Cheeseburger Gothic

BALLS After Dark. Ep 13 "I dug a hole, Dad."

Posted July 30, 2015 into Music by John Birmingham

The music episode is live: ... In which Beeso and the Doc talk 80s hiphop, 90s electronica and noughties disco-grunge, great Amiga games music, off-label Stones ripoffs, how sausages are made, the Four Kinsman's version of Cop Killa, Fucking Off For Ten Years Album Syndrome, and Teenage Protracker Fury.

Warning, there is vaseline and the Doc sings.

2 Responses to ‘BALLS After Dark. Ep 13 "I dug a hole, Dad."’

Darth Greybeard would have you know...

Posted July 30, 2015
Podcasts are like sausages. It is better not to see them being made.

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Rhino ducks in to say...

Posted July 31, 2015
Listening to the podcast. If this took place in the US Beeso and Doc would be castrated and crucified for cultural appropriation and racism for having the temerity to discuss Hip Hop.
RACISTS.

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Respond to 'BALLS After Dark. Ep 13 "I dug a hole, Dad."'

One song playlist

Posted June 9, 2015 into Music by John Birmingham

I asked Twitter to give me one song they put on a playlist if that playlist was only one song long.

Here is that list. It'll take hours to add to Rdio or Spotify but I'll do it as a side project over the next few weeks.

#1SongPlaylist


Guided By Voices - Choking Tara
The Left Bank -Walk Away Rene
Turin Breaks - Painkiller
Foo Fighters - Everlong
Public Image Ltd - Rise
Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Chili
Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel - Make me smile,
Concrete Blonde - Tomorrow Wendy
Tom Waits - Closing Time
Dead Letter Circus - I am
Assemblage 23 - Awake
Talking Heads - This Must Be The Place
Custard - Anatomically Correct
Birds of Tokyo - Anchor
Lou Reed - Romeo Had Juliette
Eddie Vedder - Sleepless Nights
Max Q - Way of the World
Bowie - Modern Love
The Who - Wont Get Fooled Again
Hit Record - You’re Not the Only One.
Nick Cave - The Ship Song
KD Lang - Hallelujah
KLF - Justified and Ancient
The Band - The Weight
The Doors - LA Woman
Leningrad Cowboys and Russian Army Choir - Knocking on Heaven’s Door
LCD Sound System - All My Friends
Katrina and the Waves - Walking on Sunshine
Alt J - Left Hand Free
Bobby Womack - Across 110th Street
Eric B and Rakim - Paid in Full
Lacuna Coil - Losing My Religion
You Am I - Berlin Chair
Dana Lyons - Cows With Guns.
Tool - Vicarious
The Wonderstuff - Maybe
Veruca Salt - One Last Time
Bruce Springsteen - Badlands
Goanna - Solid Rock
Stranglers - Always the Sun
Bird Feeder - Jurassic Park Theme (played 1000% slower)
Buzzcocks - Oh Shit
The Verses - Want Everything
Lana del Rey - Videogames
Johnny Moped - Darling Let's Have Another Baby
The Cows - Shipboard
Mekons - Hard to Be Human
The Rolling Stones - Can’t Always Get What You Want
Spy vs Spy - Clear Skies Ahead
Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill.
Bowie - Suffragette City
The Birthday Party - Release the Bats, ( live version)
The Saints - Stranded
The Stranglers - Golden Brown
Billie Holliday - Gloomy Sunday
Led Zep - Whole Lotta Love (Live 23 mins)
Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells
Joan Osborne - What Becomes of the Brokenhearted
Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road
Prince - Raspberry Beret
Ween - Pushin Little Daisies
Grace Slick - White Rabbit
Duck Sauce - Time waits for no one
Marianne Faithful - Why'd you do it?
Triffids - Wide Open Road
Jon and Vangelis - I'll Find My Way Home
Placebo - Loud Like Love
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Mary Jane's Last Dance
Falling Joys - Lock it
Daft Punk - Around the World
Rule 34 - Save You
Tim Buckley - Sweet Surrender
Midnight Oil - The Power and the Passion
Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights
Pixies - Debaser
The Beatles - Eleanor Rigby
New Order - Ceremony
Barenaked Ladies - Some fantastic
Dire Straits - Tunnel of Love
Arctic Monkeys - RU Mine
David Bromberg - New Lee Highway Blues
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Deanna
Michael franti and Spearhead - Oh my god
L7 - Pretend We're Dead
Iggy Pop - The Passenger
Primal Scream - Come Together
Mi-Sex - Computer Games
Rolling Stones (feat Eric Clapton - Brown Sugar (re-release)
The Boys Next Door - Shivers
Lene Lovich - Lucky Number
Louis Armstrong - Aunt Hagar's Blues
Desmond Dekker and the Aces - 007 (Shanty Town)
Blind Melon - Soup
Janis Joplin - Little Girl Blue
The Saints - Just Like Fire Would
Barenaked Ladies - Odds Are
Johnny Cash - Hurt
Journey - Separate Ways
Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb
Regurgitator - Track 1
Waterboys - Whole of the Moon
The Verve - Bitter Sweet Symphony
The Whitlams - I Will Not Go Quietly
The Saints - Know your Product
Radiohead - Street Spirit
Anaal Nathrakh - Forging Towards The Sunset
Powderfinger - Pick You Up
Divinyls - Boys in Town
Super Furry Animals - The Man Don't Give A Fuck
Government Mule - Beautifully Broken
Son House - Death Letter
Pixies - Where is My Mind
The Beau Brummels - Laugh Laugh
Bowie and Mercury - Pressure
Bill Withers - Harlem
Queens of the stoneage - God is on the radio.
The Clash - Rock the Casbah
Billy Bragg - Levi Stubbs’ Tears
Fontella Bass - Rescue Me
AC/DC - Back in Black
Foo Fighters - Low
Laughing Clowns - Eternally Yours
Metallica - Orion
Black Sabbath - Warpigs
Robert Forster - Let your light in, Babe
Soundgarden - Black hole sun

