Tag Archives: Come On Eileen

Lord knows I can’t change

You might know me as the mild mannered janitor of this esteemed property, but I have a secret. A secret dark enough that it only speaks its name to a select few. A secret that I only shared with The Special One a few months before our wedding, for fear that she would call the whole thing to a grinding halt. It was touch-and-go for a while, it has to be said, and the secret still regularly brings her to the point of tears whenever it pops involuntarily into her head.

But now I don’t care who knows – I love “Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners with a passion. Say it once, say it loud, I too-rye-aye and I’m proud.

I don’t know what it is about the song that I adore so much. Maybe it’s the feelgood intro, the “poor old Johnny Raaaaaaaay” lyrics, or the impossibly catchy piano line – but whatever it is, I can’t get it out of my head for about three weeks after I’ve heard it again. No wedding is complete in my mind without a bit of “Come On Eileen”, and the mere sight of dungarees (or overalls as I laughingly believe they’re called over here) can send me into a Dexy’s whirl.

Now clearly, not everyone is as comfortable as I am in their own musicality but I promise you that – deep down – half of Britain feels exactly the same as me. Admittely the other half would rather have rusty nails hammered into their skull, but that’s a side issue. The thing is that certain pop songs are irrevocably specific to one country and its people. Name a Brit who doesn’t know all the words to Robbie Williams’ “Angels” and I will show you a liar. As I mentioned here, the Special One is still recovering from the stampede to the dancefloor which occurred when “Dizzy” by Vic Reeves & The Wonder Stuff was played at a wedding we attended a couple of years ago. And it’s probably best not to talk about her reaction to the playing of the theme from “Minder”.

Obviously, America has its own selection of songs that do exactly the same thing – most of which mean absolutely nothing to me. I’ve lost count of the number of times The Special One and I have been in the car, and she’s suddenly turned the sound up on the radio to listen to a top tune, only for me to find out that it’s something along the lines of “Born To Break The Levee” by Harry Walton & The Tennessee Turncoats. I count myself as a man who knows a bit about music, but here it’s almost as if I’ve had all my cultural reference points removed in a botched surgical operation that was merely meant to take out my tonsils.

However, the one epochal American pop song that I’m all too familiar with is “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Mention “Free Bird” to any American, and their eyes drift off mistily to college days and their time with long-haired Megan with the impossibly flexible limbs/the night with butch quarterback Howie (and his roommate Mitch). Mention the song to a Brit, and they’ll ask “is that the one that Will To Power combined with Peter Frampton’s ‘Baby I Love Your Way’?”

The fact is that “Free Bird” is effectively the American national anthem – a statement of the country’s unwillingness to play nicely with anyone else, and its insistence on independence at all costs. And despite its dubious intentions, it’s universally loved and remains one of the most played songs on American radio.

But why for the love of all that is good and virtuous does it have to be so sodding long? The song came on the radio when The Special One and I were leaving Rhode Island on Sunday afternoon, and I would swear it was still playing when we entered New York state three hours later. I’ve had shorter relationships than that song. If US forces ever need to employ noise warfare techniques again to force Central American drug barons into the open, they could do worse than to consider the “Free Bird” guitar solo.

Wheels of steel

Am just back from a long long weekend in the UK to attend a wedding in the heart of the rather gorgeous Peak District. When you mix a lovely old stately home-type hotel, a healthy smattering of some of your best mates in the world, a seemingly limitless supply of red and white wine, and the marriage of very close pals, it’s not difficult to enjoy yourself it has to be said.

Even when you’re doing some of the DJing yourself.

I’ve always loved wedding discos. For a start, whether the first dance is by Rick Astley or Luther Vandross, it’s always intriguing to find out which track means the most to the happy couple, although statistics do prove that people who choose Def Leppard tend to be divorced shortly before the honeymoon photos have arrived. And of course, it’s always great to see Auntie Ethel and the bride’s mother’s best friend getting their groove on to the likes of Duran Duran, Wham! and Adam & The Ants.

So when you get asked to DJ at the wedding of one of your best friends, there’s only one answer. And it isn’t no.

The problem though is how to assess your crowd, and make sure that you play the right thing to get as many people dancing as possible. The last few weddings I’ve been to have been largely all-American affairs, where the music of choice is far removed from that which you’d expect at a British event. I mean, is there really a place for Menudo at a wedding?

It works the other way, as well. The look of abject horror on The Special One’s face at a wedding in the UK last year, when a stampede of people trampled her underfoot to get to the dancefloor for Vic Reeves & The Wonder Stuff’s “Dizzy” will live with me for a long time to come.

Of course the fact that, thanks to a small inter-marital communication breakdown, all my music had been left in a bag in our living room in Brooklyn didn’t exactly help my cause. I bet that never happens to Paul Oakenfold. With my guaranteed floor fillers left, well, on the floor, I had to rely on the leftover tunes of my fellow DJs to keep the party going. Fortunately, a couple of glasses of wine removes much of your inhibitions and doubts when it comes to playing tracks by Belinda Carlisle, as it turns out.

I even got asked to play ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ by Tiffany. I wasn’t that drunk, though, I’m pleased to report.