I can’t abide those list shows that television seems enamoured with. You know the ones I mean, ‘50 best soap opera baddies’ ‘100 greatest movie romances’ ‘all the greatest adverts with a cat in them’ – not sure if I made that last one up, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there was one called that.
I never watch these programmes of course, but there was one on a couple of weeks ago that Edward wanted me to sit down and see with him, ‘100 best ever number one records’. I watched a bit of it and wasn’t in the least surprised, when they announced the top ten, all the predictable stuff, the hackneyed, the clichéd, the downright bathetic were there. John Lennon, Imagine, one of his more boring songs, The Beatles Hey Jude alright I suppose if you’re tipsy at a party and you want to join in with the chorus, Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean great song but more famous for the moon dancing and then there was Adele, Someone like you a song I’m already sick and tired of hearing in every shop, bar and bus station I go into.
And guess what, surprise, surprise! The number one err number one was Queen doing Bohemian Rhapsody, a song so blown up with its own pomposity, that the only cure for it is something very sharp to prick it with.
Anyhow, one thing the programme got me doing was thinking. And after a good think, I came up with an idea – dangerous I know!
Why don’t we all draw up our own lists and ignore what we are supposed to like, in favour of what really means something to us.
What if we liked songs, not because they’re cool or trendy, or because they rock, or because they have a message or they have been critically approved. What if we made a list of songs because they take us to a time and place and we can attach a story to them? Here’s my top of the pops.
And in at number five is Ernie The Fastest Milkman in the West by Benny Hill, I think it might have been the first record I bought with my own money, it cost 7/6d from Mrs Jay’s record bar in Pontefract indoor market and I listened to it first on some bakelite headphones.
Actually when I’m trying to be a bit more sophisticated I tell people that my first record was Where do you go to my lovely by Peter Sarstedt, but no, it was Benny, altogether now: “You could hear the hoof beats sound, as he raced across the ground, and the clatter of the wheels as they went round and round, he galloped into Market Street with his badge upon his chest, they called him Ernie and he drove the fastest milk cart in the west!”
Zooming up to number four we have In the summertime by Mungo Jerry. Along with Lola by the Kinks it was the soundtrack to a summer holiday at the Sand Le Mere caravan site near Withernsea, my dad bought a static caravan with some compo money from the Lin Pac. I think it was also that year I had my first dance with a girl, Ride a White Swan was playing on an old Dansette at the St Thomas’ Church Hall Christmas party.
Number three is Tubthumping by Chumbawamba, summer, 1997, my twins were taking their first tentative steps, every time they tumbled I sang ‘I get knocked down but I get up again’ I didn’t know then but years later my family became great mates with the Chumbas and we see each other a lot. They even played at my 50th birthday party.
Number two is another good mate of mine Iain Matthews, who under the guise of Matthews Southern Comfort had perhaps the sweetest number one of all, with a beautiful reading of Joni Mitchell’s song Woodstock you know the one, “we are stardust we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” Iain came to sing that very song at Billie’s memorial concert earlier this year, it was a very tender and extremely moving moment.
So to number one, it’s got to be God save the Queen by the Sex Pistols. Yes I know, it was never officially number one with the BBC, but it should have been. I’ll never forget going to the Outlook Club at Doncaster at the height of punk rock. Mick Griffiths and I were on the 410 South Yorkshire bus and the conductor came – yes they still had them then – and asked where we were going.
Mick, in his best bored punk voice said “nowhere” and the conductor said, “well get your feet off them seats or I’ll leather the pair of you.” When he’d gone, we put one foot apiece back up – it was a punk thing to do!
Well that’s my top five, it is this week any road. What’s yours and why? Send them in to the email above and I’ll try to include some in future columns. “I mean it maaan!”