Explains Every Song on His New Album

 The hunched 73-year-old recently turned up in a segment on TMZ’s TV show, of all places, reporting on “Putin,” a track from his latest LP, Dark Matter. The song is a biting faux-anthem for the Russian president, with lines like, “When he takes his shirt off/Makes mewanna be a lady!” It’s a goof, but TMZ was stumped. “Is he puckering up—or poking fun?” asked the clip’s cartoonish narrator, after Newman affably tried to explain the song to a paparazzi cameraman in an airport. Then the gossip site’s newsroom launched into an argument about the song’s true meaning—as evidence, one diminutive TMZ staffer even attested to the bigotry of Newman’s 1977 hit “Short People,” a song that was written to expose the ills of baseless bigotry.

When I bring up this TMZ appearance to Newman, he sounds genuinely amused. “Yeah, there I was!” he drawls. “Actually, I’m probably the only person who likes that cameraman—it’s just that he’s got his camera with him.” That Newman is able to find some humanity in a guy who hounds celebrities and is generally considered a pariah is no surprise. He’s had a lot of practice.

Though he’s likely best known as the composer behind the music in the Toy Story movies, Newman’s most rewarding work lies in the 11 solo albums he’s released since 1968. In the past, he’s written songs from the perspective of slave traders, Alabama racists, California douchebags, and creepy stalkers—not exactly Pixar material—and on Dark Matter opener “The Great Debate,” he plays a slick-talking faith healer type bent on disproving scientists of all stripes. But the record also features less sinister Newman tropes: sentimental ballads that steer clear of easy emotions, sly historical gambits, paranoid dixieland vamps. In an effort to minimize the misunderstandings this time around, the songwriter delved into the backstories and inspirations behind each song from the new album.

1. “The Great Debate”

Pitchfork: This song is an eight-minute mini-musical that pits science against religion to determine, once and for all, who is right when it comes to humanity and existence. Though you are an atheist, in the song, the religious side comes out on top, largely thanks to the power of gospel music.

Randy Newman: Faith wins because it’s got Dorothy Love Coates, the Golden Gate Quartet, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, everybody. I don’t know whether I am a music lover, strictly—it’s hard to say how I feel about it—but I love good gospel music. No doubt. My side, the agnostic, atheist side, has got nothing like that. There’s no great song that’s like, “Let’s all not believe and play our agnostic hymnals!” They got everything: the high ceilings, the confessions—man what a hit idea.

2. “Brothers”


What interested me about the song is that they’re brothers, irrespective of who they are. I like the dynamic of an older brother poking fun at the enthusiasms of the younger brother. I didn’t know I was interested in the period itself, but when I think of it now, the Cuban Missile Crisis was a time when you were looking up every time a plane went by—for a few days there, it was scary like it hasn’t been since. So there is something there. And I liked how the trivial the reasons were to support the Bay of Pigs, and that the guy wants to save Celia Cruz. Because the U.S. has done some invading of small countries for not much more than that.

3. “Putin”

When did you start writing this quasi-theme song for Vladimir Putin?It could have been as much as three years ago. It was when all those pictures were appearing of him with his shirt off, and I couldn’t understand why. What did he want? I think it was just personal vanity of some kind, like he wanted to be Tom Cruise. It wasn’t enough to be the richest and most powerful. He wanted to be the most handsome and a superhero, throwing young people around and wrestling. It’s a strange thing.read that you wrote a song about Trump but decided not to put it out. In a way, though, if you changed a couple of lyrics to this song, it could be about him too.Yup. Though this one is way less critical of Putin than I thought I would have been. As I’m doing it, I’m saying to myself, I’m not criticizing him enough. He’s a bad guy. But I was conscious of it being too easy. It’s like writing an anti-war song that goes, “War is bad.” Well yeah, of course it is!

