Living With Me’s Like Keeping A Fool

I’ve decided to play join-the-dots this week. Monday was DJ Shadow. Yesterday was DJ Shadow as part of UNKLE with vocals from Richard Ashcroft. Today is Richard Ashcroft as singer of The Verve. Plus those strings at the end of UNKLE’s Lonely Soul would segue very well into today’s song.

History is from A Northern Soul, The Verve’s second album. Their early singles were great records- huge, fluid, sunscraping psychedelia, with ‘Mad’ Richard claiming he would fly and believing it. By the time of A Northern Soul they’d cut down the sprawl to more a concise, more classicist, song oriented thing. I blame Oasis. History is a stand out song- a sweeping, desperately, achingly sad string section, an acoustic guitar and Richard bemoaning his lot, world weary, bummed out, alone and full of self pity. It’s a song for wallowing in (but not for too long, it’s not healthy).

History

Richard channeled metaphysical poet William Blake for the first verse. Blake’s London goes…

I wander thro’ each charter’d street, / Near where the charter’d Thames does flow. / And mark in every face I meet / Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

Richard has it as…

I wander lonely streets / Behind where the old Thames does flow / And in every face I meet / Reminds me of what I have run from.

He layers it on- living is for other men, three is company, how he loved and how he failed, you and me we’re history, nothing left to say, living with me is like keeping a fool. This longer album version finishes with ‘I’ve got a skin full of dope’ part, which- let’s be honest- may be the crux of the problem. She may have left ‘cos you were always stoned Richard.

The third album, Urban Hymns (Bittersweet Symphony excepted) is one-paced, radio rock, far less interesting and obviously far more successful.

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Lonely Soul

DJ Shadow and James Lavelle spent ages putting together Psyence Fiction, a guest vocalist heavy post-hip hop album in 1998, packaged beautifully by Mo Wax. It was long, it was a kind of 90s psychedelia, it was a bit overwrought and it was a bit over-worked. Some of the tracks pulled it off though. This one with The Verve’s Richard Ashcroft managed it- those portentous strings at the end sound both over-the-top and rather good.

Lonely Soul