Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Night That Minnie Timperley Died

“Cocker’s fascination with doomed young women is approaching the Lynchian.” So wrote Dennis Lim regarding this track, in The Village Voice in 2002. In fact, you could probably make a mix CD, possibly two, of Pulp songs about alluringly troubled women and send it to David Lynch himself. “Minnie Timperley” is one of his most eerie of these songs, all the more so due to its anthemic pop-rock sound, with a sparkling, perfect balance of programmed and played instruments. The chorus is so big and proud, I often delude myself into thinking this could’ve been a hit, in America even.

But songs with incredibly detailed and morbid storylines do not become hits, not in any country. This is why I do not work in A&R.

At any rate, the lyric is one of Jarvis’ most vivid and inventive. It opens with a quote from Minnie, and from there, he lets the details unfold with truly cinematic fluidity. The rhymes come effortlessly yet unpredictably as well (“Oh, the football scarves/The girls drink halves”). When the awful title act is about to occur, we pull away to a chorus that takes the rock language of triumph and makes it sound mournful and tragic.

Perhaps the Lynchian aspect of this movie is due to the entire scenario coming to Jarvis in a disturbingly vivid dream (see the interview excerpt here).


Martijn said...

"But songs with incredibly detailed and morbid storylines do not become hits, not in any country."

There must be a few slipping under the radar... uhmmm... Where The Wild Roses Grow was a huge his in Holland... Still, it does feel special when something like that happens, that's true.

Mike said...

You could say Johnny Cash's "Hurt" and maybe some Eminem songs were morbid hits. I guess I was trying to say that "Minie", had it been given a PR push, might've made an impression in the U.S. But I think the majestic music and the really bleak storyline is just too much cognative dissonance for any radio station, anywhere. Also, there's something very British about the language of "Minnie" that's often been a real obstacle for a band like Pulp.