A Master Of Musical Understatement

Walter Becker on those endless (ridiculous) listicles ranking the “Guitar Gods of the 1970s.” He’s rarely mentioned in the same breath as major dudes like Eric Clapton, or Jimmy Page, or Duane Allman, or Carlos Santana, or Billy Gibbons, or Frank Zappa.

Becker, who died Sunday at the age of 67, stands apart from that class, off in a semi-neglected dark corner, his contribution to the rock canon less clearly defined. He had technical dexterity on the guitar, but was hardly a shredder. Or a flamethrower. He didn’t grandstand. Sometimes he didn’t even play the big solos — he regularly hired studio hotshots to provide firepower on the Steely Dan hits he cowrote with keyboardist and singer Donald Fagen.

If pop music is a constant tug of war between the reassuringly familiar and the jolt of the modernist new, Becker’s gift was the ability to hit both extremes at once. What Becker added to Steely Dan was an elusive strain of magic — the terse little melodic thing that turned out to be exactly what the music needed. And nothing more.

Becker and Fagen were also known jazzheads, and the music of Steely Dan embraces some verities of Sinatra-era song — the bridge sections and tricky chord progressions — while rejecting the smoother happily-ever-after storybook narratives. The duo worked on the lyrics and every other aspect of the songs together, and though Fagen was the “voice” of Steely Dan, his edge-of-sarcasm tinge needed softening.

Becker was a conjurer, sly and tactical. His lines could be weird and skronky while also accessible and melodic. He used strange configurations of notes and chords that at first seem odd, but later register as devastatingly apt. He had the basic guitaristic things covered — the Malibu singer-songwriter strumming and the greasy Memphis R&B rhythm, the arena-rock pitchbending caterwaul and the precision-minded Wes Montgomery octaves — yet rarely deployed them in conventional ways.

And though he took his share of solos (for ear-stretching delirium in a blues context, check out his romp on “Black Friday” from 1975’s Katy Lied), some of his most intriguing work is embedded in the background – the architectural arpeggios of “Aja,” or the wry, blues-tinged asides that dot the margins of “Hey Nineteen.”

Becker approached his guitar and bass playing (and, really, the entire production) as part of the songwriting process, an extension of it. He and Fagen were both obsessed with tone; there are countless stories of the duo chasing a particular snare drum sound for days on end in the studio. As a guitarist, Becker understood the ways distortion and other textural effects could change the atmospheric pressure of a track, and he used these devices to more musical ends than most guitarists. Becker’s rhythm-guitar accompaniments had a spiky, almost confrontational air. His bass playing was devastatingly simple, a smack to the gut. His leads could be brainy or spooky or confounding or obtuse — whatever would best enhance the vibe of the song.

Where most guitar heroes of his era charged into the center ring with fistfuls of notes and blazing chords, Becker preferred to sneak in through the back door, and in just a few measures and fewer notes, rearrange all the furniture. The result was something instantly riveting that you’d want to hear again and again — even if (especially if) you were not even paying attention to what the guitar was doing. Forget about the moment of solo glory; Becker wanted — and attained, with astounding consistency — the thick and undeniable vibe that made a piece of music magnetic.

And when Becker couldn’t conjure the mojo he heard in his head, he’d bring in a sharpshooter for the job. From one perspective, Becker managed the Steely Dan records as guitar salons, gatherings of prodigiously talented musicians who were tapped for strategic vibe infusions as Becker and Fagen’s vision evolved. Among the highlights: Larry Carlton’s searing “Kid Charlemagne” from The Royal Scam, Denny Dias playing electric sitar on “Do It Again” and guitar in a post-bop jazz mood on “Your Gold Teeth II.” The list goes on, and extends to “Lucky Henry” from Becker’s underappreciated 1994 solo effort 11 Tracks of Whack, which features brain-melting turns by Dean Parks and Adam Rogers.

