Now we don’t do this sort of thing very often on Steve For The Deaf. See this song isn’t to my knowledge commercially available anywhere. It’s not the universally recognised definitive version of the song. It most definitely is (and this is the bit we try to avoid most) one of the most recognisable songs in rock and roll history.
Steve For The Deaf is usually about the cool stuff in the margins of rock. If Steve For The Deaf features a truly ‘big’ band it’s hopefully not one of the five songs they will get defined by on radio or TV or anywhere in the media. Unless it’s their latest single or… we just can’t help ourselves.
But Steve For The Deaf is built upon a solid foundation of cool cover versions and this song definitely comes with a story. So buckle up hucklebuck.
*fades to black*
It’s the mid 90’s again.
This song came into my sphere via a free cassette tape on the front of a magazine. There was a cool TV show in the UK all those years ago called The White Room in which bands would double up and play some of each others material. So Paul Weller sat in with Oasis. Lou Reed and Dave Stewart gave Walk On The Wild Side a spine tingling do over and right at the peak of Britpop Mania™ Blur’s front man and The Kinks legend sat down to re-define a song I’d known since before I could walk, for my own era.
I used to play this tape in the bar I worked in back in those days. Barflies who got uppity if the jukebox was ever updated and college kids who were here because the beer was the cheapest in town (In hindsight, that’s why the barflies were in their too) dug this tape. This was the balm that united all in attendance.
I started playing it in the afternoon when we only had a few people in. Then people started asking if there was anymore music like that? So it made it’s way onto proper playlists and me and the other bartenders realised there was an appetite for off beat but right on rock and roll in the bar. There were other places to see bands in town but we had stumbled upon a niche. The music in our bar was deeper cuts than tribute acts and high school bands would provide.
We wanted people to come to us for the music because it was better than what was on offer everywhere else in town. We started mixing Van Morrison with Pearl Jam and John Lee Hooker with Sonic Youth. We hosted retired punk legends doing songs and stories evenings and we booked one or two genuine legends to play under pseudonyms.
Within six months we had live music seven nights a week.
Monday’s Northern Soul
Tuesday’s Student Night with Bluntman & Chronic
Wednesday’s Blues Jam
Thursday’s Indie Night
Friday Night Live Bands
Saturday Live Band’s & Guest DJ’s
Sunday Acoustic Lunch into Blues Jam Evening
Bank Holiday’s All dayer
It might sound like a huge overstatement or hindsight ‘storyfying’ the details, but this version of Waterloo Sunset played a part in that bar becoming the best live music venue in town, for a short while anyways. Before the flood. But that will have to be another post some other time.