Kategoriarkiv: At drikke for at glemme

Royal Starr

The Beatles’ Ringo Starr blev i dag slået til ridder på Buckingham Palace i London. Tidligere har rockstjerner som Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Van Morrison, Robert Plant og Ray Davies også måttet knæle på samme underdanige facon for at modtage den royale udmærkelse. Og jo, det er ret uklædeligt når rockmusik helt konkret ender så forfængeligt spidsborgerligt og titelhungrende uværdigt som det. I den forbindelse findes der dog én befriende udvej: David Bowie viste således det gode eksempel og sagde ‘nej tak’. Endda i to omgange, med tre års mellemrum. Som han så enkelt udtrykte det.

– I seriously don’t know what it’s for. I would never have any intention of accepting anything like that. It’s not what I spent my life working for.


Lana Del Rey synger Andrew Lloyd Webber. Nye ‘You Must Love Me’ kommer fra musicalen Evita, og er således tidligere blevet sunget af Madonna. Her oplever vi indimellem Lana Del Rey som stående ved den klassiske ABBA-skillevej, hvor den ene rute fører mod pop-paradis, den anden ned i musical-helvede. Her er det vej nummer to Lana vælger med sikker hånd. Pænt, nydeligt, korrekt, ferniseret, ligegyldigt, sterilt. Hun kan så meget bedre.

Brev fra Nicolai

I dag er det ét år siden Nicolai Munch-Hansen pludseligt døde. Kun tre måneder tidligere udsendte han sin mesterplade Det Flimrende Lys Over Brabrand Sø,  hvor Nicolais fritvoksende og fintfølende musik blev sat op mod poet Peter Laugesens mesterlige ord. Albummet blev siden kåret som Årets Danske Jazzudgivelse. Hørt herfra er det en positiv misforståelse, for selvom Nicolai elskede sin jazz og var et markant navn indenfor genren, så er Det Flimrende Lys Over Brabrand Sø i den grad en nysgerrigt søgende rockplade. Herfra tanker til dejlige Nicolai på et lydspor af Steen Jørgensen og Kira Skov, der synger om at drikke måneskin…

En ABBA-sang om…død?!

Har netop på Vice læst nogle tankevækkende gode betragtninger om livet i almindelighed og ABBA’s popperfektionsdiamant ‘Dancing Queen’ i særdeleshed. Tror at Angus Harrison’s velskrevne ord også vil kunne få denne blogs læsere til at høre  den svenske evergreen på en ny, frisk måde…

Why Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’ Is the Saddest Record Ever Made
You thought it was just a cheesy song that your great-aunt fell over to at your cousin’s wedding, didn’t you? You were wrong.

(This article originally appeared on THUMP)

Can you remember where you were when you first heard “Dancing Queen”? The chances are it was at a wedding reception, or a 40th birthday party; you were probably five. It was probably mixed in the air with the croaking voices of older relatives pouring down on you, as you ran between their fat, pink legs in a church hall. You probably had a fistful of Wotsits in your possession. You were probably wearing a waistcoat. This is where “Dancing Queen” has made its home. ITV specials, Pierce Brosnan, TOTP2, your nan, buffets, desert island discs, Alan Partridge, Peter Kay routines and karaoke machines.

This is wrong. Because “Dancing Queen” is the saddest record ever made.

In order for this exercise to work, I’m going to have to ask you to forget everything you think you know about ABBA. Forget the cheese and the chintz. Forget the Eurovision song contest. Sit back in as close to silent as you can achieve in your current surroundings, and luxuriate on this:

First things first: what a record. In a conversation with THUMP that we stupidly didn’t record, the ever-enlightened DJ Harvey once told us he believes “Dancing Queen” is the greatest disco record ever made, and it’s hard to disagree. It’s a song of such high-quality, a song so beloved, it’s been nearly entirely ruined by the weight of it legacy. But even then it triumphs. That initial glissando, the endless, breathless, pirouettes in your ears. The tepid beat – barely faster than your heartbeat – the choral whirls and clambering strings. It’s perfect. But you already knew that.

The basic point – the important point – here is this: you have spent your entire life believing “Dancing Queen” is a song about a 17-year-old girl, dancing. And to a point, it is. Yet, have you ever thought about the song’s vantage point?

You are the Dancing Queen, young and sweet, only seventeen
Dancing Queen, feel the beat from the tambourine
You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene, digging the Dancing Queen

Make no mistake. This song is about the dancing queen, but it is most definitely not sung by her. Herein lies the tragedy. Our narrator has realised that she is no longer the Dancing Queen. She is no longer young, no longer sweet, no longer 17. Now, instead, she watches from the bar; the dancefloor a maelstrom of lost faith, memories and missed opportunities. She was once 17, and as such was totally oblivious that the moment would ever end.

