Having posted two PJ Harvey peformances in the last two weeks, (see her stunning Jools Holland performance I posted last week and the equally-good version of ‘The Piano’ the week before) I happened across this recent performance of a rare song of hers, ‘Nina in Ecstasy’ from a ‘Morning Comes Eclectic’ session. She plays the song on the tiniest organ but also includes an interpolation (I believe that’s what it’s called) of Middle Of The Road’s ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’.
‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’ is an awful 70’s pop song – up there with ‘Tie the Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree’ for crimes to human hearing but it’s not the first time it’s been used as an inspiration for a hugely superior song. Ex-Felt man Lawrence and his 90’s band Denim also ‘interpolated’ ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’ for a song called, smugly, ‘Middle Of The Road’. So two excellent songs are inspired by one terrible one.
What amazes me about ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’ is how someone managed to write that song. See, I can understand how someone can sit down and write something incredible and way beyond anything I could even begin to imagine writing, like Elvis Costello’s ‘I Want You’ or The Beatle’s ‘Eleanor Rigby’. But I have no idea how someone can sit down and write something as nonsensical and plain daft as ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’. As someone who admits to liking ‘The Monster Mash’ and ‘Ooh Stick You’, I do believe there is a true art to writing pure unadulterated nonsense. Bernard Sumner of New Order has said in the past that he aspires to writing the perfect dumb pop song and recently, Jens Lekman has talked about his love for the silly pop song – things like Paul Simon’s ‘You Can Call Me Al’. I think it’s fair to say that it’s harder to write a stupid brainless song than a supposedly deep, meaningful one declaring your love for your woman.
So maybe ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’ is not all bad then. In fact, maybe I’m stupid and ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’ is a work of genius. Oh, I’m confused.