She saw a raven, she shot it
“You know how when you get into a new relationship you’re supposed to start hearing every song’s lyrics as applying to you?”, asked a friend the other day. Naturally, WoSblog interpreted the query as a challenge.
Many years ago, my band The Jellyheads had had the misfortune to find ourselves stuck in the rehearsal room adjacent to a really awful sub-sub-sub-sub-Iron-Maiden heavy metal band, who insisted on practicing with their door open, inflicting their godawful caterwauling on us when we were trying to nail one of our tender ballads like “Terry Waite Is Dead”, “Spider In My Head” or “Fuk Da House”. After a couple of hours our singer and guitarist could take no more and went off for a quick pint, while the drummer and I stayed behind to hatch a revenge plan.
Pete, it transpired, knew the bassline to The Sugarcubes‘ esoteric and popular debut indie hit “Birthday”, and I set about learning it in my usual monkey-see-monkey-do manner. It was a lot trickier than our usual material, but after a few minutes I’d got a semi-competent hold on it (which was as much as I ever managed on any bassline), and we had time for a couple of practice run-throughs before the other half of the band got back from the boozer, accompanied as ever by the strangled howlings about Satan from next door. We explained our strategy (“You two improvise over this”), turned everything up to 12 and let rip for about 20 minutes.
(This live portable-cassette recording starts near the end of the performance, because in a fit of public-spiritedness we deliberately erased most of it a few weeks later. Oh, foolish pride. Those who did subsequently get to hear us play it invariably described it as a life-altering experience.)