After the thrill of the new last week, this week I’m looking the other way.
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /543/It Must Have Been New /Tuesday Ten/Index
/Assistance /Suggestions/90 /Used Prior/9 /Unique Songs/84 /People Suggesting/44
/Details /Tracks this week/10 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/9 /Duration/41:14
While this is about the old, it isn’t necessarily about the past. Nor is it about getting old (as I covered that seven years ago on /Tuesday Ten /286. It’s often about how we use the past to inform the present, but also how we shouldn’t just always look at what happened before.
Thanks, as always, to everyone that suggested songs.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound me. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
While I’m very much a modernist in my views (particularly around art, music and architecture), there’s no way that I’d consider dismissing the old entirely. Why would we? Our ancestors over the years helped to develop the world we know today – for better and worse. My own ancestors have worked in IT in more recent times, going back decades (and decades) other ancestors fought in wars (some of which I know little about), and at least one was in a place of a pivotal struggle in the 1800s. Others were early doctors, or were part of the human element of the industrial revolution.
A rare instrumental track opens this week’s /Tuesday Ten, in the form of Jairus Khan’s much-missed electronic project, that on Ancients feels like it is whipping up a tribal-industrial storm, one to pay homage and perhaps summon those ancients to offer counsel.
/Dirty Old Town
/Rum Sodomy & The Lash
This, of course, is a Ewan MacColl song, but in many ways The Pogues made it their song. It’s a song about escape from working class drudgery in a grimy, working class town (originally about Salford), the town that you want to make your “old” town, your past, while you remake your future somewhere better. I know exactly what they mean, having grown up in a Northern industrial town, I can tell you…
/Old Dun Cow
The Dun Cow is a name that goes back some way in English folklore, it appears, and with and without the “Old”, is a surprisingly common pub name in England. It is also the title of a wild folk song, where one of said pubs burns down, while characters within the pub decide the raid the cellars for booze before it is all consumed by the fire, and get up to all kinds of other hijinks. As a commenter suggested, this Bellowhead version is as entertaining and fired up musically as the lyrics are…
/The Cassandra Complex
/Old Boys Network
From the latest Cx album, this is an track seething with the arrogance of many politicians of the current age (and, indeed, the past). Angry with connections and nepotism being more important than actual knowledge and experience, angry with the upper class hoarding money, influence and power. Rodney Orpheus rages his way through this track (and rightly so). See also Patience Is A Virtue by I LIKE TRAINS, another track from recent years that looks a similar subject (and is just as furious about it).
/New Song, Old Band
/Zero Hours Band
Having one song that defines your career can be a blessing and a curse: as Collapsed Lung found out with Eat My Goal, a song used for adverts and football coverage ever since, but pretty much anything they’ve done struggled to gain traction to anything like the same degree.
So for the lead song to the reunited band’s 2016 album, they take a wry look at their past and the present, as they pay tribute to venues gone, and also admit that they are fully expecting fans and gig-goers to expect the old rather than the new at their gigs. Having seen them since they reformed, they were actually an enormous amount of fun still – both new songs and old…
/Amazing Old Tree
/The Machine is burning and now everyone knows it could happen again
The French post-rock collective BRUIT ≤ (the name means “noise”) made some waves when they released this striking album in 2021, with elements of social activism and anger spread across their gorgeous, orchestral-influenced post-rock – to this day they also refuse to use Spotify, too. This song samples an environmental activist talking about ancient trees, something that’s been in the news recently: the outrage over the Sycamore Gap Tree being felled, while deforestation in the Amazon halved in 2023 (although is still high). Many of the oldest trees have been around for centuries, having seen entire civilisations come and go. Here’s to saving more of them.
/Simon & Garfunkel
A wonderfully evocative song, as Paul Simon observes two people in the park, and imagines the depth of their friendship that has evolved over time. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel released this song in their late twenties, and are both now 82: which means that they got to answer their own poser in the song, “how terribly strange to be 70“.
As someone in their mid-forties, probably my oldest friends go back to my early teens, but many of my closest friends I’ve known no longer than twenty or twenty-five years. But I’d certainly expect to remain friends with them for years to come, as we reminsce about the past, but also make our own futures and more memories in time.
/A Kiss From An Old Flame (A Trip to the Moon)
/See You on the Other Side
The first post-David Baker album for Mercury Rev in 1995 was the point where the band began to shed the chaos of before – but away from the music things were not well at all, and it took until the triumphant reinvention of Deserters Songs in 1998 before the band finally tasted real (and much deserved) success.
That said, See You On The Other Side is an absolutely marvellous album, one perhaps unjustly forgotten, and is an album that brings to the fore Jonathan Donahue’s romantic side. Such as on this song, where he imagines the sparkle brought about by an encounter with that old flame. Sadly in many cases, I’ve never really experienced that. We move on, and maybe revisiting such old flames may not quite bring back the magic you might hope for.
/Valley of the Sun
The idea of humans worshipping a god or gods goes back an awfully long way, with various conjecture suggesting it goes back tens of thousands of years, while the oldest known religious texts, the Pyramid Texts, go back about 4,500 years. Either way, it’s a long, long time.
American band Valley of the Sun are very much grunge/metal revivalists, sure, but the epic title track to their 2019 album is a mighty, heavy beast, that pays tribute to the spirit of humans and how they channel belief.
/It’s Not Like That Anymore
/At Your Service
We close this week with the late Mark Sandman’s cynical take on obsessing with the past and the old. Where rose-tinted views of the past concentrate on certain elements, without acknowledging that views and customs have evolved as we accept that discrimination is an appalling trait, and that accepting people as they are is better. And, as Sandman drily notes to close:
“Why can’t it be like the old days / When everybody had respect / For old white men / And out of wedlock sex?”
I’d like less obssessing with the past, and more curiosity about the future: a more inclusive world is not a threat, it just balances things somewhat. And if we get less old white men running things, then so be it. The world might be a fairer, more just place if so.