Friday, 19 June 2009

Purple Rain: What the shizzle?

Professor P.D. Rushworth, Music Historian, University of Sexyback

Dewey Bunnell of the 1970s rock group, America, wrote the lyrics to "Ventura Highway", where we first find reference to "Purple Rain". The last stanza of the hit song goes:

Wishin' on a falling star

Waitin' for the early train.

Sorry boy, but I've been hit by purple rain.

Aw, come on, joe, you can always

Change your name.

Thanks a lot, son, just the same.

Leading into this stanza we hear someone (the narrator) asking "Joe" how long he is going to stay in "this town". Joe says he has been "hit by purple rain". This could point to a wanderlust as some speculators have conjectured. However, this would beg the question, why would the narrator then tell Joe that he could always change his name? This implies that Joe is on the run, and the reason he is on the run has to do with purple rain. Some believe that "purple rain" in this case is a drug that makes the character too lazy to settle down in a place and consequently to work. This again seems unlikely (although a reference to "alligator lizards" in the air gives credence to this theory). It is more likely that Joe is not merely subject to the blues, and possibly have drug problems, but has legal difficulties he is loathe to face. In this sense, the "purple rain" may simply be a hail of personal problems that is too formidable to face.

Prince, Standing Out in the Rain

The term "purple rain" was brought to the fore by another, later, rock star. It is the name of the title song of his most popular album as well as the movie that was made about his life. The performer's name was "Prince" or at least this is the name he claimed for his early career. He changed it to a symbol and later reverted to "Prince". His full name (given at birth) was "Prince Rogers Nelson".

The Lyrics for "Purple Rain" are somewhat repetitive, but the first stanza runs:

I never meant to cause you any sorrow

I never meant to cause you any pain

I only wanted to one time see you laughing

I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain

It would seem that in this case the "purple rain" has come to nearly the opposite meaning Bunnell implied in "Ventura Highway". The desire for the woman's laughing means that the narrator wants the woman to be joyful. The color of royalty has traditionally been purple so this rain must obviously be connected to Prince in his "princely" mantle. He wished the woman would have accepted the love he wanted to shower upon her. Some have carried this notion to the idea that the rain is actually his tears. But rain could also be a pun. Replace rain with "reign" and we see he wanted the woman to be happy under his rule. This makes Prince's purple rain even less like Bunnell's. Purple rain for prince is control, connection, even security; the rain that hit Joe keeps him unsettled, unsecure, and on the road.

As unalike as the meanings for "purple rain" might be, the two songs have similarities in that they are both a wistful yearning for what might have been and a realization of the impossibility that the longed for condition could ever be. In fact, the narrator of both songs seems to be the one doing the longing. They want the other person to do something, something that other person seems positively unwilling to do.

Ultimately, it is unlikely that the America lyrics for "Ventura Highway" had any influence on Prince. The "purple rain" theme fits too nicely into a penchant Prince seems to have for hidden meanings. As much conjecture as there has been over the term "purple rain" it has hardly become common parlance. Perhaps this was the way it was meant to be. Purple rain certainly seems personal to Prince, and Bunnell's Joe may have simply been looking for a word to rhyme with "train".

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

England 6 - Andorra 0

Is it time to get carried away yet? We're going to win the world cup, and in if defeating Andorra 6 - 0 isn;t proof of that, then I don't know what is. Lets look at the evidence. Peter Crouch, a magnificent centre forward from the old school. Small, quick, nimble, skillful on and off the ball. Emile Heskey, youthful, deft, lithe. I'm putting the money on now.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Beware the bargains

Credit crunch. How boring, but wait... there are bargains to be had. And so I found myself in Sainsbury's the other day, with the need to purchase a new deodorant. I take pride in my personal hygiene and appearance (lol) and am particular about the products that I use to maintain myself (LMMFAO)! And what should I find in the cosmetics aisle, but a wonderous buy one get one free deal on a name brand deodorant - right guard. TWO, not one, but two environmentally indifferent cannisters of sweat neutralising body spray.

"How much did that set you back" I hear you cry! "There is a credit crunch on you know!"

Fear not! Just £2.54 pence. I repeat, £2.54!!! A BARGAIN in anyone's book.

And so I returned home, bathed, shaved, trimmed, manicured, pedicured, moisturised, combed and brushed my teeth. Then to the finishing touch; the new deodorant. Right Guard Sport, this should suit me down to the ground.

Spray, spray, spray... not too much...

Wait, wait.. then APPRECIATE... sniff.

Oh god, it's stinging nettle flavoured. Kind of like battery acid mixed with dandelions. My B.O. doesn't smell this bad, and that's a fact, and I've got two cans of this sh*t to get through. God help us all.

