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

A tribute to Holger Czukay

Holger Czukay

Once I was blind, now I can see
Once I was blind but now I can see
Now that you’re in love with me
You made a believer out o’ me, babe
You made a believer out o’ me
You Doo Right, 1969

“The bass player’s like a king in chess. He doesn’t move much, but when he does he changes everything.” – Holger Czukay

1. Public Image Ltd – Poptones 

2. The Raincoats – Adventures Close To Home

3. Sonic Youth – Teenage Riot

4. Electrelane – To The East

5. Siouxsie And The Banshees – Happy House

6. Kraftwerk – Autobahn

7. Tricky – Hell Is Round The Corner

8. The Fall – Rowche Rumble

9. Spacemen 3 – Walkin’ With Jesus

10. Joy Division – Atmosphere

11. The Stone Roses – I Am The Resurrection

12. David Bowie – Sound And Vision

13. Primal Scream – Kowalski

14. Hole – The Void

15. Suicide – Frankie Teardrop

16. Oasis – The Shock Of The Lightning

17. Talking Heads – Life After Wartime (live)

18. Roots Manuva – Witness The Fitness

19. Galaxie 500 – Don’t Let Our Youth Go To Waste

20. Pavement – Home

21. Happy Mondays – Step On

22. Lumerians – Burning Mirrors

23. Bushwalking – No Enter (live)

24. The Deadnotes + The Legend! – Real Bad Man

25. The Black Angels – Black Grease

26. Spoon – Can I Sit Next To You

27. Stereolab – Ping Pong (live)

28. The Jesus And Mary Chain – Mushroom

29. Teen – Better

30. Hookworms – Away/Towards

31. Thee Open Sex – I Do Not Know What

32. Talk Talk – It’s My Life

33. The Mars Volta – Goliath

34. Neu! – Autogallo

35. Blondie – Heroes (live)

36. Law – Hustle

37. Young Fathers – Shame

38. Massive Attack – Teardrop

39. Portishead – Wandering Star

40. The Bastards Of Fate – Huge Magic

41. Life Without Buildings – The Leanover

42. FKA Twigs – Pendulum

43. Goldie – Inner City Life

44. The KLF – 3 am Eternal

45. Radiohead – There There

46. The Flaming Lips – Take Me Ta Mars

47. Moonshake – Capital Letters

48. U.N.K.L.E. – Unreal

49. Rattle – Starting

50. DJ Shadow – Midnight In A Perfect World

51. Effi Briest – Mirror Rim

52. Gang Gang Dance – Princes

53. Malaria! – Kaltes Klares Wasser

54. D.A.F. – Der Mussolini

55. Der Plan – Gummitwist

56. Alternative TV – Life

57. Tunabunny – I Miss You

58. Pylon – Cool

59. Blank Realm – Cleaning Up My Mess

60. John Steel Singers – State Of Unrest

61. Las Kellies – Perro Rompebolas

62. Loop – Mother Sky

63. Pere Ubu – Final Solution

64. Gong – You

65. Pete Shelley – Homosapien

66. Faust – It’s a Rainy Day (Sunshine Girl)

67. The Red Crayola – Born In Flames

68. Suburban Lawns – Janitor

69. Buzzcocks – Moving Away From The Pulsebeat

70. Th’ Faith Healers – Spin 1/2

71. Pram – Sea Shells And Distant Squalls

72. Prolapse – Killing The Bland

73. Clinic – Walking With Thee

74. Swell Maps – Full Moon In My Pocket

75. The Walkabouts – Eveningland

76. Eurythmics — Le Sinistre

77. Moebius-Plank-Neumeier – Pitch Control

78. Vanessa Paradis – Joe Le Taxi

79. David Sylvian – Nostalgia

80. Yoko Ono – Mind Train

81. The Church – Chaos

82. Tony Conrad & Faust – Outside The Dream Syndicate

83. Keith Hudson – Pick a Dub

84. Dr Alimantado – Just The Other Day

85. Nora Dean – Ay Ay Ay

86. Phew – Signal

87. Will Tang – Love Bites (Andy Votel remix)

88. Nista Nije Nista – Kollektives Gedächtnis

89. Muscles Of Joy – (untitled)

90. No Mas Bodas – Carousel

91. The New Sound of Numbers – Complete/Like Children Do

92. Warpaint – Disco//Very – Keep It Healthy

93. Keith Hudson – Pick a Dub

94. Dr Alimantado – Just The Other Day

95. Nora Dean – Ay Ay Ay

96. Tony Conrad & Faust – Outside The Dream Syndicate

There’s an awesome Spotify playlist that in the grand tradition of Can does not contain all the songs above, but several extra and different, which can be found here thanks to Lucy Cage.

