October 26th, 2006


2 Thackrays

Because he was so brilliant, and because the versions of this song on the Jake in a Box collection are such poor ones (Thackray did it much better live), I thought I'd make my own cover version of Jake Thackray's "Lah Di Dah", which I offer you below in the form of an impromptu mp3. Well, two, actually.

When I invented myself as Momus in 1984, I remember making a tape for my friend Neill, who played keyboards on my first album. On it were Thackray's One-Eyed Isaac and The Jolly Captain, which, like "Love You Till Tuesday"-period Bowie, mixed narrative and spookiness in ways I found appealingly odd. I also remember teaching myself to play the brilliant, Brechtian The Bull. The reason Thackray was an important figure to me was that he was the only British songwriter I could find who approached songs the way my French heroes -- Brassens and Brel -- did. You could hear them in Thackray the way you could hear Moliere and La Fontaine in them. But you could also hear something fascinating; the world's most tender misanthropist. Singing like a cross between Noel Coward and a Bridlington miner.

Four years after his death, just as I predicted, new generations of music lovers are greeting Thackray with "surprising upswellings of affection and admiration". Now will somebody please put the two BBC 4 Thackray documentaries aired last month up on YouTube? Or, you know, just burn me a DVD or something? I am, after all, Jake's closest living relative.

Lah Di Dah (Momus sings Jake Thackray's song; 2.6MB mp3 file, 2 mins 50 secs. For AK.)

(And here's the Spooky Weird Version.)