On an average day, I might awaken early, waiting for my alarm to go off. I’ll wait for the kettle to boil, I’ll wait for my work laptop to boot up and load any e-mail that has come in since I last logged in. I’ll wait for the post, I’ll wait until lunchtime. I might wait in the queue for whatever lunch I pick up, and I’ll certainly be waiting for the end of the day, and waiting for my wife to come home (I generally work from home). If I go out, I might be waiting for the bus or tube to turn up, and I’ll certainly end up at some point waiting to be served in a bar.
/Tuesday Ten/378/Are You Gonna Wait Forever
We spend a lot of time waiting. And that’s what this week is about. That bit of time idling that could be put to better use but is frequently an allowance for a bit of unexpected downtime, and for better or worse your mind might wander to other things. What is doesn’t include is Fugazi’s Waiting Room, which appeared back in /217/Positivity, and I’m continuing to ensure that I no longer repeat entries if there are other songs to include.
This week saw 111 suggestions, of 95 discrete songs, from 62 different people. Seven songs (including the much-requested Waiting Room) have been used before, and of the 111 suggestions, there were some really thought provoking and interesting ones in there. Thanks as ever to all who took time to contribute.
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. 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).
Yeah, so some of (hed)P.E.’s music may not have aged so well – much as with many of their peers of the time – but man, this song still kicks ass. Long their live opener, it kicks down the doors in such style – and has so much energy – that it’s amusing to realise that the song is about an absolute wastrel. Maybe autobiographic of lead singer Jared, maybe not, this is an ode to kicking back, doing as little as possible, and waiting for things to come to you. Maybe not such a good influence, but it’s still a cracking tune.
/Nine While Nine
/First and Last and Always
This more restrained song is one of the best earlier Sisters tracks, for sure, and as opposed to the often fantastical visions in later songs, this song’s subject is built around the mind wandering while waiting for a train in the winter, something that’s never exactly been much fun in West Yorkshire to this day. The title is a phrase that instantly locates the singer geographically – “while” in this context is a Yorkshire dialect form of “until”, so “nine while nine” is “nine minutes to nine” – even though Andrew Eldritch had only been in Leeds since about 1978. I moved to the region when aged nine, and found the heavy use of slang and thick accent in the area between Huddersfield and Barnsley near-impenetrable to my southern ears. Aside from the odd phrase, I never really gained a local accent, either.
/(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay
/The Dock of the Bay
Perhaps one of the most extraordinary and poignant records released ever, never mind just the sixties, and the final song recorded by Redding before his premature death in a plane crash aged just twenty-six. Originally conceived as a song while Redding was relaxing on a houseboat in the Bay Area resort of Sausalito, it’s rather amazing that he had any time to wait around and waste away a few days, as the song suggests, as all through the sixties he was touring, recording and touring some more. That he was constantly working was perhaps understandable, seeing he was Stax Records’ most bankable and visible star by a mile. But even amid all that work, he clearly found time to relax, and anything important could wait until the next day. Sadly with his early death, much of that remained unfulfilled.
/I’m Waiting For The Man
/The Velvet Underground & Nico
Remarkably released just months before Otis Redding’s posthumous hit, The Velvet Underground’s debut album was a subversive, underground release to begin with – it certainly took some time before it took it’s place in the canon of popular music. But then, with songs openly about sex, drugs, and BDSM, perhaps it was rather ahead of it’s time! Certainly this song, whose unceasing, hypnotic rhythm (almost predating the repetition of the Krautrock to come in subsequent years) carries the story of a man going uptown to Harlem to score an awful lot of heroin, and the nervousness and agitation of waiting on a street corner to score is palpable through the song.
The thumping power of Killing Joke’s debut album certainly made them stand out amid their nominal peers in post-punk and goth in 1980 – everyone else, at least in hindsight, sounded rather thin compared to them. The Wait is a perfect case in point – Paul Ferguson’s monstrous drums carries the song forward, but by the peak of it all elements are in perfect lockstep for a song that was looking to the future with a nervous eye. Jaz Coleman was observing humans polluting the earth forty years ago, and while he was far from the first musician to be sounding the alarm, it’s something he’s been involved in since too – and this song is effectively the sound of a band watching, observing, and waiting for the Earth to die. Forty years on their prophecy may be beginning to come true as environmental concerns continue to be ignored by populist Governments.
/Waiting For the Miracle
Known to many for it’s well-placed use in Natural Born Killers, the bleakness of the song reflects nicely from the album it comes from. The Future was looking at the world – and what was to come – in dark, uncomfortable terms, and Cohen didn’t especially like what he saw. This included himself, as this song discussed, suggesting that he and others were constantly searching for better in every way, even discarding the perfectly good of the now, because there was always something else to hope for. Perhaps simpler put: don’t wait all your life for something to improve, as you might already have it.
I’m honestly surprised that I’ve never included this song, my favourite Björk song of all, in all of the posts in this series in over twelve years. But, here it is – and in some respects, it is a brighter, more positive reading of the same subject discussed in Waiting for the Miracle. A lush bubble bath of effects swirl around a metronomic rhythm, as Björk offers her thoughts around life – that the little things you see actually amount to something pretty fucking great, and embrace those moments while you have them without waiting for something else, to make a greater whole and a more positive life. Particularly on her earlier solo material, there was always this extraordinary sense of wonder and impatience to explore the joys that life has to offer, as if she couldn’t get enough of whatever experiences she put herself through – and that shone through in her wildly inventive, curious music.
/Waiting For the 7:18
/A Weekend In The City
Back onto public transport again, and here Bloc Party drift into their minds to escape from fighting their way onto the Northern Line in the morning, with a clear desire to move on from the suburban drudgery to do something else more exciting, from heading to the coast to the weekend to the joy of eating wild fruit picked in the country. But as well as that, it’s about not waiting around and dwelling on the past, and instead driving forward to make yourself better.
Now a long-ceased project, sadly – Richard Duggan moved onto other musical pursuits after the excellent-but-overlooked Compensation for the Sound of Silence a decade or so back – Urceus Exit took a very different view to many of their peers. Perhaps closest to Seabound in the deep psychology of their lyrics, but musically they often had a laid-back, almost ambient sound, particularly on earlier album Contra. Alone is one of those tracks, as it languidly unfolds over eight minutes. A trip-hop-esque rhythm unfolds through it, with Duggan delivering what to begin with appears to be a disinterested vocal, which eventually bursts into a plaintive, soaring piece that makes you realise that this is a song of desperate loneliness, with the waiting here being a plea to someone to stop, spend time with the protagonist to ease the fear of being alone. No need to speak, just be.
/Don’t Waste Time Doing Things You Hate
/And So I Watch You From Afar
We close out this week with an instrumental track from one of the more thrilling “post-rock” bands of recent times, whose first album in particular was a riot of riffs, gang chants and dizzying tempo changes, and live they were head-spinningly tight. But more importantly, rather than the occasionally dour, downbeat feel that some post-rock could have, they were an optimistic, joyous band (helped by their great line in song titles, such as this one), and the title here sums a thought about this week well. The band clatter into life with a huge chant-along section in this track (that I never want to end when I hear it live), an ode to never wasting a second of your life waiting for something better to come along. I’ve done it before, and now I’m trying to not do that, and take the chances that come. Here’s to a future that looks better, even in some tiny way.