Whimsical nostalgia, future regret, and The Burning Hell.





Today is the first time since my redundancy that I actually feel 'unemployed', although it might just be that I'm alone. My partner has gone back to work, and she works in a different part of the country so is away for a few days and, after the joyful busy-ness of having her, my parents and my daughter here, the house feels surprisingly large and reluctant.

So, I turn to the work I have created for myself – applying for jobs (I have a phone call with an agency this afternoon); responding to queries from my publisher about the Whedon book manuscript; and working on the different aspects of my blog and (now!) vlog. Some of this is just enthusiasm – retrieving the old Apenesck Sweeney tracks and making bad videos for them, for example; some is work that I love but that also has some possible employment-related outcome (I’m researching the next part of my 1997 book that will be a post later this week I hope – about India and China in 1997 and since); some is a desire and an ability to intervene in some of the cultural debates rumbling on (the Whedon and feminism blog – which will have a vlog counterpart soon, I think), or offering up what I hope are helpful resources such as the Espenson drafts; and then there’s the rest.

I’ve always had a slightly addictive / obsessive personality – David Bowie, John Keats, Bertolt Brecht, Angela Carter, Buffy, Courtney Barnett among many, many others have been the solitary soundtrack to different parts of my life. And right now, it’s The Burning Hell, hence the lyrical analyses and ebullient outpourings.

So, today, in my newly discovered state, it was not a surprise to me that I turned to them once again. Being unemployed, for me anyway, is weird. It was a choice – I took redundancy – and as such there is an on-going feeling of autonomy and freedom that is a very positive sensation. Alongside that, and in no way a contradiction, is a strong sense of worry about the future and what will happen when the money runs out. But, (because unemployment lends itself to such metaphors…) the feelings are complex, like a glass of fine wine. While the dominant tones may be freedom and fear, there is also a hint of boredom, traces of attenuated spleen, and the just-out-of-reach but always-there scent of whimsical nostalgia. This is my favourite part, the fleeting, flirting fugitive emotion that looks to the future as an already-passed event that one can look forward to with regretful delight. So it is with The Burning Hell gig I’m going to later in the year. Between making videos and researching, I’ve been imaging an entirely un-real (don’t believe the hyper-real, y’all) set with the band performig all my favourite songs in my favourite order.

So, here it is: The Burning Hell’s future-anterior totally imaginary but already mourned set list. I offer it mostly with thanks to the band for such a great night, but also as therapy: you can decide who it’s for. Also, because I’m not crazy or selfish, there is space for new songs from the album they’re actually touring.

Men Without hats – a great affirmation of the music that they make. What a great way to start.



Dance Dance Dance – from macabre neo-gothic infants to pantless dancing – fab!



Give Up – astonishing imagination, breath-taking rhymes, fabulous sentiment and ‘symbolic cetaceans’



Let things slip away – a kind of sister track to Give up, and those famous primatologists are stunning.



One Works days and One Works nights – simply beautiful and Ariel’s voice is to die for



Shangri La – possibly the most threatening and disturbing song by them. Also, I’d love to hear this sung by Ariel

Barbarians – Viking inspired tales of fate and woe, with a song-structure this cleaver are few and far between



It happens in Florida – a perfect anti-love song with poetry to make the stars cry. (and look at this video!!)



Wallflowers – a kind of antidote to the previous song – the imagination and writerly skill of the last verse, to say nothing of the cheeky bit of she-wop…



Fuck the government, I love you. As Molly might have moaned, yes yes yes yes yes



Bretton Woods – jaunty jingle about the 1947 meeting of economists? Don’t mind if I do.



Things that people make 2. Brilliant reprise of the earlier song – and again, a great duet number.



Some of their own choosing (they were great, too, by the way)
Then, the ENCORE
Amateur Rappers



Everything will probably be ok.



 Normal service will soon be resumed.


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