Monday, 27 July 2009

47. 10 Rock'n'Roll Songs

Rock & Roll -Led Zeppelin
Rock and Roll - Mos Def
Rock'n'Roll - The Velvet Underground
Rock and Roll Heart - Lou Reed
It's Still Rock'n'Roll to me - Billy Joel
More Rock'n'Roll - Ruarri Joseph
Rock'n'Roll - Ryan Adams
The King of Rock'n'Roll - Prefab Street
We Built This City on Rock'n'Roll - Starship
Rock'n'Roll Suicide - David Bowie

The joke being, of course, that none of these songs are rock'n'roll ... or are they? Or, as Stephen Fry used to say ... are they?
Before an Oasis fan complains again, the only reason Rock'n'Roll Star isn't on the list is because it is a a bit too close to actual rock'n'roll. Or is it? Or IS IT?

For what is Rock'n'Roll? Well, for one thing, it was the most overused phrase in my vocabulary for some years. I'm not sure that there was anything that wasn't rock'n'roll. How was your day? Rock'n'roll. I just bought some apples? Rock'n'roll. My uncle just got hit by a bus. Rock'n'Roll.

I think the above songs encompass fairly well the various meanings of rock'n'roll for various people down the years. There's some great songs and some terrible ones in there. Indeed 'We Built This City ...' has been officially voted the worst song of all time, and it's hard to argue. Nothing could be further from true rock'n'roll than this abomination.
My favourite song on the list is probably the Ryan Adams one, a deathly quiet 2 minute ditty on his overly loud but also overly slagged 'Rock'n'Roll' album. "Everybody's cool, playing rock'n'roll, I don't feel cool, feel cool at all" is its refrain.
[By the way, that U2 Blackberry ad is on the TV as I write and my blood is boiling. I don't mind the fact they're advertising BlackBerry, i mind every single other thing about this most awful of bands. If they are rock'n'roll, then rock'n'roll is truly dead. Nice chaps, apparently]
The Mos Def song is brilliant, daring, but questionable. "Elvis Presley ain't got no soul, Little Richard is rock'n'roll, you might dig on the Rolling Stones but they ain't come up with that shit on their own" and various other such juxtapositions, including the deeply unfair to white people "Kenny G ain't got no soul, John Coltrane is rock'n'roll". Well, no one's disputing that, but that's hardly a conclusive argument of anything.
To be honest, the whole "white people stole and commercialised black music to make diluted modern rock'n'roll" argument is an over-simplification. The rock'n'roll music people love, the real starting point of the greatness that stopped it being a fad i.e. The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan owes just as much to country, folk, music hall, tin pan alley etc as the blues.
But what is Rock'n'Roll really, now. To go back to Oasis, they would wholeheartedly describe themselves as a rock'n'roll band, but as Keith Richards said of them "Where's the Roll?"
Is Rock'n'Roll the attitude, the sound, the look, is it the whole thing? Can it be all things to all people. If it's a state of mind, a way of being, I have to admit that the almost 31 me would mainly consider people who act in a "rock'n'roll" way to be, well, boorish, rude, selfish, not my kind of people at all .... must I now accept that I'm the least rock'n'roll person I know? Hell, no. I still wear flairs and drink caffeinated tea.
So maybe rock'n'roll is just a narrow definition of a certain kind of music (any old way you choose it, it's got a back beat, you can't lose it) made by splendid but limited people like Buddy Holly, Little Richard and Chuck Berry and occasionally revived so that music journalists can applaud a song's rock'n'roll feel - but maybe it is the whole thing, the whole thing that has dominated the Western World for 50 years, though most of it's got no roll, a lot of it doesn't rock, from Elvis Presley through The Beatles and James Brown and Martha Reeves and The Byrds and Nick Drake and Carole King and The Clash and the Human League and The Pixies and Public Enemy and Blur and Wilco and Girls Aloud and La Roux. Everything is Rock'n'Roll. Except U2.


After all the slamming winters
which almost brought you to your knees
you'd made yourself safer than Harlech
overlooking the storm-tossed seas.
Bless those wild lives left behind,
battered by the mocking gales -
easy to gaze from the tallest tower
on all those pretty, fragile sails.

