Off topic for a reputed Simple Minds blog but… I think this band is just about my favourite of the young Glasgow bands about at the moment and ONE DAY I’ll brave going to see them live.
Over the past couple of years they’ve released several singles. Billy Sloan has been a champion of them and that’s how I got to hear of them initially. New single is out today called “Heavy Night”. The video is awesome as well. Who disnae like to have a wee dance around the Clyde with a paper bag over their heid? Lol
Anyway, enjoy Memes with “Heavy Night”. It’s a catchy little fucker.
I was catching up with Billy Sloan’s radio show last night. I haven’t listened in for….a few months now. I think I got a bit overwhelmed by him referring to me as one of his “most loyal” listeners. And to be honest, I wasn’t at that point, though I would listen most weeks. But that statement from him – I guess it kind of put the mockers on it. I didn’t feel worthy of such a thing and then weirdly it kind of then … I dunno. Weird, eh?
Anyway, the previous week he had been asking for favourite songs that mentioned mens names in the lyrics or title. Earlier in the week when he first asked the question the song I chose hadn’t entered my head, even though it had been an earworm for days on end already. By Saturday evening, it was there swirling around as Billy posed the question again just before show time. Of course I put in my choice of “Oh, Jim”. I didn’t end up listening to the show that night. I was chatting away to a friend and ended up “otherwise engaged” but I was intrigued to see if my choice got mentioned. It did. And it seemed Billy had missed me! Bless him! I didn’t expect that at all. Well, I’ve missed him too. He puts on a great show week after week and there’s always something that particularly piques the interest – more on that shortly.
Anyway, that’s a looong preamble to say…I am back listening to Billy Sloan’s show. I didn’t hear it go out live but caught up with it via BBC Sounds last night. The topic was … what do you think is the greatest song of all time? One choice! Mine is “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted?” by Jimmy Ruffin. It’s both sadly melancholic but ultimately uplifting.
Around midway through the show, Billy played “River Deep, Mountain High” and it had me thinking about Jim’s post a few days back about “songs of home” and him talking about Nutbush City Limits – another Ike and Tina Turner song. As River Deep, Mountain High was playing, I am taking in the words as I usually do with the songs I listen to. I always try to pay attention to the lyrics. Not always easy as singers’ diction when they sing can vary wildly so it isn’t always easy to decipher lyrics. Hence the long litany of misheard lyrics. Lol. Nothing wrong with Tina’s diction though. I was taking in the lines “when you were a young boy did you have a puppy?” and then my brain backtracked and was thinking about the first lines of “when I was a little girl I had a rag doll” and “I love you just the way I loved that rag doll” and started thinking… “Hang about? Is THIS the genesis for ‘she rag doll’ in Celebrate?”
I have been in recent times debating this line (one could deem it a “mass debate”, perhaps? Though no…not between just two people it ain’t. Lol) with a friend of mine about the true meaning of that “she rag doll” line. Rather unusually for me, I interpreted rather “innocently” – my version of innocent anyway. More a kind of “canoodling” way….a bit kind of “post-coital spooning” kind of way. My friend informed me that a “rag doll” can be seen much more sexualised than that even. I never considered it to have such potency. I found it potent enough with my interpretation of it to be honest. And if one ponders the lyrics further then “she rag doll, keeps him warm / but this negative shows no form” – then I guess a “rag doll” in its most sexualised sense would NOT show any true form on a negative. My word!
Either way, it’s damn sexy! And it is why I love Celebrate so much. Celebrate, when you get down to the heart of it, is a kind of love song. Well, maybe not a LOVE song – but a song of desire. The desire for lust and life. “A lust for life.” And it’s certainly uplifting. That “dark light” of theirs. Of Jim’s lyrics. Give it a dark heart but make it ultimately “feel good”. God, he’s good at it!
Anyway, River Deep Mountain High seems like the most innocent thing in the world now compared to Celebrate! Lol
Also on Billy’s show, he played this – the new Placebo single. It immediately piqued my interest before it even played as Billy said the title of it is “Beautiful James”. And what a chorus! “Beautiful James / I don’t wanna wake you” – how goddamn beautiful is that?! That’s me right there picturing Jim sleeping and just enjoying the sheer beauty of it. Gorgeous. Just so we end on a rather more innocent note than we could have done on the dirty ditty of Celebrate.
For the past two nights I’ve listened to the latest Art&Talk upload of the soundboard of SM at Glastonbury in 1995.
Hearing a crowd as big as that singing and chanting Minds songs – it’s amazing – and it really does make me wish I was part of some of that history. At the moment it feels like that is all that’s left to grasp on to. Jim is always espousing that the band are always looking forward and never going backwards – there isn’t much choice for the fans right now but to look back.
