Friday, 25 June 2010

96. 10 Mathematical Songs

Mathematics - Mos Def
The Magic Number - De La Soul
The Calculation - Regina Spektor
Black Math - The White Stripes
Mathletics - Foals
Music is Math - Boards of Canada
Mathematics - Cherry Ghost
One Plus One is One - Badly Drawn Boy
I Believe in Symmetry - Bright Eyes
When I Argue I See Shapes - Idlewild

To begin with, a 1965 quote from Bob Dylan
"Well, you know my songs are all mathematical songs. You know what that means so I'm not going to have to go into that specifically here. It happens to be a protest song ... and it borders on the mathematical ... It's sort of a North Mexican thing, uh, very protesty. Very very protesty. And, uh, one of the protestiest things I ever protested against in my protest years."

So many wonderful things in that, but the main thing is that there are plenty of mathematical songs. All songs are mathematical, some more obviously so than others.
I suppose mathematical can often mean formulaic and formulaic is seen as a bad thing, but it depends what the formula is - The Motown Formula was just fine, the Westlife Formula less so.

I have a funny, unfulfilled relationship with Mathematics. As people know, i'm pretty obsessed with numbers and statistics and was pretty capable with the basics of mathematics when I was younger, but I let it go before I believe it got interesting and turned into the real thing.
I tend to feel those that really pursue their mathematics are much closer to knowing what's really going on than the rest of us, so I rather regret that I began to find it boring and unworthwhile. I was wrong.
And once you let it go, it's one of those things you definitely won't get back. Even if I wanted to reengage with something I did well when i was younger, if it was Latin, French, History say, that would be possible to some extent, with Maths that opportunity has gone for ever. We get worse and worse at Maths the older we get, and, for me, it's not just a case of not remembering trigonometry and calculus, it's the basic stuff which you find yourself struggling with, which is incredibly annoying.
There are times now where I, like many people, find myself haunted by numbers and puzzles. I suspect a lot of people have this worse than me.
Furthermore, in attempting to establish truths about life, sport, culture, politics, the worth of anything, I do think there are algorithms that exist that reveal everything, and i feel like my capacity for numbers ought to put me, in a good position here, but these days my maths feels imprecise and speculative, to the extent to which I can't really prove a lot of things I know to be true. The other side to this is that people who aren't numerical often dismiss the use of statistics in argument (lies, lies, statistics etc - hate that shit). Dare I say one of the areas where this is enormously vexing is sports punditry, where so few experts who get paid for their opinions have any grasp on even the basic numbers. A recent example of this was Alan Shearer talking about Jon-Dahl Tomasson after he'd missed a couple of first-half chances. Shearer said "Jon was with me at Newcastle and he wasn't prolific then and you can tell from these missed chances he's not a prolific type of striker" Ok, Al, have you checked his record? 52 goals in 112 international games. Prolific. This man gets paid to talk about this stuff, it's unacceptable.
And, less sportily, maths and people not understanding numbers properly impacts on loads of things, like my continuing blood-thinning treatment requires an INR (thinness) level kept between 2 and 3 (with 1 as the norm) but it varies so needs to be checked and dosage changed from time to time, and whenever my dosage needs to be changed, they always get it wrong, obviously wrong, so my blood often sinks below the level it should be, which results in unneccessarily regular checks, and if i was just left to look after my own dosage (which really i suppose i should do, and sometimes do, but whatever), i'd keep it just right. It's not medicine, its maths. Everywhere.
But the thing is some people just aren't numerical and have intelligence which lies in other areas. And there's only so much you can do about that. Of all the things I was terrible at teaching when I was terrible at teaching, I was most terrible at teaching Maths - I had no clue how to even explain how and why 2 + 2 = 4 to children who couldn't simply grasp that that was true. It was utterly tortuous, both for me and, no doubt, for my intended victims.

I wish I could have made this more of a mathematical song. It does start off like that. Anyway, there's not much in it which hasn't been dealt with above.

