LISTEN & READ: A Song & Message From Aidan Moffat
, April 18th, 2011 09:32
Cop the filthy 'Glasgow Jubilee' on our Soundcloud
You can expect to read a lot about Aidan Moffat & Bill Wells' fine collaborative album Everything's Getting Older on the Quietus in coming weeks - our one-time Agony Uncle has done a brilliant mix, and we're taking him UFO spotting. First up, though, Aidan has kindly given us the track 'Glasgow Jubilee' to play to you, and you can stream it on our Soundcloud player below. Meanwhile, Aidan's written us a piece about the writing of the song which, he says, was praised by Bill Wells as "the burst of smut he was hoping for." Listen to the track below, and read Aidan's message below that. Everything's Getting Older is released on May 8th.
"I can't remember how I came across Arthur Schnitzler's turn-of-the-last-century play La Ronde, but I think it may have been linked to an article about experimental writing. The play uses an unusual dramatic structure; ten scenes featuring two lovers, with one lover moving on to another in the next scene and so on, until it comes full circle and we end with the prostitute from the opening scene. It's based on a roundelay dance, in which partners are exchanged in a circular pattern, and it sounded right up my street: ten consecutive sexual scenes of bed-hopping infidelity? It already sounded like the Arab Strap record we never made; indeed if I'd known about it back then I quite probably would have borrowed the blueprint for a concept album.
"The play deals with themes of sexual morality and class, and also serves as a warning of the dangers of sexually transmitted disease, in this case syphilis, the daddy of all STDs in the 1890s when the play was begun. It's also very of its time in regards to gender politics; the women are painted as quiet, meek creatures to be seduced and enjoyed by the educated, philosophical gentlemen – except, of course, for the whore. After 110 years, this archaic portrayal of the sexes is a little shocking and distasteful to modern eyes, and the overall impression it leaves is that men are rotten bastards, which may have been opposed to Schnitzler's intentions. So then I had the angle for the song version I'd been thinking of writing: I would move the action to modern Glasgow and illustrate the nasty side of the male mind while trying to make the women a little stronger. Being one of the very few songs I've written that isn't autobiographical, I wasn't planning to be in it, but writing myself into the role of the play's poet from the seventh and eighth scenes was too good a conceit to ignore. So there I am towards the end, the mild-mannered miserablist desperate for a shag, being taken down a peg or two by a blue-haired beauty, simultaneously mocking myself and indulging a boyhood kink. For the title, I Googled 'Scottish dance roundelay', and after several pages came across 'Glasgow Jubilee'. I'm not exactly sure if it's technically right – if anyone's familiar with traditional Scots dance then please advise – but it seemed perfect for the song.
"I think this might have been the last whole vocal we recorded for my new record with Bill Wells, probably because it took a while to write, and it's definitely the most words I've written for a single song. I'd been waiting for ages to find the right words to match the music, which was known as 'EM Sequence + Perc + Riff' for years while it was still a demo in the BILL ESSENTIAL folder in my iTunes library. The rest of the album is almost wholesome in comparison – there are very few sexual scenes and there's hardly any profanity – so on completing the vocal I felt I owed Bill an apology; it seemed like a regressive step. But it turned out he was relieved: he would have been very disappointed if there hadn't been at least one instance of pure filth on the record, and I think it was just the burst of smut he was hoping for. So if you're planning to listen to this at work or while your kids are in the room, you should really get your headphones.