Monday, January 31, 2022

I could go on for hours

Happy 40th birthday to The Jam's "Town Called Malice," one of the band's best and one of the outstanding singles of the 1980s. As late-Jam tracks go, the sonic marriage here of Motown/R&B danceability and post-punk, Thatcher-embroiled U.K. bitterness is a Platonic Ideal. 

Weller's at his peak here as a lyricist, too, these two passages ranking among his greatest, incisive evocative, and lyrical:

Rows and rows of disused milk floats stand dying in the dairy yard
And a hundred lonely housewives clutch empty milk bottles to their hearts
Hanging out their old love letters on the line to dry
It's enough to make you stop believing when tears come fast and furious


The ghost of a steam train echoes down my track
It's at the moment bound for nowhere, just going 'round and 'round
Playground kids and creaking swings, lost laughter in the breeze
I could go on for hours and I probably will
But I'd sooner put some joy back in this town called malice
Images of abandoned milk trucks and of women clutching empty bottles, the sounds of swing sets and of kids' laughter on the breeze had as profound an effect on my spirit and imagination as anything I read in my literature classes. And you could dance to it. "Town Called Malice" was the Jam's final stupendous song, and an indelible marker of my teen years' euphoric tumble into the joys of rock and roll. Thanks again, mates.

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