Category Archives: Musical Mumbo

James Morrison Agony Aunt Letter

Dear Auntie Soph,

Something bad happened in my life last week and I don’t know where to turn.

I was driving along listening to the radio and this song came on.

It was easy to listen to, catchy: I liked it.

I didn’t hear who it was by but it reeked of dairy products so I tried to put it out of my mind.

But the next day it was on again and, damn, I wanted more.

The next time I got into the car I started channel surfing to find it.

It got nasty. I ended up on Magic FM.

I turned it up loud- so loud I had to sing and close all the windows.

My son was sweating. He was asking me to stop.

The whole thing was Wrong.

Finally, I Googled some of the lame lyrics and, Holy God, it was James Morrison.

Worse than that- James Morrison with NELLY FURTADO.

It’s been less than a few months since I stopped knifing her in my dreams and replaced her with Amanda Holden.

I’m a mess and Broken Strings is only the half of it.

My finger slipped on Youtube (I was looking for ‘Two Girls One Cup’, honestly) and I ran into one of his love ballads, If you don’t wanna love me – hell, even the title knows what I’m saying.

Now I’m angry.

It sounds like Otis Redding and it’s O.K. to like Otis Redding.

Why can’t I like a song by that man too?

Who makes the taste rules anyway?

I’m guessing you’ll tell me to buy an album and try to get it out of my system.

But I can’t go fouling up my Amazon recent orders list with stinky artists.

Do I wear a hoodie to HMV? Book a long-haul flight and plug in?

Please help.


musically compromised from hammersmith


Dear musically compromised from hammersmith,

Of all the mail I received this week, yours stayed with me the longest.

You’re struggling with a big issue here but some people touch children and that’s almost certainly more shameful.

It seems to me that your musical sensibilities may have been damaged when you were young.

Maybe your mother liked Richard Clayderman or there were a lot of pan pipes on in the house.

Either way, the most well-meaning of parents can unwittingly make it difficult to provide their children with the foundations for healthy musical appreciation when they reach adulthood.

Also, you’re trying to Google scatological porn so you probably went to a girls’ boarding school- the odds have been against you right from the start.

You don’t say how old you are but elsewhere you mention that you’re partial to a bit of a duet so I’m guessing you were a child of the 80s: Always by Atlantic Starr was probably a seminal moment for you.

If I typed in ‘D’ on your computer’s Youtube would ‘Dollar’ appear?

When I scratched the tippex off the bottom of the letter I could just about make out the word ‘Bolton’.

Just how much Mariah Carey is at the back of your C.D. cabinet?

In conclusion, I think you are asking for the wrong help.

You want to know how to rid yourself of bad musical taste because agreeable people disapprove of it.

In actual fact, you should embrace your true feelings and recognize this affliction as a part of you.

If you carry on listening to some good stuff this may eventually take a more natural place in your preferences.

But essentially you need a more rubbish crowd of friends, who will not judge you- ones who laugh at Russell Brand and wear t-shirts with hilarious slogans.

Then you can relax and indulge.

So James Morrison is lispy and wet and looks like Chris Martin’s weaker Siamese twin (the one who didn’t get the vital organs) but he’s not James Blunt, unless…


If you finger-tap to any of his stuff go to a door and repeatedly knock on it using your head.

Yours back,

Auntie Soph x


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Come on, girl

There comes a point when you can no longer turn a blind eye to what’s going on under the sofa.

But on this morning, I didn’t feel brain-dead enough to clean. I felt that I should be at a party, laughing, with my hair flying around in slow motion.

So I put on the Delinquent Remix of Taio Cruz’ Come on Girl, featuring Luciana, to liven up the chore.

It’s the sort of track that could temporarily improve the quality of a person’s life.

Danny and Sandy for a new generation.

The neighbours only stopped through-the-night-talking half an hour previously; I had a hunch that some beats backing up the Hoover, would send them straight to dreamland.

The track explodes with Taio shouting Hey!, as if the bassline-fest he’s rolling around in isn’t going to get your attention.

Violins and buzzy, clubby, fizzing, synthesizer noises.

Take those blankets off the sofa! Shake them down! Yeah!

Then a bassline, from out of a dark place, like a gorilla on 60-fags-a-day, hauling along the steel pipes of Luciana.

She sounds filthy, as if someone should be cleaning under her sofa too.

Come on boy, come on boy, come on boy. Come on!

What a provocative invitation! Will he want to? Will he have to ask her where she wants him to go?

Come on girl, come on. Come on girl, come on!

Seems he’s thinking along the same lines. He just doesn’t want to budge.

Lift the cushions back up, wrap around the blanket. It’s getting hot in the living room.

Oh, here we go. Taio’s an expressive chap. Maybe he wants to introduce himself.

