Friday, 20 January 2017

Our one duty to history...

So, I deleted the me, it's better that way

Emerging from a lengthy period of writing on the nature of historical memory, folklore and oral tradition, I immediately embarked on a personal journey of remembrance, collating, cataloging and playing music from my own distant past in order to kick start the brain prior to the start of semester 2 and the Academic Timetable of Doom (a lesser known Indiana Jones movie).

But where to begin?

Hungrily searching through the vinyl collection stored (inexplicably) in the hallway, I (re)discovered a number of mislaid gems, first of which was the 1986 single 'Mexico Sundown Blues' by the quite wonderful James Ray and the Performance (Merciful Release: MRAY52 if you need to know), an electro-gothic stomp about (so I distinctly remembered - or at least thought I did) the dangers of groundwater pollution in America

Putting it on the turntable I waited for the track began with the particularly unforgettable opening growl:

"It's in the water
It's in the ground
It's in the air and
It's all around"

I remembered that line particularly well, singing (perhaps too generous a term) along in seedy London nightclubs (there were and, I suspect still are, many of these), parties and long evenings in the UCL bar. When the vocal track started up this time, however, I was momentarily non-plussed by the fact that Mr Ray appeared have a set of lyrics in front of him that were different somehow - off-kilter, as it were.

An internet lyric database immediately beckoned.

Of course we didn't have such useful research tools back in prehistory, having to rely instead upon those (few) bands who generously printed lyrics onto their record sleeves (I appreciate that I'm using rather antiquated words now) or to what could be (poorly) discerned between needle, groove and speakers (ditto).

It was then that the dangers of the world wide web became immediately apparent: showing how things really were without the distracting fog of memory. The lyrics that I recalled were, in fact, nothing like the lyrics as recorded, the opening lines being (in my mind anyway) the far less arresting:

"Mexico Girl
Mexico Boy
What am I supposed to do now?"

So, less a cry on the horrors of pollution and more a paean to gender-based-confusion (possibly) in a Federal Republic. Admittedly there is a line, further on, that notes 

"Life is underground
Poisons all around"

Although, to be fair, this may be an allusion to the gargantuan quantity of drugs consumed by the record industry in the mid 1980s (perhaps - what do I know?). As Oscar Wilde once noted "The one duty we owe to history is to re-write it". Well, consider my own history to be in the process of significant revision - my late teenage years were evidently a lie...

Anyway, time for a major review of songs from the late 20th century - perhaps my next academic endeavour? Who knows what joys I may discover? Anyway, as the great Marilyn Manson once said "Your lemonade stand is on a big plane"...



  1. Would that last lyric be from Marilyn Manson's song *The Beautiful Meatball* ?

    1. You mean (gasp) it's not "The Beautiful Beetle" ?!?! - Another part of my musical youth destroyed...

    2. Hold up a minute, you mean to say that Musical Youth, who were No 1 for 37 years in 1982 with their hit Pass The Dutchie have been destroyed? When and on whose authority did this happen?