Champion The Underdog

CHAMPION THE UNDERDOG

A peculiarly British trait is our love and support for the underdog. No-one else gets this – especially Americans. (Not all of you, by the way.) Many of our lovable ‘Merican pals often don’t understand why we’d ever want someone who’s not very good to beat someone who is actually really good, which is understandable when you think about it. Why are British people so keen on following (and paying good money to) bands who consistently fuck up in public? Why does everyone support minnows Histon against Manchester United? Come to think about it, why does everyone hate Manchester United? (And even a lot of Manchester United fans hate Manchester United.)

Growing up in the North during the 1980s was a fine time for underdogs. A time for David to come up against Goliath. A time for ver people to try and rise above the right-of-centre government. And surely the only time in history when someone such as Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards (a man who was to ski-jumping as I am to, well, ski-jumping) could achieve national fame and adulation by being, frankly, a bit crap. This song is about that. You can admire someone for their tenacity and temerity (especially in the face of adversity) just as much as you can admire someone else for their natural flair and ability.

NB This is one of two songs which, during mixing, we realised sounded like bits of the theme tune to Jim’ll Fix It. Not the first time I’ve unwittingly ripped off a top theme tune.

NB2 The above words were written in 2011.Ā  Please dissociate the aforementioned theme tune from, well, you know.

The rich, the poor, the self-assured,
The young, the old, the warm and the cold.
Users and boozers and smokers and teetotalers,
North, South, East, West: this is the place I like the best.

We don’t stop trying, until we’re dying. We’ve got a message for you.

We are the population! We are the peasant kings. We try, and we don’t always fly.
Champion the underdog.
We are the nothing family, and I love my folks. We try, we might just get through.
Champion the underdog.

Here’s the heroes that we’re used to: Basil Fawlty and Monty Brewster.
John Peel, Jilted John, Joan Jett and John Lennon.
M.E.S. and Easy-E, and Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy.
Ken The Red and Edwards, Ed and Dibnah, Fred.

Don’t stop believing, until we’re leaving. We’ve got a message for you. (And you, and you, and you, and you and you and you.)

We are the population! We are the peasant kings. We try, and we don’t always fly.
Champion the underdog.
We are the nothing family, and I love my folks. We try, we might just get through.
Champion the underdog.

We are the population! We are the peasant kings. We try, and we don’t always fly.
Champion the underdog.
We are the nothing family, and I love my folks. We try, we might just get through.
Champion the underdog.

 

 

THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN MY HOUSE

Contrary to what you might believe, I don’t live with a eco-warrior, a spoiled brat or a coke fiend. I live with Geoff, John and Benners. It’s just a funny story, some of it relates to real people, some of it doesn’t. We did have mouses under the floor at one point, though. Little bastards used to eat my sweets. Particularly liked Wham bars, would you believe. And there was this one time that I had to pluck a dead rat out from under the floorboards. That was a laugh. The line about Spain was because I was going to Spain when I wrote it.

NB The video was filmed in my house. That’s my bed at the start. Obviously the last chorus bit isn’t my house – that was filmed at the house of a very kind man called Clive, in West(er) Yorkshire.

NBNB ‘Running green’. I’ve no idea what this means. Supergrass sung it in that song Alright, and I’ve always liked the sound of it.

There’s a man with a plan who does what he can to save what’s left of the Earth.
There’s a guy who relies on his friends to survive and he swears to everyone that he’s cursed.
There’s a lad with a dad gave him everything he had who lives without a care or a fear,
There’s a girl so very poor that she’s never really sure if she’ll make it to the end of the year.

Running green;
And my neighbours don’t like me.
Here I dream of the heroes I could be.

These are the people who live in my house.
These are the people who live in my house.
They leave the place in a mess, but I love it at my address.
These are the people who live in my house.

There’s a fella with a face which is older than he says who secretly enjoys his pain.
There’s a guy with a smile hasn’t been there for a while since he got himself a new job in Spain.
There’s a geezer with a tab and a gift for the gab who doesn’t worry ’bout the rent,
There’s a man who’s a sinner with a knife and a mirror and I never wanna see him again.

My humble home:
I’m safe and clean and warm.
On my own, or with friends around my soul.

These are the people who live in my house.
These are the people who live in my house.
Rubbish flowing over my feet, it’s been months since they cleaned my street.
These are the people who live in my house.

