What Mother Warned You About – Ian Dury

by Tony Shea on May 13, 2013

in IN PRAISE OF..., LISTS, MUSIC, OBITUARIES, POETRY

Ian Dury

Fittingly perhaps, Ian Dury’s birthday coincided with Mother’s Day this year, since Dury was the kind of bloke that my mother always warned me about – a free spirit. The purveyor of “Sex and Drugs and Rock n’ Roll,” Ian Dury was the kind of person who gave my mother nightmares. As the frontman of Ian Dury and the Blockheads, a band of new wave pioneers who fused rock, jazz, disco, punk, and rockabilly, Dury had a distinctive talk-sing voice that was alive with Cockney personality. Above all, Dury was an extraordinary lyricist, one of the best ever, combining poetry, bawdy rhymes, word play, and a plethora of well developed characters going about their dirty business. Ian Dury and the Blockheads were a truly original outfit producing the auditory equivalent of watching a movie or reading a book with their fascinating sonic and lyrical landscapes, driven by Dury’s genius.

Dury contracted Polio when he was seven, leaving him partially paralyzed, and igniting a world view that was utterly unique, infusing songs like “Spasticus Autisticus.” He died at the age of 56 years old from colorectal cancer in 2000; the story of his life was made into the biopic Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll, staring Andy Serkis of “Gollum” fame, in 2010.

Therein some lyrical and musical highlights from Ian Dury’s catalog:

Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll

Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Is all my brain and body need
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Are very good indeed

Keep your silly ways or throw them out the window
The wisdom of your ways, I’ve been there and I know
Lots of other ways, what a jolly bad show
If all you ever do is business you don’t like

Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Is very good indeed

Every bit of clothing ought to make you pretty
You can cut the clothing, grey is such a pity
I should wear the clothing of Mr. Walter Mitty
See my tailor, he’s called Simon, I know it’s going to fit

Here’s a little piece of advice
You’re quite welcome it is free
Don’t do nothing that is cut price
You know what that’ll make you be
They will try their tricky device
Trap you with the ordinary
Get your teeth into a small slice
The cake of liberty

Sex and drugs and rock and roll

Sweet Gene Vincent
A song that celebrates America’s own rockabilly legend, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Gene Vincent, who died at the young age of 36.

Blue Gene, baby

Skinny white sailor,
The chances were slender
The beauties were brief
Shall I mourn you? Decline,
With some thunderbird wine
And a black hankerchief?
I miss your sad Virginia whisper
I miss the voice that called my heart

Sweet Gene Vincent,
Young and old and gone…
Sweet Gene Vincent

Who, who, who slapped John?

White face; black shirt;
White socks; black shoes;
Black hair; white strat;
Bled white; died black!

Sweet Gene Vincent
Let the Blue Caps roll tonight
At the soc. hop ball in the union hall
Where The Bop is their delight

Here comes duck-tailed Danny dragging Uncanny Annie
– she’s the one with the flying feet.
You can break the peace daddy, sickle grease
The beat is reet complete
And the jump back honey in the dungarees
Tight sweater and a pony tail
Will you guess her age when she comes backstage?
The hoodlums bite their nails.

Black gloves, white frost
Black crepe, white lead
White sheet, black knight
Jet black, dead white

Sweet Gene Vincent.
There’s one in every town;
And the devil drives ’til the hearse arrives
And you lay that pistol down.

Sweet Gene Vincent:
There’s nowhere left to hide.
With lazy skin and ashtray eyes
A perforated pride.

So farewell mademoiselle, knickerbocker hotel
Say goodbye to money owed.
But when your leg still hurts and you need more shirts
You gotta get back on the road.

Sweet Gene Vincent!
Sweet Gene Vincent!
Sweet Gene Vincent!
Sweet Gene Vincent!

When your leg still hurts and you need more shirts
You gotta get back on the road.

Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick

In the deserts of Sudan
And the gardens of Japan
From Milan to Yucatan
Every woman, every man

Hit me with your rhythm stick.
Hit me! Hit me!
Je t’adore, ich liebe dich,
Hit me! hit me! hit me!
Hit me with your rhythm stick.
Hit me slowly, hit me quick.
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!

In the wilds of Borneo
And the vineyards of Bordeaux
Eskimo, Arapaho
Move their body to and fro.

Hit me with your rhythm stick.
Hit me! Hit me!
Das ist gut! C’est fantastique!
Hit me! hit me! hit me!
Hit me with your rhythm stick.
It’s nice to be a lunatic.
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!

Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!

In the dock of Tiger Bay
On the road to Mandalay
From Bombay to Santa Fe
Over hills and far away

Hit me with your rhythm stick.
Hit me! Hit me!
C’est si bon, mm? Ist es nicht?
Hit me! hit me! hit me!
Hit me with your rhythm stick.
Two fat persons, click, click, click.
Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!

Hit me! Hit me! Hit me!