After listening to the Glastonbury set, and hearing that chanting crowd fade out, and thinking of my past years as a fan, and pondering recent events and forever questioning stuff….I wanted to go back again. I just wanted to hear Jim talk rather than sing. To hear some of … the “real” Jim Kerr.
There are certain things that had me “fall in love” with him – perhaps it’s too strong a term for it – but to get “enamoured” by him, infatuated, mesmerised… to adore him.
Watching very early Simple Minds footage was a starting point. Seeing how very different he was when the band started. He had a real quirk. He certainly wasn’t like your typical “rock star” early on. His awkwardness was quite visible. But for me, that made him all the more mesmerising. I was awestruck by seeing how he was back then. I’ll never forget how truly jaw-dropping it was to see the Hurrah’s footage the first time. That “THIS IS JIM KERR?!” moment. It was the first trigger.
The more I explored, the more I was bowled over by the songwriting – the lyrics. I buried myself in learning them. Reading the lines as he sang. Gravitating to certain songs, and within those – favourite lines. Absolutely falling in love with his writing style and the words and how he’d convey them and sing them…the nuances in his delivery. And those elements are strongest during Empires And Dance, Sons and Fascination/Sister Feelings Call, New Gold Dream and to a lesser degree, Real To Real Cacophony. Real To Real still has very strong lyrical content that I love, as does Life In A Day – but vocally he isn’t quite there yet – though I still very much appreciate the nuances.
Out of immersing myself in the lyrics, I could feel the influences of Bowie and Burroughs, and probably to a lesser degree Lou Reed and Bryan Ferry.
The love of the lyrics had me wanting to share favourite lines but I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that. I didn’t want to merely type them out and then talk about them. I wanted to do something more. Something that expressed how much of an impact they were making upon me. That I was kind of living THROUGH them. That they were changing me. Altering my perception of things. That I was learning and falling in love with them. That I WAS in love them – and as a consequence, falling in love with him. Being awestruck by a man so young writing so amazingly and expressing it in a way that was different to the way others did. It took YEARS for any ego in Jim to be evident. I guess it had to come to the fore eventually.
But that aspect is of Jim the showman. A young man learning his craft who comes of age. After a while the stage persona seemed very different from the man off stage. And watching videos of him being interviewed in the early days, it just compounded the things I was feeling. The early performance videos certainly played their part, but I think the interviews played an even BIGGER part. Because there, the vulnerability shows – esp. visually if he is struggling and the stutter and facial ticks are still present. That quirks in him instead of being a turn-off, were much more a turn-on. A mark of “oh, he really is just ‘one of us’, he just happens to be smart and eloquent (despite the stutter) and beautiful with it.”
And so the “art” evolved from wanting to express the way I felt about the lyrics. That I was listening to them and taking them in but also that…this young, beautiful man was writing them – he had to become the centrepiece of the “art”.
And the more early interviews I watched, the more I fell for the man as well as the words.
And then to be sharing them and have him in the present day take notice of them and appreciate them? Acknowledgement from him was the final nail in the coffin.
That your heart is already bursting with love for someone, albeit in a retrograde kind of sense, and then in the present moment, the man who was once that young, idealistic man acknowledges (inadvertently on his part, for sure) your….infatuation of him. I don’t think I was really prepared for that. And I guess I really did lose my marbles. Because IT FELT AMAZING! It felt reciprocated! Like…he got it! He got what I was feeling.
So…the interview from 1984 with Billy Sloan – it was one particular thing that really just…yeah. It allowed for “time travel”. To really feel what Jim was like then. He’s confident and bold and bolshy, but also there is still him trying to keep himself grounded. Just little things too. Something as silly as his laugh. Just, the way he talks about the guy in the crowd in Cork with the glasses and the way he bursts out laughing – it just makes my heart burst! And how he talks of Glasgow and how he sees the future of Glasgow – like a little soothsayer. And he’s a wonderful idealist. He really DOES believe the words of Promised You A Miracle, that “everything is possible”. And you can’t help but be swept up in that! As “glass half empty” as my tendencies are – I ADORE him for his optimism. His gleaming, shining idealistic nature. These are the things that have me in love with him! He has so much faith, so much belief…not just self-belief – but he wants it for EVERYONE.
If you’ve never heard this interview, just listen to it. Listen to him. (I’ve linked to it below.)
I go back to this interview on the odd occasion. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to it in the early days of my fandom. Especially during my time out in Australia with my mum during 2015/16. The latter months of my time there, I would listen it almost nightly. I went through a point where…I dunno…I went through one of those stupid points where I thought I’d pissed him off and that “things were coming to an end” and I just listened to this interview almost every night. It and episodes of Cabin Pressure (the BBC Radio 4 comedy starring Stephanie Cole, Roger Allam, Benedict Cumberbatch, and writer of the series, John Finnemore) were my nightly kind of wind down.
