock band The Cactus Brothers, on September 25
The Cactus Brothers – Big Train (1993)

Jessy Dixon, 73, gospel singer, on September 26
Jessy Dixon – I Won’t Bow Down (1985)

Harry Muskee, 70, Dutch blues singer, on September 26
Cuby + Blizzards – Window Of My Eyes (1968)

Johnnie Wright, 97, country singer (Johnnie & Jack), husband of Kitty Wells, on September 27
Johnnie Wright – Hello Vietnam (1965)

Johnny “Country” Mathis, 77, singer-songwriter, on September 27

Leonard Dillon, 68, member of Jamaican reggae group The Ethiopians, on September 28
The Ethiopians – Let It Be (1977)

Sylvia Robinson, 75, soul singer, producer and record label executive, on September 29
The Moments – Love On A Two-Way Street (1970, as producer)
Sylvia – Give Up In Vain (1973)
Sugarhill Gang – Rappers Delight (Extended 12″ version) (1979, as producer)

Marv Tarplin, 70, guitarist of The Miracles and songwriter, announced on September 30
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Tracks Of My Tears (1965)

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Songs by the dumped

May 22nd, 2009 12 comments

karaoke manWomen have I Will Survive to articulate for them how all men are bastards. Nottingham’s Mr Sex of the brilliant Todger Talk blog, which dispenses superb sex and relationship advice to men, pointed out to me at the star-studded gala for the Any Major Blogs Awards earlier this year that men have few equivalent karaoke songs which convey to the nasty ex that he’s well over her — and perhaps at the same time signal his availability to the lucky laydees who might be so fortunate as to hear him croon such songs. So Nottingham’s Mr Sex set me a challenge: find ten suitable songs which dumped guys can sing with dignified defiance, and he will come up with his own list.

It proved more difficult than I had thought. Dumped guys don’t do gracious much, they don’t do that “who do you think you are, buster?” wiggly neck thing Aretha Franklin does in The Blues Brothers. As we have seen in this series of songs about love, men typically wallow in the dejection of rejection, hoping that their pathetic puppy eyes — or, worse, an emo outburst — will extract just enough pity to be taken back. Or they use their heartbreak as an excuse to drink prodigiously and discard the basic doctrines governing personal hygiene and housekeeping.

But that most certainly won’t win her back, nor probably attract a new romance. Much better to jump on stage, grab the mic, and let rip with whichever of these ten songs characterises your back-bouncing emotions.

This being an MP3 blog, I’ve posted links to the music files; the Todger Talk version of this cross-blog has links to video files to all 20 songs, except the Tom Waits track (and a couple not of the originals, though the Garth Brooks karaokist gives it his best shot).

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Ben Folds Five – Song For The Dumped.mp3
Song For The Dumped really is the national anthem of embittered dumpees. Ben Folds has been discarded with pitiless diplomacy: “So you wanted to take a break, slow it down some and have some space…” He stood no chance; you can’t argue yourself out of that one. How would you respond? And how would you like to respond. Probably like Folds: “Well, fuck you too.” Less than considerate? Perhaps. But, man, he had just BOUGHT HER DINNER. Now he wants his money back, “and don’t forget to give me back my black T-shirt”. Yeah! Give him back the black T-shirt! The new girlfriend is getting cold!

Tom Waits – Who Are You.mp3
Ben Folds wants to her to give back the T-shirt; Waits wants her to TAKE back what she gave him: lies. And he’s only getting started in what might be the greatest fuck-off song from the male perspective. “Did my time – in the jail of your arms.” Oooh! “Go on ahead and take this the wrong way, time’s not your friend.” Ouch! “Are you pretending to love? Well, I hear that it pays well.” Oooof!

Godsmack – I Fucking Hate You.mp3
It is fair to say that Godsmack’s repertoire of scathing zingers is rather more slender than that of Waits and they do lack Ben Folds cutting drollness, but they sing from the heart. Not only was that horrid ex apparently lying to Mr Smack, but she also impugned his good character (and we must trust that his integrity was entirely unimpeachable before), as the lyric suggest: “And every day I’m gonna blame you, even if you justify every fuckin’ bullshit lie…it only makes me want to break you.” Inarticulation often accompanies a broken heart, which might explain the lyrical descend to the levels subsequently occupied by Paris Hilton on her excursion into the world of popular music: “Don’t ever look my way. Don’t even think I’m playin’, cause I fuckin’ hate you. You’re such a liar; I love to hate you” (punctuation is mine; as conceived by the lyricist, none might have been intended). And with that out of the way, we can finally deliberate on the heart of the song: “Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!” And why not? Sometimes that is all that needs to be said.
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.Justin Timberlake – Cry Me A River.mp3
The song apparently was a riposte to Britney Spears’ alleged infidelity. Likewise, our notional karaoke singer might have been the blameless party in a split generated by a betrayal. He might have done the dumping, but the betrayal was hers. Either way, the relationship is over, no matter how much she begs. “Girl I refuse, you must have me confused with some other guy. Your bridges were burned, and now it’s your turn to cry, cry me a river.” The sentiment, of course, borrows from a much greater song by the same title. That one is more commonly sung by women (best heard in Julie London’s version).

Hank Williams – Your Cheating Heart.mp3
Where Timberlake is piqued over Britn… the girl’s infidelity, Hank Williams (the first one, not the McCain-lovin’ son) navigates the byways of false empathy as he sketches out what emotional turmoil awaits the indiscreet ex. “Your cheatin’ heart will make you weep. You’ll cry and cry and try to sleep.” Just reward for cheating on the doubtless scrupulously faithful Hank. Of course Hank may just be hoping or projecting; the girl might well be pleased to be rid of him, and perhaps with good reason. But just in case she isn’t, he adds: “You’ll toss around and call my name.” And wouldn’t that just settle the score?