An entreaty, on a call from nowhere -
"Help me sing, sing of the unsung"
- daring and trite enough to lead you
to bite down on your thawing tongue.
The Classics, not the Romantics, sway you
to dip pen into tales of old -
"So, dear friends, here's my next trick ...
to rewrite the history of rock'n'roll."

When Echo finally had stopped calling
and self-portraits'd been calmly defaced,
still, some voice begged of your vanity
not to let it all go to waste.
The memories of grandest failure
now had enough sweet bathos to swallow,
for rock'n'roll to be reimagined
as less Dionysus and more Apollo.

I had intended something bigger, slower, complicateder, but couldn't tie it all together - not sure i've tied this together either - and it was kind of tortuous. This is a second draft, but that's not in the title, so you could call it Rock'n'Roll, Second Draft, Second Draft, if, like me, you're a twat.
Anyway, i guess themes are obvious in a way - there's a book by Ruth Padel, her who was recently embroiled in an Oxford Professor of Poetry rock'n'roll academic scandal, called I'm a Man ,which looks at what Rock'n'Roll owes to Greek mythology. No wait, it really works! If I'd discovered it before I finished my degree, i might have been able to justify what i was studying to myself. Classics are the new Rock'n'Roll.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

46. 10 Songs of Embarrassment, Shame, Regret and Remorse

Embarrassment - Madness
Je Ne Regrette Rien - Edith Piaf
Not One Bit Ashamed - King Creosote
Losing My Religion - REM
Chagrin - Geraint Watkins
So Sorry - Feist
Tortoise Regrets Hare - James Yorkston
Jealous Guy - John Lennon
No Regrets - The Walker Brothers
Shouldn't be Ashamed - Wilco

This is rather in response to Alex Frith wondering if I could put together a tape about Embarrassment - the answer is no, but this is the best I could do, and it comes together fairly nicely.
It's remarkable how few songs there are about embarrassment, considering I am surely not alone in finding its avoidance the single most important driving force behind my words and deeds.
I've got a rather red face - hey, it's no secret, it's no crime - but it's remarkable how often it chooses to get even redder. It was once said to me that in summer you couldn't ever quite tell why it was always so red - it could be sunburn, drunkenness or embarrassment. It was a fair combination of all three most likely.
There's a condition called Idiopathic craniofacial erythema, which is basically extreme blushing, and I do sometimes wonder about it, so often do i change colour if i so much as speak to someone in a shop, or think about something odd on the tube. I don't necessarily see it as tied up with actual social unease, it's more like embarrassment for embarrassment's sake, but it's such an unpleasant, mortifying sensation that practically everything I do considers the possibility of its occurrence. Though I'm pretty practised at avoiding it now, to those who don't get embarrassed easily, I say Fuck you, you fucks, and leave it at that.
Equally, I can't say I live a life of great regret, I'm pretty at ease with the choices I've made and the forces beyond my control - you can either regret everything or regret nothing, in a way, so in that sense I think I'm rather lucky. To be tortured by regret, to believe that one missed huge chances that could definitely have made life better, that's not a good state.
The four states above are an odd mixture of the controllable and the uncontrollable, that relating only to yourself and that which relates to those around you - shame, remorse, regret are driving forces behind many of the world's great tragedies, basic embarrassment less so - in fact, it's the force behind many great modern comedies, so perhaps I'm lucky that's it embarrassment that's a constant red dog on my shoulder and not one of the other darker forms.

[NB I note, a couple of years after writing this post, that it's the one that people most often enter this blog with. If this is is your first look here, feel free to look at other stuff in the blog, general musings at popular music, and often more entertaining and self-involved! Thanks]

Well, I don't know if this contradicts what I've said above, it's just some words

My Oxygen

This could be worse than I thought;
the dams that have burst won't be easy to mend.
We could be treading on eggshells
until we relax and relearn to pretend.

See us now, skirting the truth and
stumbling reluctantly into maturity.
See me now, caught in a compromise
still banging on about ethics and purity.

This could be half of a blessing -
the end of an era we'd rather forget.
We could say we've all learnt our lessons and
we've all done some things that we'd like to regret.
But I know remorse is as pointless as
throwing your hopes behind progress and science
and I know the mistakes that I've made
mean a million times less than the casual triumphs.