“Dancing Queen” is a song about this end. Or at least, edging ever closer towards it. It is a song that respects the truth that the passing of time only moves in one direction. That the second after the greatest moment of your life, it is as far behind you as it will be forever. Fuck your inner child, fuck “you’re only as young as the woman you feel”. You are young once, it happens, and then the rest is a slow slide towards something both inevitable and unknown. Of course, that’s not to say that the slide into adulthood can’t be a rich and bountiful experience. For many, youth is an uncomfortable project, full of Muse albums and matted pubes, and as such something they are glad to watch turn to ash over their shoulder. That’s fine, I get that. There are, however, a large percentage of people who only make sense when they are young. People who find a home away from home in the shimmering reaches of nightclubs.

A lot of cynics would have you believe that nightclubs are only good for trying to get off with people, or that those who purport to love them are merely extending some juvenile urge to deny “the real world”. Sadly, for all their wisdom, the truth is they don’t understand the confidence, the place, many people find when they go out – and just how out of place they can feel once those halcyon days are over. As soon as that moment passes – that moment when they were walking on air through the thick, black promise of the night – as soon as the sun starts to come up on the rest of their lives, they are destined to spend forever stewing on what has ended, or simply pretending it hasn’t.

To every wrong-side of 30 year-old still stubbing cigarettes out on coffee tables at 6 the next morning, everyone who has ever spent entire evenings listening to their terrible teenage CD collection, every aching back on a premature night-bus home: this one’s for you. This is what it’s all about. Watching the Dancing Queen flood the floor with light, a floor you used to own but now creaks under other feet. It’s a beautiful scene, sure, but also an inescapably sad one. Yes, it sounds happy, but that’s the point. The thick melancholy in every piano chord, the unmistakable, immediately singable nature of the chorus are all part of its power. Sometimes when I listen to “Dancing Queen”, around the 2:57 mark, I’m sure I can even hear someone scream. This isn’t joy. This is agony.

ABBA have been fucking depressing on many other occasions. They basically live-blogged their respective divorces via disco ballads. “Slipping Through My Fingers” captures, with devastating effect, the slow trickle of child ageing away from their parent. “The Day Before You Came” details the oblivious mundane existence that precedes a life-changing encounter. And “S.O.S.” –your Aunty Mary’s favourite – horrifically masters the point of total disembodiment from somebody you thought you’d spend forever with. Pretty much everything they have ever recorded is imbued with a wistfulness. A constant interplay between pop sensibility and twisted mentality.

Yet, for my money, none of their hits come anywhere close to “Dancing Queen” in the longing stakes. It is a song that says the best has been. The best now belongs to somebody else. The best you can now do is watch the best and remember when you were the best. It’s a song for the moment when the value of your memories outweigh the value of your ambitions. “Dancing Queen”, a song now most commonly preceded by a function DJ slurring the words “get yer dancing shoes on” into a low quality microphone or belted at West End audiences, is in fact a song about watching the party from the other side of the glass, knowing you’ll never be on the list again.

“Dancing Queen” is a song about death.

© Angus Harrison

Hungarian Suicide Song

Selvmordssangen ‘Gloomy Sunday’ stammer tilbage fra Ungarn i 1933, men blev først for alvor kendt i den større verden da Billie Holiday indspillede sin berømte og feterede udgave i 1941. Siden har talrige sangere, ofte med svigtende held, prøvet lykken og talentet på selvmordssangen, hvis definitive version muligvis kunne være Dundee-duoen Associates’ vægtløse take fra deres ekcentriske popmesterværk Sulk (1981). Sanger Billy Mackenzie giver den her som altid dengang maksimalt vokaldrama, hvilket ikke føles malplaceret, ‘Gloomy Sunday’s alvorlige omdrejningspunkt taget i betragtning. At Mackenzie selv – som sangens protagonist – skulle ende med at tage sit eget liv, er et tragisk twist, der ikke gør oplevelsen af fortvivlelse og fortabelse her mindre…

One soft infested summer…

Har til noget fredagsradio om Springsteen været igang med at finde den allerbedste liveversion af majestætiske men dybt sårede ‘Backstreets’, hans monumentale sang om ungdom, forbundethed, sjælevenskab…og svigt. Sangen blev jo oprindelig udgivet på Born to Run (1975), men det er koncertversionerne to-tre år efter som er de allerstærkeste og spændende pga. stor variation. For hver 1977/78-aften efter fjerde vers lader The E Street Band musikken falde ned, så Springsteen kan fristyle sit såkaldte ‘Sad Eyes’-stykke, der senere skal danne grundlag for ‘Drive All Night’ på The River (1980), men som her er en improviseret historie, dog med visse faste elementer, hvor han igen møder ‘Backstreets’-flammen Terry og konfronterer hende med hans bitre høst af tabte illusioner og knuste drømme. Efter at have været igennem de utallige versioner, jeg har liggende på iTunes, faldt jeg på YouTube over en også meget fin en – endda med levende billeder til – jeg ikke kendte, fra Andover, Maryland, 2. november 1978. I den version lykkes det Springsteen at få flettet 6o’er-hittet ‘Pretty Flamingo’ indover ‘Sad Eyes’, inden Terry får læst og påskrevet for hendes bevidst fortrædelige løgne. Hvis nogen virkelig skulle være interesseret i en top-5 over de allerbedste ‘Backstreets’, så er vi game her.