The Radiators - Gimme Head

The Doors - LA Woman
Nirvana - Come as you are
Bauhaus - Dark Entries
The Mountain Goats - This Year
Louis Armstrong - A Kiss To Build a Dream on

Frank Turner - Love, Ire and Song

Helen Perris - Dancing Around the Subject

Pulp - Common People

Richard Thompson - Wall of Death

35 Responses to ‘One song playlist’

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Brother PorkChop mutters...

Posted June 9, 2015
Well JB, at least Lana is on it....

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon is gonna tell you...

Posted June 9, 2015
typo for Jimi: Voodoo Chile not chilli.
I am glad to see that the rest of the 10,000 have good taste. Even if mine didn't make the cut.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted June 9, 2015
What was yours?

FormerlyKnownAsSimon mutters...

Posted June 9, 2015
i broke the rules and couldn't decide between Bob Dylan One more cup of coffee and Led Zep No Qtr. In fact No Qtr comes no1 on my own mixtape i made way back when. Quite a few of these songs are on it too.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted June 9, 2015
Ah, that's why then. Only one song on the one song playlist

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Nocturnalist is gonna tell you...

Posted June 9, 2015
"Where is My Mind" seems to be in there twice.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted June 9, 2015
Not any more.

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SZF puts forth...

Posted June 9, 2015
Not being on the Twitterverse I missed the boat, but there's some damn fine stuff in this list. (And a dab of drek of course, each to their own)
Looks like I'm saving my suggestions for #2ndSongPlaylist. :)

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DNABeast ducks in to say...

Posted June 9, 2015
So glad to see 2 BNL songs in there.

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insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted June 9, 2015
I can't just choose one. Bruce's Thunder Road would be a contender. ms insomniac would go for Bruce's Jungleland for sure. Other noteworthy examples would be Airborne Toxic Event's Timeless and Peter Gabriel's The Book of Love, but in the end I think I'd have to go with some Freddy, probably Somebody to Love, closely followed by many others.

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Tara swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 9, 2015
That is a damn fine list - my own song contribution is on there, but a lot of the rest of my playlist appears as well.

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dweeze swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 9, 2015
Apart from the odd one out (Anaal Nakrath - I do hope that you know what you are in for there!), it reads like 90s JJJ crossed with GOLD FM. Some choice ones, much ewwwwwwww.Yeh, each to their own...
If I were a twitterer, I'd have sent you Sleepy Time Gorrilla Museum's "Fornicary", but I'm not, so you'll have to go with out my extensive list of 'good' music.

Mog ducks in to say...

Posted June 10, 2015
Clearly the Anaal Nathrakh track is the jewel in the playlist crown...

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Bangar has opinions thus...

Posted June 9, 2015
Of course Tomorrow Wendy could be the Andy Prieboy original with Johnette on back up vocals. Of the two I can't decide which I prefer, or maybe I should pick Concrete Blonde's live version.

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Carole mutters...

Posted June 9, 2015
avalanches since i left you

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted June 9, 2015
I am actually quite pleased about the large number of songs I recognize. It means I'm still hip and with it.

Perhaps Timbuk3's Just Another Movie and/or Concrete Blond's Everybody Knows should be included in that list.

Bangar ducks in to say...

Posted June 9, 2015
The Blonde really know how to do a cover version.

Spanner is gonna tell you...

Posted June 9, 2015
Hahahaha. Still with it nah not so much this list is pure Gen-X nostalgia. It's still freaking awesome but new and hip it ain't.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted June 10, 2015
Gen-X? I'm a Boomer, mate. I have no Gen-X nostalgia. I yearn for the days of the post WWII American Empire at its height - not the decadent slacker culture with delusions of entitlement that drifted along with its collapse.

As for "new" - admittedly not.
As for "hip and happening" - apparently so.

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Lobes would have you know...

Posted June 9, 2015
Taylor Swift didnt make this one either

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shep asserts...

Posted June 9, 2015
http://www.ivyishere.org/ivy
You could try this service JB, imports spotify playlists from a copy/paste. I haven't used it, but a quick trial of the first 10 tracks here worked with no issue

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yankeedog mutters...

Posted June 9, 2015
Johnny Cash's 'Hurt' v. Nine Inch Nails' 'Hurt-The Man In Black wins that one every time.

Sudragon mutters...

Posted June 9, 2015
Especially the video. It tears you up inside. Just rips away.

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KT asserts...

Posted June 9, 2015
Damn, I missed this on Twitter. Great list! My contribution would have been "I've Got A Plan" by My Friend The Chocolate Cake.

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GhostSwirv mutters...

Posted June 9, 2015

I too missed das boot - quite partial to ELO's The Whale from Out of the Blue.

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TJ ducks in to say...

Posted June 10, 2015
John Birmingham typed the name of my band. Today is a damn good day.

Also, loving that Barenaked Ladies made the list twice. JB fans have taste!

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Maddoug mumbles...

Posted June 10, 2015
What, no Rammstein? Tsk tsk.

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Peter Bradley puts forth...

Posted June 10, 2015
Interesting to look at the artists that made the list twice or more. Bare Naked Ladies, Nick Cave, Ed Kuepper, Kim Deal, Louis Armstrong, David Bowie. I don't know what it means but all are favorites.