All of those moments are improvisational, and reveal unique traits of each contributing instrumentalist. Yet they’re also the deliberate product of the duo’s refined aesthetic — if Becker is somewhat invisible from note to note on the records, he and Fagen are inescapable as creators and refiners of a instantly identifiable sound. Very few rock-era acts evolved the way Steely Dan did — from a modest live unit into architects of a high-gloss, impossible-to-replicate studio signature that sprouted new atmospheres with each album.


Love messages hidden in pop songs

Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

Renowned as something of a serial kiss-and-not-quite-teller, Taylor Swift has many songs rumoured to be about old flames. One of the best, though, is this love-hate number, believed by fans to be about her relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal (telltale clues in the video, they claim, include a scene in which the actor playing Taylor’s ex gives her his scarf to wear – Swift had been pictured wearing Gyllenhaal’s scarf in public – and a bracelet similar to one gifted to her by Gyllenhaal).

Although the power of the on-off infatuation is clear, it doesn’t paint a flattering picture: “I’m really gonna miss you picking fights and me / Falling for it screaming that I’m right and you / Would hide away and find your piece of mind / With some indie record that’s much cooler than mine.”

Swift told USA Today that the song was about an ex who “made me feel like I wasn’t as good or as relevant as these hipster bands he listened to… So I made a song that I knew would absolutely drive him crazy when he heard it on the radio. Not only would it hopefully be played a lot, so that he’d have to hear it, but it’s the opposite of the kind of music that he was trying to make me feel inferior to.”

Rick Springfield – Jessie’s Girl

Highlight of a hundred 80s teen movie nostalgia playlists, Rick Springfield’s air-punching anthem actually takes inspiration from a real-life forbidden crush, only the friend in question was named Gary, not Jessie. In fact, he wasn’t much of a friend – he was an acquaintance that Springfield briefly met while they were both, along with Gary’s girlfriend, taking a stained-glass-making class in Pasadena, California.

“I was completely turned on to his girlfriend, but she was just not interested,” Springfield told Songfacts. “So I had a lot of sexual angst, and I went home and wrote a song about it… He was getting it and I wasn’t, and it was really tearing me up. And sexual angst is an amazing motivator to write a song.”

All that pent-up frustration gave Springfield a global hit. After a few weeks the couple moved out of his life, never to be heard of again, despite his subsequent attempts to contact them.

Feargal Sharkey – A Good Heart

Some of the most intriguing secret declarations come in songs written for another artist to sing. So it is with Feargal Sharkey’s 80s monster hit, which was written by Lone Justice singer Maria McKee (of Show Me Heaven fame). The soul-tinged, synthy number, full of gentle naivety, was written about the then-19-year-old McKee’s relationship with Benmont Tench, keyboard player with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Tench also wrote a song for Sharkey’s debut album, which follows directly on from A Good Heart, striking a slightly less warm note, to say the least: “How does it feel / To make a grown man wanna die?” It was a persistent rumour that Tench’s song detailed his side of the story, but he’s since denied it was about his relationship with McKee.

Crosby, Stills & Nash – Guinnevere / Lady of the Island

The 70s LA singer-songwriter scene was notoriously incestuous and self-referential. There are particularly juicy examples on the debut album by folk-rock supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash, which opens with Stephen Stills’s Judy Blue Eyes, a suite of songs dedicated to his soon to be ex-girlfriend, folk singer Judy Collins. Even more interesting, though, are Guinnevere and Lady of the Island, sung by David Crosbyand Graham Nash respectively about the same woman – Joni Mitchell. Mitchell had dated Crosby for a while in 1967, but when ex-Hollie Graham Nash moved to the US in 1969, she moved him into her house almost immediately. As such, Crosby’s song is more elegiac, a reflection on loves lost (“She turns her gaze down the slope to the harbour where I lay anchored / Turned out to be such a short day”), whereas Nash’s song reflects intensely on new intimacy: “The brownness of your body in the fire glow / Except the places where the sun refused to go / Our bodies were a perfect fit in afterglow we lay.”