Some nights I’d be in tears having listened to it…just awed by him. Chanting under my breath as I was listening “he’s just so beautiful. I love him.” It’s silly! It’s really silly, I know!
And there was this element with the art that while the Jim of now was appreciating it that I could dream that it would mean the Jim of the past – that young idealist, that he would love them too – because in all honesty, I don’t think I fell in love with 2016 Jim, I fell in love with early 1980s Jim. Because I love the words of that young Jim. That one that felt like he was part OF something. The one that wanted people WITH him. The one who expressed faith and wanted to SHARE the spoils. The one who said “the prize is the race itself”. Not the one who feels APART FROM things. Not the one who, despite trying to stay grounded, inevitably got caught up in the ego and status of it all.
I want to believe there is some of that Jim still present in today’s Jim…but it doesn’t feel very evident right now.
I don’t know why I am still pining to talk to Jim. To converse with him, to feel a kinship, to have what feels like a friendship with him. I used to be convinced that the young Jim wouldn’t look at me twice. And that may be very true in a sexual attraction sense – I am all the things he seems to not show any attraction to at all, short, fat, needy, emotional, unsure of myself, socially inept, weak … pathetic. Not an Amazonian beauty – just some silly, stupid bint. Full of self-loathing and with the constant need to be liked.
He is all things I am not. Of course there is sexual attraction there. I dunno. I really don’t know what I am writing or what I am trying to say here. I think I am just trying to do something with this blog. Trying to get out of this writer’s block I have again.
The band. The music. For me personally, it’s all down to Jim. He very quickly became my focal point. Him and his lyrics and how he expresses himself. I guess there was something a bit “outsider” I saw in him. That thing that Mick MacNeil described as him looking like he should have been in “special school”. Lol.
He has…a presence. He’s charismatic and an enigma in the same breath. Exudes cool and nervousness in equal measure. It makes him human. He feels tangible yet so intangible at same time. He’s a paradox. And it makes him endlessly fascinating! So…I obsess over him because he never stops being enigmatic. I never tire of pondering him…being drawn to him. Awestruck and mesmerised by him. And just….so in love with him.
I started listening to the Bitter Sweet Symphony experimental offshoot – or “curveball” (if you will) of the main weekly “Are You Not Entertained?” podcast last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. Let me explain…
I confess that it isn’t something I listen to regularly (the AYNE podcast) as, well….I’m not majorly into sport, and certainly NOT football, so unless they talk more about the sport I can get a handle on, or like (cricket, snooker, darts, strongman events, curling, figure skating – I admit that is a crazy mixed bag…but I like what I like! Lol) … I’m gonna be kind of all-at-sea listening in regularly.
Jim has been on the show a couple of times, so when he highlights that fact, I’ll tune in.
At the start of the New Year, Jim posted on SM FB to talk about Billy Sloan and informed us fans of the offshoot to the AYNE podcast in which hosts Roger and Grant had interviewed Billy with a view of having a regular feature that explores the marriage of sport and music in people’s lives. Billy agreed to be their first guest. And what, with Billy being Billy – as with some Scots who, give them a subject they can get their laughing gear around and they’ll talk the leg off an iron chair about it – Roger and Grant really got their money’s worth with Billy! And a life of brilliant anecdotes they felt unable to cut and truncate. The whole interview so worthy of airtime, they decided to air the whole thing but break it up into two parts.
Billy and I at Oran Mor after the Caezar gig in 2018. Photo taken by my good friend, Ronnie McGhie
I listened to part one last night. And I am really looking forward to hearing part two tonight.
The first thing that made me just think “eeeeh!” was hearing that Billy started out his journalistic career just down the road…like LITERALLY just down the road in Springburn! Springburn had a local rag (the Springburn Times – I’ve no idea if it still exists, I’ll assume not, but I’ll look into it) and so he started out with them and sister local rag the Bishopbriggs Times.
It’s a small world!
The first part of the podcast was 55 minutes. The second part is coming in at 1 hour 45 minutes. I mean, strap yourselves in, peeps! Lol. But, it’s gonna be some ride. Just listening to first part last night and hearing the story of his afternoon hanging out with Muhammad Ali in London was just…crazy stuff.
P.S. Don’t forget Billy still is very much right in the throng of things and is still very much the authority on music here in Scotland and in Glasgow in particular and has his own weekly show on BBC Radio Scotland on Saturday nights at 10pm GMT.
So, for this week’s topic for his show, Billy Sloan is asking which song that mentions metal or kinds of metal in its title or lyrics is your favourite, and why?