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MickH puts forth...

Posted June 10, 2015
windmills of your mind - Sting

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pitpat ducks in to say...

Posted June 10, 2015
Buy me a pony - Spiderbait

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Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted June 10, 2015
Depeche Mode- Everything Counts

Dave W mumbles...

Posted June 11, 2015
I'll see your Strange Love and raise it to Stripped.

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Respond to 'One song playlist'

#The Dave. #TheSoundtrack

Posted May 18, 2015 into Music by John Birmingham

[Warning - one major spoiler for ASCENDANCE below]

This is my second time through this topic. In more ways than one. We discussed imagined sound tracks after Emergence dropped, and I wanted to return to the topic now the whole season is done. And I tried writing and filing this particular blog this morning, but foolishly did so in my browser, not a note taking app. Hit submit. Lost it all.
Sigh.
Anyways. I had two extra tracks for Emergence. Hilltop Hoods Parade of the Dead as an end title sequence. And Lean on Me by Bill Whithers for the retreat of Her Majesty’s Vengeance from an ass kickin in Now Orleans. For the other two books, the by-no-means definite track list is below. Feel free to add suggestions. At this stage it costs nothing. And there's some obvious holes. Both Trinder and Heath need theme tunes. The final battle needs something suitably sombre for poor Zach.


RESISTANCE
Bad to the Bone - George Thoroughgood (Guyuk in the Inquisitor Pits).
California Sex Lawyer - Fountains of Wayne (Prof Boylan is in da muthafuckin house).
Push It - Salt n Pepa. (The Diwan dar Sliveen gets some respect)
Walk this Way - Run DMC (Threshy gets embiggened)
Re. Your Brains - Jonathan Coulton (A negotiation at Omaha)
Shoot to Thrill - AC/DC (The Battle of Omaha)
Forget You - Cee Lo Green (Dave leaves in a huff).
Lets Get Retarded - The Black Eyed Peas (Dave parties in LA)
She Hates Me - Puddle of Mudd (Dave vs Karin at the Consulate)


ASCENDANCE
California Luv - 2Pac (Jellybean kills a Revenant Master)
Bat Out of Hell - Meatloaf (Hyper speed motorcycle ride)
Risque - Cute Is What We Aim For (Threshy has a crush)
Woman - Neneh Cherry (Karin shows Dave who’s boss)
Feelin’ All Right - Joe Cocker (Threshy at the sports bar)
Song 2 - Blur (Dave and Karen bust some heads at Grand Central)
What’s a Few Men? - Hunters and Collectors (The charge of the fire fighters)
Disco Inferno - Marcia Hines (The Sliveen torch New York)
Last Day on Earth - Kate Miller-Heike (The flight from New York)

43 Responses to ‘#The Dave. #TheSoundtrack’

Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 18, 2015
John, I think Zach's demise can only be summed up by this song.

The Killers, All These Things I Have Done.

Says as much about Zach as it does about The Dave.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZTpLvsYYHw

Surtac asserts...

Posted May 18, 2015

The Killers. Good choice, Murph. Though the other Killers choice might be 'Flesh and Bone'.


Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted May 18, 2015
I like it because of the religious old soul flavor of the music. I also like it because of the line, "I got soul but I'm not a soldier."

In Zach's case, being a Seal, that is technically true.

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Bondiboy66 puts forth...

Posted May 18, 2015
Needs more brutal Metal, especially for the battle scenes. First tune that springs to mind for the opening salvos of big battle scenes is 'Progenies of Great Apocalypse' by Dimmu Borgir - its very theatrical music, and the opening lines are quite appropriate: 'The battle raged on and on, fulled by the hatred for man'Here's a clip of an abridged version of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joEAb_y7ZYA
Honourable mentions include War of the Gods by Amon Amarth, NWO by Ministry, Thunderhorse by Dethklok.

Bondiboy66 mutters...

Posted May 18, 2015
Ooops typo - should have read
'The battle raged on and on, fulled by the venom of hatred for man'. The venom makes all the difference.

Rob mutters...

Posted May 18, 2015
Maybe Laibach now you will pay. Although one JB is quite scathing of Laibach in Falafel and Iron Sky has taken Laibach into soundtrack making.

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WarDog would have you know...

Posted May 18, 2015
Led Zep, Immigrant for the horde charge at the end of Ascendance

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Murphy mutters...

Posted May 18, 2015
Gotta have Disturbed's Stupify.

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Surtac mumbles...

Posted May 18, 2015
And now I'm thinking Denis Leary's 'I'm an Asshole' might be Dave's personal theme. :)

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Surtac puts forth...

Posted May 18, 2015
And when I first read about Lucille singing, I kept thinking about early Nightwish, when the classically trained 3 octave range soprano Tarja Turunen was their vocalist.

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insomniac reckons...

Posted May 18, 2015
Green Day's American Idiot - Threshy on tv

Murphy puts forth...

Posted May 18, 2015
I gotta say, American Idiot?

Overplayed and cliched.

insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted May 18, 2015
Over there, perhaps ... over here, not so much, but I get what you're saying.

Rob mutters...

Posted May 18, 2015
Creep by Radiohead- Performed by Richard Cheese might fit the bill.

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Therbs ducks in to say...

Posted May 18, 2015

Trinder - "Spy" , They Might Be Giants

Heath - "Machine Gun", Jimi Hendrix or Johnny Cash's cover of "I Wont Back Down"

"March of the Pigs" - Nine Inch Nails (the monsters attacking Annie's house)

"Soldiers Things" - Tom Waits (Zach's farewell)

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GhostSwirv ducks in to say...

