Agit Disco 23 – Tracey Moberly

Agit Disco 23 - Tracey Moberly

Tracey Moberly

1. Michelle Shocked – ‘When I Grow Up’  (1988)

2. Patti Smith – ‘People Have The Power’ (1988)

3. Janis Ian – ‘At Seventeen’ (1975)

4.  Alabama 3 – ‘Peace In The Valleys’ (2009)

5. Nancy Sinatra – ‘Bang Bang’ (1966)

6. B52’s – ‘Channel Z’ (1989)

7. The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (The JAMs) – ‘Grim Up North’ (1991)

8. X-Ray Specs – ‘Oh Bondage Up Yours!’ (1977)

9.  Dimitri From Paris – ‘I am a Very Stylish Girl’ (1998)

10.  Suzanne Vega – ‘Luka’ (1987)

11.  Billie Holiday – ‘Ain’t Nobodies Business’ (1923)

12.  Ace of Base – ‘All That She Wants’ (1992)

13.  Manic Street Preachers – ‘A Design For Life’ ( 1996)

14. Chumbawumba – ‘Tubthumping’ (1997)

15. Penetration – ‘Don’t Dictate’ (1977)

16. Edie Brickell & New Bohemians – ‘What I Am’ (1988)

17. Alabama 3 – ‘Woke Up This Morning’  (1997)

18. Peaches & Joan Jett – ‘I Don’t Give a Fuck’ (2003)

After compiling my first CD selection which included hard edge political, rebel and anti war songs I viewed some of the other AGITDISCO contributors selections. I found that the majority of the classic songs had been incorporated into theirs. Therefore instead of making a compilation from their compilations I have scrapped my first selection and decided upon a different direction and selection process. I am adopting a different position which helps address the imbalance of male to female artists and contributors. I have selected a number of songs and their lyrics based on a socio-political narrative that begins with a young girl being born in the then thriving Welsh mining Valleys of South Wales. The story is briefly narrated and delivered from a subjective standpoint regarding both the selection choice and content. I am using the song lyrics and performers to weave the greater part of the stories narrative which sometimes contain factual snippets of information about the artist and the song. The tracks in chronological order narrates the wider story as we read between the lines…

The young girl in the thriving mining valleys of South Wales plays with dolls and prams and all is pink and rosey with her world. At a very early age it is indoctrinated into her that when she is older, much older, she will have many many children of her own as illustrated in my first song section MICHELLE SHOCKED – ‘WHEN I GROW UP’ and the lyrics “…Then I think I’m gonna marry myself that old man… We’re gonna have a hundred and twenty babies… A hundred and five ten fifteen twenty babies…” the lyrics also support the beauty through a childs eyes of the natural aging process untouched by the media and industry-forced ideals of forever trying to hold onto female youth with the song beginning “When I grow up I want to be an old woman, an old, an old, an old, an old, an old, an old, an old, an old woman.”

The town where our female is growing up is an industrious mining valley. It consists of a colourful vibrant community complete with union meeting houses; churches; chapels; shops; bars; snooker halls; cafes and clubs – all spaces for families and friends to interact and socialise. Full of activity the black coal mining valleys shine with the power inherent in the people of the community as within PATTI SMITHS – PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER lyrics “…In the form of the shinning valley…” The Red Flag is the song often sung in union meetings and Welsh male voice choir rehearsals. The nuclear family is a familiar aspect of the valleys demographics running hand in hand with mass employment and and an established industrialised area. It nurtures young and old alike “…people have the power…” the shepherds live in unison with the miners; the towns and villages here establish themselves as a high recruiting area for the armed forces. Within the bubble of a seemingly  smooth running economy everything seemed achievable “…We can turn the earths revolution we have the power, people have the power…’

Growing up and developing into womanhood JANIS IAN – AT SEVENTEEN enforces a strong socio-political comment on adolescent cruelty and teenage angst. It pinpoints how problems cannot be solved by popularity. It further comments on female achievement through looks and the role within the nuclear family set up, suggesting marriage is an easier option for the better looking “… the rich-relation home town queen, marries into what she needs with a guarantee of company and haven for the elderly…” The song was inspired by a newspaper article about a former teenage debutante. The teenager had learned the hard way that being popular did not solve all of her problems.

