Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mother, Brother, Lover: Selected Lyrics (2012)

Author: Jarvis Cocker | Page Count: 192

If nobody’s listening you can say whatever you want.

A selection of lyrics (sixty-six in all) penned by Meister Cocker over the span of three decades.  They're mostly from his time in Pulp but his solo work is well represented too.  Each one is accompanied by notes that act as illumination and commentary on the themes and allusions made in the songs themselves; which will be helpful to people outside the UK or those who were born too late.

Before you get to the main event, there’s an introduction from Jarvis that’s so beautifully constructed and insightful that it’s worth the asking price alone.  He speaks of the profound things that occur in everyday life, the things that don’t stand out until later, and he speaks of them in common language for (ahem) common people.  It’s from a point in time that enables experience to lay tender hands on and memory to whittle away anything superfluous.  Without meaning to demean anything that comes after, the intro is the highlight of the work.

With regards the lyrics, despite Jarvis’ insistence to the contrary, they’re intrinsically poetic and therefore I'm labelling the book as poetry.  (He’s never going to read this so I think I’ll get away with it.)
They’re narrative-based, so work just as well when written on the page as they did when put to music.  I could go into depth about why I think that is but I’d need twice the word count I have, and you’d not care anyhow.  I will say, though, that the lyrics of songs I've not heard sung were more enjoyable to read than the ones I know well.  I found myself breaking up the words of the familiar ones into their metre structure, attributing qualitative and quantitative, and because I was hearing the music in my head, I was putting pauses in places that a pause would be better left out.  It was a very odd experience.

I'm not appraising with blind bias; I'm a Pulp fan, yes, but that fact doesn't influence the score.  I only own two Pulp albums and one Jarvis solo album.  I'm interested in the others but just haven’t got around to purchasing them yet.

4 less obvious places out of 5

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