Posted May 18, 2015

As soon as Dave starts getting those thoughts about Karin - an itty bitty bit of Barry White kicks in - then cliche needle scratch when she reminds him she can read his mind.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted May 18, 2015
OMFG! That is brilliant. I feel that with this one comment the possibility of a movie adaptation has moved considerably closer.

Lulu asserts...

Posted May 18, 2015
Or Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On

Ceramic asserts...

Posted May 18, 2015
This is an awesome idea! Can totally picture it.

GhostSwirv mutters...

Posted May 18, 2015

All I humbly ask JB is that for Opening Night at Grauman's Chinese a few dozen rows of seats are booked for your dedicated Cheeseburgers to be as one with TheDave.

GhostSwirv ducks in to say...

Posted May 18, 2015
A decade or so ago I heard Craig Pearce holding court about the pitching session for Romeo + Juliet with the suits.

Baz was trying to dazzle them with his take on reimaging the story as a Western, only the custom guns idea survived, but the suits weren't buying until Baz flippantly said there would be a contemporary kick-ass soundtrack.

At which point they suddenly took notice and got interested cos they could see the dollar signs due to the studios commercial ties with established recording artists and labels.

I wonder what kinda music Shane Black likes to listen to?

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Ceramic would have you know...

Posted May 18, 2015
I was thinking for a panning scene of the mayhem in a city there could be Mystical Machine Gun by Kula Shaker.Perhaps a montage in Ascendence swapping between Karin and Dave fighting as they go up the apartment, and the residents out fighting in the streets?
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/peasants-pigs-astronauts/id436134324

Ceramic would have you know...

Posted May 18, 2015
Ok, so I've been thinking:
Emergence: Taking a walk with EmmelineEric Clapton: River Runs Deep
Resistance:When Dave wakes after abandoning Compton and no one is on his side.Nina Simone: Sinnerman
AscendenceCity fightingKula Shaker: Mystical Machine Gun

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w from brisbane has opinions thus...

Posted May 18, 2015
A great list of songs! Would have liked to have seen 'Take this job and shove it'.

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Rob reckons...

Posted May 18, 2015
I think Swamp by Tweaker would make a good ambient soundscape for the Hunn attack on Dave's Father in Law's house. https://youtu.be/3CT7ofyt120 I could imagine the Monsters moving in slowly and the heroes making preparation for the battle with this in the background. And if not a movie, perhaps a videogame? A mixture of Morrowwind and Battlefield 4 guns and axes kicking ass royally.

Rob mumbles...

Posted May 18, 2015
Wrong link for swamp here's the right one http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EM2cdnRVEEI

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NBlob mutters...

Posted May 18, 2015
Pre-De-Superfication of Dave by the Empath, he & Lucille engaged with the enemy with swagger, with confidence, with Hayseed Dixie.

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sibeen would have you know...

Posted May 18, 2015
In Dave's chopper ride out to the rig in Emergence, I thought of Parquet Courts "Stoned and Starving". A cool song which reminds me of early The Saints.

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Sparty2 would have you know...

Posted May 19, 2015
no love for everyone wants to rule the world Tears For Fears?Andhammer to Fall, Queen?And 'I want it all' Queen for Daves party ?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted May 19, 2015
Even though the three novels are chockablock with situations spawned by indecision married with a lack of vision, I'm not quite sure where Everybody Wants to Rule the World would comfortably fit within any hypothetical sound track.

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ShaneAlpha reckons...

Posted May 19, 2015
For Dave's Vegas Orgy - The Chili Pepper's "I Want to Party on your Pussy"
For one of Dave's warping moments - Motley Crue "Kickstart My Heart"
For Dave and Karins embassy fight - Cold Chisel "Yakuza Girls"

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Brother PorkChop is gonna tell you...

Posted May 19, 2015
Tenpole Tudor's Swords of a Thousand Men needs to be somewhere but perhaps not obscure enough for this thread. Personally I think The Dave would be somewhat eclectic majoring in catchy one hit wonders.

Bondiboy66 would have you know...

Posted May 19, 2015
Brilliant! Love that tune.

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Anthony mumbles...

Posted May 19, 2015

For Dave's flight into the rig I'd suggest "Friend of the Devil" by the Grateful Dead. The protagonist is a bit of a Dave "Got a wife in Chino, babe / And one in Cherokee / First one says she's got my child /But it don't look like me" and it has a nice steady beat perfect for watching the chopper come in.


And please, speaking as a long time rider - no stinking clichéd Meatloaf. Try Bad Motor Scooter by Montrose or Iron Horse (Born To Lose) by Motörhead.

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 20, 2015
I think anytime The Dave is doing his mental whining about Annie he should be hearing this song in his head performed by none other than this band.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBmCJEehYtU

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Lobes is gonna tell you...

Posted May 20, 2015
Late to the party but am loving this album by London duo Public Service Beoadcasting. The Race For Space is great mix of music, pop culture and technology. Couple of songs on here that could surely find a spot in your oeuvre JB
http://www.thefourohfive.com/music/review/public-service-broadcasting-the-race-for-space-142

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted May 20, 2015
Added to my stack on Rdio

Surtac is gonna tell you...

Posted May 21, 2015
And that's a second recommendation for that work that I've seen in the last few days, so it goes onto my list as well.

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Guru Bob has opinions thus...

Posted May 20, 2015
I don't see Wave of Mutilation by The Pixies anywhere on the list, which is a shame given the little reference hidden away in there....

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 20, 2015
So true!

