Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Hangover Songs of Innocence and Experience

Disclaimer: These songs are not designed to make you feel physically or mentally better. 

Gigs are back! Clubs are open! Festivals are go! The recent easing of the remaining Covid-19 restrictions is the moment for which hedonists, debauchees, and insatiable party animals have been waiting. 

But if you are contemplating going overboard and recreating the whole of the Roaring Twenties within the next week, here are half a dozen tunes – from artists who have been there and done that, many times over – that might nudge you into toning down your plans. 

Tame Impala – ‘It Might Be Time’ 

"It might be time to face it /

You ain't as fun as you used to be /

You won't recover /

You ain't as cool as you used to be."

‘It Might Be Time is one of the standout moments from Tame Impala’s excellent fourth album 'The Slow Rush', and Kevin Parker pulls no punches as he reflects on the depressing reality that he may need to bring his partying days to an end.  

Brimming with ideas and innovation, and yet simultaneously evoking classic Supertramp, the song has been expertly dissected on the Song Exploder podcast to give you the story behind Parker’s moment of self-reckoning. Listen to the track on headphones when you wake up, head pounding, stomach-churning and full of regret, and then crank it out again on your stereo at full blast once the evening arrives and, beer in hand, you realise it is a total banger. 

John Frusciante – ‘Regret’ 

Speaking of regret, how about this comparatively obscure cut from Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante.  

Frusciante’s roaring twenties were an eventful period that culminated in him losing his teeth and his house burning down. In his song 'Regret', from 2004 career-high 'Shadows Collide With People', Frusciante takes us one step further than Parker by admonishing himself for all of his past behaviour and banishing himself to the wilderness. And all in the space of just two lines! 

Dave Edmunds – ‘What Did I Do Last Night?’ 

Nick Lowe is one of the great songwriters you have probably never heard of, and he is responsible for penning this upbeat blues for 70s pub-rocker Dave Edmunds.  

‘What Did I Do Last Night?’ is, of course, a classic morning-after theme – you wake up, you take a moment to adjust to the tremendous physical pain devouring your senses, you cast your mind back to the events presumably responsible for causing this pain, and your mind draws a worrying blank. Oh, and you are nose to nose with a stranger in your bed. As Edmunds desperately proclaims, "I’ll make a brand new start / If I get out alive!" 

Ray Stevens – ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ 

Arguably the greatest comedown song of all time, ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ was written by Kris Kristofferson in the late 60s and scored Johnny Cash a huge number one hit on the Billboard US Country chart in 1969.  

Honestly, the Cash version might just be too miserable for you to bear right now. So instead, let’s go with the first artist to record the track, Ray Stevens, and a slightly more uplifting interpretation.  

Ray Stevens is an idiosyncratic performer, to say the least, flitting repeatedly between weighty material such as this and irreverent comedy tracks across a six-decade-long career, all the way through to this 2015 effort Taylor Swift is Stalking Me. Utterly bizarre, and certainly too much for a sore head to contemplate.   

Bran Van 3000 — ‘Drinking in LA’ 

The central question you should be asking yourself as you bribe your housemate to pop to the shops and buy you some paracetamol is: was it worth it? 

For Bran Van 3000, the answer is a resounding yes. Sure, their drinking session down in Venice Beach was a total waste of time, during which they did ‘nothing / absolutely buttkiss that day’. But on the flip side, it inspired the 1997 classic ‘Drinking in LA’, one of the finest rough-edged pop hits of all time. 

The Beautiful South – ‘Old Red Eyes Is Back’ 

There are some merciless songs about battling the bottle, and Paul Heaton’s depiction of Old Red, the bedevilled boozehound, combines painful slapstick (‘Walked into the wrong bar / walked into a door’) and profound sorrow (‘Red is the colour of farewell’) in equal measure. This is classic Beautiful South, a weighty topic brilliantly counterpointed by a catchy melody and slick pop tones, and as you’re nursing your hangover, it’s a song that offers a sardonic warning that maybe you shouldn’t make this behaviour a nightly habit. 

Tom Kirkham / @finestworktom 

Image: Tame Impala at Flow Festival Helsinki - Wikimedia Commons 

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