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Thursday, 16 November 2017

WORDS FOR THE MUSIC #11: Kirsty MacColl


KIRSTY MacCOLL
1959 – 2000



 Live on Later With Jools Holland, 2000
from the 2001 Instinct Records LP Tropical Brainstorm





IN THESE SHOES?


I once met a man with a sense of adventure
He was dressed to thrill wherever he went
He said 'Let's make love on a mountain top,
Under the stars on a big hot rock'

I said 'In these shoes?  

– I don't think so'

I said 'Honey, let's do it here'


So I'm sitting in a bar in Guadalajara
In walks a guy with a faraway look in his eyes
He said 'I've got a powerful horse outside
Climb on the back I'll take you for a ride
I know a little place we can get there for the break of day'

I said 'In these shoes?  

– No way José'

I said 'Honey, let's stay right here'


No le gusta caminar
[Doesn't like to walk]
No puede montar a caballo
[Can't ride a horse]
Como se puede ballar?
[How can you swing?]
¡Es un escandolo! 
[It's a scandal!]


Then I met an Englishman
'Oh' he said 
'Won't you walk up and down my spine?
It makes me feel strangely alive'

I said 'In these shoes?  

– I doubt you'd survive'

I said 'Honey, let's do it' 



No le gusta caminar
[Doesn't like to walk]
No puede montar a caballo
[Can't ride a horse]
Como se puede ballar?
[How can you swing?]
¡Es un escandolo! 
[It's a scandal!]



No le gusta caminar
[Doesn't like to walk]
No puede montar a caballo
[Can't ride a horse]
Como se puede ballar?
[How can you swing?]
¡Es un escandolo! 
[It's a scandal!]



No le gusta caminar
[Doesn't like to walk]
No puede montar a caballo
[Can't ride a horse]
Como se puede ballar?
[How can you swing?]
¡Es un escandolo! 
[It's a scandal!]



Lyrics and music by K MacColl & P Glenister
© 2001 Ocean Songs/Chrysalis Music Publishing/Warner Chappell Music Ltd




The Songwriter:  As someone who wasted most of his youth attempting to write catchy and literate pop song songs I can only marvel at the talent and dexterity of the late and much lamented UK songstress Kirsty MacColl.  While In These Shoes? may not rank as one of her of most iconic tunes, it demonstrates everything that made her such a beloved recording artist following her rise to prominence during the mid 1980s –– passion, wit, and a flawless delivery combined with a devastating sense of humour.  (Her father was folksinger Ewan MacColl, whose compositions include The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and Dirty Old Town, so it can probably be assumed that adding words to melodies to create memorable, well-crafted songs came to her fairly naturally.)

The hook of In These Shoes? is not, as it generally is in the majority of Western pop songs, the chorus which, in this case, surprises and then delights the listener by being delivered in Spanish.  Instead, the hook is the title itself, repeated three times with different tag lines which manage to be provocative, witty and hilarious all at the same time.  This, the listener is warned, is not a woman to be trifled with.  This is a serious fashionista who knows men want her but will never compromise her 'look' to satisfy their expectations.     

Sadly, MacColl's life was cut short on 18 December 2000 when she was killed by a speedboat while scuba diving with her sons off the Mexican island of Cozumel.  The boat, owned by a supermarket tycoon named Guillermo González Nova, had illegally entered a restricted diving zone, travelling directly toward her at speed estimated by several witnesses to be in the vicinity of eighteen knots per hour despite Nova's subsequent claim that it was only travelling at a speed of one knot per hour.  After saving the lives of her two teenaged sons by pushing them out of the boat's path, MacColl was sliced in half by its propeller, killing her instantly.  

Although Nova was the only one of the six people on board the powerful 31 foot boat who was officially licensed to drive it, responsibility for the accident was shifted to Cen Yam, his 28 year old deckhand who eventually received a 34 month sentence for culpable homicide, not one day of which he served after paying a fine equivalent to £67.  Nova continued to insist that it was Yam and not himself who was in control of the boat when MacColl was killed –– a claim hotly disputed by the singer's mother Jean who waged an ultimately unsuccessful campaign, which ended in 2009 after she was advised that nothing more could be gained by pursuing it, to make him admit his guilt and issue an apology to the family.  (It's important to note that she did not ask for financial compensation, only for the admission and the apology.)

What made MacColl's death particularly tragic was that it was not the inevitable rock star death caused by a surfeit of drugs and alcohol, triggered by some form of well-publicized and/or untreated personality disorder.  Hers was an unnecessary and entirely preventable death caused by a corrupt billionaire scumbag who bribed and lied his way out of having to pay the penalty for his grossly negligent behaviour, proving yet again that there's one law for the wealthy of this world and another for the rest of us. 

Thankfully, we have the many recordings Kirsty MacColl made both as a solo artist and as an in-demand backing singer to remind us of what a unique, influential and irreplaceable talent hers truly was.  

Viva Kirsty!
 

Click HERE to visit Freeworld, the KIRSTY MacCOLL website, where you can read more about her music, her life and her enduring creative legacy.

You can also click HERE to purchase a copies of the 2008 biography Sun on the Water: The Brilliant Life and Tragic Death of Kirsty MacColl by JEAN MacCOLL and the 2013 biography Kirsty MacColl: The One and Only by KAREN O'BRIEN.   Those eager to hear more music by KIRSTY MacCOLL –– including such classics as A New England, They Don't Know and There's A Guy Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis –– can do so by clicking HERE.  

Special thanks to everyone who takes the time to upload music to YouTube.  Your efforts are appreciated by music lovers everywhere.

You might also enjoy:
WORDS FOR THE MUSIC #9: Victoria Wood
WORDS FOR THE MUSIC #7: Rickie Lee Jones
WORDS FOR THE MUSIC #8: Lorenz Hart

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