In less than four days it’s Halloween. In a puff of dry ice I will be gone. Before then may I stretch this top twenty a little further? A little more tenuously? A little more room for yet another song? If Tommy and Gina and Terry and Julie have taught us anything from Bon Jovi to The Kinks we like songs about love, romance, hope and the people in those songs become ciphers. Be it Avril and her Sk8er Boi, Elton John’s Levon, Desmond and Mollie from the The Beatles nursery rhymes or Lily Rosemary and The Jack Of Hearts from the brow of the super brain. Boy meets girl and the rest is history. Except it’s not always like that is it?
That’s where the Blues comes in. The Torchsongs. The Soul and the Balladeers. If Henry Lee winds up at the bottom of a well because of his devotion to another and The Saturday Boy finally finds out the meaning of unrequited. There’s beauty in going Waltzing Matilda. It doesn’t always end in grand gestures. Billie Joe McAllister may have jumped off the Tallahatchie bridge but for most What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted involves a lot of moping about and regret.
To that matter I’ll plagiarise myself if I may. Or Zippy from Jukebox Jury at The Head at least.
Rock and Roll Valhalla : Chapter 12 (expurgated)
Sarah waved like HRH QEII as she continued with her agenda “Zippy is first up with his nomination. The case for Up The Junction by Squeeze will be heard by the Jukebox Jury. This court is in session. The right ‘onerable Uncle Vernon residing and presiding.”
Zippy approached the stage. He’d put on a dinner jacket with tails for the occasion. As he sat down at the third seat he flicked the tails out behind him theatrically. He unfolded a piece of paper from his jacket pocket then leaned towards the mic. “Ahem.” Zippy hammed it up a bit pushing his lips right up to the mic while making chk chk chk noises “I never thought it would happen, with me and the girl from Clapham, out on the windy common, that night I ain’t forgotten. When she dealt out the rations, with some or other passions, I said ‘you are a lady’, ‘Perhaps’ she said ‘maybe’” – Zippy read the lyrics like a police constable might read the statement he had prepared for the court. Uncle Vernon interjected “Zippy you can’t just read out the lyrics Man.” Zippy held his finger up to silence the judge. “I believe I can just read out the lyrics WHEN! It is entirely apparent that these lyrics are the best set of lyrics any seven inch single ever had on them. When, your honour, they are the pinnacle of pop music lyrics for all time, of all time, any time any place any where. Mi’lud.” Uncle Vernon motioned for Zippy to continue. “We moved in to a basement with thoughts of our engagement. We stayed in by the telly although the room was smelly. We spent our time just kissing, The Railway Arms we’re missing but love had got us hooked up and all our time it took up” Uncle Vernon stepped in “Nah Zip, you can’t just read the lyrics mate.” Vernon was patting himself down for his gavel. Dan The Man dashed in from behind the bar with a large comedy squeaky Mallet. Vernon held off using it as Zippy continued his play to the gallery. “I believe you will all agree. That the geniuses wot is Chris and Glenn from Squeeze have begun in this song, a love story for the ages. A story that, in just two short verses has got us all ‘hooked up’ and wanting more. These aren’t just lyrics to a pop song. This is the human condition. This is pathos, this is tragedy and beauty and cockney rhyming slang. This is The Kinks, The Jam, Sir John Betjeman, Graham Greene and William Sodding Shakespeare quality stuff. You all know the song. You all know it ends in tears. You all know it doesn’t have a chorus. And yet. When it gets to the bit when he says the title… Well, he’s had you in the palm of his hand since Clapham and you’re all in bits. It’s a song of boozy regret. It’s a happy tune. It’s beautiful in a uniquely British way. Like queuing to get your chippy tea on a Friday night. We don’t mind standing in the drizzle for a fish supper because it’s who we are. We don’t have Up The Junction on our jukebox but we do have We Are Sailing. Do the right thing people of the Jury. Vote Up The Junction today.”