E is for…

Exhilarating sadness by The Saw Doctors

This week’s song/concert comes from that period in the early 90s when being Irish was cool, an O’Reillys (Ryans whatever) was springing up like a rash across London wherever there used to be Slug and Lettuce or a King George, and there was the Fleadh every year at Finsbury Park.

First time I heard it live: Earl* was slightly Irish, well she was born there, has an Irish passport and the plummiest British accent you could ask for. We once took the piss out of her for being posh, which she denied vehemently by saying she only had one Bentley. Anyway, she was big into this band called The Saw Doctors (which I probably mistook for The Spin Doctors) and she insisted we go see them while we were at the Fleadh. They weren’t really my kind of stuff. I quite liked fiddly, jingly jangly pop folk stuff, but the people playing it usually hadn’t seen the inside of a bathroom for a few weeks. By comparison this lot were sparkly clean.

First time I heard it:  Anyway, I’m a sucker for a sad song, and this week’s song is sad. Well it’s called Exhilarating Sadness for crying out loud. If you look up the lyrics here, it’s a kind of mixture of unrequited love (another of my favourite topics in songs) and a failed love affair. At the time the song kind of spoke to me, perhaps the unrequited love part more than the other part, as I was single and absolutely crap at making a move on any guy I fancied, relying on telepathy and fluttering eyelids to do the trick. I suppose it also spoke to the writer side of me, because you certainly wonder who were all these men ogling her. Why was she so sad? And couldn’t you just make up a fabulous story about her. I bought the CD in the end. The only one of theirs I bought, but their words still stick with me. Whatever you say about the Irish, they can spin a tale or two and All the way from Tuam certainly contains one or two (or a whole album worth). Later, That summer when I did a motorbike trip across Ireland, this album was my soundtrack (in my head, what with not having being able to wear headphones under a helmet) and I was singing as loud as I could (in my head): ‘Oh I wish I was on the N17,” (when I was on the N17) and then we hit the most enormous pothole ever and then I just wished I was sitting on something where I could put my legs together demurely and not have flies plastered to my face every five seconds.

*not her real name


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