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Songs: Better Things To Do

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<a href="http://mjhibbett.bandcamp.com/track/better-things-to-do">Better Things To Do by MJ Hibbett &amp; The Validators</a>
I have never learnt to drive a vehicle
I reckon how hard can it be?
And I've never took the time
It takes to learn to fly
I'll work it out if there's ever a need

Flemish is a language I can't chat in
I'll learn it if I'm ever off to Brugges
And similarly I cannot speak Latin
I have had much better things to do

Like walking in the park with you
And talking in the dark with you
These have been much better things to do
Better things to do

Well I've no idea how to route a network
I've got no way to know which routers what
And I've not been on a course
To learn to program C++
I frankly could not give a toss for DOS

And I'll drink whatever wine's put on the table
With vineyards I find I've not got a clue
And I'll rarely even read what's on the label
I have got much better things to do

Like watching DVDs with you
And drinking cups of tea with you
These have been much better things to do
Better things to do

La la la la la
I could not be arsed
To write some words to put into this part
So la la la la la
Better things to do

Day dreaming in another dreary meeting
I caught a glimpse of 2109
Where a grateful nation's wired up for hearing
The final thoughts of their President For Life

Someone said Lord Hibbett, do you have regrets, sir?
I said yes I guess I must have had a few
I'd've liked to ride more trams
But otherwise Je Ne Regrette Riens
I must have had much better things to do

Like waking up at last with you
And making time fly fast with you
These have been much better things to do
Better things to do


Published by Wipe Out Music Publishing

Some songs are a real struggle to write and involve days and weeks crouched over a pen and pad trying to work out what to do. This was not one of those songs.

It first appeared one afternoon while I was sat strumming my guitar, with the first two verses and chorus arriving as one. I then wrote the second couple of verses and noticed that the first chorus ("walking in the park" and "talking in the dark") had accidentally echoed the themes of the first two verses i.e. learning to ride/drive vehicles instead of walking and learning languages to talk in. I was, obviously, deeply impressed with myself, and so decided to do the whole song like that. I wrote the second chorus and then went back and re-wrote verse three to fit in. It seemed to work!

Then we had a band practice - I'd sort of intended to do this song as one of the ones for the Zipcodes cassette and had got as far as programming some drums for it, but having sung it all the way to Derby on the train I thought I might as well give it a go with the Validators. I had a bass line worked out which had occurred to me as if by magic while sat on the train, but it was pointed out that the magical energies had probably arisen from the fact that it was exactly the same as the bassline for Tell Me Something You Do Like, so as usual The Validators worked it out for themselves and it all came out rather lovely.

Especially, I must say, the "la la la" bit, which I'd stuck in because, genuinely, I couldn't be arsed to work out what to put there. It was all working out well so when I got home the next day I sat myself down to tidy up the words a bit and write the final verse. I especially like the bit about trams, and "yes I guess", and "waking up at last with you". Hey, I know it's hardly earth shattering, but I like it! I also like the way it flows quite easily - several of these songs have lots and lots of words and this one doesn't quite so much, which is nice. I also like the fact that it's about The Order Of My Index, who doesn't crop up in half as many songs as she might do. That makes me pleased.

We recorded the song in Cornwall always with an eye on it being The Single, simply because the lyrics were a bit more "open" than they usually are - that is, they're not quite as tremendously geeky as usual and you can actually sing it without collapsing from lack of oxygen. The version we did was OK, if a little fast, but didn't really sound like the Massive Hit we thought it could be. Thus we weren't too upset when we discovered that the master discs for this song (and Never Going Back To Aldi's) had become corrupted, with no hope of recovery, which meant that we either had to use the rough mix we'd done in the studio or start again from scratch.

We decided to have another go and so booked ourselves in for the day at The Hive in Derby. Right from the beginning things went better, especially as this time we were aware of our tendency to get A Bit Excited, and so kept the tempo firmly under control. We'd played the song quite a bit more live too so that made it sound a bit better, and the night before me, Tom and Tim had got together to refine the arrangement, to give it a bit more dynamics. It needed it, as it's pretty much the same all the way through!

My favourite part of the process was recording my guitar parts, for which Robbie the engineer lent me The Jangliest Guitar In Derby. Ooh, it didn't half jangle, it was smashing. It was a very cold day in early January when we recorded it and there was only one heater in the studio, which had to sit next to me whilst I played to stop the guitar going out of tune, and I distinctly remember looking out through the window into the live room to see some shivering Validators waiting for me to get it right. I also tried out a bit for the middle section, but it didn't really work.

Anyway, we got it all sorted out but it wasn't until Mr Frankie Machine provided us with his proper mix, where he'd taken out most of the instruments in the third verse and processed Emma's voice that it finally sounded like A Hit - I wonder if it'll turn out to be so?


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