Monday, September 3, 2007

You're a Nightmare

With a title like that, you easily expect a withering put-down of a train-wreck of a friend, lover or ex-either. (After all, Pulp have their share of such songs – like “Razzmatazz” and “Like a Friend.”) But Jarvis means the title literally; it’s his way-more-downcast version of Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams.” His nocturnal visions of a past lover are no relief. Instead they’re constant reminders of a time he cannot fully escape or put behind him, despite his best efforts during waking hours.

To those fans attuned to the autobiographical references littering Pulp songs, “You’re a Nightmare” contains a tantalizing one: “There were hotel bedroom birthdays/sleep in factory hallways.” It’s unclear what the first part of that lyric is about, but the “factory hallways” most certainly refer to the abandoned Wicker Factory in Sheffield – a fairly frequent reference point in Pulp's music – where Jarvis lived in the ‘80s in squat-like conditions.

The music of “You’re a Nightmare” perfectly realizes a weary last-call spirit. It helps that the band recorded the song at the BBC for a Peel Session, with no time for endless overdubs, edits and polishes. The band thought highly enough of this rendition to include it on the “Lipgloss” single. Thus, the song wound up on two of 2006’s archival Pulp releases: The double-disc His ‘n’ Hers reissue and The Peel Sessions.

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