The Music of Twin Peaks

Trouble were one of many acts who played the fictional bar during one long production day that also saw handpicked artists including Nine Inch Nails, Sharon Van Etten, and Eddie Vedder take their turn to be directed by Lynch while pretending to play their own music. Early on in the series’ run, these Roadhouse scenes could seem incongruous, like clunky appendages often added to the end of every episode. Yet their role began to reveal itself as the show evolved: The scenes, and the music within them, are used as a guide back toward something resembling reality, a reassuring embrace of the familiar following the rest of the show’s deeply disturbing and bizarre images. In “The Return,” once you’re in the Roadhouse, you know you’re safe—relatively speaking, at least.

Even though the show’s music has been largely defined by those star-studded Roadhouse performances, they were never part of the original plan. “It wasn’t in the script,” Hurley tells me, adding that the scenes were constructed to allow editorial fluidity—to act as a punctuation tool—because Lynch imagined “The Return” not as a TV show but rather an 18-hour film broken down and shown in parts.

As composed by Angelo Badalamenti, the role of music in the original “Twin Peaks” remains as crucial to the program as any character or plot line. Its moody, melodramatic presence was embedded into the show’s most fundamental DNA, running through the town’s core with the same tangible presence as its gushing waterfall or buzzing sawmill.

Music remains a big factor in much of the new series, but its form has altered. Badalamenti remains the show’s primary composer—his original theme still plays over the opening credits and he contributed several original and previously unreleased compositions to the series—but overall the music has become much more disparate. The new series features a mix of industrial sound design akin to what Lynch employed on his 1977 feature debut Eraserhead—thuds, whirs, malevolent drones, static hums, looming tones of dread—with a more traditional soundtrack featuring those Roadhouse tracks along with older songs from artists such as ZZ Top, jazz great Dave Brubeck, and, for that instantly classic dawn-of-the-atomic-era sequence, Polish modern classical composer Krzysztof Penderecki.

Lynch mentioned including some songs in the new script, including the Platters’ “My Prayer” and the Paris Sisters’ “I Love How You Love Me,” but the director’s gut instinct pointed him toward the man who made the sound of the original series so iconic. So Badalamenti was sought out to create the tone of “The Return” before the revolving door of Roadhouse bands came to augment it.

Along with Badalamenti’s solo work, the show’s soundtrack features the composer’s collaborative side project with Lynch, Thought Gang, which was created for the 1992 film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.Lynch, who is credited as the new series’ sound designer, also worked on original musical pieces with Dean Hurley, while dream-pop auteur Johnny Jewel contributed both instrumentals and songs to the show.

Despite being more involved than most in the musical process, Jewel too was working in the dark. “No storyline, no script, nothing,” he tells me. “I didn’t want to know anything either. I’m very secretive about how I work so I can completely sympathize with someone who wants to just capture people on a really instinctual level, without a preconceived notion.” In this spirit, he chose to not re-watch any of the original “Twin Peaks” before working on his own compositions for the new series. “Everything was based on emotional memory,” he says.

Of all the Roadhouse acts, Jewel’s band Chromatics get the most screen time, including performances in the opening and penultimate episodes. In that second-to-last part, Jewel and his bandmates back the defining musical voice of “Twin Peaks,” Julee Cruise, on the Badalamenti/Lynch song “The World Spins,” which she also sang in the original series. “I was really manic about doing it because the song is six minutes long and it’s non-linear—it’s a very, very odd piece of music,” says Jewel. “For about a week and a half, it was the only song we listened to—we would play it six to eight hours a day, over and over.” He even played the original Rhodes piano from 1973 that Badalamenti used for the original series on set.

Jewel and his bandmates were so keen for Cruise to be the focus when filming that they consciously tried to fade into the background. “I didn’t want there to be any distraction on stage,” he says. “The old Roadhouse bands were these rockabilly greaser types, all in black, so I had the band wear black. We were aiming to be shadows.”

