DIT #13: Goin Home – Dinosaur Jr

I remember a conversation I had with a mate of mine back in 1993:

“How can anyone,” was the gist, “NOT like Where You Been by Dinosaur Jr?”

Where You Been is one of my top albums of the 90s. From the opening rock-out riff of Out There, through the playfully chugged notes of Start Choppin and “ear-bleeding Country” sound of Get Me, to the final soaring fade-out of I Ain’t Sayin, it’s as close to a perfect collection of songs as I can imagine. J Mascis’s guitar playing is other-wordly, his voice world-weary and the support from Mike Johnson on bass and Murph on drums is both solid and inventive – tune into the bass line at the start of Start Choppin to see what I mean.

My favourite song on the album is Goin Home. It is a subtle, sensitive number which sees Mascis’s acoustic playing at its most intricate and his cheese-grater vocal style softened to a vulnerable near-whisper. The cathartic release of the bold strums that lead into the chorus always gives me goosebumps and the keyboard chords that punctuate the end of the chorus lines always make me smile. It stands out from the rest of the tracks on Where You Been because it gives a little respite from the preceding bombast and lulls you into a warm blanket of security before the ear-busting wail of the first few bars of I Ain’t Sayin. It’s a song that begs to be heard at the end of a long journey. You’ll be glad that you travelled just so that you can pop on Goin Home five minutes before you get to your front door.

If you haven’t heard this song or this album, well…Where You Been?

Sorry. That was unnecessary :-)

Line wot I wish I wrut: Those keyboard chords in the chorus.

Song Sketches

I’ve uploaded a couple of rough sketches of songs to soundcloud and I hope to work on proper versions after I’ve sorted out the final song for the Nippy album.

The first sketch is called Will Ye Love Me?

It’s about being in love when you’re really old. Paul McCartney got the idea for When I’m 64 from this (honest!). I tinkered with the idea of calling it When I’m 54 as a nod to both the Beatles standard and Scotland’s low life expectancy, but I didnae bother since some of the lines in the song only really make sense if the protagonists are over 75.

It’s a bit bawdy, as ye’d expect fae The Tits, but its heart is in the right place.

The second sketch is a The Vinegar Tits treatment of the traditional Scottish folk song Bonnie Wee Jeannie McColl:

The angle here is that the “best man” of the song is actually a right horror and he ruins the “belle of the ball”. I got the idea from the first few minutes of Peter Mullan’s film The Magdalen Sisters, where a young guy forces himself on a lassie at a do in a community hall and the girl gets shipped off to a Magdalen laundry as punishment for being a harlot. It’s a jolly wee tune so I like the incongruous fit with the shabby handling of the woman’s situation.

As with many of my songs, the injured innocent doesn’t have a voice. It’s the Nabokovian streak in me (oooh, hark at him!).

Both versions are really rough at the moment (who said “How can you tell the difference from your usual guff?) but I’ll polish them up as time passes.

Adventures In Vinyl #4

I’ve not had much of a chance to get out and about to sniff out cheeky wee vinyl bargains this weather. I was on a wee break wi the family on Record Store Day so didn’t get the chance to stand in a queue outside a record shop at 6 in the morning – WORSE LUCK!

(A wee tip of the hat to Sue Townsend there…RIP)

On Saturday, however, I snatched half an hour to rake through the racks in some local charity shops and found The Big Yin in amongst the Peter Skellern and Mel Tormé discs:

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Solo Concert by Billy Connolly (1974)

For any Scot who’s intae their comedy this recording – over 2 nights in the Tudor Hotel, Airdrie – has iconic status. The early Connolly classics are all there: for example, Nine-and-a-half Guitars, The Jobbie Wheecha and, of course, The Crucifixion.
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All records are time capsules but given Billy Connolly’s ubiquity in Scottish culture over the last 40 years, Solo Concert is particularly notable because it’s the breakthrough: it’s where the Connolly that we know now really began (on record, at least), and given what he’s achieved and how he’s changed since the 1970s it genuinely feels like an artefact from not just another time but another dimension.

I MEAN JUST LOOK AT THAT OUTFIT ON THE FRONT COVER!

And at 2 quid for a double album, who could argue?
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(Incidentally, I don’t know why but charity shop workers seem to think you’re buying frisbees when ye get vinyl aff them – CAREFUL!!!!!!!)

