Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Arctic Monkeys -- "Fake Tales of San Francisco" (2006)

He talks of San Francisco
He's from Hunter's Bar
I don't quite know the distance
But I'm sure that's far

The Arctic Monkeys are an indie group from Sheffield, a city in northern England that was known for its steel factories until foreign competition resulted in most of those factories closing many years ago.

This song doesn't really have anything to do with San Francisco.  It's about a band that claims to have performed in San Francisco and New York City, but which in reality hasn't strayed very far from Hunter's Bar or Rotherham, which are Sheffield neighborhoods.

Hunter's Bar, named for an old toll-road barrier, is a long way from San Francisco (as is noted in the lines quoted above).  In fact, it's over 5200 miles as the crow flies.  

An English friend of mine told me about the Arctic Monkeys when they burst on the scene in 2006.  The group's first album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, became the fastest-selling debut album in UK history when it was released in 2006.

The album's title is a quote from Alan Sillitoe's 1958 "angry young man" novel, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, which was made into a celebrated movie starring Albert Finney in 1960.  Here's the trailer for the movie:

I have the album, but this is the only song on it that I really warmed to.  The song shifts into high gear at the 1:40 mark, and then goes into overdrive about 30 seconds later.  (A very heavy bass line kicks in at that point, and that -- to paraphrase Robert Frost -- makes all the difference.)

I love this verse, which makes it clear that the band that is the subject of the song are not only a bunch of phonies, but crappy musicians as well:

And as the microphone squeaks
A young girl's telephone beeps
Yeah, she's dashing for the exit
She's running to the streets outside
"Oh, you've saved me," she screams down the line
"The band were f*cking wank
And I'm not having a nice time!"

Saved by the bell -- or by a ringtone . . .

Here's "Fake Tales of San Francisco":

Click here to buy the song from Amazon:

1 comment:

  1. All sorts of "keys" here--Glossop reminds me of Lady Honoria Glossop in a "Jeeves & Wooster" episode. San Francisco, is the spiritual home of the West Coast chapter of the Thadearkian Brotherhood, the ancient order of streetcar enthusiasts. Long after every other city west of El Paso went all-bus, SF kept the faith with electric railways. Southern California streetcar fans would make periodic pilgrimages to MuniLand to rejoice in what to the locals was part of everyday life. I've been there often enough to pass for a native; like the time I was taking photos of the vintage trolleys on Market St. at Van Ness. A young woman came up and asked, "Where do I catch the #6 bus?" I pointed to the loading zone, and said, "See where the streetcar is loading? The #6 bus stops there too." A bit later I was further up at street and a guy on a Harley comes chugging up and asks, "Say, Buddy, which way is Haight St.?" "It's just a few blocks ahead. It branches off at an odd angle. Just follow the electric bus wires." "Thanks, Buddy, maybe I can score some grass." "Can't help you there, but good hunting." Then there's the night a bunch of fellow streetcar fans and I followed the 1908-vintage works car all the way back to the 1903-vintage carbarn.