Normally I’ll reply with something, but I never go into the “why” that often. Sometimes I try to elaborate. And sometimes there is just no rhyme or reason for what you like about a particular song.
But in this incidence…it was REALLY easy to – not only choose a song IMMEDIATELY but give the most comprehensive reason why!
I said “New Gold Dream – absolutely ALL THE WAY. Not only because it is one of the best songs EVER written, but also because of this exchange I had about it with Jim.”
And well, I could have gone on and said, “which in turn inspired me to make art about it…but not only of Jim’s reply to me but also the lyrics themselves. And, well…also about how the song came to be written as well….in an irreverent and cheeky way.”
And it is my “constant” as a Simple Minds song right now. It’s hope and enlightenment and…gold…gold for the soul. It’s beautiful!
Recorded by SM’s sound tech (of then), Frank Gallagher, in San Francisco. The boys sound really on the mark here. I love this song. It’s probably my fave album title track of theirs along with New Gold Dream and Walk Between Worlds (honourable mention to Graffiti Soul as well).
Anyway, I love that ad lib stuff. I was wondering why Jim had changed the line to “when boys of San Francisco call” – but then Billy Sloan goes on to explain why.
Today Billy Sloan on his show page for BBC Radio Scotland was asking which gig that you’ve been to in the past would you want to go back and experience again.
Not sure I would want to go to any specific ones, really. Probably just any Simple Minds one.
But…oh, the chance to see them in the past with gigs I have never been to in the first place? PLLLEEEEAAAAASSSSSSEEE! ALL OF 5X5 LIVE! Every single gig it is possible to go to – just to start.
1982 Jim – there’s MY Alasdair Gray follow-up to Lanark – 1982 JIM – sod Janine! Lol
Just…from this distance and passage of time, looking back at him at that time, I am transfixed. I can only imagine what I’d be like IN FRONT OF HIM at that time.
Yes, I am feeling it bad today because…I am very down on myself. Very disappointed and upset with myself. As a consequence it is just…I’m just seeking comfort in the things that…yeah.
ANY gig from 1982. Anywhere in Europe in the spring and early summer. Cologne. Anything while they were in Oz in 1982. The Friars, Aylesbury – then off to Oz. Oh, imagine it! New Gold Dream has only just come out and Jim looks fucking breathtaking. I don’t even care. I’m not even gonna apologise! Don’t believe me? Check that Sheila Rock pic from the other day. Someone said to me from me sharing it on my FB feed a few days back (a few comments had been left by that point) “oh, you ladies aren’t talking about his ‘package’ – you’ve disappointed me.” I replied saying “I covet his tits more than his junk.” Lol
Such brazen objectification. But it is true! I know the topic comes up for discussion, but honestly…I don’t feel I’m obsessed with his…”appendage”. There is sssoooo much more about Sir Kerr I am into than…that! His brain…just for a start. Not the other thing most men think with! Lol
ANYWAY! Gigs! Dream gigs. I don’t want to go back to a gig I’ve already experienced. Been there, done that…right? So! I want time travel. I want a gig I never got to experience by actually being there.
I watch some of the things from 1982…I watch him and think about how I feel when I am at gigs now – standing in front of him, watching him…thinking “Oh, you intoxicating, delicious…just…ggrrrr” then put that to how I’d be feeling being there in 1982. I think I’d end up catatonic. Lol. I’m sure. Probably end up in hospital or something. Lol
This is why I am so stunned that I am not finding my wall of Kerrnessnessnessness a distraction at the kit. But I genuinely am motivated by those pictures. Thank god I am! I need to be. Because so much else is bringing me down right now. Me! In every other way. I am a fucking c***, basically. I really, really hate myself right now.
I’m going to leave you with Jim. Well…Simple Minds actually. But…Jim.
I was listening to Billy Sloan’s show on BBC Radio Scotland last night and he played a previously unreleased version of Bowie’s I Can’t Read which is set to be released on a new compilation due out on Record Store Day called CHANGESNOWBOWIE. He then followed it up by playing a cover of Absolute Beginners. Almost immediately I was like “woah, this is pretty good. WTF is this?!”
To my utter amazement, when it finished Billy revealed it to be Steve Harley. My gob was truly smacked. That was NOT the name I was expecting to hear at the end of it. I don’t know whose name I WAS expecting…but it wasn’t Steve Harley’s. But hats off to him. It’s a wonderful version.
Don’t believe me? Here’s the link to Billy’s show. Absolute Beginners plays about 48 mins in. Give it a listen and see what you think.
It’s a track on Harley’s upcoming release called Uncovered. I’d be intrigued to hear the rest based on this track.