Entry #0 – Beetlebum (a.k.a: Testing, testing…)

Let’s call this post the ‘pilot episode’ for the blog, because I’m still trying to get my head around getting my own website to work.

Now, we all have had to start somewhere when it comes to music. Some of us may look back and remember where it all began, the tunes that got us hooked, the voices that grabbed our attention…

Well for me it started when I was a baby in the winter of 1998. I know I’ve said in the ‘About’ section that I didn’t truly get into music until last year but my tastes for Britpop had to be rooted somewhere and this was it. Like most babies, I would have a hissy fit because there was no milk or the TV was too loud or whatever so my Mum would need something to calm me down. A song.

And there is one song that would always calm me down, without fail, and make me relax. Which is ironic, because it was about heroin, the tune is very gritty and at one point there’s the lyric ‘She’ll make you come’.


Not exactly the conventional lullaby this one, is it? This is was a very dark, out-of-left field turn for Blur after the less-than-stellar reaction to The Great Escape forced them to change direction, from the crown jewels of Britpop to a more lo-fi, alt rock sound. Gone were the tales of the Charmless Man and Tracy Jacks, substituted for more personal songs from Damon Albarn starting with Beetlebum, a song about his relationship with Elastica’s Justine Frischmann and the heroin addictions that followed.

Graham Coxon wanted to make music that frightened people and Beetlebum is a shining example of that, with his stellar guitar work sounding like the stabs of the heroin as it is being puffed, and meshing with Dave Rowntree’s drumming to create a sad euphoria. Damon’s vocals are some of his absolute best here too, and is exemplified best during the second part of the song when it kicks into another gear as he descends into a madness mantra, repeating “He’s on it” before the world seems to slip away at the end, as prophesised by the chorus. Alex is there too, I think.

So I love this song. Always have, always will, with or without the rose tinted spectacles of nostalgia, because it is a damned good song. It was the start of a new Blur, and showed they had more range than just peppy Southern boys making songs about the British lifestyle and its caricatures. Hell, even Liam Gallagher likes this one, I’d say that’s a good endorsement. But for me personally, it is the ideal ‘calm down’ song, when frankly it shouldn’t be. It’s a melancholic ride and shouldn’t be evoking complete ease in me, and yet it does. Like I say it might be down to nostalgia but there is something comforting in Graham’s guitar riffs and Damon’s singing, especially the latter. Painfully calm, I think is the best way to describe it.

Published by midgbrit

Short bloke writing about music on A-Side Glance

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