With limited radio options and meager fiscal resources to boldly build my own collection when I was in high school, I relied on music writing to build my comprehension of the vast expanse of tuneful wonderment that existed outside of the Top 40. As a result, I was often more fascinated by lyrics, which could be excitedly quoted in reviews, than the actually combinations of instruments cranking out the rhythm and melody. My attention was also disproportionately captured by any song that had an elaborate title. Often unable to experience the tracks properly, I got a little charge from feeling my awareness was amplified by a song title that practically told a whole story on its own, filled with charm and heartbreak. Basically, I liked any song title that was a tweet well before its time. I didn’t need to actually hear the Smiths to feel like I understood something about the band, not with song titles like “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” and “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Love Me.”
That trait shaping my music awareness doesn’t persist with the same strength it once had, but I can still be stopped and jolted to attention by a lengthy song title that makes me grin all by itself. I don’t believe I knew a thing about the Liverpool band Johnny Boy (named after Robert De Niro’s character in Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets) when I actively sought out their second single, released in 2004. All I needed to know was the single’s title, spilling out with both sprawl and a sharpened economy. That it’s a highly agreeable track — catchy, spry, clever — is a happy bonus. The verbosity of the title didn’t signal a trend (other tracks on their debut album generally have blandly generic names: “Fifteen Minutes,” “Livin’ in the City” and “Country Boy”), but, as was the case in the past, I just needed that solitary hook to set my fascination atwirl.
Listen or download –> Johnny Boy, “You Are the Generation That Bought More Shoes and You Get What You Deserve”
(Disclaimer: As best as I can tell, neither the single featured here nor the album that contains it are available for purchase as physical objects that can be procured from your favorite local, independently owned record store. Given the era in which it was released, I’m sure it can be bought online as a digital treat. My confidence in that fact is matched by a similar certainty that the powers that be have made all the necessary manipulations to insure that only the tiniest sliver of revenue from any online purchase makes it back to the original artist, lessening any guilt I have about sharing it here. Still, feel free to seek out more of their material. It’s all solid as can be. Though I am adamant that sharing the track in this space is the very definition of fair use, I know the rules. I will gladly and promptly remove the track from my little corner of the online world if asked to do so by any individual or entity with the due authority to make such a request.)