|Marc Cohn: enemy of the people|
I first heard Walking In Memphis on Radio 1 in Summer 1991. We would have been on holiday at the time. I think we were probably in Somerset. Wherever we went, being a cool and hip 11-year old boy I would always petition my dad to let us listen to Radio 1 in the car instead of his usual station, Southern Sound, the local classic hits station based in Portslade near Brighton. Classic hits were just so square, man. Of course, my dad was completely right and the majority of the Southern Sound playlist from that era now live in the retirement home for popular music that is my iPod.
But back then, I was aware of the fact that I would like my finger to be on the pulse, and so would listen to Radio 1. The irony, of course, is that Radio 1 wasn't half as cool back then as it thought it was. Let's analyse the daytime schedule, which I'm appalled to say that I still remember: Simon Bates, then Gary Davies at lunchtime and Steve Wright In The Afternoon. OK, 21 years have passed but lest we forget that Simon Bates was already about 75 years old and if Gary Davies is the flag bearer for your "hip" credentials, you've got problems.
Steve Wright doesn't get spared. Oh no. Him and his ha-ha-ha-hilarious "Posse" are, in fact, the villains of the piece. It was on his show that I first heard Walking In Memphis. Quite taken with it, he was. He probably still plays it now on Radio 2. It's probably his ringtone. Frankly I sometimes wonder if we arrested the correct Steve Wright.
And herein lies the basis of my explosive hatred. Walking In Memphis is ADULT. It's GROWN-UP. It's SOPHISTICATED. A tale of spiritual discovery and redemption. This isn't a song to take lightly. This isn't throwaway bubblegum pop. This is something to listen to thoughtfully in your high-backed armchair with your fingers steepled. Perhaps take it a verse at a time as not to overwhelm your senses. Then maybe discuss it in a series of seminars at a new town university.
This was the summer of Right Said Fred's I'm Too Sexy and Salt & Pepa's Let's Talk About Sex. But these were merely ephemera. No, true music fans would turn up the bottom of their cords and enjoy Walking In Memphis, clicking their fingers with a single solitary tear rolling down from soulfully closed eyes.
So Steve Wright and his Posse would take some respite from the cavalcade of whimsy and comedy characters (Mr. Angry, he was one. He was angry), take a moment to settle down and then introduce this new life-changing record. Warning his drivetime listeners to park up their cars in case they had a Damascene moment in a built-up area, we then had to sit through 4 minutes and 20 seconds of what can only be described as soul death. Marc Cohn, you are my nemesis.
|Cher: "I am still going to rock you, soulfully"|
But there is an old saying in the music world: never say anything is the worst it can be until you've heard Cher do it. And this old truism maintains here. In 1995, Cher put on her most serious face and laid down the worst cover version of anything since World War II. Listening to that glassy-eyed bint warble out the now-familiar completely meaningless and empty "soulful" sentiments honestly made me want to smoke crack. And just look at the cover for the single. Just look at it. It's Cher saying "hey look, it's me, glamorous pop star Cher. But wait, put your lustful feelings towards me to one side. I'm going to be serious here. I've got things to say. But I'm still going to rock you. Soulfully." It's a face that I could punch and punch all day every day and never tire, but for my overwhelming concern about what its nose is made of.
I hate Walking In Memphis. I hate the original. I hate all subsequent covers of it. I hate anyone who bought it or owns it in any form. I hate anyone who has ever listened to it without weeping tears of pure bile and blood. I want to go back in time and prevent the birth of Marc Cohn's mother.
It is the worst thing that has ever happened. The end.