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Songs: Girlfriend Alarmed

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Girlfriend alarmed
By the power of our post-pub conversation
I simply made a remark
Bringing your reproductive system into question
She's says that I went too far
But we were like this before we even had loins to mention
It's just the way we are
We've been behaving this way since we were both eleven

Look at all the other men in the pub
They'll be talking like us
Talking so loud, that you will never hear

That the words we say
Don't necessarily match the reasons we are saying them
You've simply got to translate
It into beer, then to football, into playground and back again
You don't believe me, but hey
Maybe that's the whole point, like it's a gigantic smokescreen
For us to keep saying the same,
Without an outsider understanding deeper meanings

Look at all the other men in the pub
They'll be talking like us
Telling the stories we've told ten times before

But none of us mind
It's the way you tell it, not how up to date it is
And anyway over time
The stories change and evolve beyond the means of the journalist
Like cave men out for the night
We like to sit by the fire and tell the tales of our tribe and it's
True, listen in and you'll find
You'll be joining in next time when it gets to the good bit

Look at all the other men in the pub
They'll be talking like us
Talking like us, 'cos when you think about it

Men have been this way since the start of time
When hunting mammoth there's no time for affection
We've learnt a language rooted deep in violence
So softer feelings creep in in disguise without detection
It's not just girls we tease to tell them that we like them
Some of my best friends - I've had to fight them
I've got the scars to show how much some of my closer friends like me

So there you go
I wouldn't worry about me calling Neil an idiot
He already knows
I didn't mean it when I said he was feckless and ignorant
You can ask him yourself
But first I'll ring him to tell him it's OK to unmask me
Oh yeah - he'd better, or else
I'll be in trouble like all my forefathers before me

Look at all the other men in the world
They'll be talking like us
To their girlfriends,
Girlfriend alarmed

Published by Wipe Out Music Publishing

This one's based on two particular evenings early on in our relationship when The Wine In My Bottle and I went out with two particular friends of mine, Dr Neil Brown and Mr Tom McClure Out Of The Validators. On both occasions the friend in question and I indulged in Hearty Male Banter which she found alarming, forcing me to explain at great length that that's just how blokes tend to speak to each other.

The explanations I'd offered sat in my brain for ages afterwards, and came to the fore again one morning whilst standing at the far end of the westbound platforms at Leytonstone tube station - probably the least convenient place to have an idea for a song as it's nowhere near a shop to buy pens, half an hour's journey from my work where I could write ideas down, and it's surrounded by people who would look at you funny if you tried singing ideas into a telephone.

That morning, however, I did have a pen with me and also a pad, which was lucky because City Centres from Shed Anthems was also bubbling up in my brain that day. That song got done pretty quickly, but this one took a week or so to be finished off and was finally sorted out on November 21st 2003. It was a Friday and I was off work sick, and I spent several hours pacing feverishly (actually, literally, feverishly) between the bedroom and spare room with pens, bits of paper and a guitar between the computer and the tape recorder.

When I'd finished I was tired but very very pleased with myself indeed. Unfortunately my housemates had gone to see Enrique Englesias switch on some Christmas lights and it was hours before they got home and then even longer before I could persuade them to let me play them the song. I was very excited by it as it felt like the first song I'd written wholly from my life in London. The first verse, admittedly, is about events that happened in Leicester but the rest of it had developed over the dinner table when I'd tried to explain to the aforementioned Tea In My Tea-Time and her sister, The Landlady, why men tend to tell the same stories over and over again, and why other men listening seem to enjoy it so much.

At this point I should probably explain that bit about having scars and fighting - it's not there to make me look like a Hard Man or anything, it's there because it's true. With friends like Mileage and Robin (as mentioned in We Only Ever Meet In Church) who I've known since I was eleven there've been plenty of fisticuffs in the distant past. Also there was that time when I went Karaoke singing with my friends Chris and Simon and I ended up accidentally getting my chin cut open on the way home when we were pissing about doing Judo (not the mental kind... well, actually, maybe in a different meaning of the word) on each other.

Anyway, you get the general idea, and The Validators seemed to as well. Learning the song was so easy it felt like cheating, and for the first year of its existence we only played it once or twice as there didn't seem much need to spend much time on it. Unfortunately this meant that when we did revisit it, just before heading to Cornwall, it sounded rubbish compared to everything else, and we had to spend quite a while getting it back up to standard, especially the middle bit which I could never play quite right. That's why, if you listen carefully, you'll hear that my guitar playing goes to big strums in that bit, I just couldn't get the hang of playing it in time!

Tom had spent ages working out the string arrangements for this, during the week we were in the studio he always seemed to be poring over it, changing bits around and it sounded MARVELLOUS when we recorded it. Once his bits were on we did Emma's vocals and suddenly it felt like a James Bond theme - I remember standing in the control room while she was in the studio itself singing the middle bit, gesturing wildly for her to overdub more "aahs". "More aahs! More aahs!" I yelped, like a deranged porn director.

It was one of the first songs we did a rough mix of, as we were quite excited about how it sounded, and so it got quite a lot of time spent on it and sounded FAB. It was also one of the first songs to get properly mixed when we got home again, and it came out sounding a bit weedy - in my mind it had been Shirley Bassey, but the first mix of it sounded like Gene.

Several months later we came back to it, with some extra bits to stick in. Tom had initially written a trumpet part, but Frankie had "lost" his trumpet so "couldn't" do it. Undeterred Tom recorded it himself with Mr Kev Reverb on a keyboard, and in it went. Frankie had also done some work on the track itself, removing quite a lot of guitar and generally pepping it up, so suddenly it sounded rather more lush and glamorous than it ever had previously. It sounds really lush and rather glamorous to me now, it's rather lovely!

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