You wanna lampoon Jehovah? It’s been done. Nobody can top Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Move on with your life.
You’re protected from nefarious religions in the present, mostly. Kids aren’t put through the parochial school ringer like sixty years ago. Nuns get in hot water for rapping the knuckles of students with a ruler. Child abuse is rightfully and openly abhorred.
So, you don’t really get guys like Andy Partridge from XTC, who receive such a churchly drubbing, they write a song like “Dear God”.
Holy shit. Dark stuff, huh? That’s an eight-year-old girl at the start and finish, which makes it impossible for me to endure. The sneering way she delivers the final lyric makes me want to puke. It’s probably beloved by the creeps who call “Kick-Ass” a good movie.
Eek; she’s a grown woman now. Wonder what she’s like?
Also on Skylarking is “1000 Umbrellas”, which was the most depressing thing I’d ever heard at 14. One could argue that the falsetto out-chorus owes a lot to the Beatles, but I can’t fault XTC for this. The Beatles invaded our country; can you imagine the hometown pride you’d feel if you hailed from the same isle they did? XTC’s Beatlesque tendencies were sincere flattery, not phony appropriation.
If you’re a happy-minded individual, let me tell you, that song sounds like depression feels. It’s so authentic, I don’t like to listen to it, and I get angry when I hear it. That’s pretty fucking impressive for a thirty-year-old pop song.
My favorite XTC song was “The Mayor Of Simpleton”. I was dumb enough to think that if I put this single onto mixtapes, girls I gave them to would be charmed by my confession of dumbness. This was a dumb idea. While I pulled this lame-duck act, other guys achieved and completed tasks of actual merit, and thus were rewarded with girl-fucking. So it goes.
It’s a fantastic tune, though, and it proves that XTC could be as happy as they could be sad.
I had a little mini-CD of “Mayor Of Simpleton”, and because I owned a front-loading “vertical” player, I was forced to hunt down an adapter so I could listen to it. This is why CD trays have that smaller circle recessed in the middle; you can play mini-CDs no problem, horizontally. In 2004, when I made the John’s Arm 4 short, I released the soundtrack on mini-CD, because I couldn’t get over how darling the things were.
But beyond the novelty of shrinking album art even more, the mini-CDs were more trouble than they were worth (which wasn’t much to begin with). I lost my XTC single long ago, and god only knows where that adapter went. This is all analogous to the days of playing 45s on a turntable, and needing the special adapter to narrow the huge hole in the center.
That’s tremendous aesthetic resonance for such a tiny tool. They work just fine, too; they’re still in usage. They look nice enough that some people wear one on a chain. Why futz with what works, anyway?
(“It’s All Shit” is a song I wrote in 1999, inspired by words uttered in a desperate, pleading tone by comedian Dennis Miller.)