The TV’s broke and there’s bills to pay.
The neighbours complain about our insolent ways.
Who cares what anybody says?!

These are the people who live in my house.
These are the people who live in my house.
Take off your shoes at the door, we got mouses under the floor.
These are the people who live in my house.

These are the people who live in my house.
These are the people who live in my house.
New York, London, Paris, Rome: I’d rather be here, home sweet home.
These are the people who live in my house.

(I’M) WASTING MY TIME (YET AGAIN)

Like many of my lyrics, this song is about Not Doing Very Much With One’s Time. I go through phases of being one of the most pro-active vivacious hard-working blokes you’ll ever meet, to being a fairly dull stay-at-home who’d prefer to watch EastEnders and drink tea (white, no sugar, ta). This was just a throwaway lyric, really. I like the tune a lot though.

NB. Yes, I know it sounds a bit like Uptown Girl.

NBNB. A note about the title. I’m a firm believer that the humble bracket has been neglected in music of late. More parentheses in pop, please.

I can’t take it any more, my rotten stinking luck.
Everywhere an open door, another six slam shut.
There’s no known antidote to this poison.
Guess I just hit and hope this noise will leave me be.

I’m boring, ignoring everything.
I’m coping, but here’s hoping Summer springs for me.
I’m wasting my time, yet again… oh, another wasted weekend waiting…

I can’t face it any more, the loneliness abounds.
Every day I feel so sore, I can’t get out the house.
There’s no known antidote to this poison.
Guess I just hit and hope this noise will leave me be.

I’m boring, ignoring everything.
I’m coping, but here’s hoping Summer springs for me.
I’m wasting my time, yet again… oh, another wasted weekend waiting…

I’m boring, ignoring everything.
I’m coping, but here’s hoping Summer springs for me.
I’m wasting my time, yet again… oh, another wasted weekend waiting…
I’m wasting my time, yet again… I’m wasting my time yet again.

MAGNETS

It’s fairly self-explanatory, this one. Lost love, people rubbing others up the wrong way, missing someone, etc. Pretty much the standard formula for pop music since the dawn of time. Boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, girl falls for boy, boy gets horse’s head in post. The second-best song ever written that mentions magnets. And not written about any one person in particular, like pretty much all of my songs. It’s written for and about the beauty and madness of women and men.

The Rt. Hon. Sir Willie Dowling sticks his sizeable melodic oar in on this one, doing some strings and piano. I think it’s safe to say he’s a bit of a genius. I introduced him to the Sisters band and crew when we were in Paris recently and they all fell in love with him within about fourteen seconds. I’m going to make a record with him one day. He doesn’t know it yet, but we will.

Early morning, feel appalling. Another chance I’ve blown.
Trouble sleeping, an’ trouble keeping someone for my own.

I need something fast. Something unsurpassed.
Something real and something right.
Oh, I don’t want to be sitting home on my own.

Everybody’s looking for the same.
Someone else to share in all their pleasure and their pain.
But magnet meets magnet meets some kind of madness,
It makes everything wrong. It makes everything wrong.

Nights are longer, feeling stronger. We’ve got different needs.
Growing stronger, minds a-wander… we’re too alike to breed.

My arms empty but my eyes are full.
My knees are begging please.
Oh, I don’t want to be sitting home on my own.

Everybody’s looking for the same.
Someone else to share in all their pleasure and their pain.
But magnet meets magnet meets some kind of madness,
Make everything wrong. Make everything wrong.

And every time I’m feeling close there’s something repels me.
When I’m near somebody to hold, it push me to my knees.
A strong and hard forcefield… so I’ll stay lonely… I’ll stay lonely..?
I can’t stay lonely.

Everybody’s looking for the same.
Someone else to share in all their pleasure and their pain.
Magnet meets magnet is mainline to madness,
Make everything wrong. Make everything wrong.

Magnet, oh magnet, I love you all the same.
But you make everything wrong, make everything wrong.

GODOT’S ARRIVED

Probably addressed to myself at a time when I wasn’t doing very much. Sometimes by writing songs about Not Doing Very Much you can make yourself Do More Things. Some of it is definitely about being in certain parts of London at a particular time in my life. This is a huge generalisation, and it’s not always true, but I think there’s very much a habit of People Talking About Doing Stuff But Not Actually Doing Very Much in the South of England, and People Doing Stuff But Not Really Talking About It Very Much in the North. I’ve lived both, and each are bobbins.

