Wednesday, 7 January 2015

This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us by Sparks

The artist:

It’s very difficult to put your finger on Sparks. It could genuinely take you many, many listens before you gave up trying to establish what gender the singer is. Hell, with singer Russell Mael here being the one on the right, even the picture doesn't make it especially clear. It should be noted that his brother Ron was the only man on the planet still willing to sport the Hitler 'tache, 29 years after the collapse of the Third Reich.

The album:
Kimono My House (1974)

Falling In Love With Myself Again is the either the ironic waltzy manifestation of rock bottom alcoholism, or the unbelievably assured waltzy declaration of self-adulation from a man at the peak of his powers. It’s difficult to tell which. Thank God It’s Not Christmas is the result of putting Fleetwood Mac into a festive blender, combining with chamomile and star anise.  

Overall, the album is probably what it would be like to take a speed-ketamine cocktail in a Japanese kindergarten run by a cult.

The vibe:

This hyper glam rock tune, a number 2 hit in the UK, places you into a real life adaptation of a Crash Bandicoot/Mario Kart style game. One could be racing against a gorilla of some kind, perhaps through a strange stormy city, being subjected to random assaults from bizarre little Far Eastern creatures who populate the roads and fire cartoonish weaponry at your vehicle, like crab mines or octopus bazookas. 

Zoo time is she and you time
The mammals are your favourite type, and you want her tonight
Heartbeat, increasing heartbeat
You hear the thunder of stampeding rhinos, elephants and tacky tigers

This town ain't big enough for both of us
And it ain't me who's gonna leave

Flying, domestic flying

And when the stewardess is near do not show any fear
Heartbeat, increasing heartbeat
You are a khaki-coloured bombardier, it's Hiroshima that you're nearing

This town ain't big enough for both of us

And it ain't me who's gonna leave

Daily, except for Sunday

You dawdle in to the cafe where you meet her each day
Heartbeat, increasing heartbeat
As twenty cannibals have hold of you, they need their protein just like you do

This town ain't big enough for both of us

And it ain't me who's gonna leave

Shower, another shower

You've got to look your best for her and be clean everywhere
Heartbeat, increasing heartbeat
The rain is pouring on the foreign town, the bullets cannot cut you down

This town ain't big enough for both of us

And it ain't me who's gonna leave

Census, the latest census

There'll be more girls who live in town though not enough to go round
Heartbeat, increasing heartbeat

You know that: This town isn't big enough, not big enough for both of us

This town isn't big enough, not big enough for both of us
And I ain't gonna leave 

In this number, songwriter Ron Mael relates to an unidentified person his belief that the town in which they reside does not possess adequate capacity to accommodate both individuals. A strange notion one must concede - a town not big enough to size just two people suggests either a very small town indeed, probably more worthy of being defined as a village or hamlet, or very large humans, or perhaps a combination of the two. Regardless Ron uses his musical platform (as performed by brother Russell) to highlight the numerous instances in which this discrepancy of size has caused problems for everybody involved, including the infliction of some kind of heart condition upon the song’s subject.
Oh shit

Starting with perhaps the most dramatic example, Ron details how a number of dangerous wild animals were able to escape from captivity, perhaps on account of this person’s giant lumbering hands destroying the zoo's protective fences as he attempts to get a closer look at his beloved ‘favourite’ mammals and impress his date for the day. (The mere presence of elephants, the world’s largest land animal, and indeed a zoo full stop, would appear to immediately eliminate the very small town hypothesis.) Why Ron considers the tigers in this zoo to be particularly garish and distasteful is not clear, perhaps they have had their fur painted or dyed in some kind of unnatural colour. Either way, it’s not especially relevant.  

Next up, Ron details a curious experience whereby our gigantic friend finds himself operating a civilian aircraft in a military capacity, the ‘bombardier’ having somehow found himself in a position of flying a domestic Japanese flight to the southern city of Hiroshima. Ron once more points out how this particular voyage isn’t good news for the pilot’s heart, presumably because of the stress caused by operating a small domestic aircraft as some kind of unwieldy goliath dressed as an air force bomber, flying towards a city of great historical significance and a population of over one million. While not taking place in the setting of their hometown, Ron has probably invoked this anecdote just in order to further emphasise that this person is really quite big. 

Hiroshima: no more bombardiers please
Again, in verse 3, our lyrical directee’s size proves awkward even in the setting of his daily coffee with the missus. Remarkably he is of such an enormous stature that as many as 20 flesh eating passers-by are not only able to descend upon him and attach themselves to him in whatever way they can, but they also consider him a plentiful source of nutritional goodness. I would wager that if it were me sitting in the same café, at most three cannibals would find me of a suitable enough frame to keep them adequately fed for the afternoon. That would make this individual around 6 and ⅔ times larger than me, rendering him around 40ft tall. This is clearly a café with a tall ceiling.  

Verse 4 cruelly points out the difficulties of showering when at this height, tempering it with the good news that, should he be on the receiving end of a gang shooting, regular sized bullets are unlikely to fell him. Finally Ron consults the town census to confirm that there are simply not enough adequately sized females in the area to please a man of his magnitude – I am guessing the aforementioned girlfriend walked away from the whole affair following cannibal-café-gate.

Throughout these verses Ron outlines his forthright view that this individual’s size is of such an absurd scale, causing danger to himself and unto the wider community, that it is only right that he take his leave.

My immediate hunch is that Ron and Russell are probably right on this one. No one likes to evict a man from his own home, but when you are enabling some of the world’s most fearsome creatures to roam free from their previously domesticated setting and when you are attracting disproportionate numbers of cannibals to previously quiet cafés, it is probably not going to be long until you are made to feel fairly unwelcome as local businesses have to pick up the pieces. That is not to mention the health implications upon the giant himself, approaching ever closer to a heart attack. 

Whether our songwriter and songsinger friends have this kind of eviction power is not known, but it is probably only right that the giant be given some form of right of reply, whether through the courts or through another song. My primary concern is that even if he were to move to a larger town, perhaps even a super-conurbation or urban agglomeration like New Delhi or Tokyo, it is still difficult to imagine that a 40ft man would be easily accommodated, where overpopulation is already an issue. Indeed, more densely populated areas could prove even more dangerous, presenting further scope for accidental destruction or the attraction of flesh eating species.  

A new life? 
It could be that the two brothers have reached the right conclusion for the wrong reasons. It is probably best this enormous man leave the area, but not because of the inadequate size of the unnamed town, but rather because it is actually too large and poses too many inherent dangers within it. Instead, the giant should perhaps look to find a place in a remote rural destination, such as the Hebrides or the west coast of Ireland. The local tourist boards may even be able to utilise his freakish and most likely record-breaking nature to attract much needed visitors to the region.  

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