Funnily enough, this has been sitting around for ages and the word in the last line has been 'more' not 'less', but i changed it and I guess changed the whole point. I'm not sure which one's right

Thursday, 16 July 2009

45. 10 Songs about Boxing

Mama Said Knock You Out - LL Cool J
The Boxer - Simon and Garfunkel
Sonny Could Lick All Them Cats - Chuck E Weiss
Who Killed Davey Moore or Hurricane - Bob Dylan
Rumble in the Jungle - The Fugees
Ali in the Jungle - The Hours
Y'all must have Forgot - Roy Jones Jr
Walk Like a Champion - Kaliphz ft Prince Naseem
Da Mystery of Chessboxin' - Wu-Tang Clan
So You Wanna be a Boxer - Bugsy Malone soundtrack

Didn't even have to include Eye of the Tiger, which seems a shame really. Or the original theme from Rocky, which I do actually love.
First, a bone to pick - the song Ali in the Jungle by The Hours is a decent epic indie stormer, but it's lyrics are silly posturing bollocks. It goes

Everybody gets knocked down
How quick are you going to get up?
Like Ali in the Jungle ...

well, that's defeating the point of the song for starters, for as any fule know, Muhammad Ali was at no point sent to the canvas in his 1974 fight with George Foreman. Furthermore, while, admittedly it was a comeback of sorts and he was probably behind on points at the time of his superb stoppage of Foreman, the mythologised version of the fight that he was battered for 8 rounds, employing the rope-a-dope before suddenly turning it around out of nowhere, doesn't tell the whole story. If you watch the whole thing through, not only do you see that the first few rounds are pretty even and that even after that that Ali was regularly breaking his shackles and worrying Foreman, you also see that the ringside commentators had cottoned on to Ali's plan and it was no big shock to them when it came off. Sport and Myth - it's a bugbear of mine. Sport is Sport -it's real, it doesn't need phony storytellers getting hold of it.
Another egregious example in the above song is the continuation of the chorus

Like Ali in the Jungle
Like Nelson in jail
Like Simpson on the mountain

Hold on a second! You're equating, as a triumph against adversity, a man who came out of jail to lead his country and have a long, prosperous old age to Tommy Simpson, a British cyclist who, on said mountain, died with his body pumped with drugs. Where's the triumph? Where's the vindication? Just bad facts, bad songwriting.
Not a bad song apart from that though.
Another load of bullshit? Hurricane. The film. Made-up, manipulative shite, as, quite possibly, is the whole story. It's a brilliantly written Dylan song, of course, which does more in 8 minutes than the film did in 2 hours, but it plays pretty fast and loose with the truth itself, to the extent he was almost sued by several parties. A cursory investigation of the real story makes the whole thing seem pretty unpalatable.
Anyone still reading after that rant?

I love boxing, unhealthily, I watch it as much as I can, on TV, on youtube, the new, the old, British, American, I've seen plenty of boring fights and a few stunners. It's clearly a grim business with a farcical Championship system, a flawed judging system, lots of hanger-ons and nefarious types, but in the ring, it really does have a purity and fairness rarely matched in other sports
I thought I'd best get this in before Amir Khan's WBA title fight on Saturday. Although Khan is a crossover star, he appears to be highly disliked among British "real fight fans" , which i think is jealous nasty bullshit, but there's a lot of folk gagging for him to be taken dowm a peg or two. I think he's an exciting, potentially brilliant fighter, so i really hope Saturday comes good for him. I've watched nearly all his fights, but the one that really got me back into boxing was Joe Calzaghe, a man who seemed in control practically every second he fought, who could take it easy against bad opponents but then really showed his heart and brain against top quality opponents. Also, I love Calzaghe cos he was impressively unripped - though probably the best athlete in boxing, his biceps, pecs etc were pretty standard, pretty unbulging, yet he would batter these sculpted adonises. His success was built on speed, stamina, brain and bravery.
Ali is the go-to icon for casual fans of boxing, of course, which is fair enough in a way, but other greats whose often sad stories have interested me more are Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Sonny Liston, Tommy Hearns, Gerald McClellan, Jake La Motta (his autobiography, the base for the movie, is a stunning piece of work) James Toney, Sugar Ray Leonard, Eubank, Cotto, Roy Jones himself, who is dazzling, dazzling on youtube.

