New favourite song: Vic

How did you spend your precious teenage years? I spent mine staying up too late in my bedroom, listening to the radio to hear songs of failure and frustration by older men. Yeah, I know. The Mark Radcliffe Graveyard Shift was my lodestone and I would listen with my finger twitching over the record button of my bedside radio/cassette player so I could capture the songs that would never, never come to my one local record shop. I know it sounds appalling but there wasn’t any internet.

One day, Radcliffe and Riley were away and Mark Lamarr was hosting when Animals That Swim came in to play a session. Singer Hank Starr was barefoot and, after loads of teasing from Lamarr about how he should wrap his feet in newspaper like a tramp, I drew some socks and faxed them in. (Faxed! There wasn’t any internet.)

Animals That Swim were principally wistful. Their songs were often condensed narratives: East St O’Neill tells an unsettling story about stealing floral tributes which shifts nervily from first to third person just before the middle eight, Pink Carnations is about recovering from a car crash in hospital and hints at sub-narratives for all the other patients on the ward. And Vic is about remembering going to see Vic Chesnutt play a London pub and shouting out a drunken request that gets a wry putdown from Chesnutt. The guitar shuffles and pauses in sympathy with the lyrics’ embarrassment; it’s all over in less than two minutes and gives the laugh at the end to Chesnutt.

Listen to Vic

4 thoughts on “New favourite song: Vic

  1. Go Animals That Swim! And, interrelatedly, the ITV Chart Show.

    But, as I’ve just told you in our very own kitchen, it doesn’t switch from first to third person – the last bit is the ghost of the man whose flowers he stole coming to live in /his/ kitchen and looking at the book of pressed petals, and being bright and solid like a new bike.

    Man I love Animals That Swim, so much that yesterday after I put them on I wished I had a blog I could write about them on.

  2. I’ve been mishearing ‘ghost’ as ‘goes’ for about 15 years. And worse, I really like the bike simile because it felt like a reference to The Third Policeman which is (SPOILER) a sort-of ghost story. Oh dear…

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