Monday, November 06, 2006

Songs To Learn And Sing #6

Next into place on our qualititive shuffle function, an extensive effort for one pulled from the memory store of Doug from Talent In A Previous Life:

My Life Story - 12 Reasons Why I Love Her

Of course, the whole problem with choosing one song that we reckon everyone should hear is actually choosing that one song. There’s so many possibilities in the world of fantastic tunes that it’s almost impossible to narrow down the selection to just one. Should we pick an all time classic that everyone knows and loves, such as Girls Aloud’s Biology, or ELO’s Mr Blue Sky? Should we go for a lost slice of genius that never quite made the impact it should have, like Catch’s Bingo or The Faders’ Jump? What about a cover version that shows the original in a new light? Surely China Drum’s Wuthering Heights or Buffalo Tom’s Going Underground would have to get a look in? And then there’s songs which are of such obvious quality that only an imbecile would turn down the chance to rave about them: Ooberman’s Shorley Wall, 4Hero’s Les Fleur or Helen Love’s Does Your Heart Go Boom. Hell, an argument could even be made for covering Chico’s It’s Chico Time, if only so that everyone could have a demonstration of exactly how not to do it. We’ve ummed and awed a lot over this, even as we write this introductory paragraph, but eventually we’ve decided that tonight, Matthew, the song we’re going to convince you is one of the greatest ever written is My Life Story’s 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, partly because it’s incredibly ace, partly because they’re a band who will always hold a special place in our hearts, partly because the field of orchestral pop is much neglected these days, but mainly because it allows us to hang our over-excitable ravings on a mildly interesting structural device. These things matter. Anyway, join us as we proudly present 12 Reasons Why We Love 12 Reasons Why I Love Her. OK, it’s not that interesting a structural device, come to think of it.

  1. It’s a list song, and list songs as we all know are ace. Apart from Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire, which still inspires effigies of him to be burnt atop great flaming pyres every bonfire night. And pretty much every night of the year, come to think of it. Well it does in our house, anyway.
  2. There’s always something endearing about a man whose ambition far outstretches the reality of the situation. There are few who would consider the idea of taking a twelve piece band, including a string quartet and three piece horn section, on jaunts around some of the country’s less salubrious toilet venues, but Jake Shillingford, a man for whom the phrase 'touring logisitics' meant much the same as 'fringy beep flower hat', would do so on a regular basis, even if the less that adequate size of the stage meant that the pianist was at a very real risk of losing an eye if the violinist positioned his bow at a slightly wrong angle and half the band were still trying to get off the stage when the rest of them came back on for the encore.
  3. It proves, as should be obvious to anyone who’s ever had the misfortune of sitting through a compilation released solely to cash in on the Valentine’s Day market, that love songs should never be dull, leaden embarrassing soppy schmaltz fests. They should, like this, be bold and brassy, full of excitement and enthusiasm, lust and possibilities, glitter and glamour and the simple sheer euphoria of the endorphin rush caused whenever they step in the room. And besides, everyone, even the dead ghost of Mary Whitehouse, knows that sex and violins go exceptionally well together.
  4. And the glamour! This is the sound of eyeliner and body glitter, the sound of evening dresses being torn asunder in the back of a limousine, the sound of raw energy surging out in a rush of blood to the head, wherever that head may be located. Just listen to way the intro soars into action, the way Jake yelps his lyrics, in sharp contrast to the carefully enunciated posh female counting his reasons, and the way it ends with an excitable flourish and try denying that this is something very special indeed.
  5. The random, but yet oh so perfectly right reasons that Jake chooses to celebrate his love: the way she puts her fingers in her mouth, the smell of sweet mangolias in her hair, that she prefers the night to day. It is, as he himself admits lyrically, a random, off the cuff list of what it is about her that stirs his emotions. It may just be a shopping list of love, but it’s hardly likely to find you searching for the receipt in the hope of getting a refund.
  6. Now defunct indie mag Select gave My Life Story’s Golden Mile album a less than enthusiastic review, hailing it as "the worst album ever made" and rating it not with the more traditional stars system, instead awarding it a small picture of a dog turd instead. Mentioning this, you may be thinking, is not exactly doing our bid to have this track revered as the masterpiece it undoubtedly is much favours, but you need to bear in mind that Select’s judgement was such that they felt that a really good way of increasing its readership was to lose its sense of humour overnight and have Coldplay on the cover every other month in what we can only assume was a doomed attempt to become a Q for people who were too embarrassed to actually buy Q every month. It is safe, therefore, to say that they really didn’t have a clue what they were talking about.
  7. The use of orchestration is much maligned in the world of music. Well, pop music, anyway, it pretty much comes as a given in the world of classical. It’s got this reputation on the not entirely unreasonable grounds that it’s a lazy cop out for any halfwit indie band who wants to try and force a bit of emotion onto their leaden and unwieldy cliché ridden attempts at music, but for My Life Story this was never the case. Jake was always looking at the big picture and for him the strings, trumpets and harpsichords weren’t just there in addition to the music, they were the music. This song is unimaginable if done by a standard guitar, bass and drum set-up. Mind you, it’s barely imaginable to have existed in any other place than the fevered imagination of Jake’s head at all. Few bands have ever made a sound anything like this and, given the complete failure of the population at large to grasp them to their hearts, few bands probably ever will. In other words, you’re all bastards. Grr, etc.
  8. It’s also hugely educational. As long as the only gap in your education is an inability to count up to twelve, that is. It’s unlikely to help you out if the holes in your knowledge are in the fields of stem cell research or, indeed, the ability to count to any number higher than twelve.
  9. As these things are, despite what some foolish people may tell you, important, it’s worth pointing out that the band weren’t exactly ugly. Although given the amount of them in the band, the odds on you not finding one of them attractive were rather slim, even if the odds of them having enough screen time in their videos for you to decide on this fact were.
  10. And, just to make the whole thing even more perfect, there’s also an extended version of the track which appeared as a b-side - this was before they’d taken to putting a version of Emerald Green on every single, another reason to love the band - to the Sparkle single, called 17 Reasons Why, offering five more reasons why he loves her. How fantastic!
  11. Come to think of it, perhaps attempting to do twelve reasons on why the song is ace might have been just a tad overambitious.
  12. Yes. Yes it was.


Chris Brown said...

It's not a bad song, but I always felt a bit short-changed by the fact that there are only 11 reasons in the song.

Simon said...

That's true. Or maybe Shillingford sees a distinction between saying and crying something.

I wonder if our Finals Fantasy compadre Matt has any strong feelings on this selection one way or the other.

Matt said...


Lord Bargain said...

I have an extended version of this song with 17 bloody reasons on...

great record, though.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love the 17 reasons. But then I loved the 12 reasons back in the day too.

Fucking Marvellous Tune!

Anonymous said...

Anyone got the lyrics?

look said...

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