Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Why I've never been cool

I genuinely liked all these songs. And probably still would I heard them again.

Hello this is Joanie (The Telephone Answering Machine Song) - Paul Evans

Difficult to believe nowadays, what with our sat-nav trainers, microweave i-pods and web-enabled ironing boards, but back in 1979 answering machines had a glamorous, hi-tech, American sheen about them. Only Jim Rockford had one. And then Paul Evans released this touching, tragic story with an answering machine message in every chorus. The narrator has an argument with his girlfriend, she stomps off and gets wiped out in a traffic accident. The only way to hear her voice one more time is...I can't bring myself to say it.

I never should have let her drive alone angry from my place
I'd never hold her again and kiss that funny face

Car 67 - Driver 67

Curiously, this was in the charts the same week as Hello this is Joanie. I suppose it was the detritus of earnest mid-seventies singer-songwriters being washed up on the shores of the music industry. This song featured a conversation between a taxi driver and his controller, a man who had the strongest Birmingham accent ever featured in a music recording (if we agree to forget the Electric Light Orchestra, which we probably should).

Anyway, Control wants the driver to pick up a young lady at 83 Royal Gardens, but the driver doesn't want to do it:

Control have mercy on me
I don't wanna do the pick-up, isn't anybody else free?
Stuck in a jam in a one-way street
Why don't you tell her she'd be quicker if she used her feet, yeah

Over several agonising verses, the truth is teased out.

The girl of my dreams left me all alone
And at number 83 is where she made her home

There's a solitary tear trickling down my nose as I write this.

You've got to be a hustler if you want to get on - Sue Wilkinson

This caused a minor public outcry - pretty much anything could cause a public outcry in 1980, mind - by informing young girls that they should have sex with all and sundry in an attempt to better themselves. Wiser heads might have counselled that Sue's simpering voice implied she wasn't being entirely serious, but no, the tabloids clambered on board.

Yes, you've got to be a hustler if you want to get on
Principles can only hold you back
The only women makin' it are women who are shakin' it
They're faking all their morals on the mat

These days, of course, we can see how dated this approach is. Now all you need to get your three and a half seconds of fame is behave like a likeable cretin on reality television for a few days and then sell your story to OK! magazine.