Lou Rawls – You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine.mp3
Where Hank Williams’ wishes psychological suffering upon his ex, Lou is more sanguine about love lost — and he can afford to be, since he was only rejected, not cheated upon. His cheer obviously is a mask: when he says she won’t ever find anyone as good as him, he is bathed in anguish, and not making an intrepid foray into the dark art of divination, his rebuff of “ifs and buts and maybes” notwithstanding. He’s not “bragging on myself, baby”; it’s just inconceivable that anyone can love her as tenderly and completely as he has. She’ll regret rejecting him. “Late in the midnight hour, baby — you’re gonna miss my lovin’. When it’s cold outside — you’re gonna miss my lovin’.” His whoa-whoas serve to underline the hopeful taunt. He’ll get over her in good time, and when she realises what she has lost, it’ll be too late. Take that, you wretched waster of good love!

Any rejected fool in love will know precisely what Lou is talking about. Twenty years ago, I was such a fool, suffering from unrequited love, a distressing case of frienditis, with Elizabeth (not necessarily her real name). One night at a club, You’ll Never Find… came on. While she was dancing with some random other, I whispered to my friend: “And I dedicate this song to Elizabeth.” Our mutual friend emphatically agreed with the sentiment. Well, Elizabeth just didn’t love me that way. The way she did love me was expressed by ramming a stake through my heart while cackling viciously like a particularly sinister witch in Macbeth as portrayed by an overacting diva as she told me that we should just be friends. I recently caught up with Elizabeth. She is happily married to a nice man who clearly adores her, and she him. So Lou proved to be less than prescient. But at the time, his anthem of defiant self-validation in which she, not he, was the big loser helped to shake the heavy dust of lovelorn despondency off my shoulders. And within only a year and a half, I was even over her…

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Whitesnake – Here I Go Again.mp3
Some men are accumulating experience at being dumped, much like our present friend as he goes again here. He won’t waste much time mourning the old relationship. In karaoke mode, he is proclaiming himself ready to be swept off his feet by the next knightess in shining lycra. And what woman of compassionate spirit would fail to give the man a chance when he philosophies: “I’m just another heart in need of rescue, waiting on love’s sweet charity. And I’m gonna hold on for the rest of my days, ’cos I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams.” Sure, the poetry is risible, but he probably will get laid tonight.

Garth Brooks – Friends In Low Places.mp3
Being dumped for reasons of economic class just isn’t right-on. But this is what has happened to Garth Brooks (or the song’s first-person protagonist). He confronts her for a final time on her wedding day. And as he might in the rejected script for a rom-com, Brooks trespasses on the nuptials in his cowboy boots (and perhaps a 12 gallon Stetson), intimidates the alarmed groom, and tells the bride that he’s down with her new life — as turning up uninvited to an ex’s wedding invariably communicates. “I toasted you, said, ‘honey, we may be through’, but you’ll never hear me complain.” With bravado he celebrates having found refuge in drink among the flies at his local bar (here we imagine a joint where Achy Breaky Heart commands respect) populated by the cohort of low social expectations in the title. Brooks is, as we and his ex can guess, fooling himself. But at least he can get in a little dig as he makes his declaration of emotional independence: “Hey, I didn’t mean to cause a big scene. Just give me an hour and then…well, I’ll be as high as that ivory tower that you’re livin’ in.” At which point his lowly-placed pals join in the rousing, presumably alcohol-fuelled chorus.

Prefab Sprout – When Love Breaks Down.mp3
The dumped karaoke song for the more introspective, analytical man. It isn’t even clear yet that he has been dumped, or that the relationship is over. But our hero is already making plans for that eventuality, which he seems to regard as virtually inevitable. So, what happens when love breaks down? Firstly, you stop the truth from hurting you. Secondly, you lie to yourself (as some of our friends in the preceding songs have done). Thirdly, “you join the wrecks who leave their hearts for easy sex”. Which is why we are presently singing karaoke songs about failed relationship in a bar populated with women in first place.

New York City – I’m Doing Fine Now.mp3
At the beginning of the post I flagged Ben Folds Five’s Song For The Dumped as the national anthem for the dumped, but the real song of recovery, of liberation from the cast irons of a broken heart, is this glorious soul number from 1973. The protagonist is at a more advanced stage of recovery than our notional karaokist, but projecting an aspirational confidence that happiness will return with a new love certainly would do no damage to the prospect of getting laid or, depending on your temperament, strike up a rewarding relationship with a very nice girl. The opening verse updates us comprehensively: “Remember the day you up and left? I nearly cried myself to death, oh yeah. And then I met someone else. She made me stop and get a-hold of myself.” And here comes the taunt: “Oh girl, I’m doin’ fine now, without you, baby.” Repeated often enough to drive home the message: what the hell was I doing tormenting myself over you for?

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More songs about love

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And seeing as Nottingham’s Mr Sex set me a challenge, it was only fair that he should show his hand. Here then is his list of 10 male variations on the I Will Survive theme, with Mr Sex’s links to video files, to which I’ve added MP3s (Mediafire was playing up, so all but one are on DivShare). Incidentally, go to Todger Talk to read Mr Sex’s introduction to this cross-blog — it’s much better than mine, and very funny. Besides, you will need to if you want to understand the Crazy woman reference.