The moral of the story; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably smells like crap.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Unreasonable expectations

We went golfing today. Me, Mark and Chris headed off to Wavendon near Milton Keynes for 18 holes of fun. The weather is picking up a bit. It's still a bit cold, but it's not physically painful like it was back in December. Golf's brilliant. A good long walk in the countryside, some great chat etc, but there's no getting away from the fact that it's impossibly frustrating to play.

I started playing golf last year, and haven't had any lessons yet, so I'm not that great. I'm certainly not up to competing with Mark and Chris yet, but I'm trying hard and making baby steps in the right direction. The amazing thing though, is the unrealistic expectations I have about how my level of golf should be improving. I went round the course in 120 today. 60 for the front 9, 60 for the back. If I'm honest, I was really disappointed with my score, as it feels like I'm just not getting any better.

But wait! How long have I been playing? Have I had any proper training yet? NO! So why give myself a hard time about it I hear you asking. It's a mystery. I wouldn't expect to be able to pilot a boeing 747 after spending an afternoon in a flight simulator. For some reason, I expect to be able to find the green every time, playing faultless shots with my £17 golf set from a car boot sale.

I think it's a human condition. People put themselves under so much pressure to achieve things that are really way beyond their grasp. Not just in golf. Careers, relationships, homes, we all want things we can't have, at least not without really working on it first.

I'm looking forward to the next game. I'm going to try and chill out a bit and just relax and enjoy it rather than trying to hard. I just want to get under 120... if only i'd clubbed up on the 10th...

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Music Live(s)

So I went for my normal stroll round East London today at lunchtime. I lost interest around about The Museum of London, and started heading back to work, until I remembered that the frankly excellent Pure Groove record store had recently reopened after a refurbishment. Lets examine the evidence. Pure groove is a classic independent record store, come new music online outlet type place. Just when you thought that independant music had become the property of the net, up crops a real life place with real life people. Not only that, but they now sell proper booze behind the counter, along with real life records, by real bands, and here's the clincher, REAL LIFE BANDS PLAY IN THE SHOP. A T L U N C H T I ME!!! Result. Todays offering was a quite lovely band called Soy un Caballo from Belgium.

This band sound better in the flesh than they do on their my space site, and they sound good on their myspace site, so you can imagine how happy I was to have happened across them on an otherwise dreary February afternoon just up the road from work. It's a two piece band. A two piece Richard. But there's at least four pieces of talent in there, with some beautful bass guitar / Xylophone (possibly Glockenspiel I have no idea what the difference is) and some really sensitive guitar work too. It's as twee as twee can be, but you've got to love it for that.

But what I loved more than anything was that the place was full enough to make this happen. The band loved it, we loved it. If only there was more of this kind of thing going on. The virtual world is great, but nothing beats seeing music like this.

Thank you to Pure Groove. Thank you to Soy un Caballo

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

It's a laptop Paul, a laptop

Dear Mr Smith,
It has come to my attention that you are currently using what is sometimes referred to as a "LAPTOP COMPUTER"., it is not as you may have well have thought "CUSTARD".

CUSTARD is a noun used to describe a range of preparations based on milk and eggs, thickened with heat. Most commonly, custard refers to a dessert or dessert sauce, but custard bases are also used for quiches and other savoury foods.

The word COMPUTER can be traced to the latin word "computare" - "to reckon" or "to count". Computers as we know them in their most primitive state were used to "reckon" or "compute" data hence the creation of the noun "COMPUTER".

The word "LAPTOP" is used to emphasise the portable aspect of the device you are currently using i.e. you can use it if you so wish on "TOP" of your "LAP".

The conjugation of the words LAP, TOP and COMPUTER are thus combined to form the words "LAPTOP COMPUTER". A COMPUTER you can use on TOP of your LAP.
Is this now clear? I hope you understand.

It is not therefore "CUSTARD" it is a "LAPTOP COMPUTER".
Feel free to use this information at your discretion.
Kind regards

Sunday, 15 February 2009

All tomorrows parties

I'm getting really excited now. It's 3 month's till the original Camber Sands Holiday posse pack it off down to Minehead for the ATP festival as curated by the Breeders. For the unenlightened, ATP is an alternative music festival for the connoiseur, or like me the downright ignorant. The festival organisers choose one (or more) bands of note to curate the other bands. It's a brilliant format, for the simple reason that you never really know what you're going to get. Normal festivals will have a selection of the most popular bands of the moment, along with a few up and coming bands and some of the old guard establishment. At ATP, you just never know.

