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Songs: The Other Rush Hour

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According to the writers of the TV Guide
It's only just stopped being late last night
And the street lamps can't decide if their shift has ended
There's a parcel that I'm meant to be receiving
Between 7am and 6 o'clock this evening
So I'm up and out at twenty to to the newsagent

I'm waiting for the man in the delivery van

It's cold enough to see your breath
It's the time of day I usually prefer to spend in bed
So I'm surprised to find the High Road is alive with people
Maybe I'm amazed because I'm half awake
But it takes my mind a while to realise that they
Are the early risers who ride in before the office legions

On foot on bike and on the buses
They're rushing an hour before the other hour rushes
In the other rush hour

With paint streaked jeans there's a likely lad
Swinging his sandwiches in a carrier bag
As he strides through to find his fanbase waiting
He's the king among the women of the smoker's laugh
'Cos he reminds them of the good times that they used to have
When they only had themselves to get up in the morning

Getting in to punch the clock
Before my alarm clock's ringing's stopped
The other rush hour

I see a younger me on the top of a bus
Trying to impress girls by reading a book
Even though he'll never speak to the women he'll be working next to
He'll sit on his own when he's eating his lunch
He'll be going straight home when they go to the pub
He's too busy counting down the hours until the next semester

This working class colossus teeters
When he has to actually work with working class people
In the other rush hour

Now, in the corner shop there's a wall of flesh
On the covers of the magazines pretending they're for men
They're the photo's of the jobless actresses afraid and naked
While in the papers immigration and society parties
Mortgage rates and cancer scares and straight bananas
Fill space in the froth of pop and lies and hatred

Page 22 there's a cartoon Chav
A townie, a pikey, to be laughed at
By the other rush hour

As a snotty little sod of 17 years old
I was taken by the arm and very sternly told
That I was never to assume that I was better than other people
You see I'd grown up thinking we were Middle Class
But when I went to Polytechnic I soon found out that
There's a lot more to it than having double glazed bay windows

In the louche lidded eyes of the proper upper classes
I was just another atom in the faceless masses
To the other rush hour

My parcel spent my day off failing to arrive
I finally rang the depot at 5.45
And complained like a PTA chairman in a restaurant
I heard what I was doing and apologised
It was at this very moment that the van arrived
With a driver with a clipboard and a package and my guilty conscience

He said I'm sorry it took so long to turn up
But before he could explain I had to interrupt
And say Yeah, we both got stuck in another Rush Hour

Published by Wipe Out Music Publishing

This song took months to finish, and was hanging around in my mind for ages before then. The basic idea came on one of the many occasions when I've stayed overnight at Tom's in Leicester and had to leave at a ridiculous time of day the next morning to get the train back to London. I'd always see loads of people setting off for work at a time that I considered to only just be in the morning at all and it'd remind me of when I used to have to be up at that time of day too, when I'd had jobs in factories and the like as a student. I'd see people like the "likely lad swinging his sandwiches in a carrier bag" striding in, and remember knowing people like them back then. I'd be acutely aware of newsagents along the way too. They were the only places open at that time of the morning and so you could see them in the distance as lonely beacons of light in the early gloom.

I always talked about this time of day as "The Other Rush Hour" and soon aspects of it were popping into my mind. The bits about the "women of the smokers laugh" and the street lamps being unable to work out the time of day came first followed by lots of other ideas and phrases that were too lumpy to fit together properly.

I had two verses and some choruses worked out, and they sat on a piece of paper in my bedroom for ages, looking at me accusingly. Occasionally I'd sit and sing a bit of it and wait for ideas, but nothing much happened until I decided to brutally chop sections of it out and make the verses twice as long - this gave me a bit of breathing space between choruses and for the next several weeks it very gradually eased itself into being, taking a lot of turns along the way. I'd also been trying to write a song about waiting for parcels to turn up and that idea elbowed its way into this one, knocking out lots of stuff about being in Leicester and going to catch a train. At one point there was a newspaper editor looking out of a window at people who "buy his words but hardly read them, he knows they need him less than he needs them" but that was taking things off in a hugely different direction, as was a lengthy rant about magazines like Front and Loaded, the remains of which appear briefly about halfway through the finished version. Instead of all that I ended up concentrating on me, as usual. That bit about me being sternly told off for acting like I was better than other people is, I'm afraid, very true indeed.

I'm really chuffed with bits of this song, it's like a State Of The Nation type of thing which I don't often do. One advantage of taking ages to write a song like this is that it does get pretty compressed, with every line being thought about perhaps more than it should be, so every line tends to have a lot of stuff in it. The bit about the PTA chairman, for instance, took half a day on its own!

The tune changed around quite a lot too, and then when it got to The Validators we never quite got it how we wanted it. I'd had a really good think about it, and written some quite detailed notes about how the song should ebb and flow (which translated during practices as "faster, then louder, then quieter"), and there was lengthy discussion about how the breaks at the end of each verse should work, but it wasn't until we actually got to Cornwall for the recording sessions that it started to gel. Before heading off there Tim had regaled us with tales of what it'd be like in a residential studio, and how we'd all be rocking through the night, having late night sessions fuelled by Vodka and Caffeine, emerging at dawn with rock history made.

In actual fact we were nearly always all in bed by eleven o'clock and only once played our instruments after tea-time. We reconvened at about nine o'clock one night to try and work this song out. Unfortunately we'd all been playing since 10 o'clock in the morning and were knackered, so it was left until the next day to try and get it right in the recording.

You can imagine our surprise then when it actually turned out pretty good, especially when we got home and Frankie supplied us with his proper mix of the tune. We'd always thought of it as the one song which might end up not getting used, but what we actually recorded sounds great to me. It might be because we were worried about it but not worried enough to do much overdubs, that it came out sounding a bit more spare and a bit more urgent than our usual stuff.

It still didn't seem to fit in with the other songs though - perhaps it's because there's certain themes in it that are covered elsewhere, or more likely it's because it gets all excited and speeds up as it goes along, but when we came to decide which songs should be on the album and which go out as b-sides it didn't take very long for this one to be chosen. As I say though, I like it very much indeed, and if only I could learn the words we'd play it live a lot more often!

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