Though Lynch generally let the various Roadhouse bands simply do their thing, according to Jewel, the director did whisper something to Cruise that changed their scene dramatically. “The first take felt very logical, but then after David spoke to her, the second take was insane. The feeling on stage was so incredible. The difference was night and day.” The performance with Cruise proved to be an overpowering one for Jewel. “I held it together at the Roadhouse, but when we left I completely lost it and was sobbing uncontrollably for hours,” he says.

Singer Julee Cruise and Chromatics onstage at the Roadhouse in “Twin Peaks: The Return.”

Many that were invited to the Roadhouse share similar feelings of intensity on set. Heather D’Angelo of the synth-pop group Au Revoir Simone found the environment to be otherworldly. “It was literally like stepping into someone else’s dream,” she says.

For Rebekah Del Rio, who sang the Spanish version of Roy Orbison’s “Crying” in an unforgettable scene in Lynch’s 2001 film Mulholland Drive, returning to the director’s realm was especially poignant. After undergoing brain surgery to remove a tumor in 2012, she thought she may never perform again; the ordeal forced her relearn how to sing from scratch.“When I got to the Roadhouse, I was once again transported into that world,” she says.

One of the oddest Roadhouse scenes—in which a woman crawls and screams on her hands and knees through the crowd—was soundtrack by doomy London band the Veils. According to the group’s frontman, Finn Andrews, though, lending sound to strangeness has become something of a specialty, as other bold auteurs like Tim Burton and Paolo Sorrentino have also placed the band’s music in their work. “We seem to sound good paired with generally pretty unwholesome imagery,” he says. “If there’s ever a scene with someone having sex with an amputee, or a horse is dying, or there’s a slow-motion hanging, we get the call.”

The lead singers for the band Linkin Park

Chester Bennington is, one of the lead singers for the band Linkin Park and a former singer for Stone Temple Pilots, has died. His death was confirmed to NPR Thursday afternoon by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office, which said that his body was discovered at a house in the 2800 block of Palos Verdes Estates in Los Angeles and that investigators are currently on the scene. The death is “being looked at as a possible suicide at this time,” according to Brian Elias of the coroner’s office. Bennington was 41 years old.

Linkin Park member Mike Shinoda posted that he is “shocked and heartbroken” and that an official statement from the band is forthcoming.

Earlier this month, Linkin Park finished a European and U.K. leg of an international tour in support of its current album, One More Light, with guest artists Machine Gun Kelly, One OK Rock and Snoop Dogg; the band’s next scheduled tour date is July 27 in Mansfield, Mass.

Although Linkin Park never gained much critical acclaim, the rap-rock band was a popular staple in the early 2000s. Its debut album in 2000, Hybrid Theory, became the best-selling rock album of that decade, and the group went on to sell more than 50 million units. At the height of its popularity, Linkin Park toured relentlessly — the band reportedly tallied 342 live shows just in the year 2001. Overall, Linkin Park scored six Top 20 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. But Linkin Park got credibility for some collaborations with hip-hop artists, including Collision Course, a 2004 EP the band recorded with Jay-Z.

Today is also the birth date of one of Bennington’s close friends, the late Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell, who killed himself in May. Cornell and Bennington were close friends, and the Linkin Park singer sang at Cornell’s memorial service in May


Houston’s Jazz Envoys Describe

Kendrick Scott Oracle, is stocked with serious talent, each musician a distinguished leader in his own right. Among them is guitarist Mike Moreno who, like Scott, originally hails from Houston, and has been keeping an anxious watch on the events of the past week.

The catastrophic wake of Hurricane Harvey has stretched across East Texas and into Louisiana, taking lives and uprooting tens of thousands of others, while causing billions of dollars in damage and disruption. But the flooding in Houston has been a specific worry for that city’s jazz diaspora, which includes some of the most important artists of the present era.

