I’ll Be Down When You’re Down I’ll Be Up When You’re Up

Both Tim Burgess and Jez at A History Of Dubious Taste noted that North Country Boy by The Charlatans was 21 years old yesterday. North Country Boy is a wonderful guitar record, both thrilling and poignant. The Charlatans were on a roll in 1997, having come through the post-Madchester slump to find that the world was suddenly in tune with them. Another 1997 single, one that easily the equal of NCB, is How High. Opening with a burst of distorted guitar, a clever switch from mono to  stereo and then a rush of words from Tim. The song shoots by, led by Mark’s guitar, without a proper chorus. The words ‘How high’ open the verses and the song surfaces for a bridge part that changes twice-

‘Love I’m fixing holes
The ones you break up
Come in from your drive
And the hand that rocks you
Cuts you up like
Lyrics of your life’


‘Hang on to your hopes my darlin’
Don’t let it slip away
And the hand who holds you
Keeps you warm
And helps you live today’

…before dive bombing back into the torrent again. I’m sure Tim said that lyrically he was inspired by Wu Tang at the time but the main influence here has always seemed to be mid-60s Bob Dylan, the amphetamine rush of phrases and lines pulled from wherever/the ether- he even chucks in a Dylan reference- ‘pledging my time til the day I die’. There’s also the line that finishes the first verse which has always resonated with me- ‘like lyrics of your life’. I don’t think Tim Burgess is acknowledged as a lyricist but around this time he was very good at nailing a feeling.

How High

The single came with a song that didn’t make the Tellin’ Stories album, one of those songs that only the fans know about, called Title Fight- looped drums, multiple guitars and again a pile up of words. Well worth the £1.99 it cost on either vinyl or cd.

Title Fight

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