This'll be the fourth time I've been. Previous curators were:
There's more people on the lineup I've heard of than usual this year. Normally it's practically no-one. Anyway, 3 months to go. I'm songwriting again, playing the guitar a bit more, and starting to do a bit of research on the bands that are going. Role on May 15th

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Back to the gym

2 weeks off after a week feeling ill, and a week of heavy snow, and I'm back in the gym again. Pretty pleased with how things went over all, but it's surprising how quickly you lose your level of fitness and enthusiasm. Anyway, managed an hour. I did:
  • 20 minutes on the cross trainer, level 12. Burnt 250 calories
  • 25 minutes on the treadmill, 15 minutes at 6mph, burning 300 calories
  • 2000m on the rowing machine - timed in at 8minutes and 57 secs! Ha! Broke the 9 minute barrier.

This is hardly going to get me to the 2012 olympics, but then Rome wasn't built in a day.

Monday, 9 February 2009

I'm dreaming of a white birthday

It's been snowing here (see picture). Snowing and snowing and snowing. In fact, that's the first decent snow we've had for as long as I can remember, and that's about 15 years. Everyone knows the country runs to a halt when it snows. It's quite a novelty for a few days, but there's no real sign of relief, and one week later it's getting a bit tiresome.

My 32nd birthday was on the 3rd, so I enjoyed a snow covered birthday, and a curry from the Miraj in birdsfoot lane. Highly recommended.

There are some good things about the snow. It seems that hardship brings people together. I've seen a load more community spirit around the place since the snow hit, and I've been getting involved too. I had a great time helping people get their cars out of the snow with my magic rug, and warning people away from the black ice outside the pub. People seem to be letting their guard down a bit. Even on the train there's been the odd bit of casual conversation. It's all about the weather of course, but that's better than nothing. So let's hope the freezing cold and snow last for a bit longer, as well as the neighbourly attitude that goes with it. Maybe not that long though, eh?

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Please move down...

Commuters. If the train is full, the train is full. I am a commuter, and I fully understand the frustration of standing on the platform as an already full train pulls in. But what I cannot understand is why some people take it apon themselves to try and change the laws of physics by insisting that the people who are already suffocating to death on the inside of the cattle waggon, try and 'MOVE DOWN' when there is clearly no more room.

This morning, I felt especially sorry for the poor lady who was mistaken for a man, which added insult to injury.

Instead of shouting 'MOVE DOWN' and scratching at the windows of the train like a zombie from a low budget B - Movie, some things to consider:

  1. Get to the station earlier, or accept the inevitable and travel later
  2. Move further from London
  3. Buy a first class (GUFFAW) ticket
  4. Complain to the train company (Laugh uncontrollably)
  5. Wait for the next train, make polite remarks to the passenger standing next to you who is equally frustrated.

For the record, I got a seat. But that's another story.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Thoughts about Luton, Part 1

Two posts in one day. Don't get used to this kind of regularity.

I was thinking last night about Luton, the town where I live, and have lived for most of my life. I've got a funny relationship with the town. I love it, it's my home and home to most of my family going back a long way (more than 200 years in some cases). I know it like the back of my hand, I trust it's predicatability. I know where to go and where not to go. At the same time, I've become really frustrated with it too. It would be unfair to say `hate`, but I'm torn between feeling some kind of loyalty to the old place, and wanting to turn my back and run.

Anyone that'd been there knows that it's not the prettiest town in Britain. It's as far from the sea as you can get, nestled away between the pretty but undramatic Chiltern hills. It's too far from London to be really close, and too close to need it's own things to do. The train station is ugglier than a rugby players ear, and it's really only known for its airport and its football team (my team), Luton Town FC. Both of which are thought of as second rate.

So on the surface, there's not much to brag about.

But I've got really deep roots in Luton. It turns out they're deeper than even I thought. While round at my parents this evening, I was having a conversation with my mum about her dad, my grandad Fred. She showed me some lovely old photos of her dad and his parents, and some much older photos of their parents. It seems that all of these photos were taken in Luton, in a time when the Town was better thought of. It was fascinating looking at these pictures. My great grandmother lived in a tiny house, with many people sharing the space - including some soldiers who were billeted there during WW2.

I bet she was never complacent about Luton, and the things it offered her or her family. I bet she never complained about the distance to the sea, or the lack of things to do. Same with my other grandparents. Grandparents always had more to moan about, but never seemed to do much moaning.

Starting as I mean to go on

My first ever post on my first ever blog. I know I'm never going to stick at this, but hey, you never know. For as long as I can remember, my new year's resolution has been to keep a diary. Every year, without fail, a new calendar will come my way at christmas. I will begin in earnest on the first January with some detailed anecdotes about my new years' eve, then continue promisingly for a few weeks. Then, eventually, the diary entries thin out like bad hair, and eventually dry up altogether.

An it's not just diary's. I'm really good at starting things I never finish. So this will be my blog. I'm going to keep going as long as I can, at least until my birthday next week. I'm not going to blog every day, but as often as something interesting comes to mind.

Thanks for reading.