How NOT to write about music in the time of Coronavirus – 4. ‘The Jerk’

Tonight You Belong To Me; Steve Martin & Bernadette Peters The Jerk 1979

The temptation here is to talk about how the post-The Jerk cover versions – and there are plenty of post-The Jerk cover versions, for this is a well-loved song and performance, from Eddie Vedder & Chan Marshall to Zooey Deschanel & Ben Schwartz, from Fiona Apple & Jon Brion to The Copacetics, to the cutesy four-year-old – get it so wrong. (Well, not the four-year-old.) They go too schmaltzy or too cute, can’t resist the temptation to show off their musicanly chops, over-complicate something that does not need additional layers, throw in the odd knowing wink through a misplaced note or intonation.

That is the temptation here, but fuck. These days are so long and so draining.

I am fatigued, even before I wake.

It takes me five good cups of coffee even to turn my computer on, some days.

I don’t want to be negative here. My only intention with this post is to share something that is near enough my conception of beauty, it is so joyous and direct and life-affirming. A simple (yet complicated) pleasure – but aren’t simple pleasures what we are all seeking right now? (I say complicated too, because my enjoyment of this performance is tied up both in nostalgia for a future that never came, and inability to comprehend love companionship.) Increasingly, I catch myself staring into the patterns of branches in trees, the way they form their own maps: a flower in the weeds by a street sign; my daughter’s face when she discovers something new and illuminating. This is what this performance makes me feel like, and I am wrong to deny the others their joy in covering a song they too love, even if I feel they have it wrong.

The moment when Bernadette brings out the trumpet…

That moment.

How NOT to write about music in the time of Coronavirus – 3. Idles

idles mr motivator

This is brilliant.

I have no words, no energy left to explain this. It takes two hours to type out two sentences of music criticism these days, in between the student trauma and the home schooling and the walks to nowhere and the unforgiving Zoom meetings. I leave my video camera and mic on constantly now, might as well document this decay. I leave  the porchlight shining, the music muted, the intolerance of tolerance at an all-time low.

This is brilliant. It reminds me of way underrated lower-case Welsh band mclusky, and some fucking righteous shit I’d have been sweating out my sexual frustration to during the early 1980s – The Cravats or Membranes, say. I don’t know. Give me your own examples. It makes me wish I wasn’t reduced to this quivering mass of overheated blubber every hot spring evening. It makes me wish I too had grabbed the mic and made the floorboards shake with the sound of stamping feet. I had no idea Idles sounded like this, no idea whatsoever. Do they? Do they really? I mean, WHAT THE FUCK?

This is brilliant. The lyrics are as smart as the video as are smart as the music is as smart as the repetition is as smart as the sardonic vocals is as smart as the call-to-arms. I too want to dance round my suburban blue rinse hours like a twat for hours on end to IDLES to IDLEs to IDLES to IDLES. How d’you like them clichés? Reality is, of course: I can manage about two minutes before I collapse in a blubbered heap of indifference and fatigue, fatigue that begins and ends nowhere. My god, this is brilliant. Please. Don’t even get me started on the video. Too much personal ecstasy to bear. So many moments.

God damn, this is brilliant. This is Tropical Fuck Storm great.

Like Kathleen Hannah with bear claws grabbing Trump by the pussy
Like Delia Smith after ten Chardonnays baking me a nice cookie
How d’you like them clichés?

Let’s seize the day
All hold hands
Chase the pricks away