1. Hot Chip – She Wolf (Shakira cover)
2. Vampire Weekend – Diplomat’s Son
3. The Morning Benders – Promises
4. The Clash – Clampdown
5. The Specials – Little Bitch
6. Vampire Weekend – California English
7. The Very Best – Warm Heart of Africa (feat. Ezra Koenig)
8. Sleigh Bells – Ring Ring
Been in a ska mood, apparently. Unexpected covers, such as Hot Chip’s recent rendition of “She Wolf,” never get old.
Born in Ankara, Turkey and the son of a diplomat, Strummer, whose real name was Mellor, was middle class and public school educated but became a hugely admired figure as the musical voice of rebellion.
1. In the original draft of Wes Anderson’s 2001 film The Royal Tenenbaums, “there was a part that Jason Schwartzman was going to play, a kid living across the street from their house, the son of a diplomat who had escaped from a school in Switzerland and was living in an attic and had like a cable connected to their house, and they were sliding things across it.” The character didn’t make the cut, but a shadow remains–two songs by the Clash feature prominently in the film. These tracks are used as a sort of motif for the character of Eli Cash, the sole noted neighbor of the Tenenbaum family in the final version of the script. Conversely to the Tenenbaums, the unnamed Schwartzman character, and, indeed, Joe Strummer himself, Eli is shown as having a distinctly working class upbringing. He spends his childhood observing the Tenenbaums’ privilege from across the street. When he comes into his own success as a western novelist, he–like the Tenenbaum children–cannot withstand the pressures of fame. Eli turns to drugs as a coping mechanism, and the Clash songs underscore this. The collision-themed “Police and Thieves” accompanies one of his pickups, and “Rock The Casbah” plays as Richie Tenenbaum attempts to stage an intervention. While this connection is not as obvious as the actual presence of a rebellious diplomat’s son, the use of the Clash’s music adds further depth to the way Wes Anderson examines class differences.
2. The Vampire Weekend song “Diplomat’s Son” obviously immediately references Joe Strummer in its title. Originating in a short story written by frontman Ezra Koenig, the track eventually developed into “a six-minute dancehall song about a gay relationship” with the help of guitarist/keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij. It features the repeated line “He was a diplomat’s son, it was ’81.” I’m not sure what I’m supposed to get out of the image of the story’s protagonist hooking up with the titular character/Joe Strummer after a party, but in 1981, the Clash had just released their album Sandinista!, named for Nicaraguan revolutionaries. “Diplomat’s Son” appears on Vampire Weekend’s second album Contra; while the band did not intend it as a specific reference, they acknowledge the name’s additional connotations regarding the counterrevolutionaries who were in opposition of the Sandinistas. The references to the Clash culminate in “Diplomat’s Son” with the use of a sample from “Hussel” by M.I.A., who famously sampled the Clash’s “Straight To Hell” in her hit “Paper Planes.” This gets meta by not only making explicit allusions to Joe Strummer and the Clash, but by borrowing from the borrower.
As for both Wes Anderson films and Vampire Weekend being viewed by popular culture as the property of the privileged versus the Clash championing the working class, that’s a whole other blog post. Does it really matter, anyway?
It’s that time of year again, where the weather’s getting warmer, the sun actually comes out, and happy couples seem a little more sickly sweet. Here’s a playlist for lazy late afternoons lying in the grass and wishing your allergies weren’t so awful.
1. Mates Of State – Laura (Girls cover)
2. Friendly Fires – I’m Good I’m Gone (Lykke Li cover)
3. The Morning Benders – Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover)
4. Jónsi – Time To Pretend (MGMT cover)
5. Her Space Holiday – I’ll Believe In Anything (Wolf Parade cover)
6. M. Ward – Let’s Dance (David Bowie cover)
7. The National – Clampdown (The Clash cover)
8. Vampire Weekend – Ruby Soho (Rancid cover)
Listen here @ 8tracks.
Read more about Mates Of State’s latest covers venture here @ TheMusic.fm.
Posted in music, Top Eight Thursday
Tagged David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Friendly Fires, Girls, Her Space Holiday, Jónsi, Lykke Li, M. Ward, Mates of State, MGMT, music, Rancid, The Clash, The Morning Benders, The National, Top Eight Thursday, Vampire Weekend, Wolf Parade