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Black Sabbath – Iron Man.mp3
Video
This song might sound like a big metal robot getting ready to kick the world’s face in, but don’t be fooled – the sentiments are as close as it gets to the male version of IWS. Ignore the rammell about being turned to steel in the great magnetic field – that’s Ozzy trying to say that he’s been chucked by a bird without his mates twigging and taking the piss out of him. Perfectly male sentiments, too – while Gloria gets over her ex by finding someone better, Ozzy can only purge his feelings of rejection by pretending to be 100 feet tall and putting his metal Doc Martens through a building. Because we’ve all thought that, haven’t we, chaps?
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Isaac Hayes – By The Time I Get To Phoenix (full version).mp3
Video
And yes, it has to be the full Isaac Hayes version. While Glen Campbell sounds like a deadbeat Dad making a midnight flit with a barmaid half his age, Black Moses takes the time to explain that his ex was a right slapper who made him work triple-time so she could get her nails done, and only now does she realise how mint he is, ha ha. Problem is, he takes eleven minutes to lay this all out before he sings note number one, so you’re going to have to work your arse off to prevent a bum-rush by Crazy woman and a hail of empty WKD bottles. Wearing a dressing gown made of gold chains might help.
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Soft Cell – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.mp3
Video
Marc Almond might not be the most aggressively masculine singer in this list (and the opening line forces you to state that a) you’ve had a bit of a roar and b) you knock about in a pub called The Pink Flamingo), but don’t let that put you off, because the glee with which he lays into his rubbish ex is a joy to behold. Bonus points for the subtle allusion that you’re after a ‘nice little housewife’, as the pub will be full of ‘em. I’d mention the David Gray version, but I’d rather not, as I’ve never heard it.
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Smokey Robinson & the Miracles – Who’s Gonna Take The Blame.mp3
Video
Poor old Smokey seems to have spent the vast majority of his life being pissed about by women, but he clocked what the girl in this song was all about ages ago; a window-smashing, abusive cow who needed getting shot of. Naturally, said harridan becomes a ‘woman of the street’. Smokey charitably alludes that he tried his best, but he’s bragging, really. Moral – you’re going to end up having sex for money in graveyards for dumping me, you rotten cow.
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Jimi Hendrix – Stone Free.mp3
Video
It was either this or Roadrunner by Junior Walker and the All-Stars, because the sentiments are the same: I’m single because I go round the country (possibly as a sales rep), I can’t be doing with women putting me in a plastic cage (my making me stay in and watch Strictly Come Dancing), and I’m a wild spirit who needs to live his life the way he needs to, in order to be spiritually fulfilled (by downloading porn torrents, watching back-to-back episodes of Top Gear, and playing Football Manager until 3am next to a stack of pizza boxes).

Cliff Richard – Devil Woman.mp3
Video
The standard get-out clause for any dumped male: She Was Mental. And Cliff (who has allegedly not had it off since rationing was stopped in the UK) is in full-on warning mode about his ex, who sounds a bit like that cat-woman in Conan The Barbarian who turns into a ball of flame after that romp in the cave, advising any other bloke sniffing around to LEG IT. Whilst subtly bragging that he’s been there, of course.

Lee Dorsey – Get Out My Life Woman.mp3
Video
As you’ve noticed, the tone is changing very quickly from ‘I will grow stronger without you’ to ‘Oh, bollocks to you, then’. And this is probably the most eloquent, understated OBTYT I’ve ever come across.
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Jilted John – Jilted John.mp3
Video
The most joyous, cathartic, triumphant I’ve-been-dumped song ever. She is a slag. And he’s a creep. She is a tart. He’s very cheap. She is a slut. He thinks he’s tough. She is a bitch. He is a puff. (and Kid Jensen can shut his gob, the cheeky bastard).
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Wayne County and the Electric Chairs – Fuck Off.mp3
Video
Say no more. But be aware the singer in question ended up having a sex change.
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Cake – I Will Survive.mp3
Video
Sod it, why not? 99.99999% of songs don’t have genitals, and the ones that do can easily be operated on.

So, which song would you nominate?

More somebody done somebody wrong songs

April 24th, 2009 5 comments

After the break-up comes the longing for a love lost or forfeited. Or so it seems with this bunch of singers.

B.J. Thomas – Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song (1975).mp3
bj-thomasWhen one wallows in misery, it is good to know that others are feeling just as badly. B.J. Thomas wants his sorrow over a break-up validated by knowing about the romantic distress of others; a union of broken hearts standing together in spiritual solidarity. B.J. is calling for that fraternity through the medium of song. So if he is still wallowing, this post might be just what he needs while he misses his baby. “So please play for me a sad melody, so sad that it makes everybody cry; a real hurtin’ song about a love that’s gone wrong, ’cause I don’t want to cry all alone.” Lyrics Morrissey would have killed for.
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Richard Hawley – Valentine (2007).mp3
valentineAlas, poor Richard Hawley. Earlier in this series he went to a popular hang-out in a futile bid to pull (here), and here his heart is so irreparably broken that he wants no company. He appears to outline the chain of events leading to this unhappy state. First he feels secure in the arms of the woman, then he sees “a warning in your eyes”. The chorus comes in with Hawley pleading not to receive gifts from what potential new love interests on February 14 because he’s still not over the one whose optomological alert he had so perceptively discerned.“Don’t need no valentines, no, no; don’t need no roses, ’cause it just takes me back in time…Now you’re not here” (and listen out for the way he sings “here anymore” in the third chorus).

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Rose Royce – Wishing On A Star (1977).mp3
rose_royce1Here the singer was responsible for the break-up and desperately regrets it by way of cliché: “I didn’t mean to hurt you, but I know that in the game of love you reap what you sow.” She is proposing a reconciliation, but seems to understand that this may be a hope to far. Still, she insistently and repeatedly articulates her petition: “And I wish on all the rainbows that I see; I wish on all the people we’ve ever been; and I’m hopin’ on all the days to come and days to go, and I’m hopin’ on days of lovin’ you. So I’m wishing on a star, to follow where you are.”

