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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Living With Me's Like Keeping A Fool


I've decided to play join-the-dots this week. Monday was DJ Shadow. Yesterday was DJ Shadow as part of UNKLE with vocals from Richard Ashcroft. Today is Richard Ashcroft as singer of The Verve. Plus those strings at the end of UNKLE's Lonely Soul would segue very well into today's song.

History is from A Northern Soul, The Verve's second album. Their early singles were great records- huge, fluid, sunscraping psychedelia, with 'Mad' Richard claiming he would fly and believing it. By the time of A Northern Soul they'd cut down the sprawl to more a concise, more classicist, song oriented thing. I blame Oasis. History is a stand out song- a sweeping, desperately, achingly sad string section, an acoustic guitar and Richard bemoaning his lot, world weary, bummed out, alone and full of self pity. It's a song for wallowing in (but not for too long, it's not healthy).

History

Richard channeled metaphysical poet William Blake for the first verse. Blake's London goes...

I wander thro' each charter'd street, / Near where the charter'd Thames does flow. / And mark in every face I meet / Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

Richard has it as...

I wander lonely streets / Behind where the old Thames does flow / And in every face I meet / Reminds me of what I have run from.

He layers it on- living is for other men, three is company, how he loved and how he failed, you and me we're history, nothing left to say, living with me is like keeping a fool. This longer album version finishes with 'I've got a skin full of dope' part, which- let's be honest- may be the crux of the problem. She may have left 'cos you were always stoned Richard.

The third album, Urban Hymns (Bittersweet Symphony excepted) is one-paced, radio rock, far less interesting and obviously far more successful.

7 comments:

thewalker said...

I LOVE musical join the dots. Keep it going.

I managed to fill two and a half hours on the radio one time with 100% join the dots. even managed to link Richard Sen/Padded Cell to Sabres of Paradise via cover art.

The Swede said...

I'd agree with your general assessment of 'Urban Hymns', though I would also give special mention to 'The Drugs Don't Work', a beautiful song that captures the awful helplessness of watching a loved one's life slipping away, like nothing else I've ever heard.

Singing Bear said...

Never been much of a fan of The Verve or Mr. Ashcroft (apart form the already mentioned beauty of 'The Drugs Don't Work') but I'll give this a go. One pain in the arse (that's me) quibble: I'd be wary of describing William Blake as a Metaphysical Poet. Blake must be one of the most difficult of all artists to pin down. He basically transcended all genres. Few understood or appreciated him in his own time and whilst he's appreciated more now, it's still nigh-on impossible to fully understand him. A bit like Mark E. Smith. I'm pretty obsessed by both and can't claim to really know what they were/are going on about. Did I digress? Sorry.

Swiss Adam said...

Swede- I'll give you The Drugs Don't Work, fair point.

Singing Bear- I'm a big fan of Blake, don't know if I understand him fully though. Metaphysical seemed to fit but I'll accept your wariness.

The Walker- ta. I'll keep it going for a bit longer. I like the Padded cell/sabres link.

charity chic said...

Oasis have a lot to answer for I feel

Anonymous said...

I can't listen to History but This Is Music still hits me like a train at 90mph.
Tedloaf

Swiss Adam said...

Yeah, This Is Music is a keeper.