THE TRIANGLE GAME
I sang my sums when I was younger for golden stars and cold Mars Bars
built unending towers of number with bold mastery of old dark arts.
Then I played a game of trains which never reached their destinations -
the game plagued deep sleepless migraines with bleak answer-free calculations.

Every week i'd build a maze and set my sore self at its centre
then lose the plans within two days until no human soul would enter.
I'm building simple shapes and trainlines but never can complete the angle,
collecting wires to connect cables impossible to ever untangle.

Monday, 21 June 2010

95. 10 Songs about Glamour

Faded Glamour - Animals That Swim
Vogue - Madonna
The Model - Kraftwerk
Glamour Girl - Chicks on Speed
Fashion - David Bowie
She's In Fashion - Suede
Glamorous Indie Rock'n'Roll - The Killers
Glamorous - Fergie
Modern Girls and Old Fashion Men - The Strokes and Regina Spektor
I'm Too Sexy - Right Said Fred

An uneven group of songs ... but how about I'm Too Sexy - funnily enough it's very evocative for me - it reminds me of a fun holiday in the summer of 1991. It really is the most ridiculous song ever. In this week's Guardian Magazine, Richard Fairbrass went on a blind date with Peter Tatchell. You couldn't make it up.
The song which this post is all about is Faded Glamour by Animals That Swim, one of my favourites. It's 90s indie, it's the kind of music everyone likes, and if you haven't heard it yet, do so now, you'll like it.
Apart from that, what can I say about glamour? If you know me, ponder for a moment how far down the list of adjectives to accurately describe me "glamorous" would come. Somewhere just behind "immortal" and "Asian" basically.
I don't really have much time for glamour and fashion, that's as true now as ever, but I do like the idea of faded glamour (a stupid art-school idea) and I am sometimes impressed when people have really made an effort and actually look like they're from films.
But is glamour in itself seductive, surely it's just the beauty contained within glamour, which would be there anyway ... no, i think I'm wrong as I'm writing this, I can perfectly see how glamour is seductive, though not really to me, except in the idea of creating a funny pastiche of glamour. Anyway, I'm rambling. I'm on safer ground when talking about sport.

[NB I note, a couple of years after writing this post, that it's one that people enter the blog with. If this is is your first look here, feel free to look at other stuff in the blog, general musings at popular music, and some of it less gloomy and self-important! Thanks]

So, I wrote this somewhat based on the song Faded Glamour, and I think it's pretty funny, though I confess at the moment i'm finding pretty much everything I say and think funny, which is disturbing.

GLAMOUR AND WARMTH

I was never king of any city that you've heard of,
it was autumn when i realised that I hadn't packed the suncream.
I'm as ready as I can to be a modern alcoholic,
if I let you see my veins you'll know the future's not worth writing

All that I am missing is glamour
and a way out
All I feel is warmth when I know
how this might play out.


I wish I could play music for a different class of city boy
but nothing is forever, I see cigarettes are twice the price
I wish i could be king for a different class of city folk,
you said I was a prophet but, really, there's enough of those

All I've got to offer you is confirmation of your taste,
That nice chap in the flatcap was in a film a few years back.
No one knows the contests I am losing every second -
I put stickers on their backs and yet they go home unassaulted.

It was autumn that I realised that I'd skipped the golden summers
in a vain attempt to find at least 15 songs 'bout Leonard Cohen.
Children of the city can go one or two of three ways,
I'm so sick of people saying I've a good life and it suits me.

I got lost on Longacre with a bottle of red I borrowed
from a book about Bob Dylan. I was twenty - far too early
to be a modern alcoholic, now I think I'm getting closer.
I'm still basking in that warmth and it keeps my bloodlines flowing.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

94. 10 Songs about Football

Ok, so I decided to do this one anyway, for reasons I'll explain below. These weren't to be football songs, but proper songs by proper bands on a football theme. They're not brilliant, but they're a decent bunch. James Corden is not here.

