Sunday, August 31, 2008

sunday school exercise #1: no fun

virgin VS184.

When I was very young I was duly 'enlisted' in Sunday School. This weekly activity was not to my taste, but since it presented my mum and dad with the opportunity to enjoy some time alone, there really was no alternative on the menu.

Since I was too small to reach the coat hooks in the tiny anteroom outside the main hall - where we children were forced to colour in pictures of Jesus distributing loaves and fishes with crayon and pencil - I would naturally clamber up onto the bench to retrieve my Sunday Best when each session drew to an eagerly anticipated close. I could scarcely wait to grab my woolen jacket and get the fuck out of there.

This was all fine until an elder or Churchwarden caught me stepping up there in my outdoor shoes. His face, already florid, reddened some more. Quivering hairs protruded from each nostril. He smelled of stale tobacco; the faintly sour odour of an old man's resentment with his lot and mostly everyone in the world.

He bawled at me until his eyes clouded over behind his spectacles, and the spittle flew from between his teeth.

With the benefit of hindsight, I think it safe to surmise he was juiced. On the Trinity alone or Teacher's blended whisky. Or a madly shaken cocktail of all four.

At the age of three and a bit, this was all too much. The baby Jesus' father's wrath and the sulfur pits maybe waiting to consume me. Seriously. No kidding. The lunatic ranted on in this prehistoric fashion for several minutes. Fire and brimstone. This and that. He didn't lay a hand on me; he didn't need to. It was not a telling off. It was an Old Testament sermon complete with babbling in tongues.

He was probably originally from the Islands. All that crap is still very much in vogue there.

Naturally, I fled home in floods of tears. With trembling lip and heaving chest I wasted no time in telling my parents what the Sunday School Man had said. I was full of shame at my crybaby sobbing and just as indignant. No doubt my dad was pissed off at the prospect of perhaps giving up his Sunday morning sleep-in, but to his credit he went straight down there and threatened to give that bastard a beating. I did not go back there for several halcyon weeks.

So. Here is an alternative Sunday School exercise for you all: listen carefully to the following versions of the same song, then compare and contrast in no fewer than three hundred words.

THE STOOGES: NO FUN from "The Stooges" LP (Elektra) 1969 (US)

SEX PISTOLS: NO FUN from "Pretty Vacant b/w No Fun" 45 (Virgin) 1977 (UK)




Brushback said...

"compare and contrast in no fewer than three hundred words"

The Stooges are The Stooges, but almost nothing compares to Steve Jones' big fat guitar sound.

(16 words)

Brushback said...

I think it would take me a week to come up with 284 more words.

ib said...

Hey, at least you handed in your paper!

You caught me there tinkering with the text. I know it's more noble to simply put it out and leave it, but often I am unable to resist the urge to edit. Not always for the better.

Steve Jones guitar is great on this, agreed, as is Paul Cook's war horse drumming. I love the Pistols' version. This was probably what I was jumping around to when I stood on that JCC 45...

Brushback said...

I tinker with my posts all of the time. That's one area where blogs are way better than fanzines!

Unknown said...

Well, I was kicking around in my mothers' belly - at @ the 7 month stage - when The Stooges first lp was released. I can all but guarantee that she never heard the number, and there-fore I never had any through-the-stomach-walls-influence, then. Probably, though - if the rest of my life is any indication - she was not having any fun...

When The Pistols put out there version I WAS into music, but I can (again) all but guarantee I was listening to something like the OST for the film Grease, or perhaps some The Monkees...

By @ 1982 I was getting my first exposure to music outside of Top 40, courtesy my big bro sending me cassettes of The Replacements and X, but I'm sure I didn't hear The Stooges until 1988... I'd moved to Mineapolis and had a job selling newspapers and comic books and baseball cards and magazines and porn at a place called Shinder's. A couple of the cool city-natives I worked with introduced me to The Ramones, Negativland, Iggy Pop, The Butthole Surfers, among too many others to list or remember.

Of course I'd heard OF the Sex Pistols, and even had bought a copy of "Never Mind The Bollocks..." in high-school, but I wasn't what anyone could call knowledgable about them - or the influence they had. Years later... (1999? 2000?) I was living in a van in Washington state. I bought a cd player and decided to get another copy of " Nevermind The Bollocks..." I also decided to listen to nothing but that CD for the entire time I lived in my van. Turned out to be three months. Needless to say, a newfound respect (and thorough burn-out) was attained.

The Stooges were never a giant sonic touchstone for me, but many of their songs resonate strong within me... The particular lyric "No Fun. My friend. No fun." has been repeated, under my breath, over and over and over and over to myself in a myriad of situation: riding a shitty busline with shitty passangers; dealing with pricks at work; etc...

I'd never heard The Pistols' version until just a few minutes ago (thanks! ib, for that one!).

On a related note, another phrase that gets repeated by me, often, is from the film Sid And Nancy... at the beginning of the flick, when Rotten and Vicious are goofing down the street, the Rotten actor says: "Boring, Sidney. Booor-ing!" Usually when I mutter it, whomever I'm with looks at me weird for a second and then gets about some across-the-room-type business...

ib said...

Matt. How ya been ?

Full marks on your submission.

There's nothing wrong with the Monkees - a better band than the Pistols ultimately, I feel - or far that matter the Grease soundtrack inasmuch as it featured Frankie Valli.

The gig at Shinders sounds interesting. I had a complete set of civil war bubblegum cards (the original ones, from an uncle) which got stolen moving house as a kid.

The only thing that was particularly rotten about the Sid & Nancy flick was that actor's rendition of Lydon. Gary Oldman - as much as he is a superb actor, conversely - lent Sid a bit too much gravitas too.

Sid was an idiot. A very photogenic idiot, granted.