Living with…Echo and the Bunnymen…for a week

Echo and the Bunnymen cartoon. With thanks to porcupiny on flickr.

‘Twas supposed to be my walk in the park and a return of no81bob’s world after a rather extended sabbatical.

But like everything else this summer seemingly it couldn’t just be a walk in the park, as the musical climax of my week was Coventry’s Godiva Festival to see Echo and the Bunnymen live.

Godiva – park or ploughed field?

Not to be.  Faced with desolating one of the main parks for the city, the festival was cancelled and the closest I’ll get to enjoying their music on stage will be a view of the tad muddy ploughed field that became the lower area of the Memorial Park.

Oh well, not to be.

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I have, of course, spent a happy week with my favourite Bunnymen compilation, Songs to Learn and Sing.  I only ever had it on cassette (an original no less, no TDK copy) so it whirred in various cars very happily in the late 80’s and early 90’s before being forgotten in some dark corner of a drawer, and then the garage.  I’ll confess to having ignored their recent incarnation so the festival was to be as much a discovery as a revisit.

For the most part, it’s the second half of this album that I loved  from Never Stop onwards. So in the days when cassettes would flip and rewind this would pretty well go on a repeat spin again and again.  Take your classic indie band sound, insert a few xylophones and strings, and those partiuclarly weird set of lyrics and you had the Bunnymen for me.

Which leads nicely in to the three key questions that have to be asked

What’s with the Echo?

Having thought for many years that the Echo part of their name was a throwback to the classic song Echo Beach by Martha and the Muffins, I now discover it was more homely.  The Bunnymen started life as two men and a drum machine – the drum machine was called Echo.  When Echo was kicked out the band, he vowed that he would return with vengeance. He has yet to achieve that ambition despite the fact their drummer died in a tragic motor accident in the late 80’s they have always replaced with human sticks.

What’s with the Bunnymen?

Again quite mundane and homely – the human elements of the band didn’t want to get taken too seriously and were not in to big egos, so came up with the name Bunnymen.  And the Bunnymen became the support group to their drum machine before ousting him in a coup.

What’s with the Tortoise?

One of the Bunnymen’s most beautiful songs and certainly the most mysterious for me lyrically is Seven Seas

Seven seas
Swimming them so well
Glad to see
My face among them
Kissing the tortoise shell

It’s always left me wondering, what is kissing the tortoiseshell?  Does it mean breaking out for freedom?  Are they conjuring up visions of south seas beaches where the tortoises roam?  Or is it something more sordid?

Or is it just a Bunnymen excuse to slip in a reference to tortoises in a song, because they can and the song can acquire fame as the tortoise song? …  Rather like REM’s inspired decision to use the expression ‘pushing an elephant up the stairs’ in The Great Beyond.  Now everyone knows that as the elephant song, in the same way that Seven Seas is the tortoise song, I guess.

So to the video of the week, which will continue the Seven Seas theme featuring a penguin, a rather strange fish, a set of flippers and a way of connecting Liverpool, Casablanca and Amsterdam.  And of, of course Ian MCulloch’s hair – honestly, we were all jealous then.

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And here ends the spluttering return of no81bob’s World after (cough) a few weeks off.  It’s a little late, a little rambly but has splashed it’s way back on to the interweb.  Next week I’ll be mostly listening to…

…but that would be telling

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Twotes of the week

@CiaranM87: I’ve applied for a job at The Echo, just waiting to hear back from them.

@GreatestQuotes: “I’d rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not done.” – Lucille Ball

@50ShedsofGrey: My body writhed and quivered from the pain. I had learned my first lesson. Never again would I leave an upturned plug on the shed floor . .

@jacques_aih: Somewhere, in a parallel dimension, Belinda Heaven is performing a song called “Carlisle is a place on earth”.

@sickipediabot: England lose on penalties. For more on our culture and traditions please go to visitengland.com

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