Ride With Me

“That pencil smell

Reminds me of school.

The clock on your wall

I can no longer fool“.

From “Ride With Me” by The Lemonheads

Sunlight flooded through the school windows illuminating the chalk dusk in the air.  A place where life now seems to have been so free of cares or worries and yet a place where, even at a tender age, our personalities, traits and potential are defined.  I remember raucous boys banging school desks with their pens, pencils and rulers trying to emulate the burundi drums of “Kings of the Wild Frontier” by Adam and The Ants.

Daft as it may sound that was the door that opened into a whole new world for me.  The pantomime of images and sounds associated with pop music, videos and culture.  Growing up in a small Scottish town I was fascinated by the images I saw on record sleeves.  I became fanatical about Adam and The Ants.  I guess the sound created by their two drummers actually made me want to start to play the drums.  Their songs and images of Indian warriors, highwaymen, princes and knights ushered in the sort of world that any self respecting 9 year old boy wishes to dwell in.  Beyond that, at a deeper level, I soaked up the creativity and self-expression.  Adam Ant was often ridiculed for not smoking or drinking.  Maybe he inspired my admiration of straight edge before Ian MacKaye and others had actually created it?

It’s hard to truly have a sense of place at aged 9, but I could see that all was not well in the world or even in our country.  Record sleeves portrayed menacing youths staring out from black and white photos with graffiti walls in the background.  The Specials, The Jam and Stiff Little Fingers sounded angry about something. There were fly posters and slogans daubed about Thatcher, band names, IRA, UDF and a whole bunch of things I didn’t understand.  The TV broadcast scenes of riots in Brixton.  There was danger and discontent in places that seemed a world away from where I was growing up.

On Saturday shopping trips with my parents to Dundee I was mesmerised by the punks and they way they expressed themselves through their clothes and hair.  My parents always allowed me some time to browse through the record sections of John Menzies or Woolworths.  I was unsettled by some of the images from heavy metal records such as AC/DCs “Highway to Hell” or the posters of Gene Simmons or Eddie from Iron Maiden.  After all I was growing up in a traditional, church going, family. 

Yet in the ’80s, the world seemed futuristic at times.  New sounds were being created by synthesisers that were captivating and otherworldly.  So many bands or artists looked adronogeous.  It was a strange time.

In those years prior to reaching adolescence, the babysitters that Mum and Dad seemed to invite round all got to talking with me about music.  Often they brought records along or got me interested in discovering new sounds or bands.  I guess these were mainly fifth or sixth formers who considered themselves “too cool for school” and were wanting to make that transition to the big bad world.  Music was a way of expressing identity or opening oneself to new ideas.  These times introduced my ears to everything from Echo & The Bunnymen, Big Country, U2, Simple Minds, Prince, Then Jerico and The Cocteau Twins.

This was just the start of a journey of discovery – a musical landscape filled with groups that made raw, emotional music that actually had something to say.      

The rest of the lyrics to “Ride With Me” by The Lemonheads are below and I’ve included a video clip that you can watch and listen to by clicking on the image.

“Time to get in my car.
Been so dull, tired and tight.
Time to trust these old tyres.
Time to not say goodnight.

Jesus rides with me.
His will is plain to feel.
Come on, you can be.
Got yourself to steal.

He’s everywhere,
sends me straight across the plane.
He’s in your hair,
he’ll forgive me my pain.

You’re my girl, don’t you show it.
To know you know is to know it.
When you can’t trust yourself,
baby, trust someone else”.






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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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