Leeds United - Luke Haines
Belfast Boy - Don Fardon
God's Footballer - Billy Bragg
Theme From Sparta FC 2 - The Fall
Flowers and Football Tops - Glasvegas
The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues - The Proclaimers
Don't Come Home Too Soon - Del Amitri
All I Want for Christmas is a Dukla Prague Away Kit - Half Man Half Biscuit
Munich Air Disaster 1958 - Morrissey
My Life in England - Dexys Midnight Runners

I said they're a decent bunch - the Morrissey song is fucking appalling . For a supposedly great lyricist, he has written some of the worst lyrics I've ever heard. Anyway, I suppose the Del Amitri song is, in a way, an actual football song, though it doesn't sound like one. Not all actual football songs are awful, and, of course, many football chants are magnificent. I have a huge soft spot for Chas and Dave's series of Tottenham songs as well, obviously. I think they were my favourite songs as I was growing up.
Anyway, I think it only right to do a list about football at this time - what is more important than football right now? I'm a little worried about football, though. I wonder if it'll go the way of rugby. Rugby very quickly fucked itself up after professionalism because the players got too big and too fit for the pitch, and the hits are too hard, and they keep on changing the rules to try to sort things out but end up making it worse, and i think it's in a fairly parlous state as a spectacle. Football, a much purer and less physical game, has survived very well many things, but will it survive Sepp Blatter? International football is rarely a patch on club football in anything except passion, spectators etc. The actual football at the World Cup is light years behind Champions League, i think ...
But today was a good day. Chile had some lush players. However, how many lush players aren't at the World Cup? As you'll see below, one central conceit occupied my thoughts at great length (and, bearing in mind the thread running through this whole blog, how could I resist it), as it has occupied many people's thoughts for many years, but, besides that particular issue, I think there's a bit of an absence of superstars at this cup - and certainly no superstars have come up trumps yet. It's pleasingly hard to have an idea how it's all going to pan out at this stage - I'm not going to make myself a fool by predicting anything. It would be a different matter if this central conceit had come into being. The central conceit is given away by the title.

IF RYAN GIGGS HAD PLAYED FOR ENGLAND
If there's anyone who hasn't worked out yet
how we reached the state we're in,
Stare hard at the brightest star and
find the enemy within -

If Ryan Giggs had played for England
as he would, had it been thought through,
O, white light, o bold red cross, then
things would have gone just as they ought to.

If Ryan Giggs had played for England,
David Beckham would be at Preston
winding down a solid career
with meagre laurels left to rest on.

If Ryan Giggs had played for England
as no heritage should have served to inhibit
France and Spain would still long for fulfilment,
Brazil would be a mere museum exhibit.

If Ryan Giggs had played for England
Cricket'd be dead as Latin and Greek,
Golf and tennis would be parlour pastimes,
Rugby'd long have gone up the creek.

If Ryan Giggs had played for England
I'd have shamefully hidden my Celtic connection
and prayed to John Bull and Henry V
to keep me under St George's protection.

If Ryan Giggs had played for England
I'd have discarded higher education
to sell flags and drugs on Ealing Common
to follow Ryan Giggs from nation to nation.

If Ryan Giggs had played for England
the Anglican Church would be packing them in
with thankful agnostics who bet it all
on Giggs and Shearer whacking them in.

If Ryan Giggs had played for England
the Worldwide Web would never have caught.
We'd all be crowded round little TVs
watching Ryan Giggs on Question of Sport.

If Ryan Giggs had played for England
Charles and Diana would still be married.
Prince and Princess of Western England
would be the titles that they carried

If Ryan Giggs had played for England
Tony Blair would still be in Sedgefield,
one failed coup then, life reexamined,
a background whinger from the leftfield.

If Ryan Giggs had played for England
all past misdemeanours wouldn't have mattered.
Bin Laden would be sharing prawn sandwiches
with Saddam Hussein in their box at Old Trafford.

If Ryan Giggs had played for England
America would have rejoined the Empire,
Pluto would still be a proper planet,
Frodo would never have left the Shire.

If Ryan Giggs had played for England -
a notion of which i've had dreams a plenty -
If Ryan Giggs had played for England
he'd have probably burnt himself out by twenty.

