Song of the Day #1,661: ‘The Old Songs’ – Joe Jackson

joe_jackson_laughter_lust1991’s Laughter & Lust was the last “traditional” album Joe Jackson released, and it was my first exposure to him (apart from knowing ‘Steppin’ Out’ and ‘Breaking Us in Two’ from the radio).

I remember buying the album because the cover and general vibe reminded me of Elvis Costello’s Spike, and having recently discovered Mr. Costello, I thought maybe I’d luck into another great discovery.

That was true, to a degree, though Jackson and Costello are very different artists and I’ve never taken to the rest of Jackson’s work the way I did to Costello’s.

But this album made a huge impression, with its sarcastic exploration of suburban life and inventive pop structure.

It’s funny how some mundane memories stick with you. I vividly recall hearing today’s SOTD for the first time and, after hearing the piano intro channeling an old 50s song, assuming that the rest of the song would contain such musical Easter eggs.

Looking ahead in the lyrics to see that Jackson would reference ‘Be My Baby,’ for example, I anticipated him playing a melody line from that song.

Didn’t happen, and I was slightly disappointed. That would be a neat trick. But I came to enjoy the song very much for what it is, rather than what I expected it to be.

There goes another one
Another happy couple on the road to emptiness
I think of my father and mother
Can they imagine how two people can get in this mess

But the old songs say – love’s forever
And the old songs never say die
But a song can’t keep us together
How can that beautiful song be a lie

Me I blame the old songs
Filling hearts with rebellion and romance
Our book of revelations
And all we had to do was dance

Play us another one
Play us the hopes and dreams of twenty years ago
They’re all over the bloody radio
It’s like they’re telling us there’s nowhere left to go

And the old songs say – “be my baby”
And the old songs say – “she loves you”
All the songs we’ll sing come what may be
I like those songs
But I’d like something new

Me I blame the old songs
Protect us all against a change of course
All our great expectations
Turn to alimony and remorse

One thought on “Song of the Day #1,661: ‘The Old Songs’ – Joe Jackson

  1. Dana says:

    Did I not have any influence in you buying this record? I thought I did😄

    This is one of my favorite albums from Jackson, though I am quite fond of big world and night and day.

    Like you, I have not followed Jackson as zealously as Costello, but I do enjoy what I own of his work quite a lot.

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