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Rosie Thomas – Since You’ve Been Around (2005).mp3
rosie_thomasIn the most beautiful and moving of all the beautiful and moving songs here, Rosie had been maltreated by love before, as we learn in the song’s punchline. Now the person who healed her damaged heart is gone too, pulling the rug from under Rosie’s feet. “I’m wandering, I’m crawling, I’m two steps away from falling –  I just can’t seem to get around. I’m heavy, I’m weary, I’m not thinking clearly. I just can’t seem to find solid ground since you’ve been around.”
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Kate Walsh – Don’t Break My Heart (2007).mp3

kate-walshAbout as beautiful as Rosie Thomas’ track, fellow songbird Kate Walsh’s song protests that the object of her desire should make himself scarce because just seeing him opens up still raw wounds. “I’ll fall again if I see your face again, my love, and I’ve done all my crying for you love.” So meeting him again, with his antics such as rolling his blue eyes at her, will break her heart all over again. She wants to forget him, because “I cannot be in matrimony with a dream of love”.
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Joseph Arthur – A Smile That Explodes (2004).mp3
jarthurIt has been a while since the woman left poor Joseph, and he is depressed. “The plants have died, my hair has grown from the thought of you coming home.” He gets by through the consumption of alcohol, which is never a good idea in his mental condition. And in between he writes her letters which “I won’t send, except for across the floor” (what a fantastic line). Now and then he dreams of happier times, with her in his arms, but then the image of bliss turns to abrupt dread with “a smile that explodes” — again, wonderful imagery — “I could never understand”.

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Smokey Robinson – Just To See Her (1987).mp3
smokeyIf B.J. Thomas had chosen to be more precise in his instruction, he may well have specified that he wanted a Smokey song to be played, because nobody does broken-heartedness the way Smokey Robinson does (even if here, the lyrics aren’t his). The tune is a cheerful, upbeat affair. Smokey sounds like he has no care in the world. But, as we know from past experience, in situations of heartache, Smokey pretends to be the life a party, putting on an out-of-place smile, masquerading outside while inside is heart is breaking. So the melody is deceiving us: Smokey is desperate to see his love again. “I would go anywhere. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do, just to see her again” and “hold her in my arms again, one more time”.

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Foo Fighters – Walking After You (live) (2006).mp3
dave_grohlWhile our other friends in this post have taken to despondency, dreaming, drinking, and descending into despair, Grohl is taking action before anything can happen. Anticipating that she is leaving him, he psyches himself into dumped mode and pledges to become a stalker. “I cannot be without you, matter of fact. I’m on your back”. Just to be sure she gets the sinister message he repeats: “I’m on your back.” And once more for creepy emphasis:“I’m on your back.” So, “if you walk out on me, I’m walking after you.” And with big Dave Grohl on her back, she won’t get very far.

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In this series so far:
Love hurts
Unrequited love
Being in love
Longing for love
Heartbreak
Adultery
Death
Impossible Love
Love Songs Mix

Songs of Adultery

March 6th, 2009 7 comments

The theme song for infidelity, Your Cheating Heart, will feature in another instalment, so we will have to do with this bunch of adulterers (all but one men) and the people they’ve hurt (all but one of them women).

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Hello Saferide – Last Bitter Song.mp3

hellosaferide4Annika Norlin has been cheated on with a thin blonde “with a peanut for a brain and volleyballs for chest”. Worse yet, the dude did the dirty deed “with Miss Non-Bitterness” in her apartment. But, bastard dumped, Annika is getting over it by way of carthasis: “Now, this will be the last bitter song. It will be my last, real bitter song about you.” She will find new themes: “From now on, I’ll write about flowers and butterflies, chickens and kittens and shit.” And she’ll “try to find someone who knows I exist”. Which is the best kind of therapy. And, look, it’s working: “I’m feeling cheerful already. I’d like to break his neck, if I may. But most, I’d like to cut off that hair, and cut off that head, and cut off those volleyballs, and I hope she gets her heart broken, and I hope she turns bitter, really really bitter – like me.”

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Jim Reeves – He’ll Have To Go.mp3

jimreevesOh, what a set-up. Jim is on the phone with his woman, who presently is in the company of another man. Reeves has her on the phone, establishing a sense of intimacy and communicating instant forgiveness: “Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone, let’s pretend that we’re together all alone. I’ll tell the man to turn the juke box way down low”. And then he goes for the jugular: “And you can tell your friend there with you he’ll have to go.” He wants an answer now though: “Though love is blind, make up your mind. I’ve got to know – should I hang up or will you tell him he’ll have to go?” No whining, nor sulking, nor recriminations. Make up your mind, woman, and when you do, of course he’ll have to go.

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Nicole Atkins – Kill The Headlight.mp3

nicole-atkinsJim Reeves is willing to trust again, but that commodity is extinct when Nicole’s man cheats on her. “I know you and you are bound to stray. It’s a foul of men – they swear that they’ll never hurt you again, then give their best shots”, but if that is to no avail, “my heart you won’t have it again, so just don’t try.” The relationship will not be healed and it will be over. There won’t be a point in trying to mend it: “Don’t pull over, just kill the headlights.”

