In honour of the Stone Roses reunion, I thought I’d post a poem I wrote more than a decade ago about my own experiences over a decade before that in the early 1990s, when bands like the Roses, the Charlatans, The Farm and the Happy Mondays were popular with a certain crowd of university students in Australia and elsewhere (for proof of this, check out this screenshot from FB, where I recently asked friends to name-check UK indie bands from the 1990s, with extended results, although I should mention the criminal omission of Flowered Up).

I’ll admit to being a big Stone Roses fan. I can actually still remember where I was when I heard ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ for the first time, had the above poster on my wall and stared at it fanatically for hours on end, and once I even ventured out to a Manchester-themed club night, called ‘Madchester’ in Sydney in the early 1990s. The Madchester ‘baggy’ sound could loosely be identified as being connected with the beginnings of rave culture in the UK, as well (perhaps more contentiously) as the hideous phenomenon that was the ‘indie-dance crossover’, an act on the part of some bands which was to seal their brief fate (hello Soup Dragons).

I don’t really regard the Roses as being indie-dance crossover or rave at all, unless one counts ‘Fools Gold’; I was always into the more stoned backwards-sounding tracks anyway, and only wished they’d continued the trend of ‘Something’s Burning’ (the b-side to their faux-dance single ‘One Love’) on ‘The Second Coming’ instead of producing the cocaine-fuelled heavy rock with noodlings embarrassment album that they did.

Anyway, the following poem is a summary of my experiences at Madchester and beyond, and I don’t really have much more to add to it, except to say that I’ve also included an excruciating audio version of the poem recorded live at Babble (Melbourne) in 2002. Feeling very old today.


in a backroom practising the madchester stomp
playing basketball as the ice machines exploded
hiding cases of beer in our flares & whigging out
to the mondays dosed on smiley faces & white t's

inhaling our bandannas we "wrote for luck" (12")
staring right back at me ringo ian bought bevvies
we all got stoned & shaun set the beats rocking
while some guy called gerald played the sitar

& we all got stoned then hid cases of beer
in our flares man I'm growing my hair long!
you can't even see my forehead now or my ears
to a man we mooched out for lemonades

in the pool room someone held a cigarette we
huddled around it someone bought a mondays
12" & we thought he was stoned I sat on his radio
we heard the new valentines ep stashed bevvies

in our haircuts & how cool were slowdive man!
we gazed at our shoes for so long I developed arthritis
of the guitar i'd never even heard of ecstacy then I
got busted for shoplifting on lsd some obnoxious toss

said I should buy a cd player (in a record shop) still I
bought the new mondays ep yeah I play it sometimes
even give the roses a spin every comedown or two
but I'll never go back to freaking madchester again.

Pop lyrics: do they really matter?

Here’s an interesting post by Laurie Duggan on the wall of sound, where he makes the point that the vocal track on My Bloody Valentine’s song ‘Come In Alone’ works because of the wall of sound surrounding it. While I think this is true, a closer inspection of the lyrics to these kinds of songs reveals (as if we didn’t know it already) that when it comes to pop and rock music, it’s not what you say but how you go about saying it that matters.

Continue reading “Pop lyrics: do they really matter?”