The Blog Of Eternal Stench

If I am honest, the recent death of David Bowie, whilst extremely sad, didn’t affect me as much as it has clearly affected some people.

This is not meant to be disrespectful in the slightest, far from it, and I fully appreciate the huge impact he has had on the world of music, it’s just that I didn’t really grow up listening to his songs, and I am (perhaps to my shame) a little ignorant of his back catalogue. With the exception of some of his more well-known songs, such as ‘Heroes’, ‘Starman’, ‘Ziggy Stardust’, ‘Life on Mars?’ and a handful of others, his music has largely passed me by.

Bowie fans shouldn’t be offended by this, as there are plenty of well-known bands and artists that I have never really listened to, much in the same way there are lots of ‘classic’ films I have never watched (Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, Sharknado 3….)

I know I am not alone here, as many people are clearly now rectifying their ignorance by buying David Bowie albums in their thousands, and I am no exception, having recently invested in ‘Best of Bowie’ – which seemed, after all, a good place to start. I know that makes me come across a little Alan Partridge (“What’s your favourite Beatles album then?”, “Tough one. I think I’d have to say…. ‘The Best of the Beatles’”), but I thought it might help me narrow down which period of Bowie’s considerable – and varied – career I like the best.

Strangely, although his death is undoubtedly a huge loss to the world of music, it was his acting which first brought David Bowie to my attention, and when I heard of his passing, it was 1980s fantasy film Labyrinth which immediately sprang to mind.

Two things then struck me – firstly, I hadn’t seen Labyrinth in years; and secondly, I had never got around to owning the soundtrack. These have both been rectified in the last week or so, thanks to a good friend of mine who sent me a copy of the soundtrack, and Channel 5 who showed the film on Sunday.

Having played some of the soundtrack to Ollie in the car, he was enjoying the songs and was keen to see the film, so we sat down on Sunday evening and had a ‘cinema night’.

I have to admit, when I watched Labyrinth again for the first time in years, I was relieved to find that it was still distinctly watchable, despite ageing quite badly. This is in contrast to The NeverEnding Story, which I re-watched a few months ago for the first time since childhood, and discovered to my dismay that it is, largely, shit. Thank God the title isn’t literal, and it does actually end.

Anyway, as I sat with Ollie and re-watched Labyrinth, there were a few things I noticed which had clearly passed me by when I was younger. Here they are, in no particular order.

David Bowie’s crotch

Ok, it’s not like I was staring or anything, but how could you fail to spot it? He might as well have had a flashing neon sign on his stomach pointing downwards. I mean, look at the damn thing:

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Poor Hoggle is at a dangerous height there. It would only take Bowie to trip and fall forwards, and Hoggle is getting a face full of premium ‘80s todger.

The ‘romance’ element

In the film, Bowie’s character (Jareth, the ‘Goblin King’), is trying to keep Jennifer Connelly’s character (Sarah) in the Labyrinth forever, by getting her to fall in love with him. Sarah is supposed to be sixteen in the film (and Connelly was actually fifteen when the film was released), whereas Bowie and his gloriously protruding man-sausage were a few weeks off turning 40. That’s really not ok by anyone’s standards.

Besides, I was hardly a hit with the ladies throughout my teens, but even I knew that the way to seduce a girl was not to kidnap her baby brother, lock her up in a giant maze, and then frighten the shit out of her by putting make-up and a pair of tight jeggings on.

Ludo

I’d never noticed this before, but how much does Ludo look like Neil from The Young Ones?

It’s uncanny.

The questionable lyrics

As a child of the 1980s, there are two sets of lyrics that my generation all know off by heart – the opening sequence to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and the introductory rhyme from ‘Magic Dance’ (you know, the “You remind me of the babe”, “What babe?”, “Babe with the power” bit). I can only assume we were taught these as part of the National Curriculum, as there is no other explanation for the fact that everyone in their thirties can, without exception, recite them in full.