You’ve got to be in music for the right reasons, which is what the middle bit is about. Don’t do it for the fame, or the glamour, because being famous is really boring (from what I have seen from certain friends of mine) – almost as boring as the pursuit of fame. Plus, being in bands is one of the least glamorous jobs I can think of. (This is when I think about loading gear into practice rooms at 4.30am in January, or driving yourself from Glasgow to London in one go, or missing my niece’s birthday because of work, or being thrown up on by a lead singer, or sleeping nine to a room in a motel in Texas during Summer in a motel that has bloodstains on the wall, or trying to sleep off a particularly stellar Stella hangover backstage in Plymouth using a small notepad for a pillow, or getting stuck in the disabled toilets of the venue one minute before we’re due on stage.) Do it because you’ve got something to say, or because you enjoy it and you think others might too. Or for the brilliant nights out, meeting loads of good folks, and getting to travel round the country/world a bit. Don’t do it for the money, because there isn’t any.

And finally, do stuff because you MEAN IT and it applies to YOU and MAKES YOUR LIFE BE GREAT. This is an important thing that people forget.

Where was I?

I’m stronger than a lion,
I’m fast as a gazelle.
I’m bright enough to blind you,
And I don’t own a bushel.

Why just survive? You’re waiting to die.
It’s time to say goodbye, ‘cos Godot’s arrived.

I’m rambling art with Rimbaud (ramblin’ out his ring, now)
A jar with Jean-Michel (jack the oxygen)
An Ono flow with Eno (yakkin’ on the gak, now)
… From beyond the gates of krell (go to hell)

Why just survive? You’re waiting to die.
It’s time to say goodbye, ‘cos Godot’s arrived.

Oh, don’t live in a dream, you know that real life’s more obscene.
And the universe can’t get much worse and we need each other’s help.
I don’t care ’bout being a star, I’m only opening my heart.
I’d rather be in a community, a thriving scene, diversity and quality.

Yeah!

I’m drinking like a chimney, and smoking like a fish.

Why just survive? You’re waiting to die.
It’s time to say goodbye, ‘cos Godot’s arrived, Godot’s arrived, Godot’s arrived, Godot’s arrived, Godot’s arrived.

PROFESSIONAL CRASTINATOR

Another one about Not Doing Very Much. This time, with added weed. Cannabis, for the three of you who’ve never tried it, is fun for a bit, and is probably not physically addictive. But sometimes you get caught in its grasp and you find yourself smoking every night, getting stuck to the sofa and never really getting anything done. Apart from eating your own body weight in Maltesers. It is (apparently) fun to do every now and then, if that’s the kind of thing you like doing. Especially if you get it from someone you know, rather than entering into dial-a-dealer gangster world. Anyway, we definitely wouldn’t know about any of this, it’s just what bigger boys have told us.

In case you were wondering, the big chug-a-chug-a-chug evil noise stuff is a downtuned bass, going through a POG synth, going through three (I think) distortion pedals, and a tremelo pedal. It was panned manually. Which was a ballache. But it sounds good, right?

NB. I know it sounds a bit like How Soon Is Now?. I wanted it to sound like a cross between that, Faith Healer by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and Cabinet by Spratley’s Japs.

World outside so far away.
TV’s on, but no-one’s watching.
Sofa feel like glue.

I’ve got a plan I’ll never hatch.
I’ve got an itch I’ll never scratch.
If there’s a title to attach:
Professional crastinator.

World outside too near for me!
Burning every waking hour, hating just to feel (feeling just to hate)…

I’ve got a plan I’ll never hatch.
I’ve got an itch I’ll never scratch.
If there’s a title to attach:
Professional crastinator.

I’ve got a plan I’ll never hatch.
I’ve got an itch I’ll never scratch.
If there’s a title to attach:
Professional crastinator, professional crastinator, professional crastinator.

EVERYTHING’S FINE

Fairly obvious, unfortunately.

NB. The best-ever song about love breaking down is When Love Breaks Down by Prefab Sprout.

You gave me a reason to breathe.
Now I’m biting the hand that feeds me full of peace and love,
Thought we were made of stronger stuff,
The smooth all went and left the rough to fend now for itself.

