Monday, January 23, 2012

Mile End

Now, where was I…

Thanks to some encouragement from the fine folks at Bar Italia – plus today’s announcement of the first Pulp show on the U.S. East Coast since 1998 – I have decided to finally take this blog out of the mothballs and write about the 14 remaining released Pulp songs.

We’ll begin (again) with yet another contender for Most Well-Known Pulp Song in America. Thanks to its inclusion in the film Trainspotting (and its equally seminal soundtrack CD), “Mile End” was quite possibly many American fans’ real introduction to the band. The arch, art-glam melody and Jarvis’ quivering, sarcastic falsetto gave us our first indication that this band was very different from Oasis, Blur, etc.

“Mile End” was recorded during the Different Class sessions, and fits pretty handily into that album’s loose concept. In 1989, while studying film at St. Martin’s College, Jarvis lived in a squat in a decrepit high-rise apartment building in the Mile End section of London. He later called it “the worst nine months of my entire life.” And so, the lyrics detail a life surrounded by squalor, crime and despair with plenty of vivid detail. The jaunty music may sound merely ironic, but the way the two-note melody and Jarvis’ vocal fall on the words “Mile End” cements the helplessness, rage and sadness of the song.

The song is a sharp reminder: This is what it can be like to feel different, to strike out on your own and to reach a dead end. Sometimes, your talents and dreams are not rewarded. In fact, they can lead to a seemingly endless series of indignities.

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