As Thatcher proceeds to close down the mines and mass unemployment reigns communities become decimated. Options and choices are limited as the nuclear family and social structures begin to fall apart. People begin to move away in order to find gainful employment. As the area falls into a depression both economically and socially our female becomes caught up in it’s tide. Drink and drug abuse starts to infiltrate the now decaying area and employment continues in decline. Along with her peers she knows she has to leave her family and friends in order to make a better life for herself. ALABAMA 3 – PEACE IN THE VALLEYS lyrics illustrate this “…she spends too much time with herself every night just fooling around with her fear. In the morning she mourns the decline of her mind drowning in a bottle of beer. It’s too dangerous just to think about what she might have been if she’d sung for salvation, if she danced upon her dream…” Many of her friends and peers are thrown into confusion and racked with uncertainty as a drug culture pervades. Relationships continue to breakdown due to lack of opportunity and problems incurred by insufficient incomes. The lyricist and frontman of this track is coincidentally a man from the South Wales Valleys.

Her childhood sweetheart is referenced in NANCY SINATRA – BANG, BANG as he leaves her as in the track, maybe unrequited love or untimely death. More sinister implications than simply childhood games can be interpreted in ”Bang bang he shot me down…Bang bang I hit the ground” whether emotional or physical. Needing to leave an unproductive, socially decimated environment the next track places the narrative into a broader world-wide context on current affairs that are affecting the whole of the U.K. with the song lyrics being narrated as if from a TV and about a TV channel  THE B-52s – CHANNEL Z – an anti media song which brings attention to world politics and the spin-offs world wide from the Regan regime in the USA “…Space junk – laser bombs – ozone holes…” secret arms deals to Iran and the like. “… I am livin’ on Channel Z, Getting nothing but static, getting nothing but static. Static in my attic from Channel Z…” Deciding upon a move to a more prosperous town or city the lyric line “…where’s my umbrella…” indicates the transition from one part of the country with high rainfall to another THE JUSTIFIED ANCIENTS OF MU MU (THE JAMs) – IT”S GRIM UP NORTH intimates our female’s move to a Northern city. The song consists of a list of towns and cities in the North England which segues into an orchestral instrumental version of William Blake’s JERUSALEM, in which Blake depicts the coal and cotton mill industries of the Industrial Revolution as a mechanism for the enslavement of millions, possibly a metaphor for what she may have in store. “…Leeds, Northwich, Nantwich, Knutsford, Hull, Sale … Ikley Moor, Sheffield, Manchester, Castleford, Skem, Doncaster, Dewsbury, Hali-fax, Bingley, Bramall, Are all in the North. It’s Grim Up North…”

Finding her feet in a new city our female expresses much of X – RAY SPECS – OH BONDAGE UP YOURS! Is not an exclusively feminist track, Poly Styrene has said that the song also adopts both an anti-consumerist and anti-capitalist stance. The song opens “…Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard – well I think bondage, up yours!…” and settling into life in the bigger city In polarised contrast, seemingly  confident and very self assured DIMITRI FROM PARIS – I AM A VERY STYLISH GIRL portrays how the woman needs constant confirmation from the male  on her appearance. With samples taken from Breakfast at Tiffany’s starring the iconic female Audrey Hepburn and based on a book by Truman Capote. The heroine has moved from a small town to a large city and works in prostitution as a society girl. She frequently asks in the lyrics “…How do I look, How do I look…” to which the male replies “ Very good, I must say I’m amazed…” Now caught up in a controlling and unhealthy relationship SUZANNE VEGA – LUKA deals with domestic violence as the musical genre heightens a metaphorical denial, throwing the listener into a falsehood thinking they are listening to something serene and beautifully mastered. “…If you hear something late at night, Some kind of trouble, some kind of fight, Just don’t ask me what it was…” It is in fact dealing with the dark and devastating aspects of domestic violence. The structure of the song itself a metaphor for victims embarrassed and in denial to family and the public about their domestic abuse “…They only hit you until they cry, After that you don’t ask why, You just don’t argue anymore, You just don’t argue anymore, You just don’t argue anymore…” BILLIE HOLIDAY – AIN’T NOBODIES BUSINESS further endorses the taboo surrounding domestic violence “…But I’d rather my man would hit me, Than follow him to jump up and quit me, Ain’t nobody’s business if I do, I swear I won’t call no copper, If I’m beat up by my papa, Ain’t nobody’s business if I do, Nobody’s business… Ain’t nobodies business…”

