Friday, July 9, 2010

Answering to the language

A recent CD review on Stuff:
Almost a year after a messy break-up, Oasis have released Time Flies... 1994-2009 – a final hurrah by one of the most iconic bands in music history.
Iconic? Most iconic? Music history?

Yes, I know, complaining about how young people today misuse the English language is the first step on the slippery slope of becoming Gordon McLauchlan or Garth George, but this really has to stop.

If Oasis with their slim repertoire of rip-offs of the Beatles and other 60s bands (Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, indeed), their stupidity (the misquote in that album title is but one wee sample) and the vacuousness of their lyrics (“Faster than a speeding cannonball” – do you know how fast that is, Noel? It is not very fast at all) can be called “iconic”, how would one describe the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Small Faces etc whose songs Oasis recycled with ever-diminishing returns? And how would one describe Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Talking Heads, Nirvana – you know, the ones who actually moved rock music along a bit?

Mind you, I forgive Noel Gallagher almost all of the above for his brilliant remark about his perma-angry brother Liam, “He’s like a man with a fork in a world of soup.” I do hope he thought of that all by himself.


Nick Clarke said...

I think the the misquote in that album title was a mistake in a drunken jotting that was then deliberately retained because they thought it was funny.

(With anyone else, I'd provide a link to support this statement, but you Stephen will have to find it on Wikipedia yourself.)

Stephen Stratford said...

Nick, that sounds all too likely, especially the "deliberately retained because they thought it was funny".


Chad Taylor said...

To be fair, didn't Led Zeppelin recycle other people's songs with ever-diminishing returns?

*pulls pin, throws, runs for cover*

Little Tinker said...

Twelve Caesars sang about the unfortunate soup fork man in their 1999 hit "Kick You Out". It may be theirs or it may be earlier. Google said so.

It's been around long enough for there to be several blogs called "Man with a fork in a world of soup", a T shirt, and so on.
So no points for originality for Mr Gallagher, alas.

Stephen Stratford said...

Yes Chad, Led Zeppelin did recycle others: see where I claim that "Stairway to Heaven" is based on a Davey Graham piece. And, er, "Squeeze my lemon baby till the juice runs down my leg" is an old blues line. Too many similarly lifted lyrics to list, really, and then there is the debt Jimmy Page owes to Bert Jansch.

Cue mention of the Rolling Stones, who are lucky Robert Johnson doesn't have a good lawyer.

Cue mention of that line about good artists borrow, great ones steal: there is a good discussion at

Samuel said...

I believe that line was in fact "faster than a cannonball". Misquotes happen to the best of us...

Stephen Stratford said...

You're no doubt right, Samuel. I relied on my memory and couldn't face listening to the song - which I do have somewhere on one of those magazine freebie compilations somewhere - to check it.