The #1 Song Of The Day of 2015

1. The MacManus Gang - "A Town Called Big Nothing"
June 7


I first heard your #1 Song of the Day for 2015 back in 1986 when it was playing over the P.A. while I was waiting for Elvis Costello & the Attractions to start at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. I had no idea what it was, and certainly didn't think Costello was behind the whole thing until I saw it on his UK B-sides and outtakes compilation Out of Our Idiot.

You can read the original post for the story of "A Town Called Big Nothing," but in a nutshell it's the one good thing that emerged from Alex Cox's 1987 film Straight to Hell. The movie starred the Clash's Joe Strummer as a hitman, Courtney Love as a pregnant bystander, Sy Richardson as another hitman, the Pogues as a gang of coffee-addicted cowboys. Dennis Hopper, Grace Jones and Jim Jarmusch were also in the picture. Costello had a small part as a butler who gets shot. When I first saw Straight to Hell I hated it. So did the criticism community. I haven't felt the driving compulsion to revisit it.

Costello obviously found some inspiration from the movie's faux spaghetti-western motif and dry Wild West setting. "A Town Called Big Nothing" is a loving send-up of Ennio Morricone's uncopiable film scores. Richardson performed the non-sequitur narration, similar to what he did for Juicy Bananas' "Bad Man" from the soundtrack of Cox's Repo Man, in which Richardson also acted. The Pogues' Cait O'Riordan, Costello's wife at the time, performed the vocal bridge along with her then-husband. The other major player is Costello's late father Ross MacManus, a career musician and singer himself, and whose relationship with his son forms the core of Costello's new memoir Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink. Ross plays the trumpet.

The lines Richardson speaks are priceless and almost too subtle: "The pistol was welded to the holster by age and careless children." "She took him to bed like an adopted dog." "She lit sickly incense, as he tried to tell himself the resemblance were [sic] pure and coincidental." And one that I've been using in general conversation for years: "He didn't need tattoos to show where he'd been and who he'd loved." I may actually get that as a tattoo. I just had that idea. I'm gonna do it. Someday. When nothing matters anymore.

So, that burns the book on 2015. I have lots of plans already laid out for 2016. I think it's going to be a different year but I can't explain why. It's just a hunch. My hunches are usually not wrong. Expensive but not wrong. As always, I thank you for the increased interest, support and patronage of SOTD. I've gotten some very nice feedback this year that I didn't have to duck from. I hope you stick around. Have a great new year.


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