Song written by Paul Heaton and David Rotheray; performed by The Beautiful South
As I close in on the end of this two year project, I face a last few musical artists that inspired my desire to write these pieces. For a variety of reasons, for decades, I have gone nary a week without thinking about these people. They are all essential to how I make it through life. With that in mind, they are also the artists that felt most personal to me, in a way that The Beatles, for example, never can.
At various times, I worked as a radio DJ and wherever I found myself, we had the rare privilege of programming our own shifts. The last station where I worked was popular enough that every day we were inundated with recordings from large and small labels. Our format varied with DJ mood, so we received everything, from classical and novelty to rap and oldies. This was a part-time job for me so I showed up for my shift an hour or two early and started digging through the library. The front rack contained the new and un-filed acquisitions. I scanned quickly and pulled some interesting things out and headed for the listening booth. I could only give each CD about one minute. Experience made me lean toward shorter songs first so I got a sense whether anything was going to appeal.
0898 had the coolest cover that week. Somehow You Play Glockenspiel I’ll Play Drums played first for me. Maybe I picked it because of the word “glockenspiel.” Then I kept listening. They became downright amazing.
It proved difficultto find more of their music. Maybe a year or more later, I found a cache in a used record shop. I could not believe how fantastic Welcome to the Beautiful South was. It felt like the album that I had always wanted to hear. You Keep It All In… holy crap… Woman in the Wall… oh my goodness… that’s this book that I am writing… these people have made everything clear… I need to play this loud. Wow, a mix of this and AC/DC is really confusing.
Follow me if you will. In the late 1960’s, American film took a turn for character-driven stories abetted by extremely high craft and attention to details that often eluded those who came before. This asked a lot of artists and it certainly defied corporate ability to manipulate.
You’re probably ahead of me already on this, but that is how I think of The Beautiful South. They simply raised the bar by forcing into stark contrast the vapidity and laziness of their contemporaries. That sounds harsh and it sort of is. The reality is that not all artists are wired to worry every detail and not every work of art is created under circumstances that allow for deep thought and careful attention. Unexpectedly, I’m okay with that. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t give serious props to the artists who mind the details, accomplish miracles and touch my soul.
What’s it all about?
You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 41 more to go.
New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out release regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry post irregularly. Receive notifications on Facebook by friending or following Craig.
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