Thursday, 9 June 2011

So Scratched into Our Souls #4: The Only Ones - Another Girl, Another Planet

"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." - Aldous Huxley

The first three songs in this series have been pretty inconsequential affairs in the wider scheme of things. A mid-80s Ramones album track, a horribly obscure early 90s classic rock pastiche and a mid-90s parody Oi! song, not the stuff that is going to find it's way onto a Rolling Stone list of any sort. But this song here is a genuine classic.

Everyone has one pop song which they feel is the greatest pop song of all time, be it Hey Ya! or Billie Jean, Tracks of my Tears or Good Vibrations, one of those incredible songs which you can't imagine could ever offend anyone, but are so filled with all that makes pop music great and vital that their untamed spirit lies exactly there, within their mass market appeal, their ability to make every single person feel like it's their song, the one that draws them up onto the dancefloor or pulls them away from whatever stresses and bullshit they have if it pops up on the radio. Times when everything went right for two to three minutes. For John Peel, this was Teenage Kicks. For me, it's a similar song, one born of the late 70s power-pop that smoothed down the snarl and clash of punk rock with beautifully catchy melodies while retaining its irresistible energy. I fucking hate when people talk about 'the best year for music' because it's just bullshit nostalgia, to refer to the great Peel once again: "People ask me, "what was the best year for music?" I always say, this year is the best year for music. Prior to that it was the previous year." but it's undeniable that this period produced a lot of amazing stuff in this really brilliant style, from The Undertones to The Buzzcocks to The Runaways to The Vapors to The Jam, and it's here where you can find the song that typifies all I love about pop music and all I love about rock and roll. For me, it's Another Girl, Another Planet by The Only Ones.

They used this song in Paul, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Seth Rogen's slightly underwhelming but still enjoyable enough UFO-nerd buddy-comedy, and it didn't work, because it's one of those songs that is so good that it just takes you out of the film and makes you think about the song. I just wanted to be able to sit in that massive room and have that song played through the huge sound system with no distractions.

Every single note is perfect, the way it starts with that little clicking washboard guitar riff before those bass tones and the spacey background warping builds into the guitar solo with its soaring melancholia like watching an injured bird you've nursed back to health skipping off and rising up into the sky, climbing into a dot. A couple quick slurred verses and then a second solo pulling even further upwards and out of the thermosphere until it's just wildly skipping about, roiling in itself, bouncing between asteroids and planets and further and further out into the berth of the stars themselves. This is a song in part about leaving the earth behind and all the tender regret and restless excitement you face as you forget where you came from and punch into the deep black yonder.

It would be an amazing song even without the heady drawl of the words, but the lyrics are just pop perfection. Space travel as a metaphor for drugs as a metaphor for love. Love as a metaphor for drugs as a metaphor for space travel. Drugs as a metaphor for love as a metaphor for space travel. Wanderlust and fatigue and transcendence in needles and stargazing and the arms of some other beautiful little fuck-up like you, all mashed up together. Smoky warmth then wispy loneliness. Pulling away and dragging down. Bouncing out into the universe like old radio waves, eroding as you go. Cold outside and burning up inside. A romantic vision of one defiant moment in one line, a terrifying crush of infinity in the next, the tug of addiction and the battle of withdrawal, apathy and death, then rebellion and anger, just all that good and scary shit.

This is a song of true longing, and filled with all the depth and pain and sucking human wounds that that languorously gorgeous word conjures up in your drug-love-and-star-fucked head, your heroin arms and kissed fingers, your endeavour ideas, your challenger heart. Fucking hell, the whole thing is just fucking beautiful and perfect and it makes me want to die. It makes me want to run about and swagger down the street with shivers in my pocket. It makes me cry. It makes me laugh. It reaches as deep and as far and burns as bright as the human sound ever can.

1 comment: