Wednesday, 27 February 2013

John Wesley Harding

... and the nomination for 'Best Film Soundtrack' is:

High Fidelity - as a book, I was engrossed when it was first published.  In fact, it was so good I read it again a couple of years later.  I think the appeal was the main character having his own record shop, being a 'music snob' record collector, and spending most of his life making lists (the Top 5 <insert subject of own choosing>).  Apart from the record shop ownership, it was basically a fictionalised version of myself.

When the film came out, I was initially concerned - the story had been re-located to Chicago, and the dynamic of the story seemed to have changed and was erring on the side of RomCom.
I watched the film with low expectations, and was pleasantly surprised by just how enjoyable it was (there was even a brief reference to Stiff Little Fingers, and an ever briefer playing of "Suspect Device").
"Suspect Device" didn't make it onto the soundtrack, but those tracks that did go together to make up what I believe is the best Soundtrack album available, certainly the most listened to that I own.

Track Listing:

"You're Gonna Miss Me" - 13th Floor Elevators
"Ev'rybody's Gonna Be Happy" - The Kinks
"I'm Wrong About Everything" - John Wesley Harding
"Oh! Sweet Nuthin" - The Velvet Underground
"Always See Your Face" - Love
"Most of the Time" - Bob Dylan
"Fallen for You" - Sheila Nicholls
"Dry the Rain" - The Beta Band
"Shipbuilding" - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
"Cold Blooded Old Times" - Smog
"Let's Get It On" - Barry Jive & The Uptown Five (Jack Black)
"Lo Boob Oscillator" - Stereolab
"Inside Game" - Royal Trux
"Who Loves the Sun" - The Velvet Underground
"I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)" - Stevie Wonder

Within a few weeks of purchase, the CD collection had expanded to include: 'The Psychadelic Sounds of The 13th Floor Elevators' and The Beta Band 'The Three EPs' - both essential purchases which I am indebted to John Cusak, and/or other Music Supervisors on the film for including.

Nestling at Track 4 was a curious little song.  An up-tempo tune about a down beat feeling (those moments when you just sort of "give up, and think everyone else is right and you're obviously wrong".  In amongst bands like The Velvet Underground and Love, this song stood out because of the noticeable english accent.
The only musical reference I had to "John Wesley Harding" was the Bob Dylan of the same name.
And although the lyrical construction and harmonies bore some resemblance, this bloke was obviously english.

So - who is John Wesley Harding?
He's a singer/songwriter who has (to date) released 19 albums, and published 3 novels.  The music is a mixture of Pop, Rock and Folk.  He was born In Britain, but has been resident in America since 1991.  This probably explains why he is relatively popular in America, and virtually unheard of in the land of his birth (if it wasn't for High Fidelity, I'd probably still never of heard of him).
Comparisons to Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Bruce Springsteen (albeit with the suffix '-lite') are too easy, and don't do the singer justice.
The best way is to form your own opinion based on the following (albeit recent) examples below:

Is this song social commentary? a comment on the loss of choice and independence, and the increasing march of the corporate behemoths to sanitise and homogenise our towns and cities?
or is it, as The Times once described "Tie Your Mother Down" by Queen, 'Sheer Bloody Poetry'?

There's a Starbucks (Where the Starbucks Used To Be)

And how many different bands can you spot given a namecheck in this tune?

Making Love To Bob Dylan

Pieces Of The Past EP is available for Download on Noise Trade, containing both the above plus 3 other tracks

1. Making Love To Bob Dylan
2. There's A Starbucks (Where The Starbucks Used To Be)
3. Sing Your Own Song
4. When The Beatles Hit America (Recorded live on the radio, 1995)
5. Pieces Of The Past (acoustic demo)

1 comment: