Five years ago a new word was made up and has since become a regular feature in the language here. You may have heard of this word: Brexit. Don’t worry – after my trip into politics last week I’m not about to do it again: there is a huge temptation to have a rant, but I’ll try not to succumb. The reason for mentioning it is that it has provided me with the theme word for this week’s tunes – at last, I hear you say, something good has come out of Brexit! It is at least as tangible as any of the other ‘benefits’ we were promised, but which have yet to materialise. (Editorial note: they won’t, it’s a shitshow). We have now officially been out of the transition period of our departure from the EU for a month, and most of the news coverage – apart from the War of the Vaccines – has been about extortionate duty charges being imposed on goods being bought from EU countries and of the frightening levels of bureaucracy and paperwork being faced by businesses involved in import/export with EU members. The Observer ran a story a few days ago about some of these businesses, which included this:
Yes, you read it right. This may not be official Government policy: it may be, though, as we can never be sure with this lot, who make it up as they go along. However, this is advice being given by Government departments, whose role is to advise and help businesses negotiate their way in the brave new post-Brexit world. If your business involves exporting, the best way to do it is, in effect, to move back and rejoin the EU on a company by company basis. They promised us ‘sunlit uplands,’ but didn’t mention the slippery slopes needed to get there, if it is even possible. So I’m taking my lead from the Government’s advice this week in choosing my theme word, which is: move.
Of course, the tunes won’t be about Government advice, and may well contain an element or two of ‘good-bye’ sentiments to departing lovers, but I can’t think of a better place to begin move songs than this one:
I recall hearing this so much on the radio when I was growing up. My Mum liked Ray Charles, so it is quite possible that she would have had this record, though I can’t be sure. It was released as a single in June 1961, and was a #1 hit in the US and #6 here in the UK. That video is a little bit grainy, but its authenticity is what attracted me. It’s a good message to reflect the Government’s advice, I think.
The newspaper clip I showed you earlier made reference to some companies’ uncertainty about whether or not to follow the Government’s advice. It put this into my mind:
I apologise for the static video, but the two other choices I could find didn’t really appeal to me. There is an ‘official’ band video, which features a live performance – but in solidarity with my old schoolmate, it was recorded after he had been thrown out of the Clash for his drug habits, and as he was on this original recording that didn’t feel right to me. The other video was from the tv series Stranger Things, using this song as backing. When it reached the point at which there were bodies on the floor surrounded by blood and machine guns I decided it might be a little OTT for my blog! This song was released in 1982 on the Clash’s fifth album, Combat Rock, which reached #2 here and #7 in the US. It was the third single taken from the album, peaking at #17 here and at #45 in the US. It was re-released in 1991 to tie in with it being used in an advert for Levi jeans: it didn’t chart in the US this time, but became the band’s only UK #1, and was a top ten hit in a further 16 countries.
I chose this next one as it seemed to fit the theme of uncertainty about where the road is taking us:
“Everybody gets high, everybody gets low
These are the days when anything goes”
Indeed! High, low, befuddled – it’s the new normal! This was a track on Sheryl Crow’s second album, released in 1996 and rather imaginatively titled Sheryl Crow. The album reached #5 here and #6 in the US, as well as making the top twenty in eight other countries. This song was the second single taken from the album, and peaked at #11 in the US and #12 here in the UK. I love this video – it feels so joyful.
Speaking of being on the road:
When that was first released, in 1968, it introduced me to the concept of blues rock: it was a little different from the usual chart fodder of the time. It was on Canned Heat’s second album, Boogie With Canned Heat, which reached #16 in the US but did better here, where it peaked at #5. It closely matched that performance as a single, too, reaching #16 in the US and #8 here. In case you’re unaware of who the idiot DJ is at the beginning, he isn’t an extra from Planet Of The Apes, but is actually Dave Lee Travis, who was one of the 60s DJs who later came to the attention of Operation Yewtree for a variety of alleged sex offences. He was eventually found guilty on just one of many counts, but had a suspended prison sentence imposed on him as a result. Not the BBC’s proudest era!
For a song about moving around, but without really having any idea where you might be going, this classic is spot on:
I’d guess a good many exporters are feeling like this at present:
To be on your own, with no direction home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone”
The ideal metaphor for post-Brexit Britain? I’ll let you decide…
In case you’re wondering, this was the opening track on Bob Dylan’s sixth studio album, Highway 61 Revisited, which was released in August 1965 and peaked at #3 in the US and #4 here. It was also released as a single, in July 1965, to promote the forthcoming album, reaching #2 in the US and #4 here.
I couldn’t resist one final song for this week’s theme. It’s a breakup song, but I would imagine that many are feeling this way, even though they were the idiots who believed the lies and voted for Brexit in the first place:
That was on Green Day’s fifth album, Nimrod, released in 1997. The album reached #10 in the US and #11 here in the UK. This was the second track from the album to be released as a single, and also peaked at #11 here. It was also #11 on Billboard’s Adult Top 40 chart in the US. The opening lines could have been taken from a Government leaflet on moving your business after Brexit:
“Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time”
I think we have all learned some lessons, though some of us won’t be able to move!
That’s your lot for this week. Every day seems to be a winding road of news stories about the incompetence of our government, so it is more than possible that they will have provided me with another theme by next week. Do come back to see what it might be!
As always, I wish you well and trust that you will stay safe. Take care.