As Time Goes By - April 1982

  • 31 March 1982
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Was a time when I knew all the words to How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I've Been A Liar All My Life? And with a half decent guitar in my mitts and a strong wind at my back I can still do a fair enough job on John Hartford's I've Heard That Tear-Stained Monologue You Do There By The Door Before You Go. And before age withered my memory the drop of a hat would launch me into the late Johnny Mercer's first published song:

Out Of Breath And Scared To Death Of You. (And considering the freequency of performance there must have been a lot of dusty hats around.) Memory still holds fast to one of Mr. Mercer's last successes: I Wanna Be Around To Pick Up The Pieces When Somebody Breaks Your Heart.

(The same Mr. Mercer was once faced with completing a triple rhyme in a verse in which the first line ended in "palace", and the second in "challice". For the third line, lesser talents would have settled for "callous", "malice" or even "Dallas" - while even others might have gone in for priapic rudeness - but Mr. M transcen-: ded such banalities and rose to "Aurora Borealis". This we can define as classy.)

What we are doing here is establishhing credentials. You are sharing the same air as the man who can give you verse and chorus of I Wish I Had Died In My Cradle Before' I Grew Up To Love You. ("I only wish someone had told me the love that you gave was unntrue/and I wish I had died ... etc". And you thought I was kidding.) You want a discussion of the lyrical intriicacies of the lesser known Gershwin? Or the change in Richard Rogers musical style after the transition from Hart to Hammerstein? Or maybe you're interested in Cole Porter's sublime internal rhyming? I'll bring the records, you bring the cushions and we'll crack a bottle of wine over it. (By the way, did you know that the word colporteur is in the dictionary and it means one who travels in the sale of moral books? Not many people know that.)

so, what we are getting around to is me listening to the radio circa the wee hours. Three, four, five, something like that. The nights are tunnels we must go through to reach the days - that kind of night. Radio Nova is doing its best to help. Phil Collins, No Reply, a slice of an old John Lennon. Then, silence for a beat, and ...

Gotta write a classic ...

Yeah! Have you heard this guy?

Perfect. What we have to do is dig a hole, go down maybe a couple of hunndred yards. Lead box, the works. Take a copy of this thing down, bury it safe


from the big bang, attach one of those beepy gadgets so when they come down from the stars to investigate the big flash they'll find it and from this reconstruct the essence of our civiliisation.

Gotta write a classic ...

Yeah, baby! This is Adrian Gurvitz singing the song of the moment, Classsic. Tens of thousands of people have put money on the counter for this, pushed it into the top sellers. Bell, Marconi and the people who discoverred electricity, everyone back to the folks who invented the wheel -all their efforts culminating in this thing revolving, lacing the airwaves with ...

Gotta write a classic ...

A classic what? you might ask.

Well, that's not the point. Mr. Gurvitz sings with the poignancy of a man who has just had hot tea spilled on his lap. Behind the voice there's a little duttdut, a sparse backing that indicates Significance.

Gotta write it in an attic . . . Images, images. He's gotta write a classic and he's gotta write it in an attic, 'cos that's where classics are written, right? We all know that. But, hold on, this verse has got a triple rhyme, we ain't heard nuthin yet.

Baby I'm an addict ...

It could explain a lot. One can allmost see the syringe dangling from the multi-tracked arm. But no, Mr. Gurvitz hastens to assure Baby that he's an adddict for your love.

Should one go on? One must. I was a stray boy ...

A line so meaningless that it must be shoved in merely to provide an oy rhyme.

And you was my best toy ... I would like to say something about this - but the gunge is dripping off the paper and fouling up the typewriter keys. (Note the use of you was to strengthen Adrian's street credibility.)

I found it easy to annoy you ... Yes. Well. I think we'd better stop this here. Having left my twenties back in the distant past when Jack Lynch was still just about hanging onto the brass ring I am acutely aware of the danger of winding up condemning the musical taste of The Youth. But even

though it's not the kids with spikey who are listening to friend Adrian a lot of what comes over the airwaves is on the same level. Through the overdubbbed, synthesised, fed-back, multiitracking the sound we're hearing is still identifiable as the scraping of the bottom of a barrel.

Anyway, it's time to change channnels. It's coming up to the hour and on the hour, every hour, Nova give you the news. And on the hour, every hour, it's the same news and its's interrminable. And it's read by Shiobhan Purcell, who cayre-full-ee eeates ev-ree wurd lyke this.

Try Radio Sunshine. The Jam are just finishing A Town Called Malice and that's fine. Then, silence for a beat, and ...

Gotta write a classic ...

Click. Schopenhaur said that the thought of suicide can be a great commfort and can get you through many a bad night.

NOw, you didn't really think that I brought you in here to talk about pop songs, did you? The point is that the world is being Gurvitzed. For some months now we have been hearring about the new-found honesty of politicians - no promises, that kind of thing.

(Boy, can this kid segue or can this kid segue.)

They're Gurvitzing. Image, innuenndos of Significance, Honesty, Meaning, Truth. But hustling is the name of the game. Clawing their way into the Top 10, or the Top 166.

Members of Fine Gael might gaze on Charlie Haughey's approach to Dick Burke and see it as a classic case of the worst coming to the worst. Some of us know better. Those of us who are not surprised to see Charlie and Garret firming up their political bases by exploiting the anguish of women who must consider abortion an option in deciding the course of their lives. It's all to do with grabbing the brass ring. Dicky Boy was offered a £60,000 job to stick a knife in FitzzGerald's back, said yes, said no. Charrlie upped the ante. If I'm still there in 1984 I'll reappoint you. That's seven years, total £420,000. Not a bad price for a hit job.

Then Charlie and Dicky Boy hold hands and tell us, with straight faces, that it's all in the national interest. And even some Fine Gaelers try to put a brave face on it by talking about best man for the job, very committed to Europe, crap like that.

We old song buffs don't mind when people hustle for a buck - that's the way of it. But we can't abide it when people look us in the eye and lie, lie, lie.

Adrian Gurvitz for Taoiseach, •