Spasticus Autisticus

I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus
I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus
I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus

I wiggle when I piddle
‘Cos my middle is a riddle

I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus
I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus
I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus

I dribble when I nibble
And I quibble when I scribble

Hello to you out there in Normal Land
You may not comprehend my tale or understand
As I crawl past your window give me lucky looks
You can read my body but you’ll never read my books

I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus
I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus
I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus

I’m knobbled on the cobbles
‘Cos I hobble when I wobble

Swim!

So place your hard-earned peanuts in my tin
And thank the Creator you’re not in the state I’m in
So long have I been languished on the shelf
I must give all proceedings to myself

I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus
I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus
I’m spasticus, I’m spasticus
I’m spasticus autisticus

54 appliances in leather and elastic
100,000 thank you’s from 27 … spastics

Spasticus, spasticus
Spasticus autisticus
Spasticus, spasticus
Spasticus autisticus
Spasticus, spasticus
Spasticus autisticus

Widdling, griddling, skittling, diddling, fiddling, diddling, widdling, diddling, spasticus

I’m spasticus, spasticus

Billericay Dickie

good evening i’m from Essex
in case you couldn’t tell
my given name is Dickie, I come from Billericay
and I’m doing very well

had a love affair with Nina
in the back of my Cortina
a seasoned up hyena could not have been more obscener
she took me to the cleaners
and other misdemeanours
but I got right up between her
rum and her Ribena

well, you ask Joyce and Vicki
if candy-floss is sticky
I’m not a blinking thicky
I’m Billericay Dickie
and i’m doing very well

I bought a lot of brandy
when I was courting Sandy
took eight to make her randy
and all I had was shandy
another thing with Sandy
what often came in handy
was passing her a ‘Mandy’
she didn’t half go bandy

so you ask Joyce and Vicki
if I ever took the mickey
I’m not a flipping thicky
I’m Billericay Dickie
and I’m doing very well

I’d rendezvous with Janet
quite near the Isle of Thanet
she looked more like a gannet
she wasn’t half a prannet
her mother tried to ban it
her father helped me plan it
and when I captured Janet she bruised her pomegranet

so you ask Joyce and Vicki
if i ever shaped up tricky
I’m not a blooming thicky
I’m Billericay Dickie
and I’m doing very well

you should never hold a candle if you don’t know where it’s been
the jackpot is in the handle on a normal fruit machine

so you ask Joyce and Vicki
who’s their favourite brickie
I’m not a common thicky
I’m Billericay Dickie
and I’m doing very well

I know a lovely old toe-rag obliging and noblesse
kindly, charming shag from Shoeburyness

my given name is Dickie
I come from Billericay
I thought you’d never guess

so you ask Joyce and Vicki
a pair of squeaky chickies
I’m not a flaming thicky I’m Billericay Dickie
and I’m doing very well

oh golly, oh gosh come and lie on the couch
with a nice bit of posh from Burnham-on-Crouch

my given name is Dickie, I come from Billericay
and I ain’t a sloutch

so you ask Joyce and Vicki
about Billericay Dickie
I ain’t an effin’ thicky
you ask Joyce and Vicki
and I’m doing very well

What a Waste

I could be the driver in an articulated lorry
I could be a poet, I wouldn’t need to worry
I could be the teacher in a classroom full of scholars
I could be the sergeant in a squadron full of wallahs

What a waste! What a waste!
What a waste! What a waste!

Because I tried to play the fool in a six-piece band
First-night nerves every one-night stand
I should be glad to be so inclined
What a waste! What a waste!
But the world don’t mind

I could be a lawyer with stratagems and muses
I could be a doctor with poultices and bruises
I could be a writer with a growing reputation
I could be the ticket-man at Fulham Broadway station

What a waste! What a waste!
What a waste! What a waste!

Because I tried to play the fool in a six-piece band
First-night nerves every one-night stand
I should be glad to be so inclined
What a waste! What a waste!
But the world don’t mind

I could be the catalyst that sparks the revolution
I could be an inmate in a long-term institution
I could lead to wide extremes, I could do or die
I could yawn and be withdrawn and watch them gullify

What a waste! What a waste!
What a waste! What a waste!

Because I tried to play the fool in a six-piece band
First-night nerves every one-night stand
I should be glad to be so inclined
What a waste! What a waste!
But the world don’t mind

Chose to play the fool in a six-piece band
First-night nerves every one-night stand
I should be glad to be so inclined
What a waste! What a waste!
But the world don’t mind
What a waste! What a waste!
But the world don’t mind

Chose to play the fool in a six-piece band
First-night nerves every one-night stand
I should be glad to be so inclined
What a waste! What a waste!
But the world don’t mind

Clever Trevor

just cos I ain’t never ‘ad, no, nothing worth having
never ever, never ever
you ain’t got no call not to think I wouldn’t fall
into thinking that I ain’t too clever
and it ain’t not having oen thing nor another
niether, either is it anything, whatever
and it’s not not knowing that thier ain’t nothign showing
and I answer to the name of Trever, however