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Lobes is gonna tell you...

Posted May 20, 2015
Future Islands would be a good band for #TheDave soundtrack. At first they come across as a pleasant indie/pop band but then their lead singer unleashes his death metal growwl at the most unexpected moment and you're like "where did that come from?!" Hes channeling something huge and evil.

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Respond to '#The Dave. #TheSoundtrack'

Kate Miller-Heidke, storyteller

Posted April 1, 2015 into Music by John Birmingham

I coulda killed a guy like Jimmy. The endearing/infuriating doofus of Kate Miller-Heidke’s ‘Jimmy’ – the sixth track on last years O Vertigo – put me immediately in mind of a guy I knew way back when. Stefan. A stringy haired, barefoot monomaniac whose enormous ego was built of Violet Crumble and self delusion. I road tripped all the way from Brisneyland to Sydney with him and can recall waking in a cold car by the side of the road somewhere in New South Wales. We had no petrol. He had no money. And I was of a mind to end his life and bury the body in a shallow grave.

Yet I didn’t, and now I recall that trip and my maddening road buddy with inexplicable fondness. Or it was inexplicable until I listened to ‘Jimmy’ and found in KMH’s lyrics, almost perfect recall of a guy she had never met. But she knows the type, I suppose. The type of hipster nitwit who can’t help but imitate the barista at the Colombian coffee stand, even though he sounds nothing like the dude, and everyone is watching, and your bullshit five dollar soy chai latte tastes like shit, because Jimmy insists on coming here anyway just to work on his stand up routine.

I said ‘Jimmy, don’t embarrass me.

I don’t want a display

Everybody’s staring, see,

I’m just not in the mood today.

And so what does Jimmy say? Does he apologise or dial it down? Hell no. Guys like Jimmy and Stefan they double down, bro! They come back at you with crackbrained non sequiturs like “What you don’t know is that I have a soul full of guns.”

And the hell of it is, they do. Not just big silly fucking cartoon guns either. To live as they do requires a courage we usually get sold in a very different form. In a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick, or the industrial-scale homicide antics of a 1980s meta-hero, an action doll made up of Schwarzenegger and Stallone parts. When I heard that line – “I have a soul full of guns” – it evoked a teeth-grinding envy for a writer who could bundle up so many truths in so few words. (I’m thinking of using it as a title for the first Karin Varatchevsky ebook.)

Envy is a feeling I’ve had more than once listening to Kate Miller-Heidke’s lyrics. I like her music of course, even though I have no technical understanding of it. She is classically trained, but works in popular music, possibly because of the freedom it offers. A teacher once described her voice as ‘garden variety lyric soprano’, which seems a little sniffy and dismissive to me. But her writing? That’s my game and if I’m playing one of her albums while I work, I sometimes find myself breaking off to listen a little more closely and to wonder at the narrative strength she brings to her writing.

It’s possible to enjoy all of her albums as collections of short stories, with all of the meaning, both surface and buried that comes packed in a really well written piece of short fiction, even a tale as unsettling as the suburban horror story she tells in ‘Sarah’, on Nightflight, the album that preceded 2014’s O Vertigo.

A cold read of Sarah’s lyric sheet threads the disturbing through the familiar – an old Stephen King technique. At the ’97 Livid Festival a girl goes missing. The close and familiar and safe, the playful and adventurous – “Stripy tights and fairy wings” – turned quite literally to creeping dread and mounting panic when the singer “turned around” and found her friend no longer there. The Hilltop Hoods, also great story tellers, talk of panicking on stage “like you lost a child” and that runaway panic accelerates through “Sarah” as wider and wider searches find nothing, until the police fish a blue dress out of a creek the next morning. It is a difficult song to listen to, not because it’s not beautiful, but because it so beautifully realises the horror of loss which most of us might experience for only a few seconds or minutes in our lives. Until the missing loved one pops back into sight. See if you can listen all the way through without goose bumps.

She is a pop artist though, and so darkness must be buried, even banished with light or with ironic shading at the right moment. “Drama”, again from O Vertigo, is another favourite character study, perhaps because it’s narrator, surely a late stage evocation of Lindsay Lohan, is so perfectly suited to the foot stomping tempo. “Lose my shit”, a much quieter but no less droll examination of desire, is possessed of a humour so dry it puts my martinis to shame, and most of that wry power comes not from the circumstances of the song, but the deadpan constraint of Miller-Heidke’s delivery.

I’ve always been more taken with story than character though, and it was story for which KMH first came to wider notice. Teen angst and doomed love are staples of pop music, but “Caught in the Crowd” drills deep under the usual surface details – girl meets boy, stuff happens, Just Like In A Taylor Swift Song! – to mine a deeper and more valuable emotional ore. With a few neat pen strokes she gives us an impressionist sketch of the course of true love totally not running smooth.

There was a guy at my school when I was in high school

We'd ride side by side in the morning on our bicycles

Never even spoken or faced each other

But on the last hill we'd race each other

When we reached the racks we'd each go our own way

I wasn't in his classes, I didn't know his name

When we finally got to speak he just stared at his feet

And mumbled a sentence that ended with 'James'

The awkwardness, the pain and reward of revealing just a little of the self, a tentative connection and it’s utter ruin in the face of cruelty and weakness asks us to acknowledge all of the terrible shitty things we have inevitably done in our own past. Wrapping it up in such a perky little pop song makes repeated play-throughs a strangely pleasant and compelling ordeal, like probing with the tip of your tongue at the raw wound of a tooth recently knocked out. There are those of us who never manage to pull off a story with the honesty of “Caught in Crowd”, even given hundreds of pages and hundreds of thousands of words.

