This post is entirely the fault of Arthur@AmeriNZ. He wrote a piece called A reason to be cheerful, about the bipartisan effort in the New Zealand Parliament to work for LGBTI rights. He knew FULL WELL that the title would make me think of the song Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3 by Ian Dury and The Blockheads [LISTEN].
That put in my mind another Ian Dury and the Blockheads song, Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick. It was a big hit in much of the world: #1 in the UK, #2 in Australia, #3 in Ireland and New Zealand, and top 20 in Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
Apparently, it didn’t chart in the United States, but I heard it, and “Cheerful,” often on my favorite radio station in the late 1970s and early 1980s, WQBK-FM, Q104.
My good college friend Lynn HATED the song, I suspect, because the song title or lyrics were suggestive. But rock and roll has always been about sex, and I always preferred the euphemistic (“Roll with Me, Henry”) to the direct.
Moreover, I loved the song on several other levels. It’s danceable as all get out, thanks in no small part to a bass line played by Norman Watt-Roy.
The rhyme of the lyrics fascinated me. There is a device in poetry that commends a rhyme that isn’t spelled similarly; don’t recall what it’s called, but even without reading the lyrics, one can “see” the word endings, and I loved the pairing of: “rhythm stick” with “ich liebe dich” or “fantastique” or “Ist es nicht”; “Borneo” with “of Bordeaux”; “From Bombay to Santa Fe.”
From Song Facts:
It is well known that the Ian Dury song… was inspired by his disability; Dury was born in Harrow in May 1942… and contracted polio when he was seven years old. Although…Dury was not confined to a wheelchair, his body was still deformed by the disease, and he used a walking stick for the rest of his life. According to biographer Richard Balls, the line “It’s nice to be a lunatic” was probably inspired by a caustic remark from a lecturer in his days at Walthamstow Art College.
Dury gave the completed lyrics to his songwriting partner Chas (Chaz) Jankel in the autumn of 1978; the song has…an innovative saxophone solo by Davey Payne – who actually played two saxophones at once!
Released on the Stiff label November 23, 1978 and backed by “There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards”, it went on to sell a million copies…
Dury died of metastatic colorectal cancer on 27 March 2000, aged 57.