Song Lyric Sunday: Cheerful

In case anyone might have been wondering if you’d ever see me here again, I’m back! I’d always planned to miss December, as I was posting every day for my Advent Calendar and for New Year, but my absence was extended by personal circumstances. If you don’t know why, and feel like finding out, the background is given in my recent Tuesday Tunes post, which also marked a return for me. I’ve tried to keep up with the weekly posts for SLS but I’ve missed being a part of it and am glad to be here again. Today, Jim has invited us to play a New Wave song – you can read all about it in his post, Latest Movement.

The term ‘New Wave’ can mean different things. In my recollection, the term was first used to describe the likes of early Talking Heads, but then in the later Seventies it really took off in the UK, usually applied to bands with effete singers with floppy hairstyles, producing pop pap music that I wouldn’t give house room to. But fortunately it was also wide enough to encompass a number of others whose offerings were much more to my liking. Cast your mind back to those times and the UK charts were full of punk and disco derivatives – most of which were total crap, to my ears. Maybe that’s what Jim was thinking when he chose his title for this week? But out of that came a rather unique band – Ian Dury and the Blockheads. They had a lot of success in the UK, across Europe and in the Antipodes, but achieved the square root of diddly squat in the US. Your loss, guys. If they are known for one song it is probably their one UK #1, but I’m not going with that. My choice for today is another of their big UK hits:

It has a LOT of lyrics. so I’ve edited out some of the repeated parts:

Why don’t you get back into bed?
Why don’t you get back into bed?
Why don’t you get back into bed?
Why don’t you get back into bed?

………

Reasons to be cheerful, part three
1, 2, 3

Summer, Buddy Holly, the working folly
Good golly, Miss Molly and boats

Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet
Jump back in the alley and nanny goats

Eighteen wheeler Scammells, Dominica camels
All other mammals plus equal votes

Seeing Piccadilly, Fanny Smith and Willie
Being rather silly and porridge oats

A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it
You’re welcome we can spare it, yellow socks

Too short to be haughty, too nutty to be naughty
Going on forty no electric shocks

The juice of a carrot, the smile of a parrot
A little drop of claret, anything that rocks

Elvis and Scotty, the days when I ain’t spotty
Sitting on a potty, curing smallpox

Reasons to be cheerful, part three
Reasons to be cheerful, part three
Reasons to be cheerful, part three
Reasons to be cheerful, one, two, three

Reasons to be cheerful, part three

Health service glasses, gigolos and brasses
Round or skinny bottoms

Take your mum to Paris, lighting up a chalice
Wee Willie Harris

Bantu Steven Biko, listening to Rico
Harpo Groucho Chico

Cheddar cheese and pickle, a Vincent motorsickle
Slap and tickle

Woody Allen, Dali, Domitrie and Pascale
Balla, balla, balla and Volare

Something nice to study, phoning up a buddy
Being in my nuddy

Saying okey-dokey, sing-a-long a Smokie
Coming out of chokie

John Coltrane’s soprano, Adie Celentano
Beuno Colino

Reasons to be cheerful, part three
Reasons to be cheerful, part three
Reasons to be cheerful, part three
Reasons to be cheerful, one, two, three

Yes, yes, dear, dear
Perhaps next year
Or maybe even now
In which case

…….

I don’t mind
I don’t mind, don’t mind, don’t mind, don’t mind

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Charles Jeremy Jankel / David Stanley Payne / Ian Robins Dury / Stanley Payne David

Reasons to Be Cheerful, Pt. 3 lyrics © Peermusic Publishing, Warner Chappell Music, Inc

You can probably see from that why the band might not have made it in the US: they have a very English feel to them, and you’d probably need a dictionary of slang to understand it all, or to be familiar with British pop culture to get all the references. The Wikipedia article about the song gives some helpful translations, though. I loved the band, and still enjoy hearing their songs today. This one was released as a single in July 1979 and reached #3 in the UK, though it didn’t fare as well elsewhere. It was written shortly after one of their crew was nearly fatally electrocuted in the recording studio – hence the ‘no electric shocks’ line – and was described by Dury as one of his ‘list’ songs. As the title implies, it is a simple list of things to make us happy, brilliantly constructed with some clever wordplay and rhymes, accompanied by great sax and guitar solos.

Ian Dury was an interesting character: he contracted polio at the age of seven, which left him with a withered left arm and leg, and as well as his musical career he was also an actor – you may recall him from such movies as The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover, which features a memorable performance by Helen Mirren (both clothed and unclothed). He died of colorectal cancer in March 2000: his obituary in The Guardian lauded him as ‘one of few true originals of the English music scene,’ which seems about right to me.

I said at the outset that I wouldn’t be playing the band’s biggest hit but, on reflection, why not give you a little bonus:

Absolutely great! #1 in the UK, #2 in Australia, #3 in New Zealand and Ireland, three other top ten placings in Europe, and a princely #79 in the US Dance Music chart. See what I mean? You really did miss out on a unique talent over there.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my selection for today’s New Wave music listings. I’m slowly getting back into blogging, though it does still feel a little strange. I’ll be back on Tuesday with another Tuesday Tunes post, and would love to see you again then. Have a great day, and try to be cheerful 😊

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