I must have switched off after the intro though, because I had never previously noticed the line “Put that magic jump on me, slap that baby make him free”. Really? It’s bad enough that Bowie’s character is enslaving and grooming underage girls, but now he’s beating up infants too. Still, dodgy lyrics aside, it was nice to hear ‘Magic Dance’ again after all this time, and it gave me a warm feeling inside that only a few things can (nostalgia, Ready Brek, Jagerbombs…), so I decided to turn a blind eye.

However, things got really weird when we reached the song performed by those little red fire creatures in the woods. By this point, I had started to pay attention to the lyrics (or, at least, what I perceived the lyrics to be), and had to rewind back a few times in case my ears were deceiving me. After a while, this started to piss Ollie off, so I decided I would have to listen to the soundtrack instead, in my own time, to try and work out what the words actually are.

Now, before I go on, I know I don’t have the lyrics correct – they don’t make any sense for starters –  but they are honestly what I picked out from multiple plays of the song, and I have written them down without checking to see how close I am to the actual words. It’s a bit like the lyrics round on Never Mind The Buzzcocks.

I can only assume that the characters Jimmy Dowel and Dick Small (the latter sounding like the sort of part – excuse the pun – that Leslie Nielsen might have played), were cut from the final edit of Labyrinth, due to their apparent experimentation with alcohol, magic mushrooms and other stronger narcotics (possibly to help ease their arthritis). Not to mention the fact that they are clearly embroiled in some kind of love triangle with Anna Reeling (I’m not sure who she is, but she appears to have unusual breasts), whilst working as musicians in a nudist nightclub / soup kitchen.

Don’t believe me? Ok, here’s the song in full – from the soundtrack – for you to listen along as you read what I believe the lyrics to be:

When the sun goes down (when the sun goes down)

And the bands are back to front (and the bands are back)

The brother’s gone brown (the brother’s gone brown)

I get out of my dirty pants (my dirty pants)

I shake my pretty little head (shake my pretty little head)

Tap my pretty little feet (tap my pretty little feet)

It’s brighter than sunlight

Louder than thunder

Dancing like a yo-yo

 

Don’t have no problems (no problems)

Ain’t got no soup face (no soup face)

Ain’t got no clothes to worry about (no clothes to worry about)

Ain’t got no real snake or jewellery on my exterior

There’s snow in my hair

We’re the cheeriest bunch in the land

They don’t know much

They can’t go to jail

They positively grow blow

 

Jimmy Dowel with the fungus

Dick Small with the fungus

Bad hip, let me focus

When you think its fog

Jimmy Dowel, Jimmy Dowel with the fungus (hey, I’m a wild child)

Act tall with the fungi (oh, walk tall)

Looked up, bad boobs (yeah)

When you think its wine

Jimmy Dowel, Jimmy Dowel.

 

Driving crazy, pretty lazy

Eye rolling, fungus throwing

Ball playing, hips swaying

Trouble making, booty shaking

Dripping, passing, dropping, bouncing

Dryin’, stylin’, creeping, pouncing

Shouting, screaming, double-dealing

Rock ‘n’ roll and Anna Reeling

With the knackered sex appeal

Can you think I’m groovy? Feel it.

 

So when things get too tough (get too tough)

And your chick is dragging on the ground (dragging on the ground)

And your granddad looks up (gran looks up)

Bad luck! (Ha ha ha ha)

We can show you a good time (show you a good time)

And we don’t charge, nuttin’ (nuttin’ at all)

Just stretch your nasty stuff

Wriggle in your middle, yeah

Get it down, talking fine. Dang.

 

Jimmy Dowel with the fungus (Dick Small)

Dick Small with the fungus (bad hip)

Bad hips, let me focus (hey, listen up)

When you think its fog

Jimmy Dowel, Jimmy Dowel with the fungus (ah, shake your pretty little leg)

Act tall with the fungi (tap your booty like a bee)

Looked up, bad boobs (come on, come on)

When you think its wine

Jimmy Dowel, Jimmy Dowel with the fungus (whooo?)

Dick Small with the fungus (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha)

Bad hip, let me focus…

(instrumental to fade)

Now, tell me I’m wrong.

So, in conclusion, Labyrinth (and its accompanying soundtrack) remains entertaining, extremely camp and, above all else, utterly bonkers.

It’s exactly what David Bowie would have wanted.

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And You Can Tell Everybody, This Is Your Blog

How often do you listen to music? I mean really listen to it?

Sometimes, you will have heard a song a hundred times before you actually listen to it properly, or understand it, but so long as the tune is good, the lyrics often get overlooked. You might know all the words, and you might even sing along to them, but every now and then you’ll stop yourself and have to go back for another listen.

“Are we human, or are we dancer?”

Excuse me, what?

Ok, that was a bad example, as that song happens to be rubbish anyway, but you get the idea.

I’m not saying stupid lyrics would necessarily put me off listening to a song, but I do prefer it when they make sense, and especially if they are either poignant or amusing.

Unfortunately, modern music is not especially well known for having cleverly crafted lyrics. I have desperately tried to cling on to my youth, by listening to Radio 1 since returning to the world of commuting, but have recently had to accept (with considerable sorrow) that I am now officially too old. We had a good run, Radio 1, but over the years I was working locally and wasn’t listening to you in the car, we grew apart. It’s not you, it’s me. Actually, no, it is you. Your taste in music is horrendous nowadays.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I decided to embrace middle-age and give Radio 2 a whirl. It turns out that’s not for me either. Well, not yet at least. I still have all my own hair, and haven’t quite lost control of any of my bodily functions (my wife may disagree), so I’ll give it a miss for now, and perhaps try again in a few years when I buy my convertible. The thing is, they don’t play enough music, and when they do it’s all a bit dreary. Maybe I caught them at a bad time, but I was dangerously close to falling asleep at the wheel.

As far as I am concerned, music was at its best between the mid-1980’s and the early-2000’s, but no major radio stations seem to cater for that. I’m stuck in the limbo between Radio 1 and Radio 2.

So in the end, I turned – almost in desperation – to local radio. After skipping past a number of stations who were all bizarrely playing Hungry Like The Wolf by Duran Duran at the same time (I’m not even joking, it got to the point where I assumed Simon Le Bon must have died), I stumbled across Signal 1 (incidentally, the only decent thing to come out of Stoke since the A50) playing Your Song by Elton John.

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Simon Le Bon: Not dead (as at 31st July 2015)

Now, I quite like this track as it happens, and must have heard and sung along to it countless times over the years, but on this particular day, as I yearned to find a radio station I could have a long-term relationship with, I really heard the lyrics for the first time.

And they are properly, utterly, dreadful.

Let me explain…

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“It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside”

Ok, fair enough, not a bad start. Elton has got me intrigued about this funny feeling inside him (oh, behave).

“I’m not one of those who can easily hide”

No shit, Elton. If you’d wanted to hide, might I suggest wearing something slightly less glittery, brightly-coloured and flamboyant? There is a reason you’ve never seen Ray Mears sporting a feather boa.

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“I don’t have much money, but boy if I did, I’d buy a big house where we both could live”

Hmm. I’m not convinced. Whilst this song was admittedly his first big hit, way back in 1970, I still reckon he wasn’t as skint as he’s making out here. I’m pretty sure he could have stretched to a semi at least (I said, behave).

 “If I was a sculptor, but then again, no. Or a man who makes potions in a travelling show”

Right, even if I ignore the piss-poor grammar, what does this even mean? It doesn’t really follow on from the last line, and sure as hell doesn’t lead in to the next one, so it makes no sense whatsoever. It’s the ramblings of a mad man.

If this is Elton contemplating a sudden career change, not only is it inappropriate to do so mid-song, but he should really be looking at more conventional occupations. Sculpting is a bugger to get into at the best of times (and even harder to make any real money out of if he wants to buy a big house), and I’m pretty certain ‘travelling potion man’ is something he’s just made up.

