False endings

inspectorcallsPhil: Years ago, I was a top hospital radio presenter. Every Tuesday evening, our team would gather requests for top tunes from those unfortunate enough to be on the wards (although lucky enough to be able to listen to us) and between 8 and 10pm, we’d be spinning the platters that matter on the wheels of steel for their entertainment.

One of my favourite tracks was, and still is, Mr Blue Sky by ELO. If you know the song, you’ll remember that it has pitfall for DJ’s – a “false ending”. Basically, the song comes to the end, pauses for a fraction of a second and then an instrumental section bursts forth.

If you don’t know this, you’ll probably be speaking when Jeff Lynne and co come back and drown you out. A top jock knew about this, could whack the fader down so the CD stopped, read out the list of the next days shows and then fade it back up again. How a career on national radio eluded me, I don’t know.

False endings aren’t confined to music though. I was watching the BBC’s excellent new version of JB Priestly’s “An Inspector Calls” recently. Not knowing the plot, when the Inspector left the family, I was thinking that the play was every bit as good as I’d been told.

If I’d stopped watching at this point, I’d have been happy.

But, no. Preistly then takes things a further step by making the inspector who had so brilliantly shown the family how they were all partly responsible for a girls suicide, into a ghost. He didn’t exist and it’s not really obvious what he’s supposed to be.

I’m not great with ghost stories at the best of times but this annoyed me. The ending, where I thought it should be, was powerful, tied up all the lose ends and pretty much perfect. Instead we had this wooly stuff which didn’t finish matters up to my satisfaction.

What happens?

Do the writers decide they need to fill a bit more time and wang a bit on the end?

Did ELO see the first pressing of their disk, notice some unused vinyl and think, “We’ll rustle up some instrumental stuff to fill that.”

Was Preistly persuaded by the theatre management that audiences would like another 20 minutes for their ticket money?

When you reach the end, here’s some advice. Stop. Just stop.

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1 Comment

Filed under Phil, Writing

One response to “False endings

  1. On the (vinyl) album, Mr Blue Sky is the last track on the record which keeps going round with the phrase “Please turn me over” repeated until the stylus is raised.

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