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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The Small Hours Are Hard To Face

I’ve no doubt I will keep coming back to One Dove as long as I have the strength to lift the arm onto the vinyl or press play. Morning Dove White is one of the 90s high points, one of Weatherall’s too. This was their poppiest moment, soft, sublime and enveloping- even Stephen Hague can’t ruin it. It doesn’t have as many of the gorgeous dub textures that are all over the album but it should have been a big hit. I don’t remember seeing the video before, Dot and the boys miming in a pub/club. The bit where they get projected onto the pool table is a tad dated but no matter.

Spooky

My previously unplanned Joy Division-New Order week continues. I can’t imagine Republic is anyone’s favourite New Order album, despite its magisterial Regret single. It was made against the backdrop of Factory collapsing (as sung about in Ruined In A Day). When Republic came out it was not on Factory but, irony of ironies, on London Records. Side one of Republic was decent enough- Regret is the last truly great song they recorded, World (The Price of Love) is a good dance tune, Ruined In A Day’s alright. Spooky, co-written with producer Stephen Hague, stood out. It was also the final single released off the lp, and had a variety of remixes. I’m not sure New Order have been best served by remixes (a few outstanding ones excepted). The handful of remixes of Spooky passed muster though especially the ones by Fluke. They tweaked Spooky into a really classy, shiny, sleek piece of techno-pop.

Spooky (Magimix)

In 1993, not long after this was released and when we had just started courting I put this on a mixtape for the future Mrs Swiss. It had a hand drawn and written cassette inlay card and everything.

The picture above shows one of the more bizarre promotional appearances the band made. A Top Of The Pops slot to sell Regret was done live via satellite link up from the Baywatch beach. New Order mimed the song while surrounded by buffed Californians playing volleyball and frisbee. The smasher of the Berlin Wall David Hasselhoff looked on.