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Carrie Underwood – Before He Cheats.mp3

underwoodWhere Nicole Atkins won’t give second chances, Carrie Underwood doesn’t even let it get as far as that. Acting merely on suspicion, she gets her revenge in before the act. “Right now, she’s probably up singing some white-trash version of Shania karaoke. Right now, she’s probably saying, ‘I’m drunk’, and he’s thinking that he’s gonna get lucky. Right now, he’s probably dabbing on three dollars worth of that bathroom cologne.” So, just in case her imagination corresponds with reality, Carrie has “dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped-up four-wheel-drive, carved my name into his leather seat. I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights, slashed a hole in all four tires.” That should teach him to even think of cheating. He also might forget about keeping pet rabbits.

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Kelis – Caught Out There.mp3

kelisIt is fair to presume that the beautiful Kelis will not take back the perfidious scoundrel who cheated on her. She is not well disposed towards him, as the line “I hate you so much right now” may suggest. But, from Kelis’ side of the story, one empathises with her. What she didn’t do for him? “Held you when you were sick, even sucked your dick” (which, if both ministrations were performed simultaneously, would require soundtracking by Marvin Gaye’s last big hit). Now it’s revenge time on the lying swine. Going one better on Carrie, “I’ll set your truck to flames, and watch it blow up.” Then comes the taunt: “Tell me: How you go’n see her now?” Aaaaaaarrrrgh!!!!!

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Smokey Robinson & the Miracles – Ooh Baby Baby.mp3

smokey-go-goSmokey is the prince of broken hearts. And here, the heartache is of his own making. He cheated and got dumped. “I did you wrong. My heart went out to play, but in the game I lost you. What a price to pay! Hey I’m crying.” Now he tearfully wants her back: “I’m just about at the end of my rope, but I can’t stop trying. I can’t give up hope, ’cause I feel that one day I’ll hold you near, whisper ‘I still love you’.” In the interim, “until that day is here – I’m crying.” Would you take him back?

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Mindy Smith – Jolene.mp3

mindy-smithI could have chosen any number of versions of Jolene, from Dolly Parton’s original to the delightful Strawberry Switchblade version. It is heartbreaking how the singer humbles herself before the beautiful Jolene, with her ivory skin, emerald eyes and smile “like a breath of spring”. She knows she has lost her man, who keeps saying Jolene’s name in his sleep. Her only hope is that Jolene might dump him, and so she appeals for her rival’s mercy (and, possibly, self-sacrifice). There’s some point-missing going on: “You could have your choice of men, but I could never love again. He’s the only one for me, Jolene. I had to have this talk with you. My happiness depends on you .”

But what if Jolene truly loves the man too. She might well attract another one, but will it be mutual love? Perhaps she won’t ever be able to love again too. And might the singer not be deluding herself that being with a man who doesn’t love her will be an arrangement conducive to “happiness”? The poor sap has no say in the matter, of course. He is being traded like a piece of meat whose feelings are immaterial. But then, being a man, he might appreciate not being forced to make a liver-curdlingly difficult decision.

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Shirley Brown – Woman To Woman.mp3

Barbara Mason – From His Woman To You.mp3

sbrownShirley phones Barbara to warn her off her “old man”. “It’s only fair that I let you know that the man you’re in love with – he’s mine.” Not only does she pay for his clothes and car, but she “loves that man”. And, like Jolene, Barbara is being asked to end it for the sake of her lover’s wife. “Woman to woman, if you’ve ever been in love, then you know how I feel. And, woman to woman, now, if you were in my shoes, wouldn’t you have done the same thing too.” So she warns: “I ain’t gonna let you break up my happy home.”

bmason1Happy? Really? Barbara responds to that in her own song, and it doesn’t look like Shirley’s begging and threats have had any effect, as the title already proclaims. She might not be above to satisfy his material needs, but she can give what he really wants: “I can give him love”. As far as Barbara is concerned, the nameless sap has already made his choice and his bed: “He spent last night with me, where he wanted to be.” So the guy has the choice between a woman with whom he has great sex and a wife who provides all the material comforts. Knowing that Mason’s lyrics were written by a man, how do you think the story will end?

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More Songs About Love

Yet more '80s soul

November 20th, 2008 5 comments

I’m not sure whether it is due to popular demand after last week’s compilation, but here is a second ’80s soul mix, with a third and final installment in the works. The first mix was an attempt to create a fairly representative cross-section of the genre. This mix is less self-conscious about that. What we have here, then, are some of my favourite soul tracks from that comparatively barren decade. As in any compilation of favourites, the measure of quality may be secondary to the compiler’s emotional connection to a song. Is Smokey’s Just To See Her any good? I don’t rightly know. It may not be a better song than Being With You. But much as I like Being With You, it does not transport me back to a particular time. Play Just To See Her, however, and I smell the girl’s hair, taste the vegetarian gunk I used to eat, feel the anticipation of going to the club and the anxiety of missing my friends in London. And so it is with many songs in this mix (especially Pendergrass’ wonderfully Marvin-esque Joy). Read more…

Love Songs For Every Situation: Heartbreak

February 23rd, 2008 4 comments

When unrequited love girl communicated to me gently that she didn’t like me that way, I experienced validation for the term heartbreak. It did feel as though my actually heart was broken right down the middle. Of course it didn’t, because else I would be dead, but the instant pain manifested itself in the location where the blood-pumping organ resides. It then moved to my chest and stomach, but lungache or gutbreak don’t sound terrible romantic.

The genre of love songs is rich in lyrics about broken hearts, from Sinatra learning the blues to Alicia Keys bemoaning that she can’t have you and any number of country singers picking up the shards of their broken hearts. Somehow this hugely intense emotion has given rise to some astoundingly banal lyrics — take a bow Bonnie Tyler and Mariah Carey. Here then, in the penultimate installment of this series, we deal with heartbreak in a non-banal manner.

