Part 1: Stuck Inside the School Run With the Britpop Blues Again
For a few heady days about two weeks ago I became obsessed by a song that I, even in the midst of my obsession, would be forced to admit, was pretty mediocre. Maybe all pop music is, by nature or definition or something, mediocre. I don’t think so. That’s the kind of junk cardboard cut-outs from 1964 tell you. The song was by a band called R.E.M. You’ve probably heard of them. Not really surfing the cutting edge here people. My relationship with R.E.M. started, on the bus to school, a long time ago. The morning DJ’s had a thing for “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight”; a perfectly good slice of Mondeo Pop, certainly in the same league as Ten Sharps “You” or Joshua Kaddison’s “Jessie”. I learnt a lot on those bus rides. Actually, it goes back a little further. Before that I have dim memories of R.E.M. having something to do with earnest people in Body Shop T-shirts and the “Blue Peter Green Book” (Going on amazon.co.uk for a penny: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blue-Peter-Green-Book/dp/0563208864). I was also dimly aware that they were The Best Band in the World. Possibly just The Biggest Band in the World. I’m not sure if they were the best band in the world. One of my cousins had a poster that proclaimed Crowded House to be the best band in the world and for an impressionable young mind two Bests into one world didn’t go.
On those bus rides I learnt other lessons. One notable lesson was that Liam Gallagher is a far better role model for a 12 year old than Jarvis Cocker. Perhaps one of the key attractions of Oasis in those days was the way they bigged themselves up as “the biggest band in the world”. Looking back on a global scale they were probably somewhere between The Cranberries and Pearl Jam in the biggest band in the world stakes. Those wicked days are now gone, but I still see the attraction. It was half the reason I got into the Beatles, why fuck around with the, I dunno, Reef when you can be on side with The Best Band in the World. A few days ago I asked a friend of my brother’s why he supported Man United despite living a good 800 or so miles from Old Trafford. “Because they’re the best” was his reply. Yeah, sport’s a whole different thing but the logics kinda similar. Of course, quantifying The Best Band in the World is rather difficult. It can’t just be about record or ticket sales, but those surely play a part, it can’t be about them being “good”, though again that surely plays a part. It’s something nebulous, something to do with an instinctual understanding of rock’s intrinsic value. Something like that.
R.E.M. – The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight: http://youtube.com/watch?v=i0Q-dn6Ba2Y
Ten Sharp – You: http://youtube.com/watch?v=9NWyu42zl0w
Joshua Kaddison – Jessie: http://youtube.com/watch?v=gre4DZuA6k4
To be continued.