Monday, 7 June 2010

93. 10 Songs about Manliness

When A Man Cries - The Divine Comedy
You Masculine You - Lambchop
No Scrubs - TLC
Whatta Man - Salt'n'Pepa and En Vogue
A Man Needs To Be Told - The Charlatans
Manhood - Dexys Midnight Runners
Wolf Among Wolves - Bonnie Prince Billie
Am I Just A Man? - Steve Mason
How Men Are - Aztec Camera
It's A Man's Man's Man's World - James Brown

Ha! Good one. I like this one. And there were loads more, like Bob Dylan The Man In Me The Crib's Man Needs, Mannish Boy. And Westlife. It makes me think of that speech in The Big Lebowski by the big Lebowski - "Do my tears surprise you? Strong men also cry, Mr Lebowski. Strong men also cry." For what is a man? What is the definition of manliness? Widely accepted as the most manly thing of all time is Zinedine Zidane's headbutt of Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup Final. Zinedine Zidane is undoubtedly no scrub. Although I myself am a weak-ass emasculated gimp, and that description applies to all my friends too, I'm lucky enough to have played a bit of football and also in my job come face to face regularly with roomfuls of baying city boys, so worry not, real men still exist, testosterone is still going strong. Damn straight.
These songs are actually mainly pretty good - the Dexys one is extraordinary, it's from only a few years ago, for their reunion greatest hits. The Lambchop song is a real beauty, i think i'm coming to love that band more and more as i get older, it's definitely music for older people, older men indeed (if i were to extend this post into a lengthy chat, i would talk about the kind of music taste of a certain kind of man like me, and how even the taste of women with good taste in music is subtly different, but i won't do that). Now, to be fair, i also did a list of 10 Songs about Womanliness, or indeed Feminity or whatever, so 2 for the price of one you lucky people, though only one poem, if that. Anyway, those songs are

Independent Women Pt 1 - Destiny's Child
Stand By Your Man - Candi Staton
Three Times A Lady - The Commodores
For Today I Am A Boy - Antony and the Johnsons
All Woman - Lisa Stansfield
Is A Woman - Lambchop
Just Like A Woman - Bob Dylan
What A Girl Wants - Christina Aguilera
Woman Like A Man - Damien Rice
She's Always A Woman - Billy Joel

An odd bunch, some beauties, some shockers, and mainly by men. I should really have included 9 to 5 and I Will Survive. I've heard it said the Bob Dylan song and the Billy Joel have a touch of misogyny to them, but, really, they don't. They're misogynistic in the way Born in the USA is triumphalist i.e. not at all. I confess that John Lewis ad even I found somewhat touching, but you know, i spent my 8th birthday being dragged around John Lewis, Brent Cross by my mum, so i guess I'm the target audience.
And, look, Lisa Stansfield! Amazing. No relation to Marlo Stanfield ...
Anyway, back to men and manliness ... Who else is manly?
Miguel Cotto
Howard Webb
John Prescott
Phil Brown
Idris Elba
All darts players ...
I think that's about it, really. I suppose the idea of Gerard Butler is that he's manly, but goddamn if that's manly in 2010 we're all doomed ...

He remembers all the bad days,
eerie sad smiles, how their lifestyles
seemed ill-suited, and he felt like

Sonny Liston, he'll end useless
sad and neutered, using squalor
as a fortress. Then he feels worse,

so he acts just like Dwain Chambers,
played his power wrong, lost all caution,
flexed those muscles till they tore.

This is progress; these are lifestyles
more in keeping; these are light lies
best passed over, light and useless.

Men of honour, hot and scornful
know a failure when they see one,
roll their eyes at his appeasement

and he looks like Laurence Olivier
as Othello, strange and shameful,
stained and hollow, thieved and seething.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

92. 10 Songs about Parklife

Itchycoo Park - The Small Faces
Round Are Way - Oasis
Old Friends/Bookends - Simon and Garfunkel
Down At The Reservoir - The Bluetones
No Woman, No Cry - Bob Marley
Another Sunny Day - Belle and Sebastian
Heavy Metal Drummer - Wilco
Stealing Beauty - Spearmint
Summertime - Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince
Parklife - Blur