Those musicians all have families back home, and in the days since Harvey made landfall last week, a lot of energy has been devoted to checking up on them, and on each other. Glasper’s father, who lives in Beaumont, lost a friend to floodwaters there. But Glasper, like the half-dozen other musicians I spoke with, considers his family fortunate. “We’ve been on a thread of text messages making sure everybody is cool,” he said, “me and Jamire Williams, Eric Harland, Chris Dave, Kendrick, Jason Moran.”

Brenda Harland, the mother of Eric Harland, took this photo from her porch in the Pleasantville neighborhood of Houston.

Brenda Harlan

Notwithstanding Moran, another pianist, every name Glasper lists is an esteemed drummer-bandleader who has helped evolve the pulse of the music. Harland, the big brother of the bunch, was alarmed to see pictures taken by his mother on Saturday, as water was rising around his childhood home.

“There was a moment when I realized I couldn’t get back there,” he said on Wednesday night, after his efforts to travel to Houston from New York were forestalled. (He made it as far as Dallas-Fort Worth.) “You just want to cry, but you can’t. I’m not the one going through it; if anybody should be crying, it’s them.”

Harland’s mother was evacuated by FEMA before the flooding worsened, and she’ll be assessing the damage in the coming days. She resides in the Pleasantville neighborhood of northeast Houston, which is also where Moran’s grandfather lives. (He made it out safely too.)

“I have maybe hundreds of family members in Houston,” said Moran, who among other things is the artistic director for jazz at the Kennedy Center. “Nearly all of them are, miraculously, OK. But I have so much concern about how the city rebuilds after this. And it’s not only physically, but psychologically — the trauma of having all this water inundate a livelihood. Kind of like what we saw happen with Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. These are bastions of southern creativity that could, all of a sudden, be washed away.”

That fretful focus on the near-future is a prevailing theme now. “What concerns me is the aftermath,” said pianist Helen Sung. She grew up in southwest Houston, which saw considerable flooding from Brays Bayou. (Her parents, first-generation immigrants, are safe.)

Kendrick Scott was raised partly in Meyerland, another area that experienced devastating flooding. (He said his father, in Missouri City, had been shut in by water but was well-provisioned.) Scott has a unique perspective on the cultural implications of the storm, as a longtime associate of New Orleans-born trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard.

On the 2007 Blue Note album A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina), Scott helped Blanchard create a poignant reflection on the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. And before his set at the Jazz Standard, 12 years to the day after the breach of levees in New Orleans, Scott voiced wariness about any comparison between that moment and this one.

“I’m actually searching my feelings to see how I feel,” he said. “I need more information. It’s been so dark that I’ve just been talking to my family, instead of looking at the news.”

Houston’s jazz infrastructure is a curious thing, at once diffuse and deeply entrenched. There are a handful of clubs that feature jazz, with a focus on local talent. Cezanne, on the second floor of a building in the Montrose neighborhood, plans to reopen this Friday with the Bruce Saunders Quartet. Also back in business are Café 4212 and Phil & Derek’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar. But assessing the recovery of the scene isn’t as simple as ticking off a list of venues.

“Jazz musicians in the city play everywhere,” said Moran. “They play at the restaurant, they play at the church, they play at the bar. Or the theaters downtown, like the Wortham. And people live all over the city.

Early songs the stars left behind

Ill-advised novelty singles, dubious dance-pop directions, fits of pique or simply just sub-par tunes that should never have been released – open enough closets and you’re sure to discover a few interesting skeletons. Here are the early songs that had the stars wishing life came with a ‘clear history’ option.

Radiohead – Pop Is Dead

Radiohead’s 1993 breakthrough hit Creep used to be the albatross around the band’s neck. By its critics considered self-pitying and derivative, it became so unrepresentative of the band’s subsequent material – and yet so oft-requested – that they refused to play it for a long time, although they have relented in recent years; their rendition at 2017’s Glastonbury festival sounded almost sincere.