Just cos I ain’t never said, no, nothing worth saying
never ever, never ever, never ever
things ‘ave got read into what I never sad, ‘till me mouth becomes me ‘ead
which ain’t not all that clever
and it’s not not saying one thing nor another
neither, either is ist anything I haven’t said, whatever
and it ain’t not proving that me mind ain’t moving
and I answer to the naem of Trever, however

knock me down with a feather
Clever Trevor
widebrows wonder wether Clever Trevor’s clever
either have they got
nor neither haven’t not
got no right to make a clot
our of Trevor

why should I feel bad about something I ain’t ‘ad
such stupidness is mad cos nothing underfoot
comes to nothing less to add to a load of old toot
and I ain’t half not half co there’s nowhere to put it
even if I ‘ad i’m a bit of a Jack the Lad

knock me down with a feather
Clever Trevor
widebrows wonder wether Clever Trevor’s clever
either have they got
nor neither haven’t not
got no right to make a clot
our of Trevor

also, it takes much longer to get up north, the slow way

Reasons to be Cheerful

Why don’t you get back into bed
Reasons to be cheerful part 3

1 2 3

Some of Buddy Holly, the working folly
Good golly Miss Molly and boats
Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet
Jump back in the alley add nanny goats

{I’ve seen this given as “Domenecker camels”]
18-wheeler Scammels, Thumbing out the candles
All other mammals must eat their oats.
Seeing Piccadilly, Fanny Smith and Willy
Being rather silly, and porridge oats

A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it
You’re welcome, we can spare it – yellow socks
Too short to be haughty, too nutty to be naughty
Going on 40 – no electric shocks

The juice of the carrot, the smile of the parrot
A little drop of claret – anything that rocks
Elvis and Scotty, days when I ain’t spotty,
Sitting on the potty – curing small pox

Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3

1 2 3

Reasons to be cheerful part 3

Health service glasses
Gigolos and brasses
round or skinny bottoms

Take your mum to paris
lighting up the chalice
wee willy harris

Bantu Stephen Biko, listening to Rico
[This is certainly, “Harpo, Groucho, Chico”]
Paco, Berto. Chico

Cheddar cheese and pickle, the Vincent motorsickle
[“motorcycle,” though pronounced as given here]
Slap and tickle
Woody Allen, Dali, Dimitri and Pasquale
balabalabala and Volare

Something nice to study, phoning up a buddy
Being in my nuddy
Saying hokey-dokey, singalonga Smokey
Coming out of chokey

John Coltrane’s soprano, Adi Celentano
Bonar Colleano

Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3
Reasons to be cheerful part 3

1 2 3

Yes yes
dear dear
perhaps next year
or maybe even never

in which case

Reasons to be cheerful part 3

Ban The Bomb

Wrap yourself in silver paper put a sandbag on your head
Crawl inside your fall-out shelter underneath your garden shed
Boil an egg, have a cuddle, cut your toe-nails, make the bed
By the time this record’s finished, everybody will be…

Wrap yourself in silver paper put a sandbag on your head
Crawl inside your fall-out shelter underneath your garden shed
Boil an egg, have a cuddle, cut your toe-nails, make the bed
By the time this record’s finished, everybody will be dead

Ban the bomb
Ban the bomb
Ban the bomb
Ban the bomb

For those that do not wish to die, raise up your voices to the sky
And sing away the missiles

Wash your smalls, feed the cactus, telephone your uncle Fred
By the time this record’s finished everybody will be dead

Ban the bomb

There ain’t half been some clever bastards

Noel Coward was a charmer.
As a writer he was brahma.
Velvet jackets and pyjamas,
“the gay divorce” and other dramas.

There ain’t half been some clever bastards
(Lucky bleeders, lucky bleeders)
There ain’t half been some clever bas-tards.

Van Gough did some eyeball pleasers.
He must have been a pencil squeezer.
He didn’t do the Mona Lisa,
That was an Italian geezer.

There ain’t half been some clever bastards
(Lucky bleeders, lucky bleeders)
There ain’t half been some clever bas-tards.

Einstein can’t be classed as witless.
He claimed atoms were the littlest.
When you did a bit of splitting-em-ness
Frighten everybody shitless

There ain’t half been some clever bastards.
Probably got help from their mum
(who had help from her mum).
There ain’t half been some clever bastards.
Now that we’ve had some,
let’s hope that there’s lots more to come.

There ain’t half been some clever bastards
(Lucky bleeders, lucky bleeders)
There ain’t half been some clever bas-tards.

Okey-dokey!
Oh!
Segovia.
Da-laa la-laa da-daa da-lee
De dump di dump de dump-dump-diddle li-lee.

There ain’t half been some clever bastards
(Lucky bleeders, lucky bleeders)

Tony Shea ( Editor-in-Chief, New York)

Tony Shea is based in New York, having recently moved from Los Angeles after more than a decade on the sunny coast. His short films have won numerous awards and screened at major festivals around the world including Comic-Con. As a musician, he is the lead singer for Los Angeles rock n’ roll band Candygram For Mongo (C4M) candygramformongo.com who has been a featured artist on Clear Channel Radio’s Discover New Music Program and whose songs have been heard on Battlestar Gallactica (Syfy Channel) and Unhitched (Fox) among other shows and films.

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