Originally published on Collapse Board

How NOT to write about music in the time of Coronavirus – 2. Jim Bob

2020WTF jimbob

One year, two videos.


I wrote 2020 WTF! at the end of 2019. Back then I made an educated guess that the things that seemed so awful and negative – terrorism, war, knife and gun crime, school shootings, toxic masculinity, polarised opinion on social media etc – wouldn’t miraculously disappear with the final bongs, fireworks and boogie-woogie piano notes of the New Year.

So I took a punt and included the song on what will be my new album (out later this year). I’d always planned on releasing 2020 WTF! as a single around about now. Little did I know how lacking of a third verse it might end up sounding. How elephanty in the room it is. But the sentiment in the song remains the same. Uplifting and moving songs at difficult times are great. ‘Imagine’ and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ do their trick just fine. But sometimes what you need is 26 seconds of punk rock discombobulation and despair to scream at the wall.

Take care.
Jim Bob x


I wrote We’re All Going To Die in the mid of 2015, shortly before we moved back to England. Back then I made an educated guess that despite the celebration of life that goes on continually around us – Eamonn Holmes, Piers Morgan, Donald Trump, #boristhebutcher, Michael Gove, that far right twat who hides his posh double-barrelled name behind a prison sentence – sooner or later it would come to a close, perhaps not at the end of the year though.

So I took a chance and uploaded the song to YouTube, where it lay there festering for several years despite the inclement truth of it. I’d never planned on releasing it as a single, and still don’t. Little did I know how in its erudite composition and subtle key shifts, people might end up claiming it as prescient, timely, set to break the Internet one day (hopefully, before we all die). But the sentiment in the song remains the same. Maudlin and well-meaning songs during these times are crap, ‘Imagine’ triply so. But sometimes what you need is one idea, repeated 30 times – some claim 31 – of upbeat remonstrance to scream at the world.

Bit late to take care now, don’t you think?
Everett True x

With apologies to Jim Bob, whose 26-second thrash I enjoyed very much

How NOT to write about music in the time of Coronavirus – 1. Al Green

Al Green How Can You Mend

The last time I wrote on this blog was 12 March, over a month ago.

I have not given up listening.
I have not given up caring.

When the children are around (Daniel was here for three weeks straight, starting in March) then I shy away from playing music, same reason I have always done – too much competition. As Pete Shelley once sang, “Little girls/Little boys/Have you ever heard your mommy shout/Noise annoys”. There is one main room in this house, and at all times I need to hear the conversation that is going down in case it breaks out. Sometimes I might play a little low level Electric Light Orchestra or Sonic Youth, to give up in despairing frustration 10 or 15 minutes later. Easier to give in to the far more uplifting, cheering sound of children’s voices. No music in the world can match that.

When the children are not around, then I usually wallow in the silence. Let it feed over me, calm this sullen soul. This perennial lockdown is nothing new to me: if I but had a partner (a relationship) I think I could well be as happy as I have ever been. As it is, I have intense periods of work followed by intense periods of isolation followed by intense periods of work. And so on. The loneliness sucks but I draw comfort from the fact I cannot be the only person who knows this now (not like before). I do not watch television (generally) or play music (generally). I do not care. I enjoy the wallow… enjoy is not the correct words. I accept the silence. I live in the spaces, the gaps in between.

I have not given up listening.
I have not given up caring.

It does strike me however that nearly all the people I can see playing out their new roles and ways of being on social media seem more passionately involved with music (or tv or football or quizzes) than me. Sometimes I wonder if I should be bothered, but my life has been stuck in this waiting room for several years now – dating back to Brisbane, easy – and it is so difficult to change habit. I am stuck staring at walls, not even staring. I am stuck lounging on the sofa, not even lounging. I mended the back gate yesterday. It took five minutes but that burst of activity should see me through the next six months.

I thought up the title of my next autobiography earlier: I Coulda Been Jim Reid. It would have been a short book, though: just one line.

But I didn’t want to be.

Stuff that I want to talk about, I have no one to talk about with. God, I wish I had that person to talk with.

Video conference me.

This feels like an Al Green kind of day. Kind of melancholy, kind of blue but also kind of OK with Al singing sweet sympathy into my ear, reassuring, cajoling. Everything feels more achievable when the sweet Reverend is in the room, everything feels like maybe it might just about turn out alright even through all the melancholy and heartbreak. What paralysis of the soul cannot be cured by a few well-placed “la la la’s” from the Reverend, and what distant tremor of loneliness cannot be assuaged by that sweet, sweet electric organ, and what isolation chamber cannot be broken by subtle repetition and reflection and the gentlest, whisper-it percussion?

I may not be able to mend a broken heart but I fixed the back gate yesterday.