A video for Protest Song by The Astronauts.
I used images from artists I was into at college.
A video for Protest Song by The Astronauts.
I used images from artists I was into at college.
Today I want to write about a song from The Darkness’s third album ‘Hot Cakes’. As with ‘One way ticket to hell and back’ it’s taken me a ridiculously long time to get from seeing the awesome album cover to listening to the songs. I have no excuse. I discovered the music of ‘Hot Cakes’ about 3 months ago. I am really enjoying it!
However I would say that the erotic possibilities of pancakes are not limited to after they are cooked.
Here’s the song –
I think it’s a brave song which deals with issues other artists have avoided. There is a magic tension between the often stark lyrics and the way they are delivered. I especially like ‘Love is not the beginning and love, love is not the end’. The song forms a circle around the dark or unseen side of relationships. We are moved away from normal romantic imagery and notions, towards new territory. It can be seen as a cautionary song warning that if we idealise love itself, then we are not dealing with love, because love is by nature as imperfect as we are.
I also like the lyrics ‘It can melt a heart of stone and nobody can make it on their own.’
In some ways these lyrics remind me of The Kooks. They appear to be simple, but they open the doors wide for multiple interpretations. Especially as stone really has a melting point, just a very high one. Similarly people with apparently stony hearts, can be reached with love, perhaps just requiring a higher dose! The Kooks say ‘She came to my show just to hear about my day.’ Which is also deceptively simple, especially as ‘show’ can mean ‘an outward appearance’- making the line suggestive of any aspect of interpreting body language etc.
I like the humour of ‘and nobody can make it on their own’ – which brings to mind someone attempting to make love to themselves. This line also pins down the observation that love is by nature a shared thing – and even if it only imagined, it is imagined as a shared thing, and that imagining has shared repercussions.
We cannot make a seashell or stone because they are naturally formed. The song returns love to nature and it’s mystery, and rejects the notion that we can take ownership of it’s power. The way that we imagine love is informed by our experience of it. So there is cycling of emotions occurring in the world around us, and the loops the song make journey through various shared aspects of love itself. Throughout this journey there is a refusal to sway to idealise any aspect of love, and I think that’s perhaps what guides the song to make it’s direct hit.
Today I want to write about my experience of The Darkness’s ‘Hazel Eyes’ from their second album ‘One way ticket to hell and back’.
When the album came out, my college friends recommended it to me. But despite loving the band I didn’t want to listen to it. This is basically because I was terrified of what I call The Evil Train on the album cover. I didn’t want to have anything to do with The Evil Train. Call it artistic sensitivity or being an utter wuss, the end result was the same, I dodged the album like a small animal dodges hooves in a stampede. For a while.
For me trains were a symbol of fate, because they move on tracks. Forgetting that trains can switch tracks, I also saw them as a symbol of predeterminism. At the time I only believed in one possible future, in the same way that there appears to be only one past. This was an idea that gave me a smug peacefulness, and the idea that the train/fate itself could be possessed seemed to attack my philosophy. I pretended the album had not happened, and I did not listen to it.
After college I skipped off to university. Before the tidal wave of ordinary life could threaten to hit me, I ran away with a brain scientist to paddle in LSD etc. He had the impressive goal of searching for a cure for epilepsy. He weighed our recreational drugs with the same attention to detail he possessed in the lab. I felt in safe hands. Unfortunately he had an addictive personality and things slid into chaos. I stayed until he finished his Phd. It seemed that if I left before then he would have been unable to finish. My parents drove me home, and I remained quiet in the car. However once back in the house, and it was safe to do so, I screamed a lot.
One following summer I wrote to a man on a dating site. That day we bounced a few emails, and I found he was able to take some of the pressure off. We got talking about many things, but especially music. Following my bad trips, I had the idea that I could not listen to certain things. He told me about his experiences with music in general, and recommended songs to me. He wasn’t bothered by the idea that a song could give me a flashback. And virtually holding his hand through a musical landscape, I was reassured that the songs he recommended weren’t going to hurt me.
I can’t remember how we got onto ‘One way ticket to hell and back’, but I explained my thoughts about the album cover. In his gentle way he encouraged me to listen to some of the songs. He hadn’t let me down so far, so I did as he suggested. The song I got stuck on was ‘Hazel Eyes’. I was fascinated by this song and we listened to it on repeat.
I had many questions, which my new friend helped me to explore. As a writer of detective fiction, he didn’t give me the answers, but helped me to explore my curiosity where it took me.
What were hazel eyes exactly? Are my eyes close enough to hazel to also inspire the singer? Are my mum’s eyes actually properly hazel? Does that mean he would like my mum’s eyes more? Does the song suggest that he loves pretty eyes in general, and its not so important if they are exactly hazel tone? Etc, etc. My neurotic thinking had become fun again! And the more I shared it the more fun it was. He seemed interested in everything I was interested in simply because I was interested in it. He said he always wanted to be a rock star, but couldn’t so was a writer instead. Anyway we spiralled together, and my madness found a home in him.
Listening to ‘Hazel Eyes’ again reminds me of getting to know him, and rediscovering I could still enjoy my neurotic nature and share that enjoyment with others. I had been through a chaos and felt gloomy a lot of the time but the ‘Hazel Eyes’ song reached me through my gloom. I don’t remember much from that time, but I do remember listening to Hazel Eyes. So this means it feels like a porthole into a forgotten time, which adds to the songs fascination for me today. I also love the album as a whole.
Today I want to write about ‘Get your hands off of my woman’ by The Darkness. The song is from their first album ‘Permission to land’.
I feel like the album came out at the perfect time for me. I had left school, and was trying to conjure up a new optimism that college really would be a different world, where I would be treated better. The defiant spirit of The Darkness really worked for me, and to my delight their music had the same effect on my peers. Just that in itself helped me feel more a part of things.
I felt very connected to their sound because I also use my anxiety directly as creative fuel. In 2003 The Darkness proved to me that it was possible to do as I was doing, in a way that was popular and fun. I wanted to be popular and fun! So I began to explore. I knew I could follow the current of my obsessiveness, and find humour, but previously this would be a rather private exercise.
I loved surrealism, but I saw it as something I outputted rather than was. I think after listening to The Darkness this shifted and I began to feel more that I was a surreal thing as a person. Where once I would have striven to be perfect and act perfectly, the new idea was that a paradoxical confidence could be found in celebrating my own anxieties. I was now convinced it would be not only acceptable to expose my own spiraling obsessiveness, but that it could be a lot of fun too.
Anyway, I bought the CD and loved it. However at the time I struggled with ‘Get your hands off of my woman’. Actually I’m glad I did, because remembering that, helps me to relate to the confusion some people feel about the band. As a teenager I found the song too offensive, whilst at the same time loving it. This was unsettling and I wasn’t used to feeling so conflicted. The song has a relentless transcendent playfulness which I got caught up in, whilst still being fixed, open mouthed each time ‘mother fucker’ reached my unaccustomed young ears! Did he really say that.
I now think it is a very deep song, and much more than being a literal story about a pub brawl between two men as some have suggested. I think when a crowd is immersed in this song, it is just as much about re-experiencing our infant trauma of being born, the great separation, and how this contains an echo in all that we do. Life is always about trying to keep hold of things and people, who are taken from us. The scream of the angry toddler doesn’t leave us as we grow up. The original grief twists into new forms. The early injustice we feel, lays the foundation for how we feel about all of our adult concepts of injustice.
To help us suffer more there is the cultural expectation that we will behave and articulate ourselves like grown ups, as we are burnt by painful experiences. I think the song is strung out between these two poles. It contains logical thoughts and explanation, which inevitably burst through to their root of primitive aggression. Yet somehow despite these storms, its a very British song which remains very self aware at it’s most angry. In that way it kind of has the atmosphere of the wildest moments in a British sit com.
During the formative years, we also imagine the world to be like an extension of our mothers. This concept is found in many religions as the idea of the Earth as a mother. I think this is also relevant to the song. As well as motherfuckers of minor fuck ups, its also good to think of what it means to us collectively as a species. If we don’t want to be at the mercy of global motherfuckers, then we will have to be pioneers of a culture where we all care a bit more about our home planet.
I love it that the song can be experienced on whatever level you like, or on many levels at once. In that way it is a mythical song which reveals the changing meanings of any concept. Language can be used as consciously or unconsciously as we like, but by breaking things down and looking at how they are constructed, we can have a better understanding of how our words offend or shock us. An idea you can learn from a textbook, but this song gives the listener a direct, full on experience of meanings in flux, and it’s an absolute pleasure to experience.