Pop Is Dead, on the other hand – another single from the same year – has long been consigned to the dustbin of history. A clumsy music biz satire, the band’s Ed O’Brien called it a “hideous mistake”. It didn’t even make the bonus disc of Radiohead’s 2008 ‘Best Of’ compilation and is currently unavailable on streaming platforms. Which is probably for the best.

Alanis Morrissette – Too Hot

You probably assumed that Alanis Morissette’s mega-selling 1995 album Jagged Little Pill was her debut. The singer certainly didn’t go out of her way to dispel that notion, but in fact she had already issued two albums of rather different material in her native Canada. They have never been reissued, and a quick internet search reveals why: 1991 debut single Too Hot was a Paula Abdul-style pop number, complete with big hair, “ch-ch-check this out” samples and energetic dance moves – a world away from the sassy alt-rock with which she made her name. Interestingly, Morissette’s 2002 album was called Under Rug Swept. Ironic, don’t you think?

Charlie Puth – The Pickle Song

Before he scored a global mega-hit with his Wiz Khalifa collaboration See You Again, Charlie Puth was a teenage YouTube sensation with fuzzy hair, fond of posting goofy rap songs about his “sexy shades” and being hit in the face by a pickle. Not that you’d know it by checking his YouTube channel, which hastily ‘refreshed’ as soon as Puth’s serious singing career took off, destroying evidence of his teenage efforts.

Of course in this day and age, it’s nigh on impossible to erase your internet history, and there are plenty of unofficial YouTube channels who have been only too happy to preserve Puth’s embarrassing past for posterity. At least, as the above interview proves, Puth is good-humoured when confronted with his old videos. And with an estimated net worth of $5m, he can afford to be.

Paul Simon – The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)

As he reiterates to The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert in the clip above, Paul Simonhas always loathed this early Simon & Garfunkel song. It’s not too hard to see why, its twee positivity (“hello lamppost!”) jarring with Simon’s attempts to establish himself as a more complex artist. He usually ignores all requests to perform it, but made an exception for this satirical rendition.

Bob Dylan – Ballad in Plain D

Several of Bob Dylan’s best songs were served with a few drops of vitriol and a side-order of disdain, but the legendary singer-songwriter admits he went too far on Ballad of Plain D, from his 1964 album Another Side of Bob Dylan. Written in the immediate aftermath of his break up from artist Suze Rotolo, the lyrics took aim, clumsily, at Rotolo’s sister Carla, branding her jealous and “a parasite”. “I must have been a real schmuck to write that,” Dylan admitted to interviewer Bill Flanagan in 1985. “I look back at that particular one and say, of all the songs I’ve written, maybe I could have left that alone.” Unsurprisingly he never performed it live.

Morrissey – Thes Ordinary Boy

It’s an unspoken rule of album reissues that you can add as many bonus tracks and alternate takes as you like, just don’t mess with the original tracklisting. But Morrissey(due to perform at 6 Music Live 2017) isn’t one for conforming to unspoken rules, so when fans picked up the reissue of his debut album Viva Hate in 2012, they were surprised to find Track 9 – The Ordinary Boys – had been replaced with an outtake from the same sessions, Treat Me Like a Human Being. As the reissue has now superseded old versions of Viva Hate on streaming services, it’s as if The Ordinary Boys never existed.

Why? Its content isn’t particularly controversial, compared to other Morrissey songs of the era. Sure, it’s hardly a classic, but Treat Me Like a Human Being isn’t markedly better, sounding almost unfinished. Perhaps Mozzer was just embarrassed about having inspired noughties lad-rockers The Ordinary Boys? Who knows. As with similar revisions to the tracklists of his albums Maladjusted and Southpaw Grammar, we’ll just have to chalk it up to the whims of one of British pop’s most committed contrarians.