Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs – Brian and Michael

I’ve decided to kick off music month with this delightfully gentle song from Manchester duo Brian and Michael.

This is one of the earliest songs that ever caught my attention, and held it as I grew older. It was released in 1978, which would have made me rather small, but still I remember being quiet when I heard this song on the radio. The big attraction for me probably would have been because it mentions cats, and at the time that was exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up, having not yet discovered humans cannot grow up and be furry, unless they have some sort of problem. I think the other draw to the song was because the lyrics are quite visual, and they read very much like a picture book story with a beginning and an ending, and even the title sounds like something that could be found amongst the children’s corner in bookshops.

Another draw for me was it had other children singing it, and other children were absolutely fascinating to me when I was little, especially bigger children. And here they were, singing from the radio! They must be well grand – I wanted to be one of those kids singing la-le-la-li-lo in the background. The other appeal was the sort of finality of the end verse – I’m not sure at that age I would have grasped what that meant, but the melancholy tone, even though it was sung in a jaunty voice, made the song very memorable and very haunting, in a way.

Now fully grown (and not a cat, damn), I appreciate this song even more for the same reasons, expect now there’s a few added extras. After studying art for so many years, I have a good appreciation for Lowry and enjoy his work. It always feels like Lowry was an artist that died in the 19th century, so it is still quite a surprise that he died in 1976. I read a great story recently about when Lowry was invited to the BBC to do an interview during the 1960’s and his main concern was that no one in the green room could do a proper cup of tea. I like that, and it fits in nicely with these lyrics:

Now canvas and brushes were wearing thin
When London started calling him
To come on down and wear the old flat cap
They said tell us all about your ways
And all about them Salford days
Is it true you're just an ordinary chap

So this song, celebrating his life, seems to me to be a very fitting tribute and it’s nice to think he would have been very pleased about it. I also love hearing about modern social history, and I think this song really helps paint a picture, of both the time they are singing about, and the 1970’s in a way – the latter with a nice nostalgic rosy glow for me.

And as for the duo themselves, they appear very Internet savvy, with their own youtube webpage here, and their myspace here, and a good sense of humour about things. Even though they are known for 'Matchstalk Men', they are very accomplished musicans and obviously still get enjoyment from their music, and I hope especially for this song that brought so much happiness to others. Cheers guys!

1 comment:

Jayne said...

Testing, testing.. for some reason the main page isn't showing the 'posted by Jayne at 10.08, 0 comments' message like all the others usually do - which is odd as I don't think I did anything different! But when I post a comment, then up it comes... odd.