Song Lyric Sunday (13 October 2019) – Drifter / Loner / Transient / Vagabond

Last week, Jim (newepicauthor, “A Unique Title For Me”) asked us about trucks, lorries and buses. This week, he changes tack and asks us to come up with a tune about a drifter, loner, transient or vagabond.

I must admit, I scratched my head initially on this one, but soon found some inspiration as I looked through my album collection. Then I ended up scratching my head again, because I can’t decide between two excellent choices. So I shall bend Jim’s rules again and publish them both.

I was quite an awkward teenager. Some of you might say I’m quite an awkward adult! In the middle of the 1980s, while the rest of the world wore shoulder pads, danced very dirtily, was generally pretty Bad, drove DeLoreans and travelled Back to the Future, I was listening to lots of Sixties music, in particular, to Simon and Garfunkel. With hindsight, I can rationalise it, because it is just wonderful music, it has no “when” aspect to it, but at the time… If any of you wonder why I appreciate your Simon and Garfunkel choices every week, it is because I know them all. Off by heart.

My first candidate was written by Paul Simon himself, and released as part of their Sounds of Silence album, here is my choice to go along with the “loner” theme:

He was a most peculiar man.
That’s what Mrs. Riordan said, and she should know;
She lived upstairs from him
She said he was a most peculiar man.

He was a most peculiar man.
He lived all alone within a house,
Within a room, within himself,
A most peculiar man.

He had no friends, he seldom spoke
And no one in turn ever spoke to him,
‘Cause he wasn’t friendly and he didn’t care
And he wasn’t like them.
Oh no, he was a most peculiar man.

He died last Saturday.
He turned on the gas and he went to sleep
With the windows closed so he’d never wake up
To his silent world and his tiny room;
And Mrs. Riordan says he has a brother somewhere
Who should be notified soon.

And all the people said, “What a shame that he’s dead,
But wasn’t he a most peculiar man?”

A Most Peculiar Man, Paul Simon

Beautiful song. I couldn’t choose between this song and my next, a song from 1967 which was written and produced by Mark Wirtz and performed by Keith West. This song reached No. 1 in the UK and did well in Europe, though I’m not sure how well it crossed the Atlantic, but nevertheless worth a listen. Poor old Jack again fits into our “loner” category.

Count the days into years
Yes, eighty-two brings many fears
Yesterday’s laughter turns to tears

His arms and legs don’t feel so strong
His heart is weak, there’s something wrong
Opens windows in despair
Tries to breathe in some fresh air
His conscience cries, “Get on your feet
Without you, Jack, the town can’t eat”.

Grocer Jack, Grocer Jack,
get off your back,
go into town,
don’t let them down,
oh no, no.Grocer Jack, Grocer Jack,
get off your back,
go into town,
don’t let them down,
oh no, no.

The people that live in the town,
don’t understand – he’s never been known to miss his round.
It’s ten o’clock, the housewives yell
“When Jack turns up, we’ll give him hell”.
Husbands moan at breakfast tables,
no milk, no eggs, no marmalade labels.
Mothers send their children out,
to Jack’s house to scream and shout.

Grocer Jack, Grocer Jack,
get off your back,
go into town,
don’t let them down,
oh no, no.Grocer Jack, Grocer Jack,
get off your back,
go into town,
don’t let them down

It’s Sunday morning, bright and clear,
lovely flowers decorate a marble square.
People cry and mourn away, think about the fateful day,
Now they wish they’d given Jack
more affection and respect,
The little children, dressed in black, don’t know what’s happened to old Jack.

Grocer Jack, Grocer Jack,
get off your back,
go into town,
don’t let them down,
oh no, no.Grocer Jack, Grocer Jack,
get off your back,
go into town,
don’t let them down,

Grocer Jack, Grocer Jack, is it true what Mummy said, you won’t come back. oh no, no.

Mark Wirtz, Excerpt from a Teenage Opera


This Naomi Klein book is interesting. Yes, it is bathtime once again 😀 .

I have already decided that she’ll need another listen, after I’ve read the others. There are too many details in it, really, to convey in an audiobook.

Last time out, she was talking about a 21-year-old activist, who was given publicity at the time of the Paris talks. I forget her name, although it was mentioned in the book. Again, one for next time around. But she was a lovely human interest story, who was promptly forgotten in favour of…nothing, really.

So Greta is not the first. She’ll be hot news for maybe the next few months or year, then consigned to history. And all the while, habits don’t really change.

Today, Klein was talking about the “metadata”. Forget whether you think man-made climate change is either real or a problem, this was more of a “what if?”. And she kind-of asks the question in reverse.

If you are naturally a left-winger, you will believe that the state should apply a degree of management to the system. Sticks and carrots to make people behave as you think they ought. A recent example in the UK is the tax on single-use plastic bags, which apparently precisely achieved its goal of reduing their use, although we are now learning that sales of “bags for life” (more durable, more expensive, more plastic!) have rocketted. More fundamentally, the state builds hospitals and schools, and society pays taxes to fund them (or not, in the UK. We prefer to buy nuclear missiles.) – because the state recognised that a healthy, educated population has its advantages.

Think about climate change. If it exists, then the problem is solved by that same kind of management. So, Klein’s thinking is that a left-winger is pre-disposed to accept climate change.

By the same token, a right-winger is more inclined toward free market economics. Laissez faire. Again, pre-disposed to believe that there is no need to pull together, no need to manage things.

So, there is an assertion that your overall politics will heavily influence your view on this issue.

She talks about geography – and here the book’s north American origins come to the fore. That in areas heavily reliant on fossil fuel production, a certain percentage of people (just under half) believe that global warming is a big problem. That outside of these areas, that number almost doubles.

And demographics. That the people most likely to believe strongly (I think the word “confident” crops up), one way or the other, are middle-aged white males. Any subject you like.

So, you see, she’s stepping beyond the nitty-gritty. Not really whether you think there’s a problem, but why you come to that conclusion.

I must here declare an interest – I am a middle-aged white male! And I’m pretty opinionated, so maybe there’s something in that?