How the fuck anyone does it in a few verses, I don’t know.

But I thought the one who might know would be Kate. I emailed her late last year, wondering if, when she’s putting an album together the tenor of the whole collection inspires the stories, or whether the stories themselves arise independent of any deeper wellspring. There’s a lovely quirky positive energy to a song like Jimmy, for instance, despite the exasperation, and the song is as much a character study as a narrative arc. That energy doesn’t so much change as mature into a really sardonic getting of wisdom by the time Lose My Shit rolls around. I found myself intrigued by all of this, because for a novelist the writing all takes place under one big sky, even when you’re breaking it down into shorter moments.

“So, long story short, what happens when you write an album like Vertigo? Are you deliberately creating a new world, or letting a lot of smaller, unique worlds emerge from each song?”

She kindly wrote back that with Nightflight, the album as a whole was its own world. “We tried to thread it through with stories about decay, light, darkness and death. It's quite a creepy album in some ways.”

(I remember Abe saying something like that here shortly after it came out. Like me, he found it very difficult to listen to Sarah.)

On the other hand O Vertigo! was mostly written by just Kate alone, and she didn't pay any attention to making it a coherent album.

“I didn't want to over-think anything, it was a much more instinctive process. Each song was its own world. Themes did emerge. A lot of it was about asserting myself, my 'voice' (both meanings), and generally being unashamed, being playful. Plus love and heartbreak of course. A lot of the songs were written while walking so it has a kinetic energy. It can be hard to tell a whole story in a song - mostly it's more like lifting the curtain for a couple of seconds, and each listener interprets the scene in their own way. I know 'Jimmy' means different things to different people. I know what the songs originally meant to me, but after I've been performing them for a while, sometimes I forget, because I've heard so many different interpretations from people.”

This is the defining experience of telling stories, of course. Once you let them out into the world, they’re not really yours anymore, they belong to whoever listens to them and in a very real sense there are as many versions of one story as there are people to listen to it or read it.

18 Responses to ‘Kate Miller-Heidke, storyteller’

Andy Dent asserts...

Posted April 1, 2015
Fond memories of being in the audience when she confessed which role she had actually played in the back story to the Facebook Song (AYFKM?). I admire and often enjoy her work but it will never ever ever, be background muzak.

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Bill Dezell reckons...

Posted April 1, 2015
I write fiction, not songs. I've sent many people with questions about how to fit a lot of story into a small word count to KMH's lyrics. This is especially true of Caught in the Crowd, Sarah, and Fire and Iron.

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Chaz swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 2, 2015
Really love "Sarah" it is a true horror story as you say.

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Surtac is gonna tell you...

Posted April 2, 2015
Saw her live here in CBR some years back - a good show as I recall.
Better go buy me some albums ...

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JBtoo ducks in to say...

Posted April 2, 2015
She is amazing. Nice piece.

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JG ducks in to say...

Posted April 2, 2015
Kate is an exceptional singer-songwriter. I love her classically trained voice (amazing) and her beautiful, witty lyrics. Some of her songs have given me cause to reflect on decisions and actions I've taken in the past. She's certainly a wonderful storyteller.
I saw Kate perform at Brisbane's Powerhouse a couple of years ago, and own two of her albums ('Curiouser' and 'Nightflight'). Her song 'Sarah' is chilling and I've been too scared to listen to it a few times at night alone. Spooky stuff. There are a few other dark songs, but also some lighter, humorous tracks in the two albums. That song about the boy who doesn't fit in at school is sad and yes, captures the awkwardness of youth and regret. I like the mix of light and dark songs.
Kate's created too many good songs to mention, but I particularly like End of the World (which perfectly encapsulates a time in my life), and Ride This Feeling. Funny how music (particular songs) bring back memories.
Kate's voice is, as I said, beautiful: transcendent. She has the voice of an operatic angel, but she can also sound tough when she grinds out the hard-hitting stuff. Yep, Kate's an actress and storyteller through her music.
I have to be in a certain mood to listen to her songs (not always perfect running music, although some songs are right for that). It's a gorgeous journey with Kate. What a wonderful Australian talent.
Joanna

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Abe Frellman has opinions thus...

Posted April 2, 2015
Bravo, JB. I think she is just wonderful. As hard as Sarah is to listen to, I still can't help but flash back to Albion Heights circa 1986 every time I hear Caught in the Crowd, despite the fact I have heard it a thousand times. It can even evoke the smell of sweat, blood and dirt that stings the nostrils as it fills them, still causing me to gasp nearly 30 years later. I have small list of 'favourite Australian taxpayers' I think about on the hardest of days, when I feel like tossing it in and returning to the private sector. You two are both on it.

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Rob has opinions thus...

Posted April 3, 2015
Saw KMH at the Corner a few weeks ago with Damian Cowell's Disco machine. It was a big night , she has an amazing voice live.

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Spanner would have you know...

Posted April 6, 2015
Arrrrgh! I wanted to rant and rave about Jimmy and his bullshit lines. I had a visceral urge to stab at my keyboard, the jam down the caps lock and motherfucking shout that Jimmy didn't know shit and his "soul full of guns" wouldn't last three days humping a pack...
Then I read the rest of the the blog post and I stopped shouting. Jimmy has nothing to do with this.
I'll go give her a listen and maybe just maybe I'll learn not to get all angried up in the blood over an intro because maybe the writer is trying to take me somewhere through the prism of their experience so they can introduce me to something else.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted April 6, 2015
"the writer is trying to take me somewhere through the prism of their experience so they can introduce me to something else."

Who would ever want that? Not me. I consider it extremely rude and alarmingly presumptuous that any "writer" would even attempt such a thing.

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Darth Greybeard mutters...

Posted April 6, 2015
"Presumption, thy name is Boylan"

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted April 6, 2015
See, now I'm confused. I assumed it was Paul Nasty Boylan. Perhaps Narssisic. Probably not Neat. I knew it couldnt be Naughty or Nervous. Then he told me "In Greek, I'm half Greek you know, we spell Danger with an N." Now His wrinklyness says Presumption is in there somewhere?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 7, 2015
There are those who say that the dishevelment I display is endearing. I
cannot name anyone specifically who so holds, but I am sure they are out
there somewhere.

As for the Grey One's implied accusation, I can
say with high confidence that I have never attempted, directly or
indirectly, to take anyone through the prism of my experience to reveal
anything at all. I know this is true because I fabricate virtually all
of the personal experiences I've ever written about - except my story
about being chased by a pack of feral dogs in Oslo, Norway back in 1988.
That happened.

And the only possible revelation derived from that experience is advice to never embarrass a stray dog in public: he or she may have friends that will chase you into a public lavatory and not let you out until the authorities and local news media arrive.

NBlob puts forth...

Posted April 7, 2015
Not helping with the confusion. Your disheveled appearance may be disarming, may lull one into a false sense of security, but endearing not so much. I suspect this to be a double blind where one states "oh no I made all that up" in an attempt to throw off investigators, or at least to metaphorically brush one's tracks with a branch. And embarrassing dogs is only entertaining when they started it, like when my old black lab farts in her sleep. Or in a Really Boring place like Helsinki. I have it on good authority that there is always something happening in Oslo. There's something deeper going on here.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted April 7, 2015
Why won't anyone believe me when I say that I always lie? Is it because I'm black? Is that it?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted April 7, 2015
I admit perhaps slightly stretching the term "endearing."

NBlob would have you know...

Posted April 7, 2015
Ahh, N for Noir.

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Erin puts forth...

Posted April 8, 2015
Thanks for this great article! I keep suggesting her music to everyone I know in hopes that she will become as big as she deserves to be, as big as her music is.

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Emergence sound track

Posted January 13, 2015 into Music by John Birmingham

Rob Henry has tried his hand at book reviewing, having a tilt at Emergence here.

Towards the end he reveals his punk rock roots with a kicking little track list that would make for a metal-heavy soundtrack when the movie premieres.

I've been slowly building up my own playlist for the series, but won't release it until all three books are out. Until then, enjoy Rob's Emergence movie soundtrack:


‘New Orleans is a Dying Whore’ by Down. Intro song, title and director credits.
‘The Great Southern Trend Kill’ by Pantera. Helicopter ride to the rig on the crap worn out seat with the mean civilian cat lady pilot.
‘Wake Up! Time to Die’ by Pop Will Eat Itself. The memories of the last night of hookers and blow.
‘Weekend Warrior’ by Ministry. The first fight with the Hunn when Dave brains the orc with Lucille.
‘Where Eagles Dare’ Misfits cover by Biohazard. Where the SEAL team assemble to move Dave and meet the oversized scout.
‘One Shot One Kill’ by Pro-Pain. The fight scene with the Scout.
‘Surface Paradise’ by Root! As Dave travels via car, background noise on the radio.
‘Nemesis’ by Shriekback segueing into NWA on the car stereo. The Hunn coming up through the sewers in New Orleans and getting royally confused by baseball caps.
‘Guns for Show, Knives are Pro’ by Parkway Drive.For the Hunn.
‘Sheep in Black’ by the Clowns. Dave eating while thinking about his brother and the military men surrounding him.
‘Get the Girl, Kill the Baddies’ by Pop Will Eat Itself. End Credit sequence

14 Responses to ‘Emergence sound track’

Surtac asserts...

Posted January 13, 2015
Shriekback's 'Nemesis' has always been one of my favourites. Must go play it now!

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damian puts forth...

Posted January 13, 2015
It's a long story caused by the relative capabilities of my new old car, but it left me making a MP3 CD. So I found myself putting 130 or so tracks on a CD in a random order. Sure this actually required writing a short program to treat the randomisation fairly, but anyhow it does mean I made a car playlist of 130 tracks in an order guaranteed to be random.

"Why is this relevant to Dave?" I hear you ask. Well, with totally random order the very first track ("Track 01") ended up being 'Pretty Paracetamol' by Fischer Z.

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pi puts forth...

Posted January 13, 2015
Needs more trance.

Therbs would have you know...

Posted January 14, 2015

Dave would definitely not be a trance kind of guy.

Rob reckons...

Posted January 14, 2015
I imagine Dave listens to the Bloodhound Gang, much to his wife's ongoing disgust.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted January 15, 2015
Totes. They're on his gym playlist

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Dirk has opinions thus...

Posted January 14, 2015
Hmm there should be room for the following:
ACDC - Highway to hell
Johnny Cash - The man comes around
Wolfgang Mozart - Requiem in D (for the Tarantino slomo killing)
Kayak - Ruthless Queen
Meat Loaf - Seize the night
Nightwish - Over the hills and far away.


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Barnesm mutters...

Posted January 14, 2015

Dave W mutters...

Posted January 14, 2015


+1


;-)

insomniac mumbles...

Posted January 14, 2015
I like what you have to say.

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Barnesm mumbles...

Posted January 14, 2015

less is more


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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted January 14, 2015
Barber's adagio in D minor would be Most Excellent for the Slow Mo smashing.