Along with songs, here's a list of fine boxing books

War, Baby - Kevin Mitchell
Dark Trade - Donald McRae
Night Train - Nick Tosches
King of the World - David Remnick
In Black and White - Donald McRae
Raging Bull - Jake LaMotta
Unforgivable Blackness -Geoffrey C Ward

I'm sure there are plenty more. Thing is, I haven't read as much about boxing as cricket, not yet.

Here's a couple of things, not very good, I'm afraid; one tries to just capture the visceral thrill of watching boxing, one is about the sad trajectory of a usual boxing career. It tends to go up, then down, and usually that's it. It's rarely given the chance to go up then down then up again. Brutal game.

Here is my heart - it beats for you
like a fucking train, fast as your flashing fists
pummelling and crushing a skull hardened
by an ugly life on the edge,
me to the hating, leering faces
baying for gypsy blood
and old knees to give way.

Here is my corrupt heart
finding its level in the cold certainly
of the KO

I wrote it over the course of one round, as you can probably tell

This one is
It took half an hour to tape up my hands
and they don't snap back the bag like before
when I was the one they were buzzing about,
telling me Don King had sent his best man.
No one gives a fuck about Don King these days
and my dressing room is half a squash court.

This kid's twelve and one, he lost last but one
and I'm a step back the road to a title.
"i'll be the one to get back on the ladder"
I lie to the one paper which cares to ask.
Nothing special, he'll deal with me tonight
and they'll tell him Oscar's been on the phone.

Monday, 13 July 2009

44. 10 Wedding Songs

Let's Get Married - The Proclaimers
Marry Me, John - St Vincent
White Wedding - Billy Idol
Cigarettes, Wedding Bands OR Marry Song - Band of Horses
To You - I am Kloot
I Was Married - Tegan and Sara
Ballad of John and Yoko - The Beatles
Be My Wife - David Bowie
Kiss the Bride - Elton John
$1000 Wedding - Gram Parsons

It's wedding season, so I thought I'd better get in the spirit. Of course, I've omitted the greatest wedding song of all, 'Suddenly' by Angry Anderson. If you were there on that fateful day in November 1988, you'll know exactly what I mean.
Anyway, five weddings for me this year, pretty good going. Various corners of the globe, as well. They're primarily exercises in speech timing and middle distance drinking. And can we not just get rid of the handshake parade? Everyone hates it, everyone dreads it. You really do end up saying "you must be very proud" and then you have to wash your mouth out with anti-cliche soap.
I'm still waiting to go to one where anything dramatic (in a bad way) happens - o, now i recall at my sister's my brother-in-law, the groom, spent the night in hospital after twisting his ankle - I guess that's pretty dramatic, but I haven't seen a soap wedding "you can't marry'er - you're still married to me! ..." DUM DUM DUM
Here's hoping.
Of the songs above, I can't recommend the Gram Parsons song highly enough -it's the perfect duet for Parsons and Emmylou Harris, sad and brilliant.
Rather in the spirit of that, of things going wrong and such japes, I wrote this. I had two thoughts on my mind - one was a country song, Hank Williams, George Jones or something, melodramatic and tearjerking (so if you can put the words in a country twang and add in your own slide guitar, that wil help, I'm sure), the other was Glasvegas funnily enough, though that's only really there in the title, for I have called it - quite the best title I've ever come up

Trees of green and skies of blue
are well and good - and good for you
The teenage goth has cleaned her face,
the long lost soul has found its place
The stars are out and you may gaze
with wonder now, with fresh delight,
The night is long, you're not afraid,
The night is long, long live the night.
The morning sun sneaks through the blinds,
great thoughts creep slowly on great minds
and who will save my lonely heart?
more lonely now than e'er before
now you're not lonely more

Communion wine it tastes so sweet
and heady in the summer's heat
Your sins and guilt are washed away
with all the words you needn't say.
The cross reflects the morning sun
upon the crowns of lovers kneeling -
for love, it's freed to everyone
who dares give up to hope and healing.
The morning sun shines through stained glass,
a gift of faith for those that ask
and who will save my bitter heart,
more hopeless now than e'er before
now you're not hopeless anymore.

Straight outta Nashville!

