Gordon Brown, Bacharach and David

February 8, 2009

Unaccountably, my entry to this week’s New Statesman competition didn’t make it into the winners’ enclosure. Just an honourable mention. This has been happening a lot lately. And it seems a waste not to inflict it on you. Apparently GB expressed a fondness for the collected works of Burt Bacharach a couple of months ago, and we were asked to provide a sample. Here we are:

What do you get when you’re made PM?
A back bench acting like a bunch of students:
That’s what you get for all your prudence.
I’ll never be PM again.
What do you get when it’s Question Time?
A fresh-faced toff with a cheeky query:
No endogenous growth theory.
I’ll never be PM again.
Don’t tell me how to pose and pout,
’Cause I’ve seen Blair do his twist-and-shout,
Doubted his spin, his spin and tumble –
That is why I’m inclined to grumble:
What do you get when you’re made PM?
Forced to call up the likes of Peter –
That’s the deal for a meal in Granita:
I’ll never be PM again.

Sweet, don’t you think? But no prize, so I feel happy to offload it on you.

This blog entry could now go two ways, but let’s stick with Gordon, whose musical taste (the Arctic Monkeys story was an urban myth) is at least close to mine, in this respect, although whether he would go with me to excesses I have like Nina Hagen (German punk) or Steve Reich (repetitive and percussive pianos) or Percy Faith (instrumental schlock) or most country music, I do not know.

It seems to me that his strong suit (it must be strong to hold that sturdy frame) is that he looks ever more vulnerable the more toughly he tries to talk. I have only ever encountered him in person once, at a New Statesman party a few years before the New Labour victory. He was a man in a hurry, and seemed unaccountably larger than life. At the time, I had a girlfriend (awful word, any suggestions?) who was quite good at taking bulls by the horns, so she stopped him in his tracks and gave him a stiff talking-to about a fiscal matter well beyond my grasp of such things. He was, as a result, polite, terse and just a bit get-out-of-my-way. So, another uncultivated friendship.

But Bacharach and David (the latter was – is, he still exists and is in his late 80s – the lyricist) seem to me to suit GB (how handy to have the same initials as the country) to a tee. (Or is it a ‘T’? Must check.) ‘If you see me walking down the street/And I start to cry/Each time we meet…’ There is something about GB which fits the Dionne Warwick slight-crack-in-the-voice, and Warwick was the making, or at any rate the cementing, of Bacharach and David’s reputation. I admit that I hadn’t spotted, until researching the competition I did not win, tsk, that they started out with Perry Como’s ‘Magic Moments’, which has the brilliant couplet, thinking of good times: ‘The way that we cheered whenever our team was scoring a touchdown,/The day that floor fell out of my car when I put the clutch down…’ I wish I had written that.

And maybe GB could try a bit of the Perry Como on us. Suave, relaxed, a jape or two in his jaw – no, it just won’t work, will it? He has to do Dionne Warwick, as I originally suggested. In which case, he had better watch it, because almost every Bacharach/David song Warwick recorded was snaffled by someone else who had a bigger hit, in this country at any rate. (Sandie Shaw: ‘There’s Always Something There To Remind Me’; Cilla Black: ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’; Aretha Franklin: ‘I Say A Little Prayer’ – all classic GB sentiments, but likely to be ripped off by the opposition.)

On third thoughts, he might be better off with Joe Strummer.

There’s just one thing I want to know. Should I stay or should I go?