Rush and a push and the band is ours

Classically Smiths er forbi. Et af de vel korteste – og mest ynkelige – kupforøg i Manchester’s rockhistorie ligger allerede nu, kun få dage efter sin fødsel, i ruiner. Begyndte ellers lovende Twitter-mystisk i weekenden med posteringer af navnene ‘Rourke – Joyce – Gannon’ på sort baggrund. Det var hverken logoet på et nyt advokat- eller bedemandsfirma, men derimod forvarslet om, at The Smiths’ tidligere bassist, trommeslager samt tour-guitarist mandag offentliggjorde planer om kommende koncerter som Classically Smiths, hvor de sammen med et kammerensemble fra Manchester, samt nogle til nu aldrig navngivne vokalister, ville turnere med The Smiths-sangkataloget. Rourke og Joyce udtalte i en pressemeddelelse hvor fantastisk de mente det hele ville kunne blive. Og tre The Smiths-sange fra den kommende setliste blev endda nævnt. Men ak, ikke mange timer skulle gå mandag inden bassist Rourke kom på banen og undsagde sig projektet, som han pludselig aldrig havde forpligtet sig til, eller sagt noget til referat i pressen omkring. Iøvrigt var han meget såret over, alt dette svig og bedrag skulle ramme ham samme uge, som hans nære veninde Dolores o’Riordan fra Cranberries pludselig var gået bort. Tirsdag eftermiddag meddelte trommeslager Joyce så via Facebook, han efter grundige overvejelser fandt en videre deltagelse i projektet ville føles forkert uden Rourke. Og ikke mange timer senere kastede tour-guitarist Gannon naturligvis også håndklædet i ringen. Kupforsøget var således faldet og The Smiths-navnet kunne atter indtage sin til nu 31-årige venteposition på den dag, hvis nogensinde, dets egentlige indehavere skulle få lyst at skrive historie under det igen…

Classically Smiths…?!

Ja, den der annoncerede The Smiths-‘gendannelse’, hvor trommeslager Joyce, bassguitar Rourke, ekstra tourguitarist Gannon, et kammerensemble fra Manchester, samt nogle endnu unavngivne gæstevokalister, skal turnere The Smiths’ sangskat uden Morrissey og Marr, synes en meget uheldig idé. Lige før Peter Hook’s endeløse tour-opførelser af Joy Division/New Order-bagkataloget til sammenligning forekommer helt tilforladelige. Den regulære The Smiths-gendannelse, der i tilhængerkredse længe har været en kun meget fjern drøm, synes nu – for better or worse – helt umulig efter dette besynderlige træk.

Og Shane blev fejret

I aftes på scenen i National Concert Hall i Dublin blev The Pogues’ livstørstige Shane MacGowan’s nylige 60-års fødselsdag fejret med en hyldestkoncert af de større, hvor det meste af hvad der kan kravle og gå inden for irsk musik var kaldt sammen. Bono sang ‘Rainy Night In Soho’, Sinead O’Connor ‘You’re The One’, skotske Bobby Gillespie gav ‘A Pair Of Brown Eyes’, Jesse Malin var der på scenen, Libertines’ Carl Barat, Catatonia’s Ceryl Matthews, Sex Pistol Glen Matlock, Blondie’s Clem Burke, Damien Dempsey, Imelda May og det meste af The Pogues blandt mange andre ligeså. Shane’s gamle ven Nick Cave rundede aftenens gæstesolistparade af med ‘Summer In Siam’, hvorunder Shane selv blev kørt ind på scenen i rullestol – temmelig worse for wear, som det så rammende hedder på engelsk – for at synge med…

Requiem for Sid

På deres bevidst skandaleopsøgende tour gennem det sydlige USA er Sex Pistols denne aften for 40 år siden nået til Longhorn Ballroom i Dallas, Texas. Som kan ses på billedet er touren ikke længere nogen fest for stofafhængige Sid Vicious, som at dømme på sit døde blik har fået så cowboyhatten passer. Endnu fire dage til sidste show i San Francisco, der også skal blive Johnny Rotten’s sidste aften med bandet.