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insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted January 14, 2015
No Wipe That Shit-Eating Grin Off Your Punchable Face by the Smith Street Band?

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Rob is gonna tell you...

Posted January 14, 2015
I don't do Smith Street, maybe Bomb The Music Industry 'Congratulations John, on joining Every Time I die'

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Taylor Swift, Helen Razer, the Cold War goes hawt

Posted November 3, 2014 into Music by John Birmingham

I gave Helen Razer my old targetting computer from the primary hovercraft. She used it to overwhelm Taylor Swift's air defence grid with a snark missile swarm:

1989, Ms Taylor Swift’s lauded new synth-driven reverie, is not the sort of album one can quickly dismiss. And this is why I set aside all of the weekend to dismiss it. You may not have this sort of time to disburse on comprehensive loathing for on-trend popstrels refigured by the orthodox rock press as “important”. As such, I have prepared a range of objections to Swift’s music, Swift’s persona and Swift’s uncritical critics for your easy use.

But, if you don’t even have time for a crib, here’s a spoiler: they all suck. They suck the end right out of history.

Perhaps the most irritating thing about a record that exhumes and then robs from the corpses of the very best of ’80s pop is that, at times, I quite like it...

19 Responses to ‘Taylor Swift, Helen Razer, the Cold War goes hawt’

Lulu is gonna tell you...

Posted November 3, 2014
"Of course, forty-somethings who are affronted by the theft of their dismal Euro-disco are not Swift’s target audience"

Indeed we aren't.

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Bunyip reckons...

Posted November 3, 2014
"...a kind of tasty girl power to young women who easily mistake low-calories snacks for the meat of feminism."?

Must remember to send Ms Razer a couple more ammo bins for that chain gun. +1

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BigWillieStyle asserts...

Posted November 3, 2014
Who's Taylor Swift?

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insomniac asserts...

Posted November 3, 2014
I always assumed the gold hovercraft was your only one and now I find that its just your runabout. What's are the others constructed of? Platinum? Xenon?

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w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted November 3, 2014
I have been following Taylor Swift's career for some time. I thought her last album, Red, was good and stood up well against most of the more artistically favoured thinking person's folk-pop.

Now with her new album, the praise has been extremely enthusiastic. Springsteenesque has been used regularly. Grantland's very thumbs up review, amongst other references, likened her to: Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Haim, Lana del Rey and Jan Hammer.

All somewhat ridiculous, of course. It is a formulaic pop album but with evidence of a coherent intelligent 'auteur', and she is hot, and the music is so accessible. The desire to treat her like Coleridge just shows the intensity of the desire to take the 'guilty' out of the guilty pleasure. Not that the pleasure should be 'guilty', they should just enjoy it, if they like it. It is quite good pop.

w from brisbane reckons...

Posted November 3, 2014
Aarrgh! I don't know why it is in italic

Bangar reckons...

Posted November 3, 2014
Someone's being playing with the HTML again ;)
Closure people it's necessary for us all.

DNABeast mumbles...

Posted November 4, 2014
Some one did something odd. I've fixed it now.

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insomniac puts forth...

Posted November 3, 2014

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MickH mumbles...

Posted November 3, 2014
Who's Taylor Swift?
Is Helen Razor her house cleaner?

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted November 4, 2014
Most people don't know this, but Taylor Swift is a direct descendent of Jonathan Swift, the author of A Modest Proposal. Early in her music career, Ms. Swift's parents actively suppressed this information because they were concerned that it would offend her mostly anti-intellectual Southern American Yahoo audience that lacks the sense of irony necessary to appreciate - if not merely understand - Jonathan Swift's work. However, with Ms. Swift's recent successful forays into the broader popular music market, I suspect she will now be more open about ancestry.

Darth Greybeard puts forth...

Posted November 4, 2014
ISWYDT. "Yahoo" audience indeed.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted November 4, 2014
Thank you for noticing.

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JBtoo mumbles...

Posted November 4, 2014
Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate hate

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beeso ducks in to say...

Posted November 4, 2014
Hmmm Taylor Swift vs Razer. That's a hard fight to pick sides on.

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Halwes mumbles...

Posted November 4, 2014
Taylor Swift is very, very hot and therefore should be accorded the respect she deserves ! Razer would wipe the floor with her in a fight though although I suspect that Helen's bodyguards wouldn't quite be up to the standard of Ms Swifts

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Josh ducks in to say...

Posted November 4, 2014
Thanks for posting this article. I miss the Razor/Robins days. Possibly showing my age here.

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pi has opinions thus...

Posted November 4, 2014
I thought one of the critiques of that piece by Ms. Razer in the comments was pretty bloody good.

<cite class="fn">"
Graham Clark</cite>


Nov 4, 2014 at 4:53 am</a>


Leaving aside Helen Razer’s non-comprehension of Taylor Swift – or
Lady Gaga, for that matter, whom Camille Paglia understood perfectly –
let it be noted that ’80s pop songs about “the shadow of a nuclear
winter” were pulp fantasies about a war that everybody should have known
was never going to happen after 1962, if not sooner, made by artists
and for listeners who had pretensions to politically consciousness, but
were too slow, too intellectually cowardly, or too much on the wrong
side to recognize the real horror of the 1980s: that being, of course,
of course the rapid progress of neo-liberal political leaders within the
developed world, and their rich sponsors, in demolishing the checks on
the power of the rich and the protections for everybody else that had
been built up over the previous five decades."


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DNABeast is gonna tell you...

Posted November 4, 2014
What a joyless shrew. Heaven forbid we enjoy music that speaks about human interaction rather than "big world events".

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