Friday, July 27, 2007

Please Don't Worry

When they make the Jarvis Cocker biopic (he’ll be playing himself for most of it, although Bill Nighy can play Future Jarvis), the first key scene will show his 18-year-old self gawkily but bravely presenting a demo tape to legendary BBC DJ John Peel in the fall of 1981. One quick month later and the enthused, youthful amateurs of the first Pulp lineup (Jarvis, Peter Dalton, Wayne Furniss and Jamie Pinchbeck) are recording their first Peel Session. For most nascent bands a Peel Session was often the first step to indie-bred acclaim. As Jarvis would wryly note years later, for Pulp it resulted in a 12-year period of struggles, frequent line-up changes and near-constant indifference from the UK music scene. And they didn’t record another Peel Session until 1993.

Of the four songs from that first Peel Session, “Please Don’t Worry” shows most clearly the roots of the classic Pulp sound. A fairground organ lurches drunkenly onto center stage, while a comically large synth-drum sound punctuates each measure in the verses. He’s not even 20, but Jarvis is chronicling a lifetime of disillusion; it appears that drinking, sex (or the lack thereof) and financial issues have already been preying on his mind for some time. And for the chorus, he just repeats the line “Please don’t worry, I feel fine” till you can’t tell if he’s mocking or trying to convince himself and others.

The pop hooks never let up on “Please Don’t Worry” and the whole thing is perfectly timed at 3 minutes and 21 seconds. Seriously, you mean to tell me not one indie label owner in 1981 wanted to put out a 7-inch of this?

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