Monday, 22 October 2012

Jocky's Desert Island Discs: Disc 8 - Geno - Dexys Midnight Runners

After my penultimate Desert Island Disc placed so much import on the deeper potential of pop music to inspire political and intellectual ambition, this last entry in my octonary of musical delights offers a pure, uncomplicated joy borne of an infectious and down right rapturous tune.

Geno by Dexys Midnight Runners may well be seen as a somewhat throwaway ode to soul singer Geno Washington, front man of the 1960's blues group the Ram Jam Band, yet it's also one the most enjoyable three and half minutes of music ever to top the UK charts, a feat it deservedly accomplished in May 1980.

Bobbing up and down on a wave of brass, singer Kevin Rowland's staccato yelp is augmented by backing vocals that evoke the chants of the football terrace. The song crashes into the chorus with a surge of drums beneath a wonderful melody and punctuated by more bursts of brass; then, in a final hurrah - and as if to reiterate its vibrant musical charm - the song exults once more before returning to the chants of the baying throng.

I'd challenge anyone to listen to it and not feel lifted. Yet, scratch beneath the surface and - contrary to its rather one track reputation - you'll find a lyric unveiling a poignant vignette on chasing your idols.

Supplanting himself, the young upstart, onto that vacated pillar, Rowland initially appears to clamour for our adoration in the same way that he himself once adored... "And now just look at me as I'm looking down on you".

...But is it as simple as that? The transience of fame, the crassness of standing on stage in front of wide eyed fans and the unquestioning arrogance of youth are all alluded to, despite our protagonist's admitted intentions to acquiesce fully to the fame game. After all, he admits, it was what he was 'built to do'.

That same 'looking down on you' however, belies a disdain for such idolatry of which he himself is guilty - the shadow of a catholic upbringing perhaps? Maybe just a stark realisation of the absurdity of placing such import on a soul singer. Someone who, like most idols, will ultimately prove themselves all too human.

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