Thursday, 30 January 2020

Marathon 5: Guns And Dinosaurs

50 mins Steady Run.

Most half-marathon vests (you get given one after the race - I don't have a fetish) include "half-marathon" or "13.1miles" in their lettering. Birmingham's didn't this year, which was prescient because the race ended up being 11 miles long, having missed out Cannon Hill Park after they found an abandoned car there. Possibly an over-reaction, but as I always say, better safe than blown up by terrorists.

Also better safe than being flattened by a livestock lorry. It is cattle market day and the Carrs, with no pavement or speed limit, is no place to run with earphones on. Thus a 50 minute run gets a 30-minute soundtrack.

Location: Whitby - The Carrs, Sleights bank, Barker's Lane, switchbacks, Castle Rd., Stakesby Rd., Ruswarp bank. 

Weather: Mild.

Outfit: 2019 Great Birmingham Run vest, worst shorts, black trainers.

Music: Ed Woods - Soundcloud demos 35 mins.

A Steady Run is supposed to be quite fast, but a slow heave up Sleights bank is as steady as you're going to get from me today. My playlist lights upon Clean And Jerk, which is what got me here. Ed Woods had advertised it on Twitter. I'd forgotten who he was and only later saw that he was the composer of Chess Club, my second favourite new song of last year.

Clean and Jerk takes on the old story of childhood friendship dissipating in adulthood. The characters are glimpsed in the blinking light of a Transit van, in a teacher's dismissive description; their story is told via a double-tracked vocal and guitar with minimal embellishment.

Then we're in the strange and beautiful Chess Club, a Christian hangout 'where darkness meets the light.' The narrator begs an apostate to return to the club with its 'pieces for Jesus,' sounding half like a forlorn lover, half like a cult honey trap with sweet harmonies and a hint of Salvation army brass.

It is a hard song to follow. Thank heavens for the jokes among the relentless military metaphors and unlikely rhymes in Code Name Isobel, which would otherwise, even with its Beach Boys chord changes, be a long seven minutes.

David Bowie is referenced in Mission To Mars, although it is hard to imagine Major Tom asking Ground Control: "What should I be taking? My friend Kevin has a tent."

In this oversharing world (wait until I start describing my blisters and groin strains) it is a rare treat to hear a songwriter sing in character. Better still is to hear songs full of humour and self-awareness that aren't 'comedy songs'.

I look forward to hearing more. He's from Stockton, so maybe I'll get to see him one day.

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