Well well, tempus fugit and all that. Its been a full couple of weeks and I’ve been catching up on a few side projects, which have unfortunately pushed my ‘bloggerhythms’ down the priority list. The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that the week numbering has mysteriously vanished from the post title. A cunning piece of trickery to evade the calendar police. Or the witless cover-up of a lazy man fumbling his past due submissions into the editor’s inbox. Here’s a haiku to help you deal with the loss.
book of blank pages
whiter than the winter frost
timelines are pointless
This week is about accents. Through my travels, chosen habitats and the people I surround myself with, I have the pleasure and misfortune, to hear my native language rammed through the collective mechanism of brain and vocal equipment that is normally tuned to produce something entirely different. English is without a doubt the most bastardised language, through every derivation, amalgamation, slang and wild misuse. Which is also what makes it the most versatile, and definitely one of the more interesting ones.
As a ‘mono-linguist’ I stand gape-mouthed as people wrestle with three halves of their brain to translate between two languages which seem to have less in common than otters and apples. What amazes most non-native English speakers is that after the years of learning to wrap their minds around strange vowel sounds and stringent grammatical rules, the experience when they visit the small island expecting to hear the language spoken in its purest and most dulcet tones, is somewhat upsetting. More often than not, they are presented with some slack-jawed yokel, bantering to them in an uninterruptible string of indistinguishable, glottal eruptions that sound like a badger being fed through a wood chipper. Wellcum to engerlande.
Now I need to tread carefully here. The implication is not that everyone should speak as if they have a corgi in the downstairs drawing room. How dull ones life would be.. In fact, when we can comprehend it, we should embrace the difference. Whilst also making room for a bit of pointing and sniggering.
It may be true that not all accents translate into beautiful singing voices. Indeed there is a feeling that many English accents were lost over the years to a sort of homogenised American sound that seemed to normalise vocalists, perhaps in an attempt to gain wide acceptance. It’s still true to my knowledge, that some British accents just fall out of favour whilst others dominate.
Now with only four songs its going to be difficult to cover all bases. I am also trying to avoid some of the more obvious ones here, but mainly from a musical standpoint not a regional bias. Otherwise it would have been: The Pogues, Ian Dury, Tom Jones and the Wurzels. Done. I’m off for a pint.
Probably still quite obvious, but let’s start in the north with pair who had no qualms whatsoever about singing in their true Scottish voices. The Proclaimers. Charlie and Craig Reid are without a doubt the most famous twins from Leith in Scotland and had they masked their thick Scots accents, they probably wouldn’t have seen half the fame they did. Having said that I’m Gonna Be is a great song in any language.
Moving south a little to Lancashire and Guy Garvey. I started re-listening to Elbow as part of this and nearly ended up with 4 songs from them. There is so much to like about this band. Garvey grew up in Bury, which I guess makes him close enough to be influenced musical genes of Manchester (there aren’t many greats from Preston). I recommend a delve into some of their early work, its fabulously warm. This song One Day Like This is from their third studio album ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’.
Still in the north of England, skipping lithely past Manchester and Liverpool, which are both whole chapters on their own, to Sheffield. The Arctic Monkeys make no bones about being from Sheffield and put the town back on the map since most of England had forgotten it after its brief renaissance in popular culture due to ‘The Full Monty’. Of course Jarvis Cocker is from Sheffield, but then so are forks.
The Arctic Monkeys have much in their back catalogue to be proud of, but I rather like this lighter track by them that depicts a situation we are all well appreciative of. Annoying the other half. Mardy Bum.
Bristol has some fabulous talent; Portishead, Tricky, Massive Attack, to name but a few. Sadly most have chosen to discard their natural west country accents. The same applies for Birmingham. As we drive past Oxford we are reminded that they don’t have an accent of any distinction and so we carry on down the M40 in search of the sound we need.
London is too obvious. All of those cocky, cockney dancers and their hackneyed ‘mockney’ cousins from the commuter belt. Besides which, we’ve covered them off in detail a few weeks ago. No we have to drive all the way to the coast and to Brighton for the next lot and embrace the West Sussex accent of The Kooks.
Lead singer Luke Pritchard was apparently named after author of the Dice Man Luke Rhinehart. I’m not sure what sort of message a parent sends their child with that association, but he seems to have done ok with it. I must admit I haven’t given much time to the 5 albums they’ve released since Inside In / Inside Out in 2004. perhaps time for another listen. Seaside was the first track off the first album. listen for the southern drawl..
That’s all on the subject of accents but in-case you have a pang of FOMO. Here are The Wurzels with Blackbird... I’m literally terrified.