i hate ballboy (part two of an occasional series)

[Another music-based post today. I’d suggest you soundtrack it by listening to Time Is Falling, the EP by friend of the blog Josh and his bandmates in Attics. Even though it’s fab, you can stream it and download it for free!]

Welcome, friends, to part two of Stroke Bloke’s reflections on some personally meaningful songs. (Part one is here.) This time, I’m going to lift the restriction limiting our choons to Scottish numbers, for reasons that will become evident. (Although, I’d love to include these folks: http://www.edinburghartfestival.com/commissions/complaintschoir.)

Edinburgh council's complaints brochure
The Complaints Choir?
Sounds rubbish.

So, a quick recap of numbers 1-3 (Hmm… letters A-C…?) in my top ten, and we’ll press on….

TOTP
Another childhood memory ruined.

    1. i hate scotland — ballboy
    2. I Hung My Harp Upon The Willows — The Trashcan Sinatras
    3. I Didn’t See It Coming — Belle & Sebastian
    4. Classy Girls — The Lumineers

      It’s alright, the hardest part is through.
      It’s an old saw that smell and memory are closely related. (For more on the science of that, click here.) But many of you will recognize the association between songs and memories. I can recall where I was when I listened most intensely and intently to songs like Simple Minds’ Street Fighting Years (Carbisdale Castle), Robert Cray’s Bad Influence (Aberlour House) and The Cars’ Just What I Needed (my room, upstairs). Also, over twenty years later, the girls I fancied at the time.I kinda wish I had been listening to this track when Beth and I met. When we went out on our first “proper” date, she was wearing a t-shirt that read, “Fucking Classy”. Although, true to that description, the font was sufficiently ornate and illegible that I wouldn’t have known that if she hadn’t told me. This song, however, gained its resonance some time later. This is the song that Beth would listen to when she walked along Eighth Avenue in Brooklyn to visit me in Methodist Hospital. For a short while, it was difficult to listen to, because during recovery, one of the things I hated was that I hadn’t been able to do much to comfort her during this period. Now, it has yet another meaning again. From this perspective, I’m just happy that I managed to stay “upbeat” and work hard at rehab, and that I’m sitting here typing with my Classy Girl next to me at the table.
    5. Imagineer — The Imagineers

      Now I know enough, cause I’m old enough
      And I’m bold enough to say:
      I’m an Imagineer, I see as I say.
      I like that The Imagineers lead singer sings in his Scottish accent in this song. The Proclaimers were pilloried for this when they started, but it was a conscious — almost political — decision. If pop music is, firstly, for young people, it’s good that they can hear voices like their own, I think. I first came across this band when a man with a Scottish accent took CBS’s Late Late Show to Scotland. Craig Ferguson’s shows in Scotland were soundtracked by The Imagineers, and those shows were yet another sign that it was time to come home. And Rashida Jones’s guide to doing a Scottish accent was the key to Beth finally giving it a bash herself.

      Craigie and Rashida enjoy the Scottish Riviera
      “Oh, hello, how are ye?”
    6. Nice Cave — Into My Arms

      I don’t believe in an interventionist god
      I wrote recently about getting the first Birthday Party album, Prayers On Fire, from Edinburgh’s Avalanche Records.  That was a long time ago, and I’m very different now, in a lot of ways. Recently, a number of friends have seen The Bad Seeds in NYC, and returned with unanimously complimentary reports. During the intervening period, it’s been interesting to reflect on how different the various Nicks have been: Druggie Birthday Party Nick, The Proposition Screenwriter Nick, And The Ass Saw The Angel Novelist Nick. I like that. And I could go off on some of my humanist prosthelytising here. But this song’s just on the list because it’s beautiful.
    7. Sheela-Na-Gig — PJ Harvey

      Heard it before. No more.
      Into My Arms is on Cave’s The Boatman’s Call, which was written, I believe, at a time during which he was dating PJ Harvey. I first heard of Peej, and this song, when I was listening to her first John Peel session, under the covers, in 1991. I was struck by it, initially, just because of the sound. As I paid more attention, bought the album, Dry, and it’s follow-up, Rid Of Me, and went to see her live in Glasgow, what was even more striking was that this tiny, young woman was claiming guitars, rock and sex for herself.

      PJ Harvey's Rid Of Me
      Fuck you, The Man!

      Looking at the i hate ballboy list to date, I see that it’s dominated by men. In this week of twitter threats, bullying and idiots, I’m glad that this song redresses the balance a little. I tweeted Suzanne Moore’s article about the ongoing feminist struggle last night, and urge you to read it. Please. Consider it recompense for the excuse to skive off work for a few minutes twice a week.

And that’s the end of this installment of i hate ballboy. A more strokey post on Monday, I think.

Stroke Bloke in his hospital bed. And leggings.
No, not like that!

But in the meantime, one more request. I’d really, genuinely, love to hear any stories that any apoplectics have about any song that means something to them. Even if they’re short. A couple of lines. I know a bunch of you are big music heads. Thanks in advance…?

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