That’s Entertainment – one of the greatest songs ever written. It took Paul Weller 35 minutes to write, or so legend has it. He scribbled it down while sat pissed on the last bus home.
What do the lyrics mean? Haven’t got a clue. And I don’t care – because it sounds great. Especially the chorus:
Why bother spending hours torturing yourself over some wanky lyrics when you can express yourself with a noise? For some reason, that noise usually comes out as 'la, la, la'. So, here’s the definitive list, which nobody can argue with, of the 10 greatest songs that go la, la, la.
It’s no wonder Van Morrison turned into such a miserable git. Despite releasing about 7,000 albums during his life, Van is still best known for one track: Brown Eyed Girl. It’s his signature tune. One of the most played songs in the history of recorded music, recently racking up its nine millionth radio play. But here’s the good bit. Van the Man claims that, owing to a dodgy contract he signed as a youngster, he’s never received a penny in royalties for it. It may explain why he hates it so much. He has said, “I’ve got about 300 songs which are better”. Still, it’s a cracking tune from one of the masters of the la, la. Check out Caravan as well.
Do you remember when we used to sing?
There’s no better sound on a summer’s afternoon than a bunch of fat, sun-burnt Lancashire cricket fans bellowing out this terrace classic. It’s the bacon sandwich of the la, la song. Stripped down to its raw components: name of county, three la’s and some booze. That’s it. Simple. Beautiful. If it was sung by anyone else it could easily sound a tad moronic. But filtered through the bizarre high-pitched drone of the Lancastrian – it becomes the la, la equivalent of Hallelujah.
Lanc-y-shurr... la, la, la. Lanc-y-shurr... la, la, la
Bit of a cheat this. Despite the title, you’ll only find a smattering of five la’s in this tune. But fuck it, it’s a cracking song. This was recorded just as the The Faces were falling apart. Ronnie Lane wrote it for Rod Stewart, but the mullet-haired idiot refused to sing it – didn’t like it, apparently. It was left to a pre-Rolling Stones Ronnie Wood to do the vocals on the album version. But it’s this later version, sung by Ronne Lane, that does it for me.
Trust these loveable Birkenhead scallywags. They couldn’t just do a song with some la’s, oh no: they had to be all postmodern and droll about it and deconstruct its use in the tool shed of lazy songwriters. Smartarses. Good though – off their first album.
And I went la-la-la-la-la-la-la
I went la-la-la-la-la-la-la
Just like everyone else does when they can’t think of any more words.
What do you need to know about Wolfgang Reichman? Well, you’d never have guessed it, but he was German. He dressed like an accountant, wore blue lipstick and was stabbed to death by a random stranger just a couple weeks before his first album was released. Himmelblau is nine minutes of bubbling, shimmering electronica. It sounds a bit like Kraftwerk driving a Fiat Punto through the countryside. It keeps you waiting before the la, la bit kicks in, but stick with it – it’s worth it.
This has to be included, I suppose. It’s a shame, because Iggy Pop really is one of the most tiresome dickheads ever to parade around on a stage with his top off. Iggy – currently performing in his latest car insurance advert – has only ever recorded two half-decent songs: Lust for Life and The Passenger. And despite being poisoned by association with its creator, The Passenger has survived as the Smoke on the Water of the la, la, la. Yes, Bowie did some of the backing vocals. Now fuck off.
La-la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
You can chart the decline of Paul Weller by the number of songs he wrote which featured a la, la, la. Back in the 80s, just about every Jam song seemed to include a burst – That’s Entertainment, Going Underground, Man in the Cornershop – all class. But the height of the Weller la, la, la came with Saturday’s Kids. After that he started getting into jazz, writing sensible lyrics about emotions and the next thing you know, you’re in a field surrounded be middle-aged men watching the UK’s dullest musician.
This was a commercial flop for 70s Elvis. It showed its face in the Top 40 before scuttling off into obscurity. But it remained one of Presley’s personal favourites, a song he continued to perform right up until his death. It’s not your usual Presley fare – it’s a song about loneliness and depression. The la, la, la’s here come from somewhere deep inside – a fragile and haunting refrain.
I'm, I'm leavin’
You might not have heard of Joe Raposo, but, if you’re of a certain age, you’ll be familiar with his tunes. He was a Portugese musician who used to write most of the music for Sesame Street, including the classy theme tune. He’s also supposed to have been the inspiration for the Cookie Monster. Raposo wrote Sing as something that kids on the show could learn easily. No need to remember lyrics, just go la, la, la. But it became something of a crooning classic after it was covered by the likes of The Carpenters and Barbara Streisand. Fuck you Radiohead. Fuck you Doves. Listen to this and weep.
If you hang around pubs in Cardiff for long enough, you’ll eventually meet a cantankerous old fella clutching a pint of wine. This is Meic Stevens – the creator of the best la, la ever recorded.
These days Meic looks a bit like Father Jack – and a few years back he was arrested for threatening to shoot a landlady who’d refused to feed him any more booze. In the 60s, however, he was a fresh-faced young folk singer who was touted as the Welsh Bob Dylan. With fame and fortune calling, Meic heroically slammed the door in its face. He insisted on continuing to write and record music in his native Welsh language. And he’s carried on doing it for the last 40 years. But it’s one of his very first songs which still stands out – Y Brawd Houdini. It’s a song about going for a beer with the brother of the escapologist. Once you hear this la, la, la – it’ll never leave. The greatest terrace chant that never was.
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la
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