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – The Tracks Of My Tears.mp3
This may well be the best song ever about a broken heart, by Motown’s poet laureate. Smokey is stoic, like the stiff-lipped Englishman of cliché, and won’t publicly exhibit his inner turmoil. He jokes around, has a cute girlfriend, but it’s an act. “The Tracks Of My Tears” also contains one of the most wonderfully delivered lines in pop ever: “My smile is my make-up I wear since my break-up with you”. There is joy in sadness.

Colin Hay – Lifeline.mp3
Part-time genius Colin Hay (who used to be Men At Work’s frontman) has a great way of expressing inner discontent with philosophical easy-goingness (take “Beautiful World” as an example of that). Here our man is a bit more forthright. She “broke my heart, I saw it coming from the start”, and now he is drowning in a sea of depression, hence the request for a lifeline in the chorus. He acknowledges that he needs to learn how to swim, throwing away the prozac (“You’ll never forget her, so why do you even try?”) and try to get over the depression by drinking water from appears to be a lake with magical healing properties. A really powerful song.

The Weepies – World Spins Madly On.mp3
When your heart is broken, inertia and feelings of alienation are normal reactions. The Weepies’ Steve Tannen outlines just that: “Woke up and wished that I was dead, with an aching in my head I lay motionless in bed. I thought of you and where you’d gone, and let the world spin madly on.” Perfect.

April Sixth – Dear Angel.mp3
I don’t usually do stuff with emo tendencies, but I’ll make an exception for this song (by a group named after my birthday, bless them), which I like a lot. Girl has dumped dude, and dude is feeling very bad about it. He thinks about her all the time, as you do, and naturally this causes him grief (“If only my love could be with you, if only this pain, this pain died too”). So he has decided that the best thing to do is to cut her out of his life entirely, for both their sakes (“So I’ll break you away”). Will he succeed?

Aqualung – Breaking My Heart Again.mp3
Heartbreak need not be a consequence of a break-up, but can kick in while a relationship still exists. And so it is here. “Need to know, don’t want to know, already know: I’ve seen the signs;
I watch you as you pull yourself away from.” And so our man out-Coldplays Apple Sr as he anticipates having his heart broken, apparently not for the first time, and observes: “I’m losing all strength” and, finally, “I’m losing you”.

Mozella – Light Years Away.mp3
Here’s a woman, in the singer-songwriter mode, who has her heart broken so badly that she is entirely embittered while saying she isn’t. “It’s almost like you had it planned, it’s like you smiled and shook my hand and said: ‘Hey, I’m about to screw you over big time’.” Clearly, the break-up was not easy (“I think I cried for days”), nor was the recovery. She has found a way of dealing with it: “But I don’t blame you anymore; that’s too much pain to store”, but takes care to inform him that the whole experience has changed her irrevocably. It’s all a rather clever fuck-off letter.

Damien Rice – Cannonball.mp3
I really wanted to use this song somewhere in this series, because it is one of the most powerful  songs about love I can think of. But in which part of the series? It is a song that captures perfectly the pain and confusion of imperfect love, the kind of emotion that ties your stomach in a knot, which is a manifestation of what we call heartache. The first two stanzas speak of confusion: “There’s still a little bit of your taste in my mouth. There’s still a little bit of you laced with my doubt. It’s still a little hard to say what’s going on.” Not exactly heartbreak, but a good dose of confusion here. The kick in the stomach comes later when our boy seeks distance, perhaps because he is scared of getting hurt in this relationship, or perhaps because it can’t be. “So come on courage, teach me to be shy. ‘Cause it’s not hard to fall, and I don’t want to scare her; it’s not hard to fall and I don’t want to lose…” Whatever the case, he is frightened of crashing (“It’s not hard to fall when you float like a cannonball”), and that inhibits his quest for letting love find full expression. And that is heartbreaking in itself.

Hall & Oates – She’s Gone.mp3
Well, it had to feature at some point in this series. Apparently the lads who’d become ’80s icons for their hairstyles (the serious mullet and bubble perm combo) were both dealing with heartbreaks at the time this song was written. The lyrics are fantastic. I love this: “Think I’ll spend eternity in the city [cue disapproving sound effect]. Let the carbon and monoxide choke my thoughts away. And pretty bodies help dissolve the memories. [However:] There can never be what she once was to me.” And the vocal performance, especially on the last line of the quoted verse and the drawn out “she’s gone” at 3:08, is wonderful.

Brandi Carlile – My Song.mp3
This might be about a failed romance or a friendship gone sour. Either way, Brandi (and don’t let her name put you off this wonderful songbird) harbours some anger as she sings: “If you only knew my mind was full of razors to cut you like a word” and “I’m way too old to hate you” (if you have to point out a lack of hatred, then there must be residual resentment). She holds out an olive branch, but won’t any longer run after the addressee of the song: “I’m too proud to beg for your attention and your friendship and your time. So you can come and get it from now on.”

PP Arnold – The First Cut Is The Deepest.mp3
This is, in my view, the best version of Cat Stevens’ great song (though I rather like Rod Stewart’s version too). Here our protagonist finds it difficult to be in love because of a previous episode of heartbreak. “I would have given you all of my heart, but there’s someone who’s torn it apart, and he’s taken just all that I had.” As he Bee Gees would ask a couple of years later: “How can you mend a broken heart?”