Now it’s late and I want to go home,
But I’m frightened of being alone in my head and solo in bed,
The dreams I am having would wake up the dead.
It’s making me fear for what might be ahead: I’ll languish on the shelf?

Everything’s fine, fine.
My ego unwinds, it’s all in the mind.
Everything’s fine, fine.
A moment in time, my life misaligned.
Everything’s fine, fine.
You might not be mine, but sunlight still shines.
Everything’s fine, fine.
Now everything’s fine, and nobody died.

In my dream, I broke into your home.
All the things that I’d got you were gone, and the walls were all different colours,
The frames all filled freshly with photos of others,
But your bed still made up with moth-eaten covers – I wonder if it’s true?
Now my eyes are both red and both green,
As I wonder of what might have been. Could we wander in far-flung hot places?
And eat with abandon and no airs or graces?
And mix all our drinks ’til we’re off both our faces, outside the chosen few?

Everything’s fine, fine.
My ego unwinds, it’s all in the mind.
Everything’s fine, fine.
A moment in time, my life misaligned.
Everything’s fine, fine.
You might not be mine, but sunlight still shines.
Everything’s fine, fine.
Now everything’s fine, there’s no need to cry.

Oh! I’ll pass the time, and I’ll sit tight…
I’ll float on by… I’m doing alright.
Everything’s fine, even though you’re not mine.
I wish that somebody would give me a sign
To tell me don’t panic, your life is organic, and everything’s gonna be fine.

Everything’s fine, fine.
Everything’s fine! My ego unwinds, it’s all in the mind.
Everything’s fine, fine.
Everything’s fine! A moment in time, my life misaligned.
Everything’s fine, fine.
Oh, everything’s fine! You might not be mine, but sunlight still shines.
Everything’s fine, fine.
Oh, nobody died, there’s no need to cry, ‘cos everything is fine.

THE BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE

Although this has lots of references to Summer and the sun and so on, it was initially written about a night out I had with a load of my mates at Christmas 2009. It was a properly brilliant night, loads of my best Leeds mates out and about, no-one had to work the next day, everyone in great spirits. At the first pub we went to (The Adelphi, fact fans), I looked out the window and noticed it was snowing, which was ace and made us all feel well Christmassy. As we ventured to the next pub (Santiago’s, stalkers) we ended up having impromptu snowball fights with complete strangers walking over the River Aire and down Briggate in Leeds. It was all well-meaning and there was a lot of love in the air. I will never forget that night, although I don’t remember getting home.

It’s about those nights when everything clicks: the right mix of great friends, the right atmosphere and the best places. And Guinness is almost always involved.

Tonight!

It’s time we ended this charade. It’s time we took down all these guards and chains.
I’ve closed the door on the week gone. I’m in the mood to have some fun and games, without no shame.

No fear and no warnings, and no more early mornings.
It’s Summer every day here, if only it was for good!

I’m undone, in the sun, surrounded by my loved ones,
This is the best night of my life.
Believing and feeling we don’t need anything,
This is the best night of my life, tonight!

As sun sets high above this town, there’s no-one else for miles around today.
This peaceful night-time so serene, until we fire this machine to play on our airwaves.

I’m high on oxygen, and the night’s still young and unplanned.
It’s Summer every day here, if only it could be for good.

I’m undone, in the sun, surrounded by my loved ones,
This is the best night of my life.
Got muses, and boozes, I’ll do what the hell I chooses!
This is the best night of my life, tonight!

And we don’t need a reason, just a reason to be,
‘Cos that’s how we survive.
And we just share a feeling, and a closeness in me.
Man, it’s good being alive!
These are nights I’ll never remember with friends I’ll never forget.

In heaven, 24/7, my life set to 11!
This is the best night of my,
This is the best night of my,
This is the best night of my life.

BEGINNING OF THE END OF THE WORLD

Slightly more sinister this one. And reasonably self-explanatory. Just a little ditty about the end of civilisation as we know it. I don’t buy the 2012 Mayan/Zionist stuff, but I do think we’re steadily grinding to a halt. Surely, something’s got to change? It’s scaring me off having kids.

NB. I know it sounds like we’re singing ‘horses fuck horses’ in the middle 8. That was deliberate. But that’s not what we’re singing.

NBNB. Please never do a Google search for ‘horses fuck horses’.

