Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Happy Man Pig

Music is so easy to get hold of now. In the early 80's John Peel might play something by a German punk band, and  it would start a journey through the racks for  London's more adventurous record shops, or a mail order purchase. Now most tunes are just a couple of clicks away. Even if I am not completely certain it is the right song I can just listen to an ITunes sample. Driving home tonight I was listening to Happy Man Pig by Sparklehorse. This was probably the last song I really had to work hard to track down.

I had bought a mountain biking DVD. It turned out to have a cracking soundtrack and helpfully told you the tracks being played. But there was a promo for another DVD called Earthed or something similar. Over the images of people falling off mountains on bikes this incredible song was playing. No vocal, just yearning and driving music. It worked beautifully with the images on the screen. I wanted that song but had no idea who it was by. I scoured the DVD for a clue but it was keeping its secrets.

Now there are only so many mtb DVDs a man needs. But I wanted this song so much I was willing to buy Earthed on the basis that it might either play the bloody song in full or tell me who it was by. It took me a while but I finally tracked it down. I watched the DVD I was poised for the song. The soundtrack was great but the bloody song was not materialising. Then finally  it was there , roaring into view. But still nothing to give me a clue who it was by. Then right at the end  I spotted there was a track listing.

By process of elimination I worked out it was Happy Man by Sparklehorse, and bounced away to iTunes to make my purchase. Even this was not the full story. I down loaded the track from the Good Morning Spider album. As any Sparklehorse fan with know this is the version Smith deliberately half obliterated with static. I have come to love this version in all its eccentricity but at the time I just wanted it straight. After more faffing I finally tracked down the version I wanted. If felt that same elation I could recall from being 14 or 15 coming home with my prize purchased from Virgin, or HMV.

I had never heard the lyrics until that point and had never really paid much attention to Sparklehorse, but these surreal words just seemed perfect with the din being made. 'Woke up in a horse's stomach one foggy morning, its eyes were crazy as it crashed into the cemetery gate' or something like that.  And that yearning cry of ' All I wanna be is a happy man'.

I was going through a painful time, and there was something about this song that seemed to sum up where I was. It became in sense my battle hymn as I tried to fight my way out of the corner I was in. I kind of clung to it like a raft. That time is passed now.

Listening to the song today was bitter sweet. If pressed as to my favourite song ever it would certainly be on the shortlist. But it is so glued in my memory to that difficult time I cannot simply enjoy it. It carries echoes of emotions I am glad I no longer feel and if I am honest not desperate to be reminded of.