Friday, 30 October 2015

The Genius of Tim Smith #15

This is basically a tweaked repost from March 2014. I featured this song in my 20 songs to take to my grave series. Its worthy of another airing being arguably Tim Smith's greatest ever song. It is also a fitting end to this series.

#15: Dirty Boy by Cardiacs

Where does one start with Dirty Boy? It is probably one of Cardiacs' 'biggest' songs in that it sounds anthemic right from the off. Where it goes over the following nine minutes (yep, it's a long one) is not immediately apparent. The song's subject matter is also not totally obvious, but such is the lyrical obliqueness of Tim's writing. I think it's loosely about religious fanaticism, death (murder?), a crazed mind, redemption, perhaps some kind of cult... who knows? 

WE WILL PRAISE HIM off his pins
Clear him of all sins
Oh my! We sang with strength to carry on
Encouraged him to sing along
We sang of all the world and praised him HOORAY!

Stay alive to live or without
And he is down all over and out

Watch us hang on shoulders as tall and as gold as
Feely hand and finger around all we
And look to see if we care if he is heaven sent or
Hell bent but WE WILL PRAISE HIM
Praise him all away"

Musically though it is a religious experience. It climbs and climbs towards paradise, often pausing its ascent to explore its surroundings before setting off again. A choir of (fallen?) angels arrive mid way and accompany the song ever upwards. After 6½ minutes, it arrives, the awe and splendour of its destination holds it in suspense, the final word uttered - "out" - rings out continuously as the song, now having reached its goal, joyfully reaches its conclusion. The gates open, it goes inside. By the grace of whatever superior force (or none) that brought it here, Dirty Boy is done, forever to radiate its magisterial elegance on us mere mortals below.

If there is just one negative, it's the production - it just sounds a little thin and top-heavy. Sadly, that's something Cardiacs have suffered from throughout their career, but if you could actually hear the bass, Dirty Boy would be even more MASSIVE than it already is.

Quite where this song came from cannot be explained. Was it from a brilliant or deranged mind? You might argue you can't have one without the other. Tim Smith may be both or neither, but there's no escaping the fact that in Dirty Boy we have one of pop music's great triumphs. Truly unique, joyously euphoric and utterly, utterly brilliant.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely outstanding song. Epic. Masterpiece. You need to keep on with this Tim Smith series.