Having started a family and living within a domestically abusive relationship our female’s feelings begin to wane considerably towards her partner. Unprotected by her nuclear family she begins to compare the abusive outbursts in her partner to that of inadequacy and weakness, loosing any sense of emotion and feelings she held for him. Having started a family she wants to complete it “… All that she wants is another baby, She’s gone tomorrow boy…” ACE OF BASE – ALL THAT SHE WANTS or maybe she decides that through the loneliness suffered from within her abusive relationship she wants a child and takes a turn as the female predator away from the traditional values of the male within this role “…She leads a lonely life,  She leads a lonely life – When she woke up late in the morning, Light and the day had just begun, She opened up her eyes and thought, O’ what a morning … She’s going to get you…” Now bringing up her family away from the community where she grew up with shared principles and morals she begins to reflect on her life and her situation THE MANIC STREET PREACHERS – A DESIGN FOR LIFE opens with the line “…Libraries gave us power…” was inspired by the words above the entrance to the former Pillgwenlly Library in South Wales followed by “…then work came and made us free…” referencing the slogan ‘Arbeit macht Frei’ that featured above the gates of most of the Nazi concentration camps. It explores themes of class conflict and working class identity and solidarity. “I wish I had a bottle, Right here in my pretty face to wear the scars, to show from where I came, we don’t talk about love, we only want to get drunk, And we are not allowed to spend, As we are told that this is the end, A design for life…” It is also indicative of a working class relationship suffering under Thatcher’s Government. Alcohol is cheap keeping the masses quiet not facing the problems or invoking any rebellion just blotting out the slow decline of what was once a vibrant life and economy, putting up with the situation. As it continued to spread country wide.

CHUMBAWUMBA  – TUBTHUMPING comes from a radical context, quoting a UK anti-road protester, Paris 1968 graffiti, details about the famous McLibel case and the short story “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”. With artistic licence our female likens it to her life in the North “ Pissing the night away, Pissing the night away – He takes a whiskey drink, he drinks a vodka drink…” along with the strength and positivity that comes from the lyrics “…I get knocked down but I get up again, You’re never gonna keep me down…” PENETRATION – DON’T DICTATE soon becomes her mental anthem “…Penetrating voices going through my head, I haven’t listened to a thing they said …” followed by “…It’s my choice I’m taking a chance yeah, Don’t dictate, Don’t dictate, Don’t dictate…” EDIE BRICKELL & THE NEW BOHEMIANS starts to vocally exert opinions in a questioning and non arrogant way as she tries to make sense of constantly being put down and questions the person she is in dialogue with ,questioning if they are genuine or a fraud “…What I am is what I am, Are you what you are or what?…”

No longer able to cope with the injuries, from both mental and physical abuse ALABAMA 3 – WOKE UP THIS MORNING is the penultimate track on our female’s journey. It is best known from the American series The Sopranos. Written by Alabama 3’s South Wales front man Rob Spragg along with Jake Black after hearing about murder case of Sara Thornton, who stabbed her husband after 20 years of abuse, mistreatment and neglect, the lyrics“…Woke up this mornin’, Got yourself a gun, Mama always said you’d be the chosen one, She said, ‘You’re one in a million, You got to burn to shine’ That you were born under a bad sign, With a blue moon in your eyes (yeah)…” “…Woke up this mornin’, And-a all that love had gone, Your papa never told you, About right and wrong…” Alone in a prison cell in the following months following the murder of her abusive partner due to her actions she started coming to terms with the situation showing great remorse. Reflecting and concluding on her life journey to date, taking time out only to question the inner workings of her I-Pod shuffle which frequently would only play PEACHES & JOAN JETT- I DON’T GIVE A FUCK “…You know, I wanna tell you something, I wanna tell you something, You know what? I don’t give a damn about my reputation, I don’t give a fuck, I don’t give a fuck, I don’t give a fuck, I don’t give a fuck, I don’t give a fuck…”

CD Photograph © Tracey Moberly

of André Eugene Voodoo sculpture – Haiti

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