Each Friday I pick a song–new, old, borrowed, blue–that’s been on my mind and in my ears, and write a short post about it.
This is “Hang On To Your Ego” by Frank Black:
The Beach Boys album Pet Sounds was released sixty years ago this week. I’m not sure there’s anything to say about that particular masterpiece that hasn’t been said already by somebody who’s put more thought into it than I have. When I moved to Germany for six months in 1998, Pet Sounds was one of ten CDs I took with me, and probably the one that got the most rotation on my Discman. Anyway, “Hang On To Your Ego” is an alternate version of “I Know There’s an Answer” and Frank Black covered it on his debut solo album in 1993. It’s entirely plausible that I first heard this version. Brian Wilson’s songwriting influence can be heard all over the Black Francis-Frank Black catalog, and I love listening to some of his songs (for example, “Headache” or even a less obvious one like “Motorway to Roswell“) through a Beach Boys filter. Black Francis/Frank Black/Charles Thompson III is one of my favorite songwriters, and it’s not only interesting to hear the way he wears his influences on his original compositions, but also to hear how he reworks something by a great songwriter. One thing I love about this version of “Hang On To Your Ego” is the way he’s gone full-on New Order with the big danceable drum beat and burbling synth, but still with Joey Santiago’s big big big Pixie chords.
19 May Vanguard Readings at Peckham Pelican, London SE 5 0RP, 7:30pm. This edition of the monthly Vanguard Readings series is a North American special, and I’ll be reading alongside Clarissa Aykroyd, Charles Lauder Jr, Tara Skurtu, Kelley Swain & Tamar Yoselof. Pizza! Beer! Wine! Free entry!
24 May Speakeasy at Drink, Shop, Do, London N1 9DX. This one’s a showcase of new UK writing, including Eve Ainsworth, Kathryn Evans, Holly Bourne, Nicci Cloke, North American me, and possibly others… 7pm, free entry. THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED AND WILL BE RESCHEDULED.
Come along and listen to me read aloud in my best public speaking voice. There are a few other events in the works, so watch this space (or one that looks similar) for more updates.