“I know it’s not much, but it’s the best I can do. My gift is my song and this one’s for you”

That’s a nice gesture Elton, really it is, but a few seconds ago you were saying you would buy me a big house to live in, and now all of a sudden you’re offering something with no monetary value whatsoever? Tell you what, if this song really is a gift, sign any royalties over to me and we’ll call it quits.

“And you can tell everybody, this is your song”

Maybe I will, but it’s a little presumptuous to assume I even want it in the first place, isn’t it? Luckily for you, I quite like the tune, but we need to work on these lyrics.

 “It may be quite simple, but now that it’s done”

True, it’s not the most overly-complicated composition of all time, but I think Elton is doing himself a disservice here. Being someone with no musical talent whatsoever, I’m impressed by anyone who can write a song, let alone play piano and sing it too. It’s certainly too early to be jacking it all in to join a travelling show, no matter how many potions he might have up his sleeve.

 “I hope you don’t mind”

Why? What have you done?

 “I hope you don’t mind…”

Yes, you’ve said that already, get on with it.

“…that I put down in words. How wonderful life is, while you’re in the world”

Why would I mind you saying that? It’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. Hold me, Elton. Don’t say anything else, just hold me.

“I sat on the roof, and kicked off the moss”

Well, that was a mood killer. Where did that come from, and what the hell are you now doing on a roof? One minute you’re travelling around the country making potions, and now you’re a fucking steeplejack? Pick a career and stick to it man.

Besides, don’t take this the wrong way, Elton, but you don’t strike me as the adventurous roof-climbing type, so there’s a good chance you’ll fall and hurt yourself. It’s just plain reckless if you want my opinion. Even if you don’t fall, you might end up hurting someone else by kicking shit off a roof at them, and at best anyone walking past is going to get a face full of soggy moss. I’d suggest you get down from there immediately and start acting your age.

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Things you don’t want kicked in your face from a great height – #436: Moss

 “Well, a few of the verses, well they’ve got me quite cross”

If I’m honest, that last line has me pretty pissed off too. You wrote the damn thing though. If the words are getting you angry, you had the chance to change them before you recorded the song. Plus, this is meant to be a gift isn’t it? Why would you write me a song with lyrics that make you angry? That’s just mean.

“But the sun’s been quite kind, while I wrote this song”

Another weird tangent. It’s ok that the words have made you angry, because you got a tan while you wrote them, is that what you’re saying? You’re furious, but fabulously bronze at the same time?

“It’s for people like you, that keep it turned on”

Keep what turned on? The sun? You do realise the sun kind of powers itself, don’t you? I mean, I appreciate the gesture, but it’s a little over the top and I’d prefer it if you were more realistic. If you’d said “keeps me turned on”, it would have been a bit forward and pervy, but at least it would have made sense.

“So excuse me forgetting, but these things I do. You see, I’ve forgotten if they’re green, or they’re blue. Anyway, the thing is, what I really mean”

You’re rambling again, Elton, and your grammar is appalling. Where did you go to school? Get to the point man, for pity’s sake.

“Yours are the sweetest eyes, I’ve ever seen”

That’s another lovely sentiment Elton, truly it is, but I’m starting to see all these grandiose gestures for what they really are. It’s all well and good saying my eyes are the sweetest you’ve ever seen, but if that were really true, you’d have at the very least remembered what sodding colour they are. Don’t think you can flatter me and get away with the fact you clearly haven’t paid any attention to what I look like.

“And you can tell everybody, this is your song”

Yeah, you’ve said that already, but I’m not sure I even want your stupid song anymore. You make all these extravagant gestures, tell me you’ll buy us a house, and compare me to the sun, but when push comes to shove you’re still a nutter who’s planning on kicking moss in my face from thirty feet up.

Besides, I’m a stickler for proper grammar, so I don’t think I could be in a long-term relationship with someone who thinks the line “if I was a sculptor, but then again, no. Or a man who makes potions in a travelling show” is good English.

Anyway, my eyes are browny-green.

So thanks, but no thanks. You can stick Your Song where monkeys shove bad nuts.

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