More than parks, I was going for songs about chilling out and relaxing in the summer, often with a nostalgic "aah, those were the best days" feel to them. The list actually started from trying to put together a list of 10 songs about football which weren't per se football songs, like Round Are Way, one of those great Oasis b-sides. I also realised this was a very Britpoppy song subject, i left off Alright and Staying Out For the Summer and things like that. Funnily enough, I was chatting to someone last night who was trying to put together his own definitive Britpop compilation and, for him, Parklife was the definitive Britpop song, which i suppose it was, though I never liked the song itself at all.
Who doesn't have nostalgia for days spent hanging out in parks? I look with envy at the kids with cans of cider hanging out on the swings. I didn't do enough of that, still don't. These days I'm surrounded more by commons than parks, and I spend plenty of time on them, but mainly running, rather than basking. Whichever I'm doing, I tend to wish I was doing the other. I've said this before, I'm sure, but London's huge array of greenness is, for me, its greatest feature. Everywhere you go, there is something magnificent in its own way. I do not believe another city tops it, I really don't.
I was up at the top of Centrepoint last week (hardly the Sears Tower, but still a great view) and trees, trees, a sea of trees was all you could see. I'm almost inclined to list London's 10 Best Green Bits cos, you know that's the kind of guy i am, obviously, but ... o sod it, i will. These are my favourites - personal associations, of course, come to the fore, but I'll be reasonably objective

Battersea Park
Hyde Park
Richmond Park
Clapham Common
Regent's Park
Victoria Park
Gunnersbury Park
Holland Park
Lammas Park
Clissold Park

Yay, and there are so many more, good lord, Kew Gardens. Hampstead Heath, Wandsworth Common. Green Park, Boston Manor Park - dammit, I love parks. What is not to love?

LAMMAS DAY

Raise your hands for Lammas, David, Demon Days are here again,
Let's go down to Lammas Park - the sun will never disappear.
You and me and everyone else and Happy Shopper Kola Kubes,
Raised by wolves in Lammas Park, we're right back where we belong.
Find the secret stash of conkers hidden by the tennis courts.
No one really enjoyed conkers - maybe it's better when you're drunk.
Someone bought these cans of Pimms -they'll be done in half an hour.

But I'm tired of all the drinking
I've got to keep on running
someone get me fresh legs
light and made to order
by some unexplained magic
it seems a day for smoking
but there's never one of those,
there's never one of those

The season smells of suncream
the devil's in the detail
get the stumps and bat out
the kids are getting restless
Let's put them in their hutches
you never learn from mercy
I'll be Curtley Ambrose
it's not too big a stretch

I wonder if I'll get away with graffiti on the picnic benches.
After all, you only live once; tomorrow belongs to the Queen Mother.
Maybe just one gin and tonic - heavy legs can't quite face running.
Lights are out in Lammas Park, look! there goes another year.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

91. 10 Anti-Tory Songs

Tramp The Dirt Down - Elvis Costello
Stand Down Margaret - The Beat
The Lodgers - The Style Council
Thatcher Fucked the Kids - Frank Turner
Waiting for the Great Leap Forward - Billy Bragg
Maggie's Farm - The Specials
Margaret on the Guillotine - Morrissey
Blue-Skinned Beast - Madness
The Grocer's Daughter - TV Personalities
The Day That Thatcher Died - Hefner