Baby-girl-you-know-that-I-just-wanna-take-you-to-the spot,
Do-things-to-you-that’d-definitely-gonna-get-you hot,
I-love-how-you-shake-that-little-booty-around-the club,

I-just-wanna-turn (breath) you (breath) me (breath) into-an us,
I-only-wanna-party-with-you–nobody-can-else-can do,
We–can-do-whatever- keep-it-public-or-if you,
Wanna-keep-it-private-and-undercover-that’s cool,
I-just-wanna stay (breath) –under- the-covers-with you

Crikey, they must have met before.

Put down the duster and press rewind, to get underneath that verse composition. Oh, I get it. Every word in each phrase is on the note of G, apart from the last one, which is an A. Very nice.

Then the Justin Timberlake notes jump to a high A and sound like someone giving you ice-cream on the beach.

Am I spoiling the moment?

Now I know that you want me, you’ve indicated,
It’s obvious I need to just make a decision,
Bout’ what I’m gonna say,
Tell me what I gotta say,
To take you away with me,
To take you away!

He’s not sure she’s got the message. Unless he’s telling her something she already knows and wants to hear again.

Which I’m starting to think he is.

But she’s ready now. She’s going to tell him she’s not that kind of girl.

It takes 2 dates, at least.

You wanna take a bite?
Come whet my appetite,
Come, plug me in, do your thing, make my head spin,
So come on take me away,
You better take me away,
You better hit the spot,
If you want I can make you pop

Holy jumping junipers! This chick doesn’t do hard to get.

I’m guessing she may need the Tesco anti-bacterial spray more than the mantelpiece.

Or a thorough mopping down.

So let go, electro. Take it nice and slow…

O.K. Sit down. Maybe this isn’t something I should be cleaning to, after all.

Is there a word for auditory voyeurism?

Yes. Ecouterism.

They need to be left alone and so do I. If I start with the Windolene now, it could lead to mouthing in the mirror.

Plus maybe I shouldn’t keep the neighbours up all day.

So Taio didn’t help to get the cleaning done.

But he did make me feel good about being dirty.

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Anatomy of a song: Dolly

Yesterday, from out of nowhere, I was brutally possessed by a Country and Western-loving demon.

It wanted me to listen to Islands in the Stream by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.

It was relentless. I was not allowed to rest.

It finally had its way when my lovely friend downloaded the track and delivered it in a cab an hour later (having trouble as I do leaving the house/ using the internet for material gain).

My God, the demon was right to be so insistent. This song is Liquid Gold.

Here is why:

‘Dooooooooooo, Doo-Doo’. ‘Doooooooooo, Doo-Doo’.

This is absolutely the best way to start a piece of music. It’s no-nonsense, stall-setting out stuff. It says, ‘I’m that kind of tune. Yeah, mock me if you want but I know who I am and now you want to know me too’.

Then Kenny kicks in like he’s just channel-surfing on the sofa and you caught him bursting into song. Big chocolate-bear Kenny with his safe beard and testosterone socks. You trust this man more than your father. You want to hear what’s on his mind.

It’s a love song- what else?

Then who’s this in the second verse? A bird? A sickly bird who may break with every note? No Way On Earth. It’s Dolly LEGEND Parton. Her breasts alone could run the United States of America. Fragile and sweet as candy but gussied up in waistcoats Karl Lagerfeld doesn’t understand. With a voice close to pain.

But she’s reigning it in: this is Kenny’s gig- for now.

You know it’s on its way. Yes, it’s Coming Home Time, Baby! A Chorus for All Seasons. Smelling like bread. Wearing a cashmere scarf. Stuffing marshmallows into its face.

It’s got harmony. It’s got chords. It’s had three grown Bee Gees licking each other’s armpits in a tiny studio to get right.

I’m so lost in the moment I don’t know which part to sing to. Am I high or low? Man or woman?

What a crazy-fool question- the chorus makes them One: Kenny and Dolly in full healthy heterosexual vocal snog. Giving a great big soft leather hug to the 80s and wisely closing with a made-up word that appears in the printed lyrics:

‘We can rely on each other aha,
From one lover to another aha.’

Oh God, I’m thinking, don’t let it end yet.

Well, do songs end on exquisite key changes? You can bet your life they do not.

It’s Dolly and she’s Taking Over. Seems she was just Warming Up. Now she’s on Fire. Kenny’s become back-up.

Go, Dolly, go!

More chorus, followed by teasing instrumental and Dolly wailing, ‘Come sail away with me’, like a giant yoyo wrapping round my soul.

And who would have thought of so many ingenious ways to keep playing with form? A slight raised note here, holding a word longer there. It could just keep going on and on forever.

And so it does, in Country and Western Heaven. If I pray to God He may just let me in.

The demon is exorcised but Dolly’s on iTunes to stay.


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