Johnny Don’t Point That Gun At Me

Johnny also showed his face in New Order’s epic 1987 song 1963. Having recorded one of their highest high points in True Faith, a song destined to put them into the charts, New Order put 1963 on the b-side in what must be one of the strongest singles of the 1980s. And so 1963 got a bit overlooked. It was released in its own right in 1995 and got a video too (with Jane Horrocks in it). As a purist I don’t quite count that release as a ‘proper’ New Order single. Although I like Jane Horrocks and the video.

In the song Bernard’s lyrics start out ‘It was January, 1963,when Johnny came home, with a gift for me’. Events take a turn for the worse. Soon enough Johnny changes from being ‘so very kind, so very nice’. He comes home with another wife and eventually Bernard sings’Johnny, don’t point that gun at me’ and a shooting occurs. Producer Stephen Hague has called the song ‘the only song about domestic violence you can dance too’. Bernard has suggested that the song is, like yesterday’s post, about John F Kennedy. Accordingly, in the song JFK arranges for a hitman to kill Jackie so that he can ‘do one with M. Monroe’. Lee Harvey Oswald shoots JFK by mistake, leading to Jack Ruby bumping off Oswald for doing such a bad job and causing Marilyn to commit suicide. Barney has his chronology askew here- Marilyn actually died a year earlier and JFK was shot in November ’63 not January. But then I’ve never been sure Bernard was being entirely reliable in this explanation of the song.

The 1995 version of 1963 was re-worked by Arthur Baker (and isn’t nearly as good as the magnificent 1987 version but I don’t have the original on the hard drive at the moment so you’ll have to put up with it).

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And Now Harry’s Walked Away With Johnny’s Wife

Yesterday’s Goodbye Johnny post started me thinking about the appearance of Johnny in songs. He crops up quite often- it’s a good lyrical name, sounds youthful and rebellious (see Marlon Brando in The Wild One- ‘What ya rebelling against Johnny?’ he gets asked. ‘Whaddya got?’ he snarls back), it scans well and sings well.

Johnny is the victim in The Wedding Present’s 1989 masterpiece Kennedy. Harry walks away with his wife. Maybe he’d eaten too much apple pie. I’ve never fully understood the lyrics to this song. The Kennedy in the title is (presumably) John F Kennedy, another Johnny, but the 35th President of the USA didn’t lose his wife to a man called Harry. Confusing.

The guitars on Kennedy are superb, frenetic and trebly and rushing their way through the song. And the breakdown with the bass riff is hairs-standing-up-on-the-back-of-the-neck stuff.

Kennedy

The Return Of Friday Night Is Rockabilly Night 128

I’m stretching the definition of rockabilly beyond reason here but there is a rationale and I couldn’t let the Kennedy connection pass by.

I have a memory of watching something back in 87-88 (ish), probably The Chart Show’s indie section but it could have been something on Channel 4, and it was of a band called The Jack Rubies (named after the man who shot Lee Harvey Oswald, who may or may not have shot JFK). The song had an 80s rockabilly swing with a video containing black and white footage of  Elvis performing outdoors in the 50s, like in the picture above. My memory tells me the song went ‘the King is dead…’

My not very extensive research has turned up The Jack Rubies on Youtube- not particularly rockabilly to be honest, more mid-to-late 80s indie-pop, in a similar vein to The Mighty Lemon Drops, that sort of thing. From Stoke Newington. Brief music press interest. Underperformed. Had a college radio hit in the US. Obscurity.

This song, Wrecker Of Engines, has some slight rockabilly influences. Possibly.

That’s yer lot. Normal rockabilly service resumes next week.

Mrs Kennedy’s Pink Suit

50 years ago today events unfolded around Deeley Plaza that led to the creation of this genius cut-and-paste hip hop record by Steinski.

And now…. here’s Johnny
Ask not what your country can do for you
Ask what you can do for your country
Here is a bulletin
Stand by please
In Dallas, Texas
It appears that something has happened in the motorcade route
Ich bin ein Berliner
Three shots were fired
Put me on Phil, put me on
President Kennedy has been seriously wounded by this shooting
Stand by please, stand by please
More details, just arrived
Mrs Kennedy jumped up
She called ‘oh no’
The energy, the faith, the devotion
The motorcade sped on
The world is very different now
Something has happened here
We understand there has been a shooting
I can see many, many motorcycles
Mrs Kennedy’s pink suit
Something is wrong here, something is terribly wrong
More details just arrived
The motorcade sped on
A flash, apparently official
President Kennedy died at 1 pm
Central standard time.
We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution
There is a prisoner, wearing a black sweater
Do you have anything to say in your defence?
Oswald has been shot
Jack Ruby, Jack Ruby
Ruby, he lives in Texas
He runs the Carousel Club
More details just arrived
Mrs Kennedy jumped up, she called ‘oh no’
The energy, the faith, the devotion
The motorcade sped on
More details just arrived
Mrs Kennedy jumped up, she called ‘oh no’

The Motorcade Sped On

Mrs Kennedy Jumped Up, She Called ‘Oh No’

From 1987 one of the first cut and-paste montage set to a hip-hop drumbeat records, and still one of the most effective. I’m sure almost anyone with half an idea, some newsreel vocal samples, a drum machine software package and an hour or two could do something similar, but Steinski was first. This groundbreaking 7″ single was given away free on the cover of the NME. Who now give blanket coverage to Mumford And Sons and suchlike. Truly they were different times…

The_Motorcade_Sped_On.mp3