Friday, 10 July 2009

43. 10 Songs about the New England

New England - Billy Bragg
Moonlight in Vermont - Sam Cooke
Roadrunner - Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers
O New England - The Decemberists
Massachusetts - The Bee Gees
Please Come to Boston - Joan Baez
Massachusetts - The Scud Mountain Boys
Albion - Babyshambles
Somerville - The Pernice Brothers
Boston - Piney Gir

Aargh ... clearly, I'm clumsily bringing together two separates notions here, the idealised New England Billy Bragg isn't looking for and the real New England the Democrats always dominate in - did you know both George Bushes were born in New England though. I love the Bragg song and I think Peter Doherty's idea of a mythological "Albion" was the best thing he ever came up with, in particular on the song The Good Old Days, but in fact it's the six states of New England I'm more interested in.
Probably more specifically Massachusetts ... where I've never been, but i know plenty of people who have.
Even more specifically, it's Joe Pernice's Massachusetts. Joe Pernice feels like my privileged piece of information, hardly known at all, but, though, say, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco may create more exciting, rousing, stunning, gut-churning songs, I think there's no more erudite, precise, skilful songwriter than Joe Pernice around.
If you go to the very start of this blog, you'll see that Bryte Side by the Pernice Brothers is one of my two favourite songs of all time, and it is the fifth song on what really is my favourite album, The World Won't End, which captured my heart in the weird, heavy summer of 2001. Like many great songwriters, Pernice captures a milieu, makes you feel like you know it and you're in it - for him it's long hot New England summers. If there's any kind of link to Billy Bragg's New England, it's that Pernice is very much an anglophile, his love for the Smiths, the Clash etc always evident. Indeed, when he was asked to write an appreciation for the Smiths' Meat is Murder for the 33 1/3 series, he produced a beautiful novella ... set of course in a hot new England summer.
I haven't much else to say - these things will be evident in my following words, but all i can suggest is buying The World Won't End and listening to it over and over again

Working Girls (Sunlight Shines)
Our Time Has Passed
She Heightened Everything
Bryte Side
Let that Show
Shaken Baby
Flaming Wreck
The Ballad of Bjorn Borg
Endless Supply
Cronulla Breakdown

That's a little poem all of its own

Oh, I've thought of something else - Gilmore Girls, the surprisingly excellent TV show set in New England, has an episode where Joe Pernice, Jonathan Richman, Yo la Tengo, Sparks and Sonic Youth all make guest appearances

Anyway, this is an homage

High and sun-blinded
a car crashed on a
that road rewinded
back through that summer's
useless beauty
the end of school -
t-shirts with Strummer,
Richman, Cusack
the century's highpoint,
a hundred degrees,
fruitless duties
carried out, while
trying to come up
with the right music
fit with the words
you've been receiving
almost weekly
the boy who says
his dreams are all
of a New England

He fell in love
with sounds stolen
from his homeland

You fell in love
and you dreamed of
Salford Lad's Club

And he's come looking
for the bryte side
of New England

The brightest flash
on the drive to
Logan Airport

Thursday, 9 July 2009

42. 10 Songs which look North

Welcome to the North - The Music
Northern Lites - Super Furry Animals
North Country Boy - The Charlatans
Girl from the North Country - Bob Dylan
Girl from the Northern States - The Young Republic
It's Grim Up North - The Justified Ancients of MuMu
Northern Whale - The Good, The Bad and the Queen
Quiet Crown - Idlewild
A Big Day in the North - Black Grape
Northern Sky - Nick Drake

It strikes me that England's North has its equivalent in America's South, the "real" country for ordinary decent folk, which sets itself in opposition to the gloss and urbanity of New York/London. Obviously this isn't a revolutionary theory. The Belle and Sebastian-esque song here by American band The Young Republic gets to grip with the idea, with the Girl from the Northern States being too arty-farty and prim to understand the true worth of the beautiful American South. Of course, Bob Dylan's "North Country" is a whole different matter, talking about the bleak, cold world he grew up more usually called The Midwest. Perhaps these areas - Minnesota, Wisconsin etc have their vague equivalent in England's West Country or maybe Midlands, but really i'm into the area of talking bollocks now.
Anyway, the thing that always got me about The North is that it's got a whole 300 miles more northern than it (Teenage Fanclub have an album called 'Songs from Northern Britain' and, you know, they're not from Manchester). Leicester say, or Nottingham, would describe itself as being in the North and yet it's barely a quarter of the way up Britain.
Anyway, the North is heavily and cleverly romanticised in song and literature and film, a hell of a lot more than places like Bognor Regis, Newbury and Margate anyway, and rightly so, I suppose. Even the gritty realism of much of that is a romanticisation of sorts, i think.
My romanticisation of the North is in terms of moors and cliffs and holy islands and castles and seabirds etc, which is actually just as tied in with Scotland as Northern England, but I'll separate them for now and probably get to Scotland later.
I was thinking in terms of a folk song here , but didn't want to get too carried away with a language I didn't have a proper grasp on. i was also just focusing on the words Northern Soul. Northern Soul is a funny one - it's a term all over music magazines, and yet is really, in musical terms, a pretty nebulous concept. I've had more than one person ask me, slightly shamefaced, what really is this northern soul? and tho I know a little about the Northern Soul clubs and the all-nighters, I couldn't necessarily identify what was Northern Soul on listening. Southern Soul, on the other hand ...