In spite of envy and jealousy, all the lights flashing by know your name.
I hope the smoke clears gradually, and the nights in my life all the same.
And the sights in my eyes all proclaim…

You’re inside out, you scream and shout,
‘Cos this is the beginning of the end of the world.
You’re inside out, you scream and shout,
‘Cos this is the beginning of the end of the world.

The burning bridges have broke their banks, and you’re scared being left all alone.
Don’t shoot your mouth off if you’re firing blanks. How do you sleep when your life’s on a loan?
Aren’t you afraid when there’s nobody home?

You’re inside out, you scream and shout,
‘Cos this is the beginning of the end of the world.
You’re inside out, you scream and shout,
‘Cos this is the beginning of the end of the world.
You’re inside out, you scream and shout,
‘Cos this is the beginning of the end of the world.
You’re inside out, you scream and shout,
‘Cos we’re at the end…

External forces, a rude awakening.
Horses for courses, I’m stable hearing things.
If there’s a chance I can move forward with my life I would not feel this way… anyway…

You’re inside out, you scream and shout,
‘Cos this is the beginning of the end of the world.
You’re inside out, you scream and shout,
‘Cos this is the beginning of the end of the world.
You can’t back down, you’re leaving town,
‘Cos this is the beginning of the end of the world.
You’re inside out, you scream and shout,
‘Cos this is the beginning of the end of the world.

ZERO HERO

Another one about doing the right things for the right reasons, and not doing anything for the wrong reasons. As ever, just so as you know, this is not written about any one person in particular.

Another thing while we’re on the subject – why doesn’t anyone do anything like they mean it any more? That’s one thing I definitely like about America. People give a fuck about what they’re doing.

Fiddly new 5ps, etc.

STOP! And think for a while. It’s time to give us a smile.
This could be the last time to head down the aisle.
You want it so bad, so scantily clad,
You think you’re a genius, we all think you’re mad.

“It’s all I wanted…”

You’re so avant-garde, and physically scarred,
There is such a thing as trying too hard.

“I’ll be who you want me to be,
Just make me a star, make me a star.
I’m falling…”

Zero Hero
You’re back against the wall..
Zero Hero
Here comes another fall.
Zero Hero
Oh what’s the worst that could happen?
Zero Hero
And time and time again,
Zero Hero
You’re losing all your friends.
Zero Hero
What’s the worst that could happen?

STOP! And open your eyes. It’s time to lose the disguise.
Don’t chew on the drama or sensationalise.
You think you’re still news, but come time to choose,
The lesson to learn is that the problem is you.

“It’s all I wish for!”

You think you’re immune, and well balanced too;
But a chip on each shoulder isn’t really so cool.

“I’ll change what you need me to change,
Just give some fame, make me a name!
I’m falling, falling down…”

Zero Hero
A tragic tale I’m told,
Zero Hero
Won’t matter when you’re old.
Zero Hero
Oh what’s the worst that could happen?
Zero Hero
Smash the establishment,
Zero Hero
Your mum still pays your rent!
Zero Hero
What’s the worst that could happen?

You snatched defeat from the jaws of victory again.

“It’s that matters… It’s all I wished for… it’s all I ever wanted…”

Zero Hero
They voted with their feet,
Zero Hero
And now you’re obsolete.
Zero Hero
And now the worst it has happened.
Zero Hero
A wasted wannabe,
Zero Hero
0 is all you’ll ever be.
Zero Hero
And now the worst it has…

You snatched defeat from the jaws of victory again.

A BALLAD TO FINISH

This may appear to be pointlessly tagged on the end and you’d be absolutely correct. A lot of my favourite records finish (or start) with a little ballad-y ditty that wouldn’t really fit anywhere else on the album. Oasis did it well with Married With Children from Definitely Maybe (sorry Oasis haterz, but it’s a great song from a great album). This isn’t a true story, incidentally. None of them ever are.

NB I’m still not sure if we pronounce ‘paean‘ right.

The love of my life, she has left me.
She didn’t want me any more.
So I’m writing this sorrow with a Biro I’ve borrowed,
Crumpled up here on the floor.

The pen might just colour in spaces.
The pad might well paper the cracks.
But the words are just scribble, and the poetry is drivel,
And neither will win me her back.

A lesson for all of you listeners.
A paean to bad poets worldwide.
Be sure that your art don’t take over your heart,
Keep your love firm by your side.
Keep your love firm by your side.