The Countertop Chronicles

"Run by a gun zealot who's too blinded by the NRA" - Sam Penney of

Monday, February 02, 2004

Monday Song Lyric

Well, after the great response to the Monday Song Lyric, I've decided to scamper onward. Juan Non Volokh has of course returned with a great lyric by The The's Matt Johnson, who's career blossomed on the late 70's punk street's of London. In that same vein, I've been listening to a lot of Paul Weller these last couple of weeks. Paul is a seminal figure in English popular music, emerging as a prodigy punk rocker who has aged with style and grace to influence seemingly every popular music act coming out of London the last 25 years. He started his career with the Jam in the mid 70's and was soon one of the most respected songwriters in England. By the time the 80s rolled around it was clear he had grown beyond the anger of his early punk years and was maturing into a world class songwriter. In 1983, he released the first Style Council LP, and soon followed that with a string of top sellers. His influence continued through the 90s were he served as a godfather to the burgenoing Brit Pop and Acid Jazz bands of the day like Oasis, Blur, Jamiroquai, and my favorite, The Mother Earth.

Here is Town Called Malice from 1982's The Gift. The song is still heard rather frequently, though I don't know if people realize its origins. Most recently, it was placed prominantly in the movie Billy Elliot, but is probably most noteworthy for being played together with its B side on the British show Top of the Pops. It was the first time since the Beatles that a band appeared twice on the same episode.

The lyrics are wonderfully simple and evocative of typical suburban life, in England or elsewhere.

Better stop dreaming of the quiet life -
cos it's the one we'll never know
And quit running for that runaway bus -
cos those rosey days are few
And - stop apologising for the things you've never done,
Cos time is short and life is cruel -
but it's up to us to change
This town called malice.
Rows and rows of disused milk floats
stand dying in the dairy yard
And a hundred lonely housewives clutch empty milk
bottles to their hearts
Hanging out their old love letters on the line to dry
It's enough to make you stop believing when tears come
fast and furious
In a town called malice.

Struggle after struggle - year after year
The atmosphere's a fine blend of ice -
I'm almost stone cold dead
In a town called malice.

A whole street's belief in Sunday's roast beef
gets dashed against the Co-op
To either cut down on beer or the kids new gear
It's a big decision in a town called malice.

The ghost of a steam train - echoes down my track
It's at the moment bound for nowhere -
just going round and round
Playground kids and creaking swings -
lost laughter in the breeze
I could go on for hours and I probably will -
but I'd sooner put some joy back
In this town called malice.


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