Roy Orbison – Crying.mp3
Rebekah Del Rio – Llorando.mp3

I was torn between using the original version, or the one Orbison recorded with k.d. Lang, or Rebekah del Rio’s breathtaking a cappela interpretation from Mulholland Drive. Much as I love the duet, I’ll go with the 1961 original and del Rio’s Spanish cover. Apparently Orbison wrote this after meeting an ex-girlfriend and realising in the process how much he had lost when she became an ex. “I thought that I was over you. But it’s true, so true: I love you even more than I did before.” So, as you will have guessed, Roy will be crying over her. It seems to surprise him: “It’s hard to understand, but the touch of your hand can start me crying.”

Sandie Shaw – Always Something There To Remind Me.mp3
Doesn’t Sandie Shaw sound incredibly sexy on this song? Burt Bacharach and Hal David built a great repository of love songs (and a few terribly sexist ones as well), and heartbreak featured prominently, hence two inclusions of their songs in this post. The set up here is explained in the songtitle: girl loves boy who doesn’t love girl anymore and she can’t forget him. Common stuff that is no less relevant for it: “How can I forget you when there is always something there to remind me? I was born to love you, and I will never be free; you’ll always be a part of me.”

Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (full version).mp3
The other Bacharach/David song. Everybody should know the lyrics well. “If you see me, do me a favour and just fuck off because talking with you will mess with me.” Or words to that effect. The song found its perfect expression in Dionne Warwick’s version. There have been many covers since, and it is quite difficult to do a bad cover of it, though not for lack of trying. Some have put their own spin on it. The Stranglers did, but I don’t like their cover much. Isaac Hayes, on the other hand, appropriated the song without taking it from Dionne, which is a mark of his genius. He took “Walk On By” and resculptured it into a psychedelic soul symphony going on for 12 minutes – and not a single second is wasted. As he did on other Bacharach songs — “The Look Of Love”, “Close To You” – he invested into the straightforward lyrics and melody whole new dynamics and drama. Where Warwick sweetly attracts your sympathy, Hayes involves you in the inner drama of the heartbreak to the point that it leaves you feeling the torment yourself. But by then you’re so exhausted, the heartbreak feels almost sweet.

1987

July 26th, 2007 3 comments

In January I returned from a long holiday in sunny South Africa to freezing London. Soon I felt that I had had enough of London. When my best friend, Paul, moved to the US, I decided to return to SA, to reunite with my brother. And so in early September I did, got myself a job co-running the Room Service department at a 5-star hotel, and instantly regretted leaving London. So it was a shitty year. Musically, it wasn’t particularly great either.

Blow Monkeys – It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way.mp3
I loved “Diggin’ Your Scene” the year before, but could not muster much enthusiasm for this song when it climbed the charts. Yet there it was on the radio whenever I put the thing on. It reminds me of cold, cold London, and having too little money to put on the gas heater. In the interim I have come to enjoy this song; it needs warm weather to be enjoyed.

A-ha – Manhattan Skyline.mp3
I’ve always been a bit ambivalent about A-ha, but this is a hell of a fine song. It reminds me a bit of the Beatles’ occasional strategy of banging together two quite distinct, uncompleted compositions into one song. This one starts of slowly before launching into a heavy rock (by A-ha’s standards) chorus, which the normally clear-voiced Morten Harket pulls off well.

Sly & Robbie – Boops.mp3
Robbie Williams sampled from “Boops” for his horrible “Rudebox” song. It pains me to think that a generation of people will grow up thinking that Williams created the only thing that is good about “Rudebox”. “Boops” has cool written all over it.

Terence Trent D’Arby – If You Let Me Stay.mp3
The superstar that never was, undone by his own preciousness. This, his debut single, was the only modern song to be played at the Locomotion, the Friday night old soul club at the old Kentish Town & Country Club, before it was even released. I suspect the Trout, who lived in Kentish Town, knew the DJ. It got the crowds on the floor, too.

Paul Johnson – When Love Comes Calling.mp3
A prodigy of UK soul-funkster Junior Giscombe (“Mama Used To Say”), Paul Johnson was a fine soul singer who could hit ridiculously high notes. He never enjoyed great success, which is a pity. This song has a happy vibe, and Johnson’s voice soars. Check out the long falsetto note when he sings “I’m masquerading” before launching straight into the chorus. An utter joy. (Previously uploaded)

Johnny Clegg & Savuka – Asimbonanga.mp3
In early ’87, Savuka played at the Kentish Town & Country Club. The place was packed, mostly with white expatriate South Africans, not all of them visibly of the anti-apartheid activist persuasion. So a Clegg gig in London was exactly like a Clegg gig in Jo’burg or Durban. This is an incredibly moving anti-apartheid song, with its litany of martyred activists (Steve Biko, Victoria Mxenge, Neil Aggett) and its lament that we haven’t seen Nelson Mandela. Less than three years later we would (see here).

Pet Shop Boys & Dusty Springfield – What Have I Done To Deserve This.mp3
Perhaps the single of the year. You had to admire the Pet Shop Boys for reintroducing the great Dusty Springfield from the over-the-hill circuit.

Black – Wonderful Life.mp3
The song that scores my departure from London. Recently I saw that lovely monochrome video again (look out for that superb shot of the rollercoaster at 1:23); it evoked a time and two places. I still like this strangely wistful song a lot, and the album, also called Wonderful Life, is quite excellent.

Prince – Starfish And Coffee.mp3
Just an album track from Sign ‘O The Times. I find that inexplicable, seeing that the crap “U Got The Look” was a single. This is one of Prince’s finest songs, with suitably weird lyrics, a great tune and a kick-ass singalong chorus. As for the alarm clock kicking off the song: inspired. Is Cynthia’s breakfast menu code for something? (Previously uploaded)

Bananarama – Love In The First Degree.mp3
It’s kitsch. It’s Stock Aitken Waterman. It’s 1987.