:-)

The Wire(less)

I got final word today that I’ll be on the wireless tomorrow talking to Martin and John at Pulse 98.4FM Community Radio about the fine music of The Vinegar Tits. Or, as it’s going out 10-12 on a Saturday morning, the fine music of The VTs.

It’s been a bit of a challenge identifying tunes that are acceptable for a family audience, so fingers crossed the chaps have found something suitable :-)

Here’s hoping it all goes well. I’ll report back about how it went later in the week.

Spotify and iTunes

I can’t help but think that The Vinegar Tits have attained a level of respectability by getting on the auld Spotify and iTunes. It’s easily arranged, don’t get me wrong – I used RouteNote – but still…this is where NORMAL people listen to and buy music!

If yer intae it, here are the links to The Tits on:

Spotify:

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/turnin-on-the-charm-single/id834530641

If yer streaming it on Spotify, apparently it sounds better if you play it on Repeat for 48 hours. Try it. It’s true :-)

Yes, Please & Thank You, or, Why I’m Voting Yes

The Scottish independence referendum on the 18th of September is an era-defining moment for all people who live in Scotland. I have been dissatisfied with the undemocratic Westminster legislature for years – populated as it is with elitist, self-serving, avaricious, corrupt, aloof, callous, craven, bloodthirsty, deceitful buffoons – and voters in Scotland have this rare, precious opportunity to be done with it once and for all.

I’ve written two songs that express my distaste at having to live under the influence of this monstrous institution, both of which go some way to explaining why I’ll be voting Yes this autumn. They are very different beasts indeed:

Yes, Please & Thank You is about the greed and hypocrisy of the Westmonster politician:

Our money is spent on weapons made by their friends’ companies to fight wars for the benefit of some other chums’ investments; our children’s futures are sold off to protect bankers’ bonuses; the benefits recipient is to be despised unless they receive an MP’s salary.

It’s not, however, just the benefits claimant that MPs despise; they hate all of us. We are an inconvenient nasal boil that they have to lance every 5 years or so to make sure that their snouts are healthy enough to stay in the trough (unless they sit in the Lords – then they don’t need to consider us at all). And because we chose them they think they have a mandate to do as they please. And we should be grateful for everything that they do “for us”.

Swine.

Everyone’s Happy was written about 4 years ago after David Cameron started gobbing on about some happiness index garbage. I imagined someone working hard but losing their job and subsequently alienating their support network as they are cast adrift by the callous Big Society that Dave was creating. Imagine that poor bugger listening to Bullingdon Boy telling him to volunteer? See that job you used to do? Do it again for nothing.

The man is out of touch and forever will be. As are his cronies of all stripes in the Palace of Westminster.

What people in England hopefully understand is that this is not about you. It’s not about leaving you because, as dishonest newspapers may mislead you, we don’t like you. It’s about taking advantage of a unique chance to live in a society where people are more important than profit. If we vote Yes and you fancy joining us then come on up and contribute. You’ll be made very, very welcome.

And if it’s a No then come buy us a drink. We’ll fucking well need it.

Many Bargains! Much Cheapness!

It gives me great pleasure to announce that I’m going to release Turnin On The Charm as a single, with Ye’ve Either Got It Or Ye Huvnae as a B-side, on Valentine’s Day.

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I say “release”: what I mean is I’ve fired it onto Bandcamp, where you can get it for the king’s ransom of 80p (correct at time of writing):
The Vinegar Tits on Bandcamp

And I say “Valentine’s Day”: it’s there now. RIGHT NOW! I’ve just said the release date is the 14th because I like the idea of two songs about weird inadequate men coming out on the day for corporate recognition of lovers.

The artwork for the single is inpired by the line in Turnin On The Charm “When ye fell asleep I cut off a chunk of yer hair.” When I wrote it I didn’t intend this line to be as sinister as the art suggests but my artistic director was most insistent. I have to say he worked wonders, as well: it’s amazing what you can do with nail scissors, tomato sauce and doll’s hair.

The versions of both songs are probably those that will appear on the Nippy album, which I hope to get out this summer. Before that momentous event I expect to release Everyone’s Happy as a single in April, with Yes Please & Thank You on the flip side.
So with two singles and an album oot in 2014 I fully expect to be able to give up the day job by Xmas!

:-)