Sunday, May 21, 2006

"Self-disgust is self-obsession, honey, and I do as I please..."

My iPod is in a funny mood.
Random shuffle is pretty much the default setting for my machine, especially when driving - meaning I now manage to pretty much tune out of current hip new hit parade-listening, and only properly heard the apparently-ubiquitous "Crazy" for the first time last week (old age beckons...) - but which allows me to enjoy exploring the often-neglected hinterland of my own music collection.
But then... there are some days when, yes, it just seems that the iPod has a creative mind of its own... and a funny mood on.
Sometimes this produces an ironic, yet apposite segue - for example, the other day's first track, "Parklife" by Blur, romping promptly into "Live Forever" by Oasis.
Then there is the simply odd: with almost 11,000 tracks to choose from, why did the iPod, after playing Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue", decide to follow that up with... Bob Dylan playing a live version of the very same song...? Too much, too soon, of a good thing...
On other occasions, the iPod takes a fancy to one particular artist who keeps cropping up again and again in quickfire, sort-of succession. At the moment, s/he seems stuck on a post-Beatles George Harrison tip.
So far, it hasn't thrown up "Synchronicity" by The Police then immediately followed up with "Synchronicity II", but I'd like to think it will happen - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon...
Most enjoyable of all, however, are those most jarring of musical-and-lyrical lurches.
Driving into work this afternoon, struggling to keep cheery and in control of the car while surrounded by Sunday drivers and swirling rain, it was suddenly exhilirating to have blaring out of the speakers, "Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart", the second track from the Manic Street Preachers' finest album, The Holy Bible - perhaps my most treasured of the 1990s (to go all High Fidelity for a moment, the top five would probably be padded out by Blur, Parklife; Morrissey, Vauxhall And I; The Auteurs, Now I'm A Cowboy; and Crowded House, Together Alone - but anyway...) The album may have a justified reputation as one of the bleakest of recent-ish times, war-torn and self-lacerating, conjuring shards of epic melody from topics such as mass murder, capital punishment, prostitution, the Holocaust, suicide, anorexia, and so depressingly on... (albeit in chopped-up slogans which may seem impenetrable in places, but nevertheless would look strangely cool when scrawled upon a bedroom wall... or, in my humdrum case, scrawled onto pieces of paper and Blu-Tac-ed upon a bedroom wall... Rock'n'roll, eh?)
But there are some good sort-of "jokes" there, too, such as "Ifwhiteamerica..."'s derisive spittings of "Cool, groovy, morning, fine - Tipper Gore was a friend of mine - I love a free country, the stars and stripes and an apple for mommy..." or "Who shall we choose for our morality? I'm thinking right now of Hollywood tragedy... Big Mac, smack, Phoenix R, please smile y'all..."
Hmm. I know, I know - as far as summer 1994 lyrics go, they're not quite "I'm feeling supersonic, give me gin and tonic..."
But still: All hammered and hollered out with scarcely a moment to catch breath, to resist the pounding guerilla army stampede which seems likely to sweep all before it, to fend off the fury of such savagely moral certainty. Phew. North Finchley High Road on a Sunday afternoon never felt quite so apocalyptic. (And other tracks, such as "Yes", "Faster" and "Die In The Summertime" are even more vividly, violently powerful and poignant still...)
So - whatever track is unfortunate enough to be offered up next clearly has a heroically hard act to follow...


I certainly wasn't expecting that.
I'd completely forgotten that was on there in fact.
Which, I suppose, was the point of putting on shuffle in the first place...

All together now: "Now, what starts with the letter C...?"


* (asterisk) said...

Maybe you'll never see this comment, but The Holy Bible is probably my all-time favourite album.

Still, does that apostrophe in "Ifwhiteamerica" piss you off as much as it does me? I noticed you neglected to put it in so figured that was the reason.

Came to you via Into The Pot, by the way.

Aidan said...

Indeed, well-spotted!
Most unworthy of the Manics, such sloppiness...