Category Archives: Pop

Not the Best Thing that Ever Happened …

Book: Skagboys

Author: Irvine Welsh

Music: You’re the Best Thing

Artist: The Style Council

Sometime back in the late 1980s or early 1990s, under duress from a good friend at the time, I swapped my copy of The Style Council’s Greatest Hits for something else. I don’t even remember what I got in exchange, I just know it wasm’t as good as the album I gave up. It was on cassette, by the way. Unlike with many other albums, I had not bought it on vinyl and did not buy it on CD or as an MP3. I can, of course, just stream it for virtually nothing these days but I still wish I hadn’t so easily given into his wheedling.

 


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Familiarity breeds disinterest

Book: Skagboys

Author: Irvine Welsh

Music: Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

Artist: The Four Lads

Last November, Paris was the target of a terrorist attack and the world responded with a flood of tricolors. Last week Istanbul was the target of a terrorist attack. I failed to notice any instances of Facebook users generating a profile pic overlaid with red and the white crescent and star of the iconic Turkish banner. Yesterday, Dhaka in Bangladesh was the target of a terrorist attack. I haven’t seen any profile pics being overlaid with green and the red disc of the rather less familiar Bangladeshi flag. I wonder why that is. Are those places just not as sexy or evocative as Paris for many people, Americans especially, or are these attacks, like the mass-murders by gunmen in the US becoming so commonplace that people don’t have the time or inclination for the Paris-like outpouring of Facebook emotions?


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Not Too Shy for that Hair

Book: Skagboys

Author: Irvine Welsh

Music: Too Shy

Artist: Kajagoogoo

 

The Irish nation never claimed Kajagoogoo. We had U2 by then. And that hairstyle?

 


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Will Ireland Claim Donald Trump?

Book: Skagboys

Author: Irvine Welsh

Music: Claire

Artist: Gilbert O’Sullivan

It’s been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time … six months fly by, don’t they?

Anyway, I’m bound to have already mentioned the fact that Ireland in the 1970s was a miserable place on a macro level and—outside of the Eurovision Song Contest—a generally, though not always, parochial place on a musical level. When Gilbert O’Sullivan emerged from that gloom in the very early years of that decade with a few hit songs in England—”Alone Again,” “Get Down,” and this one, “Clair”—it quickly emerged that he was Irish.

Ireland’s gotten very adept in the years since at claiming a lot of non-Irish-born celebrities for herself. It may be the attempt of a small country to draw attention to itself or a reaction to the English media’s annoying habit of claiming Irish celebrities of pop culture and sport as one of their own (they do it with the Scots, too) but, in any case, we do it a lot. Every time for example, a new US president is elected, there’s an immediate scramble to locate his (his, so far) Irish ancestry. Not sure it there’ll be such a rush if the Republican nominee (presumptive) in 2016 is elected.

Back to the Gilbert, though, he was a real Irishman – didn’t matter that he left “home” when he was just seven, he was one of us. He had nice songs. he was Irish, and he was on Top of the Pops. Didn’t take much to make us happy back then.


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Playlist: Black Swan Green

Book: Black Swan Green

Author: David Mitchell


This is missing John Lennon’s ‘#9 Dream’ since it doesn’t appear on Spotify.

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And so ends Black Swan Green

Book: Black Swan Green

Author: David Mitchell

Music: Planet Earth

Composer/Artist: Duran Duran

I don’t have a lot to say about this and it doesn’t really prompt me to write about anything else. I was surprised when reading about the song that it was Duran Duran’s debut single. I thought this came along later in their career.

This is the last song I noted from the rather enjoyable Black Swan Green by David Mitchell. It took me a helluva lot longer to get through that than I thought it would. The posts related to the book, not the book itself.


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Come on, still.

Book: Black Swan Green

Author: David Mitchell

Music: Come on Eileen

Composer/Artist: Dexy’s Midnight Runners

My mother’s name is Eileen. In 1982 when Kevin Rowland’s raggle taggle gypsies too-rye-ay-ed their way to the top of the charts in Ireland with ‘Come on Eileen,’ ‘my’ Eileen was admitted to hospital in Dublin for a kidney operation. It was the first time she’d been out of the house for any period of time since she and my father had gone to England for a cousin’s wedding in 1976. That was the second and final time my father had left the country, the first being their honeymoon to the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, two decades earlier.

It was also the first time she was away from the house since he died in 1978. Mortality was real. She wasn’t going to die but she could. We’d go to visit her in Jervis Street Hospital – long since turned into a shopping centre – getting lifts with various relatives. One particular uncle marauded around Dublin in his Ford Fiesta endangering everyone who came into his orbit. He was colour blind. That didn’t help matters. Dublin was probably the only place he’d ever driven that had traffic lights. I have one recollection of him barelling around Trinity College at College Green, slicing across lanes of traffic and not giving a shit. My memory of that day includes blaring horns (though not quite squealing brakes and screeching tyres) but I’m not sure if that ever happened.

In any case, when the song came on I would think about my mother and urge her towards full health. I still do.


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