Well, it's almost topical. As yet, I haven't heard any anti-coalition songs.
As you can see, most of them are more specifically anti-Thatcher than anti-Tory, and there seems to be a shared idea of revelling in the notion of her death. Also, nearly all these songs are from the 80s - the lack of anti-Tory songs for the last 15 years or so is understandable, and one hopes will soon be redressed.
The Specials, incidentally, adopted Dylan's Maggie's Farm, and the best song here is the Elvis Costello one
Thatcher is still the British left's main bogeyman, and we grew up hearing about her that she "destroyed the unions", "believed there was no such thing as society", "destroyed the north", "ripped apart communities" etc and these were obviously bad things. If, like many people, you had direct experience of your world being inexorably changed by Thatcher's policies, it's easier to make this hatred concrete, but as a public school west london leftie like myself, who was 12 when Thatcher resigned (i do still remember the moment i heard, incidentally, walking down the corridor past the common room, being told by a boy called Max), you can trot out the anti-Thatcher cliches, but i think you can easily end up looking exposed and silly.
My political awakening came via things like the pages of the mid-90s NME, where loads of leftie journalists still traded in fiercely honed anti-Thatcher rhetoric, and shows like Our Friends In The North, but the anger and righteous fury it gave me was vicarious, and looking back, rather phoney, albeit well-intentioned and grounded in the correct instincts.
I've read books about Thatcher and tried to get a balanced picture as well as trying to find fuel for fury, but what I'm left with is still a very unclear picture, almost a ghostly figure at the centre, which surely is the last thing one should ever think about Thatcher, but there we go.
I could never vote Tory, never will, but i don't necessarily see that as something to be proud of, or something that reflects any certainties i have. Nor can i truly say it's "tribal" (I'm not a tribal kind of chap).[I just don't like tories. They're not as nice as lefties. That's just my experience 80 to 90% of the time and always has been. It's simple.] [[Drawn back to this post as I am in April 2013, I abhor this piece of writing, this reduction of my own beliefs and stupidity of these words. Many of the people I love most in the world are a bit, or a lot, right-wing. I suppose it does represent my inherent prejudice, so it's honest, but really. I'm left-wing because I believe in a politics of compassion and fairness and welfare. I am sickened by current Conservative policy, and i'm not sickened by critical reaction to Thatcher on her death, but I think I am sickened by the slightly dim gloating. That's what we're meant to be better than, brethren. I am extremely moved by the song 'Tramp the Dirt Down' and think it is a valid statement, but there is a difference between that 1989 song about realising that you hate someone so much that you can imagine yourself celebrating their death ... and actually celebrating an 87 year old's death. Her death is bad for the left, so should not be celebrated. It is a boon to the right, and has also exposed ugliness in many people of a leftish persuasion. Don't all those folk who always imagined themselves celebrating her death feel a little like Benjamin at the end of The Graduate. Anyway, back to 2010 ...] What ought to be admirable about right-wingery is its honesty, its realism, its ability to do what needs doing in a straight, albeit nasty way. It's not the same kind if idealism that is endlessly corruptible as leftism. And yet we all know that that is the last thing one would actually associate with western conservatives of the last 40 years.
What I do remember also is that Thatcher cried self-pitying tears for herself when she left Dowing Street, and I, along with may others, felt sick, and that Gordon Brown left with warmth and grace, perhaps aware of his fuck-ups and why people wanted him out, but back, now he was out of it, to being a proper human being again.

OK, so bearing all that in mind, I wrote this almost exactly five years ago, as you'll be able to tell from its title. I suppose it has some prescience, though there is a worrying undercurrent to it where i thought i was getting more right-wing and was really troubled by terrorist bombings and my experiences trying to teach in South London, (god, there's even a shadow of Cameron's "broken Britain" in it - horrendous ... incidentally, i think a personal demonisation of Cameron and the Eton clique should be avoided, i don't think Cameron seems per se like a villain and until he acts like one, lambasting him may seem pretty cheap and weak) and thankfully, I haven't gone that way, and i don't think i see Britain pulling itself apart in the precise way i did then, i think the good will pull itself together again and separate from the bad, yes i do. This is Obama's world and Britain will have its Obama - it's not Diane Abbott but i think she's doing rather well at the moment
(by the way, there are some lines in this i really don't understand, i wrote it as stream of consciousness, i thought i'd leave it as it was as it mainly make sense, but the fourth verse, your guess is as good as mine)

A SLIGHTLY RIGHTY REACTION TO THE ELECTION NOBODY CARED ABOUT EXCEPT ME

Bus rides through Camberwell and I know a bit about race -
Car trips to Alnwick and this ain't one England
or Britain or United Kingdom or whatever.
My throat's strained from trying to shout my way out of
all these peculiar worlds, every estranged day.

