Is it a coincidence that two of the most lauded British lyricists of recent decades have hailed from Sheffield? Well, probably, yes, but both Britpop’s Jarvis Cocker and the MySpace age’s Alex Turner have relied on their shared home city for inspiration. Just as the 30-something Cocker’s masterful control of the sordid short story song drew on his formative experiences in the city, the teenage Turner’s snarky asides were closely tied to the northern nightclub. With Cocker’s first anthology of lyrics soon to be published, the hype surrounding the Monkeys’ initial overnight success has given way to consistent acclaim.
162. Pulp – ‘The Trees’
Possibly their last written song, JC muses on the impassive forests that “see” couples’ illicit trysts. Musically, it represents best among Pulp’s album tracks the inspiration Cocker found in Scott Walker’s grandly orchestrated self-titled albums (indeed, Walker himself produced it). The strings are sampled from ‘Tell Her You Love Her’ by Stanley Myers and Hal Shaper, from a 1968 soundtrack. The film, Otley, was a reputedly mediocre Dick Clement/Ian La Frenais comedy, which boasted (is “boasted” quite right?) a cast featuring Leonard Rossiter, James Bolam, John ‘Fred Elliott’ Savident and a young Robin Askwith.
163. Arctic Monkeys – ‘Cornerstone’
Simply structured and subtly voyeuristic, ‘Cornerstone’ drops in on a world not much less squalid than Pulp’s, in which the lovelorn central character faces repeated failures in his search for a girl to directly replace an ex. A concrete meaning of every turn of phrase in the song is as elusive as his dream girl, whom he seemingly believes himself to have found at the unsettling climax. Perhaps this is an appropriate song choice because the arch video contains embryonic hints of Jarvis’ famous dance style. I picked it because it’s my favourite, though.
*tracks missing on we7.