Tag Archives: lyrics

So THAT’S what the song is all about.

Phil: Last week, Candice was blogging about one of her earliest favourite albums – Phil Collins “No Jacket Required” and by coincidence, I was listing to a show on the radio about one of mine.

1985 saw the release of Suzanne Vega’s eponymous first album and to promote it, the first single “Marlene on the Wall” enjoyed heavy rotation on Radio 1. What I should have done is rushed out and bought the album, but in those days, my local library loaned proper vinyl albums out so I simply borrowed it and made a tape using my sisters record player and the tape recorder I used for my ZX Spectrum. Obviously this is bad so don’t do it kids. As they said at the time, “Home taping is killing music” even if the phrase “It tapes tapes” appeared on every stereo system in my mum’s catalogues at the time.

Anyway, while I liked the songs and the imagery, the inspiration for the lyrics was always a bit of a mystery. Until I heard Johnnie Walker’s Long Players last week. The program covered the album track by track with explanations of each from Vega.

Much of it was slightly disappointing, stuff about songs being something to do with whoever she was dating at the time but for pure weirdness, the track “Small Blue Thing” wins.

Inspiration struck when she saw the blue doorknob in a boyfriends apartment. In the centre of the knob (stop sniggering at the back) was the image of a blue eyeball. All of which inspired the opening lines:

Today I am
A small blue thing
Like a marble
Or an eye

Utter barking mad, but oddly, still sounds good today.

So, songwriter, get down to the ironmonger’s for your next hit. It just shows, ideas can come from anywhere.

Mind you, if you think this is oddball, I’m working out how to shoehorn a Lieutenant Pigeon joke into our latest book just to see if anyone spots it…

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It was 60 months ago today…

Phil (with apologies to Lennon and McCartney):

It was sixty months ago todayWritersBand
Mikey Govey told two friends to write
They’d been going in and out of work
But he said it’s now time for you to go
So may I introduce to you
The act you’ve known for all these years
Nolan Parker’s crazy writers team

We’re Nolan Parker’s crazy writers team
We hope you will enjoy our book
We’re Nolan Parker’s crazy writers team
Sit back and let the story flow
Nolan Parker writers, Nolan Parker writers
Nolan Parker crazy writers team
It’s wonderful to be here
It’s certainly a thrill
You’re such a lovely audience
We’d like read our tale to you
We’d like read our tale

I don’t really want to stop the show
But I thought that you might like to know
That the writers going to type some words
And they want you all to read along
So let me introduce to you
The one and only Miss Kate Smith
And all her friends, who work for KOD!

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Summer madness

Will Smith. Yes. He really looks like this. Everything else is airbrushing.Phil: Yesterday the Nolan and I sat in a pub garden chatting in the sunshine. Today we would be inside where it’s warm and not wet. You may mourn the end of summer, but I don’t for one simple reason:

Will Smith.

Any time the sun comes out in Great Britain, every DJ on the radio breaks into his or her summer records box. Top of the list is always “Summertime” by Will “Fresh Prince” Smith.

Imagine the scene. The clouds part. Sunbeams stream forth and bathe the ground with delicious warmth. Somewhere in the distance a radio is playing. The moment the first photons bounce off the slowly drying grass we hear “Drums Please….”

Followed by a howl of pain and the channel being changed. It’s no use. Even Radio 4 is playing the bloody record.

It’s not just the ubiquity. The lyrics annoy the hell out of me. As a writer, all I can see is holes in the timeline. The third verse (with my “issues” marked in red )runs as follows:

it’s late in the day and I ain’t been on the court yet
hustle to the mall to get me a short set
yeah I got on sneaks but I need a new pair
cause basketball courts in the summer got girls there
(that should be ‘cos shouldn’t it. Please try harder)
the temperature’s about 88
hop in the water plug just for old times sake
break to ya crib change your clothes once more
cause you’re invited to a barbeque that’s starting at 4
(4 ? I thought it was “Late in the day” before you went to the mall and jumped in the plug then changed your clothes. Doesn’t sound late to me.)
sitting with your friends cause y’all remincise
(‘cos again. Pay attention Smith)
about the days growing up and the first person you kiss
and as I think back makes me wonder how
the smell from a grill could spark up nostalgia
all the kids playing out front
little boys messin round with the girls playing double-dutch
while the DJ’s spinning a tune as the old folks dance at your family reunion
(your family BBQ has a DJ ? How posh is that ? What’s wrong with the radio. Oh yes, it’s playing Summetime)
then six o’clock rolls around
you just finished wiping your car down
(Didn’t stay long at the BBQ did you ? Takes me an hour to wash the car properly. More if I wax it AND clean the inside. Sounds like someone jumped the queue, nicked a couple of burgers and wolfed them down. Probably got ketchup all over his shirt front.)
it’s time to cruise so you head to the summertime hangout
it looks like a car show
(You’re hanging around a car park ? How sweet. Do you also loiter outside off licences trying to persuade grown-ups to buy you cider ?)
everybody come lookin real fine
fresh from the barber shop or fly from the beauty salon
(When did you do that ? I reckon looking fly from the beauty salon is going to take at least a couple of hours. When I get my hair cut it’s twenty minutes and the only style I request is “shorter”. Why do you want to look fly anyway ? I saw that film with Jeff Goldblum and can’t see many people wanting a bit of that look.)
every moment frontin and maxin
chillin in the car they spent all day waxin
(No they didn’t. Not if they have been to the barbers, JD Sports and a BBQ. They probably dropped it off at one of those dodgy hand car wash places)
leanin to the side but you can’t speed through
Two miles an hour so everybody sees you
there’s an air of love and of happiness
and this is the Fresh Prince’s new defintion of summer madness

I know what you’re thinking. It’s the third verse so you can’t expect greatness. Even the national anthem has descended into stuff about crushing rebellious Scots by this point (technically verse 4 but since the anthem doesn’t, unlike Summertime, have a chorus, we are about the same point in the song).  I don’t care. Will Smith has earned more in PRS fees for this one song than the GDP of Peru so he could reasonably have been expected to put in a full days work on the writing.

Despite this, we get the same tune every time it stops raining, not the far superior song of the same name from Porgy and Bess. Now THAT is the Phil Parker’s definition of summer madness

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