Exploring the weird and new is fine, but coming back to the classics is good too. Joe Jackson’s Big World is an album I come back to over and over, and I think that it’s probably one of the most underrated masterpiece-level record of the … Continue reading Soul Kiss
Under ‘fun facts I didn’t know about famous albums’, Joe Jackson’s Big World was apparently recorded live, and not just live in the studio, but live as in, in concert. That fact amazes me, because until I perused the Wiki, I never would have guessed. … Continue reading Shanghai Sky
Cab Calloway may not be a household name, but you’ve damn sure seen his signature moves or heard one of his songs. Fans have come to Cab Calloway through odd pathways, from the Betty Boop shorts that featured his animated avatar in the 1930’s, to his showstopping cameo in The Blues Brothers in 1980, to covers by unexpected artists like The White Stripes in the aughts. Like a lot of people, I came to this song through Joe Jackson’s cover. In the 80’s Jackson did more than anybody to guide rock fans into the world of swing and jazz music. His jazz covers proved that music that was swingin’ in the 30’s was still swingin’ right in tune with post-punk and new wave. That was a pretty surprising epiphany, given that rock fans tend to view jazz as being as stodgy and musty as their granddad’s old suits. Nobody could ever call Cab Calloway stodgy: he was always in the business of razzle-dazzle and good razzle-dazzle never fades. Calloway has managed to pop up as a cultural reference point in every decade, and being dead hasn’t slowed his roll. He just always comes back around, just as cool as the first day he did the Hi-De-Ho.
This song could not be more on point. It’s so on point it’s slightly discombobulating to realize that it’s coming at you from 1986. I don’t know what Joe Jackson’s been up to lately or what he thinks about this world of ours right now, … Continue reading Right and Wrong
Joe Jackson has written about a great many things and explored many different musical directions, but his best known and most popular album remains Look Sharp! and I think it’s accessible for a reason. It’s not exactly a concept album, but it’s definitely a theme … Continue reading Pretty Girls
Just Joe Jackson being a romantically disgruntled nebbish. Being a weird looking, neurotic little man who doesn’t get much luck isn’t exactly an edgy angle, but Jackson runs with it. And as such he’s really one of the underrated greats of New Wave.
If anyone deserves to be satirized, it’s obnoxious tourists, right? The kind of people who, as Joe Jackson helpfully explains, go and make nuisances of themselves in other people’s countries. You could go further here and start a conversation about cultural imperialism, colonialism and cultural appropriation, all things I’ve been reading a lot virulent debates about on the interwebses. Those are bad things, reasonable people agree. Just generally misunderstanding and disrespecting other people’s culture is agreed to be a very bad thing. But this is a light and funny song that only points towards those things. It’s only about annoying tourists with their expensive cameras and sense of entitlement. Americans are, as Joe Jackson also helpfully explains, the worst offenders because they have the most money for travel. But we’re not the only guilty parties, nor is America itself immune from being annoyed by large groups of tourists who gawk at the landmarks and express disgust at the local cuisine. If, like me, you’ve ever had to explain to a confused Asian lady what a sandwich is, you may know that feeling of frustration. You may also have noticed that foreign tourists either don’t know about tipping or just pretend that they don’t. If there’s one positive thing you can say about American travelers, it’s that we have horrific feelings of guilt if we don’t slip our servers a dollar or two, even if we’re in a country were tipping isn’t done. So that could be a song too.