I get the percentages and I get the picture -
London, this universe unto itself,
Suffocates then uplifts, uproots then cements
every stunted society they tried to disavow
and remind me why we need a strong opposition ...

And in Bamburgh, I wonder if they've a clue
and in St Andrews, I doubt they have a care
about these scarred streets and sickening stories
and I'd spit on your trickle-down effect
and you, you worm, where's your Respect now?

God, i know the numbers and i know the fractions,
I've got them in deep and they won't come out
and the answer's not magic and the chances are small
that there's hope outside value in any restrictions
and sometimes it's hard to make a joke of it all.

And sometimes I feel like I hate diversity
and think the world would be a better place
if everyone was like me, a fair bit like me
and one day I won't be reciting humanist lies
and the dreams of progress will be dust.

So I know the numbers and have seem the map,
the blue, blue map of my selfish future
and no wonder we're in the state we're in
and no wonder this country has close to shattered,
and who'd put it back together again?

It's basically a mad rant, i think using 'and' quite so much recreates the feeling of someone a bit worse for wear down the pub, just having more and more thoughts popping into his head - "and another thing" "and another thing" "and also"

Thursday, 3 June 2010

90. 10 Drinking Songs

Streams of Whiskey - The Pogues
Lilac Wine - Jeff Buckley
Hymn to the Alcohol - Hefner
Drank Like A River - Whiskeytown
Crocodile Shoes - Jimmy Nail
Woozy With Cider - James Yorkston
Tequila - Terrorvision
There's No Drinking After You're Dead - Paul Weller
Fill Her Up - Gene
The Parting Glass - The Clancy Brothers

This was always going to be a topic, it's kind of amazing it's taken me this long to get round to it. There really are plenty of drinking songs. I've done well to include Jimmy Nail too. Somehow this isn't a great list of songs, but they are all suitable to the topic.
Having said all that, perhaps I took so long to do an entry about drinking because really i have nothing to say about it. People who talk about drinking are a first class bore, and people who don't talk about their drinking are likely to be a worry ...
There's an interview with Christopher Hitchens in The Guardian recently where the interviewer rather takes him to pieces and says he's nothing but a classic pub bore and alcoholic, who orders another drink by saying "Put a Xerox in that". Cool.
My favourite drinks, in case you were wondering, are

Hooper's Hooch
Blue WKD
Liebraumilsch
Gin and Lucozade
Smirnoff Ice
Egg Nog
Turbo Shandy
Hofmeister
South Comfort and Lemonade
Rum Chai

Not actually, tho i'm sure, besides eggnog, i haven't always shown them all such disdain. Just typing the words rum chai made me feel a bit queasy.
But, hark, i wrote a drinking song one day ...

I was born one spring in a bone dry county,
I was trying to escape before I could walk.
My only role model was Norm from Cheers
I made for Boston, got as far as New York.
I learnt enough to last a lifetime
and burnt bridges in a thousand bars.
A thousand more bars back in the country
gave welcome to lucky wandering stars.

I lost my heart to god know's what
on at the least three nights a weekend
and two out of three set the priest on me
to tell me how I was set for a bleak end
He'd lost good friends to what I'd got
before there was any thought of retrieving.
Good father, please have the decency
to pray for your friends while you are leaving.

I didn't belong in Nashville and I
didn't last all that long in Jonestown
My money ran out halfway to Tulsa
but i steered a path back to my hometown.
My daddy said I was just back for money
but my mother cried and helped me to deny it.
I left a week later with pockets laden
though I hadn't believed for a second he'd buy it.

It's amazing how quickly something so laden
can suddenly seem so pathetically shrunk.
The phrase that I lived by had less and less meaning
"It's always the drinking, it's never the drunk".
Like it was yesterday, homewards again,
dry as I's born, on that late spring day.
My mother would only say one thing to me
"It's gotten so green since you went away."

And now for the first time, I longed to remain
in the driest county in all of the states
but the message was clear to my sobered brain.
What once wouldn't let go of me now had no place.
I've always kept moving but never before
has my heart been so heavy at time of my going,
no choice for me but to find the next bar
where work can be found and where whisky is flowing.