Number 53 – Changing the Format just slightly, as its JC…
And so this fantastic rundown turns its attention to Billy Bragg. It must have been a near impossible task for the boys to narrow things down from what was been a varied but continually stellar career. Personally, I think ‘Levi Stubbs’ Tears’ is his finest composition, but that’s as much to do with being amazed that a man can write something so powerful, emotive, understanding and ultimately uplifting from the perspective of a woman whose life has been ruined by domestic abuse.
But if ever asked to select one song from any point in history that, if I had the talent, I wished I had written it would be this:-
Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards – Chosen by Both of Us – Taken from ‘Workers Playtime’ LP (1988)
I have lost count of the number of times I’ve paid to see Billy Bragg and I’ve never come away ever feeling let down or short-changed. Maybe that’s because he almost without fail, gives the audience a rendition of this raucous and very funny song and you go home smiling and realising that the Bard of Barking truly is a national treasure and that in years to come he’ll win the Nobel Prize for Literature if only they would open up to the writers of pop songs.
However, WFTGLF is a song that nowadays without fail, and despite it being about as far removed from being a sad song as it is possible to get, gets my tear ducts filled up every single fucking time as it makes me think about death.
And it makes me think about death for the simple fact that I want it to be played at my funeral as the mourners depart the service…and I want them all to laugh out loud at the point Billy shouts ‘beam me up Scotty.” I said as much just over a year ago when I put together an ICA for Billy over at my place.
Please believe me when I say that I don’t really think about death a lot, but events over the past few years where I lost, in quick succession my young brother and my best mate at stupidly early ages, kind of raised awareness of it (I’m one of those lucky people whose parents are both still alive and I haven’t really been affected by any tragedies).
It was the music played at both of those funerals that got me thinking in particular about how I wanted to go out – my young brother’s passing was the result of a car accident in Ireland where he lived and the suddenness of it meant we left a lot of the arrangements to the local undertaker who did a remarkable job. My brother’s coffin disappeared behind the curtain to the sound of ‘Time To Say Goodbye’ by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman which really was quite apt in the circumstances – it’s not that my brother liked or disliked the song, it was just the right words for a very difficult and unexpected occasion.
My mate on the other hand, knew his day would come as leukeamia took hold. The funeral was planned to the nth degree including the fact that while one other close friend would deliver a eulogy in the church, it would be down to me to say the final words at the crematorium and lead into an explantaion of why the mourners would be leaving to the sound of ‘Celebrate’ by Kool and The Gang, a track that was a particular favourite of my mate who was, at heart, a disco king and detested my indie tendencies. It was the perfect way in which to send him off.
So I’ve kind of put together a plan for my own funeral including Billy’s song at the end. And I’m doing so as I’ve long had a premonition about the number 53….and this dates back to me at a very young age that this number would somehow have a big impact on my life. At first I used to joke that it meant I would die at the age of 53 – when you’re in your teens and twenties that seems such a long way off. But then as I passed 45 I realised it wasn’t all that far away. It’s then that I started to reassses things and say that it meant I would live till the year 2053, by which time I’ll be 90……which is a real bummer for those who would like to see the back of my torn face.
I’m now just over fourth months past turning 53. I’ve been keeping OK and I haven’t cut back on anything that might make me more susceptible to an early grave. But just in case……the plan is still sort of out there.
But then again maybe I’ve got it all wrong and the number 53 was always just about the fact I was going to write about my funeral song on a music blog as result of a random choice???
The fact is, I said to S-WC and Badger that I would do six songs for their series and that while they could allocate any five numbers they wanted I had to have whatever was #53 in the rundown. I was certainly left speechless when they revealed who and what it was (SWC adds – It really was a complete coincidence, and the other five were chosen at random as well).
So maybe what I really need to do is stop thinking about death and thank them for allowing me to reclaim that song in all its joyous glory, humour and above all else, its sideways dig at fanzine writers, the modern day equivalent of who are, of course, music bloggers.
All hail S-WC and Badger. I owe you big time as I’ll now think of WFTGLF as being #53 in the best ever rundown on t’internet rather than the self-indulgent way I have these past few years.
But I still want it played at my funeral.
PS : I make no apologies for the rambling and lengthy nature of this contribution and thanks for indulging me. As it turns out I also got #52 so I’m back tomorrow with considerably less to say for myself.
SWC adds – I’m going to say nothing and just sit back and applaud an excellent piece of writing. Oh and just for JC – here’s Levi Stubbs’s Tears, which as it happens was a very close second to being picked on here.
More JC Tomorrow as he said up there.