Roger Scruton on Elvis Presley

“Although I argue vehemently against modern pop music, on grounds of its musical incompetence, verbal impoverishment and general morbidity, narcissism and salaciousness; although I fiercely object to disco dancing as a sacrilege against the human form and a collective rejection of civilised courtship; although I defend reels, minuets, galliards, sarabands and (as limiting cases) waltzes and polkas as the only ways in which ordinary humanity should dare to put its sexual nature on festive display, and although I regard the 12-bar blues and the flattened subdominant seventh as the lowest forms of vulgarity in music, I find rock’n’roll in general, and Elvis in particular, irresistible, and would happily dance away the night to it. I cannot explain the thrill of delight with which I hear the first bars of Jailhouse Rock or the eagerness with which I at once search the vicinity for a partner: but there it is, appalling proof that, despite all my efforts, I am human.”



Just as the separation of Montenegro and Serbia came suspiciously close to last year’s Eurovision Song Contest, Tony Blair’s resignation was clearly timed to try to increase the chances of the Eurovision electorate casting any votes at all for the UK entry, but in the end only Ireland (7) and Malta (douze points!) co-operated. (Perhaps we should hand out the George Cross to foreign countries more liberally than we do.) Still, I was glad Scooch got something. 2003’s Jemini deserved nothing, and Flying the Flag For You was far better than that. Ukraine was robbed, though.

Is all of Eurovision ever on Youtube? There seems to quite a lot of it, anyway, as searching for things like “Eurovision 1957” is generating quite a lot of clips. But I won’t plough through them just yet.

And if we are stuck in the era of Eastern domination and shameless regional bloc-voting, please can all the North African countries in Eurovision get over their hang-ups about Israel, at least to the extent of sending in their official entries, in the interests of living in a more multi-polar Eurovision large geographical area? And the Italians should return to the fray. Just because they’ve got their very own San Remo festival doesn’t mean the rest of us think it’s OK to opt out of Eurovision.

(I was surprised Sweden didn’t do better.)


Tribune reminds me that it’s the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Jarama. Lots of different versions of the song; these are the words sung by Woody Guthrie. You know how it goes; sing along:

There’s a valley in Spain called Jarama
It’s a place that we all know so well
It was there that we fought against the Fascists
We saw a peacful valley turn to hell

From this valley they say we are going
But don’t hasten to bid us adieu
Even though we lost the battle at Jarama
We’ll set this valley free before we’re through

We were men of the Lincoln Battalion
We’re proud of the fight that we made
We know that you people of the valley
We’re remember our Lincoln Brigade

You will never find peace with these Fascists
You’ll never find friends such as we
So remember that valley of Jarama
And the people that’ll set that valley free

All this world is like this valley called Jarama
So green and so bright and so fair
No fascists can dwell in our valley
Nor breathe in our new freedom’s air

Best Gigs Ever

I don’t really think of myself as someone who goes to many live performances of the so-called popular so-called music, but of the very few I’ve been to, it seems that one of them was almost one of the “twenty five best gigs ever“, according to the Observer (though there don’t seem to be 25 on the linked page; perhaps you’re supposed to buy the magazine or something to get them all. I don’t know.)

Anyway, there on the list: Mano Negra at the Town and Country Club, in 1989. I say “almost” as I don’t think I was there then; memory tells me I saw them there in 1990 or 1991, so maybe that’s because they were quite good in 1989, and got invited back or something. So perhaps it doesn’t count. Anyway: they were very good on that occasion, and great fun.

If I were to make a list of the 25 best concerts that I’ve been to, that one would certainly make the cut, though it would end up being quite a lot lower down than, say, Anne Evans singing Isolde at Covent Garden around 1993. That was really good. Splendid, even.

Robert Altman, RIP

He’s got a tapedeck in his tractor
And he listens to the local news
He finds out where the bass are bitin’
While he’s plowin’ to the country blues.
He was a cowboy and he knew I loved him well,
A cowboy’s secrets you never tell –
No, there’s nothin’ like the loving
Of a hard-drivin’ cowboy man.

He’s got a tapedeck in his tractor
While he’s plowing up his daddy’s land;
He’s got more horse sense
Than I ever seen in any man.
He was a cowboy and he knew I loved him well,
A cowboy’s secrets you never tell,
No, there’s nothin’ like the lovin’
Of a hard-drivin’ cowboy man

On Saturday nights we go dancin’ in town,
And all the boys’ll order up another round;
In the summertime,
We look forward to the rodeo.
On Saturday nights we go to town,
And all the boys’ll order up another round;
When he rides saddle bronc
I wait to hear that whistle blow.

He’s got a tapedeck in his tractor,
I can hear him when he’s comin’ home.
Then he holds me in the rocking chair
And sings me the love song.
He was a cowboy and he knew I loved him well
A cowboy’s secrets you never tell
No, there’s nothin’ like the lovin’
Of a hard-drivin’ cowboy man

No, there’s nothin’ like the muscles
Of a hard-drivin’ cowboy man.