LL Cool J – I Need Love.mp3
I dig the tune, but the lyrics are hilarious. James promises to be a good boy if only somebody would love him truly. Aaah. But why on earth would J loo for the girl he’ll love in his closet or under his rug? I had a video recording of LL Cool J performing this live on the short-lived US version of Top Of The Pops; all the girlies wanted to be soft as a pillow for the man who’d be as hard as steel. And I bet LL Cool J was communicating to his posse which of these girls he’d use and dispose of that night (that is presuming that all these rumours about Cool J aren’t true).

Smokey Robinson – Just To See Her.mp3
A nice little soul song which gets the old toes tapping and the shoulders rocking. A rather more convincing plea for love than LL Cool J’s, and a persuasive demonstration that the great Smokey had not lost his musical mojo even after a quarter of a century of writing and recording.

Bright Blue – Weeping.mp3
A South African classic (recently inexplicably battered and assaulted by the horrid Josh Groban) by a decent rock group that could never reproduce the magic of this song. Strangely, it received strong airplay on radio stations owned by the apartheid state, for its lyrics are directed at PW Botha and his murderous chums. And so it came about that state-owned radio got to play the strains of “Nkosi Sikeli’ iAfrica” (then the anthem of the banned ANC and now the first half of South Africa’s cobbled-together compromise national anthem). I suspect a couple of DJs took great pleasure in doing so. More on Bright Blue and “Weeping” here.

Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes – I’ve Had The Time Of My Life.mp3
This is a fantastic pop song. It has it all: you can dance to it (dirty or otherwise), you can sing along to it loudly, it has great moments like the bang as the saxophone solo begins, and the dramatically cascading notes building up to a crescendo before Medley summarises softly just how good a time he has had, leading to the celebratory climax. The song structure in fact captures the rhythm of sexual intercourse, with the subtle changes of pace and two distinct orgasms (you didn’t see that coming, did you?).

Baby take a look at my face: Smokey's plastic skin

February 16th, 2007 2 comments

When channel surfing, my remote control occasionally stops working as it hits the E! channel (is that its correct name? The one with all the celebrities). Last week I watched parts of a count-down of “100 biggest celebrity blunders”, the sort where third-rate “comedians” deliver their fourth-rate “humorous” commentary.

Among the celeb blunderers was Farah Fawcett. In her day, Farrah Fawcett-Majors (as she was then) was the postergirl for unattainable beauty. Presumably not a few late ’70s magazines showcasing the beautiful Farrah were disposed off when pages depicting her could no longer be opened after perusal by teenage boys. Personally I preferred Jaclyn Smith, as far as the angels under Chuck’s command were concerned (and I’d happily have plumbed for Kate Jackson as my Mom).

So Farrah Fawcett blundered on the E! screen, looking quite stunning for a woman in her late 50s. The permanently startled look on her face — one that was evident when she, Jaclyn and Kate appeared last year on the Emmy awards show — suggests that she had a facelift, or four. That aside, she looked great. Until she raised her hands. Like the great Bill Withers, I remember my Grandma’s hands. My grandma was 71 when I was born, and died at 85. My grandma’s hands looked better than those used for gesticulative purposes by Farrah Fawcett. To be fair, though, my grandma’s visage never matched the splendour of Farah’s.

Conventional wisdom has it that it is not the face of a woman that gives away her age — even less so in the age of nipping & tucking — but her hands. Farrah Fawcett therefore is about 78 years old.

Which brings me to Smokey Robinson. One of a trio of R&B legends performing at this week’s Grammies (the others were Lionel Richie and, erm, veteran soulster Chris Brown), Smokey’s apparent face lift was an obvious botch job – the term plastic surgery rarely seemed more literal. His eyelids were fixed in a half-open state, his facial expression was set as though in a state of rigor mortis. The poor man could barely move his mouth for the purpose of singing. And what would he sing but the cruelly mocking words: “Baby take a good look at my face”. The rigid half-smile looked indeed out of place.

At this point I must confess that I share with Farrah and Smokey the attribute of a certain vanity, in as far as that I am, at the age of 40, acutely aware that my good looks are slowly but inexorably fading. I am conscious of the wrinkles around my eyes and detect the onset of drooping jowls. So I use facial cleaners, I moisturize regularly and liberally, regretting only that I did not begin a preventative beauty regimen when I was in my 20s, and hoping that my aggressive metrosexuality might delay the signs of ageing just a little bit longer. Nevertheless, my looks will decline as I career towards my mid-40s, my 50s, my 60s. And looking old, I will yet almost certainly feel as I do today, wondering what I will be when I grow up.

When I hit the age of (perceived) ugliness, I cannot promise that I will outrightly dismiss the option of plastic surgery. The prohibitive costs of nip/tuck aside — and the obvious conclusion that, as Smokey’s old pals The Temptations so persuasively argued, beauty is only skin deep — there is one central deterrent to having cosmetic surgery. I would fear that I might turn out like poor Smokey Robinson and Farrah Fawcett, the subject of at least one blogger’s pitying insolence.

The idea with cosmetic surgery is that people aren’t supposed to notice that the retention of a youthful appearance is contrived. Sometimes it works. Joan Collins, even at the age of 92 (I’m having a wild guess here), looks decades younger than her possibly forged birth certificate would suggest. But when cosmetic surgery does go wrong, the loss of dignity is multifarious: not only do you look a bit stupid, but you look a bit stupid for advertising your vanity. And a bit more stupid for your narcissistic decision having gone wrong.

That is too much of a risk to take. I will not throw out the moisturizers and facial scrubs just yet, but else I shall do like the frighteningly ugly Keith Richard: don’t give a fuck and feel comfortable in my rugged, weathered skin.