Thursday, July 16, 2009

World Shut Your Mouth

Haul me out of the water, haul me onto the land.

She never was one to listen to anyone else.

It was enough for her to listen to the voices in her head (and, yes, I mean that literally).

So that summer evening, she stood on the rocks, daring me to stop her from diving into the water. The shallow water. With the underwater obstructions and many jagged rocks. She knew what was below her. But didn’t care.

“It’s too shallow,” I yelled from the sand. She didn’t care.

“It’s getting dark. Come inside.” She still didn’t care.

The car stood 100 yards away, tape deck blasting Julian Cope. This was back in the days when we made tapes. And cars could play them.

“Come in with me,” she yelled, smiling, then peeling her clothes off.

I shook my head, turned away, walked a few steps back towards the car. I looked back over my shoulder, just as she jumped.

Julian Cope - World Shut Your Mouth

When he was 20, Julian Cope formed a punk band in Liverpool with his buddy Ian McCulloch (later of Echo and the Bunnymen); they disbanded without playing a note.

Cope then formed The Teardrop Explodes, who flirted with success before disbanding after a few years and three albums. His first solo album was called World Shut Your Mouth, but it didn’t include the song “World Shut Your Mouth” (which was Cope’s first real hit and appeared on his Saint Julian album. By the way, if you're looking for perfect examples of poppy 80s new wave music, all you need is Saint Julian (and maybe its follow-up My Nation Underground).

After some minor college hits (and much world-wide speculation about just exactly why he needed the strangest-looking microphone stand in the history of music), Cope started feuding with his record companies (who felt his music had too much insane ramblings and not enough hooky, poppy songs). During one such record company feud, Cope privately released an album only in Texas, using the proceeds to hire an attorney to get Roky Erickson (the former leader of the 13th Floor Elevators who traced his mental problems back to the first time he took LSD) out of jail.

Cope fought with various record companies about his refusal to follow greedy marketing plans. He continued to record and perform in the U.K., but by the mid-90s, most fans thought his glory days were long past.

Julian Cope - Charlotte Anne

I stood there, shocked, until I heard the splash. Then I ran back to the water, searching as the sun disappeared. And I dove in, fully clothed, searching for her. She surfaced a few second later, laughing. I was furious.

“You could have killed yourself,” I said, shaking with fear at her near-miss.

“But I didn’t,” she said, and ran naked back up on the rocks to retrieve her discarded clothing.

When we broke up, she took my copy of Cope’s Peggy Suicide with her, saying only “I need this more than you.” To this day, I can’t hear “Beautiful Love” without thinking of her… or the day she jumped off the rocks.

She’d have many other close calls over the years, somehow escaping each time (through luck or because death himself was afraid of her madness), but that was the only one I personally witnessed. It was enough to scare me off for good.

Bonus 1: "Five O'Clock World"

Bonus 2: "When I Dream" by the Teardrop Explodes (special low-tech video version).


Anonymous said...

Why's it always so hard to forget the crazy ones?

jb said...

"I need this more than you." Ouch.

Anonymous said...

College hits - is there still such a thing as a college hit anymore?

World Shut Your Mouth and Five O'Clock World. Great tunes.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who could create the rhyme
whistle blows / missile glows
is a genius in my book.