Thursday, April 06, 2006

In Praise of the Peculiar

The answer to the question posed in yesterday's post concerning the name of the now ├╝ber-famous musical artist who wrote and recorded a song about a cemetary worker is David Bowie. A tip of the hat goes to The Wrath of Dawn, who ably demonstrated her tremendous, may I say, almost encyclopaedic command of the obscure and underappreciated.

The track, Please Mr. Gravedigger, was sung a cappella. Here's a few lines:
Please Mr. Gravedigger, don't feel ashamed
As you dig little holes for the dead and the maimed
Please Mr. Gravedigger, I couldn't care
If you found a golden locket full of some girl's hair
And you put it in your pocket.
I actually prefer Bowie's first three albums to all his output after Hunky Dory. Not yet famous, not yet a fashion clothes horse, his first songs were original, ironic, poetic and challenging. But like Elvis Presley, once he donned sequins, his creativity went down the tubes and he became much more about style and definitely less about substance.

Reflecting upon my trivia challenge, it dawned on me just how much of my musical soundscape is populated by the weird, the wacky, the obscure, the profane, and the downright unintelligible.

Here is a (very) shortlist from my i-Tunes library to illustrate my point:
  • Tubas in the Moonlight (Bonzo Dog Doodah Band)
  • Woe-Is-Uh-Me-Bop (Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band)
  • Fire (The Crazy World of Arthur Brown)
  • Untutored Youth (Hives)
  • Coca Cola Douche (Fugs)
  • Third Uncle (Brian Eno)
  • Wanking in a Winter Wonderland (Masturbate for Peace)
  • Corporate Slut (Selfish Cunt)
  • Pre-Menstrual Princess Blues (Stormtroopers of Death)
  • Tillicum (Syrinx)
  • Nowhere Man (Tiny Tim)
  • Deborah (Tyrannosaurus Rex)
  • 9th and Hennepin (Tom Waits)
  • I'm a Christmas Tree (Wild Man Fisher)
  • Ruby in the Skies (with Diamonds) (William Shatner)
  • The Ballad of the Skeletons (Allan Ginsberg)
  • You Ain't No Streetwalker, Momma Honey, But I Sure do Love the Way You Strut Your Stuff (Taj Mahal)
Despite the fact that (most of) these tracks are excellent in their own right, I feel it is my own particular way of thumbing my nose at conventionality. Not to mention an excellent way of clearing my house of unwanted children and visitors.

I'm certain that most of you have a favourite song which is not, well, appreciated by anyone else but you. I invite you to share your personal musical treasures with the rest of us in the "Comments" section.

By the by, if you are intrigued by musical arcana, visit Stuart Marconie's Freak Zone on BBC 6 for three hours (streaming) of pop's peculiarities from the last four decades. The current week's show is always available.


Blogger merlinprincesse said...

Bill Shatner can SING???? OMG I love him! I have to find it!!!!

10:37 AM  
Blogger nanuk said...

merlinprincesse: his version of Ruby in the Skies etc. is routinely voted the worst song of all time. It is a song for only the brave to listen to.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Fuff said...

Wig - The B52's
Nobody takes it seriously.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Fuff said...

I concur re Bill Shatner. Dreadful song.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Tea and Books, etc said...

I should have known it would be David Bowie; after all, his eyes don't match. 'nuff said.

I only recognised 3 or 4 names on your list... I am sadly unhip.

1:49 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Fuff: Downloaded a sample of Wig. It's certainly worthy of inclusion in anyone's collection of eclectica. Thanks for the head's up.

T&B,etc.: Luckily, we here at the White Bear's Blog are committed to helping the hipness-challenged. Just tune in and turn on.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

It's nice to meet someone with more issues than me...

8:54 PM  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Thank you very much. I am queen of the obscure.

Let me make this perfectly clear... William Shatner CANNOT sing.

10:40 PM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

The First Bratwurst of Summer - Those Darn Accordians

1:14 AM  

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