Monday, April 14, 2008

Peak: Fever in the funk house, Pt. 5 - The Best of the Pogues

Or: How I fill up 2 GB

(Being the continuing alphabetical series of the contents of my iPod)

Album title: The Best of the Pogues
Artist: The Pogues
Released: 1991 (1986)

Track listing:
1. The Body of an American

This is the first of a handful of single tracks I have on my iPod. After hearing “The Body of an American” a few times during the detective wakes on The Wire (if you haven’t seen the show, you should stop reading blogs and devote that time to watching it; it’s pretty much essential), I decided I would go onto iTunes and pay 99 cents to have a copy of my very own. I made that purchase based almost exclusively on the allure of the song’s refrain (“I’m a freeborn man of the U.S.A.”) and its proud, defiant, Irish-drinking sing-along-ness.

But as I got into the song and listened to it a few times, I found that it contained some great lyrics to compliment the rather standard Irish arrangement. The song is set at the wake of a dead man, presumably a boxer, who led a life of pride.

Really, “The Body of an American” is just a cool song (dig this line: “He never threw a fight when the fight was right, so they sent him to the war”) (see note #2 below); that’s why I put it on my iPod. Not too much more to say about that.

2 notes:

1. “Body of an American” was originally released on the 1986 Pogues’ EP Poguetry in Motion; iTunes sold me the song off 1991’s The Best of the Pogues greatest hits collection. For the purposes of this blog, I’m referencing the song as originating on The Best of the Pogues.

2. The line I referenced above (“He never threw a fight etc.”) is listed on the Pogues website as “He never threw a fight unless the fight was right so they sent him to the war.” I have always heard it (and continue to hear it) as I typed it: “He never threw a fight when the fight was right so they sent him to the war.” To me, that choice of words means quite a bit; I think I’ll stick with the latter (and eschew the band’s official claims). As I was typing this I listened to the song several times, and still think they say “when.”

You can make your own call. The video below is a live version and the best I could find on youtube. Here is a link to the studio version of the song on The lyrics are a little clearer on that one.

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