And how she'd cast his dearest wishes
to the welcoming arms of the Northern sky
and wonder felt a sure minute distant
as he stole glances at her face shining
so full of joy, it could make him cry

And how those birdsongs swooped and soared
and recast the sound of the Northern soul
and the chill wind, a kiss, a sweet sting
pushed them together in a time of no asking
and no giving of anything but the whole

And how those folk songs swept right through him
and made their home right at his core,
and they pretended they were material
for deep and bearded men of the soil
to imprint into rhyme and lore

And how the coastal road unfolded
to each fishing village and sharpened strand
shadowed by some dormant castle
still, after all, master of every cliff
exposed, each naked grain of sand

And how the Northern nights compressed
and stripped sleep from the tireless minds
they carried to their only good goal,
and the summer tides stripped their memory
of all that's easily left behind

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

41. 10 Songs about Bombs

Spanish Bombs - The Clash
Pipe Pomb - Joe Pernice
The Bomb - New Young Pony Club
B.O.B - OutKast
You Got Yr Cherry Bomb - Spoon
Zombie - The Cranberries
A-Bomb on Wardour Street - The Jam
Enola Gay - OMD
Don't Bomb When you are the Bomb or Chinese Bomb -Blur
Theme from Dambusters

The theme from Dambusters is one of the great themes, tops everything else on the list. Spanish Bombs is just about my favourite Clash song though, and the Spoon song is a favourite to run to.
The NYPC song is super too, though not about bombs really.
At school, we read Camus' 'Les Justes' which contained lines like "La bombe seule est juste", but that's the least true thing ever, there's nothing juste about la bombe. A lot of people have lived in fear of a bomb or the bomb for a long long time, some learnt to stop worrying and love it, in London town the fear is occasional, but tends to pass. West London in the early 80s and 90s was more susceptible to bombs than most places in the UK, but avoided the gravest catastrophe.
The whole city's fear of the bomb was reignited 4 or so summers ago, and I'm afraid these words, crasser than cranberries, came in the wake of that, or rather in the wake of the wake of that.
The first verse drops a lyrical bomb, which i can't bring myself to take out, but if you can look past that, well ok

In a sequence of reactions

All wrapped up again in the language of death
trying to pick between defiance and resilience,
I've slipped to the heart of my city of chaos
where the cunts have got the cops killing brazilians.

My city on standby merits solemn laments
not rolling hysteria and fatuous weblogs.
My lines are down, though, my rhymes so crass -
stung by the simply dismantled deadlock.

What knows he of London, whom London knows
to be taped up and tucked in and listlessly trapped? -
my city of safe self -mythologising
still seeking an epithet ample and apt.

Wrapped up in my own lazy language of death -
romantic for Klute and Zhivago and Vegas.
My white life, my light life - my fight might return
in a bang and flash if I'd duelled with these dangers.

But Stockwell's not 15 minutes down the road,
it's a Hollywood film set, a shallow black comedy
and I'M NOT AFRAID of a thing but myself
and the myriad ways I find to dishonour me.

If it's any help in understanding, you may remember the popular web response was people putting a picture of themselves next to the words 'I'm not afraid' and also, that was a summer i was sitting around doing nothing but watching old movies and Sky News, thinking i ought to get off my arse. That's the background to the sentiments!
Fortunately, the Ashes came along and rescued us all. Stronger than bombs!